February 4, 2005
Update in Reverse
In the category of, "It's always something."
AKA: "This is why we can't have anything nice."
Marie's truck got broken into last night.
We had all gone to bed at about 10:30. I was awakened, what felt like five minutes later, to the dogs freaking out in the side yard, and the doorbell ringing. I looked at the clock: midnight on the button. So I went through the series of "What the hell?" and "Who on Earth?" questions as I put my robe on. I approached the door and heard a young voice call, "It's your neighbors!"
I opened the door and turned on the porch light. The two teenage girls who live next door were at my door at midnight. Which, of course, could not be good. They started talking all over each other, "Somebody broke into your truck!" and "We chased them, we got their license plate number!" and "You're window's all smashed!" and "It was a guy and a girl in a red car!"
Marie had come to the landing at this point, and started "Oh no they didn't"-ing as she shoved slippers on her feet and followed the girls outside. I went back into the bedroom and woke Calvin up (it took three tries). He got out of bed with a muttered, "Son of a bitch," and threw his robe on.
Marie's truck was parked on the curb in front of our house. We all gathered around the driver's side and surveyed the damage - glass everywhere from the broken driver's side window. The dash in disarray where they forced out the stereo deck. Wires hanging loose where the pulled out the sub-woofers behind the seat. And, when we looked later, a whole case of missing CD's, including all the ones that Marie got for Christmas (quoth Marie, "Why couldn't they have stolen my school books too, while they were at it?"). As we digested the scene, the girls told us of their adventures, filling in details for each other.
Apparently, they were coming home just before midnight. A red car was parked next to Marie's truck, with a boy behind the wheel, and a girl rummaging around in the truck. At first the girls just thought it was Marie coming home, but then they saw all the broken glass. The girl whirled and spotted them, then jumped into the car and they raced off. The neighbor girls followed the car for more than a mile, having an excited phone conversation with their mom during the chase, who was telling them to a) stop following; b) get the license plate number; and c) call the police. So they jotted down the plate number (there was some debate on whether the last character was a "K" or an "A"), called the police, drove back, and knocked on our door.
They were finishing their tale when the police cruiser pulled up. He took statements from both girls and looked up the plate number (and some variations) that they gave him. He examined the damage and took some information from us, then called in the Forensics Unit to dust the truck for fingerprints. Which, of course, geeked me out. A real-live CSI scene in my own front yard. A woman in a van pulled up a few minutes later, wearing a blue sweatshirt with "Forensics Unit" emblazoned in white across the back. I, of course, coveted a sweatshirt of my own that very second.
The officer handed us a packet of information regarding our case, and then there was nothing left to do but go back into the house and go to bed. Gadget yapped as we approached the front door. "Some guard dogs you are," I muttered. "You bark at us. You bark at air. And yet you don't bark at the people breaking into our truck." Idiot dogs.
As I layed (lied?) in bed, I started to feel the anger and disgust that had been held off during all the excitement. I swear, I'm so damned sick of humanity. I'm sick of living in the city. I'm sick of assholes who violate my family and our property and make us feel insecure in our own home. I'm especially angry at them for making Marie feel the way she felt last night - angry, upset, sad. She's been working HARD for that truck, and to have someone do this was a real blow to her.
So! I answered the door five times this morning, greeting good samaritans and neighbors and joggers and dog-walkers who saw the damaged truck and came to the door to let us know. I did the whole insurance routine, then took pictures to document all the damage. I cleaned up as much of the glass as I could, and pulled the truck into the garage. We're waiting to hear back from the insurance and the police. I hope they catch the fuckers.
The smashed driver's door window. Notice Marie's leopard print dice and steering wheel cover.
The glass. Everywhere.
Blood! So the thieves didn't get away unscathed. Do you think Forensics will do a DNA test? Apparently I've been watching too much CSI.
The missing subwoofer.
The jacked up dash and missing stereo deck.
Dust from the fingerprinting.
Of course, our insurance is going to go through the roof. A bit over a month ago we got severe damage to one of the rims because the contractor the City, hired for road repair in the area, was stupid and didn't barrier off three HUGE potholes in the middle of the road. Driving in a rainstorm at 8:00 at night, when the holes are covered with water... yeah, they're just lucky a motorcyclist didn't come through there. Anyway, we had to file a claim for that, too.
The bent rim.
Clearly, the luck we're having with this truck is that of a lemon.
Last night was my first on-line class for Business Law. I'm taking two classes this semester - one on-line and one in an actual classroom. I didn't know what to expect of the on-line class - e-mailed instructions and assignments, probably. Maybe a mailing list dialogue. But the on-line classes offered through WIU are quite a bit more advanced than that. Students download a "communications center" program that enables them to talk over the internet via headsets with headphones, plugged into the headset jack or USB port. The interface is a lot like NetMeeting, where you can share presentations or write on the "whiteboard" and everyone in the class can see what's going on. Down the right hand side is a list of all the students that are in attendance, represented by little person icons. The moderator (teacher) controls the communication panel, and when a student 'raises their hand' by clicking on the "raise hand" icon, their person icon changes to a hand, the teacher gives communication control to them, and they can speak and be heard by holding down the Ctrl key and talking into their headset. The sound quality is surprisingly good. There's other icons for "ok/agree", "disagree", "go faster", "go slower", "laugh", "can't hear you", and "stepped out" in case you have to leave the computer to, you know, go potty or something.
There's three "live" sessions over the nine week semester, and the rest are recorded sessions that we log into and listen to at our convenience. We prove that we've listened to it by writing a short summary of the class. We also have to do abstracts of the "case studies" at the end of each chapter, and participate in "Discussion Questions" that the teacher posts on the message board each week (I've got enough practice doing that sort of thing, I think). All in all, I think it's pretty cool.
My first classroom class (Human Resources) is on Monday, 6-10. Since the entire on-line class only took 90 minutes, I have a feeling that after this semester, I'm going to take as many on-line classes as I can.
We signed up for Dish Network, and it comes with a free DVR, so at least I won't miss any of "my" shows while I'm at school. It's getting installed on Wednesday, and we got the "everything" package (of course) that gives us something like 250 channels, 31 of which are movie channels (HBO, Starz, etc.). I will be BLESSED if anybody complains about there being "nothing on TV" now, dammit.
Calvin and I are having a belated Valentine's celebration toward the end of the month. We're staying a couple of nights up in Sedona, at the Oak Creek Terrace. If you click on the "property/photos" link and click on unit #11, you can see the bungalow that we're staying in! God bless the internet.
My friend Dani is going to spend that weekend at our house, which is especially nice of her since she's moving into her own new place the day after we get back. She'll be keeping an eye on things and making sure that Marie doesn't have any house parties. Heh. Not that we don't trust her, of course. No, we don't trust her friends to not take advantage of an empty house. Plus, we want someone close by in case there's a problem or something.
Three Fridays ago Calvin and I began the HUGE undertaking of renovating our garage. He had to work on Friday, so I got myself busy. By the time he came home, I'd turned this:
Well, mostly, anyway. These pictures were actually taken on Saturday, after Calvin and I had emptied off the shelves, deconstructed the shelves (he got to use his power saw, he was so geeked), and swept up. But I did most of the shit-moving! Because I am strong like bull. We stored what we're keeping in a storage unit that was delivered and put in our driveway. We took 19 bags of clothing that had been inhabiting the garage to the Boys' and Girls' Club donation box. We took so many trips to the dump that the guys at the gate recognized us. It was the most physically taxing weekend I've had in a long, long time.
That same morning, before I started in on the garage, actually, I took it into my head to organize the kitchen. We tend to organize our closets, cupboards, etc., and they stay neat for about three days, then dissolve into disarray again. Not this time, though, bucko. I tackled ALL of the cupboards, threw out stuff we didn't need, reorganized the dishes and glasses and whatnot, and THEN tackled the pantry and the kitchen closet.
Pantry Before and After:
Closet Before and After:
The next weekend we went to Home Depot and bought the cabinets that we're going to install along the right hand side of the garage. The damn things were SO HEAVY that it took Calvin and two other Home Depot guys to load them into the truck, and they struggled. So of course, when it came time for Calvin and little ol' ME to unload them into the garage, it was no easy task. Things were dropped. Toes were squished. Swearing was... sworn. And the next days my arms hurt SO MUCH that I felt like I did 200 curls and 1000 push-ups. For what was really 15 minutes worth of work. Hell, I'd be so in shape if I moved cabinetry for a living.
Calvin is currently working on repairing the drywall in the garage, and this weekend we're going to texture and paint the walls. Then next weekend he's going to epoxy one side of the garage, let it dry, then we're going to move all the stuff onto that side and out of the storage unit so we can send that back and have our driveway back. Then Calvin will put together and install the cabinets (including a workbench that we have yet to purchase), we'll move all of our stuff into them, and Calvin will epoxy the other side of the garage.
Yeah. When I mentioned this little project to some co-workers, they exclaimed, "What, your doing it yourselves?!?" Yep, we're that crazy. Apparently we didn't have enough of the HIPFH.
A couple of Saturdays ago, Calvin and I decided to go out for the evening. We had a couple of beers at Iguana Mack's, then headed up to Mill Avenue to see what was going on. We found movie-star parking right in front of Fat Tuesday's, and went in to hang out on the patio and people watch. There were two seats right at the railing, along the sidewalk, next to our truck, and we thought we were lucky. We could drink and keep an eye on the truck at the same time! However, we soon found out why no one was occupying those seemingly choice seats. Up above, in the tree, was a nesting COLONY of birds. Pooping. On people. Including me. And on cars. Including ours. I swore. Calvin swore. I found new seats. Calvin moved the truck to valet parking. He came back, and we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours drinking beer, watching people, having a couple of shots ("Surfer on Acid" and "German Chocolate Cake" and "Orange Kamakazi"), and playing our own little version of "boxers and briefs", which has nothing at all to do with underwear. And that's all I'm sayin' about that.
So! We decided to head home. It was a beautiful evening, so we rolled all the windows down and turned the radio up. We had the thumpin' hip-hop-with-lots-of-swears CD in, and headed down Mill Avenue, jamming along. But then Calvin looked in his rear-view mirror, and said, "Oh, shit." Two bicycle cops pedalled up behind us, and at the stop light they split and stopped, one at my window, one at Calvin's. "Pull over there, please," said one, motioning to the nearby Chili's parking lot. So, we did, wondering what the heck this was all about. We got the license, proof of insurance, etc. out and ready.
One officer pulled up beside Calvin's window, the other walked around and flashed his light in and about the truck. "Sir, do you know that the City of Tempe has a sound ordinance?" he questioned. "A what?" Calvin asked. "A sound ordinance, sir. We could hear your bass from 50 yards away. That's in violation of the ordinance."
Now, let me just explain that Mill Avenue is NOT a retirement community. There's bars with live bands. There's shops and a movie theater. The place is RIGHT in the middle of ASU territory, for crying out loud. Hello, college students? From one of the most partying campuses in the U.S. From our truck, we could hear band music from where we sat, a half a BLOCK away from the place. And the bicycle cops were pulling us over for our stereo?!?
So. We got tickety goodness. To the tune of $326.00. And we got to feel like we were sixteen again, to boot. Quoth Marie, "Why didn't you tell them you were OLD, Dad?" Sweet child. Calvin's contesting the ticket.
So that's what's up. We've been working hard, watching TV, I helped Dani house-hunt until she found a place, AB came over for a visit one weekend with the kids, and we've been spending too much money going out to eat. Oh, speaking of which, we did a debt consolidation loan that's saving us over $500 a month. Of course, we still have the same *amount* of debt, but it sure does feel good to see $0 balances on the credit cards, and cancel them, and cut them up. The only payments I have to worry about now are the first and second mortgages, and the truck payment. So, while we're still up to our ears in debt, at least it's all organized and easy to manage.
OH! I can't believe I almost forgot this. I even said to Marie, "I'm SO writing about this." She and I were at the video store a couple of weeks ago, looking for something to occupy our Saturday night. We picked out some movies... though for the life of me I can't recall what they were - oh! "Forgotten" (pretty good, though the ending was dumb), and "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (the stupidest. movie. ever.), and a couple of others that we never ended up watching. They also had previously viewed DVD's on sale, so we bought "Winged Migration" (which we've now seen three times and still love), "50 First Dates", and "Walking Tall" (mmm... The Rock...).
ANYway, we got up to the checkout counter, and the Chickie started tallying up our stuff. Then she looked up and exclaimed, "Oh! Is today your birthday?" I blinked. "Huh?" "It says on the computer that it's your birthday today!"
I looked at Marie, and she made wide eyes back at me. "Uh, no, it's not my birthday. My birthday's in July." Chickie looked puzzled. "That's weird, this says the account holder's birthday is 1/29/71."
"Huh," I replied, "Well, that's not... HOLD ON A MINUTE. Oh, my God." And I started to crack up.
"What?!?" both Marie and Chickie cried in unison. Still laughing, I stammered, "That's X(m)'s birthday! We started this account together, I guess, and his birthday is still on record!" Now isn't it weird that a person can be out of your life for YEARS, but every now and then you come across little insignificant ties that still exist. Anyway, we had a good laugh about it, and Chickie gave me my free "birthday" movie, anyway. The best thing I've gotten from X(m) in YEARS.
Okay. I think I've brought this entry up to date with my life. I leave you now with a couple of Gratuitous Ozzy Photos!
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