The Scribble Diary, 6/30 – 7/3

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Top 20 Songs…Ever?

That’s a tough topic. How can I even begin to recall all of the songs I’ve heard over my lifetime, and then how do I narrow them down to 20?

For the non-Twitter types, #20topfavouritesongsever has been trending all day. Likely because it takes 20 tweets to address it.

I did manage to think of 20 songs I like. I don’t know if they’re the best ever; perhaps this post would be more aptly named “Top 20 Songs I Remembered in the Last Hour”.

Also, I couldn’t figure out how to rank them beyond top five. So I’m just disappointment all around with this post.

The rest:
AC/DC, “Back in Black”
Portishead, “Humming”
The Beatles, “I Want You”
Bush, “Swallowed”
Massive Attack, “Angel”
Thievery Corporation, “Sweet Tides”
Bobby Darin, “Beyond the Sea”
Duke Ellington, “Loveinessence”
Elton John, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”
Glenn Miller Orchestra, “Moonlight Serenade”
Rufus Wainwright, “Origin of Love”
Fiona Apple, “Criminal”
Simply Red, “Holding Back the Years”
Shiny Toy Guns, “Le Disko”
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Breaking the Girl”

The best:
5. The Black Crowes, “Remedy”
4. Portishead, “Glory Box”
3. The Beatles, “Something”
2. Temple of the Dog, “Say Hello to Heaven”
1. Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir”

I’ll probably kick myself later for forgetting “Mega Epic Musical Masterpiece” by “Freaking Obvious Band”. For now, this is it.

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The Ten Year Plans…

…o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.

An apt adaptation from the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns. If it sounds vaguely familiar, recall John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” from high school English.

Or check out the film. Gary Sinise. John Malkovich. It was awese. <-intentional truncation

As a 17-year-old ingenue, I thought I knew how my life would be ten years from point A. I think we all had those passing thoughts, right?

And as I reflect upon turning 27 this year, I think of how things are different. How, at 17, I thought I'd surely forget the silly things I was forced to learn. But I never forgot the poem we had to memorize…

"So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow, glazed with rain water, beside the white chickens"

Yes, it does Willie. Yes, it does.

I remember that, but I also remember making vague plans for life. I wondered what I would be doing at 27.

I feel like there's a sense of being frozen in your high school generation. People with whom you attended high school are just like you. They're in your boat. People who graduated a few years+ either before or after you are in a different realm.

It's difficult to pinpoint the exact sentiment, but it's almost as if everyone else around me is getting older. I'm stuck in a moment with my closer peers. We're not almost 30.

Except we are.

Now I think of life at 37. That's 20 years after high school, which seems like an eternity if it's anyone else. It doesn't seem so long when I think of my specific peers.

Life was very different roughly ten years ago. I remember my parents coming to visit me my freshman year in college to buy their pitiful college kid some food…and a digital camera. Those things were new back then.

"Back then". Geez.

In that moment, I would have never imagined my parents being divorced.

Ten years ago, I saw nothing but prime economic opportunity ahead. I remembered the million-dollar retirement concept from Economics in high school. By 27, I would have contributed $18,000 to an IRA. And surely the job market would continue to be amazing.

Life was so promising then. Not that I'm mopey about life now, but there was a different morale in this country ten years ago. I couldn't have imagined a tough job market. I couldn't have imagined how bitter our politics would become.

At 27, many of us have already seen friends marry and divorce. We've seen them welcome new life to the earth. We are the people who, at 17, seemed so old. I look at pictures of my peers with their children and I still see those peers as they were in high school. A child is having a child.

We're suspended in that moment.

I don't know how to characterize the feeling of 27. To be in one's late 20s through 30s and unmarried & childless, it's like a generational purgatory. I'm not really one of the young kids who party anymore, but I'm not settled down. It really is a kind of mid-air suspension in life.

Regardless, I am thoroughly pleased with my life now. It may not be exactly as I envisioned at 17, but life would be boring if you always knew the next move. I used to be a little obsessed with planning, but I have come to appreciate life's little moments even more as I've learned to leave the future open ended.

When I first thought of my "best laid plans" from 17, I wondered how my life could have turned out so differently. Then I realized that at that young age, your life plans are based on a limited lifetime of experiences. There are so many things you can't foresee at that age.

Good things.

Bad things.

Confusing things.

All have a place.

I don't put life on a timeline in the same way I would have at 17. I don't think 37 is the editor of my life's paper, breathing down my neck to meet the print deadline. My only goal going forward is to be content with the way life rolls.

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2011 Year in Review

2011 has been an interesting year. I’ve had a few “downs”, but it’s been mostly “ups” all year. Despite the moments of adversity I faced (most of which very few people are aware), I’ve made it to the end. I’m thankful for the good times and the bad.

Mostly the good times, obviously.

This year I

Expanded my baking repertoire: In the past I enjoyed baking sugar cookies & chocolate chip cookies from scratch. This year, I tried new scratch recipes. Cinnamon rolls, cake, biscuits, doughnuts, and much more.

Became a regular: When the bartender puts your name on a receipt, you know you’re probably there too much.

Played nicer with boys: Last year, I vowed to at least give more fellows the time of day. I’m notoriously evil when it comes to men hitting on me.

Enjoyed music: I tried to come up with a top 10, but I ended up with eight. Not to say this is an absolute list, but they’re the first ones that came to mind. In no particular order…

  • Korn ft. Skrillex, “Get Up”: Rock with a bit of electronica. The mix is awesome.
  • Lady Gaga, “Born This Way”: I still turn up the radio & belt this one out when it plays. I’ll admit it.
  • New Boyz ft. Dev & The Cataracts, “Backseat”: I love the beat of this song. Makes me want to dance, even if I’m in the car. It has a similar vibe to Far East Movement’s “Like a G6”, but I haven’t tired of “Backseat” yet.
  • Jay-Z & Kanye West, “…in Paris”: The lyrics are pretty sweet. I like to live vicariously through them…wishing I balled so hard.
  • The Beastie Boys, “Make Some Noise”: Another one I dance to in the car. The full-length video featuring a bit of the song is worth a watch, if only for the cameos. Make some noise if ya with mehhhhh…!
  • Black Eyed Peas, “Just Can’t Get Enough”: I liked this one because it featured a less vocally aggressive Fergie. It’s a pleasant tune with a hint of typical BEP.
  • The Black Keys, “Howlin’ for You”: It has the kind of sound you don’t hear much in modern music–actual instruments. I don’t know about you all, but it’s hard to get this one out of my head. And that’s a good thing.
  • Five Finger Death Punch, “Under and Over It”: I like a good screaming song every so often. I’ve yet to hear a 5FDP song I don’t like.

Enjoyed life: My general philosophy is if you woke up to live another day, be grateful. I hate people who spend day after day complaining about stuff. If you can change it, change it. If you can’t, learn to deal with it.

Did not commit to a GOP presidential candidate: I only have a few weeks to do so. I’ve been quite unimpressed with the field. Perhaps more accurately, I’ve been a bit peeved with the candidates’ supporters. Hard to sift through the “You’re an idiot for supporting X” nonsense to find qualities worth supporting.

Became more vocal about things I wanted: This actually came about more so in the second half of the year. It’s served me well so far and I intend to continue laying my thoughts and wants in the open more.

Wrote a rambling year end blog post: And now it’s over.

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The $70 Wastebasket & Other Musings

  • $70 is an outrageous price for a bathroom wastebasket. Yet, that’s exactly what I’ve seen some going for. It’s fine to pay that for a living room statue whose “conversation starter” essence consists of “I bought it at Pier 1”. Not for a bathroom wastebasket. At best, it receives Q-tips you used for eye cream. At worst, …
  • I’m annoyed with people who drive as though they are in a hurry. Maybe you should leave home earlier.
  • I love when matchmakers try to assure you of their successes. I always assume the person has failures they selectively forget to mention.
  • It’s hard to find a modest Halloween costume that isn’t a traditional ghost or something basic & frumpy. I’m a little self-conscious about visible cleavage. I just assume any comments made to me by men while engaging in public displays of chest-fection are purely out of wanting to see more.
  • I thought leggings were temporary. They just seem to be getting weirder. You probably want to avoid Zanesville, OH, while wearing your animal print leggings.
  • I assume they added proper signage in Albuquerque. Haven’t heard much from Bugs Bunny regarding that pesky left turn lately.
  • One day I’m going to DJ at a club & I’m going to play sexy rock songs. Like

    and

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/y5IwqK1wmX8

  • I chatted with a few tweeps yesterday about men in suits. I’m 90% sure I’d do anything a guy in a suit, playing with a dog, asked me to do. Cat? I’d exit, stage left, faster than Snagglepuss.

‘Tis all for now.

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For the Ugly and Tragically Flawed

Today I read the latest “Modern Love” column from the New York Times and, like most columns, I reflected.

The author addresses, what I imagine is, a common occurrence for single people. Single women, in particular.

When you meet a stranger, the second or third question is typically “What do you do?”. When meeting up with a person you haven’t seen in a while, the second or third question is typically “Are you seeing anyone?”.

I balk at such a question. By itself, it seems like a fairly innocuous question. Taken in the context of a single gal’s life, it’s annoying. I don’t think it’s any more a part of my identity than what I do for a living.

And if it was left there, I’d ignore it. But how often is the inevitable follow-up not included?

Example: I was chatting with a lady I know very well, but hadn’t seen for a while. She asked the question. I said no. Then…

“What, have you just not met anyone good? Like at the gym or church or your political stuff?”

A gentleman I know seems to think I should be hitting up the political pool, too, as our reunions always seem to come around to “Have you met a nice Republican boy yet?”

I was clearly unaware I was supposed to be looking for dating prospects in such arenas. Noted. They must have been unaware the numbers are not in a singleton’s favor:

****

Sometimes when people inquire, they take that “What’s wrong with you?” connotation. Because, obviously, singleness is only for the ugly & tragically flawed and for college kids whoring around campus.

I’m certainly not whoring around a campus, so…

****

What’s the rush? I don’t feel like I’m falling off of some prescribed life timeline. My evenings aren’t screaming for formulaic dates. My uterus isn’t imploring me to give it a fetus to cradle.

(If yours is, might I suggest giving your gynecologist a ring? Maybe your mental health specialist?)

Ultimately, I think we’re just in an awkward generational transition. Older folks who married young wonder how a 26-year-old girl isn’t pursuing a husband. Heck, even people closer to my own age might be wondering the same thing.

One step at a time, people. Like the columnist said, your pursuit is really just about finding a person who is cool with your flaws. Reminds me of a song I love from a film I love. I had never and have not yet heard another philosophy of love that makes more sense than this (maybe not including the whole Thor & Zeus thing).

(If you’re sensitive to brief animated nudity, don’t watch)

I understand people are concerned for my well-being, as evidenced by the occasional “I want to find you someone who will make you happy”. Because I must be a morose person who dwells on my singleness.

I can’t speak for all singles, but I’m okay with my single life. I’m not averse to dating, but I feel just fine when I’m not dating. Besides, I think “to feel better about myself” is a terrible reason to be in a relationship.

Let’s revise the reunion conversation:

“So you’re not seeing anyone? Not that there’s anything wrong with it…”

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It’s Over

Now that the money my gym incorrectly drafted from me has returned to my account, I can give you the full three months of drama I had to deal with.

(And you know I hate drama, even when it doesn’t involve me.)

I’m also not going to call out the gym by name, as I am not in the business of trying to pillory them. But I can tell you privately if you’d like to know.

I signed the contract on 6/18/2010. At the time I had an option for one year or two, with or without auto-renewal. Since I was new to this gym, I did one year, no auto-renew.

So the contract should have cancelled on 6/18/2011.

Wrong.

My bank account was drafted the monthly fee in June. Thinking maybe I misinterpreted the contract somehow, I waited until July to see if it happened again.

Sure enough, I was drafted around July 22.

All billing inquiries are to be directed to the finance company, so I called. The woman told me she’d have to get a copy of my contract and I’d have to call back the next day.

Not sure why she didn’t have computer access to the basic info. But okay, I’ll call back.

The next day I talked to another woman at the finance company. She saw I had called yesterday and she pulled up my contract. “I can see you checked not to auto-renew. But we’ll have to get in contact with the local gym for more information.”

Um, what more do you need?

Called back that Monday. “We haven’t heard from the local gym yet.”

Grrr.

Between work and other things, I wasn’t able to get back in contact with the finance company during their business hours for a couple of weeks.

August 25: I am drafted again. Growing more irate, I called the finance company again. “I can see you checked not to auto-renew. Yeah…you definitely shouldn’t have been charged. Did you happen to go to the gym in May or June to sign an authorization to auto-renew?”

“Considering I haven’t been to that gym since January, it’s highly unlikely I could have signed such a form.”

“Okay. I’ll have to tall to the account manager. I will personally straighten this out and give you a call back later today or tomorrow.”

August 26, afternoon: I called the finance company. New woman this time. “I have in my records that the local franchise handles its own cancellations. You’ll have to get in contact with them.”

Are you kidding me?! All of these calls and now you all say I have to call the gym? FINE!

August 26: Called the local gym. If I remember correctly, the gym office works shorter hours on Fridays. Left a voicemail:

“This is Christine Byington, member ID 30940. I have a contract that was supposed to end in June, but I have been charged each month since June. I called [finance company] multiple times and the last person said I needed to talk to you. If you could please call me at [my number], I’d appreciate it. Thanks.”

Polite.

I waited through Monday the 29th for a return call. Nothing.

August 30: Called the gym. Got voicemail. I wasn’t going to leave another unrequited voicemail, so I tried e-mail.

“My name is Christine Byington, membership #30940. My contract with the gym was supposed to end 6/18/2011, yet I have been drafted the membership dues in June, July, and August. I’ve spoken with [finance company] at least four times to question this and have gotten a different answer each time, the latest being that I needed to speak with the local club.

I left a voicemail with you Friday afternoon and have not received a response. I would like a quick resolution for this issue. Per the contract I have with the gym, I believe I have been incorrectly charged $210 for a contract that should not have auto-renewed.

My contact number is [number]. Thank you in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide.”

Polite.

Got a response about two hours later:

“I will resolve this issue for you. I have been away from the office and I
did not have time to train personnel on how to fix this. I will have it
fixed ASAP.”

Maybe this will finally be over.

September 1: Haven’t heard an update or seen any money credited to my bank yet. Sent another e-mail (because apparently those get answered and voicemails don’t):

“I’m writing to follow up on Tuesday’s e-mail. Just wondering if [finance company] has fixed my contract issue yet.”

Got a response in 10 mins:

“I am putting together the reimbursement plan. I will be in touch asap.”

Reimbursement plan? What does that mean?

Since Monday was Labor Day, I figured they might not be in the office. So I waited Tuesday to see if anything changed.

Nada. Left a voicemail similar to the previous one.

I was trying to avoid making any threats because I really hoped to resolve what I thought was a simple issue. But at this point I was weary of having to deal with it.

September 7: Sent this e-mail:

“I was wondering what the status was on my refund for the three months I should not have been charged. I left a voicemail yesterday and have not heard back. I feel like I’ve exhausted the favorable options when it comes to resolving this issue.

I’ve been patient far longer than most would be in the same situation. I did enjoy the gym when I was able to use it and continued to pay the monthly fees without complaint after I moved farther away. But the contract was supposed to end in June.

If this matter isn’t resolved expeditiously, I believe my only option will be to contact the news station or consult an attorney. I do not want to have to do either of these.

As I said, I would have recommended this gym but possibly not anymore after what I have had to deal with. I hope we can fix this issue and move forth.”

Polite, but visibly irate.

Response 20 mins later:

“I scheduled the full three month reimbursement for you. I will call the
billing company and give you a call to confirm.”

He called about two hours later and told me the finance company was going to deposit it to my account, but it would take 3-5 days.

The money showed up this morning.

I’m glad this is finally over, but I hate that it took threatening to call an attorney to get anything done about it. Seemed to be such a quick fix in the end, so why did it take so long?

I hate to think a company would try to do this intentionally just to keep getting money, but it surely seemed that way.

Long sigh.

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