Thursday, January 31, 2008

The wine helps...

Trying to be excited about vacation while trying to settle unnerved feelings about the loss of a friend even younger than I am, and contemplating serious changes in the work-life, well, it's all a very delicate balancing act. And let's point out the obvious...

Nothing helps a balancing act like a good bottle of wine.

...Let alone a bottle of wine consumed alone...

...Without bothering to dirty a glass...

...Because I've already packed, and drinking solves all problems... Just ask my clients!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I found out that I lost a friend Monday. Anthony "Big Twin" Smith passed away after battling leukemia.

Tuesday would have been his 25th birthday.

Anthony was always good for a laugh. If he wasn't running late for practice he would always stand around the cage for a few minutes to chat. He was genuine, caring, and charismatic.

He will be missed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Eff the library!

When I'm in a funk, one of my simple pleasures in life is buying books. Even if I'm running a little low on cash, I immensely enjoy going into book stores and finding something on a sale rack which can occupy me for hours. I mean I'd happily skip a meal to buy a good book... A good book feeds you more. And while I could probably find them for free at the library, or cheaper on Amazon if I was willing to wait for it to be shipped out, there is something so thrilling to me about going into the store, thumbing the pages, reading the synopsis on the dust jacket, eventually buying a good book, calling it my own, and never having to return it.

That's one of the really great things about a vacation. I have a built-in excuse to go and track down a good deal on a couple of those books I've had my eye on. I mean, since I'm going to visit family, there is the distinct possibility that I won't have a great deal of time for reading, because when you've been away as long as I have, everyone wants a piece of you, but even if you only read on the plane, you've spent a portion of your vacation reading. And since I derive pleasure from purchasing books, and I was buying books for vacation, a little piece of my vacation started today!

What kind of fool do you take me for?

So on Friday I got my W-2... I looked at it and unlike most people I was aghast.

I know that when I've looked at W-2s in the past, I've thought to myself, "Damn! I made all that? Where the hell did it all go?" This year, that was not the sentiment. I looked down at the total I made, and nearly wept... "That's all I made? Normally I'd ask where it all went, but I know where that measly little pittance went."

And the more I thought about it the more upset I got. You see, part of my job is driving around all day. So I have to track my mileage. But the office doesn't pay me for that. They expect me to write it off on my taxes... Well, being that I am a single person, and I have very few tax liabilities, I don't pay in all that much, and as far as the mileage goes, I can't get back what I don't pay in. And when I totaled it up using last year's figures for how much a mile is worth, well, I figure I'm giving away a LARGE part of my annual salary every year. (We're talking the equivalent of about three months pay.)

The more worrying matter is that on the same day as all this happened, I found myself in a situation where I was being asked to put myself in harm's way. I was being asked to do a supervised visit with a dad and his son. This seems perfectly normal and all until I came to find out that the dad had called the foster placement and threatened to kidnap his child and threatened physical violence against the foster placement... Yeah. So this guy wants to abduct his kid, and seems to have no problem with issuing a beat down to someone standing in his way.

I was not pleased with this scenario.

The office offered to give me someone to assist with the visit. But the person that they offered me was someone who has only been doing this job for about two weeks. Umm... I'm sorry. No. If we're going to do this at all, (which I wanted it on record that I felt was totally stupid, and in need of serious reconsideration,) at least give me someone who I know has proven the ability to handle themselves in threatening situations... Not some kid who is still wet behind the ears.

When you have to process all of this on the same day, it makes you reconsider a lot. I mean I know this is not an industry you get into for the sake of making money. This business is about fixing families because you care about people and want to better their lives. Yeah... So I have vacation this week. I'll be in Alabama visiting family from Thursday through Monday. And while I'm vacationing, I'll be contemplating the utter folly of my pay rate for the tasks I am asked to achieve.

It isn't appealing, no matter how you slice it. I'm making some calls, thinking too much, and contemplating some tough decisions ahead.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Yeah, you saw the title, and if you're anything like me, the first thing you thought of was one of two things, and since Amtrak has the better PR people lately, I'm guessing that Britney Spears is at the top of that short list, and the only other possible contender for the top spot would be the entire Bush administration... And even with all they've done to fuck up over the course of the last seven years, even they have better spin control and PR than Brit.

The folks who know me well (and even some who don't know me all that well,) know that I am a quasi-celebrity-gossip-whore. I say "quasi" because I don't have a subscription to any of those tabloid magazines, but I admit to happily scanning the covers when in the checkout lane. And while CNN is my homepage, after scanning the real news headlines, I do admit that my first stop away from the homepage is D-listed.

Since that is the case, I think it goes without saying that the Britney debacle has been pretty much inescapable, even by those who don't pay attention to the celebrity trash gossip. Unless you're particularly dense, you've picked up on the fact that I work in the social service industry. We gossip heads at the office have our own take on the whole thing. We chat, we jokingly assign therapists, parent aides, and visitation facilitators to the case... I mean it might seem callous of us to spend our free time poking fun at such an easy target, but then again, it's not every day that we have such a well-known person who seems all to happy to easily dive into the ol' possible client pool.

I mean sure, we are all horrified when she endangered her kid by driving with him on her lap and got away with it by saying, "Oh, that's how we did it back home, because we're just country, y'all!" That was just the earliest well-known misstep in a loooooooooong stream of fumbling attempts at "parenting." (I put parenting in quotes, because I'm really not sure if what she has done in the last 2.5 years really qualifies.) And while I can't attest to the stringency of standards for child care in the state of California because I don't work there, I can tell you this, going by the standards I know, she should've lost those kiddos a very long time ago. And as for all these hearings and whatnot, I am appalled that she has been to court as many times as she has, (and I'm NOT counting all the other hearings that she no-showed for,) because when I see folks feebly trying to defend her by saying, "Oh every parent screws up from time to time, it just seems like a bigger deal because she's a celebrity and she's photographed all the time" well statements like that make me want to punch those people in the face. (And contrary to popular belief, I'm not one to rush to violence.) The fact is that there are plenty of celebrity parents who have managed to raise their children without a need for the department of child services. I mean even Michael Jackson kept his kids out of the system... That example alone should show you that they've got a very low standard to meet to be deemed a capable parent. And her celebrity status cuts both ways, because while she it sucks for her that she was caught publicly screwing up with her kiddos in tow by the paparazzi, I can promise that the average-joe-level parent has to wait months for a hearing regarding changes or increases in visitation. And they certainly had to be more compliant than loony ol' baldy over there to get any kind of visits.

I know that we all have more important things to worry about than the latest Spears shenanigans, but the fact is that we as a country like to see people royally fuck up... We love a soap-operatic story line to play out in the public view for us to see. For a lot of us it is just time-wasting entertainment, and in this case, it's more of a truth being stranger than fiction in an almost, "I couldn't write this stuff if I was a former staff writer on Passions! What the hell comes next!?!?" type of fascination. And yes, it is a shame that her kids will have to grow up with this, knowing that everyone saw their mom's baloney flaps, her head-shaving meltdown, the frap-fueled insanity, the appalling British accent, and everything else, and you know that the classmates will be laughing AT them and not WITH them. I do feel bad for the kids, and I do hope that things improve for them, I have to say that I don't feel any kind of empathy for Britney, because like so many people I work with, she just doesn't seem to genuinely care, and that makes me resent her.

Consider it from this point of view. Even if you don't have children, if you can imagine having kids, and you can imagine having them taken away by "The Man" for whatever reason, even if it's a bogus trumped up accusation by a resentful ex or something, can you honestly tell me that you would not be doing EVERYTHING in your power to prove yourself capable and get your kids back as quickly and painlessly as possible? (You're insides are screaming, "OF COURSE I would do everything I had to!" ... I know this because that's the rational part of your brain at work.) You would be taking every parenting class, every drug test, every court hearing, every single thing pertaining to the case VERY seriously. You would return every phone call, you would be thirty minutes early for every scheduled visit, you would take a pass on going out to be photographed at Hyde or at the local 7-11, because you want your damn kids back, and you don't want to do anything to jeopardize that! Because you have it in you to be a good parent, or you already are one.

So every time you catch yourself reading a headline about America's favorite trainwreck, and think to yourself, "Jesus-God! What the hell is she doing, why doesn't she just get her act together?" Just think of me, because I have the privilege of working with non-compliant people just like her EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Get your ass to the ER!

Ok, so if we're related, if you haven't already checked yourself in, you're probably going to be in the hospital in the next few days... At least that's what'll happen if the current trend continues!

First it was grandpa and his broken elbow.

Then it was my eldest sister with a ruptured cyst causing her to bleed into her abdomen, and require surgery.

Then my other older sister gets hit by an idiot running a red light, totaling her car and requiring a hospital stay and an epidural to control the pain in her back...

Now momma isn't feeling so sparky, but she thinks she'll live, and I've been nursing what feels like a seriously pulled muscle in my ass for a few days. Basically, we're all just falling apart.

To add insult to injury, I quit smoking on Friday, (I didn't smoke heavily to begin with, but just enough to notice a difference in my demeanor when quitting, which adds another reason to jump on that wagon,) and I lost my debit card on Saturday.

Losing one's debit card when working with the degenerates I have the dubious pleasure of calling my clients REALLY challenged my commitment to the quitting smoking thing. I admit I wanted one when I stressed out because I couldn't find it. I admit to wanting another when I had to retrace my steps in bitter cold and still couldn't find it. ...And then had to call the folks in India who handle the outsourced call load to Visa because apparently my bank's telephone doesn't get answered on weekends, and having to speak VERY SLOWLY, VERY CLEARLY, and having to spell everything out anyway, I admit that I wanted more than one when struggling with that mess! But I didn't give in. Largely because I had only checks to pay for things, and when I called my mom to tell her that I needed Dr. Pepper to get through the cravings, and that if I were to go to a gas station or grocery store to get Dr. Pepper, and I had to use a check, there is no way that Dr. Pepper would be the only thing I'd be buying because at this point my dedication had been challenged to the upper limits, and momma being the wonderful woman that she is, she braved the cold, brought me Dr. Pepper, and prevented me from further polluting my lungs. (YAY MOMMA!)

Based on the current trend though, I'm expecting to either hack up a lung anyway, or be diagnosed by some doctor on the street with emphysema by random chance... Either way, I'm glad that my insurance premiums are paid up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Leave the bloggin' to the Emo kids...

I know I don't post nearly as regularly as I should. I don't post with the quality that I was once known for. But I'm holding the the idea that now that I'm at my current job, and I can't make much of my work day public knowledge, despite the fact that I am amassing a HUGE cache of quality bar room stories, on a personal level, I'm becoming boring. I'd like to say that there was more to it than that, but there really doesn't seem to be.

I've noticed that many of my favorite bloggers have been posting less and less. Some have quit the business altogether. I haven't updated my sidebar in forever, and a few of those links are deader than Jack Kennedy. It's a disturbing trend.

No, I don't intend to quit blogging, but I'm trying to work out a way that I can let you in on the interesting points of my life without violating any kind of confidentiality contract. I have also noted that I've just gotten lazy. I've got tons of pictures that I keep intending to post, but just haven't because it just seems like too much of a hassle to go get my camera, download all the pictures to the computer, edit them as needed, and then upload them one at a time to ensure some kind of remotely plausible timeline in a post. It just tires me to think about it.

I have also noted the disturbing trend of bloggers who were once prolific posters, suddenly settling themselves into stable relationships and BAM the posting numbers start to tank. Furthermore, the quality of the posts began to wane because they seem to care more about the quality time with their significant others rather than the reading pleasure of their readership! (What a bunch of selfish assholes!) I, selflessly as ever, have remained terminally single, but have just started to suck. And please don't take offense if you recognize yourself in any of this, or if by taking offense you intend to step up your game, then by all means, IT'S YOU! YOU NEED TO GET BACK ON IT, BECAUSE WE'RE TIRED OF YOUR LAME ANTICS!

And while we're on the topic, if you're going to go into hiding, making your blog all private and such, you need to let a sister know! Because some of my favorite blogs are suddenly out of reach because I haven't warranted an invitation in some CRAZY oversight! I mean I respect your right to keep certain things private, and to grant and deny access to the masses, but I feel the snub when I've been reading your stuff from the word go, and all of a sudden, probably for lack of recent commenting activity on my part, now I can't get my regular fix of your saga. That's like a TV network saying, "Hey, we know you've gotten really hooked on this great show over the course of time, but we thought about it, and since you never provided us with some kind of commercial revenue, we're going to take it to a premium channel, and you can't buy it, you've got to have an invitation to receive it... Sorry about your bad luck... We're going to keep putting out this awesome product, but we're tired of your freeloding ass!"

And as far as commenting goes, yeah, I've been freeloading lately. Totally and completely my fault on that one! I mean yeah, I've still been lurking about, reading the blogs I have access to, but no, I'm not commenting on everything the way I used to. Since I know that bothers some of you, I have also not complained about the lack of commenting here... What's good for the goose is good for the gander, so I have no right to demand comments from places where I don't comment all that frequently. I know it's a give and take thing.

So I am content to leave the daily posting to the gossip bloggers and those folks who follow politics or the Britney Spears train wreck a little too closely. One of these days, I'll stage my comeback, and you'll wonder how it was possible that I could have ever sucked this badly... But by then I'll be a champion archive editor, and these posts won't exist in their current form, so there!

If you want daily posting, go talk to that D-bag John Mayer, or some emo kid. I'm going to retain a little bit of my writing integrity and not compose a 673 post dissertation on WHY John Mayer is a D-bag...

Vacation is coming up soon though... So maybe the batteries will be recharged after that!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Well, that's a new feeling...

So... for as much as I talk to people around my office, I finally had coworkers who don't live in my complex over to my house. They noted a couple of things.

1) They noted that my apartment is a very "adult" home. The highlights were things I already knew. The furniture is not second-hand, and the decor is decidedly not that of a college student. -Despite the fact that I know I have invested a great deal of time, money, and effort into ensuring that I no longer have a collegiate or juvenile home environment, I still like having that reassurance.

2) Secondly, we discussed MANY coworker issues around the office. We noted that one member of the staff is a HUGE closet case. We talked about a fabled firing. We talked about certain cases, and about coworkers who make advances at us, despite marriage vows, and we talked about coworkers who have other assorted issues. It was nice to know that I wasn't the only one who felt this way about a certain group of people... Reassuring in a certain way. Before now, I've only had the feedback of a very prudish and reserved coworker who happens to live in very close proximity to me and therefore was the only person who made their way over to my abode, and that opinion wasn't the most reliable or widespread, so it was nice to get another couple of views from the office on the dynamics of everything.

Do I have to be working at 8:30 in the morning? Sure! But it is 2:30AM, and I find it more important to tell you about this newfound outlet I have... What does that tell you? I don't know if that means I've been functioning totally dysfunctionally for the last 11months and now have a healthy vent to brag about, but the fact remains that I would rather short-sheet my own sleep in order to tell you guys about my new vent who can legally hear about all of my coworker AND case related bullshit, but it excites me immensely... and I have invited them over in an open manner. (Short of giving them my keys, I don't know how to tell them that I want them here as much as possible.)

It's just a new feeling, and a liberating one, so I wanted to share it with all of you. (Especially since it came at such a fortuitous moment in my life outside of work.) I mean, I know that writing here, and engaging in a dialogue with you in the form of comments (Not you Jay/RZV, you're a narcissistic ass lately, we know it's all about you.... JK) but the fact is that it's nice to be able to sit and drink in one's own home, and really delve into the minutiae of one's case load and to discuss one's fellow coworkers ad nauseam without fear of repercussions.

Poor grandpa looked pitiful tonight. He looked as though he had been taken in a back alley and beaten with a Louisville slugger. If it weren't for the fact that he admitted to having difficulties making it to the bathroom in time, I'd have made assumptions that he was still the same cantankerous shitbag, but since the evening played out the way it did, I actually do feel some compassion and pity for the man, despite how he has treated me in the past. It turns out I have one of those stupid "giving" hearts after all. Damn it all to hell!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sorry... Again.

Ok, so we all know that I suck lately anyway. I don't blog all that frequently, and when I do, I'm a total bore. Well, for the time being things are going to probably get a little worse.

You see, my curmudgeonly grandfather fell while walking home from church earlier this week, and broke his elbow. As a result, he's got a screw holding his arm together, and he's in a cast from shoulder to fingertip. My mother, (god bless her!) has been doing everything she can to this point just to keep him relatively contented and civil to the hospital staff. But he should be coming home tomorrow, and that means he's going to need more than a little extra supervision and assistance. Being the good daughter I am, I have offered my services during any period of time not occupied by a supervised visit or other appointment which impacts my paycheck. (I'd have offered more than that, but my paychecks have been ugly lately due to a couple of case closures and a whole lot of parental no-shows, so I need the hours and resulting dough to pay my rent.) I am also not volunteering my evening hours because they are spent petrifying my liver... Lord knows I am earning it lately.

In other news, ... Oh who am I kidding, I don't have any other news.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I just like that story...

I went out and bought the movie SOLELY because I wanted to own this clip in the event that the movie production companies catch up with youtube and tell bitches to delete it...

For your viewing pleasure, and hopefully to give you some insight as to what I want to be when I grow up:

I should write the headlines...

I knew how tonight was going to play out. Being a sports fan, (particularly a fan of college athletics,) I saw this one coming. I've had numerous conversations with my fellow sports fans and I've said for WEEKS that despite my Ohio State fandom, I knew they wouldn't stand a chance against LSU.

That being said, the game is at halftime right now, and I can already write the headline for tomorrow's sports pages. Namely, "Ohio State plays football like they are at San Diego Zoo: End up mauled to death by tigers." I mean really, if I wanted to see guys get torn up by tigers like this, I'd buy tickets to a Sigfried and Roy show during a Las Vegas trip.

For real.

An open letter to my creditors:

Hey guys,

I hope everything is going ok on your end of things, I know it has been a while since we've talked. Lord knows that the payment I missed recently probably caused your CEO to think twice before purchasing that diamond encrusted bra for his mistress during their most recent excursion to Barbados. And when the boss has to think twice, we all know it makes him unhappy, and when the boss is unhappy, EVERYBODY is unhappy.

In all honesty, I am a responsible person! I keep track of my bills. I know when my monthly payments are due, and I have them spaced out to prevent overdrawing at the bank. I also know that I have to drive a crap ton for work and that gas, insurance, new tires, regular oil changes, and an unexpected brush with Officer Dick-Nose have cost me incredible sums of money lately. I also know that I have to pay those things first because getting a paycheck is dependent on those things being done. And as much as I would love to say that eating isn't something that I need to do, I'm sorry to report that I lack the willpower of the genuine anorexics out there, and I do eat. And if it were up to me, I'd live at my mom's house since I'm in the same town, but having another cantankerous turd around prevents saving money on the rent in that way. It should also be noted that while you might not particularly care, my job --despite serving the greater good, doesn't exactly keep me rolling in dough.

So I'm sorry about that missed payment. And I'm sorry that the boss is pissed off about second-guessing that diamond encrusted bra investment. If I could pay you with perfectly poured cosmopolitans and vodka tonics, I would. If I could pay you with hand-knit scarves, or hand beaded jewelry, I'd be all over it! If I could pay you with quips, and anecdotes in verbal or written formats, I would pay you all in full with no problem... But alas, you don't want any of that! You want cold hard American currency... In that regard, you kind of suck. Hasn't anyone told you that the dollar is floundering? I mean you'd totally be better off diversifying your payment options to include barter and trade goods!

I mean I'm not telling you how to run things, but seriously, THINK ABOUT IT!



Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"In and out" is more than just a burger joint...

So the new year brings all kinds of good intentions and resolutions. Out with the old, and in with the new. Well, after seeing pictures of myself at the new year's party I attended, I very rapidly adopted the resolution to lose weight by any legal (reasonably healthy) means necessary. I am taking a different approach though. I am taking an approach which is not adherent to numbers on a scale. Basically, I have opted to forgo knowing my starting weight, and thus I will have no CONCRETE idea as to how much weight I will lose. The goal is not a number, because as far as weight goes, the numbers can lie to you. The goal is to start living healthier, looking better and feeling better. I am tired of feeling tired. I am sick of seeing pictures of myself and becoming ill at the sight of my image. A lifestyle change of improved diet and increased exercise is in order. This basically means that in addition to other changes, I'm going to have to set up a system to curb the consumption of empty calories in the form of cocktails after work. (We all know that quitting altogether is not an option, not with my history as a bartender/lush, or my current job which frequently drives me to the bottle as a coping mechanism.)

But with the resolution portion of this post out of the way, let's get on with the 2007 recap... I promise to try to keep it brief.

2007 did not start off well for the Lizzle. In January I had to leave my old Chicago home for reasons beyond my control. This was a devastating blow, and when you go through that kind of earth shattering, ego-crushing shift of reality, (especially when you consider the shitty 2006 that I had,) you need to take a little time to reassess everything you thought you knew. I decided to forgo the paradigm shift contemplations, opting to put a lot of emotional and otherwise difficult issues on a back burner and focus solely on finding gainful employment.

Within three weeks of my return home I had physically recovered from the efforts involved with moving, and then continually living out of boxes. I had tracked down the most key parts of my interviewing attire in a wardrobe which was still almost totally in boxes and bags, and I had found myself a job. Was it a high paying awesome job which required little or no actual effort on my part? No. Was it a demanding job requiring all kinds of effort and dedication to an ideal for (in the grand scheme of things,) a pittance of a wage? Yes. But it was a job. And a job is what I needed. And was it rewarding in other ways? Yes... Kind of. Some days are better than others, and some days I might as well stand in a corner banging my head against the walls while wailing for all I end up accomplishing... But in point of fact if I were to bang my head on the walls, I would likely have to go to the hospital to get stitches where I would undoubtedly end up meeting a hot doctor who would eventually become my husband, and he would decide he wanted to support me totally and whisk me away to a paradise and all of my dreams would come true. But I don't want any more scar tissue on my face, so obviously that's out.

So then came the issue of housing. After roughly two months of cohabitation with my mother and her ultra-cantankerous codger of a father, it was concluded by all parties that the living arrangement was not working for anyone, and that while my finances were sure to recover faster if I didn't have to pay rent somewhere, the fact was that I had to get out... And FAST. So I moved into the empty residence where I had grown up, and lived alone there for the sake of my sanity... Unfortunately for me, about a month after that decision, the house sold, and I had to find a reasonably priced apartment where I ran no risk of running into my clientèle. After making the rounds on my limited days off, (because time off is something one only dreams of when you're starting out in my office,) I found a feasible option and moved YET AGAIN and upon signing my lease, relinquished my title as nomadic Lizzle for the time being. So I finally got settled, removed my life from the carefully packed boxes, invested in rent, security deposit, and required furniture, and continued working hard for the greater good, aspiring to improve the lives of abused and neglected children. This of course comes with some major frustrations, and occasionally feeling like I was totally out of my depth when scoring parenting inventories and on occasion going through psych assessments to avert suicides on my caseload... (Yeah... I work for my money.)

But summer came and went, we had the annual family reunion, and along with fall came my trip to visit The Admiral. The trip to see The Admiral brought with it a new goal, and of course, copious amounts of hilarity and amusing pictures and anecdotes. Then my best friend in this neck of the woods decided she was going to have herself a baby, and I lost her to motherhood forever, further cutting into my already languishing social calendar.

Then came winter, and my trip to Chicago. It was an emotional ride and I was suddenly faced with a lot of those emotional and otherwise difficult issues which had been placed on the back burner much earlier in the year... I'm still working on that mess.

The year finished out with a couple of Christmas parties, and a new year's bash at cousin Tarreck's house. 2007 was sent off in fine style considering its incredibly high level of craptastic-ness. Pictures will be posted... EVENTUALLY.

So here it is 2008 and I'm really hoping that things improve from here. I mean there are only so many things which can go awry, and most of them already have, so 2008 doesn't have much further to descend down the tubes before hitting rock bottom, right? (I suppose I shouldn't say that, because by saying it, I tempt the fates to prove to me that things can totally end up sucking worse and encouraging them to start mining down into the bedrock... My luck does not EVER end up with magically mining into a vast cavern encrusted with diamonds and slick with untapped oil reserves, so we're just going to hope that things take that turn for the better.)

Cheers to sending out that craphole of a year known as 2007... And here's hoping that 2008 is all sunshine, moonbeams, lollipops, rainbows, and unicorns! I hope you all had a great new year!