So you know I haven’t died

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Yep, I’m still here—the birthday didn’t kill me. I’m just trying to play catch-up from goofing off all day Friday and then spending ALL DAMN DAY at the anniversary party on Saturday. It was nice, but the duration of a 50th anniversary party should not approach the duration of the marriage. I may blog more about it later if I find some time.

I have lots going on right now, and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed on the volunteer front. But I mainly have my procrastinatative (Shut up! I’m tired, okay?) nature to blame. Palm Sunday and Easter deadlines are looming at church, and I have much music-making to do this week. Things should ease up in the next few weeks, right? Right?

I leave you with a pic of J.P. in action. My photography assignment this week was to capture motion. I really like the way his yellow and blue cancer-fighting bracelets show up as streaks (you may need to go to Flickr and view it larger to see them).

Demonstrating motion for photography class

Macy*s Mania

The chair that caused it all

You may remember that about a year ago, J.P. and I were working on finishing our living room. We installed crown moulding, painted, and got new furniture. Well, we completed all but one element of the living room before the baby shower that we held at the end of April. The chair pictured above didn’t arrive in time, and it turned into quite the little saga. Here’s a brief summary.

January 2, 2005
We order a couch and two chairs from the Macy’s furniture store in Cherry Hill, NJ. The sales person informs us that the furniture will arrive in 10-12 weeks.

Late March, 2005
I call Macy’s to see when our furniture will arrive. I’m told that one of the chairs and the couch are in, and they’ll deliver everything once the second chair arrives.

Early April, 2005
Still no furniture. After having several of my calls go unreturned, I happen to reach the store’s sales manager. I explain the problem, and while chair #2 still hasn’t arrived, she agrees to deliver the other two pieces so our baby shower guests have a place to sit.

April 20, 2005
The couch and chair #1 arrive. Chair #2 still MIA.

Mid-May, 2005
Macy’s still has not located chair #2. The manager thinks it may be lost in the warehouse. I think it may have been sold to someone else. She agrees to re-order the chair, and offers me a $60 Macy’s gift card for my trouble. Of course it will take another 10-12 weeks for the chair to arrive, and I’ll get my gift card after delivery. I’m not too happy with peace offering or the additional waiting, but the baby shower has already occurred, so it’s not that big a deal.

Mid-August, 2005
Macy’s calls to schedule delivery of our chair. Yeah! We’re almost there!

Early September, 2005
J.P. works from home so he can accept delivery of the chair. He calls me at the office to tell me of its arrival:

J.P.: Hey, honey, our chair is here! Do you want the good news or the bad news?
Me: Uh, oh. What’s the good news?
J.P.: Our chair is here!
Me: Um, okay . . . what’s the bad news?
J.P.: It’s the wrong one.
Me: &(*#^$@)!#!! Are you kidding me?!?

Yes, that’s right. They ordered the wrong chair. The delivery guys couldn’t believe it—it looked just like chair #1! Yep, it looked just like chair #1, but it wasn’t SUPPOSED to!

Macy’s reorders the chair (again!), and this time puts a rush on the order.

Mid-October, 2005
The chair arrives! The correct chair! Woohoo!

You might think the story ends here. Oh, how I wish it ended here. But remember that $60 gift card the manager offered me? Yeah, it was going to take more than that to make me happy.

I called Macy’s customer service number and explained the situation to the woman who answered the phone. Guess what she offered me? Yep, a $60 gift card. First of all, sixty bucks was NOWHERE NEAR enough compensation, and second of all, the LAST thing I wanted was to spend more money at Macy’s. I wanted cash on the barrelhead! There’s more to this part of the story, but in the end I got a 25% discount on the price of the chair.

Think that’s the end of it? Nope, not yet. When we placed the initial order, we put down a 25% deposit. When the couch and chair #1 were delivered, they prorated the deposit and applied a portion of it to our account. Cool. But guess what? When chair #2 was delivered, we didn’t get credit for the rest of the deposit. AND! When we paid what we owed on the chair, they applied it to the wrong portion of our account. So we had a credit balance on the regular revolving part of the account, and still owed them money on the major purchases part of the account.

While the late fees piled up, I struggled to explain (to no fewer than six different people) that the portion of the 25% deposit that they owed us was NOT the same as the 25% discount they gave me as compensation for screwing up so royally. I finally convinced them; the remaining deposit was applied, the late fees and interest were removed, and they got all of the numbers into the right columns.

In the end, they owed us about sixty bucks. And today, March 25, 2006—447 days after we placed the initial order—our refund check arrived in the mail.

The saga finally ends

Hallelujah!

Hope & Pain

My stepdad, Frank, has been suffering for several years with chronic, debilitating back and leg pain. It has invaded and affected every facet of his life, and if he couldn’t work from home he would be on disability. He regularly takes I-don’t-know-how-many drugs to try and manage the pain so he can function. He hasn’t been able to golf or work on projects around the house for years. It’s difficult to give you a sense of how much and how long he’s been hurting without making him seem like a pathetic invalid. And while he may be pathetic (Hi, Frank!), he’s managed not to become an invalid. And he’s only 50 years old—way too young for this crap!

My parents live about 20 minutes from the world-famous Mayo Clinic, and he’s seen various doctors there without success. Until sometime last year, no one could even diagnose him! As he says, “I’m just what you don’t want to be—an interesting case at the Mayo Clinic. ” Eventually he quit going there, and found a pain clinic in Minneapolis that was able to help him a little bit. Then they decided that spine surgery would help, and it was scheduled for December 19 of last year.

A few weeks before the surgery, he had a stress test as part of his pre-admission testing. It showed a couple of blockages, and he had some stents put in. And that was enough to postpone the surgery. Even though it meant continuing to live in pain, I think he was happy that the surgery was put off because the recovery period is no fun: living in a partial body cast for three months, physical therapy, pain, etc.

The interesting thing is, I felt that the postponement (is that a word?) of the surgery was something that was meant to be. That maybe in the six months that he had to wait, he’d be able to explore other options and maybe find a better solution.

Well, last week, J.P. was reading Philadelphia Magazine, and he found this article (click the image to read the print):

Backs of the Future

After scanning the article and attaching it to an email, he wrote:

Mom & Frank,

I saw this article in this month’s Philadelphia Magazine. It immediately made me think of Frank’s situation with his back, especially reading the part about “severe pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness.” I’m wondering if you could possibly look into these types of treatments locally, if they offer them? They seem way less invasive, with a quick recovery time, and seems like they can be attempted w/o disqualifying you for the traditional types of spine surgery should it be unsuccessful. Or maybe you have explored these options already? Either way, I thought I’d pass it on. More information cannot hurt I’m thinking.

You know if they do not offer those things locally in MN, I bet we could setup a consultation at least here at Penn and I know of a decent place where you can stay for the visit. They have wireless high-speed internet, the food is good, the proprieters are inviting, and the beds are comfy. Some say it’s like staying with family! I’d like to see Frank healthy as fast as possible. Spring is steadily approaching and I want him to make good on his promise to kick my ass in golf!!! =)

Love,
J.P.

After reading the article, Frank called one of the doctors who’s listed at the bottom. It seemed like it might be an option, so they asked him to send his records. Mom put them in the mail on Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon Frank got a call from Pennsylvania–they think he’s a perfect candidate!

I heard through my sister this weekend that because of the stents he’ll still have to wait until June, but still! Let the ass-kicking begin!