Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Raising Hope

So, I'm big into escapism.

Literal, figurative, virtual -- you name it, I'll go there if I'm avoiding things that suck.

Our recent move was a disaster of such magnitude that I was already laughing about it (but in that shrill, hyena-like, possibly-a-serial-killer type of way) while still knee deep in shit, actually and metaphorically.

My husband unexpectedly won a trip to Germany through work and had to leave just a few days after closing. He didn't want to go; I insisted that he must. He said he was worried about getting things done and leaving us alone and I was all, "Please, go, for real," because this was an amazing opportunity and because I like to sleep in the bed by myself, which is also an amazing opportunity.

I'm so strong and so smart and so capable, guys. I don't need help. Ever. I've got it and I want to sleep in the big bed by myself and do all the things alone because I'm fine.

And I was happy for him and a little not happy for him all at the same time because I wanted to go, even if it meant no big bed.

On the first night I texted a friend to tell her that if anything happened to me, it was our movers. I added a P.S. that I had not been watching Forensic Files and that I was being serious because our movers were straight-up thugs, and that I wasn't scared of being home alone or anything, just making it easy to solve my potential murder because I'm considerate. I woke up at every single new sound, making it no fun to sleep in the big bed alone.

I worked so hard, day and night, unpacking and situating by myself.

Mr. Ashley would call and I would ask him about the architecture and the countryside and the food, and he would talk about the bus he was always on. I told him things were great. Things were great with him too, except he didn't like the bus.

It was also spring break so I was full time social director as well as unpacker and utility fighter and low water pressure investigator and pool boy and finder-of-all-things, and people still expected a minimum of three meals a day. Also, my dog kept eating burrs and had to go to the vet.

And I was so tired every night at bed time, but also a little bit scared even if I didn't want to admit that so I started watching Raising Hope on Netflix because it looked happy and mindless.

After a few episodes, I was mad at all of you who have seen this show and didn't tell me how funny and charming it is. It's like if My Name is Earl and Malcolm in the Middle had a baby and that baby was cuter and smarter and wittier than both of its parents.

This sweet, silly sitcom seriously saved my sanity and I watched it every night, willingly putting up with the pauses caused by my infuriating internet situation. Sometimes a day would feel endless and I would look forward to finding out what happened next in that world, because mine was all out of funny.

I told the friend who originally recommended the show that I was annoyed with her for not being more forceful about the whole thing, and she reminded me that she's mentioned it twice. So I'm insisting right here and now that you watch it, and I'm doing it forcefully so you can't blame me when you don't.

It was canceled after four seasons and now I have a whole weird thing going where I don't want to watch because I don't want it to end forever. Like how I get about really good books, when I know I'll miss the characters when it's over.

THIS is a show Netflix should reboot. Let's make that our next project, once I recover from all of this.

Right before Mr. Ashley came home, I had a second burst of energy and some shame about my easy defeat, and again decided that I need to be the person who can do all of the things. Also, how hard could drilling be?

Drilling is harder than it looks. It took me an hour to put up curtains, crooked. It also ruined the drill bit, several screws, and hurt my arms.

It turns out I can do lots of things, I just don't want to.

I told Mr. Ashley that I wasn't having fun. He told me that he wasn't having fun either. We agreed that from now on, we'll just stay home and watch Netflix -- together.

(But if I win a trip out of the country, or state, or city, or house, I'm going. I could sleep in the big bed by myself and binge watch with a faster connection.)

I wrote this post as a member of the Netflix Stream Team, but they let me write whatever I want and probably regret doing so. The opinions expressed here are my own, although I know Netflix would agree that my movers seemed shady and drilling is hard. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!

Every year I watch this video of my boys over and over and over again, until Big Kid is as upset as he was when he thought his eggs were being poached, and I laugh and laugh and laugh.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Perfect Timing

Guys. It's 1:35am and I usually go to bed at 9pm (no, really, I'm lame as hell lately.)

I had another incredible night at The Bay House, where my friend/celebrity chef Andy Hunter cooked fancy shit like swordfish and I introduced my newer meant-to-be through fate friend (Lyn, from the Art Basel post) to one of my older meant-to-be through fate friends (The Renee, from lots of old posts) and it went perfectly but the real magic of the night happened with my Uber driver.

I always talk my Uber driver's ear off. It's my favorite thing about Uber -- getting a 15 minute introduction to another person's life. I want to know how long they have driven for Uber, if they like it, how they ended up in the city they are in, if they have children and how that's going, what their weirdest Uber story is and if it's ever like the HBO show Taxi Cab Confessions (in this order. Don't judge, this is my thing.)

Some of them love me, some of them seem annoyed, but people mostly like to talk about themselves and it's the perfect amount of time to get to know someone without the commitment.

One of my Uber drivers invited me to a medicinal pot farm in Jamaica, one bared his soul about how he missed his two boys and how his divorce had changed him as a human being, one told me how he longed to be a grandparent because he felt empty once his children were grown, one explained snow in vibrant detail (I've never really seen it), one was very concerned about Big Kid and I potentially being stranded in Miami and told us to text him if we needed help. I've talked about love and life and loss and how proud their mothers must be and promised that all would work out in the end. There is something profoundly human in it all; the very best kind of human. Even the ones who clearly wish I would shut up.

My friend and I filled the space with our stories and exclamations and when I dropped her off, I started my Uber interrogation.

He had a two year old and four year old, and only drove on weekends so his wife could stay home. We talked about which areas he preferred and laughed about our area's demographic (old, rich, drunk, in bed early). I asked about his full time job --

"I work at CenturyLink."

CenturyLink is what I thought would be my temporary internet provider while I straightened the Comcast thing out. It's too slow which is why I felt I needed to sell my soul. I'm keeping it now though because Comcast is literally Satan. (That's not hyperbole, I'm actually starting a new religion with that as our creation story -- not just for the tax break, either, this is something I believe in my heart.)

I told him that it was fate that I had ended up in his car that night and apologized for making him pull double duty. I poured my heart out about the Comcast situation, because it still stings, guys, even if they're wrong and I'm right.

"That's the dumbest thing ever. Don't give them your social security card, no matter what you end up doing about internet."

 I explained my current dilemma of excruciatingly slow internet.

"Yeah," he said as he pulled into my driveway, "You're kind of at the end of the line here." But he told me who to call and he told me what to say and he suggested some things that might help and promised that my current internet speed could absolutely be improved.

He offered help, which is all I've been asking for, and it wasn't even his official job right then. I just needed a human being to listen to me, and the universe sent one to pick me up.

You will end up exactly where you need to be when you need to be there. People are good. Things are completely out of control all of the time and will work out perfectly anyway.

It is wonderful and terrifying and even though these moments of serendipity are small when it comes down to things like an internet connection, they are perfect reminders that we're on the right path even if that path seems like the long (slow, buffering, stuttering, always loading) way.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Comcast Conclusion

So, the Comcast situation has not come to a conclusion -- I have.

After another full day of no answers, they finally emailed me and said they need one more document: a copy of my social security card.

I have a social security card. I could give them a copy and this could all be over.

But yesterday morning I was so tired and sad and I realized that I have now spent two weeks in various stages of fury in my fight to be right. I went from so happy in my new home to constant frustration. Also, there's a certain confused feeling when the company regularly awarded the worst in America doesn't want to continue having you as a customer and can't even articulate why.

I felt the way Jeb Bush must have felt when people liked Trump more.

No one should feel like that.

I feel a little bit of shame (and I know I shouldn't) that I live in a house that is barred from high speed internet. I don't like the last people who lived here either; I've spent a week picking up all of their trash from my new yard. But there's nothing I can do about that, it's not my fault or the house's fault and we're just trying to move forward together. However, even if I "won" the Comcast fight, the prize  (other than high speed internet) is giving these people who have treated me like absolute garbage a large amount of money every month and continuing my relationship with them.

There is no winning.

I love the internet. It is literally my job and I love my work, so it is my life. It is also 98% of my child's education and all of our entertainment.

But maybe I have to change the way I use the internet in order to maintain my integrity. I shouldn't have to, but maybe the real being "right" lies in doing the right thing. Also, we're now at a crossroads where my identity and integrity are at risk (because I can't trust them with my social security card -- they can't even keep track of the service address for two consecutive calls) which makes the decision easier.

It must suck to work at Comcast. It sucks to deal with Comcast. It sucks that I got so caught up in trying to get what I think is fair treatment that I ruined too many days of what really matters trying to fix it.

I'm going to have a nice life, slow internet and all, and that seems more possible without Comcast in it.

And that's the story of how the big guy beat the little guy, but maybe the little guy still wins anyway.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Comcast Customer Disservice

Listen closely, friends, for I have a beautiful story of love, logic, empathy, connection and kindness that will warm your hearts and tickle your souls.

No, I'm just kidding, this is a story about Comcast so there will be none of those things.

Comcast refuses to provide service to the new house I bought because the old tenants of the last owner have an overdue bill.

This was irritating but amusing in a "but that makes no sense!" kind of way; I thought it would be cleared up quickly. My new Comcast friend Russell, sweet southern boy full of charm, promised me earnestly that this was one of those glitchy things that some paperwork would clear right up.

He was really nice.

We went over what documents I had available just days after closing and he told me where to fax them. We had a laugh that I would have to fax them like it was 1992 or something, but that should clear it right up, he said.

"And Mrs. McCann? I hope this isn't too forward to say, but I wanted to give you a head's up that you might want to follow up in 48 business hours. We want your business and we're good at what we do, but sometimes things slip through the cracks."

I found his honesty refreshing and told him so. "I've been a customer for years and I know you guys are famous for being evil but I've never had a problem. I'm cool with following up, I know how it is with big companies."

It felt good, guys. My moment with Russell.

Let's all take a minute and say a prayer/burn some sage/send good vibes and healing energy/splash some essential oils in the direction of our boy Russell because I don't think this is the right career path for him and his human heart.

I go to Office Depot, wait in line, pay to fax the documents, wait 48 hours.

I call some guy, who we'll call not-Russell because he was a jerk and he says there's no news and I have to wait.

"But did they get the documents?" I asked. "This should be an easy fix, someone just needs to look."

Not-Russel didn't know. He didn't know when or how or if we would know. I should wait for a call.

"Oh. Well, when should I be concerned?"

"When did the original agent say they would call?"

"Within 48 hours, but he said they might forget."

He said oh. And that I'd have to wait for them to call.

I waited for a call and then sent a firm but polite email to the corporate office, explaining the situation and that I sent the docs. Someone called back right away and I was so impressed.

"We're waiting on the docs," she said. I told her I sent them. She put me on hold. She came back and said those docs wouldn't work, I needed to fax new ones. I explained that this was frustrating because the first guy said they would work and that I didn't want to pay and wait around to fax things, that I would send them by email. She said I couldn't, they had to be faxed.

I again tried to convince her that the current docs were fine.

She said I could have forged the HUD statement. I pointed out that they would accept a lease and I could print one of those off of the internet right now and that as a prior customer in good standing, they had no reason to think I was forging anything -- that I ended service at one place and am trying to transfer it to another because I'm moving. I reminded her that it's not my fault the last people didn't pay and that she has my old account as proof of my credit-worthiness.

She said I'd have to fax all new documents.

I made a complaint to the FCC and the state utility commissioner and my state representative and cc'd Comcast. I used big words about how they use a public right of way and a public franchise agreement to act as a monopoly and how it feels as if they have an illegal lien on my house by denying service due to the prior owner.

My state rep emailed me back and said she has a contact with their government relations team and would reach out.

The FCC emailed me for more information and urged me to follow up with the complaint.

Comcast called me back.

"We need you to send some documents," another agent started.

"I sent what you requested the first time. I don't want to fax--"

"You don't have to fax anything. Take a picture. I'll accept the HUD but need a copy."

I took pictures or found pdfs of everything they have ever asked for, including the recorded deed, and sent it again.

The agent called back the next day. "I'm filling out the form and need the property address."

I confirmed that she got the documents and the emails, since all had the property address. She did, she couldn't find the address though. I gave her the address.

She called back two hours later. "I just need one more piece of information."

"Oh good, so then we'll be done. I want the same package as last time."

"No, it has to be sent for review."

"What has to be sent for review? You have the stuff, it has my proof of ownership."

"They have to review the form."

"The form? I thought you could fix this. Okay. What info do you need now?"

"I need your phone number."

"My phone number?"


" called me for my phone number?" I let that hang for a moment before giving her the number she called.

She called back at 7:07pm on a Saturday night without leaving a message. I called back seven minutes later and she was out of the office until Tuesday.

I called the urgent open ticket line she had listed on her voicemail on Monday morning and left a message.

That agent sent me an email saying that she'd like to resolve my issue but couldn't reach me. She hadn't called though.

I called her and she told me I'd have to wait until the other agent's return on Tuesday. I said that I needed an update and she reluctantly said the block was lifted. I said that was great and we made an appointment. She said I had to pay an installation fee even though I'm transferring and have my old equipment but whatever. Cue tremendous relief and the potential to resume work and school and life as usual.

Another agent called the next day to follow up on the FCC complaint.

"I believe it's resolved, I have an appointment tomorrow, I'm so relieved."

Her records showed that appointment had been canceled. She said I needed to submit documents but she didn't know which ones. I began to hyperventilate and froth at the mouth.


I have submitted a recorded deed, a HUD statement, my ID, a utility bill, a bill from them to me at my new address, and my official USPS change of address confirmation. I have no idea what else I can provide, short of kidnapping my closing agent and dropping her off at their offices.

The new agent couldn't help. I could only speak to my original agent. I asked how she was going to respond to the FCC complaint now and she said she wasn't going to update it since it isn't resolved. I asked her to please help me, as one human being to another, to please be of assistance here. She couldn't, she would tell my agent to call me.

I left my agent four messages. I made the corporate team email person tell her to call me. I made the Twitter team people tell her to call me. I asked for another agent or someone else who could explain. I offered to send anything they wanted, to start all over again if someone could please just look and help and allow me to keep my appointment for tomorrow.

I could only speak to my original agent.

She finally called me back. She is not a fan; I don't think we'll invite her on the Ashley Quite Frankly cruise.

She told me the block was lifted but is back pending documentation. She told me she does not know why and is waiting to hear from collections. She said my file may have been messed up by my FCC complaint or by contacting the other agent (really?). She said there is no one else to ask, nothing else to do, no one else to escalate to, no one she can call. She said in a snide tone that she was the corporate office and that their job was to reach out to the other offices.

"Look. I am asking you from one human being to another, like you as an actual person and not Comcast, I need you to help me. I need you to fix this. I have to work, my kid has to do school here and you are my only option. At the very least, I need you to tell me when it is time to just give up. When do I just need to accept that Comcast doesn't want me as a customer anymore, and find an alternate way to work and homeschool? Let's just set a deadline -- like, if this isn't cleared up in 48 hours, it probably isn't happening because you don't want my business, okay? What kind of timeline do you think is reasonable for me to accept defeat and move on?"

"Ma'am," she said, exasperated, "it's not that we don't want your business."

And I laughed like a crazy person. It's not that they don't want my business; they just refuse to do business with me.

"Is there anything else you want me to ask collections when I do reach them, ma'am?"

"Yes! WHAT DO THEY WANT? What? I said I wouldn't send anything else but I'll send whatever they want. Tell them, honest to God, tell them that they can randomly stop by for dinner any night to prove that I live here -- any kind of surprise visit. I will do that. I just want to give you money and have internet and I'm so tired of fighting about it."

This has been going on for two weeks. I've sent in more than what they originally requested. I have spoken to 7 customer service agents on the phone, 3 by email, and direct messaged the @comcastcares team on Twitter so much that they're ready to block me. I've complained to the FCC, the public utility commission, my local and state government and every email address for anything Comcast-related on the internet.

And now here we are. A formerly loyal customer who had no "Comcast is evil" story to contribute to the global conversation now has a good story, and each and every experience I have with them is more absurd, frustrating and seemingly spiteful than the last-- I mean, at a point, it's hard to credit it as incompetence because there is really nothing at all complicated about my situation.

Comcast has decided to punish the piece of land my house is on because one time some people I don't know didn't pay their bill. Comcast is so mad about not getting money from my address that they would prefer to never get a dollar from this address again. They are so mad at the people they don't want to do business with ever again that they have chosen to alienate and enrage formerly happy customers in an effort not to recoup their losses. Bizarre.

If you have a Comcast issue, or ever have a Comcast issue, please file an FCC complaint ASAP. Do something, anything to make your voice heard even if it feels like it doesn't help. Many drops of water make a flood, and maybe one day they'll drown. Or we'll all get google Fiber and they'll be forced to compete...and then drown.

Thank you for listening to my internet tale of woe. Comcast doesn't care, but what I lack in internet connection I have gained in connecting with the hordes of those who have been similarly mistreated.

But, seriously, I need a decent internet connection. Call me before I lose my shit for real, Comcast.

And we won't make grown-ups cry for wanting to be our customer.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Good Men Project

Guys, I'm never going to be officially moved in. Ever. I will be surrounded with boxes, with a turkey tablecloth thumbtacked over one of my windows, fighting with the customer service agents of various utility companies and wondering if the movers stole all of our spatulas (and if so, why) until I die amidst the chaos. 

Basically, the conditions for writing are not ideal. Don't get me started on my internet situation. 

So while I adjust and settle in to my new abnormal normal, please entertain yourselves with a piece I wrote over at The Good Men Project about raising my quirky kid and what I've learned about people and parenting through puppetry, of all things. 

Big Kid and Big Bird. 
I will be back when I'm done searching for things and yelling -- or before then, because I do a lot of that as a mom anyway.