Sunday, June 13, 2010

No, I do NOT Offer Discounts on Viagara!

So the other day I logged into my hotmail account and was confused by an email reply in my inbox from one of my contacts, wondering what was new with me. Normally this would not be confusing, considering I tend to be antisocial and have not really given anyone an update on my life in about five years. Yet confusing it was, considering this was a reply to an email I had never sent. And so I came to understand that I had reached yet another memorable milestone in my adult life: my email account had been hacked.

There were several other replies in my inbox, some of which said "I don't get this link," while others said my account had been hijacked. I looked in my Sent folder, but the nasties did not show up there. I looked at all the reply messages, and all of them were replies to messages that contained a random link and/or some attachments and did not actually have a message or email body. I emailed all the people I believed were targeted, warning them, and then promptly ran my virus scanner and changed my password. And I hoped that was the end of it.

So today I went to church, and a lady at church sat down by me afterwards and said, "So, Lindsay, I got your email." She actually thought it was hilarious (and it kind of was,) because she knew right away that I would not be sending out offers for discounts on Viagara and other erectile dysfunction drugs. So apparently only some of my contacts received the link/attachments. Others had received more traditional spam, including the standard Viagara discount offers. So I had to send out another email, this time to everybody on my contact list. And I'm again hoping that this is the end of it.

But isn't it just fitting, considering my track history with luck, that the one for Viagara got sent to a lady from CHURCH, of all places?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blog CPR

So I've realized that my blog is dying. Gasping it last breaths. No heartbeat. And that's completely my fault. And I am not okay with it. So I am doing some blog CPR to try to resuscitate it. I always feel like I have nothing to write about, but then I realized, there are incidents of monumentous stupidity all around me every day, which could make excellent blog fodder.

Take the other day, for example. I had just started working at my Walmart job, after having worked all day at my other job (a temp job at Rust Consulting, Inc.). So I'm tired, but still trying to do my job the best I can. Pretty soon a family comes through my checkout line. They had an entire cartful of food and candy and dog food and stuff. So I get it all rung up, and then at the end, the guy hands me a Coinstar receipt. Now for anyone not familiar with Coinstar, you take your buckets of loose change to a Coinstar machine and put it in, and the machine will print out this weird little receipt with your info on it and a bar code. You take the receipt to a register in the store, and after the cashier has gone through a whole process to make sure the receipt is legitimate, they scan it, and you either get cash for that amount or have it applied to your total.

So the guy hands it to me, just as I'm telling him his total, and he says, "Oh, here, I have this, too." He does not say anything else. I take the receipt and go through the whole process with it, while the guy stands there silently watching. I have to take a minute to rip this weird wavy perforation from the side of the receipt, and then I have to rub this little rectangular area on the back with a penny to see that the Coinstar logo appears, and then I have to rub my fingers along the side of the front of the receipt to see that the Coinstar logo on that part disappears. After I've done all this (and the guy has stood there silently watching me) the guy swipes his EBT (food stamps) card, at the same moment that I scan the barcode on the Coinstar receipt. His total was seventy-something dollars, and his Coinstar thing was twenty-something dollars, which made his total fifty-something dollars. The debit thing pops up on my screen (EBT/food stamps run as debit cards) and I hit my debit button. I also tell the guy his new total of fifty-something dollars, and he starts getting all mad. He couldn't understand why his total was twenty-something dollars less. I tell him it was because of his Coinstar receipt, and he says in an annoyed way that he wanted it ALL charged to his EBT. At this point the receipt has already printed and the transaction cannot be taken back, at least by me. But the guy is mad, and wants some cash. Apparently I'm supposed to be a psychic or something and should have just magically known that he wanted the Coinstar done in a completely separate transaction, even though he gave it to me with his other stuff and said nothing about doing it separately and then watched me getting it ready without saying anything.

I knew that there was nothing I could do to help this guy. The transaction was already done. So I called a CSM, because I figured maybe the CSM could override it, put the money back on his EBT, and give him cash for his Coinstar amount. So CSM Tony comes over, and I hand him the receipts and explain the situation to him (leaving out the part about how this idiot guy didn't bother to tell me he wanted his stuff done in two separate transactions and then got mad at me for not automatically knowing). There is a huge line forming behind this guy, and he starts going off about how he just needed some cash because he was from out of town.

At this point, two separate thoughts are going through my mind. One was that there was no reason for his to be a jerk to me because I had no way to know what he had intended to do and if he wanted cash that badly he should have just said "I'm sorry, no problem, I'll just go to the ATM." The other was that this guy shouldn't even be on government welfare. Half of it was spent on candy and chocolate milk for his kids, and he bought a truckload of dog food. I'm sorry, but if you can afford to have a dog, you can afford to feed your family without the government's help. If not, you should get rid of the unnecessary expense of the dog and use that money to feed your family. I know this was totally judgmental of me, and I didn't need to be speculating on whether or not this guy deserved to be on welfare, but he was really irritating me, and I'd already been working for around nine hours that day.

So Tony tries to override the transaction. Pretty much anything can be removed from a transaction by a CSM, even after the transaction is finished. Except for, come to find out, Coinstar. When he scanned the Coinstar receipt to remove it from the transaction, it said that that barcode had already been redeemed. We try to explain this to the guy, who keeps on insisting that we give him his twenty-something in cash. Finally Tony asks the guy to come up to the service desk and he'll take care of him up there so I can help all the other customers in my line. So they all leave to the service desk, but the transaction is still on my register from when Tony tried to void out the Coinstar receipt. I abort the transaction, which requires CSM approval (they just have to push a button on their palm pilots). Then I realize that Tony has left his palm pilot at my register. I apologize to the customer waiting at the front of the line for all the waiting, and take the palm pilot up to customer service so Tony can approve my request. I get up there, and he's still there with the jerk guy, who is complaining about me and how he hadn't wanted me to put his Coinstar on with all his other stuff and he just really wanted some cash. (For one thing buddy, I'm not a mind-reader, and for another thing, you are literally standing three feet away from an ATM, so quit your complaining, shut up, and let's all move on with our lives.) I don't say this, of course, I just think it. I hand the palm pilot to Tony and ask him to abort the transaction on my register. I go back to my register, and it's been approved. I apologize to the customers there again and start ringing up their stuff. (Luckily these are nice people.)

So it's going fine, and about ten minutes have passed, and I've noticed that I never saw the guy leave the customer service desk. I wonder to myself if he's still over there being an idiot or if I just didn't see him leave. A minute later I see one of the assistant managers go in to the customer service desk, and I'm thinking that Tony probably called him on the walkie to come talk to this guy. Another five minutes pass, and I finally see the guy leave, looking really annoyed. A minute later I see the manager and Tony leave the service desk. I put it all together, that the guy was mad at me for not being able to read his mind, and since I couldn't help him and the CSM couldn't help him he went to the store management, who also couldn't help him, which is why he left looking so annoyed. Tony comes over later and tells me that the problem was with the Coinstar being on the same transaction with everything else, and I said, "I know. He never told me he wanted it done separately. Apparently I was just supposed to magically know or something." He said yeah, just not to do Coinstars with other stuff, with a look that said that he completely understood about stupid people like that.

And you know what? I really think I don't deserve to have to help all these stupid people all day after I've already been working at my other job all day. I'm worth more than that. And it makes me think that maybe the time has come for me to quit my job at Walmart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

I have a lot of issues with my parents. Or rather, they have a lot of issues with me. One of my mom's favorite things to argue about is how I am a packrat (guilty) and keep tons and tons of junk that I don't need. While I fully admit to being a packrat, it is really not nearly as dire a situation as she makes it out to be. I get rid of things that I have no use for anymore. Most of my stuff is made up of books and papers. (My mom doesn't understand why I would want to own a book--she figures once you've read a book once, why would you ever want to read it again when you know what's going to happen? But to me my books are like my children, and I read them over and over again, which is why I like to have them around.)

Now, it wouldn't bother me so much to have my mom yelling at me about all my stuff and the messiness thereof, if it weren't for the fact that her room is also very messy and full of things she doesn't use or need anymore. She is always quick to say that it is all my dad's, and it's a genetic thing which she shares no part in. I know that is somewhat true--my dad is a packrat, and his parents were, too. Their house always had rooms and rooms that they didn't really use because they were completely full of stuff. They weren't hoarders or anything, they just had a lot of stuff. So my mom is always quick to say that it's just a Brown thing and she has nothing to do with it. (Although anyone who goes in the parents' bedroom can tell you that a fair amount of the stuff is my mom's.)

And it is true that my mom's family is the opposite. One thing that always drives us completely crazy is how my mom and grandma love to throw things away. I'm not exaggerating; they actually feel joy when they put things in the trash. I do not understand it. My grandma does it because that's who she is; my mom does it to try to prove that she doesn't ever keep anything around that she doesn't need anymore. (If you watch closely, though, it's always other people's things she's throwing away.) But she's always on my case because I supposedly keep all these things I don't need (as I said, I love books, and I have some toys and gifts that I like to keep for sentimental reasons, but if it's something I can't or won't use again and there is no sentimental attachment and no possibility to offend someone, then I get rid of it pretty quickly), whereas she has never once in her life kept anything that she wasn't going to be using again soon.

So I've got the house to myself for a brief couple of days, so I decided to do some poking around in the basement. I threw out some food down there that was several years past it's prime (which my mom will probably freak out about when she discovers it, because she figures if it's sealed it will never ever go bad, no matter how many years have passed), and I found something interesting down there with all the old cans that I just had to laugh at. It was a bottle of prescription medicine. This is not in and of itself funny, until you realize that my mom has been keeping it down there since 1991. No joke. This bottle of medicine was filled for my older brother Jeremy on January 11, 1991. Hello! How can she say she never keeps anything she doesn't need anymore, and here she is with a child's prescription that is eighteen years old?!

Okay, you're probably thinking, maybe my brother got better so she decided to keep it in case he got sick again or something, and then it was just forgotten until I dug it out. But there are two clues on the bottle that suggest that this is not the case, that she had some other reason for keeping it. The first is a sticker near the bottom of the bottle front. It says: "THIS CONTAINER IS NOT FULL BUT CONTAINS THE EXACT AMOUNT PRESCRIBED BY YOUR DOCTOR." So this was not one of those prescriptions where you just take it when you feel like you need it so there could be some left over after you are better. This is one of those where they give you an exact amount to take and you must take all of it, even if you get to feeling better. If you don't, the germs may not be fully killed off, and they can become immune from the effects of the drug. And if you decide to self-medicate with it later when you think you have the same sickness, you will be dealing with different germs which will react differently, with the usual effect that they become more drug resistant. Just look up antiobiotic resistance on the internet for some good examples of this. It's also caused by thinking that antibiotics work on anything (similar to how various painkillers will dull nearly any pain), when in reality they have no effect whatsoever if you don't have a bacterial infection. Many people refuse to believe this and insist on taking antibiotics whenever they have a cold or other ailment, and since most doctors won't give them to you nowadays if you don't have a bacterial infection (they do absolutely NOTHING to viral infections, people!), I think people save them in case they think they need them some other time. Which goes back to the other problem of people not taking all of the medicine and innoculating the bacteria rather than killing them. And I personally shook my fist at and mentally cursed all the people who have done this and thus helped the germs evolve and become resistant when I had strep throat for nearly a month that was penicillin resistant.

Okay, so on to the second clue. This clue is not so obvious, so I'll explain. It is the date itself. On January 11, 1991, my family was still living in South St. Paul. We didn't move down to Faribault until four or five months after that. Now moving is a time when most people, even terrible packrats, get rid of a lot of their stuff. They have to get all of it out of their house, and in the process they find lots of things that they forgot they had that they obviously don't use anymore and decide to get rid of it. They also find that the less stuff they have to move over the easier it is, so even things that they like and use on rare occasions, they get rid of to make the move slightly less of a hassle. So surely an old bottle full of prescription medicine would be thrown away. Why would you take that with you when you move? But apparently my mom cleaned out our cupboards, found this old bottle of prescription medicine, and made the conscious, mental decision to keep it and move it with her to the new house. Why would someone who NEVER keeps anything she doesn't need keep this? She is worse than me! I never keep old medicines. If I decide for some reason not to keep taking a prescription, I will dispose of the remainder. I wouldn't want to risk taking the wrong amount or something by deciding after a long time to self-medicate rather than getting a doctor to write a new prescription. And I wouldn't give my prescriptions to someone else--the doctor prescribed them for me, for my specific ailments and my specific body, and therefore shouldn't be used by someone else.

Heck, for that matter, I don't even keep over-the-counter medicines after they've reached the expiration date stamped on the packaging. This also drives my mom crazy. She says that medicines never go bad or "expire" and that the FDA requires every single thing to have a date stamped on it for legal reasons, so drug companies just make up a date that is a few years in the future to put on there because they have to, not because it actually expires then. But if you do a little research into the shelf life of medications (which sadly, I have, and even more sadly, I was doing it for my own personal edification, not for a school paper or something) you will find that, after time, the various components in medicines start to break down and separate. In rare cases this can be harmful. Usually it's not harmful, but rather renders the medicine useless because once the elements have broken down it doesn't act the same way. Extremes in weather can also boost this process (which is why the packaging will recommend certain temperatures you store your medicines at). If you don't believe me about all this, and don't believe all the medical science backing me up, do yourself a little experiment. Get yourself a bottle of Excedrin, and leave it sitting in your hot car for a couple of months, or in the back of your medicine cabinet or closet for a year or so. Then open it up and sniff it. I can pretty much guarantee that it will smell strongly of vinegar. That is because the ingredients in the pills gradually break down and form new substances, one of which is vinegar. And while Excedrin works great at relieving aches and pains, vinegar--not so much. So once they've reached the point where they aren't as useful anymore, I get rid of them. See, I'm not so much of a packrat as some people.

It kind of irritated me, because she's keeping things around like this that she doesn't need anymore, and criticizes me for keeping things around that I actually do use and need. I think we each have our own inherited brand of packrat-ism. (Case in point, my grandma is always carrying around and keeping prescriptions that are years old, and/or belonged to other people, and she thinks I'm being silly and stupid when I have a terrible pain somewhere and, when there aren't any over-the-counters readily available, refuse to take the pills that were prescribed to her sister Jeaner in 2005 that she for some reason carries around in her purse.) I just wish the pot would quit calling the kettle black.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Series of Awkward Events, part the second

Okay, I know I promised to write once a week. And I know that it's been nearly a months since I've written. I had an excuse after the first week--I was out of town, and I didn't have reliable and regular access to the internet. But after that, I guess I just didn't have anything to say. I've been waiting and waiting for something to come to me, and it hasn't. So finally I figured I should finish the story I started back in May, the Series of Awkward Events.

Well the first part ended with me having gone out on an awkward date with Luke, and my roommate Kim and I trying to figure out a day for our double-date with Luke and Kevin. Neither of us really wanted to go out with them, but we'd told them we would, and we weren't going to go back on our word.

I think I already explained last time how I could not just "ask off" for a day at work. It was more complicated than that, and I was not willing to let a coworker be stranded there by themselves so I could go on a date that I didn't even want to go on. But Kim and I still tried to find a day that would work with these boys. It was taking awhile, though. Everytime we all thought we had a good day, something would come up.

So one day I am sitting at the computer doing something on the internet. You see, Kim had a computer that she let us all use, and it sat on a little desk in the corner of our living room. So I was sitting there in the corner using the computer when someone came over. (You have to understand that our apartment was always open--various people were always coming and going, so if someone wanted to come in and see one of us, they just did.) So the person comes in, and it's Luke. And he was a little annoyed. He wanted to know why I couldn't just ask for a day off, that it couldn't be that difficult, etc. I tried to calmly explain why it was proving difficult to find a day. But he got more irritated, and came over to me (as I was sitting there in the corner in front of the computer) and stood towering over me and began to actually yell at me, yelling about how if I really wanted to go out on this date I could find a way to make it work, and it seemed like I didn't want to go on this date at all, and I needed to just find a date. I was not okay with this form of intimidation, and quite frankly it was VERY out of character for him--he was a pretty quiet, timid kind of guy, so I don't really know what his problem was. I was pretty shocked, so I pretty much closed down out of shock and just looked at him and stammered something about how I was sorry. (What I really wanted to do was to shout at him, "Well, Luke, think for a minute about WHAT YOU JUST SAID and maybe you'll figure out that I actually DON'T want to go out with you!" But I didn't.) So he stormed out. Later I told Kim about this incident, and she was kind of surprised, too. So we buckled down and finally figured on one particular Saturday that would work for all of us so we could just get this over with.

We discussed this day with Luke and Kevin and they said it would work alright for them. As it got closer, we asked them what they planned on all of us doing so we could be prepared (you know, what kind of clothes to wear, how we should present ourselves, that kind of thing). They, of course, didn't have anything planned, and I think they were finally getting the hint that we were annoyed with them. So they decided to be gentlemanly, saying that we could choose whatever activity we wanted and they would go along with whatever we decided to do. So Kim and I discussed it, and we finally decided we should all go see a movie. We figured that way, it would be dark, we wouldn't have to talk to them, look at them, or interact with them. I know that may sound harsh, but there it is. So we told them we wanted to go to the movies. They told us to pick the movie and time and let them know and they would get the tickets. We both really wanted to see The New World, and neither of us were morning people AT ALL, so we told them we specifically wanted to see the evening showing of The New World. That was the only directions we gave them, after they wanted us to pick out exactly what we were going to do.

Now I'm not sure about the timing of this, but I think it was about a day or two before we were supposed to go on the date. Kevin talked to Kim and asked her if we were ready for our double date on Saturday, and informed her that we were going to be going to the morning showing of Wallace and Grommit. When I got home Kim told me this, and we were both annoyed. They told us to pick out the movie and time and said they'd do whatever we wanted to do, and then they decided on something totally different? Why would they do that? Especially when they knew we were annoyed with them! We were pretty annoyed because of this, but also because we were NOT morning people and really had absolutely no interest at all in seeing Wallace and Grommit. But we figured, let's just do it and get it over with.

Well the Saturday morning of the date finally arrived. Kim and I were both dealing with some health problems at that time, so we were not feeling well at all, and on top of the just hating mornings in general, we were both kind of, how shall I put this........hormonal. All of this combined to make us really kind of angry. We were talking about the dumb things these boys had done, and Kim couldn't stand it anymore. She called Kevin and told him to come over because she wanted to talk to him. So he came over, and she let him have it. I stayed in my room but could still hear them. She told him it was rude of them to make different plans after they had told us to plan it, and it was rude for Luke to come over and trap me in the corner and yell at me, and how we just didn't feel like going out anymore, etc. etc. So Kevin left, and the date was not to be. We were both kind of glad, although I did feel kind of bad that Kevin had gotten ripped into like that, although he totally deserved it. (That's why I left Kim to it and stayed in my room.) Well a couple of hours later Kevin and Luke came over, and Kim and I each stayed in our rooms because we didn't want to talk to them because we were tired and sick and hormonal and still upset. So they left these cards for us. Apparently Kevin went home and told Luke what Kim had said, so they went out to the store and bought these ridiculous cards with droopy puppy dog faces on them because they thought that would make it all better. I don't know what was said to Kim, but in my card Luke apologized for being so rude, and said that Kim had made him realize that he had yelled at me and he was sorry for that. It was all quite sappy, and make Kim and I a little more annoyed, but afterwards I realized that it really was the thought that counted and that even though these cards were absolutely stupid, these guys really were just trying to apologize and be nice. So I guess I've got to give them props for that.

But wait, that's not the end of the awkwardness. No, not nearly. We started a vigorous campaign of avoiding Luke and Kevin because we were embarrassed about all the awkwardness and didn't know what they would do and were wanting to avoid more awkwardness. And it was kind of difficult, since we all lived in the same apartment complex and went to church together and stuff. But I think they were avoiding us, too, so we managed to avoid the awkwardness for awhile. I think Kim recovered sooner and let it all roll off her back because she knew how to deal with boys and the things they do, whereas I had absolutely no experience with boys whatsoever and so didn't know how to react. So my personal avoidance campaign continued.

Now I must introduce two side stories which will not seem to be connected to each other or to the main story, but trust me, they will all come together in the end at the final, supreme instance of awkwardness.

The thing I have to explain is that all during this time I was nursing a major crush on a guy I knew. (I know there are several of you who know who this guy is, and you had better not say a word to ANYONE, because I am still embarrassed about my behavior, and I am still facebook friends with this guy, so if you know who it is, just please, remain quiet about it.) So yeah, I had a huge crush. I knew that nothing could really happen, partly because I was not (and still am not) the kind of girl guys are interested in AT ALL, and partly because, if anything WERE to happen, I would be the one who had to make it happen, and I didn't know how to make things happen with guys. So I finally decided I would try to find some seeminly innocent way of hanging out with him. And I decided that my twenty-first birthday party would be the perfect ruse. My birthday is in April, and I started planning this major party in January. And I planned and worked on this all through January, February, and March. I wanted this to be BIG. There had to be enough people there so he wouldn't suspect I had planned it just as an excuse to get him to come over. But I also wanted it to be big because, hey, I was turning twenty-one. And of course a Mormon party would not involve alcohol of any kind, so I had to make it big and fun in every other way. So I invited everybody I knew. I invited all my friends. I invited everyone I knew on facebook. I invited everyone in all of my classes. I put up a flyer at work. I advertised the party on I even sent invitations to every apartment in my complex, as well as all the other apartments within the boundaries of the church congregation. I literally invited several hundred people. And I planned. Oh, I planned. I had all the music picked out. I planned on all the beverages we would be having (basically all the fake alcohol--Martinelli's sparkling cider, apple beer, etc.). I also planned on multiple desserts--ice cream, cakes, cookies, etc. And I was working on all of it even up through the day of the party. In the end, it ended up being a big bust--not only did the guy I wanted come, out of hundreds I had invited, only about six showed up. It was really quite depressing, and that party is the reason that I stopped celebrating my birthday, or even telling people it's my birthday. Nobody cares anyway, obviously, so why cause the awkwardness of acting like they care?

Okay, so that was the first seemingly random story I had to interject. On to the second.

I think it was about March when somebody at church came up with this really cool game we could all play over time. I'd actually heard of lots of people doing this at BYU, and it sounded pretty cool. So I was excited. I know it will sound very strange and maybe slightly disturbing, but I'll try to explain how it works. Basically everyone in the congregation was assigned to "kill" someone else. Each person was issued an envelope containing a popsicle stick and the name of the person they had to kill. Once they killed the person, the person had to give them the name of the person THEY were supposed to kill, and the idea was that at the very end there would be one person left alive who was the ultimate killer and winner of the game. The way you killed someone was by "stabbing" them in the back with the popsicle stick. You pressed it into their back, and they were "dead" and had to give you the name of the person they were trying to kill. There were rules attached to the actual killing--you could not kill someone while they were sleeping (how could they be sure you actually killed them?), you could not kill someone while they were in a bathroom of any sort (because that's just rude), you could not kill someone while they were praying (also just rude), and you could not kill anyone on Sunday (because that's the Sabbath and the day of rest, after all). Now I was excited about this game, and when I got my envelope and saw the name inside it, I was filled with evil gleefulness. You see, the person I was assigned to kill was my old roommate, Lizard Girl (name has been changed). I was excited to kill Lizard Girl because she had not left our apartment on good terms. We all had many problems with her--to make it brief, she kept an extremely smelly lizard in our closet, it's live bait was constantly escaping, she ate our food, she didn't wash her hands after using the bathroom, she sneezed on the side of my face once, and one time I personally witnessed her pick her boogers and eat them. No joke. We wanted her out, and found a clause in the BYU Housing guidelines that said that pets were not allowed in BYU-approved apartments unless the pet owner got the written consent of the landlord and all roommates beforehand. None of us had ever given our written consent, so I sent several letters to management, finally saying that if they didn't move her to a different apartment or force her to get rid of the lizard, I would turn them in to the BYU Housing Office for violating their contract. Getting turned into the BYU Housing Office is of course every Provo landlord's worst nightmare, because if BYU revoked their approval of the premises, the majority of their tenants would have to move out. So not long after that, the apartment management informed us that Lizard Girl would be moving to an apartment a few doors down from ours. I had generally tried avoiding her after that because she annoyed me a lot, and because she honestly didn't know--she thought we were really good friends for some reason. But when I saw that I was assigned to kill her, I was so happy. I can't even describe it. You know in the animated version of The Grinch, where the Grinch is trying to figure out how to stop Christmas, and he suddenly gets and idea, a wonderful idea, a wonderful, awful idea, and curls up his face into a really evil grin? Well that face he makes is the only way I can think to describe how I felt. I definitely looked forward to killing Lizard Girl. I was having difficulty doing it, though. The only time I really saw her was at church, and killing was not allowed on Sundays, so I couldn't kill her then. I even went down to her work on at least one occasion to try to kill her, but I never ended up seeing her there. At the same time, I was really afraid someone would kill me before I got a chance to enact my kill. I was paranoid. I would look behind me when I was walking, I would stand against the wall whenever possible, and I even had all my coworkers be on the alert for me because I figured a lot of people knew where I worked and could easily come down there and kill me. So I stood with my back protected most of the time I was there, and told my coworkers that if anyone came there looking for me to cover for me so I wouldn't get killed. And when I was at home, I was very careful to always try to be sitting with my back against the couch or chair so I couldn't be killed. Someone could easily walk into our apartment and kill me, and one of my own roommates could have even been assigned to kill me. So I figured I'd sit with my back against the couch, and if I happened to be standing and noticed someone acting unusual, I'd make a break for the bathroom where I'd be safe.

Okay, so that's the second seemingly random story. Now to bring it all together.

It was my birthday. The day of my party. And I was still "alive," although I hadn't been able to kill Lizard Girl yet. So I'm putting the last touches on my party preparations. I was sitting there making my famous Hamburger Cookies (cookies that look like miniature hamburgers but taste like cookie and frosting deliciousness), and I was careful to sit with my back against the couch while I worked so no one could come in and kill me. There was a knock at the door, which I thought was kind of strange, but I figured, I'm sitting here on the couch with my back protected, so I'm safe. So I yelled for them to come in. And in walks Luke. After all my efforts at avoiding him, here he was. I didn't know what to do, and he started by saying he had gotten my birthday party invitation but unfortunately wouldn't be able to make it that evening. So he decided to bring me a card instead. He handed me the card, and I said thanks, feeling really confused, when suddenly Luke started leaning over. I didn't know what he was doing. He put his arms out, and suddenly I realized he was going to hug me. I started panicking inside, not knowing how to handle this. He's hugging me? Does he not get the hints and avoidance and somehow think I was interested him in some way? Oh my gosh, his arms are completely around me, what am I going to do? What should I do? So I'm sitting there and he's leaning and grasping me in this huge hug, and I didn't want to offend him but didn't know what to do, so finally I put up my arms and sort of gave him a little pat on his back. I expected him to step back at that point and end the hug, but he didn't. He kept on hugging me, pulling me forwards towards him, and inside I'm panicking, but suddenly I feel a little push of pressure on the center of my back. He lets go and steps away and, with a really pleased look on his face, said, "And now, you're dead." And he held up his popsicle stick. I was shocked, and annoyed that I was dead without getting to kill my old roommate, and I didn't appreciate the way that he had killed me. He was standing there grinning, thinking it was some great joke and that I'd laugh with him, but I just looked him squarely in the eye and said in a total serious voice, "Luke, you are not a cool person." Then I reached in my pocket and grabbed the piece of paper with my victim's name on it and handed it to him, and I turned away from him and continued putting together my cookies. I did not say another word to him. He turned and slunk out of the apartment, kind of aware that he had just pulled the ultimate in extreme awkward moments.

And so that was the end. That's the end of the long series of awkward events. I avoided Luke for another month or so, but then we were both called to the same committee at church so I was forced to interact with him. My strategy was to pretend that none of it had ever happened, and he went along with that, so in the end it was all okay. Still pretty horrifyingly awkward, though.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Saying Good-Bye

I knew both of my grandfathers were dying. I just didn't know they'd do it at the same time.

One day apart, actually. But that is pretty darn close. Grandpa was the first. He's been sick for awhile now with cancer. All over his body. He was old, and the cancer was in every organ and system in his body, so he decided not to do chemotherapy because it wouldn't have done any good. He chose to spend the end of his life at home with his family. It was difficult to watch the disease progress. I mean, not counting the five years or so I was in Utah, I've been living in the same house as the man since I was three years old. He was always there. So it was difficult for us to see him get weaker and weaker, and it was difficult for him being in so much pain and not being able to do the things he used to do. But for whatever reason, going through this was something that the Lord wanted him to do, to learn from, and likewise, being observers of this ordeal was something the Lord wanted the rest of us to do. We may not understand right now, but He has some specific reasons for us to go through these trials, and we no that He won't give us anything we can't handle. But for the last few weeks Grandpa was really bad, and mostly just slept. He didn't eat, didn't talk. Sometimes I'd sit in his room while he slept. He couldn't be left alone. I would often peek in there on my way to and from the bathroom in the morning to see how he was. Yesterday when I went by he was really terrible, his breathing really labored. We'd been expecting him to pass on for a few days previously, and I felt like this would probably be it. So I went to work, and a few hours later he did pass away. My mom called me at work a little after that and they let me go home early. I wanted to be able to see him one last time because he had wanted to be cremated, which meant that once the funeral home people came to take him away we wouldn't see him again. So I went home and went up to his room. We had some private family time, and my parents, grandmother, and aunt dressed him in white clothing. I felt I'd rather watch them do it, but I did participate by buttoning his shirt and putting his white shoes on him. Then later in the evening the funeral home people came and took him away.

I was having a difficult time. Like I said, I'd lived with the man pretty much since I was three. It would be so weird knowing that he wasn't there anymore. I went to bed and felt sad, although not what you would call grief-stricken. I shed some tears, and I prayed that I would feel comforted. After all, I knew where he was, and I had a good idea of what he was doing at that very moment. But it was hard knowing that I wouldn't see him again in this life. So that's what I prayed for--comfort. The ability to feel okay and happy. And then I went to sleep.

And this morning, when I woke up, I wasn't sad anymore. I'm sure it will come and go. But I really didn't feel sad. I felt happy. Grandpa was happy and not suffering and doing the Lord's work. I was okay. The Lord very literally answered my prayer. I went to work in a pretty good mood, so amazed that the Lord had answered my prayer so literally and personally.

So I was working as a cashier today, and I looked up and saw my dad walk into the store. I thought this was weird, because I work at a Walmart in a different town from where I live, so my family doesn't shop there ever. He and my brother Justin came up to me and my dad asked if I was taking a break then. I said I'd be taking a break in a little while, and he said I really needed to take a break then. I looked at him and knew, and I said, "Why--did Bop die?" (Bop is what my siblings and I always called my grandfather in Idaho, for some strange reason which I still don't fully understand. It was just our silly little nickname for him.) He said yes, that Uncle Bill had called him just a little while before to tell him that their father had passed away.

Bop had been sick for a really long time, even longer than Grandpa. For several years. He just had a lot of medical problems that all combined to make him more and more feeble, and he also was suffering from Alzheimer's. I think he still knew who the people around him every day were, but he was really confused a lot. My grandmother died a year ago, and he got worse after that. The Alzheimer's prevented him from grieving properly, and he became bedridden and fatigued. Pretty much since my grandmother passed away last June, we've been expecting him to go at any time. We were surprised that he hung on as long as he did, at least I was. So I wasn't surprised to find out that he died, although I was surprised that it happened the day after my other grandfather died.

And you know what? I didn't really feel pain or sadness. The Lord had given me the comfort and the good feelings that I had asked for, and He still was. I was okay with this. Like with Grandpa, I knew where Bop was and had a pretty good idea of what he was doing. So I had to explain to my managers that I would need some time off, for Grandpa's memorial service and also to go to Idaho for Bop's funeral. And I think they all thought I was crazy or something because here I was, telling them that my grandpas had both just died, one yesterday and one today, and yet I wasn't distraught or crying. I was calm, happy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sad that I won't see them again for many years. But they both lived good, full lives, and they had more work that they needed to do that they couldn't do in the bodies they had. I guess I should warn you, I'm going to get preachy here. I normally try not to do that because I respect that other people have different ideas, thoughts, and opinions as me and hold to different belief systems. But there is a reason I feel happy today and don't really feel any pain or grief, why I am alright. And I'm going to tell you what it is. If you don't feel comfortable reading these things or would prefer not to for whatever reason, I completely understand. You can just skip to where I officially end the preaching. Although I would wish that everyone would at least consider what I have to say in the hopes that it might help them in some way someday.

I believe that God has laid out a specific way He wants his children to live their lives so that they might be happy and return to live with Him again someday. He has laid out his plan in the Holy Scriptures through His prophets, and since He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He still speaks to us through prophets today. If we live true to these principles and teachings, we will reap the greater blessings. One of these blessings is called eternal marriage. God has said that the man should not live without the woman, neither the woman without the man, and that they should be united in marriage and raise families, to multiply and replenish the earth. But His plan also involved death--something that is difficult but also necessary for our progression. He did not want husbands and wives and children to be separated after they died, so He provided a way that they could be together forever. You may notice that in most modern wedding ceremonies, the couple makes their vows to eachother with the stipulation of "'Til death do you part" or "As long as you both shall live." I really believe that this is not the Lord's way. If the Lord wanted us to be united in so much love to one another, why would he take that away from us when we die? What would be the point of those feelings we had learned and cultivated? So He provided us with the ordinance of eternal marriage. Not 'til death do you part or as long as you both shall live, but forever. After you die, you can be with your spouse and children and parents and siblings again, for all generations. The hearts of the fathers will be turned to the children, and the hearts of the children will be turned to their fathers.

But we have to live worthy, righteous lives in order to attain this. Eternal life is a gift; everyone will be resurrected and receive it, regardless of how righteously they lived. But in order to gain exaltation and live with your own family again, you have to live the way God wants you to live, not the way the world tells you is acceptable. And if you are worthy of this, you can be married in a holy temple of God for time and all eternity. If you do this, not only is this marriage valid as long as you remain true to it on this earth, but it will also exist after we die. And any children who are born to you will be born into that covenant and be yours for eternity. How comforting that must be to parents who have lost a child, to know that they will be able to have them and raise them in the eternities!

My paternal grandparents, Moyle and Betty, were raised in families where they had this knowledge. When they were married in Idaho, the nearest LDS temple they could go at the time to was in Salt Lake City, which they could not afford to do. So they were married civilly at their church, and a few months later were able to go to the temple and be sealed together as husband and wife for all eternity. When children were born to them, those children were automatically sealed to them as well, and when they decided to open their hearts and homes to more children who were without parents by adopting, they took those children to the temple and had those children sealed to them. My dad was born into the covenant of their marriage and is therefore sealed to them.

My maternal grandparents, Ted and Carol, did not always know these truths. They were good Christians and lived good lives, but it wasn't until my mother was nineteen years old that their family finally learned the complete fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and what it could do for them if they embraced it. They were baptized, and later were able to go to the temple and have their marriage sealed for time and all eternity. My mother and aunt also embraced this truth and were sealed to them. And when my parents got married, they decided they wanted this blessing for themselves as well, so they were married in a temple of God, and my siblings and I were born into this covenant. Which means that we will be with them, and their parents, forever.

But what about people who died without ever having an opportunity to hear the gospel, let alone decide for themselves whether or not it was true? God has provided a way, through holy temple ordinances that date back to biblical times, for these people to also learn the truth and have an opportunity to decide whether or not to embrace it after they die. And we on earth can perform those ordinances for them in the temple. This is so wonderful to me! I mean, what happens to the person who is born in some part of the world, in a time and place where they never even hear the name of Jesus Christ and thus never even have an opportunity to know Him? How could a loving God banish these people to hell for the eternities? They will have the chance to learn and embrace these truths. But I count myself lucky to be one of the number who have learned and embraced these truths on earth. I know that Grandpa is with his earthly parents right now, because he went to the temple and had the ordinances done for them so that, if they chose to embrace the gospel in the eternities (which I think they did), they can be with him. He is with his grandparents, too, and other family members who have passed on. I know that's where he is, and he's greeting them. And I know that the Lord has an important work for him to do, and it won't be long before he is out there teaching those spirits who didn't have the chance to know the gospel on earth. And I know that Bop is with his beloved wife, and with his parents, and grandparents, and even his children and grandchildren who have passed on. They are having a wonderful reunion right now, and the angels in heaven will soon be buckling down with their singing under his tutelage. And this is why I am not in pain, or grief-stricken. I know where they are and what they are doing, and that it is all a part of God's plan, and that someday, I too will experience that.


Well, what else can I say? Actually, I think the Muppets said it better. Yes, that's right, the Muppets. In my favorite Muppet movie, the whole Muppet gang sings this great song called "Saying Good-Bye," which I think sums up how I feel and how we all feel in these situations. Even though the song has nothing to do with death in the context of the movie, I still think it is applicable, and so I'd like to quote it here:

Saying goodbye, going away,
Seems like goodbye's such a hard thing to say.
Touching our hands, wondering why,
It's time for saying goodbye.

Saying goodbye, why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we've had.
Much more to say, foolish to try,
It's time for saying goodbye.

Don't want to leave, but we both know
Sometimes its better to go.

Somehow I know, we'll meet again,
Not sure quite where and I don't know just when.

You're in my heart, so until then
It's time for saying goodbye.

Somehow I know we'll meet again,
Not sure quite where and I don't know just when.
You're in my heart so until then--
Wanna smile,
Wanna cry,
Saying goodbye.

You know, today I couldn't help but wonder if Grandpa and Bop have happened to bump into each other in heaven. They didn't really know each other, although they had met before, and I can imagine them seing each other and being like, "Hey, wait a minute, is is! Hey! You died? Me too! When did that happen? Really?? That's so crazy, I died the day after! Oh, what are those poor fools down there going to do trying to plan all this and deal with it? They must really be freaking out!" Okay, so maybe it won't go exactly like that, but it's fun to think about.

And so I just want to say in closing, I am okay. I'm secure in my knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and what that means for myself and my family members, and the Lord has answered my prayers and given me this knowledge and comfort. My prayer now is that all of you may also feel that comfort in your lives when you need it most. Adieu.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Taking Back the Word "Spinster"

First of all, I have to apologize. I originally declared that I would let no more than seven days go by without posting on here, but alas, it has been more than a week. My exuse is that when I reached that seven-day mark our internet wasn't working, and after a day or two when it was finally working again I realized that I didn't really have anything constructive to say. So I figured, I'm already late on posting, so I'll just keep being late until I actually have something to say.

And I do have something to say today. Nothing profound, or deep, or even depressive. And there will be no literary comparisons today. But here's what I want to say:

I want to take back the word "spinster." Or maybe just redefine it. Being a spinster is considered a negative thing in today's society. I'm sure you've all played the card game "Old Maid" before--where the object is to make matches and pairs of all your cards, but if you end up with the ugly and unwanted Old Maid, who does not have a match, you lose. That says a lot right there. Or the fact that when you make yourself a bag of popcorn the kernels that are useless, that can't "pop," are referred to as "old maids." Well I looked up the word "spinster" on wikipedia, and the truth is, it has never been a positive word. The article began by talking about the original social stigma of being a spinster, and I quote: "...most stereotypes of spinsters are hostile. Other reputations are ugliness, frumpiness, depression, astringent moral virtue, and overly pious religious devotion. Spinsters have traditionally been accused of being overly fussy, of setting their standards too high — to the point of being unable to find a mate they are willing to accept."


The article then goes on to note the "improved status" of the term "spinster." And just how have spinsters improved? By becoming sexually liberated--they can have sex with whomever they want without being socially ostracized, they can pop out as many children as they like without a spouse, and they can do all this while still being hip and fashionable. Like the characters on the show Sex and the City (which I will admit to having watched about two times, and was not impressed at all). In fact, spinsters are expected to do these things. If they don't, there is something wrong with them.

Yikes again.

So either a spinster has to be an ugly, dowdy, strict, sexually repressed religious zealot, or she has to be hip, following all the latest fashions and trends, and definitely sexually active. I don't agree with or follow either of those descriptions, which is why I want to take back the word and redefine it. Why can't a girl be nice and normal, but not have sex and not have children out of wedlock? Why can't a spinster be a happy, successful woman who has complete control of her own body and does not rely on sexuality to make her feel accepted and normal?

Now I know a lot of people will not agree with me on this, and that's fine. I know my lifestyle, the LDS lifestyle, seems too strict for a lot of people. I'm not judging anyone else on how they choose to live their lives. I figure if they are doing whatever they do legally and responsibly (in all the senses of that word), it's not my place to say anything about it. I'm just saying that this is how I'm living my life, and the world shouldn't look on me negatively for it. What's wrong with being a virgin (which, by the way, is not and should not be considered a dirty word), or believing that children deserve to be raised by a mother and a father who love each other and are committed to each other through marriage? If that's what a spinster is, I don't mind being one.

Well in the end all of that is irrelevant. No matter what the reasons or circumstances, it is still apparently a negative thing to be a spinster. According to wikpedia, "...whatever their orientation, most unmarried, unpartnered feminists did not, and still do not, routinely identify as spinsters, preferring more common, and less freighted, terms such as 'single woman' or 'unmarried woman.'"

Blech, too many syllables. Spinster is just easier to say. And type. Why should I have to define myself as "single" or "unmarried?" That's why I want to take back the word "spinster." I am a spinster. I'm embracing it. I'm proud of it. There's no shame in it. There's no longer a negative stigma. I can do what I want, and it's okay. No one should judge me. I'm a Sweet Spinster (which, for anyone who didn't know, is a play-on-words with the term "sweet sister" that pops up in Mormon culture which also has a negative connotation and which I will blog about some other time for the benefit of those who have never heard the term before). So yes, I am a spinster, I'm going to be proud of it, and I'm not going to care what other people think.

That being said, I will still never own a cat.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Seven Freeway Fence Posts

So some people may remember that back in December I wrecked my car on the freeway while trying to drive to work during a snowstorm (black ice sucks). In addition to ruining all the metal on the left side of the vehicle (you can see the pictures on facebook), I also sort of took out the cable guardrail in the freeway median (basically I bent over/flattened some metal fence posts). I figured that, considering how many billions of dollars the state of Minnesota is in debt, I'd have to cover the cost of those metal posts (even though it was not my fault that I hit them). The cop told me that even though no other vehicles were involved and there were no injuries, he'd have to file a report because I caused "damage to state property." I figured it would cost probably a couple hundred dollars, and I waited for that bill to come for weeks. And then months. And then I figured that since they never sent a bill or police report or anything, I must have been wrong about having to pay for it. And being pretty tight up for money, it was a load off my mind!

So here we are, nearly six months after the accident, and today my aunt gets an envelope in the mail from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and she thought that they sure did send the new tags for her car quickly. Then she opened it. And there were no tags. Instead, there was a bill for $696.78. And she was understandably shocked. Since the car I drove at the time actually was her old car, the bill came to her instead of me.

But the charges are ridiculous! Over double what I was originally expecting I'd have to pay! And the charges on the invoice are ridiculous:

1 ton dump truck 52 mi @ 1.64/mi=$85.22
1 1/2 to 3 ton special truck 7 mi @ 3.88/mi=$27.19
2 1/2 to 3 ton dump truck 0.50 hr=$32.15
changeable message board 0.50 hr=$0.46
locating pegs 36 @1.12 ea=$40.22
post cap 1=$3.13
line post socketed 7 @ $54.74 ea=$40.22
6 transp. maint wkrs 3 hrs @ 41.74/hr=$125.23

Okay, seriously! Isn't the state already paying its road maintenance workers to be at work? Why should I have to pay their salaries when they already work for and are paid by the state? My taxes are already paying their regular salaries! And what's up with driving out a couple of dump trucks? I've seen them fixing those freeway median posts before (people knock them over all the time, even when there's no ice on the road), and there is no dumping of anything whatsoever. They take a metal post and pound it into the ground. Okay, I guess they need some sort of truck to transport the posts and tools, but that certainly doesn't involve driving a special dump truck fifty-two miles.

And here's the other thing that annoys me. I wasn't kidding when I said people take out those fence posts every day. I drive on the freeway back and forth between Faribault and Owatonna every day I go to work, and I drive on the freeway back and forth between Faribault and Lakeville once a week when I go to church. And at LEAST once a week I drive past a newly-destroyed section of median fence. All the time. They build them right up next to the road, and there are constantly new skid marks pointing straight towards flattened fence posts magically appearing. But the state doesn't fix them right away. They wait and every few months they go through and patch up all the bare spots on the cable guardrail. (If I remember correctly my wreck spot was fixed sometime in February or possibly March.) Which means they don't drive a dump truck fifty-two miles to fix one spot. They drive a dump truck maybe one mile to fix one spot, and then another mile or two to fix the next spot, and then a mile or two to fix the next one, and so on. I happen to know that there were at least like six other wreck spots between Faribault and Owatonna that were fixed the same day as mine. Yet apparently every single person who takes out any posts has to pay for all the mileage of the truck. That irks me.

You know, every few weeks a wreck spot will appear that is really huge. Not like mine, where seven posts were bent over but still attached to both the cables and the ground. In these big ones there will be like twenty or thirty posts that are completely knocked out of the ground and torn away from the cables, and the grass in the whole area is all torn up. I really feel bad for those people. I'm not really sure how anyone manages to do that much damage--I figure maybe semi trucks barrel through them or something. But seriously. Those people must have to pay like thousands of dollars. The state probably even charges them for the grass.

So anyways, this bill that arrived today, for an accident that occurred on December 20, 2008, was sent on 06/02/09, and is due on 07/02/09. I do not have the money to pay it. My aunt is currently unemployed, so she does not have the money to pay it. I think she's going to send the bill to the insurance company, but we're sure they won't pay any because apparently since the car was so old and crappy to begin with it only had the bare minimum insurance--so it would have been covered if someone else had hit me. (And it had towing insurance, which for some strange reason did not cover the cost of towing the car back to town.) But I'm screwed for money now. It took me like a year to save up enough money to buy my laptop (which was only slightly more than $600). And I know I'm also waiting for the doctor bills I've accrued due to having strep throat for the past three weeks and having to go to the doctor not once but TWICE because the penicillin didn't kill it. And even though my new health insurance did start up three days before I first went to the doctor (Walmart gives health insurance to its part-time employees after they've worked there for a year), the only way I could afford the premiums that would be taken out of every paycheck, I had to choose a plan that had a higher deductible, so I know I will be paying all these medical bills out of my own pocket. So it'll be about a million more years before I have enough money to start taking classes of any kind (which is why I bought the laptop).

Hey, I know. I should send an invoice to the state for the damage that their median fence caused to my car (well technically, my aunt's car). After all, I would not have collided with it had they been more vigilant about de-icing the roadway, right? Heck, I was only going fifty at best when I went off. And by the time we finally left that day two other cars had gone off within half a mile of there, one going the opposite direction and the other at the exact same spot I went off, except that car slid to the right instead of to the left, so I guess all they had to pay for was a tow truck to pull them out of the ditch. Too bad they didn't go to the left, because maybe then they would have hit my car and we would have gotten some money from the insurance. Yeah, I think sending the state an invoice would be cool.

Somehow I don't think Minnesota would be very amused. Or willing to pay. Maybe I should write my senator. Oh, wait, Minnesota STILL hasn't seated theirs yet!