Friday, December 02, 2011

I've Got a Pain in My ____, Just Like Love!!!

My sisters Sarah and R. are 14 and 28 months younger than I am, respectively.  We were tow-headed, dimpled, adorable little girls that people often mistook for triplets.  When I was little, I didn't realize that they were not only my best friends, for many years, they were really my only friends.

We played (and fought) constantly.  And somehow, it often ended up THEM vs. ME.

I honestly don't know how this started.  I was too little when it started to understand the impact it would have on my life.

And as my mortal enemies/best friends/sisters, they knew exactly which buttons to push to drive me insane.

And at the top of the list of evil things they did to me are sounds:

Lets start with the song.  We used to share a double bed, Sarah and I on the edges and R. sleeping in the middle.  Little kids usually don't need an alarm clock, but that went double for me: any morning that they woke up before I did, they would sneak over to me and start singing.  The song went "I've got a pain in my _____, just like love!!!"  The blank would be whatever body part they were bouncing on me at the moment, although their favorite was to bounce their butts on me as they sang, "I've got a pain in my butt, just like love!"  I still don't know what that means.

They would also do this mouth... smacking... thing.  I've done it to The Hubs, and he confirms that its REALLY annoying.  And now he does it to me too, when I'm tired and cranky.

He is not as funny as he thinks he is.

They also used to claim that they were aliens, and had their own language.  I still can't understand their made-up language THAT THEY STILL SPEAK.  But they used to use it all the time when I was around, just because it drove me insane.

You know how, if someone is standing behind you in line at the grocery store, and speaking a language you don't understand, you get that paranoid feeling that they are talking about you?

That's how I felt ALL THE TIME.  Of course I was convinced they were talking about me - and really, they might have been, but they were more likely just having non-sense conversations because the sight of my red and swelling face was hilarious to their juvenile minds.

They would make other repetitive noises, and to this day, repetitive noises drive me crazy.  Humming, tapping, snapping, knuckle-popping, any of it.  DRIVE ME BATTY.  I'm pretty sure you can trace this back to my sisters persistent use of obnoxious, repetitive sounds.

That's right.

MY SISTERS BROKE ME.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

So Long, Farewell

Okay, that might be a little extreme.  But today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, and other than some unfortunate connectivity issues that caused posts to go up late, I managed to post every day.  I started this month with nothing more than the goal of blogging more often, and have rekindled my interest in blogging in general.  I loved doing it with my sister and husband.  It started off kind of epic, and I continued strong past the half way point, but the last week and a half have been tough.  I wanted to end with a funny, long post about the month, or Thanksgiving, or well, anything else but this, but my sweet little Malakai shared his stomach bug with me, and its all I can do to sit here and type this.

Bleargh.

I'm so proud of me, and so proud of my sister and The Hubs... and I'm proud of all of you, too!  Good job to each and every person who participated in NaBloPoMo this year, and THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all of the wonderful readers, commenters, and lurkers who encouraged me this month.  I may do this again later in the year, or I may wait until next November (I definitely won't be NaBlo'ing in December!), but I hope you will continue to visit as I resume posting on a slightly more erratic (but more sensible for me) schedule.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Barf Two Ways

I planned on writing a long post yesterday, but I was feeling a little under the weather, thanks to my nephew.

As I mentioned earlier this month, my brother C. is joining the USMC.  He made it to Parris Island yesterday.  In order to make sure we could all spend the holiday together, my dad rented a cabin up in the mountains of West Virginia.  He also invited my in-laws, which was super awesome.

Now, my in-laws had to get to New Jersey on Saturday, but we were going to be in WV until Sunday morning.  In order to allow me to spend as much time with my family as possible, The Hubs drove his parents back to Maryland (from whence they traveled to NJ), and I arranged to come back with my sister and brother-in-law, who live about 80 miles from me.

It was supposed to be a five hour trip.  We left at 10:30 AM Sunday morning.

We made it to my house by 7:30 PM.

See, I have this nephew who gets car sick.  Knowing this, he was not provided with the normal sorts of things that make him car sick (i.e. dairy products), and my sister administered Dramamine (or something like it.)

I think you can already guess that it didn't work.

The poor guy alternated crying, barfing, sleeping, and watching "Cars" with pleading to please stop the car/go home/let him go "pee-potty" in the grass.  The first time he threw up, we weren't as prepared, and some of the up-chuck ended up in the car seat, on the boy, and down beside his chair.

The second time, he missed the INSIDE of the bag, but his enterprising mom just turned outside of the bag into a bowl-shaped receptacle in her hands.  Of course, that wouldn't close, so I grabbed my Long John Silvers cup (still 1/4 full of ice and cold water), and she set the bag inside.

But traffic was stop and go, and we were stuck in the left hand lane.

And Auntie got to hold the freezing cold cup'o'barf until we were able to stop.

It was  few hours later when he puked again.  Mom was now in the backseat with the twins, who were quite insistent that 7 hours in the car was TOO LONG.  Dad heard something in nephew's voice, and flipped HIS LJS cup (blessedly empty) to me, who managed to get it under his chin JUST IN TIME.  No spillage this time, but I was (again) left holding the (warm) cup'o'barf.  *shudder*

Dad (when he had a moment) transferred the nasty cup to a cup holder, but it was too late.

I was scarred.

So it was kind of wonderful to finally reach home and see that my husband bought me a Christmas tree.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I lied

I'm running a fever that's been going up pretty quickly in spite of medicine to counteract it.  So, a picture of my Christmas tree.  Not decorated yet, but up!  My sweet hubby schlepped through Wal-Mart on Saturday to buy it, and did the initial set-up before I got home from West Virginia.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lesticals

Tonight, I am in West Virginia with my family.  We rented a cabin to spend Thanksgiving together, and tonight, we were all sitting around the fire reminiscing and making new memories.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lame

This week is crazy, with having my wonderful in laws in town, working like mad to be sure everything is okay for my five day absence, and getting ready for WV and thanksgiving with my family.  So, another cheating post. It's 1045, let's hope The Blogger Mobile App posts on time!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Can Haz Tulle?

Today is a gimme.  (You know I'm tired when I make sports analogies.). It's been a long, busy day.

So in lieu of a useful post, here is Daisy, creeping towards the tulle when I was making Ava's dress.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

1-800-KentuckyBrides.com - Wherein I Am Worth Driving 80 Miles -or- How I Am Like A Spider

As some of you may remember, I graduated from law school in 2009.  If you don't remember this, go back and read old blog posts - it may rot your brain cells, but you'll see all the parts where I was whining about law school.  I was in Maryland for the summer of 2008, doing an internship at the Public Defender's office.  I called my good friend The One Soon To Be Known As The Boy Soon To Be Known As The Hubs, and asked if he would like to drive the 80 miles to hand out one day.  He had a day free (cough) and to my shock and amazement, agreed to come visit!

When he showed up at my grandfather's house, I was looking pretty cute.  (If you don't believe me, you can ask him.)  If girls were spiders, the way we dress is our bridge.  This is why it is relevant to mention that I was wearing a pair of black strappy sandals with a little kitten heel, and denim capris.  And my hair was fantastic - I had pretty much the best hair dresser in the world, and had gotten an amazing hair cut right before I left Kentucky.  I say that this is relevant because it was at this moment that it occurred to The Hubs (for the first time in our friendship) that I was a girl.  (I think its fair to say that I am his only female friend that he had never made a move on, ever.) Although I didn't realize it at the time, this was an important shift in our relationship.

Being po' folk, we went to a park in Oxford, Maryland, which has an amazing view of the bay and is a nice place to walk.  We talked for hours.  Then we had dinner with my sister and her husband at Applebees.  Before he left, he invited me to come visit and have dinner with him and his room mates at his house.  Having very little better to do (most of my time was taken up with work at the public defender's office, or work at Starbucks), I agreed.

I had fun hanging out with him.  We went to a local park, and walked around the lake.  Once again, we talked.  We talked for hours.  We ate dinner at Houlihan's (home of the ginormous bottle of alcohol that was so impressive, I had to send a picture of it to my law school friend and future bride's maid, R.)  The whole time, we just kept talking.  I'm not sure I've ever spent as much time talking before or since.

We stood outside at my car as I was leaving, and talked.  We talked about everything:  families, religion, education, goals in life.  For a few more hours, until it was dark and I was freezing.  I knew him well enough to see the tell-tale signs of interest growing - apparently, his crush started in Oxford Park, but I didn't know.  What surprises me to this day was that he refrained from saying anything that night, discretion generally not being his modus operandi.

The truth is, it was that afternoon that I consciously decided to begin weaving my web.  I don't know that I've ever mentioned this to him (hi, honey!), but during our long conversation that day, I weighed and measured him, and evaluated his suitability, and concluded that he'd do.  And knowing him so well, and knowing myself, I also knew that if I took this step - if I decided to date him - I was going to marry him.  I may have engaged in a little "frame building" - subtle flirting.

I also knew it was going to be a week or so before I saw him again, so after the appropriate amount of flirting, I headed back across the bridge.  And followed the visit up with a campaign of increasingly flirtatious (modest, but flirtatious) text messaging.  I think we even talked on the phone once or twice.  The next weekend (June 20), we arranged to meet at Oxford Park again.

And a couple of weeks later, I posted this:  Hooookay.

As it turns out, I weave a pretty good web.

Friday, November 18, 2011

1-800-KentuckyBrides.com - The Time He Threatened to Stab Me Repeatedly

I last left you with The Hubs in his darkest period.  Before I tell you the story of our actual meeting, I'd like to give you a taste of what he was like in those days.  I mentioned that he blogged back then.  I was a pretty faithful blogger myself in 2005.  The following was his (troll-like) response to one of my blog posts.  As I was re-reading this, I sat here sputtering and tsking at The Hubs, and telling him that his younger self was a brat.  BRAT.  The post is edited for clarity and length, i.e. I am deliberately censoring out the parts where he isn't quite as openly MOCKING ME.  Without further ado:

The One


[...]
This is in response to a post on Dorothy's blog also called The One.

I should probably start by welcoming Dorothy to the wonderful world of the pessimists. But we've actually had this discussion before.

And I've always won.

WIFE'S NOTE: REMEMBER THIS LINE LATER.

Dorothy is, at least, finally squaring away her romantic views with her religious views.

WIFE'S NOTE: ALWAYS MOCKING MY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.  SIGH.


Anyway, Dorothy was one of those people who liked to tell me that God has someone for me somewhere. Undoubtedly someone with a pitchfork.

Editor's Note: One day I'm going to meet a girl with a pitchfork and I'll remember this post.

WIFE'S NOTE: I DON'T HAVE A PITCHFORK, BUT NOW I KIND OF WISH I DID.

Second Editor's Note: Thanks to Christi's perverse animation, I have to amend that the pitchfork must be red and the girl must have a cute red tail and, perhaps, some horns to go with it. I will not spend any portion of my life in farmland unless I'm running from the police.

WIFE'S NOTE: GUESS WHO HAD TO STAY IN FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY FOR TWO DAYS IN SEPTEMBER?  WHERE THERE ARE FARMS AND RURALNESS?  GOD HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR.

And maybe not even then.

At the same time, Dorothy also is one of those dirty Arminians (::wink::), so she doesn't believe that God elects to salvation. That does seem to be problematic.

WIFE'S NOTE: BRAT.

Anyway, she seems to have reversed her position of late, at least in the general sense. No doubt she'll try to convince me that God does have a girl somewhere picked out for me.

Personally, I don't buy it.

[...]

That said, I don't think that God has it in His plan for me to get married. If He does, I don't think it'll be to anyone I know right now. Probably not until I'm no longer in Maryland, really.

WIFE'S NOTE: REALLY?  WHO'S WRONG NOW, BUSTER???

Guess it's time to go backpacking across the country now.

WIFE'S NOTE: AND TO THINK, I CAME TO YOU.

[...]

The point is that while I believe in "The One," I don't believe that there will necessarily be anything magical about that person. There might. I've had one relationship that started off, at least, almost magical.

WIFE'S NOTE: GEE, THANKS.

Yeah, I've lost most of my ability to believe in romance. Romance will get you nowhere in the long run. It might help to start. It might help at key intervals along the way. But, in the end, romance is just dressing on what is a job.

And just like a job, you can think you're doing well until one day you're fired.

So, yeah, I believe in "The One." 

I just don't believe in love anymore.

WIFE'S NOTE: LOOKING BACK, I THINK ITS PRETTY CLEAR THAT I WIN. 


So here we are in 2011.  I'm pretty sure he's changed his tune since then.  I'm still not convinced that there is a "The One," but he is definitely my one and only, for the rest our lives.  He wrote this post about three weeks after we met.  The story goes like this:

It was my senior year of college.  I was in Washington, D.C. for a school-sponsored internship, and I didn't want to pay the astronomical fees to park my car at the hotel.  ($25/a day?  Do you know how many pairs of pants that would buy?  And RAMEN?)  Since The Hubs lived nearby(ish), he agreed to let me park my car in his apartment lot for free.  I took a friend, and we met him at a local Applebees.

He kept threatening to stab me with utensils.

Side note:  he still has that t-shirt, and sometimes I steal it to sleep in because OHMIGOSHSOCOMFY!
We went back to his house for a bit before he took us to the metro for the ride back into D.C.  It was winter, and as we left his apartment, we encountered a problem:  You see, thanks to the temperature, his door didn't seal properly when left to close on its own.  Focused so much on the door, The Hubs did not pause as he turned back to give the handle a yank.  Later, he said that just as the words, "Do I have my keys?  No!" the door clicked shut.

He was locked out.  With no apartment key, no car key, and no way to get in until morning.  So, we headed over to the apartment of Inner Harbor girl (with whom he was still friends, and with whom we are both now friends) and her roommate (who is now the sister-in-law of B., my previously mentioned sweet and hilarious friend mentioned here, here, and here.)  Roommate doesn't remember this, our first inauspicious meeting, but it happened!

It was here that he continued his campaign to put me in fear of my life, with his deadly dagger-wielding skills. (As if driving a little Kentucky girl around the seedy underbelly of Laurel in the middle of the night wasn't enough.)
Although you can't see it in these pictures, he had long hair pulled back in a pony tail.  I grew up around military service members, so I can't even express to you how awkward I find long hair on men to be.  It was not one of his better fashion choices.  I was also in a relationship at that time, so it just wasn't time for "us."  But this did mark the beginning of what I call our "real life friendship," where I stopped thinking of him as an internet buddy.  We would meet again in three years, and everything would be different.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

1-800-Kentucky-Brides.com - Where I Get Dissed!

When last we talked, The Hubs had the world convinced that he was married, and I (the poor college student) was out $25 for a new pair of pants.

That's like 100 packages of Ramen!
Of course, it was all a lie.  I (along with a multitude of other people) was quite peeved with him for sometime after this stunt.  He informed everyone a day or two later that it was all a joke, and that he had merely acquired a new girlfriend (his second in our acquaintance.)

They broke up not long after, and then there was a time of darkness.  And blogging.  Thus began his blue period.  This part is really HIS story more than mine, although I did bear witness to the unfortunate events that followed.  There is one brief story from this time that I (more than he) feels is pertinent:

He had by this time graduated from college and gone on to Seminary - this necessitated a move to the state from which my father hails.  My grandfather and Aunt still live here, and we made a yearly pilgrimage to celebrate Thanksgiving with them.  The Hubs (then just "The Guy I Know From The Internet" or TGIKFTI) and I had discussed meeting one another during my trip, and on the appointed day, I called him to confirm.  No response.  No response for several days.  After returning to Kentucky, I was finally able to get a hold of him to ask, "What in the heck?!?"  I received the following (paraphrased) explanation: "Oh.  About that.  I had to take this girl to the Inner Harbor to comfort her after she broke up with her boyfriend."  Just think how things might have been different...

We could have had it all, The American Dream.  Instead, he let me finish growing up, and now I tell him to make his own sammich.  He could have had sammiches!
True story: when I broached the topic of meeting The Hubs (not that I referred to him as such back then) with my father, he agreed that it was probably safe after many years of writing, but henceforward proceeded to refer to The Hubs as "The Ax Murderer."  He refer to him by that name that until we started dating, and may have continued to do so behind my back. 


Also, I have not yet been murdered, particularly not with an ax.  So, there's that.
More time passed, and more things happened.  I received my Associates Degree and moved on to a four year college in Missouri.  The Hubs began dating Inner Harbor girl and completed his education.  We refer to this as his rose-colored period. And then dissolved his relationship with Inner Harbor girl.  This was the beginning of his "black as the darkest pit with no light at all anywhere and the sky is falling.  The sky is also black" period.

It was very depressing, not just for him but for all of his friends.  There was blogging, long hair, selling insurance and working for an evil corporate overlord.  Ιt was during this period that we finally met.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Exhausted

I am so tired today.  It has been a busy, crazy, EXHAUSTING week.  So, today's blog is short, just a blurb.  This is Daisy, who considers herself queen-princess of the world.

I had to chase her around the house for 10 minutes, then bribe her with catnip, to get this picture.  Bonus shot, The Minion Underfoot, because you can't bribe just one.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One Year Old!!!

Happy birthday, little princesses.  I love you!


1-800-KentuckyBrides.com - Wherein The Hubs "gets married"

The Hubs went to bed early last night, so I couldn't make him proof-read my post before it went live.  I need to make a couple of tiny notes here:

I told you I was going to explain why I didn't want to make a massively long how we met post.  I wrote the reason, but didn't draw your attention to it.  So here it is:  As a teenager and young adult, The Hubs used to write incredibly long e-mails.  He blogged via e-mail, before blogging was a thing.  When I say it might take several days to read his e-mail, I wasn't kidding: it literally took days.  You couldn't read it all in one sitting, unless you had several hours of uninterrupted internet access.  I did not.  When he wrote about his first trip to France, it took me nearly a week to read the entire e-mail.  I wish I could provide you with proof of this, but when Yahoo! switched to a new format a few years ago, I lost all of my old e-mails.  They were so epic, I would save them to reread later.


I should also mention that The Hubs sent virtual flowers to all the girls he chatted with.  He wasn't the only one, either: I don't know if that was an internet-chat-room-wide phenomenon, but all of the boys in RSJchat did that.  Just talking about this is making me shake my head: we were SO COOL.


When I left you last, I told you how The Hubs didn't sound like Antonio Banderas.  He still doesn't.

 He actually has a New Jersey accent, not a sexy Puerto Rican accent like Bernardo in West Side Story.   Which was the only context I had for "Puerto Rico accents" when I was 18.
In Spanish, the letter "h" is silent.  In New Jersey, you drop your "h" on purpose.  In Spanish, something large is "grande."  In New Jerseyian, its "YOUGE!"  (Say it out loud, it will make more sense.)  For a Kentucky girl who had been hearing so many stories about The Hubs Puerto Rican heritage, this was very disappointing.

The first time I met his mother, she told me that my Spanish accent is better than his.  Let me say once again that I have the best in-laws in the world.


I distinctly recall one conversation where I was trying to get him to help me with my college Spanish, and he mistook the word for flour ("harina") for the word for.. well... you can translate it for yourself.  The verb is "orinar." 

Is it sad that our first real conversation was me expressing my surprise that he didn't have the expected accent? I mean, I should have known better:  He was going to college in North Eastern Pennsylvania.  According to The Hubs, it is referred to as "NEPA," pronounced KNEE-pah.       

In the summer of 2002, I was busy working at a day care, and taking summer classes at a local community college.  (Remind me to tell you someday about the adventure my friend Andie and I had with the girl who claimed I hit her car.)   I may have, at this point, developed a small internet crush on him.

One day, just before my statistics class, I was in the school library checking my e-mail.  I received one of The Hubs lengthy e-mails - we were actually e-mailing back and forth a lot that summer, and he had recently acquired an AIM screen name, so we chatted there, too.

In earlier days, his verbosity would have been  an expensive habit.
He talked about traveling to Florida to visit his family, and mentioned that he had met up with a girl that he had been talking to online.  After talking about how wonderful she was, and describing their immediate connection, he does this:  (I'm paraphrasing, because I've lost the original e-mail, as I mentioned before.)

"Well, I know this will surprise many of you, and I know some of you will be worried, but, well... when we met, we fell immediately and instantly in love.  It was just this connection, well - sometimes you just know.  I can't imagine living so far away from her, so this morning, we got up at dawn, watched the sun rise, and we got married."

He then went on to describe the many charms of his new bride, and listed all the reasons why this move made sense.

I was so upset.  I just couldn't believe he had thrown his life, his ministry, everything aside for a girl.  See, here's the thing:  when you go to a small Christian college, the peer pressure to "find the one God has for you" is so strong.  The ongoing joke is that girls go to these schools to get their "MRS degree."  And, due to various circumstances, The Hubs was very susceptible to this line of thinking.

So when I heard that he had suddenly married someone he had only known via the internet, my heart broke for him.  I thought, in his desperation to find a wife, he had thrown everything away.  I was so upset, I went out after class and bought a pair of pants.  Pants that I didn't need.

I know, I know.  Retail therapy isn't therapy at all.  I just needed to distract myself from the plight of my friend - my friend that I thought I knew so well, my childhood pen-pal.

The thing is... it was all a lie.


Monday, November 14, 2011

1-800-KentuckyBrides.com - pt.1

The Hubs and I had been dating for a couple of weeks before he got around to  telling got the guts to mention had the opportunity to mention to his mother that he had a new girl friend.  I think I will let HIM tell the whole crazy story of why that is.  Or maybe I'll put it in a future blog post.  When she asked him how we met, he said "1-800-KentuckyBrides.com."

He also told that story to people at church.

This is a lie.

The story of "how we met" spans well over a decade, and requires several posts to explain.  Well, this is the internet, and my blog, so I guess I could tell it in one really long post.  But that would make me like him.  I'll explain in a minute.

When people I don't know very well ask me how The Hubs and I met, I sort of stammer, and hem and haw a bit, and then throw in some language about being friends for years and years and if I know them a little bit, I might mention something about pen pals.

And its true.

Sort of.

But it is by no means the whole story.

We actually met because of this website:  http://rsjames.com/

When the contemporary Christian artist Rebecca St. James released her album God in 1996, the liner notes included a tiny link to her website.  We had only recently had the internet installed.  Actually, my parents had purchased a new computer, a state of the art Acer running Windows 3.1 and using a 14.4 kbit/s modem, the previous year (just a few months before Windows 95 was released.)  We didn't have a second phone line though, and we did have call waiting, so guess what happened every time someone called when we were online.  And if a website loaded in less than five minutes, we were all "Oh my gosh, its sooooo fast!"

True story:  The Acer replaced our old computer, a Commodore 64 that had not worked since at least 1989.  I was the coolest five year old ever, running around using DOS.
When my daddy was out to sea, my mother, sisters Sarah and R., and I would stay up late together, often all clustered around the computer.  The screen saver came on every 1 minute, with a password only my parents knew, and we shared an e-mail account with my parents, so we were pretty carefully supervised.

Also, my mom made us watch a creepy made-for-tv movie about a girl who met someone from the internet, and then was kidnapped, in order to scare us into behaving.  This is the same lady who doesn't ADMIT that her primary goal for allowing her teenager daughters to witness the birth of our youngest brother was intended mainly to act as a graphic form of sex-ed/teenage birth control.  Good job, Mom: fifteen years later, and I still don't have any kids.  So if you are wondering why I haven't given you grandchildren yet, NOW YOU KNOW.  

We discovered that Rebecca St. James' website had a chat room, lovingly referred to as "rsjChat."  We would talk to other teenagers in the chat rooms, have lively philosophical debates (it was pretty heavily moderated to keep things clean), and start e-mail/pen-pal friendships with people we talked to.

My first handle was "Trinity" (sooo cool), and then switched to eniale because, well, Trinity was boring.  And I forgot my password.  eniale is my middle name spelled backwards, and I thought it was pretty clever to think of it.  I chatted with a whole host of other christian teenage kids, and over the years, the list of people I e-mailed began to dwindle, until I was left with just one ongoing pen-pal.

PuppetMaster.

For the first few months, I didn't even know his real name, because you just didn't tell any old stranger your REAL name.  They might find you!  He signed his e-mail PM, and I would affectionately refer to him a "preacher boy" because he liked to throw complex theological concepts at me.  I was 12 or 13, and easily over-awed.  I liked to think of really insulting names to call him, and to this day, I can't tell you why.

No idea why, at all.

He sent me flowers via virtualflorist.com.  And by "flowers" I mean a picture of flowers, with some meaningless but friendly message at the bottom.

Virtualflorist.com:  when you care enough to e-mail a picture of some flowers in a vase.
Over the years, we remained pretty faithful correspondents, and I liked to brag to my friends when I was 13 that I had a friend who had his driver's license.  (All...one... of my friends.)

Oh, did I forget to mention the part where he was 15 when I was 12?  Ooops.  I'll let you judge him yourself/ draw your own conclusions.  Well, no one has ever accused him of being "too mature for his age."  I haven't, anyway.

We discussed religion and life and his love of writing.  What we wanted to do/be when we grew up.  He would write epic e-mails of awesomeness that would take you several days to read.  He was in college before I was (obviously), so he had a lot of stories to tell about "being a grown up."  This was also where he began formulating the thesis that has formed the core of existence ever since: The Global Female Conspiracy.  He even began a book about the topic:  and by began I mean he has probably several chapters already.

He was funny, and smart, and a little bit lotta-bit of a know-it-all.  He used to make me read all of his stories, and theology papers, and pretty much anything else he could think of to flaunt his superiority entertain his e-pen-pals.

When I turned 18, I decided I was mature enough, and we had e-mailed long enough, and it was probably safe to call him on the telephone.  (This was also when I got my very own first e-mail address, and I still have it to this day.)  My very first spoken words to him (and he immortalized this on his own website so that he could taunt me with it forever he wouldn't ever forget) were, "I think I expected you to sound more like Antonio Banderas."



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hey You Kids, Gerroff Mah Lawn!

In our neighborhood, we have a little problem.  I have illustrated it for you above, with my mad mspaint skills.  Don't worry, I'm sure The Hubs will explain the spacial issues with my illustration, but you get the idea.

Here is the key, which also explains the problem:

My house is the bit in the right hand corner.  The small green square is where we keep our trash can (on the back deck), and the small blue square is where we keep our recycling bin (on the front porch.)

The green bits are yards.

The red rectangles are cars-ish.  That's just mostly to show you how crazy our parking lot is.

The black bits are the road, and the grey bits are the sidewalks.

We do not have a dumpster in our neighborhood, and the subdivision is all townhomes, not all of which have direct access to the street.  And the waste management company requires all of the trash be grouped in easily-accessed areas. The dark purple circle is where people SHOULD put their trash.

The light purple circle and everything in it is a demonstration of where people actually put their trash.

The black dotted lines are the bugs that make their way into our house thanks to our neighbors.

The brown spots in the yard are the bits of the yard that are dead and/or filled with fungus thanks to our neighbors garbage disposal methods.  Fungus doesn't mean cute little toadstools, no.  It means GIANT mushroomy-nastiness that looks like a mad-cow-diseased-bovine brain.  Its digs deep into the soil, and EATS is, so you have giant holes in your yard when you dig it up.  Also, I think it might be sentient.

On the plus side, it scares the neighbor kids.


We have been begging our neighbors to stop putting trash in our yard.  It attracts rats, maggots, ants, and other pests.  As our house is the nearest structure, they end up making their way from the trash bins/bags/piles and into our home.  The ant problem is the worst, because they get absolutely everywhere.  The cats, fortunately, appear to have protected us from the rat infestation. 

Oh yeah, thanks to the poor disposal habits of our neighbors, our neigborhood has a rat infestation.  Templeton isn't cute when he isn't helping Wilbur.  Yay cats, you ARE useful for something!

And lest you wonder, yes, we DID find maggots in strange places this summer.

Like our bedroom.  *shudder*

(Someday, when I've been to therapy and learned to cope with the memories, I will tell you about helping our friend and former roomate clean out her truck bed.  So...many.... maggots...  When I say "the sidewalk was crawling", it is not an exageration...)

This would be easily solved if people would bag and can their trash properly, and not put it in our yard.  And remove their cans/bins within, you know, a day.

I mean, I know I grew up in Kentucky, but I do not consider trash cans to be appropriate lawn ornaments.


 But The Hubs has come up with an ingenious device for providing "discipline" to THESE recalcitrant neighbors.  They have one day to come get their empty bin, and then he walks it across the street to "The Barn" (an actual historic barn) which is the headquarters for our local HOA, and leaves it there.  Since he started doing that, its been amazing to see the people who remember to get their nasty garbage cans.

We're pretty sure some of them are on the HOA.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Diagnosis

Let me preface this post by saying that I am grateful to have health insurance.  In an abstract sense, I am grateful to have health insurance.  In a theoretical sense, I am grateful to have health insurance.  But I have to be honest, in practice, 90% of the time that I actually NEED health insurance, I wonder if being indebted to doctors for the rest of my life wouldn't be a little bit worth it.

We currently use a company called Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network.)  They have terrible customer service, and their claims department may be staffed by semi-literate monkeys  people who just don't care.

(But monkeys like to throw poo, and when I get my "claim summary" each month, I feel like someone just threw poo at me.)

The first time I was seen by a doctor after enrolling in health care benefits from Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network), I was informed that I would have a co-pay of $35, and everything else would be covered.  This was in September 2010.  Two months later, I get a bill from the doctor AND from the lab who did my blood tests.  The doctor bill we paid (because I did not yet know any better), but the lab bill was $1,500.

$1,500.


FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.


Seriously?

I called Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network), who informed me that the bill would be re-processed and paid, and that I didn't need to worry about it.  Just to be safe, I called the billing department for the lab, and they agreed to put a 30 day hold on the account, so that they could process the insurance payment.

Two months later, I get another bill.  With penalty and interest.  Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network), was still processing.

Which happened again.

And again.

Until the bill finally got paid in April. How many months is that?  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, six, SIX months after I was seen (and after being harassed repeatedly because Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network), couldn't figure out how to pay the bill), Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network), finally paid it.
               
                 At a discount rate.

                                  Of $400.
??????

Okay, you know what?  Whatever, it got paid, and all I had to suffer was a few heart attacks at being presented with an unexpected bill and the precious time that I will never get back that I spent on the phone with Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network).

And yeah, I got really sick this year and couldn't be seen because Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network), mistakenly denied the doctor's visit for being out of network, and since it was a pay-up-front kinda place (yay urgent treatment), they wanted me to pay $200.

Which I didn't have.

So I had to wait until Monday, at which point I was incredibly sick and ended up missing a day of work because I couldn't get treatment on the weekend.

And yes, I have had to call them multiple times because they (Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network)) keep trying to claim The Hubs doctors visits were out of network.  (I don't think I need to remind YOU of his health issues, you faithful reader of ye olde blog, you!  But if you need the reminder, go read my blog from a couple of weeks ago.)

And sure, they (Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network)) have initially denied every single claim this year.

And yes, almost all the claims have ultimately been paid.

BUT.

There is still The Diagnosis.

See, I have an ongoing issue in my life that causes me to feel a great deal of anxiety.  And since its no secret that anxiety is kind of my biggest struggle, I can tell you that this ongoing issue resulted in significant physical illness.  So I went to the doctor, they prescribed a multitude of medications to deal with my physical ailments, and I went on. I've been monitored by the doctor, and things are under control and I am in a good place, in spite of the ongoing situation.

So, imagine my surprise when I get a bill from my doctor for the full amount of one of my follow-up doctor visits.  Of course my initial was that Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network), was simply up to their normal tricks.  I pretty much expected it.  I called the insurance company, and got some run around about the way the doctor billed the visit being not covered.

I thought this was strange, because my insurance summary CLEARLY states that office visits with my primary care provider (pcp) are covered with just a $20 copay.  So I called the doctor's office to find out what was going on.  The girl in billing looked at the bill, and looked at the denial and said, "well, that's weird.  They are denying because you received a diagnosis."

I.... what?  You can go to the doctor... but not be diagnosed with anything?  Isn't that kind of the natural result of a doctor's visit?  Feel sick, get diagnosed, get treated?  If you aren't allowed to be diagnosed, why would you go?

So, I called the insurance (Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network)) company back.

"Why wasn't this visit covered?"
"Because of The Diagnosis."
"What diagnosis?"
"I can't tell you."
"What?"
"I am not permitted to discuss The Diagnosis."
"I..but... what?  So, you can deny my claim, but can't tell me why?"
"I am not permitted to discuss The Diagnosis."
"I hear what you are saying, but I need you to explain to me why being diagnosed by my doctor means this isn't covered."
"It was because you were diagnosed."
"So, if I go to the doctor, and get a diagnosis, it isn't covered?"
"I can't discuss The Diagnosis."

Now, I have to admit, at this point, I was getting a little frustrated, and I started being a little impatient with her.

"Okay, but I need to know why this wasn't covered.  It should be covered.  My insurance summary says it should be covered."
"Well, I have to check with the doctor.  Its because of  what the doctor submitted."
"I just spoke to the doctors office.  They don't understand why you denied it either."
"Please hold while I contact the doctor's office."

*insert five minutes of horrible hold music here*

"The doctor's office confirmed The Diagnosis."
"What?"
"If they wish to resubmit, they will have to submit a statement of why it is different this time."
"How can we fix it if you won't tell us what is wrong with it?"
"I am not permitted to discuss The Diagnosis."

*I take a deep breath*

"Okay, diagnosis aside.  My benefit summary says primary office visits are covered."
"But not if you receive The Diagnosis."
"..."
"I am not permitted to discuss The Diagnosis."
"WHY ARE YOU DENYING A CLAIM THAT IS COVERED?"
"Perhaps if you looked somewhere else on the benefit summary?"
"What?"
"Maybe it discusses it elsewhere."

*This begins a long and prolonged discussion of what in the heck she is talking about, where she in a roundabout and meandering way causes me to read every section of the benefit summary until I get to the last one and she says...*

"Perhaps that applies."
"Are you kidding me?  How does this apply???"
"I am not permitted to discuss The Diagnosis."

*I spend a few minutes trying to get her to explain why this particular section applied, and eventually give up.*

"You know what?  Fine.  Please tell whoever is in charge that you were just speaking with one of the people responsible for making health care provider decisions for the entire company, and that we will now be seeking other care."

*click*

Yes.  They decided that my doctor's visit is considered outpatient mental health services.

You know what, Assurant Health (part of Key Benefit Administrators, a participant in the PHCS health network)?  Talking to you makes me think I need outpatient mental health services.  But going to my PCP, and being seen by her nurse practioner, for having an erratic heart beat and unusual pain that are ultimately determined to be related to anxiety is not outpatient mental health services.

Its called going to your doctor.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You

Today, in the United States, we all (or we SHOULD) pause for a moment to say "thank you" to those who have served in our Nation's military.  Each and every veteran sacrificed something for our freedom, and every veteran put his or her life on the line to protect our freedom and way of life.  So to my father, and to every other veteran of the United States military....


THANK YOU!


The following are pictures we took on my birthday trip to Gettysburg.  By honoring those who gave their lives, I remember the willingness of our servicemen and women to sacrifice everything.  I wish I could explain the grateful feeling that visiting this historic battlefield and national cemetery gave me.  It reminded me, in a stark and poignant way, of the risks each and every service member takes through their sacrificial service in our nation's military.

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe's advance
Now swells upon the wind;
No troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow's strife
The warrior's dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shivered swords are red with rust;
Their plumèd heads are bowed;
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed,
Are free from anguish now.

The Neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle's stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout, are past;
Nor war's wild note, nor glory's peal,
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that nevermore may feel
The rapture of the fight.

Like the fierce northern hurricane
That sweeps his great plateau,
Flushed with the triumph yet to gain,
Came down the serried foe.
Who heard the thunder of the fray
Break o'er the field beneath,
Knew well the watchword of that day
Was "Victory or Death."

Long had the doubtful conflict raged
O'er all that stricken plain,
For never fiercer fight had waged
The vengeful blood of Spain;
And still the storm of battle blew,
Still swelled the glory tide;
Not long, our stout old chieftain knew,
Such odds his strength could bide.

'T was in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr's grave
The flower of his belovèd land,
The nation's flag to save.
By rivers of their fathers' gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.

Full many a norther's breath has swept
O'er Angostura's plain,
And long the pitying sky has wept
Above its mouldered slain.
The raven's scream or eagle's flight,
Or shepherd's pensive lay,
Alone awakes each sullen height
That frowned o'er that dread fray.


Sons of the dark and bloody ground,
Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the heedless air.
Your own proud land's heroic soil
Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil--
The ashes of her brave.

Thus 'neath their parent turf they rest,
Far from the glory field,
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast
On many a bloody shield;
The sunshine of their native sky
Smiles sadly on them here,
And kindred eyes and hearts watch by
The heroes' sepulcher.

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave;
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your story be forgot,
While Fame her record keeps,
Or Honor points the hallowed spot
Where Valor proudly sleeps.
Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanished age hath flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight,
Nor Time's remorseless doom,
Shall dim one ray of glory's light
That gilds your deathless tomb.
"The Bivouac of the Dead" is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.  Found online at The Poetry Archive.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Birthday...

To the United States Marine Corps! 

I know I don't have to tell you to take care of my brother, its part of who you are, "Semper Fi."

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A Serious Post

In an effort to keep my blog a positive and upbeat place, I've tried to stick to the amusing anecdotes of my day to day life.

But then tonight I got a phone call that made me decide to change my mind, at least for today:

My younger brother C. is joining the United States Marine Corps., and I thought I still had a month and half to adjust to that fact.  A month and a half before I had to remember what it was like to have a member of my immediate family putting himself between me and "the big scary world out there."

And then I found out that he is shipping out for boot camp at the end of this month, just days after Thanksgiving.

I am so proud of my brother.  I'm also worried, because he's my little brother.  I'm sad for my sweet sister in law and two adorable nephews, who will miss him while he is gone.  And I am excited, to see what God has in store for all of them. 

I thought I had a month in a half to convince my brain that it was real... but here it is.  I am so grateful that I will get to spend a few days with them at Thanksgiving.

Will you pray for him, and for his wife and boys?  I am so proud of them, and I love them, so I want to do what I can to support them.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Things He Does That Drive Me Crazy, Pt. 3 and maybe 4

If I have learned anything in this series, its that my husband is not unusual.  I feel like the voice for the Global Female Conspiracy, except for the conspiracy part.  Ιts the men who are conspiring against us!  And nothing demonstrates this better than the towering bastion of masculinity that is ESPN.  Its like a club that women can appreciate, but never join.  And please do not even get me started about the Red Zone Channel.  Its like Football with ADD.

3 and maybe 4. Irrationality and my husband's love affair with ESPN

The Hubs likes to give me a hard time about being irrational.  "Oh, you can't kill spiders? Irrational.  Oh, you can't handle being woken in the middle of a sound sleep by some alarming/traumatic thing?  Irrational.  You like the Redskins?  Irrational.  You like College Football?  Irrational.  You like the SEC (mostly)?  Irrational."

I MARRIED YOU.  _______________.

Notice that much of his targeting against me has to do with my atheletic preferences.  But when it comes to sports that HE likes, rationality has nothing to do with it.

I am from the beautiful Commonwealth of Kentucky.  It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I love UK Basketball.  That I bleed blue.  That I consider baseball the perfect second sport because its starts just as basketball season ends, and ends just before basketball season starts.  I also have an entire family who is just as passionate as I am, if not more so, about the University of Kentucky.  So when I say my husband is in love with ESPN, you might understand the level of dedication that takes to impress me.

College Sports: He hates the BCS, thinks conferences are stupid, and hates puppies the only redeeming quality is that he has agreed to raise our (currently non-existant) children as UK fans.  So at least there is that.  But he really likes to hate on the SEC, just to mess with me. Not because he really cares, nope, just to mess with me.

So mean.

Soccer:  We were married in May 2010, just before the Soccer World Cup.  By the time it was over, I was starting to question my sanity.  He watched every televised match he possibly could - do you know how many matches there are in the World Cup?  64.  Here, let me type that number out to emphasize:  SIXTY.  FOUR.  If I ever hear a vuvuzela again, I... I can't even tell you what I will do.  But I'm pretty sure I won't be legally responsible for it.  The background noise of a soccer match is like the sound of bees buzzing in my head.

Hockey:  I actually like Hockey.  As far as rules go, its fairly easy to understand, the matches are quick, and I wasn't already attached to a team so there isn't any conflict there.  And I don't really mind having my arm yanked out of its socket at a game.  But he also destroyed the hopes and dreams of a little girl.  The story is this: 

We went to a Capitals vs. Devils game (The Hubs is a Devils fan) at home in Washington DC.  We were two of a small contingent in Devils jerseys, but because the colors for the two teams are very similar, we didn't really stick out.  Along about the time the Devils scored their third goal, and The Hubs (at that time, just known as The Boy) was standing on his feet, the only person in our section screaming and cheering, I hear a little girl behind us, her voice tragically sad.  "Daddy?" she asked, "Doesn't everybody love the Capitals?"

No, little girl.  Not everyone loves the Capitals.  Also, Santa Claus isn't real.

Baseball: I can't really complain here.  I love the Yankees, he loves the Yankees.  But he more or less refuses to watch/discuss baseball until September, whereas I don't care about NFL training camp or ... well, pretty much anything having to do with the NFL except when my teams are actually playing.

Football: This is the painful one, friends.  See, I was raised as a Washington Redskins fan - justifiably so, because my father grew up in this area, and my Grandma was a diehard fan, and it had nothing to do with how good they were or were not, because they were OUR team.

My husband, who grew up in New Jersey, is a DALLAS fan.  Oh man, guys.  This is a big deal.  Its not as bad as if he were a Louisville or a Red Sox fan, but its pretty bad.  He accidentally painted our living room in Washington colors, and  regularly threatens to repaint it blue and silver.

I didn't pick out the shades of paint.  I wanted red, not burgundy.  NOT MY FAULT.  (I'm defending myself now, because I know he is going to libel me shortly.)  That being said, our living room is quite lovely, and it doesn't really evoke visions of football mediocrity when you walk in.

That's right, I can admit my team is pretty awful.  You don't have to point it out to me.  All the time.

I can't even talk about this anymore.  They are just so bad.  But his pouting when Dallas loses is just annoying.  I try to be sympathetic, but when you are constantly mocking my team... its hard.

Sports Radio/TV: When we are in the car, we are either listening to Tony Kornheiser, listening to sports radio (there are a multitude of stations here), or listening to Rock Music that I don't like even a little bit.  I had one button - ONE - programmed to "my" radio station.  He changed it to a new Rock Station.  From 1 PM until 7 PM on Sundays, we are only allowed to watch Red Zone Channel.  Every night when I get home from work, he turns on Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn.  Which he records.  Daily.  There is also a show called, I believe, NFL Tonight, and some other show with Charles Barkley (or maybe its the same show?), and GUYS.  Sometimes, I just want to watch Lifetime.

(True Story:  He had been harrassing me with awful TV all day one Saturday, so when I finally got the remote, I changed it to the Royal Wedding - William and Kate movie.  And then he started complaining about it, so I changed it to the Dragonball Z movie.  That's masculine, right?  As it turns out, he let me finish The Royal Wedding movie.  A girl does what she has to do, you know?)



Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Brief Interlude -OR- A Defense of the Irrational

I couldn't settle on what to write about today.  I started laying a post out about sports in my head, but that devolved into this whole side track of what the Redskins could do to suck less, and that just made me grumpy, because it reminded me of the OTHER thing I was thinking about writing, which is The Hubs need to always be right.

Now, he might defend himself with instances in which he was, in fact, right, but the fly in the ointment is the fact that I don't claim to be perfect.  I mean, you can all read (presumably), so I couldn't get away with it if I tried.  I mean, its true I didn't kill the giant spider in our dining room.  He uses this instance as a defense to his laughing at me when I am upset.  It is also true that I am completely, unalterably, and irrationally terrified of spiders.  Except its not entirely irrational, because this terror stems from two facts:

I used to live in Georgia, in a swamp, with these:


L. Black Widow
R. Banana Spider
Below: Brown Recluse

So imagine my horror when I move to Kentucky (away, I thought, from the thought of waking up in bed with on of these on my face) to IN FACT wake up in the middle of the night with THIS on my face:

Its a wolf spider.  Painful but poison-less bite, but terrifying to find ON YOUR FACE at 2am.
And yes, it really was that size.
And thus, my terror of spiders was born.  So, knowing this, and knowing that I had been unable (due to my arachnaphobia) to kill a spider that morning, my husband thought it would be funny to tickle my face with bits of string until I woke up, thinking there was a spider on my face.  And then blames me for my irrational response.

NO ONE IS RATIONAL WHEN YOU WAKE THEM OUT OF A SOUND SLEEP.

You know what?  On that thought, I think I'm just going to leave that there. We can talk about sports tomorrow.