Thursday, May 28, 2009

This week on the call floor.....

My last call last night, at 11 pm (10 pm, California time) was from a woman who wanted the texting block on her two sons, age 9 & 12, phones. So she could download some songs onto their phones and then she wanted the block back up. Now. I was supposed to get off at 11:15 and at 11 pm, for some stupid reason, some of our programs shut down or start working so slow that it takes 5 minutes just to remove a feature.

I was on the phone with that woman for 30 minutes. I got the texting set up the way she wanted and clicked out of her account and then she added, "oh, I need the internet block removed, as well." I hated her by the time I got off, 15 minutes late...people have no consideration.

I had call from a Russian lady about her bill and when she realized that I was nice and accomodating, she had a bunch of questions. Throw in that I could speak a little Russian AND was a Mormon in Utah and her husband insisted on speaking to me with his own questions. He told me how he wanted to be a Mormon so he could have multiple wives. His wife was yelling in the background "She's a grandmother, Grisha! She has grown grandchildren."

Another call came in from a guy who used to be the voice of one of the characters on the old Yogi Bear cartoon, Boo-boo, I think. He was delightful, in his 80's, getting a cell phone for the first ime and needing all kinds of help (grammar junkies, ignore this) and talking in the cartoon characters' voice. He had a really cool voice and personna. Jimmy Weldon. I enjoyed him. Until he accidentally hung up on me and another call came in.

I get yelled at every day. Most of the time, it doesn't bother me. Getting whined at makes me want to go to peoples' houses and slap them. But yesterday, I got chewed out royal by a lady who sounded just like Roseanne Barr. She had an extra $40 on her bill and she wanted it off! "And hurry up about it, I don't have a lot of time." Turns out she had plenty of time to tell me off about all her life problems. Her stepfather has a bad heart and he and her mother live in the mountains and need an expensive phone and ATT wouldn't give it to them. Give being the operative word.

She was skeptical when I told her I'd adjusted the amount off her bill. She kept saying, "Are you sure? If I call in tomorrow, will that be on my account?" Finally, I said, "If you call in tomorrow and that $40 is back on your bill, I will send you my oldest child and his dog."

Silence....then she said, "I hate kids. And I hate dogs, too."

Finally, I told her my name and said, "that's my real name, you can call me at home and yell at me."

She softened just a touch and said, "Well, I know all this isn't your fault..."

And I said, "Oh, it's okay. I've enjoyed talking to you. You sound just like Roseanne Barr."

After a moment of silence, she said, "I hate Roseanne Barr." And slammed the phone down.

All in a day's work.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chinese Guy Pushes Other Chinese Guy Off Bridge...

In a gesture of ultimate practicality, Lai Jinshang pushed Chen Fuchao to his death off a bridge in southern China. He'd had it with people climbing up on the bridge and threatening to jump.

Fuchao was up to his ears in debt and like many before him, climbed on the bridge and threatened to jump, as people and police gathered around him trying to talk him down.

As I said, this had happened before on this bridge. Many Chinese are deeply in debt and suicide seems an option.

But Lai had had enough with the drama. He bypassed police, walked up to Fuchao, and stuck his hand out as if to shake Fuchao's hand. When Fuchao put his hand out, Lai pushed him off the bridge, and turned to salute the crowd. Problem solved.

I have a sick sense of humor. I thought this was funny.

I also thought "well, Lai made that bridge safe again. Nobody's going to climb up there for a long time unless they really really mean to jump."

Good on you, Lai.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Joke's on Me....and other updates

My friends all hate me on their birthdays. Because I am the "baby" of our group. And I give them a really, really hard time about how old they are. Well, it is disconcerting to have friends in their 60's. How the hell did that happen? 30 used to be old!
My friend, John, for instance, is ten years older than I am and boy it's really bone chilling to have a peer who is almost 70. I look at him and think, "you don't seem ancient."
I gave them such a hard time that, for my 40th birthday, they got up at the crack of dawn and put a big sign covering the whole side of my house and put balloons and flyers on everybody's mail box to announce my age. I didn't care, because, as I reminded them, they were still older than I.
This year, Bill's ex-wife, Julie turned 60. We are friends and she's three years older than I am and that's how I keep track of her age. So, I alerted her co-workers and they planned to roast her and I sent her flowers with black balloons and I had her name put up at the marquee in a motel downtown. I knew she'd hate it and that was the fun part.
She called me later that day and said sweetly, "Thank you for the flowers, Arlene, but I'm not 60."
"Yes, you are! You can't fool me. I know exactly how old you are! You're three years older than I am and I'm 57." Laughing.
"Arlene..." (quietly and still sweetly)"You're not 57. You're 56. I'm 59. I'll be 60 next year."
Damn. She was right. I got my age mixed up.
Oh, well, it was fun and funny for various reasons and I'll get her next year. At least now I know for sure how old I am. That happened the year I was 52. I gave my sister a bad time about turning 50, but she reminded me I was 51. Making her only 49. really can get confused about your old age. It will happen to all of you young people as well.

I think I have a church calling. It's been niggling at the back of my mind, anyway, and I almost volunteered for it because I thought our ward needed better compassionate service, but it always comes back to bite me when I volunteer for something thinking I could do a better job. But I was talking to my stalker visiting teacher, who is a doll, and also the new RS president and she told me who they were calling as compassionate service leader. I told her how I rocked that calling years ago and she asked me if I would consider being the assistant, because the other person also works and it is a big calling and I said okay. Maybe I'm getting active again. We'll see. I haven't been called yet, but if I do, I'm going to accept. I could do compassionate service with one hand tied behind my back. It's easy and fun for me and since it does sound sort of fun, maybe I'm coming out of my 5 year slump.

I'm resenting Bill today. I asked him to stay home for Memorial Day weekend, although I have to work Saturday and Monday. My sister's boyfriend is coming up and he's difficult. He's an alcoholic and angry at the world. We have fixed up Dessie's grave and it will have a nice new stone on it. He wants to visit her grave and I totally understand. However, with my work schedule, there will be little time for socializing. He probably won't even want to socialize anyway. But, because of the possibility for problems, I felt I needed Bill to stay home, especially for Sunday. Just in case.

But he came to me and said, "I will if you really want me to, but I think I should go to Ely. I haven't seen Alex (his grandson) in a long time and I feel I need to take care of the graves (his parents and my first husband and son) up there." He's throwing in Alex and the graves because he knows those are also my priorities.

But it's really about fishing. He's got his boat all ready to go and parked in the driveway to pack up, etc. He's going fishing. Alex is the shill he's using to get me to say okay. Which normally I never say a word. He's very lucky that way, he can go and do whatever he wants without a peep from me. I very seldom ask him not to. It's been years since I asked him to stay home with me from anything.

But. "If you really, really need me, I'll stay, but....." And I said, "whatever, you're right, I'll be working."

The other part I resent is that he fishes in the lake where my husband and son were killed. I just find that so disrespectful to my experience of giving my son CPR on the side of that lake and knowing my husband was already dead.

It used to really hurt my feelings, but now, whatever. At least I'll be rid of him for the weekend. It's relaxing to be home alone in my slobhood.

I just hope my sister's boyfriend doesn't show up. I doubt it. But this is an argument Bill already lost. He just doesn't know it yet. His mother did the same thing to me when James died. I asked her specifically to come be with me. I honestly needed her. She was going hunting. Asking me over and over again, "do you really need me?" until I said, "no, it's okay." She and Bill's sister drove from the hunting camp to the funeral and then went right back to hunting. They were the only members of Bill's family to come to the funeral. And they never spoke of James again in Bill's family.

I've given up expecting him to consider my feelings. I asked nice, too. One more nail in the coffin.

Friday, May 15, 2009

GM's List

GM is supposed to notify its dealerships about closings today. Bill has worked for a small dealership in southern Utah since 1986; before that he worked for another dealership for 8 years. That dealership also sells Pontiacs, so they're probably suffering right now. Boy, those old Trans Ams will be worth a mint!

Bill has been quiet and concerned, but oddly, not mentally ill at the prospect, which is new for him. He usually is a nervous wreck. He's the senior salesman, if GM does end its contract with the dealership, he will probably still have a job, unless the business closes altogether. That's not really a realistic assumption, though. They do sell a lot of used cars and have a body shop and mechanics. A lot of people would be out of work.

I guess it would be quite disastrous. Bill's 62 and we still have a small savings (I have no idea how much or where, I do know we lost a lot in the stock market debacle, but with our marital problems, I have no clue about the IRA or 401K funds), so we might be okay for awhile.

I feel very badly for the young families who depended on GM for their future. I'm not making any judgements about economic realities; I'm fairly ignorant about that stuff. I just feel badly for people.

Not so much for us, though. I think if we lost everything and had to sell our house and get into a smaller one, it might be the beginning for us. We never got to have "our" house. It was all about practicalities based on the fact that we had three kids when we started our marriage. We just jumped into it running. If that's even remotely grammatical.

General Motors has been good to us. Bill complains about his job all the time---the insecurity of it. It's really up and down at the best of times. Because he is a good salesman---and by that, I mean, he cares about his customers and takes care that they buy a good product for their needs---he has a lot of repeat customers who are older and secure financially. We've been able to tread water the last few years.
But all the economic stuff will surely catch up to us as well.

If the worst happened and the dealership closed, we would survive. The other families who depend on it for a living, not so much. It's really easy for people to toss off condemnation of GM and the other big car companies, but if you look at the small picture, peoples' lives are affected.

For us, for today, things are okay.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I dated a Hopi Indian guy when I worked for the university, oh, let's see, that was more than 30 years ago. I loved him, he loved me, he had a drinking problem and wasn't interested in Mormonism. We broke up and it was really hard and sad and I will always love him.

I typed one of his papers once for a class he was taking on child development. He wrote about a kid he worked with in glowing terms. "Korey is a bright and wonderful kid, etc..."

The next year, after the breakup, in a weird coincidence, I moved, with my small son, into a subdivision. Korey's family was our neighbors! What a cute little boy he was, brown and sturdy, big eyes and shy smile. Korey had been adopted by the family, he was a Shoshone child from northern Utah. The family eventually adopted 7 children: two Caucasian children, Korey, a boy from Ecuador, and three children who had the same black father and white mother. My children were fortunate that they grew up color blind in our racially diverse neighborhood (the family across the street was Tongan!).

Korey and my James became best friends. There were five boys who were glued at the hip; all building tree huts, digging underground forts, racing their bikes, going to boy scouts and the swimming pool. These five boys seldom quarrelled, just great kids growing up together. Korey and the others were a constant fixture at our house, eating popsicles, playing Star Wars, and planning intrigues as only boys can.

My Sarah adored Korey of all James' friends.

Korey, and the other three boys, Cory, John, and George, was a pall bearer at James' funeral. This kid was as close to my family as if he was family.

A small glitch occurred when James was 15, Korey, 14, I may have mixed up the ages a bit, but not much. James came storming into the house, "Mom, don't let Korey around Jessie any more! He's a pervert! I just caught him on top of her on the trampoline! I punched him and threw him off our property!"

I thought James was overreacting and in those days, of course, we didn't know as much about sexual molestation. Frankly, I was embarrassed for Korey. I talked to Jessie, who was 8 and told her if Korey bothered her any more to come tell me. No big deal. Korey and James avoided each other for a couple of weeks, then went on as nothing. The other friends tell me they remember a fight between the boys, but James never told them what it was about.

However, about two weeks later, Jessie came sobbing into the house and said Korey had come out into the back yard of his home where she was playing and held her down and pulled her underwear off.

At that point, we took it a bit more seriously, and Bill made an appointment to talk to Korey's father, who was our bishop, to give him a heads up. No more was said or done. We never mentioned it again. I never discussed it with Korey's mother. I wondered, at times, if she knew about the problem, because she frequently left Korey to babysit his four younger sisters. But I trusted them and figured they had it under control.

2006, early Spring. Cory's mother called me to tell me that her daughters had revealed that Korey had molested them for years, beginning when the youngest one was 5 and Korey 14. The younger girl was messed up big time and needing serious psychological care. The situation dominoed from there, seven victims in all came forward, at least four of the girls had reported the behavior to Korey's father, the bishop, who called them liars.

One 5 year old had been molested while Dayna tended her. Dayna was upstairs while Korey molested this girl in the basement. When her mother took her out to the car, she told her mother, and they went right back into the house and confronted Korey in front of his parents. Korey didn't admit to everything he did, but he was forced to concede he'd molested her. His father called the parents of the victim into his office and had Korey apologize.

I knew nothing about the others all those years. Many of you know what happened next. Korey was charged as an adult and convicted of sexual abuse. He's now a registered sex offender, although there's little risk he'll re-offend, according to the extensive and invasive testing he had. The families involved are alienated, it traumatized our ward, and residual bitterness lingers (is that redundant) among us all. Korey's father died, unable to answer why he hid and protected his son all those years. Were we suing people, the church would have a lawsuit on its hands. The bishop's failure to act and believe the girls led to a great deal of pain on all sides.

I had a meltdown, yada yada yada. It's been rough.

I feel such melancholy for those days when the kids were running and playing and best friends. I hadn't seen Korey since June 2006, the sentencing trial. But last week, when I took Bill's shirts in to be cleaned, he entered the cleaner's and stood in back of me as I gave them the shirts and paid. I saw him walking in and just pretended like I didn't know it was him. I kept my back to him. It was incredibly awkward.

I glanced at him as I walked out, without speaking. He looked sheepish, embarrassed, a small smile on his face. This is so so sad. I loved that kid. But he did this awful thing, his family behaved abominably towards the victims during the trial phase of this saga and what once was is no more. Korey, I believe, never told his mother the full truth of what he did and she feels attacked and victimized herself, as do the other family members. No apologies. Korey scored very low to re-offend, but also very low on victim empathy and remorse. I feel his lack of true repentance and honesty made the whole situation ten times worse. I wish I could hate him, but I don't.

I can't believe it. I just can't believe it's come to this. Korey. Korey.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Tulips, Lilacs, Honeysuckle & Apple Blossoms

My yard is like a park....not a perfectly maintained park, although Bill keeps it looking pretty spiffy. It's got quirks that make it interesting, though, the weird triangle shape of our lot, for one thing.

I do not have a green thumb. I've been able to grow things, but not the way Bill or other expert gardners do; I don't like the feel of digging in the dirt, either. But I love the plants when they grow. Every tree and bush in our yard has been planted at my direction. I love shade and the trees have been planted skeewampus because I will decide an area needs shade. We have a big blue spruce in the front yard that was--no lie--two feet tall when we planted it in 1982.

Dayna and I dug up some starts from my aunt Cora's lilac bushes--her house in town had been sold to build a motel. They're about 8 feet high now. They don't always bloom, though, because the weather here is so unpredictable and usually there's a freeze in late April that kills the blooms. They sure provide a lot of shade, though.

We have a honeysuckle bush just outside our bedroom window that blooms gloriously in pink for a few weeks in late May; likewise the snowball bush in the front corner of the yard. We planted an apple tree the year James died---1991. It's still small; the apples have never been much to write home about, but the blossoms are so pretty and it's big enough for small children to climb the limbs.

My neighbor, Cathy, always has the prettiest tulips and daffodils in her yard. Mine never do well. I have a theory that this is because her yard faces north and mine faces south and tulips and daffodils like it a little cooler.

I have rose bushes: yellow, yellow-green (absolutely stunning), pink, purple, and my aura rose, a wild orange red color. They always do well.

Our yard attracts birds of all sorts; robins always build their nests in our trees, which our cat loves. This year, a really smart robin has built a nest right outside the kitchen window on top of the electrical box---the cat can't reach it. It's a nice sunny place for her eggs. And there are eggs--we looked. She's always there, watching over her babies. Bill puts up hummingbird feeders and the little buggers come in hoards, viciously fighting each other for the nectar.

We have a bird feeder in the garden and when Bill plants the seedllings, he always plants flowers, as well. This year, I'm going to persuade him to plant morning glories all around the perimiter to climb the wire fence blocking off the garden area. That will attract bees and provide lovely vines as well as flowers. I love morning glories. They grow so easily.

This is the prettiest spring we've had in a long time, although I fear the warm weather is a harbinger of a miserably hot summer. Sometimes I get up really early and I love the smell as I peek out; the birds are happy--you can tell because they're making quite a racket, and I think my heart is healing.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Four months since Mom died. I feel a presence near, only lately. I don't recognize this person, but truly I never knew my mother. I knew a lazy, selfish drunk most of my life and a tiny gentle little person who was a child in every way towards the end of hers. I've missed the peace of the rest home and I've missed that little soul. But that is not my mother. I feel this presence and my sister Dessie at times and it's nice. No big deal. Just nice.

I've ordered stones for Mom and Dessie's graves---heart-shaped and matching. Modest, but lovely. They are buried on either side of James. Bill and I were at the cemetery a couple of weeks ago, tending the graves and Bill asked, "I thought Dessie buried over there (pointing to Mom's grave), who's in that grave?" He's losing it, you guys. Old age is right around the corner for some of you, brace yourself.

Bookslinger, you asked me to post about holidays. Well, I hate all holidays and the necessity of properly celebrating them and I'm a total moron about celebrating holidays. We had a nice New Years Eve; I made a candlelight dinner with steak and shrimp and salad and dessert. Wait, maybe that was last year. Anyway, one year, I did that. LOL.

Valentines comes two days after Bill's birthday--he's 62 now. I hate both holidays. Because he has everything it's impossible to buy for him. It hits right when we're paying the piper for christmas, although this year, not so much. I wanted to take our grown up kids out to dinner at Outback, but he nixed that idea---too expensive. We ended up having friends over for dinner and cake. No, maybe that was our anniversary.

Valentines---what an excuse to spend money! I got him a box of chocolate covered cherries and he got me a stuffed dog that sings "I Feel Good." He always gives me sentimental cards and I always give him funny ones. I used to give him sentimental ones, but now I can't find ones that say, "Remember when I used to worship the ground you walked on? You're still okay, but I no longer feel that way. Maybe I will again, but for now, Happy Birthday." so I try to find funny ones that show the affection I feel without waxing poetic. I think---I hope---sometime I'll feel differently.

For now, our relationship is sweet and peaceful. I'm afraid to trust that, though. Bill is going to counseling and trying so hard. But we're avoiding difficult subjects, like money. I get pretty tired working full time, but it's worth it because it pays for my health insurance and buys me personal freedom. I also, of course, am going to counseling and working on my own negativity and pessimism.

I'm struggling with my testimony, but I feel part of this is the lack of attendance due to my job and part is due to the residual bitterness from the terrible sexual abuse situation in my ward. They changed our ward boundaries and we have a lot of new strong members who aren't in any way a part of the situation, but the pall remains. Our leadership, in what I think is a tribute to stupidity, put the former Relief Society president, and mother of a victim, in as primary pianist and the former Young Womens president and mother of the perpetrator, in as primary chorister.

The chorister has a strong and vibrant personality; she's full of hubris. The pianist is quiet and strong. She's also seething. I'm sure it bothers her to hear her "enemy" telling the little girls how special they are. The thought bothers me. The hypocrisy in the way her actions contradicts her words is mind blowing. Another friend said awhile back, " 'chorister' " said, 'I don't think 'pianist' likes me.' " I think she and her family, because the other woman is so quiet and I'm so loud, though I was the organizer and the one with the strongest feelings about the issue. Neither was true. I was the most conflicted, loving them both.

Now, I'm sick of the both of them. Both thought their butts were made out of gold and were seriously offended by the situation and the way it impinged on their elite status. The rest of us just got hurt---the girls got hurt twice. The former RS president told me strongly to stay neutral and stay out of two sexual abuse---actual rape cases--in our ward. I refused. She sure wanted me to take a side when it involved her, but she never stood up for the others. If her child wasn't affected, she'd not have had an opinion in this either. If the womens' situations were reversed, I think they'd both still be equally offended. It's not about the issue, it's about their ego and pride.

So, obviously, I've got some residual resentment. And some of it is toward my husband. He said last night that he feels attending Sunday School where the perpetrators stepfather teaches is a betrayal of me. Three years later and all that bad treatment, he thinks THIS is a betrayal? I didn't say a word, though, I simmered. Hell, I could give him his betrayals, line item.

Well, holidays. I like St. Patrick's Day. You don't have to buy anybody a card. I made corned beef and cabbage, which we both love.

Easter, I cooked a ham. No Bill cooked it. He overcooked it, actually. I bought my grandchildren some new clothes and actually went to church. Not because it was Easter, I didn't realize it was that sunday, but because I'd promised a friend we'd go together. We're both trying to re-enter the church LOL. She didn't make it, but I did.

Bill asked Friday morning, "do you need me to get eggs to color?" I said, "No, I don't do stuff anymore." Last year, I'd just left him and he bought eggs and dye and had the grandkids over. this year, they did it at their mom's house.

One year since Dessie's death. It seems like yesterday and I miss her so. I can't believe she's gone. I have reconciled with my baby sister, though, as a result of the events of last year. We've found a new respect for each other and I am enjoying her immensely.

Sarah's wedding brought out all the problems in my marriage, but I handled it differently. The moment he started objecting to giving Sarah money---he'd told me he'd give her $1000, a goodly sum, for her next wedding, I said, "okay, I'm out of this. You work it out with Sarah." And boy did he sputter. I kid you not. I said, "If you don't have any money, tell her, don't tell me to tell her." Of course, he's always broke, according to him. At that point, he made the decision to just write her a check and let her handle it herself. He said, "I'm not going to make her come to me for money." I just stared at him.

Then Sarah was going to have a garden wedding in the backyard and have her dad grill pork ribs. Well in April we have snow in the backyard in Cedar City. I was trying to tell her this and she got mad and started telling me how I wasn't supporting her and I said, "I will support you in whatever you want to do. But you have to do it. I work, too, and I don't have the energy to put on a wedding. You will have to plan it and put it together." And she, like her dad, sputtered. Suddenly the wedding got simpler. I ended up "only" making potato salad for 200 people. I never want to look at potato salad again as long as I live.

But I didn't do much, she budgeted, and his family pitched in and it was a beautiful wedding.

In AA we have a saying, "If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got." It's true. I'm sick of being the go-between and whipping boy for my husband and my kids. Bill doesn't want to be seen as cheap, he wants me to do it for him.

We haven't had a real major fight since I've been back though. We hardly even speak meanly to each other.

I can get on a roll and blame this on the fact that Bill pays for very few of my expenses and is saving a bundle on my health insurance; I get caught up in resentment then. But I'm making an effort to look for the silver lining. Maybe Pollyanna wasn't so far off. I'm only beginning to realize how very negative and sad I've been. I'm also starting to look at the bad spending habits I've developed in the last five years and hope to make some positive changes in that vein, as well.

I'm on DHEA and a health food store supplement that stimulates HGH. My research shows that stress depletes this and that this is becoming a standard treatment for fibromyalgia/CFIDS. I feel better. I love my job. I'm content, for the moment, in my home and in my marriage. My kids are stable. I think I'm finding a new authenticity as I'm not the caretaker I was in my friendships and in my ward. I am who I am and I don't have the energy or physical stamina to be anything else. I'm leaning on God in a way I never did before.

Perhaps I'm coming out of the dark. Knock on wood.