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I rant, therefore I am.

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It's time for me to do some serious pissing and moaning. I haven't had the time to post anything lately to anywhere, as I've been SO fucking busy. This website is going to be the death of me. It really is. I love the guy I'm building it for and he's been a dear friend, but he's pissing me off in a big way. He won't actually tell me what he wants, just that he doesn't like what I've done. It's SO frustrating. I can't wait until it's done and out of my hair.

I've still had to keep up with my other freelance work, as we're so far in debt right now that we're not making ends meet. Of course, Curt still goes out for fast food every other day and we spend $150 a month on fucking cable. Yet, when I bring this up, he contends that I bought new clothes last week, so it's okay for him to have cable and fast food and expensive TV dinners. Which brings me to my next aggrivation.

I'm now a size 10. I was a size 3 this time last year. I've gained a ton of weight and it keeps piling on. My god, what's happened to me? I'm on a diet and have lost 3 pounds, but.. I'm still a size 10. None of my clothes fit, aside from the sweats and t-shirt that I wear pretty much every day, because I don't have the energy to do more than wake up, grab the keyboard and work until I don't know ActionSript from my asshole. I ordered some of those super pep diet pills, partially because it might stop me from getting so hungry that I cram whatever food I can find down my throat and partially to keep me awake, because I've given up on getting any sleep.

Seriously, I get up at 6 am, code for 4 hours, throw on some clothes, do freelance work for 5-8 hours, come home, write 3 hours of reports... minimum, try to choke down dinner and code until I fall asleep at my computer. And it's been non stop for over a month now. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. I didn't really even take a day off after the car accident. I rescheduled everything that I'd have to drive to and worked on the website all day. I ended up having a level 2 concussion and by Saturday, I couldn't remember my name, but I still worked. I still can't remember things, but... still working.

I come home tonight and Curt starts bawling about how he wants to try to work things out. Sorry... I'm just not fucking interested. Rather than work, we had it out... again. I didn't have the time to deal with it, but... Curt gets what Curt wants, no matter what. Never mind the fact that I have an assload of work to do, I haven't eaten all day, I'm tired, I'm grungy and want a bath. Nope. Doesn't matter. Curt wants attention, so there I sat all night.

The conclusion was that I don't love him (partially true,) I never took our relationship seriously (bullshit,) I only see him as a paycheck (uh... if I didn't have him around, I'd have a LOT more money,) I'm extremely negative (guilty, but can you really blame me?) and all of this other bullshit. Whatever... He's seriously under the impression that I'm just depressed and that's what's killing our relationship. Now, he admits that we've never really been happy... well, ever, but it's still my emotional state that's the problem. You know, I don't care.

I'm to a point where he can believe whatever he needs to believe. I just don't care. I'm a bitch? Fine. I'm using him? Lovely. I'm mentally disturbed? Great. It'll make a great sob story for his next girlfriend. Whatever he needs to believe is just fucking fine with me, because it's no longer my fucking problem. He doesn't want to actually learn from this. Fine. His loss. If he actually wanted this to work, maybe he should stop blaming me for all of his goddamn problems and look at his own shortcomings for once. But, that'd actually take some work on his part. Not happening.

But, I had to listen to him whine and cry and berate me for 5 hours before he finally went to bed, sniveling all the way. I'm angry and frustrated to a point where I can't even think about work. I'm thinking about taking out a loan to cover the credit card debt, giving Curt the finger and getting the hell out of dodge. At this point, I don't even care where I go. I just want to get the fuck out of here. I've also given thought to just going out and cheating on Curt. I'd even tell him about it. Just something to get it through his head that it's fucking over, because the fact that I've been sleeping in the office for two months hasn't driven it home for him yet. Then again, in the state I'm in... who the hell would want me. I'm a fucking mess.

So, this is my hell on earth. I kind of wish that I could believe in god or some other spiritual system with an afterlife. I'd know that, when I do drop dead, either from exhaustion or from morphine with a vodka chaser, there'd be something waiting for me. But I don't, so there isn't. This is what I get, and that's just the end of it.

I am in hell and in hell I will stay.

P.S. Although the above paragraph may seem that way, I am not seriously considering overdosing on morphine and alcohol. At times, it sounds like a good idea, but... it won't happen. I still have to lose weight and seduce Trent Reznor before I die.
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Today was spent mostly making phone calls. Very interesting phone calls, I might add.

I talked to the WA department of licensing today, who was very intereted to find out that there was an unlicensed collection agency harassing WA residents. My impressions were correct. Collection agencies have to be licensed to make collection attempts on any WA state resident. So, I got the name and address of the proper person to complain to. Very good!

I also called the VA Attorney General. Again, they were very interested to hear about the misdeeds of a business located in their state. The assistant that I talked to had a great knowledge of the FDCPA and, again, my impressions were totally correct. He told me to get all of the documentation that I have to them immediately. He seemed to be nearly salivting over the situation, so this is good. I want to have eager people dealing with this :)

The VA Department of Consumer Affairs was equally interested in what was going on and echoed the sentiments of everyone else I'd already talked to. Another big envelope of information was sent their way.

My final call was placed to the WA Attorney General, where I talked to a very nice assistant. She told me exactly who else to complain to, and asked me to send everything we had to them. This seems to be a trend. She also made it very clear what the limitations of the Consumer Protection Division were, as this situation stems from a landlord-tenant issue. We bantered back and forth about the law and what the laws were. She told me that she was impressed as to how proactive and well read we are about the situation. Then her senior advisor got on the phone. I was told that I was probably the most informed consumer they've talked to in a very long time. He also told me to consider a career in law, because I seem to have an interest and definitely have the aptitude. That settles it. If someone from the Attorney General's office is suggesting this, I really ought consider it.

A trip to the post office took care of getting information to where it belonged and I spent the rest of my day working on our Small Claims lawsuit. I've poured over the information that we have and it's dawned on me that it'll be kind of hard to lose this. The facts of the case are painfully obvious, as are the misdeeds of the apartment complex. By looking at the tax, I was able to determine how much the alleged carpet patch cost and determined that they're attempting to charge us for ALL of the cleaning done. We paid a cleaning fee. They can't do that.

However, I still can't figure out the rest of it. There are two distinct dates of "Notice to Vacate," as stated by the apartment complex. They stamped the actual notice with one date and put a completely different date on their bullshit statement. I can't figure that out. They probably can't either. I still can't figure out how they came up with the amount of rent that they're charging. It doesn't match anything. I doubt there was really any thought given to how much rent to charge. They slapped down a number that looked about right and went with it, as far as we can tell. This whole thing is just ridiculous.

We also have them in an out and out lie. They swear that we paid a non-refundable pet FEE. However, they clearly wrote that we paid a $200 deposit in the lease. Well, if they want to call that non-refundable, they can't call it a deposit. If it's really a deposit, they have to return it. Busted! We SO have them.

Things should go well once I have the actual legal complaint finished up. I'll most likely be finling it tomorrow morning. And this is yet another situation where I really want to be a fly on the wall when they get it. They know they're wrong, we know they're wrong, but having it staring you in the face can be a really sobering experience.

This should get really interesting :)
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My time spent being sick was actually quite productive. Most of my sick time was spent dealing with what I call "bullshit hassles." Appropriately named, really.

My main hassle was derived from our old apartment. The actual apartment wasn't bad, but the place was dangerous, there was a ton of crime, and the management were complete douchebags. We moved out at the end of our lease and they've been trying to bully us into paying like $900 in extra rent, "cleaning" fees and other assorted bullshit. We disputed it with them and they responded by sending us to a collection agency. Goody, I know a whole heck of a lot about debt collection, seeing as I used to be a collector. I know the FDCPA upside down and have a good working knowledge of state laws. Especially Washington's.

So, we start getting demand letters and phone calls from PMC. I write them a dispute and cease communication letter, sent certified, return receipt. The very next day, they send another demand letter. I realize that I'm dealing with pure brilliance here. I kind of slacked in giving them the appropriate smackdown, as I was preparing a lawsuit against the apartment complex. I'm actually glad that I did, because I have a much bigger smackdown to deliver now.

Then there's today. We get "validation" of the debt. Only little of it was actually validated. Rather than sending an invoice for the carpet repairs, they send an obviously doctored "bid" with the wrong date, an obvious change to the apartment number and the wrong amount of money. Brilliant! In response to my inquiry about a pet deposit, they photocopied the part of the lease where the pet fees were mentioned and stated that no deposit was paid. Even though it's in black and white a few pages later. I mean... this is real genious here. They did end up removing $125, although I have no idea why and they removed all of the interest charged, because they can't charge interest. But, they tacked on nearly $300 in "attorney fees." This just pissed me off.

I ended up spending the day writing letters. I wrote a letter to the collection agency, listing all of the laws, both state and federal that they've broken and let them know exactly who I'll be complaining to. They did make an enormous mistake. See, in Washington, collection agencies have to be licensed, both to do business and to collect debts. It doesn't matter if they're out of state. They STILL have to be licensed to do business. They're not licensed in Washington at all. Ooops! This means that they can't collect debts, they can't try to collect debts and they're on the hook for about $50,000 in fines. If not more, depending on whether a judge wants to fine them $25,000 for each collection attempt they've made. And whether a judge wants to find out how many other debtors they've scammed. Whoops!

I also found a great list of government agencies to complain to. The Washington Attorney General, the Virginia Attorney General, the FTC, the Virginia Consumer Affairs Bureau, the Washington Department of Licensing, the Washington Collection Agency Board will all be hearing about this. I'll also be sending them the black and white evidence of all of the laws they've broken, because I have copies of everything. This should start to get interesting, once the complaints are received.

What's even better is the fact that the apartment complex is on the hook. It's also illegal to hire an unlicensed collecton agency here or to aid an unlicensed business in this state. So, not only can we bust the collection agency, but it's also going to look really great when we present this fact to the judge that hears our small claims case.

This should be a huge hassle for me, but I've started thinking of this as sport. Really, it's fun to see how much angst I can cause these people. Curt read my "You fucked up" letter and said that they'll probably puke when they read it, because... well, I explained things really well and included a list of agencies that will be getting a copy of the letter.

We were talking earlier and Curt brought up the notion that I'd make a good lawyer, or at least a great paralegal. I guess it's worth considering, if I focused on consumer law. I dunno... lots of school, long hours. Something to think about, at least.
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I've really had enough of this. More than enough. I've been patient, I've been optimistic, I've been creative in finding solutions for the problems that we have and I've tried to work dilligently to make those solutions work. Apparently that isn't good enough. Pardon me while I vent for a while.

I attempted to make an appointment with my regular gyn to get this damn cyst dealt with, only to find out that I can't get an appointment with him for three weeks, because he's on vacation. No contingency plans were made for his patients, that I can tell, nor am I able to see another physician at the practice. I can see the nurse practitioner, but she knows nothing of the situation and can't really do anything about it until he returns. Why I can't see another physician is beyond me, but they refused to schedule me with anyone else.

The more I deal with this place, the more frustrated I get. I'm told to call them if the pain doesn't resolve in two days, so I do and I get this bitchy nurse accusing me of overusing the medication they give me, despite the fact that I explained the situation very thoroughly and told her exactly how many pills I had left. I come in for a very legitimate situation and the doctor doesn't even see fit to do basic tests. I call to schedule another appointment, as instructed by my doctor, only to find out that he's on fucking vacation. My frustration level has been reached and then some.

So, being the creative and proactive person that I am, I found a new clinic. I saw a doctor there who basically patronized me. I got the "It's just a little cyst, you crybaby," routine, was informed repeatedly that most women only need Advil for the pain, and was told there's no way anyone's going to remove the cyst until it's 6cm, because of the risks involved. I'm at 5 cm at the moment (it was 3.8 two weeks ago, so it's obviously growing.) So, until the cyst reaches some arbitrary measurement, I'm out of luck for getting this resolved in any way. I was given birth control. Just what a woman who wants to be pregnant by the end of the year needs... Of course, I have no say in this, even though I'm more than willing to assume the risks of surgery. I have absolutely no say in this, even though it's *my* body and *my* pain that's in question. Thanks. Thanks SO much.

She decided to "test" me by pressing on other systems, to see if that hurt (it didn't,) told me that she was pressing on the cyst when she wasn't (I know where it is because my abdomen is visibly raised) and asked how badly my tattoos hurt. I nonchalantly stated that they didn't hurt and I fell asleep during the tattoo on my ankle, because it took so long to do the detail work. I looked over at her and she had this befuddled look on her face, in disbelief that the tattoo didn't hurt, but the cyst does. Uh... maybe that should tell you something, doc... But, in her eyes, it's actually my back that hurts and not the cyst. As a person who's dealt with back pain since junior high, I can tell the difference.

What in the hell do I have to do in order to get something accomplished or have someone take me seriously. I know that cysts usually don't hurt. This one does. I didn't ask for it, I don't want it, but it happened and I want it taken care of. I don't care that there's an arbitrary standard on how big a cyst should be and I'd like so slap the shit out of whomever decided to set that limit. It's not right that a person with a 6cm cyst and no pain should have the option of removal, while a person with a 5cm cyst and pain doesn't. That's not right and it's most certaily not okay. To leave a patient in pain when there are reasonable solutions isn't okay.

And it's not only the pain that's a problem here. My entire life is on hold until this thing clears up. I can't go anywhere, because I can't drive. Hell, I can barely get down the stairs. I can't go out and get a job that would make other parts of my life better. I can't start school, because I can't get to school and probably couldn't sit through class. That's right... I have to put off college, because classes start in 3 weeks and I can't get myself through the registration process. All because of 1 fucking centimeter, I have to put off my education, paying my bills and living my life, because someone else set a standard that doesn't mean a goddamn thing.

Obviously, I'm frustrated. I've thought about ways that I can either rupture the damn thing, get it to grow enough that they'll remove it or get it to go away right now, although short of doing myself bodily harm, I can't think of much. I'm pretty much in a no win situation here.

I've had enough. Unfortunately, there's absolutely nothing I can do about this but sit back and take it.

I hate people.
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If I wasn't so tired right now, I think I'd want to cry.

My vacation was okay. Not horrible, not great, but okay. We ended up staying in my parents motor home, which is very nice but extremely uncomfortable. I messed up my back and then some. New years eve was nice and I even had a few drinks. After that... my brothers entered the picture and that's where everthing took a small turn south. My brothers aren't bad people, but they're wierd. Really wierd. Ah well, I got to sleep late, I got some relaxing in and read a couple of really good books on the plane.

The wedding shows started this weekend and they're nuts, as usual. On Friday, I made a point to ask both bosses if I needed to work on Sunday. We were just notified that our lease is actually up at the end of this month (we thought it would be up 12 months from when we signed the lease, which was the end of February,) and we'd really like to move closer to work. Yesterday, at 4 pm, I was told that I needed to work today and that my plans were irrelavent. Great. Thanks a lot. I was also told that I need to be working at least 6 days per week this month, preferably 7. All this while I'm trying to find another apartment and trying to find a better job. Great. Fucking lovely.

I have done some job hunting and have heard from everyone that I sent a resume to, with one exception, although they take a long time to get anything done. This is good. I really hope something good comes of this, because I'm dying here. Older Boss is still insistant that his English is better than mine and that the word "gratified" really means to receive gratitude. We're going ahead with the Valentine's day invitations, as written. I can't fucking believe this.

My portfolio website is done and I'll be talking to some headhunters tomorrow, who hopefully have a nice graphic design position waiting for me that pays twice what I'm making now, with a normal workweek and managers who have more than two braincells.
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ETA: This post is in honor of the FreeKatian community and our discussions of real weddings and how they're supposed to look. While this wasn't perfect and not really even good, it was real. TomKat's isn't and I think that's really freaking funny, considering how much money they wasted on it.

By popular demand, I'm reposting my little write up of what I'm told was one of the most disaster laden weddings possible. Everything went wrong. And I mean everything. I've also inserted a few photos here and there, becuase the descriptions just don't do the situation justice. It was actually worse than it sounds, if that's believable. Enjoy:

The Intro
Planning my October 14, 2005 wedding was nothing more than one disaster after another. My now husband proposed to me on July 28th and, as I was working a very time consuming and tiring job, we didn't set a date right away. As I have a large family and almost all of our siblings are married with children, trying to plan a large wedding with all of the trappings was proving to be extremely difficult. We thought about Las Vegas and we thought about having a garden wedding in the town that we currently reside in, but both options were cost prohibitive or required more planning than I was willing to commit to. We very quickly realized that planning a wedding to include both of our families was going to be difficult to arrange and we were trying to keep our budget to reasonable levels. I was unable to settle on a date or a location or even a type of wedding, because none of it seemed “us.” Ultimately, we decided to have a very small wedding at the local courthouse with our parents in attendance, on the first anniversary of our first date and dinner at a nice restaurant afterwards.

This wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it was affordable, it was easy and it wasn't going to turn me into a fire breathing monster for 6 months. And it also eliminated the family irritations that were beginning to brew (more on that later.) Even though we weren't having a big to-do, we wanted some of the formalities. We wanted traditional wedding apparel, flowers, a good photographer and a traditional Irish horseshoe in my bouquet. No showers, no huge receptions, no horse drawn carriages, no frills. We were limiting this to those things that were vitally important and nothing more.

My Horrid Family
The first problem that we ran into was the responses that we received to the announcement that we were going to have such a small wedding. My now SIL complained that we weren't going to have the wedding in Las Vegas, because she wanted to go there sometime during the winter. Funny, we'd never considered getting married in the winter, as both of our first weddings were in the winter. She also complained that we'd planned the wedding for the weekend following a cousin's wedding. Nobody had bothered to tell us when DH's cousin was getting married, so there was really no way we could have known. She said that she'll see if she could make it (she didnt.) My youngest brother and his wife first complained about some of the dates and places that we'd been thinking about, because of their children's school schedules or the long distance they'd have to travel. After we announced that we were going to have a very small wedding, they complained that we weren't inviting the entire family. I explained that, they were more than welcome to attend, gave them all of the information about when and where the wedding would be and was told that they didn't have any vacation time left. So, they make a fuss about our plans, but can’t come anyway. And this would be why we planned what we planned in the first place. Even though I really did want to gather up the whole family and have a cool Las Vegas wedding at the Bellagio, there's no way I could have done that, given how annoying my brothers are. My oldest brother got married in Vegas shortly before I met my husband and the whole thing was one big drama fest. No thanks.

The Peanut Gallery
I also had a ton of people criticizing my decision and insisted that I was doing it “wrong” or speculated on reasons why we’d chosen to go this route. My husband was asked several times, point blank, if I was pregnant. My now FIL was the first to ask this, sadly enough. Being the people that we are, DH and I wouldn’t have had a problem with announcing a pregnancy and wouldn’t have rushed a wedding because of it. Several people who heard about it told me that I would regret not having a big wedding, that I owed it to my family to have a large one, because everyone knows that weddings are family reunions and that there had to be something wrong with me if I didn't want a big, white Princess wedding. I've never wanted a big wedding, have never thought that the “queen for a year” celebration, showers, parties and nuptial hysteria was worth it, I hate crowds, don’t like being the center of attention and, if my family wants to hold a reunion, it's a lovely idea! However, they will not be hijacking my wedding to do it. But, I put it out of mind, as DH and I were happy and our parents thought it was a great idea. I had 8 weeks to plan the event and focused on that instead. I got out my spreadsheet software and the telephone book and got down to business.

The first major disaster involved my photographer. My husband and I are both very artistic people and having good photographs were important to us. I was also a fashion model in a former life and, because of my extensive exposure to photography, I'd become quite a snob over it. My cherished MIL also has Alzheimer’s disease, I have memory problems and we wanted to make sure that we had a good record of the event. I contacted several photographers and decided on one who seemed very professional and did wonderful work. He seemed taken aback when I asked for samples, but having worked with a lot of photographers in the past, it didn’t faze me all that much. We agreed on a price and the details. Since I do very little business without putting everything in writing, I asked for a contract and he promised that he'd put one in the mail. Two weeks later, I'd received nothing, so I called him and left a message. He never returned my calls and never sent a contract. Four weeks before the wedding, we decided to fire him and find someone else. Fortunately, I was able to find a great photography team, from way out of town, at the last minute who agreed to photograph our wedding for a price that we could afford. I ended up sending the first photographer written confirmation that his services were not needed. He called two days before the event, with the expectation that he was still being retained for the event. He verbally confirmed receipt of my letter and I sent it with delivery confirmation, so I had no doubt that he received it. I sensed shock in his voice when I told him that I'd hired someone else.

The Dress Disaster
The second disaster was courtesy of the seamstress that I'd hired to alter my dress. When we'd first gotten engaged, I went into a bridal shop, just to browse and ended up finding a great dress that had been discontinued, so it was incredibly inexpensive. I paid about $120 for it, with tax and a vinyl garment bag. I found a seamstress who had great credentials, a very impressive education from very good fashion schools in Europe, and seemed to know what she was doing. I went in for a fitting and she told me that she'd be able to start on the dress shortly. She made is very clear to me that she was a professional and a perfectionist. She also stated that, since the bodice was beaded, she’d have to take the beading off and hand sew it back on. Okay, what ever it takes to get the job done. After three weeks, I hadn't heard from her, so I called her and was almost reprimanded that I'd called to ask about her progress. She hadn't started the dress. My mother and I discussed this and my mom ended up placing a call to her, because I was ready to pick the dress up and take it elsewhere. Everything was apparently fine and my dress would be started the next day. Apparently, the seamstress had been having a bad day when she talked to me. I could live with that.

Two days later, I get a call at 5:30pm, asking me to come in for a fitting... right now. She insisted that I had to have a fitting right then, because she wanted to make sure that the fit was right before she started cutting the fabric. I was in the middle of cooking dinner, but shut everything off and went in. The dress looked great and fit properly, although I didn't like the placement of the spaghetti straps and said so. I was told that it would be ready in a few days and she would call me. I was able to get back to making dinner after an hour or so and we finally sat down to dinner well after 8 pm that evening.

A week later, on a Friday evening, she calls and lets me know that the dress was done. The entire time I was there, she dropped hints as to how long she spent working on the dress and that I must have thought she'd forgotten about it. I knew something was up. I went in to try it on and was horrified. It was way too small and we couldn't get the zipper closed without me gasping for breath. The area around my underarms was so tight that my skin was bulging and I had back cleavage (I’m very thin, so this really says something.) The waistline was over 8 inches too big and made me either look like I had a huge behind or was 5 months pregnant, depending on which way the bulge shifted. Maybe she got her measurements mixed up, but whatever the reason, this dress was never going to fit. She told me that I was being picky.

Aside from the obvious fit problems, there were obvious cosmetic issues as well. The straps hadn't been moved and were over an inch from where they should have been, leaving the straps digging into my neck. They were placed about where you'd see them on a child's dress and splayed from the neckline because they were so close together. The material was covered in snags, pulls and black ink marks. The hem was too short on one side and looked like it had been hacked off with a kitchen knife. The delicate beading on the spaghetti straps and bodice had been ripped off because she brilliantly decided to hang the dress from the beaded straps, by wrapping them around the hanger, leaving tattered threads where it used to be, as well as threads hanging from the bulging and crooked seams. She hand basted the seams together (they were not machine stitched at all) and didn’t bother to take the beading off, as she stated that she would. Instead, the beading was sewn into the seams and cut off with the rest of the fabric. The skirt had way too much starch and, without constant pulling and adjusting, the tulle stuck together in clumps. Four months later, the tulle is still gooey. Finally, while she had cut the outer layers of tulle and netting, she didn’t bother to alter the underskirt, which dragged on the floor and caused me to trip twice at the final fitting. I was truly horrified. My beautiful Mori Lee gown looked like it has been run over by a truck. If the top hadn’t been taken in so much and all of the excess fabric hacked off, I probably could have saved it and I could have overlooked or done something about the bad seams, ripped off beading, snags and other cosmetic defects. I’m posting pictures, although they only show the cosmetic flaws and don’t show how badly it fit.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The seamstress told me that there was nothing wrong with her work when I voiced my concerns and demanded a check for $280. Her original quote was $150 and I'd paid a $20 deposit. The woman even had the audacity to tell me that she was giving me a discount! I refused to pay and she told me to just leave. My husband, thinking that I was just stressed, ended up paying her and stopped payment on the check after he saw how truly horrible the dress was. I left her several messages before we talked to the bank. To this day, she has never returned one of them. I kept the dress, stuffed in it's garment bag until we moved to Seattle, just in case we had to go to court over it. To date, I've still heard nothing from this woman, but the dress was saved... kinda. I ended up taking the bodice off and replacing it with a new one, in a gorgeous wine satin, with a lace up back. It's not the dress it once was, but it's wearable and actually rather lovely.

At this point, I had less than three weeks until my wedding and no dress. While this might not be a big deal for some women, I have a very hard to fit body and there was absolutely no way that I was going to find something off the rack that would fit. I cried most of the weekend and was on the phone constantly with my mother, who helped me formulate a game plan for finding a new dress. Monday morning was D-Day- Dress Day. I had to have one by then, to have the time to either find a seamstress or have enough time to do the alterations. I tried consignment stores and found nothing. The first bridal store that I went to had a couple of dresses that definitely weren’t my style and I didn’t find them particularly pretty, but were better than jeans and a t-shirt. I cried in their parking lot in frustration. I ended up going to the other local bridal salon and was treated like royalty by the staff. They spent over two hours with me, trying to find a dress that I could wear, because they felt so bad that I was there, so close to my wedding, with eyes swollen from sobbing. The only problem was the fact that I would have to do the alterations myself, as homecoming was the weekend before my wedding and all of the local seamstresses with good reputations were swamped. I chose a dress, with the advice of the salon's seamstress, that would be relatively easy to alter and she gave me permission to call her if I ran into any problems.

My parents were visiting the next weekend, so my mom brought her sewing machine and we altered the dress. It wasn't perfect and I definitely didn’t have the best disposition while doing it, as it was extremely stressful for someone who has little experience with sewing to work on a wedding gown. I was terrified that I was going to ruin it. The lining ended up too short, so it had to be cut out and there were little imperfections here and there, but for my first attempt at altering a wedding dress, it looked lovely. However, the bridal salon let me in on a little secret while I was there. Apparently, the seamstress that had ruined my dress used to work for them and was fired for incompetence, because she'd ruined several dresses and cost the salon a lot of money. They also had some serious questions about the validity of her education. And after relaying the story to my hairdresser, she told me that the same seamstress had ruined a bridesmaid dress of hers as well and has heard several other stories about destroyed wedding attire. How this woman stays in business is beyond me. It’s probably because there are a lot of suckers out there and she has an impressive Yellow Pages ad.

The Incompetent jeweler
The next crisis involved my wedding rings. DH had chosen a very beautiful engagement ring and we eventually bought a matching band from the same jeweler. I used to work as a bench jeweler, so I have an idea of what is good and what is not, as far as settings go. Mine had some potential problems, but we decided to wait it out and see if the ring started to break. Within a month, the channels started to fracture and several stones were loose, so I called the manufacturer and they agreed to repair it. I was told that the repair would take up to 15 business days. We received the ring 30 days later, one week prior to the wedding, in worse condition than it left in. The prongs were still very thin, but someone had had the bright idea to melt a little metal onto them and never bothered to do any kind of smoothing, so there were solidified droplets of gold on the prongs. They also rounded them very haphazardly, to the point that some had been filed to a 15 degree angle and others had rough edges. The channels were still dangerously thin and two of the princess cut stones were already loose.

I called the manufacturer again and stated that the ring was not acceptable. The representative told me that I was welcome to return it for a refund, but they wouldn't refund the matching band, because there was nothing wrong with it. So, we were stuck with a ring that had the same potential problems, wasn't going to match anything that we'd found to replace the engagement ring and the company just expected us to accept that. We threatened to take them to court and apparently that got results. The general manager offered to send a different set, for review and if we liked it, we could make an exchange. We agreed to it and we were told that he'd be in touch with us the following day to make arrangements. At no time were we told that we'd have to pay for the set that we'd be reviewing. This becomes important later. He also lied to us on several occasions and they were very obvious to me, as he apparently had no idea how jewelry is produced. I do, because I've made jewelry before (and I'm talking the stuff you'd find in Tiffany's.) At the date of this posting, I'm working as a gemologist, with credentials, for a very upscale jeweler. I know my stuff. The general manager of this company obviously didn't.

The next day, we heard nothing from the company, so DH placed a call. The customer service department had no idea what we were talking about, had no record that the general manager had even spoken to us and was unable to do anything, because the general manager was out with prospective clients all day and left no instructions. We were also told that nothing leaves the building without being paid for! What! After several phone calls and as many different stories as to what was going on, we're contacted 15 minutes before they close with return authorization for both rings and that, if we wanted to look at the other set, we’d have to log onto their site and order it. I had no intention of every ordering something from them again, but was happy that we could return the rings that we had. But this still leaves us, 7 days before our wedding, with no wedding ring. I ended up going out the next day to a local jeweler and ordering a plain gold 2mm band from their catalogue, which was delivered in the correct size from the manufacturer in just in time. We also got a full refund from the company that sold us crummy rings, less shipping charges and $150 in resizing fees. My husband ended up giving me a very nice CZ solitare for Christmas, with a promise that we'd get something when we moved to a bigger city. It didn't have the sparkle of the first setting, but it did the trick and was quite lovely. After we moved to Seattle and I got myself extablished with a jeweler out here, we finally got down to choosing my lifetime wedding set. It's a white and rose gold creation with two pear shaped side stones, encircled in rose gold and pink pave set diamonds. The center stone is a stunning 1.18 ct oval fancy lilac, that I found when I was visiting one of our gem dealers. As upset as I was over the first setting, this one just blows it away.

The Cake
We regain our composure and the wedding weekend is here. Our parents arrive safely and my mom and I prepare a nice hors devours spread for the first meeting of our families. They get along famously from the first hellos! I'm relieved, as that was my last big fear. We separate and get ready for dinner. DH and my dad go to get his tux and my mother and I go to pick up the cake. We get there and words truly cannot describe the monstrosity that the bakery presented us with. It was absolutely horrible and looked nothing like what we'd ordered. I'm attaching photographs, both of the cake that we ordered and the cake that we were given, because it's impossible to truly appreciate this without seeing them. I'd prepaid for the order and the bakery staff insisted that it was the exact cake that I'd ordered and it was beautiful. They refused to give a refund. I took it home, only because I wanted photos of it. To date, after speaking with everyone who’s anyone in the store, we have not been refunded. More wasted money. I realize that some may think that I was just being hysterical at this point, with the wedding being so close and having so much stress. I have photos.

This is what I ordered:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is what I got:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I'm not kidding. It really was horrendous.

We did a little work on the top, to try to see if we could get the icing to be presentable and... nothing. The icing congealed into greasy glops and there was this horrible sugar glitter all over it, which mixed with the icing and made it impossible to smooth. It was just awful. As we were coming to the realization that we were now without a cake, the night before the wedding, my cat hops onto the table and sits on the top layer of the cake. The cake wasn’t salvageable before hand, but the feline cake topper sealed its fate. The truly scary part was that none of the icing stuck to his fur although his entire backside was greasy and we had to give him a bath a few days later. It’s been speculated that the butter cream was made entirely of vegetable shortening, turning it into sugary grease. We did end up sampling the disgusting thing and it tasted worse than it looked. The cake was made with doughnut batter and the icing was overly sweet with this weird aftertaste that was nearly impossible to get rid of. Gross! DH sensing that if he doesn't make me laugh, he'll be peeling me from the ceiling, states that, at least the cat sat on a cake that I already hated.

My parents leave to change for dinner, and DH and I make an emergency Walmart run for cake supplies. I figure that I could make a cake that looked better than that and I could definitely make one that tasted better. We got two cake mixes, tubs of icing and some pre-made fondant, then headed to the restaurant to meet our parents, where I had an alcoholic drink for the first time in over a year and a half. Dinner was great, we had a wonderful time and headed back to the house to make the new cake. It didn't take long and ended up being rather pretty, if obviously homemade. I was able to get to bed at about 2 am and fell asleep wondering how a professional bakery couldn't do as good of a job as I did on a wedding cake.

4 months after the wedding (over a year at the time of this LiveJournal posting,) I can laugh about all of this. Now that the immediate stress and fear has subsided, I’m left feeling that I want a do-over in a small way. Not to have a big wedding, a gift grab or whatnot. The teeny part of me that wants a do-over is longing to do that, because I want to experience a wedding that’s put together by competent vendors, the wedding ring that I originally picked out, a two layer fondant cake and a dress with it’s lining still intact and free from bloodstains from pricked fingers. The one thing that was missing from my planning experience was that I never felt like a bride, until I was sitting in my hairdressers chair the morning of the wedding, and even then, I was sick over the notion that something else would go wrong, as so many things already had. I was too busy altering gowns, baking cakes, being a jeweler or trying to make family problems disappear to really enjoy the process.

While I did enjoy some of the day, starting halfway through the photography after the ceremony, up until then, nothing really registered, because I was trying to be mentally prepared for another mishap. The day was a success, in the fact that we ended up married at the end of it, but... if I had it to do over again, I certainly would have done a great many things differently. the first being that the wedding would have been postponed until were lived in a civilized place.
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I posted earlier that I'd been put on Metformin by my doctor last week, when I went in for my biopsy. Things were going pretty well, although it was making me sick to the point of throwing up on occasion. I was told that this was normal and that most people adjust to the medication within a few days. I'm apparently not "most people."

Sunday was not a good day for me. No matter how much I ate, I was grouchy, tired and irritable. By 3 pm, I was exhausted to the point that I couldn't stay awake any longer, so I took a nap and slept until 6:30. The only reason I woke up was to have one of the worst bouts of vomiting I've ever had in my life. Then I was hit with some violent GI problems, if you catch my drift. This continued for a few hours. I'd go to sleep for about 30 minutes, wake up, puke and go back to sleep. After three episodes of that, I got the garbage can from my office and just stopped getting up. I'd wake up, roll over, throw up and go back to sleep. If the trots struck, I'd get up for that, but otherwise I just didn't have the energy to get out of bed. Somehow I managed not to throw up on our practically brand new Sleep Number mattress or ruin the very nice bedspread that my mother gave us, after searching for it for 6 months. I don't think I'd be able to forgive myself if I had.

By 10:30pm, things were serious. I apparently wasn't waking up. Curt tried to rouse me, to try to get me to drink some water, but... it just wasn't happening. He read the insert that came with the Metformin and figured that I was severely hypoglycemic, so he forcefed me some apple juice and some fried rice. It didn't help and I threw it all up anyway. I don't remember much of this, but I was apparently pretty non responsive and was falling asleep mid sentance or while I was chewing food. Occasionally, I'd have enough of a burst of energy that I could get up and maybe make it into another room, but they lasted for two minutes at most and I'd be fast asleep again. Curt called my doctor's office and was told to take me into the ER right away, because Metformin can cause some pretty serious problems and it sounded like I was having them.

I don't remember going to the hospital, I don't remember being checked in, although I apparently talked to the triage nurse a little, when they could wake me up enough. I had an IV put in, several vials of blood drawn and a blood sugar test and I slept through the entire thing. I was apparently throwing up pretty violently through the entire ordeal, although I pretty much slept through that as well. According to the nurse, I'd sit up, vomit and flop back down, all without even opening my eyes. I think they eventually turned me on my side, because that's how I was when I woke up.

I started waking up at around 3 am with a massive headache and was given morphene. So, there I am, doped up on Dilaudid and throwing up constantly. The doctor was seriously worried and had them nurse hook me up to a second IV of fluid, as everything that they were putting in me was coming right back out one way or another. There was talk of admitting me to the hospital, at least until the vomiting stopped, because they'd never seen Metformin make someone this sick before. I was also constantly needing to run to the bathroom, which wasn't easy as I was really loopy and had to be really careful not to snag or step on all of the tubing that was sticking out of me. This was literally every 5 minutes! I'd sit up, rip the pulse oxygen thingie off of my hand and give this "I need help now!" look to Curt, who'd grab both IV bags and lead me off to the restroom. By the time I made it back to my room, I'd throw up, get situated on the gurney and have to start the whole process over again. It was just surreal.

At 5 am, Curt had to head home to shut the alarm clock off and feed our poor dog. By that time, I was coherent enough to be able to manage to get to the bathroom by myself, until the nurse gave me another shot of morphene. I still managed and there was usually a nurse handy when I couldn't. When he got home, the alarm clock was going off and both of our animals were frantic, as they were really scared because of the noise and because neither of us were home. The cat was fine after the noise stopped and Curt fished out one of his favorite toys. The dog got a bowl of food, a rawhide chewy thing and some reassurance.

They both clamoured around the door after he gave them their "goodbye treats" (we've made it a habit to give them both a piece of candy before we go anywhere) and he thinks that they were upset because I didn't come home with him. Animals can be so amazingly perceptive and mine are no exception. Before we left, Ted refused to leave my side and Dunan smelled me and started wimpering, so I think they both knew that something was wrong. They're such good babies.

He came back right around the time that I stopped throwing up and was really completely loaded on morphene, as they'd given me two more shots because my headache got worse, the more I threw up. The last one was apparently a big one, which knocked me on my ass in a big way. I'm not sure that the morphene was the greatest idea, but... whatever. It worked enough so that I didn't care how bad my head hurt, although it didn't help my nausea any. For some reason they didn't give me anything for the nausea, but I was too loaded to find out why, or even bring it up. I think I was just so happy that I wasn't throwing up anymore that I didn't care. And I was stoned.

I finally convinced the doctor not to admit me and we were able to leave at about 6:30. Curt called both of our offices and let them know the neither one of us was going to be in that day, put me to bed and crashed. Unfortunately, this wasn't the end of my troubles, as I either threw up or slept most of Monday as well. The ER doctor, while he seemed competent, didn't seem like he had everything together. Since I was still dehydrated and hadn't had anything to eat in over 24 hours, I had a massive headache. He prescribed Vicodin, which makes most people extremely nauseated and made me throw up. He didn't send me home with anything for nausea or to make me stop throwing up. Thankfully, I had some nausea medicine from when I had migraines. I'd take one of those at the same time that I took the Vicodin and it kept the nausea down long enough for the Vicodin to kick in, although it only kept me from throwing up for an hour, at most.

Today is better. I've been able to keep fluid down and have been able to eat a little bit of bread, although the two bites of banana didn't sit so well. I made some rice with leftover broth from yesterday and I haven't thrown it up yet, although I'm really nauseous, so that's a good sign. I think I might have the gumption to make at least one tray of chocolate chip muffins, mostly as a treat for Curt but also as a little incentive for me to get well enough to eat one. I might have to take a nap, in order to have the energy, but I think I can do it.

Speaking of Curt, he's really been a trooper though this whole thing. He's never had to deal with a situation like this, where he's in the position of taking care of someone who's seriously sick and didn't really know what to do. Despite this, he's been great. He read up on what he should be feeding me and made a trip out to the grocery store to stock up on food that I had a chance of keeping down. He's either held my hair or the garbage can, so that I could puke without making a huge mess of myself. When I did throw up on myself, he'd help me change my clothes, run me a bath and help me get cleaned up. He even had the forethought to call my mom for advice because she's always full of great ideas and her next door neighbor is a retired nurse. When she suggested flat Coke, he stirred up a glass for me to drink and put an extra in the fridge, so that I'd have some if I woke up in the middle of the night.

I need to do something really special for him, if for no other reason than to show him that I appreciate him and everything that he's been doing. Since I had to work on our anniversary and our frozen wedding cake didn't survive the move, I was planning on cooking Porterhouse steaks (the first dinner I ever cooked for him was a Porterhouse steak with homemade mashed potatoes and broccoli with homemade cheese sauce) and making a really fancy cake for dessert on Sunday but... that obviously didn't happen. Maybe I'll do that sometime this week. I did clean up the kitchen and have been straightening up the house little by little, because I didn't want him to come home and have to do it. It doesn't feel like enough. He's been really great for these past few days.

The kids have been really good too. I got up for a while last night and one of them was always with me. Dunan took the first shift and would follow me around where ever I went. She went to bed when I got up to go into the kitchen and, the minute she ducked around the corner, Ted came out and hung out with me until I went back to sleep. They did the same thing this morning, but have been a little less... concerned, I guess, as the day went on. I've been giving them both a lot of attention, candy and nice treats like a rawhide for Dunan and a pinch of catnip for Ted. As much as I complain, I do have a really great family.

And, with that, it's time for me to decide whether I feel okay enough to start some muffins, or if I need to get back in bed for a little while. 
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First of all, this is a chain e-mail, but it's funny enough to warrant posting:

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed).

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at whichsouls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."

This student received the only "A".
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I decided to restrict my LiveJournal to friends only, because there are some thoughts in here that I'd really rather not broadcast to the entire world.
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