Tuesday, August 8, 2017

TV or Not TV?

       The day the earth stood still, sort of, began months ago.  Our television, like so many of our possessions, was old. It was also big, heavy and people were starting to look presidential orange. It took some research with Consumer Reports and a trip to our local big box, we found my husband’s dream model. It’s huge, by comparison to our old bessie. I didn’t really understand how huge until a box the size of a Volkswagon Beetle was delivered to our house.  
  Now that we could stop chewing our nails (at least over that) out came the electronic spaghetti. This part was way not my domain. My husband bravely fought the techno beast, deciphered the instructions and managed to get the thing to turn on. Then we hit  a brick wall. Our new smart tv was too smart for us. There, in four thousand high definition pixels was the “unable to connect” text in sharp full color. I started to miss the old set.  We just spent a pantload on a new television we couldn’t watch.
   We called the manufacturer, who referred us to our “service provider” who referred us to our internet service provider. We just had to start this crap on a Sunday evening. It looks like we were in for one quiet Monday. Egad, would we actually have to talk to each other like barbarians??!! This was a crisis of epic proportions!! 
   The thought hit me that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad without the tv for a little while, right? We were about to find out. 
   Monday morning came and mercifully my daughter slept in so I could get caffeinated before I had to deal with anyone naturally perky. I noticed that I walked up to the television that didn’t work and had to stop myself. It surprised me to realize how much I had gotten used to having it on. By eleven am, or the end of the “Today Show”, as my brain knows it, I realized that our daughter wasn’t the only one with an addiction! 
   The second amazing revelation came when I discovered that by about two in the afternoon I was actually getting s**t done at home! Don’t get me wrong, I was never one to just sit and watch anything longer than a weather forecast during the day but I noticed that I went about my business faster in the quiet. 
   My daughter was largely oblivious to the lack of television since the internet was fine. I’m knee deep in the battle over technology and sugar. Had the internet gone down the planet would have come to a crashing halt. We really would have been forced to have a “conversation” or God forbid “read” but let’s not get crazy. 
   My husband called me that afternoon to ask if I had any further luck getting the new monster to cooperate. Honestly, I wasn’t in as much of a hurry to get it back as I thought. Maybe it was just the thought of having to contact “Customer Service” that slowed my progress. I found the appropriate number (1 800 UPY OURS) and tap danced my way through menus to find a person who spoke english. Miraculously I got enough help to enable us to get 2 channels I care about albeit sporadically. It was time to stick a fork in me by about 5:30 that evening. 
  The ball was now back in my spouse’s court. The next evening, he took another shot at joining the twenty first century. When I got back, he was on the phone with our “service provider”. Good news, we found out we qualified for a free upgrade because our box lasted over two presidents! Ok, that sounds good. I just had to ask him as he held the phone “Free, for how much more per month?”. Things went downhill from there. 
  My spouse was actually contemplating going with the more expensive plan until we were ready to finalize the “new arrangement”. That was when we were informed that by consenting to this, we would be agreeing to a two year contract. Wait, what??!! We weren’t told this in the beginning. The Dastardly Conglomerate number two was politely told that they could keep their upgrades. We consulted some neighbors and decided to join the number one Cable Company.
  We are now customers of the “Other Evil Empire” but I have to admit that we can watch a bunch of channels clearly without having to talk to each other. Whew, we really dodged a bullet there.    
   

Friday, July 7, 2017

Once a year, whether you need it or not....

   It occurred to me that we, as a family, only take a vacation once a year for one week, whether we need it or not! That’s not  a lot of time off. I am a stay at home mom and my spouse gets three weeks off each year. While it’s true that I try to get him to take off the week between Christmas and New Year’s that leaves one week untouched. What the hell for??!! Are we waiting to make the news? “Suburban housewife goes on crime spree, film at 11!”  “She just snapped and started throwing canned goods! I had to fend her off with the floor attachment to the vacuum, it was awful!. her husband reported.”
   I know we have uses for that “third we My husband has to use vacation days when I have to take a class and can’t pick up my daughter, for example. I don’t think those occasions should eat a whole week. What’s wrong with a padded weekend or two?
   There is another thing I can do to help relieve the stress of daily survival. It starts with a “Yo” and ends with “ga”. I have been hounded for years to make time for Yoga because if its mind boggling mental health benefits and the physical ones, too. Yoga relieves stress, tones your body, helps grow hair, enables you to leap tall buildings, whitens teeth and gives you a shiny coat. OK,, I have my doubts about the buildings but I know it couldn’t hurt and beats the crap out of still more medication. Some of the side effects of the junk prescribed are worse than the conditions they’re attempting to cure. We’ve all heard those commercials for drugs where the narrator has to list the side effects like an auctioneer to fit them all in.
  You’ll never hear “Can cause your spleen to fall our, spontaneous human combustion, or random machete attacks “ in any yoga studio ad, not even “Hot Yoga”. So what’s my problem? My old nemesis, getting up, is my biggest obstacle.  I find the idea of shoveling my sad ass out of bed at ten after dawn to exercise is downright revolting. While I am far from averse to exercise, I just need to be awake and reasonably caffeinated first. That is basically, my biggest barrier. God knows I have no problem with the wardrobe. I already wear t-shirts and stretchy pants to work out now, so what would change? 
  The problem is flexibility, not in my joints, largely, but my schedule. I spend a lot of time working out as it is, so adding another thing is daunting. Hope springs eternal, however, so I’ll look for a slot of time when my daughter has an activity and maybe I’ll get lucky. I did notice I need to leave my house for this to make it happen. I could also cut something out but the problem is if I do that, that time needs to go to my husband so he could start to go out himself. I’m thinking of some time during the day maybe just once a week would work.            
  You’ve got to start somewhere, I just wish it wouldn’t take a cattle prod.
   

Sunday, May 28, 2017

There goes another one.

   Out of the mouths of babes can come a lot of honesty and not all of it cute. It was recently Mother’s Day and my family planned to take my mother out to breakfast.  We usually don’t bother with dinner because of the crowds and I got my usual dark chocolate and flowers from my spouse.  This was my eighth Mother’s Day as a parent and things are improving with my offspring, albeit slowly. 
   Last year had to be an all time low. My daughter pitched a real Oscar winner that Sunday because no one was available to play with her majesty.  Our little Captain Clueless refused to grasp the concept of a holiday devoted to Moms. “Why isn’t there one just for kids?”, she asked. “We call that Monday through Friday!”, I fumed. I heard Roseanne Barr’s voice in my head saying “This is why some animals eat their young.”
    I left the house by myself to make sure we didn’t make the local news. There is a small record shop where an entire section of used Cd’s are a dollar apiece. Cheapskate that I am, I closed the place. My husband, God bless him, ironed, made dinner, and cleaned up the kitchen. I was even able to take a nap. I still felt frustrated with my offspring and myself. How could we be raising such a self centered beastly hemorrhoid?? “We spoil this kid, it’s my fault.”

    I was finalizing my plans for bread and water and deciding on shackles when I spoke to our family therapist.  She was able to calm me down and help me understand that my grown up brain is not understanding how our girl thinks. While there is some spoilage, she is not far removed from most other kids her age. Nevertheless, the day left a bad taste in my mouth.
   Mercifully, since time heals all wounds and also flies, a new, unspoiled Mother’s Day was here before I knew it. I am double whammied in that my Mother was born that day, too. We made plans to visit my mom to take her out. I bought a nice flower arrangement and a few small things but when we got to her house, she wasn’t feeling well. “I’m sorry but I’m not going to make it,” she said. 
   She sat in her recliner and my daughter sat next to her in the other chair. We talked about her activities that week and her neighbors. Finally, my daughter says “Are we just going to sit here and talk all day?”. Clearly diplomacy is nowhere in the DNA. It was decided, after we stopped laughing, that we would go to breakfast and bring food back for my mother. “Just get me pancakes from McDonald’s”, she said. I had a daymare about spending Mother’s Day at a fast food place. 
   Thankfully, we reminded my mom that since we’re going to be at a diner, we can just place and order while we’re eating rather than make a separate stop. Luckily, the lines at the restaurant weren’t that bad and we were back with takeout for mom in no time. The rest of the day was uneventful and blessedly tantrum free. My daughter even understood the fact that no one was around to play because it was a holiday!  Progress can be slow as a glacier but I’ll take it.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Clearance Continues...

  The last few weeks here have been nuts. This has been a good thing though. I worked to gather all the crap I could in the time I had. It worked out well, albeit not smoothly. I was sweating small stuff like getting the house clean first before the company came and will I be able to make it out for class? It took some doing but actually I was able to pull off most of what I wanted. I just had to stay focused and keep in mind that I wasn’t going to be able to get everything done. 
  I completely blew a therapist appointment. I felt bad but it also worked out time wise because I needed that time to keep working. I had fantasies about going through each room of my house with a rubbermaid bin or box and disposing of crap from each room. Yeah, right, after I train local birds and squirrels to do the laundry and dust my house. Thankfully I get rid of junk all year so I had plenty of stuff gathered, waiting to leave anyway. When you add the boxes from my mom, we had more than enough for a respectable sale.
  I was looking forward to hanging out with my bestie and the bonus was that 2 family friends finally made it. They brought a few things and even sold one item. I’m hoping that now that they’ve seen how much stuff you can sell, they’ll join us for real next year. Of course, after the sale I found more things to get rid of but I’m enjoying the space. We got 2 rockers out of the basement and my shed got reorganized. The neighborhood yard sale was underwhelming but we did really well. The receipts this last time set a family record. 
  This was gratifying as long as you don’t think about it too much. Analytically speaking I would have made more money per hour sewing sneakers in Mexico than I did at my house. The labor was three days to set up and one more to put things away and donate. So why go through all this aggravation? I mentioned I’m enjoying the space but it’s also how I got said space. It’s a bit cathartic to get rid of junk we’re not using and certainly making the house look better helps my ego a lot. I’m in a never ending battle to cut clutter at home and the prospect of cash at the end of it makes for a nice carrot.
   A tax deductible donation to Purple Heart is also fabulous. It doesn’t get much better than putting the remote down long enough to schedule a pickup at my house. If it’s been for sale twice and no one bought it, it’s a good candidate. All I have to do is snap a few pictures to cover my ass for our 1040 and take some notes. I highly recommend it. 
   My daughter seems to be handling things better, too. Maybe my judgement is improving as to what she’s done with but I doubt it. Sadly, I think the video games have replaced most of her toys although I don’t think she’d admit it. We still use some board games when there are “forced breaks” from the small screen but I miss the early days. Just going through her board games was a great excuse to play them to see if they were still “keepers”.
  I make sure she’s aware of what’s going so I don’t have to deal with any oscar winning hissy fits the day of the sale. She’s also been pretty good about coming up with substitutes for things we just had to rescue. I will ask her to be reasonable about it. Don’t save a stuffed elephant and hand me a marble to sell instead. She’s also old enough to understand that it’s not just her old toys we’re selling, at least not in the spring. Every fall I do a consignment sale for mostly clothes and shoes she’s outgrown but some toys leave then, too.
   The fall clearance comes in handy to deal with anything that got missed in the spring. It helps that she still believes in Santa. “We have to make room”. I don’t know what I’ll tell her when that changes but for now that’s one thing I can still hang onto.


Monday, April 17, 2017

tax season or just kill me now.

   It’s now mid April and as most Americans know, the pain is now over. Our tax returns are filed and we are safe for another year. In my old life, B.C. (before Child) tax season was its own separate entity. It was the accountant’s equivalent of an eight week period. You were tired, cranky, sleep deprived, and wanted to kill strangers. The difference was having to keep track of how much time you spent on everything and chasing the same people for the same missing information as last year. I had worked for an independent practitioner part time during tax season to pick up some extra money and keep my hand in my chosen profession. It became as much fun as sticking forks in my eyes. 
  My family and friends got used to me disappearing for long stretches and knew better than to expect much during that time. 
  Taxation as a profession is a great cure for insomnia as well as an exercise in masochism. On closer inspection, you could think, ‘Hey, it can’t be that bad, what with computers doing most of the work right?’ Herein lies the rub. Accountants are a rather anal lot. We like things correct. It’s also a great job for control freaks, unless you work for one, (more on that later). Computers, helpful as they are, can only assist to the extent they are programmed correctly. That is to say, you still have to know what you want your tax return to look like, the trick is choking it out of the software. 
   Knowing what you want your return to look like is where things get to be too much fun for humans. You are chasing a moving target that even programmers who work on this for a living can’t keep up with. We have those weak members of the heard, Congress, to thank for that. Not only have we given these bozos the power to change the tax law, they have to unmitigated gaul to make some of these changes retroactive. For those masochists who enjoy this sort of thing, the upside is a fountain of employment opportunities. Someone’s got to file those amended returns. 
   It’s funny to hear politicians say we need a flat tax. How do you think our current mess started? I’d give that about three months before some group starts whining.  
   That is only one part of the stress. Then there’s the bonus layer on the crap sandwich, other people. I mentioned that this is a great profession for megalomaniacs. I once had the misfortune to work with one and had a stereotypical boss on top of it. I can tell you the woman in question was brilliant as a colleague but had the people skills of a shoe. My boss was useless, too. I stink at office politics I also don’t do well micromanaged and being cut out of chances for growth was not helping. I lasted about two tax seasons and was not invited back. I miss that job like you’d miss a mammogram.  
   The brokerage houses and sometimes payroll companies are also not much better. The law currently says that interest and dividend forms are due out to taxpayers by January 31st. Shouldn’t you be able to file your return by then and thus either get your refund faster or end the nightmare sooner? Not so fast, after completing my parent’s return every year since 1994ish I have learned that we never mail that thing until the first week of April. Why? My parents get at least 1 amended interest and dividend form in mid March every year. We’ve gotten so used to it, I use the first one as a ballpark. I am not losing sight of the fact that my mother gets brokerage statements and can afford to retire. I just find that a brokerage house with more money than God not having its shit together is annoying from a customer service standpoint.

     Here I sit, wondering what to be when I grow up, and looking for part time work ideas. I suppose I’m available to help people on extension, but I’m definitely open to other suggestions. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Vultures are coming! The Vultures are coming!

   My favorite movie “Young Frankenstein” has a part where the brain used for the monster was described as coming from “Abby Someone, Abby Normal”. I’m pretty sure there was more than one of those brains and I got the other one. My particular model, for some reason, continues to lock onto some negative experiences like a pit bull and refuses to get go of them despite my best efforts.
   I have plenty of issues, among them is a pretty bad book addiction. This goes back to my childhood when my local librarians had to order books for me from the central branch because I’d read most of what they had. I bought books for myself at yard sales and flea markets. When my daughter was born, so was another excuse to buy more books. (The pisser is that I now don’t get much time to read my own books unless you count the parenting ones and even then they rarely get finished. )
   The first time I found out about a library book sale, you’d think I entered a crack house. There are very few things I will voluntarily shovel my sorry butt out of bed for but this is definitely one of them. We have been patrons of the library as a family and have no plans to stop any time soon. (If you haven’t been to your local library btw, you really are missing out.) These sales start at 9 am but I will happily stand outside for 40 minutes to wait until they open and make a beeline for the children’s books to thoroughly enjoy the thrill of the hunt. 
   My local friends of the library sponsors these sales a few times of year and you cannot beat their prices. They have a kids section, cds, dvds, audio books and they are reasonably organized. The one thing they have no control over is the behavior of their clientele. I’ve been coming to the sales for years and it seems like every year people become increasingly rude. You may have seen stories on the news about people losing their minds on Black Friday, stampeding and shoving each other for a deal. This is the book nerd version of that.
  What’s good about this version, at least, is that the lunatics are so far, in my experience, limited to a few screwballs. I’d go so far as to venture that a majority of the rest of us would agree with me, that the screwballs in question are of the same ilk. I am referring to the book dealers. 
  It’s unfortunate that there are no laws prohibiting these parasites from infecting an otherwise pleasant experience. These creatures show up with their scanners, and their rude behavior and the rest of us are expected to tolerate it. What’s even more unfortunate is that I’ve seen too many people do just that, tolerate it. I mentioned that I will voluntarily shovel my butt out of bed for this. Recently, I did get up early to get in line to wait. While the parasites were the same, the wait was different.
  When I arrived this particular morning, it was forty minutes before the opening. In front of me was a lovely woman waiting behind a row of bins on the ground. She was friendly and we chatted. She looked at the junk on the ground in front of her and told me she felt like it was cheating since the owner was nowhere to be seen. She was, in fact, the only person there when I arrived. A short time later, we were joined by an amiable man who also felt that leaving things on the ground does not constitute waiting in line. Mr. A invited us to join him in front of the offending trip hazards and rebels that we were, we agreed.
   I’m reminded of an old movie where a bunch of people throw open their windows and yell “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!!” Words fail to describe how sick I am of book dealers at library book sales.
   Roughly 20 minutes later, we were joined by the irate owner of the offending ground cover. “I have a time stamp picture on my phone that I was here two hours ago!”, it fumed. “Do you know how many book sales I go to?” (Nice to know he’s rude everywhere??) It was wearing a blue jacket and earbuds. I’m guessing it’s easier to ignore the daggers being thrown at your back that way. It’s wife/mother (I didn’t get a good look) proceeded to lie to the crowd and accuse the three of us of cutting in line and then called us names. (I’m guessing asking if she left a note for the flying monkeys would have made things worse.) 
   Our amiable friend pointed out that we would all be there at roughly the same time once the doors opened anyway. He also noted that people should be waiting, not things. I made no bones about the fact that his majesty should have been waiting out in the weather like the rest of us. I also noted that we all knew about book dealers who pick these books up for dirt and then mark them up a ridiculous percentage. They got remarkably quiet after that. Once the doors opened, Mr. Iratepants angled around the woman in front of me and practically ran in. “Make sure you knock her over!” I yelled. (I know, my frustration really got the better of me, but in my defense I didn’t throw a rock at his head.)
   Now, because I mentioned in the beginning, I have an abnormal brain, this experience bugged me for days afterward. Is it because I was raised not to ‘rock the boat’? It can take a lifetime to cut off those shackles. Did a part of me feel like I did something wrong? Not really. I know this because the memory of it makes me angry not sad or guilty. The catholic radar never takes a day off. Standing up to bullies and not putting up with other people’s rudeness is what makes people understand their behavior is not acceptable, isn’t it?
   After all that fuss, I did my usual shopping and didn’t really find that much. I can only hope the parasite fared no better. This is one of those things that make me wonder where karma is hiding. Mr. Amiable was right, we all got in roughly the same time so why care? I can only assume it’s the principal of the thing. So I’ll ask you, dear reader. How do you handle it when someone is rude? Do you just put up with it?

       

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hodge Podge

   Recently, I noticed another person’s blog post that was basically a mish mosh of shorter but good pieces that the author felt were too short to be a post by themselves. It’s been really difficult to stay out of politics but I am still trying to keep myself neutral online (like Switzerland). I have also been having a great deal of trouble coming up with topics for my own blog but there is no shortage of random brain farts at my house. To that end, I humbly present the following:

  I am on an old person’s home exercise program. I go upstairs and forget why I’m up there so I go downstairs, then I remember. Why do I never forget what I’m after in the refrigerator?

  In the face of the most recent unpopular management decision (bedtime, in this case), my daughter loudly announced “I”m not happy!” I asked her which dwarf she was “Grumpy? Sleepy? Dopey?” Her response : “MMMooooooooommmm!!!”  Was there a dwarf named Bitter? I’d totally be that guy.

  “Probiotic” - because “Makes you Poop” doesn’t look good on product labels.

  The Orthodontist saw her shadow. My daughter has to wear her mouth guard for twelve more weeks.

  My nephew once asked me what kind of coffee we drink. I told him “Throw-a-shoe-at-your-head-get-up blend” or Formula number 47 Varnish. When we have overnight guests, I am not allowed to make the coffee.

  Sleep, may as well call it mommy crack. The more you get, the more you want.

   My doctor told me he believes my hair loss is due to stress. He didn’t tell me how to stop stressing out over my thinning hair.

  We will soon be going through our things to get ready for a spring yard sale. It used to be that toys would emit a distress signal and suddenly become fascinating when being eyed up for a sale. Due to a video game addiction, regular toys no longer have to disappear by stealth. I miss the good old days bigtime.

   My daughter is writing a book for a school project. Her story is better than mine and there is no writer’s block for her. She hates to write. WTF??!!
  
   Have you ever opened a closet in your house and been attacked? Our freezer is over filled and I was recently assaulted by a crapalanche of frozen vegetables when I was trying to defrost something for dinner. I didn’t even start cooking and my kitchen was dangerous.

    I’m beginning to think I should start throwing wild parties if I’m going to feel like this anyway. I will at least have had fun the night before.

  During a storm last year, we lost power briefly. The next day I remember telling my mother that the storm was scary but we came through just fine. “The television went out, but thankfully not for long. We were in danger of having to talk to each other! Whew! Dodged a bullet there.”

  Thus concludes the mish mosh. I am still scrounging for ideas. Feel free to make suggestions.