>> 26 January 2011
Sometime when I was around fifteen or sixteen, my mother thought it was an excellent idea for me to take over the family finances. I can only assume she thought this was a great way for me to learn how to balance a checkbook or budget or perhaps she was just tired of dealing with it.
I took on the task with gusto.
For years I couldn't understand how although my mother seemed to make plenty of money- we never had anything. Don't get me wrong, we had a roof over our heads and food in the cupboard and shoes on our feet.
Expensive shoes. Always top of the line. I never understood this growing up. She'd drag us kicking and screaming into Kmart to buy school clothes but always the most expensive shoes.
Anyhoodle. I ran my analysis. I ran it backward and forward. I tweaked and played and massaged the numbers as though they were a fat businessman on vacation in Thailand and I still came out with the same conclusion.
So I sat her down and explained very careful. Mother (in my most snotty teen voice) we (as though I had anything to do with it) make plenty of money. If we cut out these expenses, I pointed, here, here, and here and are a little more focused you could add this, this and this to your savings. She nodded, thanked me and promptly walked over to the bar and poured herself a stiff drink. Bless her.
I remembered this little exchange the other day as I was balancing my own checkbook, thank God for computers, and preparing my own budget. Thank God for computers. It suddenly occurred to me- it wasn't that my mother was bad with money. It was that she was in denial.
I look at my own budget, carefully add up all the normal expenses- the housing, the food, electricity, cable, gas, car payment, etc and I get a number. One not huge but still impressive. Then I start taking into account all of the other things. The birthday presents, Christmas presents, the school clothes shopping, the misc notes the school sends home, art class and pictures, car maintenance, house maintenance, and I get another number, one which starts my heart beating just a little bit faster. Then I added my monthly Starbucks bill. That is the number that causes the computer to wheeze in terror.
So SuperGirl- how would you feel about taking over the family finances?
>> 23 January 2011
Took the kids to the City yesterday. You know- the big San Fran. See I live in a little podunk town right outside of Sacramento. Now for those of you not in the know and dear God why would you, Sacramento's claim to fame, aside from being the home of Dorothea Puente, the scariest old lady on the planet, is that we're two hours from anywhere fun. Want to ski- 2 hours. Ocean- 2 hours, Gamble- Two hours, Hit a big City- Two hours.
So we did- hit the big city that is. Every once in a while I need out. Out of my house, out of my neighborhood. Out of town. I get that itch. The itch to move, to explore, to hit the trails.
Hit the trails- all the way to the Academy of Sciences. Now I haven't been to the Academy of Sciences since I was a wee Right. Let me tell you- back in the day it blew chunks. All I remember is a couple of dozen fish tanks lining a wall with some half dead specimens. If I wanted to see fish I could go to a real aquarium- hello- Monterey Bay.
|My favorite part of Monterey Bay-The Sun Fish|
Anyhoodle, the Academy of Science has really stepped up their game having finished their renovation in 2008. Even SuperGirl, between grousing good-naturedly about having to learn on a Saturday- to go a museum of all places, could barely contain her enjoyment when snow fell from the ceiling almost immediately after we cleared the glass-door'd entrance. From penguins, to a four-story rain forest, to a planetarium, and fish to an albino alligator named Claude we barely made it out before they closed their doors at five.
|Claude- too cool for well everyone really|
Best of all it was warm and sunny. We sat in the music concourse and threw coins in the fountain and generally squabbled and joked and played.
...and I was reminded once more why I don't sell my kids to gypsy's.
>> 22 January 2011
Around the Block cont....
The Man-child's friend asked him why he has to get straight A's this semester. His response...(please forgive me. I wanted to make notes as he was talking but somehow, for some reason he takes offense when I don't "listen" and merely use every moment of our lives as content. Crazy kid.)
"I told her, If I don't get straight A's I won't graduate. If I don't graduate then I won't get into a good college. If I don't get into a good college, I won't get a good job. Then I'll be depressed because I won't have a way to support myself. So I'll turn to a mixture of one part paint thinner mixed with two parts anti-freeze to take my mind off my situation. I will wander the streets at all hours of the day and night lamenting my mis-spent youth, until one day I will wake up in horror only to find a kidney-shaped hole in my gut."
>> 21 January 2011
So I get home this evening, open the door and go through my usual ritual...say hello to the dog who is always utterly ecstatic I'm home, home, finally home. Where have you been all day my human, she asks.
Then the daughter, who greets me night after night with a truly lovely, "hello, mommy." Always in a voice slightly crossed between upper crust British and a teeny, tiny little girl.
To yell up the long flight of stairs to the Man-child. "Hello, my son."
I pitter, patter and eventually make my way up that steep incline of stairs, huffing and puffing despite the fact I make this climb no less than three to four times a day (GD desk job) to the computer where I promptly log into Facebook.
Here I find this post from the Man-child...
"No, I don't actually have a hole where my kidney is. I don't know whether to feel happy that my acting is that good, or bad that you think I'm capable of leading such a depressing life."
I turn to my child, knowing there is a truly fine story behind this little ditty and he explains...
But before I share his response with you, let me give you a little context...
I have, without a doubt, the most beautifully intelligent and creative child, who for some reason, known only to him, is barely scrapping by in school. Every day same old thing. Do your homework, do your homework, do your homework, did you do your homework. I swear. It's not that he's incapable or slow or stupid, maybe he's lazy? There's a quote from Gilmore Girls I always think of when I think of this child...
"She's got a C average which means she's either lazy or stupid. I can work with either. Frankly sometimes stupid is easier. I can scare the stupid out of you, but the lazy runs deep."
Folks, let me tell you. Lazy may run skin deep but stubbornness, stubbornness runs all the way through the soul, down each extremity, and out through the head. He's been stubbornly refusing to succeed academically.
Then this semester something happened. A switch flipped, a light bulb went on, God tapped him on the shoulder. He had the realization he'll be graduating in a few short months and wants to go to senior ball and sober grad night and graduation.
I logged on to check his grades the other night. Dear readers, I ask you...do you know what grades he has right now? Do you know? Do you think it could possibly be A's? If so, you'd be right. But do you know what else he has, other than straight A's 4 weeks into the new semester? Dear readers-can you even begin to guess?
100% in every class.
Not only A's, not only straight A's, but straight A+'s.
I just want to punch him in the forehead, I swear.
As for the little ditty above, the Facebook post. I'll tell you tomorrow.
>> 20 January 2011
"Well, you know what they say. Love is blind. And sometimes beats you into semi-consciousness with a nightstick."
>> 19 January 2011
So long, long ago I wrote a couple of overly effusive, slobbering tidbits of praise for one of my very favorite artists. Of all time. Forever and ever.
All of the sudden yesterday I started getting all these hits...all from Google with the same search words. "Wade Hampton artist" Like lots and lots and a few more than that. Well that's odd, I thought. For although I love Wade's work, I'm of the mind you just don't see it around near enough. Not like that stupid Kincaid fellow. Geez. Burning light in a window- we get it.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Art Stephen Up Challenge - Wade Hampton|
Congrats Wade!!!! You were awesome.
>> 18 January 2011
For the most part SuperGirl and I get along pretty decently. Well, as good as an almost sixteen year old can get along with her mother.
But every once in awhile- ooohhho boy. Better yet- duck and cover. It'll be safer- I promise.
Actual conversation yesterday. Me in Panera, trying desperately not to eavesdrop on the family dishing all the juicy gossip in front of me. Ohhh Cousin Tony is drinking again and Aunt Becky has no idea but really how can she be surprised? She drank all those years and really even though no one ever talks about it, drink wasn't all she was doing. Uncle Todd...wait what about Uncle Todd?..... WHAT ABOUT UNCLE TODD? Shhhhh cute but really loud toddler- I can't hear what's going on with Uncle Todd. Dammit. Ring, ring, ring.
No, really- that's what it sounds like.
Hello daughter who is currently at the mall with the BFF I secretly hate but can't tell you because I still want you to talk to me and tell me things.
No you can't go to the ghetto to stay with the night with the BFF I secretly hate. No... no.... no... no.... no... no... no. Because I said so. I don't care if you get one why. I told you that when you were eight- get over it. My one answer never seems to satisfy you anyway. It's not like you look at me and say...Gee Mom, I totally see your reasoning. You are totally right. I shouldn't have asked. NO. Great I just made the toddler cry.
No-no matter how many times you say please it's still no. This isn't ice cream for cryin' out loud. NO. Because it's the ghetto and the Dad's house and there's no supervision. Remember that one time when I let you stay out there, and it turned out all the neighborhood boys stayed over for a giant sleep-over and even though you said nothing happened....no I don't trust you. Are you crazy?
No... no.... no... no.... no... no... no.no... no.... no... no.... no... no... no.no... no.... no... no.... no... no... no.No... no.... no... no.... no... no... no.no... no.... no... no.... no... no... no.no... no.... no... no.... no... no... no.no... no.... no... no.... no... no... no.no... no.... no... no.... no... no... no.no... no.... no... no.... no... no...
God- that kid's gonna be a good lawyer someday.
>> 09 January 2011
You hear quite a bit of anti-Starbucks rhetoric on the Interwebs. Corporate giant that destroys the fabric of small business- terrible coffee, hipster staff, and on and on. It seems to be one of those places you either love or hate.
For me Starbucks is a home away from home- a lovely place to enjoy a cup of coffee, a book and some quiet time until I have to be somewhere else.
Not to say I don't expect a certain amount of noise and distribance from the other customers. It's a public place, not the library for crying out loud. Although I have to say, I never quite understood that phrase. The library is the nosiest, most disruptive places on earth. All that making out, and porn and shaving each other's body hair in the bathroom. A virtual cornucopia of humanity at it's finest.
However Starbucks-a nice, relaxing place, Comfie furniture, soothing music, caffeine. Sort of what I imagine Heaven to look like.
So imagine how utterly pissed off I must have been the other day for the disruption in my beloved home away from home.
SuperGirl and I were about 45 minutes early for a doctor’s appointment. Oh look a place to chat and enjoy a nice cinnamon dolce latte. Imagine my consternation then to find an employee and manager meeting happening not but two tables away. As I sipped my coffee and tried to
pry into my daughter's life, talk I was constantly interrupted by the management team reprimanding one of their employees in what was obviously an incredibly private meeting – HELD ON THE FLOOR IN FRONT OF ALL THE CUSTOMERS.
I looked at SuperGirl incredulously- really, making your employee cry in front of the whole store? Really? Don't you people have a break-room? She looked back at me, uncomfortable and squirmed in her seat a bit.
Most frustrating- the management team- not young, inexperienced kids like you'd imagine but older, professionally dressed women, the store and regional manager. Yes- I asked the counter staff.
I listened for a moment as the young employee stammered through her tears. She carefully explained- she'd asked for a transfer. How desperately she was trying to meet all her obligations. How she tried to schedule doctor's appointments around her work schedule.
I could almost take it no longer. It was all I could do to contain myself. I knew not to say anything to the women seated around the table. I knew if I allowed myself to open my mouth I would have started with Who the hell do you think you are...to...Most unprofessional behavior I've ever seen...to ... how dare you...to ... You never, ever reprimand an employee in front of customers let alone other employees and much, much, much more. Plus a touch of how dare you air that woman's personal life in front of God and everyone?
But I didn't. I refrained.
Because really, what good would it have done? Even had I stayed calm, quiet and collected, communicated my disapproval eloquently, that woman, that manager- she would have never gotten it. She would have never understood- her behavior, it was wrong.
You don't treat people that way. Even if they work for you.
Starbucks- I expect better from you.
>> 06 January 2011
I made it through- still employed. Thank God.
Not that we couldn't have worked something out or that it may not happen eventually but one thing is clear- my subconscious is kind of an asshole. To wake me up in the middle of the night simply to torture me- pure asshole.
It's gotten to the point I can hardly listen to NPR anymore- every other story is about how another person lost their job and is now, for the first time ever, standing in line at the food bank proclaiming- I'm the one that usually donates. I can't believe I'm here. I cry-every single time.
When I was laid off- before I got the business off the ground, we were almost there. Some part of me- that part that cries, wants to take every bit of extra we have now and donate. The pragmatic side of me pulls the reins way far back and helps me to understand- there isn't any extra right now.
Do we live a blessed life? Oh yes- no one could even begin to deny we live a blessed life, in a Disney-like setting of over-abundance in a wonderful home. But I was off work for a long-time. All I can do is thank jesus we don't live in Victorian England because I'd be in debtor's prison now instead of steadily paying off every tom, dick and harry one dollar at a time.
Never-mind all the things that come up. My seven year old Chevy hit 90,000 miles this month and all hell broke loose. New brakes, new tires. I need to get smogged this month yet this crazy check engine light is on. Don't worry, the SmogNazi reassures me, We tested everything and everything looks fine but we can't pass you with your Check Engine light on. Yeah- thanks...for nothing. The dentist today. Each kid has a cavity- in exactly the same place. The dentist was astounded. The same tooth- the same side- the same size cavity.
At least it was just one. At least I had health insurance.
What's the solution- I have no idea. I'd like to throw my hands in the air and demand the government fix it. But is that their job? Really?
>> 05 January 2011
I think the office may be doing lay-offs today.
I woke up at 3:30 this morning convinced I'm on the chopping block. Sure it could be me panicking- unreasonable worry but maybe not...
The consultant arrived yesterday which is never a good sign. They have been talking for months about restructuring- working on all six cylinders instead of the three we are currently functioning at-which everyone knows is code for lay-offs. Well at least I hope it's lay-offs and not out-right termination.
There's something about this time which just lays a pit of worry in my stomach. Although I know we'll be alright- the family- we always are-I have another business I can build and grow. One I've been neglecting for quite some time now. I just can't help but to spiral down into the OH MY GOD what the hell are we going to do? It's stressful.
The counting of every penny. The no's. No you can't have this or no you can't have that. I hate that time. Particularly since I have to admit I haven't re-built the savings yet. The bills are piling up, the car is acting up and let's face it- Christmas was expensive.
It's apparent- even if I don't get laid-off today- it's time to find another job. I don't function well with a hole in the pit of my stomach everyday. Stressed to the point of panic.
Since drinking coffee and visiting with friends doesn't quite pay enough to keep me in shoes, I think it's time for some serious soul searching. What do I want to do when I grow up?
>> 02 January 2011
With being sick this entire week, I could have gratefully spent the New Years cuddled up on the couch with a hot toddy chaser, my favorite fuzzy socks and the canine companion. But alas that was not to be. The teens were itching to bring in the New Year right or at the very least not in the house watching endless re-runs of Sister Wives.
That show is like a train wreck- I just can't stop watching.
We toyed with the idea of going to Old Town Sacramento. After all they were going to have a Journey Tribute band. I know, the excitement, how could we contain it.
Instead we started the evening with some of the best coffee I've tasted all year.
Joined some friends for street tacos and cards. Then we ventured out into the bitter cold to huddle up against the bank of the Sacramento river with twelve of our closest friends and two hundred strangers watching one of the best fireworks shows I've seen in a long time. The golden sparkles are my favorite.(1:46)
..and the Grand Finale.