Wednesday, July 2, 2014

i had this dream...

I had a dream about church recently...I dreamed that I was a kid, and I was given a paper lunch sack to carry.  The top was all scrunched over and folded down, and there were things written on the outside of the sack.  There was a picture of a Bible in the sack and some other things, but I didn't know what those were. It was dark in there, and even if I stood under the light, there was not enough light to see.

In this dream, my mother and father gave me this paper sack.  I had to take good care of it.  They told me to carry the sack with me everywhere I went, and that everything I needed to know was written on the outside of the sack.  They said the beautiful thing was that it would never change, that everything I had to do and everything I had to know was written there.

Everyone in my family was a sack-carrier.  Well, mostly.  My dad's family did not carry sacks, so we never went to their houses or talked to them. Or knew them.  Even when they died, we did not go to their funerals.  We only went to the funerals of sack-carriers.

The first thing that was written on the sack was that I couldn't put it down.  I had to let everyone see that I was carrying this beat up old scrunchy lunch sack, too.  I couldn't put it in a backpack or shove it in a box.  It had to be out there, a permanent accessory.  I had to carry it everywhere--to school, to the store, when I went to play with my friends...even when I went to sleep.

If I ever put it down, something terrible could happen.  In fact, I might not even be able to find it when I was ready to pick it up again.  My mother always told me if I set the sack down and I died before I could pick it up again, there would be no second chances to pick the sack back up.  It was final and I would meet a terrible end.  I was terrified that I would lose my sack somewhere when I wasn't careful, and sometimes at night I couldn't fall asleep because I had to keep checking to see if my sack was next to me.

Another thing that was written on the sack was that I could look inside, but I could not change anything in the sack.  In fact, it was better not to question anything in the sack because it was almost as bad as setting the sack down.  People would think I was disloyal to the sack and maybe they would act as if I weren't carrying the sack, even if I was.

If I broke the rules on the sack, I got in trouble and had to say I was sorry for what I did, even if I didn't understand the rules or know why it was wrong.  I didn't get to ask questions about the rules or wonder why the rules were there.  That was against the rules, too.

Every Sunday, we had to take our sacks and go meet with the other sack-carriers to hear about how hard it was to carry these sacks, and how we had to just trust that we would be given the strength to carry our sacks another day.

If people made fun of me for carrying the sack, that was just part of what came with carrying the sack.  The sack would remind me of all the things I could not do.  In school, when people were doing things that I couldn't do, I should try to go somewhere else, but if I couldn't, I should just look at the sack to help me remember what I had to do.  Having the sack would save me; it would carry me through any situation.

People were always checking to see if everyone else was carrying their sack.  If you got caught out in public without your sack, people would make note of it.  Then they would come make sure that you knew you should have been carrying your sack, and they often wouldn't leave until you said you were sorry and you picked up your sack again.  If you didn't, then they made sure everyone knew that you were not a sack-carrier anymore.  Even if you changed your mind and started carrying the sack again, you had to tell someone that you wanted to carry your sack again before they would acknowledge you as a sack-carrier.  You couldn't just show up with your sack on Sunday.  That would not do.

I did not get to change the writing on the sack.  Sometimes the writing on the sack changed, but only when people (certain men in the church) allowed it.  This was called being led by the spirit.  Only certain men were led by the spirit, and never women or children.

I couldn't break the rules on the sack while I was holding the sack because if I did, my mother said the sack would disappear, and I might not be able to find it again.  If I wanted to go into a movie theater, for example, which was on the list of rules -- one of the things I should not do-- the sack would not go in there with me.  I would have to go in alone.

I never got to understand what was in the sack, and when I did try to make sense of it, people would shake their heads and say it was better to carry the sack without questioning it because only God could understand it all.  Even though the men in the church had put it all together and the men made all the rules, they still said that God did it all.  It took me around in one big circle, where the end was the beginning, and the beginning came from the end.

I woke up before my dream ended, but I have made my own ending.  I looked in the sack and found it to be full of sticks and rocks that people use to hurt each other with.  There was no substance, nothing that made sense.  I took it to the beach, dumped the rocks and sticks out on the sand, crumpled up the bag, and threw it away.  I am now walking, sack-free; my mind is clear, my burden is light and my heart is happy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

add me to the people who rant about Amazon

It's probably my own fault.  I decided to trade in a textbook to Amazon.  I should have known better.

To make a long story shorter, when you trade books in, they give you a shipping label and you slap it on your package and UPS it out of town.  They get it, and you get credit you can spend on Amazon.  Easy peasy, right?  Well, not so fast...

So I can see from the tracking that my package was received last week.  However, when I look in my account options, it still says it is in transit and has not been received.  I expected to wait a couple of days for that, but my patience has run out.  I'm tired of waiting.  I had no clean patience pants to put on this morning, so on my lunch hour, I set out to get to the bottom of this.

Unfortunately, the deeper I dug, the murkier it got.  All I got out of it was hot and bothered, and a wasted lunch hour.  I;ll let you in on the very enlightening chat conversation here.

You are now connected to Pankaj from

Me:  Can you tell me why my trade in book (TRN-*******-*******) still says not rec'd, but was marked delivered and signed for on 5-30-2014? (5 days ago)

Pankaj:  Hello, my name is Pankaj. I'll be happy to help you.  May have the trade in number please?

Me:  It is listed above ^^

Pankaj:  Please allow me minute or two, while I check this for you.

Me:  sure  [allow you minute or two, Pankaj?  …clearly Pankaj is not working in the US]

Pankaj:  Thanks for waiting. The current status of trade-in is received. Even though tracking says it's been delivered, the receiving merchant may not have started processing your trade-in or marked it as received.

It looks like the merchant has received your submission but is still processing it.
If your submission is accepted by the merchant, Amazon Gift Card funds in the amount of the quoted trade-in value for your item(s) will be automatically deposited in your account within two business days. We cannot send cash or a check for your trade-in.
I will suggest you to please wait for 2 days more, you will be credited with gift card.

Me:  I know that. I just don't understand why it says that the status is "Not received/Still in transit"

Pankaj:  I am sorry as I said it might be possible 5the merchant is still processing it.

Me:  I thought the merchant would take two days to process it and mark it received and then it would be two more days before it gets credited my amazon account. It's very frustrating to have to wait so long.  Who is the merchant? I thought I traded it in to Amazon

Pankaj:  I understand and apologizes for that.

Me:  how can I contact the merchant then?

Pankaj:  If you want I can issue promotional credit for same amount right now?

Me:  What does that mean?

Pankaj:  It will automatically apply on your next purchase for shipped and sold by amazon items only.  It will automatically apply on your next order for shipped and sold by amazon items. If the promo will be issued you will not get gift card.  Please make sure it will not apply on seller item or fulfilled by amazon items.  I understand I am sending a confirmation email to you that you will get the gift card within next 2 business days.

Me:  Who is the merchant? How do I contact them?

 Pankaj:  I am sorry only we can email to merchant.

Me:  Are you referring to the credit from the merchant in the next two days or the promo? Because I am not interested in the promo.  Are you going to email the merchant then?

Pankaj:  I will transfer a form to our gift card team to issue gift card as soon as possible for your trade in.

Me:  Are you going to contact the merchant?

Pankaj:  Yes.

Me:  How will I know what you find out from the merchant?

Pankaj:  You need not worry about it, I can send you a confirmation email regarding this.  Once the gift card will be issued, we will send you a confirmation email. [I “need not worry” about it???  Don't patronize me.  And your credibility is falling faster than the barometer in a typhoon.]

Me:  I am worried about it. This is not going the way Amazon says it will happen. Amazon does not say that the merchant can take an undetermined amount of time to mark the package received before the credit is issued, but that is what seems to be happening here. I am not trying to be unreasonable. I appreciate your help, but when you say that you will tell your gift card team to issue it as soon as possible, that does not reassure me because Amazon already said that, and it is not happening. This is not okay. I still don't have a timeline I can count on, even though my package was delivered five days ago. Five days.

Pankaj:  Some times it may take 5-8 days to process and thanks for understanding. I am really sorry for this inconvenience you experienced.  I am forwarding your comments to our concern team and they will work on this.  I assure you it will never happen again.

Me:  I appreciate the information but I am still not happy. This was a waste of my time. I've spent half an hour with you and nothing has changed, I have no guarantee that it will change, and in fact you are telling me that it could be another 3 to 5 days MORE before I see a credit, and I can't even contact the merchant to ask them about my package. This is not okay.  I appreciate your kindness but your reassurance does nothing to increase my confidence.

Pankaj:  I am sorry for this, please tell me what I can do right now for this? [Here, my eyes bug out, and I start practicing my deep breathing technique to stay calm.]

Me:  Why can't you issue me a non-promo credit now?  You can clearly see that it was received.  Why are you only offering me a promo credit?

Pankaj:  I love to do that for you but I am unable to issue gift card. If you want I can transfer you to my Supervisor. We can only issue promotional credit.

Me:  What could your supervisor offer that you cannot? You already know what I want, and you have told me I can't have it. I can't have the contact information for the merchant. You can't give me the credit. And you can't tell me when the book will be marked received or when I will be issued a credit for the trade-in.

Pankaj:  You will get credit within 2 business days.

Me:  Can your supervisor do any of those things? If so, then yes, please transfer me. If not, then no. I do not want to be transferred.

Pankaj:  Let me transfer this for better help.  Please wait.
Your chat is being transferred now, Thanks for your patience.

Pankaj from is online
A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.
You are now connected to Danish from

Danish:  Hello, my name is Danish. I am a member of leadership team here at [“Danish”???  I’m chatting with "Danish" now?   I’m LOL now because I immediately thought of Phoebe giving Rachel a massage as “Ikea”, the Swedish masseuse.  Danish.  My eye.]

Me:    hello

Danish:  I am sorry to know that you have not received a credit for trade in.

I can see we received your trade in on May 30th. I will suggest you to wait till 6th June.  We can't apply a gift card until this time frame is passed.  [My Rage-O-Meter has just gone from 0 to 90 in two seconds flat.  Before I was just annoyed.  Now I've gone over the cliff.]

Me:  You're kidding me, right? Pankaj already suggested that.  She transferred me here so you could tell me the same thing???

Danish:  I can understand he offered you a promotion credit however it will take 3-5 business days (after sending to gift card team).  [Pankaj is a HE???]

Me:  I do NOT want a promotion credit. Do NOT issue promo credit. This is an incredible waste of time.

I have nothing further to say here. Good day.

Danish from is online.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

wordle, anyone?

I found a lovely toy called wordle.  All my writing here can be distilled down to this, apparently.  It even pulled in the right colors.  Give it a try...the instructions are there. You can add the text you want or use the URL of a blog that has an RSS feed.  You can click on the "Randomize" button to randomly change the color, size and style of the font.  Keep clicking until you find one you like.

Monday, March 31, 2014

cats and more cats, and a dog...

It's official.  I've turned into a cat lady.  The kittens are my babies.

My hubby: The cats are on the counter!
Me: Oh, I didn't even notice. (They are right in front of me.)

I come home from work, put down my bags, and pet all of the cats and the dog before taking another step.

My hubby: Maybe if I had more fur and walked around on four legs, you would come give me some attention.

I laugh.  He's so funny.

I can completely relate to these comics.  You can find more of them at cat versus human, if you like them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

wah, wah, wah...

I'm so disappointed...I filled my little thermos jug with the most wonderful coffee this morning: Starbucks Tribute Blend coffee with just the right amount of cream--have you tried it?!  It's like a smooth slice of heaven in a cup.  I know, I mix my metaphors quite frequently.  You'll get used to it.  LOL.  But if you tried it, I bet you would agree with me, without any more thought to my metaphors at all. 

Getting it in the thermos was all good and fine.  However, I left said thermos on the kitchen counter, and all I can do at work this morning is think longingly of my delicious coffee, SITTING AT HOME!  It makes me sad.

I might have to buy another bag of beans on the way home.  It is a seasonal coffee, after all, and it's only here for a limited time each year.  Scoop it up quick before it's gone!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

a thousand words

I love going through old pictures.  A picture is worth a thousand words, they say.  I think it's more than that.  Pictures speak to me, not always in words, but in song and sensation, too.  Some of them hum quietly, and others break out with a raucous rock song that fires me up.  Sometimes it's too bad that we can't hush them up so that they say only what we want them to.  I've taken my share of those pictures that chatter obnoxiously on forever about things I'd rather not have viewed in mixed company.  I'm thinking of pictures of me on a horrible hair day, caught in history forever, or other ones that, unfortunately, were taken on a swift trip to the trash can.  Other pictures, however, sing in blissful harmony and share a lovely moment in time.  This one, for example, has a sweet story to tell, even though it was created merely because of a random desire to test out the camera by taking a picture of all the kids together.

Trying to gather the kids to take a picture of them all together was always an interesting event.  I have some holiday pictures that tell quite a story, with all of the children dressed up in their nice clothes, some with tears running down their faces, and the others with extra wide smiles as if trying to make up for the ones who are crying, clearly not happy to be sitting there. In this picture, however, they are all smiles.  As I look at this picture I took of my children when I only had four of them, I'm struck by the stories being told here.   I know, saying only four children is a bit of an oxymoron, especially in today's culture with birth control easily available at the drugstore and many families choosing to have only one or two children.  But I say only four because I had three more children after this, and even later, added four more children by marriage.  But all of that is another story.

When I look at this picture now, thirty some years after it was taken, I can see the children's  personalities popping out at me.  Like Willy, the oldest, who is on the left side holding Melissa, the baby.  He is happy to be in charge of something.  He was always the one who was breaking ground for everyone else, always wanted to have just a little more of anything than the other kids.  I'm sure that it was just for reassurance that he hadn't been knocked off his firstborn throne no matter how many kids came along. 

There are some benefits to being the oldest, you know, and he was determined to make the most of them.  He was always the one who would come quietly on the side, turning on the charming smile, and then while I was still smiling back at him, would ask if I had any treats or money he could have.  Nothing made him happier than that.  But of course, he couldn't keep it a secret for long.  He would have to let one of the kids know what he got, and before long, someone else would come find me, wanting the same thing he had gotten.  Kids are so funny.

And then, there is Robert, the next oldest, who was the happiest little guy I
ever saw.  He had a sweet side to him that made me want to squeeze him.  He would melt like a box of chocolates in the sun when I'd look at him and smile, and he would give me back that cute little grin that he has on his face in the picture.  I can still coax it out of him today if I try.  And that same grin would flash in an instant if I even wiggled my hand in the direction of his neck or walked my fingers up his spine.  He was so ticklish that he couldn't even stand the thought of it without breaking into giggles.    

When he was young, he was content to play second fiddle to Willy's position in first chair, but as he got older, he learned that he could get quite a reaction out of Willy if he teased him in just the right way, and armed with that knowledge, the sibling war began.  The first inkling I would have that trouble was brewing was when I'd hear two sets of footsteps thundering down the hallway into the living room as Robert, giggling like crazy, tried to outrun Willy after he had pushed him just that little bit too far.  And then Willy would wreak his revenge with a well-placed punch, and when I scolded him for hitting, he would get so mad because Robert didn't get in trouble, too. 

Some things never change.  When you get the two of them together today, grown as they are, all it takes is for one of them to say just the right thing or look at the other one with a certain fiendish look, and they're off their chairs, wrestling right in the middle of the living room floor or wherever they happen to be.  I just throw my hands up and go in the other room, saying, "If one of you gets hurt, someone else is driving you to the hospital.  I am not in charge anymore!"

Diane, the next one to the right in the picture, was the first girl, and she acted just as much like a firstborn as Willy did.  It was no wonder that they butted heads constantly.  Even at two-and-a-half, she always tried to do things the right way, and I think it was important to her to have things work the way they should.  Her earnest efforts to manage everything perfectly tugged at my heartstrings.  Diane loved to know how things should be, what the rules were, and what people were supposed to be doing because then she could tell the other kids what they were supposed to be doing, and she'd tell me when they did something they weren't supposed to be doing.  She didn't like surprises; she like to know exactly what to expect and when to expect it.  In this picture, you can see some of the seriousness in her eyes, even though a half smile is quirking up one side of her mouth. 

When I told them to scoot in closer to each other so I could make sure they all got into the picture, she flung her hand up around Robert's shoulder so she could snuggle him a little closer.  Robert kept his hands firmly folded together.  Maybe he didn't know which way to scoot to get closer because if he would have scooted in Willy's direction, he would have scooted away from Diane, and vice versa. Or maybe he figured it wasn't his job to scoot because he was already as much in the middle as he could be.  When he was faced with a choice where both options made sense, sometimes he chose something in between that would give a nod to both choices.  He liked to follow his own logic, and if something made sense to him, there was no way you were going to convince him otherwise.  Thus, his posture, even when Diane was trying to get him to come nearer to her. 

Melissa was only about six months old here, but she was another happy-go-lucky one.  The only time she cried was when she was hungry or tired.  Her hair had a mind of its own, growing every which way it could, even straight up, flopping over when it got too long.  The little grin you see here reflected her sunny personality already at this age.  The novelty of having a baby sister hadn't worn off yet, but as they got older, there was some rivalry going on, more so on Diane's part, I think, as she tried to cope with not being the youngest and the center of attention anymore. 

Melissa was more even tempered than Diane was, and the age difference made it more apparent.  Diane was going through what is fondly called "The Terrible Twos," but Melissa was still in the stage where she didn't get into much.  She couldn't.  She wasn't even crawling at that age.  And she was usually happy just finding a toy on the floor she could play with.  Her smile matches the smiles of the other kids, and it reminds me of the innocence of childhood and the simplicity of daily life with children.  There are no world records that can measure this kind of success; you can see their happiness on their faces.

But even more than the children and the fortunate serendipity of catching them all with a smile on their faces, the rest of the picture tells the rest of the story.  Our couch reflected the wear and tear that four busy babies had inflicted on it. We bought that couch after Robert was born, and already, it had started to fray.  The welted edge coming loose from the cushion next to Diane tells about the constant push and pull on the couch cushions that was a daily occurrence in our house.  The cushions came off the couch to make a fort, and then got laid down to soften the floor when the kids did somersaults across the living room.  One of the kids would lay on the base of the couch bed, and the other kids piled the cushions and then themselves on top of the unlucky one who had laid down there.  

The reflection of the flash on the window reveals the many fingerprints from the children from when they stood on the couch, poking at the window in an effort to point out something outside, or sometimes, just to bang on the window and hear the noise as the two windows clanked together.  I can't count the number of times I noticed the windows were like that.  Sometimes I scurried off to find a cloth to clean them with, but probably more often, I sighed, thought about washing them, and then decided that whatever I was doing at the time was more important.  When the kids were little, the work was never all the way done, and the house never stayed clean for long.