Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Ultimate Workout, A Parade, and some Insurance.

Yes, my posting has been infrequent, but I'm so much more relaxed now. I mean, it wasn't like I was stressing out big time whenever I didn't post on the blog, but my newfound Zen regarding all things is really letting me savor the fruits of absolute indifference. For example, I've grown more patient with the babies, even if they're both crying and screaming. For some odd reason, instead of getting irritated at them, I just emphatize with them and take a hit of crack. Well, okay, not the crack bit - but I've just found a little more compassion in my heart for my children.

However, I've misplaced my compassion for the rest of the world, and I've adopted a rather "fuck-all" attitude. I probably should use a more polite term than that, but it's the only expression that truly conveys my fuck-all stance. So far, the receiving end of my fatalistic wrath has been applied to the health insurance folks, the people who are depriving us of financial obligations, and a certain insurance salesman who I will explain a little later. I've also started swearing like a sailor again, and somehow that's rather therapeutic because it slow-releases my tension whenever I feel like it, instead of letting it all pent up inside me.

On the flip side, we are tremendously blessed by the love that's coming in, namely through co-workers and friends. Some unknown co-worker gave my wife (through her boss) a $50 gift card today, to help us out, which is really nice. I feel weird accepting it because I'd prefer to extend my gratitude toward the person, and it'll really help us out a great deal because we're short on grocery money. Thanks, whoever you are! Also, we are thankful for our friends Brendon and Maralise, who agreed to participate in the world fastest weight loss program, which incidentally doubles as the world fastest heart attack inducer program. They initially let us use one of their AAA towing privileges to get our van to the shop so that they could charge us 80 bucks to tell us it was broken - then they agreed to help us push the van back home from the shop. Granted, it was only about 8 blocks from my home, but pushing a minivan is not easy, especially when it's just Brendon, myself and my wife.

I can't say about Brendon, but the only exercise we've done in the past two years is exclusively baby-related, either making 'em or rearing 'em. So it took us about 15 minutes to walk to the shop, and about an hour and a half to push the damn van back. Maralise, being super pregnant that she was, did the steering while the three of us hoofed it back with a minivan attached to our chests. We were even fortunate enough to get some help from some college kids when we got on our block, when 3, then about 7 of them pushed it up the last stretch - which we were going to struggle on. It was certainly a great gesture of goodwill that restored my faith in college kids.

Fast forward to tonight, when we went to the Lynden Christmas lights parade. My wife managed to take an hour early off, and we got there just as the parade was starting. Alex had tons of fun watching all the fire engines, tractors, house-drawn carriages, and even a giant Dutch shoe (probably has a name, but I'm too lazy to look it up) come by. He clapped and waved and held on to the umbrella that I had over our heads, and even took the time to put his hand on JL's umbrella, and then put it in his mouth. Watching parades evidently makes him thirsty. Zoe didn't mind too much either, once she was out of the stroller. She just stared at the lights, blinked, stared some more.

We left a little early because we've been standing there for about an hour, and we were concerned about the rain and the cold weather, but once we got home, we were greeted by insurance salespeople. What happened was that my wife got a phone call the other day, and the man said that he had a certificate to give to my wife regarding insurance for us. And he needed to talk to us to clarify the information. My wife was iffy about it anyway, but he pushed for an appointment so we set one for tonight. We told him up front that we were broke, and I even told him flat out that we were dead ends. We weren't buying any, and that was that. He finally left empty handed.

Essentially, this is what me and my wife figured out. My mother-in-law had purchased life insurance, which is fine. She may or may not have listed us as beneficiaries, which doesn't really matter except that was why we agreed to meet with this guy - he came under the pretense of finalizing the details. Anyway, what happened was that this guy told my mother-in-law that they could extend basic life insurance to any family members, and friends at no cost. So my mother-in-law gave them our details, so that we could get this free "Certificate" for life insurance. But basically what this free "Certificate" really is are leads for the salespeople - people who would consider life insurance have a) extra money to even think about insurance; and b) elderly people. Any leads, or "friends and family" that my mother-in-law offered, were viable leads because they had money and/or were in their target demographic.

So this guy comes up and I will even go so far as to believe that the certificate is a valid and binding document - however, in their ideal situation, we would have involuntarily sat through his sales pitch for what I think is a life insurance certificate, valid for one year, with a limited payout of $1,000. Basically, this company is figuring that the odds of you dying in the next year under their particular circumstances would be slim. But luckily for us, because we're so poor and I'm such an asshole about "something for nothing", I didn't trust him from the start. We also figured out that his "trainee" that he brought along was probably his mother, because his trainee wasn't learning a whole lot by talking to JL and the babies from the other room. Plus what trainee for an insurance company would be willing to travel all the way from Kirkland, which is an hour and a half from our house, on a Saturday night to an 8 o'clock appointment?

Anyway, I'm riding pretty high on my horse about figuring this thing out, mostly because I feel empowered. That somebody tried to screw with us again but we fended them off with our strong will and our poverty. Take that, you scumbags!

Monday, November 29, 2004

The United State of Babyland.

Bite me, I can't think of a wittier title.

So, the Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, and a long weekend it was. First I had to work a ton of days in order to make up for the 4 day weekend, and then the weekend itself was a little taxing because we had to drive down to see Grandma and Uncle and Auntie. Which was fine, actually. Both babies ended up sleeping most of the way, which is something of a miracle. Especially the trip back from Puyallup, which is a two hour drive, we ended up with a relatively quiet car. Zoe, unlike Alex, is very much the kind of baby who is soothed by a moving car. And Alex was just worn out during the weekend because he was just so busy.

My wife claims that its been like this for a while, but this weekend I started noticing that Alex has grown so much. He's still very shy most of the time, but he is a showman at heart. He'll perform his little tricks and ham it up for the family, and he knows it gets him tons of affection and positive reaction. This kid was going to the kitchen every other second to get a reaction out of whoever was cooking at the time, and would just run around like a crazy boy, laughing at nothing in particular. He also gravitated more to Mommy and Daddy, which just made me feel special. There is no other feeling in the world when you squat down, open your arms, and have a giggling little boy run to you and crash into your body, laughing all the while. It is the greatest feeling in the world to get that hug. There are a lot of times when I don't know why I'm doing all this - I just have to remember that hug and the smiles. Cheesy, but goddamnit, I'll take what I can get.

My wife and I are trying desperately to keep our heads above water, both financially, but more importantly, mentally. Apart from the normal everyday worries, insurance is continually to screw us where it hurts. Not only is Zoe not insured for the rest of this year due to some stupid policy (the company blames Group Health, and vice versa.), now the company is saying that we didn't enroll for next year's insurance, and will not be insured unless we take action now. This is after we enrolled early November, rechecked mid-November, and again last week. This morning I got on the phone with my hard-assed attitude, and using my most adult voice reconfirmed that we were indeed enrolled. Then I had my wife call again. Then I called again. That's the state we're in now. We don't trust a lot of things working in our favor anymore, and often expect nothing to work.

And on Saturday, my wife and I got into a huge fight, whereby we didn't talk, and then we screamed at each other and I had to drive off and leave her with the kids. I sat at some parking space overlooking the bay and blasted my ears with music, in order to flood my head so that I'd eventually even forget what the hell we were fighting about. Of course, we made up rather quickly afterwards because we can't have sex with ourselves forever. The ironically sad fact is that we were fighting because she was suggesting that she worked Wednesdays for the extra money, and I was being stubborn about giving up the only day we had together without working.

Anyway, onto flakier, dumber news. I got into the Day After Thanksgiving spending spirit by getting myself a bigger memory card for my camera, so that I could take photos without worrying about the capacity. That's right, I can now officially take 305 pictures on my new card, and then use my older card and take 155 more. And yes, on a good, baby-free inspired day, I got through 155 easy. On vacation, I would go nuts with it. But I'm glad we fought the crowds at 6am (though we got there at 6, but didn't wait in line like the other weirdos who were probably there at 5am.) and got the card.

The other big purchase, an unexpected one, was a coffeemaker. Originally my wife was going to get it for Christmas after I got GTA: San Andreas for myself, but I got one the other day. But you can't argue with the price of my little cheapie coffeemaker - $4.50. Yes, for less than the price of a Value Meal at McDonalds, and 450 pennies, I got me a little coffeemaker. Hell, the coffee grinder was twice that. But I'm trying to get into the habit of drinking coffee to aid with my chronic fatigue. I know it's bad, and everyone's talking about how caffine will ruin your teeth and rot your insides and make you thirsty, but damnit to hell, I'm awake and somewhat alert at work. Who says you can't buy spunky? On the downside, coffee purists will be frowning to hear me announce that I'm drinking flavored coffee, like Irish Cream and Vanilla Hazelnut. I do drink it Black with sugar, if that helps bolster my manliness.

Oh yeah, I have to comment on this, even though my mum might read it. My Mom and my family back in Singapore and Malaysia got Alex and Zoe some toys, and I thank them tremendously for them. It's very nice that they're thinking of the little ones, even though they haven't even met them before. But I have to say this: Asian toys sure are dangerous. Alex managed to break the electric lantern in the first few hours, demobilizing the helicopter from any motion whatsoever, and then he plucked the wings off the wind-up duck and the tire treads of the train have already begun to come off. There are small parts waiting to come off these toys at any moment, but that's okay. I still think it's sweet and thoughtful that we got so many gifts and such from my family in Singapore and Malaysia, and I have to remember to email them thanks. Maybe get the kids to pose with the toys or something.

Well, parts of the toys anyway.