Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Benjamins, Yeah!

I may not have mentioned this in virtually every post I have ever posted, but I am poor. Not, like, poverty poor; I live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood in a nice town, there is always enough to eat and the electricity service is never interrupted. I have a stable job with pay that is kind of meh, but benefits that are out of this world. Our Honda Civic is paid for, Husband’s student loan balance is slowly decreasing and the payments are low, and we have very little credit card debt. We can afford to go out on dinner and movie dates a few times a month, and even a small trip here and there. But I’m poor in the sense that No. 1 has tuition to be paid, No. 3 needs braces, No. 2 has announced that she wants to take up dance again, and I have not had a vehicle I could call my own for more than three months since moving to New York five years ago. We’re not living beyond our means at all, but we are dancing at the edge of them and while costs increase, income has been kind of fixed. An unpleasant side effect of a lousy economy and state employment, but it is what it is.

Lately I have been feeling blue about my finances, and have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out ways to make more money without actually having to work that hard for it. I have considered a second job, but with a full time one, aging parents to care for, and a family I see little enough as it is, it’s just not an appealing possibility. Not to mention that if I worked at Target or The Gap I would spend as much as I earned, just like that time I worked at Pacific Linen and had lovely, fabulous linens and very little money left over. I could go back to teaching dance and am planning on working on something in that direction this fall, but it could take months to set something like that up. I could write dirty Twilight fanfic under a pseudonym like Roxxy Wilde and sell a million eBooks, but then I would have to explain where all that money came from, and how embarrassing would that be? (I’m just assuming people would buy something I wrote - they would, wouldn’t they?)
Today I drove No. 1 to the airport for her summer visit with her dad and as I was driving back, flipping through the radio stations, I realized something: popular songs make no sense whatsoever. All you need is some random rhyming words, references to designer clothing or a party, and you are good to go.  They can even be full of outright lies, like telling people it doesn’t matter if you are homeless or broke as long as you have love. (Really, Justin Beiber? Really?) So I came up with my latest get-rich-quick idea: songwriting.
Most people don’t realize that very few recording artists write their own songs, and that the songwriter is the one who makes most of the money from album and single sales. (Along with the producer, the record company, the agent, the publicist, the studio… the list goes on and on, and by the time all is said and done the singer gets, like, a nickel and is forced to tour constantly to support their rock ‘n roll lifestyle. It’s true, I read all about it in People.) How hard can it be to write a hit song? I watched that season of American Idol with Kara DioGuardi, and that lady is no Einstein, and it seems like it would take a lot less time than writing my own romance novel. So, here is my attempt at popular song writing. Let me know what you think.
Flowers blue and flowers red

I got daisies on my head

Ought to clean my flower bed

Gonna go to math instead

Count my money

Oo-ooo count my money

Count my money

Oo-ooo count my money

Benjamins, yeah

Purses, glasses, sandals, check

Where’s my iPhone, what the heck?

Hot tub outside on my deck

Golden chains around my neck

Count my money

Oo-ooo count my money

Count my money

Oo-ooo count my money

Benjamins, yeah

Baby, baby, please come home

Take my private jet to Rome

Let’s live underneath a dome

Call Armani on the phone

Count my money

Oo-ooo count my money

Count my money

Oo-ooo count my money

Benjamins, yeah

Now all I need is a good beat (I'm thinking a sample of Copacabana), a singer, and an up-and-coming rapper to provide some filler material and I, too, can afford my very own gold-plated wheelchair.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Many people look forward to their birthdays. Presents, cake, adoration from the general public...what's not to like? My theory is that these people had magical childhoods and parents who actually gave a crap. As a child, my birthdays were a crushing disappointment. I figured out at the ripe old age of nine that if I didn't plan my own birthday party, it wasn't going to happen. Even then,  my mother rarely showed up, much less got me anything. More often than not, my parents forgot my birthday or simply failed to acknowledge it, and this was long before Mom had the excuse of dementia and forgot everything except that one time last October I asked to borrow her three hole punch. (Seriously, 40% of the time she sees me I am greeted with, "did you need that three hole punch?")

Each year, May 29 became more and more depressing. There was that time my cousin stole my boyfriend; that other time my "friend" forgot to pick me up and everyone went out without me while I sat at home; the year my parents bought my sister a microwave, a TV, and a gorgeous winter coat (she lives in Atlanta...go figure) and gave me a plastic raincoat I didn't even need; I could go on and on. As the years have passed, my birthday has gotten even worse. Not only is it always a lousy day (maybe because I expect it to be) but I am getting older. Last year I passed the big 4-0 and the delusional child in me held on to the vain hope that my husband would throw me an amazing surprise party and make up for a lifetime of letdowns, but no. This year I had no such aspirations and yet still managed to end up disappointed.

The day dawned like any other; my alarm went off and I snoozed it, wishing it were a Saturday. I got up, got dressed, and went to work, where I performed my usual boring administrative tasks. We had a division luncheon at noon, a combination of a reward for winning a contest and goodbye for our departing VP. I needed to leave early because I had an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon for the tendinitis that has been lingering in my left elbow for over a year. I planned to snag a seat near the door so I could escape unnoticed, but I should have known better. Sure, I ended up sort of close to the door, but somehow managed to end up sitting next to the guest of honor. I finished my veggie wrap and as I was going to the dessert table to get some fruit, the server look my plate AND my silverware. There were no extra forks to be found. I'm not kidding, if the survival of the human race had depended on my finding a utensil, we would be dead right now. So my fruit sat, staring at me, mocking me, long after I gave up on finding anything to eat it with.

Somehow our admin figured out it was my birthday and made everyone sing to me so the people who didn't know me or notice I was there sure did after that. I missed my opportunity to sneak out before the speeches started and to make matters worse, the room had only one exit and the speakers were standing right in front of it. Needless to say, my exit was not nearly as subtle as I had hoped.

I arrived at the doctor's office and stood in line forever. All the other patients were ancient and moved like snails. When I finally got to the window, the receptionist tapped around on her keyboard and said, "you got the day wrong, your appointment was on April 29." I produced my referral form, which clearly listed the date as MAY 29, and she just shrugged and said my primary care doctor's office must have gotten it wrong. I knew they didn't because I had had a specific conversation with the lady who was making the appointment where she asked if I was sure scheduling it on my birthday was OK and I assured her it was fine. Getting my elbow prodded would have been small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. Most doctor's offices would have just squeezed a patient in, but not this one. Never mind that fact that each end every person in the waiting room was old enough that they were likely to expire before their joints could be fixed.  Never mind that I was actually there and it clearly wasn't MY error, they sent me away.

From there, I had to go to the DMV because I forgot to renew my license by mail, where I got the worst license picture in the history of humanity. I don't know what happened or where I went wrong to deserve being the least photogenic person ever, but alas, it is true. The technician asked if I wanted to retake it, but I knew it would be an exercise in futility.

I arrived at home and Dad announced he was making spaghetti for dinner, which happens to be my favorite meal, so I was actually pretty excited. I went upstairs, took a nap, and woke up for dinner, only to find that one of my snot-nosed children had pitched a fit about not wanting spaghetti so instead I was presented with one of Dad's creative casseroles, which was OK but not at all what I had hoped for. As the meal went on, I gradually came to realize that my parents had no idea it was my birthday. I shouldn't have been surprised, but no matter how low my expectations are the universe still lets me down.

Later that evening, my dad and the girls decided to take me to Sweet Frog and I convinced my husband to meet us there. I stood in front, waiting for him for ages instead of eating delicious frozen yogurt because the Southside Sweet Frog is a total dead zone for cell phones and my husband thought we were meeting at the house. By the time he got there he was angry and frustrated because he couldn't get in touch with me, and by the time we sat down with our frozen treats, he and my dad had befriended the token scary homeless guy and invited him to join us at our table. Normally, when Husband and my Dad are friendly and kind to people who are less fortunate its endearing, but this was a situation where I was hoping something, just one thing, would go my way and I could be happy for just a moment, but no, I was hanging out with a smelly guy instead.

I got home, ready to go to bed and get yet another crappy birthday behind me, but Mom called me into her office. While I was gone, my sister had called and reminded her it was my birthday so she insisted on singing to me and presented me with an exciting gift: a three hole punch.

Happy Birthday to me, indeed.

For more on my mother's present buying skills or lack thereof, click here

Monday, July 30, 2012

An Actual, Unedited Text Conversation Between Me and my Sister

You will learn two things from this post:

1) I am a really terrible person
2) So is my sister

Our story begins on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 7:29PM

I asked Mom if she had some extra note cards No. 1 could use for thank yous and, no lie, this is what she gave her

BWAWAWAWAWAWAWA! This is a blog post.

I am crying I am laughing so hard.

Seriously. She tried to give those to me, too. I don't know what's worse: mom trying to give those cards to No. 1, or XXXXX for making them as cards in the first place!!

I am picking out the good ones from this giant box of weirdness

Pick out the worst, too, and send them to me on special occasions

What I love is how they are filed by topic, yet some have been written in

This one's got your name on it. And no, its not blurry.

We MUST come up with captions and send them to No. 1!

I could make a whole blog entry of that but it would be kind of rude.
Please call mom to entice her out of my basement. Thanks.
You're the best.

You owe me $7000

Did you get that lecture too?

Yes. Thanks for that opportunity.

She came down to tell me what to do with the money when she dies, because nothings says "financial planning time" like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

I know. She has impeccable timing.

Did she tell you how she is doing to thank everyone when she gets to heaven?

Nope. "I have to go get on the treadmill". I figured my job was done since she was so worn out from coming upstairs.

...we don't have a treadmill

I have 2. Come get one. Then you can watch her break a hip on it.

As she was trotting up the stairs to get the phone I was trying to decide how guilty we should feel if she fell and broke a hip

You've suffered enough to be absolved of even full on laughter.

I'm saving that for when she falls off our theoretical treadmill.

Do you think you could come down here for a visit sometime?

I'd like to, but she might try to come with me and that would be no fun.

Tru dat.

I could tell her I'm going on another cruise. You know how she disapproves of cruises.


Better yet we should go on a cruise together

Yes. It shall come to pass.

*begins to Google*
You can get a 5 day cruise to the Bahamas from charleston for $269 per person.

Wow!! I could do that!!

I could probably swing it myself. We would have to take Husband, but its always good to have muscle.

Right. To fend off the people trying to budge in my buffet line.

LOL. You'd be surprised how aggressive those old people can get.

I AM one of the old people now...

Oh no you're not. I've been on a cruise.

Ha! I don't know if I can go 5 days yet but I could do 3...

It would be a bit before I could come up with the cash. I have some tuition to pay.

I think I'm going to let you spend your $7000 on one for all of us, and we can spread mom's ashes off the bow of a carnival cruise!

You have the best ideas EVER.

Wearing bikinis!
And chewing gum!

Said ashes will, of course, be contained in a martini shaker

A plastic martini shaker, And so said ashes don't fly back on us, we'll actually mix them with martini. Shaken. Not stirred.

Perfect. And as they fly through the air, Husband will swear a blue streak.

And we shall sing a bastardized version of Amazing Grace.

No, we shall sing how Great Thou Art because she hates that song.

Oh, right!!!

We will ask the steel drum band to back us up.


And I bet some drunk people will be on hand to sing the chorus off key

I should hope so.

You can wrap it all up by flirting with an athiest Arab

Oh, why stop there? He could be a staunch republican athiest uneducated porn star.
Who is Arab.

With illegitimate children? Please?

Oh, all right. For you. Since you're paying and everything.
He's going to have to smoke, of course... Pot.

The whole experience will be much more meaningful if it occurs while we should be at church

Yes. Or at her actual funeral.
Oh! And we could shoot skeet WITH HER DISHES!
Using her tablecloths as Sunbathing blankets...

This keeps getting more and more awesome. We could alo have a bonfire of all her seminary files, using vodka as an accelerant.

And we will lay on top of those tablecloths reading 50 shades of gray even though we don't want to
Should we give her shoe collection to ungrateful pregnant high school drop-outs before or after we set sail?

Before. And we can let No. 3 eat all her Breyers ice cream, straight from the carton, with the Spanish spoon


And we will soak up all the excess water from the hot tub with her oriental rugs

I actually like the oriental rugs when they're not in her house.

There was one rolled up under the piano for three years. I laid it out in front of the turtle tank and she noticed within 12 hours.

They have homing devices in them

They must. Or else she is a rug psychic.

Pfft. She Loves them like they are her children. Or instead of.

We better watch out or she will bequeath her estate to her beloved carpets.

I still have power of attorney. we're okay

Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Write Your Own Romance Novel

You'll have to excuse my lack of blogging lately. To be honest, I've kind of spiraled into depression because my life is no longer funny. My mother has gone completely haywire, engaging is such shocking behaviors as forgetting about her self-diagnosed plastic allergy, wandering outside in her bathrobe, and watching reruns of King of Queens on TV Land. (If you know my mother, you are perfectly aware that she has never watched anything but PBS. Ever.) No. 1 is graduating from high school and will soon leave the nest. Its become abundantly clear that the only way I'm going to stay afloat financially for the next few years is to sell one of my kidneys on eBay. And, worst of all, I have turned 40.

See, I told you it wasn't funny.

My traditional coping mechanism of denial is highly effective, but exhausting to maintain so I have taken to escapism. I watch a lot of Netflix and read a lot, and have found that the more fluffy the subject matter, the more enjoyable my escapism can be. For example, watching the first three seasons of Sons of Anarchy didn't help. The characters who had moral compasses to begin with either lost them or died in knife fights, and then my husband just HAD to have a motorcycle. I have always loved historical fiction and spy novels, but they tend to be full of death, suffering, and betrayal which make for compelling fiction but at the end up the day don't do much to perk me up. But if I watch something like, say, A Cinderella Story, I feel like a million bucks afterwords. Everyone lives happily after, and Hilary Duff isn't even on crack. I love books by Marian Keyes and Meg Cabot but I am too poor to buy them and don't have a car any more (add that little item to my list of reasons to be depressed), and one can only borrow one's teenage daughter's car so often before one feels pathetic, plus I would have to change out of my sweatpants to go to the library (despite four years in upstate New York, I still adhere to my personal standards about wearing sweats in public).

So I did what any other broke, depressed person with a Kindle would do and started reading a lot of free downloads, which made me realize there's a whole lot of bad writing out there being passed off and even sometimes appreciated is if it is Dickens. This got me thinking: Maybe instead of selling one of my kidneys, I should just write romance novels. It can't be that hard, can it? You just have to include the following:

A Generic Plot

90% of romance novels have the same basic plot.

Plot #1: Two people meet in high school (or college, if you're trying to shake things up) and it isn't just love, its true love. They are separated by tragic circumstances, usually an interfering relative, and neither one has been able to find happiness, fulfillment, or any meaning in their lives ever since. The hero has coped with this by sleeping with everyone he meets; the heroine has thrown herself into her career and has pretty much not left the house otherwise. Our lovers are reunited and overcome their bitterness, hurt, and tragic circumstances/interfering relatives to live happily ever after.

Plot #2: Two people enter into an engagement or marriage as part of a bet, deal, or other bargain in order to keep their inheritance, save their small business, or keep custody of their adorable and precocious love child. This plot works best if one of them is very rich. They overcome tragic circumstances/interfering relatives and discover true love, making their marriage real and living happily ever after.

Plot #3: Any combination of plots one and two.

Somebody Has to Have a Ridiculous Name

You can use a popular name with an odd spelling, like KarrLeigh, or a name that is unpopular for a good reason, like Sybil. You can also make a variation on a popular name, like Zavid or Pennifer. Another option is to mash names together, like Renesmee, and people won't think its ridiculous at all. No, really, they won't. If all else fails, just make something up. Berznat isn't any worse than some of the names that are already out there. Traditional names are perfectly acceptable as long as they are offset by something totally silly, like having a couple named Elizabeth and Blaze.

The Hero Must be Physically Perfect

Your heroine can have physical flaws - although its better for her to possess debilitating insecurity and a complete lack of awareness of her own charm and beauty - but the man can't. His six pack should be so defined you can clearly see the delineation of his muscles even when he is wearing a shirt. I don't believe I have ever seen such a thing in real life, but let's not allow that to bother us. Be sure to use the following adjectives as often as possible: bulging, taut, corded, and sinewy.

Superlative Use of Superlatives

Use the words "never" and "ever" at least once a paragraph. Also, you can never have too many exclamation points. Remember, this book is exciting! Its the best book ever written! And your readers have never read anything better! They want to hear all about how no one has ever known love and tenderness like this, never ever, in the history of all mankind!

Bad Metaphors

Example: An irate Reginald swept through the house, spewing fury like a shopaholic denied the last pair of Louboutins at a sample sale.
Kelly gazed at Shad longingly and lovingly over the burger bar, the aroma of guacamole filling the air and permeating every fiber of her being like a bomb of tear gas. (Apparently, I am such a great writer I can't even come up with good bad metaphors. I'll have to work on that.)

So there you have it: Everything you need to write your own romance novel. You can thank me later, after your story has been picked up by Harlequin and is being sold at Wal-Marts everywhere for $1.99.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Conversations With My Mother

Long time, no blog! We can blame it on a number of factors, really. Crazy busy schedule, kids broke my laptop, my mom's insanity has become more disturbing than funny, etc. But we won't dwell on excuses, let's jump right into the fun!

My mother is easily distracted and her mind wanders all over the place. She physically wanders, too, but that's another story altogether. I pretty much dread talking to her because I can never get a straight answer anymore. But on occasion, it is necessary to converse and here is what happens:

I call the house to find out if the scheduled road construction will interfere with my getting home for lunch. Mom answers the phone.

Mom: Hello!

Me: Hi, I was wondering if-

Mom: Hello unidentified caller! You are an unidentified caller!

Me: Yeah. Hey, how is the road construction? Will I be able to get to the house for lunch?

This question has two desirable answers. Yes, which means I can get home to eat a free but unappealing meal and No, which means I have an excuse to go to Wendy's and get a mood-altering frosty that will be, sadly, not free. One can never, ever get a desirable or even marginally simple answer out of my mother.

Mom: Well, I don't know. Let me see, I will have to go outside. I would ask the dog, because he's been outside, but he never answers me. Of course your father is nowhere to be found. I'm standing up, I'm heading - oh, did I tell you I got a wedding invitation from Hoosity McGoosity*? - I'm heading to the door, I'm almost to the door - I took your laundry out of the dryer, by the way, and I put it on the Danish coffee table. There were blonde hairs all over the Danish Coffee table. Someone has been cutting their hair in front of the TV, but I don't know who, no one in this house has hair that blonde - I'm opening the front door, I'm on the front porch and - Whoosits Whatsis* found out that she has psoriasis. Whoosits is such as special person and I just breaks my heart to see her suffer (gets weepy and sniffles) - Someone really needs to sweep this front porch, that storm last night got leaves and mud everywhere. Maybe I will do that after take my nap and watch my tape of the Lehrer Report - can you beleive what is happening in Norway? Its terrible, just terrible, they say - I'm walking down the driveway, I can see the street and they have it torn up - Did I tell you I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a new method of manufacturing chewing gum and Horace Norris* works in a chewing gum factory and I am so worried about his job being cut and then they would move and I just love his wife Doris* and I couldn't stand to see them leave - and I'm at the end of the driveway, and they have the road closed up the hill but not down, so you should be able to get home just fine - by the way...

Me: That'swhatIneededtoknowhthanksbye! {click}

And that's how every conversation with my mom goes these days.

*Bear in mind that I don't know any of these people.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Hazards of Vintage Apparel

This past weekend, No. 1 went to the Junior Prom. She looked fabulous:

My mother wore this dress to the Military Ball at the University of Illinois in the late fifties. Obviously, she kept it all these years. My sister and I both dreamed of wearing it, but it didn't fit her and Mom staunchly refused to take up the hem for me. She gave it to my cousin to wear at one point, but her parents deemed it too revealing so she gave it back. Let us fast forward to 2011, where No. 1 announced her intentions to go to prom, and I told her she should try on Grandma's red dress. Mom went along with the idea because I pointed out that SOMEONE should wear it. It certainly wasn't doing anyone any good hanging in her closet.

It needed pressing, there was a peice of elastic on the inside that needed replacing, and the straps needed shortening. But it fit her perfectly, despite her genetically inherited lack of height, and she loved it. Who wouldn't? Mom still insisted that it not be shortened (Why? Its not like she's ever going to wear it again...) but fortunately in these modern times 5" platform heels are readily available. It was decided that No. 1 would wear the fabulous red dress to the prom.

From this point I made several errors in judgment.

First, I procrastinated. I figured I had 20 minutes of work to do on the dress and I put it off until the day of the prom. I know, I know, but No. 2 went to the prom also and I made her dress, 24 yards of fabric in all, with linings, overlays, tucks, darts, bands, and gathers. It turned out beautifully, of course, but it took A LOT of time.

I also failed to fully inspect the dress and assumed that because everything looked good, everything was good. Not so. We should have had a dry run sometime before the actual prom, where we would have noticed that the entire lining was not properly attached. (This also could have prevented incident where the entire hem came undone at the restaurant.) As such, I had to sew the entire lining back in by hand which took a good hour I didn't really have and severely cut in to my ironing time.

My next mistake was not having the dress professionally cleaned and pressed. Do not try to remove 50 year old wrinkles on your own. It simply will not work. Actually, you can get the wrinkles out but they come right back. It was the most frustrating ironing experience of my entire life, and I owned a tuxedo-style shirt with a million little ruffles on the front in the 80's. Which I wore all the time with hot pink corduroy pants tucked into slouchy teal suede boots because I was so stylish.

The biggest mistake of all was rushing. The rushing, of course, was a direct result of all my other grevious errors. No matter how little time you have, you should ALWAYS sew the straps on securely. I would recommend going over them twice because, well, once isn't enough because your kid could end up falling apart at the prom. Probably not, though, because apparently these kind of things only happen to me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Job Posting


Mature and responsible adult to transport cranky, difficult, and defiant patient to occasional doctor's appointments. Driver's License and endless patience required. Must be immune to public embarassment and all expletives in the English language. The ideal candidate will be able to communicate doctor's questions and instructions calmly and clearly to hysterical and irrational patient, then ascertain the patient's answers and convey back them back all while maintaining a pleasant countenance in order to prevent the doctor from questioning said patient's mental stability. Ability to wrestle full-grown adult to the ground without incurring injuries on either participant's part a plus.

Salary: Unlimited Appreciation

Benefits: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Opportunities for Advancement: Do a good job with my husband, and I will let you start taking my Mom too.