Caught in the Riptide of Change

nothing-stays-the-same

Warning: This is a ranty-mc-venty-pants of a post so please click away or do not click over if you are not in the mood for such nonsense.

Lately, I feel like I’m lost in a current of changes. It’s like I’m out in the surf and there are giant waves looming over my head. Whenever I least expect it, a huge wave crashes down on me and tumbles me around so that all I can see are bubbles and I don’t know which way is up. It’s like I woke up one day and suddenly everything was going too fast for me to keep up. I’m not crying about being old yet. I know I have so much ahead of me and so much to be happy and thankful for, but my deep fear is that I am getting old and it’s the beginning of the end. I feel like it’s happening.

It started out with a hard drive wipe in April. My laptop never really recovered from the hard drive crash of 2013. Things were wonkey so I let Toby borrow my laptop and wipe it clean. I’m so glad that he still steps in to be my IT guy now and then. I figured a fresh start might fix the spinny wheel problems and the email clunkeridge  that was plaguing me. Oh, apple email is just the worst lately.

When I got my laptop back it was all new and different. I had a new operating system with all kinds of whistles and bells that were frankly annoying. Of course I have no time for watching videos to educate me about all the new changes. Nah. I just wing it and figure things out as I go.

One of the new things about this operating system is that all my devices are linked whether I want them to be or not. I’m sure this a good thing but half the time I can’t figure it out. The icloud is like an evil overlord who likes to share things I don’t want shared and won’t let me get to things that I do want to share.

I cannot get my pictures from my phone to open on my laptop in photoshop.  I use photoshop everyday. It’s what I do. So why can’t I just download my pictures and open them the way I used to? No! It’s like Apple put a protective covering over my photos like my car company puts a protective plastic covering over my engine. What if I don’t want to go to the dealership and I want to change my own oil in my driveway?!! I can’t get to it?

Seriously, I plug in my phone and my pictures start automatically downloading but they go to some kind of mystery land hidden in my computer that I cannot see outside of the magical apple-picture-viewing center. I can order prints and make coffee table books. I can even edit pictures with some fancy filters BUT I CAN’T OPEN MY OWN PICTURES in photoshop. I think Adobe and Apple are having a war and I am stuck trying to make them talk to each other. I’m having no luck. Sometimes I try to email pictures from my phone to my laptop and even that is impossible, or at least nerve-wracking.

Email. Groan. Where do I even start?

I have switched completely to gmail because my apple email program is just beyond me. It has become the new trap for spam and I’m sure it’s silently turning into a black hole. I’ve given up. I’m so sad too because I use to be the queen of email organization. I had folders and everything was filed according to subject or client. I kept all my receipts for business write offs in one, important password emails in another, sentimental emails in another and important banking and legal emails in another. It was a tight ship. Then in the main browser section would be all my current emails to go through. Sure things got a little out of control in the main section but I knew that I could wade my way through to the bottom. Everything was chronological. First come first serve.

Now I’m living in the land of google mail and threads and conversations. Nothing is organized. It’s a big huge pile of random emails. There is no hope for ever getting to the bottom. In fact it just doesn’t matter. Out of sight, out of mind. Maybe that’s better but I constantly feel like I’m not remembering to get back to everyone. I can search my giant pile of emails and find things but there is no hope of organizing it, ever. Is this the new way? Is this how the kids do it? Is google just going to keep everything I ever do on file in some vault in the mountains somewhere? Is Google Mormon? Are they the beast? Are they going punch a microchip into my forehead someday?

You know I’m joking but sometimes I just wonder.

So since I’m officially out of love with Apple. I decided to give them the finger and get a new phone. I don’t really care about all my music in iTunes and pictures in the iCloud. They’re sharing 57 selfies Bug took on my apple tv screen saver but yet I can’t get an instagram photo that I want to blog about to download to my pictures folder on my laptop. So I said screw it. Since I’m all google now with my calendars and emails I might as well have a google phone too.

And that is part two of the many many changes that make me feel like I’m under water upside down with bubbles. At least I can still see the light, it’s just very very bubbly and I’m spinning. Maybe I’m a little nauseous from all the spinning.

The new phone is very pretty. It’s gold and it has a pearlized cover that makes it seem like a piece of jewelry. The sales woman at Verizon said that nine out of ten apple users return their droid phones and go back to apple. I’m determined not to be one of those nine. But I’m telling you, the newest operating system on the new phone is almost going to break me. Lollipop my ass. I feel like lollipopping Samsung for being such idiots. I don’t know why it’s so bad but it is constantly downloading something in the background and my battery lasts from 8am to 12 noon. Yeah. I can’t work like that.

I popped into the Verizon store the other day to ask if there were any tips or tricks to make my battery life last longer and they had no solutions for me. Everyone just kind of hung their head and said, Yeah. Lollipop sucks and we don’t know when they are going to fix it. They don’t tell us these things. Really? That’s the best answer they have for me? Surely that can’t be very good for sales. So some things I really like about the new phone but this is kind of a huge drag.

Especially when you are driving somewhere, using the your map app to get there and your phone starts turning off because the battery is overheated. I had the worst day yesterday. And I found out how much I have to pay in taxes because I finally filed them. Worst day ever.

I’m done complaining. I’m just tired. I think it’s hormones.

hair-chop

Hahaha!! Let’s talk about another big change in my life: Hormones.

You know how you go through all kinds of hormonal changes when you are a teenager? Guess what? It happens again when you get into your 40’s. I was a late bloomer hitting puberty so that means I’m an early bloomer to leave my reproductive years. I guess God just didn’t think I was much of a breeder. I’m okay with that, mostly. I’m just not okay with having so many mood swings. I’m falling apart all the time. I cry all the time. I finally get a good guy in my life who I really really love and want to spend time with and I’ve become this wretched emotional mess. I’m afraid I’m going to scare him away.

I have less patience with Bug. I’m struggling every day to be happy and kind and not snap at the littlest things. Some days I wake up and feel like a complete failure for no reason at all and I have no energy to fight it. I just want to hide away and not show my face until this passes. But I can’t do that. I just have to put on a brave face every day and hope I can duck away when the cracks start showing.

So I cut my hair. Because that’s what you do when you feel crappy about yourself. But now I miss my long hair. I think I look even uglier with short hair which I know is silly and ridiculous. My new short hair is cute and I’m learning to do it in fun new ways. I do like that it’s something different to work with everyday. But I miss my old long hair.

I’m so sorry to go on like this. But I know there must be other people out there struggling too and maybe you can help me. I’m desperately looking for help. I can’t afford doctors. That’s a whole other sore subject. I’m trying black cohosh today for the first time. I’m hoping it works. My mom says it does. She had a hysterectomy at 40 so can’t really help me but she says it’s helped a lot of people she knows. I don’t usually buy into herbal holistic cures but I’m pretty desperate.

basic-pre-tween

And lastly, Bug. She’s changing too. Not bad changes though. Just, you know, typical pre-tween changes. She’s such a pre-teen even though she’s only nine. She acts like she’s 15 with all the attitude and trappings but then I’ll catch her playing with her beloved Shopkins and acting out the voices when she doesn’t know I’m listening. It warms my heart when she still acts like a little girl. I know even bigger changes are around the corner so I’m holding onto these last days of little girl-hood as best I can.

When I do bob up to the surface for air I look back on the beach and long for those days when we had all the time in the world to sit in the sun and make sandcastles and I didn’t even have a phone to check.

Accent Fail

NOOR-accent-catastropheI’ve talked about my neighbors from Iraq here and there. They’re wonderful neighbors and we’ve gotten very close over the two years that we’ve lived next door to each other. They come over constantly to hang out. They bring food. They invite us over to their house. It’s a great big happy family.

From time to time they bring me letters and forms that they need help figuring out. English is tricky. American red tape is even more so.  Even though they’ve been here for two years (and studied some English in their mother country before they even moved here) they struggle with English. Sheesh! I even struggle with English sometimes and that’s all I’ve ever spoken. I would not fare as well as they have if I was suddenly dropped in the middle of Bagdad.

So the other day the older sister, Noor, came over and told me that her identity had been stolen on her debit card. She’d been to the bank and they wanted her to call this number to resolve the situation. She’d tried several times but had trouble getting through the recorded menu tree because she didn’t understand all of the words. So I sat down with her and called the number with her.

OH MY GOODNESS what a comedy of errors that followed. I have had it so up to here with people who judge others based on their accent and their inability to speak English perfectly. I see it all the time and it drives me crazy!! I’m serious.

Rant begins here:

The other day we had to call the police because a neighborhood teenaged boy had cornered Lubna on my patio while I was gone (I had paid her to do some gardening for me) and when the policeman showed up to make a report (at my request) he was SO rude. I understand that policemen have to remain objective and they can’t jump to conclusions that you are an innocent victim. I totally understand that. But I do NOT understand why he would give a fourteen-year-old girl the third degree with his questioning just because she doesn’t speak clearly and doesn’t understand every question immediately after you yell it at her in your condescending American jargon. I was right there. He actually spoke louder instead of clearer and treated her like an idiot because she didn’t understand his questions. It steamed me up so bad. And that’s not even touching on Lubna’s fear of police based on her experience in Iraq. That’s a whole other post.

So you can imagine my chagrin when we finally get on the phone with actual human from Wells Fargo and he has the thickest southern accent you have ever heard. I understood him but there was no way in hell that Noor  could make anything out of his elongated vowels, slurred words and distinct twang.

I know everyone has accents. I have one too. I say “dude” too much. I get that. But really? A thick southern drawl that only a third of American’s use? That’s who is manning our banking call centers?  Why?!!!  I think we would have gotten further with someone from India.

But then on top of the difficulty in understanding him, he was RUDE. I literally got the shakes from being so angry.  I don’t get angry that much but I wanted to crawl through her phone and punch the guy.

I started off the conversation explaining to him that I was her neighbor and I wanted to help translate. That was fine but he had to have her say her name and my name first for legal reasons. I understand this process because this is a fraud case and all precautions must be taken. I understand racial profiling. I admit I worried my neighbors were terrorists when I first met them too. It’s a common post 911 error.

What I don’t understand is why he had to be rude about it. He asked her to say her name over and over and over and every time he got more and more upset at her. You could hear the exasperation in his voice because she has a name that is not common. Her accent is thick and he probably didn’t have a clue how to spell what she was saying but she followed up quickly by spelling it, letter by letter. I understood her perfectly.  She knows the English alphabet and she spelled it out clearly. But apparently not clear enough for him. And every time I tried to chime in and clear up his confusion, he got mad at me for talking before she had spelled out my name for recording purposes.  So I had to sit there quietly while he belittled her. I was helpless.

It’s maddening. It happens all the time too. I don’t know how my neighbors get through each day, let alone maneuver through scams and fraud. It’s just one challenge after another. Just like when you are poor, things get exponentially more expensive. When you can’t speak English clearly, things get exponentially more difficult. She’s lost thousands of dollars because someone hacked her bank account. Thankfully, the bank has shut the account down but how many phone conversations will it take before she gets her money back, if ever?

The crazy southern-accented fool eventually hung up on us and thankfully the next woman who answered was a little more helpful and got an interpreter on the line but that was yet another cluster of confusion because the interpreter was from Saudi Arabia and he had his own set of accent problems when it came to understanding and interpreting. AND THEN as if things weren’t bad enough, the Wells Fargo employee had no idea who the interpreter was and didn’t believe that he was actually contracted by Wells Fargo to help clear things up. It was the Tower of Babble story all over again.

In the end I had to leave Noor to handle it on her own. These phone calls take up so much time and I had to go pick up Bug from school. But I just have to say I am overwhelmed by how difficult it is for immigrants. I want to stand up and say something, if only on this blog.  I know everyone has a story and I’ve judged the people on the other end of the phone line just as harshly as they are judging Noor but it has opened up my eyes.

This is my new rule for life:  Just because someone speaks with an accent or doesn’t understand English perfectly doesn’t mean they are stupid and should be treated unkindly.  I’m guilty of it too I’m sure but I am on my high horse now and I just want to punch the next person who treats Noor or Lubna or anyone one in their family with anything but kindness.

They’ve been through a lot to get here. They’ve spent their entire savings getting here. They are not illegal and they are not taking hand-outs. They deserve to be treated with respect.They are kind people. They are incredibly patient and resilient. I just want the best for them. If you meet someone like them and you are caught off guard by their dark skin or their thick accents, smile at them with your eyes and speak more slowly not more loudly. They are learning English as quickly as they can and they really want to be your friend.

end rant.