Saturday, September 24, 2011

Into the Wild

It’s not like I want to commit suicide or anything.  When you open a conversation with that line, you have to give your friend props for not flinching.  Which is what Richmond did last Monday-Tuesday-whatever day we last went for pizza.  I further explained that I just wanted to “go off the grid.”  Get away.  Find the woods and sit for a while.  That made her flinch.  I’m not the woodsy kinda girl.
Let’s back up.  Since it always makes my mom nervous when I write about work – she’s afraid that I’ll get fired and won’t be able to take her on any more trips – I want to clarify some things at the outset:
1.       I like my job.  I’m honored to play a part in my agency’s mission.  I have mad respect for my colleagues.
2.      I’m not afraid of hard work.
3.      Emergencies cause me to freak out but pressure doesn’t.  I actually thrive under pressure.  Well, I might freak out a little bit but it’s just how I focus.
4.      It was a really good week for my hair.  That has nothing to do with anything but I wanted you to know. 
That brings us to my desire to go sit in the woods.  Over the last week or so, I’ve gotten super busy at work.  I’m reviewing hundreds of descriptions for our online catalog.  I’m reading all day long and while it’s interesting, it’s not exactly Danielle Steele.  In a single day, I can read about records relating to subjects that range from Jimmy Carter to off-reservation Indian boarding schools to bitumuous coal to foreign assistance to Vietnam.  Oh, how I love the Vietnam records.
It’s like my brain is on information over-load.  When I come home at night, I veg on my couch and don’t even turn on the TV for an hour because the external stimuli makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a one linear feet ruler.  You think that’s a mistake don’t you?  It’s not.  Welcome to my world.
I needed some quiet time where my brain could shut off and recharge.  That’s why I wanted to go sit in the woods.  Because there’s nothing quieter than the wilderness, right?
A few more things you should know about me:
1.      Unless I’m in the Pacific Northwest, I’m not particularly fond of nature.
2.      I dropped out of Girl Scouts the week before the big camping trip because I didn’t want to go camping in the wilderness.  I also didn’t like selling the cookies.
3.      I don’t like wilderness food like granola bars or s’mores.  Actually, I think s’mores ruins the integrity of a perfectly good Hershey bar. 
4.      Humidity does crazy things to my hair.  Again.  Not related to anything.
So, I needed to find some wilderness close to my house.  I had to be home by sundown – I’m not one of those crazy nature freaks who likes to spend the night in the woods.  Lucky for me, I live an hour away from the state with the motto “Wild and Wonderful.”  Clearly, there was wilderness there, right?  Unless “Wild and Wonderful” refers to the casinos.  Could go either way, I guess.
This morning noon, I made like a 70 year old slot machine addict pioneer and headed west.
An hour later, I pulled up to the guard-house of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park where the National Park Service ranger (true fact, the National Park Service is the only other federal agency I would consider working for.  As long as I got to wear the uniform – with hat – to work.  Even if I worked in a cubicle.)  Anyway, the ranger was beating off a stink bug.  I could feel the call of the wild right then and there.  When she got done defending herself from the stink bug, I told her that I wanted to walk around in the wilderness.  She told me to park on the right and catch the shuttle bus by the visitor’s center.  A shuttle bus to the wilderness?  Sweet. 
I missed the first bus so I struck off on my own on a marked path through the woods.  Huffing and puffing and cursing the fact that I wore my fashion sneaks, I was relieved to find a bench right in the middle of the wilderness.  I sat there for a while and thought - this is nice.  And then I started worrying about ticks.  I’m deathly afraid of ticks.  Well, really the Lyme disease that you can get from ticks.  So, I snapped a picture and walked back to the shuttle bus stop where I caught the next bus to “Lower Town.”    

The view from my bench in the wilderness
I followed the rest of the tourists wilderness seekers through the town and walked along the river.  Which I really would’ve enjoyed more if it weren’t so hot.  Gosh, when you’re out in nature, the sun really beats down on you.  Next time, I decide to go into the wilderness, please remind me to take my sun-hat.  I sat on a rock for a few minutes before I went back to the town to forage for food.  Having left my granola and s’mores at home and all. 

A river runs through it
I spent 5 bucks for a dish of wilderness ice cream.  It’s basically exactly like regular ice cream except you’re eating it on the edge of the wilderness.  It was nearing 3 PM sundown and I really didn’t want to get lost in the wilderness overnight so I decided to call it a day.  I hiked over to the bus stop and caught the bus back to the parking lot.  That was a harrowing experience!  There were no seats left and I had to stand the whole way.  What kind of wilderness bus service is that?
The 23 minutes that I spent in the wilderness did me a world of good.  When you’re focused on surviving the elements, you don’t really think about anything else.  Except getting back to the suburbs alive.  And wondering about proper wilderness footwear.    
Today, I went into the wilderness and came out recharged and refreshed.  I am a wilderness survivor. 
But next weekend, I think I’ll just stick to drinking margaritas on my deck.     

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Well, you would’ve thunk it?  I reached 100 posts!  And I think people are actually reading what I write!  So they’re either enjoying it or they’re just my friends who are contractually obligated to read my every word.    
I’ve spent the past two nights trying to write an amazing, kickass 100th post that will rock your world.  But you know what?  The 100th post isn’t any more special than the 89th post or the 127th post.  It’s just another post sandwiched between 99 and 101.  And seriously, 100 isn’t even that special anymore.
The truth of the matter is – I’m super busy at work and my brain’s a little fried (or scrambled depending on what kind of eggs you prefer).  Not to mention, I’m cuddling with kittens because kittens on your lap are so much nicer than a laptop on your lap.  And there’s no thinking involved.  So, the 100th post is kinda lame.  At least we have the 101st post to look forward to! 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Who Let the Kittens In?

Last Sunday, my family doubled in size when I got two kittens.  Go ahead – add it up.  One cat plus two new kittens.  That’s three feline friends.  You can make all the catty comments that you want but I assure you that I’m not a crazy cat lady.  Even hipsters said so and I trust hipsters.
I won’t tell you the whole story because it’s sad and depressing but basically my friend Richmond lives in an apartment complex that can only be described as Kitten Hell.  She rescued two kittens from almost certain death and nursed them through their first few weeks.  Since she already has two pets – the limit at her complex – she had to find a home for them but apparently none of the cat rescues could take them. 
Cue Dionne Warwick and “That’s What Friends are For.”
Despite my better judgment, I went to visit them.  Really, how can you not fall in love with kittens?  I mean they’re so little and cuddly and adorable and if it weren’t for Richmond they would’ve been…well, let’s not talk about that!
Honestly, I have no idea how it happened but the next thing I knew I said I’d take both of them.  You really can’t separate two little, cuddly, adorable kittens!  So now they’re mine.
The little orange kitten is Decca.  I know it’s a strange name but she’s named after Jessica “Decca” Mitford because I’ve always loved her nickname.  I don’t think my Decca has any communist leanings though.  She’s squirmy, doesn't like to be held, and is pretty fearless. 

The black kitten – the only boy in our house – is Teddy, Bless His Heart.  Unlike Decca, he loves to curl up in my lap.  He’s a little slow but he’s breaking out of his shell.  Now if I can just get him to stop running into the wall.     

The transition hasn’t been easy.  Phoebe isn’t too keen on the new additions to our family.  There’s hissing and occasional stare downs.  But, you know, it wasn’t easy when the Sister Wives got a new wife.  They eventually adjusted and I’m sure we will too.

In the meantime, we’ll just relax on the couch and wait for her to come around. 

Friday, September 16, 2011


I’ve always had a lot of stuff.  Partly because I’m a bit of collector, partly because I don’t like throwing anything away, and partly because I think I might’ve been a teensy bit spoiled when I was little.  (In my defense, I will say that while I may have been spoiled…I don’t think I was a spoiled brat.)   
Growing up, my small bedroom was always cluttered with dolls, books, bags, stuffed animals, clothes, dollhouses, newts, doll cradles, and, at one time, a guinea pig.  It dawned on me recently that my bedroom wasn’t small.  It was just overfilled with crap stuff.
I never outgrew that tendency. 
My cubicle, my car, and certain rooms in my house are happy habitats for the cousin of the stink bug – the clutterbug.  Even rooms that don’t appear cluttered with stuff…are.  After hosting friends for pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner last year, one friend said he didn’t think my house was cluttered at all.  That’s ‘cause I didn’t let anyone look in the closets or under the beds.
Far and away, my biggest problem is paper.  I guess that’s to be expected considering the line of work that I’m in.  I rarely throw any paper away and when I do, I agonize over it.  Now, I’m not talking about the junk mail that ends up in the recycling bin as soon as it comes into the house.  No, I’m talking about credit card statements, receipts, greeting cards, instruction manuals, Chinese fortune cookie fortunes, and on and on.  I’m better than I used to be…when I was younger, I would save ticket stubs from the movies.  I’m pretty sure I still have my ticket from when I saw “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
I just got a new iron because my old one died and I cannot go unpressed.  The iron came with an instruction manual.  Now, unless it’s a top of the line Rowenta, most irons are gonna work the same way they’ve worked since we stopped heating them with hot coals.  But me?  I need to save the instruction manual just in case I forget how to turn it on one morning. 
I like to save receipts – not for tax purposes.  No.  I like to save them just in case I want to put them in a scrapbook one day.  Because it’s important to remember that I paid $4.56 for ice cream on that vacation in Bar Harbor in 2003. 
Speaking of scrapbooks.  I have 19 scrapbooks in progress.  And by “in progress,” I mean, I bought a bunch of scrapbooking stuff that’s stored in a big container and the pictures are scattered about in photo boxes, envelopes, or wicker baskets.  I have a basket filled with all my pictures, tickets, and programs from when I went to the Summer Olympics.  In 1996.  We just passed the 15 year anniversary.  Do you think I should get working on that scrapbook soon?
This clutterbug is going to try to bring a little order to her chaos.  On Monday night, I went to a great talk about controlling clutter.  The speaker was Andrew Mellen, a professional organizer who’s been featured in a bunch of magazines and wrote a book called “Unstuff Your Life.”  He gave a lot of great tips that I’m going to try to put into practice this weekend as I start to unstuff my life.    
 I’ll let you know how I do.  I’m starting with my receipts.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You've Got Mail

Yesterday, the network at work was down – that meant no email, no intranet, no internet (and no internet meant no Google!)  Not being able to use technology for an entire day made me realize just how much I love getting dependent I am on email.   I’m still young enough to remember the world before email.  I got my first email account in 1997 when I was a freshman in college.  Prior to that, the computer was the thing you used to play Oregon Trail.    
Nowadays, I use email all the time, especially at work.  I use email to connect with colleagues.  I use email to make lunch plans.  I use email to check on friends.  I use email to say, hey I’m leaving early; hey I’m a little late.  I use email to exchange witty repartee.  I don’t use email to send forwards because forwards piss me off – like really – and I don’t want to get any so I don’t send them.  And when email goes down, you wonder if there are still people out in the world.  The people in the cubicles right next to you don’t count.    
Yesterday, I had to make lunch plans over the phone.  Sometimes it can take 86 emails to set up those plans.  Yesterday, we did it in two phone calls.  It wasn’t as fun.  Or funny. 
I had to walk across the hall to ask a colleague something because I couldn’t email her.  I mean, she was all the way across the hall!  And I’m still recovering from the 5K that I ran-walked on Sunday. 
I had to exchange witty repartee in person.  That wasn’t so bad…I think I’m pretty good at in-person witty repartee.  Unless, you know, you’re an eligible, single man in his early to mid-thirties.  Oh gosh, if there wasn’t any email at all, I’d never be able to communicate with eligible, single men in their early to mid-thirties!  
Not being able to email was a drag.  (Is it ironic that the mailman’s daughter is writing this?  No, really, is this an example of irony?)
Luckily, the network was back up today.  How’d I know?  I checked my email.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Waltzing Matilda

Remember that key lime pie from Friday?  I forgot to mention one thing.  Eharmony Tom baked it.  And I ate it at a bbq/open house at the studio where he’s taking dance lessons.  I think I went on a date on Friday night. 
Let’s back up.  After Open Ended Questions, Tom and I exchanged a few emails and we set up dinner plans for this past Thursday night.  Okay, set up dinner plans is a bit of a stretch as my good friend TopChef can attest.  She’s the one I emailed late at night with the plea – I need restaurant ideas!  Like I couldn’t Yelp it myself.  Not really.  I was a little panicked. 
I prepared for the big night by, well, not doing much.  Turns out it didn't matter because the Thursday date got postponed.  That worked out well because my parents were in town.  And quite frankly, there’s nothing sadder than a 32 year old going on her first date except for a 32 year old going on her first date with her mom and dad waiting at home.  So, Thursday was scrapped but Eharmony Tom invited me to his dance school for the bbq/open house on Friday night.  He was baking a pie.  Well, hello!  A pie-baking dancer?  Not exactly a cowboy but beggars can’t be choosers. 
On Friday night, I drove to the mess that is known as Northern Virginia to go to the Arthur Murray Dance Studio.  Since my Foursquare has crashed and burned since the latest update, I couldn’t check in so I texted Richmond so someone knew my exact address just in case “open house dance studio with pies” turned out to be an elaborate ruse to kidnap me.  Unfortunately, there was no kidnapping.
I ended up walking in right after Eharmony Tom.  We exchanged pleasantries…is that what you do on a first date?  Again, I’m still debating whether this was even a date.  We talked as he changed into his dancing shoes.  I’m totally not making any fun.  I have fashion sneakers.  And Crocs…which I didn’t wear, just so you know.  Although I did consider it briefly.  As he was lacing up his dancing shoes, I asked the question that probably should’ve been blazingly obvious – um, do I have to dance?  I sure did.  Right after that, I was praying for the kidnappers to show up. 
I’ll skip over all the boring parts which involve me learning to dance a waltz, a rumba, and a single swing.  Do you know how awkward it is to learn to dance with a stranger while you’re learning how to do the date thing?  Oh, and did I mention the “touching!!!” (that’s for TopChef – possibly more excited by the possibility of me touching and kissing something other than my cat more than I was.  Actually, that just sounds creepy.  I swear...I'm not into cat-lovin'.)  We all know how much I love touching, don't we?  The funniest line of the night was from Eharmony Tom – you seem really tense.  He’s not only a pie-baking dancer; he’s a perceptive one at that.
After the dance lessons, there were general dances, student dances, professional dances, and a little pie eating.  There was a little chatting between Eharmony Tom and me as well.  He really was a very nice guy.  And he can count dance steps like nobody’s business.   
Let's waltz to the end of the night.  Remember how lame a high-five at the end of the date sounded?  Well, get ready.  This is how I ended the night - I gave a quick wave, thanked him for his kindness, and said I’d talk to him later.  Huh?!  Yep, I basically have no game whatsoever.  But it wasn’t like I was that into him.
And I guess he wasn’t that into me either.  He Eharmony-emailed me and said he “didn’t feel the connection.”  Then he closed our match.  So.  That ends that. 
But the experience wasn’t a total loss.  I know how to waltz now.  And the key lime pie really wasn’t all that bad.      
Does this even count as a date?  There was no food purchased, there was no door-holding, there was no kissing.  Does it count?  Can I call this my first date?  And seriously, I really can't wear Crocs on a first date?  

Ten Years

I don’t have any direct personal connections to the events of September 11, 2001.  Ten years ago, my life was limited mostly to living at my parents’ house and working at a local grocery store.  Every day was the same.  My world was small.  My world was safe. 
On that Tuesday morning, I did what any recent college graduate who doesn’t have to be at work until the afternoon might do, I went over to my parents’ bedroom and curled up to watch the morning shows on their television.  It’s what I did pretty much every other day.  The same old, same old.
Except that day, September 11, 2001 wasn’t the same old.  That day was different because my mom left earlier in the morning on a business trip.  Around the same time that I was watching Katie and Matt on the Today Show, she was sitting on a plane at Philadelphia International Airport.  She was flying out to Chicago.  I was to join her there a few days later.
And then there was breaking news.  At first, it was just confusing.  A plane crashed into a skyscraper in New York City.  How did that happen?  Then it got scary.  Another plane.  And another one.  And another one.  It seemed like planes were coming down everywhere.  But where were they were taking off from? 
Our phone started ringing.  Cousins calling – do you know where your mom is?  Do you know what her flight information is?  Have you heard from her?  No.  No.  No.  I don’t know whether I called him or he called me but at some point I talked to my brother who was living in an apartment a few minutes away from our house.  A few minutes later, the brother who has caused more family drama by not showing up showed up.
Together, we watched the news coverage and watched as the Towers fell.  I still remember him calling to me when I was in the bathroom – “The second one’s going.”  It was all so incomprehensible.  So devastating.  I can’t remember how or when but we heard from our mom.  She had been sitting on the runway getting ready to take off when air traffic was shut down.  Her plane returned to the gate and she began the journey home.
By the time I got home from work that night, my mom was home.  But thousands of other moms, and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters never returned home at the end of that day. 
After September 11, 2001, the world didn’t feel as safe anymore. 
Ten years.  Still incomprehensible.  Still devastating.           

Friday, September 9, 2011

Let Them Eat Pie!

What was my new exciting food for today’s Food Friday?  Key lime pie.  For a first-timer, it was okay.  Definite room for improvement but it wasn’t horrible. 

There’s more to say, of course, but for now I’m going to let it digest and tell you more tomorrow.      

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Open Ended Questions

The previous post was too depressing so I decided to switch gears.  To another depressing subject – my online dating life.  I haven’t said much about it have I?  That’s ‘cause there wasn’t much to tell.  Mainly because I wasn’t doing anything about it.    
As you know, a couple of weeks ago the San Diego Psychic informed me that there was a marriage and a baby in my future by the age of 35.  I just assumed it was mine but who knows, maybe it’s yours.  Basically, if that prediction is to come true, I need to get in that saddle like ASAP.  Besides, I kept getting emails from Eharmony informing me that Mr. Right was waiting for me.  And if that incentive didn’t spur me on, well, the damn auto-renew subscription sure did.
A few weeks ago, I decided that I was going to send one “ice-breaker” a night.  Tom, Tom, and Ryan were the lucky recipients (I got tired after three).  Yes, I deliberately went after the Toms.  Look, I don’t have a lot of time and the psychic said, Mark, Steve, or Tom would come into my life.  So what if I help the psychic prediction out a little bit?  It’s either really creepy or it’ll make a great story to tell our grandkids one day. 
Back to the Toms and Ryan.  Ryan never wrote back.  The second Tom petered out after the “Can’t Stands, Must Haves” stage.  But the first Tom and I made it to Open Ended Questions!  I know, I know – book the reception hall already!
In Eharmony-land, you get to know your match by answering a series of questions.  The first set of questions have multiple choice answers…like, what’s your ideal date?  A) a quiet dinner; B) rappelling down a cliff; C) bowling; D) driving to the landfill.  I think you know which one I chose.  Once you make it through those questions, you go on to Open Ended Questions.  You and your match exchange three questions and then wait with bated breath until you get a response.  One of the questions that I received was what were the three best traits that I have to offer a partner?  I said loyalty, laughter, and a love of alliteration. 
The Open Ended Questions went well and now we’re on to the email stage.  Don’t worry, I’m using protection – it’s Eharmony email, not my personal email.  I don’t want to give it away too soon, if you know what I mean.
He seems like he’s a really nice guy!  But there’s always a glitch.  I was looking at his profile again tonight and this tidbit caught my eye – he’s heading to India in the summer of 2012 until 2014 or 2015 for work.  India!  Go figure! 
I think I may need to find a Mark or Steve. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thanks, But I’ll Take the Sticks and Stones

This is my first post in a series inspired by Craniofacial Awareness Month.  We’ll see how long it lasts... 
Remember that old nursery rhyme chanty thing when we were little?  Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  I always thought the guy who came up with that little ditty must’ve had a heck of a lotta self-esteem.  That; or he lived in a bubble.  But unless we’re channeling John Travolta circa 1976, nobody’s living inside a protective bubble.  The world’s out there and we’ve gotta take it on – even the sticks, the stones, and the words that are hurled our way.
Last week was an auspicious week for a couple of friends and colleagues.  They were sending their daughters off to kindergarten!  Starting school is such a huge step and as I listened to and read their stories, I couldn’t help but think back to when I started elementary school.  I think that was when I first realized that other people – people totally outside of my safe family bubble – saw me as being different from all the rest of the kids on the playground.   
It wasn’t like I was completely unaware that I looked a little different.  My mom has told me that when I was four years old, I looked in the mirror, and asked her why I had a boo-boo on my eye.  So, obviously I was aware of appearances – mine and everyone else’s.  Starting school made me acutely aware of something else – looking different wasn’t exactly good and unless you were Punky Brewster, looking different wasn’t something to be celebrated.  Nope, in the mid-1980s in the hallways of a suburban elementary school, looking different made me an easy target. 
And nobody’s an easier target than the girl at the water fountain.
Now, don’t get all scared.  This isn’t a sticks and stones story.
I wasn’t any old girl at the water fountain.  I was a Fourth Grade Safety, complete with an orange belt, authorized by Glenside Elementary to protect the water fountain in the main hallway during school dismissal.  It was definitely the cushy spot in the rotation; a spot that I had lusted after ever since I saw my big brother standing guard when he was a Fourth Grade Safety.  I loved it.  Except every day that I was on duty in front of that water fountain, a second grader would come by and call me Monster Face.  Sticks and stones?  I would’ve preferred them. 
Something that I loved, something that I had wanted to do ever since I was in the first grade became the thing that I dreaded most in the world.  When I saw his class coming down the hallway, the knot in my stomach would grow bigger and bigger, as he got closer, I would duck my head, and silently pray that he didn’t say it, not that day.  Usually, my prayers went unanswered. 
Words will never hurt me.  Words hurt me most of all.
I wish I could say I stood up for myself.  I wish I could say I held my head up high and soldiered on.  I wish I could say that…but I can’t.  Ducking my head – hiding – became the norm.  In fourth grade, sixth grade, high school…all the way up to college.  I worked very hard to create my own little bubble where I was safe and nobody could hurt me.  I did a pretty good job for a while.
But bubbles burst.  And I’m not in fourth grade anymore.  I’m taking on the world.  Even second graders.  Especially second graders.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Seriously, We Have Our Own Month?

The other night my Facebook real-life friend Tom posted the following status update:
September is Craniofacial Awareness Month…those with differences come in many packages but the one thing all have in common is that there is a living, breathing, feeling person behind those big named syndromes and disorders.  Each should be acknowledged for their own individual talents, as well as their challenges.  Keep in mind beyond the face is a heart; the person you are ignoring, staring, gawking or pointing at is someone’s much loved child…Consider instead, a smile and a wave. 
Tom has Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS) like me but like me his awesomeness extends beyond that.  I left a smart-ass comment for him wondering where our presents were.  I had no idea there was a whole month dedicated to people with craniofacial differences.  What’s next?  A commemorative stamp?  Probably not – did anyone see the New York Times article about the Post Office?  Am I timely or what?  Or maybe just psychic? 
I’m getting off topic.  Which is so typical of me.  And so typical of this blog.  Guess what?  My original intent when I started blogging was to write about living with a craniofacial difference.  This blog’s original name was “Forward Facing” and boy, was I going to be the voice for all disenfranchised people who had a craniofacial syndrome!  I was going to start a revolution!  (I’m big into starting revolutions)  Having TCS was the central, most important thing in my life; it defined me; it was who I was; it was my story. 
Guess what?  Nobody’s disenfranchised!  And revolutions are hard to get off the ground.  And, oh yeah, it’s not my story.  As I’ve written here over the past nine months, I realized that I’m not the person who I always thought I was – Denise with Treacher Collins Syndrome.  Nope, I’m just crazy Denise who isn’t as afraid of change as I once was, who is a winning Toastmaster, who loves chocolate milkshakes but stands firm in my dislike of tacos, and who keeps getting speeding tickets because speed cameras are the tools of the Devil.
But in honor of Craniofacial Awareness Month – and because this blog is the best therapy there is – I’ve decided that I’m going to write a few specific posts about living with TCS.  Then again, I’ll probably go off topic this month because, well, that’s just who I am.    
But promise me one thing.  If ever we run into each other, I hope you’ll smile and wave.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I’m a pretty loyal person.  Well, maybe it’s just that I don’t like change…but “being loyal” sounds so much better.  Case in point:  I’ve been a loyal customer of Cable Company for the past six years. 
We’ve had our bumps along the way.  I had to edit this original post down so that it’s an acceptable word limit so I won't tell you about the huge bill mix-up that screwed me over royally (think collections and credit bureaus – but I wasn’t the right person.  Whoopsies!)
When I moved into my house, Cable Company and I were happy honeymooners for six months.  Until my phones suddenly stopped working.  That might not seem like a big deal - most people have cell phones; heck, some people don’t even have land lines anymore.  But I’ve always had a land line because I used to have a hard time hearing on cell phones.  So, it was important that I had some type of communication device that I could hear on just in case there was an emergency and I needed to order Chinese take-out.  I called the good ol’ 1-800 number and they scheduled a technician to come out.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t figure out what the issue with the wiring was so his solution was to plug my phone into my modem and not use the phone jack.  That was fine for the living room…but the jacks in my kitchen, bedroom, and basement didn’t work either.  That’s okay.  I’m adaptable.  For Christmas last year, I got cordless phones.
A few weeks after the phone saga, the picture started freezing on the TV in my bedroom; once again, I called the friendly 1-800 people.  They told me to unplug the cable box from the wall, unplug the cable cord from the back of the box, reconnect, and do a jig while I waited for it all to reload.  I became an expert at that until they sent out a technician to replace the box.  It wasn’t that bad.  I became a really good cable girl.  And improved my jig routine. 
Then my cable, my phones, and my Internet started to cut out intermittently.  Remember that word.  There were more calls to the 1-800 people, all very nice but really unable to help except to tell me how to reset and reload my modem and/or cable box (which I could do without their assistance!)  They were also kind enough to schedule technicians to come out and check things out.  And boy, have I spent time waiting for technicians.  Nothing ever really got solved; then again, it’s hard to solve things when technicians don't show up.  That happened twice.  [Again, edited for length.  I won’t go into detail about the “discount” I got after those missed appointments.  $50 less a month but no more HBO.  I guess that’s a fair deal.]    
Cue the hurricane.  I didn’t have my cable, Internet, and phones for a day and half.  Not a huge deal in comparison with what other people endured.  By the time I got home on Monday night, everything was back to normal.  Until around 8 PM when everything went out again.  I might’ve used some swear words as I dialed the 1-800 number that is now on my speed dial (thank God that I have an iPhone that I can hear on now!)  The first guy whom I talked to told me that I wasn’t in an outage zone and that he could fix my television issue.  He must’ve heard my annoyance because all of the sudden he started telling me that I had a very nice voice.  Maybe you learn that at 1-800 school.  Or maybe he was trying to pick me up.  Whatever.  When I was transferred to a second department to fix my phone issue, I talked to a really nice guy who didn't give me any b-s lines about my voice but instead told me the first guy's "fix" wasn’t going fix anything because I had an intermittent signal.  And to fix that, they needed to schedule a technician to come out.  
I’ll admit – the technician showed up when he was supposed to; he was professional; he went above and beyond - fixing the main problem and fixing things that should’ve been fixed the first time (telephone jacks!)  When he left, everything was working.  I had television, I had Internet, I had phones.  And I had the happy knowledge that even though Cable Company is a great, big, huge company, it has employees who take pride in their jobs and work hard to ensure that their loyal customers are satisfied.
But tonight, I came home from dinner and my phones weren’t working.  Nothing but static.  I speed-dialed 1-800-am-I-honestly-calling-again??? and talked to a lady who couldn’t do anything.  Except schedule a technician to come out.  Now, I’m a rather quiet person who very rarely has real outbursts of anger – moodiness, sure; angry yelling – not so much.  I have to tell you – I lost it.  But there’s nothing the lady can do.  Except…schedule a technician to come out. 
But there’s something I can do. 
Dear Cable Company,
I’m sorry.  I think it’s time for us to break up.  Don’t call me.  Oh wait, you probably can’t get through.  My phones still don’t work.       
A Former Loyal Customer  
*I got this post down from 1,415 words to 884.  It was the best I could do.  Sorry it’s still so long!