Modern Torture Devices

I wear heels to work approximately 90 percent of the time and I’m in my 40s so I’m not exactly a novice. I have several pairs of stilettos in the 4 to 4 ½-inch range that give me no trouble unless I need to run after someone in a parking lot. It happens. That said, the shoes I wore yesterday were literally the worst. The. Worst.

My knee would have disclosed national secrets to escape the pain.

The bands around my toes were awful but something in the structure of the right shoe was causing pinpoint pain in the middle of my knee. I had them off most of the day with my office door closed and I’m still sore from wearing them a day later. My Jeep needed gas but I purposely waited until today because I wasn’t about to stand there filling up in those ridiculous contraptions, hating every second.

Beautiful shoes don’t have to hurt. The pair I have on today are just over 3 ½ inches and they are perfectly comfortable. I take good care of my feet and I resent the holy hell out of poorly constructed torture devices. I kind of feel like anyone who designs shoes which literally cause physical injuries should be sentenced to wearing them permanently by the Court of Fashion. Let their own feet become disfigured by their hellish creations.

On a completely unrelated note: Anyone need a professional shoe tester? Will work for merch. Size 6. Holla at ya girl.

Protein Bars and Hate

Good, good…let that hate flow. I let it wash right over me. You see, your hate sustains me.

When I turned 40, I decided to stop doing things I don’t want to do: Cooking, landscaping, socializing with people I despise. You know, the basics. Mostly, I decided to stop feeling pressured to do things but I also decided to stop feeling pressured to *feel* things. I’m not obligated to take care of anyone but myself and my dogs.

An interesting byproduct of unfucking my life is how little I care about whether or not people like me. In decades past, I would try to avoid people when I found out they disliked me or I would try to fix it. Now, I’m like YOLO…look at this fabulous outfit I have on today. It fits perfectly and I’m not sorry your diet failed. That was mean but women usually are. My mom thought I was joking when I told her I’m pretty much living on protein bars and hate.

I mean, I am kind of joking but I’m also serious about not letting people control my actions or feelings. I don’t give a frog’s fat ass if you approve of my eating habits, drinking habits, vacation habits, or living habits. My priorities are all about me and what I want my life to be. Your knee-jerk judgment of anything (not) going on in my life says far more about you than it does about me.

I’ve been taught my entire life that choices have consequences. If you want to play, you have to pay and all that. I’ve been disappointing people my entire life and have no intention of stopping now. Deal with it or don’t. Your emotional blackmail has no effect on me.

It turns out adulting involves a lot more Netflix and frozen pizza than I expected. But also a lot more peace and quiet.

Avalanche of Ideas

I have a lot of ideas. As in, a LOT of ideas. Brilliant ideas. Life hack ideas. Retirement job ideas. Mobile app ideas. Book ideas. Like Uber but for _____ ideas. Landscaping ideas. I can even remember some of them.

My mind pulls me in two different directions. On one side is the anxiety-riddled perfectionist who cares deeply about every single detail of every single thing. On the other is the stereotypical GenX slacker who gives exactly zero fucks about basically everything. So all of these thoughts and ideas are swirling around like a tornado and I can’t catch any of them.

The exhaustion from this constant barrage results in a hard shut down. It’s like when you see the hourglass on your computer for too long and things are going nowhere so you just hold the power button down until the screen goes black. Alcohol helps (within my daily caloric allotment) and Twitter helps. * record skips* Yes, that Twitter. I scroll through my timeline and laugh at all of the manufactured outrage. Zero. Fucks. Given.

I used to play Spider Solitaire for hours on end to calm my anxiety. Now I play Hillsdale College online courses on YouTube. My two favorites are Introduction to the Constitution and Constitution 101. They’re my personal ASMR videos…don’t judge.

So I have this really great idea for an app that would literally and directly save lives. It’s geared toward an extremely misunderstood and underserved population. I keep searching to see if anyone has developed something like it because it’s fucking genius. How has no one figured it out yet? I should do something about it. I could make a gazillion dollars. Does anyone know any app design…

Squirrel.

Beer.

Twitter notification.

I’m super passionate about bringing these projects to life but I’m also pretty ambivalent about it.

The Great Pitbull Attack of 2015

WARNING: This post contains graphic photos with blood and puncture wounds.

The morning of June 3, 2015 began like any other. I got up, fed my dog, and went to work. When I arrived in the parking lot, I saw one of the guys petting a pitbull. I walked over to talk to him and the dog ran right up to me. She was incredibly friendly and seemed completely unafraid. June in Tucson is unpleasant to say the least, so we were all about making sure she had water and wasn’t running around on the hot pavement.

The dog was wearing a collar with a license so our Facilities Manager called animal control to find her owner. He was told her name was Sugar and he was given the owner’s phone number. The man who answered denied being her owner so we confined the dog and tried to figure out what to do with her. Sugar actually hung out in an air conditioned office most of the afternoon because it was too hot outside.

Ultimately, I took Sugar home with me that evening so I could make sure she was safe while I looked for someone who may be missing her. She insisted upon riding shotgun in my Jeep and rode most of the way home with her head on my arm. When we got home, Sugar and Lulu were totally chill with one another. Sugar was filthy from being on the streets so I gave her a bath and removed the collar that was cutting into her skin. She had quite a few scars so I wondered if she had ever been used for fighting. That night, she slept in bed right next to Lulu and cuddled up like she’d been doing it for years.

That weekend, I took Sugar to the vet to check for a microchip and was given the contact information for her chip registry. We went ahead and got her some shots since it wasn’t clear how long she had been on the loose and because she was found on the south side of Tucson. Yes, that’s me being judgy but I’ve seen some things. Sugar and Lulu continued getting to know one another and Lulu even shared her toys.

I meant to call the chip registry number on Monday but it was an insane day. My boss was out of town and I was completely slammed. I realized when I got home that I forgot to call and figured I would get to it first thing on Tuesday. Sugar and Lulu were napping together on the couch and then began playing. They were kind of chasing each other around the living room with ears up and tails wagging. I was supervising just to make sure it didn’t escalate and then I made the mistake of clapping my hands.

I’ve heard people say that sometimes pitbulls will turn on people or dogs without warning and it’s like flipping a switch. I always thought that was bullshit. My Rottweilers always showed warning signs when they were losing their patience. Sugar gave no warning when she attacked Lulu in my living room.

I was trying to break up the fight and was being bitten by both dogs. All three of us were rolling around on the tile and I was screaming at them both to stop. Sugar had clamped on to Lulu’s collar and I was punching her as hard as I could trying to get her to let go. There was blood everywhere and I was getting really tired. I knew if it went on much longer, I would be too tired to help Lulu so I ran to a spare bedroom and grabbed my bb gun. I held it by the barrel and slammed the stock into Sugar’s head until she let go of Lulu’s collar. As soon as she released it, I pushed Lulu out the patio door and closed it behind her. That’s when I called 911 for help. Sugar acted confused and completely subdued while I waited for help to arrive.

I ended up with fire, police, EMTs, and animal control at my house. Animal control took Sugar and I assume she was euthanized but I don’t know that for sure. With the scars she had and the location where she was found, there is no telling what she had been through.

The EMTs saw the wounds with adipose tissue gaping out of them and convinced me to go to the hospital for stitches. They had let Lulu back in the house and I was more worried about taking care of her but they were super concerned about all of my wounds caked with dog hair and slobber. The firefighters convinced me they would make sure Lulu had water and was okay so I could go in the ambulance. She was so upset she tried to jump on the gurney with me.

When I got to the ER, everyone made a big deal out of how many wounds I had and the risk of infection. Apparently, doctors don’t like to stitch dog bites but they were gaping to the point where they didn’t have a choice. But first, they had to clean the wounds. I was offered pain meds but refused because I needed to take care of Lulu when I got home. So this really sweet guy scraped the living shit out of these gaping wounds with a plastic scrub brush and I didn’t have so much as an ibuprofen. He kept asking me if I needed drugs and I kept telling him to hurry up and get it done.

I had lidocaine injections for the stitches but they didn’t wait long enough and I still felt every single one. TWELVE stitches in my arms, left hand, right calf, and right foot. Then they wrapped me up like a mummy and sent me on my way at around 11:30 that night. It was a brand new hospital and they didn’t have the antibiotic they wanted me to take. But they were all super duper worried about infection, or something. I finally got home at around midnight with no pain meds, no antibiotics, and no idea how my dog was doing.

It turns out Lulu is tougher than she looks. Her ear had a rip about half an inch long and she had a couple puncture wounds on her neck but her thick leather collar bore the brunt of the attack. The firefighters broke out the peroxide and cleaned up the majority of the blood in my kitchen. The adrenaline was finally wearing off and I was beginning to feel like absolute shit. I texted my boss’s boss to let him know I wouldn’t be at work the next day.

The next day was fun as hell. I could barely get my right foot into a sock, let alone a shoe. I had stitches between my toes and could barely stand. My left arm looked like the Incredible Hulk. I drove myself to the drive-thru pharmacy and faced the third degree over what the hell had happened to me and why my entire arm was green. Apparently, I didn’t look great. I sure didn’t feel great.

When I went back to work on Wednesday, I limped around with my right foot in a sock and my mind in a daze. I’ve never been so tired in my entire life. I probably shouldn’t have been driving even then but I had no choice.

A coworker and I removed my stitches at work a week later. I couldn’t run or wear heels for months afterward. I still can’t flex my right foot due to the scar tissue. Most of the scars on my arms have blended in with the others. My right calf still looks like it ended up in an angry pitbull’s mouth.

I’m tired just thinking about all of that again. I still love pitbulls but I’ll think twice about bringing one home with me again. I’m thankful Lulu and I found Sherman out on the rez and they live in peace and harmony. Mostly, I wish people didn’t do horrible things to dogs that make them lose their shit.

Note: Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson regularly tells the public during periods of overcrowding to keep found animals at home rather than dropping them at their location while attempting to locate the owners. So you may think I’m a dumbass for doing that but it’s exactly what they say people should do.

Pregnant and on Probation in 1922: Part I

I’ve known for as long as I can remember that my paternal grandfather was adopted. We knew he was born in Wichita in 1922 and then placed for adoption when he was about two months old. We knew his maternal grandfather was at least half Russian and we knew his birth name. Ancestry and Google searches took me nowhere.

Late last year, I decided to see if I could obtain more information. My aunt is very interested in our family medical history so I contacted the adoption agency, which still exists and still helps children in need. I provided an extremely helpful administrative assistant with my grandfather’s obituary and she agreed to search for the file after the first of the year.

For $25, I received his full file containing a petition from the birth mother’s probation officer asking that the child be removed from her care due to neglect, the final court order, his medical records, and the supporting documents for his adoption. We now know his birth parents’ names and where his birth mother resided at the time. His father’s address was listed as “unknown”.

Unfortunately, his mother’s name was quite common and no middle initial was included in any of the paperwork. I attempted to order his original birth certificate but it is still sealed and cannot be obtained without a court order. That approach may be more trouble than it’s worth so I’m now circling back around to the fact that my paternal great-grandmother had a PROBATION OFFICER when she was 21 years of age in 1922. What kind of ish was she into? If I have the right person, she came from a Russian Mennonite farming family.

What about the birth father? According to the surrender paperwork, he was only 18 at the time. And HIS father spent more than a decade in a state hospital famous (at least in Kansas) for housing the criminally insane. He appears to have died there.

This is some drama. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I need the federal government to reopen so I can access what I need from the National Archives. I thought I had a handle on which side of the family had an interesting history. I was wrong.

I’ve been scouring my 1,000+ Ancestry DNA matches and there aren’t any close enough cousins to fit this plot twist. I currently have 1,819 hints on Ancestry: 1,358 records, 251 photos, 36 stories, and 174 member trees. This is work, y’all.

So what I need everyone to do is submit DNA samples to Ancestry. I don’t care about your privacy or whether some serial killer in your family will finally be caught. Do it in the name of science. I. Must. Know. More.

Another Tucson Saturday Night

You just never know what you’ll find when you’re out and about in the Tucson area. This past Saturday, I walked far too many steps in extremely uncomfortable heels but it was so worth it.

I’ve loved DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails since I moved here in 2012. The menu changes frequently but I can always count on a Cuban Sunset to get me started. The habañero infused vodka garnished with cilantro is my everything. I would order pitchers of these things if they would let me.

I started with the calamari because I’m that person who has to order the same thing every single time. I would have taken a photo but I destroyed the entire plate before it even crossed my mind. This is the best calamari I have ever had and I think the candied ginger deserves most of the praise. But the green chile vinaigrette is also money. It’s just a tiny bit crispy and doesn’t have the rubber tire bounce-back effect. If you’ve ever made the mistake of eating calamari at a Chinese buffet, you know what I mean.

I sat down thinking I would be having lamb because that’s the usual drill. Instead, I chose Duck Wanders Into Tucson Autumn and loved everything about it. My friend said she read recent reviews that said it wasn’t that great but I don’t know what those people were thinking. Honestly, every part of this dish belonged there and it was superb.

Apologies for cutting off the plate. I was trying to avoid being “that person”.

I’m not quite sure what to say about dessert because I may have been a bit tipsy. I ordered the Dark Chocolate Jalapeño Ice Cream Sundae (because I always do) and it seemed like they changed it on me. I didn’t pick up any jalapeño flavor this time but that could have been because of the Cuban Sunsets. It was delicious either way.

I ate the entire thing.

Afterward, I had to huddle next to a giant fire pit to stay warm while waiting for my friend’s husband to retrieve us. The parking in downtown Tucson can be slightly ridiculous and I’m not exactly known for wearing sensible shoes.

Not even close to my best pic but that little girl’s photo bomb made my night.

It was still early when we were heading home so we decided to stop at a casino south of Tucson for another drink. Lord have mercy. I don’t even want to name names because it is a hot mess. I’m not a fan of gambling and I have worked in the gaming industry so… The interior reminds me of a 1990s shopping mall and the HVAC was just swirling smoke around so everything (including my Ralph Lauren dress) smelled like it rolled out of an ashtray. Let’s just say my pearls were a little over the top for this establishment.

My friend and I hit the restroom on our way to the bar and while we were in there, some woman came in and yelled out to her friend, “What are you doing in there, taking a shit?” After that, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the watered down concoction masquerading as whiskey or the intensely interesting people watching. What. An. Experience.

Neurotic Crap Sandwich

Anxiety and perfectionism go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s kind of a chicken/egg thing. Also, I’m hungry right now but if I eat a snack this soon after lunch I’ll be starving before dinner and then I’ll have to eat another snack, which means I can only have one beer tonight without blowing my calorie budget. If I exceed my daily allotment, then that beautiful aubergine Calvin Klein dress I just bought will be too snug and then I’ll die homeless and alone.

Every thought flowing through my brain is just like that. This is why I’m always exhausted. That dress is fire, though.

My therapist and I were talking yesterday about guilt, perfectionism, and anxiety. I told her one of my dogs had slipped on the tile chasing a ball and his paw went through the drywall near my laundry room…a WHILE ago. I know exactly how to fix the hole. I have the tools and materials to do the job. And yet it sits.

Sherman’s wall art…so beautiful.

I know how to cut around the hole and remove the existing drywall. I know how to cut the new piece and put it in place. I know how to tape and mud the seams. I sure as hell know how to sand and mud and sand and mud and sand and mud some more…into infinity. The problem is my house has textured walls and the texture has to match. It doesn’t matter that this is a spot people rarely see and even if they do, it’s not particularly well-lit. It. Has. To. Match.

So because I am not particularly confident in my spackling camouflage skills, it sits. Because I can’t deal with asking a coworker who is a journeyman painter or even the professional handyman neighbor a block over to stop by and work his magic, it sits. Having people in my house is more traumatic than looking at Sherman’s paw hole.

I do this with everything. Grocery shopping? Check. Hair cuts? Check. Ordering new lenses for my glasses? Check. I Clark W. Griswold myself into paralyzing reclusiveness. I’m already dreading going to the Post Office next week to sign for an envelope being sent certified today.

I have too much anxiety to live in an urban zip code that would offer one-hour grocery delivery. Problem-solve your way around that one! When I get home today, I will open a beer and an internet browser tab to order everything I need that is non-perishable. I have enough frozen lunches to get me through next week and I can begin working up the mental strength to stop by Safeway on my way home next Friday. By that time, I will have carefully scrutinized all of the digital coupons and rebates for all of the things I need to avoid returning to the store for at least the next three weeks.

I didn’t forget about the guilt; I’m just too tired from thinking about all of this to tie it all together with a nice little bow. You can work it out for yourself.

Tales from HR: I Am Not the One

We in Human Resources (and Payroll) spend our lives trying to comply with a fragillion federal, state, and local employment laws. (Thoughts and prayers for my colleagues in California.) We do our best to conduct business in a manner which prevents employees and applicants from needing to become familiar with these myriad laws. We also get annoyed when new legislation is drafted by people who know fuck-nothing about how things work in our area of expertise. (Arizona Prop 206, anyone?)

More than a decade ago, in a state far away, I had an applicant who came in to apply for a job and was obviously ineligible to work in the United States. Before you call me a racist, I’ll tell you how I knew: He presented a Social Security Card which had clearly been printed on a light card stock paper using an inkjet printer. When one of your essential job functions is handling original documents, you know by look and feel when someone gives you a poorly crafted fake.

The other suspicious part of this was that he presented his documents when he came in to fill out the application. I’m not sure who decided to start telling people in the country illegally that they should present their documents at the beginning of the hiring process because that’s terrible advice. USCIS considers that a discriminatory hiring practice so we only ask for the documents listed on Page 3 of the I-9 once a candidate has been hired. If you want to blend in, wait until you’re asked for your documents. #protip

Anyway, I let the applicant know that I knew he was presenting falsified documents and we couldn’t proceed with the process. I’m not sure why but I kept the copies one of the guys had made of the fake docs and I pinned them to the corkboard in my office after documenting my observations. I just had a feeling I would see this gentleman again.

Two weeks later, the same guy came back with a completely different identity. I walked out to the lobby to greet him carrying the copies of the documents he had brought with him previously. This time, instead of an Arizona DL he had a Kansas DL with a completely different name but the same exact photo. That was the point at which my intelligence was completely insulted and my patience was gone.

I showed him the copies of the documents he used two weeks prior and literally pointed at the door. It was this incident which prompted me to establish a voluntary memorandum of understanding with E-Verify. In the beginning, there were several tentative non-confirmations and people who then disappeared when they were unable to resolve the issues with the SSA. Within a couple months, however, those tentative non-confirmations dropped WAY off. It didn’t take long for the news of our E-Verify participation to make the rounds.

That’s why I get so irritated when people complain about E-Verify. It’s one government program that actually works, both in practice and as a deterrent. There is absolutely room for improvement and I would love to join a panel to make that happen. Wouldn’t it be a fun plot twist if subject matter experts could effect change?

Tales from HR: Identity Theft Whoopsie

The current partial federal government shutdown has made some non-Human Resources people think about subjects they normally take for granted. Paychecks, for example. How does your money make its way to your bank account accurately and on time every two weeks? Answer: Fucking magic. Not even kidding.

Beyond the actual federal payroll issue, I read some hyperbolic nonsense the other day about E-Verify being shut down. People were trying to say if employers can’t use E-Verify, then we’re just letting all these illegals on the payroll! No, E-Verify is only down temporarily and Arizona employers (mandatory E-Verify users) will just submit cases for all new hires once the system is available again. Any tentative non-confirmations will be dealt with at that time using the normal process. It’s a minor annoyance and nothing more.

That made me think about someone at a previous employer in another state who was in the US illegally and had stolen someone’s identity. He was an existing employee when I was hired and there was little I could do without losing my own job. What made the situation truly bizarre was he was paying child support to the State of Texas for someone else’s child via court mandated payroll deductions. I mean that’s an unlucky break, right? But it got crazier.

He was contributing to a 401(k) plan using this stolen social security number. Let that sink in for a moment. Can you imagine how funny (or sad, depending on your perspective) it would have been if the legitimate person had discovered the account and cashed it out? It wasn’t a paltry balance; he had been contributing to it for years. But wait, it got EVEN crazier.

The man decided at one point that he wanted to get legal so he went through the process. He was issued a legitimate social security number, which was obviously different from the one his employer had on file. My boss’s boss wanted me to just change his SSN in our system, like it was no big deal. It’s not really that simple so I tried to explain the I-9 handbook and the E-Verify Memorandum of Understanding but it was no use. They thought I was exaggerating when I would say things like, “I am not going to jail for _____.”

The breaking point was when this boss instructed me to contact the bank administering the 401(k) plan to have them change the social security number on file for him. He didn’t want the guy to lose his money! Who the hell let him participate in a 401(k) under a false identity? Fortunately, the bank wasn’t having any part of it. Because they’re like, you know, smart and stuff.

I’d tell you the rest of the story but I don’t know what happened because I left. My guess is they terminated the false identity and had the guy withdraw his full balance under the old SSN and pay the early withdrawal penalty. They could then re-hire him under his legal identity and then do things properly from that point forward.

I guess the lesson here is if you’re going to steal someone’s identity, you either do the bare minimum or you fully commit. This isn’t a scenario in which you can just half-ass it.

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