Hypnotized by the Bullseye

Every single day since I’ve been back, I’ve gone to Target.

And sometimes, more than once a day.

And to more than one Target; there are five in the Madison area and I’ve been to three of them at least once (Hilldale, Fitchburg, and Madison West).

In the past few days, I have bought limes, ketchup, mustard, active dry yeast, soda, eggs, Werther’s Originals butterscotch candies, carrots, frozen veggie burgers, bagel thins, fruit snacks, streusel, cookies, jam, almond butter, a wrench, a UW t-shirt, refrigerator magnets, chocolate chips, all-purpose flour, duct tape, a broiler pan, iced coffee packets, a toilet brush, toilet cleaner, and stain remover.

Today I bought a lampshade, light bulbs, poppy seeds, onion soup mix, and carpet cleaner.

This has been my life for the past week.

I am turning into a real life Target Lady.

Sweet Mary Hartman.

Ronnie in Retrospect

I actually finished reading a book. I started reading it in Puerto Rico and finished it in my room at the Hampton Inn in Madison on Sunday night. I’m not a huge fan of the biography/memoir genre in general, but the hot pink cover caught my eye at the used bookstore and once I saw the cover I knew I had to have it, read it, and love it. So after a long book review hiatus, it’s time to rock and roll with the original bad girl: Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, or My Life as a Fabulous Ronette by Ronnie Spector.

If LinkSys Smart WiFi is So Smart, How Come It’s Sitting in the Neighbor’s Car?

One hour, thirty-eight minutes and two Filipina technicians later, I have wireless internet in my apartment.

Talk about an ordeal.

More of the story as my sanity reappears.

OH HELL NO NOT THIS AGAIN.

One of the perks of my new apartment building is the underground, temperature-controlled parking structure. It costs a little extra but in a city where parking is high demand and a state where cars freeze to death in the winter, it’s an investment. When I signed the papers in December of last year, the parking spots had not been assigned yet. When I asked the leasing manager which spot was mine, she said, “They’re just about all open, so take your pick.” I selected a spot right at the front, that would be easy to get into. It’s not so easy to get out of, but I’m working on it, but it’s definitely a prime location.

I came in from shopping last night, and…there’s a car parked in my spot.

This is the EXACT reason why I didn’t want to have to deal with having just a parking lot pass again without an assigned spot. This past year, I had a pass to park in a specific lot, and if someone without a pass was parked in the lot (very easy to do, since the lot is not gated or guarded) and you were the unlucky person who didn’t get a spot, then you had to park either far away or at a meter, risking being ticketed or towed. It wasn’t really that bad until June, when summer classes were going on and since the weather was nicer more people were coming to visit the school I guess, and even though some people may have gone home for the summer, there would still be five or so unauthorized cars parked there at any given time. The company that I rented the spot from ($135 a month, thank you very much) had signs up about ticketing and towing, but there would be cars there that wouldn’t move for days. I called to complain almost every day, to the point of tears and basically got “we’re trying as hard as we can.” One day, I tried calling the number of the towing company on the sign, and found out that they had been out of business FOR A YEAR. I even called an actual towing company, only to be told that since I wasn’t the property manager, I was not authorized to do anything. Basically, there was nothing I could do other than pray for someone to leave so I could take the spot which I paid for.

Now, with an assigned spot, I was hoping that this problem wouldn’t happen again. Especially since there are only 26 spaces in the lot.

Fast forward to last night. So I get home at about 11:30 PM, after spending the day shopping, and, you guessed it, car parked in my spot. Big black Ford Expedition truck. It had a building parking permit decal in the back window, just like I have, so I gave him/her the benefit of the doubt, that maybe some jerk parked in his/her spot, so I parked in the spot next to it and hoped that I wouldn’t get in trouble.

After spending all day yesterday unloading boxes and shopping, I decided to take most of the day off, not even leaving the apartment until well into the afternoon. I had all but forgotten about the situation when I got down to the parking lot and saw the Ford Expedition still there, only now it had a sign taped to the back:

To the tenant who rents this spot: My truck will not fit in my assigned spot, so I am going to be parking here. I am working this out with the management. My spot, #24, is open. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Since it was now after hours, I had no one to complain to. Being the reasonable human being that I am, I went to space #24 to see if a switch would be possible. And…it’s a compact car only spot. Between a wall and a pole. Before I left, I tried getting my car into that spot, but once parked, there was no way I could get out the door.

I left the parking lot to do my shopping, passing the black Ford Expedition and its little “sorry” sign taunting me from the spot that I selected and signed for last December.

Okay, here’s what’s wrong with this picture…wait a minute, the answer to that would be EVERYTHING. Aside from the obvious jerk move of PARKING IN MY SPOT, you had to leave the most patronizing note ever. “Sorry for the inconvenience?” If you were really sorry, you wouldn’t have parked there all night in the first place! “Working this out with the management?” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that if there were an issue, the management would contact me before YOU PARKED YOUR BIG ASS TRUCK IN SOMEONE ELSE’S SPOT. Then comes the fact that you paid for a compact car only spot, either assuming your car would fit or blatantly forgetting that you have a truck that’s as big as a studio apartment, which you obviously need for all the hay bales, woodpiles, and livestock you have to transport here in Madison.

Anyway, when I got back tonight, the Ford Chutzpah was gone, so I parked in my spot.

I might not ever move my car again but at least I got my spot.

Last Night as a Nomad

After one month of travel involving seven states/territories, six flights, four time zones, and only one lost pair of headphones, I am back in Madison. I am still a homeless person, though, until tomorrow morning when I get my keys and meet the movers. Then, the new school year will be that much closer to beginning. For tonight, though, I’m in the luxury of the Hampton Inn. Free wifi, fluffy beds, and a bathtub = heaven.

My dad was well enough today for a trip to DC, so since I was flying out of Reagan (a first for me!) we packed up mid-afternoon so all four of us (mom, dad, sister, and me) could have dinner together. It also happens to be my parents’ wedding anniversary, so that was something fun to celebrate. We had Greek food at Zorba’s in Dupont Circle, after which Dad and I found two geocaches, one real and one virtual, and both within spitting distance of my sister’s apartment. I then said goodbye to my sister, and headed to the airport with my parents. Even though I will be seeing them in about three weeks, it was still weird to say goodbye; this past month has seemed like a bunch of giant goodbyes. I almost missed my flight because I was charging my daughter (iPhone) at the next gate over, but according to my seatmate, they only made one or two boarding announcements. They really didn’t give us a whole lot of warning; the girl in front of me in line had gone to the bathroom and returned only to find that her entire family had boarded without her and now they were doing the final call, which is the one I heard.

The flight was about an hour and forty-five minutes, although it seemed like no time at all. I walked down to baggage claim with my seatmate, a woman called Kristen who was in town for business. Even though we were far from the last ones off the plane, for the first time, our bags beat us out to the baggage claim. One taxi ride later, I was at the hotel, and of course one of the two desk attendants is a friend of mine, and the other is one who actually just moved out of the building I’m moving into, and lived only one floor below me. She seemed positive about the building, and from what I gathered she was leaving because she was in a one-bedroom with a roommate.

Overall, it’s been a fun month, with some ups and downs but mostly ups. I got to experience life as a true nomad for a month, sleeping on planes, couches, floors, and in my own bed. I experienced the hospitality of three friends and got to see their homes for the first time.

Positives of living the nomad life:

  • Always experiencing new things. Everywhere I went, I managed to see or do something new, even in Baltimore. I spent very little of the past month bored, and subsequently, very little time thinking about myself. It was fast-paced and exciting. I can find something fun almost everywhere, from the airport in Charlotte to a sleepy beach town in Puerto Rico.
  • Freedom of movement. There’s just something about being able to pack yourself up into a backpack, a suitcase or two, and just jet.
  • Freedom from possessions. Even this morning, it didn’t take that long to gather my things together, including those items I had accumulated on the trip (a fan from Puerto Rico, a journal from Arizona, school books from home) and overall, it was nice not to be burdened with so much stuff. If it couldn’t fit into my bag, it didn’t come with me; I threw out a lot of junk I would have normally kept. Cue tomorrow, when I open my suitcase and ask myself, “what is all this crap?” Still, it kept me from accumulating too many unnecessary things and buying souvenirs for myself or for friends.

Negatives of living the nomad life:

  • Always on the go. My first few weeks were so action-packed that I barely had time to breathe, or reflect. Even though my Arizona roomie Kathleen admired my ability to reflect on the moment, I couldn’t really settle too long in any one place until I got back to my parents’ house. It was good to be forced to be forward-thinking, but it was tiring.
  • That feeling of homelessness. Along with the excitement come the questions. Where is home? I’ll be somewhere else a week from now, where will I be a year from now? What should I be doing now to prepare for then?
  • I missed my stuff. I’ll be the first to admit my materialistic instincts. I missed my own familiar bed, my car (although my wheels in Puerto Rico and essentially having my dad’s car for the week because he couldn’t drive were huge perks), my clothes, my book collection, having a place where I could receive mail, and even eating the foods I’ve become accustomed to. I also gained a greater appreciation for privacy as well as how to be a better roommate/house guest, and got some good decorating ideas. Most of all, I got the urge to be a good host so I can return the favor or pay it forward.

With only one more night of unharnessed luxury, I might as well live it up: a hot bath and then to bed. Oh, and bienvenidos to my newest visitor from Guatemala.

Don’t Wake the Children, They’re Charging

This isn’t so much of a late night rant, like yesterday’s post, but rather an observation.

Does anyone else out there feel like they have electronic children?

I have three: my laptop, my phone, and my iPad.

And as their parent, my life sometimes seems to revolve around their extracurricular activity of charging them so that I can use them at pretty much every waking moment. Sometimes, my day’s exercise revolves around this, from locating the devices to locating their chargers to finding outlets where I can put them together. And before I leave the house, I have to ask myself a) how long I’ll be gone, b) which items do I need chargers for and b) will I have access to an outlet should I need to charge, and those are all kinda scary if you think about the fact that ten years ago, I had a Nokia phone and a laptop that actually held a charge and didn’t freak out at 60% battery like this one does sometimes.

Today, I woke up with my phone on the elephant table next to my bed. It was at about 30%, but once I finished checking my email and my Words With Friends games, it was down to 22%. It was not on the charger because I’m at my parents’ house, which was built in the 1950s and therefore has a submarginal amount of outlets and iPhone cords don’t stretch very far.

As I go to stick it on the charger, I pick up the iPad. Noticing that it’s on 2%, I put it back down and pick up the laptop, which wasn’t on the charger but still has a lot of power left. I use it until the power gets pretty low, giving me an excuse to get out of bed and find the charger.

I have to finish this later, since my laptop battery is dying.

All You Nosy People

Yeah, it’s that kind of day; I had to go to J. J. Fad to get a title idea.

Anyway.

So, now, here’s something I don’t understand: what is up with nosy people? I mean, I just don’t understand it…who are you serving? Because if it’s yourself, then clearly you’re ready for the check because…ohmygod, stop.

Okay, context.

A few days ago, my dad was complaining of blurred vision, and wouldn’t you know it, apparently he had a detached retina. Or something like that. I mean, that’s what the optometrist thought initially, but it actually was something similar but a lot less severe. He can still see out of both eyes, but he’s wearing a little clear pirate-shield-thing over the affected eye. He’s been having tests and seeing doctors for the past few days, and today he had surgery, but he’s still doing almost all the normal things that he does, except driving and discovering cures for cancer. Well, not so much the second thing, because he doesn’t have a degree in the sciences. Even though he and my mom canceled their flights to Madison next week (not mine though, thank God) after yesterday’s appointment, he had a surgical procedure done today and he’s cleared to fly; that means he’s doing better than most expectant mothers in their third trimesters.

He’s going to make it.

So, yay for my dad!

After his successful surgery this morning (though it seems like forever ago, with what I’m about to tell you), it was taking a while for my dad to get checked out of the hospital. My mother had driven him there and waited. She was watching the clock because she had to get him home so she could get to her book club meeting at the library, and when she asked the desk how much longer it would be, they said “fifteen minutes.” Fifteen minutes later, they said the same thing to her. Normally, not so much of a problem, but a) my dad was fine, and b) she had somewhere to be, so she called me to pick him up so she could get to the library on time. I get in the car, pick him up, and bring him home; he and my mom have been awake since pretty early this morning, and even though it’s only about 1 PM, he’s just had surgery, so he goes to take a nap.

Maybe a half hour or hour later, the phone rings.

It’s not my mom, obviously, because she’s at her book club; it’s probably not my sister, who’s working; and I wouldn’t call the house phone just to talk to myself, but I pick it up anyway to stop it from ringing. It’s not a doctor or someone from the hospital, so guess who it is. Actually, don’t, because you’ll be wrong, but you could probably guess what he/she said after the greeting.

“So, how’s the patient?”

Uuugggghhh, really?

I wasn’t really in the mood to expound at great length on my father’s condition to one of my mother’s nosy friends, so I gritted my teeth and said something like, “he’s fine, he’s had a really rough morning though and he’s trying to rest.”

The response? “I was just asking, you don’t need to be so touchy.”

My response? “I’m not, I’m just telling you that we just got home from the hospital, he’s been up for a while and he’s trying to get some sleep, is there anything that you need?”

“No, I was just asking how he was.”

“He’s fine. He’s asleep. Can you call back later?”

“Sure, okay.”

::hang up::

If you couldn’t already sense it, my face and my palm got very chummy at that moment.

Let’s back up for a minute.

Part of the problem is my mother, telling every person she knows every detail of our lives, because that’s what she does, but that notwithstanding, I get the fact that you’re trying to show that you care, you mean well, you’re trying to be nice…but obviously, you know that my dad was in the hospital this morning. That’s the whole reason you called, isn’t it?

But think about it for a second.

You’re calling the house of someone who has just had surgery done this morning. Unless you are an immediate family member or a doctor, there is no reason that you should be calling at this juncture, even if it’s just to “check in.” Because chances are, you’re disturbing someone, either the person who had the surgery or their family member. Surgery is tiring. Hospitals are exhausting places, whether you’re undergoing surgery, sitting in a waiting room, or, you know, working. No one ever leaves a hospital bouncing up and down like Tigger, eager to share every intimate detail of their hysterectomy. Especially with someone who does not fall in the category of close family or primary care provider. This might not be true in the case of someone like Kate Middleton, but most of us are not her, and you are not the editor of Star.

So, give it a rest. Give it some thought before picking up the phone that very same day of the surgery. In fact, give it twenty-four hours worth of thought, and call then, if something else hasn’t taken your attention. There should be some sort of grace period for these things. Leave people alone for a day to recover, and then continue to barrage them with questions and ask for every excruciating detail. I mean, isn’t that why they don’t allow cell phones in maternity wards? I may or may not have made that last fact up, but seriously, my mother has some nosy friends, because I had the above conversation no fewer than three times today, and my parents fielded a few as well, although probably with more patience than I did.

But honestly…who needs to know, that badly? Do you have that little of a life that you must know everyone’s business, every minute of every hour of every day, and if you’re not the very first person to get all the details, you will explode in a mushroom cloud of nuclear anticipation?

If we wanted you to know, we would call you and tell you ourselves, and just because we did not report to you within the hour doesn’t mean we’re having a secret “let’s-tell-all-the-gruesome-details-of-the-eye-procedure” party that we’re not inviting you to, although that would be fun. Or, on second thought, I could look up the name of the procedure and do a dramatic reading of the Wikipedia entry on how it’s done. “Well, since you asked, after sedation, the doctor took a tiny chainsaw and made an incision into the eyelid, and after wiping away the excess blood, inserted a small device behind the eyeball, and…” Bet that venti soy latte tastes super right about now, doesn’t it?

Oh, and one final thing. That line, “so, how’s the patient?” Wow, original. You are so clever! I can’t believe it, it’s like you’re pretending to be a doctor, but you’re not! Kind of like they did in that movie that one time! Classic medical humor. This is not 1862, we’re not in a tent at Antietam, and we’re also not characters on Scrubs, so act normal or you’re looking at a pretty big malpractice suit.

I don’t care if you do have a clipboard at the other end of the line.

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