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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Slowing Down

The last two weeks I've been moving at break neck speed. I've been exhausted and stressed. My body has ached, my anxiety has been high, and I've more of less taken horrible care of my body through it all. Not enough sleep, eating all the wrong food, etc. etc. etc.

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

Baby Steps

All those stairs

 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

Piping hot bowl of Crazy


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

Form Vs. Function Follow-up

Thanks to everybody who weighed in on my Form Vs. Function dilemma.

In the end we ended up with a completely different fan that wasn't even originally in the running.

Zoomed: Hunter 52" Alden Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan

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.