Amaya Rain

Wife. Mother. Crazy woman.

Mail scares me.

Seriously, mail scares me. For some reason, through my entire life, mail has gotten lost coming to me or going from me. You know those people who always say “but it must be lost in the mail,” and you think they’re total losers giving lame excuses? Yeah, that’s me. Only, it’s true. My mail is always getting lost. I even had mail in a mail truck that caught on fire after an accident many years ago – I didn’t realize it until I was getting creditor phone calls from the two checks that didn’t make it to their destinations (in their defense, I had waited until the calls were about to come anyway to make the payments, but still).

So today, I did my taxes online. I love doing that. Unfortunately, last year, we didn’t have the money to pay our taxes, and the babies’ social security numbers were taking their sweet time getting to us, so I filed for an extension and didn’t pay. That has to be rectified… and it will be – especially now that I know that this year’s refund will cover last year’s amount owed. In fact, I’m putting a call into TurboTax tomorrow to verify which version we’ll need for the Husband’s occupation in 2005. I did the taxes myself, but I’m not confident in them, and I’d much rather have verification that I’m doing them right rather than have even more penalties down the road.

Anyway, so because we didn’t file last year, I didn’t have some number off of the return, which means we couldn’t sign it electronically. And for anyone who’s done e-file, you know that when that happens, you have to print off a signature page and mail it. So I carefully printed. I double and triple checked the address and our return address. I even asked my husband if I was putting the stamp in the right place.

Because you see, mail scares me so much, that I don’t ever send it. My husband loves mail, still corresponds via snail mail with a number of people, and all that good stuff. So I leave mail to him. I do bills, but I do them electronically.

So, I carefully placed the stamp, then had a bit of an anxiety attack as to how it should be mailed. Does mail run on Good Friday? If I put it in the mailbox in front of the house will it get picked up? Should I drive down to the local post office and put it in their box? What if some brat in the neighborhood steals my mail, especially since I so OCD’ly checked and rechecked that the red flag was up?

Red Flag! Red Flag! Doesn’t this bother anyone else? I mean, there’s a sign of danger on the mailbox itself! Shouldn’t that tell you something?!?!

Okay. I’ve taken deep breaths. I’ve had a celebratory glass of chocolate milk. And I think my husband is ready to get some rest.

If I can sleep, worried desperately about the poor little letter that has to be mailed to the IRS within one business day of my filing.

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April 5, 2007 Posted by | Daily Life, Musings | Leave a comment

Walk away the hyperactivity…

So, I’ve been taking the twins out for a couple of afternoon walks every day, especially since the weather here is so beautiful right now (70’s during the day, high 50’s at night). I figure the weather won’t last long – it’ll be 90 and humid before you can think about it too much – so why not double up on walks, right?

Actually, the troublemakers have been insanely hyper (for them, not as a diagnosis) since we’ve been in the house. That’s to be expected. Partner that with the fact that hubby has been working late (coming home near their bedtime) for the last several days, and we really, really needed to do something to calm the cabin fever.

But see, here’s the problem. Since I had the twins (and before that, actually, probably the last few years) I’ve been a couch potato. I can walk around for quite some time, and for several miles when called to do it, but I’m just not in the shape for it anymore. I’m a slug. So all of a sudden, we’ve been going for walks around the block (1/4 mile) or a few blocks, and more – today, one of the walks was right at a mile. And of course, I’m lugging a wagon filled with big ol’ babies around behind me.

So although it’s allowing the babies to work off some energy (I have no idea how, since all they do is sit there and giggle), Mommy here is wiped out. I really need to find my tennis shoes. Then again, they’re basically just knockoff Keds, so I don’t know how much better they’ll be than the beat-up sandals I’m wearing now.

I probably should go and get some proper walking shoes. But then what’ll happen is I’ll spend all this money on them, and then when it gets hot, I just won’t walk anymore. I hope that’s not the case. For all my complaining, it’s been nice. The fresh air, the sunshine, meeting the neighbors and beyond, watching the flowers starting to bloom (we watched a tree bud up between our first and second walks today!), and the fact that I’m sleeping better at night all combine to say that I really should be doing this more often. And I probably will.

Maybe after hubby gets back on a normal work schedule, we’ll switch to having a morning walk and an afternoon walk. Hopefully too, the guy will come finish the yard and trimming the trees and such, so I can babyproof the backyard as much as possible, and then the babies will actually be able to run off some energy out there. I also really, really want to get to planting some bell peppers, cukes, and a few other things this year since we actually have a yard and a long growing season. I’m – obviously – already behind all of the neighbors.

I suppose my own hyperactivity is mental. And my overactive brain is telling me that I need to keep up with the neighbors. Although, if how I keep up with the twins is any indication…

March 10, 2007 Posted by | Musings, Outdoors | Leave a comment

Bad Bedfellows.

The town where I grew up – let’s call it The Town – has always had a bit of a bad reputation. It is a place that is dependent upon oil for nearly its entire economy. So of course, there are tons of transients living in this area so that they can make good money either working offshore or working on oilfield support of one kind or another. A good chunk of these are single men, aged 25-50, probably over 1/3 are Mexican. Then you have the old families – black, white, American Indian – who have lived here for generations. Then there is a large Vietnamese population that showed up in the 1970’s because apparently the environment here is similar to their home, and back then, there were good work opportunities.

Back in the 1970’s, the nearby city – The City – looked down upon this area. The people were rural people, or the transients, and it was the classic “city v. country” type mentality. The County pretty much neglected The Town when it came to, oh, just about anything. We had no real zoning, so you had generational houses right next door to shipyards or heliports. Trailer parks – badly managed ones, at that – sprouted up everywhere. The Vietnamese, bless their hearts, stayed in a three-block square of houses, with several generations living in each home (although I know that was tradition, I really think that part of it had to do with not wanting to be stuck with the other bad housing trends).

In the 80’s, there was The Oil Crash. There was no work. Lots of the transients left, but the locals grew poorer, and their children moved into the unkempt trailer parks. Then oil and shipbuilding picked up… and here we are.

So, finally, The County hired someone to check out the possibility of zoning restrictions in The Town. Of course, the only reason this was done was because many people owned undeveloped property near a new interstate extension that they wanted to  manage according to their own wants (the rest of The County depends on oil/shipbuilding revenue and tourism, pretty much exclusively). Of course, the zoning restrictions were pretty much a hodge-podge of what already existed, other than zoning that prime undeveloped Interstate extension land as commercial. Anywhere in The Town, you can have a business open up right next to a house which is right next to a trailer which is right next to an RV park.

Make things even better, and companies from out of the area are contracting workers to companies In Town, and buying these falling apart trailers, putting 8 guys in one – mostly Mexican, but not all – and calling it a “boarding house.”

Now you have the background.

There is a County Planning and Zoning Commission. Problem is, the County’s council members have decided that P&Z should have no power of their own. At all. Should someone disagree with P&Z’s decision, they can go to the Council and get it overturned (and they usually do). Then, if they don’t anyone’s decision, they can just go ahead and do whatever they want to do, because The Council didn’t bother to give P&Z, or even themselves, any penalties for going against a ruling. No fines, no having to tear it down or move it, no jail time, nothing. They can do nothing.

Recently, a woman tore down a blighted house on her property, and started moving small FEMA-sized RV trailers onto it. The surrounding neighbors protested, P&Z ruled against her, and she was to only leave one RV on the property (personal use) and use the remainder of the property to either build a new house or put a mobile home there. She got mad. Then she put three more RV’s on the property. Now, we’re talking a lot that’s maybe 100×100. And no one can do anything.

So now, that brings us to The Jerk. I’ve known The Jerk and his family my entire life. His brother was almost my godfather. My father was friends with the whole family, and my grandfather and The Jerk’s father owned land together, drank together, and engaged in friendly rivalry their entire lives. Well… The Jerk had some land and decided that it was time that The Town had a nice, quiet subdivision. It consisted really only of one long road, near the local Catholic Church. He sold the land, and people built houses ranging from about $120k to $250k – now, honestly, these are houses that anywhere else would go for $250-$400k, easily. People bought up land, started building, feeling like all their work had been for something. The neighborhood was restricted, therefore no trailers could ever be moved in to decrease property value. I know it sounds like a simple thing, but believe me, this had never been done before in The Town.

So, a couple of years later, what does The Jerk do? He decides that selling the property isn’t generating enough income. So. On his property that backs up this subdivision, he builds an RV park to provide “housing” for the transient workers. Granted, so far, a lot of the folks that he has there seem to be decent guys, they aren’t living with several men to a trailer, and there hasn’t been any increase in crime in that area. This is all good. But the existing RV’s are far enough from the houses (think the distance of a block or so) that there isn’t an issue.

Now, he wants to expand. The expansion basically puts RV’s in practically the backyard of these nice houses in a restricted subdivision. What? And the worst part is that he still owns the last several lots on the road… so should he decide to expand out there, he can. He tried telling these people that having a transient RV park next to their houses wouldn’t lower their property values. He also insists that he’ll never have a problem with crime, even though he doesn’t do background checks, there is no fence around the property, and there is no security (oh, should I add that right now, there is one sheriff patrolling the entire Town at any particular time, day or night? Yeah.).

The neighbors are livid. The P&Z voted him down, and when he took it to The Council, they deferred a decision. Thing is, everyone against it went to the meeting – and they’ll have to continue going to all the meetings because The Council can bring the issue back up anytime they want.

So the Jerk is trying to reach a compromise. What kind of compromise? He says he’ll think about building a fence, maybe doing background checks. But inevitably it doesn’t matter, he says, because “business leaders” are on his “side” and he has “supporters” just like P&Z has. Wait, P&Z doesn’t have supporters. P&Z is trying to support what is best for the community.

When I said to him, “Why don’t you invest in trying to build real housing, or try to bring some other business to the area?” Oh no. Can’t do that. Because “we don’t have as much money as people think we have, just land” and “lot height requirements have gone up too much to make that economical” and my favorite, “Well, we’re going to do things like that once The New Road opens up,” (a new road being built through his other property, that The County will LEASE from him) “but that’s the New [Town], we’re talking about the old [Town].” So, the entire town will still be going to hell in a handbasket, because you and local businessmen and local politicians don’t feel like bothering with it. So, it’s easier to just make the rest of The Town even worse than before, rather that helping to build it up so that it’s a safe place for younger families to come to and help build the economy. So, the only new business that will come will be on your other land near the interstate, something that won’t help out Town Citizens, but will be added to the coffers of The County and ultimately the The City, right?

He didn’t answer me.

I’m mad. It’s been a couple of days, and I’m still very, very mad. I keep saying that if I had money (I’m talking lottery-type money), I’d leave this place in a heartbeat. And I probably would… but mainly because I want a lot of acreage, and this area doesn’t have that. But I’d like to think that I’d begin to buy up the blighted property in the area, rebuild or remodel the improvements on the property, and sell it for a reasonable price so that new families – not just companies who cram men into houses – could afford it and be comfortable. Then I’d try to work to build a local economy, trying to fill in the gaps that we have around here. For instance, there aren’t any local farmer’s markets, organic food sources, nice shopping boutiques, hell, there isn’t even a Starbucks (not that I mind that, because I don’t like Starbuck’s business practices, but still, who doesn’t have a Starbucks!)

I need to go. The twins they are a’calling me. I just needed to vent. I look around and see so much potential for The Town, and to know that even people who have lived here their whole lives, watched this town die for a decade because of the lack of diversity, and watched The City and The County take every penny we’ve made and spend it on themselves instead of us, how someone who has seen that could just not only let it keep happening, but be a source of it.

I’m mad. And I just can’t do anything about it.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Common Sense, Musings, Politics | Leave a comment

Happy Happy Happy…

How I know I stay up too late

by Amaya Rain

The ceiling fan in here has made this same wonk-wonk-wonk noise for, oh jeez, the 25 years it’s been up in here (I’m at my mother’s house).

All of a sudden, after all this time, I realize that sounds like someone with one of those trach vibrator things (I have no idea what they are called – you know what I mean) saying…

happy happy happy happy happy happy

I will never be able to sit in this room for long periods again.

February 21, 2007 Posted by | Insomnia, Musings | Leave a comment

Grocery Woes.

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I’m scared to go grocery shopping.

I used to be a great shopper. As a single mom, I could squeeze a dollar out of a dime and we very seldom lacked for anything because I just had some mad shopping skills.

The problem is, after I got married, my husband took over some of the grocery duties. I still went for “big shopping”, but he was the one who got milk and such. And then when I got pregnant with the twins, well, I never seemed to leave the house. Then we moved. Then we had the twins. Now I’m always home with the twins.

Staying near – and then with – my parents, well, there’s numerous problems here, but let’s focus on the obvious: my mother shops. And since my husband works, has a company car and seems to drive past every grocery store 20 times a day, well, he does shopping when needed. I stay home with babies.

In the next few weeks, God willing, we’ll be moving into the new place. And I really, really need to do a full pantry grocery shopping trip. But I’m trying to save money, there are no “big brand” stores within 30 minutes of here except for a SuperWallieWorld (which I try to avoid when I can). That means no Kroger, Meijers, Aldi’s, Sav-on, Winn-Dixie… none of the chains are here. Top that with – get ready for this – they only end up doing sale papers every couple of weeks. Wanna know the sales? Go into the store and get one.

Now, there is a Sam’s about 30 minutes away, and we have a membership. But I remember from experience that a lot of Sam’s stuff isn’t really cheaper, just more convenient.

So, my dilemma. I need to comparison shop, because I’m going to be spending an inordinate amount of money on groceries really soon. But… the only way to do that is to go shopping – but everyone else does the shopping. And when it comes down to it, my mom isn’t going to want a bag of King Arthur flour; I do. And there’s nowhere to put it. And what if I buy it at Store X and it’s $1 cheaper at Store Y?

I know this sounds stupid. Just shop, you say. But I get little catches in my throat when I think about going shopping without a game plan, without a price book (even just an idea in my head). I mean, I don’t even know the aisle layouts here anymore.

Such a pithy post, I know. There are tons of things more important going on in the world than my apprehension/anxiety at grocery shopping and my (probably sick, false) pride in what an amazing job at it I used to do.

But I feel like whining.

I wanna be super shopper again, and I want to start with the biggest shop of the year, possibly of the next couple of years (counting not only quantity of items but the sheer variety in what we need that will no longer be supplied at my mom’s house).

I’m so glad I’m on medication.

February 12, 2007 Posted by | Moving, Musings | Leave a comment

I like the night life.

It’s nearly 2am, and I’m still awake. This is really not a good thing, as my husband is out of town for the week, and I really need sleep to deal with the little ones.

So, of course, I step outside to grab a cig (oh yes, I’m one of those). First, I hear what has to be a couple of cats getting it on a couple of blocks away. Then I see a possum trying to get from my neighbor’s yard to mine through what he thinks is a hole, but really isn’t, in the fence (possums don’t have good eyesight, and I think they’re a bit on the dull side). Then there’s this huge owl sweeping about 10 feet away from me, and then someone’s rooster – who knows where – will absolutely not shut up.

It’s times like this I wish we had a nanny and that I could drink a lot or take sleeping pills or something. I hate nights like this. Add to that the lovely array of freakish animals just outside my door, and… hey, at least it isn’t an emu running around my yard. I’ll have to relay that story one day.

I think I should try again to get some sleep.

July 10, 2006 Posted by | Insomnia, Musings | Leave a comment