Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Cheer...

So people ask me about my holiday.

I tell them the truth. It was a mixed bag.

My mom was in Alabama visiting relatives, but my work schedule prevented me from going. So that kind of sucked. I did go to my dad's though.

I had fun with my family, I ate a grand traditional Christmas dinner, I got good gifts, I got to bake cookies, I got to watch my nephews have Christmas morning. And on the other end of the spectrum, I was constantly cajoled as to the whereabouts of my older brother.

Some of you may recall that my brother and I have a strange relationship... Though the more I hear about other people's siblings, I'm beginning to think it's not as strange as I originally thought. Basically, I talk to my family. I attend family events, I enjoy being around most of them most of the time. I see my brother on the rare occasion that my father comes into town and wants to take us out for beers on a night that my brother doesn't work. In the last 12 months, I'd say this has happened roughly two or three times. This is the ONLY time I see him. EVER. And for as much as he has a phone, he does not use it. He does not call me, or my mom, or anyone else in the family for that matter.

This is fine by me. Really, I am ok with not hanging out with my brother. I mean he's a funny guy and all, but we've had our rifts in the past, and he's not really got a good record of apologizing when he's in the wrong, or keeping promises to people whom should matter most.

Despite the fact that I'm ok with not seeing my brother most of the time, there are a few times when it becomes a problem. Take, for example, the holidays.

I show up.
I engage in hugs, kisses, normal familial greetings.
We sit to chat shortly after my arrival.
"So have you heard from your brother?"
"UMM, NO."
"Oh. He never calls. We just didn't know if he was coming."
"Well, he doesn't call me either. I don't ever see him, so I don't know any more than you do."
"Oh. So what's his problem?"
"I don't know. If I knew how to miraculously get people to return phone calls and show up when they were supposed to, my job would be a cake walk, and I'd be billing well above where I am currently."

As much as this seems trivial, when you take it, and then repeat it like a thousand times over the course of three days, not only does it downgrade the effort you take to show up for events, because you get to take a backseat to the person who didn't show up, it also just grates on your nerves because you're the responsible one and you're being held accountable for the fuck up, even though the fuck up is not under your watch or realm of responsibility. You are essentially being asked to answer for something over which you lack any kind of control or influence. It's bogus.

I hope your holiday was good though!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It ain't good.

Ok, so I picked up a case which should have more than made up on my hours. The problem? Someone won't return my phone calls in order for me to set up the visits that were requested by the case manager. This is a BIG problem. Because I can't take other cases on in order to make up for the lost hours on the off chance that this person decides all of a sudden that they want to see their kids. This hits me in the wallet HARD. This is in addition to the fact that my hours have been down for the last three weeks anyway due to case closures and short coverage coming in.

Add to that the fact that I have to go to the dentist tomorrow and well, my week is just looking LOVELY.

I got a new supervisor at work, and he sympathizes with my plight noting that my current case load "kinda sucks" and "is full of nothing but doozies" at the moment. I like that I've got a supervisor who has only met with me once and can already see how bad my work life sucks at the moment. It reaffirms my belief that things on my caseload can't get a whole lot worse. (There is alllllllways room for deterioration, but I figure that at this particular moment in time, the margin is slim.)

As for the family, my mom is supposed to take my grandfather to see some relatives down south, but we don't know what's going to happen there because in the reaches of my southern roots, my uncle's sister choked the other day and is currently laying in a coma with very little visible brain activity. This woman had only one daughter with her first husband, a gentleman who is currently in another hospital dying of terminal cancer. I don't envy that young lady at all. I mean it's the holidays and both of her parents are at death's door, and she is split between two hospitals with no sibling-support system. So that puts things into perspective.

My aunt put things into perspective by noting that the first Christmas was spent by a woman who left town nine months pregnant, amidst rumors about her virtues, with only lil ol' Joseph (a carpenter, not a doctor or midwife) to assist with her delivery. She ended up in a barn with some smelly animals because there was no place to stay. There is some mad king killing all the other babies around, and wouldn't you know it, but some random-ass traveling kings and shepherds start showing up all unwashed wanting to hang out with her newborn. So who are we to want or expect things to go smoothly during the holidays when it starts on a note like that?

Monday, December 17, 2007

I blame Jesus...

So, my apartment is a wreck (a VERY SERIOUS problem for a compulsive cleaner such as myself).

My hours at work were still down, but they were admittedly recovering this week, but seeing as I am still below what I should be billing, I've got some extra time on my hands. And yet, I have been totally incapable of getting anything done.


Well, I blame Jesus.

This whole "Jesus was born, let's throw parties and be silly and cold!" thing throws me for a loop and it just puts a big crimp in my normal functioning.

I mean really, I made room in my apartment for a Christmas tree, I have the gifts I purchased for others all nicely wrapped and huddled under said tree. I have all the wrapping supplies, scissors, tags, bags, fancy paper, tissue, ribbons, and bows all sitting out so that they are handy when I need them. I have taken time out of my schedule to bake cookies and make other confections for my friends and loved ones. (Don't get me wrong, I love to bake for people, but I'm just noting it takes a toll on my schedule.)

I've got laundry that needs to be put away since I've already washed, dried, and folded it. I've got my dishes done, but they are resting comfortably in the confines of the dishwasher. I've got a bathroom to clean, and even though it isn't what many people would regard as dirty, I find it totally disgusting because I haven't given it the stem to stern bleaching and scrubbing treatment that I am used to. I haven't run the vacuum in probably two weeks, which is bothersome for me considering I have a pretty regimented cleaning routine which involves vacuuming on a pretty frequent basis for the sake of my sanity.

[Important side note: When you go into some of the filthy disgusting homes I go into every day, the need for clean just really skyrockets in value. I try not to judge my clientèle, but when the odor of your home prompts retching from those unfortunate enough to have to enter, you have no right to judge those who must enter in the way they feel they must clean their own homes. And the friends and readers of the cleaner should not judge either!]

I mean don't get me wrong, I do get some enjoyment out of my cleaning habit. I get some gratification from eliminating spots on my mirrors and having everything in its place. I enjoy the almost hotel-like atmosphere (sans need to run a blacklight over any bedding) created by having everything fastidiously and meticulously straightened and managed. I like knowing where to find things. I like that clean smell. I LOVE when others come into my home and note that it smells pleasant and/or clean. I like leaving my house in the morning with the knowledge that if I were brutally murdered or something, that if someone had to come into my house, they would be able to navigate without difficulty, they would be able to find suitable clothing to dress me in for my funeral, and they would not have to worry whether or not it was soiled. Furthermore, they will not judge me harshly as a slob after my unfortunate demise. (I feel it important to note, that when visiting friends or loved ones, I don't judge them by the cleanliness of their homes. I am willing to overlook most messes most of the time, because I know I am strange in my extreme cleaning and home maintenance regimen.)

But anyway, back to my point. Jesus and his impending birthday have thrown all of this off, and it makes me uneasy! Even when I am relaxing, my mom notes that I am "busy" because there is always something that I feel needs to be handled. And having all this running around to do, all the shopping, shipping, baking, wrapping, and whatnot only adds to my busy-ness, and it makes me bonkers to come home from work at the end of the day, feeling tired and grubby, wanting only a shower and sleep, but knowing that I have things that need to be done. My recent travels have only added to my scattered living.

Mind you, Christmas is only a week away, and I refuse to believe that it's possible that is is coming up so rapidly, or that we are a mere 2 weeks from starting a new year. Albeit the new year will bring with it a close to the seemingly unending presidential reign and all the trappings of more than twenty candidates running a two year campaign. So there are things to look forward to.

I don't know where I'm going with all of this, other than further illustrating my totally off the charts neuroses, and scattered brain activity, but it is what it is.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

A feedback post...

Ok, so I have a thing that I often do when talking to my friends. Whether it fits into a current conversation, or it is just a random tangent, I pose seemingly bizarre opinion questions.

Since we're all friends here, I thought I would pose a question to you!

What is the best piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

(If your mother was not available to provide you with advice, for any reason, then substitute an alternate maternal-type figure.)

Example actual responses include:

"Don't listen to everyone else, do what you want, and make yourself happy doing it."

"Meatloaf and pasta salad are always better when eaten the next day as leftovers."

"Always pee before leaving, and even if you don't feel like you have to go, TRY."

Now let's add your mom's words of wisdom!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Al Gore is onto something...

I freely admit, I am as guilty as the next person of polluting the environment. But I try to do my part. I recycle, I try to be as minimally wasteful as possible, I can't afford a hybrid car, but if I could, I would totally get one. [Especially since I spend so much time driving around (apparently "recklessly") to see clients and to get kids to and from visits.]

But I think that Al Gore (inventor of the internet!) is onto something with all that global warming nonsense! I mean I live in the Midwest. We regularly have white Christmases, and I'm no stranger to the blustery weather we know as winter. But I would like to note that it is a mere two weeks from Christmas, and I didn't even wear a jacket or sweatshirt today.


Because it was over 60 frickin degrees out today!



Ok, that is all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I just can't deal...

At the moment I am all bummed out.

I know that lately, (aside from recent brushes with the law) I have been fantastically boring. I wholly own that I am a giant black hole for all things interesting at the moment. It's as if all the interesting things going on in the universe come within a certain striking distance of me and BAM they suddenly disappear into oblivion because I suck that hard right now. I'd apologize for my suckiness, but (A) I'm not sorry for sucking, because it wasn't intentional, it just kind of happened, and (B) well, there is no (B) I just felt like making this sentence particularly complex for the diagramming nazis out there.

Anyway, I think it goes without saying that I had an immensely good time when I was back in Chicago. (Aside from those last 24 hours or so.) And I think that as a result I am even more depressed about the state of affairs which constitutes my life at the moment. There have been plenty of people at my office who asked about my vacation and upon my return, and when I talked about it, they recalled the fact that they knew I once lived there, and then they ask why the hell I left my world behind.

I never have an answer for them other than to say it wasn't my choice. And being in an office where we are all essentially paid to dig into the more painful parts of people's pasts to obtain useful information, they always want to know more. I know the tricks. I throw them a bone noting that I went through a long period of unemployment and it depleted my bank balance and my options and then I call it a day for that conversation. I don't tend to go into the really low points for a few reasons, I mean we as social workers get enough sad stories through the course of our days on the job, so I try to limit telling sad tales of my own. Furthermore, most of these people don't know me well enough for me to go spilling my life story in the workplace... In fact, NONE of them know me well enough to get into all of that, even outside the workplace. I haven't even told any of them about this blog, so really they don't have any insight beyond what I am willing to give them, and since I am that defensive type who holds most people at arms length for my own self preservation until they have proven their worthiness, I'm just not getting into it with them, and as a result, I'm a little worse for wear.

By that same token, I have very few people who I can REALLY talk to. And that kind of sucks. Especially in times like this.

The fact is that going back into Chicago really opened up a great expanse of personal issues that I had placed on a back burner and refused to deal with for a while. On my final day in the city, I had an emotional chat with Anthony where things boiled up and I remembered exactly how much I put into that back burner pot. And coming home, I have no one to really address those issues with. I have kept so much concealed from everyone here, and I have admittedly shut everyone here out from that aspect of my life and as a result, I am in a very lonely place.

Essentially, I'm in one of those places where I just need a friend who is ok with listening to me become a blubbering idiot for a few hours and drink heavily with me. I need a friend, and I don't know who to turn to.

Don't go off the deep end, thinking that if I don't find someone to talk to that I will be a danger to myself or others. I won't. But I am just giving you all a fair warning that if I don't find someone who I can really open up to, it's going to take me a little while longer to work through these issues. And so it's unlikely that I'm going to get over this funk in a huge hurry. Sorry guys.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Damn the man! Save the empire! (A long recap.)

Ok, maybe two of the people who read this actually know where the title came from... And that's alright. Just know that if you didn't get it, that those few people out there who did know are just a little bit cooler than you. (I still love you either way.)

Ok, so let's have a chat about the turd sandwich which so delightfully capped off my vacation. In fact let's get into a recap of the whole thing.

Saturday morning I got up, got my crap together, paid my rent before leaving, and took off for the city. Things were going well enough for the first hour and a half. At which point, the sleet started. Now it should be noted that I don't care about driving in unfavorable conditions. I am ok with driving in snow, ice, rain, whatever. My problem comes in the form of everyone on the road who IS intimidated by these things. The fact is that if the roads have been properly salted, there is no reason for you to drive 12 miles an hour. However, there is also no reason to drive 70 like it's a clear sunny day. Visibility is lowered, and the precipitation on the roadways should cause you to slow down a little bit, or at least not try to cut across three lanes of traffic and cut people off when you know that their stopping distance is going to be greater than usual. So I drove through an ice storm to get to Chicago, because I was NOT turning back on account of the weather. It just WAS. NOT. HAPPENING. During the drive I talked to Alana who informed me that she was going to the Bears game on Sunday and that as a result she planned to be really hungover on Monday. We made plans to get together on Tuesday.

So I got there in one piece. I got to hang out with Face and Turkey. We had our Christmas on Sunday morning and we went shopping. It was a really good time. (Turkey recently proposed to Face, and although I told him already, I think it deserves to be commemorated in text that he did VERY WELL with the ring selection.) Sunday night I went to stay with Anthony. We talked, we caught each other up about the events of our lives lately, and we went to bed. Monday morning Anthony had to go to a rehearsal of the show he is producing, so he went off to work, and I went off to shop. I visited my friend Harsh at work, and then ordered takeout from my favorite Thai place and had a pleasant evening in. Tuesday Anthony had another rehearsal to go to so we did brunch, he went on his merry way, I did a little shopping and then proceeded up to the old alma mater to argue with them. The lady I needed to speak to was out of the office so I was forced to change my plans and schedule a trip back to campus to pick a fight on Wednesday before I left town. Midday on Tuesday it began to snow. Tuesday evening I got a call from Alana indicating that she was too concerned about the road conditions as a result of the continuing snow to drive into the city. (She's in the burbs.) Knowing that I drove through an ice storm to get there I was upset. I was very disappointed, but I also understood where she was coming from... It's bad enough to drive with all the idiots in unfavorable conditions as it is, but when you factor in alcohol which would have been consumed at the bar, it was not fair to ask her to compromise herself to come in and see me, because a cab fare out to the burbs would have been ridiculous.

So that I was kind of bummed out that I didn't get to see one of the people I really wanted to see, and I didn't get to go to my old haunts and drink my face off. So I stayed in and read a book, and watched the snow fall on the city (Anthony has a nice view), and watched some televised sports action. (It was a nice way to spend an evening in the city, and it was my vacation after all.) When Anthony returned home from rehearsals, we hashed out ideas for our trademark, and basically I think we both really realized how much we missed each other.

Wednesday morning came and we had breakfast at the Jewish deli/diner near Anthony's. We said our goodbyes and we parted ways. He went off to work, and I went back up to campus to fight with those bitches. After two hours of arguing and accomplishing nothing, and being fed up with having idiots talk to me as though I was even more of a simpleton than they were, I was ready to kill someone with my bare hands, so instead, I noted that it was once again snowing quite heavily and that I had to go before I got snowed in. I left, and they are still under the impression that I owe them money. This further upset me.

So I am headed home at this point. I'm driving along in the snowy mess. I get about an hour and a half outside the city and the snow has stopped. The roads are clear. I wholly admit that being pissed off about the finish of my trip, and generally distracted as a result, I was cruising along well over the speed limit. I got pulled over. The police officer was a dick. (Much more so than he needed to be anyway.)

(I read this dialogue section over after typing it up, and trust me when I tell you that his asshole-ish-ness does not really translate well into the text... So you need to imagine his end of the dialogue with a snotty power-tripper type of delivery, and add in long awkward pauses. Basically, he wanted to make it obvious that he was enjoying the knowledge that he was being a dick.)

Police: "Ma'am do you know how fast you were going?"
Liz: "No."
P: "You were going 95 in a 60."
L: "EXCUSE ME!?!?!?!? I'm sorry, there is just no way!"
P: "Yes ma'am you were, and you're trying to tell me that you didn't know you were going 95 in this little car? ... License and registration."
L: "No officer, I genuinely don't think I was going that fast." (Handed over license and registration)
P: "So, where are you headed in such a hurry?"
L: "I'm headed home sir."
P: "And where is that?"
L: "[Name of city redacted]"
P: "Yeah, but where are you going?"
L: "Umm, the east side?"
P: "No, where exactly are you going?"
L: "Sir, you have my license, my address is on there. I'm going home. I'm driving to [address redacted]."
P: "Yeah... Hmmm... All right. Stay in the car ma'am."
(Mind you, I know he kinda has to say that, but we were on a well traveled highway in the middle of barren Indiana farm country at this point, in December. I don't know where the hell else he thought I was going to go.)
He runs my license and registration and comes back with a ticket in hand.
P: "You know what you were doing was a misdemeanor, by all rights, I could take you to jail right now."
L: "Um, no, I was not aware of that. I'd like to avoid jail if at all possible."
P: "Yeah, well, going 95 in a 60 is considered reckless driving. I could just take you to jail right now."
L: "I'd really like to avoid jail, sir."
P: "Well, here's your summons. You need to sign here at the bottom. Signing does not admit guilt, it just indicates that you know you have to appear in court. If you don't want to sign, then we go straight to jail right now."
L: "Ok. I fully intend to sign, but before I do, I have one question. Do I have to appear in court here, or since I am a resident of this state, is it possible to appear in a court where I am more local?"
P: "You're going to have to appear here ma'am. So you can sign or it's off to jail."
L: (Signs summons/ticket, and mentally noted the repetitive mention of going to jail... I was very uncomfortable, even by the standards of being handed a ticket for something you didn't do. Oh... and who goes to jail for speeding? Running over a small child while speeding, maybe, crashing into a house or another car, or something ok, selling speed, yeah, you're going to the hoosegow. But speeding as an imprisonable offense?) "Ok. Thank you officer."
P: "Slow it down ma'am."
L: "Thank you officer. Have a nice day."

Now while I wholly own that I was speeding, there is NO WAY IN HELL that I was going 95. My car is not new, and he's got 132,000 miles on him. His days of going 95 are long gone. If I were to go 95 in my vehicle, that car would shudder so hard that the wheels would fall off. If my car were capable of going 95, believe me, I would be aware of the speed I was going. Now, I would admit to 80 in a 60. I would readily admit that I was going well over the posted limit. I would own that. And I think that 80 in a 60 is much closer to the reality of the situation. The fact is that I think this guy was probably having a shitty day, his wife probably yelled at him before he left for work, and after letting that ruin his day, he decided to ruin mine. I am also guessing that he is trying to boost his numbers to meet the end of the year ticket quota, so there's that.

This shit sandwich of a 24 hour period just kind of nicely bookended an otherwise pleasant vacation.

On the whole, I had a good time, and I found that I missed the city and all of my city friends more than ever, and I found it really easy to fall back into my old rhythm. It made me kind of sad. But at the same time, I was really happy that I haven't lost my foothold there. And it made me really anxious to get back sooner rather than later!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

... And we're back.

The trip was interesting to say the least.

Very little of it went according to plan, and the last 24 hours have been a total debacle. I don't want to get into that portion of the trip, because it makes me want to cry... In the grand scheme of things, the events are not such a big deal, because after all, I'm not living in Darfur, I haven't been sold as an indentured sex slave on the black market, I am not terminally ill, and I still have all my teeth, but for me it was a bad day to finish out what was supposed to be a great trip, so it was a real bummer of a comedown.

The fact is, I did get to see most of the friends I wanted to see. I got to hang out with my friends known as "Face" and "Turkey." I got to spend time with Anthony. I got to eat in some of the restaurants in which I've missed eating, I got to shop at some of the stores in which I've missed shopping. And let me assure you that the friends, the food, and the shopping were all VERY VERY good.

Considering I make a social worker's wage, I spent WAYYYY too much money, but I got REALLY great stuff. Here's a general list:

1 pair of earrings (all mine.)
1 pair of shoes (Christmas gift from Turkey and Face)
1 glass bud vase (gift for someone else)
1 purse (gift for someone else)
2 ornaments (1 as a gift for someone else)
1 Buddha head (all mine.)
1 sculptural hand (all mine.)
2 suction cup bud vases (possible gifts for others.)
2 candlesticks (gifts for someone else)
1 key chain (possibly a gift, possibly mine)
1 glass lantern (it is WAY cooler than you might think it sounds)
10 replica antique Chinese coins (for use in artwork and such)

... and

quite simply the most incredible door mat EVER.
(When you see the picture coming soon, try to control your envy.)

I'll give you a better recap when I've had a chance to absorb the suckage of my last 24 hours so that it doesn't taint the positive parts of the trip.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I'm out like the fat kid in dodgeball!

Well, the one benefit of having nothing to do all day is that you have more than enough time to work on your paperwork. So obviously I got everything done, in early, and still had tons of time to yammer on to my coworkers about my excitement to get to a place where things make some semblance of sense.

That's right kids, I'm northward bound. I'm going to Chicago and I don't anticipate returning until Wednesday evening. This of course will have no impact on you, as I plan on taking my computer to the second city, and after I finish my shopping, I fully intend to kick back at my old corner coffee shop and update you on my trip as it unfolds. The pictures will have to wait until I return home though, because I'm not taking up the charging base and USB cables and crap required to post pictures immediately. You understand, I'm sure.

Lizzle's inappropriate remark of the day:

(We were talking about killing people and hiding bodies.)
Liz: "My roommate in college was friends with a guy who had an older brother that killed a guy and just buried him in their back yard."
Jennie: "Nobody noticed the disturbed ground with all the animals sniffing the decomposition?"
Liz: "Nope... guess not."
Brian: "Eh, it's possible that there were no animals sniffing around." (Brian then went roughly 10 feet away to his office.)
Liz: "Clearly Brian's dog is not a digger."
Jennie: "Umm... Brian's dog just died."
Liz: "Really?"
Jennie: "Yeah, like two weeks ago... It had cancer or something."
Liz: "Shit. That makes me the asshole again..."
Jennie: "Yeah, well you didn't know... Just don't go mentioning the name 'Otis' because it upsets him."
Liz: "Clearly I've already crossed the line of upsetting people... I might as well just go desecrate the fresh grave at this point... Maybe just go take a whiz on it or something. I mean I'm already the jerk here."