rooted, but still growing

Archive for August 2008

I’m writing this from a van. Yes, a van. The company’s van, to be specific. It’s parked on a grassy bank at the Podunk County Fair. I’m sitting in it because I. Just. Can’t. Take. It. Anymore. 

Part of my job requires me to set up booths at events like fairs and home shows. I knew this when I took the job. However, I was not prepared for just how lame the fairs and home shows are in this area. I’ve been at this stinking fair since Tuesday. Every single day. Tonight? I don’t get to go home until 10:30 p.m. What is there to do until then? Jack shit, that’s what. 

I don’t ever want to hear anyone talk trash about the people in West Virginia. Because Ohio? Well, let’s just say this fair state has more than its fair share of rednecks. I’m hiding out in the van because a.) it’s air conditioned, 2.) I don’t have to talk to anyone and 3.) so I don’t have to hear the dirty bratty kids screaming on the carnival rides, or the noise from the demolition derby, or Joe Bob and Jimbo discussing the latest in animal husbandry. It’s hot, it’s dusty, and it simply sucks donkey balls.

I nearly punched some lady in the face for threatening to tear down the cold-air balloon I had to set up for the demolition derby. Newsflash, bitch, if you can’t see, MOVE. It’s not like there isn’t seven or eight acres surrounding the track for you to plant your big fat ass on. It’s not like I put the friggin’ thing up for my health. Believe me, if I had found a reasonable excuse to skip these shenanigans, I wouldn’t be here. 

And oh yeah, just because something’s free doesn’t mean you can take an armload. I don’t care if you’re mentally retarded. One box of lightbulbs is enough. I can’t even imagine why one person would need nine new lightbulbs. Unless there’s some new kinky club down at the home I’m not aware of. 

Oh, oh, you wanna hear the best part? I get to spend most of Monday — Labor Day, you know, the day everyone else gets to take off — at ANOTHER freaking fair. 

I’m so lucky I could just shoot myself.

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On Saturday, I convinced my nephew that a cucumber was a baby crocodile. Despite his older brother, Jacob, explaining that it was, indeed, a cucumber and not a baby crocodile, I’m still not sure Garrett ever figured it out. 

Despite this wicked trickery, the little guy is still in my corner. Steve and I got into an argument the other day, which Garrett witnessed. After Steve stormed out of the room Garrett said, “Why Uncle Steve mad at you?”

“I don’t know,” I replied (it was really no big deal — we were arguing over putting up the blinds in our dining room).

“Oh,” Garrett said. He left the room, but he was on a mission. Pointer finger lasering an accusing line toward the offender, he yelled:

“Uncle Steve! You be nice to Jenny! You big stupid dork!”

Harsh language? Not really, considering that this is the same child who last week told his grandmother he was going to kick her f*#@ing ass. Apparently you could see the mushroom cloud from her reaction for miles and miles. It’s not just that the kid knows curse words — he actually knows how to use them correctly. I can’t wait until he starts school!

So yesterday I’m on my way to the Monroe County Fair, twisting and winding in a company van around treacherous curves in the Ohio countryside, when I get a text message from my friend Erin:

Walt Schmidlen got arrested … Check website later.

(A little background: I met Erin (one of my BFFs 4eva) when we both worked at The Inter-Mountain newspaper back in my hometown. Erin still works there in the advertising department, and her husband is an editor in the news department. Walt Schmidlen is a former county commissioner who I worked with a lot during my time as the county reporter. )

Now, as stated I was on my way to the Monroe County Fair, which is located just over the next ridge from Butt Fuck Egypt. I was astonished that I even had cell signal, so I knew I could forget about Internet service. I’m not known for being patient, so I called my mom who knows the best, gossipiest women in town. She called her sources, then got back to me with news I was, to say the least, shocked to hear.

I won’t go into details of the case, but the curious can visit this link to find out more. I’ve been very troubled by it, though I can’t explain why beyond offering the obvious reasons. I guess this one just hits a touchier nerve because the accused is someone I know, and with whom I spent a relatively substantial amount of time with on a professional basis.

I’m always disgusted when I hear these types of stories. Sexual predatorship is wrong on every level — no matter how old or young someone is.  I don’t even feel pity for an 18- or 19-year-old arrested for having sex with a 16- or 17-year-old. The law is very clear, and those who have trouble following it must be willing to face the consequences.

But this is not a case involving two teenagers. It’s a 43-year-old man and a 13-year-old girl. A girl who has a lot of growing up ahead of her, who regardless of innocence or guilt will forever have this incident in her memory. Some things have been alleged about her conduct, and to these allegations I can only say that it is important to remember that in addition to disturbed, perverted adults there are also some very sick children in this world. I don’t know her name or anything else about her, but I hope that she is able to get the help she needs and come through this as unscathed as possible.

And I hope that she receives the justice she deserves. I hope that the accused is not stupid enough to try the “she wanted it” defense in court. Because even if she did? No adult has the right to take advantage of a child, willing or not. If what has been publicly documented is true, the fact remains that this man is 43 years old. Where I come from that means he should have been responsible and decent enough to recognize that he was treading an extremely dangerous path and should have steered clear. And since we come from the same place, this knowledge should have been available to him.

And if it is he who deserves justice? If that’s the case I hope he receives it, though I’m not sure he’ll ever be able to live in that town again. He was a publicly elected official, which means there are already plenty of people who hate him just because. He has been ridiculed for remarks he made during another scandalous case involving another public official a few years back. And not long ago his name surfaced on the small-town rumor mill for sexual conduct of a more adult manner. He serves or has served not only in county government, but with emergency medical services, farmers associations, and other civic organizations. It is not a large town. Most people know who he is. Most people already have a preconceived impression of the type of person he is.

And me? I struggle with this. My friends and I always had a private joke about him alluding to the notion that if I ever needed to get information from him for an important news article, all I had to do was wear a low-cut shirt. I’ve caught him glancing at my chest. I’ve seen him give the once- (sometimes twice) over to my former boss. I always chalked it up the fact that I have big boobs and my former boss has a great body. I recall that he did visit the newsroom a lot, sometimes unnecessarily, but I can’t say that he ever made any type of advances toward me and I am not aware of any he may have made toward my former boss.

The revelation of this story makes me question those long-ago actions, though it does no good now. Still, I have so many questions. Why? How? I want to know what happens in the minds of people who commit or are accused of sexual assault. Are they seriously ill? Do they not care about the ramifications of their actions? Do they think they will never be caught? Do they enjoy the thrill of the danger? Does taking advantage of children heighten the experience? Are their relationships with their spouses bad? Are they so desperate for flattering attention that their judgment gets clouded?

These questions are not rhetorical or facetious. I really want to know. I think if our society spent more time looking at the reasons — the real reasons — behind these kinds of actions rather than simply pointing fingers, we’d all be much better off. We could better educate our children to avoid potential harm. People committing these acts could be educated on ways to seek help before the damage is done.

I don’t know who’s innocent or guilty. We’ve only learned a fraction of the story and who knows what is true? I do know that these subjects are very taboo, and we don’t do enough talking about them. Part of me wants to find Walt Schmidlen, to ask him how he could have possibly ended up in this situation, to try to make sense of all of this. But I can’t. Like the rest of the community I’m left to learn from the news reports and the gossip, to develop my own ideas and judgments. To wonder how his wife and children are handling things, wonder how the 13-year-old girl is doing and if she still has a chance at a normal, happy life. To be disturbed and perplexed. And to pray that no one I love ever becomes a victim or an accused.

I just shit a chicken. I’ve been helping my brother get tangled in leap over the government red tape required for admission into a program at the college down the street from where I work. With all the wrestling I’ve been doing these past few weeks with financial aid, admissions, the military and my sometimes-lazy brother I would have been a shoo-in for Olympic gold. We’ve hit a few snags in getting his financial aid worked out, but that didn’t prevent him facing a charge of 1/3 of his tuition, which was due today. Three weeks from the beginning of classes.

This is the first time my brother has shown serious interest in making a better life for himself. (That makes it sound like he’s a drug-addicted criminal. He’s not — he’s just been busy sowing the proverbial “wild oats.” ) I don’t want him to get frustrated and let this fizzle out, so I’ve willingly been helping him all I can. Now, the men in my family are not known for being, shall we say, self-reliant. Just about everything of substance that has needed accomplished in their lives has been handled by women, namely my mom. Thus, I’ve absorbed the brunt of the work in this ordeal.

I’m not complaining, because honestly it’s been nice helping him. We get along just fine, but we’ve never been particularly close.  That’s changing, and I like it.

Anyway, back to the chicken. I went to the school to pay the first part of the tuition for him, as financial aid hasn’t come through yet and he would have to re-register if the bill wasn’t taken care of. I swallowed my freakin’ tongue when the guy behind the desk announced that the total due was SEBEN HUNDWED AND FORTY FIBE DOWWARS.*

“Jesus,” I muttered, furiously scratching out the check.

“Wet me see if I can get some knocked off that,” said the guy.

“I already started writing the check!” I shouted back.

Yeah. Not a good moment. No clowns and lollipops for me, kiddos, especially given the fact that I had spent a good portion of the morning online paying my own bills. Meaning my account is now resting at an astonishing -$12. Luckily I have some reserves to fall back on.

I’m pissed, but the problem is I don’t know who to be pissed at. It’s not my brother’s fault the school he’s chosen has ridiculous payment policies. It’s not the school’s fault his financial aid hasn’t been approved yet. I volunteered to pay this part of the tuition, for Cripe’s sake, so there’s really no one to be mad at. Which sucks. You know, ‘ cause I’m really mad.

In the meantime, I think I’ll focus my negative attitude toward my bank, which made me drive all the way back to a town I don’t even live in anymore to change the address on my checks. AFTER I called, was transferred, and waited 10 minutes for a customer “service” representative to tell me that my request could not be completed over the phone and I’d have to drive to the neareset branch or receive the paperwork in the mail.

The chickens, they are being shat.

On a side note, I bought a pen of chickens yesterday at my first-ever county fair animal sale. No, I didn’t keep them — I was there for work and just donated them back to the 4-H kid who raised them. But it sure was fun telling Steve that while he was gone I bought a cageful of hens.

*(He had a speech impediment).

I put myself on a diet yesterday – literally and figuratively.

           

It’s really more like two diets. The first is physical. Life has been so hectic these past few months, with the boys being here for a travel-filled summer, purchasing and moving into a new house, and a busier work period that any previous efforts to eat healthy have fallen not only by the wayside, but tumbling over the cliff. I’ve eaten so much fast-food, processed junk in the last few weeks that it has started affecting how I feel: tired, sluggish, unmotivated, grumpy.

           

There’s also the wedding, occurring in just shy of a year. I will not be a fat bride. I was one of those little girls who read too many fairy tales and spent too many years dreaming about my wedding day. Not one of those daydreams contained a plump starlet. I don’t want my overpriced photographs ruined by my bat-wing arms or droopy back fat.

           

I’ve also put myself on a financial diet. I make more money now than I ever have in my life, but you’d never know it by looking at my checkbook. I have plenty of money to cover my bills and purchase the things I need, but I just can’t seem to get my bank account to steadily increase. I’ve devoted a lot of thought to this issue recently, and I think my biggest problem is that I don’t keep track of things very well. I’m very conscientious about checking my balance to make sure I don’t bounce a check, but I use my debit card far too often, never write anything down, and am prone to impulse buying. And, adding to my weight problem is the fact that I eat lunch out every day. That crap gets expensive!

           

Long story short, things are changing. Steve and I actually made dinner at home yesterday, and it was not only delicious, but I feel so much better this morning. I’ve vowed to start bringing my lunch to work, which will save money and help shrink my waistline (not to mention save money for gas!)

           

I’m really going to rely on this blog to help me keep track of things … and hopefully along the way I’ll be able to share some tips that have worked well. (You know, for my two faithful readers – hi, Leann and Rebecca!)

           

So to start, here’s a list of the food I purchased at the grocery store yesterday:

Granola                                    $2.98

Salad dressing                          $1.58

A1 marinade                             $1.98

Hellman’s light mayo                 $1.98

Russian salad dressing               $1.47

Bread crumbs                           $0.97

Bacon                                      $2.98

Bottled water                            $3.88

Bologna                                    $1.58

Shredded cheddar (2 bags)       $5.00

½  lb hot pepper cheese            $3.07

½ lb Swiss cheese                    $2.93

½ lb tomato turkey                   $3.77

½ lb honey turkey                     $3.58

½ lb capicola                            $2.52

½ lb pepperoni                         $2.24

Coffee                                      $9.05

2 T-bone steaks                       $15.98

Chicken breast s                       $13.98

Hamburger                               $15.19

Grape jam                                $1.88

Bread                                       $2.82

30-pk. Eggs                             $3.18

Sour cream                               $1.17

Quart yogurt                             $2.46

12-pk. Yogurt                          $4.88

Mushrooms                              $1.88

Frozen broccoli                        $1.08

Lettuce                                     $1.48

Grapes                                     $2.28

Milk                                         $2.64

Garlic bread                             $1.72

 

Add 5% food tax and the grand total is $134.06. Not too bad, considering some of those items, like jam and salad dressing, are staples. I purchased large packages of chicken breasts and hamburger because they’re cheaper in bulk and can be separated into meal-sized portions and frozen. I bought a lot of deli meat and cheese for lunches and quick dinners. I don’t need to buy many vegetables because my parents’ garden is overflowing with green peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, onions, cucumbers and squash. (This is definitely a plus!)

           

For dinner last night, Steve and I created the following meal:

            T-bone steaks              $15.98

            A-1 marinade               $1.98

            Baked potatoes            FREE

            Salad:

                        Lettuce:            $0.49

                        Tomatoes:        FREE

                        Onions:            FREE

                        Cucumbers:      FREE

                        G. Pepper:        FREE

            Sour cream                   $0.15

            Garlic bread:                 $0.86

            Salad dressing:              $0.30

           

            Total:                          $19.76

 

My goal is to see just how long I can stretch this $134 in groceries. With all of the other previously purchased items in my pantry or freezer (macaroni & cheese, pork chops, sausage, rice, etc.) I think I can make it at least a month and a half, if not longer, without having to make a trip to the grocery store for items other than basics like milk, bread and eggs (we eat a lot of eggs). I’m kind of excited about all of this – it seems like a game, which makes budgeting infinitely more fun. Let’s hope my checking account agrees!

As if communities everywhere aren’t dealing with an overpopulation of dogs and cats, this woman feels it necessary to spend an ungodly amount of money recreating something of which there are already MILLIONS readily available in animal shelters throughout the country.

She could have donated the money to a program that trains dogs to assist the elderly or handicapped. She could have used it to build a shelter — or two or three! She could have used it to purchase food and supplies for an animal rescue program.

But no. She chose to spend it on making an additional FIVE dogs to replace the ONE she lost.

By having it cloned.

Idiot.

Huh?

Posted on: August 1, 2008

The florist for our wedding called me a few days ago.

JoJo: “Am I doing your wedding on Aug. 9?”

Me: “No, Aug. 1.”

JoJo: Silence. “Aug. 1?!?”

Me: “Yes. Aug. 1. Of next year. 2009.”

JoJo: “Oh. See you in a few months.”