Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You're Not the Boss of Me.

My chin resting on my hands, it was taking all my strength to stay awake through another boring freshman science lecture.  There was a tap on my arm and as I moved, I nearly didn't catch the tightly folded triangular note that came skipping across my desk.  The familiar bubble letters spelled out "Shelly" signifying that I was the intended recipient.  In a stealth-like maneuver, I put my hands under my desk and unfolded the note as quietly as I could.  I never took my eyes off the teacher as I slid the looseleaf sheet up onto my notebook.

"I can't get no... SATISFACTION!"

This was our code.  I turned to glance at my friend who was eagerly awaiting my response.  I nodded as she put two fingers two her lips to take a drag off an imaginary cigarette.

Smoking in my garage had become our favorite after school activity.  I could only steal one or two cigarettes at a time from my mom, but my friend could get entire packs from her grandmother's cartons.  She would light one and hand it to me, then light one for herself.  We would stand there and talk, using wild hand gestures and pausing mid-sentence for a puff.  We'd find ways to busy our hands so that our Marlboros could dangle from our lips as we continued to chat.  It wasn't that we were trying to look cool, we were cool and smoking was just proving the point.

That afternoon, my mother pulled into the driveway, arriving home early from work.  We threw our smokes to the dirt floor and stubbed them out with our sneakers.  I scooped them up and we hurried into the house where I deposited them into the toilet and flushed.  As I breezed past my mother on her way in, I made up some story about showing my friend something on my bike in the garage but needing to pee.

Later that evening, my mother stood in the doorway to my bedroom as I sat on my bed studying.

"Who was smoking in my house?" she asked.

"You?" I offered, staring at the page of my textbook.

"I don't smoke Marlboros and that's what I found floating in the toilet," she sounded so smug.

"Oh, then that was me. And I smoked in the garage."  I looked up from my book, daring her to try to discipline me.

"That is not OK.  You cannot smoke, you are FOURTEEN."

"I have an idea," I said, my voice dripping with false sincerity.  "You can go downstairs, quit smoking, then come up here and tell me again that it's not OK for me to do.  But until then, leave me alone."

She turned and walked away, never bringing up the subject again.

I loved the taste of those cigarettes.  Acrid and bitter, with just a  hint of defiance and a smattering of teenage victory.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

My BlogHer Epiphany.

I never thought that Twitter would be the thing to make me learn something about myself.

I have been stuck in one of those self-hate spirals lately.  I'm tired, I'm not eating well and I have a lot on my plate.  All this translates to lots on my mind and when it all comes together, things don't go so well.

One of my coping mechanisms with anxiety is to try to plan for every conceivable scenario.  I know that one can't plan for everything and somehow my coping mechanism just becomes another anxiety trigger.  Sometimes I'm really good at setting myself up for disaster.

By the end of last week, I had worked myself up into such a frenzy that I wasn't a good enough writer to be at BlogHer.  And as if that wasn't bad enough, I then decided that I was too fat and ugly to go there too.  And is if that wasn't bad enough, I decided to tweet about it.  Endlessly.

I lost 2 followers.  I was upset about this and then I thought about it.  I would have dropped me too.  I was bored of my own voice so I tweeted it out there and then got upset when it bored others.  I got a tweet reply telling me to snap out of it.  She threw in a nice compliment, which really did help, but the first part, it was like she grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me hard.  And I totally needed it.

I put the iPhone down.  I stopped complaining all over the internet.

Why did I sign up to go to BlogHer?  I wanted to write better, to blog better.  I thought it would be fun.   I thought it would be a good way to network and to meet people in the blogging community.  I hoped I'd meet some people whose writing I enjoyed.  I did not think once about wanting people to think I was pretty.  That never factored into my decision to go.

I'm planning on attending with a long-time friend, but I'm also planning to meet up with some new friends I've never actually met in person.  I read that there will be about 4,000 other people at this conference.  I generally keep to my little circle on most days and the thought of all these new people got me all nervous and stupid.

I read the "snap out of it" tweet while I was staring at the make-up aisle in my local drugstore trying to find the perfect shade of foundation for my slightly tanned face.  Usually I buy the lightest color they sell and it's fine.  I was holding two bottles up to my wrist trying to match my skin tone.  I put one down to read the tweet that flashed in and I remembered:

I'm going to BlogHer to be a better writer.

No one will care if I wear Classic Ivory or Natural Ivory.  No one will care what I weigh.  No one will care if all of my outfits are new or if they're old.  No one will care if I wear my hair straight or curly, up or down.  No one will care if I'm wearing Spanx or not.  No one will care.

And if they do, well, too bad.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Let's Talk About Mommy's Feet.

The other day I was in the bathroom taking off old nail polish.  Nathan busted in and helped himself to the toilet.  Since I needed to finish what I was doing, I didn't leave.  Yes, I know that we are approaching that age where we all need our privacy but I'm going to ask you to put that aside for the moment.  Then this conversation happened:

Mommy?  What are you doing?
I'm taking off my nail polish.

Why, Mommy?  You don't like it anymore?
It's time to take it off.  It doesn't last forever.

Mommy?  What happens to it?
It chips, there's regrowth at the bottom...

How does it chip? What is regrowth?  Mommy. Let me see them.
It chips from being in the pool and the ocean and washing dishes.  Regrowth is this. (I point to my nail bed.)

Oh.  I don't do dishes so mine wouldn't chip as fast.
You also don't wear nail polish.

Yeah.  Mommy?  What is that stuff you're using?
Nail polish remover.

Mommy, is it dangerous?
Not for me, I'm an adult.  You should never touch it.

Mommy?  What will it do to me?
It could hurt you and it's dangerous.  Don't ever touch it.

Oh.  So, Mommy, if I touched it could burn me?
Yes.  So don't.

OK.  So, Mommy, why doesn't it burn you?
Because I'm an adult and I know how to use it properly.

Oh.  Mommy?  Can you just show me how to use it properly so that it won't burn me?
No.  Because you don't need it.  You don't wear nail polish.

Mommy?  Why do you wear nail polish if you're just going to take it off with stuff that's dangerous.
Because I want to and it looks nice until it doesn't anymore and the stuff is only dangerous for kids.  

Mommy?  What are all of the dangerous things that can burn me?
Nathan, there are lots of things that are dangerous to kids and it's all the things I've told you before not to touch.  OK?  

Mommy?  Would I have to go to the hospital if I touched that?  Or would I just need a Band-Aid or something?
{Sigh} Nate.  How about you just don't ever touch it since you have no reason to.

Mommy.  What if I get it ON me?  Then what?
How would you get it on you?  I keep it in the high cabinet that you are not allowed to go in.  You don't need to worry about it and you don't need to touch it.

Yes, Nathan?

Mommy, do you want to know something funny, Mommy?
Sure, Nathan.

Mommy, I was watching SpongeBob the other day and you know what Patrick said to Squidward...
{He trails off into a really long story.  I say "uh-huh" and "haha!" and "oh boy!" a bunch of times.}

This goes on day after day after day all day long.  I am questioned on every single move I make, everything I buy, eat, drink, wear and sometimes I think he's reading my thoughts just so that he can ask me questions about them.

Though I love our conversations, I will admit that at times I'm less than patient with Nathan  And I also could do without him mentioning my name in every sentence, particularly when I'm the only other person in the house and I know he's talking to me.  It is true that perhaps I offer too much information and that if I didn't provide answers that so perfectly lend themselves to follow up questions I might get more peace and quiet and might be able to actually think a whole thought on my own for a change. But I can't help myself and the conversations continue.

His little voice is so sweet sometimes and soon enough he will have no interest in me at all or my feet or my nail polish and I'll be begging him to talk to me.  And when this time comes, I'm sure I'll miss it.

I hope though, when that time comes, that I'm also able to take off all of my nail polish at once.  Because when I woke the morning after that conversation, I realized that 2 of my nails still had polish on them.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I hold myself to extremely high standards.  This is not to merely say I am a perfectionist, rather that I am so intent on not being wrong that I do everything in my power to avoid it.  Being wrong or failing at anything sends me into a tailspin of self-doubt and embarrassment that can take days or weeks to emerge from.  The perceived repercussions of even an innocent mistake paralyze me and render me nearly completely useless.

Despite the fact that I was poised to graduate in the top 10% of my class, I only sent out one college application.  I received back an acceptance letter with a scholarship that would cover my tuition in full for eight semesters. The thought that I wouldn't get in never crossed my mind and, truthfully, this was the biggest reason I applied there. There was little chance for failure.  I didn't dare apply to one of the more prestigious universities my teachers told me I could get into.  If I was rejected, the knowledge that someone out there, even someone I didn't know, perceived me as less than good enough at anything was too much for me to bear.

The Bachelor of Social Work program I enrolled in required 800 hours of interning.  I worked at a shelter for victims of domestic violence, helping women secure resources to make it on their own after leaving their abusers. I accompanied some to court, helped others find jobs and housing. For a time I was the weekend counselor, which meant I was the only person in the house who didn't live there. If someone called needing a referral or seeking shelter, I had to gather information and possibly make arrangements for a new family's arrival. I would sit at the desk each Sunday just begging that phone not to ring. I'd watch the ladies and their children milling about the house hoping that whatever they needed could just wait until Monday.

Please, please, no one need me. I can't handle your troubles. I am not qualified. What if I do it wrong?  Why would you trust me?

I dreaded going to work.  Not only would missteps and inappropriate advice make me look stupid, it could literally get someone killed.  I cracked under the notion of pressure and quit before I had the chance to ruin someone's life.  Since then, I’ve always taken the safest route, the path of least resistance.  I didn’t take on challenges I didn't reasonably think I could conquer. I didn't take on risks.

When I think of the potential I've wasted, it makes me as sick to my stomach as that job at the shelter.  If only I wasn't afraid of failure, of disapproval, of everything.  What could I have been?

Now, on the verge of middle age, I walk around with a knot in my gut trying desperately to overcome the fear.  All along I was afraid of failure, but what I should have feared was ruinous complacency.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me
I'm linking up with the Yeah Write Summer Series.  Voting is back, if you're into that sort of thing.  Make sure you read the rest of the stuff on the grid, all of it sure to be fantastic!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Some Good Came Of It.

My maternal grandfather worked very hard all his life, true to his generation.  When he passed away, he had a house in his name and some modest assets.  He was not a rich man, but a respectable one.  He left all he had to be split between his two daughters and, to a lesser extent, my brother and I.  Because my mother was on Medicaid for her nursing home care, she could not receive her inheritance.  There is a rule under Medicaid that while you may not have assets above a particular threshold, you may have a trust set up for certain aspects of your care.  It can be used for vacation, specialized medical equipment like wheelchairs that Medicare won't cover or experimental treatments, for example.  My grandfather set up such a trust in his will, but the trustee did not see fit to utilize any of my mother's money on my mother.  My grandfather's will also dictated that whatever funds were left when my mother died would go to her children.

My husband and I bought our first home at a time when the market was flooded with cheap houses and you could get a mortgage simply by having a pulse.  We bought a reasonable house 40 miles from where we grew up because we liked the scenery and the houses were cheaper there.  A few years later, the four hour daily commute wore on my husband and my two hour commute wasn't winning favor with our then toddler.  We had all had enough of country living and we were ready to sell.  Unfortunately, this was in 2009 when the market and the economy had completely tanked.  We were trapped.

Week after week of showings went by but we didn't get any real offers.  There were so many houses for a family to look at and ours was just another one to pass through.  Discouraged, we lowered our price.   Regardless, traffic was dying down because we'd been on the market too long.  We had one offer, but it was too low.

My mother lived her final 8 years and 2 months in a nursing home.  That last year was spent in and out of the hospital with disorienting infections and several bouts of sepsis.  The last time I spoke to my mother, the day before she lost consciousness permanently, I knew I'd never speak to her again.  With each passing day, her body shut down organ by organ.

I kept in touch with my realtors mostly to let them know we couldn't show the house.  They let me know the low-ballers were still interested and raised their offer slightly.

My mother passed away on April 22, 2010.  Thanks to my grandfather, we were able to accept the offer on our house that was now $1 less than the price we paid for it.

That day, on multiple levels, changed everything.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Diary of an Insane Woman

Today is making my insides feel all sorts of bad.

I decided to stay up last night reading and writing.  I was up until almost 1am which is at least 3 hours past my bedtime on a workday.  But, since I didn't have to work today, I figured I'd be OK.  Child and I were up by 6 AM and I started my day in the usual manner.  I got him dressed for school and here's where my insanity started.

The child has sprinkler day at school, which is day care/summer camp/whatever.  This means he has to wear his swim pants, shirt and shoes and use one of the three beach towels we own.  These are the same items that I need to pack for our trip.  So as I'm dressing him, I'm mentally preparing myself for the fact that no matter what I do, I cannot *finish* packing until he gets home and I clean his swim stuff.  I can't start something when I know I can't finish it all at once.  It sets off a terrible cycle of procrastination.

One of my tasks today was to buy shorts.  The shorts I have don't fit.  They barely fit last summer when I shook a fist and proclaimed I'd lose weight.  Instead, I gained weight and my ugly fat shorts don't fit.  So I had to go buy uglier fatter shorts today.  But, the store mostly had my old fat size and one size above my current fat size but not the stupid fat size that I needed.  On the plus side (pun intended, haha!), I guess I'm in good company if they sold out of that size.  Sorry for calling you ladies fat.  Finally I found some shirts and shorts - and a skort! - and left the store but not without worrying I wouldn't have appropriate clothes.

I went to the shoe store to replace my Sketchers that I love so dearly but are falling apart.  And, of course, the store I bought them at doesn't have them anymore.  Awesome.  I settle on a different pair that are truthfully probably just as good and go to the register where some woman has decided to a) criticize the establishment endlessly for their poor selection of boys' dress shoes and b) ask to see every single pair of Tevas in the store's online catalog so she can do a site-to-store ship.  How you get from dress shoes to Tevas is beyond me.  After 10 minutes of waiting, I was finally helped but I could feel myself getting antsy.

Next up was a mani-pedi.  My hands tend to look like I'm actually a field worker, so this was a bit of a treat.  I am constantly concerned that someone will think I have scraggly skanky feet, so I've been getting pedicures regularly.  It's not that I like to be pampered or I have tons of free time.  It's that I'm convinced that everyone I meet will look down at my feet and talk about me when I walk away.  I'm a little insecure sometimes.  But this woman who did the mani-pedi cut my cuticles and I think she was trying to get deep down into my actual body and stop regrowth from the source.  It was painful.

Then she noticed that I have what can feel like a plantars wart on the bottom of my foot.  It isn't.  One day when I was about 11 I stepped on a nail that went through my shoe and almost through my foot.  It left a knot under my skin.  I tried to explain this to her but she didn't understand me.  While my words may not have been in her language, the face she was making was certainly universal.  And by all means, Woman, keep touching it and making that face.

So, after all this I pick up something for lunch and head home.  This is when I saw my phone wasn't working even though I was JUST texting my husband a little while earlier.  It said there was no SIM card inserted.  After my consultation with Twitter didn't produce immediate results, I had to find the landline and use that ancient thing.

I called Apple Care and a lovely woman explained that my warranty was up (of course!) and so was my phone service plan (of course!) but for $29.99 I can have one session over the phone and that might help.  And through my tears of panic I agreed and I paid and she asked me what I had done so far.  I told her I did the hard reboot and turned it off and on and then she asks if I checked the SIM and I tell her that I don't know how to find that.  Long story short (too late), all I had to do was pop out the SIM card, blow on it and put it back and I was golden.  I professed my undying love for Apple Chick and I'm pretty sure she just wanted me off the phone.  My $30 is good though for 30 days if the problem occurs again and I need to call back.  But hopefully I'll remember where the SIM card is.

At this point, sufficiently worked up in a frenzy, I decided that I must finally order these damn business cards for BlogHer and I had to just stop fussing about it and do it.  I know, I know, you're so tired of hearing about these cards but I wanted to put my picture on them so people will know I'm me but the problem is that I don't want to look like me.  It is ridiculous and I'm making too much of it and I am really not this vain but seriously I don't want these cards to look like shit because then everyone I meet will go home and laugh at my stupid card.*

At least they won't be laughing at my skanky feet because I plan to get another pedicure before the conference.  But now that I mentioned it, I'm going to be worried someone will check to see if I kept my word and look even more intently at my feet.  That's it, I'm keeping my running shoes on the whole time.

Now I've just remembered the 5k.  Sigh.  I'm going to need new fat shorts for running.

Deep breaths...  You'll relax when you get to California...

Did I mention how much going through airports freaks me out?

*The cards are ordered and they look fine.  I won't say they are good or bad and if you meet me please don't stare too long at the card because I'll assume the worst.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Posts.

I'm getting ready to go on our annual family vacation.  Usually the travel preparations along with trying to make sure everything at work is in order make me certifiable.  Usually I practice pack two weeks before (which is exactly what it sounds like) and then for-real pack 2 days before and then check my packing the night before.

I haven't even started packing and I leave in 48 hours.  (Make that more like 30 since a whole bunch of time passed since I started this post.)  I still need to buy shorts and maybe a pair of shoes.  I have to do a lot of non-negotiable pre-trip things.  I'm not freaked out.

What's freaking me out is that I'm going to miss my first week of Yeah Write since I started participating 17 weeks ago.  I'm still not entirely convinced that I have to miss it though, because there's got to be some way I can sneak off into the bathroom or something and write without my family feeling like I flaked out on our special alone-together-family time.  It's too bad that I'll probably be unjetlagged by the time it opens on Monday since I plan to have free time between 3 and 6 AM Pacific for a few days like I've had the last 2 years we made this trip.

But all this leads me to another thought.  My writing has been a bit off in these last few weeks.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of my last few posts and I intend to incorporate both into my memoir that I'm working on.  That said, my blog was not supposed to be a wow-that-girl-is-pretty-sad blog.  Honestly I'm not that sad and I need to write some stuff that's not tragic nostalgia before BlogHer so that I'm not recognized as that blogger who brought you down.  Of course, this assumes I'm being recognized which is an entirely different matter.

I don't do happy so well.  When I'm happy, I'm stuck in the moment, savoring it and enjoying it.  And then when it's over, I don't know what to say.  I find it really odd that I seem to have little trouble communicating difficult topics but I can't write a happy post without feeling like a ridiculous sap.  Mostly being happy makes me want to cry.  When I think of my family and friends, the people that I love the most, I can get choked up almost instantaneously.  The rest of the nonsense that should make me cry doesn't usually have that impact on me.  I'm good at compartmentalizing, I guess.

So, it's 11pm and I should be asleep by now.  Tomorrow will be absurdly busy with the aforementioned non-negotiables.  On my trip I'm hoping to spend some time contemplating the finer things in life, like fried apple sticks dipped in whipped cream at Legoland and heated salt-water pools.

Maybe I'll figure out how to write about them.

Maybe you'll hear from me over the next week or so, maybe you won't.  It's unclear at this time.  But hang around, please, because I'm coming back.  I promise.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

There Was A Plan.

The school social worker asked if I knew why she had called me into her office.  I had an inkling, but told her I didn't know.  She explained that a teacher had overheard me say that I was planning to commit suicide after school.

"Oh, that," I said.

Of course a teacher heard me.  I yelled it loud enough.

I had been enamored of the idea of suicide since I read a magazine article years earlier with faces of teens who had killed themselves.  I wondered if I'd be in a magazine some day.

Mrs. S. asked if it was true.  She wanted to know why I felt desperate enough to end my life.  I provided the honest answer:  I was failing freshman English, my parents were getting divorced after a 4 year separation, I felt like I had no friends and, though I don't recall now, I'm sure there was some boy trouble.  She listened intently.  I inferred that she didn't think these were valid reasons.

She asked if I had a plan.  I did.  I was going to go home after school, drink a bottle of alcohol from the liquor cabinet and then take a bottle of sleeping pills.  Except I didn't have the pills so I was going to have to stop at the drug store on the way home.  I wondered silently if I had enough money or if the lady at the drugstore would even let me buy pills without calling my mother.

"Don't you have band practice after school?"  Her tone made it clear that she knew damn well I had band practice after school.  Practice which, until that moment, I had completely forgotten about.  I was going to have to either skip or kill myself afterward.  Even on the brink of my own suicide, I was worried about not keeping my commitments.

"I might wait until tomorrow," I said, knowing I didn't have any extracurriculars to get in my way.  I hoped she didn't notice I was seething with anger at both of us.  I was angry at my own stupidity and inability to carry out a simple task.  I was angry at her for noticing my weakness and using it against me.

Mrs. S. looked pleased with herself.  She lectured me that my woes were not uncommon to girls my age.  I shrugged a lot and said, "Yeah, I guess."  She gave me a pamphlet with a suicide prevention hotline.  She called my mother at work and told me that I was lucky she didn't have to call any authorities because they would put me in a hospital.

Word got around school and I noticed some sideways glances until better gossip grabbed the attention of my peers.  Mrs. S. called me down two more times that year to see how I was doing.  I told her the answer I knew she wanted to hear, that I was fine.

I'm always fine.  I've been fine ever since.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes.

Dad arrived at 8 am sharp with a couple of friends, ready to replace the leaking roof.  As they unloaded the tools, my mother peeked out the back porch window.  He saw her and asked sarcastically if she was going to call the cops.  She did not answer.  She turned her back, locked the door and returned to the kitchen.  It had only been a few weeks since he was court ordered to never be within 100 feet of her and yet here he was about to climb on the roof while she was inside the house.

She sat down at the small metal kitchen table to write out her grocery list.  I took her place at the window and watched the men go up and down the ladders.

"Why is Dad fixing the roof if he's not supposed to be here?" I turned to face my mother and waited for her response.

"Because this is still his house and it's about time he started taking care of it."  She was irritated by my question.

"But why Dad?  Why don't we pay someone you don't hate to do it?"

She glared at me.  She might as well have asked if I was stupid.

"We don't HAVE any money.  And he's a carpenter."

I couldn't understand why Mom expected Dad to fix the roof in one weekend when it took him three years to sheetrock the living room. I just couldn't help myself, I kept asking questions.

"Why did you even buy this house?  It's too small for us."  I was critical of her choices in life, even at 10.

"It wasn't too small when we bought it.  It's a starter house.  You are supposed to stay in it for a little while and buy a bigger one as your family grows.  It needed work, but your father didn't do the work and we didn't have the money then either.  He would rather spend his time and money at the bar.  Then it was too late."  She started to sound sad.  She took another drag on her cigarette.

"I don't get it."  I turned to look out the window again.  The old shingles were falling from out of my view into the yard.

"He better clean up that mess," Mom said, to no one in particular.

My brother walked into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of iced tea.  He left the empty pitcher on the counter for someone else to make more.  He drank the whole glass in one gulp.

"Why didn't he want to fix it?  Where did all the money go?"

"Michelle, he drank it all."  I recognized the exasperated tone.  "We bought this house when Jimmy was little.  We weren't planning on another baby."

"But you had another baby."

As I spoke, my eyes met with Jimmy's.  His eyes were bright with triumph over the evidence that I had, in fact, ruined everything.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me
I'm linking up with the Yeah Write Summer Series.  There's no voting this week, the posts are prompted and we're learning stuff.  Submissions aren't open either.  You have to earn your spot on the grid.  If you want to find out more, go here and here.  You can also click on the badge (or the first link) to see who else is participating.  Go discover new-to-you writers or visit old favorites.  Either way, show the love.

Edited to add:  Not only did I earn a spot on the grid, but this post won the Jury Prize for Yeah Write 64. I am elated and so honored.  I have spent the last many weeks hanging out with a great group of writers and I know I gush on and on about them, but honestly every word I say is true.  And for a group of them to see this post as the winner, well, that means the world to me.  Thank you, members of the jury, and every single person who had such kind and thoughtful comments.


Risticles.  That's a word I made up for a list of random questions for Monday Listicles.  Do you like it?

Stasha from The Good Life who is in charge of all this Listicle stuff has provided us with a list of 10 random questions to answer this week.  I was thinking that this sounded like a really easy topic, but then some of them were actually kind of hard.  I'm not sure if that's because I'm mentally or physically exhausted, but it doesn't really matter, does it?

Without further delay, here goes...

1.  Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 23, and find line 4. What is it?
Food Rules by Michael Pollan:  ...an extreme degree of processing; such products should...
Incidentally, this one was hard because as I type this I'm in my upstairs hallway where it is 89 degrees while my son plays in the bathtub.  I had to crawl all the way into the office to find the nearest book.

2.  How many times a day do you say Hi?  Since I'm writing this on a Sunday, I'll tell you about today. Because I can tell you that on a weekday it is way.too.many.  I'm very anti-social and I care not to be talking as much as I need to.  Writing is another matter.  Oh, so how many times?  Once each to my husband and child when we were all getting up this morning.  Several times to them while eating lunch, including waving.  I enjoy saying hi to my family when they are in another room and waving to them.  I said hi to some woman while I was out walking.  I said hi to the cashier at the grocery store and the two people working at the stores I made returns to.  How many is that?  I'm going to stand by my weekday answer of too many.

3.  Have you ever worn a uniform?  Yes.  I was a cheerleader for basketball (3 years) and football (4 years) in high school.  I played softball (7 years), soccer (1 year) and basketball (4 years) in grade school.  I worked at a Dairy Queen (6 years).  All of these activities required uniforms.

4.  What do you think about the most?  I can't say one thing, but here are a few that dominate 95% of my thoughts:  my family, work, writing, things I need to get done (like housework) and a few other personal things that are just too personal (I'm sure you have those kinds of things too).

5.  How many keys are on your keyring?  There is the house key, the car key and some other key that may or may not be for the fireproof lock box.  If that's not what it's for, then I have no idea what it goes to.

6.  What was the last thing you thought about?  How many keys are on my keyring.  But if you mean before I started writing my listicles, then it was how I made good steps towards some goals today.  Yes, I was patting myself on the back silently in my own head.

Oh wait.  I just realized it was the last thing I BOUGHT.  Groceries.

7.   Are you growing anything these days?  Fatter.  I've been growing fatter.

8.  What is under your bed?  Maybe a pair of shoes, I'm not sure.  Also, there is a piece of plastic that was wrapped around the center leg when it was delivered 2 years ago that I can't reach to pull out.

9.  What is most important in life?  For my family to be happy.  How we can all "be happy" remains a mystery.

10.  What is the strangest word you used this week?  I haven't the slightest idea.  That's a tough one.  I don't even remember what I talked about this week.  I don't think I say strange words.  I'm very normal.  Nothing strange going on here.

So that's it.  That's my list.  Now click on the badge below and read some of the other blogs!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


This is the time of year when I begin dreaming of retiring and moving to California.  

My company moved our 401(k) vendor last July and we'll be moving again this July.  I cannot look at my savings plan and not think about retirement since that is what this money is for.  The sad part is that I have 31 years until I reach SSNRA (Social Security Normal Retirement Age for those of you who don't know the geeky acronyms).  So, assuming there still is Social Security as we know it today, I can't access it for 31 years.  That means that if I am to retire early, not only do I have to save what I need to retire at 67, but also even more per year for every year I don't want to work.

In other words, this is a highly unrealistic goal.  I mean, sure, we could live like paupers and work our asses off and then have a fabulous retirement, but a happy medium would be nicer, I think.

The other wrinkle in my fantasy plan is that I want to move to California, particularly the Carlsbad area slightly north of San Diego.  I'm not exactly looking to retire in an inexpensive area of the country.  On the plus side, I live in one of the other most expensive areas of the country.  I read last year that San Diego County's cost of living is only .7% higher than Bergen County, NJ, which is the county adjacent to the one I currently reside in.  And while it is cheaper here than there, it's not by much.  It is this fact that makes my retirement within the realm of possibility.  Sure, it's on the edge of that realm, but I'll take what I can get.  

If the next 36 years could go off without a hitch, that would be great.  

For now, I'm going to have to settle for my vacation.  In less than 2 weeks, I'll be in the most wonderful place I've ever visited.  Nathan and I will spend some time in San Diego near the marina while my husband works, then we'll head up to Carlsbad.  The place we stay is so wonderful - all of the amenities you want in a hotel.  We are close to the beach, close to good food and close to It's A Grind which is my most happiest coffee place on Earth.  I shall eat Mexican food, I shall relax.  I shall play on the beach.  We may visit Legoland and SeaWorld.  Quite frankly I don't care what we do so long as the humidity level is nowhere near what it is here on the East Coast right now.

While I'm there, we may drive around and think of how nice it would be to live there.  

Some day I will.  I don't know how or when or where, but someday I will live there and it will be wonderful.