Thursday, March 13, 2014

Heaven's Henchmen: When Student Loan Servicers Meet You on the Other Side


 
A warm, sparkling light hits Maude in the face with such intensity that she jolts awake; she now has sympathy for the chocolate chip cookies she used to bake on the dashboard of her Hyundai Accent (a cost-saving measure, since she never did have her own stove).

“Where am I?” she says to no one.

Maude squints as she takes in her surroundings: she is floating above Nurse Debra, who leans over a 60-year-old woman and weeps.  

“Jesus Christ, that’s me! How can I be down there, if I’m up here?!”

“You are dead, Maude,” comes an omnipresent reply.

“Is that you, Morgan Freeman?”

“Uh, no. He is still alive.”

“Oh.”

Within seconds Maude is sucked up into the nebulous glow. When her ascent finally stops, she is left standing in front of enormous gates. Everything is hazy, but she knows where she is.

“I’m in Heaven, aren’t I?”

“Yes, Maude. Welcome to the light.”

“I feel so young! My arthritis really is gone!” Maude begins to do the Moonwalk with glee.

“Maude, you need to stop.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she replies like a little girl. Still, her toes are tappin’; she hasn’t felt this great since before she went to college!

Maude struggles to see the images in front of her: ghost-like shapes are beyond the gates, but she doesn’t know who they are. “Are those my family members?” she asks the disembodied voice.

“Yes, and you will be able to see them…soon. But first, you need to do something for us.”

“Us?”

Suddenly, two full-bodied men appear before her, dressed in black and holding clipboards. The pearly gates slam shut behind them. Maude’s eyes widen like two empty coin purses as she notices the logo on their lapels: “Department of Education/Aspire Resources.”

“What the Sam Hill are you doing here?” she demands.

The man on the left carefully combs through the paperwork on his clipboard, stopping once he reaches the desired form. “Ma’am, my name is Franz. We noticed in our records that you recently received a Loan Forgiveness letter from us, stating that after 25 years of on-time payments, we were writing off the rest of your student loan debt.”

“Yes, I remember that…vaguely. But I guess I died right after I found out.”

Franz sighs with annoyance. “Yes, you did die before you got the addendum to that letter, informing you that we’d sent the Loan Forgiveness letter in error. Due to recent budget reform, your Income-Based Repayment plan got re-calculated, and you actually still owe us about $3,000.”

“What?! I never did understand how any of these repayment plans worked or how they were calculated! This doesn’t make any sense!!”

Man on Right is offended by her words and drops his clipboard by his side. He lunges toward her just as Franz restrains him. Maude stands firm with her hands on her hips. She’s tired of this shit!

“Hans, let me take care of this.”

“OK, Franz,” Hans says as he pushes the greasy, horn-like hairs back down on his head.

“So how the hell do you expect me to pay you back this money, now?!” Maude demands.

Hans and Franz exchange a knowing glance. “Well,” Franz begins, “we’ve already arranged for our partners down South to take half the payout from your life insurance policy from your beneficiary. And whatever Social Security money you were hiding from us in your checking account will also be garnished.”

“What in tarnation? Nurse Debra is my beneficiary!! You people took everything from me in life and now you’re taking from me in death? And what do you mean, ‘down South’?”

 “We are referring to the Department of Education/Aspire Resources in Atlanta – your old remittance address. But don’t worry: With the money left over from your policy, Nurse Debra will have enough to bury you in a cheap pine box, like a true Yankee. She could also just have your delinquent ass cremated – it might be cheaper. But that still leaves a balance owed of $1,000.”

“But I don’t have any money here!”

“We know that, Maude,” Franz replies through gritted teeth. “But we’ve arranged for you to perform hard labor in Hell until the balance is paid in full, at which point we – I mean, He – will let you through the pearly gates. You’re welcome.”

Maude Moonwalks away from the men with great speed, which confuses them. The handcuffs Franz is holding start to rattle as she runs back toward them like a cat pouncing on two injured mice. She jumps into the air and dropkicks them both to the ground with the ease and power of a woman who’s got nothing else to lose.  As they lie on the cloud in agony, Maude plucks the key to the pearly gates from Franz’s pocket and then kicks them both off the cloud. Maude gives them the finger as she watches them hurtle toward where they belong.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It’s All Fun and Games Till Mommy Nearly Gets Knocked Out, Rocky-Style!



Tonight, we have had the privilege of witnessing the greatest exhibition of guts and stamina in the history of the ring!”
This morning started off just like any other: I was rushing around to get Jack ready for school, myself ready for work, and taking time out to harass my husband a little bit.  While Jack was in the other room, Chris and I were jokingly wrestling around when – crack! – his elbow hit me in the nose with great force.  I began moaning, particularly when blood began pouring from my nose; I looked in the mirror to see I’d streaked blood across my own forehead and blood was smeared in my palm. Luckily nothing seemed amiss structurally.  As I lay back down on the bed to apply ice to my nose, Jack walked in and had this reaction to his softly - crying mother:

“Mommy, can I watch ‘Star Wars’?”

“Ask your father,” I responded.

Over an hour later, after walking out of a too-expensive walk-in clinic (they wanted to charge $100) and being told both my primary care physician and my ENT were booked solid and couldn’t see me, I ambled into the Westport walk-in clinic, paid my $20 co-pay, and was told nothing was broken; just a blood vessel.

My son’s reaction made me laugh.  I’m glad the whole scenario didn’t scare him.  I’m also glad my nose is still on my face; a broken nose only days before our family vacation would have majorly sucked.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Day in the Life of This Working Mom!


Chaos
 
7 a.m.:  Awake to start our day.  This is going to be a good one, I can feel it!   

7:05 a.m.: I notice a large circle of wetness on Jack’s bed.  It reeks of urine.  I remove the waterproof mattress cover and haphazardly toss it into growing pile of soiled laundry in my closet.  I’ll just wash that when I get home! I’m SuperMom! I think to myself.  And then I hear— 

7:06 a.m.: “Mommy! I put the thing in there!” I shudder as my mind bounces with images of Jack sticking forks in the outlets.  I race around the house, only to find him pointing to the fireplace: “I put my balls in there! I want them!” This is not a Code Blue situation, so I say good-naturedly, “We’ll just get those later, Monkey Butt!”  I pat his head and chuckle. 

7:08 a.m.: I am relieving my bowels in the bathroom as the (closed) door now begins to vibrate.  Although I turned on “Star Wars” for Jack at 7:07 a.m., he apparently prefers to sit on his ambulance car and ram it repeatedly into the bathroom door, screaming, “Mommy!”  Can’t I just poop in peace?!  Well, at least there’s toilet paper handy.  Oh, wait: I spoke too soon. 

7:10 a.m.: After a “rejuvenating” two minutes of bathroom time, I speed walk into the kitchen to…um…why did I come in here, again? I wander around, staring blankly at nothing in particular, and then go back into the bathroom to brush my teeth.  Oh, how adorable: there’s no toothpaste left!  I grab Jack’s fluoride-free crap and squeeze it out onto my old, nasty toothbrush.  I stare at Little Bear on the container as the yummy bubblegum flavor startles my senses.  As I brush vigorously, I realize my eyes are dry, as though I’ve been standing in a sandstorm without closing them.  But I don’t have time to insert some Restasis. 

7:11 – 7:45 a.m.: During this relatively quiet time range, I pack Jack’s lunch, filling his pack with the usual selection he finds palatable:  a banana, fruit pouch, container of applesauce, some plain vanilla granola, plain vanilla Yoplait yogurt (which must have the blue label, not the red one, God forbid), and a container of mandarin oranges.  But I’m missing something…what is it? OH! We ran out of chicken and have no leftover pizza – the only two things he eats as his main meal.  What to do, what to do.  I grab two slices of plain bread - knowing he’ll eat that – but feel lame sending in a sandwich with no filler.  So I slap a slice of superfluous cheese (he won’t eat it) onto that sucka so his teachers think I’m a good mom.  I am also now dressed in a skirt and shirt, which is missing a button, of course.  All my shirts are missing buttons. 

7:46 a.m.: “Come here, Jack.  It’s time to get you dressed.”  My son then runs around the apartment at mach speed, ending up in our bedroom, where he promptly slams the door and MOVES MY WICKER BUREAU IN FRONT OF THE DOOR SO I CAN’T GET IN.  “Open this door!” I demand with Mommie Dearest-like inflection. 

7:48 a.m.: After a two-minute Time Out on the dining room floor, Jack has apologized lamely and sarcastically for his offense with, “Sorry, Daddy.”  I scoop him up and get him dressed as he says, “I have to poop.”  I sigh loudly, saying, “Can’t you just wait until you get to school?”  Jack laughs.  I cross my fingers.   

7:49 a.m.  I thought we were ready to leave when I realize that the Geico bill is late.  And I forgot to pay day care.  I hurriedly write out checks with the penmanship of a drunken doctor and slap them into envelopes as I yell, “Jack, let’s GO!” 

7:55 a.m.:  After shutting off all the lights and the TV, and after Jack pouted because I didn’t let him shut off all the lights and the TV, we finally stumble out of the house like the Marx Brothers, et al. in the stateroom scene from A Night at the Opera.  As usual, my face is still make-up free.   

8:05 a.m.: We are finally at day care.  As we walk in, I try to sign in – this is mandatory – as Jack steals the pen and runs around the room.  My eyes roll so far back in my head my brain quivers.  So I instead hang his book bag on the hook - taking his food and milk out first - and place them onto the table.  I start to talk to the teacher when I feel –  

8:06 a.m.: Jack is now hiding UNDER my skirt, with his head against my buttocks and his hand, wandering.  Every time I try to ask the teacher a quick question, he jumps out from beneath my skirt, cackles something unintelligible so we can’t hear each other, and then repeats.  I forget what I’m talking about and give up, pushing him out from under my skirt with complete defeat and a weak, “Jackkkk.” 

8:07 a.m.:  After grabbing my keys off the floor and heaving another defeated sigh, I finally scribble my name on the sign-in sheet.  As I try to leave, Jack runs around like a maniac, finally setting off my Bitch-O’-Meter with: “Knock it off! Mommy has to go sit in an hour of traffic now to get to work!”  The teachers look at me, dumfounded.  That Mom of the Year award is all mine. 

8:08-8:30 a.m.: In this “blissful” 22 minutes of Me Time, I drive like a maniac to the gas station, where I park every day to PUT ON MY MAKE-UP.  There’s simply no other time for me to do it.  I then get out and speed walk inside to grab my coffee as the creepy manager says: “Hey, Movie Star! You look great today!” I grab my coffee and smile weakly, wishing he would just leave me alone.  I’m tired of talking. Especially to you, freak. 

8:30 – 9:10 a.m.: I sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic, listening to Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell on my tape deck, keenly aware that I will again be late for work.  And probably won’t find a parking space.  And my car is littered with empty wrappers and shoes and things of that ilk.  I should really hire an assistant to help me clean my car.  Oh, and my “check oil” light goes off.  Again. 

9:15 a.m.: My usual arrival time at work, assuming I’m not caught in really, REALLY bad traffic (i.e. if it rains or there’s an accident).  But at least I made it!  I can now enjoy my (cold) coffee in peace as I hear –  

9:16 a.m.: “Deb! We need you to get this presentation done and uploaded STAT! Can you stay late?” 

Mommy needs a vacation.
 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bouncy House Blues...Yeah, I Got 'Em

My knees are burning from climbing this godforsaken
 stairway to Heaven

Indoor bouncy houses are awesome for those rainy/snowy/all-around-inclement weather days, because they allow your child to work off boundless energy and, hopefully, nap.  Today was one of those days.

At three-and-half years old, my son still prefers me to go on these things with him.  Luckily I'm short as shit and (relatively) thin, so I'm able to squeeze into these things without too much difficulty. And I suppose it is a good way to squeeze in some exercise when your husband is out of town for the weekend and you have no time to yourself. But man, bouncing around in one of those things is a double-edged sword because a) Other kids start to flock around you and see you as one of them, which is sort of cool and uncomfortable, all at the same time and; b) You're most likely the one who's going to get hurt...as I did today. This is exercise to the exteme, because today, I literally and figuratively "felt the burn."

I now understand why parents have to sign waivers upon entrance into these bouncy houses of death: because some of us, myself included, occasionally join in, thinking we're still spry and physically fit.  But nothing makes me feel older than jumping in a bouncy castle with my son, only to start gasping for air like Sylvia Sidney after a lifetime smoking habit.

"Bitches, where's my Lucky Strikes?"


But that's not the worst of it.

Today, I actually burned myself in one.   Yes, BURNED.  Jack had me repeatedly climb some big, puffy stairs (sorry about that, knee cartilage), and descend down a rather steep, fast slide.  Like a moron, I put my arm out to try and stop myself from crashing into Jack, and felt a sudden onset of pain not unlike the feeling of setting off a match to one's own finger; yes, I'd singed a layer of skin clear off my elbow. 

Preschoolers don't care if Mommy is hurt.  Yes, you're supposed to cuddle them and kiss their boo-boos in perpetuity whenever they're injured, but Mommy falling down an inflatable slide in agony,  a piece of flesh flapping from her forearm doesn't conjure up one ounce of empathy on their part.  You're expected to soldier on and keep doing it over and over again.

And Jesus Christ, would it kill Management to put out some benches for the parents to perch on? I mean, where the hell are we supposed to sit? After my little accident, I went to sit on the edge of a bouncy house that marked the entrance (there were no kids around this one), and I bounced right the fuck off the thing just as a dad walked by, saying, "Aww, did you burn yourself?"

Monday, May 6, 2013

Google's 2013 Mother's Day Video -- We're In It!

Me holding my son for the first time.  We're at the beginning, right after the shot of the sonogram.  Happy Mother's Day, everyone!