Finding myself

I was 19 with a baby when I met my now husband.

I was lost.

I was floundering, not really knowing who I was or what direction I should go in next.

My husband found me. He picked me up, dusted me off, and set me on out in a direction.

That was nearly 16yrs ago. Somewhere a long the lines, I lost that person I used to be. Not the lost little girl with no direction, no, the strong, independent woman who had the guts to leave the father of her baby and set out on her own.

My husband, who is a wonderful man, this is not meant to disparage him in anyway, found me at a time in my life when I was at my lowest point. Without him, I don’t know where I would have ended up. However, we are two different people with different views on everything from parenting to politics.  For years, I tried to be what I thought he wanted me to be. What I should be. One day, I woke up and didn’t know who I was.

The girl who longed to be on stage was now afraid to make a phone call if it meant talking to a real life person. The social anxiety was crippling.  I think about all the things I want to do, but then end up making excuses as to why I can’t and talking myself out of it.

I have wanted to take ballroom dance class for as long as I can remember. There are several locations to take classes all around me. I’ve even signed up for a couple, but then chickened out at the last minute. Or used the excuse that since my husband can’t come with me, I shouldn’t go. I’d be alone. I wouldn’t have a partner. I’d be the only who alone and I wouldn’t know what to do. (These are all of the same excuses I used for not doing karate for years too)

A couple weeks ago on Facebook, I noticed that one of the ballroom instructors was doing a performance class for the Halloween party. You could pay by the class instead of committing to a full 6-8 week session. Perfect, I can go to one class and if it’s just awful, never go back. The idea was to learn choreography for Thriller, then perform it at the party.

Last week was my first class. I was a ball of anxiety walking in. It was a small class with just 3 other people, plus the instructor and her husband. I surpried myself by picking up the moves quickly and my confidence started to come back. I can do this!

Last night was the second class, and my old friend anxiety starting creeping back into my head. I almost backed out. I hadn’t lost anything, I hadn’t paid for this class yet, so I didn’t really HAVE to go. I went.

The class was packed. There ended up being 12 people this time, and only 3 of us had bee in last weeks class. Honestly, this is where I shine. If I can share my knowledge with people, I feel more confident. I was able to work with new people and show them the moves.

My nervousness is dissipating and I’m looking forward to the performance next month. I can’t wait to see what we learn next. I’m finding that person again

DirecTV

We’ve had DirecTV for 2 years. We should have canceled when our 2yrs was up, but I guess we are gluttons for punishment. Ever since that original install appointment, every single time I call them about anything, they screw it up.

Here’s the latest. We decided to upgrade to HD. To do this, we needed a whole new system than what was installed 2yrs ago. We called, paid over $200 upfront, and scheduled an appointment for July 19th between 8-noon. The day comes and we get a call from the installer saying he’ll be at the house between 10:30 -11:00. So, we wait.

After 12, we get a call from the dispatch saying that the installer sat outside out house for 15 mins and no one was there and he was leaving. We promptly informed her that no, there was no one sitting outside our house, for any length of time. Finally the guy pulls up. He’d been at the wrong house and wondered why we hadn’t gone out and found him. I wasn’t aware that was my job, but ok.

He comes in, checks the work order, looks at our stuff and says “I can’t do this, I don’t have the right parts” Say what? He says he’ll call around and see if he can find it, but would it be ok, if, worst case senario, he has to come back the next day. We agree, but he assures us that he will probably be able to do it that day. No problem.

After about 20 mins on the phone, he comes abck and says he found someone who had one, and he’ll call us and let us know when he’s coming back. We never see, or hear from him again.

After a while, we think that perhaps he’ll just be back the next day as he promised.

The next day, I get up and wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally, I go to Directv.com and see that we have an appointment for Aug 3rd. Wait a min! That’s not right. I call my husband and tell him. He calls Directv who basically tells him that we canceled our appointment and that is the time we rescheduled it for. Round and round they go and they refuse to budge that WE were the ones that rescheduled and they don’t understand why we are upset. I decide enough of the phone conversaion crap. They always try to give you the run around and say they didnt say whatever on the phone, so I take to email….

In reference to order confirmation number: 74398229
To say Im upset is an understatement. For the past 2yrs EVERY TIME I’ve contacted you for service related issues, there has been a problem. The most recent is now with our upgrade appointment. We were supposed to be upgraded to HD on 7-19-2010. The installer came out, looked at our system and said we needed another part that he didn’t have. He said he would go find it and “worst case scenario” he’d have to come back today (7-20). Now we are being told that WE called to reschedule the appt for Aug 3rd. This is simply NOT TRUE. In fact, I challenge you to find the call log/recording stating that myself or my husband called to reschedule. Not a Mastec tech, ONE OF US. You wont find it because it NEVER HAPPEN! The remedy given of “$5 off Starz for the next 6 mths” is a pathetic attempt at
placating us. I am not happy. I am ready to go elsewhere for my television services.


Response (Fae C. – 100173840) – 07/20/2010 03:39 PM
Dear Mrs. Smith,

Thanks for writing. I’m sorry to hear that your installation appointment has been rescheduled without your authorization. We know you have a choice when it comes to programming providers, and we must work hard to earn your business. We’d like to speak with you to see how we can help you, so please call us at 800-531-5000 so we can assist you.

Thanks again for writing and giving us an opportunity to respond to your concerns.

Sincerely,

Fae C. – 100173840
DIRECTV Customer Service


I see no reason to call to discuss this. My husband spent all day on the
phone trying to resolve this issue and only got the run around. It’s
unacceptable. Had it been me on the phone, I would have canceled all our
services with DirecTv. This is not the first issue, and I’m positive if we
stay, it will not be the last. Your “customer service” is a joke. No one
knows anything and everyone passes the buck.
Bottom line is this:
We scheduled an upgrade for July 19th
The tech was late, then we got a call that he had been sitting outside our
house for 15 mins and no one was home, when we were sitting in the house
waiting for him. He went to the wrong house.
He claims the work order was wrong and he needed a different part to
complete our order.
He was on the phone for about 20 mins trying to “track down” the part.
He told us he had a lead on it and was going to get it and would call us. He
stated that “worst case scenario” he’d have to come back the NEXT DAY.
We never heard from him, or anyone again. In fact, it wasn’t until I checked
Directv.com that I saw our install had been rescheduled for TWO WEEKS later.
At that point my husband called to get the situation straightened out and
was told that WE rescheduled the install and there was nothing that could be
done. As stated, we never called to reschedule anything.
It is a waste of my time to have to play these games with Directv and the
installers. What happens if they don’t have the right part next time? Will I
have to wait another 2 weeks for a service that I had to pay UP FRONT for? I
don’t see where I’m asking for any favors, I’m simply asking what I ALREADY
PAID FOR.
Why are we being bumped behind people who made appointments AFTER us? We had
an appointment and we were screwed. We didn’t get to pick our next
appointment day, it was picked for us and we were never even informed. In
fact, my husband had to take a day off work to accommodate our original
install date. So, after paying over $200 upfront for the upgrade, and losing
a day of work, we still don’t have the upgrade, and will have to do this all
over again on August 3rd? And now I’m expected to spend my entire day on the
phone to try to sort this mess out, when all I will end up with is someone
who has no idea what to do and a lousy $5 a month discount on Starz (that,
after all is said and done, we probably wont end up with anyway). Sixty
dollars over the course of a year doesn’t really say “We’re sorry we screwed
you over, again”.


Response (Jennifer N. – 100219635) – 07/22/2010 07:12 AM
Dear Mrs. Smith,

Thank you for writing us back and taking the time to let us know the details of your installation concern.

At DIRECTV we take pride in our equipment installations as well as the technicians who provide this part of our service to you. Please accept my apology on behalf of DIRECTV for the installation experience you encountered. I know that your time is valuable and I assure you that we don’t take these situations lightly.

You are important to us and we certainly want to keep your business. We review and respond to every suggestion, inquiry and question we receive (unless you specifically requested for us not to follow up with you). Upon review of your email, I determined that we needed some extra time for research and investigation before providing you with our final reply. I have escalated your email to a specialist who will personally research your issue and reply to you.

We respect your time and want to reassure you that we are working diligently to get back to you as soon as we can. While this may take some time, our specialists generally respond within 48 hours. We appreciate your patience.

I understand that you no longer wish to call but in case you need more urgent support, our Customer Service Specialists are available to help you at 800-531-5000. I have noted your account regarding your concern for reference to the representative who will assist you over the phone in case you’ll call us.

Thanks again for writing and for the opportunity to assist you.

Sincerely,

Jennifer N.
Employee ID 100219635
DIRECTV Customer Service


Dear Mrs. Smith,

Thank you for taking the time to write, I am sorry for any frustration that has been caused by the installation delay and I will be happy to assist you. After reviewing your email and researching your concern, I have escalated your complaint to our Installation department to see if anything can be done concerning your installation appointment. I am truly sorry for how this issue has been handled and I do hope we are able to assist you.  If we are able to assist you with your installation appointment, you will be contacted by our Installation department directly.  Again I am sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. However, currently we do have your appointment scheduled for Tuesday, 08/03/10 between 8 am and 12pm.

Sincerely,

Rita S ID 406557
DIRECTV Resolution Specialist


Customer (Dennie Smith) – 07/23/2010 11:10 AM
Ms. Rita S ID 406557,
Thank you for your apology, it is appreciated. What bothers me, is that you keep referring to “our installation department”. On the phone with a supervisor from customer support they stated that DirecTV does not have an installation department. DirecTV does not contact the installers. DirecTV does not have any contact information on the installation company or the installer. DirecTV does not have a quality department on installations. Whether this is true or not, that is what I was told by a DirecTV supervisor. Yes there is an appointment scheduled for Tuesday, 08/03/10 between 8AM and 12PM. However, I did not make this appointment. I have called three times and Mrs. Smith has written twice and we still have not received an answer as to “Who made this appointment”, “Why was it changed”,
“What happened to my appointment on 07/19/10″ and “Why was I not notified”. The only answer I have received is “Mr. Smith we have you rescheduled on 08/03/10″. What about coming out the next day? Was the installation company busy? Did my appointment on 07/19/10 not matter? Did the $230 I payed up front not matter? I do not like the fact that DirecTV is trying to force this down my throat. If this matter is not taken care off in a prompt and satisfactory manor I will not need an upgrade, I will not need NFL Sunday ticket and I will not need DirecTV.


Dear Mr.and Mrs. Smith,

Thank you for taking the time to write.  I understand your concern about your installation.  I am sorry you were not clearly informed of our Installation Department.  We have Home Service Providers (HSP’s) which are also called our local installers and service technicians. If a complaint needs to be forwarded due to an issue caused by our local installers, I can forward this to our managing Installation Department who regulates the local installers.

To make sure all of your questions are answered, I will answer them in the format they were received.

Who made this appointment?

Based on the notes on the account the installation was rescheduled by the local installation department.

Why was it changed? What about coming out the next day? Was the installation company busy?

I can assume it was changed because the technician was not able to return to your home later that day of the original installation or at sooner date than what   is currently scheduled.

What happened to my appointment on 07/19/10? and Why was I not notified?Did my appointment on 07/19/10 not matter?

We expect our Home Service Providers (HSP’s) which also called our local installers to contact our customers and the work order as to why the installation date has been rescheduled.  However, in your case there were no notes as to why it was rescheduled. Because of these questions posed in your original email, this is why I escalated your account to our Installation Department to report your complaint of not being notified of the changed installation date and to if possible to gain more information as to why it was changed.

Did the $230 I paid up front not matter?

When a DIRECTV customer orders an upgrade or new equipment, they are charged at that time for the services that are scheduled to be provided.  However, if the order is cancelled we do refund the charges to credit card that was charged.

Again I am sorry for any frustration this has caused and I am hoping we can get some detailed answers to your question from our local installers as well as getting an earlier date for your installation if it is possible.

Sincerely,

Rita S ID 406557
DIRECTV Resolution Specialist

As you can see, they never want to plainly answer questions in email either. Imagine being on the phone with these people. The only concession they have made at this point is that we didn’t cancel and reschedule the appointment.

A Tale of Two Book Signings

I’m not much for crowds.
I’m kind of impatient

Knowing this about it, it woudl be surprising to find out that I kinda dig book signings.
I wish I could go to more. I hope to go to more in the future. But for now, this is about the two that I have been to and how different they were.

In July 2007, my dad died suddenly.
Shortly after, Nicholas Sparks came to town.
Now, I’ve read The Notebook and seen the movies made from his books and to be perfectly honest…I’m not a huge fan. I think he writes books that make women swoon and cry. My mom loves him. So, when I saw an opportunity to make my mom happy, I jumped on it. Off we went to Barnes and Noble…..
We got there EARLY and the parking lot was already full. We had to park across the street at the mall and walk across. When we got in, there were so manmy people already there, they gave us our group and told us we might want to g o get something to eat and come back in a couple hours. Neither of us lived in town, and we already saw the parking issue, so we just stayed put. For a Very! Long! Time!

At one point, we were up wandering the isles, looking at other books, waiting for our groups to be called, when a line just kind of, formed, around us. We decided to just go with it.
So we stood there, and as the lines moved ever so slowly, we inched or way up. As the night went on, we made friends with the people around us.

Now, every book signing has different rules. For this one, there was no personalization. They wanted to move the line, and thought it would go quicker if he didn’t stop to write everyone’s name in each book. Tehre was, however, no limit on the amount of books you brought in to have signed. There were several people there with cases of books (that went up on ebay as soon as they got home).

It was a long night. All in all, we waited around for 7hrs to meet Nick Sparks and have our books (one each) signed. He was so nice, taking a moment to talk to my mom about the book she had just finished reading and telling her how much he knew she’d love the one he was signing for her. He really made her night. He didnt have to take that moment. There was a long line that wasn’t getting any shorter. He’d been there way past his scheduled time, but he really seemed to have a love for his fans.
He won me over

This past weekend was a book signing for an author I enjoy. I’ve read all her books, and when we found out we were moving to Atlanta (where she lives) I actually got excited.
My husband agreed to drive me into Buckhead and stand around with me while I got my shiny new book signed.
We got there just before everything started and I was surprised that the parking lot wasn’t full. We went in, I got my book and wrist band and upstairs we went. The small number of seats that had been set up were taken, but there was plenty of standing room. TIme came for the reading to start, and nothing.
Finally a rep came to let us know that she was ok, and giving her statement. That’s when we realized she had gotten into an accident turning into the parking lot.
About 30 mins later she came in, clearly shaken, and apologizing for being late.
After a brief speech, she decided she didnt feel up to a reading and asked if we minded going right to the Q&A.
A few questions answered later and it was time to get started on the signing.

AS I waited for my group to be called up, I watched as she chatted with every fan that came up, books in arms. I couldn’t wait.
It was a relatively short wait, only 3hrs, but it was finally my turn.
AS I stepped up to the table….
she pulled out her lip gloss and mirror and started reapplying. While absently signing my book, she turned to the attendant and asked if he thought she would have bruises and burns from the airbag. I smiled politely waiting for her attention to be back on me. Then she looked at the girls sitting behind me waiting their turn in line and asked “Are you girls dead last? Wow, I’ll speed it up then. Don’t you wish you had gone and gotten cocktails and come back?” That’s when I tried to make a joke about my husband dropping me off and going to watch a movie then coming back to get me. She almost seemed annoyed that I interupted her. Hmmph.
Then I turned and asked my husband (who hadn’t dropped me off and gone to see a movie) if he was ready for the picture. He asked me to show him how to use my Driod real quick. It was 5 second for me to show him what buttom. She suggested I get back in line and come back for the picture. I said “It’s ok, we got it” and stepped up for the picture.

Let me tell you, the whole experience was a let down. I’m trying to give the benefit of the doubt, which is one reason why I haven’t mentioned who she is by name. Perhaps the accident just rattled her that much. I don’t know. There’s a line in the new book where the single mom is at the snotty school open house and feels like the mother she is talking to is surveying the room for someone better to talk to. Talk about irony. That’s exactly how I felt.

I’m finding myself now having a hard time shaking the experience enough to where I can actually enjoy the book.

These two experiences couldn’t have been more different in ways I could have never imagined

Alone

It’s holidays like today that hit home for me,  just how lonely it is for me here.

We’re coming up on 2yrs since we moved here, and I think I’ve carved out a nice little routine. I have things I do, and people I see, and things just wrap up kinda nicely.

Until they don’t

Until you have something like Easter pop up on you and everyone you know goes to spend time with their families and friends and you’re left, alone.

My husband is away this weekend. He opted to stay on the west coast this weekend. I don’t fault him for it. It was better overall that he stay. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.

Yesterday I sat in my room and watched people pack up for trips. Today I watched the people who didn’t leave have family over for Easter celebrations.

None of my family so much as called.

The isolation closed in around me today.

I have no family here. Not that it would matter if I did, since they all seem to be too fucked up to be a real family.

The friends I’ve made here all had their own families to spend time with today.

My husband’s co-workers, who try to pretend to be friends with me, forget that while they are enjoying family time, I’m here alone. My husband is on the other side of the country so your husband can spend the day with your kids.

They forget

It’s easy to forget.

A week from now I’ll be emersing myself back into my routine, and I’ll forget too.

Until next time

Standing Firm

I haven’t had any contact with my mom since November when she stood me up, again, to spend time with her married boyfriend. She hurt me, deeply, and I’m still not “over it”.

Yesterday I got a text message on my phone. It was from her, but was blank. I thought it was weird since she simply doesn’t text. I didn’t know what to do. I talked to my friend, Wendy about it and she asked if I thought I should call her. I said I didn’t know, I was still hurt and angry. She suggested sending a text back that simply said “You’re phone just sent me a blank text” and see what happen from there. So I did.

About 15 mins later I got another text. It had a million FWD:FWD:FWD im front of it, then said:

The beauty of a woman is not seen through what she wears. It is seen through how she carries herself and the way she doesn’t allow herself to settle. Don’t ever let anyone take for granted the beauty that is within you. Stand firm and know that your [sic] a wonderful person. Always remember your value and respect your self [sic]. I’m so blessed to have you in my life. Send this to every woman that you want to remin..”

Umm, ok? Honestly, my gut reaction to this was to reply with “Whatever”. that’s how it feels. I mean, really? She doesn’t bother to contact me for 4 months and this is what I get? Some hollow forwarded chain text message telling me to know how valuable I am? I know I deserve to be treated better, which is why this isn’t good enough. Pick up the phone and say “I’m sorry I’ve been a shitty mother all your life. I’ve put a man over you every time it’s ever counted and I’m sorry. You are a great person and deserve better than that. You’re a great mother in spite of the example you had”. THAT would be meaningful and go a long way in repairing our relationship.

I will never get that though. So, I guess I will have to “stand firm” in knowing that I deserve better than she has to offer. Maybe that just makes me a pain in the ass and ungrateful, but that’s how it is.

They are real to me

Ten and a half years ago, I was the mother to two kids, ages 4 and 2 and pregnant with another. I stayed at home and lived a very isolated life. I didn’t go out because it was just too hard to drag 2 kids, plus my pregnant body out anywhere. I was stressed, I was frustrated, and I was alone. That all changed in Oct 1999 when we got our first computer and hooked it up to the internet.

One of the first things I did, other than set up a lame email address, search for internet porn (don’t judge, you’ve done it too), and “google” myself (wait, was google even around in 1999? Maybe I downloaded illegal music from napster?) was stumble across MSN Communities. This is where a whole world was opened up to me. There were groups for everything you could imagine. I soon found a group dedicated to Stay-At-Home-Parents (SAHP)

A lot has happen since that time, although I’m still a member of that original SAHP group, MSN has since shut down their Groups and most have moved servers. I’m not as active in that group, because, as often happens, I found myself growing closer to certain indiviuals and we eventually broke off into our own group. I now manage a group of crazy moms and dads.

The most important thing to come out of this was, I found my best friends. They go by the names of Zatzme, Jeep, Dixon, sMelly, Prickly, Saj, Fabs. I have people listed in my phone as Lovin’ and SupaCat. I talk about these people as if they live next door. They are better than next door. They live in my computer, and in my heart. I’ve known “Zat” and “Jeep” since early 2000 when I was struggling to find  my voice while being the sometimes single mother to three. I’ve spent weeks in Zat’s home and have watched her kids grow up. Jeep lives way too far away and I see her far too infrequently, but at anytime I can send a text, or an IM, and an email, ad she is there. They have seen me through times that my so-called real friends have bailed on me. I got my sweet Havoc puppy from Saj.

When my dad died, after calling my husband to come home, I called Zat. I couldn’t even speak, but she was there for me. She talked to me on the phone during the countless hour long drives to my mom’s to take care of the arrangements. She was there at 3am if I couldn’t sleep. When people in real life didn’t know what to say, she knew that she didn’t need to say anything.

Jeep is the one you want in your corner. She is our voice. She will fight for you as fiercely as she would fight for her own family. She can be snarky and quick with a quip, but she will also cry with you when your world is falling apart.

These women are my sisters

This week, one of our sisters lost her baby girl. We still don’t know what happen. They think it was a cardiac infection. All we know for sure is that our friend, our cyber-sister, is hurting in a way that no one should ever hurt. Our whole group is rallying around her family in a way that you just wouldn’t believe. We raised over $300 for flower arrangements alone. We have that much or more donated for food and one of our members is going to make meals to take to the family. We’ve collected money to get things for sweet 5yr old Emily who is missing her baby sister and just wants mommy to be happy again.

If you look at our group’s message board, you will see posts fro people with nothing more than a heart or flower. You will see people asking what they can do. You will see others saying how great this group of people are and how amazing it is that we can all come together like this to support one of our own.

How nice it would be if these people were just screen names. If we could turn off the computer, walk away, and leave them neatly in that little box. But they are so much more than that. The are Wendy, and Sarah, and Amy, and Jenny. They are my friends. My REAL friends.

Loss

This is going to be hard.
My heart has been aching all day, and I’ve been having trouble figuring out my own thoughts.
Everyday, I hear about someone’s loss. Terrible things happen; things I can’t even begin to comprehend, but I’m able to put them into a category.
Children battle will illness until their little bodies give out. Someone’s son dies because another person couldn’t wait to answer that text message. Accidents, even the senseless ones, can be explained. When I hear these stories, I pause, I feel sorrow, I think about the parents, and then I move on.
Today, I can not move on. Today I learned that a friend of mine lost her precious baby girl. Megan was just 18 months old, just days apart from another beautiful little girl I know. Her mother put her down for a nap. She never woke up.
There’s simply no reason, no way to categorize this and make it make sense. It was a nap. We have enough in this world without naps being the thing we have to fear.

I’ve cried so much today. I’ve cried for Jenny, whose pain I can’t even imagine. I’ve cried for Michael, who has been in Iraq serving our country. I’ve cried for sweet Emily who will have to grow up without her little sister. And I’ve cried for my own fears. The little part of me that stays awake listening when my kids are sick. You think that fear goes away when they get older, but it doesn’t. It might soften a little, but it’s there.

It’s stuff like this that shows you just how fickle life is. How an ordinary, mundane day can change your whole world

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