Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm Seriously Tired of This

So where have I been for four weeks? I think I'm still dealing with my dad's death and battling a bit of depression. Here's why:

We've been fighting financial problems since my dad died. It started with a tax problem brought on by TurboTax. Somehow, TurboTax left in a previous deduction from 2007 that we no longer had coming to us and the mistake was only discovered this past year. Naturally, we got nailed for a year's worth of penalties and interest at a time when we were not able to pay. By the time we had the money to pay for it this summer, the amount had grown by leaps and bounds. It took one of my entire summer school sessions to pay this bill. We didn't feel right asking for help since we have already been helped so much by our families. We were determined to take care of it ourselves, no matter the consequences.

The other shoe dropped when my dad died. It was unexpected, and right in the middle of that first summer school session. You know, the one I had to work to pay off that tax bill? Because I couldn't leave my job when he was really, really sick that last week, I was not there to see him before he died. I then had to use my second session of summer school to pay for the trip to Utah. My brother and I split up the family photos (our father owned nothing of monetary value) and said our last goodbyes. I arrived home to find that between the trip, the tax bill, and paying off our second mortgage, we had basically half our normal pay coming in for the rest of the summer. Bills piled up, and we tried to hang on for dear life, doing virtually nothing that wasn't already paid for or hadn't been promised like bringing my niece, Theresa, out to visit.

We have cut back on our monthly bills by nearly $700 a month. We canceled DirecTV and XM Radio, so no more Tigers games for me unless I listen on my phone. We disconnected our land phone line, because the only reason we had it was to support DirecTV service. We lowered our daycare bill, got rid of our second mortgage payment, and have cut back everywhere we can. We applied for and received an educator's discount on our cell phone bill. The bottom line is, in a month or so, we should be back up to date on all of our monthly bills.

The third shoe dropped when we disconnected DirecTV, because they used a clause in the contract to instantly withdraw all the money owed (including a $200 early disconnect fee) directly from our checking account. That caused checks to bounce and more fun to occur. Then the fourth shoe dropped when dealing with the water bill.

Apparently being 30 days late on a $33.00 monthly bill is cause to shut off the water without notice. Then you are required to pay $45 to have them come turn it back on after work hours and pay a $100 deposit to have your service reinstated. When I went to pay the bill the next morning in cash and the eventual return of the deposit was in question, I was asked if I wanted to see a supervisor. When the supervisor arrived, I was told in polite words that I was a liar and that the water company doesn't operate like that. After a quick check of computer records confirmed that I had already undergone this exact process when we had our house built and that I was in fact right, she explained that when I overreacted to the phrase "Everyone has their story," that she was misinterpreted. I asked for the other interpretation of "Everyone has their story," and it was not forthcoming. When I talked to her supervisor, an apology was made. I calmly explained that if they were not the only game in town I would gladly dig a well by hand before I used a drop of their water.

The fifth shoe dropped this weekend when I got a low-grade fever on Friday afternoon that persisted throughout the weekend. Despite the fact that I had already bought my ticket, I was not able to go to the last Tigers game of the regular season because Swine Flu is going around my school and I could be contagious.

The sixth shoe dropped today. Since we disconnected our landline because we no longer need it, American Electric Power did not inform us that they were going to cut down all the trees behind our house. Apparently they are entitled to a 15-foot easement on either side of the center of the power pole that is 15 feet inside our property line. So, they are able to come 30 feet onto our property without our knowledge or consent and today cut down all the trees that blocked our view of the train that has been parked on the "dead" tracks behind our house. We are left with this splendid view out of our back windows:

Where there was once lush foliage blocking our view of the train, now we have a white metal canvass featuring a spray-painted mural of George Carlin's seven words you can't say on television. I'm sure Sera can identify all of the letters right now, and will be able to read the words before the train is moved.

I really need something to go right. And for insects to stop wearing shoes. Six is too many.

Stop the Presses!

This article makes the bold statement that reducing class sizes raises achievement levels. Thank goodness someone is out there with a 21-member research team studying this subject! We teachers never would have known that, otherwise.

My favorite part, though, is where the guy from the think tank says he's not so sure about that. I wonder if he's ever had to try to think in a metaphorical tank with 30 kids ranging in age from 13-14 years old. I'd be willing to bet that it's easier with 15 from the same group!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Question of the Day

If teachers' unions are so powerful, how is it that Labor Day is an unpaid holiday for us?

Happiness is...

A campfire in the back yard.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, September 03, 2009


That's what this is. Trust me, if you've seen Inglorious Basterds you will laugh.