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Cruel Summer

By M Davies   /     Aug 17, 2013  /     Family, Into the Void  /     3 Comments

To quote Bananarama, it’s been a “Cruel Cruel Summer”.  I’ve been on an an emotional roller coaster since May.  It all started back in May, which may have only been 3 months ago, but feels like it was 3 years ago.  I was invited to my Aunt’s 85th birthday party.  It was also the weekend of Mother’s Day, when my car’s tire decided to blow up miles from home in Blakeslee.  I went to my Aunt’s birthday party Saturday and then worked on my Mother’s computer and took it back up her house on Sunday.  With the tire blowing up, I ended up having issues getting to work on Monday because I had to get it patched.  It was not a fun time at all.  A few weeks later, the tire got a huge bubble:





This was also the weekend I found out that my car doesn’t have a spare, the emergency road kit provided by Fiat does jackshit for a tire bubble, and the road side assistance package only covers tows to the dealership…which by the way doesn’t deal with tires.  Like at all.  I ended up taking the car to Firestone in Wilkes-Barre and having 4 new tires put on, along with them getting mounted, balanced and whatever other services they managed to con me into at the time.  How did I get a bubble in my tire you ask?  Well, it’s pretty much because Old Rte 115 and Hillside Road were in such disrepair that there’s no way to avoid potholes.  I attempted to call Lehman Township to complain about this, but they told me that these are county roads.  Great.  Basically, good luck talking to anyone at the Courthouse.  I don’t have that type time of to waste.  So I took to a letter writing campaign with my state representative Karen Boback and received this response back:




And within the last two weeks, all of the problem areas were patched/paved in Lehman Twp.  Bitches get stuff done.


In June, exactly 1 month to the day after my aunt’s birthday party, she was in hospice and died.  It was very upsetting for me because she was the last living member of that side of the family.  She called me every Christmas to catch up.  I’ve been missing those call in recent years because of work, plus she’d call my home phone which I never monitor.  She was there trying to comfort us when my Grandmother passed away.  The thing that kills me, is that she was found in almost the same way that my Grandmother was.  A relative came over to the house and she was found unresponsive.  It’s no secret that heart/stroke issues happen on that side of the family, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow either.  My aunt, who would give you the shirt off of her back, donated her body to science.  Hopefully, new medical students and the science community can use her to help find a cure for heart disease or something like that.  We didn’t have a memorial service for her at first because my cousin was in Afghanistan.  When he returned in July, we had the memorial service.


Here are some photos from the birthday party that I will cherish forever:



Also, on the same day that my aunt died in June, my neighbors had one of their horses put down.





The other horse was taken to a nearby farm.  So…no more horses next door.  It definitely smells better, but it’s upsetting not seeing them every morning.  The neighbors are working on taking down their electric fence and cleaning up the yard.


Last week, I visited Allentown to tape an episode of “Save the Kales” a vegan cooking show that airs in the Lehigh Valley on RCN cable.  The host, Jaime Karpovich, was one of the presenters at last year’s NEPA BlogCon, and she will be presenting again this year with Christina Hitchcock of “It’s a Keeper“.  Speaking of NEPA BlogCon, TICKET SALES OPEN IN 3 DAYS.  OMG.  I am going to be infinitely busy for the next 8 weeks doing the conference planning thing.  Please forgive me in advance if you find me in a corner rocking back and forth whispering the names of blogging platforms to myself.


Here’s a picture behind the scenes at Save the Kales:




Also last week, I went to the Raising the Roof Rooftop Party in downtown Wilkes-Barre with Karla and Stewie.  We made the Electric City.



Also, we had to put my dog down.  He was 13 years old and was having trouble with arthritis and controlling his bladder.  It was upsetting.  I still have a hard time thinking about it without tearing up.  Many people have asked me if there will be a new dog.  I just can’t even think of that right now.  It doesn’t seem right.




Last week, I was given a new responsibility at work of tweeting from the @WNEP twitter account.  It’s been an interesting experience so far.  We had an Amber Alert go out for a girl taken from Schuylkill county.  As information was coming out about the kidnapper, I was tweeting about it and also live tweeting the update when she was found.  I even got to use “BREAKING” in a tweet and have it be about a real thing.  My tweets were retweeted by many and I have no doubt that getting the information to go viral assisted in getting the girl returned safely home.  It’s amazing to see the power of social media in action.


Wednesday evening, after working two 10 hour days, I was contacted by a long lost relative.  “The missing link” if you will. My grandfather’s family has always been hard to trace because of the last name being spelled six different ways – so I turned to Facebook – and I found someone that’s spells it Hryvniak and sent them a message for the hell of it. Guess. What. His great-grandfather and my great-grandfather were brothers. Alex and Dmytro have been reunited at long last from beyond the grave! I cannot believe it.  I called John on Thursday night, and we decided that we are cousins based on what his Dad has told him so far.  He’s digging through his house to find more information about the family tree.  I am planning on writing an extended blog post about all of this very soon.  Stay tuned!


I’m ready for the summer to be over and for the roller coaster ride to end.  It’s just all been too much to cope with.  Here’s to more peaceful times.


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By M Davies   /     Jun 26, 2012  /     Family, Into the Void  /     3 Comments

Today is my 7th Blogiversary, controversy not withstanding.  I was nearly dooced halfway through this journey, by my employer at the time (Big Red Telephone Company).  My first post can be found here.  I’ve blogged for much longer than 7 years, but I deleted the content from my first Diaryland journal.  However, I never deleted the journal itself.  I keep it active to redirect previous readers to my new URL.  I’ve owned my own domain for even longer than that.  My first few posts talk about my journey with pregnancy and being a first time mother.  My daughter is now 7 bratty years of age and I have a son who will be 6 next month.


I have had 9 different jobs since I started this blog, not including the labor of love I perform on NEPA Blogs as one of the contributors.


I’ve had 3 different vehicles since I started this blog.


I moved to another house while authoring this blog.


This blog and I have been through some serious shit together, and with any luck, we’ll be through more.  I have no intention of stopping any time soon, despite my recent silences.



You only get one ride on this Merry Go Round of life, make the most of it.


Just blog.

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2011 Year in Review (Jan-Mar)

By M Davies   /     Jan 14, 2012  /     Events, Into the Void, Misc/Crap  /     0 Comment

I've been putting off writing these posts for a few weeks now, mainly because I'm lazy, but also because I wasn't sure what to write.  I started regularly blogging again in the second half of the year, so the first half of the year was a blur.  Luckily, I have my Facebook Feed, Twitter Feed and my Google Calendar to remind me what happened during that time.  So without further ado…I present to you the first installment of my 2011 year in review (better late than never).  I decided after writing out the first few months, it would be easier to break it down in 3 month chunks.  It's too overwhelming for me to write it all out at once.  I will continue with April-June tomorrow.


I was working at Kraft at the beginning of the year, and I just accepted a new Customer Service Coordinator position in December.  I was learning slowly that I hated the job and started looking for employment outside of the company.  I had an interview at a local paper company in Moosic on 1/14.  This was my second interview for this position at this company.  The last time I interviewed for the job was after I lost my job at Commonwealth/Frontier.  They passed on me then and passed on me again.  Oh well…their loss, not mine. 

I also got my performance review, in which I did really well, except Kraft restructured their rating systems, so I was only given an "average" review.  The company also did "average", so my yearly bonus was going to be next to nothing. 

I started taking my Spring semester class at LCCC – I only took one course – VB.Net.  However, with the stress of the new job, and all of the snow days that occurred, I ended up falling dangerously behind in the class.  More on that later.

I also started my Penn State SCM course which was something that was taken though Kraft at the office.  The latest course in this certificate program was "Transportation Systems"

I decided to join some of my former co-workers from my old department in a "Biggest Loser" competition at work.  Every Friday we'd pay 5 dollars and get weighed in.  Here's the problem:  I never seriously watched what I ate.  I think the first week I lost two pounds…anything after that, I stayed the same or lost maybe a pound. 

Oh yeah, and I thought I should maybe make the big switch to contacts from glasses.  I went to my doctors office to get fitted for contacts, which ended up being a complete nightmare the first time around. 

From my count Lake Lehman had 3 snow days, which means I worked from home 3 days – Jan 18, 21, and 31.


Another mainly boring and quiet month…this changes soon, I promise. 

There was a snow day to start off the month on February 1st.

Owen's Kindergarten registration started in February.  I took off time from work to take him to the programs, and before the end of the month he was ready for the fall. 

I had lunch with a "Senior" manager at Kraft….because I was forced to…not because I wanted to.  It was one of the "requirements" as a an employee new to the department that I moved to.  Don't get me wrong, the manager was nice enough, but I really hate eating lunch with people that I don't normally associate with.  I get terribly nervous that I'm going to say something stupid, spill something on myself or get stuff stuck in my teeth.  I made it out without any embarrassing incidents, thankfully.

I continued plugging away with my SCM class, the VB.Net class and the biggest loser competition. 

It snowed again on February 21st.  Yet another Lake Lehman snow day.  I usually like shoveling, but this was getting out of control.  On one of the snow days (although, I can't remember for sure which one…I interviewed with the Craft Oil company in Avoca for a Sales/Marketing Analyst position, I didn't get that job either)

I began to express how overwhelmed I felt with my new role to my supervisor and manager, we had a meeting on the last day of the month to discuss my concerns.



This is where things start to get interesting..

I took off 3 consecutive days on March 8th, 9th, and 10th to take care of some outstanding doctors appointments and also Owen had another Kindergarten Registration.  Owen's KG registration was on my first day off at 9am.  I was exhausted because the previous night, I had to pull an all-nighter because I needed to play catch-up with my course.  I think I maybe slept for 3 hours tops.  I got Gabby off to school without a hitch, and got Owen and myself ready and we went to the KG registration.  We were some of the first people there, so we got in and out pretty quickly.  After I returned home, I was called for a job interview at Geisinger in Danville.  It was a job I applied for in January, and they were just calling me….IN MARCH…to interview for the position.  After talking with the hiring manager, I decided it would be best if I drove down THAT SAME DAY to interview for the position.  Aye aye aye.  What is wrong with me?  During the drive, I was pretty sure that I was lost even though I had the GPS with me.  It took me through Millville and Iola, an area to which I've never traveled through.  If you haven't traveled through there, don't worry, you aren't missing much.  You could blink and be out of the town.  I felt the interview went positively, but I ended up not getting the job.  It was a shame, I really liked the hiring manager.

In the 3 day span that I was off, I also went to a hockey game.  Yay, I love going to hockey games!

Also, I decided to take my MOS 2003 exams, I passed the Powerpoint and Access exams with no issues.  Microsoft (those assholes!) decided to change the test requirements to get the MOS Master certificate.  Previously, you had to pass Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Access or Outlook.  Now you had to pass Word Expert and Excel Expert to get the MOS Master certificate.  I didn't think that this would be an issue…WRONG.  The expert test versions were extremely difficult and I failed them.  You can read more about it on my blog post here

In March, I signed up for 2 workshops at PSU for Adult CEU's.  They were taught by my VB.Net teacher!!  The first class was a Windows 7 overview, and the next class was a Transitioning into Office 2010 class.  I needed the training so I could prepare to take my Office 2010 MOS exams. 

I marched with Kraft Foods in the Wilkes-Barre St. Patrick's Day parade, which was televised on WYLN TV.  We had several costumed individuals, including the Kool-Aid man.  I suggested that we should have the Kool-Aid guy jump out of a brick wall, like he does on Family Guy.  We got some banner paper, drew a fake brick wall on it, and had him do that right near the mayor's judging station.  OH YEAH!  We also got the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile to show up.  Here's a photo with me and Gabby in front of it. 

After the parade, I put in my two weeks notice with Kraft.  I couldn't take another 10 hour work day and the stress that went along with having the work load of 2 people.  I did not have another job to go, but my mental sanity was at stake.  I left with the hopes that I would eventually find something better.  I had my fill of cookies and crackers.

I came to terms with the need to drop my VB.Net class.  I fell too far behind and there was no way to catch up.  I called my advisor and she understood my situation.  I made plans to stop on campus and meet with my advisor in person to formally drop the class.  I felt like a big fat failure.

I also scheduled surgery for women-related issues I was having, the surgery was to happen in April, but before that happened, I had to go for a slew of lab work before that could happen.  If you didn't already know, I FREAKING HATE BLOOD WORK.  You can read more on how much I despise it here

On the last day of the month, I had a job interview with the Topps Bubblegum/Baseball card company which ended up never materializing.  I was really starting to feel like something was wrong with me.  I kept going on all of these interviews and not a single solitary job offer.  I was seriously getting depressed.

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We are….?

By M Davies   /     Nov 13, 2011  /     Into the Void  /     0 Comment

I've taken a few classes at Penn State.  They haven't amounted to much of anything.  The classes were supposed to be toward a Supply Chain Management certificate program which was being offered through my previous employer Kraft Foods.  Since I have left Kraft in April, I haven't really felt the motivation to continue with the program since I'm no longer in that line of work.  Academically, it doesn't make much sense.  I'm 1/2 complete with the certificate program with a 4.0 GPA.  Maybe some day, I will return to the Supply Chain Management realm, but I doubt that will be any time soon.  I've also taken a few Microsoft training courses through the Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus in Lehman.  My aunt works at this campus.  Despite the events over the last two weeks, I have no regrets for pursuing an education with Penn State. 

Everything I've pretty much wanted to say about the sex scandal at PSU has already been covered intensely by other local bloggers and news sources, but I figure I'll throw in my $.02 anyway.  I read the 23 page grand jury report online yesterday, and am utterly disgusted that Sandusky was able to get away with these crimes as long as he did.  There were only 8 victims listed in the report, but since the report was released, a ninth victim has come forward.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were more to follow.  He had access to an endless supply of young boys through his charity "The Second Mile" for many years. 

That brings me to JoePa and graduate assistant McQueary.  Did either of these guys commit a crime?  Technically no.  Could they have done more?  Most definitely yes.  They are far from martyrdom status in my eyes.  I think that the riots that occurred on the campus Wednesday evening were absolutely appalling.  I fail to see the reason the media is to blame with this one, sorry fellow Nittany Lions.  If you want to lash out on someone, then look no further than the people who committed the crime and then covered it up.  The trifecta of Sandusky, Schultz and Curley.  Based on some of the interviews of the college students that occurred during the riot, it was hard for me to believe these people were in college.  Yeah, I'll agree along with everyone, Joe Pa made a lot of good contributions to the college — the Library is a great example of this.  However, people seem to be blinded by the pricetag and are forgetting about the issue at hand here.  He had information about a fellow staff member having inappropriate relations with children and did not report it to the proper authorities.  If I were in his shoes knowing what he knew when he knew it, I would not stop until this scumbag was brought to justice.  Maybe when some of these so-called "students" grow up and have children of their own they will understand what it's like to protect children. 

Less than 48 hours later after the rioting, the Penn State that everyone should be proud of emerged:

Regardless of what side of the table you are on with Joe Pa firing and McQueary suspension, your thoughts should be with the victims.  They were the ones who were stripped of their innocence and childhood by this awful situation.  I wholeheartedly hope that if there are any more victims out there, that they come forward.  No one will place judgment on them, and they are braver than any of us could imagine.  This jackass has got off scott free long enough.  Let's bring him to justice for EVERY victim out there.

I still have much respect for the Penn State institution and hope they can manage to salvage their reputation.  I am still very much interested in the Weather Forecasting certification program and will be looking to pursue it once I complete my Associates at LCCC.  I don't think anyone should write off PSU as a secondary education option just because of the few rotten eggs that were in the dozen.  I know that I won't be.

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An ode to second shift

By M Davies   /     Nov 10, 2011  /     Into the Void  /     0 Comment

My last day of second shift was on Friday November, 4th.  I had only started this shift a few months prior, on August 29th.  I have to give myself credit.  I hung in longer than I thought possible.  I left went part time with the second shift now first shift job after accepting a job at a non-profit for considerably less money, but in the end…the better hours were way more valuable than the difference in pay.  I've missed out on so much over the last 3 months.

In the end, my body could not handle the lack of sleep any longer.  I was getting 4-5 hours per night during the week.  If you think about this equation:

(4 hours of sleep) * (5 day work week) = 20 hours of sleep

It should be:

(8 hours of sleep) * (5 day work week) = 40 hours of sleep

I was getting about half of the sleep that normal people get.  I guess I am partially to blame for this.  I overloaded my plate with stuff I thought I could handle, but it ended up frustrating and exhausting me.  Part of this had to do with the 7 credits I am taking this semester.  I thought that I could handle 2 hours of classes during the day twice a week (plus an online class).  This was a bad idea.  Maybe taking a smaller amount of credits or having a class later in the day would have helped the situation, but I can't be sure.  I knew that if I didn't take these specific classes in the fall semester, I would have to wait another year before they were offered again.  I guess that's how I rationalized signing up for these courses.

I figured that a certain someone who lives in the same house as me would be able to get up and get the kids ready for school when I was dead tired.  It turns out, I didn't have that option.  Most days this certain someone has the luxury of sleeping until 8am or sometimes 9am.  So there I was, getting home at close to midnight, falling asleep at 1ish and then getting back up at 5:30.  Speaking of the kids, homework wasn't getting done, baths were randomly being given, dinner being made at all hours of the night.  It was complete and total anarchy for the last 3 months in my home when I was at work.  The party is over kids.  I'm back and the whip will be cracked.  With parent-teacher conferences tomorrow at both schools I'll have a better idea of where both kids are at academically and behaviorally.  If need be, luxuries will start to disappear as a form of punishment. I've already taken Gabby's TV away, and I'm not afraid to suspend other priviledges as well to get her back on track.

I did a 1pm-10pm shift for many years at epix Internet Services when I worked there.  I was young, unmarried and no children.  I had no major responsibilities.  Things were different.  I didn't need to worry about everyone relying on me to do every little thing in their lives for them.  I don't know how those of you who have been working second shift for several years, and have kids or responsibilities are doing it.  My hats off to you.  You are a stronger person than I.

Is this the right decision?  I'll never know, but I'm not looking in the rear-view.  I've got to keep moving forward.

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George and Steve

By M Davies   /     Oct 24, 2011  /     Into the Void  /     0 Comment

Today would have been my friend George's 29th birthday had he not taken his own life.  It's also the day that the Steve Job's biography was released.  

I wrote a blog entry about George a while ago which can be found here.  George and I did date on and off for a time in High School, but despite things not working out between us, we remained good friends.  I've watched as several close friends and family members have died, for a myriad of reasons over the years.  A co-worker once died in a horrifying motorcycle accident, several friends and family members have died as a result of cancer, and also a former boss died of a brain aneurysm.  No matter the circumstances, parting with someone you are close to is not easy.  George was the first person close to me that has committed suicide.  The grieving process for someone dying by their own hand is a completely different grieiving process.  It leaves more questions than answers. 

I stopped by George's Facebook page the other day to see what new photos and memories friends and family have posted.  I check in every now and again.  I noticed that Ethan posted the video that he had produced of George's photos, artwork and videos that was shown at his memorial.  I watched it in full and cried once again.  This time I noticed something that I hadn't before.  The credits at the end.  Apparently, George had written a blog entry on Myspace back in 2006 thanking all of his friends for making an impression on something in his life.  The entry can be found in full here

There was a Michelle on the list of thank you's, although I cannot be sure if it was me.  I'm pretty sure it is because I think I'm the only Michelle he knew, but I never questioned him about it or anything like that.

The thank you was "Michelle, for showing me that life is ongoing." 

Reading this tore me apart at the seams.  How can I be thanked for something that I clearly failed at teaching?  Had I made a good impression on him, maybe he'd still be here with us. 

This afternoon, I had a dream that I was having tea with Steve Jobs and George.  The two of them were talking big picture ideas and I just sat there quietly listening.  Then I woke up.  Steve and George did have some things in common.  They were true innovators and visionaries when came to their work.  They were endlessly creative and didn't see things in black and white.  They thought differently.  I could totally see the two of them having an intellectual conversation over a beverage in the afterlife. 

You don't have to take my word on George's creativity, here are a few examples of his work below.  (Click little picture for bigger picture pop-out)


RIP Big Guy.  Save a cup of tea for me up there. 

[EDIT 10:27pm 10/24/11]:  I came back to edit this entry because I thought of a quote that's very fitting.  It's from Dr. Seuss.  "Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."  I'll try my hardest not to cry any more because George's (and Steve's) lives are over.  Instead I will smile that I was lucky enough to have met and be friends with George.  I was lucky enough to be a part of the same generation of someone who has changed and revolutionized the world of computers and communication, Steve Jobs. 

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