Thursday, April 25, 2013

The two Kims

Getting Jesse off to preschool in the mornings can be pretty trying. Sometimes, instead of climbing into his seat when I open the car doors (mine and his), he’ll climb into my seat and play with the seat adjustment buttons. Or he’ll stand around chattering instead of getting into the car. This morning was no different and it didn’t help that I have been sick with a cold all week. I had a hard time getting him IN the car and a hard time getting him out. I was also a little mad that we got there late.

So I didn’t realize I’d forgotten to take my keys out of the ignition until ... after I closed his car door shut. The car was now locked up – with my keys inside! ARGH!

When I got Jesse inside the preschool, I explained to his preschool teacher Kim (who is also my friend) about what happened. She offered to call a tow truck service for me but I told her I didn’t have any money to pay for it. Then I asked her if I could use a wire hanger, thinking I could try to unlock it with that. But after she handed me the hanger, she asked if maybe I should try contacting my husband. I told her he was asleep. (He works the night shift and I usually wake him up at 11ish.) We considered maybe I could find some way to wake him up or get in. (I DID try texting him but, predictably, there was no answer.) So I decided I’d go for it; try walking home and either pound hard enough on the door to wake him up (he is also deaf) or try to break into my house to wake him up. I asked Kim if it was okay the car was in her driveway until I could move it out and she was okay with that.

Then I was on my way, walking home! (As Kim noted, I was dressed for the occasion: I was wearing exercise pants and my running shoes. Good thing, too!) It was quite a walk from the preschool to get home but the weather was a beautiful 61 degrees and the sun was shining. The walk was just a little over 1 ½ miles.

On my way home, I passed the Little Free Library that is on our street. I decided to check it out since it’s been a while since I have last paid it a visit. Several months ago, both Jennifer and I donated books there, one of my books, The Yellow Rose, and her signing and donating a copy of Dogs Forever: Poems for the Dog Person that she co-wrote with me. I checked and those books weren’t there anymore. (I hope whoever is reading them is enjoying them!) I borrowed a copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo then I was back on my walk.

When I got home, I tried to pound on the door as well as my son’s bedroom window (since his room is right across from ours) but that was not enough to wake up my sleeping husband. I sighed, shook my head then muttered to myself, “Looks like I’m going to have to break into my own house.” (Side note: This is not EXACTLY “my own house.” We’re renters.) As a kid, I often got locked out of the house or would come home to find everybody gone. I often jimmied open a window and climbed inside.

But it’s been YEARS since I have jimmied open any windows. Or climbed fences. Or picked any locks!

So I tried opening a gate that we had on the side of the house. The gate was BLOCKED. So much for that idea!

Then I went around, examining the fence. Would I be able to climb over this thing? I even debated using my neighbor’s fence to help me climb over but wasn’t sure if I could balance myself very well on that. And, anyway, the fence itself was not very stable. That wouldn’t work.

I pulled out my phone and it was THEN that I realized that, in all the craziness of trying to get the gate open or try to figure out how to climb the fence, I somehow lost the book I’d been carrying. I started looking all over for it but couldn’t find it anywhere! I started to feel bad; this book was BORROWED. It was not mine to keep. I’d have to return it at some point.


I started trying to log in at Facebook on my phone, planning to send Kim a message, silently cursing my luck. Maybe the book had fallen out of my hand while I was trying to open the gate. It had to be around here somewhere.

Oh, but it was about to get more interesting. I could NOT send Kim a message ... because the battery on my phone was low and I could NOT log into Facebook. Gah! (Well, I wasn’t sure if Kim would even see my message, anyway.)

I tried pounding on the door again, on the very, very OFF chance my husband would feel my pounding and wake up. (We used to awaken when someone was pounding at our door.) But of course that did not work.

I stood there looking around, sighing. Then I noticed one of the neighbors was on the back porch step, pointing in my direction as he talked to someone in his house. I gritted my teeth and wanted to scream at him, “I’m not trying to break into this house; I LIVE here!” But decided not to when he went back inside.

Then I realized something; maybe I could try to text a friend who might be able to help me out somehow. I tried to think of who I could text and decided I would send a message to my OTHER friend Kim. She told me before she was willing to help me out last time when I had car trouble (I was able to figure out what was wrong with the car before she answered) so maybe she’d be able to help me out again.

I sent her a text, praying it would go through despite the low battery. It did, and a few minutes later, Kim #2 texted back saying she’d be there in a few minutes. I pumped a “yes!” into the air, replied with my thanks then sat down and waited. Even though this was a frustrating situation, I still had to laugh about it. It’s like one thing after another went wrong. This was CRAZY! But also a little funny.

But then things got better. Kim arrived and I told her about what happened. She drove me back to the preschool and when she parked the car, I was mentally and physically preparing for a workout with that wire hanger. But then Kim got my attention and told me she had AAA and could help me out. I was surprised; she could DO that? Really and truly??

She said yes and we got out of the car. Her phone battery was low and she asked if she could use mine to call AAA with. I was doubtful if my phone would even work but handed it to her, anyway. And thankfully, it DID work and she could place a call for a tow truck. Yay! They told her a truck would be there in 30 minutes so we hung around and made small talk.

Guess what? The truck was there in FIVE MINUTES. Wow! We both cheered it got there so fast!

When the tow truck driver got out, he didn’t look at me or even say a word. He just got to work. I was looking at him like “uh, hi?” and almost felt a scolding from my mother for being rude and not properly greeting someone. But he smiled and nodded at us when Kim and I cheered after he got the door open. I thanked him then hurriedly ducked into the car to grab my keys (quick! Before the magic went away!) then cheered again as I looked at Kim happily holding up the keys. (Thank YOU, Triple A!) I thanked Kim for helping me out, we hugged and she was on her way.

I tightly clutched my keys as I closed the car door then went inside the preschool. Jesse cheered when he saw me holding up the keys and Kim #1 was happy, too. I told her about what happened and we were both relieved that I was able to have a tow truck driver come out to help without being charged for it.

Now I was back in my car and driving home. I did enjoy my walk but it was good to be driving again. (I love walking, but I love driving, too!) When I got home, I texted Kim #2 to let her know I was home now then charged my phone. I also went out back looking for the book. Sure enough, there it was on the ground. I HAD dropped it when trying to open the gate!

Later, my husband asked about the texts that were on his phone. I told him about what happened and he said pounding on the door or window was NOT going to wake him up. Also, there would be NO WAY I could get into the house even if I got into the back yard. (Well, ya know, the bathroom window IS kinda broken...)

But I know all that NOW. And now we’re going to get a spare car key made. Maybe it’d be a good idea to get one made for the house, too.

Monday, April 22, 2013

If you need to get ahold of me, don't use a phone to do it!

As someone who has been deaf for over two decades, I have become well aware that there are people who don’t seem to realize that there are deaf people in this world. I could only shake my head over news reports on the TV telling people how to evacuate in the event of a flood but the instructions WERE NOT closed-captioned on the TV (so I guess they wanted all the deaf people to drown?) or the time some idiot decided to push his shopping cart into my back because he “told me to move” when I could not hear him. I accept there are such things that will happen, just as I know that some people, especially those who are in a position to make certain choices related to my children’s ability to attend a school, don’t think for a minute that, gee, maybe there is a very good reason why I can’t get through to a parent on the phone. Why, maybe I should try e-mailing them instead!

I bring this up because of something that happened today. Something that got me VERY upset, very angry and just fuming.

Today I received an email from a teacher at Family School, a local school I chose as a second choice for my son, Jesse, to attend when he starts kindergarten in the fall. This particular teacher at this particular school informed me that she had left two messages (where?) and that, because she had not heard back from me, she automatically removed Jesse from a waiting list for that school. The waiting list thing is kind of important because it’s a backup plan in case Jesse ends up NOT getting into the school of choice we put on the form. She also informed me that if I wanted to put Jesse back onto their waiting list, I would have to fill out a School Choice Form all over again and resubmit. (Fat chance of THAT!)

That was the gist of her email. And, to be honest, I was a little shocked that this person did not even give me a chance to explain to her the situation. She just assumed I was not going to talk to her and removed him just like that. So sad, too bad.

Well, I was also a little angry about it. Because, you know what? This was the First Time I ever heard from this woman, even this school. I went through all of my archived emails just to see if I had missed anything from her, as well as deleted emails from this month and March. Nope, nothing. Not one email from her. The first time I EVER hear from this person, about THIS TOPIC, and it’s to tell me that because I have not answered her messages that I knew NOTHING about, she’s writing Jesse off. Thank you, have a nice life!

This was just REALLY uncool. Why did she not even try to contact me by email at all? She OBVIOUSLY has my email address! Plus, I specified on the School Choice Form that e-mail is THE preferred way to contact me. I didn’t write “DEAF-CONTACT THRU EMAIL” but now I’m thinking maybe I should have. Because obviously, people will see instructions to contact via email and think to themselves, “Email? We don’t DO email! We worship our mighty telephone and too bad for you if you can’t use one!”

After this, I don’t think I will even TRY to get Jesse back on their little waiting list. They obviously don’t want to bother with trying to contact his deaf mother in a way that works best for her. I only hope and PRAY the school that accepted him WILL be able to make room for him. Because if not, I don’t know what my chances would be in getting Jesse enrolled into a third elementary school that he could go to. I’d rather not rely on chance.

At least I know what school he WON’T be going to now.

UPDATE: On the evening I received that email, I replied and explained that I am deaf and that is why I didn't get the messages. The teacher sent back a response apologizing for the misunderstanding.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Using the Boston Marathon bombing for attention is uncool

Tragedy struck in our country yesterday when two bombs detonated at the scene of the Boston Marathon. What had been a day of excitement and joy shattered into a horrific nightmare as two bombs went off within seconds of each other. Three people died and over 170 people were injured.

Today I wanted to write a poem about what happened -- specifically, to remember those lost that day and to offer my thoughts to those affected by it. I could not write this poem yesterday; I was too stunned when I learned about what happened and would not have been able to write about it. But today I did. First, though, I read all of the articles I could find about it. I watched the videos and looked at the pictures. Had to stop, though, after I started to cry because it all just got to be too much. After I recomposed myself, I wrote the poem.

And I thought that was the last of it. I found out otherwise later on!

First, I'll say that my 11-year-old daughter, Jennifer, does know about what happened yesterday. They were talking about it at her school and I explained it to her.

Now, Jennifer plays an Internet game with her friends. Of course, other people have the option of playing this game, too. It's a very popular game and it's on a reputable site. Well, today, when she was playing the game, she got my attention and told me, "This kid is saying his dad and brother died in the Boston Marathon bombing yesterday."

Right after she told me that, alarm bells immediately went off. Something about that wasn't right. I did NOT know for certain if that was true -- in all the articles I'd read, I didn't come across names of those killed -- but this struck me as incorrect somehow. I told Jennifer to be careful. I said she should just say "I'm sorry" then move on. Don't talk to that person. She told me she did but she was also feeling a little sad for that person. I told her, "I don't think he's telling the truth so don't get too close. Just go do other things." She said she would do that.

With that settled, I grabbed my phone and Googled for the names of the people who died in the bombings, hoping that information was out there somewhere. Thankfully, an article came up with the names, and guess what? There was NO father and son among the dead. I knew that there was a little boy who died, but not sure of the others. But there was no father and son.

I went back to where Jennifer sat at the desk and informed her of what I found out. She was confused why someone would do that and I told her some people tell lies on the Internet to get attention or to trick people into sending them money and stuff. My husband and I have told her MANY times not to trust people she doesn't know on the Internet but I guess sometimes she needs the occasional reminder.

I went back to cooking dinner but I was really upset about this. I was shocked someone would use something like a national tragedy to get attention or to have people feel sorry fo him. Or to just deceive others. I was also angry about it. What kind of sicko DOES that??

Later, as we ate dinner, I told my husband about what happened. (He'd been at work.) After I told him, Jennifer asked him why someone would do that.

"Because they're liars," he said.

He went on to say more to her about it but I did not pay attention. I was in my own thoughts, remembering how I'd been angry someone would do that. But, like Jennifer, I could not understand how someone would do such a thing, or even why. Yes, I know there are liars and tricksters and people who deceive others. But it's still hard for me to understand why any person thinks it's perfectly okay to use a horrible tragedy as a way to get attention. It's just wrong. It's so wrong.

Jennifer did speculate that maybe these were two guys who died later. I told her that could be true, but I'd been going through several news sites since this came up and still did not see anything about a father and son who died from their injuries. So it is very likely that what happened at her game today was just someone using this story to get attention. That's pretty pathetic.

If only more people would understand the devastation we feel because of terrible tragedies such as this. The nightmare it causes for all of us. And the devastating loss of a loved one, of a child. Something like this should not be used for selfish reasons or dishonest motives. People who think it's okay to do that should think twice and ask themselves if they think it's worth dishonoring the memory of those who REALLY lost their lives on that day.

NOTE: Since posting this, I have NOT discounted the possibility that maybe that kid was telling the truth. I'm not saying this was indeed a person telling a lie just to get attention but right off the bat, the way it looked to me at that time, this person could not be trusted. I have since come across this article and have considered that perhaps a father and son related to this kid did indeed perish because of the bombing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A little business between friends

“Never interfere with your child’s social life.” This was a line I read in an advice column in a magazine this month. And while I agreed with this advice, I still felt there were times a mom (or dad!) may need to step in to handle things. This is especially true if friends decide to start doing business together.

And in this case, since what happened today between my daughter and her friend concerned business they were doing together, I felt I definitely had to step in and have a little chat with the friend’s guardian (in this case, her grandmother, since this is who the friend lives with).

Jennifer and her friend are both artists and because Jen wanted a book cover, she decided to enlist her friend’s help. Because I have done the same with Jennifer for my own books (she is creating a cover for a new children’s book I am going to self-publish and she did the front cover design for Dogs Forever), she has been aware of how this works. So she decided to work that out with her friend, as well.

The problem was, Jennifer promised to pay her friend money she didn’t have, thinking that I was going to pick up the tab. Because this is Jen’s book and the only involvement I had with it was editing, I explained to her that the cover situation had to be worked out between her and her friend and that I was not going to be responsible for paying for it.

And as a side note, yes, Jennifer does earn her own money. However, she recently spent all she had at the Gem Faire we went to last weekend, and she’s currently earning her allowance for the week. Jennifer also earns money for her art, but she has not had any commissions as of late.

Well, back to my story. Once I learned about this, I told Jennifer she should not have made a promise she wasn’t sure she could keep. I was tempted to throw in one of my favorite sayings – “don’t let your mouth write a check your butt can’t cash” – but now was not the time.

I got on my cell and started texting the friend’s grandmother. I explained to her about the misunderstanding and, at the same time, told her how much I loved the work the girl had done so far. (She was sending a picture of her artwork to Jennifer as she worked on it.) I suggested we work out an arrangement since, #1, Jen did not yet have the money and #2, Jen had already promised to pay for the work. I felt it was important to honor that, because I did not want to teach Jennifer that it was okay to promise one thing to a client then turn around and break that promise. (One person I worked for did that recently and you can bet I won't work with her ever again.) The grandmother texted back that she was not mad about this, that she explained to the friend she shouldn’t expect payment and that we could definitely work something out in the event we did still want to pay for it. (We both thought it was cool that Jen’s friend would have her first commission at age 11. I do like that idea, to be honest, but it has to be doable all the same.)

My personal policy when beginning a new line of work is to always do the first one free. That’s what I did with writing, editing and ghostwriting (both for articles and books). That’s just the way I work. My feeling is, if you do well enough with the first client, you could earn more business when you start charging, try your hand at it without anyone feeling stiffed and even gain some testimonials. That is how I felt and I was wondering if Jen could work that out with her friend, as well. But then I decided that it would be better for the friend to be paid for her work. I DO think it’s good work and deserving of some kind of payment. Just maybe not at the original quote, because right now, we cannot afford it and won't be able to for a few weeks.

I am just glad I kept the peace between the two friends as well as with the girl’s grandmother. There’s no anger or anything. The two of them are still friends and they are still working together. There are no hard feelings and it was just a simple misunderstanding about everything.  Still, Jennifer did learn some lessons in business today, including that she should not pay for something unless it is done first and everybody’s happy. I also told Jennifer next time she should consult with her parents first – and wait until she actually had a little money in her bank.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Little mind-readers

One thing I often say to my children is, “I’m not a mind reader.” Because, boy, they sometimes act like I am! They get upset if I don’t do a certain thing or make them a certain thing to eat. It’s like I KNOW they want me to do this for them or that I KNOW they want a certain food to eat. But I don’t. Maybe they think I do that often enough that I’ll always do that, but that is not the way life is. Nothing is ever predictable.

Well, today I started to wonder if my kids can read MY mind. Or, at least, they pick up on things from me.

Jesse had a difficult morning today. He just didn’t want to listen when I was trying to get him to eat his breakfast or get dressed for school. It was like he was in his own world, or something. Finally, as he was getting his socks on, he grew serious and said, “Let’s start over.”

“Okay, that’s fine,” I said. “We’ll start over.”

But at the same time, I was standing there thinking, start over with what? I really hoped he wasn’t going to undress then get dressed again!

But instead, he walked over to me and said, "Let’s start over with me being good.”

I smiled and told him I would like that. But at the same time, I couldn’t help but notice how he said that right after I was puzzling over what he said. That was interesting! And a little strange.

The same thing happened with Jennifer later in the day. After I picked her up at the bus stop, we briefly chatted with a friend then we went to the store because I had to get a new phone card. In the store parking lot, Jennifer went over to a truck that had a window down and started to reach inside the window. I panicked and grabbed her arm, pulling her away. Then I noticed a dog sitting on the driver’s seat. I sighed, recalling all the times I have told Jennifer not to pet strange dogs because they might bite her. I can still remember the time when Jennifer, age 4, reached out to pet a stray cat when we were on one of our walks and the cat went haywire and scratched her arm. I then reminded her she shouldn’t try to pet animals who didn't know her.

“But the dog looks sad,” Jennifer said, sadly looking back at the animal. “I just wanted to pet him.”

“Honey, you need to be careful around strange dogs,” I reminded her again. Yes, the dog did look sad but could have still snapped at her, or something. At the same time, though, I was hoping the dog was not really sad and not sad because of being with someone who was hurting him. I tried to smooth it over later on by saying, “Maybe he’s just lonely.”

Jennifer still looked upset by the sight of the dog and said, “I hope whoever is with him is not hurting him.”

Once again, I was quietly surprised that one of my kids had picked up on the same thing that I’d been thinking.

Well, it’s probably just obvious stuff. Jesse explaining what he meant and Jennifer thinking a dog might be sad because of a mean owner. But I still thought it was kinda neat, too.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Note: I don't ordinarily post on my blog on April 1st unless it's meant to be a joke but, in this case, something happened today and I wanted to blog about it. So do know that this is a genuine blog post and not meant to be a joke....

Why do we have to be dying or on the verge of death when we are making out a will or preparing our own final arrangements?

I was asking myself that question after I learned about something that happened today.

Earlier this year, I decided it was time to start getting everything ready in the event I somehow or another dropped dead. Make out a will, decide on my burial arrangements and take care of other loose ends that would need to be settled in order to avoid any problems for who I left behind. Part of this arrangement means ensuring that certain financial matters are resolved. With this in mind, I visited my bank recently to make sure there would be no problems for my husband as far as obtaining funds from my account following my death were concerned. After I left the bank that day, I felt better that it was one less thing to worry about.

Well, this evening, my husband told me he was at the bank today, and a woman who works there, who I’ve known for years, was asking him if I was okay. She seemed concerned that I was in poor health. I realized that she must’ve overheard me talking to another teller on my recent visit to the bank! Oops! Gosh, I sure hope I didn’t cause her any worry. That was really sweet of her to ask but I felt bad that maybe I’d inadvertently caused her alarm.

No, I am not sick. I am not dying. I am just settling everything and making sure everything is in order for when that time DOES come. I don’t want there to be any chaos or confusion or any problems as far as finances are concerned after my death. Just want to make sure everything is in order.

But, don’t worry. I’m fine. Alive and kicking. Sorry for the scare.