Monday, March 19, 2012

Confession: I'm a Deadbeat and My Parents are Criminals

The following is an email I recently sent to my State Representative in Wisconsin in response to Senate Bill 507, which attempts to label single parenthood as child abuse. I debated whether or not to post this publicly as it brings up some pretty personal family stuff (though, in hindsight, I guess not incredibly personal and, heck, not even that bad of a story compared to some), but then I thought about just how many children of divorced parents there are in my state. I realized that someone needs to stand up for these victims of child abuse. So I post this with the greatest of hesitance, hoping that it may help others who have been victimized and "lead astray" without even realizing it.

PS - I love my parents and am incredibly blessed to have three loving ones who have only ever supported me in my derelict, unsuccessful life. 

Editor's Note: I went back and changed the way I had written a few things regarding my parents' divorce. I hope no one read it thinking my mom or my dad were to blame, or worse, that I blamed either parent in particular. You know what they say about divorce...It Happens. And that's really all that needs to be said. See above post scriptum.
Dear Representative Cullen,

I'm writing today because I'm deeply concerned about Senate Bill 507, which I first heard about via The Huffington Post. I would write my Senator, Leah Vukmir, but based on her past actions of leaving open houses and town hall meetings at any sign of dissension I'm afraid she won't listen to my concerns.

I'm concerned because I've been a victim of child abuse for the past 18 years and I didn't even know it.

I'm concerned because my mother is the scourge of society and I would like to report her dastardly behavior.

You see, my mother had the audacity to raise two daughters in a single parent household since I was the age of 11 and my sister 16.

When I was young, sometimes my parents would fight. I actually didn't know any of this until right before they split up. They tried their best to work out their problems and, most especially, keep their fighting away from my sister and I. I only happened to witness two fights before the divorce (a.k.a. my mother's criminalization).

At the time my parents split up my father immediately quit drinking and, even though he no longer lived with us, kept being the best dad I could've asked for. In fact, he became a better dad (if that's even possible), calling every week and making sure my sister and I had everything we could ever need, especially as we were too young to realize there were herds of child sex abusers coming to get us now that the marriage was over.

It really is amazing that my sister and I survived unscathed. She went on to earn her associate's degree and is now married with two young boys. I admit that in light of this recent piece of legislation I am now a little concerned that my mother spends so much time with these impressionable young children.

As for myself, I had no idea that because of my parents' divorce "I've gone so astray." I not only have a bachelor's degree, but also a master's degree and master's level certificate. I have a goal of earning a PhD someday and am on the brink of starting my own business, but now I mourn the fact that this will never happen. How can it, when my life is such a ruinous mess? I mean, while my sister and I were busy playing at being successful, my mother, the criminal that she is, spent her time on the lam with my stepfather, the second best dad a girl could have.

I'm only now learning how they both braved extradition charges and visited me overseas when I was a missionary. They helped fund my sister and I in college as much as they could. They've supported us in every crazy endeavor we've come up with, though, that's probably not surprising seeing as how they themselves are crazy criminal masterminds.

Representative Cullen, I no longer feel safe as all I've come to know is proven false. I can only now apologize for not being a successful, contributing member of society. In my defense I can only say that I was raised by a criminal and abused as a child. I promise that as soon as I am able I will quit my full-time job, drain my useless brain from the economy of this state, pay PhD tuition to another state's university system, and found my growing small business elsewhere. I know an apology on behalf of my derelict family is hardly enough, but it's the least I can do.

Sincerely (and with greatest regret),


Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Spirit: The New Avatars

You may have noticed my social media profiles have a new look. I decided to be festive this year and give a little nod to my namesake (or, at least that's what I tell everyone. My mom swears there's no specific reason she named me Mandi other than, "I just liked that name.").


Here's the (fake) story behind my name:

Christmas just isn't really happening until I watch this film. Which is why it's currently NOT Christmas season. It will be after this weekend. Mark your calendars.

*Sigh* Bing Crosby. I was SO born in the wrong decade...

And, yes, I have 3 versions of this film's soundtrack.

And, yes, when I get married this song will be playing at some point.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Coolest Thing Happened to Me Last Night

Last night I stopped by the grocery store on the way home and it wasn’t until I was in my car that I remembered an email I forgot to send at work that needed to get out ASAP. I hadn’t yet made or eaten dinner, so shelving my recipe until tomorrow I debated on where I could go for some food that also had free WiFi available (I don’t have Internet access at home).

Usually Alterra is my go-to, but the one near my house has very little seating and even less parking space. Instead I decided to try the local McDonald’s. My friend’s dad owns it, and, while I try not to eat fast food too often, I love stopping at this location because the workers are always cheerful, fast, and generally awesome.

Plus, I can just say “I visited Elysse’s dad,” instead of, “I had dinner at McDonald’s.”

To be quick…and cheap…I ordered a happy meal and sat down with my laptop.

Sidenote: free WiFi means nothing to me if your business doesn’t also have outlets. My dinosaur of a laptop needs to be plugged in at all times.

I finished my business online while I munched on my fries and chicken nuggets. I always check the bag for stray fries, but tonight I found something different.

Now, I don’t want to get any workers in trouble, and, because I know Elysse’s dad is a pretty cool guy I know he won’t mind me saying this, but I found an extra package of apple dippers in my happy meal. Apples that I didn’t order.

Bonus, right?

For some reason, I had this weird thought, “I wish there was someone I could give these to.”

On my usual commute I pass a particular intersection on my way home where there’s always someone asking for money from people stopped at the light. This is what came to mind, but this intersection was now out of my way and I wouldn’t be passing it when I ventured the rest of the way home.

So I figured I’d just save the apples for a late-night snack, I packed up my laptop, and I headed out to my car.

I was getting into my car before I heard, “Excuse me, ma’am?”

Ugh. I hate being called ma’am.

I looked to find where the inquiry had come from and saw a woman standing near the bus stop not 10 feet from where I was parked.

“I’m not asking for any money,” she said, “but I just came from the church down the street and they had to turn me away for their meal program.” “I’m not asking for money, but would you mind buying me a dollar sandwich?” she asked.

I had just used the last of my cash to pay for my happy meal, but now understood why, by divine design, I had been given some extra apples. I gladly handed them over to her and she tucked them away in her pocket.

I truly, truly wish I could’ve given her more. It wasn’t until I was home that it dawned on me I could’ve given her some of my groceries too. Because she pocketed the food I can only imagine she’s in need of something more substantial to share with a family. That could just be my overactive imagination, but I hope I didn’t just let an opportunity to feed a mom and her children pass me by.

The entire incident, however, made me realize just how important it is to listen. Take notice of what’s going on around you. When a stranger asks you for help it’s far too easy to be cynical in assuming their motivations.

I wish I was more courageous to stop and help the motorist on the side of the road. I wish I was less cynical when someone asks me for spare change. But every day there are opportunities to give and make someone’s life a little bit easier. You just have to listen.

As a Christian I believe these opportunities are heaven sent. Hebrews 13:2 states “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” There have been a few of these instances in my life and I've come to believe that the more you listen the more God speaks.

Giving is relative. Someone will always have more than you, but then someone also will always have less than you. It’s within your power to ignore the former and, instead, serve the latter.

Your Christmas Challenge:
All this being said, I’d like to give you a challenge.

Every Christmas season, once the Salvation Army kettles come out, I make it my mission to drop a quarter in every kettle I see when I’m shopping and bustling about town. Kettles with a bell ringer get 50 cents and kettles where the bell ringer is awesomely singing Christmas Carols (Pick ‘N Save on State St. in Wauwatosa) get bumped up to a dollar.

I’ve done this now for about 5 years. I have no idea how much I end up giving each year, but I hardly miss it.

Please join me in this campaign – give whatever you can afford – a penny per kettle, dollar per kettle, etc. Every. Day. YOU can make a difference.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving season was looking pretty bleak, and then I realized that "bleak" on the Mandi Scale is still "quite okay" on everyone else's scale. I then put on my big girl pants and forced myself to be thankful for the blessings in my life, because, quite frankly, I'm very blessed.

And so are you.

And that's why we should give thanks.

I mean, what would happen if you woke up every morning only with those things you had thanked God for the night before?

Positivity is a conscious choice. That's something I learned this year; you can choose to be positive which then, given enough time and repetition, can actually make you positive.

So with that I'm introducing...
Giving Thanks: 2011 Blessings, Mandi Style

1. The Packers are 10-0 - *discount double check*

2. Girl's Gotta Brand New Job - and I get to go zip lining this weekend for it

3. Family - Yeah, I got 'em, but they're also awesome. So there.

4. Friends - My friends increased by one this year when baby Gabby was born. I should probably file this under "family"

5. New Perspective - I just finished reading "Heaven is for Real" which gave me a different perspective on life. I highly recommend it.

6. Health - I'm healthy. I'm not yet due for my obligatory "once every 5 years" flu, so that's good

7. Marathons - Did my first half in July and doing my first marathon in January. "Avoid the Lap" - Jimmy Dugan

8. Hybrids - It's a good thing I've got that Prius seeing as how I'll be commuting every morning now

9. Tweeps - I had the chance to meet dozens of new Twitter friends at #ThrowbackWeekend this year, which was the bomb. diggity.

10. Using "Bomb diggity" in a sentence

11. The League - That stuff makes me laugh until I cry

12. Lakefront Brewery - If it weren't for Lakefront, we wouldn't have Lakefront Pumpkin Lager and then where would we be?

13. Kittehs - By investing in a small, living, white, furry space heater early last year I've been able to save on heating. However, all savings have been nullified by lint roller costs.

14. Hot water - 'nuff said

I may add more stuff over the Thanksgiving holiday as I think of it, but that's what I'm most thankful for at the moment.

What will you be giving thanks for tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let's all #hangwithtom...

If I get a day to #hangwithtom, I want ALL of you to join me.

Here's what I propose:

Are YOU in?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Today, I opened my Spam Mail folder and found this message:
Re: Your Payment Directive..

Attention: Beneficiary,

This is to inform you that the United Nations auditors are presently in Nigeria suppervising all contract payments, inherited and winning funds that originated from Africa.

Your names/email address appeared in the central computer among the unpaid beneficiaries that have not received their payment due to one reason or the other.
After the United Nations meeting with the Nigerian government, a part payment of US$1.5million was approved to all fund beneficiaries which you are among. The United Nations have instructed the Nigerian government to release your approved US$1.5million via ATM card for easy delivery to you. The only fee you shall pay to receive your US$1.5million ATM card in your possession is the courier fee of US$98.00 only.

Your ATM card authorization documents has been handed over to Mrs. Laura George of the United Nations, she shall facilitate the delivery of your ATM card payment to you but before she can release the $1.5million ATM card payment to you, you have to reconfirm the following information's to her so as to ensure her that she is dealing with the right person:

1. Your Full Names, 2. Residential Address,3. Age, 4. Occupation, and 5. Direct Telephone Numbers.

After her verification of the information with what she have on file, she shall contact you with information's on how to send the courier fee for the delivery of your US$1.5million ATM card to you.

You are to forward the requested information's to Mrs. Laura George with her below contact.

Here is Mrs. Laura's contact info:

Contact person: Mrs. Laura George (United Nations Oversight Agent)
His email: ( )

Do let us know once you receive your US$1.5million inheritance payment from Mrs. Laura for the updating of our record.

Yours faithfully .

Jenet Michael.
Payment Coordinator.


The "suppervisor" has my "names" as a beneficiary?!?!

But why, if the money is going to be sent to my ATM card, is there a courier fee? There's no courier-ing involved. It doesn't cost $98.00 to move money through digital space.

Hm, maybe this is a scam.

I see they want me to send the "information's" to them via Mrs. Laura George at the United Nations.

Hm, I never trust anyone with two first names...

They want my full names, and, after I give them the "information's" they will match it to what Laura "have" on file.

Know what's funny? Mrs. Laura George, who works for the United Nations, doesn't have a United Nations email address.

I didn't know the United Nations was so strapped for cash that they couldn't set up their own server and URL.

These government austerity measures are really wreaking havoc on Nigerian money scams...

Friday, November 4, 2011

To the Biker Who Told me to F*** Off

I believe your words were, "F*** off! You're supposed to stop!"

My reply, in short, is "STFU, asshat."

You don't know me. If you did you would know I am in favor of cars sharing the road with bikes.

I don't know you. If I did I'm sure I'd be more concerned about you a) not wearing a helmet and b) biking in the dark with no lights or reflective clothing.

I see that you, sir, were making a left turn on a red light into congested, oncoming traffic.

I can't imagine that's smart.

Or legal.

You, my rebellious friend, also happened to be using the sidewalk and seemed upset that I didn't treat you with the deference given a law abiding pedestrian.

However you, my earth loving (license-revoked?) fellow citizen are not a pedestrian. Yes, you are allowed the use of the sidewalk if traffic prohibits use of the street and the sidewalk is not otherwise occupied, however, as I mentioned above, this does not allow you to cross 8 lanes of traffic - from the sidewalk - to make a left turn when you, in fact, had a red light.

Don't you tell me to f*** off you jackwagon. I wholly approve of the use of bicycles and, in fact, often lament (and loudly) how our city is so unfriendly to those such as you. But you, dear sir, do little to further your cause by your inability to abide by even the smallest margin of etiquette on your two-wheeled fancy flyer.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Inside Story at @MKEPublicMuseum

Hey folks, long time no blogging, right?

Wrong. I've been blogging over here as my life has been consumed with training and fundraising for a half marathon I'm completing in July to benefit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. Head over there and read why and stay up to date.

For now, I'd like to talk about what I'm doing this evening and why I'm so excited for it.

Milwaukee Public Museum's Inside Story
From the MPM website:
The Inside Story is a series of three evening events designed to give insight into the creation of the Museum’s most beloved exhibits. Exhibit artists and curators will peel away your surface perceptions to let you in on some behind-the-scenes secrets of the museum world, as well as share some of the inevitable snafus that occur in creating a total-habitat diorama.

Seriously. Seriously??? Seriously.

How awesome. You know what a glutton I am for anything learning-related, and this is totally a feather in that tam. Get it? Though, I don't think tams have any place to stick a feather.

Tonight's gluttonous activities center around the museum's Rainforest Exhibit, otherwise known as, the section where we enjoyed cocktails at Maggie and Randy's wedding.

Again, from the museum's website:
The year is 1983, and the Museum is starting plans to build a new biology hall. Fast forward five years, and the completed hall is like none ever seen. Learn how and why the Museum decided to build a two-story, total habitat rain forest – complete with a waterfall and an elevated walkway through the canopy -- and the monumental effort it took to make it happen. From working within the parameters of collecting under the then-new concept of environmental sensitivity, to dealing with frogs under the toilet seat of a Costa Rican outhouse, you’ll hear “the Inside Story” of the creation of MPM’s Rain Forest from those who made it happen. Speakers and presenters include Jim Kelly, Director of Exhibits & Graphics; Susan Borkin, Director, Puelicher Butterfly Garden and Curator of Insects; and Craig Yanek, Biological Sculptor and Exhibit Fabrication Artist.

Su-weet. I was barely even born with this exhibit came to life and now I get to hear all the gory dirty details. And eat cupcakes. Mustn't forget the cupcakes.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Baby!

Picture 001
Originally uploaded by MsQuarter

Or, at least let me sit no more than 100 feet away from Prince Fielder and first base.

And Bratwurst, though I may not like to eat you I certainly always enjoy seeing you win the Sausage Race.

Happy Opening Day Brewers fans!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I haven't lived with a roommate for over 4 years.

Finally I buckled down and let someone move in with me.

It's a big step in grown-up responsibility, you know...compromise and all that.

She doesn't contribute to the monthly rent payment.

She commandeers the best seats for TV viewing.

I sometimes find her trying to steal my food.

But she's adorable.

Kitteh + Sunspot = BFF

She just has this rather unfortunate habit of waking me up at 5:30 AM.

It's not the time so much as the way in which she goes about her self-assigned task.

This morning, for example, she jumped on my stomach and started purring in my face.

She even went so far as to bat her little paw on my nose.


Before I gently pushed her off me and rolled over for more Z's.

Nothing doing.

She simply pounced on my back and started flapping her tail on my shoulder.

I thought only dogs wagged their tails.

Sweetness can be deceiving.

Needless to say, she's better than that other alarm clock that required me to solve math problems before I could turn it off.