Saturday, August 25, 2007

ringing and singing

So my friend backed into my parked car tonight...sigh. The damage is pretty much the paint but yeah, can't wait to tell my parents that one in the morning. I feel like I did something wrong.

I went to Coldstone Creamery on a whim today to maintain my svelte figure (pshah) and I remembered that I loathe their "singing for tips" strategy. I tip but I refuse to ring the bell because for some reason, I am severely embarassed by their singing. It's like forced humiliation. What if a person just kept putting a dollar in the jar and ringing the bell? And is there a minimum tip for the required singing? What if someone is a wisebutt and threw a dime in and rang the bell? Although ethically lacking, is the singing still required for this meager tip? I think they need some standards. Needless to say, after I put the dollar in today, the girl said "you can ring the bell if you want to," I said "no, that's okay." I said it conspiratorily, as though I understood the daily humiliation she endured. She probably didn't give a rat's behind either way, given her monotone, lack of gusto performance with the previous bell-ringing. Now I would ring the bell if it was a real theatrical performance - or someone had an accordian and polka music. I really think that musical accompaniment would add to their performance and maybe up their take-home in tips.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

just hang a chalkboard around my neck already

I have lost all ability to talk. I went to get take-out for lunch today and the guy asked me if it was for there or to go. I was like "oh, for, I mean, to go." Yesterday I was at Michaels, aka my favorite local craft store, and the girl asked me my zip code and I gave her the Altoona zip code because I couldn't think of my own. I have never lived in Altoona in my life, just went to school there. I'm not sure why I'm such a psycho when I talk and I'm thinking it's because my thoughts are moving too fast for me to make complete thoughts, much less complete sentences. I'm convinced I'm two steps away from wearing a chalkboard around my neck to communicate and a bib to catch my own drool. I'll say something and automatically wonder why I said what I did. I went to a graduation party in high school and a girl was talking to me about how she was surprised her parents weren't there yet. I could have said "oh, I'm sure they're on their way here" or "they're probably picking up a graduation card." No - what do I say? I say "maybe they got in a car accident." Who says that!? She looked shocked. It totally slipped out and I have no idea where it came from. Honestly. Maybe I just need to start from scratch again with this whole talking thing.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

after-dinner mints and shellac

I went to Walgreens yesterday and it was a pleasant experience. First, I bought a MedAlert bracelet so that if I get incredibly ill in Africa they'll know what I'm allergic to and not inject me with every drug I'd swell up from. I got a little nervous when the clerk was watching me write down what I'm allergic to. If I would have had some cereal boxes, I would have constructed a makeshift wall around me on the Walgreens counter. Come to think of it, the cereal aisle was only one aisle over so it would have been possible. Anyways, I wrote down "sulfa, septra, bactrum and amoxicillan" and she was like "well, septra and bactrum are sulfa." But then I was thinking "well, why do they have their own names then, huh?" I don't want to die in Africa because of Linda at Walgreens, who didn't even know where the order forms for the bracelets were until she asked someone. So when she wasn't looking, I still wrote them down. Sucka. I was halfway tempted to write down plums at the end of that list but since I don't believe they serve a medicinal purpose, this would be unnecessary. I can't picture a doctor being like "she's fading on us...10 CC's of plum juice...stat!" And then I picture a nurse sticking a plum with a needle and pulling out the juice, tapping the needle with her finger and injecting a flatlining me. When I eat a plum, my lips become about three times their normal size. It's all kinds of hilarious. Kind of like when we used to have family get-togethers and I would eat a crapload of those after-dinner mints and my back would be covered with hives. I think I grew out of that allergic reaction (or maybe a human was just not meant to consume a quarter of a bulk-sized carton of after-dinner mints) but still, hilarious if I had "after-dinner mints" engraved on my MedAlert bracelet.

After I ordered my bracelet for the sweet deal of $10.50, I went out into the store just to browse and ended up spending more money on kids toys and picture frames. I got matchbox cars and a teddy bear for kids I encounter in Mozambique and some pretty picture frames for the family I'll be staying with. I also found a package of 10 toothbrushes for a dollar! Who cares if half the bristles fall off in my mouth. What a deal! Also, I'm still in the process of making magazine bead necklaces so I should be set with gifts for new friends abroad. Plus my next-door neighbor bought me a gift card for Michael's for graduation/going away. That is definitely my favorite craft store and I have found it in my heart to forgive them for not carrying shellac.

Friday, August 10, 2007

what do you do with a Precious Moments figurine?

I can't fall asleep so what better than to sit in the cold basement with the dial-up? I shouldn't complain though. It's a computer.

So I had my first hit of realization at how long and how far away I am going to be in Africa when I was packing up my room. My mom wants me to put everything into boxes and store them. It's so depressing. And it wasn't even the fact that I was packing things up because I can live without 99 percent of my stuff. It was the idea of dust settling in my old room. You know, that feeling that a childhood room has been abandoned. Like a room made to look pretty in case company comes, a guest room.

That room has memories though. Like when my sister, my friend, Nessa and I got locked in there when we were little. We were leaving the room and turned the doorknob, only to have it fall off in our hands so we sat for a bit and then shouted for our moms in the kitchen. It was the room where when I was about six or seven, I pulled out all the drawers of a dresser and was so impressed with myself. I told my sister "look what I did!" Then it toppled over on me and she stood and laughed at me. I don't blame her. And then there's the bed. The mattress is higher on one side than the other and has never been switched (despite telling my mom that I could go sledding down my bed if I wanted to). I have actually woken myself up at night by falling off of the bed (I'm a thrasher.)

And it doesn't help when the dog is sitting with me in the recliner and my dad points out "you're going to miss that." I'm already sensing that the airport goodbye is going to be tough.

Wow - this has been a bit of a Debbie Downer post. Wah...wah...

However, on a good note, I watched a German movie tonight - The Edukators. Definitely one of my faves now. Go rent it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

seals can squint

I was bored at work on my break yesterday so I went online to and entered a haiku contest on a whim. Well, turns out I won the daily contest and I now am having my haiku printed onto a mousepad and they are mailing it to me. They provide a picture to "inspire" you and my picture was of a squinting seal. So I wrote:

They squint at the truth
An arm raised above their eyes
And pray for the clouds

Profound, huh? I'm just stoked about that mousepad and I don't even have a use for it right now. I would just like to dedicate my forthcoming mousepad to that squinting seal. I wish him/her nothing but the best in their future endeavors.

And I went shopping tonight with my mom for some stuff for Africa. I bought, or I should say my mom graciously donated, some collared shirts for teaching and one of these crazy towels that sucks up a lot of moisture and takes up little space. It is supposed to suck up to 9 times its weight. It's the stiffest towel I've ever seen - like a huge cloth you'd wash your car with. So I can't wait to spread it out at a beach and be all awkward because right now it's more like a yoga mat than a towel. Overall, I'd say it was a successful shopping trip, complete with a heated discussion of socialized healthcare on the drive home.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

i'll get you and your little clause too

So what a craptacular day. Here's what went down.

I had a rough day at work. I think my eyes are going buggy on me from all that reading.

I had put my library books and movies in my desk because I didn't want them exposed to the heat sitting in the car. So I finish up work for the day and walk out to my car, forgetting my library materials. I go to go back into the building and they've already locked the doors. That's three dollars in library fines for those late movies.

Not even a minute later, I check my cell phone and it's the fitness club returning my call. I particularly like the part in the message where the guy says "I received your email...and your letter...and I see that you have some questions..." That's right. I'll admit I went a bit overboard on using both postage and internet but drastic times call for drastic measures. So I call him back and then he has to call me back and he explains to me that during the time I signed up for the gym, there were employees working there who were failing to mention the clause in their contract. He reassured me that now they made sure they informed members of this clause, bolding and underlining it. Then, after he admits that they made a mistake, he says that they can't refund my money because then everyone will want their money back. BUT...they could give me the month of September for free. If that's the case - why don't they just give me the price of that month of membership and refund me my money?! I told him that I don't want to use their gym and that I am leaving in the middle of September for Africa anyway. He was like "is that for a few months?" and I said "no, it's for just over two years." He stuttered for a bit and then proceeds to tell me that "well, when you come back, we could set something up." That's a little something I like to call grasping for straws. I told him that I appreciated him calling me back but that I was still disappointed in the quality of their service. And then he told me "good luck in Africa." Right after I hung up, I hopped on the Better Business Bureau website and filed a complaint. Boo-ya! It's not just $41. It's my $41. I'm not a fan of people blatantly ripping me off so I figured that I might as well take it up a notch.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

you are my sunshine, but not my only sunshine

So I got my iPod my sister got me by overnight delivery today. I am beyond thrilled. I have never had an iPod before. I had a nano but apparently they don't take well to spin cycles. It was my one ray of sunshine in a day that shall forever go down in my list of businesses to never frequent, ever again.

I checked my bank account online to find that my gym has continued to charge me for a membership that should be over at this point, which is something I wasn't prepared for so I received an overdraft notice. So I call them up and lo and behold, they continue to charge you after your six months unless you come and cancel. I am sorry but what is the point of a "six month" membership then? So I called them and I went in and talked to them but they refused to give me a refund. I was so angry when I was signing the cancellation sheet that it looked like a Muppet printed and signed my name.

So what is one to do who is horrible at confrontation? I wrote two strongly worded letters. I wrote the fitness club an email and mailed a letter to the owner expressing my disgust at their failure to make their "cancellation" policy more clear. The college kid at the front desk was so nice too and I explained that I knew it wasn't his fault but I was still livid. The manager or whoever just gave them directions as to what to tell me and didn't even come out to discuss the problem with me.

And here's my letter that I wrote, with a sentence contributed by my sister (the one that sounds the most lawyerish):

Dear -- ,

I signed on for a six-month membership with your gym at the end of December of 2006. I truly enjoyed visiting your gym as your staff is wonderful. They always greet you when you come in and are willing to answer all of your questions. As I assumed my membership expired in June, since that would be six months later, I did not believe that I would be charged for any more membership dues.

However, today I checked my online banking and saw that there was an overdraft statement on my checking account. I came to realize that your business had charged me for a month that I was not aware I would be charged for. When I called and came into your gym, they explained that if a member does not come in to cancel their membership after the six months is up, they continue to charge that member on a month-to-month basis and were told to refuse to refund my $41.00. This is not something that I was made aware of when I signed up to use your gym. It may have been in fine print on your contract but it was never relayed to me by the young man who signed me up. I understand that your business model necessitates the usage of these contracts; however, I feel that this clause in your contract should be pointed out to new members. I did not sign up for a "six month membership and a couple more." Also, if you will check your records, I have not attended your gym for the past few months since summer began and the weather improved, so there is no reason I should be charged for something I am not using. During my membership at your gym, I even talked a friend into joining, putting another $246.00 in your business' pocket.

Like I stated before, I have always had nothing but kind words for your gym. Working out at your facilities helped me to lose 25 lbs. At this point, if my money is not refunded to my account, I will change my mind. Although your workers and facilities are excellent, your policies are unacceptable and unclear. As a lifelong resident of Eau Claire, I will never recommend your gym to my friends who are all in their twenties, an age group that is a significant clientele of any fitness club. I recently graduated from college with thousands of dollars in student loans so money is not something I tend to throw around and waste on unused gym memberships.

Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Friday, August 3, 2007

mama said there'll be days like this

I love the Shirelles.

I made chocolate chip cookies today for a friend's birthday but ending up burning half of them. I hate sensitive baking pans. I figured "ya know, the bottoms are burned and if I threw them out that'd be wasteful." So I ate all the burned ones and passed out on the couch instead of exercising for a half hour. My mental checks and balances system is quite manipulative. I have odd dreams too. Like I had a dream today that centered around Martha Stewart's fashion designer guest and I dreamed that the models had a party afterward and Martha wouldn't drink the punch, claiming that I hadn't washed her glass correctly. So she pulled out a fold-out cup she had stashed in the pocket of her well-pressed khakis. And I also dreamed of a jingle for a chicken joint. Instead of the numbers sung with "867-5309," I sing "8 piece chicken just $6.99." So unless I subconsciously heard that somewhere, there's a free chicken jingle up for grabs.

My day has been a bit off because I felt groggy to begin with. That might be because my eyes are tired from reading at work. It helps to take a nap when I get home to rest them but then I wake up grumpy. You don't want to mess with me when I'm sleeping. I've been known to swear at family and say odd things without realizing it and walk in my sleep. In fact, when I'm sleeping would be the perfect time to con me because I would agree to anything for someone to leave me alone. I'm practically comatose when I sleep and I like it that way. When my sister and I were little, our parents took us on a camping trip. It started to rain hard and thunderstorm and I don't remember any of it. Then there was the time when I was six or seven and my sister lost her cookies in my hair at a campsite while I was sleeping. All I recall is being shaken awake and my mom saying "Erin, get up. We need to go to the bathroom." Then I also randomly showed up in the living room in my sleepwalking state with my sheets wrapped around me when my parents were watching TV. Now I just have dreams that play along with the TV program I still have playing while I am asleep. I wonder if there is such a thing as a productive sleepwalker, someone who actually accomplishes something besides finishing off a package of Lorna Doones or lying down to sleep at a kitchen table somewhere. I like to think there is someone out there who does their taxes, cuts their dog's hair, exercises or writes emails to friends they haven't spoken with for a while. I would love to read those emails.