Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Luck of the Irish (or lack thereof)

I've had quite a frustrating day today. Since I'm Irish (my dad was born in Dublin and everything!), and it's St. Patrick's Day, I should automatically be guaranteed a great day. Well, my day kind of sucked!

First, I had to get on the phone with my bank bright and early this morning when I got to work. The reason? Because I received a new debit card in the mail yesterday, with no explanation why, and the one I have now isn't set to expire for two more years. So I was a bit confused and gave them a call this morning. It turns out that they sent me a new one because Visa sent out a list of possible card numbers that might have been "compromised", and my account was one of them! THIS IS THE THIRD TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME IN LESS THAN TWO YEARS. I've received THREE new cards because of this. The first two times were because I made the tragic mistake (twice, 'cause I'm a slow learner, apparently) at TJ Maxx, and they went through that whole credit card fiasco. I've gone there since then, but have ALWAYS paid in cash, as I certainly have learned my lesson there. So I have absolutely no idea where this might have been an issue, since I tend to shop at the same stores, get gas at the same place, and NEVER pay with debit- I always do the "credit" transaction, because I'm paranoid about using my PIN in front of other people. Even when I withdraw money from the ATM, I stand extra-close to the machine so that no one can look. I'm very careful with my money; plus, I've seen The Michelle Brown Story one too many times on Lifetime. The only thing that I can possibly think of is that I had to use it as a debit card at a coffee shop last weekend because I had no cash on me and wasn't paying enough to qualify for the "credit" option, only "debit", and I had to give my PIN number, and I was really anxious about that and even said so to the person behind the register, who assured me that their credit machine was through PNC Bank and they'd never had an issue before. And then coincidentally, I get a brand-new debit card in the mail because my account number "might" have been compromised? That's a very big coincidence. And the bank told me that Visa doesn't give them a list of the stores due to privacy laws, and I was like, um, PRIVACY LAWS? Yes, let's protect the criminals! What about my rights? It's MY card, MY money! I should have the right to know!

I'm seriously concerned that this is the third time this has happened to me in two years!!! I even said so to the bank customer service rep, and she assured me that it's quite common these days, it happens to some people more often than that even, and it's happened to some of their own employees. So I guess I really can't fault the bank here- plus, they're being extra-cautious by giving me a new card. But STILL! I pay some of my bills automatically through my card, and so now I have to go through the hassle of activating this card, notifying/changing my bills so that they charge the new card. Still, I guess I shouldn't complain, because it's better to be safe than sorry, right? Still... grrr.

It was a busy day at work, but not overwhelming, and I had to leave early for a doctor's appointment. This turned into quite an event. So I was going to the OB-GYN for my yearly routine exam (don't worry, any guy readers... this as detailed as I get about this story. No need to shield your eyes or anything, LOL). So first I get there, and the receptionist informs me that they've switched to brand-new computers or a new computer system or something, and she needs my insurance card to manually enter all of my info again (why it didn't just transfer over to their new system, I don't know, but whatevs). Okay, no problem. So I go to get my card from my wallet... and it's not there. See, while they were busy switching computers, I was busy switching wallets a few weeks ago, because my old one broke and I happened to find a spare wallet in a random purse (don't you just love random purse finds? I do!!!), so I switched over my stuff, but I guess I forgot to put my insurance cards in there. D'oh! Luckily they still had their old computer system up and running for a few more days, so they were able to pull my info. So I thought, yay, crisis over. Well, no. I was about to sit down and read one of their magazines, when one of the nurse's assistants took a quick look at my chart, and saw that it hasn't been a full year since my last exam- I'm two weeks short of a full year- and my insurance won't cover my yearly exam unless it's been EXACTLY 365 days or more since my last exam. Mind you, my insurance company is the ONLY one that requires this... all other insurance companies just go per calendar year. No, not Aetna! Naturally, I have the company that is the exception to this rule. But I'm so glad she checked, because she told me that if I were to do self-pay, just one test alone would have cost $800! Good God! So we rescheduled me for a few weeks from now. Grrrr. Oh, well. At least I got out of work early, and it was a nice day out, and I got home in time to catch an episode of The Golden Girls... so I guess it could have been worse! Except now I have to go back, and I kind of have to psych myself up for the yearly exam, because as all the ladies know, it's not the most comfortable examination! (Okay, possible guy readers, the story ends here... promise!)

Okay, enough ranting and raving. How was everybody's St. Patty's Day? Did everyone show their Irish love and wear the green? I rocked a green shirt and shamrock toe socks, and I'm happy to say that I got to wear my Irish pin all day long, because while I thought it said, Kiss Me, I'm Irish, what it actually said was Luck of the Irish. So I got to wear it to my staff meeting. Everyone was wearing green and tacky Irish stuff. It was wonderful.

I have no plans to go out drinking tonight. It's a Tuesday, and I'm too old to even contemplate going out on a Tuesday night, let alone get drunk on one when I have to work the next day. I am a very responsible grown-up. Plus- and please don't tell anyone or they'll kick me out of the club- I hate beer. Yes, I'm Irish, and I hate beer. I've always hated beer. I've always been a hard-liquor lady myself. Rum and vodka are totally more up my alley. Beer... ick! Ironically, I used to date a guy who was obsessed with beer and microbreweries, and would drag me to them all the time (not fun for a non-beer drinker), and even tried to brew his own beer a few times... one of oh-so-many reasons why that relationship was not the greatest.

And now on to food talk! I have fun and exciting food news, and pics, as promised!

First, a new baked potato combo from last week that never quite made it to the blog: DSCI1147 This tasted better than it looked, I swear! I combined fat-free ricotta cheese and spinach and put it on top of a sweet potato. I'd never thought to pair ricotta cheese with a sweet potato, but I read about it on Mark and Heather's blog, and I was intrigued. I thought it was tasty, but I think I need to tweak the ricotta/spinach ratio and play with some spices some more before I can call it a true success. It certainly was tasty, though, and packed a lot of protein! :-)

There were some other potato dinners as well (what can I say, they're easy and my favorite!), but mostly involving a veggie burger and a vegetable and a salsa or hummus for dipping love. Nothing too exciting!

I did reunite with a former lover this past weekend:

DSCI1178 Hello, luvah. My beloved and adored Peanut Butter Puffins are back in my life! And did you know, combined with Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal and a yummy ripe banana, they are even tastier? I never even thought to combine different cereals in the same bowl until I started reading food blogs, and now that I've tried it, I can't imagine going back to just eating one cereal at a time! I did try to eat a bowl of PB Puffins on their own one day just to see, and sure enough, it just wasn't the same. I'm a multicereal girl going forward! :-)

I embraced my Irish roots for dinner tonight with a healthy traditional Irish feast:

DSCI1182 Salmon, sweet potato, carrots, broccoli with Smart Balance buttah spray... and horseradish mustard for dipping pleasure and fun. This was perfect, and just what I needed after a rough St. Patty's Day. I LOVE this dinner. This is my perfect comfort food dinner.

I have nothing minty in my apartment, so no fun chocolate mint dessert for me tonight. But I think I can make do with a Deep Chocolate Vitamuffin with fat-free whipped topping... yeah, that'll suffice. :-) And then I'll brush my teeth afterwards to get that minty taste. That'll work.

Part of the reason that today is a little rough on me is because of my dad, who was a true-blue Irishman, and damn proud of it. I was fine all day, a little sad but not broken up or anything, and then I got to watching The Biggest Loser, and when Aubrey confronted her dad about his health and his weight, she said, "I want my dad back," and I just burst into tears when I thought, Yeah, I want my dad back too. And I started crying pretty hard for a good ten minutes... I've gotten it out of my system, and am feeling much better- I'm still sad and feeling down, but not crying anymore. I do miss my dad. Very much. I remember that at my middle school, every St. Patrick's Day, my school would have class parties with lots of treats like cupcakes and cookies (this was before we all really got on the health bandwagon, the mid-'90s), and they would bring in those Shamrock Shakes from McDonalds (they still have those, right? They're so popular, I can't imagine they'd take them away), and one year, I was home sick on St. Patty's Day with strep- the one sickness where you'd desperately want a milkshake to soothe your throat, right?- and couldn't get my shake. I was upset about missing the class party, and feeling pretty miserable from the strep and antibiotics in general, so I was not a happy camper. My dad went out to the nearest McDonalds and tried to get me a Shamrock Shake to make me feel better. They were all sold out, but he came back with one anyway- vanilla (which definitely would have been my next choice- ah, he knew me well!). I was just thinking about that, and how I'll probably remember lots of little things that he did for me throughout the years that probably have slipped my mind as time goes by. I hope that in my adolescent brattiness and crankiness from being sick that I remembered to thank him. And just in case I forgot: Thank you, Dad. Thank you for that and for all the little things you did throughout the years. I might not have told you each and every time, and if I didn't, I'm sorry, but I appreciated it, and I appreciate everything that you did for me, and I miss you, and I love you. Not just today, but every day.

I hope you all had fun and safe St. Patty's Day, however you chose to celebrate. I leave you with a picture of my "Irish" corner, which is currently kind of a tribute to my dad (my dad and I went to visit Seattle a few years ago for my uncle's wedding and had a wonderful father-daughter bonding experience, hence the Seattle pic):


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