Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Rumors of my debt have been greatly exaggerated

Now that I'm back in a residence of my own, I suddenly have those things again... what do you call them, bills? I find myself looking resentfully at my paycheck with great disgust at the huge hunk of taxes that are withheld; I have never been one of those people, but now that I am being nickle & dimed by California's berserk corporate laws...

Let me explain. First, there is the fact that I am billed separately for state tax and the necessary infrastructures of First Freaking World living standards, such as, say, garbage removal, sewerage, and water. Second, there is the outright larcenous business practice surrounding the starting of new accounts, or, more drolly, the modification of existing ones to meet the demands of reality. If you, say, move into a new home and want to change the name on the bill to, say, your own -- I know, bizarre and foreign concept -- you are subject to all the fees you can eat. How does a $100+ refundable deposit, plus a $25 connection fee, plus a credit check and potentially a non-refundable deposit, grab you?

Screw it. I'll ruin someone ELSE'S credit.

The trouble here is, of course, that it's my mother who is the owner of this home, and whose name appears on all the utilities. I'm sure that for some stupid reason it sounded like a good idea to her at the time. It wasn't. Sometimes I'm po'. Well, pretty much I'm po' all the time and I don't want to wreck HER credit being po'... so either I have to pony up money on time every time (a good policy anyway but I don't miss paying bills on time because I WANT to...) or pony up a crapload of money to put my own name on a bill explicitly so I can mess up my own credit. Brilliant.

On top of this, there are vet bills (don't ask: hugenormous), computer replacement costs (not as awful as they could be, but utterly craptacular in their timing), and the inevitably, endlessly unprioritized necessities that we will end up suffering for having deferred into infinity: dental work and health care put off until some magical later, analysis costs for archaeological materials, savings for the next emergency and/or for our student loans, when they come home from hardship deferment to roost. Don't go to grad school, kids -- the bills are moider.

I don't make enough money... no matter how much I love my job. I have never so looked forward to a raise as the one I will receive at the end of my 90 days probationary period.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering whether/how we should be participating in this class action suit against Menu Foods. I don't want to do a lot of talking about it, but I believe it is probable that Pepe died as a result of tainted food. This is especially ironic as we fed her high quality, small scale produced cat food 99.999% of the time: we ran out of food and had to make do for a few days with the cheap stuff... Menu Foods. One week later, kidney failure. Could be coinkeedink. Could be brutal irony of the worst kind.

It doesn't matter in the sense that nothing can bring her back. I would like them to assume the blame and her veterinary bills... and I have a call in to the vet asking what they think. I'm waiting on a call back, or on Pat to go shake them down for answers. I don't like having the unanswered question nagging at the back of my consciousness.

My first really beloved long-term pet was my dog Sunny. She was a tiny fluffball of a Spitz/Poodle hybrid, and looked just like an itty bitty Samoyed. Her tail curled. She was as happy as her name. She died while I was on vacation when I was 11, due to eating some snail poison; they told me it was due to a "false pregnancy" to keep me from getting angry at my grandmother, who had put out the poison, for years. I think I owe to this pretty depressing but perfectly normal event my terror of getting pregnant (yes, really, I do have a phobia that doesn't have anything to do with 18 years + of childcare!) as well as my disdain for poisons. I do not, however, blame my grandmother: things happen.

Sunday was my grandmother's birthday-- April Fool's Day! -- the first one we had had together since she passed away a few years ago. She and my mom used to play the absolute meanest pranks on each other... my brother and I would scurry around the edges and try to be considered collaborators on both sides so as not to become targets ourselves. For about 10 years both Mom and Grandma Red would call me and each would insist that I call the other one and tell her I was pregnant, as a prank. One year I finally faked bursting into tears and saying, "Oh, I wish it were a joke!" Boy, that got Mom. :) The last time we had a birthday party for Grandma Red and I was there, we made her a cake frosted with cream cheese frosting heavily, and I MEAN HEAVILY, laced with wasabi. She LIKED it. "What's in this? It's really good!" Meanwhile, we had flames coming out our own nostrils... waiting for her to notice and eating the cake under her skeptical eyes... aieee!

We had a little party that was absolutely heavenly at my new home to celebrate her birthday. No pranks this year, but we did make a lot of food. Mom's unbelievable orzo salad with fresh mozzarella balls (the teeniest little ones) and grape tomatoes and basil and citrus cilantro grapeseed oil... marinated steamed spring vegetables... cranberry salsa* and crackers... marinated grilled chicken sandwiches with about every trimming one could desire, including chipotle ranch spread... homemade baked beans, and chips and soda pop. Goodness! Afterwards we dragged our food-laden tummies out onto the porch and sat on the plastic chairs, listening to the ducks and goldfinches and red-winged blackbirds and everything else and generally blissing out. I got a happy little sunburn, and I don't mind. Later, we went to the gym and worked out.

*(Cranberry salsa? Sure, go to VegWeb, linked Stage Right, and do a search on their recipe index for it. Oh my GAWD. Seriously, get off the fence, go eat it. I'll wait.)

I find that I like working out. I'd better, as I am signed up to walk the March of Dimes 10K with several of my officemates. Joining a gym here is JUST like joining a church here... socially necessary among most circles, and you get asked the same questions. "I joined my brother's gym." "Oh? Which one? How long has he been there?" The gym stinks pleasantly of eucalyptus (as does the Great Central Californian Outdoors... and my school desks, years ago, since I collected the "acorns" until the teachers called in my parents to force me to remove them-- and so did Pat). Everyone is friendly and encouraging, despite my Rubenesque* physique. I'm not embarrassed: hell, I like my body, and I plan to make it more liveable for a longer tenure. Besides, what are they GOING to say: "Eew, you disgust me, fatso... get out and get even fatter but ... ulp ... far away, please, at least out of my sight"?!?

*(Not like I was painted by Rubens. No, more like I've been eating a steady diet of them.)

The central coast is a bizarre place. There are various old families and nouveau riche families who have extensive holdings: mine is one of the latter, but I am the po' relation. Many of them project scorn to the extent that any conversation is lese majeste (yeah, yeah, so I don't know how to do accents on Blogger). I still have childhood awe of many of them for which the places I know are named: when a canyon is named after you, or a mountain pass, or a winery, or, hell, a repair shop, I tend to go all starry-eyed. When all my state history classes in grade school mentioned you... well, behold as Linda faints with reverence.

It's irrational. Let me tell you about old cowboys with prominent family names: they smell just like you never think about an old cowboy smelling-- like stale sweat, Marlboro funk, Old Spice, denture breath, and cow shit. Sure, some important people smell just divine, but not all of them. And working at an insurance agency processing claims gives you a special kind of new perspective: everybody copes pretty much the same way with getting their back bumper rammed by a momentarily careless driver.

Well... this one rambled... I'll try to focus myself a bit more for the next one.

In the meantime, have you enjoyed Sockbaby yet? I know it's old, but it still makes me cackle.

No comments: