Monday, December 5, 2016

The Best Things in Life

You've heard the sayings.  The best things in life are free.  And the best things in life aren't things.  When I look at my life, I'd say the best things are my family and the travels we've been on together.  Not to mention our dogs and having a place I love to call home near the mountains with lots of great hiking.  But, none of these things are free.

The best things in life are a total pain in the ass.

Let me start by saying, my husband is wonderful.  However, there are lots of life's little annoyances (that can seem to grow with 20 plus years of marriage).  Like will he ever clean his stubble out of the sink after he shaves?  Why do I have to do this?  And I'm sure he'd like me to unclog my long hair from our shower drain.  Also, why is there more hair in my shower drain than on my head in my forties?  How is this even possible?   And when your husband gets you a foot spa for your birthday, it means he thinks your feet are gross right?  Also, I don't get mani-pedis and my feet are totally gross.  

Then, let me state the obvious: kids are not free.  I know this because I pay the car insurance for two teenage boys.  TWO TEENAGE BOYS, I SAID!  I also buy shoes for them to destroy over the course of a week and jackets for them to lose.   Not to mention food.  Even though I never have anything to eat in my house, somehow this costs me roughly about $300 a week at Costco and I have burrito and Cheez-It wrappers strewn all over my house.  My two girls aren't any cheaper.  The boys can survive on a mere two pairs of shoes, sneakers and flip flops.  The girls need a rainbow of Converse to match every outfit, separate basketball shoes, flip flops, flats, plus dress shoes for special occasions.  Luckily, boys don't have special occasions, being a boy is just one long, unspecial, casual occasion, as far as I can tell.  

The only time I feel special anymore is when I come home to my dogs.  The only people in my house who appreciate me.  And they aren't even people.  But, they cost almost as much as people.  Because I have a special needs dog who needs to be on the $80 bag of dog food I have buy from the vet.  We learned this the hard way after hundreds of dollars in vet bills after our wall-to-wall carpet was destroyed by wall-to-wall dog pee, vomit and diarrhea.  Then there was the time they ate raw pizza dough and had to go to the doggie ER to get their stomachs pumped so they didn't die from alcohol poisoning.  And now my special needs dog is on medication (he doesn't like the taste of and I have to entice him to eat wrapped in luncheon meat like pigs in a blanket) for his hip.   

At least I have mostly new floors in my house because of the kids and dogs.  But, we did all of the work ourselves.  And it totally looks like we did it ourselves.  But, what does it even matter?  Our house was built over a mine on volatile soil and the foundation started sinking about 5 years ago.  Now, we could jack the foundation up for $80,000 with no guarantee it won't settle again.   Or we could just ignore the problem and get new windows (installed on a slight slant so they look straight) that actually close.  Which is what we did.  And no, oddly, insurance doesn't cover your house sinking into the earth.  But, at least we have a clear view out of our very expensive windows to witness the demise. 

Which only encourages us to ignore our problems on the home front by traveling to exotic places to get away from it all.   Places with gorgeous vistas that we can explore by hiking, snorkeling, zip lining and getting food poisoning.  You know, the good things in life.   Trips that we painstakingly plan ourselves after extensive and exhausting research on our foreign destination.  So our kids can complain, "Why aren't we going to New Zealand?"   Not to mention the enormous expense to go off to experience the best things life has to offer.  Surprisingly, going to see the biggest cave in the world is not free.  In fact, touring the biggest cave in the world is ridiculously expensive, which is why we're going to explore like the 5th or 10th biggest cave in the world next month instead.  But, my kids would probably still rather be in New Zealand.

Bottom line:  The best things in life are a total pain in the ass.  
But, they're also, completely worth it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sagittarius Secrets

I'm Sagittarius.  Not that I read my horoscope or anything, but I do have a very Sagittarius personality.  Optimistic, adventurous, free-spirited and straightforward with a love of travel.  See,  it sounds like me doesn't it?  Me and Stalin,  who's also Sagittarius.  Which just proves this astrology stuff isn't 100% accurate.  Or maybe it's that I didn't get the opportunity to get to know the real happy-go-lucky Joseph Stalin underneath the tyrannical communist dictator exterior.  Either way, I find it fun to excogitate about how we define ourselves as individuals because I'm deep and intellectual like that.  Because my sign says I am and because I used the word excogitate. That's how I know it's true.

A couple of days ago, I got on-line to rate a book on Goodreads and yada, yada, yada...I ended up clicking on an article titled 21 Secrets of the Sagittarius Personality.  Sagittarians are also really curious, so I had no choice but to read it.  Because I had to know what these secrets were and whether or not they were true.  We're also really into brutal honesty.  So without further ado, here are 21 secrets about Sagittarians per and my brutally honest thoughts about them.

1.  Sagittarius is an optimist that dreams big.

I have four kids and I've traveled around the world with them.  First when they were toddlers and now as teens.  I'm either an unrealistic optimist who dreams big or clinically insane.

2.  Sagittarius is candid and honest.

If I say it, I mean it.  Or I will say nothing at all.  This might explain why I'm so quiet.  

3.  Sagittarius is witty and has a wicked sense of humor.

I tell my husband how witty I am all the time,  just ask him!  

4.  Sagittarius is independent and hates being told how to live.

I firmly believe that rules do not apply to me, especially the stupid ones.  I am the exception, dammit!

5.  Sagittarius can be restless and impatient..

I feel like it would be a huge waste of time to even comment on this.

6.  Sagittarius can read you like a book.

And I'm a really selective reader.  I like my books interesting, witty, intelligent and real, so be those things or GTFO. 

7.  Sagittarius is allergic to bullshit.

I was sneezing.  What did you say?

8.  Sagittarius can't stand selfish people or sore losers.

True.  And I'm adding whiny winners and every other one of Donald Trump's personality traits on to this.

9.  Sagittarius is hard to fool and is always thinking 10 steps ahead.

I don't know about 10, that's kind of a lot and I'm not that organized, but definitely at least two.  

10. Sagittarius seeks out freedom and is extremely hard to pin down.

I know this because I've wrestled in jello and no one pinned me down.  And I think everyone knows freedom is best symbolized by jello wrestling.  

11. Sagittarius can become ruthless when they feel they've been wronged.

Don't put a stupid flier underneath the windshield of my car in a parking lot or I swear I'll drive all over town with that thing until it finally blows off.  FEEL MY WRATH!

12. Sagittarius isn't afraid to take risks in life.

I got food poisoning eating from a floating food boat in Thailand and then got on a plane with restricted toilet access.  DON'T TELL ME ABOUT RISKS! 

13. Sagittarius are creative and extremely curious.

I'm a writer who pole dances and doesn't even earn a living.   How's that for creative?  And I'm extremely curious how much more money I'd earn if I was a stripper.

14. Sagittarius is spontaneous and just plain fun to be around.

If you think reading books on the couch with a glass of wine or watching a documentary on a Friday night is fun and spontaneous then...I AM SO DAMN FUN AND SPONTANEOUS!  

15. Sagittarius loves to prove people wrong.

Usually this is true, but with Trump, this is the first time in my life that I really hope I'm totally and completely wrong.  But, I don't think I am.

16. Sagittarius tries to avoid petty drama and instead focuses on what's important to them.

This is why I don't go to PTO meetings, watch The Bachelor and also why I'm not on Facebook much.  

17. Sagittarius is careful about who they give their heart to and takes time to commit.

I've been married for 24 years and I'm still not sure I'm fully committed.  Maybe I'll know in 24 more.

18.  When Sagittarius is hurting they can distance themselves from others and conceal their emotions.

 I distance myself from others all the time, not just when I'm hurt, because I'm a real introvert's introvert like that.  

19.  Sagittarius doesn't hold grudges and leaves the past in the past.

I really don't hold grudges, but that's really just because you're dead to me.

20. Sagittarius is always there for their loved ones when they need them most.

I'm not "there" for people as much as I'm "here" for them.  So I'd prefer you come over to my house where we can talk about your problems and you can see first hand that mine are actually bigger than yours.   

21. Sagittarius is adventurous and loves to explore new things.

Everything except eating organ meats, chicken feet and beaks, I've tried them and they're disgusting.  

Well, there you have it, 
all 21 of my deepest, darkest Sagittarius secrets revealed.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Holiday Tirade

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's officially the Christmas season.  With all the music, lights, decorations, candy canes, fruitcake, eggnog, crowded stores and bell ringers.  I can't stand any of it.  I'd prefer to skip the entire season.  Which of course isn't possible now that it starts before Halloween and doesn't end until President's Day, when your last, lazy neighbor finally takes down his annoying blinking lights that shine directly into your house.  Although sometimes that's Groundhog Day, Easter or Flag Day, depending on your neighborhood and whether you have an HOA or not.

I used to conceal my aversion to this holiday when my kids were little.  And I confess, it was kinda fun then.  Lying and bribing them to be good for a total stranger who'd break into our house in the middle of the night to leave them presents.  Plus, it got my kids to go to bed early at least one night out of the year and my husband and I could eat cookies on the couch, leaving crumbs everywhere, completely guilt free.  It was our job, actually.

But, now that my kids are older and their dreams are dashed because reindeer can't really fly and they realize they'll never get that horse or motorcycle on their Christmas list, I'm done pretending.  I'm done pretending Connie Francis doesn't sound like she's on Valium singing Baby's First Christmas.  Seriously, no one with an infant sounds that serene.  Not to start a rumor, but she had to be on drugs, there's no other explanation.  Pretending that fruitcake isn't vile.  I mean, it's all sweaty.  As a general rule, food should not be sweaty.  And who came up with drinking eggs?  Eggnog is just disgusting.   Even more disgusting if there's no actual rum in it.

I could go on about how much I hate Christmas, but I think you get the point.  And I do have another point to make.  I skip as much of Christmas as possible by taking my family on vacation and getting the hell out of the country each December.  The timing is really because all my kids have off school for almost 3 weeks, but it also conveniently helps me avoid some of this dreaded holiday season.  Mostly, decorating my house.  I don't put up a tree that would require the dog sitter to water it and clean up the fallen pine needles. So I can pass it off as a selfless act of kindness.  But, the truth is, I don't want to put up decorations only to come home from a long trip and have to take them down.  

Which is why I was shocked when two of my kids pulled out the Christmas decorations and started putting them up over Thanksgiving break.  "WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?"  Ok, maybe that was a bit harsh for the petty crime of decorating for Christmas, but still, what were they thinking?  And my tirade didn't stop there.  "Who's gonna put all of this away when we get home?  Me, that's who!"  After they called me Scrooge, they explained how they'd take care of everything.  I've heard all this bullshit before.  Replace Christmas decorations with taking care of the dogs, for example.  Or really doing anything else in our house that doesn't get done without my constant nagging, which would be nothing.

I woke the next morning to find the Christmas lights were left on all night.  Of course they were.  "Why didn't you turn off the Christmas lights last night?" Oh, because they thought I was going to do that.  Me, the one who thinks it's impractical to go to the trouble to put up lights for a holiday we're not going to be home for.  I don't think so!  I also don't think anyone is going to remember the solemn vow that they made to pack Christmas away neatly in its boxes the way they found them when we get back from our trip.  In fact, I know they won't, because I'm psychic like that.  You know what makes Christmas feel so magical?  It's all the behind the scenes tirades that make the holiday actually happen.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Thanksgiving Tragedy

Ah, Thanksgiving, when my kids, who don't get along with each other, have an entire week off school to fight and complain that there's nothing to eat in our house, then leave dirty dishes to the contrary.  Which brings us to what Thanksgiving is really about, coming together as family and friends to nag the ones we love while trying desperately to overlook their really annoying qualities. All while being really thankful that Thanksgiving is only one day out of the year.

It all starts way before Thanksgiving.  With who you actually want to invite to stuff their face and drink cranberry margaritas with and those you don't, but are contractually obligated to invite, usually because you're related to them.  But, sometimes that obligation is your boss who started hinting at Halloween that he'd be eating a frozen burrito alone instead of turkey with all the fixings for the third year in a row.  And since you'd really like that Christmas bonus, it seems like an investment that could really pay off.

That's when the complicated planning involving math comes in.  How many people are coming, how many are ditching your house for other plans that came up and how many pounds of turkey and bottles of booze does that equate to?  And in the end does it even matter?  No.  But, you'll worry about it anyhow.  As you will every other detail.  Like should you clean the baseboards in your dining room?  I say no.  I'd prioritize taking potentially embarrassing things out of your medicine cabinet in the bathroom.  Because statistically,  at least one guest is likely to snoop in there while they're taking selfies in your bathroom.  Unless they're hiding from your drunk Uncle Ned.

Most people think the biggest tragedy on Thanksgiving is that something will go awry with the turkey.  It won't be cooked in time, cooked with the giblets intact, undercooked, overcooked, eaten by the dog while resting unattended, dropped on the floor or the carved by someone who cuts themselves with the electric knife and bleeds all over it.  But, the importance of the turkey is really a misnomer.  The booze is much more important and you can even buy the cheap ass vile Barefoot brand wine, no one even cares.  Because everyone will be so uncomfortable, dressed up in their Thanksgiving Day best, waiting for taboo topics of conversation to arise.  Worrying they're going to be the perpetrator.

Though you've briefed every guest individually on what not to talk about to whom this holiday season to try to maintain peace, it's inevitable.  Even if you make place cards on who sits where at the dinner table to try to keep the peace, the list of forbidden topics is too long and too seductive to avoid.  The most obvious verboten conversations are religion and politics.  But there's also food.  Don't start inquiring about how the host prepared the turkey and comment how your mom's method results in a juicier turkey.  Also, no one cares you're vegan, eat the dry, overcooked turkey and shut up already.  And don't use that to transition into how you do CrossFit to establish your superiority over every other guest at the table.   Or that your kid is an honor student while you pass around his gift wrapping fundraiser sign-up sheet for his fencing team that won the state competition for 8 years straight.  No one wants to hear anyone else brag.

But, no one wants to hear anyone else complain either.  Thanksgiving is not the place to lament you didn't get that promotion you thought you were a shoo in for.   Or your sciatica, psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis is acting up.  Don't grumble that you're still single.  It's just going to make the married couples start griping about how they hate their spouse's driving, sleeping habits and that they load the dishwasher wrong.  Which you've only had to hear about it for the last 15 Thanksgivings.  Which always transitions into complaining about how entitled and ungrateful kids are these days.  And how much better the world was back in the day.  Which is going to shift to stories of when they were an altar boy and Reaganomics.  Right back to religion and politics.

Thanksgiving is a time to pretend that everything's fine. 
While eating your feelings. 
Just like every other day.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

World Settles on New Currency

The United Nations Task Force on Trade and Development (UNTFTD) cites the current system of numerous and diverse currencies as a major contributor to current financial crises and worldwide economic downturn.  After briefly considering unifying global currency with the USD, the proposal was quashed.

"In uncertain times like these, especially now that Trump is President-elect of the United States and financial markets are volatile, choosing the USD as the new universal currency seemed risky.  Even though it's been the world reserve currency for years."  Dieter Hoffman, Chairman of the UNTFTD, explained.  He went on to say, " The fact that most of the world hates the US also made converting to USD an unpopular choice."  While the Euro, yen and even the Canadian dollar were considered, they were all rejected in favor of the popular option; social media likes.

"It just makes sense.  Social media likes have always been a reflection of power and influence on the population.   Which in turn translated to money.  This is just the next logical step."  Herman Bellevue, professor of economics at Trump University explained.  "Obviously, there will be a lot of wealthy cam girls on Instagram.  But, we expect that to Instatrickle down to redistribute income to the less photogenic."

Millennials had a huge influence on the decision, starting a petition for the Financification of Social Media on Snapchat, which quickly spread to YouTube and then Instagram.   They capitalized on their fluency in technology and pushed for a cashless financial system that would be more efficient, eco-friendly and wouldn't require them to do any complex mathematical conversions or log off social media and go outside.  Which is an especially timely concern if Trump revokes support of the Paris Climate Agreement, increasing pollution and thus, pollution related medical issues and health care costs.

"Of course math is still necessary", Gayle Tzitis a high school math teacher from Wisconsin championed the new currency.   "But these are easier computations.  Young people understand that 1 Instagram like is worth 100 Facebook likes depending on whether they accept their volatile Aunt Beverly's friend request.  They also know that they'll need to store up a minimum of five million YouTube or Twitter likes for retirement because social security will be extinct by the time they need it."
Having a financial system based on social media likes is accessible by most and almost equitable. Certainly, countries with the most wealth, like Qatar, for instance, are likely to stay that way.  While countries like Liberia will remain largely impoverished.  And North Korea, where social media is banned, will remain cut off from the rest of the world.  All of which help maintain financial stability worldwide by preserving the existing inequitable conditions.   Making social media likes and the status quo the new gold standard.

Monday, November 14, 2016

I'm a Killer

I am a cold blooded killer.  It's true.  Nothing is safe in my path.  Well, except kids.  And people in general.  I would include animals in this list.  Except I did brutally murder a guinea pig once.  Ok, it was more like involuntary manslaughter.  Don't leave your guinea pig outside in its playpen while you're cleaning its cage and then forget about it on a hot, sunny day.  Lesson learned.  In my defense, that wretched rodent was evil and bit my kids more than once.  So, it was more like karma.  Not like that excuses anything.  And it doesn't explain how I killed an innocent basil plant within a week of buying it.

But, by far, the things I brutally massacre the most are sweaters.  And the thing is, I love them.  I love them to death, apparently.  I love when the weather turns cold and I can snuggle up in a big chunky wool sweater.  One that makes me itch like I either have a severe and highly contagious skin condition or schizophrenia.  But bonus, sales clerks tend not to ask if I need help finding anything in stores, so it all works out.  Plus, I don't think they even care if I need help.  It's just a salutation, not an actual question.   Like, "How are you?"

Not that I'm shopping at stores that have sales people for sweaters.  Because my track record is so bad I  banned myself from buying new sweaters a long time ago.  Now, I only buy them at thrift stores.    I figure they're pre-shrunk and at $4 a pop (and if it's Thursday and they're half off, only $2), that's a steal.  Although if you calculate the mileage of a particular sweater before ruining it, that's about $2 per wear.  One dollar in the extreme rare occurrence that I get to wear it twice before destroying it.

Is there some kind of sweater care manual that I didn't get?  I mean I do know they all come with a tag on how to care for the sweater attached to it and all.  But, it's too small for me to read it and then I'm going to have to find my reading glasses and that's just way too much work.  Plus, more than likely it's going to tell me to hand wash it anyway.  Who does that?   So, I'll do what I always do.  Wash it in cold water in an overloaded washing machine because I have a family of six, four of which are teens.  Then I'll lay it flat to dry.  Ok, not actually flat, cause where do I have space for that? I don't.  So, I'll drape it over the half wall, a chair or hang it on a hanger.

Then, when the sweater is nice and dry, it has stiff peaks in the shoulders from the corners of the hanger.  It's also shrunk at least one full size making it a midriff baring crop sweater, which would have been cool in the 80's, but not so cool now that I'm a mom approaching 50.  Not only that, the sweater will have all those balls all over them.  Do you know how many years of my life I've shaved off trying to locate my sweater shaver?  Then after I do, I'll spend a good thirty minutes trying to get all those buggers off, which is clearly impossible, only for them to reappear the next time I wash it.

And there will be a next time.  With a new victim.  Well, not "new" so much as lightly used from Goodwill.   Which just means the money I spend on sweaters isn't actually wasted because it's going to a good cause.

Cause I'm a killer with really good intentions.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Apolitical Post About Books

I like to pick up a book with an open mind.  Not so open minded that I read just anything though.  I prefer books with weight and substance.  I want to read books that push my limits.  Ones that make me think and grow as a person.

There are two types of people in the world:  those who have to like the main character to like a book and those who don't.  I fall in the latter category.  Don't get me wrong, I prefer to be sympathetic to the main character.  It's a much easier, more enjoyable read that way.  When you have an unsympathetic main character, it's much more of a challenge.  Which makes you confront your core beliefs and why you chose to believe them in the first place.  Antagonism either strengthens your core values or it weakens them.  But, either way, it changes you.

After I've read a book and contemplated its content, I'll get on Goodreads to rate it.  That's when I'll read some of the reviews other people have posted about it.   If I loved the book, I'm always shocked to find people who despised it.  And if I hated it,  I'll be astonished to find people who adored it.  I don't usually write reviews publicly myself as I'm more of a private person. Although, sometimes I'll like what someone else wrote if I find that they've managed to put words to the thoughts I had floating around in my head while I read the book.  But, only if I find them constructive.

Because far too often, words can be unproductive and divisive.  Even though I abhor a book, I try to be respectful of the people who loved it enough to put it on the New York Times Best Seller list. Which doesn't change my stance at all, I will continue to love books that I think should've made the list.  But, instead of focusing on badmouthing the books I feel are unworthy, I will continue to champion for ones that I believe in my soul are.  After all, no book, whether beloved or detested, stays on the Best Seller list forever.  Eventually, they all get shelved.


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