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Monday, August 30, 2010

Sabotaged By A Preschooler

What does my laptop and Guantanamo Bay have in common? They've both been shut down by way of Water Boarding. Well...sort of.

My three-year-old in his frequent act of demonic destruction decided to check if there was water in his water bottle by pouring the remains on my computer. Luckily, my laptop was closed and it was sitting on the day bed, which absorbed most of the liquid. But now it won't turn on without being plugged into the wall and that to me, sort of defeats the purpose of a laptop, don't it?

I thought it was funny how the little booger was not the least bit remorseful when Daddy and I scolded him. I always knew the little guy held the kind of grudge one holds towards a new baby brother for my computer. I tried not to be on it when he's around but every once in a while, when e-mails get backed up or deadlines are ensuing - I'd play a DVD of Dora or Team Umi Zumi to keep him occupied while I stuck my nose in the computer screen.

Sometimes he'd wail, "Noooo - don't be on the compoooter!" Other times, he'd just walk up and slam it shut on my face. About the only time he liked it is when it was playing baby movies of himself or letting him video chat with Grammy. But for the most part, it was his nemesis.

So I had to get hard core with him on this deed. Depending on how much this is going to cost, he is either going to lose his birthday party this year or it will come out of his Christmas list. By the way, he's been adding a new item every day since Easter - he was not happy about shortening the list. He even agreed to hard labor just to keep his list intact. But really, how hard a labor can a three-year-old do? He'd just make another mess for me to clean and this is supposed to be his punishment.

In a nutshell, this means I am disabled until my laptop comes home...if it comes home. In the meantime, maybe I'll finally read all the books and magazines that have piled up on my nightstand, coffee stand and workstation.

I can only imagine what jealous revenge my three-year-old would take towards my magazines. Use them for toilet paper?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Criminal Schmorgesborg

The other day I came across this fantastic blog post on Mothering Mayhem. It's about a registered sex offender that moved into her neighborhood, which is no small matter - I feel the anxiety. If you have the chance, please read her story...it could happen in your neck of the woods.

Just out of curiosity, I checked out the Family Watchdog Website to see what vermin was living amongst us. Am I brain dead? Maybe. I just figured they would list the most wanted. But this is New York City, after all - not exactly D.C. but crime ridden just the same.

I looked up  registered sex offenders in the 11104 area - we have no less than 6,348.

Can Police Commissioner Ray Kelly go on Sesame Street and sing "Oh, a rapist is a person in your neighborhood?"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's Not A Soccer Mom Cut

The thing about getting a haircut that I hate the most is making a reservation for it. You call, co-ordinate and schedule a whole day around getting coiffed. It's tedious. Sometimes the salon experience is heavenly - almost worth the sixty, seventy, ninety or a hundred and thirty dollars (these are NYC prices). But I was looking like a hippie and this was my last kid-less day - it was now or never.

Fortunately for me, in my neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens there are as many hair salons as there are bars. As a matter of fact, you can't go more than two blocks without running by one of them. Although they are many, there are only a few salons that I would actually consider. The plan was to hit all of them until I was seen - right then and there.

"Hair We Are" was the second place I hit. Rosa was available and the price was right - I love when spontaneity works. Rosa made me laugh when she told me she was going to make me "sexy."  Nobody's ever promised me that before. Manageable, easy to style, compliments the face - those are the usual promises I get. Sexy? That would take a miracle but give it a shot - just don't make me look like a soccer mom.

So she snipped away while Boston played More Than A Feeling on the radio and I wondered why anyone would bother playing that song anymore.  Is it even in "Guitar Heroes"? The things you think about while sitting in a hairdresser's chair.

It took her all of thirty-six minutes to shampoo, cut and blow dry my hair. The whole time, my mother was calling me, needing to know where I was. Apparently, she showed up at my house with a plate of Yakisoba and since I didn't answer her call, she took it home with her. Bummer. Not that my fat ass needed it but her Yakisoba is killer.

Guess spontaneity does have it's drawbacks. As for my hair cut - it's not some meticulous Do of precision and skill but at least I don't look like I drive a minivan.

Hair We Are : 45-14 Queens Blvd (718) 729-HAIR or 4247 Rosa is there Wednesday through Sunday. Cut is $25, blow dry is an additional $10. They do nails and eye brow threading there, too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The House Is Quiet

Every year, my boys spend a week with their Grammy in Connecticut. We call it Camp Grammy. Although I gave them homework and drilled them on how to behave - I really don't care what they do. They're out of my hair for the time being and I need a haircut.

Our first kid-less night, my husband and I went to the Blues BBQ at the Hudson River Park despite the pouring rain. Among the four BBQ restaurants that offered everything from ribs to pulled pork sandwiches, Dinosaur Bar B Que was the best. Why? Their Hot Sauce. My tongue was so retarded from the heat. But damn, it was good.

We stuck around for the band but something about listening to blues while being pelted by hurricane weather just takes all the fun out. So we mozied on over to the Brass Monkey. It's a really comfy bar with lots of nooks and crannies to hang out in. The bar spreads out to the back where the high ceiling gives it a Cathedral feeling. And the beer on draft was a beer drinkers wish list. We had the Radeberger, Chimay and Heffer Weissen - it more than made up for the $7 Samuel Adams at the Blues BBQ.

The second kid-less night, we explored the neighborhood of Flushing, Queens. It's supposed to be the "real" Chinatown in terms of flavor - it hasn't been "Americanized." Although there's truth in that, the price is dealing with the blatant disapproval to inter-racially mixed couples. I'm not joking - some older men and women will eye me with disgust for being with a non-Asian man. The cashier at Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao(phew!) actually picked his nose before he handed over my take-out order of soupy buns! Even worst, my order was waiting for me on the FLOOR behind his chair. It's too bad, they were tasty but I will never go back there again.

Fortunately, we already had a good experience and ate a very tasty bowl of Vietnamese style noodles at "Pho" just down the block. There, we weren't treated like lepers, the food was delicious and the price was cheap.

With all this eating out and the kids gone, you'd think our house would be immaculate. It's quite the contrary. I'm sorting out hand-me-downs and getting their school uniforms in order. By the way, Oxi Clean is an Oxi Waste Of Money. I soaked, treated and washed the white shirts and they still looked like shit. I threw them out - after all that. Good thing Billy Mays is dead 'cause I would've choked him.

So there are piles of laundry everywhere. And since there are not enough dishes to run the dishwasher  we're out of pint glasses - the preferred dish for Beer. We didn't have enough garbage to put it out this morning and since the kids aren't here to drink the milk, it's gone bad. So, there's none for coffee. I'm a mess without my kids!

Well...I'm a mess with them, too but at least I can blame them for it.

If there's one thing I can enjoy for the time being it's not having to listen to sword fights. In the morning, apart from the noisy-ass construction going on next door - the house is quiet.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Identity Theft Sucks

I used to hate my name. It was foreign, nobody could pronounce it, people always asked what it meant and I'd have to find some exotic explanation other than, it's just a friggin' name. Do people ask girls named Emily what it means? Or Lola? Can I ask the Elizabeth's of this world to never insist that I call them by their full name because my tongue gets tired.

"It's not Liz or Beth, it's Elizabeth."

Bitch. How 'bout that - I'm just gonna call you bitch.

But the tables have turned. Now, having a not so popular name is a blessing when it comes making an easy target for identity theft. My husband, however did become a victim. It's not surprising, now that I know about the "Debt Collector" scheme. There are over twenty people with his name living in New York alone. Six of them, have the same middle name, too. He could be a popular guy without even trying.

You may have already heard about the scheme - it's called phishing. A debt collector buys a bunch of bad debt for pennies on the dollar. Then they call everybody with the same name and tries to get them to pay for it. In some cases they threaten jail, repossession, foreclosure even calling child services and some people are actually scared into paying it.

Our case wasn't as severe with the phone calls, but the law firm actually produced a summons and delivered it via Big Bouncer Dude to our door. We were now obligated to go to court and fight this, otherwise the debt collector wins and poof! - they get to garnish our wages. Yeah. Literally, steal your money directly from your paycheck and there ain't a thing you can do about it.

I would rather be robbed with a gun in my face, thank you very much.

So if you've found yourself a victim of this crime, which is steadily on the rise, here's some information on what we did.

Step one, call the debt collector and demand a copy of the application, the statement, the signature - the whole nine yards. You have the right to this information.

Step two, if you are summoned to go to court - SHOW UP! You have no choice because once you default on that, you've given the debt collector a legal avenue into your money.

Step three, call the creditor who sold this bad debt to the debt collector and make them re-open an investigation (the information will be on the copy of the statement you demanded from the debt collector). In our case it was a JP MORGAN CHASE credit card that was opened fraudulently. Chase had to "buy" back the debt to re-investigate.

It took them a good three months but Chase sent a letter saying my husband was not responsible for the charges and cleared his credit rating, too. I did have to call again and again to get them off their asses, however.

Armed with the letter from Chase, we still showed up at court. When the case was called, we were told the case had been "Discontinued" and we got it in writing. This bad dream is over - for now.

Words of advice - never give anybody your Social Security number. I know it's common knowledge but are plenty of scammers out there that are so convincing that people just fall for it. Remember, no institution ever calls a client to "verify" an SSN. If they do, then ask them to recite it to you and you'll tell them if they've got it right.

And about filing an Identity Theft Report with the police? Yeah, we tried that. Several times. It was a joke. Still, if you're a glutton for punishment here's what we've learned.

List all the accounts that were opened fraudulently: the name on the account, account number, date it was opened and how much is owed. Bring that list with you and after you've waited in the waiting area for about a day, a civilian officer will get around to typing it and you'll be on your merry way to have a nice chat with a detective. If you get as far as part three, please let me know what happens because we only got as far as part two.

Apparently, when the account goes to a debt collector - it becomes private business. The debt collector is then free to collect the money however he can. And though there are legal guidelines as to how they can harass you for it, in the end you have to remember - you're dealing with a con artist.

If you have a scam you'd like people to be aware of, please share it. Knowledge is to scams, what Pepper Mace is to muggers.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Grasshopper and The Ant

Seeing friends, playing music, eating good food, drinking cold beer. That's what my writing schedule had been up against these past weeks. Is it any wonder I have only posted three blog entries in August? I feel like that Grasshopper who whittled away his summer having a good time and poking fun at the hard working ant, only to starve and nearly freeze his ass off in the winter until the good ant saved him.

You know what though, that's what August is about in my feeble opinion. It's your last chance to savor the summer - have that summer fling...create memories worthy of a pop song. Really, if you can't enjoy slacking off every once in a while, you're going to wind up like that stressed out Jet Blue flight attendant.

In Japan, everybody is practically forced to take the same week off in August - it's called "Obon." And since Japan has to insert a purpose into everything, including a vacation, everyone is required to visit the grave of a loved one and pay their respects. Anybody who blatantly disrespects this observance is set on fire.

No, of course I'm kidding. Even the not so blatant blasphemers are set ablaze.

But enough about Japan. I don't know anything about that country except for what my mother tells me and she was too eccentric to live by their standards anyway - so let's move on.


If you are in the New York City area this Sunday, August 22, 2010 - there is the Hudson River Park's Blue's BBQ scheduled to go on rain or shine. I'm looking forward to going because it has the three essential B's: Blues, Barbeque and Beer. Who can argue with that? Again, that's the Grasshopper talking.

Well, I'm getting some work done, now that I've finally finished reading "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. Although the book was amazing, it took me a long time to finish it - about six weeks to be exact. I highly, highly recommend it. Not only was the story fantastic, her writing was PHenomenal with a capital ph.

The thing I hate about taking a long time to finish a good book is I tend to go through "Post Good-Long-Book Depression." I get so used to reading about these characters that not having these characters in my life anymore makes me melancholy. It may be the real reason why I read so slow - because I'm savoring the relationship of reading the story...or I could just be retarded like my mother thinks I am.

Thanks for stopping by....now, where's my drink?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Rude Bed Invader

I hate to sleep alone. It's because I'm such a scaredy cat but I really have a tough time not thinking disturbing thoughts before I drift off to sleep. My solution, until recently was to fall into a beer-induced coma. And though my husband seems to have programmed his body to automatically do it even without the alcohol, I am just not that talented.

Now before I get started, it should be noted that my husband and I sleep in separate bedrooms because I can't get to sleep with his snoring. Given a choice of obstacles that lie between me and slumberland, the imaginary monster I fear waiting outside my door seems easier to tackle than the constant earthquake my husband creates through his chest.

And so, last night when I decided to hit the hay early, I was forced to leave my bedroom door wide open because the breeze from the open windows kept fucking with it if I left it partially open. It would creeeep the door open then....BAM! It would shut. It was nerve racking to say the least.

My pet peeve about leaving the door wide open is the view it shows of the stairway. I always imagined if there were a ghost, it would be of a malicious little girl in a long white nightgown floating up and gliding in my door and tickling me with cold fingers. I admit it sounds stupid but it made me anxious enough to have locked my eyes on the door...waiting.

As I finally drifted off to sleep, my closing eyes caught a flash of white charge through and jump on my bed. I practically shit myself. But it turned out to be my three-year-old in his white McQueen pajamas.

With the momentum of running down the hallway, he propelled himself like a gymnast executing a vaulting horse from the foot of my bed and landed on my pillow. He curled up into a little ball, stole my covers and then kicked my head because, well...it was in the way.

As he shoved his night-diapered butt in the air, I thought of all those touching scenes where the kid quietly climbs into bed or asks the parents permission to enter and everyone falls asleep happy as a clam. Nope. Not my rude little bed invader. By comparison, the ghost of the malicious little girl might not be as bad.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

SECOND TO ONE

My father very rarely spoke about his childhood. I assumed it was because most of it was spent hungry and fighting with his six other brothers and sisters. Then again, it could've just been something like...World War II getting in the way of having a memorable childhood.

There was one little story he did manage to tell me; that he cried like a baby and clung on to his father's leg like a beggar monkey when he was left at his great-aunts house in the country side. You see, my father was one of three boys and he was right smack in the middle. To ensure that one of the boys survived, my grandfather decided to hide him there because Tokyo was more likely a target for bombings.

"Second To One"  is a fictional short story based this one my father had told me. It was submitted in the First Line Fiction Contest #11, though it did not place.

If you have the time, please give it a read and I hope you enjoy it enough to share it on Facebook or Twitter.

Banzai!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Song Of August

The month of August is always bitter sweet. As we fall into the groove of summer like true vacay-professionals, flashes of panic slap me right between the eyes when I realize it's another day closer to school! I know back in June, I was like - aw God, please take these kids back already but things are different now...I've discovered leisurely breakfasts with Chocolate Cheerios.

Now I'm obsessively overbooking every minute of every day in August. Making sure they're filled with summer-ish stuff to do. All the while, it's slipping by. And then I hear them. The cicadas.

Their hypnotic buzz reminding me that summer time is most memorable when nothing gets done. Puuuut thaaat vacuum cleaner dooooown, I imagine their rattling melody is singing to me.

Gosh - they are ugly but their music is something else...kind of like Rush. But what would summer sound like without them? The cicadas, I mean, not Rush.

You have to admire nature and her little sensory triggers - they bring us back when we get too ahead of ourselves. Because for all I know, the cicadas may have been singing all of July too, but how would I know since my windows were closed and the air conditioning was on full blast?

Oh well, I guess it's the cicada's August song I get to enjoy...followed by Tom Sawyer.
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