Random Saturdays – Random Saturdays

As I write this, I am working on a Saturday morning, or rather, waiting for someone else to do his job so that I can finish working.  We have on-call rotations at work and this is my week.  It used to not be a big deal.  It was usually a matter of logging in, working for 15 – 30 minutes, and logging off.  You maybe got five calls during the whole week.  Now, it is a nightmare.  We all dread it.  Just because of the organization of the company, being on-call has become a thing that we all hate.  I think the company should start giving a week’s worth of valium to each person as she rolls into on-call.

Surprisingly, Ben is the one who got the 4 AM wakeup call this morning.  He’s not on-call;  he’s backup on-call.  For his company and his team, that really means that he’s on-call.  So, he got up this morning and went into the office at home to work.  Needless to say, he wanted to sleep in more than me this morning.

Oh, and the kids.  They’re not on-call, but they are busy little buggers.  Dora is in cheer.  Lego is in basketball.  Minecraft is in football.  Normally, I’d be excited about this, but since they live so far away, our weekends have been eaten up with driving them to all of their games.  Let me remind you that they live over an hour away from us.  So, some of the games they have at other school are even further than that.  Today, we have a football game from 2 PM – 4 PM and then we have a basketball game at 5 PM.  So, we’ll be spending the entire day driving out to Nowheresville, shuttling 3 kids between two games.  Then we have to drive exhausted and sweaty kids back home.  We also need to make sure they do homework at some point this weekend.

Ben and I are also on-call during all of this.  *STRESS*

Also, per the divorce papers, the kids’ mom can decide that she doesn’t want to take them to games or practices if, for example, she decides to plan one of the kid’s birthday parties at the same time.  We do not have that choice.  Per the papers, we have to take the kids to every practice and game, even if the kid is so sick that he can barely stand.  This was decided after Ben tried to appeal a few times.  This is what the courts think is best for the kids, I guess.

It’s really difficult to make any plans when you have no idea what will be going on.  They changed the times of Minecraft’s game at least five times in the past two weeks.  Lego knows he has a game today, but had no idea what time it was or where it was.  Once again, since we’re not the primary caregivers and we live so far away, it’s harder for us to stay in the loop on the kids’ schedules.  We end up being the annoying parents who text coaches constantly to verify the information.  Then, we have to bring phones and laptops to the games in case we get calls.  Lately, because of the weather in North Texas, we also have to deal with whatever last minute crazy weather is thrown at us.  The other day, we had to flee from a pending tornado, and thankfully missed the tornado that we were driving towards.

I wish we could just take the kids up the street to the local schools and enjoy a weekend in our neighborhood with the kids.  I wish that most of our time with the kids wasn’t spent driving.  I wish that I didn’t have to hear comments from the kids like, “Oh, you’re working again?  You’re always working.”  If I did hear comments like that, it’d be nice if I actually had a comeback like, “Well, if you want to live in this big house and wear designer clothes and have your stepmom be one of the only female CEOs in the tech industry, then I’m going to have to continue to work and I wish you would be more patient and understanding with me.”  No, no.  I have to say, “Yes, I’m sorry, and by the way, we can’t afford to do anything else since all of this driving is eating up money on fuel.  So, I’m sorry that I have to work again and your dad and I still can’t afford to get you a new desk that won’t collapse on you or new clothes to keep up with your growth spurts.”  It makes you feel like a terrible parent, a bad person, and a horrible employee all in one go.  Ben and I both feel completely hopeless in so many regards when it comes to the kids.

Still, I’m glad the kids have found activities that they enjoy, even if I wonder how much they enjoy them with some of the lack of interest they show the day of the games.  I’m glad that I do have a job that allows me to drive across the state to go to the kids’ games.  I’m glad that I don’t have to drive into work if I get a call, which is what my dad always had to do when I was a kid.  I’m grateful for any time I do get with the kids.  Not having much say over how we spend time with the kids makes me grateful for any bit of freedom we do get.  I’m thankful that Ben understands my work situation and doesn’t make me feel any more guilty any time I have to choose work over the kids.  We just have to take what we can get sometimes.

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Random Saturdays – Weddings

On the way to work, I tend to flip around between the different radio morning shows.  Everyone kept talking about weddings and I couldn’t figure out why.  Finally, one of the shows mentioned that this is June, which is apparently right smack dab in the middle of Wedding Season.  Why anyone would want to get married during the hottest part of the year baffles me.  If you’re a teacher and you want to get married when you have some time off, I get it.  Otherwise, I don’t.

Then again, I don’t really like weddings anyway.  They seem like a really expensive way to turn you and all the people around you into stressed out jerks.  I expressed this sentiment to Ben and told him that I’d rather invite my friends and family to all jump in our cars and drive through traffic together because we’d get the same results without all the fuss.  Most of the conversations on the morning shows have been about people’s bad experiences at weddings or while planning their own weddings.  People are too cheap to pay for something that a guest wants or the guests are being too demanding about something.  Future in-laws fight.  Lifelong friends stab each other in the back over the choice of dresses.  Bridezillas.  It’s really a terrible thing.

I’ve been watching Friends reruns here and there over the past few weeks, and they’ve had episodes of all of the different Friends weddings.  As funny as they all are on tv, those weddings would all be completely miserable experiences in real life.  They were all also very expensive and time consuming.  I have never understood why people put themselves through so much stress.  Why not spend that money on a down payment on a house?  Pay off student loan debt?  At the very least, go on a nice honeymoon?  Actually, people seem to like to start their lives together with lots of stress and lots of debt.  The American Plan is supposed to be that we go to college, graduate with ungodly amounts of debt, get into more debt by planning a huge wedding that nobody enjoys, go on an expensive honeymoon, and then come back and get into more debt by buying a house that you can’t afford while driving multiple cars that you can’t afford.

Right now, Ben and I are both paying on our student loans.  I graduated with $32,000 of student loan debt in 2012 and I now owe $36,000 even though I have made every one of my payments on time for the past two years.  I can’t afford to pay more on them than I’m already paying, though.  We are also saving up for the down payment on a house.  Since he has three kids and rebuilds cars, we need a house with alot of space.  As it is, Ben crams himself into a tiny garage to work on the Mustang, or he makes the three-hour trip back and forth between our house and his parents’ farm to use the trailer and/or work on the Jeep.  It would really save us time, money, energy, and stress, if we just invested into a home where he could do all of that without making the long drive.  Looking into the cost of homes, we could buy one similar to the one we’re renting right now for close to the same price as buying one that will allow him to enjoy his hobbies at home.  Thinking about adding more debt to my name frightens me, but it’s also necessary (just like it was for my degree).

So, when I think about people spending the amount of money on a wedding that I spent on college, I feel a a bit nauseous and a bit violent.  Why put yourself through that for something so stupid?!  You can celebrate the day with your friends and family without all the muss and fuss.  Eliminate unnecessary costs and stress because there will be no shortage of either of those in your life.  Have a small ceremony, gather your closest friends and family around for a nice meal, and enjoy your time together as a new family.  As far as I’m concerned, the only things about weddings that really matter is the promise that you are making to your husband/wife and, of course, the wedding cake.  All of that other mess can go somewhere.

Random Saturdays – Moving Lessons

I don’t particularly like moving.  In fact, I hate moving.  I think most people hate moving.  With every move, though, I learn something about life and the Art of Moving.  Here’s a list of what I’ve learned so far.

1.  Less time labelling means less time packing, which leads to a faster unpacking process.
I’m naturally organized, so, I used to keep a list of every item contained in every box.  Now, I make a note of the things I will need the night that I move (eg. toothpaste and toilet paper) and which boxes those things are in so that I can unpack those first.  Since I don’t know what’s in any of the other boxes, I just unpack them all as quickly as possible.

2.  No matter how well you plan, there is no way that everything will be ready for the date and time promised.
This is true with most things in life.  However, when I call a company up to say, “Hello.  I would like to start giving you money on such and such date,” you kind of expect to have services/products on that date.  I got electricity at my new place on the agreed upon time, but everything else had issues of some sort.

3.  You will never have internet access on your first day in your new place.
I have yet to have internet access at a new place on the date promised.  This time around, after a week and four different visits from technicians, I finally have internet, but only on the phone jack in the den because the apartment complex placed sheetrock over the main outlet in the bedroom.  Thankfully, I have WiFi, which is fine, but my streaming entertainment services may suffer a bit.

4.  Other people stink, especially smokers.
The previous tenants in my apartment clearly smoked and my new neighbors smoke.  I walk into my apartment and my nose and throat immediately close up on me and my eyes dry out and get itchy.  Plus, my new neighbors seem to really like boiled chicken because I can smell them cooking it every two or three days.  However, I’m Filipina and get cravings for foods cooked in vinegar.  So, when I decide to cook my vinegary foods, I don’t wanna hear nothin’ from no one.

5.  Crazy neighbors love welcoming you to the neighborhood.
On the day that I moved in, I went to the office to get my apartment keys and a crazy lady accosted me and one of the office ladies.  She was angry that she had lost her mail key and had to come to the office to borrow their copy every time she needed to check her mail.  That crazy fool turned out to be my neighbor.  When I came back to let the movers in, she was standing outside of her door and yelled at me, “You better watch your stuff!  They’ll take it!  They look at your stuff when you’re not here!”  I didn’t know if she meant the movers, the maintenance people, my neighbors, or random strangers, but she had me paranoid.  I wanted to say, “Well too effing late now!  A whole helluva lotta good your crappy advice does me now, you effing crazy nut!”  (But with more cussing.)

6.  If you pay movers to move your stuff, let them move your stuff — all of it.
You may feel like letting a dude who can lift your couch, carry it downstairs, put it in a truck, and bring it into a new place by himself is wasting his talents by moving your shoe rack, but it’s all the same to him.

7.  Pay all of your bills for the month of your move before you actually move.
I did that this time and am so thankful.  I lose track of time when I’m moving, so I’m not as aware that my credit card is due by the 26th and that today is the 25th as I would be at any other time.  This time, I just paid everything during the first week of July and am done with it until later in August.  Sure, plenty of my bills are on autopay, but some of them aren’t.

8.  Update your address with the important companies first (i.e. magazine subscriptions).
I used to just turn in the mail forwarding form at the post office.  The last time I moved, though, a book that I pre-ordered went to my old address and I had to put a note on the door of my old apartment, hoping that the new person would contact me and arrange a meeting to give me my book.  This time, I updated all of the most important companies with my new address before I moved and have yet to miss a single magazine.

9.  Splurge on electricity.
I normally keep my apartment around 80° in the summer and around 68° in the winter to save money and conserve energy.  I compensate with fans and dressing accordingly.  When I move in the summer in Texas, I crank up the A/C and keep it on until all of the heavy lifting, moving, and heavy unpacking is done.

10.  Take a nap.
I’m a big proponent of naps anyhow, especially during the hottest part of the day in the summer, but I get so busy and stressed with moving that I really need a nap in the middle of the day to keep myself from collapsing.   Also, I don’t have to worry about not sleeping that night because I’m still so exhausted from all of the moving and unpacking.

I hope these tips help you prepare for any moving that you may do in the future, except for Zumba.  (← Bad joke, I know, but I can’t bring myself to delete it.)