Thursday, August 11, 2016

remind me

My week started off like this:

buddies, awake or asleep
Can I get a collective "Awwww!!!"? Children are so easy to appreciate when they're harmlessly asleep. But it's not always like that.

Yesterday I dropped by a friend's house to pick up a couple items. Although what I needed was in her fridge downstairs, she wasn't there. I mosied upstairs and found her sitting in one of her son's bedrooms. I took a brief mental note of my surroundings. My friend was sitting on the bed, wearing her outdoor gardening clothes. Her red hair, speckled just a scant amount of grey, was pulled back but wisping around her face. She was sitting in a pile of hundreds of old photos, also known as #memoriesarethequickestwaytoderailwhateveryouweredoing. Her second daughter is being married next week, and she was picking out some favorite childhood photos for display.

"If I could freeze a period of time, it would be when the girls were so little," she said. "When we lived in the house in the woods, and were out on the lake every weekend..." She trailed off, then looked up. "The time goes fast."

My friend is the least emotional person I know. I've known her for 18 years and I could count on one hand the number of times I've seen her cry. She didn't even cry when she said this. She was just matter of fact and a dash wistful. But far be it from her to wallow in superfluous sentimentality. So when she said this, I really slowed down to let her words sink in.

I know every young mom has heard "They're only little once!" and "The time goes fast! Treasure every moment!" and if this google search is any indication, they're all tired of hearing it. I must confess, I "get" it, but I don't. The reason the young mothers are drawing the line in the sand of All The Things Not To Say To Me is because they are right in the daily trenches and maybe all they want is a glass of wine or a nap or the luxury of peeing alone. And you can laugh about it and think I am being hyperbolic, but every bit of that is true.

But the reason the old mamas keep saying All The Forbidden Words is because they have more than an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom. They have hindsight. They were there. They were in the trenches. And then life happened and in all the long days and short years, their kids grew up. And maybe they have regret and maybe they have wisdom and maybe all they can do now is offer up some words of advice, ill-timed or not.

So to those seasoned mothers who keep saying apparently all the wrong things:

Please keep saying them to me.

On the days I take someone to the potty for the 35th time in an hour, please remind me that they won't always be so dependent.

On the August afternoons that my two oldest are arguing about who gets to put the star on the Christmas tree four months from now, remind me that their conflicts won't always be so simple to solve.

When we have yet another sleepless night, please remind me that sleep issues are not just an indicator of my obvious parenting failures and that we will get through it.

When I am convinced my child will want to breastfeed until she is 25 years old, please - PLEASE - assure me this isn't true.

When my baby wails until I pick her up, remind me that her needs are simple and look like a cuddle. Remind me that it doesn't actually get much easier than that. Keep reminding me that little needs are simple needs. I will file this one under "Things I Need to Hear, Not Want to Hear," and ask that you preemptively forgive whatever disgusted look I give you.

When my kid cries loudly in Walmart, remind me that we all feel that way while in Walmart; my child just has the sense to vocalize.

When my girls make a giant mess and forget to clean it up before moving on to the next thing and I ask, "Why didn't you clean this up when you were through?" remind me that "I guess we forgot because we're children" is a totally valid, honest answer.

When I think I didn't get much accomplished during the day because LOOK AT THIS MESS and I AM NOT EVEN SURE THESE PEOPLE BRUSHED THEIR TEETH and ALL I DID TODAY WAS HOLD PEOPLE AND WIPE TEARS and EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF EVERY SINGLE THING WE OWN IS DISTRIBUTED INDISCRIMINATELY ON THE FLOOR AND BY THE WAY I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE HAVING FOR SUPPER BURGER KING SOUNDS GOOD MMKAY?, remind me that my children are hearts to nurture and not just projects to manage. And that the condition of relationships always outweigh the condition of the house or the condition of supper.

When  I'm convinced I'm ruining them: remind me that you felt that way, too. And you made it! And your children grew up! And they are functioning, contributing adults in society! And you didn't ruin them! And it will be okaaaaaaay!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I'm and feel guilty about taking time for myself, remind me that my kids deserve a happy mom.

When my girls muster up the courage to confess something wrong they'd kept secret, remind me to be gentle because cultivating integrity and honesty and trust starts when they're young.

When my teen makes choices that injure relationships, remind me to keep loving. And remind me that everybody gets to make their own choices.

Older mamas, I need you to keep reminding me of what's true, even if your delivery isn't winning gold medals. I need you to not wonder if you're saying the right thing and be willing to risk saying the wrong thing because there might be truth in both. I need you to be in my life, cheering me on, helping me laugh, letting me cry, and reminding me of what's important.

Because when I walk into the bathroom and see this:

partners in crime, awake or asleep

I need you to remind me that they're only little once, and that the time goes fast.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

savings, spendings, and customer disservice

I would like the hidden camera men who have lately been filming the staged (for THIS CANNOT ACTUALLY BE HAPPENING) customer-service-related meltdowns in my life to step forward, because I owe them a heartfelt punch in the schnozz.

Now, let us discuss mathematics and secondhand clothing. I promise this ties together.

We took a little shopping jaunt to my favorite consignment shop. $72 worth of clothing was laid upon the counter. I walked out after paying $9 cash. Here's the break down:

Original tag prices: $72
After tag sale discount: $32
My in-store credit applied to the sale: $23
Remaining balance: $9

Now, my dears, what was the value of the clothing we purchased? $72? $32? $9? And did I spend $9 or did I save $81?

Value apparently is in the eye of the beholder. Which is why I want to viciously attack the hidden cameramen. It's not funny anymore. I've spent the last ten weeks of my life in a battle, apparently to the death of my sanity, with customer service. My mother-in-law could place her hand on a Bible and testify that she saw me become a venom-spewing demon. BLESS HER for still loving me. And for not walking out the door with all my children promising that she was taking them to a better place. She just kept reading books to them. What a woman.

I've remarked on customer service here, and my outlook hasn't changed.  If companies would hire me to teach a day seminar on appropriate customer service, it would change the world and I would be rolling in wads of cash.

Sidenote: Just in case you're the head of a company who wishes to do just that, this is my bullet point seminar:
-How to listen and pretend you care
-How to apologize for things that aren't your fault
-When to argue with a customer; quick answer: never
-Speaking the language/dialect of the people calling in: a quick guide to winning friends and influencing people
-How to love and adore the angry people you'll be talking to all day

-Automated systems: how to make fussy people even fussier in 5 quick keypad pushes

My most recent come-apart was when we landed in a local Verizon store. The external speaker on Lumberjack's phone recently bit the dust. Not a problem, and we could totally live with it in an alternate universe, but he keeps on-call hours and having a phone that you can hear ringing is a necessity. Especially in the middle of the night. We hoped for a repair; no dice. We faced the reality of buying a new phone. At this point it might've been in everybody's best interest for me to shout JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL and leave the store with my hands dramatically flying. I didn't.

Instead, with us now in her clutches, the salesgirl rattled off a stream of numbers that sent my head spinning.  Apparently there was A New Phone That Was Just Released Yesterday. And if you buy it today, you'll get a $300 bill credit. And then you'll get this premium offer of only paying $27/month for the next 24 months (this might as well be the rest of my life). And because he's a hospital employee Serving The Community, there's this additional discount. Oh, man. Thank you for your service, Sir. You are a real hero. Please Look Away While I Magically Apply the $300 Bill Credit Twice and make it look like you're making money off this dumb thing. OH WAIT. That sounds like a great sales tactic! I'll actually tell you that if you buy this phone, you'll make money off it!

Oh, can I, now? Can I, please?! BECAUSE THAT IS EXCITING MAGIC.

I pointed out the holes in her application of the bill credit. I pointed out how there's no way a customer is making money off a phone when they've paid every penny of $648 for it. (And plus also it is A PHONE. To replace a DEAD SPEAKER. A piece of hardware that probably cost all of FORTY CENTS in the first place. And I am not opting to pay $648 FOR THAT.) I held my own. I insisted the value was not what she thought it was. She insisted we were making money. Real cute, Princess of 8% Commission-on-this-sale.  Your attitude makes me want to throw things. And it's not my money.

I stood firmly rooted to my position. I wouldn't budge. She took the Boy you are really an idiot for not believing me tone. Madam, I'm about to dial 1-800-LOSE MY JESUS. There is no way you can keep your job as a salesgirl and Verizon stay in business if you are actively selling all of your products at a loss. Quit pretending this is what you are doing. At this point it was totally sweet timing that my little cherubs were apparently emaciating away from Total And Actual Starvation. It was super helpful that apparently in that same moment they completely forgot how to behave like human beings. It made for the optimal excuse for leaving the store.

"I will think about our options," I said, hoping the hashtag #nothingthatyouveshownmeisanoptionandplusyouareawful wasn't blinking too brightly above my head.

Regardless of how you view savings, I see it as spendings. I didn't actively save $81 at the consignment shop; I simply spent $9. And no matter how many times a sales clerk magically deducts a one-time $300 credit and insists that I am turning a profit by spending $648, I refuse to believe that money works like magic. The flip side is tantalizing, I must confess: if what she says is true, and that valuable discount can be achieved by the average customer, think of the discount if I worked there! The apparent solution is to put my application in straight away so that I can work alongside her because we obviously have the makings of an epic friendship. I can't wait!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

quicksand, twitter, and hashtag casserole


Apparently I used to have a blog that I updated with some hilarious things every now and again, and sometimes made people cry in a beautiful way (beautiful crying is way different from ugly crying. I hope to death I haven't made anyone ugly-cry).

Apparently this is that blog, and APPARENTLY I LEFT MYSELF SIGNED IN.

Totally fortuitous. If I hadn't, bye-bye-bloggie. I'd have no idea how to get back into it, starting with the signing in process.

As I'm writing this, there's a bar at the top of my screen that says the blog host doesn't support this browser and it may result in unexpected behavior.

Puh-leez. I've got kids. Unexpected behavior from a browser window has nothing on that.

Since we last talked, we've finished some septic work in the backyard, acquired chickens, got rid of the chickens, had a baby, put our cat through eye removal surgery so now he is worth even less, canned a million jars of fruit jam, refinished our bathroom, mopped my floors probably twice, and didn't sleep. I know, I know. All of it, excuses for why I abandoned the blog. I learned to hashtag, I've gotten on Twitter, I'm still eating gluten, and I won't touch kale. I've read a lot of good books that have warmed my heart, challenged my paradigms, and had me sobbing in my tea by the last page. Speaking of tea, I've given up drinking it sweet. #majorlifechange #whoamIeven #Idontevenknowmyselfanymore   And speaking of books, I've written my own and am ruthlessly pursuing rejections by literary agents until I find a magical combination of right time, right agent, right mood. And a bunch of other rights I haven't stumbled into yet, but I'm sure they're out there. Self publication is not in my cards or in my pocket or in the stars or whatever the saying is. I'm not touching that event with a ten foot pole.

Speaking of touching things with a ten foot pole: you know what I used to really think about a lot as a child that had me frightened for a very long time? Quick sand. Funny how that turned out to not be as much of a problem in adulthood.

Lots of things to be glad about. The absence of quicksand is at the top of my list, no two ways about it.