Day: July 19, 2016

Why You Should Never Buy a Dell Computer

 

Years ago, my husband and I bought a Dell desktop for our home computer. Despite having all the latest security software, it caught multiple viruses and malware. Their customer service/tech department was absolutely worthless and unhelpful. We had to hire someone locally to remove the malware each time.

The third time this happened, we decided to not pay someone to remove the viruses, and instead use the money we were wasting on the Dell desktop to buy laptops from Toshiba instead.

We never had a problem with viruses again.

“We will never again buy a Dell!” we said.

***

When my Toshiba laptop died after many years of service (fair enough), I bought a Lenovo laptop to replace it. The Lenovo runs like a dream (I’m typing this on it right now) but I ordered a 17″ and it’s the largest 17″ laptop I’ve ever experienced. Like holding a very quiet, flat baby on my lap. (My old 17″ Toshiba laptop fit inside it with inches to spare on all sides? The Lenovo is big!)

My husband is 6’5″ and a big laptop suits him fine, so I passed the Lenovo onto him, and began my search for an affordable 14-15″ laptop for myself.

The news reported around this time that Lenovo was sending out computers with malware pre-installed, so rather than buy a smaller Lenovo, I shopped other brands for a smaller laptop.

***

I found a Dell laptop in my price range, and my husband ominously warned me: “Remember all the problems we had with the Dell desktop! DON’T BUY A DELL!”

But it was cute. I liked the keyboard, with the large “Shift” key, rather than the annoying chopped in half and shared by the “up arrow” keyboard design utilized by Lenovo.

Plus, the price was right.

Forgetting that you get what you pay for, I bought the Dell that seemed like a good deal.

Big mistake.

I immediately noticed something was wrong when I turned it on for the first time, and it flashed a bright light in my face. I get migraines that can be triggered by a bright light in my face, so I learned to turn my head to the side and close my eyes tightly every time I needed to restart the Dell laptop.

I didn’t call Dell for this issue because I figured it was a quirk. It seemed a bit ominous, but I didn’t want to have a stranger poking around in my new laptop trying to troubleshoot.

I think we can all agree that in a world full of identity theft, having a stranger remotely connect to one’s computer full of personal information and stored credit card numbers is not desirable or safe.

So I dealt with the flashing light upon every Dell laptop start up. I should have recognized it for the piece of junk it was and sent it back for a refund right then. If you have bought a Dell laptop in the last year and are still under warranty, I’d suggest you do exactly that.

***

Around this time, we switched Internet carriers, because the one we’d been using had become so popular in our neighborhood that we were competing with many, and could barely get on the Internet.

My Dell laptop had been dropping my Wi-Fi connection, then picking it back up over and over again. This was frustrating, but because our poor Internet connection, I assumed it wasn’t the machine’s fault.

When we got a different and better Internet provider, the Internet improved, and I could stay on for 5-10 minutes at a time before the Wi-Fi dropped me.

This problem slowly, gradually became worse, until I could barely stay on the Internet for a few minutes without being dropped. The Wi-Fi reconnects the Dell laptop to the Internet, then it drops it 1-3 minutes later.

This repeats until after losing my email, Facebook comment, or the writing on which I’ve been working, I finally give up and shut the computer, frustrated and disappointed.

On the positive side, I’m wasting less time on social media because it isn’t fun anymore. So… bright side?

***

My Dell laptop year warranty ran out in March. This means my computer, as of this writing is a few months past a year old. And it is completely worthless.

That’s right. The Dell Inspiron laptop I bought a bit over a year ago is now worthless.

This is not fair.

Dell seems to think this is fair, and that I should spend more money on the piece of junk they sold me. Strange, yes? I’ll explain…

I searched the Internet for a solution and when I put “dell laptops+dropping wifi” into the search engine, endless results appeared. This is a flaw, apparently, for Dell laptops in general.

Search it if you don’t believe me. I was blown away by all of the people explaining all of the very technical things they’d done and parts they’d replaced to try to fix this problem, all of the stories sounding exactly like mine:

“My Dell laptop started dropping the Wi-Fi connection, this got slowly worse and worse until I can no longer get on the Internet for more than a minute, and there is no solution.”

This is so depressing. We are not rich people. We cannot afford a new laptop, and I’m homeschooling my son next year. This means our family will share my husband’s Lenovo… for EVERYTHING.

I don’t know what we’ll do if something happens to this laptop.

I’m going to take a minute now to thank Lenovo for their vastly superior product to the horrible Dell product. I bought this Lenovo long before the Dell, and I can’t get on the Internet anymore with the Dell, but I’m typing this and I haven’t once lost the Internet the entire time.

I think that says it all.

Lenovo = quality.

Dell = crap.

(Lenovo stopped adding the malware mentioned above… they will get my money next time we can afford a laptop.)

***

When I warned friends to not buy a Dell laptop on Twitter, Dell reached out to me. After I gave them my computer’s Service Number, they told me sorry, you’re a few months past warranty. Call our out-of-warranty number.

Wow. Thanks for nothing.

***

When I called the Dell out-of-warranty number, an employee named Kunal offered to sell me a year extension on my warranty for $269.

His phone was cutting out so badly during all of this, so I couldn’t hear every other word. I had to keep having him repeat everything, and he became frustrated as if this was my fault. My cell phone works great and I’ve never had this problem ever. It sounded like this guy was operating out of a tent in the middle of nowhere. Bad sign.

I told him I don’t have the money to replace my laptop, which is why I’m upset; because a laptop should last longer than a few months past a year, and a company with any integrity at all should stand behind the quality of their products.

I told him I don’t have $269 to spend on a warranty, and if I did,  I wouldn’t spend it on a company that has sold me a faulty product. This product should be recalled and replaced: I should not be asked to spend more money on this faulty product.

I told him I was only calling to see if Dell had recalled this laptop, as the Internet is flooded with people having the same problem as me. I’m not calling to be sold more things

He got grumpy, telling me, “I work in tech. I’m not a salesperson.”

Gee, that’s funny. Because you’re definitely trying to sell me something. You’re asking me for what will be after taxes around $300 added onto a product that has broken and is worthless after barely over a year. I don’t think so, buddy.

I told him, “I think we can both agree that a laptop should last more than barely over a year?” He didn’t respond.

He then went to “check with his supervisor,” and I felt like I was buying a car. But remember, Kunal is works in tech. He’s not a salesperson.

When he came back on the phone, the non-salesperson tech employee offered me a “deal.” He told me I could pay $129 for a 3-day warranty.

No, I’m not kidding.

So I called Dell to find out if they’ve recalled this broken laptop or would replace it because it is worthless after only a few months past a year from purchase, and all they can do is try to get more of my money?

Wow.

I asked him how we were going to replace a broken/faulty Wi-Fi drive long distance, in 3 days? He then told me he’d get access my computer remotely and try to repair the drive.

So I get to let a complete stranger into my Dell laptop that shouldn’t be broken for only $129, and if it’s deemed unfixable, I’m out of luck and 129 more of my dollars?

What a great deal!

***

In short: I have a worthless Dell Inspiron 15″ laptop that is a few months past 1 year old, and Dell is a company without the integrity to stand behind their products.

We all know a laptop should last longer than a year. Don’t play dumb, Dell. You know this is wrong. You are thieves. You took my money and sold me a product that should generally last 5 years minimum, and it lasted barely over 1 year.

I repeat: Dell, you are thieves. 

The employee kept repeating that if I’d just called before the warranty ended in March, he could fix or replace the laptop. And I kept repeating that I thought the problem was the Internet, not the computer, which I think is a pretty common assumption.

I now think Dell is counting on people to assume the problem is with their Internet connection, long enough that by the time they figure it out, their warranty is expired.

And who wants a stranger tinkering around in their personal computer? Not me.

So I am writing this caveat emptor piece to warn others: Dell laptops are inherently flawed, and the company does not stand behind their product or have the integrity to replace what has always been an obviously flawed and broken laptop.

Buyer beware: Dell is fully aware their laptops are flawed, and their only solution if you are barely past a year with one of their crap products is to try to get more of your money.

And this is why you should never buy a Dell computer.

 

Also, I had to say to my husband, “You were right and I was wrong. This Dell laptop sucks and I never should have bought it, just like you warned me.”

Sigh.

 

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Social Networking and Issue Resolution

(Writing from August 3, 2011.)
***
Below is a Facebook message conversation between the high school boyfriend who dumped me, and then beat me up in a moment of sudden, jealous rage months after we’d both moved on to dating other people.
I pressed assault and battery charges. He got a little fine and some community service, and I was left with a permanently damaged finger.
He kept trying to friend request me on MySpace and then later, on Facebook, as if nothing had happened. I finally confronted him about this because the last time we communicated it was via prosecuting attorney.
We resolved our issues because he apologized for his behavior. I’m surprisingly forgiving for a Scorpio, if a person will simply apologize for making a mistake. I’m human. I make mistakes too. I get it. Just be sorry, please. I need to hear the words, and we’re good.
I don’t understand why apologizing is so hard for some people?
***
Facebook Message Inbox — August 3, 2011

“Hi Tawni,

Long time since I last saw you. I regret my behavior on that aspect of early life. I often thought about how you were doing and honestly hoped you found your niche in life. As I can see you have: handsome men in your life and you are still a fun-loving person. I have carved out something of my life as well. I’m still a smart ass, but with two beautiful, smart daughters who are very creative and loving. I hope to hear from you, and once again, sorry for all that is bad between us, and hope you can accept me as a friend.

Respectfully with a smile,
Aaron”

Facebook Message Inbox — August 3, 2011

“Hi Aaron,

Thank you. The word “sorry” is really important to me. All I ever wanted from you was an apology for the permanently-crooked finger of mine that you broke during your rage in the Holden High School parking lot. The finger still turns to one side and won’t bend properly. Because of this, the tendons feel tight and it aches much of the time. I would like to have it surgically corrected, but lack the funds and vacation/recovery time to ever make it happen. The odd angle of the finger also made it harder for me to form chords to play guitar when I was in bands.

My parents were not the most caring/selfless people in the world at the time, and I had definitely worn out my welcome via typical teenage rebellion. So despite the fact that the Holden police told me, “Yep. It’s definitely broken. You need to have it set by a doctor,” my folks told me to skip going to the hospital. This is why it healed in the wrong position (kinked sideways).

My parents’ lack of concern for my bones is not your fault, but the breaking of my finger was, because it was broken as I attempted to defend myself from your fists swinging at my face.

My point is not to whine about a twisted ring finger, or my parents. I have the life perspective to know that in the grand scheme of things, a mildly bent finger is ultimately not that big of a deal, and my parents and I have a much better relationship these days.

I share these things to let you know that because of this physical reminder, I have been forced to think about what caused this minor deformity (your anger) ever since the incident, which has made it harder to put it behind me or forgive and forget than something impermanent.

(Another example: When my biological father beat the shit out of me at 15 and chipped off a chunk of my left front tooth, it created a similar lifetime reminder. I am still waiting for his apology. We haven’t spoken in years.)

While I am a forgiving person, you have never actually apologized until now, and honestly, that’s all I was waiting for. So please know that I appreciate your kind, thoughtful words and hold no continued resentment toward you. We were kids, and I’m old enough to realize that kids do stupid things. I know I did my share of stupid things. I only hope that as I age, I do less stupid things. I think that’s the most any of us can hope for, really. Wisdom and serenity would be great, but mostly, we just hope to do less stupid things as we get older.

Congratulations on your beautiful daughters, and for holding on to your inner smart ass. Life is so much easier with a sense of humor, isn’t it?

Your friend,
Tawni”

Like I Do

(Writing from September 12, 2011.)
***
***

I think it might be prudent to rename this blog: Tawni Channels Your Crazy Grandmother. Sometimes I feel like all I ever do here is whine about my latest health malady. Recipes, pictures of questionable quality, and bitching about my new and exciting versions of physical weakness. Yep. That pretty much covers it. I’m a kvetching old lady trapped in a middle-aged woman’s body.

So… pink eye. Pink eye is sooooo last week. I went to the doctor, I got the costly eye drops, I can once again open my left eye first thing in the morning. Such a luxury.

Today, however, to quote my son in the middle of the night when he woke himself up hacking like a baby seal and I was putting a blanket under his pillows to raise him up and he coughed a wet, sputum-filled cough directly into my mouth… today, “My thwoat feels like it has wocks in it.”

Ahhhh, public school infections. The gift that keeps on giving.

But I got a major perspective check yesterday. Like I do. A few of them, actually.

First, I spent the day (9-11) avoiding Facebook and the millions of trite feeling, “I was eating a sandwich and scratching my ass when it happened,” types of posts.

(The winner: “Today is a sad day for many reasons, but one being….It’s the last episode of True Blood for the season. *sad emoticon*”)

(Copied and pasted directly from Facebook. I’m not even making that up.)

I mentioned to my husband that I was avoiding Facebook for this reason, and sensitive, psychologically healthy human that he is, he gently explained that people need to share their feelings with each other to move past grief. (He didn’t even call me a cold, unfeeling bitch! Special man.) And I agree. But still. I guess I am just not grief-friendly. I’ll work on it.

***

Our son goes to church with his grandparents, my husband’s parents, on Sundays. My husband and I are not religious, but our social butterfly kiddo loves Sunday school, the grandparents love the time with him, and we love being able to do the week’s grocery shopping together in peace. It’s a win-win-win.

So we finished the grocery shopping early, because if you go before the non-heathens get out of church, the store is a ghost town, which is awesome. Then we turned on the television and watched the horrifically scary and heartbreaking-ly sad 9-11 ten year anniversary coverage. I sobbed on the couch watching children who lost parents and parents who lost children. Like I do. And I read the Sunday paper on the couch, which was full of more of the same, and cried over that. Like I do.

Then, right in the middle of my media-induced, nervously worked-up, heightened state of emotional vigilance, the stupid city I live in decided to sound the tornado sirens for a few minutes. Yes, the creepy fucking tornado sirens that scare me the first Wednesday of every month at noon when they test them. And even though I know it’s a test, there is a part of me that thinks, But wouldn’t it be brilliant to launch your attack at the exact time of the monthly siren test so nobody would take it seriously? Because my brain is actually neurotic enough to go there.

But the test never happens on Sunday. Wednesday, not Sunday. And it was the anniversary of major terrorist shit going down, which makes it more likely that shit will go down, according to America. And with everyone already thinking about shit going down, and scared of more shit going down, why would you ever set off a fucking warning siren across a city?

So even though it was high noon when they started up, I absolutely freaked out. Like crying and shaking. Full panic mode. Obviously it was intended as a tribute or a show of respect, but really, my city? Really? How about we just fly the flags at half-mast and call it good? On a day when the media has been scaring us about another potential attack, on a day when there is possibly a higher chance for a terrorist act, on the anniversary of something so unimaginably horrible… do you really think it’s a good idea to sound the fucking emergency sirens?

It felt like a bad joke. Like a mean prank. It felt apocalyptic, like the tornado sirens always sound to me during tornado season, and I hated it, like I always do.

(I have had a monthly post-apocalyptic nightmare since childhood. I blame The Day After. They showed this terrifying end-of-the-world movie to us at school. We lived in Lawrence, Kansas, one of the nuclear-destroyed cities. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one traumatized by it.)

There has to be a better sound they could use to announce the arrival of our impending doom. Like if it’s a tornado, maybe they play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” (Actually, nix that. That would be way creepier.) Or maybe if it’s a terrorist alert, they could play, “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by The Gap Band over the speakers. You know. Have a sense of humor about it. Why not go out laughing, right?

But no. We just have those awful, haunting, ghoulish sirens, howling mournfully like the dogs of hell coming to take me away.

Or something less dramatic.

In the middle of my psychological meltdown, sirens still wailing, me still shaking and crying and pacing, my sweet husband tried to hug me, saying, “It’s a tough day.” He was just trying to make me feel better, or possibly trying to make me feel less stupid for reacting like a four-year-old to scary noises. But I snapped, “It’s not the fucking day! It’s those eerie motherfucking sirens! Why the fuck would they set them off today? Who decided this was a good idea?”

I was really pissed off at whoever decided to set them off. But it wasn’t my husband’s fault. I shouldn’t have snapped at him. I should have called the non-emergency police number and asked them what the hell they thought they were doing. (At least print something in the local paper, warning people that you’re going to use the same sirens that tell us we might die soon to do some sort of 9-11 tribute. Please.)

***

The sirens finally turned off, and I stopped pacing around the house while weeping and looking out all of the windows. I collected myself and felt stupid. Like I do after an emotional outburst. I was about to apologize to my poor, long-suffering husband when his phone rang.

It was his aunt telling us that his dad had collapsed at church. The paramedics were there. And we needed to come get our son.

We got in the car and drove quickly. The ambulance was leaving for the hospital when we arrived. A paramedic told us what had happened. I guess his dad’s blood pressure was rapidly dropping while they checked him out, and it took them awhile to stabilize him for transport.

My husband handed me the keys to our car and left immediately for the hospital with his mother and aunt because they were shaken up and needed a driver for their car. I had the job of collecting my son from the Sunday school nursery and getting him home.

Luckily, my little guy had seen none of this, as the church ladies were kind enough to entertain him in the back of the church, which I appreciated so much. I found him surrounded by adoring women, which is his favorite place to be in the world: amongst his fans (I birthed a major ham… shocking, I know). He was blowing some bubbles someone had given him, and of course, when he saw me, his first question was, “Where’s Granddad?” Sigh.

I fake-brightly told him that Granddad wasn’t feeling good, so he had to go to the doctor for a check-up. He was disappointed, but came with me when I promised him a stupid Happy Meal. His grandparents always take him out to lunch after church and he was upset, so yes, I pulled the classic Happy Meal Maneuver shared by parents across the land. It worked. I have no shame.

We got home and waited for updates from my husband. They are hoping the incident was caused by a too-high dosage of blood pressure medicine, but they are keeping him in the hospital for a few days to run heart tests and other such scans. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the blood pressure medicine thing, because obviously, that would be an easy fix. I hope he’s going to be okay.

***

One important thing I’ve learned at this point in my life is that whining has absolutely no place in it. Ever. The minute I complain about anything, the universe has a way of making me feel ridiculous, almost immediately.

And I should feel ridiculous. Because somebody always has it worse. It’s funny how life finds ways to remind you that it can always be worse, isn’t it?

Oh, you have pink eye and a burning throat? Poor you. Would you rather be jumping from a burning building, or taken by ambulance to the hospital today?

No, thanks. Turns out, I’m doing great. We cool.

Hope you’re having a beautiful week, friends.

xoxo.

The Kids Are Not Alright

(Writing from September 20, 2011.)

 

I’ve been upset by the distraught Facebook status updates of a friend for the last 24 hours or so, because I can relate to them, and because I’m really upset for her. And I’m pissed off about what’s happening to her daughter at school because it has happened to my son. And my son has been kind of dealing with the “boy version” of it lately. And because, like my friend, I don’t know how to handle it or what to do. And this is partly because I can’t be next to my child, or inside of his brain, guiding him on what to say and do all day long at school.

I’m being cryptic. I’ll try to explain.

My friend has a little girl the same age as my son, who started kindergarten this year, like my son. She is a bright, glowing little light; one of those outgoing, happy, sparkly little kids who likes to sing and dance, and is a friend to all she meets.

Both of our kids share an adorable lisp on the ‘R’ words (acceptable/age appropriate until first grade, according to his kindergarten teacher, no worries) and a super-sensitive, heart-on-the-sleeve disposition. I am not a proponent of corporal punishment for children, but for my son, this has never even been an option regardless of my distaste for violence against those smaller than us, counting on us to keep them safe. I look at him sideways and he bursts into tears. We have no need for spankings. He already has more empathy than most adults I know.

My son is very similar to my friend’s daughter, which is why I could immediately relate to her distress over how her daughter was being treated by the other kids at school. You see, other children aren’t always as kind as our kids.

When my friend’s daughter runs up to other little girls on the playground and innocently asks them if they want to play with her, these little baby-bitches ignore her and turn away. My friend has been hearing about this from her daughter, and has watched it with her own eyes. And it’s breaking her heart.

As the momma of the most earnest little open-book-boy in the world, I have seen the same thing happen to my son on the playground, and I’ve watched him shoved to the ground by other little boys, and I’ve gotten him off the school bus, with a tear-streaked face, and asked him why he’d been crying, only to have him show me his scraped up hands and bruised legs, and tell me that an older boy on the bus violently shoved him out of his seat, to the floor, on the ride home. And like my friend, it is breaking my heart.

My husband has had to talk me down from spilling the blood of those who’ve wronged my boy, because obviously, I can’t be with him all day at school, and on the bus. And I can’t go around beating up third graders. He tells me that boys are different from girls, that they are more physical than girls, and I’m going to have to get used to my son being shoved, pushed, and hit all of the time. That’s just how boys interact, he tells me.

Well then why doesn’t my boy interact like that? If all boys interact this way, then why doesn’t my boy shove, push, and hit?

Oh, yeah. That’s right. Because I’ve taught him to keep his hands to himself. Because I guess I stupidly thought that was what I was supposed to be doing, and I thought that was what everybody else would be doing. I thought I was supposed to try to raise a kind human, with empathy, who used his words instead of his fists to communicate with others.

Silly me.

And I’m sure my friend with the also kind and gregarious daughter probably thought she was supposed to raise her daughter to be accepting of others, to be open to new friendships, and to have good manners when approached by her peers. Because I thought that too.

And I have seen my sweet kid run up to other little boys on the playground, saying, “Hi! Do you want to play?” and watched in horror as a little boy immediately shouted, “No! Go away!” causing my son’s face to crumple in sadness.

And in addition to the breaking of my heart for all of my fellow sensitive empaths in the world, like my son, and my friend, and my friend’s daughter, I’m starting to get really, really pissed off.

Like darkly, darkly angry.

Because it’s not the fault of these rude, cliquey, pushy-shovey, or otherwise poorly-mannered children… they are what they are because nobody has been teaching them to not be that.

I’m pissed because I have tried so hard to teach my son to be a gentle little boy that I did too good of a job. He is getting pushed around by boys at the bus stop, he is getting shoved around on the bus, he is getting hit at school.

And I’m watching the mothers of the shoving, hitting, pushing kids do nothing.

And I’m wondering where the fuck the teachers are when this shit is going down. This shit that makes my son come home from school sad.

So I’m experiencing the cognitive dissonance-producing phenomenon of knowing violence isn’t the way we solve our problems with others, as civilized humans. All while choking down the mother animal inside of me who wants to tear the throat out of anyone hurting my child.

Parenting is not for the weak. Oddly enough, physically controlling myself in the face of those abusing my child is the biggest challenge I’ve had to face as a parent. Not parenting, but other people. Other people are my biggest parenting challenge.

And that’s fucking ridiculous.

Just teach your kids to be decent people. Jesus. Why is that so much to ask? Don’t be an asshole, and don’t raise more assholes.

Do better, humanity.

 

 

 

 

Better Late

(Writing from September 22, 2011.)

So I do this thing where I discover new (to me) music in a weird way.

I played guitar and sang in rock bands for 12 years, and spent the last couple of years before I got knocked up playing in a band in Los Angeles with an amazingly talented filmmaker/guitarist/singer/songwriter who also happened to be a really cool, funny, smart human.

He always wanted us to learn new cover songs, and would give me a new CD he’d burned every week, loaded with potential cover songs, plus songs he’d written, songs we needed to learn for band practice, etc. When everybody in a band works 40+ hours a week, it’s hard to get together for practices as often as you need to in order to not suck at your live shows.

So he’d drop them by the grocery store at which I worked, and my managers would tell me, “Hey. Your band-mate brought this CD by for you.” And I would take the latest CD home and ignore it. Or give the songs we were going to play at practice a fast pre-practice skim. I’m a quick study with music, so I managed to get through practices and shows this way.

But of course now I wish I’d really listened to them and applied myself in the way that we all do later in life when we realize we were only doing ourselves a disservice by half-assing through the important things. I feel like a complete dipshit now for not giving the CDs and the band the attention I should have.

Cut to years later: I have a child, I’ve moved to the Midwest, and the only music time I get, aside from occasionally grabbing my guitar and locking myself in the bathroom to bash and sing, is during my exercise walks. So I have an iPod. And headphones, because I can barely say the word “earbuds,” let alone wear them. And I put every CD I have on my iPod, including the ones my band-mate once made for me.

Now, during my walks, I have the curious phenomenon of having these utterly fabulous songs constantly pop up as unknown artists, the songs my band-mate wanted us to potentially cover that I never really listened to, and I fucking love them. And I have no idea who they are because they were loaded onto my iPod from CDs burned by my band-mate. It’s really weird. It keeps happening.

When it happens, I come home and immediately Google some of the lyrics, trying to find the artist. Some of them are a bit obscure. Tonight I got only one hit on my search, and it was just the name of one of the band members. And the only reason it popped up was because the blogger had quoted the one line of the song I put in, even though it isn’t the title. I had to figure out the band (now defunct) and then the song name to find them.

I obsessively listened to this song over and over again for nearly 3 miles tonight, because when I discover a new song, I do that. I play it over and over again and pick it apart and try to hear all the different melody lines and instruments and parts and words and harmonies and try to figure out exactly what is making me love it.

I found the song on YouTube, so I’m sharing it below. Check it out if you feel like hearing a cool song.

“Calling on Columbia Pike” by Speedwell:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84fL8FnP_nE

Phone Calls, Missing Places, Cold Kitty Noses, and Odd Dream Statements

(Writing from September 26, 2011.)

I got a call from my son’s teacher this morning.

I had just sent him off to school in the big yellow bus. Walked back home. The phone was ringing when I opened the front door.

It’s always a little scary, getting a call about your child.

One time, it was because he’d hit his head and I had to come decide if he needed to go to the hospital. (He didn’t.)

One time, it was because he was crying inconsolably and telling the teachers that his stomach was hurting really badly, prompting me to make the 10 minute drive to his school in about 5, followed by a race to the Urgent Care clinic. The x-ray showed that he was in pain because he was full of shit. I gave him a laxative and vowed to not be so neurotic next time. (And then I opened a window. Seriously. It was impressive.)

The last time I got a call about my son, it was a few weeks ago, from a neighborhood mother. She was letting me know that her daughter told her my son was pulling down his pants on the bus, and flashing his ass at the kids in the back.

I was mortified.

She was extremely cool about it. She did it the nicest way anyone could ever tell another parent that their child is acting like an absolute hooligan, but still. She told me she thought it was funny, but that the bus driver is kind of a tough cookie, and my kid would get suspended if caught. I really appreciated the call, as I do not want to have to drive my son to school and sit in the Drop Off Line of Doom every morning for an hour. We are also a one-car family, so that would be a pretty major inconvenience.

I let my husband talk to my son about the incident. We take turns with discipline so the boy doesn’t feel like he’s being ganged up on every time we have an issue. My husband definitely scares him more than I do, so I figured he should handle this one.

But today, the phone call from authority carried good news. His teacher said that they were able to do aptitude testing on all of the kids last week, and my son tested well into second grade levels. (He’s in kindergarten.)

Rather than pull him out of class to go read with the second graders, they are going to instead pull him out of class every day until lunch to go learn English with the smartest group of first graders — the ones who tested at second grade levels like him. She said she had to consult with the principal on this decision, and explained it to her by saying: “The other kids are learning the letter sounds, and he’s signing his name in cursive.”

I’ve been worried that he might start acting out and misbehaving because he isn’t being challenged or stimulated enough, so I was thrilled to hear about the plan from his teacher today. His teacher is awesome, too. She’s young, fresh, and childless, and in it for the right reasons. I have adored her since the first parent-teacher orientation.

Unlike his math-challenged mommy, he also tested at second grade levels in math, so rather than taking him away from his kindergarten friends for the second half of the day for math, they are going to supplement him with extra work during the math his classmates are doing. I am pleased that his teacher is looking out for his interests this way. Really pleased.

So that’s cool.

***

I spent last weekend with my parents in Lawrence, Kansas. If you’re one of my Lawrence pals reading this, don’t get mad at me for not calling to let you know. It was just two days of total family time… no going out to bars drinking and carousing and such for me.

My parents got a big hotel suite on Friday, and we hung out together there all weekend. One of my sisters lives in Lawrence with her husband and two kids, so they came over to the hotel (and we also descended upon their house one evening). I had a great time. I cried like a baby as we drove out of the city on Sunday afternoon. I miss my family. I miss Lawrence. If I have to be back in the Midwest, I want it to be Lawrence, damn it. It’s an amazing city.

I miss California too. Basically, I just don’t really like it here in Tulsa very much.

But maybe I haven’t given it a fair chance. I moved here when my son was two months old, and I was exhausted from a C-section recovery period and new parenthood. It’s not like I ever got to really explore the city and see what it has to offer. I’m not really being objective.

So, okay. That’s enough. Enough whining.

***

On an adorable note, my newly adopted cat is sleeping on a blanket I put on the file cabinet in front of the office window. Her name is Cali, short for California. Whenever I write at the desk, she comes in here and sleeps next to me, or watches birds eating at the feeder I’ve placed outside the window. It’s an idyllic scene, and it makes me feel really happy and peaceful, writing while my cat hangs out nearby. I can feel my blood pressure dropping whenever I look at her. Visual Valium.

Behold The Cute:

When she puts the kitten mittens over her face, I die a little inside.

***

Before I go, I want to share a weird statement that floated through my thoughts right before I woke up today. It was announced, like it was being broadcast over a loudspeaker in my brain. It was the last thing that went through my head before the cat woke me up, purring and rubbing her cold nose on my face like she does, so maybe that’s why I remembered it.

The loud voice announced: If you spend your life intellectually beating people down, you will eventually join them.

I don’t recall seeing that sentence anywhere, so it was really weird. I scribbled it down on a piece of scrap paper while stumbling on my way to the coffee this morning. I don’t really know what to make of it, but I’m trying to listen, in case the universe is talking to me.

I hope I’m not intellectually beating anyone down.

I also hope you’re having a good week, my friends.

xoxo.

Lady Oldebellum

 (Writing from October 22, 2011.)
***
I strained a tendon in my foot last night making fun of a song by the band Lady Antebellum.

This is what I’ve come to, people. Watch me as I epitomize the indignity of aging with an interpretive dance.

I couldn’t help it. I’ve heard about them on Facebook, this band, but I’ve never heard them. The kids, they like the Lady Antebellum. I was expecting to at least appreciate their musical talent even if they weren’t my style. Like Lady Gaga, the other popular Lady.

(I don’t really groove on Lady Gaga’s music, but the woman can rock on the piano and has a great voice. I can’t deny it. In a culture full of prefab starlets pimped by Disney and Nickelodeon to be harmless malleable anorexic ditzes who dress like baby whores, a.k.a. an average young woman on Halloween, I can always appreciate a strong chick who writes her own songs and actually plays an instrument.)

My husband and I were on the couch, beers in hands, watching a recorded episode of Saturday Night Live. When you have a kid, you don’t ever get to watch your favorite shows when they are actually on, and I bow down to the gods and goddesses of digital recording capabilities with a sacrifice of remote control-sized batteries every week in appreciation. So the episode we were watching was from early October, and Lady Antebellum was the musical guest.

When the mandolin and sprightly beat started, I began to laugh hysterically. Like, tears rolling down my face, clutching a pillow to my stomach while my husband looked at me with equal parts amusement and unease. I only had one beer in me, I swear. That’s all I ever drink anymore. If I’m being “crazy” and “reckless,” I have two.

(And if you are laughing at me right now, YOU try to get up at the crack of sparrow fart every day with a hangover to deal with my son whose personality most closely resembles that of a coke addict drinking coffee while eating spoonsful of sugar straight from the bag.)

(But seriously… could you do that? Please? I’m so tired.)

I couldn’t stop laughing. He finally asked, “Why are you laughing like this?”

“It’s just so, so… jaunty. And ridiculous. I thought they were going to be a hipster band, and they’re making me want to dance merrily in a field of flowers! At Ren-fest! And the guy with the braids! He looks like he’s been possessed by a Catholic school girl! Oh my God, it’s so awful it’s actually AWESOME.”

He rolled his eyes at me, which kind of pissed me off, but I was still giggling.

I said, “This song is making me picture women with flowers braided into their hair dancing a jig in a meadow! Like this!”

And then I stood up and danced an insane jig around the living room for my poor, long-suffering husband, who was now laughing at how dumb I looked while I laughed at how dumb the band sounded. I made him even more uncomfortable with the dancing than the laughing had made him: I could tell by the frightened look in his eyes while he laughed at me. I’m known in friend circles for my creepy interpretive dances. They’re haunting.

(The secret to a creepy interpretive dance is to make an insane, blank-eyed face while you do smarmy, mildly off-putting hippie things with your body to the beat of the song. Now you know. I have friends who still hate my creepy interpretive dances to this day, people I no longer even hang out with on a regular basis.)

The lead singer even played air guitar. YES. It was so gloriously terrible. I loved it while I was loathing it.

After I calmed down, he tried to tell to me why they are popular, comparing them to the cheesy eighties music of our youth and explaining that this band is today’s version of that stuff. Which I understand. But still.

So I sat down and finished my beer. And then I realized that my tendon was aching. And then I berated myself in my head, Was it worth it to be snarky and mean and mock a band by dancing to their music in an embarrassing manner? Was it worth it?

Because I do that. I often berate myself for the things I say and do. I replay conversations I’ve had with people over the week and feel stupid as I think about how maybe I could have said that better, and maybe they took that the wrong way and are mad at me, and that maybe I should just not talk ever. I share odd details of my life with my people and think, Why the hell would they care? Why do I ever share things like that?

Great. I’m doing it now.

I’m going to go ice my foot and work on being a nicer person.

Hope you’re having a happy weekend, pals.

My Easy Hippie Granola Recipe

 

I’ve been making granola for my family for a few months now. I combined two random Internet recipes that seemed simple, and it worked out great first time, which almost never happens for me.

I had no idea it was so easy to make granola. Why have I been paying so much money for these fancy cooked oats for my entire life? I feel kind of stupid.

I love peanut butter granola. It has always been my favorite, so I like to make it with peanut butter. For the last batch I baked, I added chopped crystallized ginger chunks, and it absolutely rocked, so if you want to try it that way, I recommend.

Ginger is also great for soothing nausea, and I’m a big fan of it in the mornings. I can never eat first thing in the morning, even though I know it’s the most important meal of the day and blah, blah, blah. I just want to sip coffee for a few hours every morning… is that so wrong?

I took pictures of the last batch of granola I made. Here they are with and without flash:

It turned out with a great consistency. When I stirred it, it broke apart into little pieces and clumps, and was completely indistinguishable from store-bought granola. And I know exactly what’s in it, which I find comforting. I store it on my counter at room temperature, in a glass jar, and it lasts over a week, no problem.

Here’s the recipe:

Honey-Peanut Butter Granola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In saucepan, mix:

2 tbsp margarine or butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Cook on stove top until smooth, then mix with:

3 cups old-fashioned oats

Spread mixture in a 9×13 glass baking pan, bake 10 minutes, mix, then bake 10-15 minutes until golden.

You’re going to love it, you damned dirty hippies. I promise.

xoxo.