Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Book Review

I was told I should pass this book review on to a wider audience, so I'm following directions.

These were ordered for my branch, so I picked them up because they've been sort of called the girl version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. These books may actually confirm my suspicions that I grew up to be a 12 year-old boy, because I really didn't give a flying shit.

The characters, including the main character, are rather cardboard. The protagonist is supposedly a dork who spends a lot of time discussing her dorkitude, though she really isn't very dorky. Then there are her background BFFS and MacKenzie, the rich, snotty, mean girl, who for some reason spends a lot of time antagonizing a girl who supposedly isn't even on her social level. And then the cute crush and blah, fucking, blah. Watch Mean Girls and you get the picture. There is no growth in these characters so it's like reading a very long and much more boring roadrunner cartoon.

There are about 40 to fucking many pop culture references (iPhone, Tyra Banks, emo, Walmart, Jimmy Choos, etc.) for this series to be relevant five years from now. Hell, I'm not sure if they'll remain relevant through October.

It seems like the author is trying to make it very clear that she's up on all the latest popular must-haves and stereotypes. It is definitely nowhere near DoaWK.

And seriously, there has got to be some fucking newer book series about an average girl's life that doesn't follow this sad ass formula. I don't know yet, because I've only read this one and one of those Clique books.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Boys

My mother comes from a family of seven children - or eleven. It depends entirely on whether we're counting half-siblings, step-siblings, and that one daughter of my grandaddy's that  technically wasn't his his daughter because she was born eleven months after he'd already been shipped to Korea, but he apparently didn't want her to grow up thinking she didn't have a father. Out of these eleven children, there are eight boys and they've always been known as The Boys. Sure, they're all in their in their late forties and fifties by now, but if they happen to hear someone shout, "Hey, boy!" across a parking lot, one will certainly turn around because he knows there is a cousin, an aunt, a niece or another sibling calling him.

I would more or less describe the Boys as good ol' boys in a sort of Dukes of Hazzard way. Except there are incredible amounts of drinking and pot involved and jail time served is 99% of the time deserved. They're good people in their own bizarre way. They're the last of a breed somehow raised on the idea that it's perfectly acceptable to beat the hell out of someone if they offend you. They're a rough and odd lot and I think my grandaddy probably ate more nitroglycerin trying to raise them than a normal man would have to, but they have their good qualities. I've had a couple of my uncles offer to beat people up if they needed me to. You never know when you might need an ass beater in life. I wouldn't want to have ever had one of them as a father and probably not a brother, but they make right tolerable uncles in the right situations.

Today's story involves my Uncle Bull. (As you know by now, I don't generally share the real names of my family members, but provide other suitable names. Bull's actual nickname was Bull for many years and described him well enough.) Uncle Bull is a good guy and I have a lot of nice memories of him when I was younger, but Uncle Bull is also an alcoholic who is generally not a good guy when he is drinking and I have some bad memories of him when I was younger. My mother always likes to bring up the time she'd spent a good while cleaning the bathroom once when I was four or so and instead of fumbling his way into the house or using a bush like a normal drunk, he decided to take a piss through the bathroom window.

Bull's been through some hard times. Alcoholics usually have those. He has a recidivism problem, so we usually don't see him for months or years at a time. Also, he has some physical defects going on that have come with those hard times. Around 1997, things weren't going well with a drinking buddy and his drinking buddy, under some impression that Bull was about to beat the shit out of him, opted to pull out a shotgun and use it rather than getting the shit beat out of him.

Frankly, the details are pretty sketchy since the drinking buddy shot him while Bull was attempting to push the drinking buddy's truck out of  a ditch. Bull's kind of a big dude, but I severely doubt his ability to push a truck out of a ditch and beat the shit out of a drinking buddy from over 10 feet away. The reality is, no one was there to witness the shooting and we're talking about two drunk guys. Who knows what really happened?

As it is, Bull's a hardy sort of dude and came out of it essentially intact except for part of his head. He lost the left temporal lobe of his brain, his left eye, and his left ear. The loss of his temporal lobe affected his word recognition abilities for a little while and he would have difficulty recalling the appropriate words he wanted to use in the early days. Ants were sometimes biscuits and a decorative crow figurine was a spider. That has mostly improved over time, however.

In the summer of 2000, Bull was crossing a main highway in a small town in the next county over to buy something from the convenience store and was wearing headphones at the time and apparently thought this town was small enough that he had little to worry about in terms of road safety. His assumption proved wrong and a poor lady in a minivan knocked the ever loving shit out of him. Amazingly, Bull came out of that scrape a lot better than he could have because he suffered no head injuries. He did have a transected urethra, a broken arm, his pelvis was broken down the middle, and, if I recall correctly, about forty stitches across his back. I helped take care of him for several weeks during his convalescence and that is a whole other story.

Bull survived and moved on with his life as usual. His medical issues, however, had finally reached a state that at one point the prison system called and tried to get us to take him back before his sentence was up. We were basically of the opinion that they took him, so they could keep him. If you're going to provide a punishment for a crime, then it's only logical that you follow through with the punishment even if it hurts you as much as it hurts them.

Bull is currently out of the state penal system and is doing well as can be expected for an alcoholic dude missing a few portions of his head. He's gotten a lot better about wearing his eye patch in public. A few people around here apparently still don't know him - I guess because he spends so much time "on vacation" - and have to learn the hard way that he's a person you really sort of want to leave alone. I personally wouldn't bother a 6'2" dude with a big scruffy beard and eye patch, but some people have to learn the hard way.

Just last week, he forgot to lock his backdoor before going to bed. For some reason, he was resting with his one good ear on the pillow, so had it not been for his dog acting like a freak he'd have never heard the dude who welcomed himself in through the unlocked back door.

I never did get clarification on why the dude was walking into the house in the first place. Maybe he was just lost and walked into the wrong house. It's happened before. There was a whole incident involving Bull and some fried chicken in a house that turned out not to be his, so you'd think he might would ask the dude why he was roaming around having been in a couple of those mistaken house situations himself. Bull's an action sort of guy, though. Shoot first and ask questions later - except he's a convicted felon, so I don't think he's allowed to have guns anymore.

A lack of ammunition doesn't bother Bull though. The lack of a telephone was apparently a minor detail to be worked out, however. He grabbed the dude in a headlock, dragged him out of he house, across a four lane street in the downtown area, and into the Jet convenience store across the street wherein he hollered, "CALL THE COPS! CALL THE COPS RIGHT NOW!"

Bull, still holding the intruder in a headlock, dragged him back out of the store, back across the four lane street in the downtown area, and onto the back porch of his house where he then sat with his assailant still in a headlock while he waited for the cops to arrive.

The dude pleaded for his release several times while waiting for the cops to arrest him. (Or rescue him, depending on who's telling this story, I guess.) Bull wouldn't have any of it and would headbutt the dude and tell him to "be quiet and be still until the cops get here!" If I know Bull, there were a lot of "Mother fucker," "shit," and "fuck me running backwards" thrown into the mix, but my grandma told me this story, so I got it without the full Bull verbal force.

Eventually, the cops did arrive and admonished Bull for "taking the law into his own hands." I forgot to find out what happened to the dude, whether he was released under time served or jailed for bothering a one-eyed, one-eared dude while he was trying to sleep. Personally, I think Bull handled the situation rather well, given past incidents. He called the cops and that's always a good move. Sure, maybe you shouldn't hold an intruder hostage, but I reckon that mother fucker will learn about walking into houses that aren't his.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Farewell Fair Mater

I'm well known both online and in real life for my automobile trouble. Things started fine. I bought a 1994 Buick Century in 1997 and was the first person in my family to buy a car in the same decade it was manufactured. I loved that damned car. It was an old lady powder blue and was also the first car I'd ever been in that had automatic locking doors. The locks scared the bejebus out of me - I thought maybe it was some sort of Christine moment and my new car was going to eat me.

We made out okay, though. My fondest memories are the ones involving stupid little Mustangs that would sidle up next to me at the red light and rev their motors. I have no idea why people would antagonize a car that looked like it should be owned by a little 70-year-old woman (the previous owner was actually a little old couple), but they did. So I sat quietly staring over the dark blue dash, waiting for the light to change and then I'd dust the arseholes. God, I loved that car.

Well, that car is long gone - rear ended and subsequently totaled by a Neon. (I hate Neons now.) After a long succession of pieces o' shit, I am now the proud new owner of a 12-year-old Mitsubishi SUV given to me by mom when my sister upgraded last year to a hybrid. The Mitsubishi (or Mitchybitchy as a lot of people call them around here) sat in my back yard for the past year, biding it's time as my "back up ride." It need a couple of hundred dollars of parts and I hadn't quite reached the stage where I'd grown tired of trying to keep the Toyota (affectionately known as Mater in its last months) on the road.

Mater had a whole host of issues. The most disconcerting for me was the lack of a radio. Well, it actually had a radio, but it was in the trunk because I couldn't find a single person capable of wiring it back in to the big gaping hole in the console panel. I suppose I could have taken it to a shop and paid someone to do it, but I'm not willing to pay money for something if I think I can eventually find someone to do the work for free or trade. The great thing is, I know a few people who work on cars. The bad thing was that no one had any idea what was going on with my radio. I missed having a radio incredibly. In the old days, if the kids were being too obnoxious, I'd just stick in a tape and sing myself away to some Zen place in my head. Without a radio, I can't remember any of the lyrics. So I have to sing the same verse over and over until I move on to another verse from another song.

In reality, that was the least of Mater's issues - the radio is just the one  that left me most mentally unfettered. Mater's issues are rather numerous, so I will now list them in bullet format because I frigging love lists.

  • No radio. 
  • A crack in the windshield. (It wasn't a bad crack, but you know how cracks go. Much like my ass, it's just going to spread.)
  • A major oil leak that I attempted to have repaired three times (and PAID for it) that was never repaired. 
  • A deer attacked my car the summer of 2009. The deer's head took out my driver's side mirror and its ass left a huge imprint on the left passenger door. I will never forget that wall eyed look of "WTF?" that deer gave me right before she spun off into a ditch. 
  • A minor radiator leak. 
  • The air conditioner only worked if it was less than 85 degrees outside. 
  • The heater had vacated years ago. 
  • One of the engine mounts  wasn't feeling so good. 
  • The pistons had a habit of voicing their displeasure. 
  • A bushing or some other magical doohickey behind my right front tire had basically given up the ghost and that, as it turned out, happened to be why all of my mother fucking front right tires kept blowing out. 
  • Hail damage on the trunk. 
  • Both of the passenger door handles were broken. (This is apparently a Toyota issue.)
  • Wild Boy traditionally sits in the back on the passenger's side. One day, he felt he would be safer if he used the child safety lock for that door. Because the outside door handle was completely broken, that door could no longer be opened at all.
  • Once, I was on my way to the take the GACE in the middle of a thunderstorm and my right windshield wiper flew off.
  • I thought I accidentally locked my keys in the trunk about two years ago, so I popped the lock on the trunk only to later discover my keys had fallen between the cushions of the couch. The trunk still closed fine, but from then on I could open it with a flat head screwdriver. 
  • The rear end says it's a "Yota" now.
Even for all of it's problems, I was still determined to keep Mater on the road because I believe in getting every last drop out something that I can. I finally reached an impasse this past June, however.

I'd  finished my evening rounds for the Census somewhere around 9PM one evening, had picked up the heathens from my mom's house, and was less than 2 miles from home when another bitch ass terrorist dear leaped at me from the passenger side. My first instinct was to swerve into the other lane, but there was a car already occupying the spot that I wanted so my only choice was to take the deer out. I did and I drove on to the house with the kids yabbering on about the deer.

"Did you see it?! It did a back flip over that fence!"
"Let's go back and get it! We can eat it!"

My little Cracker children. Laird bless, 'em. I didn't have room to stick a deer in my trunk. That's where I kept all my Diet Cokes and the car radio.

I was pretty lucky, because while I crushed a radiator support, the impact didn't crush the radiator. It just so happened that while the support was gone, the frame was crushed in just the right manner that it now supported the radiator. The bigger problem, however, was that I now had a whole pile of deer hair where my right headlight used to be and the frame was too crushed to stick another one in.

The deer also pushed the front quarter panel back into the front passenger's side door so I could no longer open the door all the way. The door  leaked after that. 

As I'd not had time to buy parts for the Mitsubishi and I didn't have time for my car to be down since I was using it to Censusually harrass people, I drove the now one-eyed Mater. My goal was to reach a quarter of a million miles and I was only 25K or so away. I wanted my 25K miles because then I'd be convinced I'd gotten my $1200 out of that car.

The night I took DMan to E/R because I thought he had strep throat made me rethink my goal. Apparently he'd developed a fever and a sore throat one Saturday while I was out Censusing. When I came in to pick up the heathens, he had a fever around 101 and appeared to have white patches on this throat. I'm of the firm opinion that strep throat is not something to play with because I once played with strep throat and ended up with pleurisy, so I have no qualms about going to the E/R if it's a weekend case of potential strep throat. I'd prefer if we had an urgent care center around this hole of a town or even if we still had our old pediatrician. I like our new pediatricians fine, but they don't give your their phone number. Our old pediatrician made it very clear to me once that I was to call her no matter what time. I miss her more than I miss my Buick.

As it turns out, he didn't have strep throat and that was a relief because that meant I didn't have to go into seclusion and miss time from work. No one wants to keep an infectious kid. We were on the way home when I ran into a roadblock comprised of deputies from my county, the next county over, and a few state troopers. I pulled out my license and the deputy asked me what happened to my headlight. I told him a deer attacked me.

"You know you can get a ticket for having a headlight out, don't you?" he said. "Now I wouldn't give you a ticket, but that trooper up there might." The way he said it, you could tell he was totally messing with me, but I played along and pleaded accordingly, "Could you ask me him to let me go this time?" What I meant was "Let me go this time, and my ass will take every back road between here and Hell from now on."

And the deputies laughed at my car. Seriously. My car was so damned sad, that it was a point of entertainment for 15 guys standing out on the side of the road at midnight. That was okay, though, because it was highly entertaining to call people up and tell them cops laughed at my car. It wouldn't have been funny, though, if someone had taken a Flannery O'Connor moment and pushed my car off into a ditch. I keep my Diet Cokes in the trunk and would have deeply felt their loss.

I spent a few brief weeks toying with the idea of either creating a skull and crossbones eye patch for the headlight, uh, socket or duct taping a flashlight in place. I really wanted my 25K miles. While I was mulling over my options, the starter decided it no longer cared to participate in this farce and went on a slow down strike. At that point, I decided I was just damned tired of putting parts on the same old car and thought it would be interesting to put parts on another car for a while.

So one battery, one alternator, and some spark plugs later, I am now the proud driver of a car that actually has less interior space than Mater. But by God, it's got a radio.

For your viewing pleasure, I have included a picture of a beaten Mater*:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is There Anybody Out There?

I imagine everyone has probably R-U-N-O-F-T considering I seem have to a dysfunction with establishing a posting schedule.

So, uh, how've you been? How are the kids? I know, I know. It's been a while. I'm a very bad correspondent. Horrible. Unforgivable. I apologize. Can we still be friends?

Life hasn't been so much busy as it has been full of odd moments interspersed with days of utmost apathy - or perhaps not so much apathy. Let's call it moments of self-reflection in preparation for a move in a new direction.

I don't know where the hell I'm going. I'm probably just going to switch from running in clockwise circles to counter clockwise circles. It'll be a nice change of pace.

Moving on - if you'll check my post directly below this one, it's a blog post I wrote for my employer's blog and thought a few people may find it of some use. Check back with me when I fill you in on why I no longer have power steering and how my aunt maced me at the library fair. Fun times! Fun times!

Working for the Man Every Night and Day

A lot of people have this idea that working from home is the mother lode and you get to sit around in your bathrobe eating peanut butter straight out of the jar while playing Farm Town and someone pays you for this. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that it typically takes two hands to eat peanut butter straight out of the jar (one to hold the jar and one to hold the spoon) and it also takes a minimum of one hand to perform any work-at-home task, so working from home is not always the most fun thing ever.

However, if you're interested in exploring an outside-the-box career path, you should be as informed as possible. Let's start with the pros and cons I've learned from my own work-at-home experiences:


  1. You really can sit around in your bathrobe if you insist.
  2. Use housing expenses as a tax deduction!*
  3. Save money on commuting to work. Not only do you not have to spend as much on gas; you also don't put as much wear and tear on your automobile. And if you're one of those people always running five minutes late to everywhere, then you greatly decrease your chances of getting a speeding ticket which could drive up your insurance! Now that I think about it, I guess you could save money by wearing your ratty bathrobe everyday, too.
  4. Because you don't have to spend time driving to and from work, you can incorporate more time for yourself and your family.Maybe you can try dusting off that treadmill that never gets any run time before heading over to your desk.
  5. There's a job out there to fit almost everyone.
  6. Many companies have flexible work schedules that you can adapt to your personal or family needs.
  7. You don't have to take an entire day off work because you have to be at home in case this is the day the cable guy shows up!
  8. You're less likely to suffer stress and greatly reduce the chances of catching all the colds that make their way around traditional office settings.
  9. Access to potential jobs thousands of miles away that don't require relocation. If nothing else has caught your attention, then this one should
  1. If you insist on wearing that ratty bathrobe everyday, you could turn into that slovenly guy who walks around the house wearing a ratty bathrobe and resting his coffee mug on his belly. Don't let that happen to you. 
  2. Human beings needs social interaction as a normal part of our mental hygiene. If you work from home and never seek outside relationships beyond your computer screen, you could turn into that guy in the ratty bathrobe. Leave the house and see your friends! Or at the very least, invite someone with laptop over to play Kingdom of Loathing with you.
  3. Working from home turns home into, well, work. If you don't set up your home office in its own designated space your home may lose it's status as a place to relax and recharge and become one big office. Be sure to separate your work from your home so everyone can relax.
  4. Organization, discipline, and motivation  is key to working from home. If you lack these skills, then a work-at-home experience may not be beneficial to you.
  5. Finding a work-at-home job with benefits is difficult at best. Many companies prefer to hire  "contract workers." Contracting means that you are not an employee of the company, but rather a business entity unto yourself that is contracting with the company.
  6. Because you may be hired as a contract worker,  you'll get a 1099 at the end of the year and will be responsible for paying your own federal, state, and social security taxes.
  7. A lot of your friends and family think that because you work from home that you're not really doing anything and you have time to talk, hang out, or take their Great-Grandma Irene to the grocery store and the hairdresser. You have to be firm in dealing with your loved ones and teach them that you have an established work schedule that is not open to interpretation.
  8. Many jobs require special skills that may require you to further your education or have prior experience. Examples are medical coding and transcription, teaching English to speakers of other languages, and web design.
  9. Working from home with children can be a special dysfunctional family sitcom of its own. If you have especially young children, it may be best to arrange childcare for them or perform your work duties around their sleep patterns. If you have older children who are out of school for the summer, then may the force be with you because you're going to need it. A lot of it. See this picture? This picture is a LIE!. In about 15 seconds that kid is going to wonder if he can get his truck inside the computer screen by throwing it. Then he's going to decide he wants a peanut butter sandwich with the crust cuts off and he's going to spend time trying to refurbish the carpet by stomping peanut butter into a nice little mosaic all over the living room floor. Don't let nice pictures fool you! We're talking about real, live children who like to flush underwear and rolls of tape down the toilet when no one is looking.

If you've weighed the pros and cons and decided that a work-at-home option can work for you, then check out these forums. My favorite so far has been Work Place Like Home. I've included several links to WPLH because they have extensive listings of available online jobs and excellent resources. Unfortunately, you must sign up as a WPLH forum member to read the links. I strongly encourage you to do so if you're seriously interested in work-from-home employment.
Work Place Like Home
Rate Race Rebellion
Work Home Career Kit
wahm.comWork at Home Mafia   Freelance Writing Gigs

Helpful Links from Work Place Like Home
Companies that Hire You as an Employee
List of Online Employers
Non-Phone Jobs
Tips on Researching a Company
How to Work from Home GuideWarning Signs and Red Flags - Not every job offer you receive is a legitimate job. A lot of "jobs" are actually scams that either do not pay you, are trying to sell you something, or are attempting to access your personal information. Always research every company offering you a job before providing your personal information. A legitimate employer is not going to ask you to transfer company funds to your account, nor will they require you to pay a processing fee or purchase special equipment. If it sounds too good to be true, then it most likely is.

In Summary
Having worked a few online jobs, I can say there are legitimate jobs to be found that pay well.  I've written for a couple of websites, tried my hand as a ChaCha guide (which I didn't quite find worth my time), scored standardized math questions for Pearson, and served as a Census enumerator. Okay, the enumerator wasn't quite a work-at-home job, but more like a "live in my car" job. The point is, I didn't have to go into an office to do that particular job.

Pay ranged anywhere from $2.00 an hour (ChaCha) to $15 an hour (Pearson.) Depending on your skills, hourly pay can be even higher. There are jobs for writers, typists, medical coders, virtual assistants, web designers, legal secretaries, bloggers, data entry operators, tutors, teachers, accountants, customer service representatives, and I even saw a Craigslist advertisement calling for an experienced Ford mechanic. The trick is to find the niche that will benefit from your skills.

*Consult with an accountant. Basing all of your tax decisions on a blog post by a woman with an English degree is probably not considered a valid defense by the IRS.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Today I thought I'd share a census story. I was working a little town in an adjacent county last week when I ran across a true freak. This particular town is rather small. Commerce is transacted in either one of the two gas stations, though I did notice they've recently added a keno/video joint next to the older gas station.  The police station is in a rather small trailer such as the ones you see on construction sites and apparently they open it when someone feels like checking their Facebook page.

My supervisors are really pushing us to find everyone we can and get all the information so after I spent some time looking at my ill-designed official census map and roaming around streets sorely lacking in marked addresses and road signs, I located this one dude next door to two vacant trailers that were on my list. If a house is vacant, I have to have a proxy declare the house vacant. I can't decide it's vacant all by my lonesome even if a bird did fly at me from a broken window. Luckily, this man was on my list to visit so I thought I'd complete his form and use him as a proxy for the two vacant units. I did manage to complete all my duties, but not without some issues.

I should have trekked it back to my car when I saw the "no trespassing" sign even though that sign does not technically apply to me.  Being a good enumerator, I went to his door and knocked. I waited a moment then knocked again. I could definitely hear noise coming from around from behind the house. In an effort to avoid a lot of backtracking, I wrote out a notice of visit form and left it on the dude's door then walked around the back to see if I could spy anyone calling out "Helllooooo! Census!" the whole damned time in case there was some crazy teabagger waiting to jump out at me with a Rush Limbaugh DVD and a 12 gauge.

The guy lived on a corner lot so I ended up walking all the way back around to the side road and decided to head back to my car. As I got in the car, I noticed someone sitting on the porch so I walked back up the steep hill this dude lives on and said, "Hi! My name is KAR and I'm with the U.S. Census Bureau. Do you have about ten minutes to fill out a form with me?"

He said sure and offered me a seat a foot or so from him on the porch. He seemed like a congenial sort sort of person so I sat down since it's easier to fill out this stupid form if I can put everything in my lap. We briefly talked about the weather and somewhere along the way I learned he'd been divorced four or five times, but his latest ex-wife still comes over for coffee in the mornings.

Unfortunately, it seems his ex-wife does not come over for sex. Therein lies the problem. I was sitting on the porch with a horny old goat who put his hand on my knee and eventually asked me if I liked having my pussy eaten while waggling his tongue at me like he's Gene Simmons. (The 1970s Gene Simmons, not that unfortunate Gene Simmons boinking that gum chewing girl in that horrible sex video.) Now I've met a lot of old perverts and I thought I pretty well had the guy in control. I politely moved his nasty ass hand off my knee and told him I was in a very happy 15 year relationship with a really big, brawny dude named Kevin and we had three children. Then I moved on to Mr. Horny's age and date of birth.

In an effort to expedite the process, I decided his gender and race on my own. I'm not supposed to that, but seriously. I've got some old fart offering to clean my boat and I'm just not down with that. It took a few minutes of, uh, redirecting his interests to the census form and I even managed to get him to serve as a proxy. I thanked him for his time and made tracks off his property.

I'd gotten about 20 feet or so down his driveway and was making a mental note to myself to never move to this cracker ass town when he called me from his porch. Like Lot's wife, I stopped and turned around.

"See?" he said. "I have needs! Come back and see me sometime!" And there, in front of the entire world, that fucknut was at the edge of his porch poking his pruney penis out from the porch rails. Well. I have never had a complete stranger whip out his penis so I was absolutely bamfoozled as to an appropriate response. They did not discuss penis sightings in that four day training.

I sort of said, "HAHAHAHAHAHA! I see!" and did the chunky woman double time shuffle to my car. Honestly, I think I was in a bit of shock for some time after that because I went right on with visiting other households like it was perfectly normal for old codgers to whip out their dicks on the front porch in hopes of scoring some census cootchie.

In fact, I didn't even know how to explain this to my crew leader so I simply wrote "Warning: Mr. John Doe is a pervert" in the notes section of the questionnaire. My crew leader is a sort of older upstanding, staunch Middle America guy so when he commented on my pervert notes all I said was "Uh. Yeah. I'n not going back there."

How do you tell such a normal sort of guy that you just had a dick shook at you? It would be sort of like telling my dad if my dad were a normal sort of guy who wasn't convinced that the Secret Service was watching him from his neighbor's RV roof.

So that's the kind of crap you could be getting yourself into walking around strange people's houses. In retrospect, I was very lucky because you never know what could happen. All in all, I've been visiting people for three weeks. Some folks are oddly  happy to see me and offer up all their information. Some folks offer me something to drink and some want me to come the next time they grill out. One old dude was drunk at 9 in the mornin, but he was a nice guy and I was pleasantly surprised when he informed me why we have a census. True civic knowledge is sadly lacking in this country. One guy talked so long, I found out he was a cousin to one of my first cousins. Some are agitated by my presence. But other than that one weird freak, everyone has been polite and vaguely normal.

Be good to your census worker. We never know what we're walking into when we knock on your door and we just want to do our jobs. We don't want to see your dicks. The government currently does not have a need for that statistical information.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hello Darlin, nice to see you. It's been a long time.

Lyric titles. I can't help myself.

Wow. I can't believe it's been almost four months since I touched base. Things have been very busy in KAR land. A very quick update on the current situation - the funding for my position with the lib-uh-rary is being slashed at the end of June. I will be busted down to 17.5 hours a week at $7.75 an hour. Not exactly a living wage or anything and jobs aren't very forthcoming in this area.

In an effort to try to cover the future I tiny bit, I took on two extra jobs. I am currently an enumerator with the U.S. census bureau and that is rather interesting. Someone remind me to talk about the pervert and that dude with the fucking frozen chicken sometime in the future. (Also, please excuse any typos, grammatical errors, general off-kilter rambling, and whatnot. I have a hard time editing myself on a slow day and I'm trying to post in between busy moments.)

I also spent two weeks as an online scorer with Pearson. For a little while, I was doing all three at one time and that is just damned exhausting and I've hardly seen my heathens. Thankfully, Pearson ended before I did, so now I can just have the two jobs and try to formulate a plan somewhere along the way for the next step. I don't think I really take steps, though. Life has been more like swinging from one vine to the next and hoping like hell I don't grab hold of a snake's ass along the way.

Also, a deer attacked my car while I was driving. It still goes forward, but I was pulled over during a license check and I'm pretty sure deputies were laughing at my car. That was awkward.

So that's the current state of KAR. 

As some of you may recall, my last post was about helping my grandaddy. He was a very fastidious man so baths would last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours because he'd have me bathe him at least twice. At one point, he and my step-grandma, Marie, thought they'd try having a home health worker come out to bathe him because Marie was worried it was too much for me to handle. The lady came out and bathed him. Once. He said, "That was good, now do it all again." Apparently, the poor woman  thought she'd failed in some way and couldn't understand that a second go-round was a part of the process, so Marie decided a utilizing a home health worker was not a feasible plan.
In February, we were bathing in the shower two or three days, but by late March his health had deteriorated so greatly that we were reduced to once-a-week baths in a reclining chair. The last bath I gave him was on April 28th. Grandaddy was so give out that he couldn't get out of his chair by himself anymore. I had to pick him up from the chair and hold him while he walked the two feet to the "bathing recliner." He was in a lot of pain, but feeling clean was so important to him that he was willing to bear it.

For the three months I helped him bathe, he always wore his jockey shorts while I bathed him. I'd have to move his legs up and down to bathe them and he'd cup his spidery fingers over his personals while to make sure I wasn't accidentally subjected to seeing grandaddy penis.

On the first weekend in May, Marie called me to help grandaddy get out of his recliner so he could sit on the portable toilet. I came that Saturday and he was exhausted, reduced to wearing a diaper because he couldn't always make it to the toilet. That was the first and only time I saw his business, because he was too weak to preserve that privacy and that's when I knew the time had finally come. That was also the first time I'd allow myself to feel the pain that had been building up in me over those months and I finally allowed myself to cry.

On May 6, my grandaddy slipped into a coma and never woke up. He died around 2:10 that afternoon. When our funeral home people came to take his body, Marie applied lipstick and kissed him goodbye. She told them to leave her kiss and if I know Rick and Larry, they left her kiss on his cheek.

He died on a Thursday and they buried him on Friday. A lot of people were shocked that we'd been so quick to put him in the ground, but that's exactly what he wanted and Marie was so proud of herself because she managed it in 23 hours. (Marie is known for chronic tardiness, so he would be pleased she'd gotten everything completed according to his provided time line.)

There are a lot of things I learned in those months. One thing I learned is that while we'd always revered my grandaddy as the all-knowing patriarch, he never stood alone in his duties. Marie was always in the background and she never shined like he did (he was a very charismatic person), but she was truly his other half. I don't think I'd ever understood how so many of us take her for granted until I watched her care for him all those weeks and months and while she'd grow agitated, she'd never think of putting him in a nursing home. Marie has always been a strong woman like that and never expected any special recognition for it. There are very few people in the world like her and I'm not one of them. If I'm going to do something, I expect a ribbon or a gold star or at least a certificate of recognition.

In my lifetime, I've never known any other relationship that was as whole as my grandparents. They did not always agree and they weren't always happy with each other, but they always loved each other and committed themselves to their marriage. That is a very rare thing.

Once, when we still taking showers, I'd walked out to get Marie because she was the one who helped him bathe his other areas. Unfortunately, she'd gotten tied up on the phone and couldn't get away. Worried that he shouldn't be in the shower by himself, I went back in to make sure he was okay.

Grandaddy heard the bathroom door open and he thought it was Marie.

"Hey, sug," he said and it was with so much love and relief. Just so much. I'd never understood quite what their relationship was like that because they hadn't littered the world with giant displays of affection - their love and affection were always kind of  between the two of them, I guess. But I could hear all his feelings for Marie in those two words, so I felt myself to be a rather sad replacement for the person he wanted.

"Grandaddy, Marie's on the phone. She said she'd be here in a minute," I told him. He was quiet for a moment and then he muttered "Dammit." Then he shoved his wet underwear out from behind the shower curtain and said, "Here, take these."  So there we were, me holding my grandaddy's wet drawers and he waiting for his wife of forty years to walk through the bathroom door.

I thought I was going to be so much sadder than I am, but I'm not. I miss my grandaddy, but mostly I am at peace. My grandaddy lived life on his terms and he died mostly on his terms. I know that I did something those last few months and as selfish as it sounds, I faced my own fears and pain and became someone better for it.

A couple of days after the funeral, Marie and I were sitting in the living room talking about things and she said she'd never seen him smile at anyone sweeter than he did me when I helped him take a bath. Of course, I had to tell her about the day I ended up holding a balled up bundle of wet drawers waiting for her to get off the phone and how much love was in his voice. We had a good chuckle. And that's what we do. We laugh and remember the sweetness of life.


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Keepers of Me

I have a bit of a new schedule and new things to think about so posting hasn't been on the top of my list.

Before I begin, I suppose I should clarify that in the South, we still call our parents mama and daddy. As a writer, I generally tend to refer to them as my parents or my mother and father except in dialogue to ease the . . . overt southerness of it all. However, my grandfather has been my grandaddy and I will refer to him as such in my posts.

My grandaddy has been through a bit in just my lifetime. He suffered his first heart attack when I was a toddler and had another when I was twelve or so. He had a stroke a few years ago that left him incapable of reading. Leukemia and prostate cancer have whittled a big boned man down to less than 120 pounds. He will be eighty in March and time has been taking its toll on a man who was always larger than life itself.

My mom called me a couple of weeks ago. Grandaddy still wants to take a shower - he does not want a sponge bath and somehow it came about to ask me if I could help him do this. So now I come over and help my grandaddy take a shower three or four times a week on the days he's up to doing so. He told me, "You scrub down as far as possible then bathe up as far as possible and I'll get possible."

That does alleviate the strangeness of it all and he wears his shorts in the shower. I keep thinking the feeling of wet shorts must be very uncomfortable, but it he gets to maintain some dignity and I'm not really faced with seeing my grandaddy's possible.

I thought about not writing about it on this because it's such a personal thing, but I've begun to develop particular views on end-of-life care and it is important to me.

I've struggled the past couple of weeks, not with bathing my grandaddy, though he is right particular about how to go about things - but the idea that he needs me to do this for him.

When I was a child, Grandaddy and Marie's (my stepgrandma) house was a constant in my life. My parents moved a lot up until they divorced when I was eight. For some reason, we always moved around the same end of the county so I never understood the purpose in all this constant moving, but I always knew that my grandparents' house would be the same.

The house stood in the same spot. The same door opened into the same living room that held the same couch and the same television and the same people for all the years I needed it. Things rarely changed and there were days I'd stay there when I was too sick to go to school and the same radio station would play the same people every morning - Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline with Slats Jackson calling out the price of tomatoes at the IGA in between songs. Life usually tended to be pretty steady. I don't remember my grandparents ever arguing though some of my uncles would bring their rowdiness there from time to time. 

So when my mother called me to ask this of me, I'd never thought to say no. They'd never said no to me.

I have an uncle three years younger than me - the late-in-life child of my grandaddy and my step grandma. He was a very imaginative sort as a child and it was always interesting to see what sort of fun Kenny Lee was going to cook up to occupy us on any given day. Marie called him a few days ago and mentioned I'd taken on the bathing task. According to her, he said, "That's just not normal! That's not normal at all. It's not normal to have to help someone who was so big and powerful when you were little."

And, oh lord, he's so right. I've had to do things in life that didn't sit well with me, but when I allow myself to think very long on the fact that I am helping to bathe my grandaddy, it's as painful as when Wild Boy was born with group B strep and I lived in terror that I would never bring him home. It's different in it's own way though. My grandaddy is dying and there are times you have to accept death as the inevitable outcome of a process. And it's not only that, it's an acknowledging of the changing of the guard. Sometimes it would seem so much easier to always be the child.

Even for all the emotional turmoil of seeing my grandaddy's ribs and his spine, of seeing his eyes sometimes oddly like a child's though his mind is still good, his legs that are smaller than my arms now - it is a great honor to do this for my grandparents.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


I really don't have jack to talk about today so I'll just ramble a bit.

For a while I kept receiving these Bible verses via text message around 10 P.M. every night. It started right after Christmas. I'd look at the unfamiliar number and wonder, "Who in the hell wants me to read Revelations 3:14-22 right before bedtime? Has my dad bought an entirely new cell phone to send me scripture?"

For those of you who have never personally met my father, trust me, he's possibly weird enough to do it. So I finally asked my dad and he said it wasn't him so I thought maybe God bought a Verizon phone so he wouldn't cost me money. Of course, that's a little freaky and does he also send out messages to Cingular and AT&T on their plans? What? I finally asked around long enough and suddenly Tuba Girl remembered she'd given this number to a youth pastor a while back. So apparently God does not have Verizon.

My taxes should be returning soon and I've pulled out the Excel to figure out how much I can get done with it. Provided everything goes well, I should get all the crap that's falling apart handled around here with a little left over.

And speaking of my taxes, I am deep into planning project three. The one where I plant a garden. It's probably considered premeditated abuse among certain circles, but their is something all crackery and earthy in me that tells me I must plant seeds. So in my research I ran across Square Foot Gardening. This method is supposed to be very nearly idiot proof. Well, we'll see.

This is the cost of my Gardening Project according to Excel:

Square Foot Garden          Price             Amount Total0
1X6X8 cedar planks 13.98 6 83.88
Vermiculite 20 2 40
peat moss 9.87 1 9.87
cow compost 4.77 2 9.54
mushroom compost 4.72 2 9.44
wood lath 7.68 1 7.68
plywood 10 3 30


(Excel is pretty cool. It's also where I keep my grocery list thingy.)

If I can find 1X6's for free, then I plan to use them and that will nearly cut my costs in half. However, if I can't, then I plan to spring for the cedar planks as they will last longer.(Plus, I'm sometimes anal and I want it to look nice.) If it turns out the Square Foot Garden is not idiot proof, then I can rip the cedar boards and use them for something else.

Also, the SFG book states I should use five different brands of compost. Well, I can't find five different brands of compost in this damned town. So my dirt is just going to have to deal with an extra helping or two of the same brand of mushroom rot and cow shit and get over it. I plan to actually have a nice compost bin as soon I bother to clean out the trunk so I can steal some pallets. (I don't actually plan on stealing them, I'm sure someone will give them to me.)

In other news, I've applied for an Adult Education teaching position. It is no more than 29 hours a week and absolutely no benefits. I figured at making at least $12.00 an hour, then I will make approximately $60 more a week. If that happens, then this blog will be nowhere near "about a thousand a month." (But let's be honest, was it ever really? That's just the cash money I had in hand every month. The Medicaid benefits for the children are probably worth an easy $350 a month if I had to carry insurance on them as it includes health, dental, pharmaceutical, and optical care.)

Adult Ed is something I've been interested in and this will give me an opportunity to see if I would enjoy it as a career. At this point, I don't know what my move would be if I'm offered the position. One part of me wants to work both jobs for a while if the hours work themselves out right and the other part of me thinks I should just go. We're a very undereducated county and our employment opportunities have shrunk mightily over the past year. If people are going to survive, they are going to have to move past the old attitude that a job can always be found and work towards making themselves more marketable. In that end, I see the need for Adult Education teachers growing and I like to think it would be a safer position for a while than where I currently find myself sitting.

Maybe I should consult my magic 8 ball.

Also, I understand people have been slammed by a virus when they visit my blog. I'm hoping I have that worked out. If not, please let me know! I feel like the mom whose kid brought lice to school and now I have to call all my friends and tell them they're probably infested now. 

Later, hookers. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt

Hey hey hookers!

I don't have anything in particular to talk about today other than job security - I hz nun. Actually, I think very few people can absolutely say their job is safe anymore.

You may remember vague references to Matt the Library Assistant in earlier posts. Matt the Library Assistant transferred to the main branch right after Christmas so I no longer have a library assistant. He had mentioned some job security issues and thought it wise to jump over to the big ship while he had the chance. I agreed and facilitated the transfer because I hate to see anyone get fucked out of a job when I already had vague inklings that things may be coming down the pipes. Actually, the inklings weren't that vague:

  • The state asked that we return $14,000 of our annual funding. 
  • The county has said that they will not fund us for the next five years. While  those sorry bastards can up and suddenly force me to take trash service at $13.50 a month when I'd previously been rather happy taking my own goddamned trash to the mother fucking dump, they can't take part of what I estimate to be a gross of $170,000 a month or two goddamned million a year and make it rain over the library. Fine. Whatever. Fuckers. Force services on me that I didn't request and then possibly fuck me out of a job. I love you too, Commissioner Fucker Face. But I'm not angry. Really, I'm not. Just a bit agitated. If I were angry I'd throw that goddamned herbie curbie thing at people. 
  • I like lists and a list with just two things seems sort of stupid so I had to add something to make it right. Sorry. 
So I knew something was inevitable not only because funding is being slashed left and right, but because I think I have some kind of root* on me. Evidence: I applied for a teaching position at a neighboring county high school only to find out during my interview with the Gary Glitter look-a-like that they were on the verge of being taken over by the state so they were really in a bind to find already certified and preferably already experienced. They didn't want my greenhorn ass. I then applied for a position as a GED teacher with a local youth development center in August. Yeah. They closed down this past January. So to find out that my job is sitting in perilous economic waters is no big surprise. I think it's because they hired me. (Insert "laughing my ass off" smilie here.)

As things stand now, the superiors that be are looking at reducing the branches to service outlets (I have no idea what that means), cutting it down to one employee per branch/service outlet/whatever and cutting the hours. The idea is still in it's little zygote stage so I have no idea if this will actually happen, how many hours they're going to cut or if I'm also looking at a pay cut. Lah-dee-dah.

I've had hard times before so while I'm concerned, I'm not scared to death and I'm not going to lay awake at night wondering what I'm going to do. While it's not much and certainly temporary, I've taken the test to be a census bureau worker. I do have to say that "I nicked the census man" ran through my mind a lot when I was taking the test. Also, Pearson finally sent me a questionnaire for an online scoring position so maybe I'll hear something from that.

I'd planned on actually picking up one of these as a second job even though I'd previously said I had no intentions of doing so at that point. I should back up and correct myself, I had no intentions of considering if it were not a financially viable option. Both of these jobs pay enough that it would warrant having the food stamps reduced or cut all together. I can walk away from either of these jobs with enough money to continue feeding my family at the level they expect and have enough left over to take care of other things that need to be handled such as trying to reestablish an emergency fund for potential shit like this.

In addition, these two jobs don't have extremely rigid time schedules so I would still be able to tend to my children's various needs. I don't have to request Tuesday evenings off for Boy Scout den meetings or every third Monday off for Boy Scout pack meetings or every other Thursday off because I need to pick Tuba Girl up at 6:00 P.M. or whatever the hell I'm doing on whatever day.

At this point, I don't know whether to try and jump ship and find another job or try to stick it out and see what happens. I like the job. I like my patrons. Well, most of them. Well, the ones who don't shit in chairs. I like my coworkers. I also like books.

While I don't see myself making a career in this particular area of library employment, I did have some vague plans that would have worked nicely around this job.  I also wanted to stay here for at least a year because I personally feel that anything less than that tends to look negative on a resume. Not only that, but I tend to be pretty hardcore loyal and I hate to walk out on a bitch when she's down and my library system seems to be looking down.

As for jumping ship, it depends entirely upon whether there is another ship to jump to. Job postings in general have been scarce and we're losing jobs left and right. Local teaching positions usually aren't posted until April and last April they were incredibly scarce. Our local high school did't hire for any English positions and I wouldn't be surprised if they held off again this year. The state is in a fuck of a bind.

And another thing while I'm rambling. I'm wondering if the days of being able to actually have one full-time job is basically over for a lot of people. While I've seen people cobble a living out of holding down multiple part time jobs, it was usually a means to some end - to work around a particular  schedule, to avoid drug testing, or because felons have a hard time finding gainful full-time employment. (I'm sure there are other reasons that I'm missing.) However, I think more people who'd previously been able to rely on full-time employment may be forced to look at stringing jobs together like fish on a line.

So that's the shizznit for today. I have a lot to mull over and consider. (Which I always do, I just think about other things instead because I'm turning into some kind of Scarlett O'Hara. Tomorrow is another day and all that shit. Next thing you know, I'm going to kill the rooster, turn his ass into a hat and duct tape my Walmart porteers into a lovely dress right before I  run off with my sister's beau when I find out my favorite convict really isn't worth a shit.)

While I'm really not a big fan of Gone With the Wind, I have to give it to Scarlett. She was a survivor - beet root puking, cotton picking, man stealing and all.  Stupid as hell, but a survivor.

*A "root" is another term for a hex or curse. I don't know if this is local to my area or what, but I've always been entertained by it. I do know a guy with an uncle who has some acclaim over a multi-county region as a "root doctor." From what I hear, you don't ever want that sumbitch to put your name on an egg and leave it in his front yard. I don't know what that does exactly, but you just don't want it to happen.

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