Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

I have great friends.  Super talented friends.  Like incredibly talented friends.  Last week sometime I made the rare trip to the mailbox.  It's always filled with letters addressed to the former resident and Aldi flyers.  That's about it.  Occasionally there is a Shape magazine that doesn't get read or an In Style magazine that almost always does.  But last week was different.  Last week I got a package.  Several packages, actually, but this first one was awesome.  It contained cookies.  Now, let me clarify where I am in life.  After months of working hard to lose about 17 pounds on Weight Watchers, I have recently just sort of resigned myself to a month of weight watchers slacking.  I am getting married, I tell myself.  I am stressed.  I will get right back to it once we are back from the honeymoon.  And I will.  For real.  But basically, I never eat cookies.  Never.  And these cookies were in cutesy little bags.  I love cookies and I love cutesy little bags.
And inside these little bags were these.
The picture is difficult to see, maybe, but let me tell you, these cookies looked delicious.  They were from Honeysuckle Cove Confections, a home based business owned by my sweet friend Jennifer Powers.  I had no idea she had this going on, and I was excited to try the cookies.  Seriously, I love cookies, cakes, and brownies.  So, here's a little review of the cookies she sent.  And of course, I tried them all.  I was forced to, in order to write a fair review.  
  • Lime Tea Cookies: These cookies were the perfect balance of sweet and sour.  They were soft and I could have eaten them all at once.  They were also cute little shapes, and after checking out her etsy store, I found that Jennifer makes them in all kinds of shapes.  So cute.  
  • Cherry Blossoms: I love cherry flavoring.  These were the same texture as the tea cookies, but they obviously had a distinct cherry flavoring.  Otherwise, they could have been the same recipe as the lime ones, minus the lime, of course. They were fantastic.
  • Lemon Thins: These little guys were sprinkled with powdered sugar, which I love, and they were a little chewier than the first two.  They were still very good, and I love lemon flavored things.  
  • Lemon Poppy Seed Slices:  I admit that I was skeptical about these.  I think poppy seeds are kind of funny.  In cookies, though, they look fancy.  I do like being fancy, so I tried one.  And they tasted like lemon cookies with poppy seeds.  They were good, but not my favorites. 
  • Lavender Vanilla Pillows: Okay, so here's the truth.  The second I read "Lavender" and "Pillows" in the name, I was super iffy about trying these.  Lavender is great in lotions and massage oils, but cookies?  I was unsure.  But oh my goodness.  I have never been so wrong.  These things probably contain huge amounts of lard or something horrible for you because they are amazing.  They are melt-in-your-mouth fabulous, and I don't even like saying those kinds of things.  These were easily my favorites, although I should have waited to eat them with tea or coffee.  But the word "pillows" is indeed the perfect word to describe these.  Nice work, Jennifer.
You should definitely check out her etsy store and her cookies.  And since I have sworn off cookies for the next nine days so that I can fit into my wedding dress, have some lavender vanilla pillows on my behalf.  

Here are some other amazingly talented friends of mine and their websites.

Super creative artistic people:

Plan B Designs by Becky Williams (brilliant mother of two, nanny of one, small business owner, and still manages to change her hairstyle and color every 3 weeks)

Bear River Photo Greetings by Angie Ochoa (supermom of three and one of the sweetest friends that I have no yet met face-to-face)

4 Story Graphics by Sean Lock (friend of my fiance and father of the sweet little Emma that looks just like him, only cuter)

Art with no name by Laura Shackelford (one of my Ethiopia trip friends and an artist that should be promoting her art more than she does... she is brilliant)

Brilliant Photographers:

Unearthed Photography by Jennifer Smith (DFW friends, check out our engagement pictures for her credentials!)

His Fingerprint Photography by Jill Phillips (one of my sweet friends from college, mother of two beautiful girls... she loves photography and it shows! Check her out if you are in the Springfield, Missouri area!)

Epic Moments by Melissa Vaughn (another friend from college... she takes beautiful photographs and she has a beautiful studio and is just plain beautiful)

Accomplished Authors:

April Gardner, author of Wounded Spirits.  You can buy her book here.  (a friend from college that married one of my favorite high school friends, mommy of two, and finds time to be wrapped up in a million different creative projects for writers)

Jen Stephens, author of The Heart's Journey Home and the upcoming book, The Heart's Lullaby.  You can purchase here and here. (a sweet friend, a teacher, mother of two beautiful girls, and she manages to squeeze in time to write novels)

Steve Fuller, author of The Sickness and The Ripple.  On Kindle here and here.  (a blogger that claims to make tutus.  Honestly, though, he tends to just make people mad.  He is opinionated and smart and controversial, and in 2009, he conducted The Church Experiment, 52 Churches in 52 weeks, which is worth reading. One of my favorite people that I don't really know in real life.)


Adoption Fundraising at 117 Project by Amanda Workman, who blogs here. (Fundraiser for adoption for Scott and Rachel Todd which you can read about here.)

Stay at home mommy funding at Scentsy by Anna Daniel.  (She doesn't make the candles, but she makes babies and that's way harder)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Here's a Quarter (Call someone who cares)

Today is one of those days that I need a quarter.  Actually, I don't think a quarter will even place a phone call... if I were fortunate unfortunate enough to come across a germ-infested, greasy, stranger's-ear-wax-coated pay phone.  I have a wedding in 16 days, and in addition to the three pounds that I have gained due to happy eating, I seemed to have accumulated a decent number of problems that I can't solve.  They are small problems, and in a world filled with disease and disaster, they look incredibly insignificant.  But they are mine, and I am getting married.  And in the words of my sweet girlfriend Heidi (who had all the makings for Bridezilla but thankfully didn't turn into one when it was her turn), "It's MY day!".  Well, it's Jake's day, too, but I assure you that he isn't stressed over the floral arrangement for the cake table.  So here they are, the problems I can't solve.

Getting dressed.  The wedding is at noon in Fort Worth at the Japanese Gardens.  Pictures start at 10:30-ish in Fort Worth.  I will be getting my hair done in Arlington in the morning, and there is no bridal room available at the Japanese Gardens in which to change into my dress (and I don't want to wear it for the ride across town from the hairdresser's to the gardens).  At the gardens there is only a bathroom.  It is clean, but it is a bathroom.  It's the equivalent of changing in an Chick-fil-a restroom... clean and practical with nice smelling soap, but not romantic.  Not even a little.  I also need a place to freshen up between pictures and the ceremony.  Freshen up = more deodorant and more concealer and more curling iron and more hairspray.  My original thought?  Hotel room... easy.  Only not, because TCU's graduation is the same day and every hotel for a million miles around is booked.

The cake.  It's coming from Grand Prairie.  Will be picked up around 9.  And we don't get to set up at the reception venue until 12:30.  Texas heat + buttercream frosting =  buttery sugary soup.  The hotel room idea would have worked to store the cake, but again, not an option.

A musician.  There are officially two wedding musicians listed on Craigslist in the DFW area.  One is a strange looking classical guitarist who is not available on Saturdays... ever.  The other is a solo violinist whose youtube video needs some auto tuning or she needs some more violin lessons.  Violins are beautiful instruments when played well.  I will leave it at that.

Bridesmaids shoes.  What on earth goes with charcoal gray dresses?  Red, right?  Wrong.  Because the wedding is orange and gray.  So we need orange or coral, and the only cute shoes I have found in those colors are $65.  No way.  So maybe silver?  Black?  I have no idea.  16 days.  No.  Idea.

Origami birds.  I have some folded.  Probably 65-70.  Not nearly enough, but those are easy.  I have yet to start stringing them, though.  This, I fear, is the time consuming task.  There was talk of a crane folding party, and there still may be one in the next 16 days.  Be waiting on the edge of your seats for your Facebook invite to that.

The dress.  There are last minute details that can be added.  A colored sash.  Tiny sleeves.  Should I?  Shouldn't I?  Should I wear a necklace and if so, what color?  I scoured for an hour yesterday and came up with 30 different things that I love.  There's this one.  And this one.  Or this one.  And I love this, and then there are these that match.  See?  It's hard to choose.

There are probably at least 20 other little tiny decisions that need to be made that I have not even addressed here.  But here is the truth.  I have the hard decisions made.  I have a super cool guy that loves Jesus and loves me, and he wants to get married.  So that was an easy one.  Rings are bought.  Marriage license is purchased.  We both have wedding attire.  So really, we could get married tomorrow.  We won't... mainly because it's Good Friday and I don't think that government offices are open so the J.P. is out.  And because in 16 days, we have a very small group of friends and family coming together to help us celebrate our big day.

So I might be changing in the local Arby's bathroom.  I might have to redo my makeup using a compact mirror.  I might have Letty shellac my hair with hairspray so that it doesn't move at all and doesn't require touchups.  The bridesmaids might be barefoot and the wedding party may have to hum "Here Comes the Bride" as I walk down a little stone pathway to the hill arbor where there may or may not be origami birds hanging.  And I might not decide anything about the dress and jewelry and just stick with plain old wedding white.  We may have to serve the soggy cake with spoons.  And I won't mind any of these things.  Because at the end of the day (literally), I will be married to the coolest guy west of the Mississippi (and probably east, too, come to think of it).  And then we will board a plane for an expensive, extravagant, all-inclusive honeymoon in Cancun.  So, on second thought, I could probably still use that quarter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Simple Gifts

I like presents.  Really, I do. I like presents of all kinds, except the kind that you get in a dirty Santa game... the kind that get taken away from you if they are fabulous.  I hate those kind.  And I like presents or little surprises that are unexpected.  Birthdays and holidays, you kind of know it's coming.  So while the gift is appreciated, there is always a teensy bit of obligation wrapped up in that pretty box containing a scarf and a sweater.  An out-of-the-blue gift is always my favorite.

Right after announcing our engagement on Facebook, the place where all good news goes viral, Jake received a message from a friend of his offering to help us out with engagement pictures.  When you meet, get engaged, and get married within a 3 month period, there are certain things you kind of expect to forego.  Engagement pictures were on the list of things I thought we wouldn't fit in.  And here it was, the opportunity to preserve this moment in time in picture form.  Anyone who really knows me knows that I am all about preserving moments, places I have been, and meals I have eaten... with pictures.  Check out my 100+ Facebook photo albums for proof.

We scheduled a photo shoot for last Saturday.  Jake and I spent the day shopping for new clothes, and at the end of the day, Jake had several bags of new things and I had nothing.  It was a typical case of "When I don't need something, I find a million things I want.  When I need something, I find nothing".  I had a few outfits in mind, and I went home to try them on, only to find that my lunch on the patio at Gloria's had left me with a weird, noticeable tan line that would not work with my favorite shirt.  My Plan B dress had gotten about 4 inches shorter than I remember it, and was more fitting to be worn as a shirt than a dress.  In my frustration, I quickly dressed in an outfit that I did not love, grabbed my makeup to be finished in the car, and headed to go take engagement pictures.

Our photographer, Jennifer Smith (click her name to check out her work!) is super talented and was incredibly fun to work with.  Posing for pictures is awkward to say the least, and Jake and I had difficulty keeping a straight face.  We would never make it on America's Top Model.  But we walked up and down the streets of Deep Ellum, and we had a great time trying to look natural.  Jennifer had great ideas, and she laughed right along with us as we laughed at ourselves.  And in the end, I had such a good time that I completely forgot that I was not wearing a cute new outfit.  

Last night was a weird night.  Jake and I received some bad news, and we were sitting around consoling one another and trying to figure out exactly what to feel about it.  We both checked our messages and found that Jennifer had finished editing our pictures.  Within an hour, we had an email with almost 20 pictures of our fun afternoon in Dallas.  And they were awesome.  We do not look like supermodels.  I don't think I am sucking in my stomach in even one picture, and it shows.  We are laughing in most of them.  As I scrolled through the photos, I took a break from the tears, and we laughed.  Simple gifts.  Jennifer didn't know that we needed those pictures just then, but God did.

I don't believe in coincidence.  I believe in the providence and sovereignty of God.  I also believe that James 1:17 is true when it says that every good and perfect gift is from above.  And so, in the kindness and thoughtfulness of others, I get to experience the goodness of God.  And over the last few weeks, I have experienced it.  Perfectly beautiful wedding invitations.  Origami crane folding (and buying, Becky!) friends all over the country.  Running across the words "I Love Julie" scrawled into a concrete sidewalk while taking engagement pictures. Towels perfectly folded by my handsome soon-to-be-husband.  Praying friends that are just one phone call or text away.  Simple gifts.  And I am incredibly thankful.        

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coming out of the Closet (How I am halfway to my own episode of Hoarders)

My best friend Joanna (also mentioned here) was at my house to stay the night.  I was probably 14 years old.  Joanna is half Korean and half American, and back then, everyone talked about how she looked like the Miko doll that Barbie put out in the 80's.  She had beautiful tan skin and long, thick, dark hair.  She went to gymnastics (something I had always wanted to do) and she was far more athletic than I.  I was older than she was, and we were great friends, but I always struggled with feeling just a little inferior.  It mostly came down to money.  Joanna's family had money, and mine did not.  I felt like I could make up for everything else that I lacked, but money... well, my lack of it showed up in everything.  My house, my neighborhood, my clothes.  There wasn't much I could do about it.  Except get a job.  And get a job I did.  I started babysitting at the age of 13.  I bought my own makeup and clothes, and I did my best to never have to ask my parents for money.  When I started high school, I worked for my dad before and after school and with my regular paycheck, I filled my closet with the treasures I accumulated on my shopping trips with Joanna.  We had a regular habit of being dropped off at the Olive Garden for lunch, and then we would walk across the parking lot to Padre Staples Mall and shop for clothes and Hallmark cards and overpriced cookies from the food court.

On this particular night, Joanna and I were hanging out in my room and my closet door was standing open.  I happened to notice that very few things hung in my closet.  I instantly wondered what she would think.  It's crazy that I even cared... incredibly silly.  So, I did something stupid.  I showed her the "ironing closet".  As an adult, I now realize that ironing closets do not exist in most homes.  My mother, though, is a wrinkle Nazi.  She would take iron-worthy clothing out of the dryer, put it into baskets, and then store it in a giant hall closet, awaiting the iron and spray starch.  But I showed Joanna the ironing closet thinking that she would be impressed with the piles of clothes that I actually did own, even though they were wrinkled and not hanging in my closet.  My mother saw me do this, and I remember being reprimanded sharply for it.  I thought I was saying, "Look, I really do have clothes".  My mom saw me communicating, "Look at all the work my mom hasn't been doing".  It's kind of a weird story to stick in my head, but yesterday, memories of my empty closet days came flooding back to me.  Yesterday, I did the seasonal clothing transfer.

I don't know if anyone else does this, but somewhere in my adult life, I realized that it was pointless to keep tank tops and bathing suits in my drawers and closets throughout the winter.  So twice I year, I drag out oversized Rubbermaid containers filled with either "Fall/Winter" or "Spring/Summer" and I make the switch from container to closet.  And vice versa with the other set (or vice-ah versa for those of you who insist on saying things that aren't real words).  This season's transfer was more critical and necessary than those that came before it, because in less than a month, someone else will be moving into my tiny apartment, and seriously, there is no room for him.  Well, for him, yes.  For his stuff, not really.  So in the spirit of cooperation and sharing, I decided that I would attempt to give him his own closet.  Generous of me, I know.  There are three closets in my apartment.  One coat closet in the entryway and two small closets in the bedroom.  All three are full.  So, yesterday morning, I got trash bags.  Well, actually, Jake got trash bags.  And we spent the first half of a very rare shared day off sorting through clothing.  (Have I mentioned what a great guy I am marrying?)

Piles of ill fitting clothing
Years of changing from size 4's to 6's to 8's and back to 6's and 4's  
The size 2 capri pants that I fit into only because they are stretch  (I wish the size was on the outside of those things)  
A dress my friend Jamie bought me in China
The shirt that I wore to my 30th birthday party
8 pairs of black shorts, 7 of which are incredibly unflattering
6 pairs of Ann Taylor Loft pants with tags still attached because they went out of style before I got to wear them
My autographed Colbie Caillat t-shirt
5 pairs of knee length shorts (2 with tags) that always made me look fatter than I actually am
Brand new flip flops, purchased at the end of last summer for a dollar
Purses that haven't been used in a year or so, complete with old receipts, gum wrappers, and 10 expired Chick-fil-A coupons for a free spicy chicken sandwich

Six trash bags of clothing and shoes to donate.  14-year-old me would have been proud.  Impressed, even.  34-year-old me was just annoyed.  Seriously, where the heck did all of this stuff come from?  Oh yeah, I have a love affair with clothes and shoes.  I watched the look on Jake's face as I opened each container and took out handfuls of hangers from the closet.  (You better run now, honey.  In three and a half weeks, it's for better or for worse.  For richer AND for poorer.)  In the end, I looked at the six bags of clothing and purses and shoes and I was proud of all that I had accomplished.  Jake looked at pile of clothing that I was keeping and said, "You didn't even make a dent in it".  Pessimist.

At the moment, what's left of my Spring/Summer collection is sitting in a huge heap on my desk in my bedroom.  I have come to the realization that I will most likely be filling up more trash bags as I try to condense three closets worth of junk into two.  Right now, it is looking like the impossible dream.  I will persevere.  And don't worry, Jake.  You will probably get your own closet.  You can keep it neat and tidy.  You can organize all of your things by color and type, and you can hang your clothes on matching hangers.  But for the next three and half weeks, if any of you wonder where I am, I will be in my room sorting through piles of clothing, making room for a husband.        


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We're all Yearning for Something

In my most blind moments, I think that women without children live luxurious, carefree lives, filled with nothing but cosmopolitans, bikinis, and well-maintained highlights.  I find that the phrase "She's let herself go" fills me with terror and guilt and panic as I look down at my jagged dirty fingernails and overly soft tummy.  I am she, certainly.  And then I realize that as much as I want my friend's abs, she wants a baby, and we're all yearning for something. - Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

She had been calling me for weeks, saying that we need to get together.  I was honestly in no frame of mind to get together with anyone.  I avoided phone calls.  I slept a lot.  I did my best to try not distract myself from feeling the loss of the kids that I had mothered for three years and the husband I had loved for longer.  Since I don't drink, sleep was the best distraction.

Jill Gierucki is one of my best girlfriends.  She was my teacher's assistant in my first teaching job, and we spent hours loving kids and muddling through a whole year's worth of curriculum that I was certainly unqualified to teach.  We have been together through changing seasons and boyfriends and churches and jobs.  We fought a little and forgave and came back together to attend each other's weddings and to see each other happy.  We have spent hours shopping and scrapbooking and drinking coffee and eating ice cream and talking about our lives and relationships.  

But during this particular time, I was struggling.  I was having a difficult time keeping up my friendships, mainly because I didn't want to talk to anyone.  Talking about things, saying them out loud, made them more real and more capable of hurting me.  So it was easier to not talk about them.  Which meant I had to avoid friends because friends like to talk.  But after several weeks, I knew I had to give in and call her.  It was work, really, to pick up the phone and call anyone.  I did it, though, and we made plans to have dinner.

As I drove through Nashville, on the hour drive from my place to Demos' restaurant, where I was meeting Jill, I called my mom.  This day had been a particularly bad one, and I was stuck in "this is not fair" mode.  Why hadn't my marriage worked?  Why couldn't we have kids?  Why did I lose the ones that I spent time and energy to raise?  And didn't I deserve to have a normal husband and a normal family?  I cried as I drove past the Nashville skyline, trying to keep my eyes clear enough to see the road.  My mom listened and reassured me, and I did my best to pull myself together long enough to have dinner with Jill.

We sat in a table in one of the back corners of the restaurant.  I ordered what I always order from Demos', a 7 oz. sirloin with spaghetti cooked with brown butter and garlic and a sweet tea.  Jill nervously held a little white envelope in her hand as we talked.  Then, she couldn't wait any longer, and she handed me the envelope of pictures.  "I want you to see my baby", she said.  I opened the envelope to find sketchy black and white ultrasound pictures of the most perfect little baby.  My instant reaction was to cry.  I was happy for her, don't get me wrong.  I was thrilled that she and her husband Bobby were going to have a baby.  But I was sad for me.  I was sad that the things that I wanted, she was getting.  I have no idea what I said at the time, how I explained my tears.  I guess maybe she thought they were tears of joy, and they were.  Halfway, anyway.  But her happiness what a reminder of what I didn't have, couldn't have, right then.  And that moment was just as painful as it was precious.

Thankfully, a new job moved me closer to Jill, and I was able to be there to see her growing belly.  I attended her baby shower, where we all oohed and aahed at the tiny baby things she opened.  I was genuinely happy for her when sweet little Abby arrived, all fragile and pink.  I felt helpless as Jill struggled through her first months of interrupted sleep and was proud of how she sweetly adjusted to her new life as a mom.  And when Bobby and Jill needed a night out, I was right there, proud to be Abby's first non-family babysitter.

Last time I was in Nashville, I went to visit the growing Gierucki family.  Sweet little Aiden was born last summer, and Abby is now a big sister.  Both kids had just gotten up from a nap, and I got to hold Aiden with his sweet, kissable cheeks.  We sat out in the sun on their back patio, enjoying the break from the weird tornado weather that had been.  The sky was beautiful and so was the time spent with their little family.  I mentioned that I was still a little jealous of her little life with two small children and playdates and potty training.  She said that she was a little jealous of my life of singleness and freedom.  And I thought of the line in the book Bittersweet.... we are all yearning for something.  A small waistline.  A kid-free trip to anywhere.  A baby.  Another baby.  Friendship.  A boyfriend.  A husband.  Financial freedom.  A youthful reflection in the mirror.  Non sagging body parts.  Purpose.  Fulfillment.
The yearning isn't wrong.  It just is.  And some of the things we yearn for are things that are lost forever.  But not all of them.  Some of them are just around the corner and will be here before we know it.

I am getting married, and I am hopeful that we will see no obstacles to the typical "Get married, have babies" plan.  And Jill, who is several years ahead of me in the mothering game, will see her kids get older and go to school and she will have some of the freedom that she is missing right now.  And when we both finally get to that place where we think we want to be, we will be thankful for what we have, but will probably yearning for something else.  That is life.  It's just the way things go, and that is fine.
The view behind Bobby and Jill's house.

Jill and Aiden

Sweet Abby, all grown up

I love these babies.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Hate You, Wells Fargo

My name is Julie, and I am impatient.  I blame genetics.  I come from a long line of impatient people.  I am getting better, though.  I listen to Ray LaMontagne and Denison Witmer in traffic to calm my nerves.  I read magazine articles about Reese Witherspoon's wedding and the latest fashion trends for spring while in the grocery store line.  I am still waiting for the toe ring to make a comeback.  I can even entertain myself with games of Words with Friends while waiting in line at the post office.  But the bank.  Oh my.... the bank.  Well, frankly, they drive me nuts.

When I moved to Texas, I had an account with Regions bank.  The Tennessee location that I used was great.  Friendly people, great service, quick drive thru.  The Texas location, not so much.  I don't know what these people were up to, but in the 10 minutes that it took for them to process my weekly deposits, they conveyed their intentions probably 4-5 times.

We're working on that transaction, Ms. Munroe.
We'll get this right out to you, Ms. Munroe.
We just need one more minute and we'll wrap this up, Ms. Munroe.
Is there anything else we can do for you, Ms. Munroe?

Um, yes, actually, there is.  You can stop talking to me about depositing my money, and you can just deposit it.  That would be great, thanks.

So I switched banks.  Onto Wachovia, maybe the best bank ever.  They had a great savings account that automatically moved money into my savings account every time I used my debit card.  Free overdraft protection was available with the savings account.  No weird extra charges.  Their drive thru lines were quick and efficient.  Plus, my paychecks were drawn on Wachovia so no wait time for the checks to clear.  Just instant access.

And then, the unthinkable happened.  Wachovia was purchased by the evil Wells Fargo.  I was hopeful at first.  Nonchalant, even, about the change.  But then I started noticing little charges.  Ten dollar fees if I ever ran low on my checking account and they took funds from my savings.  Twelve dollar charges if I withdrew from my savings account more often than they thought I should.  But the biggest change was in the drive thru.

I imagine that Wells Fargo sent out memos when the switch was made.  New policies, new procedures.  And I believe that these instructions (or something very similar) were included.

  1. Charge for everything.  Everything the customer does should cost them money.  Checking account? Yep, it costs.  Savings account?  That'll cost, too.  Lollipops?  I can't believe we've been giving those away for years.  Those should cost, too.
  2. Stock up on magazines and snacks.  You will be needing to keep yourself occupied during the busiest time of day.  Read at least one article and consume at least one snack or drink between each step of each transaction with each customer.
  3. Always pretend like you don't know what the customer wants you to do.  Act very confused.  Did they include a signed check and a completed deposit slip?  It might LOOK like they want to make a deposit, but you can't be too careful.  Did the customer include a signed check and two forms of ID and no deposit slip?  Don't assume they want the check cashed, even though they come by every single week and want the same thing.  Always ask, just to be sure.  That'll drive 'em nuts.
The Wells Fargo employees complied nicely.  They followed each step carefully.  So I changed banks.  Again.  This time to Chase, complete with fast drive thru lines and iPhone check depositing capabilities.  Ah, Chase, how I love you!

But... sometimes I need to cash my paycheck.  So about three months ago, I went to the cursed Wells Fargo to cash my check.  And guess what?  It costs $10 to do that if you do not have an account.  Seriously?  I was not happy.  So, I chose what I considered to be the lesser evil, and I opened up another checking account with them so I could cash my paycheck for free if ever I needed to.  Once I was inside the branch, they explained that free checking required a savings account, complete with scheduled transfer, for it to be free.  Of course it does.  So I reluctantly opened two accounts with the bank that I hate, arranged the necessary $25 monthly transfer from checking to savings, and I cashed my paycheck.  For free.

I have only cashed my check three times since then.  Three times.  And each time, I have sent my checks and necessary identification and no deposit slip.  Each time they have acted like they weren't sure what to do with it.  Way to follow procedure, guys.  And I time them.  I don't know why, because I am always frustrated with the results.  It never takes less than 8 minutes.  Never.  I think they see me coming, and they grab a copy of US Weekly and a candy bar and prop their feet up for a quick break.  Every time.

Yesterday Jake and I went by to cash my check.  He pushed the "Call Teller" button for me, and then I decided that I didn't have a question after all.  But never fear, the teller never acknowledged our presence anyway.  I sent in my checks, the teller asked the same "What the heck am I supposed to do with this?" question that she always asks.  And I answered.  Then she insisted that she needed my Wells Fargo card as a second form of ID instead of a different kind of debit card.  Yes, fine, thank you for making this transaction longer and more difficult than it has to be.  And then how do I want my bills.  And then we will get this transaction taken care of and get this receipt out to you.  And somewhere along the way, I am sure she browsed bikini pictures of Hollywood's skinniest celebrities on and ate a Butterfinger.  And then finally, we were done.  Most stressful part of my day over with.

One day things could be different.  Maybe Wells Fargo will be purchased by a nice bank, and they will stop charging stupid fees and they will provide real, actual service to people.  But until that day comes, let me be clear.  I hate you, Wells Fargo.  I really, really do.



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