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Archive for November, 2008

It happens every year.  Every year we swear we won’t go out on Black Friday and every year at least one of us does.  This year all three of us did and we actually found some of the things we set out to get even though we didn’t hit the stores until well after 10:00.  After several years spent working Black Friday at Target, I’ve pretty much had my fill of the pre-dawn chaos that is the start of the Christmas shopping season.  Speaking of which, did you hear about that poor Walmart employee in New York who was trampled to death?  Horrible story.  His co-workers couldn’t even reach him through the throngs of shoppers who simply stepped over him on the way into the store.

The plan had originally been for me to go to two stores; Walmart and Target.  As soon as Autumn heard the word “Target” though, she got all giddy with excitement at the prospect of being able to visit her new best friend Spike.  Target has had him on display for several weeks and my child cannot get enough of him.  He actually scared the crap out of her the first time she pushed the button on the display that brought him to life, but she’s since become so infatuated that we can’t get into the car without her asking if we’re going to go see the dinosaur.

As soon as we stepped into Target Autumn started in with the requests to see Spike.  The store was still very busy, and as we navigated around other bodies pushing carts, we kept assuring Autumn that we were making our way to the toy department to see her friend.  We first stopped in electronics, perhaps the most congested department in the store, but as we made our way to the toy department we found out the dinosaur display had been removed.  We knew it would happen eventually, but having to break the news to Autumn was a little heartbreaking.

For the remainder of the trip I had to explain to Autumn that the display had been taken down because Spike had to go home.  “To see his mommy?” she asked.

I nodded.  “Yes, to see his mommy.  Everyone likes to be able to go home and see their mommies during the holidays.”

“Oh,” she said softly and rested her head on the cart.  I thought she was going to cry, but instead she gripped my arms and held me close.  “I love you mommy,” she said.

So guess who ordered Spike from Amazon today?

Nathan and I talked it over.  We griled Autumn on whether or not she’d be scared to play with Spike if he happened to pay a visit.  Would she like to play with Spike if Santa brought him to her for Christmas?  All our questions were answered with, “He’s my best friend.”  Of course she also referred to a small pumpkin I brought home for her before Halloween as her “best friend.”  She slept with that thing for weeks until it got a bit soft and I threw it away one morning.

Tonight we all sat down together and watched The Polar Express for the first time and I could see Autumn was really getting into it.  She is starting to believe in the magic and we, in turn, are feeling the magic again through her.

I know one does not need to exceed her gift budget to capture that magic, but this year we are able to spoil Autumn a little bit and are so excited to put that gift under the tree for her and tell her it’s from Santa.  Besides, we have no idea what the next year will bring.  She might just wind up getting another pumpkin next Christmas.

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Remember how my dryer broke a few weeks ago and I was all whiny about having to hang up my clothes to dry?  Do you also remember me mentioning how I really wanted a free fix and signed us up for a service plan through the gas company the day it broke?  If you remember that, you might also remember I actually wound up calling a local guy to repair it because I wasn’t sure I could convince the gas company my dryer broke after I signed up for the service plan (which it didn’t-heh). 

I suck at lying to people, which is part of the reason I abandoned my master plan early on.  The other reason I decided to go the honest route is that I had already blogged about the dryer breaking and thought, perhaps, someone at the gas company might happen upon my blog and read about my scheme to get a complimentary repair.  Besides, paying for the fix ourselves was just easier all around, not to mention I’d get to tumble dry my clothes again sooner rather than later.

Now I may have my moments, but I can tell you that blogging about the broken dryer, revealing my evil little plan of deception here AND following through with the whole thing would have catapulted me into the ranks of the infinitely stupid.  I am not that stupid.  I am an intelligent woman pursuing a master’s degree, one who is by nature pretty honest.  I just want to make that clear to the special visitors from the gas company who I found lurking around my blog today.

So, Gas Company People, you found me through Technorati by searching for your company name, which I happened to mention in my post.  The original visitor, whoever you are (Hello, by the way. Thanks for stopping by) then e-mailed the link to my post to some presumably higher-up muckity muck and that person paid a brief visit.  Perhaps you checked my account to see if I had indeed requested a service call, which I did not.   Maybe you also checked to see if my account was current.  I paid the bill today, thank you.  That doesn’t always happen when it’s supposed to.  Just ask the township about my water bill.

So let’s just recap what we know.  My dryer broke.  I signed up for the service plan.  I called a local guy named Ron (who actually wound up to be Jeff) to fix my dryer at no cost to anyone in the greater Detroit area.  The dryer is fixed and I can still lay claim to being an honest person because I paid for the repair, as I should have.  Let me also add that I am more than happy to keep the service plan if y’all are happy to take my money.  Just don’t try to screw me over the first time something that is covered breaks.  My appliances shouldn’t be held accountable for what I write here.

And just so you know, this whole dishonesty thing really isn’t my style.  I do not endorse thievery of any kind.  Unless you’re talking about taking the Reeses from a three year-old’s stash of Halloween candy.  Then it’s okay.

 

 

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A couple of weeks ago a package was delivered on a day I had taken off from work.  I knew from the Levenger label on the box that it was my birthday gift.  A couple of weeks prior I had shown Nathan the page on the website that held my heart’s desire and he wound up ordering it.  Even though it wasn’t exactly going to be a surprise, he had hoped to surprise me with remembering what I had asked for.

What was delivered was this bag:

Nathan, though disappointed, was kind enough to let me start using it right away and I must say this is the best bag I’ve ever had.  What I wanted to do is take a picture of my actual bag with all the stuff I’ve managed to stuff into it, but I don’t have the time or the ambition to do that today.  Let’s just say it comfortably fits two Jhumpa Lahiri books, an IBM laptop computer, a PDA, a couple of small notepads, my glasses, a travel mug of coffee, an iPod, several pens and highlighters and Lois Tyson’s Critical Theory Today.

Yesterday I brought this bag to the library along with a spare tote for the books I planned on taking back with me.  Since I was already carrying two bags, I left my purse at home and put my driver’s license and a small wallet with credit cards in my back pocket.  This would be the brand new driver’s license the State of Michigan issued to me yesterday.  It was just a piece of paper stapled to my old license, which is why, when my husband decided to be helpful this morning and wash my jeans, the license disintegrated in the wash.  Yeah, I forgot to pull it out of my back pocket.

I told Nathan he should always check the pockets of things before he washes them, which he knew was total BS because I never do that.  Just ask him how many times he’s heard me howl when I realize I’ve left a tube of Blistex in my pants pocket and wind up pulling a load of clothes covered with dark, waxy splotches out of the dryer.

I was told two to four weeks until I get my new license.  The old one is intact, save for the corner that was lopped off to indicate it is no longer valid.  I have my new registration and figure if I find myself in a pickle I should be able to prove that I’m an upstanding citizen with a valid license that’s probably on it’s way to me as we speak.

Oh, and my water didn’t get turned off today.  So that’s good news.  Happy Birthday to me!

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Somehow the household responsibilities have been split so that I am the one who takes care of the bills.  I’ve done a piss-poor job of it at times, but lately I have been doing a pretty good job in spite of being too busy to keep an actual written tab of what’s going into and what’s coming out of our accounts.  I was relying on my memory, which probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do considering how preoccupied I am with other things.

Right before Halloween I thought I might be missing something.  I went through everything in my mental filing cabinet and came up empty.  Everything that needed to be paid had been paid.  Or so I thought.  Today I received a lovely letter from the township informing me our water will be turned off if we don’t pay our bill within 72 hours of the notice.  Oh right…the water.  Whoops.

At first I felt a twinge of shame that I had let it get this far.  What am I, nineteen?  Then I felt anger at the township for wasting a whole 24 hours of their allotted 72-hour grace period to mail me the dang notice.  Then came the indignation when I realized the 72 hours ended on my birthday.  They want to shut the water off on my birthday.

Since the township offices do not open until Monday, I wound up paying the bill online with a credit card.  I’m hoping that does the trick because I do not want to wake up on my birthday and not be able to take a shower.  Nor do I want to call  my parents up on my birthday and ask to use their facilities because our water got turned off.  Hopefully the township will recognize the payment has been made or else this birthday will go down in the books as one of the best ever.

Have I also mentioned that I have to renew my driver’s license?  I have to go in to the Secretary of State’s office and take the test this year and the only day the local branches are open late is Wednesday, the day I have class  Luckily there is one branch on the other end of town that has Saturday hours, so that’s where I’ll be tomorrow morning, trying not to look like the schmuck who waited until the last very last minute to renew her plates and license.  Which I totally am.

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Holidays on ice

I wanted to thank those of you who left comments on Monday’s post, especially Kathi D. and LBC.  You ladies gave some great advice, and as much as I hate to admit that the Y chromosome is a valid excuse for thoughtlessness, I’m afraid I’m going to have to accept it in this case and move on.

Growing up, my brother and I had the best holidays with my mom’s side of the family.  It was always a loud and fun gathering that included my grandparents, my uncle and his second wife and his kids and her kids.  My uncle divorced and re-married when I was too young to remember it, so for me there was no differentiation between who was a step-cousin and who was an actual cousin.  I imagine, given the chance, this could be Autumn’s experience as well.

Sadly, the family gatherings on my side of the family are not what they used to be.  Both of my grandfathers are gone and estrangements between certain members on my mother’s side and my father’s side have resulted in very small parties.  That’s not what I wanted for Autumn and was very glad to have finally felt so comfortably close to Nathan’s family.  The last Christmas we spent together before Nathan’s mom died was the warmest and most enjoyable holiday of my adult life.  I’m glad Autumn was able to be a part of it, even if she was only a year old.

I’m in uncharted territory here.  I have limited experience with blended families and what is expected of me seems to fall outside of my comfort zone.  It took me many years to be at ease around Nathan’s family and I can’t help but feel as though we’re starting all over again.  And honestly, everything seems to be okay until we get to the holidays.  The holidays are still very hard, especially with new faces to get used to.

We’ll get through it and maybe some day we’ll have a Thanksgiving or Christmas where angst isn’t sitting on the table in between the green bean casserole and the cranberry sauce.  So thanks again for your support.  It really means a lot to me.  That being said, I’m afraid I’m going to have to bail on NaBloPoMo for the rest of the month.  I really wanted to make it all the way.  I only have eleven more days to go, but as Nathan pointed out to me last night, I have to let go of something if I’m going to retain my sanity and get that paper written for class.

I’ll still be around, just not every day.  I guess I’ll have to save some of those stories I was going to tell for a later date.

 

 

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Photo booth fun

This year’s family photo shoot comes courtesy of the iSight camera on my Mac.  One thing you may notice is that the three year-old is the only one not acting like a goof ball in at least one of these pictures.

 

The one with the butt will be going out in our Christmas cards this year, though that really doesn’t narrow it down, does it?

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The sound of silence

Let me ask you a question.  Is it normal for parents to expect their child to hear from her grandfather on her birthday?  Even if the child is a three year-old who doesn’t communicate well on the phone anyway, shouldn’t the grandfather who couldn’t be bothered to show up for cake and ice cream Saturday night because it was opening day of deer hunting season at least acknowledge the birth of his fifth and last grandchild?

In case you’re a latecomer to this blog, let me give you a quick primer on our family situation.  Nathan’s mother died in early May of last year.  Four months later his dad re-married a woman who has children and step-children from her previous two marriages.  His dad couldn’t be alone and had lined up a date with this woman before Father’s Day.  By July 4th they were engaged and wound up getting married at a University of Michigan game in September.  If you want to know how we (or rather I) felt about it at the time you can read about it here, here, here, and here.  And also here.

One of our worries when his dad re-married is that Autumn would get the short end of the stick.  I mean she already got the shaft when she lost her grandma, but she’s the youngest of the five grandchildren.  Given that we live an hour away from Nathan’s dad, we felt she might grow up not knowing her grandpa very well either.  Given the new wife’s somewhat large family, we also worried his dad might concentrate on building relationships with the wife’s grandkids and forget about the little three year-old with the brown hair and cute smile who tends to look a whole lot like her daddy did at that age.

It certainly seems like we’re heading in that direction.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times we’ve seen his dad this year.  We were not expecting him to show up for cake and ice cream Saturday night.  We were actually ok with none of his family being there because we’re seeing them on Sunday (along with the wife’s whole brood), but we had hoped he would call.  We weren’t really expecting him to, but we had hoped he’d remember all the same.  The call was more for us than for Autumn.  We needed to know she was important enough to him to make the call, even though getting her to actually talk to him would have been an exercise in futility.

My father was not the most attentive paternal figure during my formative years and I can remember being afraid he’d be an equally aloof grandfather.  Nothing could be further from the truth and I am so happy Autumn has a set of grandparents who drink in her existence as though she’s some intoxicating elixir.  They watch her on a moment’s notice, shower her with so much love an affection it’s ridiculous and more than compensate for what she’s missing from the other side.

We weren’t asking for much.  Just a phone call.

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She makes it to three

Three years ago today I was in labor and delivery.  I was laboring a little but wouldn’t deliver until my c-section later in the afternoon.  At 5:05 pm Autumn finally made her appearance.

Every year so far I’ve posted a video montage of my favorite pictures of Autumn from the past year.  As of 11:00 last night I had yet to make the video, so I sat down at the computer, opened iMovie and proceeded to splice together the past year of her life.

Well, if you heard a scream of horror just after midnight, that was me.  I learned a very important lesson about creating anything of importance on the computer; save your work and do it frequently.  I had every photo in place and every transition inserted and was watching my work for the first time when iMovie crashed on me.  I had to practically start over from scratch.

It was after 1:00 am when I finally finished.  I uploaded the video to YouTube and Facebook and proceeded to cry like a baby as I reviewed the videos I made the previous two years.

I can’t believe she’s three.

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A morning at the salon

This whole week I’ve been preparing Autumn for her first haircut. I’ve been talking it up by telling her how fun it would be and how pretty she’d look after it’s all done. I then told her we could go to Target and pick out some new barrettes after we were all done.

Guess what? It worked.

Not a single tear was shed this morning. I first had a shampoo and cut to show her what would happen when it was her turn. She was interested for a few minutes until she learned the salon contained all sorts things she could play with. When it was her turn, she refused to sit for a shampoo and I was a little afraid things would go downhill from there. But they didn’t and I have the photographic evidence to prove it.

The woman cutting Autumn’s hair is my stylist Nancy. She’s been doing my hair for years and was the one who did my up ‘do when I married Nathan over eleven years ago. It was only natural that I ask her to be the one to cut the girl’s hair for the first time. Little by little she snipped away all the hair Autumn was born with three years ago. She saved a little bit for me to take home, and when it was all over I was looking at a rather grown up little girl.

If you’re reading this in the feed, you’ll have to click through to see the pictures.

 

 

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Cinema sentimentality

My first real job that wasn’t a paper route was at the Village Ice Cream parlor in my hometown.  It was run by a single woman who employed mostly teenagers and paid them less than minimum wage.  I think my starting wage was $2.50/hour, which was bumped up to $2.75/hour when the summer season was in full swing.  I did not mind the small paychecks at all.  The people I worked with were all kids who I’d just spent my first year of high school with.  The owner would let us take a treat home at the end of each shift.  Sometimes I’d pack a pint of Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream into a take-home container for myself, but most of the time I’d make my dad a Tin Roof sundae, his treat for picking me up so I wouldn’t have to walk home in the dark.

Making my own money meant I had more money to spend.  Back then my money was spent on movies.  My passion for the cinema started when I was in junior high.  I’d go to the local multiplex nearly every weekend with the money I made mowing the lawn.  I kept my ticket stubs in a photo album so I could remember which movie I saw when.

The summer I worked at the ice cream parlor happened to be the same summer Dirty Dancing was released (I’ll save you the trip to IMDB-It was 1987).  I really wanted to see that movie.  My friend really wanted to see that movie, but we were both fifteen and weren’t keen on telling our parents we wanted to see a movie called Dirty Dancing.  The TV adverts were a little provocative and that title…yeah, I know.  You’re probably laughing your asses off because Dirty Dancing is about as tame as you can get.  And yet is was so hot.  Who could forget Baby and Johnny making love to Solomon Burke’s “Cry to Me”?

So I lied to my dad and told him my friend and I were going to see some other movie.  The thing is I hadn’t thought the plan through enough to realize he’d be looking to pick us up when that other movie ended, which he did.  He wound up waiting a good 40 minutes or so and was quite pissed when we finally showed up for our ride home.  I immediately spilled my guts and he grounded me from the movies for a month.

The year before it was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  I wanted to see that movie so bad I wound up riding my bike to the theater in the midst of busy traffic.  That time it was my mother getting angry with me, though she probably would not have found out about my little stunt had I not stopped by the bank where she worked for a drink of water on the way home.  I’m telling you, I was a really stupid kid.

The reason I’m taking this trip down memory lane is because Studio 28, the multiplex where I saw those two movies, announced today that they’re closing.  After 43 years and thousands of movies, good and bad (I also saw Mannequin there), they’re closing their doors because not enough people are going to the movies anymore. 

I haven’t been there in years.  The screens at the mall theater are much closer for that one trip to the cinema Nathan and I take every year, but I have so many fond memories of Studio 28.  It’s where I fell in love with Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.  It’s where I learned Martin Scorsese’s Age of Innocence is not exactly the ideal first date movie.  It’s where I saw all three original Star Wars films back-to-back in a special showing in 1994 and is also where Nathan and I had our first date.  We saw a horrible movie with Alicia Silverstone and Jeff Goldblum.  During one scene in which a couple of characters were kissing, Nathan leaned over to me and said, “I’ve forgotten how do do that.  Can you show me how?”  Oh yeah, he was smooth.  Why do you think I married him?

I remember the anticipation I would feel as I paid for my ticket and presented it to the usher to tear in half.  I remember disliking Theater 1, the oldest and largest of their 20 screens, because the seats were narrower than those in the newer part of the theater.  I remember how the sun would blind me as I stepped out of the cool theater and into a warm summer afternoon.  I remember the best places to park there and which concession counters offered the frozen Mountain Dews.

Studio 28 is closing their doors on November 23rd.  My birthday.  I told Nathan I’d like to go to one more movie there.  I honestly don’t know how I’m going to fit in the time to see a movie right now, but I’m really sorry to see the place go and would like to be able to say goodbye.  I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for an occasion like this.

 

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