Thursday, August 14, 2008

Well, Poo!

And I was so close to not blaming Comcast for ruining my week.

Remember the aforementioned catastrophically badass storms that blew through Chicago a week and a half or so ago? Yes, the one that blew out the power at Camp Swanky and cost me $100 in wasted groceries. That one. Com Ed finally restored power to my pad 36 hours later, at which time Luke and I returned home to further assess the interior damage.

Luke received his cousin Jake's used XBox and a slew of games when Jake got the new XBox 360 this summer. Since then, Luke's been mastering the Halo series of games, and just generally indulging in his video game playing passion in between making nifty homemade movies for YouTube. Very sadly, the lightning from the storm must have really struck really close to, if not on, our house. Even though our electronics were all plugged into surge suppressors, Mother Nature smoked out Luke's XBox entirely, now permanently stuck with a game belonging to the Park Ridge Library. The poor boy cried in hysterics for literally 2 hours as a result, in between blaming me for the power outage and cursing the clouds.

*Spoiler Alert: The story I'm about to tell is really, really boring.*

My computer is also connected to a separate surge suppressor, and the storm fried what I originally thought was just my leased Comcast cable modem. Using my superhuman tech savvy, I swapped the leased modem with one that I owned that was just sitting in a box to see if that would allow me internet access, but the problem was slightly more complicated. I deduced that the issue could be with the computer's ethernet card, so I set out to Best Buy to get a new one.

Best Buy featured the Linksys EtherFast 10/100 PCI adapter for the reasonable price of $27.99. A bargain, considering I'd budgeted $50 for the new part. I paid cash, checked out, threw the bag in my car and ran across to Target for some other sundries. Puttering around the electronics department at Target, I came upon the very same Linksys ethernet adapter. Absolutely the same model....for $11.99. Holy price difference, ya'll! Of course, I bought it and planned to zip back to Best Buy to return the first one, only to notice that the girl at the checkout at Best Buy failed to provide me with a receipt. Since only 20 minutes had passed since the purchase, I felt fairly confident that Best Buy Girl would still recognize me, so I approached her register to get a duplicate copy of my sales receipt. She reluctantly printed one out for me, after which I promptly used to return that ethernet card and get my $28 and change back. Yay, me!

Comcast won't add an owned modem to your account until you return their crappy leased modem, which requires a visit to the nearest Comcast service center. Luke and I schlepped there yesterday afternoon, where we were assisted by a very friendly customer service lady who was listening intently to a story Luke was regaling about his vacation in Colorado last weekend. The Comcast lady couldn't believe her eyes when she looked up and saw a little 8-year old boy who tells stories like a 65-year old man. She commented on his eloquence and verbosity, took care of my modem stuff, and off we went.

Once you add or replace a modem, Comcast has to program it and add it to your account over the phone at home. No biggie, that all took all of 10 minutes. Yippee, the internet finally worked again at home. Smooooooooth sailing. For a few hours, at least.

Boom--I started having the same modem problems which necessitated the swap in the first place, despite the new modem and ethernet card. No more internet. Another call to Comcast to troubleshoot. After 1/2 hour, Comcast held fast that the problem had nothing to do with either my modem or their network. Once again utilizing my superhuman tech savvy, I opened the motherboard back up and tried to ascertain if the root problem was the actual internal slot that holds the ethernet card. 'Twas indeed. Another 10 minutes of slot swapping and cursing again at the fact that I keep forgetting to buy compressed air to blow into and clean out the motherboard's innards. But connected at last! Happy dance!

I was so surprisingly not pissed at Comcast this week that I briefly considering taking the entirety of the organization on a picnic by the lake this weekend.

Until tonight.

I have a suckariffic, impromptu solo Thursday night, since my beau had to spend the evening consoling a college friend because another friend of a friend of theirs (or something like that) from college suddenly died. I'm so used to my dance card being filled on a Thursday that I grew antsy from the bevy of free time tonight. I spent about 45 minutes shopping at Trader Joe's and then came home to clean Luke's room and the downstairs bathroom. The birds were also fed and cleaned, and I was in my pajamas by 10pm.

I was poised to spend from 10pm to 1am watching 1983's TV movie, "The Day After" on the Sci-Fi channel. Nothing perks up a boring Thursday night like an incredibly dated, cheesy interpretation of a nuclear attack on the United States.

For some reason, I was receiving the audio on the channel but not the video. Whatever images I did receive were hopelessly pixelated, so the movie watching adventure was short lived. So here I sit. Tanks fer nushin, Comcast!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

Life has decided that I haven't quite been motherfucked enough in the last year or two, so it sees fit to slug me with a few more wallops.

I suppose I shouldn't use such harsh language in my blog just in case any potential employers might be reading it after having seen the link on my resume. Oh wait, no one is actually READING my resume. The 500 recipients of the vitae chronicling my work experience hit the delete key weeks ago. The handful of interviews I went on were either laughably mundane with poverty level pay or really promising, but with companies who have since disappeared in a cloud of smog. Besides, any employer who scoffs at the sight of the word "motherfucked" in a grown woman's blog is probably too uptight for my personality anyway. This unemployment/job search stuff is really starting to sour my outlook on life. I was finally getting my shit together by staying sober for close to 6 months, I was working on my self-esteem, my issues, working with my doctor to figure out why I feel so physically crappy and keep losing weight without trying (another 4 lbs shed over last week and I swear, I ate like a freaking pig).

In my typically delusional thinking, I was starting to really "get it" with life and looking positively to the future. I felt certain the the future would work itself out and I'd find a good job, I'd move out of the foreclosed apartment and get another place for myself and Luke, and that I wasn't doomed to a miserable lot in life. I could continue to be a good mom, a good daughter, a good friend, a good partner and a good worker. Oops, what the fuck was I thinking? Awesome fulfillment like that, sad to say, is reserved for the beautiful people in life. The gorgeous. The The chosen. The lucky. More and more, I'm honestly starting to believe what my parents ingrained in my psyche as a child: Those that got, get.

Take, for example, my boyfriend's company in the city. One of my close girlfriends just quit as their HR Manager, where she tried in vain to get the catalog editor to hire me as a copywriter there, which would pay around $40k a year. Not outstanding, but an easy job I would be quite good at and would afford me a reasonable wage with which to support myself and my son. But whatever booger runs that department ultimately decided not to hire anyone. There is an opening for someone to run the company's new huge ecommerce enterprise on eBay, which is another position for which I, as a former Gold Star Power Seller on eBay, would be absolutely perfect and would pay a LOT. But that's a job directly supervised by my boyfriend, who sees it as a conflict of interests.

But they DID hire a receptionist not too long ago for $50k a year and good benefits. A receptionist who has no Microsoft program skills, who can't figure out how to replace paper in the Xerox machine, who wouldn't know a Sharpie if it bit her in the ass and who likes to memo the entire organization when she misplaces office supplies. My HR friend didn't want this woman to get the job, favoring a much more highly qualified candidate. She was trumped by the CEO, however, in the final decision, because the CEO thinks that the dimwitted receptionist is very attractive. Life in general tends to roll that way, more often than not.

In other news, severe summer thunderstorms as well as actual reported tornados hit the Chicago metro area last night. Wrigley Field was evacuated during the Cubs game, my ex and son were sheltered in the basement of the Park Ridge Library, the sirens were going off like crazy and I was relatively oblivious to the first band of tornadic storms while in my boyfriend's high rise apartment downtown. (Much of the real damage was several miles west of his apartment.) Band #2 of storms hit between 11pm-midnight, with the most impressively terrifying lightning I have ever seen in my life. We watched bolts hit electrical transformers, which went up in puffs of green smoke. My boyfriend and I each had to soothe our respective 8-year olds over the phone, as they were both really freaked out. Last I heard, ComEd reported this morning that 200,000 customers were still without power, and while a lot of folks in the metro area lost their homes, cars, et al, no deaths were reported, which is good. I wondered aloud, as the lightning bolted down, if power was out at my apartment, which is about 8 miles west of downtown Chicago.

After I picked my son up from day camp, we headed back to our apartment. Our unlit, stiflingly sweltering apartment. My electric bill is up-to-date, so I knew it wasn't that the utility company turned it off on purpose (though that's happened before, wah), and I came to find out from neighbors on my block that our whole block had been out since 10:30 pm last night. ComEd told the neighbors that since our outage was confined to one block, we weren't a "high prority" in the power restoration game, and that we should sit tight. Would love to sit tight, but the sweat on my body was sliding me off of my furniture.

I gathered all of my reusable grocery bags and began to clear out the refrigerator and freezer. Only 3 or 4 boxes of Morningstar Farms veggie burgers and brown rice cakes were salvagable, while the frozen vegetables were soppy bags of mush. The sorbet, gelato and Luke's push-pops were sticky liquid. The butter smelled funky. The formerly-frozen loaves of bread were soggy. Items that weren't in immediate danger of totally yucking up the place, I left in the freezer because I was getting too pissed off to clean out the whole thing. The refrigerator items were even less fortunate than the frozen foods. I salvaged the berries, grapes, limes and shelf-stable organic milk boxes of Luke's, the Kalamata olives, but the spinach and salad were blech. I lost a total of close to 4 lbs of cheeses in various forms (shredded, sliced, blocked, et al).

The total grocery loss is honestly close to $100. $100 I don't have to immediately replace the food in the house until I get the next child support payment. Luckily, my son is going to New Mexico and Colorado with his dad on Thursday for a long weekend, so I don't have to worry about feeding him. My appetite is shit anyway, so I can get by on the non-perishables I have and whatever is safely chilling and re-freezing at my mom's. After my band plays at church Saturday night, we're having a BBQ at the guitarist's house, for which I planned to bring tabouleh and some veggie kabobs to grill, so that day's eating is checked.

Once the power is restored, I really need to start packing up my apartment for whenever whatever judge gets the case decides to throw Luke and I out on the street, at which time the boy will divide time between his dad and staying with me at my mother's house, with all of my possessions indefintely held in storage. I really like my apartment, and having to pack is astoundingly depressing, because it cements the reality, which is that the sheriffs will come to padlock the building and evict us in the very near future.

Even my drums are up for grabs. I play a vintage maple Rogers kit that's been in the family forever, and it's beautiful and sounds great and anyone who knows me knows that drumming is not only cathartic but also very enjoyable for me. I beat a shitload of anger and frustration out on that kit, in a band of people I absolutely love and respect, twice a month for my church's contemporary praise band. My older brother also plays drums in his church's praise band and allowed me more or less permanent access to the Rogers kit when he got a new Gretsch set a couple of years ago. While it's a pain in the butt, he schleps his kit in the car every week to the praise band gig as well as that of a new band he just joined, which is a lot of work, admittedly. I don't have to schlep my drums because they're kept at the church for when I need to rehearse and play. But now, my brother is asking me if my church can buy me (I'm so sure!) a new drum set and if he can have the Rogers kit back (again, I'm so sure!). It's hard enough for the church to find it in the budget to buy me 2 new pairs of Pro-Mark Hot Rod sticks when mine break, and that's only about $30. Losing the Rogers drums essentially erases what is a very crucial coping mechanism for me and my favorite hobby. Losing the Rogers drums will mean losing my place in the band. If I can't afford food and shelter, it is not in the cards for me to just go out and buy a new drum kit.

Yes, a lot of the issues and problems I have are a direct result of how I behaved, misbehaved and mismanaged my life when I was drinking. A lot of these issues are directly my fault, and some are me just perpetually drawing life's short straw. Yeah, this blog might be a long exercise in self-pity and if my readers see it as such, I'm not holding a gun to anyone's head to continue to listen to me bitch. Looking out the gigantic glass paneled windows from floor-to-ceiling at my boyfriend's apartment tonight, life does continue to go on. I'm looking down at millions of people for whom life has also dealt a raw deal, as well as that vital, successful, happy, lucky, beautiful, chosen few.

Speaking of the beautiful ones....

Now readers, the rest of tonight's "Hello darkness, my old friend" raging rant is reserved for those who subscribe to me on myspace or have access to my blogs there. Sorry! Sometimes it even sucks to be you.