Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pretending to Be Resolute and Mantras for Another Year

Another one bites the dust.

Calendar day to month to now year ready to be ripped away and added instead to the pages of history. National, personal. A decade gone into the not-so-new millennium.

We inch closer to that infamous 2012 where things are supposedly going to get "all shook up" and the world as we know it a thing of the past.

But if you think about it, the world as we know it is already a thing of the past. Each year bringing new and seemingly unimaginable things. Each new gadget invention making life easier (in theory), each new day bringing new lives and losses of others.

And again the time for resolutions. For lessons learned to turn themselves into mantras for the impending year.

So as I looked back on my resolutions of last year, I must say I didn't do so badly. I can check them off as a success and I can try to wrack my brain on how to make some things happen in 2011.

I will pretend yet again to be resolute. (And whether or not they actually happen is a matter for another day)

I will try to be less reliant on others in 2011. I doubt this will happen as people seem to tell me over and over I am a lot to handle. Not sure if that's complimentary or insulting. But my flair for being a damsel in distress is hopefully being put behind me. No more will I have to call my boyfriend, brother or neighbor that I am on the side of the road like a wounded animal. Having a new car to start off 2011 should hopefully make all distress calls a memory. In theory.

I will try to get myself as out of debt as I possibly can in 2011. Now granted, I realize that this is a difficult task giving the fact I don't make as much as I put out each month, BUT having a roommate moving in for New Years and a second job of sorts I am hoping I can at least function like a normal adult, if only for a brief period, and get my credit in check. I mean, it wasn't as bad as I thought in the first place since they gave me a brand spanking new loan for a car, but still I owe money and I want that stupid monkey off my back. We'll see how that goes.

I will try not to take the people I love for granted 2011. I know that sounds awful, but I can guarantee I don't do this on purpose. I hate feeling like I expect things from certain people, and I don't really. I am ridiculously grateful for my family and my boyfriend and his family and my friends. I am resolving to make more of a conscious effort however for them to KNOW how much I appreciate them and do what I can in return. I'm one lucky bitch.

I will try to see more of my friends in 2011. I feel that in 2010 with kid activities and low fundage I have let my friends fall by the wayside. Now some have dropped completely off of cliffs in a matter of speaking, and sad to say that some I cut out for my own sanity's sake. But others, those tried and true who understood that life had other things for us all this past year, yet stuck around anyway. Dropped a quick email or phone call, even a text message letting you know they were there. Double dates with our significant others? Yeah, let's get together now and then shall we?

I will try to be more diligent with organization in 2011. Ok ok, I admit it. I am not the neatest person on the planet. I mean I don't do like dirt/grime type disorganized crimes, but I am a clutterer. I save things that mean things to me, some that seem ridiculous to other people maybe. BUT I will have places for them. Stored away out of site and not say all over my living room. I will make sure my new car isn't a storage unit on wheels, I will keep it nice and pretty. I will also do my best to do the same at home. I said TRY.

I will cook more meals at home in 2011. Sounds like a simple thing really. Go home from work, grab child, and make dinner. It's harder than you think! You get home and get lazy. Or grab the kid from your mom, who is already cooking so you figure why not just eat there. Or just throw together some sort of microwaveable concoction, not a meal really or a pinnacle of healthy eating, but something that passes as dinner. I actually like to cook. I do, I just need to motivate myself to do it more often. To branch out and try more than the handful of staple recipes I know by heart. Hell I even need to start making my own coffee to take to work every day with my snazzy new Keurig machine.

I will try to lose 20 pounds and have abs of steel before 2011 is over. Yeah this one is never happening but I figure you have to put in that whole I will lose weight and get in shape resolution in there to complete the cliché or it just wouldn't count. And I know I used it as a resolution last year too, and that I DID lose 20 pounds. Couldn't hurt to drop a few more and tighten up the old squishy areas now could it?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dashed Away All

And just like that it's over.

Ready to pack up and haul all remnants of Christmas like the Grinch who stole Christmas. St. Nick has dashed away all.

All the stressing about shopping and money and staying up all night wrapping pretty packages that are ripped to shreds in a fervor of excitement, gone in the blink of an eye.

No more worrying about who you can or can't get what. No more lists to sift through and wonder if you can pull it all off.

The tree is nearing petrified state even with incessant watering and the lights are starting to sag. The outside lights are covered with the remains of the 2 feet of snow from the day after Christmas blizzard that attacked Massachusetts.

I was so anxious leading up to Christmas. So worried about money and harried about the ability to make sure my son had a good haul from Santa.

By the skin of my teeth I pulled it off.

I spent time with my family, with little to know drama. It was almost like living in a parallel universe.

Christmas Eve with the Boy's family, so wonderfully accepting of me and of Dylan. They have made us feel like a part of their family and it was a nice feeling. To be loved and welcomed by a group of people who don't have to give a rat’s ass about you if they didn't want to, but they do.

Gifts given and hugs shared. And of course the look of surprise as my Love opened his gift, the one he wasn't expecting that I was able to pull out of my ass. That I was able to trick him into thinking he wasn't getting. Score one for the ruse.

Christmas morning I was awakened by the pitter patter of little feet, flying into my bedroom.

"Mama! Santa came!!!"

Followed by him jumping into my bed for a quick cuddle as I tried to wrap my brain around the fact it was already morning.

Off to the living room to ogle Santa's spoils. It's truly a feeling of holiday cheer to watch a child tear into box after box, wrapping paper flying like pieces of a winter storm as they dig in to their prizes.

He was so happy.

I felt for so long this season that I would have a very disappointed kid come Christmas morning, but to the contrary he exclaimed it was the "Best Christmas EVER!"

The 2010 year is inching towards its demise and what a year it's been.

Aside from a few minor hiccups, the year has been great.

I have a new job, and a permanent one at that. I have an amazing man in my life that I love and who loves me back. And now a shiny new car instead of a flaming pile of junk on wheels.

I'm hoping that 2011 can only bring better things. (I know, who IS this optimist?)

Bring it on.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tow Trucks and Cyrano de Bergerac

So after sitting in that dealership with my brother last we left me, and test driving again and crunching more numbers, again, we left with the hope that something would eventually pan out.

I left again discouraged to not have any definitive answers, nor keys in my hand.

Another week of dependency on other people to cart my carless ass back and forth to work. Another week of feeling like I was abandoning my child, who was still thankfully spending night after night at my mother's so he was able to go to school.

The Boy and I strategized.

We called dealership after dealership. We priced out what was possibly possible. We finally settled on a car to strive for.

4 dealerships were given my information. Everything about me. Name, rank and serial number. Data was ran and numbers were crunched. Initial offers were given and rebuffed.

I felt like a slick Wall Street trader. Granted I was being fed the information to say much like Cyrano de Bergerac, but nonetheless, the words flowed (with many, many, many post-its in front of me for notes) from my mouth and I sounded like less of a novice.

MSRP's, Invoice Prices, Holdbacks. Terminology I knew nothing of was littering my daily conversations. Haggling like an old woman at a yard sale.

I said my thank you’s and let them know I was being rewarded with better promises at their competition. I felt almost powerful. These places fighting over me like a pack of wolves to a single piece of deer meat.

I was narrowing the search. Had brought my battle down to 2 dealerships.

This was a stressful process. Yet another week in the making.

I finally get the offers. One hands down winner was chosen, but I was of course prompted to sound laissez faire about the whole ordeal. "Oh ok, well I did get a good offer from the other dealership so I have to do some thinking before I make my final decision".

Inside I was jumping for joy. Was I really approved?? Was it really a reasonable sounding offer? Holy shit!

The only hurdle I had left was my trade. My Ford Carcass, ready to ignite again as soon as the battery was reconnected or attempted to drive. They had all given me trade idea's sight unseen.

Boy were they in for a treat.

Now came the next struggle. How the hell do you get a car that bursts into flames when you drive it 45 miles to the dealership with the promises of taking it away from me and giving me a shiny new replacement?

Idea's were toyed with.

Rent a trailer from U-Haul? But then I would need to find someone willing to tow a car 80 miles round trip. Volunteers? None.

Get it towed was the only possible solution. The dealership gave me the song and dance that they "don't do that" and I was on my own getting the vehicle there.

Bastards. (Of course we later learn, thanks to knowledge in such areas by the Boy's father, that they likely had the ability to do this, but wanted me to suffer. Assholes)

So I figure, well I have roadside service on my car through my insurance, I can get it towed under the guise I need it serviced again. Seeing as a call had been placed it was on FIRE with the last 2 weeks this wasn't out of the realm of possibilities.

I make the call. "I need my car towed; it's dead in my boyfriend’s driveway"

"Ma'am, we are only authorized to cover the hook-up and the first 5 miles, as there is a Ford Dealership that should be able to repair your vehicle. You would be responsible for the remaining 40 miles of yoru requested destination, at $4 a mile."

Um, what?!

"Well you told me you would tow it like 100 miles when it caught fire a couple weeks ago, why are you only going to go 5 miles now??"

"You had filed a claim before and it was towed under the claim. This being a roadside service call, we are only authorized the mileage to the nearest manufacturer dealership."

Fuck me sideways.

I started to cry to the woman, hoping she would take some sort of pity on me, find a loophole. "It's the week before Christmas; I can't afford to pay close to $200 for you to tow my car. The reason I need it towed to where I am asking is because I know someone there who is willing to fix it extremely cheap and if they can't, it's at a dealership I can trade it"

The woman puts me on hold. "Ma'am we can do the first 20 miles, but you would have to cover the remaining 25."

In my head I work the math (ok not in my head as I am math impaired, but using the calculator on my cell phone), it was still $100. Money I certainly didn't have extra.

I told her thank you. And she told me the tow place would contact me, etc.

I immediately called the Boy, who was at work while this ordeal was going on. I got him up to speed.

"They want me to pay $100 to get it the extra miles to the dealership"

To which he responds "You don't have $100."

I know.

More ideas were thrown out, and I took to the internet for a solution. I posted the need for someone with AAA to come to my rescue via my Facebook status. (ah the wonders of modern technology). Of course, much to my chagrin, it was a fruitless effort.

The person would have had to be there with me to get towed, and others had exceeded their tow limit for the year (What? A limit??). I appreciated the ideas and declines, and racked my brain on what the hell to do.

I had until 5pm to get to the dealership. It being a Sunday, I was pressed as it was to get a car before Monday so I could get to work of my own accord.

The tow guy from my insurance calls. Great. Now all I can think is I am going to be forced to dish out $100 I didn't have right before Christmas to get this pain in the ass car out of my life.

I ask him if there is any way it can be cheaper. I relay to him my plight. Being a single mom the week before Christmas. As sure as I was that it had fallen on deaf ears, he told me that he had to come out anyway to show proof he tried.

I sighed. Ok.

When he got there, he assured me he wasn't able to tow it through my insurance anyway because the plates weren't on it.


My plates were sitting on my coffee table 40 miles away. I didn't know what to do.

The man, toothless and heavyset had been riding in the tow truck with what I assume was his wife or girlfriend. An interesting pair, but who was I to judge?

He let me know that he wasn't able to tow it without plates, and put a call in to his headquarters that I couldn't afford the tow anyway.

Then, something amazing happened. Something that has (briefly) restored my faith in the human spirit.

He told me he was going to call in my car with his personal AAA. He had friends with other tow company's in the town I was in and he would put the call through one of theirs and they would tow me up to 100 miles.

Dost my ears deceive me??

A total stranger, offering a good deed the week before Christmas?

So he chirped into his Nextel and made the calls. Arranged the tow and filled out the AAA slip with his information and left it in the car. I felt obligated to tip him for his generosity, since I would have had to pay a ridiculous amount to get towed.

He balked at my offer and said "No don't worry about it, you don't have to do that!" to which I replied, "Well YOU didn't have to do what you did and I appreciate it."

Holiday greetings were exchanged, and he lumbered into his flatbed and roared off into the distance.

Soon I was riding shotgun with what I can only explain as a redneck gangster. Some sort of backwoods-wigger thugging out to the mainstream hip-hop that bellowed out of his orange iPod mounted on the dashboard.

I occupied myself on my cell phone playing a vigorous game of Angry Birds, trying to calm my nerves as we made our way to the dealership. His bizarre attempts at small talk every few miles were thankfully quelled by my avid texting.

My brother had to meet us at the dealership with the plates, and thankfully he had been able to get into my house to get them.

We timed the arrivals perfectly as my brother rolled in just seconds after the tow bed was being lowered.

I grabbed my plates from him, gulped and walked into the dealership to meet my fate. Excited and nervous. Excited at the thought of my new car, which had been pulled up front and center for me to drool over. Nervous that they would look at my current car, laugh and tell me to shit in a hat.

As I walked in and shook the hand of the man I had been dealing with by phone for a week and sat down, my brother thankfully came inside to join me. I had feared he would take off, but I was happy he decided to stick it out with me in the dealership.

Texts back and forth to the Boy about what was going on and side conversations with my brother helped the time go by, though didn't help my nerves. It was surreal.

Paperwork filed and signatures signed with a flourish. I lay in wait.

Finally after what felt like a decade, he walks towards me, keys in hand. KEYS IN HAND!

It was in slow motion it seemed in my head. Probably the longest 20 feet I had ever witnessed someone walk. But there he was now, in front of me. Keys in hand, ready to give me them and let me leave the lot with this brand new beautiful vehicle.

Another man comes over to teach me how to use the features in the car. The FEATURES!!! I had Bluetooth and gadgets and all kinds of buttons and lights in there! I had power windows and locks and keyless entry!

I was the proud owner (well I will be after 6 years of payments, but I digress) of a band spanking new 2011 Kia Soul.

Joy to the World!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fallen Trees and The Vehicularly Challenged

So let's recap.

Last we heard from our Heroin (me, for all intensive purposes) I had been ravaged by fire (ok slight exaggeration) and rescued by my love. I had gone from the depths of vehicular despair to the hopeful promise of a light on the horizon.

And now....

As I sat Tuesday in the chair of the car dealership, being late now and banks being closed, we had to take our hopefulness and mosey on back down the road south, headed for home.

The promise of a call the next day with assurances of ease and convenience, we left. Still uplifted and positive that I, yes I, the vehicularly challenged would soon be given the keys to a shiny new car. The first new car I had ever been introduced to.

Naturally, we went to Hooters for dinner, because serious discussions call for serious atmosphere.

Burgers digesting and conversation semi shouted above the hustle and bustle of the scantily clad wait staff and the boisterous and drooling sports watching clientele, we discussed the situation.

On the road again, we were optimistic of what the next day would bring.

The week had gone on and on with calls back and forth. Haggling with banks and salesmen to get a reasonable cost and an affordable monthly payment.

This wasn't a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of ordeal. No instant YES, but no outright no either. This, my friends, was Limbo. A sort of car-themed purgatory.

So as the days wore on, I was forced to be picked up and driven to work by a fellow employee who thankfully lived somewhat near the Boy, whose house I had been essentially stranded at the majority of the week.

The wheeling and dealing and process of the whole new car thing had been ongoing through the week. Random updates that weren't really updates at all were made. "We're trying to get you the best deal possible", "we're waiting for a call back from the bank" blah blah blah.

My patience and anxiety levels were wearing thinner by the hour. Stomach in knots for days on end, just wanting a resolution. Wanting to know for sure, one way or the other if this was actually possible, or some string-a-long tactic meant to test me somehow.

Friday night, I finally got a ride from work to my own home. I hadn't been there since Monday and had been tiring of interchanging parts to the same 2 outfits at work all week.

As I bade farewell to my coworker and turned the key in my front door, I was greeted by my Christmas tree on the ground and a bevy of shattered glass ornaments.

I burst into tears.

The stress of the whole car thing paired with the sight of sentimental, irreplaceable ornaments in millions of pieces all over my living room was enough to send me right over the edge.

I called the Boy, completely defeated.

He gave me the usual assurances, that things could be worse, "It's only glass", etc. “Time to make new memories.”, "They were only objects.” All things that should have been comforting, but piled onto the anxiety I had been harboring all week fell on deaf ears.

My brother begrudgingly brought my son over to see me, as with the hellish week I hadn't seen him at all. He also came wielding a replacement stand for the tipped tree.

We struggled and squirmed with the tree, but got it sort of in the upright position. Crooked and harried now by the tumble it took. Ornaments and garland disheveled and tilting to one side. My once beautiful tree, verging on Charlie Brown status.

The next morning, I spent my time helping to honor fallen soldiers with Wreaths Across America. Wandering in wintery cemeteries to place wreaths on the graves of those who served in every war from the Revolution to now in my home town.

If Karma was out to get me, it certainly wasn't from this life, but perhaps in another I was a real son of a bitch.

So the Boy picked me up after my charitable morning, as he had taken Dylan to his skating lesson and then we headed to Wal-Mart to get yet another tree stand, since again my tree was on the verge of falling over.

Another day of struggling and straining to get the tree in the upright position, the kids playing somewhat nicely outside, we passed out from sheer exhaustion. For him physical, for me, mental.

We awoke with a start to look at the clock, and realized I was to be to my waitressing gig in 20 minutes. I hustled around the house, throwing on make-up and taming my hair from the winter hat I had adorned all morning, threw on my uniform, my arms still covered in bed scars from sleeping with a sweater on. My arms now looked cable knit.

So I spent the night slinging drinks and being jovial, hoping to make a few bucks.

And then we arrive at Monday. Picked up by my brother and driven to work, I sit and again wait for the call from the Dealership.

A few calls and call backs later, I am approved!! I made arrangements to get picked up from work to go sign the papers and get my keys. I called my insurance and transferred the information from my dormant vehicle to the VIN of the new one they had given me. I was excited; I was jumping out of my skin.

The Boy arranged to meet us with the plates from my old car, so I could easily get in and drive the new one home. We met at the bank so I could deposit my funds to easily write out the check that would lead me to my new vehicular fate.

Ring Ring

My cell phone alerts with a call from the dealership.

"Yeah we just noticed a slight thing, since you got approved from this bank and not that bank, you lose $1000 in rebates so now you need to come up with another $1000 down."
My heart sank.

"What?? I can't do anymore than I told you, I had to beg, borrow and steal to basically come up with what I did in the first place"

Apologies are thrown, it wasn't their fault, it was the bank, etc. All I heard was what the kids in Charlie Brown heard whenever an adult talked. Tears streamed down my face.

A suggestion was made to take the words of their original deal to another dealership, one who liked to compete and beat the one I had been dealing with. Couldn't hurt right?

Yeah, that's 2 hours of my night my poor brother and I won't be getting back. More numbers crunched, and test drives taken and they wanted my first born child essentially. SO much for competition.

So now I am again in Limbo, or still in Limbo for that matter. Waiting for word that something will pan out. That options will be weighed and something will eventually work out.

Here's hoping.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Tried to Kill Me!

There are a few certain inevitables in life.

Everyone will be born, everyone will die, and if it can go wrong it will usually find a way to do so.

Murphy must have been a distant relative, since his law has been applied to my everyday dealings for quite some time.

Yesterday started like most for me. Got up, begrudgingly and snuggled happily in bed for a while. Finally kicked my own ass out of bed got dressed and headed on the highway (you're welcome for getting that song stuck in your head) gingerly to work.

Suddenly there arose such a clatter (ok ok, so I was dying to use that line, being it the holiday season and all)....

As I drove mindlessly down the road, my car started making this rattling noise. I mean, my car and road noise were long pals, not the quietest of vehicles in its 7 year life span. But this, this was a new noise.

My heat had yet to kick in (since I had a temperamental temperature gauge, it was in and out on most days, a royal pain in the ass on frigid New England morning) so I figured it was something to do with my radiator.

Like any smart woman would do, I called my boyfriend.

"Um, hi. My car is making a weird rattling noise". His response, "Do you think you can make it to work?" Followed by me saying "I hope so. I just shut off the heat, hoping maybe that was it. If you get a call that I am stuck on the side of the road however, don't be shocked."

We bade our farewell and I continued on my merry way.

The rattling not only continued, but got progressively worse. Now as I made my way winding down the long, uninhabited road towards the highway, the noise got louder. I turned the radio down, craned my neck to listen more attentively. I would step on the gas and the noise would get louder, let off, still rattled but less.

The line of agitated morning commuters now trailing behind me must have been thrilled with my snail’s pace and rev-and-go test driving.

While all this sounds like it lasted a while, within a 2 minute span of my hang up with the Boy, the engine stopped and I coasted to the side of the road. I called him back; let him know that I had just officially died.

"Are you serious?!?!"


As I sat I noticed smoke coming from my hood. Ok, I figured I had over heated. A pain in the ass yes, but not the end of the world. I told him I would pop the hood and take a look and then call him back.


I got out of the car, the annoyed trail of cars now whizzing behind me. One lone truck pulled behind me.

I told this to the Boy, to which he asked "Is it a murderer?"


So out of the car, I head to the front of the car and attempt to pop the hood. Once open, I see my engine engulfed in flames.

That's right flames.

The woman in the truck, (who had stopped) had previously driven past me, saw the flames shooting out from under my car, and turned around to pull behind me to assist.

I panicked, slammed the hood down and shouted to her my car was on fire as she grabbed her phone and dialed 911. I grabbed the keys, my purse, my belongings, Dylan's car seat and of course my coffee and RAN to the lady's truck.

A nice older gent who had been taking out his trash across the street also came to the aid.

Within minutes what looked like a plumbers van pulls up, only to see it was a member of the Fire Department. He was moments later joined by another suited Fireman and a police officer.

Happy frickin Tuesday.

So there, frigid and numb by the cold, I stood and watched as these men re-opened the hood I had slammed down and run from. The fire had luckily put itself out by then, but they ogled the engine.

Some sort of wire shorted and arcing and lit oil in fire was the theory.


I called the answering service for my job. "Um hi, this is Apryl from the office, my car is on fire soooooo...yeah ."

Message left, I didn't know what to do next. I called my Boy back and told him roughly where I was. The lovely trash-taker-outer (whose name we now know was Joe) told me to grab my stuff and come warm up in his house.

I told the Boy this (using Joe's phone since mine had died, naturally) and he asks "Will you be in the basement? Bound? Dead?"


(Clearly we have high regard in the trusting of strangers...)

So in with Joe and his lovely wife (whose name oddly also began with a J but who I am blanking on now) and we joked and chatted away until my Knight in Shining Minivan arrived.

He and Joe, far more mechanically inclined than I could ever hope to be, chatted about the possible cause of the fire and we loaded my rescued stuff into the van and headed back to the Boy's house, thankfully semi nearby.

I made the call to my insurance company, not sure if this was claim worthy or at deductible level, but called none-the-less. I knew I had rental insurance, just not sure how it worked.

It is useless as I found out. Had I been in a collision, a fender bender, they would set me up no hassle with a rental car. I could go about my day to day life seemingly uninterrupted. However, since I had my car catch on fire, well that I had to pay myself, wait to see if the claim gets approved, investigated and then maybe get reimbursed.

Yeah go fuck yourself on that one.

I agreed to have an adjuster call and check things out on the off chance it was claim worthy. Could they that day?? No of course not. They did however set me up with a tow.

So, since it had seemed like a fixable issue at the time, and seeing as the Boy once was mechanic to giant military helicopters, we opted to tow it to his house and see if he could easily (and hopefully cheaply) diagnose and fix the problem. (Thankfully he had yesterday and today off)

He jetted off to meet the man with the tow truck, and a little while later I could hear the BEEP BEEP BEEP of the back-up alarm and the clanging of chains from the flatbed that brought the Fucus into the driveway.

Once there, the Boy assures me that I am a disaster of a person (so loving, yet true...) and proceeds to again pop the hood of the white metal mess outside.

Things become unbolted, Googling is done, and what seems to be the issue is found (we hope) and out came the tools to work it out. A piece of something that upside down looks like an oily mess of a pan to my non-mechanical eyes is now resting on the kitchen counter.

A gasket thing is then inspected and seems to be ok. Perplexing since that "should" have been the problem.

Back out to the driveway he reassembles the parts and then takes the car around the block. No more rattling noise it seems. He gingerly pulls back in and asks me to drive it for another lap around the block, see if I hear anything odd or how it feels, me obviously knowing the car better than him.

Apprehensively I got behind the wheel, the smell of burnt something or other still floating through my vents. It was nerve racking, but there was no noise.


Back in the driveway, he again pops the hood, car still running. Seemed to be ok.

Seeeeeeemed being the operative word.

Ok, time for his lovely assistant Vanna (aka, ME) to get in the car as his head poked into the engine and rev the gas. Hmm. Ok.

So I sit, scootch the seat back allll the way up and hit the pedal. Ok, so far so good.

"Do it again"


"Ok, one more time."

And again, the engine bursts into flames. Clearly hell bent on killing me, or itself, and now my boyfriend.


I jump back in and pull out the keys. He's blowing frantically, trying to put out the fire.


So again, I place a call to 911.

"Hi my car is on fire in the driveway”, state the address and listen intently as the sounds of sirens and big red fire trucks get closer.

The Boy puts the car in neutral and rolls it down his hilly drive, so if it finally decides to blow up, it's at least not near the house.

As my flaming Fucus backs itself into the driveway, the frigid cold wind gusts just right and shortly puts itself out just as the red flashing lights stop in front of it.

Again, suited firemen, this time wielding a caravan of vehicles with them including the Hazmat team, circle the dead-end street.

They make their way to my smoking car, extinguisher ready and again ogle the engine. This time, they disconnected the battery and pretty much forbade any more activity with the car.

They laughed at me and told me I broke a record, having to file 2 of the exact same reports, in two different towns in the span of a few hours.

I always wanted to break a record. Some one call Guinness!

So now, no chance of fixing my car, I again make a call to my job. I let them know about fire number 2 and that I would certainly NOT be in that day.

Full of stress and anxiety, the Boy and I racked our brains as to what to do. I needed a car. We didn't know anyone with a second vehicle I could borrow for a few days, didn't have the money to rent anything, and certainly didn't think we had any money to buy a car.

We were thinking of some sort of pre-owned cheap something or other that may be able to get me by for a few months.

The Boy, in a stroke of genius, called his father who works at a dealership, just to see if there were any cheap (and by cheap we mean pretty much a rent-a-wreck status) cars I could finagle. Not really, so defeated we hung up.

How bad WAS my credit? Oh terrible. At last that's what I had come to believe for the past decade. I had assumed it was atrocious and never gave it another thought. I was stuck with a horrendous interest rate for a piece of shit car that I over-paid for in the Ghetto because it was so bad....right?


A point and click here, and a few keystrokes later and we find out thanks to the power of the internet, that it's actually not so bad. It's not super fabulous, but it was actually kind of ok.


We needed to test this theory. So back searching the interweb we apply for a small credit card. Each piece of info I entered, I followed with a silent "Yeah Right" in my head. On to the final page, I hit enter. APPROVED!

What?!?! Who are you and what have you done to my credit score??

"If you can get approved for a credit card, you can probably get approved for a car loan, it's worth a shot right?"

Another phone call to Daddy Dearest and we had given some more of my coveted financial info to someone to see what it looked like. Again, thinking some sort of basic cheap pre-owned something or other that would get me by.

"Can you come in tonight?" was the next call.

"Um, we'll try."

So off to load his poor kids (one of which was home with pneumonia during the whole "my car on fire" ordeals) into the car so their oh-so-generous grandmother could babysit and we could high tail it to his dad's work.

(My child thankfully already being babysat by my dear old mom)

So into traffic we went. Tail-lights illuminating the long drive as they flashed in front of us until we pulled into the dealership.

So we sit through the rigorous and lengthy process of talking to a sales guy, giving out more personal information and then laying in wait to hear the verdict. Just to even SEE what kind of previously owned something or other they MAY be able to hook me up with,

So off the man goes to obtain the keys of the car they want for me, the one they think fairly confidently they can get me into.

We look out the window with each car that passes through, wondering what sort of vehicular future awaits me.

Suddenly, a brand new 2011 beautiful car pulls up. Shiny and still plastic covered. And what do my wondering eyes should appear, but the sales guy we had been talking to!


Today I sit in wait, wait for the 100% go-ahead that I am going to be in a BRAND SPANKING NEW CAR for the first time ever in my life.

Cross every appendage you have people; I need all the help I can get!

Friday, December 3, 2010

T'was Just Weeks Before Christmas...

T’was just weeks before Christmas, and all through the house
the clothing not laundered, not even a blouse.
The stockings were still in a box in the kitchen,
In hopes that I’d get off of my ass and stop bitching.

The dishes were piling up high by the sink,
They need to be done before starting to stink.
And in my procrastination I’m ready to snap,
Have ransacked my brain for so long I could nap.

While people I know are out shopping for gifts
I wonder if I’ll even pull off Christmas.
The stresses of the holidays making me sour
Days dragging on hour by hour.

How I’ll afford Christmas I’ll never know
I smile and I nod so my kid doesn’t know.
Mommy is broke, her bills in arrears,
There may be no sleigh, no eight tiny reindeer.

With the bank account dwindled to the point I feel sick,
There will be no memorable pics with St Nick.
Decorations are scattered in every room,
I hope I’ll get motivated to put them up soon!

Ads for Lego’s, Transformers and Video Games!
The Jingles so catchy you know all the names!
You can buy them at Sears, at Macy’s, at Kohl’s,
Toys R Us, and even hole in the walls!

As each one of them airs, you hear “I want that!”
From remote-controlled-this to it-transforms-to that.
So up to my ears I’m in things that he wants,
I counter with “Santa is watching you” taunts.

The Elf on a Shelf and his movements are slacking
I’m looking for the extra funds I’ve been lacking.
Applying for jobs, a second and third,
So the words “Shut off notice” will no longer be heard.

The guilt setting in on the gifts I can’t buy,
For those friends and family members that I usually try.
A bundle of Toys may not be in my kids future,
If miracles happen, one now would be super!

I’m living this Christmas how they do in the ghetto,
Dodging the repo man daily like a pro!
I put on a good front about the things I can’t pay,
But I feel like a deadbeat, cry a little each day.

The cable shut off, internet and phone,
We watch Christmas DVD’s whenever we’re home.
No food in the cupboards, peanut butter or jelly,
The plus side to that is a slow shrinking belly!

My ends are all splitting, my roots are a mess,
No money to fix it, no funds to hair dress!
My kid’s head so unruly and money so scathe,
I took some old clippers and his head I did shave

He spoke not a word, I went straight to work,
And hope I didn’t make him look like a jerk.
So hoping my fears and anxieties don’t grow,
Somehow holiday spirit will soon start to show!

I close my eyes tightly, I hope and I pray,
Let this Christmas not end in a Griswoldy way.
My boyfriend explains, and I hope he is right,
It’s the season of giving, it will all be alright.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Turkey Day Dreams and Tryptophan Coma's

It's funny how traditions change over time.

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was a big deal (and not in the way that it smelled of rich mahogany...). The entire family on both sides would convene on our house, tables laden with my grandmother's china, yellow goblets on the table, tablecloths and nice linens. Gathering around in the kitchen as my mother slaved over the food, ready to feed the masses.

Everyone would sit down around the table, then in the other room at the other table we had to put up to seat everyone, and of course the kids table (damn that kids table...) and we would say "Grace". No literally, someone would just shout "GRACE!" and we would dig in.

Our table dwindled to one and the kids table, year after year getting smaller and smaller. Finally getting that much needed promotion to join the adults.

That promotion was bittersweet. Sure you were now sitting with the big guns, but there were far fewer of them as the years went on. And just like the saying "...and then there were none".

Last year, I took back turkey. Forced my mother and brother to my house (well made her cook, and travel but still). I set an adorned table with cloth napkins and rings, matching place settings, the nines. We sat around a table my father had built and we yelled "GRACE!" and dug in. (ok so I literally nodded off pretty much during dinner at the table from exhaustion, but that's a whole other story...)

I tried to make a tradition, even if it was just 4 of us. And that has been thwarted. Too much of a pain in the ass to lug the fried turkey and pies from one house to another. So thus, this year we are back crammed into my mom's little kitchen, no more fancy plates and cloth napkins. Mission aborted.

And so it goes again, that tradition is overrun by ease.

Poor Thanksgiving, the red-headed step child of holidays lost after the splendor of Halloween, when they started (YES the day after) playing Christmas tunes incessantly on certain radio stations. My child's favorite TV station, interrupted every 5 minutes with a stream of toy commercials, leaving him stating "I want that!" after every one.

I mean sure, I jumped the shark last year by partaking in Christmas-themed goodness the day before Thanksgiving (a huge pet peeve) but it was one day before...

Enchanted Village, Polar Express 4D, a Christmas themed laser light show. It was amazing. Followed by a hope for continued tradition on Turkey day. Food, football and Miracle on 34th Street. That evening taking out all my holiday decor and then spending that much anticipated day off after turning my house into an Elfin paradise.

And so now, 2 days before, I sit and hope that tradition, even dysfunctional, finds its way back into my Thanksgiving. Hoping my Turkey Day dreams don't slip into their own tryptophan coma.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Oh Disposable Income, How I Miss Thee

I would like to thank the dollar for pretty much canceling Christmas on me this year.

I mean, what's not too thankful for? I won't have to wait in harried long lines to check out things in stores. No rushing to the post office to make sure things are being shipped out on time. No staying up late, wrist cramping from writing out and sending holiday cards. No papercuts from fast and insidious wrapping on Christmas Eve.

Yes, the lack of money this year will ensure my child doesn't get a visit from an old man sliding down my chimney in B&E fashion into my home. No having to leave out milk to curdle, or cookie crumbs to attract mice or bugs.


Perhaps I can persuade my 6 year old we have become Jehovah’s Witnesses and no longer need to celebrate Christmas….or birthdays….any other gift giving event?

That crisp linen and cotton piece of greenery has made sure that by eliminating it's abundance in my life, that there will be a Bob Cratchet Christmas in my life this year. No gifts or grand feasts. Just a whole lot of false cheer in the ghetto.

It's amazing the power a 5 x 2 1/2 inch piece of paper can have on your life. You can't do anything without its permission.

The buck DOES stop here.

Not only does it stop, it runs in the opposite direction.

Baroque(adj.) - When you are out of Monet.

The last year for me has been a financial roller coaster. Getting hours cut back from a well-paying job I loved to then getting laid off. Filing and collecting unemployment at a fraction (I always hated fractions) of what I made and trying to keep a roof over our heads, food in mouths.

The Hallelujah moment of getting a new job, FINALLY. A job I actually sort of enjoy. Nice and understanding people, but small in corporate structure.

So it was a couple bucks an hour shy of what I had made before, that shouldn't be a big deal right? I cut out my inner city commute time, I was only 20 minutes away now. No more sitting idly in gridlock, bumper to bumper with the angry uncaffeinated masses. No, this seemed blissful, easy.

"Seemed" being the operative word.

Have you ever tried to dig yourself out from underneath yourself? To try and catch up has been like running up an escalator going in the opposite direction. Like you are moving forward, yet a strong invisible force is pushing you back, keeping you in place. Likely laughing quietly to itself. Bastard.

Visions of dollars and change spiraling down into the drain as everything taken in is suddenly sucked away. No Sugar Plums dancing my head. Nope. Just vanishing notes of currency. Like magic.

Suddenly all that help you were getting when you were out of work, disappears. No more assistance in getting food or healthcare. No, you OBVIOUSLY are suddenly independently wealthy in the eyes of the government, even if you bounce every other check you write.

On paper it seems feasible. That you can squeak it all out and be A-Ok. Until that whole math thing comes into play (again, I've always loathed and despised math).

Oh Math, you vile and evil temptress. You start in all loving and sweet, multiplying my hourly rate by the hours I work. Lulling me into that ever false sense of security before you start to slowly subtract from my lifeline.

FICA, State Tax, Insurance, Social Security. You and your gaggle of friends, giddy as you slowly suck the life out of each paycheck. Like a sparkly Twilight Vampire. All cute on the outside with your dollar sign, and then BOOM! All life gone.

It has me stressed beyond belief. In every other aspect of my life, everything has fallen into place. I am the happiest I have likely ever been. And this, this seemingly minute issue has me losing sleep at night. Dodging phone calls as though the Black Plague were to enter my blood stream should I pick up that receiver.

Rent, Utilities, Phones, Car Payments, Insurance. Not to mention gas, food, child sports, school and activities. It's all slowly taking its toll. Eliminating any hopes or memories of disposable income.

Searching and applying for a second job, one that may in fact help to bolster my income slightly, but take away time with my son, my love; essentially my life.

Oh Disposable Income, how I miss thee.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Salute You...

They lay in barren holes, their uniforms sand filled and hot. Temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in the deserts of foreign lands. Hands, fingernails layered with dirt and calluses.

They are loaded up at all times with packs and gear, enough to make even the lightest weighted man instantly gain 50 pounds. Their eyes tired from little to no sleep.

Sounds of silence mingled with the rumble of road side bombs and IEDs, hopeful at each sound not one of their own affected, that it was discovery and intentional detonation. The rapping of gunshots in small villages, ears ringing.

All concepts of their former life, replaced by photos, tattered and torn from frequent viewing. Letters crease-worn from repeated reading. Imagining the voices of their loved ones as they scroll though the words.

They miss out on birthdays, anniversaries. Their families and their own. No more counting down the days, hours and minutes until Friday. The weekend is not a respite for them. Every day melts into the next.

Tactical thought over takes the simplest of ideas. They sleep with one eye open. The once for granted meals of home, now fond memories as they wait for their leave. Brief stints home to see their families, or for it all to be over.

Bunks and barracks, makeshift shelters. No more the warmth and comfort of their familial bedding. No falling asleep in the arms of those they love. Tucking in their children before catching up on TV and falling into a deep and restful slumber.

They are soldiers, sailors, Marines. Pilots and infantry men and women. They fight for our freedoms. They put their lives on the line, every day, hour and minute. They travel the world and partake in conflicts that may not be theirs, but do so without complaint, they do so with honor and dignity.

They return home changed. Some for the better, other's affected more deeply. Wounded mentally and physically. Tired and worn, but proud nonetheless of the work they had done. The peaces they kept, or the battles they were forced to fight for their lives.

They give the ultimate sacrifices. Their lives at times for our freedoms. Their memory for our future.

Today we celebrate the 235 birthday of the United States Marine Corps, tomorrow as we honor ALL Veteran's of all wars, take the time to thank them. To be grateful everyday for what you have because of these men and women.

Boys and girls who leave their homes, their livelihoods as young as high school graduates, to enlist in the United States Military to serve their country. To fight for our freedoms and to keep our Nation what it is today. To give us hope that will spring eternal for all our lives, and for the future of our children.

I salute you all.

It is the
not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.

It is
not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is
not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is
not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is
not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is
not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the
salutes the Flag,

It is
who serves
under the Flag

I want to give an extra special salute to my Love. Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for being an amazing man and an amazing father. Thank you for your love, your respect and your honor. You are my best friend. I love you. Semper Fi.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mustache Memories

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with mustaches.

No idea why that furry upper lip was cool to me, probably because my father always had one.

I was just used to see a grown up man with hair on his face. The one time my father shaved off his mustache, I was about 5 years old and I told him "Daddy. shave it back ON".

Granted, I was a child of the late 70's, early 80's so it wasn't all pedophile creeps with Astro vans hovering around playgrounds with facial hair. It was everyone.

I remember as a kid, thinking only normal men had mustaches. I would thumb through the JC Penny and Sears catalogues and think it odd when they DIDN'T have a little fur on their upper lip. Those were the weirdo’s.

I would also pause at the matching bathroom sets....those fuzzy toilet seat covers and matching everything, I was fascinated by them, probably because my mother didn't think toilet seat covers were sanitary....but that's a story for another day.

Nowadays, unless you are a featured guest on To Catch A Predator, or hanging out at a NASCAR event, the mustache is just plain creepy.

People don't get the same prestige sporting a lip rug they did back in the day. No. No more would you hear, "Hey that guy must be upper management, check out the 'stache" kind of props. They are more like, "Ew get that guy a razor".

It takes a certain kind of man to pull off a mustache in 2010. I mean Tom Selleck is an icon for it, and without one he isn't even the same man. My dad had that same kind of Stache Appeal. He wasn't HIM without it. He was just another portly man with no upper lip. Weird.

There are some other iconic face fuzzed men still out there; I mean has anyone even given Alex Trebek the time of day since he went naked up there? Hulk Hogan has his 2-toned handlebar, and without that and his manicotti looking bleached locks, he's just another roided out old guy living out his glory days.

The young community tries to strategically stylize their facial follicles. Shaping them into those absurd looking chin straps. I mean really, why make your face look like you have it holding your hair to your head? Its ridiculous looking.

You either have to full-beard it up like Alan from the Hangover or Al the assistant from Tool Time; or baby face that shit up. Even a 5 o’clock shadow bit of scruff is kind of sexy on some fella’s. Other's just look lazy.

But the mustache, the mustache is a dying art. You must be of a certain age these days to pull one off. A young man in his 20s or 30s just doesn’t have the wherewithal to get away with it. Unless of course, it’s some sort of lost bet or spoof for a Halloween costume solely for the humor in it. No. You don’t have the knack.

It was once such a distinguishment, a testament of a man’s manliness. You could GROW the hair, therefore you must do so, and with panache.

Cartoon villains twirling their mustaches while devising diabolical plans for debauchery. Hitler and even Charlie Chaplin, all you needed to see was that tiny black area under their noses and BOOM! You knew in an instant who they were. Like the bright red lips of the Rolling Stones, that tiny little piece of hair on the lip was an instant identifier.

You must follow the footsteps of iconic men who wore them with style. Whose identities are lost without them. Like that guy from Hall and Oats. I mean he is nothing without his lip hair. Icons like Selleck, Trebek, and Hogan. Super Mario, Geraldo, and Dr. Phil. Wilford Brimley telling us all about Diabetes. Takes a gentleman to pull it off and sell that shit.

Go big or go home.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pivotal Moments and Velvet Rope

A year ago this month, something changed.

All it took was one moment. Fleeting really. Just a look. Eyes locked and BOOM. Everything changed.

A briefly held gaze, heart all a flutter and I realized something major. SHIT, I was in love. (even if I may have been a little skeptical of it, possibly in denial of it.) I was head over heels; I was screwed.

It started out as any other month we'd had up until then really. He and I were always together, were doing things with the kids on weekends, hanging out together when we didn't have them. As the month wore on, I guess it was more and more frequent.

We had always done that though, outings with the 3 kids and each other. A picture on the outside of a nuclear family, even though we weren't exactly. Outings to the aquarium, the Museum of Science. Various carnivals and birthday parties. Kite flying and movies.

It wasn't out of the ordinary for us to plan things that were familial in nature with each other. It was what we did, how we rolled. Even without the kids, we were a picture of a "normal" couple. "Dating" without actually "dating" for close to a year.

So naturally, the day before Thanksgiving last year, it wasn't out of the ordinary for us to make plans. For the 5 of us to meet up and do things, together as we always had.

It's the first time I ever, EVER did something Christmas related before Thanksgiving. It's a huge pet peeve of mine to walk the aisles of stores before Halloween and Thanksgiving and find Christmas paraphernalia all over the place. Or hear holiday music played. It's annoying. Let the other damn holiday's have their 15 minutes before you go sweeping them under the rug as non-important. Sheesh.

However, the day after Thanksgiving, I go no-holds-barred, balls out in all of my Christmas decorating. I spend that entire day pulling out holiday boxes, moving furniture to make room for the tree I would get at the end of the weekend. My entire house resembling that of one lived in by one of Santa's elves. My bathroom, bedroom, kitchen...everything is adorned with holiday decor and snowmen. (I love snowmen, no idea why seeing as I HATE actual snow...but I digress.)

So that day, that random Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving last year, the kids had a half day at school, I had a half day at work, and he had the day off. Seemed as though the stars were aligned for us to so something festive, right?

There we were, lined up at Jordan's Furniture. Santa's Enchanted Village and Polar Express 4D, the motion odyssey ride, all under the roof of a furniture store. Add a 3D Laser Light show, all set to Christmas music, it was win-win.

Time was not on our side however and we had some waiting to do after we moseyed through the Enchanted Village. Looking at the quaint holiday scenes that were transcended from the old Jordan Marsh in Boston of our youth. Faux snow fell from the sky at random intervals, and it was, well, enchanting.

We posed for an impromptu "family" photo, and then we had some time to kill. We went out to dinner. We ate, we joked, we laughed and made our way back to wait yet again for the exciting and fun parts of the day to happen. The real meat-and-potatoes of our evening.

Tickets purchased and hot chocolate in hand, we waited. The kids getting antsy and excited as we neared the time our tickets were stamped with for the next show.

And there, in the lobby of Jordan's Furniture, amidst velvet covered ropes and kids sipping hot chocolate, it happened. That moment.


He and I, talking as we always had. Joking as we always had, and then, there it was. Eyes locked and emotion flooding. A revelation. A brief glance that I will never forget. I was locked in on those hazel eyes. Soft brown and flecked with green, beneath a bevy of long lashes (the kind that make the ladies jealous) and full of more warmth and sincerity than I had ever seen. That’s all it took.

Had it been a movie, the background would have faded to black, or blurred somehow with all focus on just us two. Two protagonists, caught in a moment. Me in my red coat and he in his blue sweatshirt. Standing out in my mind as though no one else was there, no one else mattered. A matter of seconds really. A wrinkle in time that would change our lives as we knew it. At least I know it did mine.

That was it. That look did it.

That look, followed by an up-all-night phone conversation. An acknowledgement that there was something there, something real. It was then followed by a tumultuous couple of months of back and forth. Of questions and confusion and hesitations and maybe a little fear; I believe on both ends. But ultimately, it was followed by one of the greatest things to ever happen to me.

That just 2 short (although seemingly long at the time) months later, that threshold had been officially crossed. No more just talking about it, we had done it. We had left the Friend Zone and were full on smack dab in the thick of it. We were finally together together.

I finally dropped my guard. I toned down the cynicism and sarcasm and insults and realized this man made me happy. Actually happy.

And I have never been happier. I have never been more appreciative of someone. Someone who has been there for so much. The good, the bad and the ugly. Who has been my best friend and more. Who I can't picture another day in my life without in it. Who fills me with so much love and hope yet can drive me nuts at the same time. A perfect balance. And I love him more every day.

To think it all started by breaking tradition. By not adhering to my own Cardinal Rule; by celebrating Christmas a little early. And I would do it again in a heartbeat. Every part of it. I fell in love with my best friend.

Maybe holidays are a time for miracles, because last year, I certainly got one.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Technological Button Pushing

People don't email anymore.

It's becoming like the 2000's version of the Pony Express. Like Pigeon Carriers. Dated and stale and no longer the most up-to-date mode of message transportation.

Not so long ago, people would sit at their desks, idly waiting for that annoying fax-sounding screech of signing on to AOL (the only option at the time) and waiting for that happy little mailbox in the top left corner to fill with iconic letters, touting "You've Got Mail".

I mean it was enough to get Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan back together in true RomCom fashion.

Since the dawn of the internet, things have evolved. Dial-up became a dinosaur, being replaced evolutionarily by DSL lines, by cable and now by fiber optics (Go FIOS!). No more do you sit, hoping to hear that pinging noise letting you know you have a connection to the World Wide Web. No, it's instant; you click a button and POOF! You're online.

Cell phones that were once the size of bricks, and pretty much the weight of them, have slimmed down like a Weight Watchers campaign. New , faster service and the internet in your pocket. Text messages over taking the actual voice calls that were once so rampant you couldn't hear yourself think for all the outside conversations.

And it's made the world a lot more impersonal. No more cute little thank you cards in the mail or birthday cards. You get an Ecard. No more decorative party invitations in the mail to brighten your day amongst a plethora of bills. Now you get a nondescript notification that someone somewhere is hosting something, and you were clearly "special" enough for them to throw your email address in the list.

You don't get people when you call for help. You get "Press 1 for English" and "Press 6 for Technical Support". Leading you through various automated menu's until you press the right button, either getting the pre-recorded computerized answer you want, or you become too frustrated and hang up.

Even banking has lost its muster. People don't waltz in to the branches, rushing to beat the clock before the doors lock at 5pm. No more waiting in lines to see those smiling tellers and getting a lollipop for the kids in the car. It's automated. It's direct deposit.

People are slowly losing their personalities. Losing touch with each other and that tiny little piece of themselves that made it easier and necessary to have contact with other human being. All sensory acts with the public are now electronic transactions.

Text messages cause arguments with family and friends. Phrases left up to non-contextual interpretations of how they tend to read things at the time. All major events in a person's life now a Facebook status, not a "Mom I have GREAT news!" phone call.

Websites built to navigate through life, in all ways possible so you don't have to interact with another living, breathing being.

Where did we go so wrong? How did we lose touch with our humanity?

Hell, we don't even need to be home anymore to set our VCR’s; we can remotely DVR things from our cells phones.

It's all about technology, and it's starting to push my buttons.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Go Red Coats! (You Halloweenies)

What the DEUCE is going on in Middle America? Hell, even here in good old supposedly liberal Massachusetts it's happening.

Some random town in East BumFuck, Illinois is putting an age limit on Trick or Treating. Yeah. You heard me.

What the EFF is that noise??

Apparently some "Single mothers and senior citizens are less-than-happy" about looking through their peephole and finding 6' tall kids looking for candy. (Plus, who really has a peephole? Or looks out the door suspiciously on Halloween? You KNOW kids are coming to the door. Idiots.)

I guess a wholesome and innocent night of cavity inducing door-to-door candy obtainment is a terrible alternative to the same said teenagers looting, egging and drinking in the woods, but what do I know??

I mean sure, when I was a teenager, we did exactly that, drank in the woods, but on Halloween? We were out for, in the words of the immortal Garfield...CANDY CANDY CANDY CANDY!

My son is 6 years old. 6. He's not allowed to wear costumes to school. What? You take the fun out of Halloween for little kids too?? When I went to the very same school my son attends now, we had each class parade up and down the halls, getting candy from the Office, the Nurse, the Gym Teacher. It wasn't a shunned holiday blamed on Neo-Paganistic or Satanic ritualistic nonsense. It was kids in costumes getting candy. Simple.

It was a dentist’s nightmare sure, but it was FUN.

Have we really gotten that ridiculous as a society (ok yes, yes we have) that miscellaneous old folks in the Sticks are willing to ID potential Trick or Treater’s to see if they are over 12?? That's right; they think that anyone over 12 is too old.

Isn’t that a bit judgmental? To look at a child (and until they are 18, they are CHILDREN) and say, "Hmmm, you are tall, you can't POSSIBLY be allowed to have fun and dress in a goofy costume and get candy."

No Soup for You!

They want to fine the kids $100 if they violate the "Over 12" policy. I don't know about you, but I don't know ANY 12 year old kids who just happen to have $100 handy in case they are fined for breaking some ridiculous law. You're lucky if you can get them to clean their rooms.

It's not the kids taking the innocence and fun out of this holiday, it's the PC Police. It’s another beloved American holiday being twisted sadistically to shut the hell up a bunch of religious zealots and Politico’s. I mean, clearly a small child dressed up as a Princess and asking sweetly for candy is offensive, right?

When did this transition happen? When we did we get so worked up as a society that even the most innocent of things become wrong?? It was fine when I was a child, when my parents were before me. Going back generation after generation. And WE were all ok.

We were not over coddled or protected by things that may or may not have been offensive. We made up our own minds about it. We were taught values by our parents; we had the shit kicked out of us if we didn't adhere to those values, we followed rules and regulations, we respected our parents. We were even a little afraid of them. We didn’t get time-outs. We didn't shoot up our high schools or kill ourselves if we were bullied. We got through it the old fashioned way; by sucking it up and learning from it.

I'm not saying that bullying is a good thing by any means, and that with the over-use of technology by kids using Facebook and Twitter and texting that the school bullying doesn't stop now when that bell rings at 3 o'clock. I get it I do. (And I honestly feel for the parents and families of those unfortunate children who were not able to handle it and who took their own lives, it really is a tragedy.)

But to take away something like Halloween, to put a damper on Christmas and any other American Tradition because it could possibly piss someone off? Didn't all you people come to this country in the first place to escape JUST this kind of persecution? To avoid not being able to celebrate your beliefs due to the thoughts or feelings of others? To follow what our Fore Fathers set out for us in this supposed “Great” Nation to have a better life for the future generations?

Way to revert back to 1700's England, America. Guess that whole “Revolution” thing was a complete waste of energy.

Go Red Coats!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ponzi Schemes and Harvesting Kidney's

I'm thinking about harvesting a kidney.

Map out a diabolical plan to sell my own, or perhaps "obtain" one to sell on the Black Market. There's big money in organs they say. Like $10,000 a kidney.

$10,000 sounds pretty damn good about now.

I mean, if I was fiscally savvy a Ponzi scheme could be fantastic, but since the very public backlash of that whole Bernie Madoff thing, I'm pretty sure the powers that be would be on to me.

Perhaps one of those Spam emails that asks people to help me obtain my $2 million dollar inheritance?? Those MUST go over real easy all the time. I could feign the name of some foreign dignitary sounding person and I'd be a shoe-in for money to start rolling in, right??

I could establish a Cult. Come up with a doctrine that is hard to deny and get all the wacko's to do my bidding. Forking over their savings and 1st born children in the name of some sort of Religious affiliation.

It could happen.

It's a rough road out there in this economy for an honest person. Those people who work their asses off and still are barely able to make ends meet. Those people who get up begrudgingly every day and work their 9-5 (or in some cases their 6-6) shifts like pack mules. Having a large chunk of their hard-earned money taken out for Uncle Sam and their health insurance policies.

Making too much on paper (because of course any and all government agencies look at things before you get taxed or withdrawn from, as if that were a true reflection of your actual income....idiots) to qualify for help, but too little to cut the mustard on your own.

There are options of course. Of COURSE.

A car is a luxury, did you know that? Having the ability to actually get to whatever employment you have in suburbia is an option. A luxury? I mean, I know that Massachusetts has a Public Transit system in order, but not every town has ease of access to it, especially once you get a little farther out from the Big City. And then, that TOO costs money…of course.

Or you could move. Yes some of them actually think you should give up your stable housing situations in lieu of some sort of degraded shelter or Roach Motel. Fascinating.

A second job is an obvious choice, but then again you are likely already utilizing some sort of child-care on a daily basis as it is. Having other people either helping you out, or paying through the nose for daycare. Add to that the costs of after hours and weekend kid-wrangling in that mix, and that second job's income is sent right back out of your pocket to pay those who are stuck with your offspring. Cancelling it out almost. Null and void.

You lose time with your family, your loved ones. You become a drone to the dollar.

Damn that dollar.

Who knew a little piece of paper, (well not even paper; 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, like some cheaply blended piece of your wardrobe) could yield so much power? Power to make or break you in the eyes of society. Power to rank you by class, the "Have's" and the "Have Nots".

It's silly really when you think about it.

The costs of all your necessities in life are driven higher, to make you spend more. Sad when they are things you actually need. Profiting on your struggle. You could cut out all your frivolous spending and still be in trouble.

Spend all your laboriously earned moolah on nothing but your bills, food and shelter. Cut coupons, shop in your own closet and wear holes in your shoes (or like me, wear OFF the heels you live in). Give up daily lunches and lattes and still fall short each month.

Yeah, so about that kidney....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Prodigal Daughter of Social Networking

So at my new job, I am the Social Networking and Media Guru.

I know right?

I just brought my company into this century by creating them a blog and a Facebook and a Twitter page and right now I am the Prodigal Daughter of my workplace.

I am being hailed as the Technological Chief of the building.

It got me thinking. (Brace yourselves...)

All my Social Media nonsense started as an escape for me. A way to reach out and meet people when I was essentially trapped in a way. Trapped in various shitty situations and using the powers of the internet to seek out like-minded friends from around the globe to ease my "I am not the only one feeling this shit am I?" emotions.

No one I knew in my "real" life was on them when I started. Most never heard of them. Late nights after working the retail jungle, I would log on to my SWYDM and Friendster accounts and chit chat with people. Share comments and commentary about everyday things. Then all those Online friends I made, we became REAL friends. People I sought advice from, shoulder's I could cry on. People I still talk to today.

We would share our stories of relationships, families,school, work and pregnancies. We bonded. We would have phone calls and send care packages from state to state. It was pretty freaking cool. Out of the cold and desolate internet, these warm bodied and loving people actually existed. They seemed to care more than the people I interacted with on a daily basis.

For real.

We then made the transition to a new and exciting place. MySpace. It was shiny and new and we made profiles that were geared towards our own individual personalities. We shared pictures and sent "Bulletins" in ways of quirky survey's about our lives.

I generally filled these out with snarky and sarcastic answers. It was fun. Thinking about answers to everyday questions with whatever asshole answers I could come up with. (I miss it a little...)

We passed time, shared experiences.

A few years passed and our secret hidden gem became popular. Pretty soon EVERYONE was adding you on MySpace. Your friends list grew as people you went to school with, worked with or were friends with came out of the woodwork to join in the phenomenon you had been on since it started.

And then came Facebook. A not-as-flashy version of networking that was geared more towards the college set at the time. It was different when it started. No one wanted to convert from MySpace to Facebook. It wasn't as "Fun". It wasn't colorful or flashy. NO ONE was on it.

Funny what a couple years and a lot of media attention can do for a website.

Pretty soon, MySpace became boring. Stale. We started giving Facebook a chance and BOOM! Social Network explosion.

Now there isn't a business, a person, hell even a grandparent who isn't on Facebook.

Much like the hesitance with Facebook among MySpace junkies, Twitter was close on it's heels. People mocked it as a "Status update only version of Facebook".

It wasn't fun or exciting. There weren't virtual Mafia's to contend with or Farms to tend. It was just up to the minute 140 character snip-its of what you were doing.

And again BOOM! Tweets are now the new text message. (which of course is the new email, which was of course the new phone call...)People are forever connected to some sort of technology. You update them from your phone, your computer, even from your TV if you gave Fios.

It's funny to think that I started this technological venture before it was "cool". That I was ahead of the curve with it all. As soon as I heard of each new thing, I instantly would create an account. I would delve into the ins and outs of how each site worked. I would ask people about if they were on it and they looked at me as if I had 10 heads (still do most of the time, but that's likely for other reasons beyond my control).

So now I wonder what's next. What Harvard or MIT genius, who sits in his dorm room alone and girlfriendless, will become the next Fortune 500 billionaire? Who of those World of Warcraft playing addicts sitting in their underwear in their parents' basement for hours on end will emerge long enough to attent their IT classes and come up with the next technological craze?

Funny, I'll likely be on that bandwagon, too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Little Pink Houses and Living a John Hughes Movie

I grew up in a small town.

Not exactly sure what the population was when I was growing up, but I graduated high school with a class of a whopping 61 students. Yeah, THAT small. Like a Mellancamp song, without little pink houses.

It was the type of town where you knew everyone. Same kids you were in Kindergarten with all the way through your senior year. Give or take the ones who went off to the Vo-Tech or to the miscellaneous area private schools, but even then you still hung out with them on weekends, usually drunk and in the woods.

It was easy to get caught up in niches. To get labeled and cast into one group or another. I tried as I might to not get cast, as I knew my older sister before me had. She had been a "Nerd". Smart and artsy. Awkward and bespectacled in a decade that looking back was not the most idyllic fashionably for such a person.

My sister was never popular. She had her small circle of quirky close friends, but it wasn't what you would call the "In" crowd. Fellow brainiacs and artisans. Members of the AV club. She was tormented by those "In" people. Shoved in lockers, ridiculed. For her, high school was torture. That mortar board and gown couldn't come quick enough.

As the sun set on my sister's high school experience, mine was rising. The year she graduated was the year I entered that very same school. A school that harbored grades 7-12 and held roughly 500

As I cruised through junior high and all it's necessary standards of awkwardness, I seemed to thrive. I had a large circle of friends. I was involved in sports and clubs and activities.

Soon as 9th grade hit, I tried out for cheerleading. Boom. Done.

I was little Miss High School. I was a cheerleader for football and basketball. I played soccer. I even played a season of basketball (at 5 feet tall no less). I was in music and clubs that helped run the class. I went to parties in the woods on the weekends, drinking from underground kegs and running when the cops showed up. Smoking cigarettes in the girl’s bathroom. I was in my glory.

I was everything my sister wasn't. It came easy to me. I could talk to anyone, I had no shame. I would make jokes and flirt. I had the boobs, I had the power.

I would go camping those summers with my family, and would always be allowed to take a friend. We would parade around those wooded havens like we owned the place, and in a sense we did. Scouting out the playground basketball game looking for the other "cool" kids to hang out with during our vacation. Our twosome quickly growing to at least a 15 person posse for the duration of our trip.

It was different for my brother though. Being only a year younger than me and 2 grades behind. He was shyer. He was smart and funny, but in an awkward phase. Not yet hitting his growth spurt yet so a little on the chunkier side and bifocaled. A bowl-cut and acne.

He came to the same school I did. As I had after my sister. What had been a glorious time for me, not so much for him either.

My male friends, knowing he was my little brother, would stand beside his locker and when he would open it, they would close it. Until he just got fed up and stood there until near the time the bell rang, waiting for them to tire of the game. The only reason they did it was because he was MY brother. He had no other offense other than sharing my last name.

My parents and he came to the decision to send him to the Vo-Tech. To make things better for him between the "friends" I had and the academia his supposed ADD had him struggling from at the time. (Back then his academic boredom was diagnosed as ADD, turns out he was just smart, who knew?)

Then a strange thing happened. He flourished. He was still awkward in his own right, growing a pompadour and sideburns and falling into the Punk Rock phase of the 90's, but he thrived nonetheless. Even earning the moniker Elvis. He had a circle of close friends, he was HAPPY. Working on cars and going to concerts. A different high school experience, but a better one than he would have had if he stayed at my school.

It's funny to think about how 3 kids from the same family could all be so different. How those same kids, with the same raised ideals and values could have a completely different experience in high school. That we had the Nerd, The Cheerleader and the Punk. It was like living a John Hughes movie.

And all of those experiences, good and bad, for all of us, shaped essentially who we are now.

My sister is cynical and smart. She doesn't care now what anyone thinks of her. She is set in her ways and routines and lives her life not by anyone else's expectations. She is quirky and different, and happy. She has a job she loves for an Alternative music store, her boyfriend is an artist and musician. They are perfect for each other. They live in the city and have cats. And it all makes sense.

My brother is hilarious. He ditched his Vo-Tech career in auto mechanics to follow my dad's footsteps in the carpentry trade. He is beyond talented with wood and I wish my dad was around to see just how amazing the stuff he makes is. He traded his high school pompadour for shaggy scruff and long hair. He has a garden and a big truck and has a bevy of activities he does every week with his friends. Darts, volleyball in the summer, a fire pit night. And he's the best uncle to his nephew.

And me? I may still have a bazillion acquaintances, but only a handful of what I call real friends these days. I will still talk to a lamp post and meet people almost daily. I'm a single mom, a SOCCER mom. I still try at times to be fashionable, but that takes a backseat now to clothing my son. I have been through the ringer to get where I am, but I too am happy now. I have a wonderful man and his boys, who I love, and I would oddly not change a thing.

Funny how it all started with hallways lined with lockers and miscellaneous stereotypes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

WARNING: Do Not Put Bag Over Face; You Will Die

You go food shopping or on some other miscellaneous shopping excursion and come home with a bevy of products in those nifty convenient plastic bags.

Sure, you could be on that "I'm GREEN" bandwagon and use those cloth re-usable bags. Seriously? I re-use those plastic ones. Trash can liners, left-over lunch carriers, etc. I am green too....they're usually recycled...and FREE.

Any who.

Those bags have this warning on them, because clearly some parents didn't put 2+2 together and realize that kids with plastic on their heads could choke on their own. "WARNING: Do not put bag over face, you will die"
I get it, it makes sense.

What does NOT make sense to me however, knowing full well the suffocation hazard of covering a small child with plastic will likely cause impending doom, is those ridiculous baby carriage covers that envelope your child....ENTIRELY IN PLASTIC.

Is it me?

I know, I know, it's raining out. You don't want your precious spawn to melt. You know what smart parents do when it's raining outside??

They stay in the house.

They do not put their kids into a carriage and then Saran Wrap them into it with the hopes that maybe perhaps they won't get wet. It’s freaking water. From the sky. A natural occurance.

Because clearly staying dry is far more important that keeping your child alive. Idiots.

I drove to grab some lunch today and saw just a contraption. A portly mother pushing her plastic-packaged off-spring down the street. And I thought to myself, the things they have for babies is ridiculous.

My cousin had a baby 2 days ago, so I feel the relevance of a baby paraphernalia rant is warranted, seeing as I am going to be hitting Babies R Us to purchase a "Welcome to the World" gift for the newest member of my family.

However, I look back on stories from when I was a baby, hell even remembering when my son was one just 6 years ago, and I think the over paranoia and laziness of parents is astonishing.

When I was a kid, I think the extent of child safety precautions boiled down to a plastic outlet cover and moving your breakables up a shelf.

Car seats were essentially useless. No mass amount of padding or headrests for safety. Oh no. It was like a sled turned right side up and strapped in. No slide out cup-holders and Eddie Bauer branding.

My parents didn't need to lock the fridge or the toilet. They didn't need a tent to keep us from climbing out of our cribs. (Although out of all the neo-safety products, I DID have this one for Dylan as a baby and it was a wonderful and torturous device to lock them in at night...also doubled as a great tool for punishment...they should make them for adults.) I mean sure, the cabinets under the sink where the poisons were was locked somehow, but everything else was fair game.

We didn't have a special soft form-fitted thingy to go in a shopping carriage in order to stay sanitary. We sat in that bitch freestyle and liked it. We got germy. We didn't attack ourselves with hand-sanitizer and antibacterial crap like an old man with OCD. And oddly, we didn't get sick very often.

I think that the over abundance of child safety precautions and gizmos and gadgets is absurd. That again, this "Time-Out" generation is going to be screwed.

We didn't have any of that. Nor did our parents and theirs before them. I wonder when we became so paranoid. Too paranoid to not hover over our children, too paranoid to not put a pretty little bubble over anything that could physically or emotionally "harm" our children, too paranoid for real discipline.

I find it ironic that the generations that didn't have these so called advances in safety, the generations whose parents beat the snot out of them if they screwed up, are the ones who weren't shooting up their high schools. Funny.

Maybe it was the lack of warning on the plastic bags.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Champagne Wishes and Robert Frost

Once upon a time, I had drive. Ambition. Lofty dreams and ideals. I was going to change the world.


As the dust settled on my simple existence, I came to the conclusion that all the champagne wishes I once thought so possible, were not exactly feasible on a beer budget.

Once a partaker in so many things in high school, I am now content with a more miniscule part in society. All those classes and clubs and extra-curricular activities I once shone so brightly in, took part in to boost my college application appeal. To look good on resumes I thought in the future.

I realize now how useless they are in real life.

Sure it was fun at the time. I was involved in so much, a diverse amount of Yearbook-worthy opportunities, from music to sports to academia. But in all seriousness, not a single modicum of that translated into anything I would be able to use later in life.

Of course, half the classes I was forced to take as requirements per the Board of Education didn't really either.

I mean sure, knowing how to diagram a sentence in English class seemed like something you needed to master at the time, but unless you too plan on shaping the minds of listless adolescents when all is said and done, you will never (and I mean never) use this skill again.

Unless you plan on being some sort of Good Will Hunting/MIT math genius, most of those A+B=Z to the third power math equations you are forced to delve into for 3 hours of homework a night are not going to apply to real life either. However, that remedial class that teaches you how to balance your checkbook, now THAT comes in handy.

After a lifetime (it seems) of having worked the Retail Jungle, I am content (to a point) with where I ended up. Sure I still have a couple classes looming over my head until I officially graduate from college, and I plan to finish...eventually. But on the whole, there isn't much a college degree is going to change for me.

I could have gone into something more specific. And at first, I did. I went to a small specialized school with every intention of changing the rules. Making a difference. Getting a background in Ecology and Environmental policies so that one day, I could go to law school and make things happen.

Sooo didn't happen. (clearly)

I was there for a year and miserable. I loathed and despised being away from a city, away from a town actually. (Yes my college was somehow nestled quaintly in a VILLAGE in up-up-up state Vermont) I hated being in a rural place. I didn't want to be involved in what I had thought for so many years idealistically in high school. I was there, in the trenches, and I changed my mind.

Back home I went to re-enroll in another school. Local and small still sure, Community College, but still college nonetheless. I had changed my major of course. No more Environ-anything for me. Nope. I stuck with my passion. English. All things English and relative to the subject as a matter of fact.

Literature, Shakespeare, Creative Writing, Journalism. Any and all classes I took if I could. And I thrived. I loved it. I was on the Dean's List every semester, and somehow managed a 3.98 GPA. I played soccer for the school, I was back on track.

Then that pesky little nagging feeling came back. People would ask me what I was going to do when I was done with school. With all that English concentration, was I going to be a teacher? I thought, no. A writer. SURE! A writer. I would pen my thoughts and ideas and poetry with the world. I would become a journalist, a novelist, a poet somehow! A collaborator of poems and short stories, essays and more.

And then I thought about the likelihood of that happening. The realism that most writers I admired became so posthumously.

Well that's not going to work.

No sense in waiting for success until after I'm dead!

So again, those dreams and ideals lay idle. Hidden behind the retail life I worked in. I was management there; sure, I was on the road to success! (Insert eye roll here) And I hated every minute of it, boss or not. Long hours, late nights. Learning firsthand the customer is FAR from always right, in fact more often than not, completely fucking wrong, and usually an asshole about it.

So I again transitioned. Adapted like a chameleon to new surroundings. I moved into administrative work. And I liked it. Loved it actually. I worked for a world-renowned company. I was a part of important projects. I was the glue that held those high-level executives together. More importantly I was appreciated. I helped run charities and I ran my own little world within a larger universe. I was coming out on top.

I mean, getting laid off was a huge detour, but now am again working for a company I love. That appreciates me. That I don't hate getting up in the morning to go to every day.

Sure I look back on what I once thought I wanted to do with my life, and sure as hell never thought I'd end up here. I never pictured myself a working single mother. Well working yes, but a single mother no. I had that idea like every young girl that I would go to college, get married, have kids and live happily ever after. I never pictured the hard road I would have had to take to be happy.

what they need to prep you for in schools. Prepare you that most plans don't necessarily work out how you imagined. That out of most of the majors you choose to take in college you will likely never actually do work in that field. That you could have kids out of wedlock that could derail every plan you may have had for yourself growing up. But despite it all I am happy.

For all intensive purposes, I am. I like my job, even though someone else may find it mundane. I love my son, even though it's a struggle every day to support him and think I am raising him to be the least dysfunctional. I have the support and love of my family and friends, even if I've lost a few along the way. And I have the love of a man who I am lucky enough to call my best friend.

Are there things that could be better? Sure. I'm not dead. It's all still a work in progress. But I'm on the right path.

Sure the road was windy, and bumpy, and still technically under construction, but I think if I had to do over, as long as I knew I would end up where I am now, I think I'd take it anyway.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference

Way to go Robert Frost, you nailed it.
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