Open letter to my dishwasher

Dear WhirlPoo,

I really thought things would be different this time. So I gave you another chance. I even had the previous problems fixed. You can’t even imagine how excited I was that you’d be helping me around here. Which you did in the beginning.

But no. You just have to be difficult.

You pretend not to be lazy, swishing away the way you do. Acting like you’re working really hard. So why are some of the dishes still dirty when you’re done? Why do I have to prewash them for you? And the spots. I gave you what you needed so there wouldn’t be any. Then I find out you “can’t” wash some of the dishes yourself. You’re telling me I have to do it?

You’ve ruined too many of my things. I can almost understand why you did what you did to my Rubbermaid containers, but the Krups filter holder for my espresso machine? Did you really have to ruin that? And what about the expensive travel cup? Why did you have to go and ruin that too? What else were you planning on destroying? Huh?

Tell me. What’s the point? Do we have to go back to our previous arrangement? Do you want to forever be just an oversized dish rack? I could make it happen, you know. Just say the word.

A menthol state of mind

Only a handful of people know the reason I started smoking. Or when it happened. I don’t usually share this information freely with people because it’s embarrassing. Every time I think about it, I feel like I was weak and vulnerable. I was. Most people start in their teens or early twenties because of boredom, curiosity, peer pressure, or possibly all of those reasons. Not me. No. Nuh uh.

I started smoking twenty years ago because of a boogeyman.

Okay. Now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor from laughing (or fainting), let me explain. If you’ve done the math right, that means I started really early in life. Like I-was-nine-years-old early. Yes. Nine years old. Are you still there? Did you faint again? Have you finished laughing at me?

Okay. Let me explain.

After my parents’ divorce, my brothers and I lived with my mom at my grandma’s house. My grandma also had her two youngest children and her second oldest grandchild (my cousin) living there. My cousin, who was four years older than me, bullied us on a regular basis. Especially my younger brother and I. He’d tell us stories in order to get us to do the things he wanted. To get us to start smoking, he made up a boogieman.

One night after all the adults were asleep, my younger brother and I stayed up giggling and playing on the bottom bunk of our bunk bed. For light we used a small flashlight and the streetlight streaming through our window so we wouldn’t be detected. Except we were. My cousin came into the room after hearing us giggling while passing by our door. He asked us what we were doing and why we weren’t asleep yet. We were so afraid of him that we couldn’t answer. That’s when the story started.

“Do you know what happens to kids who stay up late at night? No? Well, look out the window and down the street. You see where the light from the streetlight stops and turns into shadows? In those shadows there’s a really big scary man, bigger and scarier than me, who takes kids who stay up late. He keeps them locked up in a basement where they are never to be found again.

You can’t fool him and pretend to sleep, either. He knows. And there’s only one way to keep him away.”

By then we were freaked out. Remember, I was nine. My younger brother was about seven. We believed most stories people told us. So we asked him to tell us what we had to do. I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now, but I’ll continue anyway.

“The only thing that keeps him away is cigarette smoke.”

He says while shaking the pack he’s got in his hand.

“You have to blow the cigarette smoke out the window. And when you’re done, you have to flick the butt into the yard. That will keep him away. Here. I’ll give you kids my pack. Smoke a couple tonight and save the rest for whenever you can’t sleep.”

We knew it was wrong to smoke, but we were scared. We couldn’t sleep and didn’t want the scary man to get us. So we asked him to teach us what to do. And he did. Every night for a week, after the adults went to sleep, my brother and I would curl up under the covers and hide. We couldn’t sleep even more because we thought we could see the scary man standing in the shadows. Every night my cousin would come into the room to see if we were still awake. When he’d find us quivering under the blankets, he’d tell us we needed to hurry up and smoke those cigarettes. So, even though we knew we’d get in trouble, we’d do it.

Then he stopped coming to our room and we ran out of cigarettes. So we started stealing them from anyone who left them out. My mom, grandpa, aunt and uncle. We’d sneak into their rooms and take a few from their packs. If they had a carton, we’d take a pack. We continued doing this for a while until one day we got caught by my grandma.

She caught us taking cigarettes from my grandpa’s stash and scolded us. I’m not sure if she ever told my mom, but threatened to do so if we kept doing it. She also said she knew it was us who were throwing our butts into the lawn. I’m pretty sure now that my cousin’s intentions were to get us in trouble for smoking. That was why he told us to flick them directly out our window into the lawn. Because grandma will find them when she does her gardening. We never told her, or anyone, what my cousin told us.

Anyway. My little brother didn’t want to get in trouble again, so he wouldn’t smoke anymore. Being the protective older sister that I was, I didn’t want that either. I came up with a plan. We’d be okay if only one of us did it. I decided that I would continue to smoke to keep the boogieman away from us. If we got caught again, I could tell them that it was just me and that my brother was innocent. I continued to steal cigarettes and smoke for months after that. Every morning I’d go out and pick up all the butts. Either my grandma never found out again, or she didn’t care. Whatever the reason, we never got in trouble again.

This continued for months before I started smoking during the day when I was bored and no one was home. Eventually I figured out that my cousin had lied to us just to get us in trouble, but by then I was addicted. I smoked for three or four years straight since then. Always finding ways to get ahold of some. Then when I tried to quit, I would last a few months to a year, but start right back up. It’s been like that since. I can quit for up to a year, but I always start again.

You know, I’ve always wondered if my brother and I just imagined the figure in the shadows, or if it was my cousin trying to make his story seem more real. I guess I’ll never know.

Yard sale robbery

Okay. So I wasn’t actually robbed but it felt like it.

I spent almost 6 hours out in the heat with a piece of my family’s life on display for everyone who happens to stop by to take a look. Do you know how much I made? I made $32.

THIRTY TWO FREAKING DOLLAR!!

What did I sell? 2 strollers, 2 CDs, 1 DVD, a box of toddler girl clothes, 4 pairs of toddler shoes, 1 toy phone, 1 diaper bag, 2 laptop bags, 1 Star Wars bank, and 1 shrug (original price $34). There was also a box of free stuff that got cleared out. In return I got $32, a sunburnt face, an upset child, and so much time wasted. Not worth it.

Now. I don’t mind so much about the money. I figured my low prices (10 and 25 cent toddler items) would move a bunch of stuff quickly. I also figured those who can’t afford buying new can have a variety of clothes for their girls to wear. Many of the people that showed up were nice. Those that didn’t seem so nice I didn’t have to interact much with them besides saying hi and bye. Although things weren’t going as well as I hoped, it wasn’t too bad.

Until she arrived.

As I was helping a lady, I saw a shiny red SUV pull up to my sidewalk. A couple got out to browse my stuff. She was wearing a pretty red skirt with a nice blouse. He was wearing a neatly pressed button-up, slacks and a tie. Yes, a tie.

They looked through the clothes hanging and I witnessed a sort of snobbishness coming from her toward the hubs and my clothes. I was taken back by this. I wondered. Why was she going to yard sales in a low-middle class community with that kind of attitude?

Then I got the answer.

She was skimming through the top layer of clothes in a large box when she came across a beautiful shrug still bearing its $34 price tag. Sure I got it on sale for half the price, but she didn’t know that. The point is, I never wore it. I bought it last year with the intention of finding the perfect outfit to go with it. Except, we needed to cut back on our spending and I didn’t get the chance. I knew we needed the extra money so I tossed it in the box hoping to make a few bucks off of it.

At first I planned to price it at $10, but after the second hour out there $5 was looking more likely. By the time she arrived, I had been out there for over four hours with less than $20 in my pocket. I was feeling low and ready to pack it up after they left.

Then I saw her looking at the shrug. Feeling the soft woven fabric between her fingers. She liked what she saw and felt enough to try it on and do a little turn after asking him his opinion. He approved. I was hopeful as I gave her my best smile.

Something in me knew from the tone of her voice that I wasn’t going to get anywhere near what I hoped for. So when she asked how much, I told her what I thought was the lowest possible price she would agree to. Three dollars.

The instant it left my mouth, I regretted it. How could I let that go for three little dollars? How could I let it go for anything less than ten? I had insulted myself by speaking those two little words. Three dollars. I wish I hadn’t said it. I wish I hadn’t left the shrug in the box in the first place. I wish I could grab it out of her hands and tell her it wasn’t for sale. But I didn’t. And do you know what her response was?

“I’ll give you a dollar.”

A MOTHER FUCKING DOLLAR!!! That’s how much she wanted to pay. I was speechless for a few seconds. I slowly sucked air in through my teeth preparing to tell her no. I wanted to tell her to keep her stupid dollar and leave. I felt so insulted and I just wanted to go inside and close the world out. This woman felt I was so beneath her that I didn’t deserve any more than a dollar. So I don’t know what possessed me to say yes when next she asked, “Yes or no?”. Actually I said, “Fine. Whatever. Just take it.”

I felt defeated. She was the disgusting icing on the icky cake. Not only did she rob me of money, but she stole something else. I was insulted by someone who thought she was better than me and I just let her. I didn’t have the strength to argue. I didn’t have the strength to be mean. I just wanted this day to be over. So I let her take it for a dollar. I should have just told her she could have it.

“Better yet, let me give YOU a dollar. Why would anyone like you have to pay for my junk?”

Yesterday someone stole pieces of my pride and confidence and I realized there was one more thing I wasn’t good at that I needed to add to my list. Bargaining. This was my first and last yard sale. I never want to invite random people to my home to look down on me again. Ever.

Breaking bad habits

Almost two weeks ago I made a decision to break a bad habit. I was going to cut back on my coffee consumption in order to get my anxiety in check. So far, I’ve only strayed once, but only because we made plans to stop at a new coffee place in Belltown to spread some local love via support. Let me tell you, I wasn’t too happy with the extra caffeine running through my veins that day.

I was jittery the rest of the day and night. I also did not sleep until sometime after 3AM. And I was a crankasaurus when the girls decided to wake me up at 8AM. GRRRRRRRRRRR! But still, if you know me, I can’t give up my coffee completely. This is one addiction I’m not ready to give up.

This is not a demand on myself. I will not try to force myself not to stray, because it only makes doing it much more appealing. It’s a weird way of doing things, but it seems to work. There will be the occasion where I will have an extra cup. I will indulge without any guilt. Just the jitters. But hopefully it’s a rare thing. I like the way I’ve been feeling, even if it’s only been two weeks. Drinking water instead has helped keep me hydrated. I see it as a double positive.

Now for my next trick, I’m going to quit smoking.

Unlike the coffee, though, I won’t be having one a day. I’ll be giving it up completely. Although, I’m sure I’ll slip every now and then, but hopefully not often. I need to do this even more than cutting back on coffee.

I’m not going to go into detail about why, because we all know what smoking does. I don’t want to hear all the anti-smoking bullshit people spew. By the way, some of that shit: LIES. People who say kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray have probably not kissed either. I’ve kissed quite a few smokers and not one of them tasted like an ashtray. And yes. I do know what an ashtray tastes like. Don’t ask. It’s none of your business.

I’m sure you won’t trust my judgment considering the fact that I smoke. Well, my husband has kissed me many times. When I asked him, he said that I don’t. As a matter of fact, I don’t taste any different than a non-smoker. He doesn’t smoke and never did. He also doesn’t lie to me even if it gets him in trouble. I’d believe him before I believe any of you.

A major reason people do things like smoke, drink, do drugs, and anything else “bad” is because they don’t like being told what they can and cannot do. Stop telling me what to do, because I didn’t ask you.

I’ve digressed.

I’m quitting because I want to, not because someone told me to, asked me to, or whatever. My wonderful husband has suggested that I should quit for health reasons, but never demanded. Never pushed. Never told me that that was what he wanted. I’m doing this for him. I’m doing this for my daughters. I’m doing this for me.

This is my decision. Something I’ve thought about. Something I want to do. Who knows how long it’ll last, or if I’ll succeed. All I know is that I’m going to try.