Friday, May 30, 2008

Step away from the shoes...

I bought another pair of Privo shoes yesterday. That makes my third pair lately. I definitely have a problem.

I have also recently purchased 4 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of crops, and a skirt. All of which I have yet to wear. I definitely have a problem.

My problem is I need a new wardrobe. I give away, throw away, or put away my clothes every year. Year after year. If I can't fit into it, I give it away. If I don't like it and guess no one else will, I throw it away. And if I hope I'll fit into it next year, I'll put it away in the Rubbermaid container that keeps my hopes alive. I have no idea why I do this.

I tried to let go some clothes this past month as well as cleaning out the closet. I was pretty successful by pulling out over 12 empty shoe boxes. I have a tendency of keeping the shoe box, just in case I need to take them back... even if I've worn them. I know, I know - when will that ever happen? It did happen once to me that I wore a pair for a week, they broke and I did take them back. But I had to take inventory on the empties – I found empty shoe boxes which contents have been worn many times – even out of the country. So I guess it is "safe" now to let go the boxes.

In my quest for having a nice wardrobe, I am constantly looking for shoes. One can always find shoes – no matter what your dress size is. I also had a $10 off of $10 coupon from DSW. Naturally, that was burning a hole in my purse.

And Filene's Basement is right next to DSW... so I had to at least look. I have never bought anything there – I hear it is a hit or miss. So, you guessed it – always a miss for me. But not last night. I found a great shirt, pair of shorts and a pair of crops. Tried on all 3 and they all fit. 3 for 3. Extremely rare for me. So I bought all 3.

DSW was next, so I kept gravitating towards the same kinds of casual shoes... Merrells, Keds, etc. Like I need another pair of either – but, "Oooh! - they have Privos!... on sale!... plus my $10 off!". My partner in crime, M convinced me to get them, as they're the most "work appropriate".

I'm off at lunch to return 2 of the pairs of shorts, in exchange for another style. Maybe I'll get warm enough for me to actually wear some of the new purchases.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today's random thoughts

I went out at lunch today to run a couple of errands. I had the Jeep washed, hit the bank and the gas station.

The car wash line was first, to avoid the lunch rush. I had to keep my window up on a nice day to avoid the jerk next to me blasting his ghetto music. The African American dude in front of him drove a nice car – with his windows up, too. He apparently thought his windows being up blocked my view of him – as he was plucking his nose hairs. Nice. I'd rather deal with the boom boom boom from the jerk right next to me, thank you.

The manager at the car wash remembered me, and was impressed that my roof bumper didn't pop off this time. (My last trip to the Jeep dealer, I had the mechanic place it back in properly). I was kinda impressed that the manager remembered.

Hit the bank and thought it was weird that there were only two teller "windows" – one regular one and one low one with a chair. Are customers that lazy where we need to sit while at the bank?

They're estimating that gas will go up even more over the weekend – so I filled up. Thinking I'd be saving money by filing up early, it still didn't feel cheap at $3.99. I guess compared to $4.17 it is. I'm not buying it that people are freaked out about gas prices yet – due to all the vehicles I still see out and about. It bothered me that some jerk was smoking at the pumps, too. Maybe if we're lucky, ignorance will get that jerk blown up some day. Or as M says - nature's way of weeding out the weak.

On my way back to work, I saw a lady walking and talking to herself. Hands and all. I thought she was in a deep conversation on a cell phone. Nope - just with herself.

I got a salad and pop at lunch - $4.79 for a dinky salad and a diet coke. And I was brave picking a brussel sprout and putting it on my salad. Note to self: don't put things like brussel sprouts on a salad bar that you have to pay by the ounce. Also note: you don't like brussel sprouts.

Pretty sure we will get to leave early today. I sure hope so, as I'll be able to get a haircut before I go home. I have a habit of once I get it in my head that I need a cut, I can't stop thinking about it until I do. I am looking pretty shabby – as my mom says, "if it gets any longer, I'll need a leash". funny.

Tomorrow is the opening day of our subdivision's pool. I'm not so sure it really will be open due to the weather. It is only to be in the 60's. That stinks. I'll just have to sit in my chair on the patio, I guess. I have my pool bag just about ready to go. I still need to find the container that has our nice pool towels. I'm slacking.

We're going out with friends and visiting family this weekend. In between, I hope to sit in my favorite spot - my chair at the pool.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The right thing

Yesterday, I walked out of the salon and noticed an older gentleman in the parking lot. He didn't look dangerous or scary to me.

I'm guessing he was in his 70's. Clean cut with a nice, "grandpa" look. (I'm a softie for cute little grandpas).He was wearing jeans, a light blue wind-breaker jacket and a baseball cap with a white flag/sticker tucked in the top. His clean-cut look, age and hat made me think he was maybe a veteran handing out poppies for a donation.

As I walked to my Jeep, I noticed him in the corner of my eye more. He was now following me. No big deal, I thought, as the parking lot is only 1 row of cars. The man walked behind me as I beeped the Jeep unlocked. He didn't say a word. He just handed me a pen and smiled. I looked at the pen and it had a tag on it noting he is deaf and asking for a donation.

I dug into my jeans pocket, knowing it's contents: a $5 bill, 4 $1 bills, a Mega millions lottery ticket and my new Bonnie Bell Lipsmacker (strawberry slush) I received in my Ohio basket from the WVIZ auction. I knew all these because I had just bought the lottery ticket 30 minutes before. And I never, ever travel without a Lipsmacker in my right pocket.
As I went through my pocket, I made sure I was going to grab just a $1 bill. And I knew how to do that without looking, as I was taught to always organize my bills the same way. I have my Dad and a former boss/family friend to thank for that.

I gave the man a dollar. He smiled and nodded and walked away with me holding my new pen.
Once I was in my Jeep, I watched for him because I had to back-up. God forbid I run over a poor, old grandpa who is deaf and selling pens for a living. But he was gone. He must have seen another person that needed a pen.

As I drove home, I had mixed emotions. Was that legitimate? Was he really deaf? Was I just scammed for a dollar? I did get a pen for it, though.

But what if it is really true? How can a clean cut, nicely dressed grandpa in Cleveland make a living selling pens? I admit, his age, looks and politeness will sell loads of pens. I only gave him a dollar. No harm there. But if he really is living off donations, why isn't the "system" working for him? Does he need the money to live? Or maybe for his prescriptions? Who knows for sure.

All I know is I only gave him a dollar and I had another $8 in my pocket. I'm sure he didn't want my Lipsmacker and with my luck, the lottery ticket is worthless. So why did I just give him a dollar? I prayed for him as I drove home. I hope I did the right thing by at least giving him that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trying to be patient

Lately at work, it has been either hot or cold. Nothing in between.
While I understand it is May in Cleveland, I don't understand how at work it can't be "comfortable". I guess comfortable means many things.

I know that the older I'm getting, the extremes affect me more and more. And no, I'm not premenopausal.

Today's forecast is sunny and 66 degrees. Nice, right? But it is freezing inside. I'm someone who gets hot much faster than others, so this is odd for me to be so cold. I know they say you have to "layer" in the Midwest. But in May, and indoors? Apparently, so.

So they blast the air and we're about to freeze to death. One theory is they're keeping it cold so that germs can't grow – therefore, no sick days. Another theory is that they just can't figure out how to maintain the temperature. You decide.

Because it is so cold that one can see their breath, so what do they do? They turn off the air. They turn off everything. No white noise, no nothing. So now we have cold, stale air and we can hear each other think.

I've had thoughts of strangling my neighbors due to their loud talking, coughing, giggling, typing and just normal office noises. What was that? I think I just heard a moth fart.

I am one of those ultra-sensitive people with senses. I just can't help it. And the older I get, the more I hope I'm becoming patient. But I'm not all days. I pick up smells faster than most. Someone can walk through the area with nasty rose-scented perfume and it almost gags me. Chinese food is a hoot, too. I can't imagine how I'd be if I was ever pregnant. And bright light bothers me, too. I can't have my work area bright. This is difficult when sitting next to someone who can't see without neon lights blaring. So bright she could make extra cash by growing weed in her cube.

The worst sensitivity I have is noise. I got accustomed to sleeping with a radio my first semester in college. I can blame my parents for 2 boys and 1 girl for that... so having a roommate was a difficult challenge. As if a radio was not enough, I got used to running a fan at night for white noise, too. The radio habit is long gone, but I still run a fan every night. (note to self: invest in a fan company).

I have a fan running constantly at work, too. It's sole purpose is to block out said noises. It is also convenient when hot, too. I even have a spare, just in case it breaks. My friend's area is even more quiet, and his fan broke on Monday. So I sacrificed my spare to him. I understand his pain.

I know my sensitivity with noises is my problem and that it is just me being me. I'm trying to deal with it.

So today, I'm running my fan and listening to my iPod while working. I have two backups for music: iTunes off the Mac and a radio/cd player. I even have an extra set of earphones – just in case. (another note to self: make sure you have batteries for the radio in case of power outage). So if you call me today – don't expect me to answer the phone. I can't hear my phone ring, but I can hear my neighbor's eyes blink. I can't win. :P

Thursday, May 8, 2008

iMac turns 10 today

Happy tenth birthday, iMac. I can't believe how the time has flown by.

I remember when you were released. I think you had the coolest design ever. How forward thinking. You shared the design of the year with the VW Beetle – another cool, and yet, elegant shape.

I think my work Mac at that time was a Mac clone. Silly boss. I'm pretty sure I was testing FreeHand 5 for our work environment back then. You only had 233 Ghz and the buzz was you couldn't add memory. But we were thrilled anyway. Bondi blue color was truly the coolest color ever. But that hockey puck mouse of yours never fit my smaller sized hands, but I managed just fine.

M bought a graphite. My mother-in-law bought a lime. (M called it her LiMac - funny). And my hip Mom and Dad owned a tangerine. Our home Mac is still an iMac, I think it is our 5th one. My retired parents now have their own Macs, to avoid fighting and to keep the marriage healthy. Mom has her new iMac and Dad sports his cool MacBook – he's now got his eye on a MacBook Air.

You opened the eyes of the computer world and demanded attention. You were the forward-thinking machine that allowed Apple users to be really proud of our "club". Steve Jobs really became a household name because of you. We had no idea you would be the big brother to the iPod and everything "i-something" to come in the next decade.

I'm glad we've had these 10 years – I can't wait for the next 10.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Second guessing myself

I indulged and treated myself to a pair of shoes. I've had my eyes on these since I bought my first pair of Privos. (see previous post from March)

I've been to and have checked them out weekly. It is like an addiction or something that I can't explain. Once I find a brand of anything I like, I am hooked and want more. I think I'm a clothes hoarder. When I find something that fits and looks well (rare), I end up buying more of the same thing. I own at least 7 of the same style dress blouses in different colors. I used to collect Keds in various colors and plaids. I think I've outgrown that one. I have a brand new pair of Dr. Marten boots still in the box. My original pair is over 12 years old, but I still wear them. I bought the spare pair because they were at a deep discount, and God knows I needed an exact duplicate – just in case. Just in case of what?! I really don't know.

I was in a mall shoe store last week that carries the Privos. Naturally, I was wooed right towards the shoes I've been eyeing the last couple of months. They carried the style in about four colors – 3 of which I ignored and only homed in on the orange. They didn't have my size in the orange (welcome to my world), but I did try on the brown version. They were stinking cute. And I almost bought them because they really are more practical than orange. I mean, come on, who wears orange shoes?

I ordered the orange pair and they were delivered last night. The sight of the UPS truck excited both M and I as we were both expecting packages. I won last night as only my orange Privos arrived. I immediately opened them and tried them on. They fit like the others. They are certainly orange. And they are really cute. 

I took them to meet my clothes in the closet. A tradition I have when I purchase something slightly "off". I had to introduce the orange to my existing wardrobe. That way I could convince myself they'd fit in and make a permanent home. The thing is, they didn't fit in as well as I was thinking. In my head, I had matched up the orange shoes with certain tops. They didn't really go the way I had thought.  I can't match up my orange tops with orange shoes – I'll look like I'm wearing Garanimals. What they do go with best is WHITE. hmmmmm. I even bought a white blouse (version 3 of the same style) to go especially with these shoes.

Needless to say, the shoes are sitting in my closet today and not on my feet. $80 seems fair for a great pair of "school shoes" that I can wear to work. But really, $80 for orange shoes? Who does that? Me. I know I can "pull them off" as I'm often told. I have red Keens, blue polka-dot Keds (ok, maybe the Keds addiction still lives) and I own a pair of pink, Mickey Mouse Crocs. Do I really need to spend $80 on orange shoes? I'm letting them sit for another day or so to let the idea sink in. I may be second guessing myself, maybe not.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Screwed again

Yesterday, I received a bill from a bill collector. Me. A bill. From a bill collector. wtf?

First of all, I pay my bills. I open my mail and pay bills immediately. I'm aware of what is on my credit cards at all times and I carry a zero balance on all of them.  So a collection agency sending me a bill is quite the disgusting surprise last night. What is most disturbing is that I don't even know what the bill is for. I have never received a bill in that amount for whom they are claiming it for.

Let's backtrack two years ago. I go to the doctor on a day scheduled months in advance. It just so happens to be the exact day M starts his new job. I pay no attention to this, as it is the only day I go to the doctor all year. A month later, we decide to drop our existing benefits and have M cover both of us. A smart move because his new employer offers excellent services and price. Or so we thought.

I get a bill stating my previous benefits were dropped at midnight the day before my office visit. What? I was surely covered by my benefits that day. Especially because we didn't even decide to change over a month later. Nope. M's employer covered us the day he started – which I hear is quite extraordinary. Needless to say, my former benefits will no longer pay for the office visit because I no longer was covered under them. My luck.

I get luckier and luckier as M's new coverage doesn't include my doctor. Yeah for me as I have to pay 100% of the visit. I can't tell you how frustrating this is. Especially because I had coverage that I paid for. I end up receiving the bills throughout the next months, and all I can do is pay for them. Another way we were screwed by M's former employer. (In my mind, he was laid off, so it is their fault – as this would not have happened on our own)

I paid more than $220 for a regular office visit that should have been a co-payment only. And don't forget that I had coverage. Of course, I had to pay the co-payment, too.

Let's fast forward to yesterday. The bill from the collection agency is a strange amount for the hospital. I know it is for lab work that I had bills stating a balance of $0. I spent most of my evening going through the filing cabinets searching for this bill. I can not find a bill I ever received with this number. But I do find all the statements from that day and even my bank's statements with the cashed checks.


I call the hospital asking about the bill. They claim they sent me this bill FIVE times – which they have not. I have no records of this. Remind  you, I am aware I was there that day, so something just doesn't add up. They state it is for lab work, but I have my bill copy with me stating it is $0. So instead of me having a $0 fee, it is now $75.87. I don't mind paying for my services if they are legit. I do mind that two years later I receive that bill from a collection agency, though. So I pay the $ today. Two years later for a procedure I had coverage for. The same coverage I had to pay for as well as M. But I received no coverage. How can this happen?

I'm one of those lucky people that goes to the doctor annually once. I also get my eye exam every two years. I had to pay 100% out of pocket for that one too. The transition from coverage really screwed me two years ago. But I'm one of the good guys. I pay my price tag for the benefits out of pocket. I go to the doctor twice and I have to pay 100%.

Because M switched coverage for us, I have to choose a new doctor last year. I go to the doctor ONE time last year and guess what? Yup, 100% out of pocket again. This doctor is a Tier II and I was there for Tier I. See the pattern?

I just can't win. And the thing is, I have health insurance. Really good health insurance under M. I can only imagine how people struggle without it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

I'm a poor hillbilly...

... or at least I feel like one. 

Sixteen months ago I had major dental work done. I had all my wisdom teeth removed, a missing filling replaced and "while I've got you all numb, let's replace that old silver filling". So I have all this done, and I'm miserable. But I have holes in my mouth and two fancy white fillings.

The surgery was covered by insurance but I still had a pretty large bill. My missing filling was replaced with a white one - and because it isn't silver, it wasn't covered by insurance. Of course, I didn't know that. And of course, my dentist only uses the white fillings. I swear it is a scam.

As for the silver filling I already had, it just so happened to be right next to the tooth that was missing a filling. So why not refill it? Because it was just fine as it was? Oh no – because my dentist likes white fillings and $, that's why. Needless to say, insurance didn't cover that bill either. Scam-City.

A month goes by with me mending those holes in the back of my head. And then I get an even worse toothache. Guess where? In the tooth that was just fine, but now is sporting a new, white filling. Four Motrins at a time were a joke. The pain was indescribable.

The dentist is closed over a long weekend with this pain (my luck) and I couldn't stand it anymore. Thoughts crossed my mind like I was Tom Hanks in "Castaway" and was looking for an ice skate to take me out of my misery.

Now I'm finally in the dentist's chair describing this huge bubble next to my nice new white filling. I've never had this much pain as when he took the hook of death and POKED it. It took everything out of me not to punch him or pass out. The term abcess was now in my dictionary. I get a prescription of antibiotics and pain killers and get sent home.

A root canal is how an abcess is fixed, apparently. Nice. I'm barely 40 and I need a root canal. Those are for old people – not 40-somethings. How embarrassing. The dentist tells me that the filing he took out a month ago, the one that was perfectly fine, the one that has the new white filling that I had to pay 100% out of pocket, is now going to be ground down to a stump and covered with a crown.

They give me quote on how much this will cost me out of pocket. I don't freak because I'm numb. Of course, they give me the cost of the root canal ONLY... and don't include the cost of the crown. This doubled the cost. There goes my plans of a cruise to South America.

So now, I'm the proud owner of a crown... one that pops off when I chewed a piece of gum. The same tooth, that was just fine, that had a new filling that I had to pay 100% for, the one with a new crown. Oh, and my dentist denies any blame for messing with a perfectly fine silver filing. He also denied me reimbursement for the white filling that only lasted 1 month, too.

My dentist re-glues/cements my crown after my first piece of gum after all this mouth work. He says crowns shouldn't pop off like that, and if it does again, I'll get a new crown.

So guess what happened this weekend while eating a piece of CHEESE? Oh, and it was an hour before we had a cocktail party... come on – guess! Yup, my crown popped off. Ergh.

I called the dentist today to have it reglued. I say that he told me he'd want to GIVE me a new one... and he does. The thing is that I can't get in for 8 more days. So now I have a hole in the back of my mouth again. And I can't chew on that side, too. I feel like a total hillbilly with this missing "toof". I know you can't see it, but I know it is missing. The new crown better be 100% out of HIS pocket this time. 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Car trips

Today the gang from work got together for lunch, and six of us carpooled in a co-worker's minivan. We talked about the idea of mandatory car seats for children 8 and under. The idea of it made us remember how we all grew up without the luxury of a minivan or SUV.

Those that had big families had station wagons. And if you were lucky, you got to ride in the back seat – facing sideways or backwards. Half of us said it made us carsick. A comment was made that the back window was put down in case you had to throw-up. We never had a station wagon, so the novelty of riding in the back was cool to me.

We all remember raising our fist up and down to get truckers to blow their horns. Quickly, we chimed in how we all got scolded, too.

I have loads of car trip memories. When I was really young, my parent's drove their Chrysler back and forth to Wisconsin. It was just me and my older brother in the back seat, and Mom in the front with Dad. Mom packed us lunch – sandwiches, chips and pop – we ate it at the road stop picnic table. We were never allowed to eat or drink in the car.

I used to lie on the floor of the of the back seat, while my older brother took the entire seat. We didn't fight that way. I was just short enough where my legs fit right over the middle hump. And if I put a pillow by the door, it was pretty comfortable. At least it was my space. We didn't have to wear our seat belts, too. By today's standards, we should be dead. Or at least brain damaged from all the lead paint, etc.

My Dad liked to make the 600 mile drive in 1 day. So he'd wake up really early and we'd head out at about 2:30 a.m. This way, he'd plan his timing going through Chicago. Some of my hardest moments not laughing were in that city. Because it was a big city, and hard to drive through at that time, my parents expected both my brother and I to behave at this time. Of course, my brother would poke me or pinch me or make faces at me, so I'd start laughing. I'm still that way today. Another memory of the Chicago area is the smell of South Bend. I remember some large holding tanks that were painted like beer cans, too.

Then came the toll booths. I always thought those were cool and wanted Dad to let me throw the 15 cents in that basket, but he never let me. I remember going past the baseball park, really tall buildings and the neon Coke sign. That sign meant we were on our way out of Chicago and more than half way to Grandma's. The sign was lit up because it was dark and at an off time going through the city. One of the last times with my parents going through Chicago, we saw a guy run into a pole with his car. The infamous Dadism "get away from him, he's drunk" comes to mind.

Dad used to pay my older brother and I a penny for every mile we were quiet. This incentive was pretty good, so my brother usually scored a lot of $. What I did earn, I remember I'd blow on candy and junk at the baseball game or at Stuckys. I loved that place. They had grab bags, Hunkydory (caramel corn with nuts) and pecan rolls.

When I got a little older, I got to ride in the front seat with Dad. This way, Mom could do her favorite thing on a car trip: sleep. Dad used to tell me stories of him being a little boy and growing-up during everyone else's sleep time. It was also my "job" to watch for deer at night for him. He'd tell me how a deer would jump out and it could kill us by going through the windshield. I took my deer watching job seriously. He'd tell me to look for glowing eyes from the deer. People's mailbox reflectors would glow and fool me. I never saw a deer on my deer watch. I guess I did a good job.

If you were Dad's co-pilot, you also to pick out the restaurant for breakfast with him. We'd know what was out there by the billboard signs. We'd wake everyone up and let them know it was time for breakfast. By this time, Dad and I might have been up for hours. I remember we'd go somewhere like Big Boy and I always tried to order a hot dog at 7:00 a.m.

Families today have so many gadgets on their vans like navigation systems, dvd players and video games. I feel sorry for those kids because their memories won't be nearly as great as mine.