I got a new job

After 9 years at my current job, today is officially my last day. End of an era.

I got a new job
One that won’t make me sick
One that won’t make me crash my car
Or make me feel three feet thick

There are lots of things I’m excited about at the new job, but none more so than the commute. My new job is downtown, so I’ll be taking the train. In addition to saving myself 2 hours* of stressful Chicago driving every day, I can actually turn that time into something productive. Read a book, write, do some knitting. Anything other than stare at the bumper of the car in front of me.

*2 hours assuming nothing unusual, like construction, an accident, any kind of weather, a large event going on in town, it being Friday…because those would make it take a lot longer. Luckily, none of THAT stuff ever happens.

I got a new job
One that won’t hurt my head
One that won’t make my mouth too dry
Or make my eyes too red

Certainly it is a bit nerve wracking to give up what you know for a new opportunity. I mean, I think it’s for the better. I hope it’s for the better! But you never really know, right? Change is scary. What if they won’t let me sit at their lunch table? What if they go out of business next month? What if they’re all secretly lizard people who run the world and they think I’m a lizard person and that’s why they hired me and when they find out I’m not a lizard person they put me in a dungeon so I can’t reveal the secret lizard person plot to the media?

On the other hand, no risk, no reward (e.g. ruling the world at the head of a secret lizard-person cabal). And after 9 years, I think it’s just time to move on. They certainly seem like a fun group of lizards people. They like legos. The conference rooms are named after planets from Star Wars. I said I write science fiction in my cover letter, and they actually considered that a plus.

One that won’t make me nervous
Wondering what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you
When I’m alone with you

I’m nervous, but excited. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be awesome. At the very least, it will be different.

The way I figure it, worst case scenario, at least I have a whole new group of people who haven’t heard any of my stories. Time to start over at the beginning…

Locked Out

So, we kind of sort of went a little crazy at the farmer’s market the other day:

farmers_market(Not pictured: ice cream cones)


Most of that food is already long gone, including the cherries, which have mostly been canned for future cherry pies. That part was pretty awesome.

Less awesome, was the part that came right after.

I was carrying all of those berries (you’d be surprised at how much 8 quarts of cherries and 5 lbs. of blueberries weighs!), so I gave my keys to Sara to let us in the house. Sara, doing what she usually does, set my keys down…somewhere. After taking the picture above, we went right out the back door to head over to the garden.

Sara: “You’ve got to lock the door.”
Me: “You’ve got my keys, I gave them to you.”
Sara: “…no I don’t!”

Sure enough, locked out.

Sara: “Well, I just assume you always have keys, so I don’t worry about it.”
Me: “I do always have keys, except when I give them to you.”

It is SO FRUSTRATING to know that your keys are just right there on the other side of this stupid little lock, and if you could just…turn it really fast, or shake it around a lot or maybe BURN THROUGH WITH YOUR LASER EYES POWERED BY THE HEAT OF YOUR RAGE, you could just grab those keys. But you can’t.

What you can do is start calling locksmiths.

This is a surprisingly disappointing endeavor. The first 4 or so were closed, busy, didn’t answer, or wanted to charge $300 to do it. (“You know,” said Sara, “it only cost us $100 to replace that window when it broke. I’m just saying.”)

I finally found someone who said they could be out in 25 minutes, with a base price of $60. Perfect.

…wait for it…

Yeah, 25 minutes turned into 2 hours, and, despite the fact that it took him about 5 minutes to open the door, the “base price” somehow didn’t apply to our situation. Something about the smell of desperation making it cost more, I don’t know.

So they told me it was going to be $150, but I talked him down to $120 (and why wouldn’t you, when you just tricked someone into paying you double?). So that guy makes about $1440 an hour, apparently. Good work, if you can get it.

Anyway, the kids couldn’t stay put for 2 hours, so Sara walked them to the bookstore and back while I twiddled my thumbs. As far as they’re concerned, this was all good fun and makes for a great story to tell everybody they see.

Sweet Hawaiian Bread

There’s a new love in Evelyn’s life.

At church one day, Evie had a pinch of sweet Hawaiian bread, and it was love at first bite. She was going on and on and on about how delicious it was. She wasn’t sure exactly what it was, so I said sarcastically, “Why don’t you go ask Dean Elizabeth where she got it.”

Well, Evelyn did, and Dean Elizabeth came back with a note explaining which grocery store she got it from and what the package looked like.

After that Evie was just obsessed. Any bit of money was set aside for sweet Hawaiian bread. “How much does sweet Hawaiian bread cost?”, “If I buy my own sweet Hawaiian bread, can I eat it whenever I want?”, and “If I gave piano lessons, people would give me money and I could spend it on sweet Hawaiian bread!”

Totally unrelated, one day we were talking about being the mayor, and I mentioned how you have to manage the budget. Her eyes got big. “They give you money when you’re mayor??” Her mind raced with the possibilities. Then she muttered, “No, nevermind. You probably couldn’t spend it all on sweet Hawaiian bread.”

One city’s entire budget spent on sweet Hawaiian bread. I’ve heard worse mayoral platforms.

Ironically, the one cure for this obsession was actually buying a loaf of sweet Hawaiian bread. I guess it’s like the old “make-‘um-smoke-the-whole-pack” cure. One loaf was more than our family could handle. After we finally finished it, she hasn’t mentioned it a single time.

No, now she’s moved on to yogurt. All of her saved money has now been used to purchase carefully selected, individual yogurts. This is a major purchase; she pours over the choices for as long as you will give her.

I’ll tell you one thing about Evelyn; at least she’s pretty easy to please.

I fought the law and (half) won

As you undoubtedly don’t remember, we hit a tremendous pothole on our way back from our vacation back in June of 2014 (yes, a full year ago). The pothole blew out our tire, bent our rim, and trashed our hubcap.

My co-worker said you could submit your receipts to the city of Chicago and they would reimburse you, since technically it is their fault for not maintaining the roads. That seemed a bit crazy, but hey, why not?

I’m happy to report that it’s true! Kind of.

Over the course of the year, they would periodically send me requests for information. Usually it was information they already had (forex, I sent my driver’s license number at least 3 times). I always dutifully sent in whatever they wanted…or at least I tried to. Often the emails would bounce and I had to send everything by snail mail. Time would pass, and I would get some other random email.

Eventually I got notice that they were offering to “settle my claim” for exactly half of my costs. Now, I have to admit, this kind of peeved me. I had sent in the receipts for what I actually paid, and they had divided them exactly in half. Clearly they can do this, because nobody would expect them to ever pay any of this money, so even half of what you are due is more than you ever expected. Naturally, I wasn’t going to take them to court over this, so what choice did I have? Clever girl.

So I caved, and signed, and took half. Low and behold, a check!

2015_06_26_1906It still annoys me that you’ve got to accept half of what you’re due, but hey! I never thought I’d see a dime! Unexpected money!


Quote Monday shakes its booty

Sara: “I wasn’t satisfied with a happy meal for very long. I was more of a ‘two cheeseburgers’ kind of kid.”

Ollie: “Someday, *I’m* going to order a box in the mail!”

Oliver, eating breakfast: “It kind of makes me sick in my tummy when you shake your booty like that.”

Remembering Uncle Billy

I’ve been struggling all week with what to write about Uncle Billy. Not because it is particularly difficult emotionally speaking, but because I just simply didn’t know what to say. I would open a blank post and stare at it for awhile, before closing it and making my mind up not to write anything, only to change my mind and stare at it some more later. Rinse, repeat.

It seems like it’s not my place to say anything; there are other people closer to him that will probably say it better, or have more of a “right” to remember him. On the other hand, once I thought about it, I realized I probably saw him more than most of my dad’s brothers and sisters, seeing as he lived with Grandma, so we’d see him whenever we’d stop by.

Finally I decided not to write anything.

…until I was on the way home from the funeral today. It’s weird to say, but it was a really good funeral. It wasn’t a religious funeral, but it was more of a…I don’t know. A storytelling festival? A celebration of life? A bloodletting? It wasn’t a ceremony as much as just people letting everything out. Good times, bad times, talking about things we don’t normally talk about. Talking about the dementia at the end. It just seemed like exactly what everybody needed.

To me, the quintessential Uncle Billy memory is the Price is Right tape. I’ve watched the video so many times that I’ve memorized it, but there’s a part when Grandpa gets called up and it cuts to Grandma and Billy in the audience. I don’t know how old Billy is, but he is so ridiculously young (and thin!), that you can hardly recognize him. He’s cheering and whistling wildly, and Grandma is just tugging on his arm telling him to sit down and knock it off.

I don’t know why that’s the first thing that comes to my mind, especially since I’m pretty sure it happened before I was born.

The other memory I thought of is a kind of funny one. One year we were at the fair, and I *really, really* wanted to see that night’s performer, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. (That’s right, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Ooh you are so jealous.) My dad, or whoever I was with, didn’t want to hang around until the evening when the show started. I was really bummed out, because I wanted to tell everybody I had seen Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (MARKY MARK!)(AND THE FUNKY BUNCH!). Uncle Billy must have seen the disappointment on my face, because he agreed to hang around the fair with me, and then take me to the show.

Okay, so that’s a stupid story (except the part about how awesome I am that I went to a Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch concert), but I think it does really represent my Uncle Bill. I’m sure he had zero interest in seeing Mark Wahlberg rap, but if there was something he could do for you, he would do it.

I remember when Grandpa died, they had a flag ceremony and some other military trappings at his funeral. I remember thinking how odd that was; my Grandpa almost never spoke of his time in the service. It seemed distant, not really a part of him, and so it seemed weird to include it.

Uncle Billy was the opposite. The Air Force shaped his life, and was a defining characteristic of who he was. I think those were the best, most important years of his life. Therefore, the military part of the service was just so moving. When they handed Chris the flag and thanked Uncle Billy for his service, it really meant something. I know it would have meant so, so much to Uncle Billy.

I know I cry like a baby at all funerals, but even still, I was kind of surprised at how hard the whole thing was. I’m crying now while I write this, and I’m not sure why, exactly. But I really think he would have been happy with today. I think he would have been proud.

I think if he were watching today he would have had a big old smile on his face, and for once, he might not have had anything to say.

In which I win all the things

A while back, I held a giveaway on the blog, and I learned a few things. The main thing I learned? Nobody enters giveaways. That makes entering authors’ giveaways a *really* effective way to get a lot of free books!

Which leads me to this wonderful copy of Ironskin by (my personal hero) Tina Connolly:

IronskinI assure you the ink is much more glittery than it appears in this picture.

The inscription reads, “For Shane, who is willing to win all the things”. You see, Tina Connolly is who I want to be when I grow up, so naturally whenever she offers a giveaway, I enter. Given the paragraph at the top of this post, I *ahem* have done pretty well.

I haven’t actually read Ironskin yet (would you believe it arrived mere hours after I finally laid my hands on a copy of The Windup Girl, which is sort of my equivalent of Wily Coyote catching The Roadrunner), but I don’t hesitate to recommend it, because Tina is the best (and it was nominated for a Nebula, if you’re into that kind of thing).

So, universe, take note! I am, indeed, willing to win all the things.


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