This rage tirade brought to you by ‘Comments’…

Yes, comments.  Anonymous comments that people are allowed to leave everywhere they like.  That is, after all, the beauty of the internet.  But sometimes, that beauty makes me angry.  OK, let me back up a step here.

I read tons of things over the course of a day.  I mean tons.  And as every other person on the face of the planet, I tend to gravitate toward things that are of interest to or relevant to me.  Thus, being a lesbian, I read a lot about the day to day battle for LGBT equality.  And whether it be a positive or a negative article, there is the inevitable comments section at the bottom of all of them.  I tell myself to stay away.  OTHER people tell me to stay away.  HH doesn’t even understand how I can stomach the amount of politics that I do on a daily basis.  And yet…and yet, my stupid index finger just keeps on scrolling down to read those comments.

I’ll admit, over the years, the split has gotten much better.  For every positive comment, there used to be 15 negative ones calling the positive commenter a left-wing, liberal, fucktard, Obama-lover who hates Jesus and America and should just go and shit on George Washington’s grave, cause that’s what they are already doing by supporting gay marriage.  Now, the ratio is closer to 1 to 5, but still.

There are those who start spewing their misinterpreted bible passages (all two of them), and those who find it disgusting just ‘cause, those who don’t understand it.  I love the idiots who still believe that being gay is a choice.   They don’t believe that gays are being discriminated against at all, because we should just go out and get a hetero marriage, like we’re s’possed to.  The one that always makes me laugh is that marriage is solely for the purpose of procreation and anyone who can’t procreate shouldn’t be married.  Which basically rules out anyone over the age of 45 and anyone with fertility issues.  The funny part of that one is that how the hell are you supposed to know if you’re fertile or not, since you’re not supposed to have sex before marriage anyway?!?!

There is, however, one vein of the comments that enrages me to absolutely no end.  And it’s funny, because it generally comes from a person who is somewhat supportive of granting rights to LGBT people, but believes that it shouldn’t be called “Marriage”.  They believe that marriage is a religious institution, which is all fine and good, except that its the GOVERNMENT THAT ISSUES MARRIAGE LICENSES!!!  The religious institution simply provides a marriage certificate (not the same as a license) which states that a ceremony has taken place, and voila, you’re married in the eyes of the lord.

So this is what pisses me off:  If marriage is solely a religious ceremony, then why, oh straight people, do you continue to go to your local county clerks’ office to obtain your non-denominational government sanctioned marriage license?  Oh right, that’s because God doesn’t provide you with the ability to get a nice tax-break for sharing your life with someone else.  And God doesn’t let you into the hospital when your loved one is sick.  And God doesn’t provide you with inheritance rights or insurance benefits or automatic joint parenting rights or social security or any of the other thousand rights that are provided BY THE GOVERNMENT to married persons.

Now, I want to say, that I actually agree with this.  I do believe that marriage is a religious institution and I have no problem with it remaining so.  However, when people get married, in the church/synagogue/mosque/holy-place of their choosing, it should have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on any and all legal rights granted by the government.  This country was founded on a principle of religious freedom and a separation of church and state, and as such, should have separate distinctions for marriage from a religious standpoint and from a civil standpoint.  And you should be able to have either one of them or both, if you so choose.  If being married in the eyes of God is all that’s important to you, Great!  Enjoy your holy marriage.  An atheist who’s just in love and want to spend your life with someone?  Perfect.  Have a nice life with your civil marriage.  Want both?  Go for it!  Separately.

(Sorry Mom and Dad, I’m about to throw you under the bus.)  My parents were married in a civil ceremony by the justice of the peace.  They were never married by the church, so technically, have been living in sin in the eyes of God for the last 30 years.  They are also the best couple I have ever seen and I swear, I’m not saying that just because they are my parents.  (Who says that about their parents, anyway?)  So really, they have a civil marriage only.  I don’t believe they have suffered in any way for this aside from being told that they could not renew their vows in a Catholic church for their 20th anniversary, because, according to that church, they had never taken vows to begin with.  The priests wanted them to take pre-cana and be subject to their determination as to whether they were a compatible fit for each other.  Yeah, sure.  Marriage advice on their 20th anniversary from a bunch of old, single guys.  But the point is that they have done just fine with what is essentially a civil union.  They didn’t need God’s blessing in order to make themselves a great life.

So call it civil union or civil marriage or the funky monkey or whatever.  I don’t really care what it’s called, I just want the same rights as everyone else who wants to get married in the eyes of the government.  And everyone who wants to get married in the eyes of God, have at it.  Just remember, God doesn’t let you file joint taxes.

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Check, Please!

The prospect of over a foot of snow tomorrow has already shut my work brain down and booted up my “snow day” brain.  All I’m envisioning is snuggie*-wrapped cats and wife curled up on the couch for a serious instant netflix movie marathon interrupted only for tea and hot chocolate breaks.  And naps.  Naps are a certain possibility on snow days such as I am predicting tomorrow to be.

Come on, Snow Day!  Mama needs a reason to sloth all day!

*Snuggie-disclaimer: We did not purchase snuggies for ourselves.  They were given to us as Christmas presents from my grandmother.  While absolutely ridiculous in appearance, they are damn friggen cozy, I tell you!

Is this real life?

Much like David After the Dentist, I’ve been asking myself over the last few months, Is this real life?  Because my life has turned into some kind of event marathon in which every waking minute of time is taken up by one thing or another for one person or another and I feel like I don’t have time for anything else whatsoever.  Not laundry, not food shopping, not sleeping, not watching TV, not scratching a hair on my poor kitties heads.  Nothin.  Is this gonna be like this FOREVER???

So much has gone on.  My little canning side business took a turn to the seriously busy.  We participated in several holiday fairs in Staten Island and had a really nice response to our product.  I got quite a few more calls from people who bought from us at these fairs who were looking to buy more to give out as Christmas presents.  One adorable little old lady ordered 27 jars!  I spent entire weekends and late, late, late weeknights churning out  over 300 jars in 24 different flavors, while poor HH got to sit in the dining room and provide slave labor in the form of decorating all of these jars.

Our one respite was that we took the entire week of Thanksgiving off from work and took a mini vacation to a wonderful bed and breakfast in Provincetown, MA.  It was amazing and relaxing and while we were there, we happened to wonder into a jewelry store and order up some rings.  We’ve wanted some form of  ‘wedding’ rings forever and this was just the right place and the right time.  So we ordered, had to wait 3 weeks for them to arrive and then had our own very private, tear-filled wedding ceremony all by ourselves, in our living room, on a Wednesday night.  Which pretty much suits us to a T.

HH picked up a ton of extra hours at work, so she’s been coming home later and later.  Holiday parties and year-end activities at work kept me coming home later for a while there.  We felt like weeks went by and we barely saw each other, aside from crashing into our beds at midnight or later.  But, all these extra hours and jars of jam selling had a nice side effect.  My last post outlined how we had restructured a lot of things so we could get out of credit card debt.  Well, I’m extremely happy to report that we have paid off 56% of all of our debt since it was at its worst in August ’10, and by my calculations, we will be 100% completely credit card debt free by May 30th, 2011!  Making changes and sticking to them really does work!

So, now that we’re back up to speed, we’re continuing with the changes, since they seem to be working for us at the moment.  And we need to change our waist-lines.  We’ve developed what we lovingly refer to as “Jelly Belly” and we’re not loving it so much right now.  All these events, running around, and the fact that anything I have cooked for the last 4 months have been sealed in a mason jar, means that we have eaten out.  A lot.  So between the “tasting” of 24 different flavors of jam, fast food, more fast food and then the freaking holidays, suffice it to say, we’re a little chubby at the moment.  So the new plan is: cook more at home, bring lunch with us to work whenever possible and start some sort of workout.  I’ve just ordered the Biggest Loser Challenge for the Wii and I think that will be our best bet since we can do it on our own time at home.  I’ve done the math and if we set a goal to lose 40 lbs. by June 30th, we only have to lose 2 lbs. a week, which is totally reasonable and healthy.

So, if all goes how we want it to and have planned for it to, on June 30th we will be skinny, debt-free bitches with no flabby tummies and lots of extra cash!

Wish us luck!

Turn off that damn TV!

Life has been changing around here at a semi-dizzying pace, but all in a really good direction.  HH and I have actively made some of those changes, and others have simply happened as a result of those.   The first thing we wanted to do was get out of debt.  We sat down, added up all the debt we have so we could look at it in one place, passed out on the floor for a while, stood back up, looked at it again, slapped ourselves in the forehead and then got down to business.  We were spending money in places where we shouldn’t and neglecting other things that were much more important.  So, since neither of us seem to be getting a new job or a tremendous raise anytime soon, we had to make the changes with what we already had. The task seemed seriously daunting, but when we really took stock of what is important to us and what we want for the future, it wasn’t all that hard.  A little sacrifice now will go a much longer way in the future, so that’s what we decided to do.

First to go was our recreational activities.  Everything but snowboarding had to go.  We already own everything we need in order to go snowboarding and bought super cheap season passes in September, so that’s pretty much all covered.  Plus, we needed to leave ourselves with SOMETHING to do, so as not to lose our minds.  Next, we put down the credit cards.  If it ain’t cash(debit), we don’t buy it.  My mantra on credit cards has become this, which must be said loudly and in the ilk of Samuel L. Jackson, circa Pulp Fiction: “It’s not yo’ FUCKIN’ money, Honey!”  Also, credit cards are from the devil, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

The last thing we looked at was where we could save on the bills that are just a part of life.  I switched my electricity supplier to wind energy.  It was cheaper and I felt greener every time I turned on or off a light.  Nothing much changed that was noticeable, except my bill went down.  Cool.   Next we looked at the cable bill, which had just gone up for some unidentifiable reason.  I checked out the bills and couldn’t figure out why it went up, so I called.  They told me that my two-year promotional rate had expired and that this was the standard rate.   I asked what I could do to get back the other rate.  Basically, I was told that I was shit out of luck.  When I asked why a loyal customer should be treated worse than a new one, they said they could offer me $5 off my bill.  Great, thanks.  You just jacked my bill by $50 a month for the same exact services I had before and now, out of the kindness of your hearts, you’ll give me five whole dollars back?  Gosh golly whilikers, how awfully generous of you.

And so, the decision was made that much easier.  Let’s just cancel TV altogether.  (I’m keeping the internet.  Someone’s gonna have to pry the internet from my cold dead hands.)  So we did cancel the whole package (internet included), but only so I could sign back up a week later, for just the internet, as a nice, shiny new customer.  So my bill went from $150 a month to $33 a month.

Now I know what you’re all thinking.  No TV?  At all?  What are you people, crazy!?!?  I thought we might be a little crazy at first too.  However, my dad told me that there is still free TV being broadcast over the air and all I needed was an antenna to access it.  Cool.  $30 at Radio shack, and we’re in business.  It wasn’t exactly HD, which is sad, since my father had turned me into an HD snob, nor did I have 387 channels, but I got 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 pretty well.  But, even better, when the cable guy came to install my internet back, he took one look at our rabbit-ear antenna and took pity on us.   He took the cable line that ran into the house and simply plugged that right into the back of the TV.  Voila!  HD channels, plus Animal Planet and Food Network, the only 2 cable networks that we watched anyway.  Completely free and legal.  Awesome.

But the best part of it all, really, is that during the week when we had nothing, we had to figure out other things to do besides watch TV and surf the internet.  And you wanna know what we did?  We TALKED to each other.  Like, a whole lot!  And we always knew this about ourselves, but we had let it get away from us, had let the TV and the internet drown out the fact that HH and I really, really love talking to each other.  And we love cooking together and coming up with ideas together and just being together, without distractions.  And I think, just maybe, we fell in love just a little bit more.

Now we do have some TV back in the house, as well as the internet, but we don’t use it half as much as we used to.  I’ll admit to being hooked on Glee and Grey’s Anatomy.  But all in all, 2 hours a week of TV watching, down from probably 20 hours, is a vast improvement.  The only other time we really put it on is for 20 minutes, on a timer, so we can fall asleep.  That’s it.

So yeah, it may seem crazy, but it may be the best thing you ever do.  Turn off that TV for a while and see what happens.

The Bar?? Really?

Proof positive that I am fully, really, actually an adult.

HH called and said she was having a particularly bad day at work and that her and a few co-workers were going to go to the bar after work.  She told me this around noon, when I was still full of energy and vigor.  I wistfully volunteered to just take the express bus straight there and meet them at the bar.  Now that 4:30 has rolled around, and I know that it’s cold out and I’m sorta still sickly feeling from earlier in the week, I’m thinking to myself, “Self.  What the hell were you thinking?”

Cause right about now, I could so just go home, put on those cozy PJ pants that are made out of blanket material, fire up the old tea kettle and grab a nice 750 page book and be SET.  On a Friday night.  Yep.  It’s all adult, all the time over here.  Lol.

**Sigh**  I wonder if they’ll make me a Hot Buttered Rum at the bar.

I’m a loser, Baby…

Yeah, my posting habits suck.  If only I could post while driving, I’d be the best poster ever.  Ok, maybe not the best poster ever, but I’d be at the very least a once a week poster.  You’d think with all the time I spend at work, complaining that I’m bored, that I could post a little something something here and there, but no.  Apparently, I’m bored and lazy.  But that’s not quite true either.  Cause I haven’t been lazy when it comes to my latest obsession that I’m obsessed with.

Sometime in August, our backyard garden began producing buckets upon buckets of tomatoes.  HH had apparently planted 18 tomato plants of various varieties and they all threw up at once.  They were falling over under their own weight.  We literally had around 50 tomatoes on each plant.  We ate some, we gave some away.  Then the peppers and cucumbers started in.  Don’t even get me started on the 6 basil plants that were as wide as a garbage can apiece and came up to my waist.  How about the cucuzza squash that ran all over the fence and produced baseball bat sized fruit?  To say that HH has a green thumb would be a severe understatement.  And to say we had an overabundance of garden goodies would be the understatement of the century.  So HH innocently suggested that perhaps we should make and store some sauce, so we could benefit from our harvest year round.  Little did she know, what my brain was about to do with that.

It started off simply enough.  ‘Yea!’, I thought, I need a bigger sauce pot to cook all these tomatoes in.  So I get a bigger pot.  And we start cooking some sauce.  And I figure, you just slap the sauce in some jars and close them up and we’re good, right?  Wrong.  The first batch of sauce I made was all sorts of wrong and I ended up dumping the whole thing for fear of poisoning ourselves with botulism.  Seriously.  Bad canning practices can KILL your ass.

So I think to myself that I need to do a little more research on the matter.  And I do.  And my sauce research teaches me the correct way to can things.  I learn about headspace and acid levels and base levels and correct temperatures and boiling times and pressurization.  It’s like chemistry, in my kitchen!

So I refill my entire sink, up to the brim, with tomatoes, and start all over again, the right way.  Grandma’s the world over would be proud.  This sauce was tasty, fresh, entirely from the garden and preserved properly.  So I made quite a bit of sauce, and more importantly, I REALLY enjoyed doing it.  We all already know that I love to cook, but now I get to play scientist with my food?!?!  This is a whole new level of food geekdom.   I posted my progress on ye olde facebook and people started to notice.  One or two even expressed an interest in purchasing some of this sauce.  And that’s when my wheels really started turning.

So I did what I always do when I find a new subject intriguing:  I take out every available book I can find on the subject from the library.  I scour the interwebs.  And I just read, read, read about it until my eyeballs fall out.  And when I came out of my reading induced coma, there was a wild in my eyes that I think I scared HH with, just a little bit.

“Do you know how many different things there are out there that I can put into jars and preserve?!?!” I said to her.  She glanced briefly up from her work and shrugged.  Before she knew what had happened, I had all 4 burners on the stove going, with various fruit concoctions bubbling happily in each pot, a broiler full of peppers getting their skins blackened off and 2 crock pots on the dining room table, rendering down apples into a luscious butter.  She came to check on me and all I could sputter out was “I need more jars.”

I’ve accumulated a literal inch worth of printed out jarring recipes from various sources, I’ve scoured every Kmart, Walmart and Ace Hardware store to procure more jars, and I’ve accumulated all the various specialty tools that make me a veritable canning machine.  I’ve since bought a stock pot that I could easily bathe a set of year old twins in and requires two burners to heat up all the water in can hold.  The farmers market that I buy my fruits from now knows to get boxes ready for me when I go to the counter, cause bags just don’t cut it anymore.  As I furiously made my way through 14 successful recipes this past weekend, I looked at poor HH again, with that crazy gleam in my eyes and said “I need more jars.  And sugar!  I need more sugar!”  She set out to clean out 2 more Walmart’s of all their remaining jars, and broke down and just bought me the 25 lb. bag of sugar.

She volunteered to decorate the jars and make them look all cute, which she is very good at.  However, as I was placing down the 12th dozen of jars in front of her, waiting for decoration, she looked up at me and said, “You know, all I wanted was a couple of jars of sauce and look at what you’ve done.”  And we proceeded to dissolve into a fit of massive giggles.

And this is how my dining room table ended up looking like this:

I think my job is bad for me

It really might be, because probably about 90% of the time that I spend here is occupied by nothing.  I’m here 100% of the time I’m supposed to be, only working about 10%.  That leaves a LOT of free time.  And I used to share an office with someone, so at least I had someone to talk to, but no more.  She left for bigger and better things.  And I used to have a work wife too, but she’s in different buildings from me for 4 out of the 5 working days in the week now, so there goes that too.  HH’s work is a fucking Zoo and I can barely even hear her if I try to call her.  Most other people I know actually have jobs where they DO things during the day, and so, are too busy to sit on the phone and try to entertain me.

So yeah, I’m left to my own devices for like 8 hours a day.  I’m getting bored with the internet.  I just got a Droid X and I’m already sorta bored with that.  There’s only so many times you can refresh Facebook to see what the other humans who have actual lives are doing.  And, more often than not, it pisses me off because there’s all these people out there, doing things, and I’m sitting here in a dark little cave of an office by myself.  There’s also a lovely period of time during the last and first week of the month in which I’m not allowed to update any of my files, because they are being “uploaded to the system”.  Why on earth ANYTHING takes 2 weeks to update in this day and age is beyond me, but it’s like I come to work to not even be able to do what little WORK I actually have.  How’s that for retarded?  We need you to come to work, but just sit there.  Don’t actually do anything.  Yes, of course, we’re still going to pay you.

And there’s the rub, cause whenever I say anything about my not-working job status, people automatically think it’s a good thing.  “Wow, I wish I got paid to do nothing.”  No, dude, you do not.  You think that it sounds like a good idea, until you actually have to do it.  Big, fat, smelly, stinky NOTHING all day, 5 days a week.  Oh, and yeah, I almost forgot.  They make me travel to CT once a week to go and do nothing over there.  And yes, they pay my travel expenses for that too.  Score, right?  No.  Two to two and a half hours of traffic each way for a 40 mile drive is not my idea of fun.

Do you have any idea how long 8 hours is when you have to just sit there?  Do you know what it’s like to look up at your clock, see that it’s only 10:30 in the morning and you feel like you’ve been sitting there for half your life already?  Well I do, and it sucks.

It’s my blog, and I’ll whine if I want to.