flood

It’s not you 2012, it’s me.

2012; you’re going away today and I have to be honest; I am not that sad to see you go. I don’t really blame you, 2012. Well, I kind of do, but I realize that you were just the wrong time in the wrong place in my life.

We had some good times, 2012. I had some great times this year with my friends, not nearly enough time with my family. You introduced me to a lot of good people, like Le Clown, Madame Weebles, The Ringmistress, on top of scores of other bloggers who feel like friends to me (like really, too numerous to mention.. I love you all!). I even got to meet some in real life, like Love and Lunchmeat and Lame Adventures. Both of those meetings were as great as I expected them to be and affirmed how much I love meeting new people. I went with you to New York for the first time, I got to hang out on the beach in PEI for a week. I watched my beautiful kids turn 3, surrounded by dinosaurs and bikers. I fulfilled my lifelong dream of keeping bees, which is something only you gave me, 2012. I will always be grateful for that.

Rockin' the freezies like a boss on my kids' birthday.

Rockin’ the freezies like a boss on my kids’ birthday.

But mostly 2012, you were a bit of a downer. Admittedly, 2011 being such an asshole didn’t help your cause. My expectations were too high for any year to come along, being as naive as I was about how house floods and insurance and all that kind of baggage that 2011 left behind. When I left 2011, I didn’t realize how much of a mess I was and that wasn’t the best way to start my relationship with you. You were a bit of a rebound, really. I was just so excited for 2011 to be over, I was ready to just jump into the next year without any forethought. That’s my fault 2012. I could have predicted you wouldn’t be the year for me, but I was blind.

But man, you made 2011 look like a goddamn saint. I mean, within the first two months of you I had been sued, accused of insurance fraud, and had to pay for a second round of renovations for my house because 2011 delivered me the worst, most malicious contractor in the world. You brought along illness and disease. You claimed our dog. Then you claimed Mr. Giraffe’s aunt. We tried to fix things by going on holidays with you, but you were just an emotional vortex, 2012. Seriously. Everyone I know who was involved with you says the same thing. Even when I tried to relax you threatened me with Superstorm Sandy, and you seriously affected some of my friends with it. I take that kind of thing personally, 2012. No holiday went unpunished this year, no weekend unsullied by your constant pressure. You even delivered the worst kind of experimental jazz at every opportunity you could, ruining a whole music genre for me, and waited until I was on my own traveling with twins to give us all a stomach virus. Way to go, 2012. I feel like you could at least clean the puke out of my van, but I just want you to go.

Anyway 2012, I know you’re moving on, and I am glad because I think we aren’t good for each other. If indeed time travel ever does become possible, please don’t call. Don’t write. Just pretend that you never happened. Don’t try to undo all the shitty things that happened this year, 2012, because we both know that would be a lie. Even if you could change how things went, you can’t change who you are, 2012. You were just full of negative energy. If things were different, I might be tempted to go back to you and I think that we both agree that our relationship is pretty toxic.

Instead, just gently let me go to 2013. I am moving forward with lowered expectations, a bit more calm. I am just going to embrace whatever 2013 brings and not try to change 2013’s ways, like I did to you. And with that I say adieu, 2012. Go fuck yourself.

I want this exact statue on my grave when I die

This will be my permanent attitude in 2013 and beyond.

And to all my readers, I hope 2013 is brilliant and kind to everyone. Happy New Year!

A Review of the VTech Something or Other

Today I am reviewing a mundane handset telephone. Before you call me a Luddite (which would be perfectly valid, let’s be honest), I own such a phone because I some members of our household are not capable of replacing cordless phones to their bases, and those things are not to be treated as disposable. So here is the phone we bought.

Vtech phone

We spent roughly $30 on this to receive an average of 1 legitimate phone call a week. We’re not terribly popular.

Why did we purchase this phone: Our house flooded and the restoration people packed up every single item in our house, including potatoes and squash, for safe storage. Everything, except for our bloody phone. The phone was subsequently abused, immersed in dust, and scraped across our glass stove top on a daily basis for 4 months by our asshole contractor who I wouldn’t recommend to build a goddamn bird house.

So I purchased a replacement based after carefully reviewing the wide selection at whatever grocery store I was at when I remembered our landline was currently completely useless and dead to us. This particular model met the minimum requirements of 1) being a phone and 2) being a not very expensive phone.

Features: It has all the regular buttons, plus some that are mystifying and some that seem to work according their specified purpose. There are a satisfactory number of cords. You can convey sound messages through the phone and a person can reciprocate if they have a similar device. Your basic goddamn miracle of modern times.

Drawbacks: The cord is kind of short, but this seems like a problem that could be solved at the dollar store if I was really dedicated.

This is as far away from the phone as I can get, which isn’t very handy when Rice Krispies are being treated as confetti.

A bigger problem is that every time you slightly jostle the phone, the handset falls off the base and dials whatever number called you last. This is the landline equivalent of a butt dial and basically the WORST.

This happened just tonight. I noticed at the 43 minute mark (because the phone does have a convenient timer on it from the days when long distance cost eleven gazillion dollars a minute) that it had called a friend of my husband’s.

FORTY THREE MINUTES.

Forty three minutes of everything I was doing maybe being overheard. Can you think of every sound you made in the last 43 minutes? Stop and think about it, pretending you were on candid camera. Are you panicked yet? I FUCKING WAS.

Here’s what I came up with, categorized according to general state of hysteria.

Innocuous:

  • Keyboard clattering
  • Dish rattling
  • Puttering

Unknown, but possible:

  • Eating noises? This is my worst nightmare; 43 minutes of chewing sounds.
  • Any bodily sounds. Did I blow any raspberries on my arm? Did I make that duck sound with my cheeks? Did I do a lot of weird sighing for no reason? Can you hear desperation over the phone? Please dear god, don’t let me have burped a word on someone’s answering machine. For the love of all that is holy.

Shameful things that I know for sure happened:

  • Read news articles out loud and repeating sounds or phrases that appeal to me in funny accents or languages. Like “sweet fancy sandwiches” courtesy of the Fug Girls, but as though Benedict Cumberbatch was saying it. And then if I was from Jersey. I was not successful at either of those things. Then I tried to imitate how Long Islanders say LonGuyland and decided I was stupid and tried to stop.. but didn’t.
  • Random cursing. Not even at things that deserved curse words, just randomly saying things like “fuckballs” or “tits” like a more intelligent person might say “hmm, interesting”.
  • Hum-singing “America, Fuck Yeah”. As in, Amhmmmhmmmhmmm FUCK YEAH! (fist pump) Hummhmmmhmmm every motherfucking day hmmm! (lip smack noise)

Look. I do a lot of stupid things, and I don’t need to spend MORE time emergency apologizing to my friends. Landlines are supposed to be safe like that! Thank you, friends for not being jerks who would post my soundtrack to YouTube timed to funny cat videos.

Conclusion: The VTech phone is a piece of garbage, but I would recommend it for those who don’t seem to have a need for privacy, like that Lohan person or Bigbum Sextape. Or people who are full time mimes and thus don’t have to worry about embarrassing noises. Also, the relatively low cost of phone is deceiving when you have to factor in bribery beer.

Overall rating: F+ for an enthusiastic “fucking technology, I quit you.”

Addendum: While I am at it, I would also like to make apologies for recent butt dialing situations, including (but not limited to):

  • Steph, for alerting me when she heard me crunching through snow (and mercifully avoided mentioning the hissy fit over frozen hot chocolate in my van)
  • My friend C. when I was falling down reasonably drunk at a concert and probably overheard unintelligible mutterings (please god, let it be the unintelligible mutterings and not the shit I managed to be coherent for, like the deep confessions to my neighbor).
  • And my friend I., who my phone seems to have a deep and abiding affection for and calls all the time. My phone has heart hands for you, I. FYF.

Shoot me your digits (do people still say that? did they ever say that?) and maybe one day you’ll overhear some random snippet of the rollergiraffe’s life. Just kidding. You’d have to be here to program it into my phone for me, and have a degree in ancient technology.

October 6th: Ruination Day

So. It’s been exactly one year since I came home expecting a nice hot bath and found my ceiling on my goddamn floor. That turned out to be the high point of the last 366 days (Leap year! One bonus extra day of misery!); at least we were giddy and insane with grief at that point. The ensuing incompetence, maliciousness, and random bad luck that followed aged and embittered us enough to fill therapists pockets for years to come. But it’s been a year. The acceptable period of grief is over. The unfortunate legal battles and insurance bullshit is not, but there comes a point where we either get sucked under by it or we move on with our lives.

But I am still sad. And unmotivated. I have terrible first world problems like hating our house. Every little detail from the reno represents some sort of loud discussion compromise or hasty decision we had to make. We keep trying to divert our attention to fun things, but you can only go to so many amusement parks before you figure out that amusement parks are creepy and contribute to malaise. My hobbies are emotional eating and insomnia. Basically, I am in a giant rut. And this time I don’t have any cow bones or a spirited little partner to help me out of it.

But the time for that is over too. I need a goddamn plan. Although I mostly feel like laying down most of the day, I am tired of feeling that way. Being the proactive beast I am, I drank a bottle of a very small quantity of wine for inspiration (and perhaps a whole lot of a teeny amount of Balvenie Double Wood.. heh, insert adolescent sex joke here) and concocted one.

A Rollergiraffe’s 7 Point Plan for the Future

1. Get a damn job. I need to use my brain again and earn some money. This is likely going to be in the industry I worked in pre-kids, without the benefit of the last four years of training, networking and general career trajectory. And I would have to go to interviews which make me sweat and self-deprecate. I am still a little traumatized from getting laid off by voicemail from my last job, and I have no filters left that will allow me to function in an office setting. I might try to give my co-workers time outs when they disagree with me. Ok, so this might not work out in a hurry.

2. Do charity work. In the absence of a paying job, I should be giving back to the community. I am pretty sure I have a lot to offer in this regard, with my environmental experience and all. Right? It doesn’t matter that the only journal I read in the last four years is US Weekly, right? People are dying for celebrity news, aren’t they? And I would need to pay for child care to do charity work which .. or I could do it in the evenings, right? After the kids go to bed and the house is somewhat restored from the garbage dump look we’ve adopted through the day? Ok, so this one’s out too for now.

3. Exact revenge on the contractor fuckstick weasel who wrecked our house and tried to ruin our lives. This one is just a fantasy. He’s already sitting on a heap of debt, both karmic and financial. And I am an adult who is able to control their emotions (totally not true except for the legal adult part). Plus, I am way too lazy to do a good job, so I’d just basically annoy him a little and then end up on Canada’s Stupidest Criminals, if such a show exists.

4. Become a domestic goddess. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Nope.

5. I am still laughing over the domestic goddess thing. Mount Washmore is so goddamn high, you guys.

6. Spend time preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I am on Love and Lunchmeat’s Zombie apocalypse team (even if I can’t figure out how to put badges on my blog. Fuckballs, I am hopeless at the internets), so I am sure this would be a worthwhile endeavor. If it’s not the zombies, it’s going to be something. Except all that canning I did totally went to waste and my shoulder is ruined from carrying twins around all day so I am not sure improving my marksmanship is really a good idea. And every time I think about the apocalypse I think about The Road, and I am not sure at this point in my life I would be the one who filled the bathtub when the loud noises were heard. My survival instinct is kind of dull right now, is what I am saying.

I was only ever good at shooting quarters anyway.

7. Have another baby. Because less sleep is totally the answer.

So obviously I have no plan. Tell me, gentle readers, have you ever been stuck in a rut before? How did you get out? Do you think I should keep my hair short? Why does Mitt Romney want to fire Big Bird? What is your favourite snack? Why isn’t anyone talking about the Higgs Boson anymore? Is it because they accidentally made themselves a big black hole? Answer any of these questions below in the comments.

P.S. If you read the Ringmistress’ blog, Laments and Lullabies, a 35 year old having a mid-life crisis will sound disturbingly familiar to you. I totally drunken plagiarized her, and then apologized, but she laughed at me and told me to post it anyway because she’s amazing that way. And lots of other ways too.

I am about to get all existential on y’all. Bear with me.

I haven’t blogged in a while because, well, because my life fell apart for a bit there. It’s not quite back on track yet, but we’re getting there. I’ll do a little haiku for you to catch up:

My house flooded and

We got a contractor who

Was fucking awful

Awful doesn’t really do it justice, but I can’t really talk about it until the lawsuits go away. Seriously. Anyway, in the midst of everything we are also coping with a lot of family stuff and our dog died and our insurance company was convinced (by our contractor; he’s a fucking gem of a human being) that we were ripping them off, etc. etc. etc. And I moved back in with my parents at the age of 34 with my 2 kids and that just really isn’t uplifting for anyone at any age.

I have always suffered from anxiety. Crippling, panic attack inducing, heart racing, insomnia, life force stealing anxiety. It’s a cruel self-perpetuating mental health problem that will always plague me. Add  in the kind of crazy we’ve been experiencing the last 6 months and basically I got into a rabbit hole that I never thought I would get out of. The scariest part of it was that I was so worn out and exhausted that I wasn’t even anxious anymore after a while; I would just mentally shut down whenever any tiny amount of conflict arose (eleventy bajillion times a day). That’s called burnout and adrenal fatigue, bitches, and it ain’t good.

Fortunately for me, one of my best friends had this type of break down already, right down to having her house flood too. It was watching her be open to everything from counselling to shamanism fuelled with a lot of wine in between stops that gave me a road map to recovery. Now that she is finally better and I am at my worst I can look to her as a beacon of hope that one day I’ll be ok too. That’s what friends are for; making road maps with spirit animals on the sign posts.

The big key is to stop struggling. Once I just accepted that all these fuckstick crazy things were just happening to me and I could only deal with the things I had energy for it got easier. And then I started to take control. I started to go to a counsellor and I stopped second guessing all the decisions I was making. I stopped letting people drain my energy and started taking more naps.

And mostly, I just repeat:

I am here. Right now.

I am here… I am not in a bunch of different places at once dividing my energy for diminishing returns. I am here, devoting my energy to what I am able to do. I deserve happiness, love and respect. And because I am here, I have a responsibility to dole those things out to others around me. I am present and available for those who need me and for myself. Because I am here, I am capable of dealing with my present circumstances and influencing my future.

Right now… there is a whole bunch of things I will change when I finish that goddamn time machine, but until then I can’t do anything about the past. Crazy and random things have happened to us and will continue to happen, but I can’t speculate about what they will be. I am strong and capable of dealing with whatever comes my way so there is no point in worrying.

When my mind starts to wander to thoughts of toxic waste, cancer, death and dismemberment on an hourly basis I just remind myself that “I am here. Right now.” It calms me to remember that in this very moment I am healthy, I have two healthy happy kids who are ok, and therefore everything is fine.

And I am going to the shaman too. I’ll let you know what my spirit animal is, unless it’s something terrible like a vole. In which case I’ll just make up something rad like a pronghorn antelope, although they seem to thrive off of large contiguous areas of native prairie which is disappearing at a rapid rate, and thinking about that makes me anxious so maybe I’ll pick something more adaptable. I’ll get back to you.

Gutter Peach

Yesterday we went to retrieve a bunch of stuff from the house and check out where things were at. As we were leaving I noticed a squirrel viciously guarding something from a swarm of magpies who were waiting for their first opportunity to get at whatever the squirrel had. The squirrel even gave me a stare as I approached; long enough that I thought twice about going to see what it was. I didn’t need a rabid squirrel bite on top over everything else.

It was, of course, Willis’s peach.

Gutter Peach

So to all the local wildlife, you’re welcome. Take the peach as an offering of good will, and I hope you don’t use this opportunity to take up residence in my abandoned house.

Oh f@#% it.

So I have a problem, y’all. I can’t pick a carpet. I want to be eco friendly and such, but the only one I can find so far is made with corn sugar polymers. So basically my kids would be walking all over high fructose corn syrup. I have so many issues with corn subsidies in the US that end up stripping the soil to create an overabundance of cheap beef, enough high fructose corn syrup to make us collectively obese and drive up the need for fertilizers and pesticides. And now they want me to buy a carpet made from that shit? Ok, I just decided. I can’t buy a corn fiber carpet.

Wait. Why am I choosing new carpet, do you ask? Did you not just go through renovations and have a terrible experience? Well, let me tell you. That shit got worse.

This is my house.

Ceiling not where we left it

Seriously. No, this is my house.

This used to be my main floor bathroom

This used to be my main floor bathroom

I think I might keep the curtain idea

Reasonably sure we had drywall in our basement just a few days ago. And our living room and our dining room.

Evidently I built up a lot of bad renovation karma complaining endlessly about my contractors. I still think that 6 months is unreasonable to redo two bathrooms, but now I would gladly go back in time and say only kind things about them in order to reverse the bad juju hex they put on me. The plumber came to do the final, final, final installation of the tap on the clawfoot tub. I was excited to come home and take photos of the completed bathroom and finally take a bath in my tub on a cool rainy day. The kids were drowsy and would go down for a nap. But something was odd; I couldn’t get the front door open and the roof over the porch was leaking. I finally wedged the door open and my motherfucking ceiling was hanging down into a puddle and water was pouring out of the light fixture. Needless to say, the tap installation went horribly wrong. I am not going to get into that because there is a mountain of blame to pass around to a few people and if I think about it too much I am going to start feeling all stabby again.

I locked the kids back in their carseats. I rushed in to try to find the water main shut off and checked out all those precious mementos that should be safely locked away in a safe deposit box. They weren’t, and I was minutes away from losing all of our photos, my kids baby stuff and all those things that you should take better care of. Now they’re in a pile of boxes in my kitchen that I will probably never unpack. I grabbed my laptop so I could get our insurance info: note, not a smart place to put this in case your internet is out.

The dogs were locked in their crates getting rained on in the basement, so I let them out and shoved them outside. They promptly ran away. I don’t blame them one bit; that’s what I felt like doing too. So while I was on the phone with insurance I had to keep randomly yelling “MAEBY, GET THE FUCK BACK HERE” like a demented, indecisive dog trainer. Eventually I was in a standoff with one dog at one end of the street and one at the other, neither budging. I couldn’t go back in to get dog treats, so I rifled through the van to see what was available. I found a peach and held it out to either dog. Neither was willing to get within 10 feet of me, probably out of fear that I would lock them in for more water torture. I set the peach on the ground. Willis couldn’t resist and slunk toward the peach, grabbed it, and ran away. So now I still had two dogs on the loose and I was down one peach. I hope our insurance adjustor was used to salty language.

My husband finally got home and corralled the dogs and then promptly proceeded to reach the same level of freak out panic that I was at. I ran to find a neighbor to watch the kids and dragged my poor neighbor’s mother in law out of their house and ran around trying to grab things.. anything. Just things. Then I threw things in the van with the kids and the dogs and fled to the safety of my parents house, abandoning my husband to defend us against the evil plumbers and the spectacular fight over insurance.

Things have basically gone downhill from there and we find ourselves homeless for months and having to make a lot of decisions. I am decisioned right the fuck out already, so I am not sure how this is going to work out.

So basically focusing on bourgeois problems like the source of carpet fibres and corn subsidies is keeping me from bursting into tears in the liquor store because we are homeless and I am sleeping in my parents unfinished basement. Ok, I totally burst into tears at the liquor store today, but thinking about carpet kind of helped me keep it under wraps.

And here's me on a toilet in my kitchen. That's a future gauge for whether your day is working out as planned. Toilet in kitchen = not working out, generally. I don't know, maybe you do want a toilet in your kitchen. It's my gauge then.