Goodbye rabbit and good riddance.

“Well, we’ll not risk another frontal assault. That rabbit’s dynamite.” King Arthur from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


When I heard the Year of the Rabbit was going to be a slow year, I immediately had my doubts. When have you ever heard of a rabbit being slow? And I was right..

As I type this I’m dealing with a terrible stomach bug that I’ve had since Thursday. I’ve restricted my diet in hopes that will help it out. So it’s saltines, apple sauce, rice, and jello for me. Yay..

In this Rabbit Year I’ve had the worst head cold of my life. I also had a wisdom tooth removal that didn’t heal well. Wonder why I stopped blogging about it? Because the next day (7?) when I returned to the oral surgeon, one area of my gum had swelled shut and had to be reopened so it could be rinsed out. It was a level 10 pain, a level of pain which I had previously reserved for broken bones and childbirth. I told what happened to another oral surgeon and watched him visibly wince. You know it’s bad when someone in the profession winces.

I’ve still been having sinus issues. Lately I’ve been having jaw pain on my left side by the jaw joint and left ear pain. I’ve been grinding due to stress and have some gum receding going on so quite a few of my teeth are extremely sensitive right now. Tomorrow morning I’m due to have 3 fillings done. I have no idea which teeth or where in my mouth. Three fillings is enough information for me. It won’t be fun. I always get completely exhausted later in the day. I don’t know if it’s from the anesthesia, the trauma, or both. Hopefully though it’s the last of the filling work that I need to have done. At this point I just want it over with. On Tuesday afternoon I go to see an ENT again about my facial pain for further examination. Since I always get sinus issues on my left side anyway, this will hopefully prove informative as to why and what I can do to prevent these issues.

I had a whole heck of a lot of stress due to my mother’s failing health. On my birthday she had a breakdown and had to be hospitalized for 2 weeks. They would only let her go to an assisted living facility. She’s that bad. Depression, anxiety, and paranoia. Which explains why she would frantically call my husband and I when she couldn’t get a hold of my brother who lived near her. And why every time it was an emergency that she needed help with NOW. And she calls someone who is a 10 hr drive away.. She couldn’t understand that I couldn’t really help. I can’t do anything in an emergency. Of course later it was discovered it wasn’t an emergency, it was her panicking. My brother was there most if not every day of the week tending to each ’emergency’ she had. Before the breakdown my mom went to the ER 3 or 4 times in 1 week. *sighs* Even now it’s difficult to describe the pressure my mother put on us and stressed us out. My health took a huge tumble and I started having nightly anxiety attacks myself. Fortunately that’s stopped and I’ve been attack free for weeks. *Knocks on wood.*

And that’s why this year’s resolution is simply more “Me” time. Last year I was sideswiped way too many times. Blows came at me like I was playing dodge ball and Fate always had possession of the ball. WHAM! Something unexpected happen. I try to plan for things to not get hit again. WHAM! Hit by something I didn’t expect. WHAM! Hit by something else I couldn’t have possibly expected. And so on. I started to wonder how long this was going to keep going on and how many times could I pull myself up again. I got a bit depressed myself because things kept happening pretty much every weekend, every other if I was lucky. I didn’t get much of a break to get any sort of breather. Eventually you get tired of playing and I wanted to just be left alone for a good while.

During this time I took a class in Fundamentals of Website Design. I got an A+ in the class. Don’t ask me how the heck that happened. I worked my butt off relearning HTML and learning CSS. I’m proud I did so very well, but I’m taking a breather from any other classes until my health finally resolves and I get some major recouping time.

So yeah it hasn’t been a good year no matter what calendar I look at. All I hoping for is that the Year of the Dragon holds some promise of things getting better. I would like to see things turning around in my life soon. I’m tired of being sick, tired of doctor appointments, tired of reworking my schedule to make up lost time from those appointments, tired of burning through the very little that’s left of my sick time since I ate so much of it up last year. I just want to be healthy, happy, and get my quiet life back. Though right now I’d take the healthy so I can finally start getting in some much needed exercise and get stuff done.

Ding! Life Level 34

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhMQ0zsMpGk&w=420&h=315]

Fair warning: contains much ranting.

The thing with my birthday falling near the end of the year is that I get to reflect on how this year has been. And it’s been the equivalent of a Hell Level. Looking back I see all the things I wanted to accomplish, and all the things I just didn’t.

The major problem this year was illness, either illness I had or illness in the family.

I got really sick the beginning of this year, which lead me to finally get those wisdom teeth yanked out. Well that didn’t go well so I was knocked out with that. Add various illnesses and so on.

My father had back surgery last year and the recovery didn’t go well. This year it was my mother getting ill. The problem is she complains to me and asks for my help and I live a couple of states away. Least to say I can’t give any help except advice. The problem there is my mom isn’t taking the advice, she’s complaining about it. My brother who lives near her has to force her to appointments and he likens it to “pulling teeth.” And even when she gets there.. well.. the latest one she refused to take a test she needed and was required by her doctor to do. As for meds, if she gets any reaction she associates it with the medicine and stops taking it. So she’s refusing to do anything to help herself really get better and there’s nothing we can do. That’s especially true for me, and I’m having to come to terms with that. If she wants to drive her health into the ground, sadly I fear that might be literally, I can’t do anything about it.

I tried to go for a Japanese Language class this year at the college where I work. I went through all the admission steps and kept striving forward. However the pace was just.. woah. by the end of the 2nd week of class the teacher was to have the first test in Katakana. Plus we had to start going to a language lab to record ourselves repeating oral practices in Japanese.

Now I have a long commute, and an hour lunch. So with all that I’m gone from home literally 12 hours a day Monday through Friday. And I have to make up time I miss for class and do that on the day I have class. So least to say my free time weekdays is very little. To be able to study, practice lessons in the book, learn Katakana, AND go to a language lab on campus to practice (again and make up the time I miss at work).. Yeah that’s not going to happen.

I used a Tuition Assistance Program (aka TAP) to help pay for the class. The terms of it is though that you can only sign up a week before classes start, and can only withdraw from the class at the end of the first week of classes. By Wednesday the teacher in the Japanese class had warned that if you aren’t keeping up then, you should withdraw. They’ve failed people out of the class. Now I loved the challenge of it, but my work life makes me tackling that pace impossible. So on Wednesday in the first week of classes I switched to a Fundamentals of Website Design course.

The good news is the website design course is just what I wanted. My knowledge of HTML was outdated and I’ve been using depreciated code. My knowledge of CSS was pretty much non-existent. Thanks to that class I’ve gotten better at both things and I’m eager to continue learning more about what I can do with CSS. So while I didn’t learn Japanese this year like I wanted to, my website design skills improved instead. Eh. You win some, you lose some.

So I got a class I enjoyed and plowed away at assignments any night that I had the time. However any breathing time was sucked out by my mother calling and complaining some more and being very needy. I mean it’s gotten really bad. She’s been wishing she could live by me, which I tell her is not possible. When I told her of my time I dedicate to my job her response was, “We’d still have the weekends.” I was floored. Really? Weekends? The only time I get to do anything like oh grocery shopping, laundry, spending time with my husband, unwinding…. Now it’s she wishes we lived in the condo with her so we would be there 24/7, completely ignoring the fact we could in fact care for her 24/7. She doesn’t recognize at all that we have our own adult lives and responsibilities. My mom just sees when people aren’t there for her the moment she needs them and complains.

My health started failing due to all the stress. I got the worst headache in my life, started getting anxiety attacks, etc. I finally sought counseling on campus to help me deal with this. I’ve been learning how to protect myself from the stress. Emotionally protecting myself is going to be the hardest. I also haven’t been emotionally and spiritually taking care of myself and replenishing myself. (Thus the stress and health issues.) So I need to work on that too. (Note: Any recommendations on relaxation music like music set to sounds of the ocean, music to a garden, etc is most welcome right now!)

So in general it feels like my whole year had pretty much been abducted and I wanted it back. I just hope this next year goes a lot better. I think I’ll need to focus on time for me this coming year. Again recommendations on how to do this with such a hectic schedule are most welcome. I’m not taking a class spring semester so at least I’ll have that time back to focus on me.

So, blah! 33 is behind me and I’m shelving it right away. I’m focusing on a new year where I help myself get better in every possible way.

Some story plots that irk me – pt. 1

1. Killing off older characters, or anyone offering help to the ‘hero.’

     First off this has become so freaking predictable. Some older person comes around an offers some grand wise advise. Moments later they are killed by a villain.

     Please stop now. Please. If your ‘hero’ must proceed on their own, find some other way to separate the characters.

     I find plots much more enjoyable when they are multi-generational.
     

2. Character who is old and experienced gets their butt kicked by a newbie.

     Okay. White belt meets black belt. And white belt not only easily wins but wins by a mile. Riiiight. How often do you seriously expect this to happen? Be honest now.

     You might be able to explain it off by experienced fighter being off guard. Might. You can try “my goodness and virtue trump your skill.” I might buy that. Once.

     Seriously though. Experienced people should act accordingly. People just learning a skill should stumble. Let the newbie have to work and use strategy. It makes both characters believable.
     

3. Arranged marriages are terrible things, and only the woman can complain about it.

     This is a two-in-one lament.

     First the perception that arranged marriages are terrible things. How awful of your parents to marry you to a complete stranger. How unloving and uncaring.

     Um in some cultures and time periods arranged marriages are/were normal and accepted. I’m willing to bet when possible the parents checked out the prospective spouse-to-bes. They just spent years supporting and loving their children. They would make sure their future spouse could take care of them.

     Now some arranged marriages were made to create or solidify a truce. Okay. But that doesn’t automatically make their spouse-to-be automatically bad.

     Second issue: only women can lament about it.

     Here’s the obvious fact. It takes two people to make a union. Both of them are having their spouse picked out by their family. Both are in the same boat.

     And yet I read about the woman lamenting on the unfairness of it all. Not the man. She cries. Not him.

     The message to the future husband must be “suck it up and be man.” And if he does lament: he’s complaining, he’s feeling sorry for himself (ignoring the fact the future bride is doing this), he’s a wimp, a baby, etc.

     Wow. What a message to send to all the men out there. Deal with it. Tough luck. Who cares how you feel.

     It gets worse when he’s portrayed with really bad personality problems. He’s cruel, controlling, abusive, harassing, alcoholic, etc. Then comes the cliché of the woman being rescued from this bad marriage by a handsome kind man. And I try not to gag.

     How about a story where both people in this arranged marriage have to deal with the uncertainty of it all? They have to learn about each other. Maybe they’re from different countries and cultures and have to learn those. They try together to make their marriage, their treaty, work. No over angsting. No handsome person to rescue them.

     There are more plot points that irk me, but I’ll just start with these.

And for Valentine’s, I got…

     My car back from the repair shop aka Dealership.

     Backing up now. A little over a month or so, I took Haku in for an oil change. It turned out my belts were cracking. The oil change place did not have them in stock. So as soon as we could, Giuliano and I took the car to Pep Boys to get the belts replaced. Now the priced they quoted on the phone turned out to be only for 1 belt. The person on the phone didn’t realize there were 2. So they kept to the price and changed them.

     A week later I started having problems turning my steering wheel. Then as I turned the wheel too far in one way or another, the belt squealed really loudly.

     Haku went back to Pep Boys, but they were already busy with repairs. I mentioned the car was getting hard to turn and the person I talked to came out to look at the car. We turned the wheel as he watched. He said that when we turned it, the pump stopped working and the belts were getting frayed. Now Giuliano had checked the belts earlier, and one seemed loose. The guy pressed on it and said it was tight enough. The mechanic said the pump or the rack was failing. However they had to order a pump. As this was right before MLK, we worried who would be open. We decided to go to Subaru, the dealership, for the repair. If it was something slightly major, we wanted a professional taking care of this car.

     My car went to Subaru on Jan 17th, and the verdict was.. the belt was loose, the pump is fine.

     Now I had noticed a noise under the hood from time to time after the belts were replaced or so. But it went away, so I couldn’t take it anywhere since they wouldn’t hear it. The noise remained, even though I had hoped it was related to the previous car problems. Then it started to happen more often and get worse. Finally it didn’t really go away.

     So I convinced Giuliano to take Haku back to Subaru and an appointment was made on Jan 30th. At first it seemed that the crankshaft was bent. Then the news got worse.. much MUCH worse.

     The bolt that held the pulley for the crankshaft got loose. The key ripped off and the end of the crankshaft got chewed up. Unfortunately by the time I heard the noise the damage was already done. The whole engine block had to be replaced. The rest of the engine was in good shape and could be rebuilt into the block.

     Subaru lent me a loaner for free, a 2006 Subaru Legacy sedan (blue), complete with a sun roof and leather interior. I enjoyed driving it a couple of times, but I spent most of the time depressed about Haku.

     Finally today I got word that my car repairs were done. The final verdict, the block was replaced with a new one, the oil pump was built into the block and was stuck so it was replaced, and the timing belt was stuck so that had to be replaced too. The repair cost just over $5,100. 🙁

     Giuliano and I came to an agreement on the repairs. I, of course, cannot afford a repair that costly. So Giuliano paid for the repairs. In turn all of my tax refund will go to Giuliano to pay him back for repairs. I’ll also most likely have to divert money to him whenever possible to continue to pay off the repairs. (Depending on how much of a refund I get.)

     So instead of a nice dinner and a nice engagement ring for 5k, I got a new engine block, oil pump, and timing belt.

     *Sighs.*

     Well at least there aren’t many big repairs left now. The car should last till at least 160k or so now, I hope. Now I just have to get used to driving Haku after driving the loaner for 3 weeks.

Death to the Cursed Jade Car

Major car rant incoming!
To sum up, what I have replaced on my car to date:

Within the first 100 or so miles after buying: (Car was bought at 50k)

  • Radio replaced because back light did not work.
  • All 4 tires
  • Entire exhaust system minus catalytic converter

Within the first or second k or so miles of ownership:

  • All 4 struts
  • AC condenser
  • AC fan
  • AC converted to new system
  • AC refilled several times
  • Thermostat housing (?) – When I was loosing coolant on a daily basis. Literally had to refill coolant every evening. No pool of coolant seen on ground, ever.

Since my move to GA:

  • Ignition module
  • Both axles including CV joints/boots
  • PCV Valve
  • Timing belts and other belts replaced
  • Water pump
  • Front breaks
  • That metal round part that connects tire to car via nuts, 2 replaced along with said nuts

Total cost of all repairs: ~$3,300.00

What needs to be replaced to finally fix AC:

  • Compressor
  • Drier
  • Expansion valve

Cost for that repair ~$1,200.00

What I plan to do:
Buy a new (used) car. (Especially since I finished paying off the loan a couple of months ago.)

So until then I’m driving in 80-90 degree heat (plus humidity) in a car with NO ac. The people who checked my car’s AC drained it cause the AC was leaking (yet again), and so now I have none, zippo, nada, big goose egg AC in my car.

Have I been giving Giuliano nasty looks for picking out such a bad car, and saying it’d be okay? Have I been grumbling about when he said “We’ll repair the AC later.” before buying the car (which meant I’LL repair it later)? Definitely to both.

There’s nothing but pure hate for my car.