Monday, February 13, 2006

Calgon, take me away!!!!!

Who needs reality TV when I've got lots of drama right here? Since Thursday morning I've:
--skipped with glee
--discussed paint chips and painted "virtual" rooms at the Behr paint site
--signed paperwork that has obligated me to pay a large chunk of change every month for the next 30 years
--discussed, with an air of longing for simplier times, the merits of various Nintendo games (um, that's the first Nintendo--Duck Hunt, Super Mario
Brothers, Tetris etc)
--ate crepes at IHOP
--tried to get my own money out of the bank for our downpayment and subsequently:
--screamed in a public place
--swore at several people I don't know
--expressed a building sense of homicidal rage growing within me (justto Tristan so no charges will be filed or anything)
--took 3 buses and a train to get to a job interview that lasted 7 minutes and then took 2 buses and a train home...
--cried in a bank lobby--sobbing, crying--it wasn't pretty
--won a $500 library scholarship
--AND, spent 3 hours last night in the emergency room with my husband after receiving a call that he had ploughed head first into the back of an SUV that swerved in front of him on the road and yes, last night he was running late and forgot to grab his helmet!!!

Thursday: Oy! so Tristan and I closed on our condo--well we signed all the paperwork. Then we went to IHOP for a breakfast celebration (I actually skipped part of the way because I was so happy). Then onto the bank, the Bank of EEEVILLL, to get our downpayment wire-transfered to the mortgage company so that we could close and get the keys to our new home on Tuesday or Wednesday. We get to the bank, we wait in line for about 10 minutes because none of the customer service reps would meet our eyes so we could get their attention. We get up to the teller who tells us we have to go fill out this form and then get back in line to talk to someone. I have never sent a wire transfer before and let me tell you, that form was confusing--beneficiary, beneficiary bank's account number the mortgage number etc. I filled out what I could and then we got back into line. We sat and waited for another 10 minutes for a "customer service" person to see us. He pulled up our info and said, "oh you're an out of state customer, we have to verify you account, it'll take about 10 minutes."

Because, see even though we moved here a year ago and changed our address with the bank and have been doing all our banking in CA, we are still considered "out of state" because we opened the account in MA. Hello, they are a national bank! Why would you have to close your account and open up a new one with them when you move? However, having had past dealings with the Bank of Evil, we anticipated this being a problem. Three weeks ago, Tristan called their customer service number and explained to them what we wanted to do, that we had opened the account in MA and that the amount was several hundred thousand dollars so we couldn't just get a cashier's check. Their response: "you'll be fine, just go into the nearest branch with your driver's license, have a nice day!"

So here we are 3 weeks later, trying to get the money out. Turns out, that they can't actually access our account info because the states aren't hooked up to one another through the computer system. "Could you please go sit over there so I can help the next customer while we wait for your previous branch to call us back?" Half an hour later, we are talking to a different rep who tells us that we can't get our money out without a copy of the "signature card" we filled out when we opened the account 5 years ago and that this piece of paper is not scanned into the system and can only be gotten from the branch where we opened the account. And said branch closed at 4pm Eastern time on Thursday and we were informed of this about about 4:30pm Eastern time. "Sorry, you'll just have to call back tomorrow. We'll TRY to get that bank to look for the card, but other than that there's nothing we can do. Now I need these seats for our next customers...." As a side note, I just finished reading "Talk to the hand: the Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door" by Lynne Truss on Wednesday, perhaps I can collaborate with her on a sequel...

Friday: I go off to my interview in the morning--and I missed the bus that goes to that town because it was 25 minutes early and the electric sign on the front of the bus was malfunctioning and only displayed 2 letters and absolutely no bus number so I had no idea that was the one I needed to flag down... So I had to find another bus that went part of the way there and then wait for the next bus. Craziness. I got to my interview on time, was there for 7 minutes and then back out on the next bus home....

While I was riding all sorts of public transportation, Tristan was on the phone with the bank trying to get them to call Boston. He finally ended up calling the branch manager in Boston himself who said "I don't have time to talk to someone in California. I have to take care of my customers here." And then he hung up. Tristan kept calling back so he could explain that we could LOSE OUR HOUSE if this transfer doesn't go through and that, in fact, we would be losing our apartment too since it is already rented and we have to be out of it by Feb 20th. Finally the CA bank called the guy in Boston and he started looking for the card 5 minutes before he closed (again, at 4pm--what kind of bank closes at 4?). And nope, he says he doesn't have it.

Saturday: 9am, the CA branch manager's office. Tristan was supposed to take the CBEST test today so that he could become a substitute teacher while he works on his masters. But we had to straighten this thing out so he forfeited his registration fee and now he has to wait until the end of April to take the test which means he can't get on the teaching list until next Fall. Again, the manager's like,"I don't know what we can do." We have to have that signature card to verify who you are. I said "you need verification of his identity, won't this do it?" And I proceed to dump an entire folder of crap on her desk: passport, birth certificate, marriage license, taxes going back 5 years, copies or our leases from here and Boston, old checkbooks full of carbon copies from when the account was opened and other official documents. And guess what, this couldn't prove who his is to these people--only that little piece of paper could. That piece of paper that THEY lost.

Their proposed solution: How about you just write a personal check? Which will take 10 days to clear and force us to put our stuff in storage and live in a motel and possibly stay there for over a month if the seller decides to back out of the deal and we have to find a new condo to live in, go through the escrow and so on... The branch manager was on the phone with customer service while Tristan said, "if you can't get this straightened out today, I'm flying to Boston on Monday, getting the money out in person and you will pay for my ticket and hotel!" I sat there and imagined the worst: that our seller would back out of the deal, we would be thrown out of our apartment, we'd have to rent a storage unit and live in a cheap hotel for God knows how long. I couldn't stop myself, I started bawling in the lobby of Bank of Evil, in front of all their other customers. The branch manager looks at me and says, "wait don't get upset. I'll just authorize it myself. Let me make copies of all the IDs you brought with you and I'll put it through on Monday morning. I'll take personal responsibility for it." So apparently folks, the only way to reach the human beneath the Bank of Evil alien employee is to CRY! Sobby, snotty, hiccuppy crying.

Sunday: Still worried about the transfer. Hoping it will go through. I was watching a 60 minutes segment about severe head wounds and thinking I would follow Darcy's advice and just take a hot bath and go to bed after it was over when the phone rings. It's Tristan's friend Grady and he's telling me Tristan was just hit by a car while riding his bike, that he hit his head and there is blood pouring from the wound. Can I grab the bike rack, throw in the car and pick him up so we can meet Tristan at Ceder-Sinai's ER? So that's what I did and on my way out the door I see Tristan's bike helmet, laying on the table. Three hours and 12 stitches later, Tristan is good to go home. No broken bones, just a bunch of bruises and a Harry Potter scar on his forehead to remember this accident by. He is very lucky. He was riding down Hollywood in the right lane behind an SUV that slowed down like it was going to turn into a parking lot. Tristan moved over to the left lane to pass it and at that moment the guy swerved into the left lane and slammed on the breaks. Tristan tried to stop but couldn't and his bike wheel locked up, he flew over the handle bars and slammed forehead-first into the SUV's huge bumper, hitting the round hitch for dragging a boat or whatever. Luckily, no sign of a concussion. The guy felt really bad and drove him to the hospital (with Tristan bleeding all over his expensive leather seats) and offered to pay his medical bills. Our insurance will most likely cover it all so no worries there. Tristan has promised that from now on he will wear the helmet I bought him as a wedding present (just like Lance Armstrong's helmet, by the way).

Monday: Tristan's phone/pda got smashed in the crash and they are replacing it for him and he's excited because his model is now obsolete so he's getting the improved version which apparently has more megapixels and blinking lights or something. The wire transfer finally posted and I am taking the day off from worrying about anything but packing and some schoolwork. UGGH! I thought weekends were for relaxation....

In Knitting News: Darcy and I have been working on our knit along project--the short-sleeved Michael Kors sweater from the Holiday 2005 issue of Vogue. Yep, so far we've done the ribbing and the first 11 rows. Tonight Darcy and I will be tackling the first decrease row and it's all downhill from there, folks!

So that my crochet skills don't get too rusty (it has been about a week, appalling, yes!), I made up a square to send to Drew the Crochet Dude who is collecting 12 inch squares for afghans for Heartmade Blessings. You can see all the details on his blog. And yes, I do realize this isn't quite square--I was watching the Olympic figure skating pairs and my eyes were focused on the Russians who were skating a perfect program instead of on my stitches and...I lost count somewhere on the second to last row or thereabouts. OOps! Hopefully someone will be able to finagle it--put it on a corner, Drew!

I'm going to try to score some Valium (kidding!) and some more boxes (not kidding!) and then chill our for the rest of the afternoon. So everyone, take your drama someplace else, cuz we're all full up here!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Oh the places I've been....

I actually found this map thingy when I looked at Michele's friend Amy's blog. Pretty cool. Though I must admit, some of these were places we stopped to use the bathroom on our cross-country trip--but only a few, the rest we actually did stop in and look around!

create your own visited states map

Looks like I need to do more international travel--glad I just renewed my passport for another ten years--I've only visited 4% of the world's countries!

create your own visited countries map

Where have you been? Where should I go next?

I'm reading a book right now that is set in China so maybe I'll have to plan a trip there--guess I better start clipping coupons if I have any hope of saving enough money...

The book is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (It'll be back at the LAPL in about a week if you don't want to buy it!). I'm about 1/3 of the way through and this book is not for the faint of heart. There are several chapters that discuss footbinding in painful detail--describing bones breaking as she walks etc. Why anyone thought having a foot that was only 7 centimeters long was a necessity, I'll never know. Oh, of course, it was to keep women in their place--they certainly couldn't run away from abusive husbands or even engage in business or anything else that requires you to walk more then ten steps at a time. For those of you who are metric-challenged, like me, my shoe size is size 6 and my foot is 22 1/2 centimeters long. Yeah, so 7 cm is like ridiculous. Yet again, I can never see this happening if men were the ones supposed to be bound. Same with the whole abortion issue--there's no way the government would even think of telling a man what to do or not to do to his body...ok off subject but I got all fired up watching the State of the Idiocy, I mean, Union, address the other night. Turns out there was a sizeable anti-Bush demonstration in Hollywood that night. I guess I should have gone there instead of yelling "ha, you liar!" repeatedly at the TV all by myself.

And in knitting news: I'm one row away from completing the granny-square afghan and I'm exploring decorative edgings to give it just a bit more "ummph." I've also started working on a pair of alpaca socks--another Spring birthday present. However, I seem to have misjudged the amount of yarn necessary so I will be substituting some other AIS alpaca (Already In Stash, people) for the heel and toe so all should work out in the end. The yarn is Classic Elite Inca Alpaca from The Knitter's Studio--purchased during their sale a few weeks ago. It is beeeuuutiful--all different shades of green from lichen to olive to a muted chartreuse but they're gonna have chocolate brown heels and toes. And if you recognize the pattern, I'm doing the same cable pattern from the orange socks I made a few months ago...but on size 7's instead of 2's so it is going much faster! I'm actually reading for class while I knit, except for the cable rows.

Also, Darcy and I have started our own little knit along project. We're both doing the short-sleeve sweater from Vogue Knitting's Holiday Issue--they've taken down the picture from the website since the new issue is out. I'm doing mine in Tahki cotton classic in a pretty Avocado green color (the one that's displayed in that link) and Darcy is doing hers in Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride in a very pretty oatmeal-type color (not sure exactly what it's called). So far I've just swatched and done the ribbing on the bottom back. Pictures to follow when I've done more...Or if you're in the area, come to the Farmer's market tonight at 7pm for the WeHo SnB and you can see how both of us are doing...

And did I mention my Christmas present finally came? It's a Scunci steamer--I am so totally excited. However, I haven't finished anything yet since it arrived last Thursday. Some good motivation for me to finish something quick, just to try it out!