Anniversaries, loss and new beginnings…

I am approaching the dreaded block of time in June and July that drives home all I have lost.  June 1st would have been our 31st wedding anniversary, June 6 is the 3rd anniversary of his death and July 10th the 4th anniversary of my sister’s death.  My “cancerversary” is not until November when I will be 5 years cancer free.  My doctors tell me the clock actually started ticking after I finished treatment and I don’t get the official “cured” for some time yet.   I believe that I was cancer free when I left the OR.  All the rest was just insurance. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

This year has brought more losses, not through death, but in some ways more painful and certainly personal.   It’s also brought some amazing and positive changes.  I have a new career working with the homeless community, helping them to achieve permanent, stable housing. It is the most frustrating and rewarding work I have ever done and I love every minute of it.  I still have my business, volunteer work, family and good friends to keep me busy and grounded, not to mention my animals.  Comet has survived two bouts of cancer and will be 14 soon.  He has a new pep in his step. Clover is nearly 10 and lame with bad hips.  She struggles to walk but is content laying in a sunny spot or just hanging with me. Sage, my stolen rescue kitty is still entertaining and loving.

I am approaching my formerly referred to “helliversary” with a lighter heart than I have the past few years.   I have set those who have passed, and those who have chosen to remove themselves from my life, free with love and gratitude.

I am also grateful for my readership who has seen me through cancer, highs and lows, loss and more loss and appreciated my cynical and often irreverent view on it all.   Seeing the humor in things is much easier and a lot less messy than opening a vein and blogging about it all is certainly a lot cheaper than therapy.   wellallhaveastory

Unfriended, cut loose, removed, blocked and other ridiculous social media crap

Let me just start by saying I am 53 years old. I have had cancer, lost my only sibling, lost my husband, raised a family, started a business (or two) been a daughter, wife, mother, aunt, niece, cousin, friend and sibling.  I have had real life friendships that cooled over time. Friendships that can go months or years with no contact and pick right up where they left off.  Relationships with relatives that I rarely see but think about often.  I even have “cyber” friendships with women that I will probably never meet in person  but who mean the world to me. In other words, I think I have some grip on appropriate societal behavior. Never have I ever experienced anything so stupid as Facebook friendships.  First of all.. who really “knows” 4728 people? Why are you collecting friends? Is it a contest?  Secondly, show of hands.. who pays attention to who “likes” or comments on your posts?   And for the love of God who, other than a 12 year old who shouldn’t be on FB to begin with, would cut a friend loose simply because they didn’t participate enough in the admiration of their dozens of daily posts?  Is this normal? Am I too old to “get it”?

I am not saying the above actually happened to me *cough.. it totally did* because then I’d have to admit that I have been a participant in the whole social media circus and clearly I am above all of that.

Or maybe I’m not.  Since I am only friends with people I actually know, with the exception of 1 or 2 people who probably friended me accidentally, I would hope it would be obvious that my lack of response to things like your political/religious posts would indicate that I probably think you’re insane but I love you too much to say so.    If I don’t “like” the 27th cute kitty picture you’ve posted in the last 2 hours it’s because a) my eyes are bleeding from all the cuteness or b) I’m afraid to encourage you.  If you post pictures of your adorable baby daily, no matter how much I enjoy them, I’m not going to gush over each and every picture.  If it would make you feel better I will try to gush once and maybe post “ditto” once or twice, then my admiration of your progeny should be implied.  Don’t care what you had for dinner and not afraid to admit that.

Please don’t keep announcing that  you’ve found yourself.  How the hell do you keep losing yourself?  Where do you go?   Do you need help with keeping track of your comings and goings? I’m not offering. Just wondering.

In closing, if you are reading this and take offense, please feel free to cut me loose.  Who knows? It might just spawn a blog post in your honor.   1b89f36b80dc76b01707ec06745d1145

 

 

Why Amazon is making me love eBay all over again

I have had a small business on eBay for more than 10 years selling primarily infant goods.. security blankets and the like.  It was a fun little side job. Nothing I could support myself fully with but I did okay. After my husband died I tried going back to work full time, but it didn’t work out. For my part, it was just too soon and I was still running the business and trying to navigate my way through widowhood and reaching the end of cancer treatment.  On the employer’s part they kind of blatantly misrepresented the job.  After spending 3 months  doing nothing but filing and moving large stacks of charts around while mainlining Ativan just to get through the day, I decided to quit and work on building my little business.  I took a leap of faith and the remaining chunk of life insurance to buy inventory and started looking into other venues to sell.  Bonanza and 11 Main synced nicely with eBay and required very little effort on my part. Etsy was great for selling the vintage toys I had on hand and leaving my store for the new gift items.  Then I decided to try Amazon. I am a long time customer, have had great customer service (as a buyer) and it was very easy to set up store.   Most of the items were already in the catalog and it was free to list, unlike eBay, though their final value fees make up for it. I did pretty well for a while. Even sold a few large ticket items and had 100% customer service rating.  Recently I sold a turntable that had never been used. Packaged it up nicely and had UPS pick it up. Apparently it was drop kicked across a few states and arrived broken.  I immediately offered a full refund on return, including return postage. The poor buyer apparently did not understand simple directions and instead of using the prepaid label, he opened an A-Z claim.  aka.. the kiss of death for a small 3rd party seller on Amazon. After reviewing our messages the case was closed in my favor. Should have been the end of story, right? No. Because I am small volume that ONE case knocked me out of play in my main category for the holiday selling season. Understandably, I lost  my shit and began emailing customer service.  I knew it would get me nowhere but if I could be a small thorn in someone’s side for a few weeks it would help fill the time that could have been spent shipping orders that I was no longer receiving.  Every CS I spoke to agreed that my poor customer metrics would “fall off” in time to sell, which I knew was not true.  Then, because the customer ended up sending the package back via USPS instead of UPS, spending twice what it should have been, I did not reimburse his return shipping and he left me a negative review. Coffin. Final nail. And..UPS won’t entertain the thought of an insurance claim because “how do we know the damage didn’t happen on the way back via the post office”?   Don’t worry, UPS.  Your dedicated blog is in the works. Amazon, in the meantime, has been bombarding me with an invitation to use FBA, which would require me packaging up and shipping all my inventory to their warehouse (admittedly tempting) but would be so cost prohibitive that I would make little to nothing.

At least I could still expect good customer service on the buying end.  I was expecting family for a month and had purchased a sofa bed. The day it was delivered it did not fit down the stairs to the room it was intended for.  I sent it back and having only 2-3 days to find something else I turned to Amazon Prime.  I found a decent foam bed that could be delivered in 2 days.  Ordered, bought bedding and waited. It. never. arrived.  No notification it would be late. No apology. By the time it came, a week later, I had borrowed something else and refused delivery.  Strike 2 Amazon.

After my selling fiasco I had already decided that eBay would get more of my business and had ordered a sleeping bag for a visiting toddler. Imagine my surprise when it arrived in an Amazon box.  Amazon’s FBA promises discreet shipping when you sell on other venues as well, which is clearly untrue. Strike 3

Recently I decided to upgrade my Kindle tablet. I sent the old one back as a trade in. Excellent condition.  I noticed that the leather jacket I purchased was not an item that could be traded in and in fact was no longer sold. I tried listing it and saw that the selling fees would be roughly 50%. That is not a typo.  That baby is listed on eBay as we speak.  Strike 4.

They have had my Kindle for nearly 3 weeks and when I questioned when I could expect credit I received an email that it might be lost (it tracks as delivered and processing) and to give them a little more time. Strike 5.

Really Amazon? Did I win some jacked up lottery?

My question to any Amazon employee who happens to stumble across this is why am I being held to a higher customer service standard than Amazon is?  My metrics were 100% across the board until one incident that was 100% out of my control.  Your customer service has been abysmal.   What gives? Anyone?

 

 

Am I supposed to be impressed that you don’t suck at your job?

What is it with all the begging for kudos by companies and individuals alike?    Can’t I reasonably expect to receive an item I purchase on line to arrive intact and in the specified amount of time, as described?   Do I really need to send you a virtual gold star if you  manage to  Forrest Gump your way into a “positive” experience for your customer?    Can’t I expect courteous service (with or without a smile.. I really don’t care about your dental situation) with food prepared as advertised if I am eating at your establishment?  If I’m shopping in your brick and mortar (it’s true! people still do that!) and I don’t trip over a body in the aisle, need a GPS to find the cat food or have to guide the cashier through the transaction I feel like it was a good experience. Mainly because the bar has been so ridiculously lowered.  However, if you insist on handing me a survey on the way out I may feel the need to be honest in my review.   Why do you keep setting yourself up?

My personal favorites are the hospital surveys. If you are going through prolonged treatment such as chemo or radiation, dialysis or any number of things,  you are seen frequently and in multiple departments.   At one point I was at the cancer center weekly and then daily for several weeks. I could paper the Sistine Chapel with the questionnaires I received asking for my opinion of the various departments and I weep at the loss of trees.  I never, ever filled one of them out.  Because, believe me, if I had a problem it wouldn’t have been reported anonymously through a standardized survey.

I have been a seller of on line goods for over ten years and I learned very early on not to ask for feedback after the fact.   Yet the platforms I sell on do this automatically, encouraging your buyers to find fault… “did it arrive on time?”, “don’t forget our awesome buyer protection”.. so yes I include a blurb in my template that I will strive to give you a 5 star experience,  you know to kind of plant the seed because you are going to leave feedback anyway. But I would prefer you skipped the feedback. If you purchase and pay for an item and I ship it as promised and never hear back from you (unless you are back to purchase again) I’m good.  I don’t need a cookie or a pat on the head. Your money satisfaction is praise enough.

This trend of needing constant praise starts in early childhood and there has always been a place for it to a point. Children thrive on positive reinforcement.  But for some reason it started to be watered down a generation or so ago and now continues long into adulthood. I don’t think we should be getting trophies just for showing up in life.  Perfect attendance? Congratulations. You’re healthy.   You didn’t shit your pants in the meeting? Here’s a cookie.

How about we all do our jobs, act like decent human beings and try being nice to one another?  You know. Like we all should have learned in Kindergarten.   And for the love of God stop asking for constant feedback.  Just. Do. Your. Job.

Gold_Star

#CSINestle

So last week I was nearly killed eating a creamy basil chicken and tortellini Lean Cuisine.  I was munching away and bit into what felt like gristle.. first thought.. “gross!”  second thought.. “huh.. it is real chicken”  and then I tasted blood.  I had a tiny little cut on the inside of my cheek from what turned out to be a shard of chicken bone. I cleaned off said death instrument, took pictures for evidence and threw away the remainder of the meal then took to social media.  Having elicited no sympathy or offers to represent me in a million dollar lawsuit, I sent Lean Cuisine a private message through FB. I got a response with a phone number to call and case number.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  I called the number and spoke to a nice lady who offered the prerequisite number of “poor baby’s” and 3 free Lean Cuisines.  Clearly they are trying to finish me off before I go (more) public.  I declined the meals and was offered 12.00 instead.  I sputtered “don’t you even care that I bit into a BONE?”  “Of course we at Nestle (parent company of LC) care!  You’re okay aren’t you ? (dammit.. I should have taken bloody cheek selfie) We are sending an email requesting pictures and a collection kit along with the 12.00 settlement.”   I got the check and collection kit in the mail yesterday. It consisted of a manilla envelope, prepaid postage and plastic baggie.   I was hoping for something a little more official seeming.  Like, I don’t know.. plastic gloves, tamper free sample holder thingie..    Specimen collection kit, indeed  #csiNestle

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I just want to say, if I’m going to go in a food related incident it will be after a fantastic lobster and steak meal involving several vodka tonics.   To be done in by a 3.00 freezer meal with no one but the resident, completely unsympathetic, animals as witness is just too horrible to consider.

Sunday musings…

I just have to ask. . do you really believe PP is selling baby parts? I can’t wrap my head around the stuff I’m seeing all over FB. Without getting into a moral discussion of abortion (not in favor) the vast majority are done in the first trimester when the fetus is the size of a kidney bean. This heavily edited “investigation” is all designed to shut down Planned Parenthood and when that happens the people who will suffer the most are low income women who will have no access to cancer screening, birth control, etc. Don’t the anti abortion folk understand that education and birth control prevent pregnancy which in turn prevents abortion?  The (what tea party?) governor of my state is trying to prevent Maine Care (our version of Medicaid) from paying for birth control at the same time spouting off about Welfare Reform.   This shit is going to give me an aneurysm and who’s going to clean that up?   Again.. not against Welfare Reform.. I know there is a lot of room for improvement ….but not paying for birth control for the very population we want to see off Welfare?   Because God knows a handful of unwanted pregnancies is all the encouragement a low income family needs to throw off the shackles of government hand out and head out into the world of low paying jobs and expensive daycare.  I hate to point fingers at one political party in particular.. but really GOP?  Seriously?

And one more thing  as long as I’m at it.. why can’t I be sad about Cecil without being accused of not caring about babies?  To people that sit around all day waiting for someone to take up a cause so they can immediately compare it to abortion and proof! that we are all going to hell in a handbasket because we dared express sorrow over the douchebaggery of some wealthy asshole with nothing better to do than kill innocent animals… maybe you should spend the time you devote to making up stories like “Liberal Democrats want to pass a law that babies can be killed up to age 4” doing some volunteer work.  Might I suggest working with young unwed mothers with no access to healthcare and birth control, abused children or animals… and leave the rhetoric to someone with two brain cells to rub together? Stepping off my soapbox now and enjoying this beautiful day. Hope you all do, too.  Soapbox

15 Reasons Writing a Blog Makes you an Asshole

Last week I jumped on the 15 Random Things About Me blogwagon.  That was fun and I learned some things about many of the bloggers I follow.  Hence the blatant theft of the idea/title.

Today I had a light bulb moment when I was put out with someone and thought darkly “Don’t you KNOW I have a blog?”  I may or may not have offered him some free social media publicity if things were not resolved in my favor.   I thought it was just possible having a blog was making me kind of …. well… an asshole.

About a month ago I was in a snit because someone who should have been the mature person in the conversation, ie. not me, because he held a position of authority out sarcasmed me.  How DARE you, sir? Keep it up and you’ll be in the next blog.

I have blogged about things that bother me with little regard to the person I’m raking over the coals, though I do thinly disguise their identity.

I have taken Walmart, the Susan Komen Foundation, the clerk at the monument store, my doctors and the hospital where I was treated to task just to name a few.   With the exception of Walmart, I never would have said all the things I did in person, given the chance.   It’s easy to hide behind a computer screen (and be an asshole).

I know that’s not 15 things and if you are keeping count, who’s the asshole now?

On a more serious note, two weeks or so ago I had a moment of feeling sorry for myself at the tail end of a block of time I like to refer to as my personal 6 weeks of helliversary.. June 1 through July 10.  The blog post was entitled “My Reality” . I unlinked the post from FB. I  didn’t want my family and friends reading it and feeling guilty. I just really needed to vent.  A good friend did read it (honestly..I was shocked.. I thought family/friends only read this blog when I shoved it down their throats on FB) and commented in a private group.  I got a lot of support and several supportive comments here on the blog as well. But after a good night sleep I felt really uncomfortable.  I realized if I didn’t want the people I loved reading it, I shouldn’t be putting it out there so I deleted it.  I do want to acknowledge the bloggers that offered support.  I read your words and you made me cry. Nice job😉

How has writing a blog changed how you present yourself to the world?  Does knowing anyone can read your words make you choose them more carefully or do you care if you offend?  Do you feel a responsibility to your readers to be authentic even if that means being an asshole occasionally?

15 Things About Me.

I always miss the memo, but it seems like a lot of the bloggers I follow have answered the call, so I’ll play!

1. I’m a thief.  My rescue kitty was actually stolen from neglectful/abusive owners. I’m not sorry.

2. If I had to choose only one source of entertainment between music, television/movies or books for the rest of my life it would be books. Hands down.

3. Until November of 2011 through June of 2013 I always felt like a pretty lucky person.

4. Even on my darkest days I always found something to laugh about. It was usually grossly inappropriate.  I’m not sure if that’s a sign of sound mental health or I’m batshit crazy.

5. I never lived alone one day until I was 50 years old.

6. My fuckit list is roughly three times as long as my bucket list and I’m okay with that.

7. I will probably never jump out of a plane.

8. I cry hardest over movies where the dog dies.

9. Hurt one of my kids and not only will I curse you to the seven layers of hell I will create a few extra layers just for you.

10. I am geographically challenged.  I can get lost in my hometown and I’ve never left. True story.

11. I think FB quizzes are stupid but I do more of them than you might think.

12. I once got a nun to say F you.  Granted, she was a former nun but it still felt like a win.

13. I’m not easily impressed.

14. I feel lonely sometimes but it doesn’t bother me enough to do anything about it.

15. One of my children is alive today soley because her ability to make me laugh slightly outweighed her ability to piss me off.

Dear Walmart employees

I have been a long time supporter of your quest for a living wage. I have been outraged on your behalf when I hear that many of you have to depend on food stamps to feed your own families or have your hours cut so you work just below the threshold for benefits.  I’ve tried not supporting Walmart but if everyone boycotted you would be out of a job completely, wouldn’t you?  It’s not your fault the corporation you work for drove nearly every small business out of my small town, so I try not to take it out on you when I have no choice but to shop your aisles for the many things I need.  Now that I am no longer shopping for a family, however, I try to keep my visits down to about once a month.  Twice if I don’t plan well.  Today I stocked up on pet supplies, a few personal items, some frozen food etc.  I could find no freezer bags so when I arrived at the cash register I asked the young lady for one.  I got a blank stare.  I repeated it more slowly.   She said she didn’t have any.  I said I needed one, could she please check with the other cashiers.  Again.. blank stare.  I sighed and told her not to ring in any of the frozen stuff until she checked because I wouldn’t take it.  Finally she got a bag.  Okay.. we’re in business.  I reminded her twice to ring in the dog food and litter in the cart. She insisted she had. I didn’t want her to get in trouble so I insisted she check. She hadn’t.  She did.  All is right in the world. Until she totaled my order. It was 124.31.  I handed her 140.31 in cash and she told me I owed her 4.00.  Huh? I said no.. you owe me 16.00.  OH!  she understood. She keyed in 120.00 instead of 140.00  No problem said I.. just ring in the additional 20.00 and we’re in business.  Ummm no.. she wanted to void the order and start over.   For a cash transaction.  At this point the people in line behind me were becoming a little restless. I tried to explain to her what to do to no avail. So I asked her to call a manager. She did.  Ten minutes later the manager was still standing about 12 feet away chatting with two other employees. I marched over and asked her if she could tear herself away to help the poor little clerk who seemed unable to understand basic math. She came over, assessed the situation and said with a straight face “yeah.. we have to void this out and start over” .   What.the.fuck.  I told them  I wasn’t willing to stand there while they redid the whole transaction and they just stared at me.  I said to give me back my cash, upended my reusable bags into the wagon and walked out.   I won’t be back.  If you believe you are worth more than minimum wage (and I believe you are!) then don’t be a dumbass. Take a little pride in your job.  Don’t make a customer ask for something four times before you act. And for God’s sake if you are the manager, don’t watch a customer walk out on a 125.00 order because you are too stupid and/or stubborn to override a fairly simple error. And train the damned help before you unleash them on the public.

In the past I would have stood there silently fuming while my whole order was redone and my ice cream melted. I would have smiled at the young lady and told her not to worry.  In restaurants when someone else (mom) makes a fuss I usually overcompensate by saying how good everything is or leaving an extra big tip. Life is short, why ruin someone’s day over something so inconsequential, right?  But you know what? Life is short. This I know better than most. Stop wasting my fucking time. images