Monday, January 31, 2005

it's 4:15 and it's still quite light out!

Yay! This gives me a small ray of hope that winter will not last's so refreshing!

Also good: I got a mileage reimbursement check today. Yahoo! Brett and I can go out for dinner after all.

Not much else to tell...I have a lot to do here at work so I should get back on it.

Friday, January 21, 2005

I'm here at work, and the day is just dragging by. It's only 2:45, and I am so sleepy...I seriously need some caffeine or something! Maybe I will go over to CVS and get a Coke...I should go to the bank anyway, so it would give me an excuse to get out of the office. It's really slow today -- the phone has barely rung at all. I have had maybe 3 leasing calls. Whoops, there it goes...of course; I type that and it starts ringing.

It's beautiful outside, but frigid. The current Accuweather reading is:
2:53 PM Currently: 7 F
RealFeel®: -18 F Winds NW at 20 mph

BRRRR. So, even though the bank and CVS are only a stone's throw away, I think I would drive. Even the 5 minute walk would be nearly unbearable. And while the car would be cold inside, at least I'd be out of the wind!

So my thumb has been doing this weird popping thing. It's been really sore and if I move it in certain ways, it will pop and even make a little sound. EW.

Well, I have some phone calls to make. I should get going...Since I started typing this, a whole HOUR has passed! YAHOO! Only 1 hour left till I get to go. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

things/people/ideas I love right now

1. We went down to Kahlil's parents' house in New Hampshire this weekend. Wonderful! I love his mom, Bridget. She is the best cook, and just by being there I learned things! She sent me home with a copy of a cookbook she'd used to teach a class. Yummy Steamed Chinese Buns, here I come!

2. While in NH, Kahlil's parents (Ron and Bridget) and I went sightseeing while Brett and Kahlil painted the moped. They were awesome, and very kindly took me all the way into Portsmouth to an AMAZING fabric store, where I bought some fabric to make a skirt. It is by a lady called Amy Butler, and her fabric is awesome! I tried to post a picture but I couldn't figure it out...sorry.

3. Sunday night was our second week at Missio Dei Church. It already feels like home to me. The people are amazingly friendly (we're going to the pastor's house for dinner on Friday, and I'm going with some of the ladies to a citywide ladies breakfast on Saturday) and the teaching is wonderful.

4. Related to church on Sunday is some thinking I have been doing about the topic of the sermon, which was about our inherent sinful nature, and how we must rely on Christ to turn our hearts toward him and keep us from the total depravity that can result from sin.

The topic made me think of two prayers from The Book of Common Prayer, which is the Episcopal Liturgy.

This one is said at the beginning of the service, in preparation for worship:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known,and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is the Confession of Sin:
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

I love these ideas. I *want* to perfectly love God, and worthily magnify his name. I want to delight in his will, and walk in his ways, so that I bring glory to his name. I think that these two statements are intrinsically linked. They both speak of the same end goal: to magnify or to bring glory to God's name. I think the second passage, from the Confession of Sin, shows us how to do that, namely by delighting in God's will and walking in his ways. That is how we can bring glory to God, and make his name great.

5. Brett is so cute where his moped is concerned. Yes, I get tired of listening to the endless talk about mopeds, but I have to admit it is going to be really freaking cool. He and Kahlil got it painted with primer, 2 coats of gloss black, and one coat of clear coat last weekend. They have to go back next Saturday to put one more clear coat on and let it dry. Then it will be gorgeous!
He's starting back to school tomorrow, and I think I'm ready for it. It will be nice for us both to be getting up and leaving the house in the morning...instead of him staying in bed, as he has for a good part of his break. I'd want to do the same thing if I were on break, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to get up and leave in the morning while he's still sleeping.

6. I can't stop listening to two CDs right now: Wilco's A Ghost is Born and Modest Mouse's The Moon and Antarctica. I used to hate Modest Mouse back in the day (what was I thinking?) but now I'm hooked. Maybe my tastes weren't mature enough when I first heard them back during college. At any rate, both of these albums are completely awesome and I love listening to them.

Monday, January 10, 2005

I don't believe you, stupid hold guy.

I'm sitting at our home computer, on hold with my student loan people. The recorded message on hold just said, "We value the time you've taken to place this call and we will be with you as quickly as possible." Oh, and if you really valued my call, you wouldn't be playing some horrible, happy remix of Sultans of Swing.

As I've mentioned before, I'm trying to consolidate my loans...which is really turning out to be a pain in the butt. First, it took the people I decided to consolidate with three weeks to get out their requests for whatever info they need from my current lenders. Now, one of my lenders won't tell me when they can get the info back to the consolidation company, and they told me tonight that they may not approve the consolidation.

Can I just say WTF? (Pardon my use of an Internet abbreviation; I guess it's not much better than swearing outright but at least it's a little better)

I mean, can they honestly do that? They're not going to let me consolidate my loans? ABSURD. The reason the woman gave me was that it would be because I didn't choose to consolidate with their company. Well, duh. I got a better deal elsewhere. That's freaking EXTORTION, the last time I checked. I call BS on that one. Not cool at all.

Ugh. Anyway, in other news, I seem to be involved with a lot of message board drama lately. I only belong to two message boards, and both are dramatic right now...I mean, a board with 40 girls, ok, I can see the potential for drama there...but a board about mopeds? That seems a little odd. And it is. Message board drama is no fun becuase people start saying really nasty things that they'd never say to your face because they wouldn't have the courage. It makes for lots of unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding and, well, drama. The moped drama seems to have passed (*crossing fingers*) and hopefully the other drama will be over soon, too.

My feet are so cold right now. Yeah, just thought I'd share. It was actually warm here today -- about 36 degrees. It was pretty nice. We got a little more snow last night (a dusting, really). Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny but Wednesday it's supposed to be "messy" again, to quote the weatherman. In Maine, that means snow + freezing rain. And that equals horrible roads and the whole world being coated in ice. The last time we had a storm like that, I literally had about 2 inches of ice on my car. Everything is a skating rink, including the fun!! Oh well...I hope it won't be too bad.

*side note* Now the recorded message is saying, "We haven't forgotten your phone call. Please, continue to hold and we'll be right with you." Um, yeah, I've been on hold for about 20 minutes; I'm starting to doubt that.

We went to Missio Dei church last night. I think it's going to be good. The pastor was really nice, and we got like 3 dinner invitations from people. It's really small -- only about 35 people -- but that's because it's new. It was not a normal night for them; they had a visiting pastor preaching. So I'm looking forward to the next time we go, which will probably be in 2 weeks, becuase we're going down to Kahlil's parents' house in Exeter this weekend for the big moped painting event. I am looking forward to it; I like Kahlil's parents a lot and it will be nice to get away. Hopefully we can be back for church, but I am not sure if we will make it in time. We'll see.

Work was insanely busy today. I have five applications I'm working on. That's a ton for this time of year! I'm not complaining -- I'd rather have tons to do than nothing to do -- I'm just sort of astonished. The day flew by. I didn't get lunch until 2:00 so my afternoon seemed shorter than normal.

Hmmm...I should start posting stories of funny and/or bizarre things that happen at work. There are so many. I mean, working in the office that manages over 300 apartments is sort of like asking for it in terms of dealing with people. There are, of course, the wonderful residents who I really like (and rarely see, becuase they're normal people who don't gripe) and then there are the residents who I've just never met, and then there are the residents who test my patience almost daily. Like the older woman who is obsessed with laundry, and when the washer in her building was having some problems last summer, threw her underwear at the maintenance man. Or the woman who calls becuase she wants to know why the company is spending "my rent money" on a new company truck. Or the man who never pays his rent on time, and comes in screaming, "What am I supposed to do? Starve to death?" And then the next time he comes in he calls me "love." *shudder* Or the man who insists on being called "Professor". Or the very average,very mousy middle aged man who claims he had a "license to kill" in Vietnam, and who the maintenance men say grows pot in his windows. Or the woman who calls to ask me why I left my car parked in my space overnight. (Oh, I don't know -- maybe because my husband picked me up? None of your business, anyway.) Or the 90 year old woman who says that she has never worn pants or driven a car.

I could go on and on...I meet a lot of really neat people and some whom I avoid like the plague, but at least it's never dull.

Ok, I need to wrap this up. I think I'm done holding. This is absurd. I will try to call them back tomorrow. I have a feeling they're just gone for the day and I'll be stuck on hold until tomorrow anyway -- might as well hang up and get in bed with Brett and Audrey-the-cat, who are already all snuggled in.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

frigid temps + crappy car + car horn = a recipe for trouble

**I wrote this on 12/21/04.

Last night, I went to bed abut 11:30, and put my earplugs in because Brett was still up and had music on. I went to sleep.
At about 5 a.m., the phone rang. In my sleepy stupor, I ran to try to find the phone, and answered it on the 4th ring. It was a man who said,
"Yeah?" I answered, very confused.
"I think that's your car horn."
"I think that noise is your car horn."
And that's when I realized that it was my neighbor calling and that my car horn was just continuously honking, VERY VERY loudly.
I ran downstairs looking for my shoes, rememberd they were upstairs, grabbed them and ran outside in the sub-zero weather to my car, where I proceeded to bang on the steering wheel until the noise stopped.
I went back inside and went upstairs, my lungs burning from the frigid air and my body shaking from the cold and adrenaline. Brett was asleep again by the time I got back inside.
It took me forever to go back to sleep...maybe 45 minutes. All the time, I was thinking that the police were going to come and give me a ticket and my neighbors would hate me and why oh why can't I have a normal car, not even a nice car, just a normal one.
At 6:45, I was awakened AGAIN by the freaking horn. I got up, went outside and started hitting the steering wheel really hard. It wouldn't go off...I could get it to stop for a second but then it kept going. Finally, it stopped and I went back to bed. I had to get up in about an hour and I never really went back to sleep.
Then, I went out to my car to go to work and the damn door was frozen shut. I could open it when it was -5 and in the middle of the night, but now that I have to go to work, of course it wouldn't open.
I finally got it, nearly breaking the freaking handle in the process. (Remember, this is the only working door on the car, so if I break it, I'm screwed.)
Anyway, Brett didn't get why I was so upset about the car horn. He was laughing and I was practically bawling. He gave a typical male response: "You're acting like the car is a person you're mad at. There's nothing you can do right now, so why worry?" Oh, gee, I don't know -- maybe because we live in Maine and our neighbors probably have shotguns and will probably kill us if it happens again.
Even if I am really pissed about all of this I will admit it is pretty freaking funny. Oh well...someday, maybe, I will have a nice car. (Or at least one with two working doors, a gas gauge that works, and a horn that doesn't go off in the middle of the night).

Customer service?

My conversation the other day with a customer service representative at my student loan company (oh, and there was no language barrier):

Her: "Thank you for calling, can I have your account number?"
Me: "Is that the same as my social?"
Her: "You have your social?"
Me: "Yes, can I use that?"
Her: "Yes, I can use that."
Me: "Ok, it's 541-XX-XXXX."
Her: "What was that?"
Me: "541-XX-XXXX"
Her: "Did you say 642?"
Me: "NO! I said FIVE, FOUR, ONE."
Her: "Is that 631?"
Me: "Five. That's one, two, three, four, FIVE. Four. One, two, three, FOUR. ONE. FIVE FOUR ONE."
Her: "Oh, ok, 541. What are the next two numbers?"
Me: "XX."
Her: "XY?"
Me: "No!!! XX."
Her: "Ok. Can you verify your address and telephone number?"
Me: "It's XXXX."
Her: "What can I help you with today?"
Me: "I applied for consolidation of my loans about a month ago, and I'm just wondering if you've received the request for payoff amounts from the other company."
Her: "What's that?"
Her: "You want a forebearance or deferrment?"
Me: "NO!!!! Never mind. Just -- is there any way I can speak with someone who can hear me? I need help with my CONSOLIDATION"
Her: "Oh! Consolidation!! No, we haven't received anything."
Me: "How long does that take for you to process that once you do recieve it?"
Her: "We haven't recieved it."
Her: "Oh, about 48 hours. Did you need anything else today?"
Me: "NO. Goodbye."

New Year's resolutions...or not.

I don't really think New Year's resolutions are worth making. They are seldom kept and rarely lead to any real change. That said, I am going to try to update this weblog weekly in 2005...I don't want to call it a New Year's resolution, exactly, because I hate how cliché that sounds, but I suppose that I should call it what it is.

We have about 4 or 5 inches of fresh snow this morning here in Portland. This is on top of the 4 or so inches we got on Thursday. Thank goodness my new car has 4WD. (More about the new car later). Driving in the snow is just part of life here, so I've had to suck it up and drive, even though it can be totally scary. It is not a good feeling to put on the brakes and just keep sliding, which happened to me yesterday as I was coming home from work. Fortunately, the car in front of me started moving again or I would have rear ended it. It takes constant focus and concentration to drive on snowy roads, two things I didn't have much of after working the whole day.

I drove Brett into town this morning at 6:00. Because of the storm, he is helping out today at my work, shoveling the snow. They start so early in hopes that they'll (maybe) get done by noon. Shoveling out 225 apartments is hard work, and I am glad I don't have to do it. It's nice that he is able to earn the extra money, though, and help out the maintenance guys so they don't have to do it all themselves.

It's bizarre to be up so early in the morning, especially on a snowy Sunday. The only other vehicles on the road are plow trucks; the world seems deserted. As I drove home after dropping Brett off, the sky began to get light in the east over Back Cove. All of the houses looked very out of place and alien at that time of the morning, windows dark, people sleeping inside, porch lights still on, ineffective in the growing light. The lighter and more gray the sky became, the more everything merged into one color palate - the stark black and white contrasts (snow against the dark sky) of the night began to disappear and the snow-covered trees blended with the backdrop of brightening sky. By the time I got home and went back to bed, it was about 6:45 and almost fully light out. So odd that an hour before it was pitch black night. Falling back asleep was a little tough since the light was coming in the window, but I just pulled the blankets over my head and felt Audrey the cat cuddle up next to my legs, and that was that.

It looks like we may have found a church here in Maine after attending about 6 or 7 that we didn't really like. It's so hard to find one that we like; Mars Hill is so amazing that everything else sort of pales in comparison. Anyway, I'm so glad we may have found one to call home. I really need it. When I was in Seattle for Daisy's wedding, I was able to time my flights so that I could go to Mars Hill. Oh, man. It was almost worse to go once and be reminded of what I was missing out on every week than to not have gone at all. At the end of the sermon, during the singing, I started crying and I couldn't stop. I don't really know why. My guess is that I was feeling homesick and lonely and missing the spiritual nourishment so much. Anyway, this church we found here in Portland is part of the Acts 29 Network, a church-planting organization which Pastor Mark helped found. I was on their website last night looking at the churches in Portland, Oregon for my sister (which is another awesome thing; I'm so glad she's wanting to go to church) and I saw that there is a new Acts 29 church here, in Portland, Maine! From their website, it looks like they've been meeting in a home for about 4 months, and this will only be their 2nd week of meeting in a church building. I am so excited. Oh, and even more wonderful? The service is at 5:30 p.m., so we can go even on the Sundays I have to work (like this one). YAHOO!

I guess that's about it. There's a lot more to say about what's happened the past few months but It can pretty much be condensed into this:
Late November/Early December: Brett involved with finals. We don't see each other; I leave at 7:30, he's still asleep. He comes home at midnight; I'm asleep. This sucks.
Mid-December: Car troubles. And more car troubles. Both doors on the Buick break; I'm forced to leave the window down and reach in to unlock it. (I'll elaborate more on the car troubles in a later post).
Late December: The Buick dies. Just totally kicks the bucket. We drive to VT to buy a used Chevy Blazer from a private-party seller. Got a great deal. Yahoo! A car that works!
Early January: Enjoying my new car. Working a ton. Brett lounging around the house, playing music, working on his mopeds, and helping with laundry.

I'll post a few things I've written lately about all of these events...I have to find them on my computer, though, so it may be tomorrow. (I can't remember if they are saved here or at home).

Brett's done shoveling now so I need to take him home and then hurry back and hope I'm not missed! Yikes. I hate that I have to drive him all that way, but oh well...nothing I can do about it.