Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wait, I thought I was the grown-up...?

Thursday, January 29, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - It was the night of the elementary school science fair, and we'd had a wonderful day - but a busy one. School, Costco, science fair, celebratory ice cream... and Emerson was not quite finished with her homework. She completed her social studies, and had gotten just a few questions into her math worksheet, when I realized it was 8:30 p.m.

"Why don't you finish that in the morning, Doodle? It's getting late."

Immediately, she made an anxious face at me.

"Mom. No. I have to finish my homework. It's really, really important. I mean, maybe you don't know this, but I have to keep my grades up to go to college."

Maybe I don't know that? Laughable. I wish I had known that when I was in 4th grade, but whatever. Far be it from me to tell her not to study.

"Woozie, I-"

"No. Mom, I'm going to finish it tonight. I don't have this skill learned yet. I have to work on turning fractions into decimals. And decimals into fractions. It's really important!"

"Yeah, what I was-"

"Mom! Are you even listening to me? College is coming up - like, I have to know this stuff!"

I held up my hands: "Emerson. Breathe."

She was still making anxious eyes at me.

But somewhat less like a startled bunny.

"Emerson,really, just take a couple of deep breaths."

She did.

"Okay, what I was trying to tell you is that I'm proud of you for taking your schoolwork seriously, and I support you staying up to finish it. Just remember that we have to get up early in the morning because we're bringing doughnuts to your class for your birthday."

"Oh. I thought you were going to tell me to go to bed."

"Nope. I'm almost never going to tell you to stop doing homework when you want to do homework. That would not be productive."

"Oh... well, I guess I was being rude, then. I'm really sorry."

"No problem, Doodle. Thanks for the apology. I'm going upstairs to get my jammies on and turn down the bed and brush my teeth and stuff. I'll be back. Holler if you need me."

Oh, my gosh, I thought, as I was walking up the stairs. My child is freaking awesome. But I wonder whose child I got at the hospital? Because my mother warned me that MY child was going to pay me back for all the hell I gave her, and so far that's not happening.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I think we all know how this is going to turn out

Monday, January 26, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - My dryer broke, and I borrowed some tools to fix it. It spins and blows air, but it doesn't get hot. I think it's the thermostat, but I'm relying on Dr. Internet, so who knows?

So I'm talking about with R.H., and explaining that 1) I don't know what the heck I'm doing; and 2) here's what I know about what I'm supposed to be doing, and he interrupts me.

R.H.: "Can't you just get some of those Hot Hands packets and throw them in the dryer with your clothes?"

Me: "Well, for that matter, I could just heat some rocks in the oven and throw them in with my clothes, but I think things should work as they're supposed to, so I'm not going to do that. I'm going to fix my damn dryer."

Or... I'm going to at least try. I'm expecting there to be at least one injury. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sleepovers haven't changed much since I was 10-years-old

Friday, January 23, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - This is how we roll on a Saturday night. Wii nunchuck microphones, jumping on the furniture, singing at the top of our lungs, just glad to be alive in this world. I love, love, love these kids. Especially that blond girl in the pink shirt. :-)

Saturday sleepover from Stacey McGowen Hudson on Vimeo.

FYI, YouTube won't make this video visible, because apparently three little kids running around lip syncing to Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" does not - according to the copyright owner - fall under the protection of a nonprofit, personal use production of parody or commentary, that will have no effect on the copyright owner's ability to capitalize on the original work or protect its integrity. Chew on that for a moment: Three tweens acting silly in the comfort of my home threatens Taylor Swift's multi-million-dollar empire. I disputed the ruling, but they rejected my argument. Oh, well. There are other places besides YouTube.

Also, I own too much crap. I'll be clearing out some stuff really soon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How one Wal-Mart lost my business for good

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 By

Note: This post is super long. But I am super irritated. Still.

AUGUSTA, GA. - Christmas is a time for giving. But what do you do if your gift is a no-show? That happened several times this year to me.

We don't buy a lot of gifts for Emerson. She doesn't need a lot and we would rather DO things than HAVE things. But for Emerson to have lasting gifts she enjoys, I plan carefully and budget accordingly. She chose a 24-inch mountain bike that would last her four or five years, at least. Her only stipulations were that it was "a girl's bike that can ride over stuff because I want to do tricks" and that it is "not pink. Pink is my most hateful color."

The best deal I found was at I ordered the bike to go to the Bobby Jones location through site-to-store, a service of theirs that I have used several times in the past.

I received an order confirmation email.
Then I received a shipping confirmation email.
Then I received an arrival confirmation email.
Then a reminder.

Then I called the store and verify the bike's arrival and assembly. They assured me that the bike was in and they would assemble it. I borrowed a van (Thanks, Molly!) and went to pick it up.

There was a red-headed woman in her mid-50s working the counter. She was beyond frazzled. "No one wants to help me out here," she complained, and she repeatedly went in the back to request assistance. It took 30 minutes for her to help the four people in front of me.

When she was able to get to me, I produced my order information with a smile and a thank you. I wish I could say she responded in kind, but she was just beyond the extras - like smiling - and was boiling it down to basics - like not chucking the register onto the floor and rage-quitting that job.

She brought out a giant box. There was no one available to assemble the bike, and I said I'd just figure it out at home. Then I realized: This was not the bike I ordered. It was a boy's bike in every way.

She tried to argue with me in a very exasperated tone. "Is this your name?" "Yes, ma'am." "Then this is the bike you ordered." But I pulled up my email confirmation on my phone, which clearly showed a different bike and item number. She huffed and stomped to the back.

A few minutes later, she returned. "This is the only bike we have for you."

I blinked and frowned. "There must be some mistake. This is not the correct item that I ordered. I cannot take this home to my 9-year-old daughter."

"Would you like a refund?"

"Ma'am... no, ma'am. I would like for someone to find the bike that I ordered. I received a confirmation email of its arrival. I called and got a verbal confirmation. So the bike must be here somewhere."

She glared at me and stomped to the back again. She returned with another woman, Michelle.

"Can I help you?"

I explained the situation.

"Well, we don't have your bike. Would you like a refund?"

"No, ma'am... Listen, um, maybe I'm not being clear. I'm not looking to buy a bike. I already purchased a bike. I paid for it. It was shipped here. I have three confirmations. I'm just here to pick it up."

"I understand. But it isn't here. So would you like a refund?"

"Ma'am, it's Christmas Eve. And it's 5 p.m. How am I supposed to find a bike for my child?"

"I don't know what to tell you, but it's my Christmas Eve, too. Maybe you don't know what it's like to work on Christmas Eve. So if you could just be a little more..." She held out her hands in a gesture that was supposed to symbolize... something. I don't know what.

"That's... no, I just got off work two hours ago. And I have worked many a Christmas Eve. And that is not the point. I need to leave here with a bike. All I'm looking for is a girl's bike that isn't pink for my 9-year-old."

She sighed, because I'm apparently a big pain in Wal-Mart's ass. "Give me a few minutes."

Fifteen minutes later, she wheeled in a small child's bike.

I stared at her. "Be serious."

"I am serious!"

"That is not appropriate for a 9-year-old."

She stormed off and returned some time later with a tween-sized pink princess bike.

"Ma'am, thank you, that's closer. But she's not looking to cruise the beaches of the Mediterranean in a sundress. She wants to do tricks and stuff." I probably could have been less sarcastic. My bad. She set her jaw at me.

"Well, I don't know what to tell you. I can give you a refund, but that's it."

"Ma'am, there must be something else you can do."


"Can you help me find the bike at another store? My phone just died so I can't call around."


"Okay, can I just speak to a manager, please?"

She huffed over to the phone and called for two males by name, all while glaring at me. A minute or two later, I saw them. They cruised through the site-to-store area (now filled with people whose orders were wrong, no joke) cutting their eyes in my direction while I leaned calmly against the unmanned counter off to the side. Two Columbia County sheriff's deputies. You have got to be freaking kidding me.

Obviously, I was not creating any disturbance. So a couple of minutes later, one of them sidled up to me. "How's it going?"

I smiled brightly at him. "Fine. A little confusion, but I think it will work out."

He nodded and looked around. "Crazy holiday crowds, huh?"

"Not too bad. This is my last stop. Just picking up a bike for my daughter. You have kids?"

He ignored my attempt to get personal, as cops are trained to do. "So what's the issue?"

"I ordered and paid for a bike, got several confirmations that it was in, but they claim not to have it. I'm just trying to get a manager to help find a bike. They're not being much help."

He nodded. "They're really busy."

"I understand. But I need to leave here with a bike. I asked her to help me find one at a different store, but she flat-out refused. My phone died while I was waiting, or I'd call around myself."

Michelle, who had been pretending to work nearby but was really listening as we chatted, jumped in: "I never said that! I said they probably wouldn't even answer their phones because it's Christmas! I'm not going to have someone putting words in my mouth!" She cast her gaze around for someone to take her side.

At this, the lady in line behind me shook her head gravely at the officer, backing me up. I resisted the urge to call Michelle out for a blatant lie. This wasn't personal, and I wasn't playing to a crowd.

Suddenly the officer said, "Hey, the Grovetown store had a bunch of bikes. Why don't I call the officer working the special there and see if he can find one for you?"

I stared, open-mouthed. What a kind offer. This was definitely not his responsibility. "I would appreciate that so much," I said. He nodded and began calling numbers in his cell phone.

At this, Michelle stomped over to the phone and began dialing. The Grovetown store answered. She asked for toys. They put her on hold, then transferred her. The line rang four or five times.

"See? They're not answering," she said, and hung up.

"Don't hang - ohhh..." I sighed. I would have been happy to man the phone while it rang until someone answered. Too late now.

The officer clicked his phone closed and shook his head. "None of the officers at the Grovetown or Evans stores are on duty, yet."

"Well, thanks for trying. That was really nice of you."

"Ma'am, I'll be happy to give you a refund, but I don't think there's anything more we can do for you," Michelle tried to interrupt. I cut my eyes at her over my shoulder and finished thanking the officer. "That was really above and beyond. How long have you worked for Columbia County?"

He chatted about his experience, and I relayed who I thought might be a mutual contact. It was. Then another. Then another. He asked how I knew the folks.

"Oh, I used to work dispatch in Milledgeville for those guys. I've known [redacted] for 20 years, since I was 19 and a total idiot. I'm amazed he still speaks to me," I laughed.

Michelle stared at us, open-mouthed. She was not going to be able to convince him to arrest me today. I turned back to her.

"I guess I'm looking any solution you might have. A bike. For a 9-year-old girl. Not pink. Any ideas? Anything at all? I'm desperate. She's a really good kid. You would love her. Everyone does. I'm just trying to make her happy on Christmas."

She snapped: "I TOLD you that there were more bikes out on the garden patio."

I stared at her and briefly lost my composure. "You said no such thing!" I exclaimed.

"Yes, I did!" she said, smugly, happy that she had gotten to me.

I choked back a nasty reply and gave her a flat stare. She blinked. "You're welcome to check out there to see if we have anything."

"Thank you. I'll be back shortly."

I walked out and saw a rain-soaked hodge-podge of bicycles. None of them were for Emerson's age group. But one 26-inch blue and grey women's mountain bike was as close as we were going to get. I took a moment to let out some tears of frustration, then wiped my face of expression and wheeled it back through the store. This is never how I treated people when I worked in retail, or food and beverage, or even in high school when I worked for Wendy's and Taco Bell. This is never how I treat people, period. I didn't like being on the receiving end of a meaningless power struggle with a woman whose job must really, really suck on a good day, and be a special kind of hell on Christmas Eve. But she stood between me and a special purchase I had made for my child, on a very tight budget, when two other gifts I had ordered three weeks ago were most definitely not going to be in. I wasn't about to lose her "main" gift, too.

"Did you find something?" she asked, in as nasty a tone as she could manage. I tried to use a kinder tone, but I'm not sure I accomplished it. I hope I did. I was at least calm.

"I would like to point out that this bike is too tall for a 9-year-old. However, if you will be so kind as to match the price, I will be happy to take this bike home, so she will have the one gift she is expecting to be under the tree - with the understanding that I will most likely be returning it to the store the day after Christmas. And that I will still be filing a complaint with corporate, and using your name."

Michelle did so, without another word, glaring at me the entire time. I shook hands with the officer, who walked with me, chatting, until I stopped and grinned at him.

"Are you escorting me out of the store?"
"Nope," he said, with a grin of his own, and veered off through a side aisle.

I hope he got home early.

I wheeled the bike to the borrowed van, which was now late for its return, and... I couldn't get the bike into the van. I sat on the tailgate and tried to just breathe. A few tears escaped, despite my best efforts. I hated that I was this upset. I hated that I had used Wal-Mart. I hated that poor Michelle was so miserable with her job that her only recourse to take back any control over her own destiny was by engaging in a stupid power struggle with me. And, frankly, at that moment, I hated Christmas.

A nice man walked up and patted my shoulder. "Let me help you get that in," he said, and wrangled the bike into place. He gave me a hug and wished me a merry Christmas.

I cried all the way back to my house, then to Molly's. It was pathetic, really. But I was overwhelmed by Michelle's negativity, and by the helpfulness of strangers. Molly and her husband were wonderful, as usual, not at all irritated with me for being an hour late like a big jerk, and making them miss a family event.

Christmas Day, Emerson was ecstatic when she saw the bike, and insisted on riding it immediately. Mere minutes later, she injured herself while dismounting it - because, as expected, it is way too tall for her. As she cried, I felt angry with Wal-Mart all over again.

But she got back on it a few minutes later. And then rode all over the neighbor's lawns to show me how her bike was "a real mountain bike, not a kids' bike." Sorry, neighbors. Let me know if you need some grass seed.

Emerson insists that we keep the bike. We lowered the seat as far as it can go, and then I stomped on it for an extra centimeter or two. She uses the curb as a step stool and kicks off really hard to get going. Then she does a controlled fall when dismounting. It's kind of hilarious. She loves it. I guess that's all that matters.

As for Wal-Mart, I filed a complaint. The store manager called me. He didn't really care. He left me a $30 gift card - which I didn't ask for, but was nice of him, I suppose.

I spent it at the Evans Wal-Mart.

Some folks might think I am overreacting. But it's not the first time I've encountered a metric crap ton of rudeness or frustration at this very store - 45-minute checkout times, malfunctioning self-pay registers, reduced selection (at this point, the cookie aisle is just 15 different varieties of Oreos and Chips Ahoy), treating workers like dirt - and now they had essentially threatened me with arrest. It's just not worth the stress to go back.

Do you hear what I'm saying? I feel stressed out before I even enter that Wal-Mart. Why on earth would I go back there, when I have a whole city full of choices? How can they expect me to?

They can't. Because now I have a Costco membership.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gov. Huckabee's racist Beyonce rant has no place in modern America

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 By

Sit still, so former Gov. Mike Huckabee can shame you 
for your children's pop music choices.

AUGUSTA, GA. - I swear I'm not trying to turn this blog into a political one. But every once in a while something so stupid happens that I feel like if the less-stupid people don't speak up, the stupid will multiply and slowly infect the rest of America.

Former Gov. Huckabee, I'm calling your recent comments stupid and racist.

The once-and-probably-future presidential candidate recently called out President Obama for allowing his children to listen to pop singer Beyoncé. Because her music is so easy to escape, right...? Huckabee said:

“I don't understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything — how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school and making sure they're kind of sheltered and shielded from so many things — and yet they don't see anything that might not be suitable for either a preteen or a teen in some of the lyrical content and choreography of Beyoncé...”
The governor of a state most famous for pig farming doesn't see if Beyoncé lyrics might be suitable for a preteen or a teen. Well, how about:

This goes out to all the women getting it in you're on your grind
To other men that respect what I do please accept my shine
Boy you know you love it how we're smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bear the children then get back to business ("Run the World [Girls]")

Or is that too much feminism for you, Huck? (He likes to be called Huck in private when he's pretending to paddle down the Mississippi with an escaped slave named Jim)

Okay, that's not even all of it, y'all. It wasn't enough that Huckabee thought it was okay to disrespect the parenting decisions of a couple in whose home he has probably spent less time than Beyoncé. Oh, no. He had to go and diss Queen Bey with this bit of nonsense:

“She has an exceptional set of pipes and can actually sing. She is a terrific dancer – without the explicit moves best left for the privacy of her bedroom. Jay-Z is a very shrewd businessman, but I wonder: does it occur to him that he is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object?"

She has an exceptional set of pipes - AND can actually sing? The double entendre is not subtle, and not lost on us. The former Governor of Arkansas might have argued that Beyoncé has a nice "set of pipes," which can be used to mean singing voice. But setting it off from her vocal ability to "actually sing"...? Y'all. He was talking about her boobs. 

The fact is that the former Pig-Farmer-in-Chief for the 32nd largest state in the 50-state union, a state second-best known for being the headquarters of the largest employer of welfare recipients in the nation, does not really have any issue with Jay Z sexualizing Beyoncé - because Huckabee just sexualized Beyoncé by complimenting her breasts.

What Huckabee has an issue with is Jay Z being successful at capitalizing on Beyoncé's sex appeal, and by Beyoncé being complicit in it. Or perhaps - and this is also quite likely - on Beyoncé bringing her own ideas to the table, working her own self as a product, using her sex appeal as just one of her tools to accomplish her goals (you know, with her great set of pipes, but also her singing ability), and then Jay Z benefiting as is natural in a marriage between two successful entertainers. But, no. Huckabee compared Beyoncé to a prostitute and Jay Z to a pimp. At least he called Jay-Z a "shrewd businessman." He couldn't even give Bey that much. This is the woman who famously fired her own father from his position as her manager, and started her own company, Parkwood Entertainment. The company was founded in 2008 and breaks records just about every time it breaks a record.

Is Huckabee really unaware of the hurtful, misogynistic, racist stereotypes he's promoting? Of the centuries of oppression he's tapping into? See, no. He's TOTALLY aware. He's aware. Really. He knows. There has always been racially-based duplicity "moral" standards in society - and especially in politics. He's playing on those warped standards with an elbow nudge to the ribs of his base, like, "Black people, amIRight, fellow white conservatives?"

So, for the record: Huckabee can sexualize Beyoncé. But Beyoncé - who is a grown-ass businesswoman living in a free society - can't sexualize herself. And she certainly can't make money doing it. Nor can her husband. And President Obama and the First Lady will never have the respect they are due. No matter what, there will always be a white conservative looking over their shoulders and saying, "No, you're doing it wrong."

Maybe Huckabee needs to listen to a little Beyoncé:

You can't fix what you can't see. It’s the soul that needs the surgery. ("Pretty Hurts")

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

In which I finally win an argument

Tuesday, January 06, 2015 By

AUGUSTA, GA. - I had a whole argument with my cat this morning. It was ridiculous. I woke up to a weird scraping sound, only to find her chewing on the brass statue of Ganesha that sits on my nightstand.

"[groan] Sweetiebelle, cut it out. That's metal. You'll break your teeth."


"I don't care. I've asked you to stop it."

... "Meow."

"Don't be dramatic. It's 4 a.m. It's too early for breakfast."



... "Meow."


.... "Meow."

"Ugh! NO."

She crept over and bunted my hand repeatedly. I scratched her head and cheeks for a minute or two, then closed my eyes again and turned over.


"[siiiiiigggghhhh] It's not time to get up."


"YOU get up. I have two more hours to sleep."



At which point she cuddled up to my butt and purred for two hours.

I got no more sleep. But I won the argument.

That I had with my cat.