Another One Bites the Dust

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Freddie Mercury of Queen

Queen has always been a great band, and brings about the glorious memories of high school–when I was considered “cool.” Okay, I was cool in the sense I was an uncover cool kid masquerading as a geek, but no knew the true me. I recall the substitute bus driver playing Another One Bites the Dust during the last week of school one year and the whole bus chimed in, pounding on the seats and bellowing with their heads out the windows. No, I didn’t say it was safe, but it certainly was memorable. We should all have memories like that when paying a mortgage is the last thing on your mind.

 

Speaking of stressful situations, my teenage son has his drivers license. He got it last week. And while Cameron is extremely thoughtful, sometimes it doesn’t pay off. For example, I asked him to make a U-turn after he missed a driveway. Pulling into the center lane, he paused and then cranked the wheel while accelerating. My face smooshed against the window while we whipped around. I clawed at the door the way a cat does entering a vet’s office, desperately grabbing at the handle as Cameron spun the car around to the parallel lane the other direction. “What the hell was that?” I screamed after catching my breath, “You’re supposed to turn into the outside lane on a U-turn!” Cameron got angry and flustered at the same time. “But this car can do it easily,” he said. I explained that all cars must follow the same rules of the road. Now I ride in the middle of the back when he drives. But if anyone asks, I still say Cameron’s a good driver.

Cameron and I have also had conversations about how good drivers are born from experience, not just the manuals, classrooms, and illustrations with arrows on a board. There are a lot of “unwritten rules” as well; rules like, if you’re in an accident, never immediately admit fault because often times people will take advantage and claim injuries that aren’t real for the sake of garnering a higher settlement.

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Big brother will get paid for serving sister.

They don’t teach that wisdom in school! They also don’t teach some of the maneuvers I do while driving that my kids refer to as “stunt driving.” There are times and places where what I do has a legitimate purpose—such as realizing I entered the exit with tire rippers and quickly back up for a do-over in the correct lane. They don’t teach that at driving school. As much as I want to protect my son, he’s going to drive. He is maturing with a job now working at The Old Spaghetti Factory–on his road to pro chef success.

 

Since Nikki will be thirteen in about a week, she has begun planning ahead for those “special” moments and I’ve only experienced one so far. The screaming rage and arguing are more than any mother should have to endure–it’s worse than when I menstruated! On the dresser is a pair of clean underwear with a pad carefully inserted. Disgusted, I asked her if her season hadn’t ended the beginning of the month. She said it had, but she wanted to be prepared for when it hits again. Typically, this is not something I would advocate, but I’m relieved she’s finally planning ahead. I’ll take whatever I can get.

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What do you think Lucius is thinking?

Did I hear you ask about Lucius the Wonder Cat? We got all excited yesterday–the kids actually texted me–to tell me she took a dump on the toilet. Yeah! I boasted her up yesterday when I hung her photo up on the pet board for Pet Week. And everyone told me how beautiful and brilliant she is, trained and all. I’d prefer to have them think I’m some sort of lion tamer by not revealing the gift she left this morning. It’s better that way.

 

New about me? I’ve begun studying The Inner Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak. Don’t worry, I only use it for medicinal, meditation, and peaceful purposes. And I’m considering creating videos instead of typing–I don’t have the amazing images of other YouTube star moms, but I have humor! BTW, screw those companies that don’t want to hire me as a quizzer at the bars, even though drunks laugh at anything until you tell them it’s closing time.

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“Screw balance!” Kristina Kuzmic says.

 Juggling work, school, and kids (not to mention the pooping cat) are about all I can handle. But now, we’re preparing to move–AGAIN! A bittersweet notion. Moving is not something I ever look forward to, but this time it’s an exception–that’s how miserable it is getting situated. After the flooding in days of yore, the health department coming to take a look at the growing mold, and those little gnats that have roosted throughout the apartment, I can’t imagine the 100+ heat with no air conditioning! So, we’ll let you know the final results with photos later.

 

Whether we’re talking about Queen, Cameron’s amazing driving, the cat’s remaining 8 lives, or this crappy apartment being left in the rearview mirror–it’s clear that another one MUST bite the dust! Sayonara, sweetie!

Yin and Yangs of Life Make Us Dizzy!

So I have been on track to get everything moving in the right direction. Sure, we live in the shabbiest apartment we can afford, but it’s been our home for six months. We have a place to meet together after work and school, we can cook what we want to eat, and go to bed when we feel tired–day or night. When suddenly, last summer pops into my mind.

Last summer we slept in a car for nearly a week while we waited for an opening in a shelter which we stayed at for six months. It was a tough pill to swallow, but Salt Lake’s Family Promise definitely beats the alternatives. We finally moved into a place without access to our mailbox where the landlord invaded our home through an alternate door whenever feeling like it. Not cool. Of course, it didn’t help that the locking button was on the other side of the door–although we were supposed to install our washer/dryer on the opposite side. Nevertheless, I wound up shelling out over $2,800 dollars to move somewhere that we could receive mail and lock our doors. Sure, we weren’t here but two nights when the front doorknob quite literally fell off in my hand, and it would happen three more times in as many months. Just a smidgen of what was in store, but I won’t get into that. Believe it or not, there are bigger fish to fry. However, I will suggest that when renting an apartment, you thoroughly inspect it first, even if the manager is waiting to leave for her vacation. Oh yeah, and don’t rent at Hill Rise Apartments!

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Watching “grandma” in her diaper is a free added bonus.

Now for the good news, bad news, good news, bad news. We’re finally getting our cold water valve replaced, although it was never available for our washing machine before. I believe it’s because the inspector, Randy Williams, from the Environmental Health Agency notified manager Aubrey of his call to inspect the flooding damage and leaking into my son’s closet and bedroom; it’s still creeping across my son’s floor after a week. I’m thinking they must have a “running tab” with the complex because there are still no complaints listed. But our lease is up and rent rises $50. This still isn’t all. There are a lot of good news and bad news incidents we have yet to go over.

My job informed me that the pay schedule wouldn’t vary much–.30/hour annually, and to have an increase in pay, they suggest attending school for my master’s. Hmm, while being in my 50’s as a student sounds harsh, I’ve never conformed to normalcy. The best part is that all I need to do is pull B grades or pay for it myself. Sounds like a challenge–a challenge I must accept. And so I have. When I started at Ashford University, I was told the best class for learning training skills is Organizational Management. Turns out that isn’t exactly true. Like the name indicates, it is a management’s professional training. Yes, that’s bad news. Despite what my siblings always tattle about, I don’t want to be a boss–I wanna be a star!! (A writing star behind the scenes.)

Good news? We’re moving out, and our therapist has agreed to provide an ESA (Emotional Support Animal) certification on Lucius so she can remain with us. Lucius is, by the way, fully potty trained for the latrine now. (yeah.) And she’s much more of a dog than a cat–but then Bombay Cats are just extremely intelligent like that by fetching, sitting, remaining off the tables and counters (at least when we’re around) and seeking attention constantly.

What’s that? Time for bad news… again? In addition to taking time off of work, which means using my vacation time YET AGAIN for the apartment repairs, chances are slim to not we won’t even be here after next weekend. That’s right, we’re moving. Although the prices are the lowest this side of the valley, Attorney Kirk A Cullimore’s Law Office is doing something the attorney swore to me he wouldn’t do while we were in the courtroom. Yeah, yeah, I didn’t get the promotion within three months as I was promised at work. Therefore, we emptied savings, 401K, and quite literally my veins, in an attempt to support my kids while awaiting the child support order to come through for rent. As luck would have it, I received support from my daughter’s father after we were rendered homeless. The Office of Recovery Services, or ORS, is another government office that screws the poor to feed the wealthy–cause that’s just how it works! Meanwhile, I found this site that finds “lost money,”  that claims me a “casualty.” Go ahead and check it out!

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Tons of tasty treats for snacking at Costco

Other good news is that my credit score is nearly 750, but that’s clearly on the brink of change. And before I discovered the garnishment, I was approved of a credit card through Costco. I’ll be guarding that with my life, right?

Oh, wait! I still have one more piece of good news! We’re bound to make friends! We’re putting our feelers out there to attract another single mom with kids who are compatible with us and our beliefs–it’s sort of like a blind date, right? We found a site that allows this search is on Facebook, but I’ve also offered my services to a new site for single moms called CoAbode to help them become more organized, fluent, and noteworthy. Check it!

P.S. Uh oh, just discovered the government form declaring they found missing money of mine wants proof of me driving a truck for CR England from 20 years ago to lay claim. Damn government! And oh, the ides of summer!

So, what are your big summer adventure plans? You can at least share!

Am I Dodging Responsibility or Making Way for Better? Let the masses decide.

The jungle is closing in! I used my income tax return to purchase the new Macbook Pro I’m typing on right now for the first article written on it. (Secret “Yay!”) It feels like I seldom purchase things with myself in mind, so it’s about time. and when I bought it, I did it with the wholehearted idea of bribing myself to complete Vermill!on Beach. After all, I’ve had a few people interested in shooting, acting, and creating the score for the trailer. That’s why I felt as if this computer would be an investment.

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A bit of a gear shift, but one that can definitely be mastered.

But at work, someone mentioned that with my annual review, I should contemplate furthering my education. The great news is that it’s monetarily paid for 100% through my employer and grants, (You can’t beat that!), with the caveat of maintaining a 3.0 GPA. When I graduated with a 3.7, that nearly seemed like all I needed to do was commit to the workload. Of course, then I was a substitute teacher, not working full-time. Bonus: as a student, I can utilize my brand new Macbook Pro as a tool for school as a tax write-off @ Ashford University!

Comcast wants me working as much time as I can afford, but I’m not sure how much time I can afford. It’s come to a decision of working tons of overtime to move into an apartment that doesn’t resemble the inside of a tomb and getting terrible grades, or remaining in this rundown apartment to do my best and hope for a better position.

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If being sulky were truly this delicious, life would be grand!

Meanwhile, I finally gathered someone’s attention with screenwriting and we’re talking about pairing up to create something mystifying. Finding time for that will be a chore. School is 20 hours a week; work is 40+. The last time I worked 70 hours a week, I was a truck driver. I had to choose between having a full stomach, sleeping, bathing, or doing laundry–never more than two. Drivers work their butts off — there’s a reason they’re pushy on the road.

Nikki met with her Big Brothers and Big Sisters representative for the first time. I hate to jump to conclusions, but something seemed a bit off. Nikki has a tendency of trusting adults, which sounds weird when I say it aloud, but there are some adults who don’t deserve trust — especially for the love of a child. I want to be fair but cautious. Tomorrow night she’s going ice skating with her new Big Sister and she’s excited. Could I simply be jealous of someone with free time?

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Cameron making his way back from yet another vendor. Lunchtime!

Cameron is a pretty great kid, but he’s also a teen. I think the only real reason he accompanies me to Costco is so he can frequent the sample trays. Of course he tells the service people he needs one for his mother–although I rarely see the samples close up before he devours them. But, like I said, he’s a teen. So when he’s up to something, it’s bad. I found out today he’s still communicating with a “nice” girl from Ogden named Olivia. Ever seen the guy with the tattoo of the name “Olivia” next to a phallic and half naked picture of a girl? Yep, that’s her! And he has some odd friend named “Stanton” I’ve never met or heard of except for Cameron telling me the kid is super tall, skinny, and has no friends. This is supposed to make me feel good? Ever heard of Slender Man? I wonder.

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Should we REALLY be nice to everyone?

And for Lucius fans, our cat still urinates on the toilet with no problem, but the splashing of the poo is another story. She’s gotten to the point she’ll literally hold it all day until we go to sleep and run behind the toilet to relieve herself. Without the luxury of full communication, I think we’re at a standstill right now with the full on toilet training.

For St. Patrick’s Day, we made it a point to visit our very old, but spunky Grandma Bev. We brought home delicious food after Grandma splurged at Apollo Burger and sat us down to eat. When we were finished, I grabbed a container to box up the 1/2 burger and fries she had left on her plate. As I maneuvered around the table to place the sandwich, etc. into the box, she quickly halted me. Instead of picking up the food, she determined trimming the edge off, so the entire plate could be placed into the container was a better plan. “Go for it, Grandma!”

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Grandma needs to make this plate fit into the plastic container. How else?

All of this brings us to the question I posed as a title. Am I attempting to escape reality by attending school or is my purpose truly to create a better life for my family? I wish I knew the answer. Instead of an answer, I hear my cat snoring at 11:50 p.m. as she awaits my disappearance so she can undoubtedly run for linoleum behind the commode.

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A little alone time (in the restroom) is what an adult needs at work to send a loving message.

Realization — People you work with on a daily basis are nice because they need to get along for functionality. They don’t generally give two stinks about your home life, and they certainly aren’t friends. However, if they invite you out to have fun after work — you may have the seedlings of a longtime friendship.  Be nice to the people you work with!

The Twisted Tail – Surprise!

For those who’ve never lost your mind, you don’t know what you’re not missing. And yes, I can tell you from firsthand experience. The hardest part about losing your mind is never knowing when you can expect it back again and if it will ever be the same. So far, it’s taken about 30 years and I’m still not who I used to be, but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. I certainly don’t appear the same—oh boy, I wish I did. I never knew how attractive I was at the time, or I’m sure I would have grown up much differently. But things are what they are – and here I am; a mom with two kids and a cat – all of which are toilet trained. That’s right, there’s not a lot of normal about our home.

This past week was pretty eventful. From all of us being deathly ill and using up part of my vacation at the beginning of the year recuperating, to finding out one of the days I missed may end up costing me my job. But that’s another story. What I will tell you is that we finally took Lucius to the vet to ensure everything was true about him when we got him. We bought him at the pet shop and got a card with a whole bunch of information about him and even told he had been fixed. That was a relief.

But Dr. Holly seemed not to agree. We gave him all of his shots, got a thorough exam, and were just about to tell Dr. Holly that we didn’t want to fish his stool sample out of the toilet because he was toilet trained when she broke some news of her own. Lucius wasn’t a male. He was a female. Or I guess I should say, she is a female. And obviously, none of her goodies have been removed. But, at least she’s toilet trained. We went through all the hair-pulling ideas of translating “Lucius” to Lucy or Luscious, but in the end, it’s the name she’s used to. I suppose if a guy can be called “Sue,” a female can be named Lucius. We don’t care, as long as the seat is down when she leaves the bathroom. (And don’t worry, she uses her own seat.) But now the quota is back to one solitary male again.

 

The Dyslexic Spider

Imagine if each person on the globe’s intention was a singular, silken strand of spider web. Everything a person did, you, for example, was recorded somehow with a shiny, glimmering strand trailing behind you from the day you’d exited your mother’s womb. Some of us would have strong and sturdy, yet simplistic patterns, signifying we’re home all day with an occasional trip to the store or the kids’ school. When our husband arrives, we twist about in our tiny area making sure all the towels are folded correctly and the dinner is pleasantly warm for his arrival. A tight-knit web with little flexibility–a cocoon of sorts, wouldn’t you say? A cocoon that may never open?

On the other hand, there are those more extravagant webs that stretch thin near and far, traveling to Paris, Cancun, Australia, and back to New York. These webs shine with a glossy finish, high above the others, for all the world to admire. Perhaps more like a dragonfly than an arachnid — but no, they’re still spiders, although they vaguely remember their starting point and seldom double back, making complicated patterns.cobweb-depth-of-field-spider-s-web-149224

Me? I’m what one would refer to as a dyslexic spider; my focus is a bit out of whack. Although I work hard and toward specific goals, sometimes they’re unrealistic and other times I don’t remember what I even started working towards or why. Take this blog for example; great intentions of sharing my life, but I’ve left out a huge and important portion because I allowed Life to get away from me. I need to hold on tight and keep focus. But the question is, why? What is my goal? (Leaning in while I whisper.) **I’m 52, have a degree, and work an entry-level position.** Sick, right? (Not sic) I’m disgusted with failing and the bad example I’m showing my kids. How can I expect them to earn a college degree if they feel as if their end may be the same as my own? I’ll reveal it.

The apartment we’re in is “very lived in”. If you’ve seen the other places we’ve lived, you’ll understand how clean we normally are and what the mindset is for our home now. We hate it here and it shows. The only choice we have is to move. The only way to do that is by making more money. The only way to make more money, as a “well-weathered” person, is by excelling in a craft where appearance isn’t comparable to skills — unless you’re Christie Brinkley who appears as a 21-year-old senior citizen. You may be asking yourself how I arrived at this earth-shattering conclusion, and I’ll explain.

After our multiple moves through Family Promise, we settled into a basement of a home in a questionable part of town where I didn’t feel as if we fit. I’d also noticed more and more families are sharing a single dwelling. They’re pulling up their pant legs and renting their basements either full-time or as an Airbnb for extra cash. As you may remember, I don’t socialize with my family and am not very quick to trust people, placing us at a huge disadvantage.Messy Bedroom

Now we’re in another place that will have to do, at least until the lease is up. It certainly isn’t as pretty as what we’d grown accustomed to living in and so we’ve let it go to hell before we even completed unpacking. Then again, I’ve certainly had it worse.

I grew up with a family of seven and one bathroom. And we weren’t “spoiled” with boxes of tissue planted skillfully around the house. We all used toilet paper for our noses, but my father was the only one who wore twisted strands up each nostril resembling a big woolly mammoth. And when he blew his nose, he sounded like one too. There were days where I would emerge from the restroom to a line of people with runny noses. That was about the time my father taught us kids to use our sleeves or bottom of our shirts for tissues. Yeah, quite gross, and completely unsanitary. It’s amazing how little things from our childhood impact us. I don’t think there’s a room in our place that doesn’t have a box of tissue in it. art-blur-close-up-1826029

Now you may be asking what kicked this writer in the ass to get in gear with writing again? My one-year anniversary is nearly up at the office, meaning I can apply to move elsewhere within the company and “sow my wild oats” with my degree — finally. But this dyslexic spider has determined that with this weathered countenance, I can’t wait for someone to notice me anymore. It’s time I set out on my own and sink my fangs into real sustenance. The desperation of the winter months are quickly approaching for this black widow, and it’s time to either roll over and die or make it happen. I’m not ready to die.

 

 

Everyone’s Days are Numbered

Unsure of whether it’s considered “unhealthy” or “mentally strong” when someone mentions dying and I realize it’s part of the natural process. Everyone dies, it’s only a matter of when and what has been accomplished in the lifetime–people aren’t typically aware of the “finish line.” But every day poses new challenges and another opportunity to learn something spectacular. Here’s your chance!

Family Promise is an incredible opportunity for people to reach out and help others without making a huge commitment of time or money. Although I’m not religious, I still believe in the Golden Rule and Karma–or anything else you want to call it. Perhaps it’s best considered Yin and Yang where it all evens out, but the good begets good and vice versa, coming back around in the end. And my personal philosophy is that everything that can create a learning experience is in a sense “good.” It’s the “bad” we repeat.

For those who aren’t familiar with helping others through resources like Family Promise, I urge you to educate yourself and have your church leaders welcome them. This is an opportunity to prove what your God has been instructing all the while. Watch and see.

If everyone’s days are numbered, as are the days of the families in this program, as well as the hours people have in dedicating themselves to others, is there a better time to start than now? How would your God answer this question? Everyone’s days are numbered, and we’re hoping our number comes up soon.

A Bet on a Dime to Win $20 Costs over $5,000 to Repair

 

It was a quiet night at the church as Nikki and I left to pick up Cameron from his dad’s. The church members prepared food and entertainment while we sneaked out to get him.

 

Up late the night before, without a washing machine or a way to purchase “superfluous” haircuts, we must either go scraggly or see what creative styles we can conjure up. Following giving myself a haircut, I washed my hair and Nikki’s uniform in the shower. I used a blow dryer on both of them for cleanliness the next morning. With little sleep, I was ready to crash after getting Cameron the next day and having a relaxing meal.

 

Homecoming had Cameron psyched beyond excitement as he prepared everything to go off without a hitch — unfortunately, not exactly what he ended up with by the time the next 36 hours had passed. Because the shelter we’re staying at has a curfew of 9:00 p.m. and Homecoming was in Ogden, special arrangements needed to be made for him to go.

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 7.56.06 PMHomecoming was certainly not ending by then, Cameron arranged to stay at his friend Jarom’s. Sunday morning, his father would pick him up. After Nikki and I did our weekly move to the new church at 2:00 p.m., we’d swing by and grab him from his father’s. All went as well as could be expected. That is until we had delicious tacos for dinner that evening with our new church friends.

Shortly after dinner, Cameron approached me, “I swallowed a dime for $20.” Now remember, he oftentimes creates his own imaginative clichés and I thought this was one of them. So I said, “Okay…?” urging him to get to the punchline.

He rolled his eyes and repeated it again. “Okay, Cameron, just spell it out. What are you trying to say?” I was tired. We’d been to the storage unit in Ogden and back, we’d moved all our belongings, and I was ready for bed. “I ate a dime for $20 when a couple of guys I didn’t know dared me to.” My eyes squinted and shifted back and forth. “I wanted spending money, but I couldn’t ask you.”

“You have ingested a dime—a metal coin?” I was certain I was misinterpreting what he said. I mean, what type of teenager confuses himself for a piggybank? Buttons and dog chow is what kids eat when they’re learning everything small doesn’t belong up our noses, in our ears, and down our throats. And I understood being without money. Then again, I wasn’t a teenage boy trying to show a girl a good time on a magical evening.

Looking at me as if I’d just swallowed my own head, he nods his head. “You’re kidding!” I screamed horrified as he described feeling its movement in his chest. “That’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard!” I forgot to mention everyone was clearing the tables from their own families as I unloaded on my teen. “Get in the car!” I commanded him, “And get your sister. The rules state we need to stay together, so she’s coming with us.”

I went into the room to get my purse, and the deafening whines of a preteen girl filled the air, “Why do I have to go? Can’t I stay here while you guys go?” Nikki had no idea where we were going. That was the next question, but I shooed her along as I stopped by the evening host and quickly blurted out I’d text him with what was going on. The others stared on dumbfounded, not having a clue as to what was happening except that I was fit to be tied. They’d only seen me helpful and cheery. I wasn’t either.

We went to Jordan Valley Hospital since it was the closest. After a few x-rays, the doctor asked a few questions as to why Cameron hadn’t mentioned anything to anyone for over 24 hours and asked what we’d done, if anything, to try and get it out. Hard-shelled tacos wasn’t, surprisingly, a recommendation by the doctor.

 

 

Apparently, my son felt that eating hard-shelled tacos would force the dime down his throat. The only problem was that the dime got stuck at the top of his esophagus where his lungs paired off. The metal coin fluttered at the top of his lungs with each breath. Needless to say, he was sadly mistaken. Since the procedure required in-depth maneuvers, they referred us to attend Murray’s Intermountain Healthcare Hospital.

 

But because Cameron isn’t yet an adult, there was a question of whether or not he should be seen at Primary Children’s or if there was the danger of the coin damming up a lung, requiring immediate attention. They decided transporting was not a good idea and settled on treating him there. They performed a “Bronchoscopy.” Try saying that 3x fast!

 

 

And because we were all spent when they finished the procedure of removing the dime, I called into work. There was no way I would be able to function on the stress and lack of sleep. The families must exit the church by seven a.m. throughout the week, so we found a parking lot and went to sleep in the car. Nikki across the back, Cameron reclined in the front, and I was tucked neatly behind the steering wheel with the car facing the west for just a little more shade.

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For anyone who ever considers indulging in a really stupid dare – instead of dreaming of your friends patting your back for the next five minutes in congratulations, you might want to ponder $5,000 in hospital bills isn’t worth the twenty bucks. Plus, you have a stranger – even a kind doctor– invading your body. Not saying doctors are “bad” people, but you don’t know if they’re a Jekyll/Hyde combo! Halloween is just around the corner!

But the next morning, I swung into Smith’s up on the east side of the valley and ran into this guy who made my week’s adventures a memory to look back on. I deserved a break! Check out his name. It’s “Dug E. Phresh!” Stop into Starbucks and tell him MJ sent you.

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BTW- we’ve taken two additional trips to the hospital for infections and an onset of pneumonia since, but Cameron’s hit the trail for new adventures.

Have you ever won a bet just to lose big in the end? Share!