I hate you, George W.

So not only did our reject of a leader introduce a stimulus package that will have little ability to actually stimulate the economy, but he also neglected to send me my check!

My SSN ends in 00 – 20 and I paid my taxes (yes, I owed money – tear) via direct deposit. Sooo… I should have received my check by May 2nd, which was 4 days ago. I even went to the IRS’ stupid “Where Is My Stimulus Payment?” tool and entered my info. Nothing! It couldn’t even locate a check that was on its way. A friend suggested that perhaps George knew I was a liberal and wasn’t very pleased with what I’ve been saying about him. I’m starting to think she might not be that far off…

To rub a half ton of salt in my gigantic wound, there is no phone number or email or ANYTHING where you can contact them to let them know that there has been a glitch. What if my stimulus check never comes? I need a 1-800 customer service number to dial!

I mean, I get it. The President occassionally lies. Or tells half-truths. Fibs, whatever. We’ve been here before and I’m not entirely (read: at all) surprised. But now we’re talking about money, people – my money. $300 of it. If I’m not coming after this administration for the $4,700 they’ve cost me in taxes to fund the War, the least they can do is send me my stimulus check.

I fully intend on writing a complaint letter. Just as soon as I can figure out where to send it.

Crazy Eights

My friend Dette, over at Dance of Motherhood, asked me to participate in this game of Crazy Eights by sharing eight unusual or little known facts about myself. Ready? (That was rhetorical. If not, I suspect you’ve already closed your browser.) Okay, then. Here goes:

1. At the tender age of eight, I came in 3rd in the “Most Beautiful Eyes in Massachusetts” competition.

2. The 3rd place prize for said competition was originally a romantic weekend for two, as they were not anticipating that a child might place. When I did, the judges pulled some strings and instead awarded me my very first camera.

3. When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming an author. I wrote profusely and even “published” my own mini books (made entirely out of construction paper). My mother still has the very first book I ever wrote, entitled Watch the Flower Grow.

4. While in college, I was hired by a publishing company to write a book on dating and relationships. The cover of this book is bright pink.

5. I used to walk over a mile each morning in the snowy New England winters for my one true weakness… Dunkin Donuts french vanilla iced coffee. Oh, how I miss it living in the PacNW!

6. I’m of Eastern European descent. My great-grandfather fought in the Russian Revolution before coming over to America.

7. My son’s name literally translates to “White hawk, defender of men.” At his birth, my ex insisted that we’d destined him to a life of Dungeons and Dragons.

8. Last but certainly not least, I am now the owner of a brand new iPod shuffle, and I have Corrin from corrinrenee.com to thank for it! I was the winner of her most recent giveaway and honestly, it could not have come at a better time. The iPod I purchased in 2004 (yes, you read that right) had finally died and I was reluctant to buy a new one, as I am on a tight budget these days. My bus rides to work and jogs will now be so much more enjoyable because of my new shuffle. Thanks, Corrin! Everyone else, check out her blog. It’s pretty snarky and quite great.

Now, the fun part, where I invite others to join and post eight things about themselves. But not so fast! First, here are the rules:

1. Each player starts with 8 random things about themselves.
2. At the end of your post, tag 8 people and include their names and their links. Please also post these rules.
3. Don’t forget to leave a comment on the blog of those you tag to let them know about this.

These people below are now tagged:
Observations of a Student
Mommies Home
Revolutionizing the Rat Race
Serenity Now!
Mother’s Got a Dot Com
Health Nut Wannabe Mom

Say My Name, Say My Name…

My ex’s mother came to visit this week and, in the vein of Santa Claus, brought a sack of gifts in tow. Gavin got his usual assortment of clothes, toys, and candy. Me, my ex, and Gavin also all received matching blue and white polos and the request that we take a family photo wearing our new threads. I thought it was a cute idea, albeit one I would never have decided to do on my own. My ex clearly stated that he wanted no part in this and would refuse a matching family photo. (I’ll post the picture on here after we take it.)

Upon hearing of the matching polos that my ex’s mother purchased for the three of us, my friend exclaimed, “Matching outfits are cute! You’ll be like Destiny’s Child.” Please note that this is the same friend from the dumpster diving escapades.

I blinked. “Destiny’s Child? You know that we’re talking about me, my ex, and our two-year old son, yes?”

“I know.”

I sighed at the ridiculousness. “Well, am I at least Beyonce in this crew?”

“Well, obviously,” she said. Right, obviously, I thought, as I pictured Gavin shaking his little (diapered) booty.

Speaking of Gavin, we had another developmental breakthrough this weekend and I can’t decide whether I should be proud or disappointed about it. Sometimes I think my boy is too precocious for his own (and my!) good. It was yesterday evening and Gavin had just come out of the bath. (“Bath” is a generous term for the activity, as Gavin is in currently in month three of a full-scale bath boycott. He is terrified to remove his diaper or to sit in a tub of water, so he literally stands in an empty tub, wearing his diaper, while I wash him by hand.)

Anyway, my ex and his mother were sitting on my couch while I attempted to comb Gavin’s wet hair. Gavin was rather annoyed at me for trying to bathe him and was not interested in letting me groom him afterward.

He furrowed his eyebrows and moved his head away from my grasp. “Stop it, Erica!”

My ex started to laugh so hard he had to turn his head away. My ex’s mother’s eyes went wide and she looked at me, stunned. My jaw fell open.

Once my ex regained composure, he crouched beside Gavin. “Who is this?” he asked, pointing to me.

“Mommy,” said Gavin sweetly and matter-of-factly. Maybe we had all just heard him wrong, I told myself.

“Does Mommy have another name?”

Gavin nodded. “Erica.”

Hearing your child call you by your name for the first time is pretty jarring. It sounded so strange and so wrong to hear him call me that. It was like my identity and connection to my son had been stripped away with a single word. All at once, I hated my name.

“How smart of him to understand that Mommy has a name!” exclaimed my ex’s mother. My ex had started giggling again.

“My name is Mommy,” I said sharply, becoming exactly what I swore I never would. “Perhaps everyone should call me that, to make it less confusing for Gavin.”

“I refuse to call you that,” said my ex. “Plus, this is hysterical.”

It became far less hysterical when we quickly discovered that Gavin knew Daddy’s real name, too. My ex and I called a truce.

Gavin didn’t call me by my name for the rest of the night or at all this morning. In his book, my first name is still primarily “Mommy.” Of course, I can’t help but continue to be both amazed and weirded out that my barely two-year old knows my proper name. Here’s hoping he decides not to use it.

Leave My Idol Alone!

No, I am not talking about American Idol. I would never watch that show and, if I somehow happened to view it by accident, I would certainly never admit it publicly.

Rather, I am talking about my actual idol, Mr. Al Franken. Al is a pretty polarizing figure, admittedly, but he is a Harvard grad (like yours truly) and he is an unapologetic elitist (also like yours truly). That second statement may have been redundant.

He is also damn funny. SNL anyone? Stuart Smalley? “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me!” He has taken on the guffawing buffoon that is Rush Limbaugh with a tenacity like no one else. He even titled one of his books Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot. Genius!

I own all of his books and have read each one from cover to cover, multiple times. I briefly considered putting an Al Franken poster on my the wall in my room but couldn’t for two reasons: 1) It turns out, Al Franken posters are not so easy to find and 2) My ex is over quite frequently and likes to poke fun of my idol (I suspect he hates America).

Well, imagine my horror this morning when I was trolling the news sites and came upon this: Blogger Targets Al Franken in Minnesota Senate Race. A fellow blogger trying to take down my idol! It seemed too awful to be true.

But it is true. Some guy named Michael Brodkorb, whose sensationalist blog is entitled “Minnesota Democrats Exposed” (yeah, that’s a neutral, fact-based site, I’m sure), recently “exposed” Al for some erroneous bookkeeping that prompted him to pay $70,000 in back taxes this week.

I have two major problems with this expose. First, I’m sure this was purely an accident. Al does not keep his own books – he has people to do that. If we want to blame anyone, let’s blame his accountants. I bet they’re Republicans, too! Second, while $70,000 sounds like a lot to this average Joe, it’s a drop in the bucket for Al. Al is worth millions. $70,000 is to Al is what $5 is to you and me. It’s an easy amount to overlook. How many times have you borrowed $5 and forgotten to pay it back? Once you got a reminder, though, I’m sure you paid it back promptly. As did Al.

I think this Brodkorb guy is only trying to stir trouble before a big election in Minnesota. I implore you to boycott such obviously biased, right-wing blogging and please…leave my idol alone!

Would You Care to Join Me for an Unbelievably Awkward Dinner Sometime?

I like reading the news in pretty much every shape and size I can get it. I like the traditional, high-quality journalism of The New York Times. I like the sensationalized drudge of CNN.com. But I especially like the fake, satirical news I find on The Onion.

I used to read The Onion regularly when I was in college. They made fun of recent, real news stories and had little regard for political correctness. Finally, I had found a group of writers as cynical as myself! However, since graduating nearly four years ago, I decided I needed to refine my tastes a bit more and replaced my daily dose of that pungent vegetable with an equally bitter, yet slightly more sophisticated, sampling of Maureen Dowd.

This morning, I stumbled upon The Onion again and remembered what I had been missing! I also remembered a particularly funny tale from college that I thought I would share here (as I have been laughing about it all morning):

During our junior year, my college roommate found herself the romantic interest of a markedly unappealing boy. My girlfriends and I teased her endlessly about this (since we were clearly very kind individuals) until my roommate felt quite uncomfortable being in this boy’s presence.

One day, the ex and I were perusing The Onion and came across a story entitled, “Would You Care to Join Me for an Unbelievably Awkward Dinner Sometime?” The story is basically a mock-dinner date invitation from a very unappealing man depicting an even more unappealing date. Well, my industrious ex and I figured out a way to mask an email address so that it appeared to be coming from a different one. We could send email that seemed to be from someone else! I am sure you know by now where this story is headed…

We changed the ex’s email address to look like Mr. Unappealing’s. Then we pasted the text of this glorious Onion invite into the email body and – whoosh! – off went the email to my roommate. Pleased with our prank, we went to sleep.

The next morning, we were playing around with our new hacking skills and came to discover, to our horror, that not only did the masked email look like the fake address, but any replies to it actually went to the fake address! Like a bat out of hell, I flew out of the ex’s room and raced back to my place. I threw the open the door to find my roommate hunched over her computer, looking miserable, with the email open.

“Don’t respond to it!” I cried.

It turns out, she had been just seconds from clicking the send button on the response she had written – a response which would have gone directly to Mr. Unappealing, original email and all. When I blurted out what the ex and I had done, my roommate was initially pretty angry. Eventually, she came to see the humor in it, but swore she would get back at us. To this day, though, she never has – probably because she’s terrified of my prank-playing retaliation.

Anyway, it’s safe to say I’m back to reading The Onion.

A splash of irony with your morning coffee

In a speech from the Rose Garden this morning, the continual embarrassment that is our President chastised Congress for not doing enough to assuage Americans’ financial worries.

“I repeatedly submitted proposals to help address the problems. Time after time, Congress chose to block them,” Sir Incompetence said.

You mean kinda like the proposals to keep funding the war in Iraq? It is currently estimated that the war in Iraq has cost American taxpayers over $515 billion. $515 billion could go a long way to alleviating the problems Americans face regarding the housing market and student loan availability. To make this number even more real, $515 billion equates to approximately $4,700 per household. Your family has paid $4,700 in real dollars to support the war. Take a moment and think of what you could do with $4,700. Doesn’t it make you angry?

However, instead of admitting mistake and ending a purposeless war that will bleed the pockets of Americans for years to come, President Bush carries on arrogantly as usual and selectively ignores information. Instead of acknowledging the billions of dollars we have been shredding since 2003, he attacks Congress for not doing enough to fix the economic mess our country is in.

Now, I’m not saying the recession was caused by the war in Iraq. Nor am I saying that we could have avoided the mortgage mess if not for the war. What I am saying, though, is that Congress would have a lot more room to fix it with that $515 billion in the bank.

If Bush wants to point fingers, he ought to start by pointing at himself.

Are you really talking about dumpster diving again?

Yes, I am. I’m talking about it because, after my initial post on the topic, this uptight, misophobic prepster went!

I did some research on the topic and learned about the people who get by via dumpster diving (and similar pursuits). What I found remarkably interesting is that most of these people, who are called “freegans,” do not need to dumpster dive but actually do it as part of a greater lifestyle choice. According to that venerable reference site, Wikipedia, freeganism is “an anti-consumerism lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed. The lifestyle involves salvaging discarded, unspoiled food from supermarket dumpsters that have passed, or in some cases haven’t even passed, their sell by date, but are still edible and nutritious. They salvage the food not because they are poor or homeless, but as a political statement.”

Freeganism was something I could support wholeheartedly (even if I did not become a freegan myself) and I wanted to see it in action. I coaxed my friend into going dumpster diving again.

After a few drinks – c’mon, you really didn’t expect me to climb into a dumpster stone cold sober, did you? – we arrived out back behind the yuppie bakery where our infamous diving was to occur. I zipped my Northface jacket and threw my hair into a ponytail, certain my sporty look would blend nicely with any freegans we might meet.

A quick survey of the area told me I was wrong. There were three people there hunting for bread. Two had arrived on bicycle and the third in a small, old sedan. They all looked extremely crunchy but none appeared homeless or anything close. One guy looked slightly dirty, but in a very deliberate, I-could-shower-if-I-wanted-but-I-prefer-to-conserve-water type of way.

“What are you waiting for?” my friend said. “Hop in!”

I took a deep breath and hoisted myself over the side and into the dumpster. To my indescribable relief, I found that the dumpster contained bread – and only bread. There was no garbage in sight. In fact, every loaf of bread was wrapped in the bakery’s fancy signature bag. It was dumpster diving for snobs! All of a sudden, my adrenaline kicked into high gear and the allure of free food overcame me. I began scavenging through the mountain of bread like a ravenous animal.

When all was said and done, I wound up with 10 gourmet loaves of bread and 5 bags of rolls in the trunk of my car. The excitement was still pulsing through my veins as I headed home. By the time I reached my apartment, however, my adrenaline died down and my rational neuroticism had returned. With the exception of the rolls, the bread was in unsealed bags. What if rodents had crawled into the dumpster? What if someone’s shoes that touched the bread? Unable to shake my general craziness, I would up discarding the 10 unsealed loaves in the dumpster in my apartment building. I kept the 5 bags of rolls, since I decided they were safe to eat.

The next morning, my ex came over.

“Where did all of these rolls come from?” he asked, eyeing the bags on my counter.

I paused. I couldn’t bring myself to admit I was now eating from a dumpster, no matter how socially conscious it made me.

“They were on sale,” I said.

Of course, my ex occasionally reads my blog and he will find out where the rolls actually came from. It’s easier to say it in writing than verbally. Also, my friend took a picture of me in the dumpster which I will begrudgingly share on here once we upload it off her camera phone.