Monday, October 6, 2014

Ben Affleck, Bill Maher, Sam Harris, and just how crazy the fangirls can get.

So, straight up, a bit of coming clean:  I don't like Bill Maher.  Not since "Religulous," and the pissy way he he baits and misleads and sets folks up to be comedic foils.  The way he misrepresents doctrine in order to make it as ridiculous as possible.  There's no reason to do that--it's already ridiculous, there is no reason to twist it about for comedic effect.  I try to remind myself that he is, after all, just a comedian, so of course he's going to do that.  But for me?

It's personal.  Because *I* am also an atheist, and when this guy's sneering mouth utters that snarky anti-Arab (anti-GMO/anti-vaccine/anti-Muslim/anti-Palestinian/pro-Zionism/anti-woman/anti-breastfeeding) bullshit, and does so as a perceived representative of atheists, I get pissed.

I do have to give Bill credit.  Until I found myself in his sights, I thought he was funny.  I thought he was mean, sure, but in a GOOD way because his nastiness was dovetailing nicely with my ideas.  So thank you, Bill, for teaching me how it feels to have some half-informed stand-up comedian use snarkiness and condescension in the place of knowledge to tear at my ideas.

It was a lesson I likely needed.

As for Sam Harris, what a disappointing fount of prejudiced urp.  Thankfully, I don't do atheist heroes, so I wasn't so disappointed.  Hubby was pretty bummed, though.

Here, let me quote Sam, give you a taste:

"It is time we recognized—and obliged the Muslim world to recognize—that “Muslim extremism” is not extreme among Muslims.  Mainstream Islam itself represents an extremist rejection of intellectual honesty, gender equality, secular politics and genuine pluralism. The truth about Islam is as politically incorrect as it is terrifying: Islam is all fringe and no center. In Islam, we confront a civilization with an arrested history."

Because, it would seem, Muslims are fair game.  Like overweight women and atheists, they're one of the last "hey, have at" targets out there.  It was nice to see Ben Affleck go a bit nutty on Bill and Sam, taking them to task for their sweeping generalizations.  See, I'm particularly sensitive to that whole "big, broad brush" thing because, all too often, people look at Bill Maher, then judge ME as part of that broad atheist group.

All atheists are not Bill Maher (or Sam Harris, or Hitch, or Dawkins), and all Muslims are not ISIS. Thank you, Ben, for championing that simple, obvious point.

Now, on to the "fangirls" I mention in the title.  This would be the atheists who are so enamored of whichever "atheist heroes" that they embrace their positions without really examining them with an objective eye.  Not all atheists are like this, but there are some, and they are loud.  Loud, and ravening.  They leap like a pack and tear dissenters apart.  Logic and reason fly out the window in favor of a competitive race to outdo each other with snarky nicknames, personal attacks, unrestrained ridicule, and off-topic nitpicking.  You know, like Sam and Bill repeatedly arguing that "Islam isn't a race, and therefor we're not racists."

What?  That's your defense?  You can't deny the charges, so you'll do the semantics dance instead?

How intellectually dishonest of you.

Again, I don't do "atheist heroes."  Many atheists don't.  But I understand why those who do, do. Because there are SO many out there who condemn atheists.  Who say we're un-American, evil, awful, worse that rapists and child molesters.  And there are so few of us who are prominent and willing to "come out," to risk ourselves in the spotlight.  So when someone relatively intelligent and unafraid to be open and loud shows up, it's natural that some atheists would rally around him (I say him, because so many prominent atheists are also, unfortunately, misogynistic).  And sadly?

That makes for some crappy heroes sometimes.  Some are brilliant (and some, like Maher, are just comedians), but even the brilliant ones tend to have fatal flaws, be it Islamophobia (which includes an inability to differentiate between Islam and being Middle Eastern), Zionism (I know, right?), misogyny, or a cold, Ayn Rand-style social Darwinism (this is where some smug heathen will leap in and argue that Rand's dance was "objectivism," not social Darwinism)..

Now, I'm not arguing that atheist "stars" are any MORE messed up than the general public.  No, not at all--in fact, by virtue of their disbelief, I'd say they have one less flaw than the average person. What I'm saying is that they're just folks.  Sometimes incredibly intelligent folks, but not infallible by any stretch.  And yet, so often, crowds of adoring fans gather 'round to lend support for statements that maybe don't, on objective consideration, merit that sort of cheerleading.  And that cheerleading?

Is often of the mean, nit-picky, ugly variety I spoke of above.

So Mr. Affleck?  I know you don't remember me from the first Project Greenlight, but I remember you.  And boy, what a man you've grown to be.  I applaud your bravery here, and bravery is what it is, because it takes a lot of guts to go up against Maher's caustic sarcasm and Harris' plodding anti-Islam narrative.  So thank you.  I hope we hear more from you.  I hope they didn't scare you off.


And now, for those who might be thinking it:  I have zero use for Islam.  No more (or less) than for other religions.  I am by no means a champion of Islam--it's theism, I think it, like other theistic faiths, is inherently harmful.  I think it, like other theistic faiths, lends itself to oppression and intolerance.  My problem is when people hold it up as somehow MORE damaging or MORE scary than any other.  That's just not true.  What makes Islam SEEM more violent or more awful is simply Western intervention.  The Middle East was not a roiling puddle of violence and extremism before Western colonialism.  What makes for extreme Islamic groups is outside interference, military interventions, oppression, occupation, and invasion.  You'd think we'd have learned this by now--devastation, destitution, and oppression are what makes for fanatical responses.  If we would sink money, no strings, into their infrastructure, economy, and education instead of into invasion, devastation, occupation (by us and by our "special" allies), and overthrow, there'd be no "need" for religious zealotry and violent resistance.  

I know, I know--what if it didn't work?

That's easy--what we're doing now clearly isn't working; it's creating ever bigger and badder violent groups.  Worst thing that could happen is that being nice for a change wouldn't work, either.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dueling Obits

You know, doing what I do, I traffic in obituaries.  Between Find A Grave and handling the "who died" archive for my high school, I find myself looking at a lot of death notices and memorials each day.  Today, I came across a curious and distasteful phenomenon.  Something I've come across before.

Dueling obituaries.

It's more common that you'd think (hope), and I find it awful.  What are dueling obits?

Oh, that's when one part of the family hates the other part, and so they excise them from the obituary. The excises part of the family publishes their own obituary, often (but not always) excising the other family members.

For example, today A.B.'s family (likely his children) posted a long obituary for their deceased loved one.  A lot of information about his dead wife, his loving children, his amazing grandkids.  All by name.  What they left out was "the love of his life," his long-term, live-in significant other, who, apparently, they dislike enough to omit all mention of her many happy years with him.

And A.B.'s significant other?  Well, she published her own obit for A.B., one that mentions her, her daughter, and all of his grandchildren by name.  And his kids?  Mentioned, but not by name.

Of these two, clearly the children are the worse offenders, as they completely cut her out of his life.  But hers was a bit petty, too, only mentioning "sons and daughters" instead of by name.  Who started it? Probably the kids, but that's not my point.  My point is, what a crappy tribute to someone you loved.  Clearly, you caused him astounding grief with your childish behavior before he died, must you carry it over to his obituary so it's now glaringly obvious to the world?

This isn't the first--or even the 30th--time I've seen this.  Sometimes it's been family vs friends, often it's new wife vs kids from first marriage.  I know one woman (known her since I was a child) who, when her husband died, listed herself (she was the second wife), his siblings, her family, their PETS, and then, as a last, tag-on scrap, "he was also survived by children from a previous marriage."

BAM!  WHOA!  And worse?  She didn't even call those kids to let them know their father had died. I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "What a trashy, low-rent creature."  Actually, she's a wealthy woman, a prominent attorney.  And she carried a grudge over into her husband's obituary, leaving his children with that last, final jab as a lifetime reminder that she never could manage to get along with her step-children.

Do yourself a favor.  Do your family a favor.  Do your dead loved one's memory/legacy a favor and check your bickering and grudges at the door when it comes to writing up that obituary.  Unless your deceased family member was Josef Mengele in a housecoat (if that's the case, absolutely be honest if that's what works for you), the obit is the place for memorializing, not carrying on family feuds.  You may think you're getting in that final, grand smack, but what you're really doing is making yourself look like a creep of the first order.  And if you're doing it because you know THEY'RE going to do it?

Don't.  Be the better person.  What better revenge than coming across looking like the good guy?

Remember, Christmas is coming up and it doesn't cost anything extra to shop through me.  Even if you're not shopping now, please consider bookmarking the link for when you're looking to shop!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Laura Ramadel

Because sloppy, self-aggrandizing, entitled misogynists.  Use the googles if you're curious.

That's all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hey, not dead yet!

So, we made the move.  It was rough.  The puffed up pile of "used car sales wouldn't have him" real estate agent said we'll get our entire deposit back.  Said we left the place better than we found it.  Which we did.

It's been 48 days, still no deposit.  This is the guy who, at the first "landlord is selling" get-together, insisted that state law requires a deposit be returned within TEN days.  Luckily, we knew he was lying even as it rolled off his tongue, so we're not too panicked yet.  Yeah, he said that to keep us from making any "we won't leave" noises.

What an asshole.

While the law seems to say we should have had the deposit back within 45 days, the renter protection laws here only speak to landlords with more than a certain number of properties (I believe it's five). We emailed the landlord last week, and he has--can you guess?  That's right, not answered.  Because that's what Scott does.  He doesn't answer.  For weeks.  My money is on this--he didn't keep the $1950 deposit set aside for refund.  He threw it in with his cash and is now near-bankrupt and doesn't have it.  The old place STILL hasn't sold.  Remember how they told us we couldn't stay until it sold because "houses in this neighborhood don't last a week in this market?"  Yeah, my ass.  I knew that was a lie then.  Not only is our old place still on the  market (it went on the market July 1st--you do the math), but remember how they tried to palm it off on us?  For "low 300s?"

The price has been reduced a number of times now.  They're now asking 249K.  In other words, they tried to rip us off for over fifty grand.

Next step is, I guess, to send a demand for our deposit via certified mail.  And then, I guess, small claims.  Which is incredibly scary because there is the chance that, even though we have the pristine walk-through in writing, even though the time period allowable for submitting deductions from the deposit is well gone by, we could wind up with a judge who decided he likes landlords more than he likes tenants.  We could wind up with a judge who is an old golfing buddy of Scott's.  He has a lot of them around here.

It is so unfair that he would do this to us.  By his own reckoning, we were "the best tenants ever."  By his agent's reckoning, we "left the place in better shape than it was at move-in."

Way to reinforce the "scuzzbucket slumlord/all landlords are thieves" stereotype, Scott.


So, other things have changed.  Pretty big changes.  Our boy, who has been homeschooled since day one, announced that he wanted to go to school.  Understand, this is an abrupt about-face--every time I've suggested it, even as recently as last spring, he's shut me down with pleas to not make him.  He sprung this on me a mere two weeks before the start of school, and made it clear how important it was to him.  At first, I demurred, and he became very despondent, saying he understood, it was a stupid idea.  Broke my heart.  Understand, I have NO experience with the public school system, other than my own 30+ years ago.  I scrambled, I hoop-jumped, and I got it done.

We decided on part-time, just a couple of classes.  That way, if it turns out it's horrid and he hates it, it's not a huge deal.  So it's a sort of "getting his feet wet" thing.  He's got Guitar Ensemble and French.  He seems to be enjoying it, and he's making friends.  He joined the Gamer's Club, Drama Club, and the Planning Committee.  Has get-togethers at a local burger joint and a sleep-over this weekend.  He gets to have his picture in the yearbook, and was even issued a laptop.

He's excited.  So are we.  I hope it turns out to be all that he wants.  

Silly as it will sound, the lack of yearbooks has always troubled me.  Hubby and I both have all our yearbooks, and I've always been sad that our boy wouldn't have that.  Now he will.


Haven't been to a doctor since January.  I'm having a terrible time with my weight, and I just can't bring myself to deal with the constant, devastating disapproval from doctors.  It's hit the point where I am just so humiliated and so completely overwhelmed with anxiety that not going is the only option I see.  I know how stupid that is, I do.  But I just can't.  Walk in, first thing they do is throw you on the scale and an eyebrow cocks just a little.  Stress so bad by the time they take the blood pressure that it feels like a full-blown anxiety attack is in the offing.  Doctor finally comes in, and the disapproval is palpable.  Is that disdain in her exotic eyes?  Doesn't matter, because it feels like it.  I'm almost in tears just typing this.  So I don't go.  


The new place, btw.  You know all those horrendous, petty, obstructionist, self-righteous nightmare stories you've ever heard about home owners associations?

Yeah.  First thing, first day, we ask the real estate agent if we can put in a gate so our dog doesn't run away.  Yeah, fenced yard, no gate.  He says we can't, HOA won't allow it.  Yet we've driven around and some folks have gates.  Some are nice matching gates, some are cheap, fake wrought iron that don't match at all, some are plastic baby gates, and some, like our next-door-neighbor's, are crappy white latticework leaned against the gate posts.  So we took two solid boards, put them together, painted them to match the fence, and attached magnets to lightly keep the thing in place without it actually being attached.  It took ONE day for a note to be taped to it, telling us that it's not approved, and giving us an application to the design board.  Problem is, the design board application requires permission of all neighbors/OWNERS whose properties adjoin OR who can SEE the "addition."   Yeah, not likely; these are all rentals, none of the OWNERS actually live here.  Plus, plans, photos, proposed paint colors, and cost/construction proposals must be submitted in advance.  

For a damned barrier to keep the dog in.

So we figured maybe it was too tall.  So we disassembled it, removed the magnets, and just leaned it like the folks next door with the cheap, ugly latticework.  We were taking it up when the dog came back in, but one evening we forgot.  By 7 am the next morning, another note, nastier, telling us that the "partial barrier is unapproved."  Again telling us we must submit an application.   And then another nasty note, telling us that we cannot have bird feeders in any form.  Which means I'm stuck for at least two years with no birds.  Bastards.   I cried while taking them down.

I was very upset, made my way to the website to read the HOA guidelines and there was no mention of bird feeders (though there was mention of bird baths, which was scary).  But then I dug deeper, and discovered we're not in that particular HOA--we're in a SUB-HOA specifically for Condos.  And it doesn't allow gates AT ALL.  Because our front yards are considered part of the "open area."  That's right--our front lawn is actually part of their open space.  No wonder they MOW it.  

So, in other words, their nosy-assed neighborhood narc is handing out design applications that will not be approved because we're in the Condo area.

Thanks, folks.


Here are some pics of the new place--it's not as nice as the old, but it's also not awful.  The carpet is a cheap Berber, which concerns me on the vacuuming front, and the master bedroom is a giant (19x19) loft-type set-up with no door.  The stairs are murder on my knees (four flights of 8 stairs a pop to get to the bedroom), and the kitchen is minuscule (we had to leave most of our cooking stuff packed because there's just no room).  But the blinds are nice, and the front yard is nice (even if we can't have a damned gate), and the stove is gas.  The tubs are slightly larger, and being two floors up keeps the TV from driving me nutty at night.  We don't know much about the neighbors (other than the chain-smokers across the way who throw loud parties and beat each other up), but those awful rat-children are no longer our neighbors, and that is everything.  I can let our boy walk to school or Hapkido without worrying that those kids are going to ambush him.

So, all in all, it works out slightly to the better.  And I will take that any day.

And finally?  If you're reading this and you see an shopping spree for Christmas in your future, please consider using my Amazon link, which is the search widget below.  This public school thing, with yearbooks, ensemble uniforms, daily lunches, etc., is pretty pricey.  Christmas is coming, and every bit helps, especially with the landlord tugging us about on the deposit.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Obama is the Worst President EVAH!

Today, some puddle of garbage came sliding across my Facebook feed.  It was from (get this) "RIGHT WING NEWS."

Oh, yeah, there's a source you can trust.  

It was being forwarded by one of the stupider people on my list.  She's got a kind soul and an empty head. The phrase "bless her heart" leaps to mind whenever she posts anything political.

Today, it was this:

It was all I could do to resist going point-by-point.  I DID resist, because people like this aren't looking for information, they're looking for inflammation.  Specifically, inflammation that allows them to continue hating the black guy. 

Yes, that is what it boils down to.  If that's not YOUR problem with him, understand that you're being manipulated and lied to by groups who DO feel that way. 


Move mostly set up.  Got the utilities arranged, the truck reserved, and (hopefully) the ID and car registration handled so we can get our parking decals.  We're cutting it super-close on that one.  Cross your fingers. Because if the licenses and registration doesn't show up in time, the HOA will have our car towed.

Moving used to be easier.


Found this, thought it was interesting:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Good is Good

Well, thanks to the generosity of hubby's old school pal, we're good to go.  The gift (and it is a gift, not a loan) came out of the blue.  Old friend said it was for "gas money for all those rides back in high school, plus interest."

Whew.  After the devastating screwing we took from my half-sister Cory, I wasn't sure we were going to make it.  Eternal gratitude, you know?

Gotta say, though, that moving out here is a markedly different affair.  In Utah, a grand and some friends with a truck was enough to get you into a nicer place.  No deposits for utilities, no hassling with HOAs.  You just moved.  Out here?

Holy COW!  We're moving FIVE miles from our current place, and it's ALL new utility companies.  All new utility companies and each one has a hefty deposit.  That was an unforeseen expense.  Plus, the landlord won't sign the new lease until the utilities are turned on.  But the utilities refuse to turn on unless we can provide a copy of the signed lease.  Which we can't until the utilities are turned on.  Yes, Laurel and Hardy would be proud.

Add to that the parking situation there.  Unlike in Utah (or our current place, to be fair), it was simple--here's your spot.  New place?  Two spots, BUT we must have two CARS in order to have them.  One car?  Only one decal, which means our guests can't use our spare spot.  They WILL tow.  Plus, we can't park there until we have the decal (fifty bucks!), and we can't have the decal until we can show our car's registration and our driver's licenses with THAT address.  No, a change of address card won't do--they want a photocopy of the new licenses.  That's forty bucks for the two of us.

Or eighty, if hubby messes up and they send new licenses with the OLD address.  Which is exactly what happened.

The landlord has gone silent again.  So has the real estate agent.  The fear, of course, is that they're looking to make the move-out a mess so they can hang onto the deposit.  Called the landlord and asked if the cleaning (doesn't need it, carpet was stained and dog-pill smelling when we moved in) and deflea/detick treatment (doesn't need it, we don't have fleas and ticks) company we chose was okay.  No answer.  Called (and emailed) to let them know our move-out date.  No answer.  Zero help.

And speaking of zero help, I don't think I'll be able to resist letting the real estate agent representing the landlord know what a dead-beat, lazy, uncaring, shmoozy, glad-handing, insincere creep he is.  See, when the landlord announced that we were out, he promised his agent would definitely find us a new place.  But when Skeezo (who insists his name is FRENCH, not MEXICAN!) came over, he made it very clear that he wouldn't.  Told us, in no uncertain terms, that there was NO way ANY real estate agent would EVER represent us because of our credit, that we needed to "try Craigslist" because nothing with an MLS# would ever be open to us.  He was VERY clear about this.  Of course, he became very clear about this once we made it clear we weren't shopping for a mortgage.  Conveniently, his wife is a mortgage broker.  I'm sure that had nothing to do with it.

So we went into this disaster scared to death--not only did we not have the cash, but a guy who should have provided us with accurate information, a guy whose words should have been reliable, told us we didn't have a hope in hell of getting a nice place unless we stumbled across a private landlord on Craigslist.

Thing is, he lied.  Flat out.  First MLS listed property we viewed, the real estate agent practically begged to represent us.  Even knowing what our credit is like.  And the first property we applied for?

We got.

So, yeah.  I won't go out of my way to slam the bastard, but when we're in the market to buy?  We won't be buying from him.  And should anyone ask for a recommend?  The woman who got us into our new place gets the recommend.  And Mr. "French, not Mexican?"  I won't refrain from telling folks just what crap treatment we got from him.  Just how lazy, uncaring, uninterested, and disingenuous he was.

No doubt.

Gonna try something now, see if it works:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Prince William, Princess Kate, and the four MILLION pound remodel

You know, I don't begrudge rich folks their riches.  I don't.  I am a bit put off by the gratuitous extravagance I see, but hey, I'm sure someone could look at me today and find something wrong with my spending habits.  However, when the following story came across my news feed, I admit, the bitterness rose up in a big way.

Buckingham Palace defend spending £4m on refurbishing Kate and Wills' flat

Why bitter?  Because this isn't some busted up, broken down, run-into-the-ground hovel requiring a from-the-floorboards-up renovation.  The place isn't in tatters.  And that Wills and Kate paid for their own curtains?  Doesn't really appease my sour heart.  

We are in SUCH a bad way here, and we're about to drop an application fee and deposit on a place we almost certainly won't get.  The hundred bucks is a throw-away--we'll never see that again, either way.  And the deposit?  If we don't get the place, we won't see that money refunded for weeks.  That's weeks we don't have.  And if we DO get it?

Well, we don't have the rent and truck money.  We're operating on pure hope here.  Hope that folks will come through for us.  Because the alternative is us being utterly toast.

So hey, Prince William?  Princess Kate?  Do you think you could spare .001 % of your remodeling budget?  That would be all we need and more.  It would be enough so we could have someone help us with the heavier furniture, AND we could keep our boy's dog!  So how 'bout it?  Please?  Pretty please?  Just .001% would totally SAVE us, and you might be out one fancy brass spittoon.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Twitter? Hardly. Help? Please!

So, I signed up for my first Twitter account yesterday.  Figured it was time, there is now ZERO chance of anyone thinking I joined up just to be cool (wink).  I signed up, chose my moniker, followed a couple of friends, and made one small, silly little tweet (said "guess this would be #myfirsthashtag.").  Probably not too original, but also not offensive by any stretch.  I sign on this morning to find THIS dangling over my now-SUSPENDED account:

Hey Krista XXXXXXX,
Twitter has automated systems that find and remove multiple automated spam accounts in bulk. Unfortunately, it looks like this account, @XXXXXXX, got caught up in one of these spam groups by mistake.
We apologize for this inconvenience. It’s possible your account posted an update that appeared to be spam, so please be careful what you tweet or retweet. You might also want to review our help page for hacked or compromised accounts:// You will need to change your behavior to continue using Twitter. Repeat violations of the Twitter Rules may result in the permanent suspension of your account.

And that's that.  No more Twitter for me, I guess, because I have done the idiot "CAPTCHA" thing a dozen times to "recover" my account, but each time my page comes back up with the "been suspended" banner and I still cannot use the account.  So blow up, Twitter.  You're mean.


Feeling bitter.  Been seeing all the uproar about the handsome, wildly tattooed felon, Jeremy Meeks?  The one up on weapons and gang charges?  The scary guy with the Esquire face?   Well, thus far, women across the country have donated over 100,000 bucks to spring him (his bail is a million).  

ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS to spring a member of the Crips gang.  A guy with a rap sheet replete with charges from gun offenses to identity theft, grand theft of a person (that's a step down from robbery) to drug charges.  $100,000 dollars raised to spring a dangerous felon because he's easy on the eyes (and he is), but here we are, scared to death we're going to wind up homeless.  Yes, a little bitter.

Because that somehow inspires charity and giving more than this:

I don't understand.  All I know is this--the guy up there stole, lied, and poses a clear threat to people.  And Charlie?  None of those things, but if we can't find a place, we may lose him.  Which would break my heart, break hubby's, too.  And it would shatter our boy.  

We have found another place.  It's smaller than this, and the neighborhood's a bit dodgier, but it's certainly good enough.  No yard, and I'll miss my gardening, but we really can't be picky right now.  Fact is, it's a roof, and it's not a terrible one.  The rent is only 100 a month more than here, and, while 1600 a month is steep, it's not steep for the DC area.  In fact, it's practically low-budget.  

The scary part?  100 dollar non-refundable application fee, and having to tender the deposit in advance.  If they turn us down (which they might, our credit is in the solidly "fair" category, despite no delinquencies, no late payments, no judgments, and a pristine rental history),  that's weeks with that money tied up and inaccessible, plus the hit to the credit score for the inquiry, and we're out the 100 bucks permanently.  We are NOT where we can afford this, so the risk is terrifying.

Sadly, we're almost certainly going to lose it unless we throw caution to the wind and post the deposit and application fee without having the money to move in.  We'll lose it like the little house in Old Town; this is going to get snapped up by someone else before we have the money in hand.  Right now, we have the money for the deposit.  In a week, we hope to have enough for the pet deposit and the truck.  Which still leaves us down 1850.  So here I go again--please.  Please, anything you can spare.  If you've ever said to yourself "I wish there was something I could do," you CAN.  Ten bucks would be something.  It would help us.  If every person who reads my blog in a month gave a few bucks, we'd be that much closer.  If every person who reads my blog SHARED our link?

You'd be saving us.  Quite literally.

So please.  Please help, please share.  

Just a note--we made our goal, the donation campaign has ended!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

And here it is

So, the move we can't afford and don't know where we're going is screaming headlong toward us.  I'm packing, even though I don't know where we're going and I don't know how we'll pay for it.  Our dear friends J & C lent us a grand, and oh, I can't tell you how amazing that is or how grateful we are.  We thought we were good, because a relative stepped up and offered three thousand.

You read that correctly.  Three grand.  She offered, she wasn't asked.  She understood that it would take us a while to pay back.  She said that if you can't help family, what's the point?  I cried my eyes out in gratitude, felt part of this crushing weight lift.  It was the most amazing thing.

That was May 28th.  She said she'd have it to us the following Monday or Tuesday.  I last heard from her June 4th, and she was still very upbeat and reassuring.  Multiple Facebook messages, a post, plus text messages, and nothing.  Fifteen days of silence.  She's stopped even signing onto Facebook, and has not read even one of my messages since the 4th.  I don't want to believe that she's left us hanging, but I'm not sure what else to think.  In the meantime, the clock is ticking, and we're watching the few places we can get go to other people because we don't have the money to put down the deposit and rent.

And what if she does come through?  What if this is just a hiccup, and, because she knows we don't absolutely have to be out until the end of next month, she figures there's no huge rush?  What if she IS going to come through?  I want to believe that.  I love her, and I don't want to think that anything has gone wrong.  But the lack of communication is scary and I don't know what to think.  But what I DO know is this: we are running out of time, and every day that passes is another apartment or house that rents to someone else.

Plus my Mom offered up 800.  Again, that was weeks ago, and no show.  But my mom turns 80 next month, and sometimes she makes offers when she can't follow through because she really WANTS to be able to.  I love her, and I understand that. My Mom is almost 80.  Which makes me almost 50, and this is where I am.

At this point, my stomach is so bad that I am actually worried that the ulcer is going to go totally south.  I can't sleep more than a couple of hours, and I find myself gasping and sighing every time my mind goes there.  Which is often.  And our boy?  Oh, he is beyond panic-stricken.  He knows we may wind up far away from his friends at class.  He knows we may wind up in a place so tiny and so scary that our stuff all goes into storage and we wind up not being able to go outside for walks.  And he knows there's the very real risk of losing our dog.   Charlie.  Oh, man, just typing that has me crying.

And so, the crowd-funding page I set up back in May but never went live with?  Well, here it is.  I didn't go live with it because it looked like we were covered--between J&C and my relatives, plus what we can save, we'd have it.  But now we clearly don't have it, and we're not sure what to do other than this.  I mean, we are stuck, we have to be out.

So here's the page.  Anything helps.  Five bucks.  If every friend on facebook gave five bucks, we'd be okay.  We're not looking to get rich here, we're not looking to take advantage.  We're looking to survive, to have a place to land when this is over.  Anything helps.

We made our goal!  Donations disabled!

We made our goal!  Donations disabled!

This is embarrassing beyond words.  And the terror that my relative DOES mean to come through, but will see this on Facebook and withdraw the offer?   Indescribable.  But if we keep waiting, what if she can't come through?  What if something has happened and she's unable?  And we let all this time pass?  That's where I can't stop going--what if we just keep waiting and it turns out something's happened and she can't help?  Every day is a day closer to the deadline, and every day we wait is a day lost.

We didn't see this coming.  It's not an eviction, the landlord is giving us a glowing reference.  Says we're the "best" tenants he's ever had.  But he has to sell, and that means we have to go.  Being great tenants who always pay on time doesn't really count for anything in this situation.  Please help.  Please share.  And please, no mention on my Facebook wall.  Not yet, anyway.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Yeah, that helps.

So, the landlord never did call, even though the real estate agent told him to.  Hubby finally emailed (email is better, we then have a written record), and the landlord's response was "y'all can call me."  And then he left the wrong phone number.

Not promising.

Luckily, hubby had the landlord's number in his phone, so he called.  And left a message.  Because the landlord wasn't picking up.  And then, a few hours later, he called again.  Left another message.

The landlord finally called back around 9 p.m.

Says we must be out by August 31st.  Says we're "the best tenants" he's ever had.  Says we've taken great care of the place.  Says he really likes what we've done with it.  Says that, if he can't get the place sold by next summer, he'll let them foreclose.

He'll let them foreclose, but he won't let us stay.  Because we're the best tenants he's ever had.


We still don't have the money to move.  Thought maybe we did, but it looks like it's fallen through.  The person who made the offer has gone silent, and isn't answering messages.  We had one pair of friends come through in a pretty big way, but we'll still be drastically short.  So it may be back to the "crowdfunding" idea.  As much it shames me.


On a brighter note, SEVEN people have ordered through my Amazon affiliate link!  In just a few days!  That's almost eight bucks.  I know, that doesn't sound like much, but I'm really excited!  So if you're looking to order from Amazon anyway, please use my link!  Here it is again (family and folks I've had dinner with?  That's a no-go, Amazon doesn't want "personal" orders through my links):

Speaking of Amazon, they have a promotion right now--a thirty day free trial of Amazon Prime.  Amazon Prime doesn't just give you free 2-day shipping on most things, it also opens up a whole slew of movies and TV series for free streaming.  If you've been wishing you'd caught Deadwood, The Wire, or the latest Star Trek Movie, it's on Prime.  And yes, I get two dollars per sign-up.  But here's the thing--that's per FREE TRIAL sign-up.  You don't have to order Prime, you don't even have to stick with it for the entire 30 days (though you may as well--free stuff, right?).  All you need to do is sign up through the following link.  It's a heck of a deal, and you know what?  Amazon Prime might just be something you want to stick with!

Join Amazon Prime - Star Trek Into Darkness Available on Amazon Prime Instant Video

Join Amazon Prime - The Wire The Complete Series - Available on Amazon Prime Instant Video

And that's all of that.  I actually hate doing this, I've never been good at self-promotion of this sort, but we are in dire circumstances.  Anything helps.  Anything.

(Donation link removed--we made our goal!)

Here's this--it's a WIDGET!  Not asking you to order, but if you're going to order anyway, why not through this fancy widget?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Exciting News!

No, no, we haven't found a new place.  We don't have the money to move.  We ARE expected to be out in two months and have no prospects.  But still, I have two bits of exciting news!

Number one?  SOMEONE ORDERED FROM MY AMAZON AFFILIATE LINK!  They read my review of my fancy Argon Oil Shampoo and Conditioner, and then followed the link and ORDERED!  They didn't order the product I reviewed, but that's okay!  They ordered under my affiliate link!  And yeah, I get PAID!  

Kris's Amazon Link

And the second exciting news?  

I've already forgotten.  In the frenzy of linking and writing above, I've totally spaced.  Have I mentioned how stressed and sleepless I've been?  Packing without knowing where or when or how we're going is scary.  What to pack?  How long do we have?  Two weeks?  Two months?  No more than two-and-a-half, we know that.  

Oh!  Oh!  I remember!

Do you remember THIS blog post?  Where I talk about the cemetery in Old Frisco, Utah and the nameless little boy whose grave has stuck with me since 1994?  


His name was Johnny Staples.  I've known the Staples part for years, but I finally found an old document online that showed the grave in slightly better days (the stone was still legible) with a caption from the State of Utah.  

From his stone:

"Tis a little grave, 
but oh, have care, 
for world wide hopes are buried here.  
How much of light, how much of joy, 
is buried with my darling boy."  

And if that doesn't hit you in the belly, I don't know what will.  Rest in peace, Johnny.  I'm glad I finally figured out your name.  


I want to take a minute to talk about a ring.  Remember the locket?  The mourning locket I'll never find, but I keep looking?   Well, there's another piece of jewelry I keep turning about in my mind.  But this one I have.   I have, but I don't know as much about it as I want to know.

Here are some pictures:

The inscription appears to read "Ms. M. Hanna, March 14, '83."  It may say "M.M. Hanna" or some other variation.  The year is clearly 1883, and the stone is garnet, with multiple seed pearls embedded around the setting.  

This ring was given to my now-80-year-old Mother who wore it every day from the time I was born until 1983, when the stone fell out.  I remember the day--I was moving into an apartment in Midvale, Utah, when she realized the stone was gone.  We turned the apartment upside down and actually managed to find the stone.  She took the ring and stone to Zales, but they said they couldn't fix it.  Here it is, 30 years later, and it's still in that little Zales envelope, and it's still in two pieces, setting and stone.  

Back then, my Mom told me that the ring had belonged to wife or fiance of a famous poet.  But I can't remember who it was, and, at 80 years, my Mom can't remember, either.  I'm not looking to sell it, but man, I would love to know more about it and who it belonged to.  We think it was given to my Mom by a Mrs.  Payson (Jesse?  Florence?  The wife of Horace).  I'm hoping to learn more, but not too optimistic.


Speaking of optimism, we are so in need of help.  We need a place to live.  Someplace close enough to Manassas that we don't have to pull our boy out of his martial arts class.  It's the only place he has friends, and it would be heartbreaking for him.  Someplace big enough for our stuff, someplace cheap enough we can afford (think around 1,500 bucks a month).  Someplace that will recognize that our years of spotless rental history and income is worth something.  SomeONE who will understand that our credit issues are not lethal, and that, had we had the 15+ months to work with we thought we did, we'd have had those issues fixed.  

If you know anyone, please, please let me know.  I've never been in a position like this, and it's terrifying.

Friday, May 23, 2014

So much, but not a lot.

Spent the day doing parental maintenance.  My mom will be 80 this summer.  EIGHTY.  Damn.  She needs a new physician in a big way--her current doctor is a peer, and it's showing.  She was complaining about her hearing a few weeks ago (it's hit the point that her TV is cranked beyond gun-range decibels), and he said "Well, old lady, you're going deaf--you are getting up there!"  However, a trip to the local clinic showed that, rather than going deaf, she had a TON of wax impacting her ears.  Clinic blasted the wax out with water, and suddenly she can hear like a twenty year old again.  Unfortunately, she's also staggering around a puking like a twenty year old at a frat party.  Happens sometimes, and her balance is now completely shot.  Yes, she lives alone.  2,200 miles from here. Thankfully, my sister does see her most days, takes her to the store and spends time.  Without that, can you imagine?



Came across the concept of "Micronations" here in the States, and our boy was absolutely entranced by the ridiculousness of the idea.  In particular, we read about "The Republic of Molossia."  We were researching something else entirely when we came across a photo.  Just a patch of land, but I looked at him and said "That's got to be Utah or Nevada--no where else looks like that."  But the picture was labeled as some National Park in "Molossia."  Which, of course, I'd never heard of.  I was right--it's in Nevada.  And it is terribly silly.

Yeah, silly.  Its own post office (which serves Molossia), its own currency, an ongoing war with East Germany (LOL!), and the requiring of passports for those not citizens of allied nations.  Cute, but also very silly.  My boy, however, thought it was terrifically cool. So thank you "President" Kevin Baugh of Molossia for capturing my boy's imagination.  

The above image is a link to Molossia's website


Heading up to Shenandoah tonight, it looks like.  If I can stay awake that long.  There's a brand-spanking-new meteor shower in town called "Camelopardalids," and they're promising from 200 to 1000 meteors an hour.  The meteors will appear to radiate from near the North Star, and we're in a prime viewing area. 

 Meteor showers have been a family tradition since our boy was very small.  We used to haul sleeping bags up to Pineview Reservoir in Huntsville, Utah and lie flat on our backs, looking up.  Heck, hubby and I used to do it even before there was a boy.   Since we have an annual pass to Shenandoah, the only thing this is going to cost us is the gas.  And that's more than we should be tossing out, but this is something new--a brand new meteor shower!  But the money aspect does bring me to my scary news . . .

The landlord.  I feel like I should type that in all caps, you know?  Like so:

< insert ominous chord here >

emailed last Thursday.  In his usual way, his greeting was . . . hang on.  I need to start from the beginning.

You may remember that last September, our lease expired.  Reading over the lease in advance, I found a clause stating that, if either party intended to not renew the lease, at least 60 days notice would be required.  Well, I gave almost 90 days notice that we DID intend to renew, and he gave no notice whatsoever.  Which was scary, but when the lease expiration date came and passed, we figured we were okay.  Then, a few weeks ago, a flurry of snail-mails showed up, addressed to him, from various mortgage companies.  That was scary.  We bundled them up and mailed them to him.  And then he emailed.

Now, back to where I was.  The landlord emailed, with a jovial "Hey, there!" greeting in the subject line.  The kind we've learned to fear, because this guy is only jovial when there's something he wants us to do to his benefit.  He's otherwise either silent or somewhat unfriendly. So the very title shook me just a bit.  I opened the email, and oh.  Hell.

He announced he's looking to sell the place.  Wants to know if we want it.  There are a few problems with that:

  1. We don't want it.  We're looking to move in 16 months, when the lease is up.
  2. We can't get the financing.  Not without a down payment, and we do not have a down--in fact, we have no savings whatsoever.  
  3. Our credit is still a disaster from the move out here--no delinquencies, and our rental history is pristine, but our "available credit to debt" is a mess--not enough available credit.
That third one (along with the no savings) is what's possibly going to land us homeless.  Literally.  See, we have no money for a deposit on a new place.  We have two grand of deposit in THIS place, but even if he did give that back to us, that's months after we leave here, which doesn't help at ALL.  This place is in as good a shape as when we moved in, but he's requiring we have the chimney professionally swept (even though it wasn't when we moved in), the carpets professionally cleaned (even though they weren't when we moved in), and the place sprayed for fleas (even though there are no fleas--the dog is on meds to make sure of that).  In other words, he wants us to drop 500+ dollars we don't have to get back our two grand.  So we have credit that'll get us turned down by potential landlords (never mind the pristine rental history), and no money.  

I don't have to tell you just how terrifying this is.  And once I told him we didn't want to buy, he fell silent.  Utterly silent.  It's what he does when you don't give him what he wants.  

I know, right about now, you're probably saying to yourself "But you have a lease!  No worries!  You're protected from this sort of thing!"

Well, it turns out not really.  Because, you see, hidden deep in that lease is another clause.  One that reads something like this:

"Should this lease be renewed, either party can end it by giving the other 60 days notice."

Yeah.  I didn't spot that one.  I'm not a lawyer.  What I am is an idiot.  So fact is, he only has to give us 60 days notice.  Plus, he can send real estate agents and potential buyers through here at any time.  

You're probably thinking we're stupid for not having the money to move.  What can I say?  We expected to have 16 more months to save up for a move.  And in 16 months, we'd have had the money.  What we really need is a consolidation loan for our bills, which would take our payments down from almost 900 a month to about 300.  That extra 600 a month would enable us to save money hand over fist.  Of course, no one will lend us that money, so it's pure fantasy.  

So, here's where we stand:  No money for first and last plus deposit and rental truck (between four and five grand).  Possibly as little as two months to find that money (and no way to do so--we don't even have four grand worth of stuff to sell).  No one to float us a loan or act as guarantor on a new rental (if we COULD come up with the first and last plus deposit and truck).  

Our boy is scared to death.  What if we can't find a place that will allow our dog?  No exaggeration, I fear for him if we lost our dog.  Hell, I fear for me.  For my husband.  What if we cannot find a place to live?  What happens to people who can't find a place to live?  I'm almost fifty years old, this is not how life is supposed to be.  I am terrified.  

I'm considering crowd-funding.  Yes, that's begging.  I am horrified.  I am so ashamed and embarrassed.  But we're caught.  I'm trying not to completely down myself because we DID think we had 16 more months to have this saved up.  But ultimately, I feel totally responsible.  And I don't know if we have any option other than crowd-funding.  

I need to call my Mom.  Tell her I didn't mean it when I said I was considering taking a dive off a rooftop.  

Even if I did.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Woids Fail Me

I've been struggling with bursitis in my right knee for a few weeks--it's improved markedly, thanks to this amazing product:

That's a Smart Temp Reusable Hot/Cold Pack, and holy cow!  I asked hubby to pick up some Icy Hot or something on that order, but he came home with this, and I couldn't be more glad.  I use it as an ice pack--it straps in place, it molds to the knee (or whatever body part), and it works like a dream.  If you've got joint problems, a sore back, arthritis, bursitis, or any injury that requires heat, cold, or alternating, this is the thing! Seriously, and it's CHEAP, too.  Check out my review here:  


I can't recommend this hot/cold pack highly enough.  For a measly 12 bucks, it's done more for my pain than steroids, NSAIDs, and PT combined.  Give it a shot, you won't be sorry.  Use my link to do so, make us both happy!

I'm "working" for a new writing  Basically moderating, doing spam control, etc.  No pay yet, but I'm hopeful.  It's a terrific site, the gentleman who put it together is marvelous.

And that's about all.  Hoping to visit a few cemeteries out west of here next weekend.  Supposed to be over 80 degrees, so I'm not sure how much fun it's going to be, but we'll see.

Oh, did I tell y'all about the goats at the last cemetery?  One of them fell utterly in love with our boy--followed him everywhere, it was beautiful.  Here's the goat (a girl) who loved our boy:

And here's her pal, Ben, who was jealous of anyone who paid her attention:

An update here:  the landlord is booting us, has given us 60 days notice to vacate.  This isn't an eviction--he says we're the best tenants he's ever had, has offered a glowing reference.  But he's selling, and he needs us out so he can do that.  Which leaves us utterly screwed and possibly facing homelessness.  Truly.  So please.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Rock God Revisited

I want to tell you a story about someone.  Someone I was once very close to.

Sean was a friend once.  Hell, he was more than that.  We met on campus in 1992.  He approached me to tell me that my pro-choice button on my lapel sucked . . . but that he admired the guts it took to wear in Mormonville.  It wasn't long before Sean was giving my then-husband guitar lessons in return for tutoring in algebra.  My husband never did master the guitar, though Sean did teach  me the following fancy Allegro (no, that's not Sean playing):

My ex did manage to drag Sean through Algebra--a good thing, as Sean had already failed it twice and had no hope of finishing his degree without it.

When my husband and I separated in 1993, Sean and I embarked on what we affectionately called our "three month stand."  So called because there was no way we could have ever maintained a long-term relationship, so we went into it knowing it was only for a while.  Our politics, our world-views, and especially our relationship with intoxicating substances--none were compatible.  But Sean was fun, smart, impossibly tall, and had long, bleached-blond hair halfway to his ass.  Hey, it was the very early 90s.  Hair was still in.

Before you get any ideas about me, Sean was my THIRD partner.  The other two had been HUSBANDS.  He was my first AND last "fling."

For three months, Sean and I were together almost every moment.  I often blame my car accident, which really did do a number on my "impulse control" and ability to make rational decisions.  No doubt, that was part of it.  Sean had an ex-girlfriend, a toddler, and was only paying 25 bucks a month in child support while his ex (later his wife, even later his ex-wife) was living with (and being supported by) her hyper-disapproving Mormon parents.  We tangled often about that--about his being able to afford smokes and beer but not child support.

I remember one day, the ex showed up at Sean's (he was in a roommate situation with four other college students at a condo owned by the father of one of the students).  She was always nice to me, but always looked utterly wounded by my existence.  She considered me gravely, then said wistfully, "I wish I could be you--then he'd love me forever."

That poor girl.  Sean really did put off a shine that drew you, a warmth that made you feel you needed to be close.  I doubt it ended that way, but for a long time I think she was helpless to resist the draw.

For a few months, I hung out with the band Sean played with, learned how to run their sound board.  I don't say "Sean's Band" because it wasn't--they'd lost their guitarist and he was a hired gun.  They were called "Genghis Khan," and holy cow, they were derivative.  They practiced at an old farmhouse in the country.  Place was crawling with hundreds of ferel cats and kittens.  The vocalist was a Tom Keifer wannabe (vocally--looks-wise he was more a Sam Kinison clone), the other guitarist was so wasted most of the time it was impossible to get much out of him, the bassist . . . wasn't (they had no bass player), and the drummer . . . was sober and so much better than the rest of them. He and Sean should have started a band, left those losers behind.

Instead, he slogged along and fell deeper and deeper into the booze and drugs.

One day, Sean said he was really wishing he was back together with his ex, the mother of his lovely little boy.  I said he should go for it.  And he did.  Sadly, Sean had some serious impulse control issues.  He went back to his ex, I hooked up with my now-husband, yet Sean kept trying to get back with me.  Not for a long-term thing, but a "friends with benefits" arrangement.  He really just never could stop himself.  Something that haunted him all his life.

Finally, his advances became so enraging that I cut off all contact for years.

When we reconnected, it was via Facebook.  He'd gone through years of addiction, had flipped hot and cold hard-core religious (you know how the addiction thing can do that), but his politics had taken a hard swing left.  He admitted to barely remembering me--turns out, he'd been utterly addicted even then.  Most of that time was a blur for him.  We palled around on Facebook for a couple of years, but then he and his latest wife (not sure how many there were, at least two) fell apart.  It started with him taking responsibility, admitting it was his temper, his sarcasm, his drug use, but, as he always said, one of his greatest talents was turning things around on folks, and it went from being his fault to her being a faithless whore in record time.  It was all played out very publicly on his wall, and it was horrible to see.  Like a train wreck of meanness and deceit.

And then, because (he later admitted) this is what he did when things got rough, he turned on me.  And, to be fair, his other friends, too.  There was nothing special about me.  Because addiction circles so often fall into the "higher power" trap, Sean, seemingly out of the blue, went nutty on me over my atheism.  It was insulting, immature, unreasonable, and really quite shocking.  Like I said, "out of the blue."  My response?

I smacked him down so hard my hand is still stinging.

His reaction?

Shock.  He was stunned that I had come back on him.  Said that people usually just took it from him because that's how he was.  That was, in fact, the backbone of his apology:  this is how I am when things aren't going right in my life, and I am helpless to stop myself.  No promise to never do it again, just a wow, sorry I did that, I was out of line, but this is how I am.  Get used to it, because it's sure to happen again.

No.  No, I refused to "get used to it."  And I told him so.  Told him that I was sorry, but that, at my age, I didn't have a place in my world for someone prone to spontaneously erupting on me like that.  I didn't have what it took to tolerate abusiveness or drama.  I didn't NEED to tolerate it.  If he couldn't assure me that this was never, ever, EVER going to happen again, I was going to have to walk away.

He couldn't, and I did.

That was a couple of years ago.  Today, I opened the paper to come across Sean's obituary.

I gasped when I saw it.

Says he died of a perforated ulcer, and I'm sure that's true.  But what he really died of was a life of alcohol and drug abuse and an inability to get his act together in any meaningful way for any real length of time.  Apparently he'd just gotten a new job, was very happy, very optimistic.  But that was Sean--the same scenario played out again and again.  Like he was trapped, doomed to repeat that pattern until . . .

Until now.

Poor Sean.

And my son?  Well, he still plays that old white Ibanez (gone cream-colored with the years) I bought from Sean all those years ago.  Sean had two of them--he kept one, and the other wound up being my son's.  Is there some meaning there?

Probably not.

An update here:  the landlord is booting us, has given us 60 days notice to vacate.  This isn't an eviction--he says we're the best tenants he's ever had, has offered a glowing reference.  But he's selling, and he needs us out so he can do that.  Which leaves us utterly screwed and possibly facing homelessness.  Truly.  So please.