Archive for January, 2012


and so I find myself filled with rage

“Dear M&T Bank Customer Service:  I’ve spent an hour in a voicemail loop and/or on hold through your customer service number. M&T paid our Winter Taxes from our escrow on December 1. We refinanced later in the month, and the new mortgager also paid our real estate taxes. We have been told that the first payment has been refunded to M&T via a Tax Payment Servicing Company. We would like to know when we can expect to get this refund back to us. p.s. Your voicemail system doesn’t work — when I follow all of the prompts to the point where I indicate that I have a tax information question I end up back at the beginning. I’m very frustrated.”


“Dear Customer,
Thank you for your email.
Please be advised, we would be happy to assist you with your inquiry, however, we are unable to locate an account number for you. Please provide your mortgage account number so we may further assist you.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our Customer Service department at 1-800-724-2224.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve your banking needs.

Colleen Little
Mortgage Customer Support
Retail Servicing”


Well that sounds promising — Colleen would relish an “opportunity” to serve my “banking needs.”

Said mortgage account numbers were provided. . . .

Time passes. . . .

Lots and lots of time. . .

Feels like Days . .

Finally, I receive word from my new friend Heather:

“Dear Customer,

Thank you for your inquiry.
Please be advised you will need to follow up directly with our Tax Department at 1-866-406-0949.
I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
If you have any further questions or concerns regarding your mortgage account, please feel free to respond via email or contact our Customer Service Department directly at 1-800-724-2224.

Heather Mitchell-Carter
Mortgage Customer Support
Retail Servicing”



Customer Support my a%$. Apparently Colleen didn’t pass on to Heather the part of the message where I pointed out my excursion in voice mail purgatory. I begin to suspect that “Heather” is not actually a person, but an electronically-generated minion, an avatar of sorts, whose job is to parse the combinations of nouns and vowels in my email message and generate what seems to be a suitable response. I decide this is cynical, and will give Heather, or should I say, “Heather,” another chance:

“I tried yesterday to talk to someone at this Tax Department phone number. I went on an almost-an-hour-long voicemail loop which repeatedly returned me to the starting place. I don’t have time to do this again. Is it possible for someone from there to call me instead?”


More time passes. . .

Lots and lots of time. . .

Frustration builds. . .

Finally, Heather builds me up with false hope by actually replying to my message. Until I read it:

“Dear Customer,

Thank you for your inquiry.

Please be advised you will need to call the Tax Department directly at 1-866-406-0949 or you can contact our Customer Service Department at 1-800-724-2224 and request that a representative transfer you directly to a Tax Department Agent.
If you have any further questions or concerns regarding your mortgage account, please feel free to respond via email or contact our Customer Service Department directly at 1-800-724-2224.

Heather Mitchell-Carter
Mortgage Customer Support
Retail Servicing”

OMG — it’s just like their voice mail!

Just as I suspected. Heather is, in fact, “Heather,” and M&T doesn’t give a flying f@#$ in a rolling doughnut about customer “support.” They just want me to go away. Soon.

The fact that the bank (ahem, Fifth Third) that refinanced our mortgage and the title company (ahem, Midstate Title) that prepared the endless legal documents for us to sign and initial, and initial, and initial. . .    apparently dropped the ball by not noticing that our taxes had been paid TWO FULL WEEKS BEFORE CLOSING, and can’t seem to be bothered to interrupt their whatever-it-is-that-bankers-do-in-the-winter-since-they’re-clearly-not-playing-golf to fix this for me doesn’t help.

Plus it’s Tuesday, and I work way too many hours on Wednesday so I’m preemptively crabby.

That doesn’t help.

My newly henna’d hair, does, though, kick ass, so there is that at least.


Why do other people not doing their jobs have to make so much more work for me? I have enough to do (you can tell, right?). Why am I waiting 6 weeks to get my money back? Why am I paying interest over the next 15 years for money I didn’t need to borrow? Why is the world so goddamn frustrating?


Please overlook the apparent inappropriateness of the opening shot on the video, and watch it. It’s not what it looks like, even though the fact that it looks like it does is kind of the point.


Something worthy of the 501st post. . .or maybe not

Politics: Is it really possible that the Republican party can’t come up with someone more viable than Mitt Romney and his millions and his condescension, or Newt Gingrich and his volatility and personal and professional unreliability?

Religion: Read this post by the Circular Runner. (Another one of those “what he said” moments.)

Home: Dexter the Dancing Dog has seriously backslid on potty training. I hope it’s just a teething phase or something. He was with Only Daughter at Only Daughter’s Dad’s (ODD?) house for the weekend — complete upheaval, probably, and I think he missed me. He won’t get out of my lap this morning. He’s very soft and cuddly, so it’s okay.

Culture: Saw two great movies on DVD over the weekend — Contagion and The Conspirator. The whole time I was watching Contagion I was worrying about picking up my own wine glass in case I was going to catch something. And Marion Cotillard has the most beautiful accent I’ve ever heard. Robin Wright was absolutely amazing in The Conspirator, and the issues addressed: the rights of civilians to civilian trials, the beliefs held by people in power that law can and should be suspended in times of “war,” hit way too close to home and the Bush/Iraq era.

Books: Just finished reading Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. Loved it. Don’t know what to read next. Any suggestions?

Music: Does anyone know how to use Ping? I want to be able to post music for my piano students to listen to. I thought that was kind of what it’s for but I can’t figure out how to use it.

Music part 2: Just finished putting the whole book of Honk! on CD for an area high school for rehearsals. Nothing like trying to learn and record an entire musical in a week, not to mention the 2-hour long argument I had to mediate last night between my digital recorder and iTunes. (I prevailed, finally.) Does anybody know why iTunes insists on reordering things when importing? I had to manually drag all of the tracks around (3 times, because the first two times didn’t seem to transfer correctly) and then when I burned it to the CDs it removed all of the labels from the tracks. REALLY FRUSTRATING! Although I’m sure it has a lot more to do with me not really knowing what I’m doing than about the limitations of the program itself.

Blogging: Two blogs I’ve recently discovered which I’m really enjoying: Redamancylit, where the blogger posts excerpts from various writings, many of them profoundly beautiful; and musicandstroke, written by a friend of mine, a percussionist, who suffered a stroke about a year ago, and who writes about the recovery process and how different life/the world looks afterwards. Check them out!

Family: First Son is about to turn 22. Why does that sound so much older than 21? And Only Daughter will be 11 on Wednesday. Sheesh.

Some pictures from the last week of facebook postings:

And this, just because you can never have too many boots, or cats:



Henna it is!

Here it is! So far I love it. We’ll see what 3 to 4 days of “oxidation” does.



to henna, or not to henna, that is the question

Every few years I start to get bored. . .with my hair.*  So periodically I cut it all off, or color the back half really dark and the top half really light, or do some dramatic highlights, or something. But I hate the time and money commitment required to maintain these dramatic “do’s” (or don’t’s, depending on who you ask), so then I just recolor it a color close to natural, let the gray show and call it “highlights,” until I get bored again, and off I go.

Well, the budget’s a little tight these days, so a few weeks ago I started to consider trying henna.

Isn't it gorgeous?

I did lots of research, including reading this book, and ordered some henna (plus indigo, for a darker brownish red) online to try it.

Then I thought about it for a couple of weeks, really really worried that it wouldn’t go well, and I would, as I like to say, have only myself to blame.

I even called my hairdresser, to ask her advice, and whether she would put it in while I was there for my haircut today, and she was not really all that excited about it. Husband thought this was Important, and that I Should Listen to Her.

Two days ago I decided what the heck, and mixed it all up. But I, in my usual impetuous way, “remembered” the directions rather than looking up the directions, and mixed it wrong. Which means, when I did the sample strand the next day, nothing happened.

Oops. The whole bowl of stinky green goop went into the trash.

It is very green, and very stinky.

Then, I was at the health food store, buying Meat Tenderizer (to put on the dog food to discourage the dog from eating his own, well, never mind) and faro, and lo and behold, they had henna!

I bought 7 little packets.

Here’s the label:

I laughed it off.

Second Son is home from college for the weekend. I asked him last night, as I mixed the seven little packets of henna powder with lemon juice, whether he was planning on having a group of friends over this afternoon, as I was going to need to put this green goop on my hair, and preferred not to be seen by anybody that didn’t need to.

He peered over my shoulder.

SS: You’re putting that in your hair?

Me: Yup.

SS: I don’t think that looks like a good idea.

Me: It will be fine. People have been using henna for centuries

SS: Does G—- (Husband) know about this?

Me: Yup.

SS: Looks to me like a science experiment that’s going to go horribly wrong.

I laughed that off too.

I’m sitting here right now with a quart of green goop in my hair, hair covered with a shower cap, hoping for the best.

I’ll let you know how it all works out.

I did tip the hairdresser today after my cut, which I don’t usually do, as she runs her own business, but I told her I thought it would be important to foster as much good will as possible in case I had to place an emergency call to her tonight regarding fitting me in for a “fix.” She was fairly sure that if it did go wrong, she could fix it. Here’s hopin’.


*or some other easily-changed aspect of my appearance — like about 6 years ago when I got my nose pierced. Only Daughter, 4 at the time, held my hand. It was sweet, and a little weird.

what he said

Child poverty, athletes, and the question of fairness.


when all is said

What is to be done, then,
when we have said what
to be said
and, after saying these things,
know not what
to say
One or both
afraid of the cracks
not-love might cast
a looming shadow
x, not loving
about y,
might this
one thing
not grow, then,
like a
the beginning
of the
Once this fabric
has been
rent, torn,
is it weaker
like a flaw,
or stronger,
like a
And why do these
always reveal how
I am
despite my brave
words and brave
I am
in direct light,
and always
wishing I could
this skin
I’m in,
and be
someone else
I’ve tired less

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