Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'm registering a complaint. Here on my blog. Where it will do the most good.

So the stores around here, and I'm assuming in other places too, do that tax-free weekend thing for one weekend in August right before school starts. It's cool, because when you have to go spend $75,426.37 on your kids' school supplies, it saves you that whole $754.26 in tax, as we have 10% sales tax here in Leeds. I'm like, "Woo hoo, that money goes straight to the beans and jalapenos fund that Reed and I have to keep running, to keep our habits in check.

This year we did our shopping at Wal-Mart, which we really hate to do. We went through a fairly long phase in which we didn't shop at Wal-Mart at all, because we don't agree with a lot of the Wal-Mart philosophy. The owners of the company have billions, BILLIONS of dollars, and they sit pretty while a large majority of their employees are paid crappy wages and denied benefits because "full-time" at Wal-Mart is less than 40 hours so they're not required to provide benefits. That's a tricky little practice also used at Starbucks. Anyway, a HUGE percentage of their products are made in China under conditions that are, shall I say, shitty. So by spending my money at Wal-Mart I'm supporting these companies in China that are not too different from sweat shops. That place is NOT a family store, it's NOT about little, hoppy smiley faces, Jorge does NOT love his job there, no matter WHAT they tell you.

Plus, the recent scares with lead paint on toys from Chinese factories and other problems with tainted stuff including food and hygiene products have got me thinking that I might be about to be making all of Reed's toys myself. I hope he enjoys all those sticks with leaves tied to them he's about to be getting at Christmas time.

I realize that a bunch of people are just RARING to give me the "Well, where do you shop now? Do they treat employees any better, or get their stuff from places other than China, because did you know that you actually know nothing at all?" etc., etc., etc. But I'm of the belief that I have the option to choose these things, to do my best to make sure that my hard earned money is going some place good, as good as possible, even if it's not perfect. I'm just trying, here, okay? And it's especially hard right now as the Food World in Leeds has closed down, so of course the closest place to shop is Wal-Mart. We have made many, MANY inconvenient drives to Target and Whole Foods to get our groceries, which just means we're spending more on gas and polluting up the environment.

But I digress. So we gave in and did our school shopping at Wal-Mart. We bought $240 worth of stuff on tax-free weekend- Kane and Jude's school supplies, some food, and some new clothes for Kane, Jude, and Reed. As I was walking to the car, I noticed that we were charged tax. I turned around and walked up to the greeter lady and said, "This is tax-free weekend, right?" She nodded with her mouth hanging open, mouth breathing her ass off. "So then why was I charged tax?" She stood there and mouth breathed for another three seconds, and then took the receipt that I had been holding up in front of her face. She literally said, "Uuuum, ah-ahhhhhh, oh, aoooahahhuhm... Okay, that's the city tax. Tax-free weekend only applies to state tax, but you still might have to pay local tax." It sounded remotely believable to me for about a second as I know nothing of taxes, and then I looked at the receipt again and it showed that I had been charged 10% tax. So I said, "I was charged %10 tax. You're telling me that I normally pay MORE than 10% in sales tax?" She nodded empatically. Since we had at that moment a screaming, writhing toddler in our possession, I just turned around and walked off.

Since then I've found that our friend Nina did the exact same thing, and they told her the same thing they told me. Then I found that our friend Shauna did the exact same thing, but they told her that if you spend over $100 they still charge you tax- something about how they don't want random folks coming in to buy tv's and stereos and iPods and stuff just to get them tax free. And I have to say, for a split second that made sense to me. But why are they being shady about it? Why am I getting smoke blown up my ass about it? Because even though I already knew the answer, I immediately dug through my purse in the car after we left Wal-Mart that day and found several other receipts, NOT from tax-free weekend, on which I'd been charged 10% sales tax.

So, I'm pissed. Big news! I think it SUCKS, and I think Wal-Mart SUCKS, and I'm a MORON for going there to buy our stuff anyway. I really should have gone back in and returned every single thing I bought. The power of the screaming child just overtakes me sometimes. I am going back to my non-Wal-Mart ways, even if it means making a longer drive to shop, and I challenge each and every one of you to do the same. Let's do it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"I'm sorry; I know that's a strange way to tell you that I know we belong."

So today an older couple died here in Birmingham. They were both in their nineties; the wife had been sick for a while, and she passed away this morning. Her family was in the living room a couple of hours later, crying and being together, and they looked over at the husband, and he had passed away in his chair.

And it's exactly like those Ben Folds lyrics, and it makes me feel like a tiny speck, like the tiniest speck on this earth, and like I might just get washed away in an instant in all the DAMN emotion. Just hearing the story today humbled me, made me feel in awe of this life and what it's made of, or made from, or made by.

And that is all the product of this gigantic wave of hormones that I'm riding at this particular time of the month, if you get me, that's making me question everything in my life- if I'm a good mother, if I'm a good wife, if I deserve any of this, if I'll ever be more, or less.

Anyone looking for a ROLICKING good time right at this moment should call ME, let me tell you.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Love triangle.

Love triangle.
Originally uploaded by buffpuff
We went to Tuscaloosa on Saturday night for Chris' birthday. We had a whole lot of fun surprising him, and I think he had a whole lot of fun being surprised.

And yes, that's his robot that he bought in Birmingham from some guy who makes big, huge robots. I can't really explain to you how much this guy likes robots, LOVES them really, except to say that he has a robot tattooed on his arm. But he also has an otter. Because you can't be all robot, and you can't be all otter.

Happy birthday, Chris.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Them's my boys.

Them's my boys.
Originally uploaded by buffpuff
I haven't had much to say lately; we're all trying to get back into the routine around here.

Kane rides a different bus to the middle school than he did for elementary, and this one picks him up at 6:30. That's really quite a change, as we can usually all get away with sleeping until 6:30 and still being (somewhat) on-time to our respective obligations. Plus, Reed usually wakes up whenever he hears the rest of us wake up, so when I get up to get Kane up at 5:55, Reed gets on up, too.

The best part is how the middle school is about two miles away from our house, and Kane has to meet the bus an hour and a half before school starts. I find it to be an effective way of teaching children how random and pointless and backwards the world is.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On stealing bikes.

So last Saturday Kane's bike got stolen. We bought Kane and Jude bikes a couple of years ago for Christmas, and about three months later Kane's got stolen. Then we bought them bikes for their birthdays about two months ago, really snazzy ones, and Saturday Kane's got stolen.

We bought them a chain to chain them both to one of the posts out front and told them that we'd ship them off to Siberia if they didn't keep them locked up, but Jude had unchained them to ride his and didn't think to chain Kane's up. Lo and behold, Kane's bike was gone about thirty minutes later, in broad daylight.

As soon as they noticed that it was gone, Jason, Reed, and Kane (a motley crew, indeed) went out in the car riding around, looking for his bike. No sooner had they turned the corner when they saw three kids riding down the street on bikes, one of which was Kane's.

Long story short (too late!), they chased the kid around the neighborhood and Jason scared the shit out him until all three kids ditched their bikes at the high school, Jason got Kane's back, and a policeman took the other two.

Since then, we've gotten two visits from Cusses and Humps Boy's dad, saying that Cuss's and Hump's bike got stolen also, and they think it's by the same kid.

THEN, today THE KID WHO STOLE KANE'S BIKE showed up on our front porch, ringing the door bell and looking all sullen. He asked Jason where the other two bikes were, and when Jason told him that the police took them he proceeded to PISS AND MOAN about it.

When Jason was telling me all this, he said, "That kid has BALLS. Like, grown-up person BALLS." I replied, "Like, STUPID PERSON balls. We have a friend in law school. I'm sure she'll be prosecuting him for something in about five years."

Monday, August 06, 2007

I still rule this roost.

Oh, sweet Moses. Yesterday I yelled at a thirteen-year-old boy.

It was, of course, the same thirteen-year-old who came over here and humped everything with a Wii remote a couple of months ago. He had come into the house with another friend of Jude's, and just as I walked in and thought "I am kicking his ass out of this house", he opened the front door, leaned out towards some other urchin I've never seen before and emphatically said, "FUCK OFF." Then he slammed the door.

Then I pooped my pants and stood there with my mouth hanging open for about 1.3 seconds, and then instinct, i.e. blind stinking rage, set in. I yelled at the top of my lungs, not so much that I was shreiking or squeaking, but enough that my voice was booming through the house and the ground shook and the gods stopped to see what the hell was going on down here, "HEY, HEY, HEY. YOU GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW. DON'T COME BACK TO THIS HOUSE AGAIN. YOU ARE NOT OLD ENOUGH TO TALK LIKE THAT. I KNOW YOU THINK THAT YOU'RE A GROWN UP, BUT I'M HERE TO YELL YA THAT YOU ARE NOT."

And he did the obligatory eye-roll, and huffed a little bit, and he really was just dying to smart off or call me a name or talk back or something, but I was COMPLETELY bowed up on this CHILD in my living room and just WAITING for him to give me an excuse to box his ears, and he could tell, so he did just enough huffing and eye-rolling to not look like a complete poser in front of his friends (the oldest of whom, by the way, was eight years old), and left.

And, hey, I've said before that I get that he's thirteen, that boys will be boys and all that, but my twenty-month-old baby who LOVES to repeat things was in the room, and he's CERTAINLY never heard that word some out of MY mouth before, although I can't speak for his fucking father. Besides Reed, I am not ready for Jude to be hanging out with boys who yell that word in front of other people's parents- Jude who is totally punk rock and rebellious, Jude who toes the line, Jude who has totally THOUGHT about saying that word to me before, I just know it. The point is that it's not the end of the world that a kid said "fuck" in my living room. But my job as the parent is to let my kids know what is acceptable and what is not, when it's acceptable and when it's not.

After that kid left, I turned around and said to Kane and Jude, "I'm sorry if that embarrassed you, but it's NOT okay to talk like that in front of other people's parents. I know that you guys hear your dad and me say bad words some times, but we have been around a LOT more years than you guys, and you're just not old enough to say those words yet. And, I mean, SNEAK AROUND and say them, for pete's sakes! Don't just SPOUT 'EM OFF in front of grown ups!" They laughed and said they got it, and I let it go.

I nearly cuffed around a thirteen-year-old kid. I am SUCH a badass.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I'm your only friend, I'm not your only friend, but I'm a little glowing friend but maybe I'm not actually your friend, but I am.

Okay then, big news about another friends. I'm not sure if he wants me writing about it on the internet, but maybe he doesn't care, so I'm going to sort of half-ass write about it.

I haven't seen you or talked to you in a long time, so we don't know the ins and outs of each others daily life. I don't know what it's like at your house when y'all wake up, when you sit and eat breakfast with the people you love, when you come home from work and find out how everyone's day was. And you don't know what it's like at my house when I start using the f word and shaking articles of clothing at Jude, or when my eyes roll back into my head so far they get stuck after listening to Kane talk about Naruto for 45 minutes, or when Reed starts pouring Goldfish, also known as "bish", all over the floor of every room in the house and then stepping all over them while I have a seizure in the kitchen floor.

But that's okay. There is plenty of time to learn these things about each other. I'll buy you a case of Milwaukee's Best and we can sit on the front porch and talk about it while we watch our children play in the street. IT'S OKAY, there's not that much traffic where I live. Besides we can put them on leashes that only reach to the end of the driveway and watch them try, TRY to JUST GET A LITTLE FURTHER to the street for a couple of hours.

I am a terrific mom.

Anyway, I have a lot, A LOT of fond memories of you. There was a period of time quite a few years ago when we actually spent a lot of time together, hanging out at my apartment and drinking beer, going to bars and whatnot. I like looking back at that time, partly because we were such good friends and I was so comfortable hanging out with you and partly because it's before I officially decided that I am a crazy person who is not believable as a human being. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to spend time with you and be close with you, especially since now we have these LIVES that don't allow us to sit up until four in the morning, drinking beer and running our mouths. I'm glad I knew you then so that I can still know you now. I love you and I'm glad that good things are happening for you.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

On music.

So that whole "I can even sing in the car without crying except for American Pie because that song touches me in odd places"? I need to add another one to that list.

I haven't used my iPod in ages on account of the batteries were dead in my fm transmitter, and I kept forgitting to replace them. Well, hallelujah, we replaced them yesterday and I've since been enjoying the luxury of choosing what I want to hear besides young blondes singing about how great vandelism against her cheating ex is.

I finally settled on Coldplay's Fix You this morning, which I haven't heard in several months. It makes me weep- that song is so sweet and poignant and there ain't nothing a mustard drop is going to do about that, okay? Unless maybe I had about a liter of it, since it's 27 percent alcohol and then I could just get drunk.