Family Update

So, yeah. The family get-together today was crap-tastic.
After hearing the updates from my grandparents on Grant and the accident a few nights ago, I learned about the problems his brother, my other cousin, is having.

Let me fill you in on his history first: Jesse got the same girl pregnant twice, made a habit of skipping out on child support, and spent some time in jail, himself. That's really all I know. Both of my cousins still lived with their mom, Karen, my mom's sister. As far as I know, Jesse's children are upwards of 10 and 6 years old now. My parents have wanted to try and get custody of them because Karen could not support her own children, let alone her kids' kids. And Jesee's babymamma is somewhat challenged, from what I can tell. She already has a third child by a second man, is pregnant again by a third man with her fourth kid, and lives off the state payments from various babydaddies. When Jesse falls behind on child support she has him thrown in jail. She doesn't seem to understand that this makes it difficult for him to keep a job and pay her support.
According to my parents who took Jesse's children for a day a few months ago, the eldest takes care of the youngest while their mom drinks, smokes, does drugs, has men over to have sex with her, and hits the kids. There was an alleged incident at school where the eldest had a bruise and said “I'm supposed to say I fell down the stairs.”
My dad asked me what to do and I said all they can do is file paperwork with Child Protective Services in their county, and to continue doing so until some kind of action is taken.

Then, last night, Jesse was getting drunk in a bar when someone made a remark about his brother killing the 19 year-old on the motorcycle Thursday evening. I don't know the details, except that my aunt Karen found him wandering the streets with a loaded gun this morning, saying he was going to kill that guy for saying something about Grant, then the police would kill him, and that would “stop the demons.”

So my best assumption is that my 27 year-old cousin Jesse is schizophrenic, according to what my grandparents told me this afternoon, and that he's off his medication; and that my 25 year-old cousin Grant is going to prison for a long time.

I will admit that I was basically clueless as to the extent of the troubles this side of my family faced, but I really had no idea how bad it was. I didn't know Karen was dealing with this kind of stuff, or that my grandparents knew about the drinking, the mental health issues, or the guns. My grandfather is a gun fanatic, anyway, having shot himself dinner and trophies many times in the past, but I didn't realize my cousins walked around with loaded handguns.

Karen just lost her husband who, as far as I know, was a wife-beater, and now it appears both of her kids are going away for a long time. I feel for her, but in a sense I also feel as thought this might create a better life for her. Is that horrible?

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Front Page News

http://www.jconline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060429/NEWS/604290347/1152

2 Arrested After Fatal Hit-and-Run
By Joe Gerrety
jgerrety@journalandcourier.com

A Delphi teenager is dead and two Tippecanoe County men face felony charges after a car crashed head-on into a motorcycle on Indiana 25 near Americus on Thursday night.

Jeremy L. Kuns, 19, died at the scene of the 9:17 p.m. crash in the 5700 block of Indiana 25 North.

Grant L. O'Leary, 24, of Americus, thought to be the driver of the car that caused the wreck, was released from the Tippecanoe County Jail on Friday morning after posting a $25,000 surety bond.

According to court documents filed late Friday, O'Leary had a blood-alcohol content of 0.144 percent after the crash and was driving on a suspended license after an August conviction for drunken driving. The legal limit for driving in Indiana is 0.08 percent.

Police suspect O'Leary was driven away from the scene by a friend, Kirk E. Car-ter, 25, of Buck Creek. Carter was released Friday morning after posting a $500 cash bond.

Later Friday, prosecutors filed felony charges against both men.

Deputy Greg Frantz, a crash reconstructionist with the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department, said O'Leary was driving north in a 2002 Ford Mustang convertible when he attempted to pass a northbound vehicle in the southbound lane.

He crashed head-on into the motorcycle Kuns was driving south.

The Mustang then went off the west side of the road and crashed into three vehicles parked in front of a residence. A fire broke out in the car's engine compartment but was put out by the resident of a nearby home, Frantz said.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with O'Leary's charges, O'Leary and Carter spent most of Thursday evening together after work, spending part of the time at Pepe's restaurant, eating dinner and drinking margaritas.

The two were headed north on Indiana 25 in separate vehicles a few minutes apart when the crash occurred. Carter came upon the scene minutes after the crash, spotted O'Leary's Mustang and then encountered O'Leary, who asked for his help.

Police suspect Carter drove O'Leary from the scene and took him back to O'Leary's workplace, Foxfire Apartments on Lafayette's south side, where O'Leary called Lafayette police and reported his car had been stolen.

The officer taking the report quickly learned that O'Leary was the registered owner of the car involved in the crash. Frantz said witnesses identified O'Leary, through a photo array, as the driver of the Mustang.

O'Leary and Carter were arrested after questioning by Tippecanoe County police.

Total Shock

I don’t even know what to do except to just throw up all over the screen.

My cousin Grant apparently was playing chicken on a two-lane road last night with a friend when he ran head-on, drunk, into a 19 year-old on a motorcycle. Not only did he get in the friend’s car and drive off, but he lied to the police and told them his car had been stolen and he had not been the one driving it, but he also left the kid from the cycle dead on the scene.

I truly cannot believe I am related to these people. I feel absolutely sick.

No Surrender

What do you do when you compromise with someone [insert relationship of choice: parent, child, co-worker, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend] and they back down and say there was no such agreement? It's a pointless argument:
“But you said . . . ”
“No I didn't.”

I will admit to being childish about it at times. I'm angry because I feel like I try to negotiate things and I end up losing no matter what because, ultimately, it's not my decision, and, ultimately, either the compromise was conveniently “forgotten” or someone says “I just changed my mind.”

I also will admit that perhaps I don't know how to compromise. I feel like I am; I feel as though I've given up something to accomodate another person's wishes. I believe that I've made the playing field (so to speak) level and fair. But I have to assume that it just doesn't come across that way.

But I have to believe that I'm right and that I have been fair. Otherwise, I'm always backing down.

Then again, one has to choose one's battles. Do you choose the ones that are easier, or do you choose the ones that mean the most?

And Coming in Last Place . . .

Who is Courtney you ask? Why, only the third best barista in the whole freaking company!

I placed third in our competition. Of the twelve people who won from the individual stores (some had people tie for first so there were multiples from a couple stores), my manager Annie, a girl from the northside store, and myself all won.
We got these cool, engraved knockboxes (which are useless if we don't want to ruin the plaque inside or if we don't have an espresso machine at home – which I don't), and tampers for the shots (which are useless if we don't have an espresso machine at home), and some gift certificates to a local restaurant that makes some of our pastries.

When they called my name for third, I had a feeling it was going to be me. But I really wasn't sure if I was going to place at all. My espresso shots were way too long the first few times; the water was pouring all over the place – and the cappuccino I had to make needed to be in a ceramic mug. We had six minutes to make three drinks, including one of our own choice judged on creativity, and I just barely made it.

I think that probably worked in my favor, though, because a couple of people didn't pull shots at all for the single shot and all of us made doubles. Apparently we were supposed to only serve one. Ooopsie. Bad information.

The other plus on my side was my “signature” drink. It was totally off-the-cuff; I found a peach smoothie mix in the fridge at the office and threw in some pineapple chunks from the food they provided us while we were there. I blended it with ice and topped it with whipped cream and sliced strawberries (also from our snack spread). So I think I got points for originality because the girl asking me questions wanted to know how I'd come up with it. I said “When I saw it in the refrigerator.” She probably told them that and they were impressed, maybe, that I'd thrown it all together? I dunno.

So our trainer says she wants to get the three of us together to discuss regional competitions. Kinda dorky, but I'd do it. The hard part is getting used to new machines; if I'd been at my store, using the machines I'm used to in the order I like them with the milk in the fridge underneath the way it's all supposed to be I'd have probably come in first or second. But I panicked when I was told to use a ceramic mug and poured my cappuccino into it rather than remaking it. I just didn't have time!

Oh, well. I'm just excited to know I'm third-best in the company. I'll make you a drink sometime.

Various Updates

In case you were concerned about the trivial goings-on in my life, here are a couple of updates for you.

1.) The former landlady chose to “let” us keep our deposit, despite the issues over the carpet yesterday. Charlie's showing up unannounced after their phone conversation seemed to really unnerve her. He also told her I was “terribly offended” that she'd think I didn't keep a clean house and that I'd even consider living with any urine stains or smell in the carpet.
Also, the new tenant, who was trying to give me the deposit two months ago so he could secure a move-in date, a young man who is at least 28 years old, had his own mother cleaning the house because we left it in such a horrible state. Which you and I both know is total bullshit.
Never mind the fact that he's a grown man who's graduated medical school and starting his residency.

2.) My manager has decided not to fire anyone right away. She said she's going to “put it off” until she absolutely has to. I don't see things the same way the owners do. If she is told she has to fire him or be fired, she said she's going to let him know he needs to find another job. If they fire him without cause they'll owe unemployment, which they aren't going to want to pay. And I can see no proof of actual gross negligence.

3.) One of our lovely morning employees has, today, admitted to “freaking out and losing it” and has decided to quit without notice, so he's trying to find people to cover his shifts this next week as the schedule's already made. He called me first but I didn't answer my phone, not recognizing the number. I then called my manager, who didn't answer her phone, then tried the store where I was told “something fishy's going on,” by Audrey, then tried Matt who had already agreed to cover the shift.
This guy who's quitting is kind of a nutjob, anyway, so I'm not too sad to see him go.

4.) My next door neighbors are moving in a couple of weeks and I'm sad. But she's giving me an area rug and is willing to sell us their portable dishwasher for $150 so I'm stoked about that.

Backpedaling

I was so pleased to find out our former landlady gave us our entire deposit back last Sunday.

Now, one week to the day of our exit, she's calling and asking for her postdated check back. She claims she had the carpets cleaned and can now smell urine strongly.

Let me emphasize, that while I'm an avid animal lover and I do happen to have a lot of pets at the moment, I would never – NEVER – allow a pee spot to go uncleaned. Regardless of whether or not my animals have urinated in the house (which they most certainly have not), my superhuman nostrils would have picked up on it and scrubbed the area until it sparkled. Believe me, I can smell cat or dog pee before anyone else in a room.

The fact that this greedy woman has called us a week after we moved out to demand money is utterly ridiculous. Charlie got off the phone with her and just drove over to her house to ask where the smell is coming from and see/smell it for himself. I couldn't bring myself to go because I'm so angry right now that I feel hot and twitchy. I'll update when he returns.

I'm peeved because she's reneged on her offer to return our deposit and that she never, ever takes “general wear and tear” into consideration. She's not pointing out the things we actually did to damage any part of the house (the claw marks on the windowsills that I fixed cosmetically; the hair dye and bleach stains in the bathroom). What she's doing is going nuts with dollar signs in her eyes because she knows we're honest people who, upon pressure, would probably return the postdated check to her for another.

What she's doing is finding something that needs to be done – something she should have done about 10 years ago – and attempting to get us to pay for it. Claiming we have “too many pets” and that someone could have pissed in the house and we'd just let it sit there. What she's not understanding is that part of our having a housemate ensures that the animals will never be left alone for an extended period of time. They can't go to the bathroom in the house because they don't have a chance to hold in their pee long enough.

Let's not forget the girl on the other side of that double who leaves her two dogs alone for 12 and 13 hours at a time. Or the fact that, the first time we moved into that house, the landlady actually admitted to me that someone had kept pets locked up in the basement and second bedroom and that she knows the animals peed in there. I could smell it even after the carpets were cleaned.

The kicker is that she isn't asking us to pay for the carpets to be cleaned again, or any sort of stain or odor removal — she wants us to pay for the entire upstairs carpet to be replaced. The ratty, dark green, twenty-plus-year-old carpet she actually put in, herself, and hasn't once thought about replacing until this very moment, despite Charlie and I offering to put down new carpet for her just so we could get some freaking linoleum into that awful bathroom. Now, all of the sudden, she needs to have something new put in.

Gee, I wonder how much that might cost . . . Oh, say, about two-thirds to all of our deposit?

Bitch.

Those Were the Days

I remember, back in the day, when not only could I move everything in one day, but while The Man was shifting things to and fro I was setting everything up like a madwoman. The house would be completely done, including photos and art on the walls, before sunset.

We've been living here a week as of tomorrow and I have yet to put up anything where there wasn't already a neglected nail. That would be two things, by the way.
We got wild hairs up our butts and started unpacking some boxes that are in what's going to be my study area – the breakfast nook. Charlie has the second bedroom, which includes a serious amount of our junk; Cavan has a sunroom and a bedroom; I get the tiny box off the kitchen. But it'll suit me. All I need now is a very small, simple desk and I'm good to go.

Oh, and those leaning shelves so I can get all the boxes out of that room. Right now there's nothing else in it but the card table left behind by the last residents. It works for the time being, but it's really just taking up space, holding empty boxes as we throw them in there.

I finally hooked up the stereo system, as well, something I never thought I'd be able to live without. Apparently, I can, for six days. Beyond that, though, it's a shame to have such great weather and not be able to turn the speakers toward the window to enjoy the porch and music.

I'm having some new-friend-anxiety. The girl from high school with whom I've recently reconnected is a phone-talker. I'm pretty strictly an email communicator. I like the opportunity it gives me to think about what I want to say before I officially say it. Speaking with people on the phone always feels like a waste of time and money. I'd rather do it face-to-face, though, not that I only ever do it online. So she's made a remark about my “long-ass” emails and now I know I have to suck it up and just give her a ring.
The thing that gets me is that she had a baby one week ago. Maybe it was two weeks ago. Either way, she's got a newborn and she's still finding the time to write me and ask how I'm doing. It makes me feel like such an asshole.

Oh, and speaking of friends, I'm due to have lunch with Jennifer while she's in town. Sunday will be lunch, then I have my barista competition in the evening. Note to self: find out where the meeting is being held. That information would be helpful.