Big City Living!
Phoenix is the first big city I’ve ever lived in. Stamford, CT was a decent sized city, but nothing compared to this. Each one is a unique environment; when I recall NYC, I think about hoards bustling people, the smell of hot dog carts and pretzels and sometimes pee, the sounds of honking horns and the tall buildings with bodegas and bars on the next corner. When I watch Law & Order my favorite parts are when they’re doing the investigation around the city. I just love the background!
Phoenix stands out to me for the traffic, and I know NYC has a ton of traffic, but it’s just different. They also have something called the ‘suicide’ lane. It’s an additional center lane. Our streets are so wide, 3 lanes in either direction for the main ones and then 2 for most others. Except for residential, obviously.
This center lane is for making a left turn from a main road; you pull over into it and wait for a chance to proceed, or if you’re brave, when turning onto a main road, you can wait for only the traffic from your left to be clear, make the left and sit in the suicide lane until you have a chance to merge with the moving traffic. It is one of my very least favorite moves to make. I try my very best to only make a left with the benefit of a traffic signal, but even that can try your patience.
Here’s the thing about making a left even with the signal at any major intersection! It’s never long enough and you can end up sitting there for like 5 minutes. What I’ve noticed a lot of people use as a solution, is that after the yellow arrow ends and the rest of the traffic now has the right of way to proceed, just pretend like it’s still your turn until the cars start actually coming towards you! To be perfectly honest, I’ve done this. Sometimes you just have to because the traffic never stops, and you’d then have to sit through the entire rotation of the lights.
When I’m continuing straight through an intersection, I’ve started playing a game where I count how many cars turn after my light has changed to green. The record so far is 5, which is a lot if you consider how long it takes for each car to pass through. I wasn’t going to be involved in an accident just because I had right of way, and they just brazenly kept coming! I did lay on the horn for a bit. Not like it accomplished anything, but it made me feel better.
OMG! What a day! My pulse is still racing…nothing quite like finding out the cruise you booked and bought flights for had a declined payment for the deposit and I had no idea!! You may recall from a previous post that Mike and I got a free cruise by suffering through a timeshare seminar in a chilly room in Vegas, so the experience of booking this cruise is a little out of the ordinary.
After lots of researching, we finally decided on the perfect cruise that aligns with my responsibilities with my brother’s kids, and an off-peak time of year to save some money.
I called and booked it. They literally make you call; you cannot do it from the website. They have to try and sell you unnecessary stuff, you know! I don’t know if any of you have ever gotten anything awesome for free, but it’s never the conventional definition of free, cruises in particular.
Anyway…I was supposed to get a confirmation email after I booked, but never did. It took a couple of days for me to be like, hey, I didn’t get that email, I’ll have to call that guy back! Good thing I wrote down all important information! This should be an easy conversation: “Hey there, Scott, I didn’t get my confirmation email.” And he’d say, “No problem, Marybeth, let’s figure out why!”
That is not what happened. At all. At. All!! I call the number, hit all the right prompts, enter his extension…It doesn’t even ring, it just says it’s not available and press 0 to talk to the operator. All that does it gets you a recording that tells you to call back within normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 AM to whatever. Well, at this time, it’s just after noon on a Tuesday. Not sure how much more within normal business hours I can be!
Hmmm, ok, let me call back and try to get through to a different department and just get anyone on the line. Literally any avenue I attempt gets me the same recording. I think I called back 3 times, trying a different path through the adult version of choose-your-own-adventure.
Ok, well. I’ll try this other number that was on the website…it directs me to the same exact recorded message!
Now I’m in full panic mode. As far as I knew, we had paid these people over $1,100 and have no proof of anything and went ahead and booked our flights to Texas for a cruise I’m currently not even sure we have a room on! I know the cruise itself exists because we compared prices between the cruise line’s own website and the website we were told to book through.
Time to think outside the box…I decided to call the hotel in Vegas to talk to the people who work for the timeshare nonsense to see if they can be of any help. The person I spoke with took my number and said someone associated with distributing the timeshare compensations will call me back shortly. While I’m waiting, I did some more rummaging around the website and found my booking with the word rejected in the status column. Click on it and see the reason being that the card was declined! We think it may have been flagged as fraud since it was such a large amount. But still, these people can’t help me with this, they can only aid in giving me more information of who to contact.
They provide me with two additional numbers to call, one of which is a local area code, which I found to be an interesting coincidence. I called the first (third) toll free number. Guess what?? It’s the same exact recording!!! Now, I’m seriously wondering what the hell is going on here.
I called the local number, which had a slightly different main menu, so I hit the one that was about activating your voucher and was put into a queue with ‘unusually high call volume’, already wondering what an acceptable amount of time to wait is. While on hold for what seemed like an eternity, I’m still looking at the website, pouring over every tiny little detail when I notice that there’s an address listed in Scottsdale! At this point I’m envisioning going down to that office and demanding to be seen, Erin Brockovich style! Finally, a person comes on the line, and we talk and go over stuff for quite some time. She came back after looking into something to tell me that she can’t resolve this for me, and someone will call me back in 24-48 hours. Can’t wait!
I got an email! Literally telling me I have 2 days to call(!?) and fix the deposit or we forfeit our voucher. Dumb that they’d email me when this must be resolved by speaking with someone on the phone. I’m still convinced this is how they get you, tell me to call but I can’t get through in time. I called a couple of hours later and was on hold for 45 minutes before I decided this might be better taken care of first thing in the morning. I’m currently second guessing my decision to hang up. Maybe I was next!
I called bright and early and didn’t even have to be on hold! You’ll all be happy to know that my ducks are currently in a row, regarding this trip anyway! Phew!
Pranks of The Universe!
Of all the jobs I’ve had in my life, I’ve spent most of my working years as a waitress. It’s a profession at which I excelled, and I learned tons about life while doing it; it’s also always been a helpful skill to fall back on when in need. I think a lot of people are under the impression it’s an easy job, often assuming we’re too stupid to do anything else. I assure you that this is not the case. It takes people skills, acting skills, kissing ass to idiot skills, trying not to snap on ‘Karen’ skills (no offence to my awesome cousin who is a Karen but doesn’t act like a ‘Karen’), mind-reading, multi-tasking and most importantly, time management. If you are unable to prioritize the dozen things you need to be doing simultaneously throughout your shift, you will fail miserably.
This honed skill of time management translates into everyday tasks. I utilize it with housework and errands; you wouldn’t start laundry as the last thing you have to do, right? It’s the first thing because you can get other things done while the machines are doing their thing.
On this particular day my order of tasks was to start the laundry, go upstairs and do the dusting, bring down the sheets to wash, where hopefully the clothes are ready for the dryer, and get those working while I continue with other things on the lower lever.
However, The Universe had another plan!
When I came down with the sheets, there was a huge puddle of water on the floor of the garage! Awesome…realizing something is leaking is a scary thing to have happen and it’s usually expensive.
Fortunately, we were able to find a plumber to come fairly quickly, who determined the water heater needed to be replaced, which of course takes time to procure and install and then wait for the water to heat up. Now it’s taken all day to wash the only set of sheets we own, but it gets even more fun!
One by one the major appliances decided to prank us! First, when I went to start the dryer with the sheets, it wouldn’t go on! Do you ever get those hot flashes when you have instant panic, or is that just me? Mike and I balance each other out well in which situations we stay cool, calm and collected when the other one assumes the worst. He just flipped the breaker off and back on and it worked again. Phew!
Then, when I went to start dinner, the oven had nothing displayed and wasn’t working. At least this time it’s less panic and more annoyance, but still slightly concerning at the same time because it’s just so odd! Same solution as the dryer.
Finally, the microwave did the same thing. Now, it’s more like, OMG, what else?? That was the last one, but it was just so strange. It’s not like they’re all on the same breaker; that I could have understood. I swear, some days The Universe is enjoying a laugh at my expense.
8 Legged Monsters!
Since we usually use the weekends to get a lot of stuff done around the house, we used the long weekend to do the cleaning that doesn’t happen regularly. My least favorite of these is dusting, mostly because it also involves washing the sheets since our headboard has shelves as well as a wide surface on top and, my goodness, I’ve never seen dust accumulate the way it does upstairs! And, as gravity predicts, the dust falls and while I do try and avoid getting it on the bed, there’s just too much of it to not wash the sheets afterwards.
Having the extra days off also allowed us to let loose a little. Mike does not drink often, and I might have one cocktail before dinner and a glass of wine while eating. But this past Saturday we imbibed more than usual and stayed up a bit later, which was monumental considering that morning I had woken up before 4 and never fell back asleep.
So, we head upstairs to be welcomed by the bare bed because the sheets had been forgotten in the dryer. Fun stuff.
Ok…bed made, Mike heads into his office to do computer stuff as he does every night and I head into my bathroom to get ready for bed. When I lifted the lid to the toilet there was an enormous disgusting cockroach ON THE SEAT!! Right where my little tushy goes! I lived in Florida so it’s not the biggest one I’ve ever seen, but yikes, it practically took up half the seat! Not really, but still, not what I want to be looking at at the moment.
I, of course, scream, as I am prone to do when startled by bugs, lizards, spiders and things in general I am not expecting to encounter. My mother and I have had many belly laugh-inducing situations involving standing on chairs, screaming and then laughing at each other. I am chuckling white typing as I’m sure she is chuckling while reading this.
Mike, ever my knight in shining armor, comes running to make sure I’m ok. I explained why I shrieked so loudly and walked away shuddering to go change my undies while he took care of it for me. He’s the best 😊
This wasn’t as bad as the time one landed on my thigh while I was peeing, but this wasn’t ideal. Here in Arizona, the warm weather makes the creepy crawlies seek shelter and it doesn’t help that we don’t use the shower in that bathroom, giving it a nice dry pipe to walk up with its disgusting sticky feet.
Here’s to hoping this is my only bug story of the summer!
Mike and I recently went to Vegas for just a couple of days to celebrate his birthday. It was my first time there and we had a fabulous time, I can not wait to go back!
We arrived Monday afternoon and were to leave Wednesday afternoon, so our only full day was Tuesday, and we really jam packed it with activities and amazing food! Delicious breakfast at Hash House A Go Go, followed by some gambling on The Strip, after which we went over to The Venetian because Mike said I needed to see how beautifully painted the ceiling is. It was indeed stunning! Painted to seem as if there’s a bright blue sky above you, even fading to pink in one area to mimic a sunset. Absolutely gorgeous.
One really cool feature of The Venetian is the gondola ride that Venice, Italy is so known for. There is an indoor and outdoor version where you get to take a leisurely float while being serenaded by a man in traditional gondolier garb. We were heading upstairs to look from the balcony at the outdoor ride when a woman stopped us and asked if we were interested in going on the ride because she had an offer for us! They would give us a discount on the gondola ride, free dinner at some well-known restaurant and something else that I can’t recall at this time, and all we’d have to do is tour some new hotel…
While it did seem interesting, we declined because, other than the ride, it just didn’t seem like it would fit into our schedule since we already had reservations for dinner that night.
We decided to do the indoor ride, so we left to go find where it starts, which probably sounds not at all difficult, but let me tell you! Along this indoor river there are restaurants that have outdoor seating so patrons can overlook the water, so It’s not like we could just follow it to get to the beginning. We encountered all sorts of dead ends and what appeared to be dead ends but when we went back and looked more closely, turned out to be where we needed to head…we definitely walked way further than was necessary.
While on our trek we encounter another one of these people trying to get us to tour this fabulous, new and grand hotel, only this guy is offering a cruise!! You should know that at breakfast, I had asked Mike what he thought about a cruise as a possible vacation, so this was right up my alley! And all we had to do was spend a couple hours touring a hotel and go tell everyone we know how great it is and we get to go on a ‘free’ cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines. A lot of hemming and hawing took place and ultimately, we did decide that it would be worth it. We did all the necessary stuff to sign up and the next morning we were to click on a link and an uber would be summoned to whisk us away to what I’m imagining to be the fanciest hotel in which I’ve ever stepped foot, where we will be provided ‘breakfast’ and tea or coffee.
Wednesday morning: Uber arrives without a problem and takes us to this ordinary looking hotel about 10 minutes away and now I’m a little confused but just going with it to see how this all unfolds. We’re directed to this small room in which to check in and have a seat to wait. I’m listening to what’s going on around us, listening to other conversations when we hear the word ‘timeshare’ and Mike and I just look at each other and say ‘oh no.’
Yup! We got sucked into a freaking timeshare presentation! It was actually quite an interesting concept with Hilton properties all over the world, you could purchase different packages worth points and each property has a point value. However, the packages are so expensive that they generously offer to finance you at an interest rate of 24%. To put it into perspective, the one they were offering us was $21,000. There is also a yearly maintenance fee of $1,800 and you’re locked in for life to this deal; Mike even inquired with our salesperson about what your options are if you no longer wanted this, and he had some cagey answers.
Obviously, we declined, but our super nice, non-pressuring sales guy had to go get his boss to sign off. New dude comes and throws out new numbers ‘what if I offer it to you for this amount?’ No, bro, give me my cruise so I can leave. Ah, but he needs to get his boss now! Now I’m getting annoyed that what was supposed to be 90 minutes is approaching 2 hours and there are still a couple more hoops to jump through in order to leave, cruise in hand.
Finally, they release us and all we have to do is check out with an employee who gives us all the information we need about the cruise…this was where I got really mad. She said to me “I don’t have any more cruises available, would you like blah blah blah instead?” At this point I’m wondering if we’re being penalized for not falling into the timeshare trap.
My dear readers, I have a very expressive face and she could see how irritated I was, so she fortunately followed this up by saying that what she could do is take my contact information and let me know when a cruise becomes available. I was skeptical but she gave me her name and phone number so that helped appease my mind, but I still wasn’t convinced I was ever going to get that call.
Lo and behold! She did call me!! I got the information about our ‘free’ cruise, and she walked me though everything and it seems fairly straight forward.
Later today we’re going to look into what’s available, which I’m sure will have restrictions and whatnot, but whatever. Regardless, this promotion will save us some money on a future vacation and saving money is my favorite thing in the world!
Years ago, my mom gave me these wooden letters to hang on my bedroom wall; an M and a b. Because, as you all know, it’s Marybeth, NOT MaryBeth. The M has had a crack in it for a while, I mean, it has gone through a move or 2 recently. When I got around to hanging them up here, I used the easy way and bought sticky squares rather than using nails because I hate making holes in the wall. Turned out the M was too heavy and fell, breaking into 3 pieces. I decided to simply replace it since I had already tried fixing the crack and it didn’t really work.
Off to Hobby Lobby I went! I love craft stores! I’m pretty creative and artistic, well, somewhat creative and fairly artistic. The kids and I did a ridiculous number of craft projects when school and camps were not an option way back in 2020 and it renewed my joy in making things. There are not many memories I enjoy from high school, but I fondly recall all the different types of art classes I got to take in those 4 years.
I found my letter M with the help of an employee because HL is huge and it’s almost impossible to find anything in there without assistance. So now, here I am, wandering through this enormous craft store, making my way to the register when I passed by a display of the alphabet in letters that appeared as if they had been a part of a license plate. I thought to myself: I’ll make my boyfriend his birthday present this year! But I felt like he wouldn’t appreciate something that just said ‘MIKE’ on it…
When Mike, whose last name starts with F, and I first started dating and I lived with my brother (also named Mike) he started calling him M-Fer as a joke. I’m going to assume I don’t need to elaborate on that. He even got the kids doing it and it was actually pretty funny; rare for one of my brother’s jokes.
I selected the letters and now head off to find something on which to mount them. Found a small, cool, rustic looking desk top easel. I get home and mark where I thought I’d need to nail it in place; an easy, staggered, diagonal design. But I didn’t have the nails yet, so I left it at that until I could go to the hardware store. In the meantime, which was probably a month, I also decided one of these would be great for my nephew Jack!
Huzzah! Back to Hobby Lobby I go! Fortunately, I knew where everything was that I needed so it was a quick trip followed by a quick stop at the hardware store to get the nails.
When I got home, I made Jack’s first because all the material was right there, which came out awesome, if I don’t say so myself! I was so proud of my work. I get the pieces for Mike’s from the drawer and since it’s already marked, I get right to nailing them down. Here’s the thing…the arrangement I chose is the same upside down!! You see where I’m going with this? Yup, I nailed them to the board upside down!
I couldn’t believe it! I felt so dumb, and I couldn’t really take the nails out and do it again, plus I didn’t want to do all that…moral of the story: measure twice, cut once, as the saying goes.
Hot, Chocolatey Water
Have you ever had an idea that sounds so brilliant when you think of it but upon execution, you’re like ‘How could I possibly have not seen this coming??’ Well, that was me this morning…
Last night I finished the jar of Nutella and let it soak overnight. I’m borderline obsessed with recycling; we only get one planet to live on and I’d like to keep it preserved for the next generation and more, so I do everything I can to not just throw away plastic.
Things that come in jars like peanut butter, mayonnaise and Nutella, you can’t just rinse them out and they’re clean, so I had the brilliant idea to boil extra water when I made my tea and I’d use it to clean the empty jar and boom, ready for the recycle bin! Totally not how it went.
As I’m waiting for the water to boil, I’m going about my morning which included emptying the dishwasher (this is important later). Water is done, I stop what I’m doing, pour my tea and pour the rest of the water in the jar which is on the counter. I then screw the lid on and pick it up to shake around to really get all that sticky stuff off when the lid pops off! Duh! Steam=pressure! I instantly drop the jar spilling hot, chocolatey water all over the counter, floor, and, of course, down into the half empty dishwasher.
So, my brilliant idea resulted in having to clean the counter, floor, and run the dishwasher again, because while I might have been able to simply rinse off the affected dishes you can’t just let the chocolatey water dry on the door and whatnot.
Not exactly how I like to start my day, but at least I didn’t scald myself. Small miracles!
I use my personal experiences to try and help others navigate through life's trials and tribulations.