Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bank of No Common Cents

The other day I received a call from Boy #1. He was at school, calling from a school phone, not his cell phone. I guess that should have been a clue that something was wrong. "Mom," he said in a panicked voice, "can you cancel my phone and my debit card? Someone stole my backpack with my wallet, my phone, and my keys in it." He had been playing basketball and the backpack was on the ground about 10 feet away from him, and when he went over to get it.....GONE. He had reported it and searched.....nothing. So I hung up and cancelled his phone, which took maybe a minute, and then called the bank. After several minutes of pressing a few buttons I finally got through to an actual human. She asked me numerous questions designed to prove my identity and then cancelled his card. "And can you please send out a new card?" I asked. "No," she replied, "I have to speak to him. He is the cardholder." "Well," I said, "he is a minor, he is at school, without a phone because his backpack got stolen, which is WHY I'm calling you to cancel the card. I'm on the account with him, the money in the account is MY money, can't we use a little common sense here? Wouldn't it seem reasonable that if someone calls to cancel a card that maybe they would want a new card sent out?" Apparently, Bank of America is short on common sense, though. This is the same bank that recently installed thick bulletproof glass with no speaker holes in front of all the tellers' windows--so now you have to scream through the glass, "I'd like THREE HUNDREDS and TWO FIFTIES," etc. But I'm getting off-track. The woman from "customer service" continued......."No, we have to speak to him because you could be impersonating someone to get a new card sent out." "But YOU asked me all those security questions designed to prove that it's OK to speak to me. Are you saying that your security procedures are not really secure?" I asked. "No," she said, "that's just our policy." And, of course, it's useless to try to argue or use common sense in situations like that. I politely said thanks and ended the call. Then Boy #1 called me again. He had found his backpack in a gym, away from the basketball courts. Amazingly, everything was in it, even his money. We ended up going into the bank and getting his card reactivated. Because, in the end, it turned out that the bank had not actually cancelled the card, but had just put it on "hold." The whole thing took two minutes, less than the time I spent on hold earlier when I called to cancel the card. Sometimes, strangely enough, incompetence actually works for you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm More Than My Gallbladder

So, as you know, the cause of my mysterious stomach problems turned out to be my gallbladder. I had to get rid of it. I scheduled my surgery for the Wednesday before Halloween and got all my ducks in a row. Kids, food, house.....everything was covered. The surgery was scheduled for 2 in the afternoon--not the best time for surgery--because you can't eat or drink after midnight the night before--but it was the soonest available time spot. I figured I'd be too nervous to want to eat, anyway. Mr. Minivan and I headed to the hospital. I had packed a few things just on the off chance that they kept me overnight. Someone had just told me about a friend or relative who had gone in for the same surgery the previous week and had been nauseous from the anesthesia and had to stay overnight. So many people I spoke to had warned me that they had had the same reaction to anesthesia. One friend told me to ask for an anti-nausea drug in my IV. So I was also nervous about that. I always say that the things you worry about usually turn out to be fine--and it's usually something else that you never thought about that is the problem. And so it was. I had no problem at all with the anesthesia. The surgery went longer than usual, which made Mr. Minivan, in the waiting room, a little nervous.

It turned out that two rogue gallstones had escaped and were lodged in my common bile duct, which I think connects the gallbladder to the liver?? I don't really want to know. They had to be removed. The doctor both my internist and the surgeon wanted to perform the procedure wasn't available til Friday, so guess who had to stay in the hospital??? Yes, that's The procedure is called an ERCP--a scope is put down your throat and maneuvers its way down to the duct where a little basket retrieves the stones and pulls them up. What if it can't get them, I asked. I was reassured that they will get them. If the stones are too big, they are pulverized by a little roto-rooter type thing. Thankfully, I would be knocked out. With the Michael Jackson drug. But more about that later. So far the procedure reminded me of those arcade games where you try to retrieve a prize--that you really don't want --with one of those little claw-things. I always dropped the prize as I was pulling it up. I hoped that the doctor was more adept than I. I also was told that during the procedure I would have to have a stent put in--to keep the duct from narrowing as it healed--which would be taken out in a month. Lucky me!!!!

The gallbladder surgery itself turned out to be no big deal--I was a little sore afterward--my stomach sort of felt like I imagine it would after doing hundreds of sit-ups. I can't really say for sure, never having actually done hundreds of sit-ups. I took two extra-strength Tylenols that night and then nothing else. Being in the hospital sucks. I woke up every two hours to go to the bathroom--from all the IV fluids they were funnelling into me. That was at, like, 1 AM, 3 AM, 5 AM. Then at 2, 4, and 6, various nurses popped in to take my vitals, steal more blood, and change the IV bags.

My parents decided to come in from Chicago for moral support and because they were worried and wanted to help out. I admit, it was a drastic way to get them to come, but you do what you have to do......:) The day after the surgery I had a lot of visitors, several friends and one of my brothers, who also lives here. I also met the doctor who would perform the stone retrieval the next day. Turns out he is from a nearby suburb from mine in Chicago. Small world. He started to tell me about the procedure. I stopped him. "I don't really want to hear about it," I said. "Do you want to hear about the risks?" he asked. For sure, not. "No," I said, "because it doesn't matter--I have to have it done anyway. I have complete confidence in you." I then instructed him to go to bed early and to have no more than one cup of coffee in the morning. We don't need any shaky hands.

The procedure was scheduled for 3 PM. Here's the weird part.......they're going down my throat, remember? I was on my stomach. Yep, it made no sense to me either. I didn't want to tell them how to do their jobs, but really.....
So, I'm on my stomach, with my head turned to the side and my right arm propped up on a little bolster. They put a little plastic ring in my mouth that sort of looked like the ring you rip off a gallon of milk, only thicker. The IV drugs (the Michael Jackson drug, I was told) were already flowing. The next thing I knew, I was on my back on another table and I heard, "You're done!" Freaky. They could have done anything to me. NOTE TO SELF: Check for tattoos. The doctor told me they were the biggest stones he had ever seen. I told him I bet he says that to all the girls.

I went home the next day, Halloween, having already had my own personal trick and treat. I was really tired for a while but that passed. I got a ton of flowers, baked goods, and other thoughtful gifts from my wonderful friends and family along with so many messages of support. Thanks to everyone for caring. Mr. Minivan and Boys #1 and 2 were great! It was wonderful to have my parents here...I wonder how I can get them back......luckily humans come with a few spare parts. Maybe my appendix next.....JUST KIDDING. I feel much better. Next on my to-do list.....getting rid of the stent.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Gall of it All

You don't really think about how your body works when it's working right. You just take it for granted. It's when a problem arises that you start thinking about it. For the last few years I have had occasional, random, very painful stomach (or so I thought) spasms. I haven't been able to figure out if there was a certain food that was triggering these episodes, which always came on after dinner, at night, and lasted anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes or so. It's hard to remember. I would feel my stomach area start to spasm, or contract, and disappear into the bathroom--where nothing happened. I got flushed and sweaty and would feel like throwing up but I never did. Sometimes it felt like I couldn't take a deep breath or speak above a whisper. It was scary. The pains would peak and then start to recede. Then everything settled down and I was fine. This happened with no regularity--weeks would go by and there would be another episode. My internist thought it might be spastic colitis. I sort of ignored it until it was happening. A few weeks ago I decided to just deal with it and figure out what the problem was. I was referred to a gastro guy who scheduled an abdominal ultrasound. On the table, I flashed back to the only other ultrasounds I've ever had. Except this time the jelly was warm. Apparently they've made a few improvements in the last 13 years. The technician took a lot of pictures and did a lot of measurements, typing stuff onto the little screen I couldn't really see. I peppered him with questions. "Is this a normal amount of pictures?" "What are you typing?" "Do you see anything?" Of course, he couldn't tell me anything. The doctor had said he might have the results that day. The technician said it would probably be the next day. That night, with no call from the doctor, my mind was racing. "What if the doctor wanted to give me one more good night?" I thought. The next day I got the call--Friday at 5:00. Gallstones. Numerous gallstones. I had never really thought about my gallbladder and now it has to come out. So now I have moved onto the next stage in making myself crazy--looking stuff up on the internet about gallbladder surgery and life after. I've never had surgery before and I am nervous. I have spoken to several friends who've had this surgery and they all say it will be fine. Not to worry. My mother had hers out a hundred zillion years ago--NOT laproscopically--and she is fine. One of my friends, whose surgery was more of an emergency situation, listened to me babble and said, "It's coming out, deal with it!" I suggested she look into a volunteer job counseling hospital patients, but, really, she's right. It has to come out. I meet with the surgeon this afternoon. To be continued......

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Fun With Rice Paper

To see how to make these little beauties, click on this.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chance Meeting, Continued

Yesterday I had another strange chance meeting that has absolutely no chance of happening. No chance. And yet it did. To me. Again. Almost exactly two years ago I ran into a friend of my aunt's at the Farmers Market in L.A. You can read about it here. Somehow she knew who I was, yet I had absolutely no memory of meeting her before. I met her family, including her daughter. They were all out in L.A. on vacation from Chicago. I probably chatted with them for all of five minutes. That was two years ago. Yesterday I was at the Farmers Market with some friends who were in town from Chicago, my two boys, and my dad, who was also visiting. We were sitting and eating lunch and I glanced down the aisle and saw a young woman pushing a baby stroller. She looked very familiar to me but I couldn't place her. I looked at her two other kids walking beside her and at her husband. He didn't look familiar to me at all so I figured I didn't know her. Here's the weird part. She looked at me, came up to me, and said, "I know this is going to sound a little crazy, but are you E's daughter?" "Yes," I said, "this is so strange, I looked at you and I knew I knew you but couldn't place you." "We're out here on vacation," she said, "and I was speaking to my mother this morning and I told her I was coming to the Farmers Market and she said "Maybe you'll see E's daughter there again." "And this is E's husband," I said, pointing to my dad. Yes, this young woman was the daughter of my aunt's friend who I had met at the Farmers Market almost exactly two years ago. I spent maybe five minutes with her at that time. After she and her family moved on, my friend brought up the point that now she's going to think I hang out at the Farmers Market every day eating lunch! What a strange weird coincidence. What are the odds? Maybe I need to start buying lottery tickets........

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Crazy in a Can

I've been on this new eating program for a couple of weeks....OK, OK, it's a crazy fad diet that I can't tell you about because my mother reads this blog and she will have me committed....but anyway, I was doing a little research on it last week and one man (who loves it, btw Mom!!!) said he bought this canned chicken from Costco and it was great--each can contained just the right amount of protein to split between lunch and dinner. So a couple of days later I was at Costco to return the Magic Bullet I bought several weeks ago in a moment of As Seen on TV weakness, and of course I walked into the store to "see what they have." The sure-fire way to spend money is to return something, isn't it? Anyway, I picked up a pair of Levis for Boy #1, a novel that looked good, 6000 pounds of broccoli, and.....6 large cans of chicken. Think about that for a minute. I bought chicken. In a can. I can only blame this on lack of calories because never in my life have I ever bought any meat or poultry product in a can. Tuna doesn't count. I came home and assembled a salad to top with the chicken. And then I opened a can. Inside were chunks of chicken floating in water. I was a little doubtful at that point, but decided to try it anyway. I speared a chunk of chicken and tasted it. It was salty, very salty. And the texture was what I guess you'd expect of chicken trapped in a can for only who knows how long. I had just consumed my first, and last, piece of chicken in a can. I don't know what I was thinking. Now when I say, "I bought chicken in a can" I realize how crazy that sounds. After all, grilling or baking actual chicken is NOT too difficult. But when I was in Costco, surrounded by industrial size everything, chicken in a can really DID seem like a good idea. I've got 5 cans left......let me know if you want one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Tiny Little Cyber-World

The other day I checked my email--not my regular email but rather the one I use for this blog. I must admit that I don't check that email account too often because I don't get a lot of legitimate emails. I mostly seem to get stuff from Yahoo and a lot of requests to help people in Nigeria get money due to them--with a portion of it going to me, of course. I get some emails relating to this blog but not a ton. Anyway, I checked my email and I had an email with "Your Brother #2" as the subject--except it actually said my brother's (#2's) name. The email was from a guy who said he had stumbled upon my blog by accident and loved it--"it's a riot and I have bookmarked it"--so I already knew he was discerning and intelligent--thanks Steve!!--and he went on to ask if I was Brother #2's sister. Why, yes, I am. How clever. How strange. The funniest part of the email was this... "and I am assuming that he was the brother you threw against the wall." And, yes, Brother #2 was the unlucky fellow who forced me into hurling him into our living room wall once upon a time ago. This guy went on to say that he had gone to college with my brother and had lost touch with him. He asked me if I could send him my brother's email address. Which I did. And then immediately realized I should have just sent my brother the email and let him contact his old friend. So then I sent my brother an email apologizing for giving out his email address to this old friend. After all, what if he was a serial killer or my brother's arch-enemy?? Then I went back through my blog posts to see what gave me away. I mean--it was only 8 AM on a school day (late start, though) so I really had nothing better to do. I couldn't figure it out. It was driving me nuts. So I emailed my new friend (and possible future president of my fan club as long as he's not a serial killer or my brother's arch-enemy) Steve to ask him how he cracked the case. Turns out he had been at my parents' house a couple of times with my brother while they were in college and recognized my dad from a couple of photos on the blog--or maybe he recognized the furniture. That, along with a few other references to location, was all he needed. If your day job doesn't work out, Steve, the CIA may be hiring....
But really--what a great email to get. It made my day. Oh, and my brother reports he's not a serial killer or his arch-enemy, just an old college friend. From all the way across the country and all the way across decades, it's really a small, small cyber-world.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tax Time

I just bought Turbo Tax and am starting to input my tax info. Turbo Tax is great--easy, helpful, and a whole lot smarter than I am about taxes. I hit a little snag figuring out some cost prices of a couple stocks that I sold last year, so I put the whole pile of papers aside for a bit hoping that a break will help my brain figure out how to compute the cost price of a stock that was received when another stock was taken over and morphed into 4 different companies, each with its own percentage value of the original stock. My head hurts again just typing that. Anyway, I heard on the news today that the state of California is almost bankrupt. I also heard that if you are due a tax refund from California you might receive an IOU that will be paid when the state gets some money. What is up with that??? I started to wonder...does it work both ways? I mean, if you OWE money, can you just enclose a note with your tax forms saying, "I'm a little short right now but this note will serve as your IOU--and when I get some money I'll send it in."??? I'm guessing not, but it sure would be fun!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Dark Side of Facebook

Being the savvy computer gal that I am, I, of course, have a Facebook page. It is so much fun! I am able to keep in touch with friends and relatives from all over as well as people I just met and people I haven't talked to in years. But--sometimes--Facebook can be a little tricky. I have a very good friend who just got a Facebook page. I sort of forced her to--but that's a whole 'nother story. She loves it now, though--updates her status with great regularity. Anyway, her brother--whom I actually know in person-- has a FB page and became one of my FB friends. FB is the kind of thing where you can flit around and see what is going on with your "friends" constantly or once in a while. Her brother commented on a photo of my friend and me, so I checked out his page to see what he was up to. I don't even remember what his status update said--I think it was that he was going to see someone--although on his page, it had the person's name, like he was famous or something. So it said something like "Going to see Tom Cruise" except I didn't recognize this person's name, so I posted a comment like "Who is Tom Cruise?" except I used the other person's name. Get it? Then one second after I posted I saw that that person (Tom Cruise but not really) was listed as one of my friend's brother's friends. Are you still with me? So I posted another comment--something like--"never mind, I see who he is" or something like that. It was so insignificant I have almost no memory of it. Anyway, I was speaking with my friend today and somehow that subject came up and she told me that her brother had gotten so many comments after I posted MY comment that he deleted my comments. Apparently his friends could not believe that he could be friends with someone (ME) who didn't know who Tom Cruise (you know who I mean) was to him. So then I went back on to his page to see if I could see any remnants of this conversation and guess what??? HE DEFRIENDED ME!!!!! Yes, he booted me as his friend! Can you believe that? Well, needless to say, my feelings are hurt. I will bounce back from this, I am sure, in time. I don't even know what I did to be defriended! But as we all know, chicks hold a grudge, so even if he tried to add me as a friend now, I'd just have to press the Ignore button. Facebook can be lots of fun, but remember, there are lots of peeps out there reading what you post. Be careful out there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Mile High Club

No, no--it's not what you're thinking--Mr. Minivan is on an American Airlines flight RIGHT NOW (OK, American, you don't totally suck) to New York and he is emailing me from the air!!!! Yep, now we can be connected and contacted and stressed out ALL the time, even 35,000 feet up. Or...maybe it's the best idea ever--you can surf the net and play addicting online games and blog (!!) even in the air. I know I will love it--what do YOU think of this new cyberdevelopment?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

It's official. I've become my mother. The evidence is overwhelming. It's not just the words that come out of my mouth....the classic......."Because I said so!"....."If you went to bed earlier it would be easier to get up in the morning!"....."I don't care what all your friends do!" ...and so many more. It's not just that I rip the address labels off of all my magazines before I recycle them, or that I wrap the strap of my purse around my foot when I am at a restaurant to guard against a thief who possibly stopped for dinner. That's just the tip of the iceberg. But today, today as I ripped out several magazine articles and a New York Times article to send to various friends--all with personalized post-its affixed to the articles--- I realized the transformation is complete. Good job, Mom. You can relax now. Your work is done. With me, at least. Dad, on the other hand--- still a work in progress.

UPDATE--Thursday 12/11--I just received a package from my mother containing a nightgown she swears she bought for me a week and a half ago--before this posting went up. I may demand to see the receipt as proof. Here's why--look what is on the nightgown:

Isn't that freaky? I really have become her. Or she has become me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thank You Oprah!!!

I watched Wednesday's episode of Oprah on Wednesday night.  Oprah announced her "Clean Up Your Messy House Tour" with the help of organizational guru and clutter buster Peter Walsh.  There were a lot of great tips on the show, but one of the best, I thought, was a way to deal with the masses of artwork your children bring home, especially during elementary school.  Their suggestion was to take digital photos of the artwork and then create a photo book of the art.
 What a great idea!  And even better, Oprah and her friends at Snapfish
were offering Oprah viewers a free 20 page photo book!  It was a limited-time offer (register for the free book by tonight, Friday, at midnight, and order the book by this Sunday--get moving if you want a free book, too), so I had to act fast. (They are also offering 20% off all Container Store purchases for the next week.)  I have lots of beautiful artwork that I haven't been able to part with--especially from Boy #2.  I spent most of the day yesterday photographing, uploading, and playing with the layout of my photo book.  Very cool.  It is now being made and I should have it next week!  I now feel much better about getting rid of the slightly rumpled pieces of construction paper I have been saving without knowing why.  Thank you Oprah!!! You too, Peter! Now onto my closet......

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Coming Soon To a Backyard Near You.......Winter!!!

It's happening again here.  "Winter" is coming and is scaring the #$*!@ out of the natives.  I was talking with a friend of mine on the phone this morning and she was telling me that she was considering having a party in her backyard for her daughter's birthday at the end of November.  "Do you think it will be too cold?" she asked me.  "No," I said, "it will be great--they're kids--they'll be moving around and they can bring a sweatshirt if they want to. "  "But I looked up the average temperature at the end of November, " she said, "and it said it could be 71."  I was sure I had misheard her.  "71?" I asked.  "Yes, 71 degrees," she answered.  "71!!" I said, "that's perfect--it will be great."  "But 71 is cold for LA," she said.  "Do you hear yourself?"  I asked her.  "71 is great--they can bring a sweatshirt," I said again.  "Maybe I can rent heat lamps," she continued.  Huh?  Every time I start to feel sort of normal here something like this happens.  I am already wearing long sleeves most days because even though it is 80 degrees most days it is already the end of October.  I'm done with summer.  I've moved on to fall.  I'm ready for some cool crisp days.  Bring on those 71 degree late fall and winter days--I've got my scarves and Uggs all ready.  

Monday, October 27, 2008

Twilight Zone, Anyone?

I was talking to my mom today and she mentioned that she had been at her health club last week and was reading an article in an Oprah magazine that she found on a coffee table there.  She told me that she hadn't finished the article and was going to take the magazine home, finish the article, and return the magazine to the health club.  But she forgot to take it home.  So today she was relieved to find the magazine still there.  Imagine her surprise when she picked it up, looked at the address label, and found that it was addressed to me!!!!  (Insert Twilight Zone music here).
Yes, very spooky.  I haven't been in Chicago since the middle of August--but I was there most of the summer, and I had my mail forwarded there using a forwarding service provided by the Post Office--gotta have my mags! And my bills. :(  My mom said she must have brought some of my magazines down there and given them to the ladies who work at the health club and somehow this one found its way back to her!!  
And to think she didn't rip off the address label before she brought the magazine down there--shocking.  After all, who do you think taught me to do that?  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Scariest Halloween Costume Ever!!!!

I could use a new wardrobe.
I would like to fly my kids all over the country with me and not pay for it.
I'm not exactly sure what the Vice President's job is.
I can talk a lot and not say anything when I want to.
I am good at name-calling.
I can see the moon from my house.
I can do that Midwestern "dontcha know you betcha" stuff too.
I think I'll run for Vice President.
I forgot.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear, you REALLY suck!!!!

Two friends and I ordered a functional and oh-so-fashionable leather cross-body bag from a Canadian company called Roots as a birthday present for another friend.  I went to the Roots store to buy the bag first, but they had none in stock, so I went home and ordered it online.  I ordered it on September 5th, a Friday, in the evening.  I paid for standard shipping, as I believed a week and a half was enough time to get it to her before her birthday celebration.  Imagine my surprise when I got a call--I think it was on the following Monday--from a Roots employee--let's just call her Wanda--asking me to confirm the same information I had entered online three days prior.  My name.  My address.  The recipient's name and address, etc.  All the information they already had.  And had had for THREE days.   I thought that was the whole point of online ordering--that I'd never have to speak to a human being at the company. Then Wanda told me that she was now able to "release" my order.  "So it will ship out today?"  I asked.  She told me it would and that delivery time was estimated at 3-5 days.  I reminded her that this was a gift, and to make sure that there was no price or receipt in the box.  She assured me that this would be taken care of.  15 minutes later, after changing my mind about the shipping method, I called back.  "I'd like to change this to expedited shipping," I explained.  I was told it was too late--once the order had been released, the shipping method could not be changed.  So regular shipping it was.  I received an order confirmation by email and waited to receive a shipping confirmation as the email said I would.  I waited.  And waited.

And waited.  Then one of my friends who was going in on the gift started calling me.  Daily.  "She still hasn't received it."  "When did they say it was going to be delivered?" "Call them and find out."  On Thursday, the 18th, my friend left me about a 4 minute voicemail--our mutual friend--the one who was to receive the gift--had received a backpack--a nylon backpack with the Canadian flag on it.   A clearance, final sale, marked-down-to-$39.95 nylon backpack with the Canadian flag on it.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  But it certainly wasn't the chocolate brown leather cross-body bag that three of us had sent her.  And it was received almost 2 full weeks after I had ordered online.  Happy Birthday, Pammie!  On Thursday, the 18th, I called the Roots Customer Service number, which I would advise them to rename the Roots Customer Complaint number, because there isn't a lot of service going on there.  My friend got on the phone with me.  We eventually spoke to Jackie, some sort of supervisor, who told us that standard shipping to the US from Canada was 15 days.  I told her that not only did the website not indicate that--if it had I never would have chosen standard shipping--but that Wanda had told me delivery time was 3-5 days.  "Don't worry," said our new friend Jackie--"we want to get this resolved.  Don't worry about your friend shipping back the backpack--she can keep it and do whatever she wants with it.  We just need to get the correct order to your friend.  I will check into this and make sure we have the cross-body bag and I will call you back tomorrow to tell you what is going on. "  Tomorrow, which was last Friday, came and went.  No call.  I called Jackie on Monday--"You never called me back on Friday and you told me you would," I said.  "No," she countered, "I told you someone would call you back on Friday."  "OK," I paused, "well no one did."  "I apologize for that," Jackie said,  "I sent an email and am waiting for a response."  "Can't you just pick up the phone and actually speak to someone at your company?" I asked.  "No," she replied, "we do everything by email.  I understand your frustration."  I don't think you do, Jack.  Between that conversation and now, I have spoken to Audrey, Robert, and Jackie, who I think is now avoiding my calls.  They all understand my frustration.  They all apologize for the problem.  But somehow, the folks at can't seem to get this problem resolved.  And they've already charged my credit card for the order they can't manage to fulfill.  After I blasted Jackie on Tuesday for not calling me back yet AGAIN when she said she would--for me having to call three times that day to get in touch with her--so she could tell me she still knew nothing --(Guess what, Jackie--I already figured that out), she called me twice yesterday to tell me that......she still had no response from whomever she was emailing at the same company.  So I very politely told her that because fixing this problem seemed to be beyond her, to please have her supervisor call me back the next day.  So, Susie, wherever you are, I'm here, I'm waiting for your call, and I know that you (and all your Roots pals)  are SO sorry for this mess and that you understand my frustration.  Thanks.   That makes me feel MUCH better.  Not.  

The most humorous part of all this is that everyone I speak to at Roots ends every call with "Is there anything else I can help you with?  Thank you for calling"  Yes, you can help me--just get the bag I ordered to my friend.  That would be great.

This isn't over.  It's getting personal now.  Stay tuned.

LATER THIS SAME DAY:   Taking no chances, I called Roots and asked for Susie around 11 AM.  "Hi, Susie, did Jackie tell you about my situation?"  Surprisingly, Jackie hadn't.  So I told Susie everything that had happened, or, maybe, that hadn't happened.  She assured me that she was going to read through my "case notes" and get some information and call me back.  4 hours later, I decided to check back with Susie and guess what?  Susie had gone home for the day.  And hadn't called me back.  I left her a voice message that said, among other things, that I was really very surprised that she hadn't called me back.  Actually, between you and me--I'm not that surprised at all, given Roots' customer service up to this point, or rather--lack of it.  Anyway, I need to get a good night's sleep so I can get ready to battle it out tomorrow.  Details to follow as they occur.  

NEXT DAY:  Damn!  My cell phone's ringer was off and I missed Susie's call.  She left me a voice mail that said that the item was being shipped out today and she would call me later to tell me when to expect delivery.  And guess what?  Hours later I called Susie, since I hadn't heard anything from her--no surprise--and guess where she was?  Yep--Susie was gone for the day.  I left yet another message for her on her voice mail.  I think I might apply for a job at Roots--it sounds great--the hours are great, you get to go home early enough to catch all the TV season premieres, and you seem to have plenty of free time AT work since you don't seem to do any actual work.  I wonder what the vacation policy is.  

TUESDAY, SEPT. 30:  The bag finally arrived.  My friend loves it.  That's what's important, anyway.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dear American, You Suck

American Airlines' response to my complaint letter.

Dear Mrs. Minivan:

You trusted us with your valuable time on August 4 and you were understandably disappointed when we didn't get you to Chicago on time. There's clearly nothing more frustrating for everyone -- customers and employees alike -- than having to endure the difficulties associated with air travel when bad weather impacts our flights. From the details you provided, it certainly sounds as if the circumstances surrounding your flight were made even more frustrating by the lack of assistance you received.

When bad weather happens, in the interest of safety, we don't have too many options to get you to where you are going as planned. What we can do, however, is display a friendly attitude to help make the situation a little less trying and I'm sorry we didn't do so on this occasion. At the same time, we are glad that you took the time to share the details of your experience. Your comments enable us to see things from our customers' perspective and help us to improve.

Regrettably, prohibitive cost issues prevent us from stocking additional food and beverages aboard for "just in case" delays. In addition, since our catering schedules are carefully planned well in advance, our caterer can't accommodate unanticipated, last minute food and beverage requests for an aircraft full of customers. We hope you understand.

Bad weather is not something we can overcome and the direct impact on our flight schedules is unavoidable. Accordingly, it is not our policy to reimburse our customers' out-of-pocket expenses, make up for lost time, or offer compensation (like additional mileage) when we don't operate our flights as planned. I am sorry. Nevertheless, you have my assurance that we will continue to focus on the on time departure of our flights and our customer service standards.

Mrs. Minivan, we are eager for another chance to serve you -- we will do our very best to get you to your destination as scheduled and provide you with the kind of service you deserve.


Customer Relations
American Airlines

Was that a response or a therapy session?  Because I sure don't feel any better.

This is what I'd like to say back to them:

Dear American,

Thanks for the carefully personalized form letter.  You certainly read the employee manual on how to deal with frustrated customers.  I appreciate all of your understanding and caring.  I am glad that my experience has enabled you to see things from your customers' perspective and that my letter will help you to improve.  And thank you for reminding me that bad weather is something you can't overcome.  If you look back at my original letter I believe I mentioned that everyone knows that "weather happens."  Oh, and when the "just in case" delays become S.O.P.(that's standard operating procedure, FYI, and we all know it IS), it might be nice to have a few extra pretzel packets on board.

Anyway, keep working on your customer service and getting your customers there on time.  From what I can see, you have a lot of opportunities for improvement.  


Mrs. Minivan

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh, crap!!

The first thing I'm going to do when I become Vice-President is to go after the dog-owners who don't pick up after their dogs.  This morning I went walking and on my 1 hour walk in this well-known and affluent community I saw no less than 10 fly-covered piles of you-know-what on the sidewalks.  Totally disgusting.  Is it too much to ask dog-owners to clean up their mess?  I just don't understand people but I think the punishment for anyone who is caught on a crap-and-run should be several hours of community service cleaning up doggy do on the streets of their community.  Just my opinion.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A BIG Announcement!!!!!

I wanted to let you all be the first to hear the big news.  After much thought and careful consideration, I have decided to run for political office.  At first I thought I'd just run on the local level but after reviewing my qualifications I have decided to go national.  Yep, that's right.  I am officially throwing my hat in as a Vice-Presidential nominee.  I'm not sure of all the logistics and rules--don't know if I can run as a write-in candidate, but I'm going to give it my best shot.  If it doesn't work this year, I'll be back in 2012. 

Let's just take a minute and let this sink in before I go over my qualifications for you.  OK, here we go.  I realized this morning, as I got ready to go to a PTA meeting, that I would be a great Vice-President.  I've always been very involved with the PTAs of my sons' schools--I have many years of experience working in a group, often with very difficult people.  Have you ever dealt with a mother who's been told she can't park in the pick-up line at 3:15 and run into school for "just a minute?"  Or one who is trying to save the whole front row of seats at the school play?  I have.  It's not pretty.  So Afghanistan and Iraq should be a cinch to deal with.  

It's no easier on the home front.    Have you ever tried to wake up a sleepy 6-foot-tall 9th grader who doesn't want to get up?  Or remind several male people to put the seat down?  Or tell your husband where the jelly is or where the paper towels are for the 5000th time?  I do all this--and so much more--every day!  So as far as domestic policy is concerned--I truly believe I am ready.

I am a great multi-tasker.  Even as I am typing this I am on a phone call and checking out the news headlines on Yahoo.  Yet I am giving each of these tasks the careful thought and consideration it deserves.  

I was just suckered into--I mean--I was just made recording secretary of the high school's PTA.  That's a BIG job requiring careful listening and good penmanship.  Not to mention computer skills.  And organizational skills.  I went to the meeting as an ordinary mom and hit the ground running as the recording secretary.    I also campaigned for another spot within the PTA.  I had to make a campaign speech off the top of my head and I can basically sum it up like this, "It's time for a change!"

And so I say to you, my dear readers and friends:  We need a change right now.  It's time for a change.  Now more than ever before.   I'm all for a woman VP or President--but it has to be the right woman.  Especially when she is going to be a heartbeat away from a 70-something President with some not-so-insignificant prior health issues.  I think you know who I'm talking about.  We need the right woman.  Not one picked because she has a great pair of glasses or whatever--but one picked after careful vetting and consideration.  Mine are nice though.  (I'm talking about the glasses.  Not the whatevers.) Yes, we need the right woman.  We need me.

Some differences between me and you-know-who:

1.  She went to 5 colleges in 6 years.  I went to just one.  For four years.  A good one.
2.  She got a passport last year and has been out of the country once, on an official tour of military installations in Kuwait and Germany.  A spokesperson's claim that she's also been to  Ireland was actually a refueling stop during the Kuwait/Germany trip.  I've been out of the country many times.  I know all the good places to shop.  If that's not a good start to our foreign policy I don't know what is.  
3.  I stand for freedom of speech, freedom of choice, and freedom to read whatever you want.
4.  I will work hard to protect the rights of women, children, the earth, and polar bears.
5.  I think sex education is a good thing.  Sometime when kids don't learn about stuff like that they actually get pregnant at age 17.  
6.  I do not have a baby.  Or a pregnant teen-ager.  Both of whom just might need a lot of face time with their mom in the near future.  
7.  I am a people person.  I play well with others. If my mother-in-law ran for political office, I would support her.  If only for the sake of harmony at the Thanksgiving table.   And I make a great brownie.  And fabulous short ribs.  What world leader wouldn't listen to our point of view over a short rib dinner followed by a plate of homemade brownies?  It's a win-win.

So.....domestic experience....check. Foreign experience.....check. Organizational skills....check. People skills.....check. Good listener....check. Multi-tasking skills.....check. I think I've hit all the major categories. Check. Check. Check.

So, for those reasons, and so many more, I urge you to vote for me on November 4th!!  My campaign starts immediately.  Donations and volunteers are needed and much appreciated. 
Change starts now!..........

This post was approved by Mrs. Minivan.  

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rocker Boy

Last winter the boys received Guitar Hero as a present.  They immediately became obsessed with it and spent lots of time practicing the game.  Boy #2 soon started begging for guitar lessons.  He started taking guitar maybe in January or February, and after the second lesson or so, his teacher--a REAL professional guitar player who has played with many many bands told us that Boy #2 was really good at guitar--that he was doing things that people who've been playing six months can't do.  Of course, I believed him....I'm sure he doesn't say that to ALL the parents.  Or does he?  Boy #2 has been getting better and better and practices all the time.  I've already informed him there are to be no tattoos in his future.  Can you be a rocker and have a 9:00 bedtime?  I wonder.......    And to think we owe it all to Guitar Hero......  In this clip--my first effort after an iMovie workshop at the Apple Store today--I present.....Boy #2, future rocker.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Hug and A Quiche For You

Been busy today cooking, baking, dishwashing, etc.  Had friends over for brunch and made this delicious quiche.  Check it out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Love the Sound of Helicopters in the Morning

When you're at home with the TV on in the background and you hear something that sounds like "if you surrender now blah blah blah....." you know that something might not be right.  Especially if you're watching the Food Network.  And even more especially if you hear a helicopter circling over your house.  I made sure all the doors were locked and called my friends at the police department.  The non-emergency number, of course.  "Is there something going on?" I asked.  "Yes, we're looking for some burglary suspects," I was told.  I decided to stay inside for a while.    I listened to the helicopter for about another half an hour.  Then there was silence.  I called my police pals again.  "Did we get the bad guys?" I asked.  "No," I was told.  "The helicopter is gone but now we're searching with dogs."  Good to know.  I have some laundry to do anyhow.  I'll be back with any updates.  

Monday, August 11, 2008

What I Did For Love

There are things a girl will do for her father that no one else could get her to do.  No one.  My dad had knee replacement surgery last week and is happy to be home and recovering.  Before he went into the hospital he left his wallet and other valuables at home for safekeeping.  My mom noticed that his credit card was not in his wallet.  The search began.  We looked in pants pockets, dresser drawers, on his desk, by the computer, all over.  No card.  "Call the credit card company," I suggested.  "Tell them what the last few charges were and if there are no others you'll know it has been misplaced and hasn't fallen into the wrong hands."  No extra charges.  The search continued.  No card.  This morning, which just happens to be garbage pick-up day at their house, my dad appeared to be resting when I checked on him.  His eyes popped open.  "I think I might have left my credit card in a Walgreen's bag," he said.  "Tell your kids I'll pay them $10 each to go through the garbage and look for it."  Since the little darlings were still sleeping, and you never know when the garbage collectors will decide to come early--I headed outside, my hands encased in protective plastic  bags.  Several moldy ears of corn and one almost-battle with a chipmunk later, let me just say that I looked through every bit of garbage generated by this house in the last week....and the card was not there.  I think the time has come to admit defeat and cancel the card.  That's the only way we'll find it anyway.  Happy Knee Rehab, Dad!!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Something Special in The Air

Dear American,

I was on your flight 2074 last night from LA to Chicago.  Actually, this flight was supposed to take off at 12:55 PM but was delayed til around 2 PM.  Not that I'm complaining--all your flights seem to be delayed these days.  If it's not weather it's mechanical.  Too bad we never seem to know about the delays til we get to the airport.  Oh, well.  Anyway.  The flight took off and should have landed around 8 PM.  The unsmiling flight attendants served us tiny little cups of soda and sold frighteningly large and unhealthy snack items.  We were told several times that because of weather we wouldn't be able to land in Chicago just yet.  The delays continued.  I put my headphones on around 8:30 or 9 and could barely hear the next announcement.  I took them off.  "Did he just say St. Louis?" I asked my seatmate.  "Yes," she said.  "It's a refueling stop."  I watched as a parade of people walked by to get to the bathroom or to request a drink from the flight attendants who were chatting each other up in the back.  I heard one woman ask for coffee.  The screaming babies made it hard to hear but, "No, we have no more water," said the flight attendant.  

We finally landed in Chicago around 11.  And then we sat on the runway in the plane for an hour watching sheets of rain hit the ground and lightning dance in the sky.  Several times the pilot announced that the "ramp" was closed and we were just gonna sit.  I asked one of the flight attendants what that meant.  "We lost a ground crew guy to lightning last year.  It's not safe for them to be out there right now."  Oh, OK, I understand that.  Why couldn't the pilot just speak English?  Oh, and the pilot kept thanking us for "our patience."  Ha ha.  Is it really "patience" when you have no choice?  I might have used another word, but that's just me.

Weather happens, American.  We all understand that.  I don't blame you for this big thunderstorm at all.  But don't you think someone who works on that plane should have had the brains and sensitivity to pull the beverage cart out a second time?  In 9 hours?  It's just common courtesy.  Just good manners.  And maybe you could have some teeny little pretzel packets available just in case a flight is.....let's say.....more than double its original flying time?  I don't know....I'm just asking.  And I guess the chance of getting the extra miles to St. Louis is out of the question.

9 hours on your plane, screaming babies, circling, delays, a refueling stop in St. Louis, unsmiling flight attendants, one round of the beverage cart.  What a night.  I could almost have gotten to London in that amount of time.  Next time I'm driving.



Sunday, August 03, 2008

The World May Be Ending

My dad is an awesome guy. He is fun, interesting, and interested in everything--cooking, sports, cards, golf, reading, theater, and so much more. He loves surfing on his circa 1990 computer, which until this weekend, has been sort of a joke. "Dad--GET a new computer--what is the problem? Mom has a brand-new Mac--you NEED a new computer. This is ridiculous!" He usually had no answer other than a sigh and a distracted "Yes, ok"--which we both knew meant, "Go away and leave me alone." This is a man who has a conflicted relationship with technology. He has a brand-new car with all the most up-to-the-minute bells and whistles. He has, and knows how to use, at least 5 remotes which control his TV and various recorders and devices. He usually has his cell phone with him and always answers it when he does.  Yet I sent him a text message several months ago, and I was the one who retrieved it for him TWO MONTHS later!! And then there is this boxy, white computer which he clings to. So I was very pleased to hear that one of my brothers was hooking up my mom's former Mac for him. "You're gonna love it Dad!" I told him. And then my inbox chimed. An email from my dad entitled: "I am now on iChat." "My name is xxxxxxxx. Please feel free to IM me at any moment. Pop" What is going on here? Who is this man and why is he sending me emails? So I IMed him. And he actually answered! And here's the crazy thing. My dad was iChatting. Not only that, he was using abbreviations like "u" instead of "you" and when I told him "gotta fly--bye" he responded "bibi." We've created a monster.  My almost 80-year old dad is IMing and using IM lingo correctly.  Next he'll be texting me from the golf course.  Fill up some water bottles and head for the basement.  Clearly, the world is ending soon.   

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Feel The Earth Move......

Where I come from if the whole house starts shaking you look outside to see how windy it is. You usually see the trees and bushes being blown by the strong wind. Not here. Today when the whole house started shaking and I heard dishes clattering and trembling in the china cabinet I looked outside to check out the wind. Nothing. Oh....I get it.....THIS is what an earthquake feels like. It was all over in seconds. 5.8, they said. Epicenter east of L.A. Now the local news is filled with people telling where they were and what they felt. The usual after-storm stories. One friend of mine in Chicago--a fellow news junkie like me--called me minutes after the quake to check on me. Thank you Trixie!!! I called Mr. Minivan at work and told him..."time to move." "Stop," he told me. He thinks I'm kidding. That's the funny part. Why would I want to live somewhere where, if the earthquakes don't get you, the fires and mudslides will? It's been a couple of years. We gave it a shot. We did the Disneyland thing, we've done the celebrity-spotting thing, now we've done the earthquake thing. Maybe this is a sign. Maybe it's time to get out. While we still have all of our dishes and mirrors.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth

It's been a tough year. A few months ago I realized something that no one should ever have to face. I never really had a first birthday. My brother stole it. Let me explain. I was born January 1. That same year my brother was born December 30. So do you really think anyone was celebrating my birthday just two days later? I don't think so either. I was probably lucky if someone remembered to change my diaper at that point. I'm sure all the attention was on the new little squalling bundle of joy. That whole thing was tough enough to come to terms with but I've worked through it and I was on my way to a full recovery. Until tonight. I was at a friend's house for dinner and had brought my dad along. My mom is out of town and my dad's Poker After Dark wasn't on til later so he had a free night. We were sitting around the dinner table and I mentioned that I had never been to any Disney park til several years ago when my dad let the cat out of the bag. "No that's not true--we went to Disneyworld and maybe to Epcot too." "No, Dad, I've never been to Disneyworld or Epcot and I've never been to Florida with you." "Yes, we went," he confessed. I mean--he went on, "I remember because I had to go on the Hammer and Thunder Mountain with the boys." "Wait a minute," said one of the guys at the table, "that must have been when you were at college because that was around the time Epcot opened." Suddenly it was all clear. They packed me off to college with my hot pot and a few quarters for the pay phone and immediately headed south. And the fact that it was apparently a family conspiracy of silence was just the icing on the cake of their betrayal. I've quizzed my brothers and they claim I knew at the time and just don't remember. Of course that's what they'd say. I've seen 24 and Total Recall. I know what's going on. What's next? Will I find out that I was found on my parents' doorstep? That I have an evil twin? I don't know how much more of this I can take.
UPDATE: My mother claims that they were very disappointed that I didn't go with them as I wanted to spend Spring Break with my friends in Miami. It's all very suspicious to me. I DID go to Miami with my friends during one Spring Break in college but I just don't remember the rest of my family going to Disney. Could my own mother possibly be in on the conspiracy? Is my whole family trying to alter history or my memory? The plot thickens.........

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Youth is Wasted on The Young

I am so depressed. I am minutes away from Botox or bangs. Today I dropped by my aunt's house and she showed me a DVD she had just picked up from the photoshop. She had had some VHS movies transferred to DVD---- note to self-- do the same--and we sat down and watched for a few minutes. First her kids popped up--adorable toddlers and children--now 27 and 30--and the best part was that although there were a few birthday parties and other "events", the most interesting part of the video (DVD???) was seeing the ordinary, everyday things her kids were doing back then. Riding the Big Wheel, learning to roller skate, the 3 year old pushing the baby in his swing, etc. Note to self--take more videos of the kids--FAST!! Then we saw a few family parties-my brothers and I sticking our tongues out every time we saw the camera. Grandparents as we knew them as kids--not how we remember them when they died--and other older relatives who at the time of the filming were younger than I am now. And then back to some everyday moments. I saw myself at about age 20 or so coming into my aunt's house and playing with her kids. And guess what--I was so cute--yes, I was--beautiful hair, beautiful smile, a few less pounds--OK, OK--a few few less pounds, no wrinkles, etc. But I know at the time I didn't think I was as cute as I was. I thought--"if I could only lose 7 pounds....", "if only my hair were different.....", "if only......" And now I look back at this cute girl on the DVD and I think--"Wow--you wasted some of that pretty because you didn't realize you had it." Why can't we be happy with ourselves as we are? If in 10 years I am going to look back at a photo of myself today and think--"Wow--what a babe!"--why can't I do that today when I look in the mirror?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Phone Call From Camp and A Letter From Camp

When your kids are at camp, the LAST phone number you want to see on your phone is the camp's number. Camps don't call to say "hi" or to tell you about a great sale they ran into at the mall. They don't call to ask you to meet them for lunch or to take a walk. No, calls from camp are usually bad news. The last time I got a call from camp it was Boy #1's first summer there and it was the day before Visiting Weekend. He was going for 4 weeks and we were going up for Visiting Weekend and then bringing him home. I was coming back from a girls' trip with some of my peeps and my cell phone rang. I saw the caller ID and my heart started to pound. "Hi, it's Jane the camp director," she said, "Everything's fine.......but.....Boy #1 fell and we think he broke his wrist." Um, so then everything's NOT fine is it? Boy #1 HAD broken his wrist. Luckily, or unluckily, he had broken the same wrist a year or two before, so I was somewhat familiar with broken bone protocol.

Anyway, today, strangely enough--the day before Visiting Weekend-- my cell phone rang, and the camp's name popped up on the screen. Uh-oh. Pounding heart. A man's voice--one I barely recognized--said, "Hi Mom." OK, at least I know he's alive. "Hi, Boy #1," I said. "Nothing's wrong, Mom, I'm OK. Everything's fine." Clearly, he had been coached. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Well, maybe something's a little wrong," he said. "What happened?" I asked. "I did something stupid and let one of my cabinmates cut my hair and one of my sideburns is all cut off," he said, "so I want to know if they can take me into town and get a haircut or a buzz cut." I don't think I have ever been so relieved. If he had asked me if he could shave his head at that moment I would probably have said yes. "Sure," I said, "but don't get a buzz cut unless you really want one--remember--you have 4 weeks of camp left and it will have grown back by then and there will be something to work with. You can just have them even it out. And if you want to wait til tomorrow we can go and get your hair cut then." "No, I want to go today," he said. "And, Boy #1," I added. "Yes, Mom?" he asked. "Don't let anyone near your head with scissors, razors, or shavers, OK?"

Letter from Boy #2 which arrived today:

Dear Mom, Camp is awesome! We have started the Spectacular (competition). I am a Dayton Flyer (team). Boy #1 got a haircut and it looks bad. I can't wait to see you! Love, Boy #2

Monday, July 07, 2008

Letters From Camp

Boys #1 and 2 are in the middle of Wisconsin at camp. They are having a great time. So far, two and a half weeks since they arrived, I have received 4 letters from Boy #2 and one from Boy #1. I have been writing them every 2 days or so, but apparently that isn't enough. Writing and sending packages--mostly Archie comics--is becoming a full-time job. What about MY summer vacation??

1st letter from Boy #2

Dear Mom, Camp is great. It rains everyday here. Write me more letters. I am the only one who doesn't get letters. I love you. Love, Boy #2

2nd letter from Boy #2

Dear Mom, We had a camping trip. It was really fun. We slept in tents and we had s'mores. We built a fire and told scary stories. I didn't get scared. I just wanted to tell you. Love, Boy #2

3rd letter from Boy #2

Dear Mom, Sorry for sending this letter. It is letter writing day and I have nothing to say. I love you. Love, Boy #2

4th letter from Boy #2

Dear Mom. I am appaled (appalled) ! Not just appaled, scared (scarred) for life!! Today Boy #1 got a package of Archies and letters. AND No, he has NOT GOTTEN the package from Grandma yet. Why don't I get packages from Grandma. I am very angry. I took biking club and have excursions today. I am going bowling.

A very Angry, scared for life, not accepted,

Boy #2

So of course, after receiving letter #4 from Boy #2, I immediately ran to the bookstore and mailed him out some Archies and a Simpsons comic book. And how's your summer going?