I love cake. I also love to bake, but my execution kind of sucks. I always have an idea in my head of how something is going to turn out and it rarely turns out that way. It’s okay, I have fun baking and now my daughter and I bake together so it’s twice as much fun. I normally buy a cake for our big events. I am blessed to know an amazing baker. She was a neighbor for a short period of time and she has a daughter who is a month older than my daughter so we got them together for a play date when they lived in the neighborhood. We have been friends since then. Life happened which took my baking angel away for a time period, but now she is back in the area. We have remained connected through social media and when I am in need of a beautiful cake for a big event, I know who to call. I will bake a cake for a small family party but not for larger gatherings. We alternate the size of my daughter’s birthday parties from year to year. For the years she has big parties I don’t bake, but for the small family birthday celebrations I will attempt to bake a cake. (more…)
We moved into our new house and after a week of unpacking I finally had the chance to use the jet tub. It took about a week to fill up and was so big I couldn’t reach my feet to the end while lying down so I basically floated around while bubbles blew through my hair. It was nice to finally relax after unpacking approximately 7,000 boxes in record time. My husband had packed our old house over two months but somehow we managed to unpack in four days. I think it actually took the tub longer to drain than it took to unpack and my muscles had the knots to prove it. About three quarters of the way through the tub draining, my husband noticed that it sounded like it wasn’t draining properly. He walked downstairs to investigate the sound in the walls and found that water was pooling on the floor in the laundry room on the first floor and dripping out of the wall outlet. He followed the sound further and found water gushing out of the ceiling tiles in the basement. The entire tub had drained down our walls instead of the pipes.
I would like to say I was surprised by this event, but after having to replace most of our appliances, roof and carpet within a few days of stepping foot in the house, I was only surprised that the tub didn’t fall right through the floor. While my husband was mopping up the water, I was trying to scrape the paint off the screws to get into the access panel behind the tub. When I finally managed to open it up, we discovered a giant Christmas platter had been left under the plumbing and all of the overflow pans under the jets were overflowing with water. There was a gaping hole in the tub liner that had a TAMPON shoved in it. Yes, a fucking tampon was plugging the hole in our giant tub. I am guessing this was the work of a 30 year old man after seeing a Tampax commercial.
When we bought the house, we knew we would eventually be remodeling most of the bathrooms. My daughter’s bathroom was first on the list, but has moved down a few notches after my bathtub turned our basement into a rainforest. She doesn’t seem to mind. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if she has even seen her bathroom around all of her unpacked boxes. As my husband and I were running up and down multiple flights of stairs with lamps and boxes of books, she was finding the perfect window to sit in and play guitar. She busied herself setting up her drum kit while I loaded her clothing into her closets and her Grandpa hung her curtains. She was in full-on teen mode the entire move, which put me in full-on mommy dearest mood.
We have been in the house for a little over two weeks and we have had repairmen, deliverymen, roofers, plumbers, electricians and every other type of serviceman performing repairs, cleanups and replacements multiple times a day since we moved in. I feel like I should have just called an exorcist the first day. Just when we think we are done, something else breaks, leaks or falls off the hinges. My Dad has renamed our new house “the money pit” and he laughs until I remind him that once I run out of funds for repairs, I’ll be calling him.
I am learning a lesson from my kid these last few weeks every time I get worked up about something else going wrong. The house could fall down around her and she would still be sitting in her music room, surrounded by half packed boxes, playing guitar. Her drums are set up and she even let me rock out on them the other day. She located her happy place the night we moved in and surrounded herself with the things she loves most. I found my happy place in my office. It was the first area of the house I unpacked and the only room in the house that hasn’t had a major repair. I even hung up my artwork by myself after being told I should not nail anything into the walls due to my inability to measure before hammering and using a hairbrush to do so.
I keep reminding myself everyday that the bones of this house are exactly what we wanted. All of the headaches will be forgotten as time passes. The story of the tub with a tampon will be just a funny story about the asshole who sold us the house not understanding the difference between women’s plumbing and actual plumbing (which explains why he is single), and the groundhog in the flowerbed will be a memory for the cats who have finally found their litter boxes. Until then, I might just hideout in my happy place.
**I have been MIA for over a month, and this move has about put me over the edge. BUT, I have discovered a lot of new music in the process. The new Scowl is one of my new favorites.
About two years ago we decided it was time to move. It was shortly after the boy who lives next door punched my daughter in the stomach and scratched her arm while “playing” outside and then lied when confronted about it. Since that time, we have been looking at houses and wishing. A lot happened in those two short years. I changed careers, my Dad had a heart attack and my husband’s company was bought out, leaving us with a lot of uncertainty about the future. But at the beginning of this summer, when I watched the same neighbor kid who assaulted my daughter start hanging out in our backyard directly under her bedroom window, I had to pull the trigger.
We put our house on the market with a neighbor/friend who is a superstar in the real estate market and has a ton of knowledge and skill. She and her husband work together which has been great for me and my little ball of anxiety husband because they can both show us houses and help get ours sold with all of our crazy schedules. Plus, her husband is really crafty like mine, so they can talk about any building projects that might need to take place in a new home. I am pretty sure they may want to kill us by the end of this house hunt though because my husband keeps trying to look in cities I don’t want to move to and I keep asking questions about what illegal activities might be going on in the houses we see. My husband tends to be a little more cost conscious than me so he keeps looking at houses that are within our budget and I keep asking where the hell he got this budget, because that’s my department of the marriage. Meanwhile my parents are in the background making sure the house we move into has enough room for one of them to move into, while they have two houses of their own. So you can see how working with us might be a little difficult. At the end of this adventure, we’re really going to owe them a big gift basket of sweets, booze and possibly hand guns.
Needless to say, our house sold in record time and we have yet to find our next house. The good news is, my parents have two houses, so we can always stay at the lake as long as we need to, but moving twice is not really ideal. We are set to close on the sale of our house in a few weeks which is exciting, but that also starts the time table of when we need to move out. We also found out that our homeowner’s association has a lien on our house for a dispute that was cleared up over 10 years ago. When we moved into this house twelve years ago my husband went to an HOA meeting and introduced himself to a woman named Judy Kosar who was on the board. He gave her his name and address to update the records of the association. She apparently never passed along this information and for two years we did not receive HOA bills. The next bill we got was from a collection agency for the HOA that had an extra $500 in collection fees tacked on. I argued with the president of our HOA, Bob Salloum and paid the ridiculous bill to the collection law firm of Schlottman & Wagner and heard nothing again. I asked to audit the books of our HOA the following year and was denied access by both the president and the J.P. Carroll Co. who handle the management and administration of the HOA. It is now 2023, and we still have a lien on our house that the title company has to clear up and the HOA has never answered a single question I have had or allowed me to access any records. My husband had to stop me from walking over to Judy’s house last week with a hammer to tear down the back wall of her house that has been without siding on it for several years. So thanks for doing a great job Northfield Hills Homeowner’s Association and affiliates. I hope to never have to deal with another corrupt HOA again.
We had cameras in our house while it was on the market for showings and had been watching all of the families tour our home. It was nice to see who came in and what they had to say about the house. We also got to watch our next door neighbor, the father of the kid who punched my daughter, walk through our house and take cell phone photos of our personal items like family photos and and my daughter’s bedroom. What a creep. His good friend also toured the house and their teenage kids sat on our bed with their shoes on playing video games on their phones. When their realtor put in an offer with a note that the buyers were friends with both of our neighbors, I took them off the list of potential buyers before I even saw that their offer was lower than than any of the others. We also declined a really nice couple that loved our house just because I could not bear to subject them to our neighbors. We ended up taking the highest offer from a couple who I think is going to fit right based on their communications thus far. Fingers crossed that we get through the closing with no more hiccups.
I’m not sure how many houses we have looked at so far, and I’m not sure how many more we have to go, but I know our house is out there waiting. My mom always says that God’s timing is perfect, and I believe that to be true. My husband and I deal with anxiety differently, and his coping skills are certainly better than mine, but the fact that most of our house is already boxed and ready to move is a little unsettling. He has a moving company lined up, and our basement looks like a U-Haul store, while I am picking up our normal supplies of toilet paper and bubbly water at Costco. He hasn’t murdered me yet but I suspect he may do so and bury me in the backyard before moving day. Then again, that would mean he would have to move all of this stuff by himself along with the new cat tree I bought yesterday. Like I said, we cope differently.
**I wrote this while listening to old vinyl on my new record player that my family bought me for my birthday. It was actually a gift for my kid that she talked the family in to buying me, but I’m not complaining. The kid is clever, like her mom.**
My last computer was a Dell and it lasted me almost 10 years. Recently, my husband decided he was sick of hearing me whine about how bulky it was and how my camera was fuzzy, so he bought me a brand spanking new HP. It lasted not quite five months. Last month, the machine revolted and started operating on it’s own. The mouse took over and started randomly opening windows and menus. I couldn’t even check my e-mail without the window resizing and task bars popping open all over the screen. The thing was possessed.
My husband repeatedly made adjustments, installed updates and did whatever other techy things he does to my devices when I complain. But a few weeks later, the computer was still acting like a rebellious teenager. He finally contacted HP support for assistance and this is where the wheels completely fell off the bus.
The “support specialist” informed him that he would need to jump through approximately 843 hoops before they would take over and fix their defective computer. He proceeded to jump through every hoop, including a factory reset of the computer, at which point the computer was worse than it was prior to him contacting support. He couldn’t even get to a start screen after the “support specialist’s” expert assistance. When my husband asked if he could drop it off at one of their many authorized repair centers near us he was informed that he would need to ship the computer to Texas for repair (because that makes sense). He was told that a box would be shipped to us and it would take about 3 weeks to complete the repair. A day later I received an e-mail that a box was being shipped via FedEx to:
11500-11598 JENNY DR
FARMBROOK DR. TROY,
WARREN MI 48093
That is not even an address. The middle line is part of my address, but two cities are listed and apparently HP expected FedEx to knock on a lot of doors on Jenny Dr. to find the right house. They may as well have listed my address as the blue house on the corner in a suburb north of Detroit. I received a call from FedEx 4 days later (HP guaranteed overnight delivery) stating that the package could not be delivered as addressed. No shit. When I spoke with someone at FedEx he actually said “that’s not an address, there are two cities listed”. I think the range of street numbers looked more like a sign in a hotel than a home address.
After finding out that they tried to ship an empty box to the wrong address even though I corrected them in two separate e-mails, I was finally fed up enough to call HP myself. And when I did, I understood why this was such a nightmare. Their customer service department is run by idiots. Not just run of the mill idiots, but full-fledged morons. It’s almost impossible to get an answer and when you do, it completely contradicts what the last person said. I talked to three people and each one had a different answer for why the unit had to be shipped to Texas. I was finally instructed to take it to a local repair center by Idiot #3 and given a repair ticket number. When I talked to Idiot #3’s supervisor, I was informed that I should wait for the box to ship it to Texas and that I should call FedEx to find the missing box myself. He said there were no authorized repair centers in my area.
The best conversation I had was with “John” from the Complaint Escalation Department, apparently located somewhere close to New Dehli. His title was pretty appropriate since he certainly escalated my complaints. He told me that the guy who gave me the local repair shop information told me where to bring it but that didn’t mean HP would be paying for it. He sounded like a con man trying to find the loophole to get out of taking responsibility as he told me I didn’t ask if I would have to pay for the repair myself if I used one of the authorized repair centers listed on their own website. He said for them to cover the cost I would have to get a quote and call him back to request a payment from HP that only he could approve. That is the worst pick up line I have ever had used on me. He actually said “we can’t just give you an unlimited budget!” as if he was doing me a favor. I could hear his smile through the phone when he said that of course his colleague could give me the name of a repair shop but that didn’t mean it would be covered under the warranty and that only repairs made in Texas were covered. I’ll bet he was wearing a cowboy hat when he said it too. When I finally asked for his supervisor I was put on hold while he ate lunch and went to the bathroom before being told that his supervisor would call me back. When I asked for the supervisor’s contact number he said he would love to give it to me but he didn’t have it. I’m not sure if this was another pick up line or not…
Since the time I got off the phone with “John” I have talked to two FedEx employees and the repair shop and all of these people have been helpful and friendly. The repair company seemed to have a lot of experience with HP and knew they were dealing with morons. They even said that the parts would take a little longer to arrive since they were dealing with HP. At first I thought maybe I was just being a Karen about the situation asking to talk to the manager repeatedly, until I talked to actual customer service representatives who understood that the title of their job meant to assist customers. I’m fairly certain every person we talked to at HP was under the impression they had no obligation or inclination to help us resolve an issue that was due to them selling us a defective computer. It was like dealing with the government.
When “John’s” supervisor finally called me back she immediately tried to place the blame for the delivery on FedEx. I explained that I had an e-mail from HP which listed the wonky address. She tried making excuses for why I got different information from different customer service representatives. I asked if their policies changed hourly or why their employees did not know their own policies. She tried to disregard “John’s” rudeness as a communication problem. I told her that it was clear that he did not like my tone and was attempting to put me in my place. She made excuses for all of their mistakes and justified their abysmal customer service while telling me it was “my right” to have repairs performed on their defective merchandise at my own cost. At the end of the call she thanked me for my loyalty and I asked what the hell script she was reading from because I was not a loyal customer in any way. I also told her that I really didn’t need to hear her say she was sorry that I was experiencing this issue repeatedly. I needed her to do her job and resolve my problem. At the end of the call she said as a one time courtesy she would do me a favor and extend my warranty for one year. At that I laughed and said it was not a courtesy or a favor and that I would be selling the computer as soon as it was repaired.
I also informed her that my husband ran right out and bought me a brand new Dell the minute he heard this repair would take a lifetime to complete. You may fool us once, but never again. While waiting on hold multiple times to speak with several “supervisors” I came up with the real meaning of HP…. Highly Problematic. I have to say, I love my new computer and it is everything my HP was not. Most importantly, it works!
*I wrote this piece while listening to the angriest man in punk rock – Mr. Henry Rollins. Thanks for keeping me focused Hank. It’s been a week!
When I was little, my dad and I were part of a dad/daughter group called “Indian Princesses”. I’m not sure what the organization’s purpose was, but our group was under the impression the goal was for young girls to get into trouble while their dads drank heavily and played cards. It’s the place where I learned that too much of anything will make you barf and peeing on the side of the road is only illegal if you get caught. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to be learning survival skills and how to be a proper young lady, but our entire group was asked to leave a camping event before I learned any of those skills. This may explain why I can’t start a fire or engage in cocktail party chatter today.
Years later I met a man who was taking his daughter on an Indian Princess campout and he stated that alcohol was no longer allowed in the cabins because “a few bad apples ruined it for everyone”. I refrained from telling him that I was one of those bad apples he was referring to. The same year we were asked to leave was the year my dad brought several cases of whipped cream and we covered half the grounds with it while having a massive whipped cream fight. I vaguely remember leaving the event early and heading to someone’s cottage for the rest of the weekend. It was the equivalent of being called out in class and told to go to the principal’s office. Every eye in that mess hall burned our backs as we packed up our RV and headed south. Our exit bypassed the principal’s office and headed straight out the back door with two middle fingers in the air. Years later when I literally did the same in high school, my dad couldn’t really say much. That was a life lesson I got from the Indian Princesses, when the man tells you to shut it down, pack up your party and head to the lake. Here are a few other things I learned while hanging out in the woods with feathers on my head:
- Gambling is fun, especially when you win. The men used to play a game at restaurants called “Queen Bee” where you bet to see who pays the bill. Once someone “wins” and gets stuck with the bill, they have a chance to win back double their money from everyone else. My Dad let me sit in on his turn and I cleaned out every old guy at our table. I walked out of there with my pockets loaded only to leave the general store 10 minutes later with a handful of change. I spent the whole wad buying toys and candy for my fellow princesses. I have been a master liar’s poker player since then (as well as a pretty good liar which is a whole different lesson).
- Driving is a hell of a lot easier when you can see over the steering wheel. Did I mention the dad’s partook in a wee amount of alcohol consumption while on these adventures? Letting the children drive was really the responsible thing to do in that situation. I may have been the youngest driver on the roads in Canada, but I was one of the better drivers nonetheless. In my dad’s defense, I was actually a pretty good driver at a young age since I had been riding a motorcycle since I could stand it up by myself.
- If your stomach hurts, you’ll feel a lot better if you just get it over with and barf. This applies to a lot of things, but I barfed a lot when I was young and I always felt better once all the whipped cream evacuated my body. I’m pretty sure this was also how my dad learned to put a little girl’s hair into a ponytail.
- Doing your own thing is usually a lot more fun than following the crowd. Sometimes that means being asked to leave and that’s okay. Somehow a group of dads and their daughters who had no business joining a group like the Indian Princesses managed to join anyway and have fun for about a year before blowing it all up. The little group of misfits still managed to stick together for several years after making their own adventures that didn’t even require using outdoor bathrooms and identifying poison oak.
- Frog legs really do taste like chicken, and escargot tastes like salt water. Adventuring with my dad always meant I got to eat whatever I wanted and I was always ready to gross out the other 8 year old girls with food choices. This may also have contributed to lesson #3.
- The 80s was the decade of oxymorons. A group whose name was both racist and sexist certainly had a lot of rules about proper behavior. Maybe if the dads were actual Native Americans, their drinking would have been overlooked, or if the girls had been shooting whipped cream rockets at each other while wearing tiaras, it would have been cute. Either way, I’m glad I was raised during that time and I’m even more glad that I can look back on it and laugh.
**Of course I listed to some classic 80s music while I wrote this!!
The best part about this pandemic has been watching people try to use technology when they have no idea what they are doing. Last spring, I laughed watching a bunch of third grade kids do things like wander into the bathroom while holding their tablets or walking off in the middle of a zoom meeting because they forgot what they were doing. That was understandable, and I have to say, all of the kids who have had to navigate using technology over the last six months are going to be better for it and more skilled teenagers. Adults are a whole different story.
I am in graduate school with a bunch of people who can’t figure out zoom. Sure, everyone quickly figured out how to turn their camera off so nobody could see they were lounging around with no pants on. Unfortunately, many of the same people could not locate the mute button. In one class, 25 students were muted and one was not. The one who was not muted had an entire conversation with her boyfriend about what to get her mom for her birthday and about how she somehow got makeup all over herself while the other 25 called her out in the chat area to shut up. There has been at least one incident like this per month. I even have a professor who kept using his personal account to open zoom calls so the entire class got kicked off after a half hour. It took him a full three sessions to figure it out and half that class still can’t log in to his new link.
But by far, the best people to observe on zoom calls are older retired people who are not adept at technology but think they are. I do a lot of volunteer work, so I am often surrounded by older people trying to be helpful. One of the organizations I volunteer for provides tutoring services for elementary aged kids. Since the pandemic, we have gone online. The kids are pretty skilled at zoom and the various platforms they are using for their schoolwork. The volunteers are great at tutoring, but are lost when it comes to technology. Luckily, a bunch of college kids were recruited this fall and have been able to help out. Unfortunately, many of the volunteers who are lost online have no idea they are lost online. I knew one woman in particular was going to be a problem when we had our tutor orientation and she was confused when people were explaining how to use some of the zoom features. When people told her to click on a dropdown menu she couldn’t find it. She didn’t even understand what we meant when we told her to click something. She finally said “I don’t have a mouse. I have a tablet!” to which most of us just threw our hands up. We were trying to show her how to get the drawing feature. I finally said “Put your finger on the screen and move it.” It was similar to teaching a caveman how to use tools if the tools were made of play-doh.
After the orientation, a second orientation was scheduled to get the half dozen elderlies comfortable using their devices. Apparently, even after the second session, this woman still didn’t get it. Tutoring has been going on for a month now and she still has no idea what she is doing and rarely even makes it into the breakout rooms when the host sends her there. She spent the first 15 minutes of the last session talking to her husband about how she couldn’t sign in to zoom. She didn’t realize she was signed in and we were all watching her as she peered at her screen barking “I don’t know where it went Stan. It’s normally right here! There is no picture.” She must have been continually touching the unmute button on her screen as she poked at it since the host continued to mute her every 30 seconds the entire time.
Virtual learning has certainly been an education for everyone. All I know is next time I am having a computer problem, I am calling my kid to help instead of my husband. And, I am thinking maybe this tutoring program I am part of should make the tutoring reciprocal. First the kids can help the old folks figure out how to use their computers and tablets and then we can teach them how to do math the correct way!
**One thing I know how to do with a computer is find music. I’m listening to some new material these days.
While boating the other day, I told my dad we were trying to kill him. An hour later my husband and dad almost killed me. Karma sometimes acts pretty quickly. Seriously karma, I was just kidding! Not that my husband trying to kill me is anything new. In fact, I’m pretty sure he has been working on a plan since the day we were married based on the amount of “accidents” I have had in the last 16 years. I am going to ignore the fact that I am accident prone here.
Let me start by saying that my kid and I are daredevils. When it comes to dangerous activities, we are all in. So needless to say, when we go rafting, we are the ones screaming “faster” as we bounce along the water. Saturday was no exception. My dad spent the better part of his afternoon pulling me and mini me around the lake on a raft. My mom spent the better part of her afternoon having a panic attack and covering her eyes. At one point we were almost completely sideways on the raft. I looked down and I was literally on top of my kid as we bounced over a wave. On the same trip around the lake my dad nearly plowed us into a family of ducks as he turned and we flew out to the side of the boat. Luckily it was not a family of swans or they would have popped our raft and pecked our faces off.
After an hour of my mom glaring at my dad he took her to shore. The thrill seekers were still up for more rafting so we took one of the wave runners out dragging the little two person bouncer behind. Everyone took a turn riding and driving. I didn’t drive since I drive one speed no matter if I am alone or dragging bodies behind me. I have been told that 55 is too fast for rafting. But I learned that you can injure yourself at any speed. My husband was going only 9 mph when he almost killed me. After the old man and mini me took a trip around the water she decided she wanted me back there with her so my dad took over the spotter duty while my husband drove. We were just getting ready to head back in when the men decided it would be fun to whip us around in a circle so my husband proceeded to spin around at single digit speeds while we circled. We had gone around twice when all of a sudden we were air born. A wave came out of nowhere and we hit it like a ski jump.
Both passengers were able to hold on with one hand, but we came down fast and hard. I landed on my side and was immediately pummeled in my ribs. I was clinging to the raft wondering who threw a bowling ball at me when I heard crying from above. My daughter was sitting on my rib cage right under my armpit holding her mouth and crying. She had apparently bitten her tongue. I eased her off me and tried to see inside her mouth while not moving. I felt like a baby holding it’s breath right before an enormous scream comes out, but no scream came, just small gasps. When we finally got back to shore, I slid off the raft and walked onto the beach still gasping for breath. I have had the wind knocked out of me on many occasions so I knew it would take a minute or two to catch my breath, but when five minutes went by and I still couldn’t suck in any substantial amount of air I was getting a little nervous. It didn’t help that three people were in my face asking if I was okay. I couldn’t get enough air to talk which was the scariest part. Not being able to talk for 10 seconds is torture for me. I would rather be water boarded than not be able to spew every thought in my head for five minutes. Since I couldn’t argue, being unable to speak and all, I was at the mercy of my family when they insisted that I go to urgent care to get an X-ray.
Luckily, I managed to worm my way out of actually seeing a doctor. One urgent care was closed and the other one didn’t have an X-ray machine (seriously!) so we headed home where I splayed my body on the couch with a bell while my family waited on me. I argued that even if I had fractured ribs there was nothing they could do anyway. I guess my husband figured if I was well enough to argue with him, I was well enough to carry on. I’m guessing I’ll discover some abnormality six months from now while getting a massage, which is the same way I found out I had a rib in my back that managed to flip over the wrong way and stick out under my arm. Until then, as long as I can get enough breath to keep ordering my family around, all is well.
**I wrote this while listening to the Beastie Boys takeover of XMU which is the best station to have on while driving around to urgent care centers!