Lost Things

This post is a little different from my typical post. It’s very personal and some of you may not want to read it. (Mom, you might not want to.)

There is a line in the book Beautiful Boy that always makes me cry: How do you explain to an eight-year-old when his brother steals from him?

I don’t remember the first time my brother stole from me. Was it the time he took my piggy bank, filled to the brim with shiny, silver coins I’d so painstakingly saved? Or was it the time I came home to find my portable video game system along with all the games had been taken? I do remember the first time he took my parent car. The green Volkswagen Jetta that I was later to inherit never drove the same after he wrecked it that night.

My brother, older to me by 5 years, is currently in a rehab program. When I was in elementary school he was in and out of jail. When I graduated to high school, he graduated to prison. He’s never done anything crazy – he’s not a murderer, drug dealer, or any sort of high-crime character. He’s an almost-thirty year old who can’t figure out life. He does drugs. He drinks too much. He steals stuff. Last time he went to prison it’s because he broke into my neighbor’s house, a coworker of my parents, and stole their tv in the middle of the night. How did I find out that it was my neighbor? I was at a friend’s house and said neighbor came over. They, not knowing who I was at the time, told the story of how the husband, member of the NRA and avid gun aficionado, pulled a hand gun on my brother – and fired. The gun locked up. I sat there, on the back patio of my friend’s house, hearing for the first time the story of house my brother almost died a mere week earlier.

Everyone who knows someone with a substance abuse problem knows that the family members feel guilty at one point or another. I’ve never blamed myself for my brother’s problems. What I do feel guilty over are my conflicted feelings about my brother. When he’s in prison, which is most of the time, my family becomes one of two parents and one child. We have a routine down and we’re happy. Then, he returns. Suddenly everything is thrown out of balance and the tense, uncomfortable family that exists must attempt to find some middle ground. Everyone walks on eggshells making an already awkward moment even worse. Just when we adjust to being a family of four, he lets us down again.

This may have sound harsh to you.

The thing is you’re new to the story. I live the story. I know how it ends. My brother will come home again. He’ll do great. He’ll get an apartment (with the help of my parents), a job (with the help of me), a car (again from my parents) and slowly continues his uphill battle. My parents will help him obtain everything he needs to live a normal life – a bed, a vacuum, food for his fridge…. They’ll tell me how wonderful he’s doing and that they’re proud of him. I’ll start to believe it, my hard exterior will melt a little and I’ll let myself hope that it’s different this time. Then my mom will tell me he’s been arrested again and he’s in jail/prison/fill-in-the-blank. And then I watch my parents attempt to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives… again. I will listen to my father – my father who does not cry – do just that. I will listen to my mother ask me, despair in her voice, if it’s her fault. And I will try to move on with my life like it doesn’t kill me a little inside each time by big brothers fails us all again.

I know, I sound like a bitch. I’m not going to deny it. I sound selfish. He’s the one who’s struggling and I have the audacity to use the words ‘fails us again’. But, you know what? After 15 years you have to find some way of dealing with it for your own sanity.

I love my brother. He’s… well, he’s my brother. And he always will be. I’ll always be there for him and I’ll always be supportive. I’m just having a difficult time trying to sort out my feelings right now.

Lost Things (July 9, 2009)

Hit in the chest, like I can’t breathe
Dazed in the head, like I can’t think
I know in my heart you’re worth so much more
Yet here I am again, my heart so tore
You did it again
Why do I feel like it’s my sin
You’re gone again
Again, Again, Again.
 Torn between parent and child
Like you, I’m so wild
I can’t be myself
For those I have to protect
You keepers
The ones I respect
I can’t watch them hurt
Each other’s pain
We try to avert
Unintentional on your part
Still breaks apart
My heartMy brother missed my elementary school graduation, my high school graduation, my first apartment. He missed my 18th birthday, my 21st birthday. He missed all my missteps and my big steps. Now I’m going through one of the biggest transitions in my life and he’s not here. I love him with all my heart and wish he could be there. This is nothing against him. This is me expressing my feelings the only way I know how.




Andrew and Amber

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Attack of the Telemarketers

The telemarketers are out somethin’ fierce today.

I don’t mind the people who cold-call and are polite. I really don’t. Hey, everyone needs a job, and honestly I feel bad for them. Imagine having to call all those people every day and getting the reaction they get. People telling you to go to hell, people yelling at you, etc. I know it would wear me down. What I can’t stand is the pushy people and the people who lie. I had a phone call this morning that you could tell from the get go was a telemarketer phone call. I should also mention that, because the guys who work here work with extremely large equipment that would be dangerous to walk away from they aren’t allowed to take personal phone calls unless it is an honest to goodness emergency. Most of them have cell phones with them in that case.  

The phone rings.
 “Thank you for calling, this is Amber.”
“I need to speak to Doug Newmire.” (Said in an extremely thick accent)
“Is this a personal phone call?”
“No this is… an emer-eh- gency
“Ok, sir, I’m going to need to take down the emergency and relay it to him. What is the nature of the emergency?”
“… … … I need… to speak with him.”
“Well, he’s working on the floor and I can’t pull him away at the moment, can I relay a message for you?”
“This is OFF-EE-SUR David and I have a LEE-GUL matter of needing to discussion.”

Uh huh, I bet you are. I should also mention that this guy calls several times a week. He changes his story each time. Sometimes he a lawyer, sometimes he’s an officer.

The next phone call was another regular of ours.

“Thank you for calling, this is Amber.”
“Yes ma’am, I call you today from US Pharmacy. I need a Mr. Smith.”
“This is a place of business. Can you please take us off your calling list?”
“…I do not understand.”
“Please stop calling us.”
“I cannot understand you.”
“… I do not understand.”
{expletive}{expletive} “Can I talk to your manager. Please.
“… … Do you need any Xanax or other medication?”

In their defense, I did sound a bit high-strung by the end of the phone call.
(Image borrowed from this photobucket album)

My dad, Toby, has a different approach to telemarketers. His phone calls typically went like this:

“Hello, is Toby there?”
“Who is this!”
“My name is Reggie, is Toby available?”
“Well this is Toby’s brother in law. Who is this??!”
 “Reggie, from Insuarance, Inc…”
“No it’s not. Do you know Toby? Do you know where he is?”
“Uh, no, sir… I’m calling from an insurance provider.”
“Toby ran off last week. Left his wife and kids. Tell me where he is!”
“…did Toby leave any credit cards behind?”

By the way, that’s a true story. I guess the telemarketer wanted to help get even with Toby.

My mom decided to try out my dad’s approach once.

“Hello, is Toby there?”
“Toby… Toby left me!
“Oh! He did?”
“Yes. He left me. And the kids! He, uh… he had an affair!
“Oh, Jeanette, I’m so sorry!”
“Uh… who it this?”
“It’s Linda. I’m helping the grocery store in town make calls to support their remodel. Oh, Jeanette, are you ok?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how rumors begin. Be careful what you tell a telemarketer.

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Randomness for the Weekend

Sometimes the oddest things make me laugh. In fact, every time I see this commercial I dissolve into giggles.

But, come on. They’re dancing and rapping hamsters!

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Good Morning and a Good Day

It’s going to be a good day.

I was running late this morning. While on my way to work I was following two cars that were teetering just under the speed limit. You know when they’re not going fast enough for you but not slow enough to justify passing them? They were going 50 in a 55 zone. I decided to go for it, and when we hit passing lane I sped up and flew by them at about 80MPH.

Then a cop on a motorcycle flew past them as well and right behind me.


The odd thing was, he didn’t turn his lights on. He followed me a ways and at the next passing lane he passed me, even giving a little wave.


Not that I’m complaining! Another ticket is the last thing I need right now. After he passed me I was in a rather good mood. Once I hit the freeway I noticed there was no traffic (thank you Cesar Chavez) and realized I was going to be early to work rather than late. Not only that, but thanks to 92.1, I had a sweet soundtrack to drive to this morning.

So, what was on my playlist? I’m glad you asked…

Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations
Shake It Up Baby (Twist and Shout) by The Isley Brothers
Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg by The Temptations

I dare you to listen to those songs and not smile.

Oh, and the best part of my morning so far? My first official guest post is up! (Guest post #2 coming in April) Make sure to head over to ‘Yeah. Good Times.’ and read my post today!

Posted in Driving, Misc | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

D as in Douche

One thing I loathe about my job is giving people directions. You would be amazed how many people will start driving in the general direction of the company I work at then call and request turn-by-turn directions as they drive. I’m happy to tell you how to get here, but please, please don’t request that I spend 15 minutes on the phone with you while you navigate to the building.

Now, I know that some people get lost (trust me, I get lost all the time. I understand.). I don’t mind giving them directions, but others don’t even attempt to find out where they’re going before they leave. Then I have to go through the whole spiel of “D like dog, O like octagon, U like under, C like Charlie, H like hamper, E like elephant, B like boy, A like apple, G like gangsta, yo.” while they have me one speakerphone as they drive. Which is what happened again today.

“This is Amber, how can I help you?”
“Yes, ma’am, I need to know how to get there from the freeway.”
“Ok, you’re going to exit on Freemont and make a right, then –“
“Wait a sec… ok, exit on Summer?”
“No, on Freemont.”
Freemont. F as in Frank.”
“S as in Sam.”
EFFF as in Frank. Football. Famous.”
“Oh, ok, Freemont. I’ll exit and make a….”
“Exit and make a right. Next you’ll make a left on Main, then another left on Spring.”
“Ok, that’s a right on Bell then a left on Ramsey.”

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Save THIS for Later {Insert inappropriate gesture here}

I’m running to the vending machine as fast as my little feet will carry me, adrenaline pumping as I think of the treasure I’m about to plunder. Hands shaking I slip the coins in, each ‘plunk’ as satisfying as the next. My greedy fingers, sweaty with anticipation, can hardly hit ‘E’, let alone ‘6’. The whirring of the machine, the thump of the candy falling, the excitement of it all… it’s almost too much.

 And then it’s mine.

Clutching my prize to my chest I rush back to my desk. I open the wrapper and select one of the two pieces of milk chocolate covered caramel and nougat.

I will brush over the details of the next 60 seconds. Let’s just suffice it to say that it’s not pretty.

One piece down, there is one left. I pick it up, slowly, and lift it to my lips. The wrapper is still sitting on my desk and when I look down I read, clear as day, ‘Save one piece for later’. Even the candy bar is taunting me. Shoving the guilt aside, I quickly stuff the final piece in my mouth. Save one piece for later. Hah!

(Image borrowed from this fun blog)


Really, who has the self discipline to save one for later? If you do, number one: I dislike you. Number two: How? How do you do it?


Posted in Food, Funny, Misc | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Life as a Movie

Zack said the other day that living with me is like living with the Griswold’s.

Maybe it’s because of the dishwasher incident. It wasn’t really my fault. (really, it wasn’t!) We ran out of detergent for the dishwasher and picked some up at Costco. (I do feel the need to point out that Zack picked out the dishwasher detergent.) The next morning I grabbed the bottle, loaded the machine and hit start. And left for work. (Do you see where this is going yet?) The ‘dishwasher detergent’ was actually ‘dish soap’. Luckily Zack was home to clean the bubbles that continuously poured from the machine. The best part? Our dishwasher holds almost an entire bottle of soap so all you have to do is load it with dishes and hit start. Yeah, I filled it to the brim with regular dish soap. (In both Zack’s and my defense, the Costco dish soap looks ridiculously similar to the Target dishwasher detergent.)

Or maybe it started because of the day we left my car at the grocery store when it snowed. When we went to pick it up and I realized that I had left my car key at home. Back to the house we went to get them. Then I discovered I had my key in my purse the whole {expletive} time. Zack wasn’t too excited about that one.

Or it could have been last Thursday.

Thursday was the beginning of my weekend and I was looking forward to getting home and relaxing that night. Zack was working through the night and was a good four hour drive away. On the way home I discovered that it had started snowing. So far I’ve done fine driving in the snow. (As in, so far Zack’s been home and been able to come pick me up.)

I approached the turnoff that heads towards home and noticed more and more cars pulled off on the side of the road, but this didn’t deter me. Stubborn as I am I was determined to get my little car all the way home.

I’m proud of myself. I really am. Picture this: Little ‘ol me, slipping to the left, sliding to the right, holding on tight to the steering wheel and gritting my teeth as I peered through the white snow fall. All of that, and I made it. All. The way. Home. I snapped a picture of the road, sent it to Zack, and called him to tell him about my little victory.

“The great news is I made it home!” I exclaimed as I rummaged for my house keys. “The bad news is… I can’t find my keys.”

I searched my purse, my pockets, and my car. The thing is, the second I couldn’t find them I knew exactly where they were. They were in my other purse, with my wallet, inside the house. Hiking up the driveway I assured Zack that I would be fine and I’d find a way in, and I hung up. I noticed Zack’s big, thick wood-cutting jacket hanging up outside so I put it on and silently thanked him in my head. Then I proceeded to remove every screen from every window on the house. Not a damn window on that house was unlocked. Captain watched from inside the entire time, scratching at the door and wining. It was like he was saying, “Come on, Mom! Just open the door already!”

Zack called back and told me to just drive to his parent’s house and stay the night. One problem – I was out of gas and, as I mentioned before, my wallet was locked inside the house. So there I was, standing in the snow as the sun set, locked out of the house, the only other person with a was key miles away and not returning for another ten hours, and I had no gas nor the means to get gas. I wasn’t sure what to do but I was trying not to panic. I pulled up Google on my phone and searched “how to get past a deadbolt.” Great, if I ever get in trouble with the law that one is coming back to bite me.

Google told me that all you need to break into a door with a deadbolt is… well, all the tools that Zack has inside the house, probably sitting right next to my house keys. Alright, next move: I knew the sliding glass door on the deck was unlocked; the problem was getting 15 feet up onto the deck. I climbed into the bed of Zack’s truck and saw that he some straps and a four-foot ladder. “Ok, I’ll set the ladder below the deck in the snow, climb the ladder, toss the straps up and hook one of the posts, hoist myself up ten feet…” Ok, we all know that wasn’t happening. I may be athletically inclined but that just ain’t gonna work.

I decided that, as the sun completely gone at this point and it was still snowing, I would have to just suck it up and go to the neighbor’s house. I hadn’t met the neighbors yet and this definitely wasn’t the way I wanted it to go down. I hiked down the driveway shining my phone for light and walked across the street. The neighbors have a fenced in yard with a gate and I wasn’t sure where to open it, so I slowly walked from one end to the other checking the gate out as I did. I didn’t notice at first they were watching me from the inside. When I did notice I felt pretty ridiculous and a bit stalker-esque. I stopped in front of the gate and did my best ‘I’m not crazy or trying to hurt you, I’m your friendly neighbor!’ wave. I don’t think it went over too well as the woman stood up, walked over to the window and looked at me, then back around the corner. Ok, this was getting embarrassing. I stood and waited until she peeked back around, then gave another wave, this one more of an SOS wave. She stared for a moment, hesitantly walked to the door and opened it. Then it all came out in a rush.

“Hi, I’m Amber, your neighbor, I’m sorry to bother you but I locked myself out of the house and Zack’s out of town and I don’t have any gas and my wallet’s inside and the only way into the house is up on the deck and I wanted to knowifyouhavealadderIcanborrow.” Deep breath.

Turns out she and her husband are totally cool and close to the same age as Zack and I. They did have a ladder I could use and helped me up onto the deck where, yes, indeed, the sliding glass door was unlocked. We exchanged phone numbers and they advised me to get a hide-a-key before leaving. Once inside I snuggled up with Captain and a beer. What a way to start the weekend.

Now that I think about it, I really am a walking National Lampoon Movie…

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