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Posts from — December 2010

The girl with the pearl hoop earring[s]… who cried over Disney movies — hardcore.

I’m trying to work on a translation (which I’m discovering is nearly impossible on “family vacation”, so I’m a little panicked at this point – anyway!), George is setting up lights in the barn, and we’re watching Up. Do you know the part of the movie where they play you Carl and Ellie’s life in little snippets of the important things they lived through? The second that part started, I lost it. Completely. Like huge, shuddering sobs. I am the biggest sissy I have ever met.

There are so many things in that sequence that kill me. First of all, the fact that Carl is a grumpy old man, and then you finally understand why he’s such a grumpy old man. Their life, how much they loved each other, the fact that they were best friends before and above everything else. That what originally brought them together was their sense of adventure and everything they wanted to do in life. The fact that every time they saved, some unavoidable life event came up, and there went their Paradise Falls savings. The fact that they couldn’t have children.

I guess it hits a chord with me because I’m afraid of so many of those things. I see “real life” events coming up all the time and making us continuously postpone the adventurous things we have planned. (Side note: I have always hated the joke, “Wanna make God laugh? Make plans.” Ugh.) Trivial things like our fridge breaking, my flat tires, &c. I don’t want to ever feel like my marriage has caused either of us to let go of or give up on any of the dreams we had prior to or since getting married. I don’t want to be a grumpy old fart-ess one day, who can’t even be kind to children…

Children. I guess that’s the part that hits me the most. It is premature to really worry about this, since we haven’t decided to have kids yet, but I stress about whether we’ll be able to have them and what if we can’t, what then, do we adopt, do we not, do we foster, and so many so-forths you don’t even know.

Worrying doesn’t really solve anything, though, does it? It’s not going to make life magically solve itself, it’s not going to put money in our bank accounts, or fertilized eggs in my fallopian tubes (when the time is right, of course). So I guess I’ll just keep stumbling through my translation and crying over tender scenes in CHILDREN’S movies, like the total mature, stoic, worldly adult that I am. heh

P.S. George? I totally get to die first.

December 26, 2010   2 Comments

I’m dreaming of a White… what holiday is it again?

This year, we took it upon ourselves to drive up to Tennessee to spend Christmas with George’s parents. The drive, in and of itself, was an adventure… Since lists make everything better, I will bullet-point the highlights of the trip for you:

  • It’s a 12 hour drive without counting stops. We agreed to set out at 8 or 9am so we’d be here by 11pm, latest.

  • We actually WOKE UP at 11am.
  • We decided it would be a good idea to rotate the tires before the trip.
  • This took four hours.
  • We finally finished cleaning the house, prepping the cars, packing, packing the cats (yes, all three), picking up snacks for the drive, and setting out at FIVE PM.
  • Five minutes after we got on the highway, Leo Tolstoi pooped all over himself, forcing us to either pull over, or smell cat poop for the next four hours.
  • Obviously, we pulled over.
  • I felt pretty proud of myself for lining their carriers with puppy pads, as this made the cleanup quick and easy.
  • Four hours later, George gets sleepy…
  • George is a brave man, because he decides it’s a good idea to let me drive his GTi… two days after I managed to get not one but TWO flat tires in the ghetto in Cocoa.
  • Clearly, he does not love his car very much. Or he loves and trusts ME a WHOLE bunch. I’m thinking it’s the former.
  • I drink two Red Bulls and feel immortal, invincible, and ready to drive.
  • I drive five-odd hours, and start feeling like I’m going to murder someone. Red Bull does funny things to my brain.
  • George takes over driving duties while I try to sleep.
  • Spartacus (yes, we have rather grandiose names for our cats) decides he’s had enough of being locked up in his carrier in the car and decides to have a meltdown, scratching and howling the rest of the way to Franklin.
  • Leo pees all over himself. Again, thank goodness for puppy pads. Princess, who is usually the basket-case in our house, has not complained or pooped/peed ONCE this whole time, by the way.
  • We arrive at nearly 6am.
  • I am in a Red Bull haze and can’t sleep.
  • I kind of hate life at this point.

The next day we were complete zombies, but it was nice to be here, especially since Caroline (George’s sister) and her husband were spending Christmas with her in-laws and Liz (his other sister) and her husband and kids can’t make it here until Monday night.

We fell asleep last night and woke up to this:

George’s dad said it’s the first time it’s been a White Christmas in about 29 years.

All in all, although I don’t really celebrate Christmas, I’m grateful to get to spend the holiday with our family members who do. I’m grateful I got to speak to my family on the phone last night, I’m grateful I am married to the kindest, most patient, and gentle-spirited person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I am grateful for every person, friend, family member, that I have encountered on my path through life, whether they’re still part of my life or not, whether they’re still on this Earth with us or have already passed…

I’m not really sure how this became a Thanksgiving post, though. :)

December 25, 2010   No Comments

She walks in beauty…

Isn’t it surprising what, when we are children, influences who we would like to become?

I was always a bookworm. From the day I learned to read, I never put books down again. Some children went to school with toys in their backpacks. I went to school with a backpack full of non-school books. When I was sent to my room for being “bad”, I rejoiced. Not because I got to watch TV or listen to the radio or play with my dolls (which I obviously wasn’t allowed to do), but because I knew that it meant I could sit there in the dark or I could read a book, and my mom wouldn’t really mind. If I didn’t come out to apologize after a few minutes, she knew what I was up to, and would walk into my room with a loud sigh.

“I’m sorry mommy! But did you know that spiders aren’t insects? They’re actually arthropods! AND SO ARE SCORPIONS!” What kind of a monster would be able to resist a squeaky-voiced six year old piping that breathless apology at them?

I always had access to genres I probably shouldn’t have had at the time. My dad was a pilot, and he’d bring home any books that had been neglectfully forgotten on the plane. This is how I was introduced to V.C. Andrews (for the love of all things, keep her books away from your children… and from anyone else, for that matter), Ray Bradbury (still one of my favorites, and to various poets. And this was how, at seven or so, I was introduced to Lord Byron…

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

I must’ve read that poem, mesmerized, fascinated, over 50 times the first time I found it. Throughout the years, it has found me, time and again, when I’m in the middle of an existential crisis, when I forget who I am and who I want to be, and it soothes, somehow.

And though it may make me old-fashioned, I think that just as it was my seven year old self’s mantra, this poem continues to be exactly that: a mantra, a description worthy of aspiration. And for the life of me, I can’t imagine a woman who wouldn’t want to be known for all those things, in some degree… no matter how modern and unconventional she is…

December 17, 2010   2 Comments

The Saga Continues…

Yesterday I got a call from Verizon. The customer service rep informs me we have (after settling the $560 dispute over the phone we did, in fact, return) $410 in roaming charges for while I was in Cancun.

First of all, I’m really confused about a couple of things. We’ve been told the roaming charges are in the amount of $204, $410, and other random amounts (depending on the rep we speak to!). Secondly, after going through the entire story again, she decides to talk to Tech Support and ask if the charges can be removed…

Customer service rep comes back on the phone and tells me that since I was making phone calls on my line, they can’t remove the charges. I’m sorry, what? 1) I use a local, Mexican Nextel with a call package for calls to the US so I can call George from Mexico; 2) I did not make a single call from my phone for two weeks. If you look at my call history, it displays “November 29th, 12:30pm, George Hatcher” when I called before take-off, and “December 13th, 5:10pm, George Hatcher” when I LANDED, with no calls in between! I told her it was preposterous and to check the call history. She did, and confirmed there were NO CALLS. She agreed to talk to her supervisor and see what can be done.

This morning, George and I are both in bed with the plague, aka, the flu, and his phone rings. It’s Verizon, saying we owe them $559, and would we like to make that payment now?

I kind of lost it there. George laughs and tells them, “I think you have your wires crossed.” When they finally have to admit they are wrong, they launch into the next round of charges. Oh, yeah, those roaming charges you need to pay for! They tell him that since I was making calls the whole time I was there, after I knew that I was roaming, that they have to charge me. I ended up taking the phone from him, clarifying the facts while trying not to scream at them for their incompetence. They insist that I was aware of the charges, trying to make it sound like we spoke to them on the 29th. Nice try.

I finally spoke to a customer service rep that slightly helpful, although he did ask if I was under the impression that these were global phones. That almost killed me. I know that George is the rocket scientist, not me, but I AM the nerd that always reads the manual for everything we purchase, I never sign any agreements or contracts without reading through them entirely, I know exactly how much data roaming costs, I know enough to have data roaming off, airplane mode on, and only wifi activated to use my phone as a wifi device instead of a 3G device, much the same way one would use a laptop or an iPad without a 3G contract.

What it has come down to, so far, is this: his supervisor has agreed to “reduce” our data roaming charges to 50% of $203.94, so $101.97. I know this is being done to try and appease us. And while some people might say, hey, that’s not bad, I disagree. This is why:

  • Verizon already admitted it was their error. Multiple times. We checked that I was on airplane mode and had data connectivity off in Mexico, and it showed up as roaming to them. They admitted this to George on the phone. They said something was wrong on their end. Come on.

  • They have contradicted themselves in a million different ways, grasping at straws to find excuses as to why we NEED to pay the roaming fees. “You made calls during this time… oh wait, no you didn’t!” and “You were aware of the roaming, you called, and kept using it… oh wait, you stopped using it as soon as we informed you.” And many, many more.

  • Loyal customers. We spend plenty of money on their devices, we had automated bill paying, three lines, and we always used to promote Verizon like crazy to people. We have never, ever, ever had a problem with roaming before (we dutifully make sure roaming is off and airplane mode is on the second we hop on an international flight). Not when we’ve traveled to multiple destinations in the Bahamas, multiple destinations in Mexico, and not when we went to Israel.

  • You are offering to reduce our charges to $100, right? Should I send you the bill for our late mortgage payment fee? How about the money spent on long distance calls from ME from Mexico on a Mexican line to clarify both of our problems to you? Where should I send those bills which are far in excess of the amount YOU would like to charge US?

  • The $559 interest free loan — I’m sorry, ACCIDENTAL CHARGE — you promised would be back in our account “within 3-5 days”… was promised TWO WEEKS AGO. Your rep today told me it would be “3-5 days from today”. What the heck is going ON? If a renter tells a landlord “the rent will be in in three to five days” over a period of nearly three weeks… the bum is getting evicted. Seriously, Verizon. Come ON.

  • Verizon, are YOU, a mega-corporation, really fighting us this badly for $100 freaking dollars (after your “50% buy-off option!)? Really? Is losing the respect (and probably future business) of loyal customers worth that little to you? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to just relax your sphincter and say, “Hey, they spend so much money with us a year that it’s worth it to let them have this one because why would they lie over these charges when they pay us so much in other aspects?” You will not plea bargain your way out of this one, sorry to say.

This will really be the make it or break it for me, Verizon. I’m already making oogly-googly eyes at Sprint.

December 16, 2010   5 Comments

Thanks for the lies, Verizon.

The next chapter in our Verizon saga occurs thus:

I speak to Verizon rep. Rep promises to call George on Monday morning (as in, today) to get our bank account info to reimburse us for the $559 charge. Rep never calls. George checks his email. Verizon credited our account with the money. Womp womp.

Why is this a problem? Well, I don’t know about y’all, but we are very precise about the amount of money we have/spend/allocate. So when suddenly the account we PAY OUR BILLS WITH has $600 less, it really affects us.

What is really wrong with this, though? The fact is, that it was Verizon’s mistake, not ours. We did everything we were asked to. We returned the non-functioning phone promptly, they received it and forgot to say, “Oh, yeah, here it is!” As it is not our mistake, they should not get a $600 interest free loan from us. If we were a bank giving them $600, they would have to PAY US for borrowing that money. Not cool.

I deal with this ALL the time. Companies that outsource translations generally get paid for the translations you do upon delivery, and then they take “30-90 days, depending on the date you send the invoice, and whether it’s close to the 1st or 15th of the month”, for example, to pay you, thus obtaining interest-free loans from the poor, independent translators that work for them. It’s not as monumentally terrible when a small company or an individual does this to you as it is when a HUGE CONGLOMERATE does it to its clients. Makes you wonder how much money Verizon is making this way… and it seriously bothers me.

So, for the last time, I am begging you, Verizon, please fix this before we decide to report you to the Better Business Bureau…

December 6, 2010   3 Comments

Thanks, Verizon! tl;dr

At the beginning of the year, George and I totally lucked out: we were able to upgrade our phones to Droid with Verizon for an amazing price (after the mail in rebate, of course). I quickly became a smart-phone lover. I had been craving an iPod touch or an iPhone for a while, but my loyalty to Verizon (great coverage, great prices, great customer service) made me open to experimenting and eventually embracing the Droid.

Y’all, I named my phone. I am disclosing this pathetic and silly bit of information so that you understand how intense my love of technology is, how fascinated I am by it, and how appreciative I am about the continuous advances we make in telecommunications and information technology. Hurrah for humanity!

My love for the Droid was quickly put to the test: the sound during calls was absolutely terrible, not to mention the fact that instead of rivaling the iPhone in the good aspects, the Droid was rivaling the iPhone with the percentage of calls it dropped! When I wasn’t hanging up on my husband, I was screaming to him at the top of my lungs, much like a crazy person, in the middle of the grocery store, “I SAID, DO YOU WANT BEEF OR CHICKEN FOR DINNER? NO, NOT TEETH!!! BEEF!” Frustrating, to say the least, especially since it seemed to be something specific to our particular batch of Droids, not an issue suffered by all Droid users.

We finally had enough in August. It came down to the health of our marriage, or Verizon doing something about our terrible phones. They, with their wonderful customer service (no sarcasm, I swear), agreed to replace our phones with refurbished Droids that would be sent to our door via FedEx with a box for us to send our defective devices back, all at no cost to us. Expedient service, right? Without us even having to leave the comfort of our home (except for those eight or so Verizon store visits we made when they told us our phones had no problems prior to this solution… hm…).

We immediately had problems with the second phones, our refurbs. Mine was glitchy, would reboot randomly, had all kinds of problems. George’s… was a poltergeist phone. It would type on its own, it would randomly navigate somewhere in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa. It was slightly amusing and greatly creepy, sort of like an electronic Ouija board. I stuck it out with mine, but George needed to have his replaced…

The third phone he had was not much better. There was some sort of defect with it where he could charge it all night, and the second he took it off the charger, the juice would drain out of the battery and the hold-life was somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds before it died. Fabulous and useful, amirite?

We went in once again. Are you keeping tabs on how much of our time we had, at this point, wasted on visiting Verizon, wasted on hold with customer service, how much gas we used visiting the stores, etc.? Yeah. They gave up and agreed to give George a (refurbished, of course) Droid 2, and since my contract was up, they simply upgraded mine to a Droid X (not for free, of course, but for a decent price). We promptly returned the final Droid, and were quite happy with our little Droid 2 and Droid X.

For a while. Mine randomly fails, reboots itself, and does crazy things. I have been opting to stay quiet because the sound is good and the fails aren’t too terrible. I had no real further complaints about Verizon, despite everything that had happened, and we’d even share our mishaps while assuring our friends that Verizon has fabulous coverage, that they may not have the iPhone, but the Droid is great and we are loyal customers, that we’d never switch providers for a glossy Apple device, even though we’re huge fans, etc. Free publicity for Verizon. I’d also like to mention that we were never difficult with any of the people that had to help us out with all of these things. We’d laugh, joke, and we were as understanding as we could be.

Now I am going to allow myself to jump around in time and tell the last bit an a slightly un-linear fashion: Let’s fast forward to Monday, November 29th. I flew out to Cancun for the COP 16. The second the captain on my JetBlue flight asked us to turn off electronic devices, I set it first to airplane mode, then I switched it off. Now, my reason for doing this is because we realized that when we do so and turn off Data Roaming, our phones become high resolution digital cameras that are WiFi capable, with no additional cost to us for checking our email or chatting when we find hotspots. This has worked for us in Haifa and Cancun in the past. No biggie.

Remember that last Droid I said George shipped back to Verizon in exchange for his Droid 2? Verizon recently charged us nearly SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS for it. When George called them, they told him my contract was not up for renewal when we got the Droid X (lies) that the phone we didn’t return was MY replacement Droid (lies, not necessary) and that they were charging us the “real” price of the Droid (lies, again, it’s not that expensive of a phone, fools). George was going to throw his hands up in the air and resign to what they said, but Miss Latina-tude refused. I called Verizon (from Mexico, on a Mexican phone line, mind you, so ouch) was on the phone with the most pleasant customer service rep in the world for nearly an hour, and we finally sorted out what had really happened: basically, yes, the reps that spoke with George played the deny, deny, deny game and lied out their butts. His old phone had, in fact, arrived at the warehouse on September 2nd, and the warehouse had never credited us with this return. Essentially, it was all their fault. He said Verizon’s policy was to just apply those $600 to our account as credit. Um, no. That’s basically like a $600 interest-free loan to Verizon that I do not feel like making, not to mention that the account it was taken from is the account we pay our bills from. Additionally, as this was clearly not our fault, gimme back my money, b****. :)

The rep was efficient, took care of it, and we will be credited on Monday. Through this whole Verizon debacle, I should definitely state that the reps (with the exception of those that lied to George) have been helpful, friendly, and kind.

Remember when I said we put our phones on airplane mode when we travel abroad? Imagine my surprise when George notified me today that I had, thus far (in a matter of five days) incurred a bill of $200 in Data Roaming fees. Mexi, please! This boggled my mind, as I’ve been using wireless networks exclusively. Ex. Clue. Sive. Ly.

A quick review of our account online told George that those $200 dollars were for a total of 3MB of data. I am not even kidding. Can we just agree that that is ludicrous? Show of hands, please!

And so my sweet husband spared Verizon reps the wrath of a woman scorned and called himself. The rep asked if, at that very second, my phone was on airplane mode. After we confirmed this, she said it did not show up that way in the system to them, but that once the charge goes through to our bill, they will take care of it. (Why they can’t take care of it NOW is beyond me.) She also notified me that since I am abroad and they cannot reset my phone from the US, I need to turn it off for the next ten days, completely off, because now I “know” and if I still choose to use my phone once I’ve been “notified” then I will be charged all roaming fees.

*hop hop hop*

That is me, hopping MAD.

You mean to tell me that the phone I selected for its 8MP camera is of no use to me for my entire trip (the only camera I brought with me, by the way) because of Verizon’s ineptitude? You mean to tell me that when I want to use the WiFi network on my Droid to access dictionaries of an acronym finder for my um, slightly-totally-SERIOUS JOB, I can’t because of something that is not my fault? That’s like me buying a Dell laptop, and being told I can’t use it as a word processor. Like buying an apple and being told I can eat it, but I can’t have the vitamins. What kind of crack are you smoking, Verizon?

I am disappointed and annoyed. Annoyed, annoyed, annoyed. This is ridiculous. Verizon, clean up your act. I am no longer defending you or promoting you. Bite me.

December 3, 2010   9 Comments