40 Runs Around the Sun

30 years ago,I was preparing to make my First Communion, and the age of 40 seemed unfathomable. 20 years ago, I was trying to figure my life out, and 40 seemed ancient. 10 years ago, I was living in a hotel room, scraping by to survive, both emotionally and financially, forcing myself to live another day, struggling to keep going so that I could start fresh. Most milestones can be counted by decades, and I have managed to reach another, successfully and surrounded by love. 10 years ago, I was living in a motel, surviving on one meal a day, and celebrating my 30th birthday with only a shred of hope that I would finish my college final exams, pack my car with the few belongings I could fit into it, and leave my current pain and failure behind to start fresh in a new state with the family I had missed and grown to love so dearly. 10 years on, at age 40, I have everything a woman could possibly need on life; a family who I would protect fiercely, a few of the most wonderful friends a girl could ask for, a great job, and the chance to get a great education. And for one blissful, amazing day (the first in 40 years), every single one of those things came together in perfect harmony, and allowed me to really appreciate just how much I have to be so thankful for. I have come so far in my 40 years on this earth, and I hope the next 40+ are just as amazing. To every single person who made this day so very special, my thanks will never be enough. You all have been the pillars of strength I have needed for so long. Tom, topping this will be so hard. Thank you for making today so special, not only for me, but for Wyatt. Living today through his eyes made the day all the more amazing. Shannon, my ride or die, you are one sneaky lady! How long and you guys been conspiring against me?! I spent today with some of my favorite people, and I truly would not have had it any other way! I love you all, thank you for making today amazing! Xoxo. Here’s to the next 40.


Day 1…

Today was day one; the first day of what many feel could be a very tumultuous presidency.  I will admit, publicly, that I refrained from watching or listening to the Inauguration.  I feared that the address would be more of the same rhetoric that plagued the election, and after so many months of absurdity, I decided to skip what could be more of the same, and write this instead.  I decided to put pen to paper and detail what this presidency means to me.  I decided that I would write a letter to a man that has openly objectified, slandered, and victimized women, and yet somehow managed to endear himself to nearly half the nation to become leader of the greatest nation in the world.  I decided that as futile an effort it may be, I NEEDED him to know what damage will very likely come from his impulsive, politically uneducated nature.  I feel compelled to speak on behalf of the 99% of the country living quite uncomfortably at or below the middle-class demographic that will feel the effects of his actions and words, not as a trickle-down, but as a tsunami.  I must advocate not only for my family, but for those of the friends and family that I so dearly love, and do my part to protect the futures of our children, and generations to come.  

Mr. President,
We have never met, and chances are very high that we never will.  I am a middle class woman living in the suburbs of Baltimore, a mere 30 minutes north of your new home.  I am a mother, daughter, wife.  I am a sister, aunt, granddaughter, and friend.  I am also a cervical cancer survivor twice over, and I am in the evaluation process to make sure I am not doing to fight a battle against breast cancer.  I am a citizen of this great nation, who has lived well below the poverty line and uninsured, and with the help of Planned Parenthood, was able to have my first diagnosis of cervical cancer detected early enough that I required only surgical intervention.  I am forever indebted to Planned Parenthood and the staff there.  I continued without insurance until my late 20’s, and therefore only sought care when I was severely ill.  I finally secured affordable insurance just before my 29th birthday.  Thanks to the ACA, I could finally stop worrying about losing my coverage because of my pre-existing conditions, including any issues that may arise due to having donated a kidney to a very close family friend.  That’s right Mr. President; I risked my health to ensure that someone I care about could live a long, healthy life, and in return I get to wonder if I will be eligible for health coverage in the future, because you plan to have your Congress people work to dismantle the only plan in place to ensure that people like me (and there are a LOT!) don’t have to worry about keeping their plans.  

I work hard to make sure that my family is cared for.  I have spent every day since November 9, 2016 wondering how you were going to work to “Make America Great Again”.  America has always been great.  America never stopped being great.  America will always be great.  All you need to do is make sure you don’t bring about a massive change that could potentially harm those of us who work so damn hard to make America what it truly is; the GREATEST NATION IN THE WORLD.

Respectfully yours,
An American Citizen

PS:  If is matters, I voted with my conscience.  Don’t assume that it was for Senator Clinton.

What a Year…

Well, it’s Christmas.  This is usually the day I spend reflecting on the past year, and all that’s happened that will shape our lives for the next 365 (or 366, if it’s a Leap Year) days.  Usually people do this on New Year’s Eve, but I march to my own drum.  I like to have a week where I DGAF about anything.  I can veg and color in my new sweary coloring book or knit a messy bun hat or something.  2016 sure has been a doozy of a year.  We have seen some ridiculous, nonsensical shit; from the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Prince, among others, to this year’s election, we have been on the wildest of emotional roller coasters, and most of us can’t wait for the ride to end.  I don’t blame a single one of you.  I am too.  Here are the shitty and wonderful things that have transpired in my life in 2016.

I have mourned the loss of many of my childhood heros.  David Bowie, Prince, and this evening, George Michael have shuffled their mortal coils and transcended to beyond the earthly plane. Carrie Fisher (Princess Leila) suffered a massive heart attack on December 23rd.  Every time news comes down about one of the people who were an integral part of my childhood entertainment, I feel a bit of my childhood die.  It’s depressing.  It hurts that the artistry and creativity that these people shared with the world will be forever silenced.

I also experienced a lot of personal successes.  I kicked serious ass in school.  Even after being in major conflict with one professor about my work, I kicked ass.  At nearly 39 years old, and out of college for nearly a decade, I am beyond happy to be doing as well as I am.  I see each good grade as a major accomplishment, and I am so thrilled that my 4 year old can see me go through this process and express my pride when I receive a good grade for my hard work.  He gets just as excited as I do!

I have also had some devastating failures.  Not failures in the traditional sense, but rather failures in realizing too late that I continue to allow those that have hurt me to continue to do so, and that by proxy, allowed them to hurt my family.  I made the mistake this past summer of allowing my husband and son to witness the verbal and emotional abuse of his mother by the one person who should never hurt me.  I spent an entire 6 hour drive crying from hurt and embarrassment from what had been witnesses by my husband and child, fuming in anger with the realization that my reality was truly exposed and laid bare in front of my mother’s neighbors, and mourning the loss of an illusion that never truly existed and the fact that I tried desperately to hang on to any shred of love that I thought existed.  The following 6 months were spent soul-searching and telling myself that I am worth more than she has led me to believe.

2016 also brought some hope.  I have the support of some the most amazing people.  People who understand my quirkiness and the intricacies of what makes me, me.  The people who truly know me know that I care deeply, beyond measure really, and that I would walk to the ends of the earth for my family and friends if they needed me too.  And I now know that they would too.

So, in closing, make sure you celebrate every success, mourn every loss, care deeply, and love like it’s your last day.  I promise that you won’t regret it.

Here’s to a bright, happy, and prosperous 2017.  

An open letter to people thinking about solar

This kind of post is not going to be a regular occurrence, by any means.  But I have been dealing with what is easily the worst customer service experience I have ever had, and I need to air this grievance so that I can hopefully spare some other folks the nightmare we have been dealing with.  It is long, so grab a cup of your favorite beverage before reading.

6/30/2016 Update:  UPDATE:  I had a conversation with the Branch Manager, and was told that they got a recommendation from customer service for compensation.  The branch decided that they were going to decline the payment, since my system is in place, and the initial goal they set out to meet is met.  Doesn’t matter that not a single person I’ve spoken to throughout this whole process has taken personal accountability and followed through.  Doesn’t matter that the Branch Manager’s definition of escalating my case is allowing a Field Sales Tech handle it.  Nope, all that is okay.  They got what they wanted, at the expense of my time, trust, and happiness.  I want the panels off my house, I am no longer interested in SunRun’s attempts at “making things right”.

If you are thinking about switching to solar power for your home, and you live in Central Maryland, I urge you to think twice about using SunRun.  We have been dealing with them since March 14, 2016, if you want to count the evening I messaged a representative about a consultation.  After running the numbers against our now astronomical electric bills, switching made sense and SunRun seemed to have the best return compared to other companies I researched, so we signed up.  The site audit was pretty quick, which would have been nice if the fact that we live in a townhouse had been considered, and led to a whole host of issues later because it was not done properly (I did not realize this until installation).  All of the contract signing, design approval, and other paperwork is done electronically through DocuSign, which is nice, and the design team followed up with phone calls if there were questions to be answered.  But that is where our positive experience ended with a screeching halt.

Our installation day was tentatively scheduled to happen of May 20th, which it did, but it certainly was not problem free.  Our appointment was never confirmed by the Install team, despite the fact that I had reached out a couple of times that week leading up to 5/20, including the afternoon before.  I did, however, get a phone call at 7:58 the morning of the 20th stating that the crew got a late start and they were still at the warehouse procuring their materials (they were supposed to be at my house between 7-8 am).  They arrived close to 11:00.  At just after 12:30, a mere hour and a half after they began, I get a phone call telling me that they are having issues with placement of the PV meter and emergency shutoff.  They explained where they wanted to install it (directly next to the front door), and I swiftly denied that request, both for aesthetics and a violation of my HOA’s Architectural Covenants.  I asked them to find another suitable location, such as the back of the house or the basement wall and let me know prior to installation.  I was told that neither was possible, and they would figure it out.  I got a text message later that afternoon stating that the installation work was complete and a request for inspection was submitted.  Great!  Get home and find that the meters are installed on the SIDE OF MY TOWNHOUSE, which extends beyond my property line, into my neighbors property!  I was obviously displeased.  I also found out that there was an issue with the breaker panel that although photographically documented during the site audit, was not address during installation.

Inspection time rolls around, and after a bunch of hiccups courtesy of technology, we get it done.  And FAIL.  Which is really no surprise, considering the complete lack of attention to detail thus far.  The meter and the shutoff switch have to move from the side of the house and away from the property line, the conduit coming from the panels needs to moves as well.  Eventually, the meter wound up in the basement like I had originally asked for, and the shutoff went next to the meter for our utility company.  It took several visits, none of which were confirmed by the branch, by me having to hound them constantly for information and confirmed appointment dates and times.  To say that I was angry at this point is an understatement of unimaginable proportions.  Today is June 24, 2016.  We have been working on this installation project for over a month.  One month and 4 days, to be exact, to install solar panels on a 1000 square foot townhouse.  I have destroyed sided, a flower bed that has been trampled, a hole in my roof and the soffit that now has conduit running through it, and 12 solar panels that I now really have ZERO desire to turn on, because the thought of continuing to do business with SunRun makes me both angry and incredibly anxious.  I literally BEGGED to the point of tears, Michael Maier (Central Maryland Branch Manager), Michael Guilano (Northeast Regional Sales Manager), and Patrick Donahue (Northeast Regional Operations Manager) at several points during this debacle to get the panels off my house and just put it back the way it was, but I let myself get talked into completing the project with promises of compensation for our frustration and lost time.  Guess who I have not heard a peep from in over a week, now that installation is complete?  At the very least, the Regional guys, each of whom assured me that they would personally take accountability for the myriad issues experienced during this project.

So, the end result is that yes, I have a solar system on my house.  Am I happy about it?  Not in the least.  And at this point, despite all the promises made to rectify all the wrongs, none of which have come to fruition (like using nearly a dozen opportunities for improving customer service as it relates to scheduling and confirming appointments, both directly out of the branch and with sub-contractors!).  As it stands, SunRun is the only one benefitting from this situation.  My husband and I?  We still don’t want to be dealing with you, and will stand by our statement that agreeing to do business with your company has been one of our most regrettable home-related decisions to date.


Regina and Thomas Johnson

30 Random Thoughts at 12:47 am

  1.  Why can’t I sleep?
  2. I really hope the solar guys have their shit together tomorrow.
  3. I have math homework to do, maybe I should do it now…
  4. What should I make for dinner tomorrow?
  5. I hope Little Bean is sleeping okay, poor kiddo sure was mad at me about those shots.
  6. Mmmmmm, shots.
  7. I’m hungry
  8. Why don’t I pop onto Facebook for a bit.  Surely it’s boring enough at this time of night to lull me to sleep.
  9. *Falls down a Buzzfeed rabbit hole, thanks to an article about adorable puppies*
  10. Well, that didn’t work.  I should draft an email to the solar guy, just in case they manage to screw up tomorrow’s appointment too.
  11. Is Little Bean crying?  *goes across hall to check, not crying*
  12. Ugh, it’s 3 am?!?!
  13. What was that noise outside my window?
  14. What was that noise outside my door?!?!?!?!?
  15. Did I log out of my work computer?
  16. How hard would it be to fix the corner of pantry cabinet, where Dog chewed?
  17. I need to remember to price out railings for the front steps.
  18. Maybe I should price railing for the inside stairs too.  The current ones are FUGLY.
  19. I kind of want to paint downstairs too.  I should figure out he square footage of the living room and kitchen and price out paint.
  20. Shit, I have math homework to do!
  21. I have a quiz due too!!
  22. 3:07?  SERIOUSLY?!?!
  23. Okay, I’m just going to lay here quietly, and think about nothing.
  24. …..
  25. *3:08*
  26. Pinterest, here I come!
  27. I am still amazed at how many ways one can reuse a pallet.  Reclaimed wood Squatty Potty FTW!
  28. I need to remember to weed the flower beds tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain.
  29. Okay, last attempt at sleep before my alarm goes off at 5:45.
  30. *5:30 alarm goes off* DAMMIT!!!

So Many Thoughts, So Little Time

This past weekend, as you all may be well aware, was Memorial Day weekend.  A weekend during which we honor the fallen service members that gave the ultimate sacrifice so that this great nation can remain the Land of the Free.  It is also apparently, in the 21st century, a weekend during which the interwebs erupt in passive aggressive posts on how the world is not taking the holiday seriously, honoring the wrong people (according to most, the people who didn’t have the audacity to die in combat aren’t deserving of our thanks.  That’s what Armed Forces Day and Veteran’s Day is for, duh), and in some people’s eyes, it is not a day for BBQs and family gatherings at all.  I have seen arguments galore on the subject, and it really baffles me.  Just celebrate respectfully, just as one should for any holiday.

This past weekend also saw the death of Harambe, a 400 lb. Silverback Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo.  He was put down after a 4-year old child climbed into his enclosure.  Almost as soon as the shots were fired, it seemed, the courts of public opinion were on the case; blame was instantly placed on the mother, labeling her a neglectful, irresponsible, and a bad mother, among other things.  Blame was also laid upon the heads of the zoo and staff, for not making sure that the enclosure was secure enough to keep people out of the habitat.  The blame game was, and still is, in full swing with no end in sight.  In the end, a child was injured and an endangered animal is dead.  Maybe instead of pointing fingers, we should all just stop trying to vilify everyone involved and start trying to find ways to make sure that something like this never happens again.  And the argument of “The barrier worked for 38 years, so obviously it was totally the mom’s fault!!!!!@@!#!!!111!” is as flawed an argument as I’ve ever seen.  Ever hear the old adage “There’s a first time for everything.”?  This would be a prime example of that.  And now the zoo has the task of not only going over the entire incident in an effort to reinforce the gorilla enclosure in advance of if or when if ever reopens, so that this never happens again, it also has to do damage control in the wake of what has certainly been a weekend of bad publicity in the wake of an incident that really should never happened in the first place, no matter who’s to blame.

I’m sure I missed some other big happenings out there in cyberworld this weekend, but I was busy with Little Bean’s 4th birthday and all that goes along with it.  These are the things that stood out to me.  And while I am fully aware that my opinions on these topics are a tiny drop in a very large bucket, they are just as valid as the next guys.  They are also merely that: opinions, and in now way do I expect them to be popular or persuasive in any way.

Till next time, peeps!

Two for One Day!!!

I warned you all on the last post that there were changes coming!  Well, here they are.  New hosting site, new look, same old me.  One sassy-pants wearing Monkey Mama.  I almost changed the name of the blog altogether, for the sake of all things crazy, but decided against it.  I felt like I needed a little bit of the old blog to carry over.  I will be tagging other blogs that I follow as time goes on, for no other reason than these bloggers are people that I know, people that inspire me, and that I want to share with the world.  There is not a person in this world who doesn’t need a little inspiration every now and then, right?

So, it is Memorial Day Weekend.  The weekend that my Monkey turns 4.  A weekend for reflection and thanks for the sacrifices made by service members to ensure that we live in a safe and free nation.  It also the unofficial start of summer!  I hope that each and everyone of my friends, family, and new readers takes some time for reflection, and has a safe and happy holiday!  I’ll be back soon (I promise!).