The Nicole Show
Call me narcissist if you must but this blog is all about ME. I have another blog about my kids, whom I love and adore writing about. But I was Nicole a long time before I was mom and I don't intend to give up being Nicole overnight.
You can read all about my kids at Naptime Optional.
Or you can follow along on our Arizona adventure on my 365 project blog.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Wow-it's been awhile since I wrote here! But I have so many crazy busy thoughts in my head these days that are bursting to come out! I tired to ignore them for awhile, told myself I'd sit down and write when life settles down. But it's now becoming very obvious that life never really completely settles down. So today I decided the dishes could just stay dirty because I was going to write!
We've been going through a bit of an identity crisis at our house lately. In case you aren't up to speed Mike was laid off a little over 7 months ago. I think men especially (but women too) are prone to having much of their identity and self worth wrapped up in their job, in how well they provide for their family. So I think questioning what and who you are in times of job loss is a natural, albeit painful, part of the grieving and healing process-because trust me, you do truly grieve the loss of a job.
Not too much later I kissed my baby goodbye as he went off to his first day of school.
And suddenly the 3 little people that my life had revolved around for the last 8 years were all gone for 7 hours a day 5 days a week.
I was left wondering who I was now. It's as if I only knew how to be "mom" and had entirely forgotten how to just be "Nicole".
Through these many months of trying to rediscover who we are my thoughts have often turned to the idea of Superheros. I've thought a lot about how they all have Secret Identities, mild-mannered alter egos. Do you remember that opening scene from The Incredibles?
I've been very obsessed lately with this idea of a Secret Identity. I think most Superheros discover their super powers, realize, as Mr. Incredible pointed out, that they don't want the pressure of being super all the time and then adopt a secret identity. But I can't get over this feeling that Mike and I are just simply going through the process in reverse. We already have pretty well established mild-mannered alter egos: that guy who went to work day in and day out and the girl whose days consisted of dirty diapers, dirty dishes, and dirty clothes. These little bumps in the road that life threw at us are simply the universe's way of trying to awaken the super heros that lie beneath.
They are in there somewhere! Can you see them?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
But today we reached a milestone. A BIG one. ALL of our stuff is FINALLY at our new home. It took us almost a week, and 2 U-haul trucks plus a lot of other driving back and forth in our car for all the "small stuff." But it's done now. The rental house is cleared out, cleaned up, and keys returned. We have officially closed the door on that chapter of our Arizona adventure. And I couldn't be happier about it!
Don't misunderstand, there is still a LOT of work left to do! I'm sitting on the floor surrounded by boxes that will likely takes weeks to unpack. Both garages are full of things that were just tossed in haphazardly so we could get the firsts U-haul returned before incurring yet another day's charges. There are 5 ceiling fans still in boxes sitting under my stairs and even more curtains waiting to be hung. (Nothing like moving into a new home with no window coverings to make you feel like you are living in a fishbowl.) The kitchen table is still buried. Clothes are still in suitcases.
But we are here! We have beds to sleep in and the kids feel like each day is Christmas as we find and unpack one more box of "lost" toys.
And I finally feel like I can slow down. I embrace the fact that it will take weeks (maybe months) to feel settled in and I can relax a little. I can take time to take my kids to the park again. (The weather is finally cooling down so such an activity is actually pleasant now.) I can go to bed at a decent hour. I can work my body without completely beating it up. I can take the time to eat a decent, healthy meal. I can take a morning to go volunteer at school. I can watch a movie or read a book or take a bubble bath! Because if this is going to take weeks anyway, what's the rush?
Friday, October 14, 2011
I just got up and I already want to go back to bed. Partially because I am still tired, but mostly because moving day is now less then a week away and I haven't yet begun to pack. I packed up some of the kids' toys last week but I haven't yet REALLY started to pack. Every time I try I stare at everything not knowing where to even start, then I get overwhelmed so then I just find something else to do instead. I just can't seem to wrap my head around the idea of moving again. I am very ready to be in our new home I just wish I didn't have to go through all the hassle of moving. It just feels like I JUST did it! It hasn't been long enough for me to forget what a pain it is. And this time we are really on our own to do it. Maybe that's why it's so hard this time. I just keep imagining me being the only person helping my husband lug heavy furniture up the stairs. All those stairs! What was I thinking?
I guess deep DEEP down inside I know things will somehow work out. I just wish I could convince the growing knot in the pit of my stomach of that.
I guess I just need to start somewhere. Baby steps, right? So, now it's time to get to work. I have some packing to do.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
There was a line in an episode of Scrubs in which JD refers to Elliot as a piping hot bowl of crazy. My husband laughed and laughed at this line, and has quoted it many times since.
Unfortunately, that is likely how the lady at the utilities department now describes me to all her friends and coworkers.
I'd like to blame it on the anxiety of the impending move and the associated anxiety and stress of getting ready to close on a new home.
Although that may have accounted for some of my craziness today, I think I mostly just got tired of stupid bureaucratic rules that I feel powerless to change.
I called the city utility company today to arrange for the water to be turned on, and the lady on the phone asked for my Social Security Number. I had already talked with both the gas and electric company who both also requested my SSN, so this request didn't surprise me. I declined to give it to her, as I had with the gas and electric company. Both the gas and electric companies wanted it so they could do a soft credit pull to make sure I was going to pay for my utilities should they go to the effort of turning them on for me. Upon refusing to give my SSN both utility companies instead assessed an up front deposit that will be refunded once I have made 12 on time payments. This is not a practice that I'm thrilled about. It sort of feels like a "guilty until proven innocent" approach. I mean what happened to just turning my power off if I don't pay? But, the deposit is refundable and it gets me out of giving my SSN. So I pay the deposit.
I assumed the city utilities would have a similar policy, so I politely declined to give my SSN. The lady on the phone informed me that I would then have to come into the office in person and provide identification before they would agree to service. And so I loaded my 3 kids up on the car and drove an hour to the City offices because it is that important to me to not give out my SSN unless absolutely necessary.
Upon arriving at the office I provide my ID and then the gal behind the desk again asks me for the SSN. I explain to her that I was under the impression that if I came personally into the office I wouldn't have to give it. I explain that I packed up my 3 kids and drove an hour specifically to avoid giving that information. She proceeds to explain that she is sorry I misunderstood but I still have to give my number, coming into the office was just to prevent me from having to give it over the phone.
At this point I'm starting to get mad because loading my kids in the car was NOT the way I wanted to spend my afternoon and now she was telling me it was all for nothing anyway. Assuming she wants my number in order to do a credit check I provide her with a copy of my credit report (with my number blacked out) that was given me by my lender.
At this point she explains to me that they don't do a credit check. The purpose of providing my SSN is merely to provide a unique identifier so that when I call on the phone they can assure they are talking to me. She tells me, "It's a security measure." So just to clarify I ask, "so basically you are just using it as a PIN?" She confirms that they ONLY reason they want my SSN is to use it as a PIN.
So of course I ask-why can't you just assign me a randomly generated 9 digit number then. As long as I know it and you know it it provides the same amount of security when I call on the phone without the exposure and risk associated with giving you my SSN.
Her response? "It's just our policy to use your SSN?"
"And what if I refuse to give it to you?"
"Then we will refuse service."
"What is to stop me from giving you a bogus number?"
"I guess if you feel good lying to me."
"Well that's just the thing. I don't want to lie to you. But I need water turned on at my house and I see NO need for you to have my SSN. So what choice does that leave me?"
The conversation went back and forth like this for quite some time. I tell her about how my Dr's office was at one point hacked and my SSN was compromised.The office then had to provide credit monitoring for everybody whose records were compromised and had opened themselves up for a class action lawsuit and this is what the city was opening themselves up to with their antiquated policy of requiring a SSN. Her response was that in all the time she's worked there they have never had any problems. To which I replied by saying that no problems in the past doesn't guarantee no problems in the future because let's face it, their little office isn't exactly Fort Knox.
I may or may not have used a few, shall we say, choice words. (Ok, I did.) I asked several times to speak to a supervisor, which she continued to refuse to let me do. We argued around and around and around in circles until I was so angry I was literally shaking and on the verge of tears all at once.
I swear I'm not typically "that" customer. This confrontation was so not typical of me. But something inside just snapped.
In the end, I am sad to admit, I gave her my number because bottom line is that I have to have water at my new house. I wish I had given her a bogus number. I'm typically a very honest person so I'm not proud of the idea of giving a fake number. But I'm not too fond of the idea of them having my SSN either. Really the only reason I didn't give a fake one is because I was so worked up at that point that I couldn't think straight enough to come up with something that I'd remember later.
I have since though written to the Utility Billing Administrator (yes, that is a real job title) explaining my dislike of the current policy and requesting that my number be scrubbed from their system and that I be assigned a random 9 digit number as in PIN. I cited Section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974 (thank you Google!) that says
"It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his social security account number." Sec. 7(a)(1).
I don't know that you can interpret water and sewer service to be a "privilege provided by law" but it's a start anyway.
I also intend to write a letter to the City Council as well as to the Mayor if needs be.
Is their policy outdated and in need of revision?Defiantly! Am I getting just a tad worked up this? Perhaps. Am I a piping hot bowl of crazy? You bet! But I've never heard of a single person who changed the world by rolling over and playing dead.
Monday, October 3, 2011
In the end we ended up with a completely different fan that wasn't even originally in the running.
This fan is brushed nickel, has 52" blades, and holds 6 40 watt bulbs (for a total output of 240 watts). The biggest downside of this fan is the downrod mount but that is made up for in the fact that this fan was only $39. Yes. $39. (It appears to be an old model that they are clearing out.)
Yes, when I realized I could get 8 of this fan delivered to my door for $344 the decision was easy.
In this instance turns out price was king.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I am not a fan of a floor lamp being my only light source plus I am a huge fan of ceiling fans so we optioned to have the bedroom and living areas pre-wired for ceiling fans. But it is just that-a pre-wire. No fans included.
At Lowes yesterday we found a fan that Mike is in love with and a fan that I am in love with. And this is a classic Mars vs. Venus scenario. Mike is completely focused on functionality and I am fixated on style.
Here is the fan I like.
I like it because:
-It is brushed nickel, which is the color of the hardware throughout the house
-It is decently sized with 52" blades
-It holds 4 40 watt bulbs, for a total light output of 120 watts
-I hate when you look at a light fixture and you stare straight at the light bulbs-this fan solves that problem in what I think, is a very stylish, unique fashion.
Here is the fan Mike likes.
He likes it better because:
-It, too, is brushed nickle to match our hardware
-It has bigger blades-60" to be exact, which means more air flow
-It hold 3 60 watt bulbs, for a total light output of 180 watts
-This fan has an option for flush mount. The one I like requires downrod mounting, which can sometimes lead to more wobbling at higher speeds
-This fan also hides the bare bulbs for softer/diffused lighting but I argue it's a more traditional way of achieving that, and is not nearly as stylish.
So what do you think? What is more important.....Form or Function????
Monday, August 29, 2011
I actually thought that having less stuff unpacked would mean I'd feel more organized and put together. I thought it would be a chance to try out a new Zen lifestyle. But I find that it just makes me more unorganized then ever. For example all the office is all packed so I don't have my paper filing system in place. So papers from school pile up all over. I mean it's just little stuff like that but lots of little stuff is starting to add up and I don't feel like I have a handle on any part of my life.
The 2 1/2 hours spent in the car each day running to and from school isn't helping any, either.
I literally have 6 half finished blog posts. And ideas for half a dozen more. I'm flowing with ideas-but never have 20 uninterrupted minutes to get any of them out!
So while I try to catch up with my life if you have a minute today tell me your favorite, easy, inexpensive time management/organization tip. I could use ALL the help I can get!