Latest Publications

Great Customer Service From Cascades East Transit

Regular readers of my blog know that I don’t have a vehicle and am usually taking the bus wherever I need to go.

Yesterday (May 13, 2013) marked the first day of a new schedule for the bus I ride the most often. I knew the old schedule by heart (after all, I’ve been riding the bus for 2 1/2 years) but the new one had changed quite a bit and as it was only launched yesterday I haven’t had the time to memorize the new times.

No problem, thinks I, because the schedule is on the Cascades East Transit website. HA HA, the website was down. So I called the customer service line and they went above and beyond in helping me by scanning the bus schedule into an email and sending it to me.

Additionally, tomorrow one of the main streets that my bus normally uses is going to be closed for 3 months and I needed to know if that closure would affect my bus stop since I have a INR check tomorrow morning. They checked and told me that the only stop that will be affected is the one at the Bend Senior Center, which isn’t the stop I need.

An Open Letter to Cascades East Transit

I’ve had it clean up to my eyeballs with being harassed about my wheeled cart (not to mention my drink cups and my bicycle) by many of the drivers at Cascade East Transit.

Do the bus drivers (not all of them, but enough to be a constant irritation and source of stress) actually think I ride the bus nearly every single day and haul that cart around at least 3-5 times a month because I want to?

Do they think I spent nearly $50.00 on that cart simply because I had a spare $50.00 burning a hole in my pocket? (don’t I wish LOL!!)

Do they actually think I ride the bus nearly every single day and haul that cart around 3-5 times a month because I want to irritate them?

Do they think I get out of bed in the morning and immediately start thinking of ways to make their life difficult?

Do they actually think I enjoy hauling 60-80 pounds of whatever I need (on my next to last trip I desperately needed cat litter and cat food) anywhere from 1/2 a mile to a mile (no matter what the weather is?) and that I would do this repeatedly if I had any other options?

Here’s a reality check. I do not have a vehicle nor do I have access to a vehicle. I cannot haul 40 pounds of cat litter (or even 20 pounds of cat litter) and 10 pounds of cat food on a bicycle, nor can I carry it home on foot (home, by the way, is 2 1/2 miles each way from the bus station).

There is a minimum cost of $5.00 for a cab, and they cost $8.00 each way (not including tips) just to go to Safeway from my house; if I want to go to Trader Joes it’s going to be $20.00-$25.00 EACH WAY.

I make a whopping $1200.00 per month ($800.00 from work and $400.00 from my roommate) her $400.00 comes right off the top to pay space rent, there’s another $100.00 (at least) for electricity, another $140.00 for telephone (that doesn’t include any long distance calls I might need to make), cable, and internet (I work from home online so I have to have internet access), another $53.00 for my cellphone, $15.00 per month for a bus pass, and another $100.00 for my computer (which again I have to have because I work ONLINE from home).

If you do the math, that leaves me $392.00 per month which would be lovely except for the fact that I am trying to pay off 5 months of back space rent, 3-4 years of back property taxes, and extremely high medical bills from a unexpected (and uninsured) hospital stay in 2010.

I don’t have spare cash in my budget for even an $8.00 cab ride to Safeway much less the $20.00-25.00 for a ride to Trader Joes. I haven’t purchased any new clothes since 2009 because I cannot afford them.

But I can’t possibly be allowed to take my wheeled cart on the bus because it is too heavy for me to handle…..hmmm, I handled it just fine today, it is NOT my fault that the bus driver chose to help me and then make comments about how there was too much food in it and that I should not bring it on the bus.

The wisdom according to some of the bus drivers appears to be that I should just buy what I can carry in my canvas shopping bags (no matter that I can only carry 3-4 days worth of food at a time) and god help me if I go get a food box at the end of the month because that’s too much to bring on the bus as well.

Additionally, most of the people who have a problem with the cart do not express it in a ‘kinder, gentler’ manner. They are generally pretty rude about it which should not be acceptable for people who are PAID to deal with the public.

I’m trying to come up with a way to attach the cart to the bicycle for big shopping days (which really aren’t all that big/heavy unless I need cat litter which is generally about once every 2 months) because I am tired of being harassed about the cart.

A little compassion and understanding on the part of the guilty bus drivers would go a long way. It would also help if they realized that without people like me who ride the bus on a regular basis they wouldn’t even have a job.

Fear and Loathing at Safeway

I really think that some of the people that work at Safeway should find another line of business. Most of them are really nice, but there are a few bad apples that just make me crazy (not that it takes much to make me crazy though!). Or maybe I should start shopping elsewhere…..

So it’s the end of the month, I am so broke it’s pitiful–to the point of scrounging pennies off the floor, out of dresser drawers, etc as well as cashing in water bottles and pop bottles for the deposit. Not to mention I ride the bus everywhere, which becomes germane to this story really quickly.

I managed to scrape together two full rolls of pennies (50 cents per roll, so $1.00) and 10 pop/water bottles (at 5 cents apiece that’s another 50 cents).

I am desperate for my ice cream bar fix, and I know they cost $1.39, so off I go to Safeway (first mistake). I grab my ice cream bar and am waiting in the express lane to be checked out. They open a second express lane, and I go over there (second mistake).

First, the checker (Ron, although I’d like to call him other names) says ‘were you next in line?” No, I wasn’t, he already knew that and was trying to embarrass me, but geeze louise I had ONE lousy item, and the person behind me–who had been next in line–didn’t care and told him so.

He rings up my ice cream bar and deducts the 50 cents for the bottle refund, and I hand him the two rolls of pennies. What I did not know is that he was going to open the rolls and count out 89 cents, which normally wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I was already pretty disgusted with the ‘were you next in line’ bit–and I only had 5 minutes to walk from Safeway to the bus stop as it was.

He just had to be sure I wasn’t trying to cheat Safeway out of a few pennies or stick a bunch of Canadian pennies in the rollers. If I were trying to rip off Safeway, it sure wouldn’t be over one lousy ice cream bar that cost a whopping $1.39!

I wouldn’t have bothered rolling the darn pennies in the first place had I known what was going to happen. I find it amusing though that he handed me back 11 cents in pennies—89 cents + 11 cents = $1.00 so there was no attempt to cheat on my part; however, there was an attempt (two attempts in fact) to irritate me no end on his part! It worked too!

However, the best part, the absolute best part, is that because of his ‘were you next in line’ delay, and the counting out of 89 cents delay, I missed my bus by about 30 seconds (the buses were leaving on the next run, pulling around the corner and heading down the street as I got to the bus stop).

Now this missing of my bus wouldn’t be such a big deal if I still lived in Portland, where the buses run every 15 minutes maximum (some even run as often as every 10 minutes) and where the bus shelters have some true shelter from the rain (after all, it’s Portland, where everybody and their dog has webbed feet because it rains ALL the time LOL).

No this is Bend, where most of the bus stops have no place to sit (other than the sidewalk) much less any shelter from the weather. And Bend’s buses run every 40 minutes from 6 am to 6 pm (every 80 minutes on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays)—so I got to sit in the lovely weather HA! and wait for the bus for 40 minutes.

It was so nice and balmy too the high temperature for that day was about 35 degrees. It was spitting rain as well (at least Hawthorne Station, the main bus stop in town, has two shelters and the station itself).

I was eating nails and spitting out tacks by that time though. I suppose I could have walked home but walking home (2 1/2 miles) in 35 degree weather struck me as a less than fun idea.

I do believe I’ll try Trader Joe’s or Albertsons for my next shopping trip!

Finally Some Time To Write For Me

I’ve been insanely busy the last month or so. Doing a lot of writing for paying clients, so the ‘writing for me’ here and at my other blog has gone by the wayside.

Anyway, its snowing here and has been since yesterday. Love to watch it snow, love to watch the snow on the ground, but its playing merry heck with my bike riding and walking. On the bright side, I have a exercise bike in my bedroom. One benefit of the exercise bike is if you do 30 minutes on one, you are doing 30 minutes, no coasting, no going downhill without having to pedal etc. I did 30 minutes last night and 25 minutes on Friday night.

I’m also using my ankle weights and dumbbells to strengthen my arms and ankles. It’s so cool to lay or sit on my bed and still be exercising. I’ll be starting to use the rowing machine as well soon.

I had a bout of bronchitis and gained back 8 pounds of the 38 I’d lost before I got sick. No bike riding, eating too much, and not drinking enough water. Now I’m exercising again and drinking more water.

Roommate situation is mostly nuts because she has no boundaries and has very little respect for me. But at least I can pay my space rent now and keep a roof over my head. The Odesk and outside writing jobs pay my other bills and even give me a little money for fun stuff.

Mick the big orange cat has a snotty nose and has had it for a while. He’s eating, pooping, drinking, chasing the other cat, and otherwise being normal so am waiting for a bit before I take him to the vet.

Cheeky at Best

So I went to the employment office today, which isn’t my favorite thing to do in the first place since it’s a full mile walk or bike ride on a busy street (or an hour on two buses). I wasn’t going there for any reason other than getting referrals for jobs; some of their listings are ‘self refer’ and some are ‘screen by the employment department.’ I got a few self-refer listings and three ‘screen by the employment department’ listings as well.

After at least a 15 minute wait to talk to the person screening me, I finally get the referrals for 2 of the listings (the other one I only have 6 months of the required experience and the company who is hiring wants a full year of experience).

Then out of nowhere, the lady who has been screening me for these jobs says “I assume you know what proper interview attire is.” I just said something along the lines of “I wouldn’t wear what I have on right now to an interview” and left it at that.

I didn’t get mad until later. This was a rude comment that could have been left unsaid, should have been left unsaid, and was totally unnecessary.

This woman has all my work history information (clear back to the 1980’s!!), knows how old I am (53–almost), knows that I’ve got plenty of work experience (and plenty of interview experience as well, none of my past jobs were just up and given to me!), and still slams me about my clothing for no reason at all.

By the way, I was wearing gray crop pants, white socks, white tennis shoes, and a long-sleeved gray/white Big Dogs t-shirt that says on the chest pocket “If you don’t like my attitude, quit talking to me.” All of the aforementioned clothing was clean. As I said to her, I wouldn’t have worn any of what I had on to an interview, but visiting the employment office is NOT an interview. Nobody else in the place was wearing ‘interview’ clothes either.

First, like I said going to the employment office is not an interview. Secondly, this woman has no control at all over whether I get these jobs or not. Third, I rode my bike to the employment office–plenty of other people did also since it was hard finding a spot for my bike in the bike rack provided by the employment department. Additionally, it was about 45 degrees outside today. I’d worn a heavy-duty Green Bay Packers long-sleeved, high necked, fleece jacket for the bike ride and I was still chilly for the 20 minutes or so it took me to get to the employment office.. I can just imagine what kind of comments she would have made had I not taken the jacket off once I got inside the building.

If I’d been going to an interview, I would have walked to the bus stop closest to my house rather than biking. I would have worn either a dress, a skirt and blouse, or a nice pair of pants and a blouse. I would have had nylons on and either flats or heels. I probably would have worn a more businesslike coat or jacket as well (of course, in 45 degree weather I would have frozen my buns clean off wearing a dress and nylons, coat or no coat, but that’s neither here nor there anyway).

I don’t see where any of that is necessary for getting a few referrals for jobs (from someone who once again has no control over whether or not I get these jobs anyway).

I also don’t much care if this woman was having a bad day, she is supposed to provide good customer service (no matter how bad her day is) without making rude and unwarranted personal comments about whether or not I know what proper interview attire is.

Also, as I said to a friend later, if I am nearly 53 years old and don’t know what proper interview attire is, I must be just plain stone stupid!

Life in the (FINALLY) Losing Weight Lane

I lost 25 pounds without even trying to

Are you interested in how I lost 25 pounds in 2012 without even dieting or actively trying to lose weight? Read the article below for some tips and tricks that might help you lose weight too.

Regular readers of my blog know that I’ve fought my weight for most of my life. I was born skinny, but that didn’t last long LOL. And my high point weightwise was in February of this year when I topped out at 310 pounds. I got motivated for a short period of time and went down to around 295, but then backslid and went back up to 304 pounds.

In June of 2012, I developed some kidney problems due to drinking only diet Coke (60 ounces a day every day) and the occasional green tea (from Starbucks, natch!). Another part of my kidney problems is that I was taking a fairly high dose of Lasix every single day (3 10 mg tablets each day). My doctor got bent out of shape about my diet Coke intake (I’d never told him that diet Coke was the ONLY thing I drank, and then he went and ratted me out to my coagulation nurse as well) so I cut back –way back– from 5 cans a day to at most 3 cans a day (often only one can a day) and replaced the fluid with water (lots of water, usually 1 to 3 liters a day). My doctor also took me off the Lasix completely, and told me to wear compression stockings. Yuck, gross, nasty, old lady compression stockings! LOL!!

I won’t say the process was fun. My feet looked like footballs most of the time and I retained so much water that even my breasts hurt. I had to miss a doctor’s appointment because I could not get on my shoes on; yes, my feet were that swollen. Things got better as I went along though, and I started getting a bit more exercise as well.

One day in mid-July I got out of the shower and noticed that my face looked much smaller (my bathroom has a bank of mirrors right across from the shower stall, you can’t avoid seeing yourself). I’m like, hmmmm, I think I’ve lost weight. Of course, I’d broken the scale (accidentally, but I didn’t rush right out to replace it LOL) so I had no clue what I weighed. I had an appointment with Bend Memorial Clinic to figure out what was going on with my kidneys, and of course they had to weigh me. They asked what I weighed before they weighed me, and I said 304. Then they weighed me and they said “not on our scales, you don’t.” I weighed 295 on their scales. Since then, I’ve worked at losing weight and have lost 25 pounds in 2012 (19 pounds since the end of June).

I’ve been trying to walk at least 1/2 a mile every day (except Sundays) and I’ve now bought a bike once the tires get some air in them, I plan to ride at least a mile a day and probably more.

I’ve now completely given up diet Coke (the last one I drank was about 2 weeks ago) and drink water, green tea, and the occasional Mountain Dew (not diet).

My A1C (diabetic 6-month test) was 5.5, down from 6.1 in January. All other labs are also in normal ranges, so I am a happy camper!

Life in the Soon to be Ex-Landlady Lane

For the last 10 months (since August 2011) I have rented a bathroom and bedroom in my house to another person. For the most part this experience has not been a good one. He smokes, he drinks, he lies, he lost his job over 6 weeks ago (and hasn’t applied for unemployment OR any jobs), he’s a user, he’s a manipulator, and he’s a thief. And those are his GOOD points.

I was tolerating all this until he let my cat go outside. The roommate is not allowed to smoke inside the house so he goes out my sliding glass door and smokes on the side deck.

It wasn’t the first time that the cat has ‘escaped’ and I don’t blame him–really–for the cat going outside. Mick loves to go outside, and he’s a sneaky cat LOL. He’s gone out several times with me in control, so again I don’t blame my roommate for his going out. I do blame him however for opting to not wake me up and tell me the cat had gone out.

Why is Mick’s going out such a big deal? There are several reasons. The first one is that he doesn’t have his shots (my roommate has been told this at least 5 times) and the second one is that the park manager (who just so happens to live across the street from me) made it clear back in 2008 when I adopted the cats that they were not allowed outside. By ‘made it clear’ I mean that he said he will trap roaming cats and take them to the Humane Society animal shelter (yes my roommate was told that also at least twice). In addition, I have a second cat that also doesn’t have his shots, so Mick being allowed outside puts not just him at risk but also the second cat.

My roommate cannot guarantee that all the animals in the park (domestic and wild) are disease free. We have deer, birds, and squirrels not to mention other cats and dogs in the park.

He cannot guarantee that Mick won’t get run over either in the manufactured home park itself or out on the major (and very busy) cross street that is close to my house (this is the same street that I refused to walk into/across when the cop in this post wanted to get me killed –run over by numerous vehicles– just so he could catch a stray dog).

My roommmate cannot guarantee that someone else in the park will not ‘adopt’ Mick for their very own, or that someone else in the park will not take him to the animal shelter.

He cannot guarantee that all the dogs in the park like cats, he cannot guarantee that there won’t be roaming dogs that don’t belong here (see the cop/dog story mentioned previously, that dog didn’t live here in the park).

However, what really angered me was that my roommate didn’t tell me for hours that the cat had left. For that matter, he didn’t tell me at all. At 10:45 am he comes in from smoking, and all innocent-like (about as innocent as Mussolini!) asks me if Mick has come home yet. I went to bed at 1:00 am, and he hadn’t bothered to tell me that Mick ran out. How was I even supposed to know that the cat was gone, since somebody hadn’t even told me? I would not have been angry had he awakened me to let me know, but I was furious that he didn’t let me know at all.

The thing is, the last time that the cat went out, he told me. I was in bed, watching TV, and I was in my birthday suit. I wasn’t going to hop right out of bed when he was still in my bedroom doorway. Even if I wasn’t fat, being naked in front of a jackass ain’t my idea of fun.

When I said “I’ll go get the cat in a minute” he said “it’s going to be cold tonight, the cat will come home on his own.” I was furious, who was/is he to tell me what to do? He is/was my ROOMMATE, not my brother, father, significant other, not even a friend, barely even an acquaintance.

But what really tore it for me is that when I did go out to look for the cat, I turned on the outside light. He was in the kitchen at the time but he made a special trip to turn off the outside light while I was still outside. By a special trip, I mean he had to deliberately go over to the slider to turn off the light, it wasn’t a straight shot from the kitchen to his bedroom.

So I am outside in the dark, the grass was wet (dew), my feet were bare, I could easily have tripped, I was already angry about the cat, and there are usually pine needles, pine branches, and pinecones all over my yard and my side deck.

My soon-to-be ex-roommate has the dubious distinction of being the first (and hopefully only) person I have ever SCREAMED “fuck you” at; he probably didn’t hear me but it certainly made me feel better. It was about an hour before the cat came home that time, and the roommate was SO concerned that he went right to bed even before the cat came home.

Most “unauthorized excursions” by the cat have been short and during the day. This last one lasted for hours and was both late at night and during the day. The only reason he wasn’t taken to the shelter was that it was a national holiday and the shelter was closed.

The cat came home within 2-3 hours of my finding out that he was gone. He was hot, dirty, exhausted, and very very thirsty. Within 2 hours, I’d told my roommate he needed to move out and that I wasn’t going to put up with this any longer. I think he was planning on leaving with no warning anyway because he was just totally calm when I told him he had to leave.

Now, before you start thinking that I’m some wierd cat lady that thinks cats are worth more than people, this man has done nothing since he moved in other than eat, smoke, drink, sleep, and watch TV. When he was working he was working 27 1/2 hours a week and doing absolutely nothing around the house other than dirtying it!

He removed the doorknob from his bathroom door without a word to me. He broke the handle off a vegetable brush and never mentioned it to me. He ruined a brand new scrubby sponge the first and only time he deigned to clean the stovetop, and refused to clean up after himself after I didn’t run right out and buy more scrubby sponges.

Later, I bought a 6 pack of scrubby sponges, and he was mad that a wet, dirty one was in the sink. He put in the package with the clean dry ones. They weren’t clean and dry for long.

He lied about his drinking in the first place. He said that he drank only on special occasions—I guess getting out of bed in the morning is a special occasion.

After he lost his job on April 20 2012, he didn’t apply for unemployment OR even one job. All he has done since he lost the job is smoke MORE, drink MORE, watch MORE television.

He stored dirty dishes, garbage, massive quantities of empty beer cans, dirty glasses, and dirty silverware in his room even though there is a working dishwasher in the kitchen.

Nearly every night he would go in the kitchen when I was trying to sleep and be noisy as 10 herds of cows (the kitchen wall and my wall for my bedroom are adjacent).

He refused to mow the lawn even though that was part of the agreement even before he moved in. I finally — after 6 weeks and a threat from my park manager — had to hire someone else to mow the lawn at a cost of $15.00 per week.

Before he even moved in I had asked him to take a look at my dryer (it hasn’t worked since October 2010), hang a shower rod in my bathroom, and fix my back door (missing doorknob). He said yes he’d be happy to do all that. Those requests were July 2011 and August 2011, this is June 2012. He hasn’t looked at the dryer at all, he hasn’t hung the shower rod, and the back door still doesn’t have a doorknob.

He had windows open in his bedroom in 42 degree weather (presumably because he was smoking in the house while I was gone) while the heat was on.

When I lost my job, he had the nerve to lecture me about ‘we mustn’t let the electricity get turned off.’ He never realized that the electric heat got turned off due to his own actions….because I don’t pay to heat the great outdoors when the temperature is 42 flipping degrees. In addition, what did he think I did for 52 years without his condescending comments? My electricity has NEVER been turned off and I have been on my own for numerous years. If he was so concerned about the electricity he wouldn’t have had the windows open with the heat on and he wouldn’t have left the lamps on in his room nearly 24/7.

Then there’s the safety issue. He has left the oven on multiple times and he has turned on the stovetop burners and left them on several times.

And let’s not talk about the fact that for the last 10 months I have had to literally HIDE my food and most of my belongings from this man because in his world, if I am not actively using something it is his for the taking.

In addition, he threw every last one of his empty toilet paper rolls in a big pile on his bathroom floor. Mind you, there are a minimum of TEN garbage cans in this house. And he was working as a janitor so there was no way he thought that what he was doing was acceptable.

Here’s even more complaints, or really same old shit, different day LOL

I do plan on getting another roommate, but I’ve learned my lesson. NO smoking, NO drinking, a specific lease period, rules, rules, rules LOL. I plan on running a real background check on the next roommate candidates, and they must have 3-5 references (would prefer employer or church references, as one of this man’s references lied for him to help him get out of the homeless shelter).

I agreed to 2 extra days because the person helping him is on jury duty. Supposedly he is paying me for those two days. But money or not, I am sorry I agreed to the 2 extra days because all it did was make him even more lazy. One load yesterday, one load today, beer drinking, watching LOUD television, lots of smoking.

Oregon Employment Department Strikes Again

I was terminated from my most recent position on March 16 2012 (for those of you that are counting, that’s 33 days ago) and my quest for unemployment benefits has been a comedy of errors.

1) My employer had not reported my wages since September 2011. I had a total of 28 hours in September and wasn’t eligible for unemployment benefits based on those 28 hours. My October 2011, November 2011, and December 2011 wages weren’t reported until April 9 2012, and I still wasn’t eligible for unemployment based on the last quarter of 2011.

2) I was told to call the Oregon Employment Department because the claim was not valid. The first person I called –April 13 2012–was just totally rude and snotty. I hadn’t been told that I needed to file an Alternate Base Year (ABY) claim, but this person acted like I should know all about doing so even though I’d never had to file an ABY claim in over 30 years of working. Why would I know all the ins and outs of something I’ve never done? I ended up hanging up on her because I was in tears.

3) I realized that I did need to file the ABY claim so I called back the same day (within 10-15 minutes actually) and got a nice person who walked me through filing the ABY claim. I was told that I was eligible for an ABY claim and that I should get my first check next week (this week, probably April 19 2012).

4) Today (Tuesday April 17 2012) I received a call from the claims adjudicator who was investigating the circumstances of termination. It became clear over the course of this call that the person who told me that I was eligible and that I should get my first check this week had misspoken. The claims adjudicator has not even talked to my former immediate supervisor OR the company that paid me (as I worked for Odesk, but was paid by Coretechs which is a personnel agency).

The person I talked to was not particularly nice about what I’d been told about being eligible and/or getting a check this week (and in fact she seemed to not understand that the original claim was filed 33 days ago even though I was later told by someone else that she had been monitoring my file since April 2 2012).

In her world, the claim was filed on April 13 2012 (even though the information she received regarding my termination from ME was dated March 16 2012). I don’t see how you can have it both ways, using information from the March claim while insisting that the April claim was the only one being considered. After listening to quite enough of her less-than-professional blather, I hung up on her.

5) I called back about 10 minutes later and got yet another unhelpful and somewhat rude rocket scientist who refused to understand or respond to my main question: why could they not have investigated the circumstances of my termination sometime earlier than THIRTY THREE days (yes, over a month) after I filed the original claim?

They just kept repeating over and over (ad infinitum, ad nauseum) that the claims adjudicator had ONLY (their emphasis) been monitoring the original claim (remember that March claim they don’t seem to want to deal with or even acknowledge the existence of) since April 2 2012. In my world that’s FIFTEEN days (even removing the weekends, that still leaves ELEVEN days) and all they needed to do was make a possible total of two phone calls.

My secondary question was why I was told on Friday April 13 2012 that I was eligible and that I would get a check this week. The only answer I could get from either unhelpful somewhat rude rocket scientist is that they had no idea why I was told that.

I hung up on the second unprofessional rocket scientist too (do we see a pattern developing here?)

I’m not sure who I’m angriest with, the nice guy from last week, the rude snotty lady from last week, or the two unhelpful rude rocket scientists from this week. I do know that I am sick to death of this roller coaster!

Burn Down The Mission

You tell me there’s an angel in your tree
Did he say he’d come to call on me
For things are getting desperate in our home
Living in the parish of the restless folks I know

Everybody now bring your family down to the riverside
Look to the east to see where the fat stock hide
Behind four walls of stone the rich man sleeps
It’s time we put the flame torch to their keep

Burn down the mission
If we’re gonna stay alive
Watch the black smoke fly to heaven
See the red flame light the sky

Burn down the mission
Burn it down to stay alive
It’s our only chance of living
Take all you need to live inside

Deep in the woods the squirrels are out today
My wife cried when they came to take me away
But what more could I do just to keep her warm
Than burn, burn, burn, burn down the mission walls

Now everybody now bring your family down to the riverside
Look to the east to see where the fat stock hide
Behind four walls of stone the rich man sleeps
It’s time we put the flame torch to their keep

Geeze, It’s Just a T-Shirt

Once upon a time I had a T-shirt that said “What part of NO don’t you understand”?

One year–years ago–I wore it to a non-denominationsal retreat that I’ve attended every year since 1994. I’ve been repeatedly judged for something I wore literally YEARS ago (the T-shirt has long since deteriorated and been thrown away)

I’m being told over and over again that the T-shirt represents my current attitude towards life and towards other people (if that was true, don’t you think I’d either have replaced it, or made sure to keep it from deteriorating?)

Geeze, it was just a T-shirt and it was worn literally years and years ago.

I had lots of choice in T-shirts throughout my life. My family may not have liked the sayings on some of them, but then again it was MY money and MY choice of what to buy and what to wear from the time I graduated from high school until this very day.

I could have chosen to worn “I’m perfectly adjusted so don’t touch the knobs” (with decals over the nipples for the knobs) or “sex is like air, its not that important til you aren’t getting any‘ or “sex is like gasoline, self-service is always faster, easier, and cheaper” or “I’d like to care but my give-a-damn is busted” or “attitude is everything” or “If you don’t like my attitude, quit talking to me” or my personal favorite, the bright pink one with “miss bossy” on it.

I’ve got a Jack Daniels T-shirt too that says “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” and I don’t even drink.

There were a few other T-shirts from Big Dog that would have been semi-offensive to some people; its been a long time since I wore them or even seen them, so long that I don’t even remember where they are much less what they said.

I have a T-shirt that says “Makes Me Crazy” in bright yellow felting on a dark blue T-shirt. It was an inside joke between myself and my therapist (ie ‘nobody can “make you crazy” unless you let them’–that was her opinion, and I didn’t agree!).

I used to have a T-shirt that was from the Big Dog store that said “Large and in Charge.” Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I have weight and body image issues. I have always chosen to wear large (3x 4x 5x) T-shirts because trying to look small when you aren’t is fake, as well as being dismissive of your own body. It has taken me years and years to be able to look at my naked body in a mirror and not trash myself.

Yes, these are/were real T-shirts that either I had in my teenage/young adult years or have now.

I had enough respect for the other members of my retreat to NOT wear any of those T-shirts that I thought could have been offensive to any of the retreats.

I never realized that people at retreat would have issues with the ‘what part of no don’t you understand” T-shirt because everybody around me (co-workers, friends, even my freaking mother) absolutely LOVED that T-shirt.

I don’t see or understand why some members of my retreat group have so many issues with it that it’s been brought up repeatedly–and negatively–for years!

I didn’t wear the offensive T-shirts to ANY of my offline jobs. I have enough respect for myself, my employers, and my co-workers to understand and comply with even unwritten rules about work clothes (even in a casual Friday environment). I did wear the non-offensive (to MOST people) T-shirts to work when allowed.

But my opinion is that they are just T-shirts.

Yeah, they may start conversations (my generation and younger generations love the sex t-shirts), yeah I may get stares or not-so-nice comments from older generations (my retreat friends are 15-20 years older than I am). I imagine my mother’s generation would not appreciate the sex t-shirts.

SO WHAT? If I’m okay with conversations, comments, and stares, why is it a big deal for anybody else? Why in particular is it a big deal for retreat participants?

And here’s the deal, most if not all of those T-shirts and any others I might have missed bring back memories for me. They were nearly all bought at Big Dog T-Shirts on the Oregon Coast, the Big Dog store has gone out of business and there never was one in Bend.

When I had money I bought T-shirts like other people buy candy bars. Sometimes the decals I had transferred onto the T-shirts were a bit edgy, and sometimes they were pre-printed shirts. I’ve got a T-shirt from when I went to visit a friend in Ohio, I’ve got a Kennedy Space Center T-shirt from when I went to Florida in 2007, I’ve got a T-shirt with a cat on it, I’ve got a pink T-shirt with sequins on it from my vacation in Arizona in 1997, I have a T-shirt thats pink with an owl on it. For me, they are just pieces of clothing, some have messages, some don’t.

Yes, NO is a very powerful word and it seems to bother some people (funnily enough, most of these people have NO problem when they are the one using the word). It’s a word I was not allowed to use as a child and teenager. If I said NO or otherwise refused to do/say/believe/feel something or other I was either threatened with a beating or beaten. As an adult, I’ve allowed myself to say NO to things that aren’t healthy for me mentally, physically, or emotionally

If other people have such serious issues with what I choose to put on my body, I have to wonder what their issues are.

Geeze, It’s Just a T-Shirt!!