Tag Archives: rant

Because Banks


Who said moving house would be easy? In the past 48 hours of our house-buying saga:

  1. Appraisal report comes in (several days late) severely undervalue, causing us to scramble in last-minute negotiations for our new house. We end up buying the house for less money overall yet paying more on our monthly mortgage, because banks.
  2. Negotiations concluded, the updated sale price has to be returned by the same appraisal company that borked us a few days ago. We are still waiting, and if past is prologue, we will wait for a few more days just because.
  3. Something about a fridge. Apparently a box was checked on a form somewhere in somebody’s basement and now the fridge is a major issue. The sellers write out a bill of sale to sell us the fridge for zero dollars. This resolves the issue. Because banks.
  4. Thanks to the holidays and all kinds of people taking extra days off, documents can only be submitted by Monday. And thanks to government knowing better than we possibly could, we have to take three additional days to “think it over” once those documents are in, even though we are ready to sign and have been ready to sign for four weeks. Because banks.
  5. The lender financing the purchase of our current home has a last-minute issue crop up that requires immediate attention and a several-days delay. (Because banks.) Our agent finds this out from the closing attorney because our buyer’s agent for some reason doesn’t think this is useful information for us to have.
  6. The lenders (both ours and our buyers) refuse to commit to dates and what they’ll be able to get done when, leaving the rest of us (those with their entire lives in boxes and moving trucks) in limbo and unable to even reschedule the myriad of services and family help and pet boarding and all of the rest of it.

TL;DR: We’re not moving for about another week. We’re pissed. Our agent is pissed. The people we’re buying our house from are pissed. Their agent is pissed. And we are still living out of boxes.

Because banks.

Oh, and that novel I wanted to work on? Those lesson plans I planned to plan? LOL I have no more fargoes to give for a scrap of that.

This is life on hold.

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I searched Pixabay for pictures of boxes and this is what I found. Apparently the internet is just as over it as I am.


Watch Out — There’s Girls Driving


We’re in the supermarket. It’s a weekday evening, and I dunno about you, but where I live, that means the grocery store is absolutely idiotic. Overcrowded, understaffed. People stalking you in their cars in hopes of a good parking spot, even though there are perfectly good spots at the end of the lot, which, if they’d just suck it up, park out there, and walk, would get them into the store and on with their idiotic days sooner. This one person — I swear to goodness — gets a cart in the front vestibule, moves through the doorway at an angle, then stops — blocking the entire entry/exit door — to root in her purse for something. It’s as if people have radar for the most inconvenient things they could possibly do, and then they do them, for the sheer hedonistic joy of blissful oblivion. Maybe they subconsciously feed on the pissoffs they’re sowing in the people all around them. (Man, that’s a good story idea. A semi-sentient lifeform who derives life energy, not from consuming or harming, but from irritating other creatures.)

Where was I? Right, the supermarket. On a weekday. *involuntary shudder*

We’re weaving our way through the aisles. Both of our kids are in the buggy, in that little plastic car thing that they bolt on to a normal shopping cart to give the kids the illusion of driving. My son is really too big for the cart, but that doesn’t matter — with the store as crowded as it is, letting the munchkins run free only makes us part of the problem, and we try whenever possible not to be part of the problem. Anyway, my kids are seated side-by-side in the pretend car, not screaming at each other (for once!).

We take the corner and almost mow down a kid who looks to be about three (plenty small enough to be in the cart, you know, NOT being part of the problem), with an open bag of goldfish in his grubby fingers and stains all over his shirt.

I don’t begrudge the stained shirt or the bag of goldfish straight off the shelf. I’m a parent too; I get it. But I heartily begrudge the kid running free and making me feel like a jerk for nearly running down a kid next to the canned corn. That’s on mom.

The kid stomps and stumbles to a halt as I put the brakes on the cart. The kid dashes around us as mom calls out, “careful kiddo, there’s girls driving!”

I had to stop breathing to stop my natural reaction. I dead-eyed and white-knuckled it down a couple of aisles before I started venting at my wife. Let’s just say you were dangerously close to reading about this incident on the police blotter instead of my humble internet abode.

“Careful. There’s girls driving.”

Where to begin?

First of all, she obviously mistook my son for a girl, which is, well, special. Usually it’s my daughter getting mistaken for a boy. Or maybe she mistook me for a girl — you know, my bald-on-top-hairy-everywhere-else self.

But more importantly, we’re just gonna go ahead and make the horrible joke that girls are bad drivers — even here when the girl is just pretend driving the car. Okay, that’s great.

And finally — she’s a woman. Making the no-thought-required, loaded-on-the-tip-of-the-tongue automatic joke that women can’t drive. To her son. Who is just on the threshold of understanding language itself. Sure, let’s go ahead and start filling his head with tired old stereotypes that will form the basis of his understanding of the world and the people in it. And just cap that with the mind-boggle that his own mother is debasing her own gender. In public. To strangers.

Just one more reason we usually shop on Sunday morning at eight AM.

Because everybody else is either at home or at church, and I can grab some cornflakes in peace.

 


Magic Signs (Are BS)


The stream of consciousness prompt for the week is “sign.” And when it comes to signs, my brain only really goes to one place, and I was all set to write, but I went and clicked on Linda’s post. And I think that’s kind of beautiful.

Creative types tend to be superstitious types, don’t they?

I mean, we kind of have to be, right? This thing we do — creating sparkly new things out of nothing — it’s a kind of magic, innit? Scratch that — it’s not kind of magic; it is magic. An idea germinates in my head over here. I nurture that idea, shape it, water it, and finally put it in words. Those words, like spores on the wind, float into your eyeholes or earholes or whatever and bloom there, erupting like fungus to paint the picture in your mind. And the messed up part is: the picture in your head is almost, but not quite, exactly like the picture in my head. And the picture in the next guy’s head is almost, but not quite, exactly like the picture in your head.

It’s this cascading wave of creation, interpretation and invention, unfolding like evolution at an accelerated pace. Creating art is magic.

And in a world where magic exists, how can we not be superstitious?

Which is why you get authors going on about inspiration and muses and writer’s block and “looking for signs”. And that’s all well and good when the fire is burning and the muse is perched on your shoulder, force-feeding you caffeine and brilliant ideas and you feel the urge to write (or paint or compose or whatever) like you feel the urge to breathe — so strong and involuntary you couldn’t not do it if you tried. Problem is — in my experience at least — creating doesn’t work like that all the time. Or even half the time. Or a quarter. Not even ten percent. Maybe one day out of twenty I get the urge to create like that, where the words flow like a river overflowing its banks. The rest of the days? The muse needs coaxing. The inspiration needs a push-start. And I don’t get signs that I should be writing so much as signs that I need to rethink my major life choices.

Hell, for years I had the inkling that I should be a writer. I need to be telling stories. I feel that creative urge. But I wasn’t sure what. So I kicked back and sat around watching for the sign. And waiting. And watching. And waiting. Watch. Wait.

And the paint started to peel and the kudzu began to reclaim the yard and before I knew it, years had passed and I was no closer to writing a damn thing.

But the signs, man! When the time is right, won’t I see the signs?

No.

Signs are bullsharknado.

There’s no such thing as a “sign” that it’s time to write that novel. We like to think there might be, but that’s because we rightly believe in the magic that makes our craft possible. But signs are a form of communication. A sign means somebody, somewhere, is sending you a message, and I hate to break it to you, but if you’re going to be writing, the only real person you’ll be having meaningful conversations with about your work most of the time is yourself.

If you do see a sign, it’s because your subconscious brain is tired of sitting around waiting for your conscious brain to get in gear and do the thing you’re sitting around waiting for a sign to tell you to do. In other words: if you see a “sign” it’s because you want to see a sign.

Which, by the way, doesn’t mean that if you don’t see a sign, you don’t want to see a sign. The brain isn’t that simple. But your own brain isn’t going to hit you over the head, either. (That’s not good for the brain, incidentally.) But to return to a theme I occasionally espouse here at the blarg, things don’t always mean things.

A “sign” is a sign if you think it’s a sign. Otherwise it’s just a thing.

Which is a little bit pessimistic, but there you are. Of course, the other thing that means is that, literally, anything can be a sign — if you’re ready to see it as such.

I’m rambling now. Time to reduce this grumpy word soup down.

There’s no such thing as a “sign” that it’s time to start that project. The “sign” is that tiny voice in your head that says hey, maybe I should do that thing. The moment you hear that voice? Jump on it. Do the thing.

Don’t waste time looking for signs. If you’re doing it right, you’ll soon be ignoring all the signs anyway.

Except for this one.

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This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.


Toddler Life, ch. 68: (Lack of) Sleep Chronicles


My daughter has never been much of a sleeper.

I mean, she’ll do it, in much the same way I eat my vegetables. (I know it’s a thing I have to do, and if I don’t do it for long enough, I start to feel really funky.) But it’s not a thing she’s ever chosen to do, or done willingly. I think it’s safe to say she expends more tears in a week of bedtimes than the average pregnant woman does over the course of her nine-month term.

And that’s at home, where all the routines are firmly ensconced and the deviations from said routines are rare.

But this week, we’re on vacation. Which means: strange beds, strange rooms, strange barometric pressure, the total absence of anything like routine, and her absolute favorite person in the world (grandma!) hanging around to dote on her at any time. Which by extension means that if sleep is usually a struggle, this week it’s more like healthcare (who knew it could be so complicated?)

Tried her pack & play (for the uninitiated, that’s a fancy word for a “quick set up” crib that doubles as a playpen, which has accommodated both of my kids — in either task — for maybe three hours TOTAL) in a couple of quiet rooms in the condo. Nothing doing. Tried the air mattress we packed in case the pack & play didn’t work. Not a chance. So on night one, she slept in my bed with my wife while I slept on the air mattress (which I’m pretty sure is Greek for, oh, you’ve never had back problems in your life? Well, surprise, now you do).

Surprise surprise, the baby who doesn’t sleep very soundly by herself sleeps even less soundly while sharing a bed with an adult. My wife hardly slept a wink with the little princess kicking her, tossing and turning next to her, waking up to scream and falling immediately back to sleep.

So I slept with the baby last night, while my wife — who actually has legitimate back problems — opted willingly to dance the dance of death with the air mattress instead. This doesn’t seem like a terrible call. I’m a sound sleeper in exactly the way my daughter isn’t, so theoretically, we should balance each other out.

Should.

I woke up five times that I can remember in the night.

Every successive wake-up I found myself closer to the edge of the queen bed. Somehow, the little girl 20% of my size and body weight managed to completely box me out of the bed until I was, quite literally, dangling an arm and a leg onto the floor, somehow managing to hold onto my place either by biting the pillow or clinging on with my toes.

When we went to sleep, she was arrayed on the mattress like a normal human. Head on pillow, feet pointed downward toward the edge of the bed.

First wakeup: she’s angled herself away from me slightly, head pointed away and feet pushing firmly against my hip.

Second wakeup: She’s aligned herself like a torpedo aimed at my shoulder blades, the top of her skull driving into my spine and forcing me towards the edge.

Third wakeup: The toddler torpedo has reversed itself and is now pushing its feet into the small of my back while she lays flat on her face, arms at her side, like one of those planking videos from five years ago, except that in a truly remarkable abuse of the laws of physics, she’s leveraging me — 150 pounds her better — off the side of the mattress. At this point, I actually get out of the bed, redistribute her like an actual human in the bed, and reclaim y rightful half.

Fourth wakeup: she’s curled up in the fetal position against the small of my back, which is kind of adorable, except she’s pressing the dagger points of her toenails into the soft tissue behind my knees. I concede an extra quarter of the mattress again to make the pain stop.

Fifth wakeup: it’s now six AM, the time when she ordinarily begins to stir when we’re at home. I open my eyes to find her face inches from mine, eyes wide open and gleeful, teeth bared in what I guess is a smile but what appears to my newly-awakened brain to be the grin of the very angel of death itself. She giggles and swats me with frankly astonishing strength in the ear. This is a fantastic move if you’re ever in a fight as it discombobulates your opponent and bollockses their hearing. It’s a real jerk move to pull on your father who was, moments ago, asleep, as it discombobulates the hell out of him and bollockses his hearing.

In slow motion, I slither out of the bed and collapse to the floor and attempt to sleep just five more minutes while my beautiful, delightful daughter — the apple of my eye, the joy of my life — continues to rain blows upon me.


Hoop-Snakes and Hand Grenades (I lied, there are no hand grenades, it’s just a post about Trump)


As the noose seems to be tightening around Trump’s neck, consider:

Trump rode his mastery of media to celebrity status to improve his brand. He was a master at giving people what they wanted on TV (namely, controversy and unpredictability), and he parlayed that into gold-star status for himself, notwithstanding what his actual bank assets may or may not have been (because he still hasn’t — and likely never will — release his tax returns, whee!).

Donald Trump used the media to become a household name.

Not content with that, he launched a presidential bid, because if some black man can do it, well, surely the Donald can stamp his name on the history books in tacky gold lamé. And the media had a field day. Ridiculous! Scandalous! Look at this deluded orange guy, thinking he can swoop in wearing a funny red hat and take over our democracy! They gobbled it up — it was ratings gold, this unpredictable, trollish, angry man who would do anything, say anything, grab anybody by the whatever, and still garner support on the way. They ate it up because we ate it up.

The media used Donald Trump to bolster their ratings.

But they went a step too far, didn’t they? All that coverage was really publicity, because even bad publicity is good publicity, innit? When all that matters in our world of likes and follows and shares and retweets is your name in somebody else’s mouth, the man everybody’s talking about is king. And Trump was, for better or — no, scratch that, decidedly for worse — the name on everybody’s tongue. (BRB scrubbing my tongue.) Everybody was talking about him, and love him or hate him, at least he was different, and since everybody hates the current governmental situation — I mean, congress, amirite?? — a hot handful of Americans were willing to bet the house on “shake things up.”

And now, things are decidedly shook.

Donald Trump used the media to become president.

Then the media panicked. Holy hell, it actually happened. This is terrible for the country — but good for the media. Now, they could legitimately cover the orange one ’round the clock. The man who made his name on being unpredictable and shameless and greedy certainly wasn’t going to stop doing those things just because he became the most powerful man in the world. (Power corrupts, but what happens when you’re already corrupt and then come to power? We are slowly finding out.) The media, therefore, has an endless supply of Trump’s twitter-turds to feast upon, ill-tempered sackings to pore over, thinly-veiled (in wisps of just-visible steam) threats to pontificate upon.

And again, the media is using Trump to bolster its ratings.

Now, Trump loves attention — it’s attention that made him the man he is, for better or — nope, there I go again, it’s DEFINITELY for worse. But what he doesn’t love is attention on every sneaky little thing he does. Dealings between his campaign and Russia? Don’t want you peeking into that. Using his old tweets and campaign promises to shoot down his executive orders? No, thank you. So what does he do? He turns on the media. Tries to discredit them. Fake news, fake news, fake news. Believe me, not them. He’s trying to convince us that he is more trustworthy, more honest, more believable than the institutions that he abused to get where he is.

He bit the hand that fed him.

It was a vicious cycle. The media hated Trump, but it also loved him, because he helped them in his bizarre orange way. They created their nemesis.

But now, as it becomes increasingly apparent that we’ve literally handed the keys to the nation’s supply of fighter jets and nuclear weapons to a man who is, you know, orange, and about as even-tempered as my two-year-old, we seem closer than ever to actually righting this wrong (and by “we” I mean literally any Republican in Washington who might spontaneously grow a spine). Because the more Trump flails around — don’t look into that, won’t be making a statement there, by the way, this guy is fired, also that guy is fired, and if he talks he’ll be super-fired — the guiltier he looks. Nobody bothers thinking you’re hiding something until you act like you have something to hide, and nobody acts like he’s hiding something like Trump. (Again — tax returns. I’m still stuck on that, which would have been relevant WAY before all this Russia stuff.)

If the media is good at anything, it’s good at hounding an issue to death. The media, properly motivated, is an old, droopy-eared bloodhound with jaws like a gator — it won’t stop chasing you and when it gets its teeth into you, you’ll never get them out again.

Donald Trump pissed off the media, and created his nemesis.

The media created Donald Trump, the president we all love to hate. And Trump created the crusading media, which won’t rest until they drag him down from the office they put him in.

It’s a symbiotic relationship forged in hell’s depths. An ouroboros that devours its own tail to reconstruct itself.

I’m beginning to think it’s possible — maybe just possible, the flicker of a candle fighting to stay alight in the heart of a tornado — that he may get impeached even while Republicans still control the house and the Senate. If for no other reason than because he’s only one man, and even with his army of toadies around him, he won’t escape the bloodhound. The media has decided (rightly so) that he has to go, and if this Russia / Comey thing doesn’t bury him, well, they’ll find something else.

But when it’s all said and done, what happens to the media? Like a dog that’s finally caught the mailman, what will they do with their time, when that time comes? Is it a good thing that the media is powerful enough to set its sights on and (hopefully) bring down a president?

Seriously, it’s hard to remember what news was like before this whole Trump debacle. Can we get back to that?

Please?

*Scurries off to watch reruns of The Newsroom*


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