Thursday, April 29, 2010
It was NOT pretty, people. I periodically would stop and swear or sigh or moan, but the thing is ... without rowing again, no way would I get back. After the Mass Ave bridge, where the water perhaps got worse -- is that even possible? -- and after attempting one more drill sequence (sigh, because of COURSE the basin with shit water is a GREAT time and place to do drills, particularly catch drills -- I mean, what's a little more boat instability at that point, right?), our coach finally relents and tells us to spin, so then we get to work our way ACROSS, which means imagine instead of taking the waves straight on, they're rocking you side to side. And I am one of the bigger wind/bad-water wimps. The crazy part is that it somehow never crossed my mind to turn back. And that's no credit for me being brave and tough, it's like I literally forgot that was an option. As we were spinning, I was like "why the hell didn't I turn back before the bridge??" No good answer.
Of course, if we all reflect back to posts at the end of last rowing season, where I was complaining about rowing in the wind, I was also acknowledging what I needed was to be forced to row in more of it. The trueness of that makes me grumpy enough to not say anything more about it. Let's just say I won't do such character- and rowing-ability-building with much grace or without complaints. That can be the goal for 5 years from now or something.
I'll begrudgingly point out that once we came back upstream, the water felt like heaven, the straight headwind at our backs was lovely. Rowing felt smooth, almost easy. I'm not sure what I was doing in the basin, but it wasn't really rowing. Lots of oar-dragging on water and wave-catching and grunting. And the swearing.
After, stretching on the mat upstairs, I demanded a water review of the veteran rower in our little group (oh yeah, did I mention there were NO other singles, hell, any boats, in the basin because every other SANE person wouldn't go down there??) -- a seriously fast, tough dude who was once impaled by an 8 and miraculously survived his guts spilling out into the then-disgusting Charles water (no, I'm not making any of this up). He confirmed the water was bad and said he felt "uncomfortable," which I took as splendid vindication.
It just so deeply sucks rowing in water like that. I kinda suspect it never gets easy or feels good, but I guess it's all about building the tolerance and moving the discomfort/confidence threshold. By its very nature, a very nasty, terrible business there.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Today was Mauricio. That kid is a trip. I mean, he puzzles me. He doesn't talk. Or, barely talks. And, I'm fundamentally about not forcing things/people. So, things could be a perfect storm here. A perfectly quiet storm. Last week was vacation week, and I know, or at least I think, he went to DC with his family. But, couldn't get a word out of him about it. There was a noise or two that I took interpretative liberties with, but who really knows.
So for today, his mom had asked the program coordinator to get a book from the library - something like The 39 Clues? It's a series. Apparently he's reading them, or someone's reading them, at home. So, he opted for that one today -- it's a big ole like real book, more so even than The Diary of a Wimpy Kid we'd started last time. Pretty high level, but that's cool by me. He said he's reading book 6 at home and had read this one, but was seemingly still game to read it. So, once we dealt with the strawberry-yogurt explosion in his lunchbag, I started reading. He seemed into it. And then, 5 minutes before time was up, like last time, he reaches over, closes the book, packs up his bag and is just done. So, me being me, I kinda fundamentally respect that. I mean, I'd rather we kept going or at least talked (but that would, you know, involve talking), but I'm not gonna force him. So he packs up, wanders away, and is looking at books in a rack in the classroom. I start reading the other picturey book I'd grabbed as a long shot, by Lloyd Alexander (Lloyd Alexander rocks, people).
Then the coordinator comes over to him, tells him to come sit, so he does. So I give him the quick recap of the prior pages, and start reading. It's a super simple book, a parable (we didn't get to the moral, so can't share that ... looked to be about self-sufficiency or belief in self or something), with v cool illustrations -- like the pages were essentially paintings with a few words on them. And he's sitting and listening -- he seems to be an obedient kid and all, but he did seem to be into it. Then the class comes in, and he sprints for the rug -- he kinda seems to have a thing about being first on the rug. So, such it was.
Only a few more weeks left, wonder if he'll opt to continue next year. Walking out, I was talking about what went down, and one of the other volunteers made the seemingly adult (obvious) point that I could certainly tell him to sit and that we need to keep reading until the time's up. So then I felt a little silly. I mean, seemingly I am the grownup, right? This is why I'm not a parent, y'all! Well, maybe more reasons than this, but kids, they're a puzzle. I maintain they're not fully done baking, so I shouldn't expect them to be mini adults, but it's tricky when I just don't know what's in that little head of his. And I can sure ask, but bet you a bridge I'd get silence. But, I'll try. Will do the whole "so, here's how this works" thing next week, try giving him some options when he's "done" ... and we'll see!
Let's see, last time I was at Reading for the Blind & Dyslexic, I got something exciting -- yes, still a textbook, but a NEW book. Like, I was the one starting it! Exciting! I mean, sure, it means I got to read the table of contents (yay?), but it was kinda cool to be the one to start a book. Always wonder what the listener thinks when the voice totally switches. Surely they're used to it, but still, must be jarring. Wonder if they have favorite and least-favorite readers? Pet peeves (like, when I hit names I have no idea how to pronounce and know every reader probably makes up their own version)?
This week is their big fundraising/recording bonanza -- I was gonna read twice this week, but had to cancel one and haven't made it back to look at the big book and see if there're holes. But, once is something. I know they're hard up for "specialty" readers, so keep racking my brain for anyone into mathematics, chemistry, biology, medicine, etc., who'd be into reading out loud. No one's come to mind yet.
OK, two more -- the volunteering racked up! A few weekends ago, I volunteered at this supremely cool amazing organization called More Than Words -- check it out. They did a fantastic job with the volunteer experience, too -- really engaged/involved the volunteers as well as all the kids working there, gave a real sense of the place, then got down to some concrete work. At one point, I was arranging shelves. Got mega alphabetical testing -- don't laugh, the middle of the alphabet blurs -- when was the last time you had to do tons of alphabetizing?? Then once all the books had been reordered (my alpha skills were better than theirs, must say), I tried to make an attractive display ... not my forte, was kinda challenging, but fun.
As a bookstore, it was a cool place, well put together, and the physical space came into being because their online sales were doing so well. So, if you need to do any bookbuying, apart from hitting up your local independent shop, consider them! They also had these paintings up in the store that kids had done and they were fantastic. I wanted to buy one of them, but not quite in the artbuying market just now, even the youthful one. I gotta do more with them, will bring back more stories then. It's just such a great idea that's been executed so well; it was really inspiring at showing a great possibility come true.
Adventures in high schools
OK, the last mini story (in what has become Shana's Volunteering Manifesto) was at Hyde Park High, which isn't its official name anymore, but don't make me go look it up. I'm almost outta time before heading out to this thing. So, as a native Californian, I was totally blown away just by this school itself -- huge, all indoor, ornate, just so different than the low-slung one-level blobs o school I grew up with.
The volunteering idea was a partnership with the City of Boston and WriteBoston to promote writing in schools (I'm boiling down their better wording, but that's the essence). WriteBoston has a couple of tutors there to help kids with writing stuff, plus teachers with lesson planning and such, and they pull in volunteers from the community as well. I was there week before vacation week, so not only was the schedule off, the kids were sorta as well ... teachers, too, probably. So, I didn't get a very good taste, but I'll be heading back in a few weeks. More to say about the experience of being there, but will probably gel better once I go back.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Went to a grant panel tonight put on by the Boston Arts & Business Council (if that's not their actual name, it's v similar, I promise). Of course, getting there was 3 and a HALF nightmares. And it's that last half that'll kill ya. Of course I know about getting lost everytime I go somewhere in Boston, but usually I'm lost in a car -- that was one of the rare times I was lost on foot. A little more challenging. But the odds of my ending up in Maine are lower. I gave myself triple the time Google spit out to get there, but alas, should've gone for quadruple. It's just that sometimes the ridiculousness hits points I don't believe. Silly me. I also forgot to take into account the time of day -- leaving at 5 -- and where I was -- financial district, one of the crazier places to drive, I maintain (North End doesn't count b/c I simply flatout absolutely refuse to drive there. Parking garage all the way. $25? Fine.)
Anyway, it's highly highly highly trafficy on highly highly highly narrow roads -- everyone's so frustrated at the snail pace through the lights, thus everyone makes a blatant run for it at the red light, thus blocking the intersection for the next set of people, just like it was blocked for them. There's something wrong in this thinking, some teeny, tiny little flaw, just can't put my finger on it.... And then, then -- an ambulance came through. I have NO FREAKING IDEA how they got through. If I had to point to evidence of magic, that would be what I point to. Somehow, all the cars squeezed somewhere. Then there was a moment of shock as everyone saw a wideopen road. And of course we all thought about immediately crowding onto it and cutting everyone else off, and the honking began.
So it took me, what? Maybe 25 minutes to go a few blocks? But, once I got there, the navigating all one-way streets in the area to snag nearby parking was surprisingly doable. But then I had to walk from my car to the place. Only a few blocks, but I was so turned around, I kinda had to strike out in all four directions to find my way. Which I eventually did.
The grant panel was aimed at artists, so a lot of the specifics there didn't quite resonate for me. But I did think to ask for the panelists' suggestions on meeting up with folks who were looking for grantwriting/editing help, and all of them were enthused and told me to email them. So, that was cool. Clearly. One of them lives in JP and is a freelance grantwriter, so we talked maybe having a coffee talk (coffeetawk). Another puts on this cool conference for all types of artists to connect them with people and opportunities, so she suggested my doing a "mentoring session" where I'd help folks with their grants, which would give the conference people a free helper, me a free conference pass, conference goers get help, and generally good stuff all around. The other panelist said she hears from folks all the time looking for grant help, willing to pay, so great potential there. With her offer to post a link for me, she also made me realize afresh how much I NEED to finish the website already. Got a plan to tackle that, starting this week. Thank god. I'm such a cliche -- cobbler's kids having no shoes, writer/editor not getting her own site done....
Leaving the session, I had a few admittedly cold moments on downtown Boston streets, but a beautiful night, rain stopped, and all the gleaming highrises were cool to be amongst as a change of pace.
Now I have madly grooming gatos on either side of me -- what, they've got hot dates later tonight??
Monday, April 26, 2010
We did have some nice weather. And, that gives me the segue to share this marvelous quote from Charles Pierce (oh, he's written all kinds of stuff and writes for the Boston Globe): "In reality, New England is where Persephone, Goddess of Springtime, comes every year to get drunk on Sterno and dance with sailors." Awesome, right? That Persephone, now I know who I'm coming back as in my next life.
But he was basically talking bout the craziness of, well, New England weather, spring in particular. He just said it better than I ever could. But it did make for some nice park lounging and Stephen King reading (last Dark Tower book!), which is always lovely. Except for the waking thought I had this morning about this way creepy True Evil being born as a baby who then turns into a giant spider with a baby's head somewhere on it who eats its mother as a first meal. That's a little creepy. But, it's King. And, really, what else would True Evil do but that upon being born?
Oh yeah, and I got a lovely letter from the wonderful State of California, who I'd been worrying about recently what with their budget and earthquakes and tsunami warnings, sending me a tax bill from 2006 (that's not a typo). During which I lived in Mass. And yes, filed taxes here. It appears my bureaucratic battles are just beginning. This is bad.
Oh yeah, and the darn SI joint slid. Right on down a Slip'n'Slide (or, what some of us call it yoga). Probably not yelling wheeeeeeee the whole way. But I've been chiropractored, so I'm patched back together for the now. Just in time for boxing. Yay!
Yeah, that's kinda the weekend....
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Fourth row this morning. And I noticed something this morning. This trying-to-row-semi-fast business? It's hard work. I spent a sliver of my row blaming impeller (equipment) failure for reflecting such a low split ... but I wasn't v persuasive, even to myself.
But, highlight of morning's row? Me and the white swan, hanging out together on the river, no one else in sight. At least I think it was a swan. It sure looked like a swan. Are there swans on the Charles? Is that possible?
Anyway, the swanlike thing, it was lovely. Right after the Northeastern boathouse, heading upstream, I turn the corner, and there it was, floating in the middle of the river. It's not like you never see them or never curse at them while trying to avoid (while at full pressure) a combo of them, bridges and other boats, but today, it was mellow, just an open river, me & Pepper, and Mr/Ms Swan. Pretty cool.
So, now that I'm talking rowing again, you'll undoubtedly remember the mileage saga from last year.... No, I didn't hit 500 (sigh), yes, I did get to keep my rack space (bigger sigh of relief). This year, I must, I must! 500, man. So, I'm starting to keep track, because it'll be December before you know it. Promise.
I was surprised by how smooth my first row in a single was, two weeks ago. Me being the cautious me that I can be (I'm channeling Dr Seuss!), I waited until most of the boathouse was already out rowing to slightly shame me into it. It's just that a part of me really thinks I might die, y'all! For real. Rowing in wind, cold temps, colder water ... tho I've never flipped, I know it'll happen one day, and I rather it not be on a day when water and/or air temps will kill me. But, this healthy fear can get a little carried away. A leetle.
So, I waited til April to start rowing. So what! Anyway, first row, the first few strokes are always highly, highly (highly) wobbly. I feel like it took me a few rows last year before I started gaining a sense of comfortableness, but maybe that's just the PR my highly cautious you're-gonna-die! side fed me. But this time, I rowed up to the nearby River St bridge, and was like, yeah, OK, this rowing thing, I got it. I jumped into the coaching session and even got some praise from the coach. My rowing in a single seems to be much better than in a double. Funny, double is much more stable, but then you've gotta sync up with someone and being in bow (steering) is always kinda stressful the first handful of times.
Other cool rowing thing -- my third row out, last Sunday, light rain/drizzle falling, gliding from under a bridge, the hiss of light rain hitting the water. Love that sound.
Now, on to my other great love ... weather!
How I love, love, love weather statements! The all-caps, the funny wording, the caution mixed with "impending disaster" in its warnings. And, more than anything, how I love storms! Summer storms are just as good as winter ones, fun and exciting in a whole different way. As long as I'm not out on the water -- remember my near heart attack with that last year? Yes, me, too. No more of that, please. But, otherwise -- thunder? lightening? Bring 'em!
So, check out today's orange weather alert!
Special Weather Statement for Southeast Middlesex, MA
Issued by The National Weather Service
2:19 pm EDT, Thu., Apr. 22, 2010
... SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS DEVELOPING THIS AFTERNOON...
UNSEASONABLY WARM TEMPERATURES IN THE 60S WILL FUEL SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS THIS AFTERNOON. PEOPLE WITH OUTDOOR INTERESTS THIS AFTERNOON SHOULD REMAIN ALERT AS SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS COULD DEVELOP RIGHT OVERHEAD. [C'mon, this is awkwardly charming, admit it! "Right overhead"?? gasp] WHILE LIGHTNING IS EXPECTED TO BE INFREQUENT... IT WILL STILL BE A RISK WHICH COULD STRIKE WITH LITTLE OR NO WARNING. [Ha! Take that, infidels!] SMALL HAIL COULD ALSO ACCOMPANY THE STRONGEST THUNDERSTORMS THIS AFTERNOON. [God only knows what harm that could wreak ... small hail?? Ruuuunnnnnnnnnnnn!]
THE MAIN PERIOD OF CONCERN WILL BE THROUGH 8 PM. ONCE THE SUN SETS THIS EVENING... THE INTENSITY OF THESE SHOWERS AND ANY THUNDERSTORMS WILL RAPIDLY DIMINISH. [See, a happy ending.]
May you all have an all-cap thunderstormy kind of night! It's thundering here!! !! !!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Or, maybe flattened, maybe flattened bug is more the feeling.
It's not so much that someone or something has gone and smooshed you or malevolently tried to crunch your little shell, it's just that somehow, someway, you wind up feeling like a little flat bug. No puffy life within you, no scurrying little feet to take care of your insect duties. Just flatness.
For the sake of survival, I think I'll go with a cockroach for my analogy, because they survive nuclear disaster and the ending of the dinosaurs, right? So, they can be flattened and then pop back up with scurrying, light-avoiding life tomorrow. That's my plan.
Uh, not the light avoiding, more the scurrying.
You're either nodding or thinking I should lay off the hallucinogens.
I think sleep deprivation may be contributing, so I believe I'll go work on that right now. Fixing it, that is, not on sleep deprivation.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Fast forward to yesterday, in which I did some work at home, walked a block just in time to miss the lead male wheelchair marathoners, but in time to catch the rest of the wheelchair athletes and lead women and men, then to a cafe to work a little more (I sent my veterans' article in, y'all! it is progressing), back out for some awed marathon watching, back home for some more work. It's this life I love.
And the marathon only a block away ... things like this make me love my adopted home all the more. I can't watch the wheelchair athletes without nearly crying; they're so amazing. And the endless parade of running humanity as far as the eye can see in either direction is pretty mind blowing. It's the Boston Marathon. And it's in my backyard.
I also saw some packs of soldiers marching along the route with packs and full gear on. I found a soldier monitoring the edge of the course and asked him about it. He said they were doing ... um, think he said a "ruck march," something like that, where the soldiers march with 70-pound packs and full gear on. The first group I saw looked like slightly older soldiers, moving fast, a woman among them, and when I called out thanks to them, I got nods and thank-yous back. The second group looked younger, and in a little more pain. Thanks didn't get acknowledged there, whether because they didn't get it or weren't used to it or were too deep in their own worlds, I don't know.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Also dispassionately observing how sometimes the weekender slides into Monday. Well, it is a holiday.
So, roller derby. So much great. Truly, unbelievably. I seem to have missed it in its 70s heyday (thanks, Mom & Dad), but it probably enables me to appreciate it oh-so much more now.
Also, unrelatedly, how great is Pearl Jam's Just Breathe? Truly. I'm not even a Pearl Jam fan, but this song is nearly making me one.
OK, roller derby. It's hard to put words on the spectacle. Take a Shriners' auditorium, complete with, yes, old men in fezzes. I mean, that alone, that right there.... Then, you add crazy-great women of all sizes on roller skates and hot pants (some glittery) hip-checking each other, trying to get their zippiest teammate around a tape-delinated oval track first. There were all kinds of things and strategies and hand motions and such my friend and I puzzled over and made up our own rules about, but it was just so great.
And then names, the names...! It starts with team names: Boston Massacre, Cosmonaughties, Nutcrackers, Wicked Pissahs ... and continues on to the players themselves: Killary Clinton, Heavy Flo (uh...), Lady Shatterly, Gloria Grindem ... there were many more that my brain can't recall. Also, also, there was a giant lobster running around the stands. And a, um, large walking bag of nuts, and two accompanying adorable child-squirrels, the tiniest of which soundly won a half-time danceoff with a robot. I haven't started taking drugs, this is simply the goodness of life all around you, just waiting for you to venture into a Shriners' stadium to discover.
I tried finding a T-shirt for my brother because, really, what better way to say happy birthday to a fire battalion chief? I thought so, too. Alas, they don't make the shirts big enough! So, naturally, I had to comfort myself with finding one for me. The Boston Massacres just weren't my size, I thought, so I headed for a Nutcracker, only to find ... it's snug. Of course, as my friend pointed out ... if you're wearing such a shirt ... it kinda has to be. It's just an unspoken rule. So, I've got my pink-emblazoned mace-thing-across-chest goin' on.
The weekend closed with a gathering at a friend's that culminated in ... a fry-off of sorts? It started with fried candy bars, but her friend is a crazy chef and pretty soon was tossing in hot dog pieces, cornbread souffle chunks, mac & cheese (OMG good), and then, then ... he takes his giant multi-pound hamburger in bun with bacon mayo (oh yes, this: he fries up a few pounds of bacon, purees it, makes his own mayo, and combines ... wordlessness ... yes, it is in these rare moments I surely wish I ate meat), lettuce and fixings, dunks it in the batter, sticks toothpicks in it ... and fries it. He had an audience of about six of us at this point, a pot of boiling oil, all of us awaiting an explosion or disaster to occur. He pronounced the fried burger great. The rest of us were too fried or scared to sample. Greatness....
Friday, April 16, 2010
Just typed this line to my online nonfriend: "Jack? Are you waiting to see if I die or just go away??" I mean, what the hell. I don't have high hopes of success in this endeavor.
Speaking of bureaucratic misery, I also seem to have reached an impasse (denial) from my wonderful, beloved insurance company: Travelers (never use them, people, never). While all the other owners got reimbursed by their better-than-mine insurance co(s) for the few thousand we each paid out in the disaster-that-was-sewer-line-breaking-and-backing-up-into-my-bathtub-that-resulted-in-fight-with-plumber-and-more-badness, I apparently shall not be.
I seem to be drowning in bureaucratic depths, huh? My day's been better than this -- had mindblowing workout today, holy crap. Our regular instructor was unexpectedly out, so we got a sub who helps out with the "mixed martial arts" evening classes you have to pay more for and that're, apparently, far more hard core than what we do ... and, oh my god. It was awesome. Stunning. I have bruises in all kinds of places. I hurt in all kinds of place. I had ice down my pants on the way home. Sorry if TMI, it was just an exciting class. So I had this thought driving home: could I have been a Marine in a past life? An exceedingly odd thought for me, I fully agree. And there are plenty of ways that doesn't gel, but ... OK, Jack and I finally reached the end of our road. And now I'm gonna be late for my thing tonight, and I'm starving. For your dubious entertainment, here's how I just spent what feels like a good chunk of my life....
Welcome to an online chat session at Bank of America. Please hold while we connect you to the next available Bank of America Online Banking Specialist. Your chat may be monitored and recorded for quality purposes. Your current wait time is approximately 1 minutes [IT WAS MORE]. Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for choosing Bank of America. You are now being connected to a Bank of America Online Banking Specialist.
Neeta: Hello! Thank you for being a valued Bank of America customer! My name is Neeta. How may I assist you with your checking and savings accounts? May I have your full name and the last 4 digits of your accounts?
You: Hi Neeta, I don't understand why I was charged overdraft twice when I transferred money this morning and all the charges are still showing as pending. My name is Shana ... and checking account is XXX.
Neeta: I understand your concern regarding the overdraft fees on your account
Neeta: I will surely check that for you.
Neeta: May I have your full name and the last 4 digits of your accounts?
You: Um, I gave you my full name and last 4 digits already....
Neeta: I apologize for the inconvenience.
Neeta: Thank you for the information, Shana
Neeta: Please give me a minute, while I research your account details.
Neeta: Shana, i see that the fees are now in pending status
Neeta: Please contact us once the fees are posted to your account so that we are able to assist you accordingly [Great irony here, is this is exactly where, well, you'll see....]
You: That makes no sense. Why do I have to wait before they go through before someone explains why they're being charged? There's adequate money in the account.
Neeta: I will explain you.
Neeta: I suggest you to please click on the OD/ NSF fee while viewing the account activity transaction history and then click on how did this fee occur?
Neeta: It will give you a clear picture why the fee was assessed to your account
You: OK, this isn't helping. I've already done that. Is there someone else I can talk/type to there, please?
Neeta: I am able to transfer the chat to our supervisor.
Please wait while I transfer the chat to Jack who can best assist you today.
Thank you for choosing Bank of America. You are now being connected to a Bank of America Online Banking Specialist.
Jack: Hi Shana, this is Jack the floor supervisor.
Jack: I understand your query is regarding the pending OD fees on the account.
You: Hi, Jack. That's correct.
Jack: Please give me a minute while I access your account and check the details.
Jack: Thank you for waiting. I'll be with you in just a moment.
Jack: Thanks a lot for your patience, let me explain the details for you.
Jack: Your starting balance for 15th April was $XXX.
Jack: There were 3 transactions to start with, XXX CAMBRIDGE - $XXX, XXX - $ XXX, CHECKCARD XXX - $XXX
Jack: After this there were 3 transaction of $ XXX - CHECKCARD XXX.
You: OK, but the XXX charge is still pending.
Jack: That's right Shana, when we approve a request to authorize your check card transaction the available balance in your account is reduced by the amount listed in the request by the merchant.
Jack: A transaction made with your check card or ATM Card using a PIN typically is processed and posted to your account on the same day that the transaction is made, or on the next business day.
Jack: But a transaction made with your check card without your PIN, may take several business days to post to your account.
You: OK. So it still hasn't posted to my account, and I transferred money to cover it, so why am I getting charged, twice?
Jack: It's not yet posted but we have made the money available so that the merchant can complete the transaction.
You: OK, with that same logic, I also made additional money available from another account to cover the transaction. [Are you noticing how my brilliant, calm logic isn't fazing him in the slightest?]
Jack: May I know when was money transferred?
Jack: Because I see that with holds your current account balance is in negative, (- $XXX)
You: The money was transferred first thing this morning when I saw pending amounts wouldn't be covered. I show a positive balance right now of $XXX. I also see a positive balance of $XXX at the end of the day yesterday.
Jack: Thank you for your patience, I will be right with you.
Jack: The $XXX balance for yesterday was without the hold for XXX transaction, with hold the balance on the account is in negative (- $XXX).
You: When I look at my online account activity/transactions, it shows the balance and the amount of transaction, period, and the balances are positive.
Jack: Please click on the option: “Available balance history” in the left panel under Balance Summary.
Jack: Here you will be able to see the balance including authorization holds (pending transactions).
You: That means I have to go digging to double check my balance every time I look at my online accounts? That doesn't make much sense and doesn't seem fair, or feel like good customer service.
Jack: I apologize for the delay. I'll be with you shortly.
Jack: Thank you for waiting. I'll be with you in just a moment.
Jack: I apologize for the delay. I'll be with you shortly.
You: As another side note, I got two "low threshold balance" warnings today at 4:47. What's the use of getting those if they come after I'm getting charged?
Jack: Thank you for your patience, I will be right with you.
You: Jack? Are you waiting to see if I die or just go away??
Jack: Sorry for the delay here, was just checking the details to see what could be done.
Jack: We ensure Customers are educated about how to navigate through the various screens of online banking.
You: Just checking...
Jack: This is one of the important screens and I would request you to always keep a tab of your balance using the same.
Jack: I mean in future please check your balance by clicking on the option: “Available balance history” in the left panel under Balance Summary.
Jack: This will give you a clear understanding of the balance available.
You: I still maintain making customers dig for more information beyond what's initially displayed isn't good customer service - especially when they're getting charged, and then getting a warning about maybe getting charged after the charges have happened. Please tell me you have more for me than this. I'd like both $XXX charges reversed.
Jack: I am sorry Shana we cannot refund the OD fees unless it is a bank error.
You: Wow, that was a lot of my life spent here to hear that. Sounds like I'm at the end of the road here. I'll see where else I can go with this. Have a good life.
Jack: You could chat back with us once the fees are posted, I cannot assure whether we would be able to give a refund here but we can have a look and take a decision.
You: Oh dear god. Maybe I'll just try the lottery.
Jack: I am really sorry about this Shana, we cannot take a decision when the fee is pending.
Jack: That's the reason I am asking you to chat back once the fee is posted.
You: OK, I give up for now. Bye.
Hey, they can't all be happy bedtime stories....
Thursday, April 15, 2010
The thing is, springs and falls in my home are chilly (freeeeezing). Winter it's toasty warm with the radiators sizzling, summer it's lovely to have a house that holds chill, but those in-between months ... brrrrr. It's not cold enough to switch the radiator thermostat on, and I have yet to break down and request thermostat lowering from the owner who controls it for all five units (generally, it's warmer than I'd keep it) because let's face it, it is kinda lame.
I can't remember what my point was anymore. I think it was just about warmth. And how as of late, even tho bright & sunshiny out, it's cold, highs in the 50s, and while usually I think that would seem warm after a winter, our winter was so lame, plus we've had these hot blips, so it just feels like it's about time for summertime, thank you very much. I think I've come to realize that spring is my least-favorite season, which really seems crazy. But there you go.
Anyway, point is that warmth and warm things are good right now. Like a bath. Where I'm going. Since the semblance of coherence has dropped away. Because the raditors are on, and that makes me happy. And the gatos, too. The gatos love the radiators. As you know.
Oh! Wait, the title. That was another, unrelated point. Magic. After more than a week of my neck just fricking hurting, like every day, way too much (I had this massage that I swear squeezed all my body tension into my left neck) ... it's gone. Why? Acupuncture. Magic. There you go, squared.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
But speaking of zen, it never ceases to amaze me how just zenful great I feel after workouts -- well, most of the time. Always exceptions in this life. But, it just shifts me, clears me, lifts the crap and leaves me in a good place. This I am deeply grateful for.
Now, story of the day:
Today, in our lunch date, Mauricio was ... different. Uncharted territory. He was either fucking with me or, with next week being vacation week, was just done, ready to get out, or he ate something crazy for breakfast, or some combo of all of those.
So, he comes out to meet me with his class, like always. And he's always very drawn to the bookcart (shiny new books -- who can blame him) -- except that makes the program coordinator kinda uptight and nervous, and I'm always caught between "just let the kid look" and "he shouldn't be doing that, make him stop doing that!" A lot of times, he'll grab what seems like the first book he sees. And I humor him, let him bring it with. This time, he grabs Diary of a Wimpy Kid -- a big ole "real book" thing -- we've been mostly in picture books, although high-level ones. So, I marvel, go with it, and we head for the classroom.
Sitting there, he mostly wants to just flip through its pages. Which I let him do for a while, then start prompting him "Do you want to read that one?" "OK, you need to pick one," and he finally says "I can read it" which is what he said last week. So, this is another mini dilemma, because the point of the program is for us to read to them, and they make a point of that in the training. Before, I got him to read a little, then I'd read the rest, which seemed to work. I give him options for how to do this today, he doesn't respond.
Finally, he hands me the book. OK, I start reading. He seems into it. Then, with maybe 7 or 8 minutes left, he starts packing up his lunch. I point out we have time yet; he's undeterred (the kid knows his own mind). Then he kinda starts wandering around the classroom. He's never done this. He stops by the window at the back door. I get up, go over, ask him what he's looking at. "The trucks," he says (there are two large orange work trucks on the school grounds). So we discuss the trucks for a moment. Then he wanders back to his desk. I ask him what he's doing next week for vacation. He says he's going to DC. I quiz him a little, his whole family is going; they're driving to the airport, then flying; he's flown before.
Then, then, I'm asking what he'll do in DC and he says, "Go to the White House." I exclaim over that. Then -- this is the good part -- he says he's going to go to the White House, says something or other about going behind it (?), then he's going to come home, and then, he looks me right in the eyes and says, "And get a pet bee."
"A pet bee?" I say quizzically (I didn't hear him right, what's he saying?). He looks into my eyes again, firmly says, "A pet bee." I pause. He says, "A bumblebee."
This is maybe the best thing I've heard, oh, all week. He has a straight face, so no clue whether he was messing with me or having fun or was dead serious. Kids, they're the craziest, most mysterious creatures, I'm tellin' ya.
So, we discuss the pet bee -- I'm quite enthused about this. He says his mom knows. He says he'll bring it to school. I ask whether it will be a girl or boy bee. "A boy," he says. I ask what he'll name it; this stumps him. I ask him what he'll do if it wants to sting people; this also stumps him. Then I suggest maybe it'll be a nice bumblebee, and he agrees, "It'll be a nice bumblebee."
Then he goes and sits in a chair on the opposite side of the desk cluster, away from the desk. More mysterious behavior I've never seen before. And he sits there. Another reader whose kid can't sit still and is off bouncing around somewhere chats with Mauricio for a moment, which he seems to tolerate. Finally, he looks at me and says, "I want my class back." It's a little plaintive, and I feel bad, assure him they're coming. And then they do.
So, all odd, not sure what to make of it. We'll see what happens in 2 weeks!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Just back from a nutrition lecture for rowers. Bottom line? Carbs are important for rowers/endurance athletes. And, maybe I don't really need to eat before an early-morning row. Will have to experiment.
Willa is staring very intently at me. Because she hasn't been sitting on my lap for the majority of the day or sleeping with me at night or following me around during the day. She's like a freakish infinity sponge -- the more you give, the more she needs, to infinity. Good thing she's adorable. Usually. Except when she's being mean to Sucio.
Anyway. What was I saying? Carbs. Think I was done there.
Let's see, I owe a photoshoot story.... Relevant facts: I hate having my picture taken. I am not a photogenic person (my mom thinks it's genetic, from her). I can deal much better with black and white pictures. The photographer in question, Jessamyn (great name, right?) is awesome -- mellow, talented, nice, recommended by a friend, creative, all good. And, and, she has an adorable shy dog named Max. Max the Shy Dog. Because of his shyness, he couldn't directly comfort me much, but he was there, hiding in the background, feeling my pain. Turns out, she hates having her picture taken, too. Jessamyn, not Max. 'cause Max is a boy. Who maybe doesn't mind having his picture taken; I didn't actually ask him. But -- oh -- the other great thing about Max the Shy Dog? He's the canine version of Sucio! Two sweet beings who happen to find most of the world Very Scary (they would totally find each other Scary)....
So she set up in her amazing apartment (bright lights! white paper! aaaahhhh!). And was exceedingly patient and great. I got a couple outfit changes in (how fashion model, right?) -- my favorite suit jacket that I thought was the sure shot wound up producing the stiffest pictures. Huh. The funnest part was the last sequence when she was talking about props and I was joking about what that would be for me -- a pen? a laptop? Well, I was sitting on a giant sheet of white paper ... it would be kinda fun to write on ... so we did. It was much more comfortable for me because I had something to do (and didn't really have to look at the camera anymore), and it was, y'know, writing ... something I kinda do.
So, it was definitely a successful shoot. Oh yeah, and there was the confirmed fact that I'm "a blinker" -- really, it's a special gift, not many people have it.
She already got me proofs to look through -- I know you want to see them, I can already her you clamoring ... too bad! I've gotta pick yet! What I will give you is a link to her blog and, yes, she did post ONE picture of me there, so you can see that. But you have to promise if you ever need a photographer in Boston to use her.
Because of the wonders of digital, I got the proofs in color and black and white, and it's funny. There are a few of the color ones that I'm like, well, I guess that could work, but I like nearly all the black and white ones. So, turns out it's color pictures of myself I don't like. There are some that are cool and interesting that I don't know if they'll work for this professional headshot thing I need, but might offer other uses. And definitely some that should work for the professional headshot deal.
So, there you go, one story told. Then there's the amazing volunteer experience I had on Sunday, inspired by wanting to do some good acts in memory of my brother. And there's the great row in a single (Hello, Pepper! been a while!) this morning. Probably something else. But now, now it's almost bedtime.
So -- blowing kisses -- I owe stories, stories, I know! Busy week, but I'll get them in (today will be a challenge, but I'll try to get one in)....
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I guess I don't really know how to mark a death anniversary. I don't really know what to do with the death of a brother, even though it's been 14 years. What does it mean to have a brother who died? I've been wondering that for 14 years. But what I do know, is I want to be aware of the date, to mark it and not miss it anymore.
Michael was born with a serious heart defect. My dad's explained it a few times, but it's one of those things my brain can't or won't remember. I'm going to ask again, write it down this time. He wasn't supposed to live at all. I can't be sure of my memory, but I fuzzily remember a line like -- he died X times before he was two -- x being some big number, 12? Maybe not that high. But more times than a person should die in their lifetime, let alone before their second birthday. I remember my dad saying Michael's heart would stop, that his face or lips would turn blue, and they'd rush him to the hospital, where he'd be resuscitated. So, his life, short as it was, was a miracle. Almost thirty-six years of borrowed time. I'm older now than he lived to be.
The main thing about Michael is he was funny, funny. Sarcastic, cutting, yet funny. I loved how hard he could make my brother Justin laugh, like really belly laugh, not many people could do that. When we were kids, he specialized in ridiculous, creative, hilarious presents. My favorite example is the year he gave my brother camouflage. My brother was super into Army stuff when he was a kid, wore camo clothes, had a giant army of the little green army men (I was always most fascinated with the kneeling radio guy). So Michael gives him a big box all wrapped up. Justin opens it and finds actual branches, leaves, grass, the whole bit -- you know, real camouflage. Justin couldn't stop laughing. Me either. He also gave Justin a record one year in a big box that he filled with dry dogfood, so he wouldn't be able to guess what it was. Stuff like that. You never knew what to expect, except it would be something you didn't expect. And it would be funny.
Friday, April 9, 2010
To keep my back all whole and everything, every day, I do this "chair position." Pretty sure I've complained, I mean mentioned, it before. It's not like it's painful or hard or anything. Well, hard in any conventional sense. What kills me, what's so hard for me, is that it involves ... lying there. Stationary. Not doing anything. Just lying! Do you see how this could be torturous?
I found it worked better if I was talking on the phone, so I could at least mulitask a little. But phone karma doesn't always work. And really, even then, if I'm on the phone, I'd rather be doing, in motion, something. So then I figured out I could read! Aha! Perfect solution, I just hold the book up above me and read, yay.
But then, then, my crafty chiropractor gave me a new little tool to help counteract this curving-inward forward-lean thing I have going (the tool's a little foam triangle, in case you're so curious, to prop at the base of my neck, get a little reverse gravity going). The problem? You guessed it -- no reading possible! And, I'm supposed to incrementally increase the time spent there, so I'll always be adding time to this nothingness of lying there, doing nothing! Torture! Torment!
You who may be meditators are likely laughing your asses off at me, but I don't care. It's terribleness.
So, I have my little daily character build that I really try to work on positive atttudeness toward (I try, I do), and then I get a reward when I pull the triangle out and read for the remainder of my minutes (heaven!).
So, all that is essentially a giant longwinded aside of a windup about, well, about me not liking to not be doing something, or to not have neither my brain nor body get to be doing something. And that double-negative rule doesn't apply there. It doesn't. My blog, my rules!
But the point, the point to all that was it was while doing my daily torture that I had this thought:
This life thing, it's pretty great. Really. Pretty darn great. Even the hard and the yuck and whatever-all-else, it's pretty great.
Pretty good giant aside to get to a one-liner, huh?
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Yes, it's true, I'm giving up the freelance writing/editing dream for modeling.
Once the guffawing stops, I'll continue.
Oh, OK, I don't have time to wait, it's past bedtime. Will save the wrapup thoughts about that for tomorrow: short version, I need a professional headshot.... One other comment: the photographer was amazing and awesome and great (and so is her shy dog, Max -- I found the canine equivalent of Sucio!), so if any Bostonites ever need a photographer.... I'll get links to her stuff tomorrow.
To rewind, here are a few notes from the morning:
One of the gatos barfed on my (stupid) parking ticket. One of the rare times gato barf pleases me. If I could barf on command, maybe I'd add to it.
So, gatos. They seem to be cyclical in their interactions and in who gets possession of what. Right now, Willa's got the bed again. And Sucio isn't hanging out with us at night. Which means the couch is awash in Sucio fur -- it's like an extension of him, really. He's even parked his little security-blanket bag of catnip on there (this melts me).
I'm parked on the couch for my morning writing, and am rewarded with furry bookending -- there was even tandem purring for a bit. Best coworkers ever, I gotta say. It's true, they never have any good gossip, but they're nearly always adorable. And I can kiss them freely with no worries about any harassment claims.
A good find: I fit into my orange shorts. I forget I own them every year, until warmth makes me go digging. We set a record yesterday with 90 degrees, it's low 60s today, but just scabbing-over knees prefer fresh air. No boxing tonight, picture taking (gaaaaaaaaa), so they more time to heal before they get more action.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
So, there's something about her, something about her writing. She makes me laugh and cry, sometimes at once. Her books amaze me. Even if I start one feeling "eh, not her best ... " her writing and her characters and what she says about the world ... they nail me; it's somethin' else.
So I got to hear her speak tonight, for free. Courtesy of my favorite local independent bookstore. She was (is) amazing. She made me laugh and cry. I don't even know why the tears; she just touched me. She talked about her own recovery and alcoholism and drug use and parenting and kids today, so many kids in serious trouble. She said a few years ago, she just decided to talk about it, to start and keep talking about it, because so many of us are growing up in families full of pain and messed-up-ness where we all have these unspoken agreements to not talk about the hard and terrible things. Which destroys us all from the inside out. These aren't her words; she was much more eloquent and funny. But isn't there an amazing power and simplicity to saying -- "Hey, all these problems, that're starting and continuing because we don't talk about the hard stuff? I'm gonna talk about the hard stuff." I deeply love that.
She talked and told stories for 15 or 20 minutes, then read from her new book, Imperfect Birds. Comes from a line of a Rumi poem, something about how we're all imperfect birds, taking each other into our nests.
You know how there are some people in the world who just make you feel better that they're in it? Who make you feel hope for people and the planet and remind you life is a good thing, even if heartbreaking, even while heartbreaking? She's one of them. When I hit dark times, sometimes I know I just need to read her books. Because they make me laugh and cry and break my heart and give me hope.
After her reading, after hitting the bathroom, I walked outside into the still-light early evening, and since it was some crazy 80-something degrees today, it was wonderful out. I decided to walk down the block, get some ice cream, sit and eat it in a little grassy area. Just sit outside and eat some ice cream in the world, you know? I almost got one of my all-time favorites: coconut frozen yogurt with chocolate sprinkles, but the coconut yogurt machine up and died just in time for my order. So it goes sometimes.
So I sat outside, ate my oreo yogurt with chocolate sprinkles, watched all the people outside, the happy dogs, and felt good about the world. And remembered how much I love (lovelove) Boston summer evenings. They're wonderful. Today was just a taste, but we'll be there soon. They just make you feel good, make you want to be out in them. Make you feel like a kid on summer vacation again. Make you feel nostalgia for past summer nights, and even for your right-now night, even though it hasn't yet passed.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Weather.com said thunderstorms, but weather.com lied. Oh, the betrayal -- my heart had leaped and hoped. It also says tomorrow will be 86 degrees. Uh...? And Thursday back to 60-something. How I love weather with variety and character.
And, I'd be really pleased with myself for my impressively scraped-up knees, except, people, they HURT. Scraped a raw patch on both of them from kneeing the cloth boxing bag (was a lot of fun tho, until rawness kicked in). And getting in a post-boxing bathtub with raw knees? Uh. HURTS. But then gets better.
Hm. Got repeat business from my first/favorite paying client, so that's super cool and exciting. More grant work -- great experience, so yay. Need to turn over more rocks and find more great folks needing my services.
Other than that, just in a bit of a funny space and not sure why. Little random things show offness, but they're not the reason why.
What things? Like, my awesome Monday boxing class, somehow left me feeling ... eh. Then, also Monday, I got my hair cut and hadn't meant to. Funny how that can happen.
Today, I got a parking ticket ... for parking in front of my own house ... in broad daylight. I kid you not. Will be fighting that one. Then I traumatized poor Sucio by setting off two smoke detectors in my house, not sure how -- toast that wasn't burned? Also, a positive one, but still random -- my neighbor took out ALL the trash cans. In ADVANCE of trash day.
I mean, the universe is on a funky tilt, folks.
And I just feel ... dunno, funny. Rowed this morning, and it was good, but my back felt a little ... slide-y, somehow, without actually feeling like things were sliding. I know that's weird and nondescriptive, but that's what I've got. Nothing to be done but proceed, see what becomes of strangeness....
Monday, April 5, 2010
Each year, I generally get burned once early on in the season -- it's kinda like all those other life lessons: knowing something intellectually is different than knowing it experientially. And every year, post-sunburn, I shake my head at myself, wonder what I was thinking, wonder at the disconnect between mind and action. I'm pleased the toll was pretty small this year.
This morning, I look at the things I usually look right through/past in my little red mud-room entry. I guess it's time. I move the shovel, the ice melt, and then my skis by the back door in the kitchen, awaiting my next basement trip to storage.
Saw more decked-out trees today -- white-blossomed ones looking for all the world downright bridal, cliche tho the image admittedly is....
Tomorrow ... tomorrow, guys, is the start of my club's coached sculling sessions! And so spring is truly, fully upon us -- warm days, blooming trees, the Red Sox opener and coached rowing sessions beginning! That also means, yep, gear up for lots more rowing talk...! I've persuaded two friends to go out in the "late session" this week (that's 6:45 v 5:30 start) so I can ease back to a true rower's schedule. There's also the darkness factor -- there are a lot of bridges and other boats and things to smack into half-asleep in what feels like the middle of the night. We'll be in doubles, but yes, it's definitely time to throw off Pepper's purple covers and take her out for a spin ... there'll undoubtedly be a few little shrieks as I acclimate to a single's tippiness ... maybe Wednesday ... 'sposed to be low 80s! Back to 50s next week, fear not, but this week is glorious summer preview -- 70s and 80s.
Trees here and there, beginning to burst into pink or white blooms.
Other trees sprouting with red berries.
A few trees showing traces of green on their bare branches.
The bush-tree outside my living room window, that one that burst into yellow overnight, I look out and see green leaf buds on some branches.
It's beginning. A fitting tribute to a holiday around fertility and renewal.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Such was my yesterday.
Good stuff, productivity, getting geared up to review a reasonably giant Department of Justice grant, working on making one article two for the wonderful Mssng Lnks, did some reachouts I've been a-fixin' to do for a while, some random other good stuff. Including starting to puzzle over content for my delayed website. Yep, time to do that thing. It'll be simple, the goal is to just get a starting start up.
There was even some semi-hot semi-sweaty yoga (there's no way that'll sound remotely like a good thing to those who aren't fans, but for the second week in a row, I'm finding it's a nice way to close out the week).
Been paying more attention to and puzzling over Twitter as of late. Just not really getting the value, y'all. I think most of what I see is so so, well, lame and so "here's what I did 5 minutes ago!" and "here's what I'm doing now!" and for the life of me, I can't figure out why the world needs to know that. But, I remain convinced there's gotta be some kind of a potentially useful nugget of usefulness there. So I'll keep looking. Am interested to see what companies do well with it, but not seeing anything light-bulby yet. As a strictly social thing, like Facebook, it's something I'm happy to do without. The trick is, is there a business use?
Also, did I mention my adorable mother sent me a box of See's (the best chocolate in the world, don't believe otherwise) dark chocolate nuts & chews? How adorable and awesome is that? I've gotta ration, I've gotta....
Which reminds me, Happy Bunny Day tomorrow, all, hope you get some good jellybean eating in (yes, that's the essential meaning of the holiday to me, since there aren't any kidlets around to horn in on egg dying). Oh, excuse me, there's also the chocolate bunny-ear eating, that's significant to the holiday, but I'm satisfied to have better bunnyearless chocolate.... (Two curled-up furballs flanking me say they can think of other delightful things to do with bunnys, but we're going to completely ignore that and stay with the happy illusion they're simply two adorable puffs of purring fur -- which they are, but dark sides, y'all, dark sides....)
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Which is what we did -- he read the stuff in big type at the top of the page ... OK, and maybe the lines under it, then I read the rest. Seemed to work. Tho I'm realizing now that the book was probably too easy if he could read most of it, except for the bigger, harder words (constellation, binoculars). But books with too many words and not enough pictures, he's not very into. I dunno, trial and error I guess.
So, I learned things! But did I retain them, well ... not much. I was surprised to read that Saturn's rings are made up of rocks, I think it was, of all different sizes, from tiny to big as a house. Swear to god. Also, one of those planets, Jupiter, I think, is so big all the other planets could find inside it. Dang. I should read more first-grade books.
Willa currently seems to be trying to mate with my gym bag. Huh. And is now peering intently into my face. She's a somethin' cat.
Only other excitement of the day came from wrangling with my condo insurance company, but that's the bad kind of excitement, so nothing I want to go into now. But, do some of those ancient, shuffling dances for me, OK? Doesn't look like they want to give me any of the few thousand I spent on our basement horror show last year (seems nothing connected to that can go well). Ugh.
Well, my acupuncturist did all kinds of magic to ensure I fall asleep easily, so I want to test out the magic. Right now sure feels like it'll work. *yawn* G'night, bed bugs and all that....