Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Archive for the tag “Celeste”

Too frazzled to write

Been busy all day with working on my ERO case, taking Celeste to the vet, dealing with family things….  Just too tired to try to be witty or find a topic worth writing.

On the plus side, the Civic Center across from my house is showing Cars 2 on the outside of the building.  Free movie for me!

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Greetings from Depressive

Hi.  I’ve been around for quite a while but haven’t had the opportunity to actually post anything here myself.  I’ve been trying to keep me from being noticed but when things get really hectic or stressful or disappointing, then I just can’t stop from showing up to practically ruin it all.

Oh dear.  I see you looking at what I’m writing and you’ve got that weird look on your face.  It’s the same look that my family gives me when they can’t figure out what’s going on or when they think I’m just trying to hide something.  Usually I am trying to hide something — myself.  I don’t like me being here and I don’t like it when I come around just out of the blue.

I guess I should explain.  If you’re a long-time follower of this blog, you already know that I have bi-polar disorder (along with some other absolutely fascinating issues that can cause havoc at any moment).  Now, for those who don’t understand bi-polar disorder, it was originally called manic-depressive disorder.  This is when your brain — or, rather, my brain — decides that it wants to do something different for a while without my consent.  I can either become extraordinarily hyperactive, hyper-vigilant, hyper-emotional.  Just pick a “hyper” and it’s on the list.  This is my manic phase.  This is when Manic appears and keeps me from sleeping for long periods of time (days) or has me obsessing over certain things that need to be done and I can’t stop doing them or I end up listening to the rest of the voices up in my head arguing because they’ve decided that since adrenaline, their favorite drink, is on-tap that they’re going to join in the fun.

Manic and I get along well at times but we do have problems when Manic gets OCD a little over-excited instead of its usual state.  Then I can be in big trouble.

But today, I’m here.  Well, I am always here but the specific “I” that is writing here is Depressive.  I am the one that can take any happy moment from extremely ecstatic to morbidly horrifying in seconds.  I have the ability to just wander up while I’m hearing good news and start whispering all the things that are either untrue (whether they are or not) about it or about how everything from that moment on will go horribly wrong.  And I don’t shut-up easily, either.  I’ve been around for ages and I’ve learned all of my defense mechanisms against me.  Even the medications are having problems with me now.

My favorite one was when I was ordered to a psychology group for manic-depressive people and the class leaders said, “If you just think that you’re happy, you’ll be happy.”  They repeated that a lot.  I raised my hand and asked them how that could be possible especially when I was incredibly suicidal?  Was I supposed to be happy about being suicidal or was I supposed to picture rainbows and kittens and cotton candy and hope that the suicidal bit would pass?

They kicked me out of the class.  Seriously.

For a while I’ve been puttering around here reading what’s being written and critiquing things.  It’s one of the things I do.  I also keep bad things at the forefront of my mind.  The whole ERO issue, for example.  Today I got my paperwork that the informal stage is over and I can now file for a formal hearing.  However, I keep reminding myself that I (1) only have 14 more days left to do that, (2) that I have no idea how the whole process works, (3) that I could really use a good attorney to help me, (4) that I’ve been referred to a really good attorney who wants to help me, but (5) the attorney costs $300 per hour that I don’t have and that leaves me sitting and staring at the paperwork and going back to #1.  And then I start it all over again.  See how much fun I am?

I’ve seen celebrities who have bi-polar talk about their different extremes with cute little names for them.  I don’t do that.  I am a part of me that is the whole me and nothing but the me.  Remember, even the voices are mine.  There are just too many of them at times to not give them their own grouping.

Well, that’s enough about me for now.  I have a prior engagement (I think) with PTSD.  We hang out together a lot.  Of course, I’m glad that I have Celeste who helps me keep myself from overly freaking-out when I get this way.  I’ll probably be around for quite a while longer because there’s so much going on that I have to get involved with and I’ve not seen my therapist for almost three weeks so the environment is just how I like it.  Moody, sad, stressed, and down.

And thanks in advance to anyone who types anything positive about what I’ve written about myself.  But I’m going to be completely honest with you — it’s not going to matter for a while.  When I’m here and this far out in front of myself, it takes a lot longer to get me back with the rest of the crowd.  And I don’t mean to be snappy or make anyone think I’m ignoring them.  I just enjoy screwing with my emotions enough so that I don’t want to do anything.  Well, sleep is always fun.  But I only do that when I don’t need to be doing it.  Like when the medication makes me do it.  Or if there’s a ton of things I need to get done and I fall-over on the couch or the bed and doze for, oh, say, three or four hours.  Tonight I’m going to try to make myself get some sleep because I’m really tired just from being me today.  It won’t work the way I want it to, but I’ll still try.

And….*sigh*….Husband and Youngest Son keep coming in to check and see what I’m doing (occasionally led by Celeste who knows something’s wrong).  It irritates me because while I appreciate their worry about me very, very much I also don’t like it because they have their own things to worry about and I don’t need to be getting in the way.  Plus I don’t like people trying to read over my shoulder when I’m writing or reading something out-loud.  And that’s not “Depressive” saying that — that’s just me.  So I’ll go for now, but we’ll meet again.  Don’t know where; don’t know when.

Can we say “discrimination?” I thought we could!

*Insert loud screaming in frustration noise here*

Well, I just heard from my Equal Rights counselor regarding my long “quest” to find out why I wasn’t reappointed to my job and to try to get it back.  I still have another phone call coming from her when she receives the message of whether or not the person she is dealing with has the right to reappoint me or not.  At the moment, however, I couldn’t give crap one if they try to reappoint me to my old position.  There’s no way I could possibly stand to work for these people after what I was just told they said about me and my disability!

So, quick rundown before I have to go grab another Xanax.  The main Equal Rights Officer I worked with last year to get my reasonable accommodations to have Celeste come to work with me stated that I had proven that I had a disability and with all the letters from therapists, doctors, co-workers, and the trainer of my service dog that I had proven the need and should be allowed to bring her with me.  My assistant Cadre Manager signed-off on all of the paperwork and sent me a memo stating how in the future I was to notify her when I was deploying with Celeste and the rules/regulations that I would have to follow for having her in our field offices.  Basic stuff, all approved, all signed, and copies (both physical and electronic) are saved for my records.

Then, the counselor contacted my Cadre Manager and his assistant to speak with them on why I wasn’t reappointed to my job.  He stated that he’d heard my name but didn’t know who I was.  He also stated that he knew that there were issues last year with me bringing Celeste and problems at the office (which there weren’t any from her, just from others who wanted to pet and play with her) and that she was not a “service animal” but was a “comfort dog.”  Really??  Since when did he become so educated on what constitutes the difference between a SD (service dog) and an ESA (emotional support animal)??  And this is a man I’ve only ever spoken to once since I started working for him in 2009 because he never returned my emails or phone calls and I always had to go through his assistant.

And speaking of his assistant, she was very quiet throughout the interview.  I have her signature approving my request for reasonable accommodation but she told the counselor that all of that was handled at headquarters by the ERO officers.

I was right!!  They were discriminating against me when they didn’t reappoint me.  The Cadre Manager stated that my “comfort dog” would cause a problem and I couldn’t be deployed or retained because of it.  Also, he said that he had to drastically reduce the number of people he had employed but he only released two people in my section.  I guess all of the people who I trained last year will be able to go on to have full employment and success now.

I’m not expecting to get my job back because he said he’d be happy to write a letter of recommendation for me (which was the easy-out option given if they weren’t going to keep me) and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t want me back anyway now that I know what I know.  But, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I’m shocked.  I’m flabbergasted.  I can’t believe that someone would be so bold to basically state outright that my disability is the reason they didn’t keep me — especially since this is a FEDERAL position and there are FEDERAL laws to protect the disabled.

You can be sure I’ll keep things updated as more info comes in.  However, for anyone who thought I was just uselessly chasing a dream, I’m not upset and I’m not going to dance around with my tongue sticking out and my fingers in my ears saying “I’m right and you were wrong!”  I’ve always had a tenacity to grab hold of something and see it all the way through to the end, regardless if I’m right or I’m wrong.  I’m glad that I have that now because I have proof that I was right this time.  And anyone who feels that they’ve been wronged should be brave enough to stand-up for what they believe in and fight for what is right.  I hope I’ve been a good example.

Now I need to try to relax before I pop a vein in my head.  That would kind of make going on to a formal complaint process difficult.

About what do my dogs dream?

Yes, I noticed that I made sure my title was grammatically correct.  OCD has checked-in for the night!

Anyway, I do wonder what goes through my dogs’ brains when they’re dreaming.  I can look over at the cat who is sound asleep at the moment and she never moves until she wakes up.  However, I can watch either Celeste or Harley and sooner or later they’ll start to run in their sleep, snore loudly, or sometimes even bark as if they’re trying to say something.

Celeste is five years old and has had a lot of experiences with and without me.  She was a show dog and has traveled around the country and also worked as a service dog for a lady in a wheelchair (who sadly didn’t know how to care for her even though she’d had service dogs before).  So, I could see some memories coming back to her mind and perhaps she sees things she remembers.

Harley, on the other hand, has been with us since she was nine months old.  She was abandoned and raised for a month at a farm before they took her to the local Humane Society because they couldn’t afford to keep another abandoned dog.  She’s been on trips with us (vehicle only, no planes yet) and has romped around in the yard or at a dog park.  Most of her time she’s comfortable on the couch and when given the opportunity will watch car races or other dogs running on television.  Harley also lived here with my service dog Cody who passed away in 2010.  She was there when he died.  She also has a lot of his habits and mannerisms because he made sure that he taught her how to act and didn’t let her get too out of control.

Cody would snore loudly and run when sleeping too — but he only came to live with us when he was much older.  He had been a puppy mill breeder dog that had been abandoned on the side of the Interstate when he’d gotten to old to make the owners more money.  We took him in and even though he had no idea how to play or act like a normal dog, he learned commands quickly and was eager to please because he loved being loved by someone instead of just ignored.  And he still had the gumption to put the cat in her place when he came to live with us and she wouldn’t shut up one night.  He just closed her mouth with his and looked at her as if to say, “See?  Quiet is better.”

When Cody would snore loudly and move as if he was running when he was asleep, I could always imagine that he was reliving something that had happened before we had him.  Maybe it was running away from the handlers at the puppy mill.  Maybe it was finally running free when they first got rid of him before he began to struggle to find food and water in the sweltering heat of the summer.  I would always hope that his dreams would include meeting us and enjoying a nice walk or just being cuddled.

I’m watching Harley’s legs move while she’s asleep as if she’s running for her life.  Maybe there’s a rabbit or a squirrel in her dream?  She loves to chase them in the yard, though I don’t think she’d have any idea what to do with one if she caught it.  She’s running and running and you can hear her snorting loudly with every “step” she takes.  Whatever it is, she’s either thoroughly enjoying it or making damned sure that she gets away from whatever she doesn’t like.

I know humans put too much emotion into our pets.  We talk to them as if they’re people and try to read their facial expressions and actions like we do non-verbal communications from other humans.  But I think it would be fun if we could see about what our dogs are dreaming.  Finally catching the ball; scaring a flock of birds; or maybe just laying on the couch getting their tummy rubbed.  Anything could be a fascinating dream for them.

Tired today….

LONG day….  Took Harley to have her yearly “shearing” at the groomer.  She grows so much hair during the winter you could almost make enough wigs/toupees for those little hairless dogs.  Then they wouldn’t get so cold all the time.  We also went to our favorite gaming store and sold them a few items for store credit.  Just some old books that we didn’t like but that their customers will love buying.  And the credit can stay there until the next Warhammer 40K tournament or when we need to buy something for someone’s birthday, etc.

Also started shopping for a new phone since mine is having battery issues.  I first went to a store run by the company with whom I have my service.  They said that they don’t make stupidphones anymore.  I said that I knew he was lying because (1) I’d seen an ad for one and (2) there were some hanging on the wall in the store.  He, of course, wanted to show me every smartphone in the place but I told him I wasn’t going to pay a bunch more per month for the privilege of having a phone that can do a lot of things I can’t afford for it to do nor would I use it for them.  I guess I should have also taken a photo (the one “fancy” thing my stupidphone can do) of all of the basic phones we saw at a large electronics retailer in town as well.  And if I wanted a smartphone I could get it there for even less than the service company was advertising!  But, no, I did not replace my beloved stupidphone.

When Harley’s grooming appointment was over, we went to pick her up and I asked the groomer to grind Celeste’s nails so that I won’t have to clip them for a bit.  Celeste was a show dog before she became a service dog but you would have thought that no one had ever touched her feet before when she started trying to escape from the groomer.  Fortunately, the lady had a great attitude and just chased her around the grooming table, keeping one paw in her hand at all times, and got it done.  Another of the ladies working there asked me if she could know why I have Celeste and when I told her she was thrilled to hear someone else has a service dog for psychiatric issues.  I gave her my name and number and the name and number of Celeste’s breeder/trainer because the lady and her husband are trying to get a service dog for him to use.  I wish them the best of luck because I know that Celeste has helped me more than I could have imagined!

Hopefully tomorrow will be relaxing.  I know Husband can use a nice relaxing day after working hard all week.  And Youngest Son is now home from school so I’ll find plenty of chores/activities for him to complete!

Seeing crooked….

Hate it when it’s incredibly hot outside.  Hate it even more when I don’t realize that it’s going to be very hot outside and accidentally wear dark-colored clothes which just help absorb the heat that my black car doesn’t take from the sun.  Fortunately, with Husband driving, I can either crank-up the air conditioning or hang my head out of the window.  Celeste doesn’t hang her head out the window like other dogs and prefers the air conditioning (and not having to see her “mommy” looking like an idiot).

Today I had to travel across the state again for my eyes.  This time I was there for low-vision occupational therapy.

Yeah, I was like you.  “How do you do visual occupational therapy?” was the first thing through my head when I heard about it.  Actually, they have you try to read a lot of different items in many different sizes, try-out different types of light sources, determine how much functional vision you have, and make more suggestions on how to improve or adapt your current vision to what you need.

Unfortunately, there’s not much they can do for me regarding my night blindness and decreased vision when driving.  That’s just something that I’m going to have to learn to live without even though I prefer being an independent person.  Relying on someone to take me places just drives me crazy and I hate having to bum a ride from friends.  I’m very thankful that Husband understands what’s going on and isn’t bothered by taking me places at night (well, not yet at least).

Fortunately with my desktop computer I have a large monitor and it makes it easier to see.  When I’m on my laptop, I can increase the print size and make things easier to read.  They showed me a special flourescent lamp that has a nice blue-tinted light that is very even and doesn’t have a “hot spot” like an old incandescent bulb has.  When we tried a regular desk lamp and one of the flourescent lamps, I was able to read much more and even smaller print with the flourescent one.  It’s not up to 20/20, but it’s better.  Now I’ve got to find some to put in the house so that I can enjoy reading my books like I used to.  I can still apply for audiobooks through the state’s library for the blind, but I hate having to listen to them and not being able to start and stop when I want like I can in a printed book.  Some have suggested an E-Reader, but I prefer the feel and smell of a good old-fashioned book.

What surprised me the most today though was how the therapist helped me find a “sweet spot” in my vision.  She noticed when I was having difficulty viewing certain items that I would shift it until I could read it more clearly or I would shift my eyes rapidly as if searching for something.  I’ve always had issues with that.  I would use my right eye for reading and seeing up close and  my left eye for distance viewing.  Anything in the middle is a toss-up.  The therapist had me look at her face (focusing on the center of her nose) and describe what I could see.  I knew she had hair, eyes, a nose, cheekbones, and a mouth.  She asked me to describe what I saw and it was all there but blurry.  She then pointed at different places along the sides of her face and asked me to focus there and tell her what I saw.  There was one place where her eyes disappeared; another where everything was so blurry if I hadn’t already seen her I wouldn’t be able to tell where some features were.

And then, it happened.  She pointed at a spot to the left of her eyes, causing my eyes to shift to the right.  Suddenly, not only could I see her face but I could also see the color of her eyes and the darker ring around the outside of her irises which I’d never noticed before.  We couldn’t pinpoint whether it was my right eye, my left eye, or both working together that made the difference, but just shifting my vision about four inches to the right made things so much better.

She gave me a bunch of worksheets with practice lessons to help train me to look at things “crooked” so that I’m using the “sweet spot” of my vision.  She also showed me with a light meter how much I need to be able to see more clearly and we tried different light sources again.  The blueish flourescent lamp was the brightest and now I’ve got to find somewhere that sells them.  I want floor models in the living room & bedroom and a desk version I can move about the house and take with me if I’m gone with work or on a trip.

I’ll be going back for another session sometime in the near future.  I have to look at Youngest Son’s schedule for the summer since he wants to get a class out-of-the-way this summer so he won’t have to take the class during the school year and free-up a period for something else he wants.  But I can tell already that learning to look to the right to see something is a trick that’s going to be really hard to teach this old dog to do.  Wish me luck!

Busy day makes for tired gal

Today’s been busier than I expected.  Woke up at 5 a.m. (as usual) and smelled something awful outside when I let the dogs out to go “walkies.”  Only Celeste came back stinking like she’d rolled on a skunk or something.  Had to give her a bath quickly because she was stinking-up the house in record time.  Husband went outside to look for whatever it was she got the smell from but there wasn’t anything and the smell had left.

So, I crammed her in our small bathtub and tried to get her clean as quickly as I could.  Not as easy as it sounds.  She’s in the process of shedding her winter coat, so there’s lots of hair that liked coating the walls, the tub, the floor, me, and the drains.  I was finally able to get the stink down to a tolerable level (just barely noticeable if you stick your face into her fur).  Then I spent about 30 minutes trying to get all of the hair into the trash and off of everything to which it was sticking.  I still have no idea what caused it but I’ve never wanted to own my own professional dog wash so much as I did this morning!  There’s one self-serve dog wash table in town but they’re not open at 0-Christ-Hundred in the morning.  If I had my own, it would be open when I need it!

Then I went to my therapist appointment today.  I took her the three page list of things I can and can’t do at work and what makes things easier and harder for me to work.  She asked if I’d applied for disability benefits.  I said I hadn’t because I didn’t believe I needed them.  She held up the list and said that if I had that many things I should have applied years ago.  That’s something I’ll wait and see what happens as I continue to look for answers on why I wasn’t rehired from my old job.

Tonight I watched a neat show on PBS called Radioactive Wolves.  It’s about the wildlife that has returned to the area around Pripyat (outside of Chernobyl) and how the radiation has affected them.  Very interesting show.  I know it’s kind of weird but I’ve always wanted to go to Pripyat and see the ruins left behind after the 1986 explosion.  It’s amazing how nature is taking back the area where people lived for so many years and doing so even after all of the damage done.

I then watched a segment on NBC’s Rock Center about how Big Box Marts (like Costco) trick people into overspending on items and buying things they never meant to buy before they went into the store.  And that’s a reason why I don’t have a membership card to any of these places.  The lure of buying something you’ve never seen before but just have to have is too strong at times.  I don’t need 5 pounds of mayonnaise but I guarantee that if the price is right, I know people who will find a reason to make more egg or tuna salad sandwiches than could ever be eaten at one picnic.

Now, I’m tired and I’ve kept to my rule about posting each day, so I’m gonna relax and probably watch more television.  And check the dog.  And maybe think about taking her for another bath tomorrow.  And making sure I’ve got something with me before I let them out in the morning to make sure that if there’s an animal making the stink that it doesn’t anymore.

Am-Dram: Junior Edition — It’s Over!!!

Tonight was the last performance by Youngest Son’s theatre group.  They did a really good job and no one forgot too many lines or had to ad-lib much.  Everything ran very well and I’m very proud of my little thespian.

I’m also incredibly proud of Youngest Son today because he had been selected months ago by his band instructor to attend the District Band Contest and perform a solo and in a sextet.  He’s been really nervous about it and today was contest day.  The scoring scale they use is from 1 to 10 with 1 being the best.  You can earn a 1+ if you’re really, really good.  Youngest Son received a 2+ on his trumpet solo, just barely missing the 1-level score.  He also received a 1 on his brass sextet’s performance.  The only criticism given by the judge to the sextet was for the baritone player to remember to not overplay the French horn.  They did an awesome job!

Then in the afternoon, the rest of the band arrived to join those who were there for solos and ensembles and the entire concert band played two songs.  The group received a 1 rating for their performance.  Pretty good for a group that has never been to a big contest like that before!

At the moment, Youngest Son and Husband are at the Cast Party for the play.  I would go but I don’t know the family well and am not sure how they’d feel about having Celeste at their house.  I have no problems going to public places because she’s a service dog, but I don’t like to just invite my shedding partner into someone’s private home and there wasn’t time to coordinate with them on whether or not they have pets, allergies, etc.

But that’s okay — I couldn’t wait to get home to make this post!  I’m so very, very proud of Youngest Son.  It’s been a really big day for him!

Why can’t people just do their jobs?

Today the family and I had to make a trip down the highway so that I could look at and test some self-service dog washing tables.  I’d really like to open my own self-service dog wash in our town but I don’t have the money to open the type of store I want.  Plus, I don’t want to take out a loan.  I already owe the government enough money on a bachelor’s degree and most of a master’s that I’m not using, so I’d rather not have any additional debt if I can help it.  The system I tried was nice but operated too much like a car wash with the timer clicking away at the same speed regardless if you had a teacup poodle or a mastiff.  You couldn’t judge how much it was going to cost to wash and dry the dog — and “dry” was only implied.  Air came out of the hose but if you expected a dog with short or long hair to be dried you just might as well put all the money in your bank account into the machine first because it was going to take a long time.  I’d rather have a self-service dog wash where there are tubs and professional dryers (that work) and the people pay per pound (of the dog, not themselves).  Then they’re not rushed and making a huge mess and the dogs are actually cleaned and dried well enough you wouldn’t be afraid of putting them back into your vehicle if you still had a nice interior.  However, self-operating machines like that may be what I’d have to get if I can save/raise the money.  But I’d certainly make the pricing a bit more reasonable and fair.

So, after getting Celeste cleaned, we decided we should grab some lunch.  We decided to go to The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) because (1) it was close and (2) it’s cheap.  Plus, the restaurant has carpet which would prevent Celeste from getting greasy or having whatever the last person swept under the table instead of actually cleaning stuck in her newly clean fur.  The restaurant was not crowded and we figured it would be a good place to pop in, grab a quick bite, and then head out on other errands before returning home.

I should have known once I walked in the door that it wasn’t going to be good.  The cashier and the hostess immediately began making “boo-boo” faces and voices at Celeste, trying to get her attention.  I ignored what they were doing, in the hopes that they would stop, and told the hostess that there would be three of us eating there today.  She asked if we wanted a table or a booth.  I said a booth because it’s easier for Celeste to hide out-of-the-way and she won’t accidentally stick a tail or paw into traffic (which can happen under some very small tables).  The hostess looked around and said, “Well, we have a table.”  I replied, “Then why did you ask me what I wanted if there really is no option?”  She looked puzzled and handed a wet towel to a waitress and told her to clean off the table at a booth in one of the sections.  We looked around the corner and noticed that she was cleaning off a table that was next to four other booths that were not occupied.  I chalked it up to the fact that the other section might not be staffed at that moment or that they’ve got some weird seating ritual at this particular IHOP and waited.

The waitress came back and said that the table was clean.  She looked at us as if she expected us to give her a gold star or something.  The hostess said that we were next to be seated (there wasn’t anyone else around waiting to be helped).  Then the two of them debated over who would take us to our seat.  The waitress grabbed the menus and asked us to follow her (like we’re going to go somewhere else).  As we reached the table, she looked down and said rather loudly, “Oh!  I didn’t see the dog!  I didn’t know you had one with you — I’m allergic to them!”  I gave Celeste the command to find her spot under the table and reassured the waitress that she wouldn’t be in contact with the dog at any time during our meal.  That didn’t appease her and she repeated that she was allergic to dogs.

Now, just for clarification, unless the other person is so allergic to dogs that it would send them into anaphylactic shock, typical allergies to a dog (fur, dander, etc.) which does not create a life-threatening situation is not an excuse to prohibit a person with a service dog from entering an establishment.  She could whine about it all she wanted, but I was well within my legal rights to have her with me.  As she continued to complain I interrupted her and told her that Celeste had just been bathed, would not be moving from the spot in which she was currently laying until I command her to when we’re leaving, and that we were staying right where we were to eat.  I wasn’t rude about it — I just spoke matter-of-factly and even heard someone from another table comment that I was right.

So, after this our drink orders were taken and we didn’t see the waitress again for quite some time.  Other people were finally being seated in the same section.  I began to watch to see if she was their server as well or if someone else was assigned to those tables and would we receive our items before the newcomers did.  After seeing her running back-and-forth between the kitchen and what I assumed to be the supply closet to get disposable cups, she finally brought us our drinks and took our food order.  Husband, Youngest Son and I began to secretly place bets on how long it would take two omelets and some pancakes to be made and delivered to us.

When after a while she returned with our food, we looked at it and could tell something was wrong.  Husband and Youngest Son touched their pancakes — cold and hard.  Even the scoop of butter they put on the top of them wasn’t beginning to melt.  My omelet looked done but the cheese on top of it wasn’t melted.  Youngest Son even touched his eggs and said they were cold.  We asked the waitress to return and told her that the food was cold.  She said that the plates were hot and couldn’t possibly understand how it could be cold.  Husband asked her to touch the pancakes, to which she replied, “We’re not allowed to touch the food.”  He stuck his finger into the stack and told her that they were cold all the way through.  When she began to argue that they couldn’t be cold, I reached over to Youngest Son’s plate and picked up his two over-easy eggs and held them up for her to see.  No yolk breakage.  No heat coming off of them to burn my fingers.  If you’d seen them you would have thought they were a practical joke piece.

She took the food back to the kitchen and then returned saying that she’d touched the food when she got back there and it was cold and she didn’t know why and that she would tell the manager.  She also said that within 10 minutes we’d have fresh, hot food.  We did get hot food — in less than 4 minutes.  And it looked as if it was slapped-together just to get it out of the kitchen.  Nothing was placed neatly on the plates or cooked the way we asked.

We took the food and started eating because by now we were starving.  Others in our section told us that the restaurant had been having issues and they weren’t surprised to see us sending food back.  The first question that crossed my mind was, “If you know the restaurant is having issues with people sending food back, why are you here?” but I didn’t ask it.

As we ate, we tried to stomach what we had and laughed when the pancakes that Husband ordered split apart as if they had been frozen previously and barely reheated.  I guess the “International” part of IHOP is imported pancakes because every one was identical, right down to the dark coloring you’d see if they’d been done on a griddle.  I’ve made quite a few pancakes in my time and I’ve never been able to get them all identical.

We continued to eat and a gentleman walked up behind Husband and asked if things were okay.  No name tag.  No identification of any kind.  Husband asked who he was and when he identified himself as the manager, Husband said he wondered when he was going to show-up to see why we were upset with our meal.  The gentleman looked puzzled.  He had no idea we were upset.  The waitress rushed over and told us that she had told a different manager and apologized to this manager for not making him aware as well and then began to describe all of the previous events to him.  He asked if we wanted new plates of food, which we politely declined and explained that we weren’t from that town and needed to get back on the road to finish errands and return home and waiting again for new food would put us even further behind schedule.

Husband and I have always joked that we’re just cursed to receive bad food and/or service at restaurants.  There was a time when Youngest Son was still an infant that we went to the same restaurant three times because they kept inviting us back for free meals after (1) I was poisoned by dishwashing liquid that had been spilled on the fish I ordered and (2) when we came back for the free meal after that incident a bee was found curled-up (and dead) inside a leaf of lettuce in Husband’s salad.  The manager of that restaurant admitted that they weren’t making a better impression on us and was soon replaced.  Sometimes we laugh when we’re out because a manager will walk by our table and ask us how we’re doing but not say anything to other diners.  We wonder if they’ve got big pictures of us up in the kitchen warning them that we’ve had crap service at other corporate chains and to be on the lookout for us.

The manager said that he would look into what happened and disappeared.  We started to eat as fast as we could because we didn’t want anything except to get the heck out of there and back on our way.  The manager returned and attempted to pick up the ticket that the waitress had laid on the table after bringing the second attempt at our lunch.  Husband slapped his hand down upon the ticket and said that we would pay for our food.  The manager looked confused and said that he wanted to pay for the meal.  Husband said that all we wanted were two things to happen — Number 1, for the employees to do their jobs and get it right because without customer satisfaction there won’t be customers and then they won’t have a job; and Number 2, for the employees to be advised on how to properly act around a service dog because they are working dogs and are not to be distracted when doing their jobs.  The manager insisted again on paying for our meal, but we weren’t going to allow it.  We ate the food, so we should pay for the food.  That always shocks them because a lot of times they’re used to someone just trying to get a free meal.  If we couldn’t afford the food, we wouldn’t be there in the first place.  Plus, the bottom of the ticket has the order number and the 1-800-number the corporation wants customers to call to answer a survey and give comments on our visit.

And trust me, we will.

Am-Dram: It’s opening night!!!

Opening night finally came and went and it was great!  Oh sure, there were parts of scenes that were skipped and people forgetting lines or props, but that happens every opening night.  Fortunately, the audience didn’t notice the errors and the actors kept right on going.  I kept a close eye on the prompt book to make sure I could give cues to people when their “normal” cues were missed so they could get onstage.  We even had one actor stuck “upstairs” because his whole introduction in one part had been omitted.  I found a spot for him to enter and we at least were able to get him where he needed to be.  I’m very, very happy about the production we gave.

There were some non-theatre-related things that happened tonight that drove me insane.  First, the doors weren’t supposed to open to the public until 6:30 p.m.  The place where we were having the play, though, has its doors unlocked until 9 p.m. every night, so people were coming in and sitting down without realizing it was a play.  Once we got them to buy tickets, we were trying to figure out some rough sections but there were people in the audience and we didn’t want them seeing what we were doing.  I also had to get two of the actors’ makeup completed and on the way into the building the shoulder strap of my kit had come undone and it flipped on its side.  When I opened it, everything was mixed-up and it took me a little while to find what I needed.  Being a OCD makeup designer and expecting to find everything “in its place” had me frazzled for a bit.

But the most irritating/stupidest things that happened tonight happened around Celeste.  She was “backstage” (we didn’t really have a stage so we couldn’t have a “back,” just an area where we would hide) and while I was organizing props on one table, one of the other actor’s friends/family came back there and started petting her.  Husband pointed out the “DO NOT PET” signs on her backpack and the people were like, “So?”  He had to tell them to stop and go away before they would.  Then — and this one stunned all of the people standing around me — our assistant director was sitting at the table selling tickets and eating her dinner.  I’d seen her having some rice and something Chinese and trying to keep from making a mess before the audience arrived.  While I was “backstage” again, two older boys came up to me and said, “We spilled some rice up front.  Can we use your service dog to go eat it and clean it up for us?”

I (insert slang word for human excrement) you not.  They really came back and asked to use my service dog as a Hoover to clean their mess.  I was stunned.  Everyone else around me was stunned.  It was all some could do to keep from laughing and I could tell they wanted to but were afraid I’d be angrier if they did.  I gave them a very terse “NO!” and told them to get away from me.  I didn’t care about being polite at that time.  I was counting-down to the beginning of the show and couldn’t believe the stupidity of the question.  Of course, during the play when people would be “backstage” and drop something they’d tease me and ask if she could eat it for them.  It’s kind of funny as I look back on it.  But the funny bit is really overshadowed by the ignorance and rudeness of what happened.

So, at least I survived opening night.  If it was a complete bomb I’d planned to post the opening song from “The Producers” Broadway show (even though I never really thought it would be one).  Fortunately, it was awesome and we’ve got another show Saturday night.  Tomorrow I’ll be having my brains scanned again, so maybe I’ll get a nap.  I’ll let ya’ know how it goes when I get home.

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