Friday, August 31, 2007

A Question of World Power

This just shouldn't be so confusing!

I want to operate all these gizmos in Germany. I want to plug them in (with an adapter, of course) and I want them to work. I hate the idea of frying any of these do-dads, but I especially hate the idea of frying my laptop!

You'd think there's be a simple appliance that would let me run everything safely and effectively. But nooooo. Apparently my laptop doesn't need any power converter at all; apparently the little box in the German wall will just know it's a laptop and whir merrily along. We shall see... it will definitely be a blood pressure moment, though!

I bought a dual voltage hair dryer, so no problem there (I hope).

But what about my straightener, curler, battery charger and cell phone charger? Is a 50-watt converter enough? Or do I need a 1600 (or a 2000?) watt converter? And should I get the kind that recognize the correct wattage and self-adjust (expensive) or should I trust myself to switch them -- and even to know to do so?!

Do I really need to buy a new dual voltage straightener (and curling iron?) because "no converter will work," as the guy at Bergman's Travel told me, or is he full of it, and power is power is power?!

Help Mr. Travel Wizard!

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

"I'll Be Your Friend"

You know that kid in school who would always go up to the new kid (or the bullied kid or the unpopular kid or the shy kid) and extend an offer of friendship?

That's Bailey.

Viola is NOT happy to be back here and Boo has not been helping one bit. Boo has been tormenting poor Viola since the instant she came back yesterday -- cornering Viola or taunting her and just being a general pain in the butt. I swear, if a cat could chuckle and snicker, that's what he'd be doing. He's the playground bully, the important and brutish stud on campus. And he is NOT playing nice.

(Yes, sweet, lovable Boo. He has another side to him...)

But while Boo was outside, Bailey (who adores Boo so waited until he left) slowly and sweetly approached Viola, who has taken refuge in the guest bedroom. As if to say I know he's a butt sometimes, but I'm not... you might really like me if you give me a chance, Bailey quietly posted herself at the other end of the bed from Viola. She even turned away from Viola at one point, seemingly showing her vulnerability (notice the ears) and trying to convince Viola that she could be trusted.

Bailey just wants to be loved. She just wants to be friends. She just wants everyone to get along!

Man, I could devise an entire sociology course just using cats as players...

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Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho! It's Menopause, You Know!

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Fear of Flying

OK, I'll admit it publicly: I'm scared of this trip.

No, not Germany. Been there, love it. Not the different language, not the different culture and customs, not the different time zone. None of that.

I'm scared of traveling with my dear husband. Why? Because no difference in language, culture, or time zone can compare to the differences between us. We just approach life differently. We always have, and most of the time the balance is a pretty good thing.

But last night, as we shopped for mundane things like a duel voltage hair dryer and quick-drying socks and 8-foot ladders, I realized that we'll both need great patience with each other next month in Germany.

How are we different? Here's how:

1.) He races. I mosey. Especially when we're on vacation, he's on a mission to "see everything on his list" whereas I basically want to just "see what we see and do what we do." His pace is twice mine, so I always end up five paces behind him, throwing in a skip every few yards, just to keep up. This is infuriating. He offered to "meet me half way," slowing down if I speed up. Fair enough, but it's not just a speed thing, it's a philosophical pace thing.

OK, fine. I'll try.

2.) He's thing-oriented and I'm people-oriented. Given the choice, he'll explore things and places -- museums, buildings, historical monuments -- to give him the feel of a country. I, on the other hand would rather have coffee with a local than explore a museum.

3.) He's a night owl and I'm a morning mavin. This might turn out to be kinda funny in Germany, actually. He might get tired at 10 PM and I might stay up all night! But when we travel locally, staying in hotels, we both go through hell because I need to endure the TV at 2 AM and he has to turn it waaaaaay down so I can sleep. I really don't know how this will play out in Germany, especially before we become acclimated to the time difference.

4.) He doesn't speak the language. I do. OK, that's not entirely true. I don't speak German well, but I can muddle through and communicate. Combined with my much more out-going personality and knowledge of the country, this can only translate into me playing the role of "tour guide" and interface. I shouldn't complain, and I'll try to find a way to make that a positive, but I just have a sneaking suspicion that every interaction with every waitress or shopkeeper or hotel clerk will be mine to make and mine to muddle through. I'll come home exhausted, needing a vacation.

I know, I know. I have a bad attitude. I should look at this as a chance for togetherness and rejuvenation. I shouldn't fear it because then it will become what I fear. I know that this is a critical trip for us at a critical time. I know all that.

But I still have a fear of this flying.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Anticipating Catiness

Elisabeth just called from the road. She's bringing Viola, otherwise known as The Ice Princess, home for a month because Elisabeth will be traveling for the next month (on business as well as with me).

In the span of 20 minutes on the road after being put into the car (in a cat box, but she then escaped from it), Viola peed all over Elisabeth's car, then climbed on her lap and pooped, and then, as I was talking to Elisabeth ("she whaaaat?!"), Viola puked all over the car! Elisabeth was in stitches as she was giving me a play-by-play!

Poor kitty -- Ice Princess or not.

And once Viola gets home (within moments), the crap and abuse will likely continue, as I'm sure Boo and Bailey (those sweet, lovable, cuddly creatures) will NOT be happy to see the Ice Princess at all!

Watch for updates.

(Why do I see Boo, in my mind's eye, with Viola dangling from his mouth... a pose I see quite often these days as he brings me his hunted treasures from outside?!?)

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Blogger Meet-Up in Frankfurt!

Aw man, I'm blushing!


(Actually, that's a visual depiction -- and fair warning -- of my Asian Flush affliction...)

J and Jen'n'Sparky sure know how to make an American grrrrl and her daughter feel loved in Germany! They have been nice enough to organize a mini blogger meet-up in Frankfurt on September 29th, the night before we wing our way back to Seattle -- and I'm already counting the days till I can finally meet the people I've come to know and love through the Whiney Network of the Whiney Expat Bloggers in Germany.

The festivities will start at 16:00 at, appropriately enough, Starbuck's at the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (because you know I will be going through dramatic withdrawals by then and will desperately need my grande-vanilla-soy-non-fat-no-whip-latte fix), and will continue at 18:30 and throughout the evening at Yours Australian Bar (Rahmhofstr. 2-4 (Schillerpassage) 60313 Frankfurt. Phone: 069 282 100).

If you're an expat blogger in Germany (or admit to associating with one), this party is for you! (OK, apparently it's for me... but I will and bequeath it equally to YOU because it'll only be fun with lots of you's there.) So clear your calendars and join us in Frankfurt for good cheer, good friendship and -- in my case, at least -- pretty bad German.

Bis bald, meine Damen and Herren! (And thanks again to Jen and J!)

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Photo Meme Idea

So I have an idea for a meme. It's a photo meme.

I always imagine other bloggers' environments in my mind's eye and I wonder, what do YOU see when you look out your window? Do you live in the city or in the country? Are you surrounded by the excitement and activity of the city -- cars, lights and buildings, or by the quiet solitude of the country -- forest and trees? Or maybe you live somewhere between the two, in the suburbs, so you see other houses and tree-lined streets nearby. Or maybe you live in the desert. Or on the water.

Am I the only one who wonders about these things? I always want to know a little bit more about my readers and their lives... so go ahead, post a photo taken from any window of your house or apartment. Let us into your world!

What do you see when you look out your window?

Here's mine, shot from our bedroom.

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Bush Gridlock

President Bush came to Seattle for a grand total of three hours yesterday in order to lend his support to Dave Reichert's campaign for a 2008 US Congress seat.

First off, does anyone, even Reichert, believe anymore that being associated with Bush is a good thing? Uh, hellooooo... no one likes the dude anymore!

I'm pissed at Bush for so much, but most immediately for causing me to hush-hush something I used to be so proud of when I traveled to Europe: my American citizenship. I remember times when I was proud of being American when I traveled internationally... but not recently. And I blame Mr. Bush for that. Hell, I'm even considering hanging a Canadian key chain or trinket on my backpack when I head back to Europe next month, just to avoid any perceived affinity with the buffoon. I live within a hundred or so miles of the Canadian border, so I can temporarily borrow the association, riiiiight?!

(An open message to all Germans: most of us think he's a jackass too.)

So you can imagine my ire when I watched the 5:00 news yesterday. The Seattle freeway system, which is pretty crazy during the evening rush hour on any given Monday, had been virtually shut down! The video cameras showed a completely empty 405 freeway between Bellevue and the airport and a grid-locked traffic jam on the 405 in Kirkland. Gazillions of people who just wanted to get home after a long day at work sat motionless in their cars, just waiting to move. Why? Because Bush was in Seattle for a $1000 a plate ($10,000 a handshake) fundraising event.

If I was pissed watching all this from my livingroom, I can just imagine how pissed the people sitting in their motionless cars must have been!

Yeah, I know. Obama would cause the same freeway havoc if he were president and came to Seattle. But go ahead... bring that ON!

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Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm Too Excited to Work!

Especially after having a wonderful SkypeVideo chat with Jen this morning, about our planned blogger meet-up in Germany next month!

Stay tuned for details on Wednesday's blog entries, here or here or here...

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Too Busy Working to Look for Work

I have so much work to do!

Wait a minute, you say. You're LOOKING for work. How can you have "so much work to do"?

Well, yes. I am looking for work. But I've also been asked to do some freelance writing and development work... by, coincidentally, two of the companies I've interviewed with!

So here it is, Monday morning, and I'm trying to plan my day. Do I dive into the work for which I've signed a contract and that I'm actively working on (writing a birthday guide for the family game company)?

Do I review the contents of the 3" binder of the exchange organization that has asked me to look into the possibility of writing their full 2-year curriculum, devising a necessary, but time-consuming and unpaid in-depth bid?

Do I spend the time with Idealist, Craigslist, Association of Educational Publishers, and other web sites for job-seekers, hoping to find the perfect job that way?

Do I nurture my vast, but neglected professional network, contacting friends, former co-workers and business associates about my continued hunt for just the right job?

Or do I just say screw it and do the very least responsible thing -- pack for the completely (financially) irresponsible trip we'll be taking in two weeks?

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tom Lehrer and Me

I grew up in a house filled with music -- classical German music from composers like Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Haydn and Schubert. I don't think I ever heard American music, especially American pop culture music, until I was old enough to seek it out myself -- which, in Berkeley in the 60's, meant heading downtown to catch a group like Country Joe and the Fish playing at a local park.

One American musician who my parents did like was Tom Lehrer, probably because his music was as intellectually stimulating as it was entertaining. I remember plopping myself down on my belly on the crimson red carpet in our living room, propping myself up on my elbows, and studying the black & white drawing of Lehrer-the-Devil playing the endless piano keyboard that graced the tattered orange cover of my parents' 78 rpm record.

This song about the chemical elements was typical of Lehrer's intelligent humor.

I can't help wondering if he and Richard Feynman ever met... Now THAT would be a concert!

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Dear Mr. Sunshine: What Happened to Summer?

It's been raining, really raining, for almost 24 hours straight, as well as off and on for a few days now, and Kat and Shasta wanna know, "Wassup wit da wedda?!"

While rain is one of the things I like about living in Seattle, days on end of rain in August just doesn't seem right. And with school starting in a week, it's beginning to feel like all hope is lost for much more summer. After the severe weather of last winter, it does feel like we kinda deserve an extra week or two of warm, dry weather. Or even just a normal ol' August.

I have an idea, Ol' Man Weather, if you're listening. How's about if, in exchange for this crud, you bring a week of 80 degree sunny, glorious weather to Seattle right around... oh, let's say next March. Eh? That'd work.

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Cleaning as Therapy

I hate cleaning.

Or do I?

The trip to Ikea yesterday and purchase of the new duvet set launched me into something I've been putting off for weeks now -- a good, solid housecleaning. One of the things I had to give up when I became unemployed was my twice-monthly visit from a house cleaner. Since then, I've done some cleaning myself, paid Kat to do some, and (mostly) dealt only with the most glaring and disgusting necessary chores -- a toilet here, a floor there, a load of laundry only when necessary.

But something happened to me last night. Something came over me. It began with an innocent trip around the house emptying trash cans. Soon after that I was sweeping, and then, almost without realizing it, I was gathering throw rugs and pulling out cleaning supplies -- sure signs that a major cleaning invasion was about to take over. Once my iPod graced my ears and the volume was fully cranked, I was a goner.

Now if only I could empty the house of all inhabitants I could not only move like a crazy cleaning cyclone, I could sing and dance unabashedly as I went!

Aleks asked if he could go to a friend's house. Of course, m'dear. Go! Peter and Danelle were about to leave for a belated birthday dinner celebration and asked if they could take our Honda. Sure! Have fun! Elisabeth was already gone to a friend's wedding in Spokane. (Hmmm... haven't seen her for weeks; maybe I'll invite her and her new beau for dinner tonight.) And Tom and Kat? Well, they were hanging out in the livingroom, chuckling at my obvious urge to sing-clean and dance-clean. (Mika-and-a-scrubbing-brush... try it sometime!) I invited them to take the opportunity for a father-daughter evening out -- dinner, maybe some shopping, and perhaps a night-cap latte. It didn't take much to nudge them on their way.

And then, finally, I was alone with my Swiffer, my rubber gloves, and my thoughts.

I was driven. Purposeful. Sweaty.

And it felt great!

Along with the external dust and cobwebs, some internal gunk seemed to be coming loose as well. I've been feeling staid lately. Frumpy, unmotivated, and unfulfilled. Quiet, yet screaming. Driven and ambitious, yet doubtful and insecure. Young, yet oh, so old. Busy, yet bored. Happy, yet miserable.

Suddenly, the simple act of scrubbing a toilet was bringing me out of... well, out of something. Or rather, bringing something out in me. Maybe it was the music. Maybe it was just the fact that I was finally moving. Maybe it was the freedom to sing as loud as I wanted, knowing no one would hear me. Whatever it was, it was liberating. It felt good. Not only was my house being given a little much-needed attention, but my soul was too.

The garage is really a mess. I should think about getting out there...

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

IKEA: A How-To Guide

DON'T worry if you forgot directions. The IKEA sign can be seen from continents away (well, maybe Canada).

DO play on the IKEA car!

DO have lunch at IKEA's restaurant. And DO have the Swedish meatballs. (And DO remember to take the photo before you begin to eat!)

DON'T dry the duvet cover you bought at IKEA last year on the "warm" setting. It will shrink.

DON'T fret about buying a whole new duvet cover and pillow sham set this year. Hell, for $39.95 even an unemployed old lady can afford a new set!

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It Never Ends

Hate this.

This new toy makes it just barely tolerable.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Marriage Meme

In the spirit of marriage posts, I thought I'd steal this meme...

Where did you meet your husband?
In the lobby of Santa Cruz residence hall on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus in September, 1976. He was a studly (and shy) senior RA (resident assistant) and I was a lowly sophomore who showed up at school a week early for training for my lowly dining commons job. He was on "desk duty" that day, and was putting the finishing touches on the name signs which were to be put on his residents' dorm room doors. The signs were cut-outs of feet with six toes.

I thought he was absolutely adorable, so I flirtatiously mentioned that I coincidentally had six fingers on one hand -- or at least I was born that way (my extra thumb was removed when I was a baby).

It's funny -- some people I've known all my life have never known that about me. But it was the very first thing Tom knew about me.

What was the first thing you said to your husband?

See above. And then I swooned to my friend Melissa (who also obviously had also developed a crush on him), "He's mine!"

Where was the first kiss?

So we met in September. The first kiss was the following April, in the hall in front of my dorm room. We had just taken a walk on the beach, one of many we'd taken up till then. Tom was painfully shy (oh, and had a girlfriend, except that he always seemed to downplay that relationship to me during the months when we became better and better friends) and I didn't want to make the first move, so I waited... and waited... and waited. Until finally, on that particular night after that particular beach walk, he took his sweater which had been draping from his shoulders, threw it around my head to my own shoulders, drew me close with it and kissed me.

First date?

I have NO idea, really. It took us so long to start dating exclusively and during that time I'm sure we went many places together.

Did you have a long or short courtship/engagement?
Long courtship (broken up for almost two years by this) , relatively short engagement. We met in September, 1976, got engaged in September, 1982, and married in May, 1983.

Where did you get engaged?

We had been living together for about 6 months and although it hadn't been "officially discussed," we both knew that the plan was to marry. We lived on 7th Street in Santa Monica at the time. We had even been exploring venues -- though the question still hadn't been popped. And again, I wanted it to come from him. One of the venues we'd looked at was the Wayfarer's Chapel in Palos Verdes, which we both loved, but which was booked almost a year out. A few weeks after we visited the chapel (remember, there was still no official proposal), I got a call saying that there had been a cancellation for the following May.

"We'll take it," I offered.

That evening I invited Tom for a walk on the beach and told him about my phone call. He pondered.

"Well, will you?" he asked.

Intending to milk this for all it was worth, I asked, "Will I what?" "Um, maaaaarry me?" he replied. And then I joked that I'd only consider it if he got on one knee.

He obliged.

I said yes.

Next May we'll celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and our 32nd year of knowing each other.

Where did you get married?

See above.

How did the reception go?
How was the honeymoon?
The reception was at a restaurant called The Admiral Risty in Palos Verdes. GREAT fun! We had a chance to see people we hadn't seen in years, and having all our friends and family together for such a happy event was amazing!

For our honeymoon, we drove up the California coast. We spent our wedding night in room #1, the "most haunted" room at the Paso Robles Inn. When planning our honeymoon I thought that would be kinda fun. But it turns out we hardly slept that night for reasons totally UN-wedding-night-like: there was an incessant tapping on the headboard all frikkin' night long!

We met my parents, who were driving north to Oregon, for dinner in Monterey the next evening. We were staying at the House of Seven Gables Inn, a wonderful (non-haunted) bed and breakfast right on the water. From Monterey, we headed inland to Yosemite (which was flooded!), where we stayed for the rest of the week.

I tag anyone who wants to participate!

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Universe Speaks

I've been rather quiet about my job search adventures lately because quite a few possibilities have been up in the air and I haven't wanted to "jinx" the whole delicate balance. But clearly I'm at a fork in the road of my career and it seems that a few choices need to be made.

Or do they?

More than a few people have suggested to me that the "Universe is speaking" to me about next steps and that I need to really listen -- and perhaps make a few choices that I hadn't realized were even options until recently.

I've talked about "hanging my own shingle" as a writer and educational media consultant. At the same time, I've been applying for a wide variety of jobs that would appeal to both my passions and my program/project management skills. Currently, the irons I have in the fire are amazingly diverse, which would be wonderful if it weren't so scary!

One the one hand, I'm writing the party guide for the wholesome family game company with whom I'm also applying for the internal full-time position of Director of Product Development. That's a bit of an awkward situation, since I'm working fairly closely with the people who are hiring for the director position (and even worked a day at the office last week, at their request). I know that they are interviewing at least five others, some of whom they are bringing in from around the country, so I am by no means a shoe-in for the position. Yet, we're friendly enough to be passing jokes and YouTube videos back and forth. I'm hoping to hear about the full-time position today or next week... and I've submitted two drafts so far of the contract work, so the two are definitely overlapping. I am confident that other candidates aren't being asked to do any freelance work, so I am at either a distinct advantage or a district disadvantage by also doing the additional work and giving them another dimension on which to evaluate my skills.

I'm not sure what to make of all this! Any suggestions?

And -- a few weeks ago I interviewed for the position of Director of Programs with OneWorld Now, a really cool cultural exchange program that brings international exchange opportunities to underserved youth populations in an effort to develop tomorrow's global leaders. What an absolutely fabulous idea! The passion and brains behind the program come from a woman who has traveled extensively and who has a huge sense of cultural justice and global opportunity for ALL youth. Unfortunately that position doesn't pay nearly enough and I couldn't consider it (it'd be career suicide to cut my salary in half), BUT she asked if I'd consider developing their youth leadership curriculum. We met again yesterday, along with the graphic designer I'd bring in, and the three of us left our get-together enthused, inspired and optimistic, and I REALLY want to do this work... which I see as WAY more than a simple youth leadership guide; I see the detailed two-year curriculum guide that I'd develop as their branding and identity, and something they could license nationally and perhaps even internationally. It'd be quite a bit of work to develop (and I have a feeling they couldn't afford it), but oh, how I'd love to do that work!

In addition, I have applied for the Executive Director position of Open Arms, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing perinatal birth services to all who need them. My passion for childbirth and my certification as a childbirth educator and doula aren't even listed on my resume because I never thought I'd be lucky enough to combine those passions with my business experience and project/program management skills, but this position would be a perfect combination of both worlds. They're not interviewing until early September (hopefully before we leave for Germany), so I have no idea where I stand in my candidacy for that position (or if it pays well enough), but I've been in touch with the chairperson of the search committee and I have high hopes that I'll at least have a chance to interview.

Now if they ask me to take on a contract job, I'll freak just a bit!

And lastly, I made a connection with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at the KOMO Blogger Meet-Up and I've been asked whether I'm interested in blogging for the paper. Uh -- YES!! So I'm waiting to hear about that, too.

OK, so -- what do YOU think "the Universe" is trying to tell me? Should I go all out towards hanging a shingle, which means developing a website (can it be a blog? please?) and marketing myself (how? as what?)? Should I concentrate on full-time employee positions?

Or should I relinquish myself to fate, or the Universe gods, or destiny, or whatever you call it when your life chooses a path for you?

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Happy Birthday, Danelle!

Peter's girlfriend, Danelle, is 20 today!

Creative Kat made Danelle a hamburger birthday cake using only brownie mix, yellow cake mix, frosting, and food coloring. Doesn't it look yummy?!

Peter met Danelle when she was 16 and they've been together since just weeks after they met. They're now referred to as "Peter'n'Danelle" and we definitely consider Danelle to be part of the family. I guess sometimes things are just meant to be.

Sure, I'm concerned that they met too young, but they really are a wonderful couple and they have plenty of time to grow -- hopefully as individuals as well as together. Heck, if they're still together when they're... oh, 26 or 27, we will give them our blessing for marriage! :-)

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How Embarrassing!

I'm still blushing, an hour later. And if I didn't blog this, no one would have known about it.

So why am I blogging it? Because something inside me wants to get comments that say things along the lines of, 'Oh, I've totally done that!' and 'That could have been me!' Because, isn't it true that when we do something really stupid and have a completely "DUH" moment, we want to know that we're not the only ones who just drift off into Stupidville now and then?

No? You mean it's just me? Well, fine then. I'll tell you what I did anyway. I know you'll be thinking I've done that sort of thing -- even if you DON'T leave me a comment!


So I check my bank account online (which, by the way, I don't do nearly often enough) and I notice that the nursery charged us twice for a purchase we made there last weekend. I know this because there are three line-items for the same amount -- two +$XX.XX and one -$XX.XX.

(I know, I know. Just hear me out.)

I call the nursery and talk to a really nice young bookkeeper, who feels awful about their mistake. She says that she can't find the duplicate charge, but she'll work with their financial company to remedy the situation and refund me my money. She calls the company, who also can't find the duplicate charge, but because they apparently feel so bad and have such a strong customer service ethic, they find all the numbers I might possibly need to work on the issue myself, they wish me luck and ask me to call them back just to let them know how it all went.

I call Bankcard Services, sit on hold forever, and finally, after about 20 minutes of Muzak, I talk to a real, live person. By this time I'm not feeling my normal, patient self (no really, I am normally a very patient person), especially because, at one point, they caught me in an endless "transaction number" loop, based on the assumption that I had my physical statement, not my bank's online banking web page, in front of me. I only get out of transaction number hell by entering "0000" as the alleged number.

"Steve" -- who I'm sure isn't really named Steve and who really isn't even in America -- is very pleasant, asking how he can help me with transaction #0000, which according to his records, is some hot dog stand in Wichita, Kansas. I confess that I faked it with the number, simply so I could talk to a real voice and then tell him, in a voice far less patient than I was 30 minutes previous, that I was double-charged at the nursery and would like resolution. I launch into the whole explanation about the nursery not being able to find a duplicate charge, inferring that the mistake is with the bank.

"Steve" asks me to walk through the nursery charges one by one for him. So I do: -$XX.XX, +$XX.XX, -$XX.XX. I'm sure my voice by this time is dripping with Itoldyouso. I'm sure I come across as the biggest I-want-customer-service-and-I-want-it-now customer who's called in so far this morning -- maybe even this week.

I'm sure Steve was already rolling his eyes as he patiently listened to me go through the list of charges and debits on my online statement.

"Ma'am," Steve says slowly. "Two charges and a debit of the same amount equals one charge of that amount."

"Yes, but..." I reply in my customer-is-always-right voice.

And then, instantly, I get it.

Dammit. I get it. I am stupid.

I swallow hard, wishing I could swallow the heat that's rising into my cheeks, grateful that no one but Steve is witnessing the moment.

"Two charges and a debit of the same amount equals one charge of that amount."

Of course they do.

I'm so embarrassed that I chuckle. I think Steve might have chuckled too. Or maybe that was my imagination.

"Oh my goodness. I'm stupid. I'm so sorry!" What choice do I have? I figure that if you can't laugh at yourself, you leave the door wide open for others to do so. I'm sure Steve WAS laughing at me by then, but he was kind enough to do so quietly. All he said was, "I'm happy to help, ma'am. Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

"No thank you," I said.

But I was thinking, 'Yes. Could you give me back the past 45 minutes of self-inflicted stupidity? And maybe 45 IQ points to go with it? And can you please not tell anyone about this little incident?'

I figure I'd take care of that little aspect myself. Just don't tell anyone, OK?

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Gorge Amphitheater and other Eastern Washington Adventures

The weather was glorious in Idaho until this morning, when it began to rain while our brother-in-law was treating us to a ride in his classic 1949 beautifully refurbished mahogany Chris Craft mahogany boat. It really began to pour after that and continued pouring most of the way through Idaho and into Washington as I drove home -- with poor Tom unable to take the wheel, which drove him -- pun intended -- nuts! At some points, it was a positively treacherous drive, and I'm just happy to be home.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Washington State, you should know that unlike Western Washington, which is green and lush, Eastern Washington is a desert. It's very dry and, except for Spokane and maybe the Tri-Cities (maybe), very desolate. When we lived in the Tri-Cities, Tom called it "the armpit of Washington," insisting that "the best view of Eastern Washington (especially the Tri-cities) is out the rear-view mirror."

But I really think that Eastern Washington has it's own beauty. Dry, yes. And desolate too. But there's something about its vastness and its majesty that's beauty of a different sort than lush Western Washington and the Puget Sound. There's beauty in these scenes, yes?

We've lived in Washington for 14 years now (12 in Seattle and two in the Tri-cities) and I have yet to see a concert at the Gorge Amphitheater, so when we drove by it today, Kat and I decided that we just had to finally see it. When there's a concert at the Gorge, the vast desert becomes flooded with people and music, but today there was obviously no concert, as it was completely empty and stunningly quiet. (And graced with row after row of wine grapes growing right there, where the crowds gather!) We arrived just as the sun was setting, so you can imagine that it was absolutely incredible!

That's the empty stage down there. Just imagine your favorite musicians playing there... Now I'm determined to finally see a concert there!

It's after midnight and at 9:00 tomorrow morning I need to be at the offices of the company with whom I'm both applying for a job and working as a contractor on a project. I've decided to stop hyper-analyzing the whole thing, though, and just do my best work and take things as they come. I have a few irons in the fire now, all of them interesting, so I've decided to just let things unfold as they may. I'm trying to learn to listen to those things instead of constantly trying to make things happen.

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Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille Lake, Idaho

Here are a few more photos from Idaho, while I have a connection.

We've had a wonderful time visiting with Tom's sister and her family, as well as with his mother who is visiting from Palm Desert.

Tom's shoulder is feeling better and we have high hopes of maintaining our plans of heading to Germany in three weeks. Tomorrow, after our visit with the orthopedic surgeon, we'll know more.

More adventures to come next week!

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