Friday, January 29

It will be the summer of awesome and fun camps

I’ve been told that the summers at this magazine are pretty brutal, in that we put out two huge issues a month for a five-month stretch. That should be fun, once that period arrives, but my preparations for such time have already begun. I started thusly, “You know, I’ll be working a lot this summer, and I’m not going to let you sit at home and play Minecraft all hours for days at a time or anything like that, so we’ll have to figure out the summer camp situation, since you’ll be at summer camp every week.” The initial reaction was a pause, and mild irritation.
But then I reminded her that at this year’s zoo camp, she’ll be moving up into the next group/grade level. And then I asked her if she wanted to do gymnastics again, and then reminded her about the invention camp at school, and then the golf place. At that point, she was off and running. All those ideas sounded good to her, but what else?
“Well, why don’t we try something outside your comfort zone and maybe broaden your horizons a bit?” Again, hesitation, but by the time the conversation was over, she was tentatively in for drama, sports, art, and maybe a week or so in California with Grandma for a camp or two there. I suggested the wilderness sleep-away camp, but she wasn’t having any of that, and actually almost cried at the thought of being away from us overnight. Maybe architecture? “That’s interesting…” she said. Wow! Really?
So, now we’re all excited about the prospect of summer camps, a full two months before we can even find out about them, which is a drag. But I actually found a summer camp expo in our area in several weeks, so I think we may check that out. She’ll probably be more excited about anything new based on the counselors and information she sees there rather than my description of any of it, so that’s got definite possibilities.
I’m super relieved that she’s so excited. I wish I could go to summer camp again. It sounds like so much fun.

Thursday, January 28

New news is good news

Hot on the heels of my anti-Kardashian-Jenner rant, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Apparently, Yahoo! decided that I really shouldn’t have the option to dismiss even those articles, and changed the entire makeup of their home page. Now, in an effort to “connect” their home page to the youth zeitgeist, they’ve set up every article to be able to go viral. You can comment, sign-in to like, reblog on Tumblr, and share and/or tweet each article. What you can’t do anymore is dismiss the article from your news feed.
Forced with this issue, and not wanting to learn another new Yahoo! page, I have moved on to something else. And in that, I have discovered the Google News page. My friends, it is glorious. It’s remarkably free of hype, if I can say that. It’s got small photos, headlines, and links. That’s it. Interested in a story? The headline did its job? Click on the link, and you can read the article.
Also, I can personalize what news sources I prefer, and what topics I want most to read about. It won’t let me remove Kardashian-Jenner from my page, I don’t think, but there is so much other information that I can gloss over them super quick and it doesn’t even bother me too much. I’ve got my own pages for space, books, movie reviews, weather, NFL, Day in Photos, Hollywood, wildlife and environment. All good things, and all interesting things to me.
I’ve removed the Yahoo! bookmark from my browser. … My Chrome browser. … Oh my gosh, you guys, I think I may finally be becoming a disciple of Google.

Wednesday, January 27

Get them off my feed, PLEASE

Not until you try deleting Kardashian-Jenner stories from your news feed do you realize just how many stories about the Kardashian-Jenners are online. Here I am, living life on my Yahoo! home page, and I can not get away from these people. I indicate “less of this” all the time in my feed, but the damn click-bait headlines continue to show up. They will not go away. I also delete the Kanye West bits because they’re mostly about the Kardashian-Jenners, too.
I am in loathe of this “famous” family, and I can not avoid them. If you live on the internet for any amount of time every day, you will get exposed to them.
I think the worst thing is that if something bothers you to the core, there is actually no way to avoid it. Where is the list of key words that you can input on your computer that will ensure that you won’t see any articles about that thing? Like my friend, SafeSearch, but with topics? I would put “Kardashian,” “Jenner” and “Kanye,” right up there atop it. I would consider putting “Trump” there, too, but that’s such a train wreck, I kinda have to keep up with what going on with that. I honestly can’t think of any other words that provoke as much ire in me, so much that I can’t think of a context in which I could stand reading them, as those.

No, you may not have that information

I did something I consider pretty awesome today. I returned Christmas gifts that no one wanted. The flip in that script is that I bought those particular gifts for my family.
The first gift was the game Apples to Apples that Cooper “bought” for Sydney. This was returned because I had forgotten that I’d already gotten her the junior edition of the game several weeks before. That was a brain fart on my behalf, and I felt super bad about it. So, it got returned. The second gift was a game that Sydney and I got for Brian, the Brain Games board game. At first glance, this was a great idea. We love the Brain Games television show. What didn’t occur to me until after he’d opened it and shown no interest or excitement, is that probably after the first time we go through all the games in that game, we’d know all the tricks, and it would cease to be fun at all. So, it got returned, as well.
I bought both at Toys R Us, so it was a quick fix to return them. But this is interesting: I had to provide my driver’s license for the return (the Toys R Us employee input my address into their computer system) and my phone number. (Duly noted, that I did have my receipt.) I asked why they needed to see my ID, and she said that it was a change in policy from a few months ago, but that they couldn’t process my return without that information. I’m annoyed by that. Almost to the point that I hate Radio Shack for needing my full address to buy a battery or cable or something.
Also, because I used my debit card for the purchase, they would prefer to give me cash back because to return the money electronically back to my debit card “may take several days.” I’m all, “What?” Yeah, it’ll take a while, she said to me. I said, fine, give me the cash, though I think you need to check with your processes because everyone else can get money back on a debit card within a day or two.
I don’t understand why Toys R Us would go rogue on parents like that, for sure. As for the irritation I have right now for Toys R Us, it translates into the solid reason why I won’t be going back without the person for whom the trip is being made. No more gifting from Toys R Us, because they want too much from me. My address and phone number are not their business.

Monday, January 25

Road trips are awesome

Conversation today rolled towards road trips, and I got to thinking about some pretty epic road trips I’ve been on. The first, that I remember enough to write about here, is the vacation that Mom, Howie, Gramps and I took to Ireland in 1984. We spent two weeks, I think, or 10 days, but a lot of time driving around the country, stopping here and there and doing awesome things. I was only 11 years old, and I’m sure the driving part was way more stressful for the adults that were actually driving than it was for me, but it was my first big-time road trip.
Second, mine and Brian’s drive out to Boston in 2002. It was summer, and hot, and we were in a rush. The moving company picked up our stuff in Phoenix, and told us that day that they would see us in Boston in five days. We had been told to allow a 10-day window to get our belongings, so this shift was quite a surprise. We busted out of town super early the next morning, and made it to Boston in four days, driving 12 and 13 hours per day to get there in time. It was fun, to be sure, but way too stressful to really enjoy. Because my boss at the time would not let me quit my job before the end of August, I had to come back to Arizona, live with a coworker, and go on about my life after traveling with Brian and moving him into our apartment there.
Hence, the third big road trip, with Mom, moving me and my car from California to Boston, in September that same year. Yes, I drove coast to coast twice in a matter of four months. This particular trip was super awesome, and a ton more relaxed. Mom and I had a steady driving schedule of eight hours per day, had our itinerary of where we would stop each night, and had our plans for what fun things we would visit along the way. This is, no doubt, my most favorite road trip. That she fought tooth and nail to not go is amazing in hindsight, isn’t it?
Fourth big trip: the drive back to Arizona from Boston. Brian, Oliver and I, and my big-ass tummy with a baby in it. I was six months along when we drove back to the desert, and it made for a more interesting trip. That trip, actually, is mapped out on the blog, for your enjoyment, in July of 2006. But for the sake of conversation, I’ll tell you that we took our time with that one, driving down the East Coast on the 95 South until we reached the 10 East in Florida. We took a right at that point, and continued across the South, and Texas, to Arizona. It was a better trip than our trip out in July, 2002, for certain. Our stuff took eight or nine more days beyond that to arrive in Scottsdale, so we spent several days with Brian’s parents in southern Arizona.
The fifth big trip took us out to Houston, with a kid, two dogs and two cars. It sucked that there was no one we could share driving duties with, but we dealt okay, and enjoyed the ride nonetheless.
The sixth road trip, and last one so far, brought us back to Arizona from Houston. Mom, Sydney, Oliver, Daisy and I, all crammed into the Jetta, rocking along the highway. (Brian drove back to Arizona a couple months prior.) It was a different experience, certainly, with Sydney and the dogs, but we all still had a lovely time, and again, had our route mapped and figured out for every day.

My coworker doesn’t like road trips, she said. I love them, obviously, because if I didn’t, I’d be in a world of hurt. But I really do love them, because it’s fun to drive into a town, or away from a town, with a destination in mind. I love that with a road trip, it’s the journey that makes it so special.

Artists are interesting, it's as plain as that

Brian and I watched Straight Outta Compton this weekend. … I’m going to preface this post by saying that first and foremost, it was a very good movie. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Now, having said that … I was super hesitant to sit and watch it. It was one of those movies where I knew it would be good, but I also knew that there would be aspects that would make me uncomfortable, and I didn’t really want to see that. So, nervous and knowing that I would be witness to racism and gang violence in all manner of forms, I agreed to watch. I’m so glad I did.
I’m not a fan of rap music; I never have been. I appreciate artists for their art in all forms, but as for listening to it a lot, I don’t. Brian, on the other hand, was a huge fan of N.W.A., so he was very excited. I am a fan of Ice Cube, in all his talents and entertainments, so for that, I was intrigued.
It was super awesome to see the beginnings of all these men, to see how they started in the industry, and the trials and tribulations they managed to overcome. I was excited to learn how they grew and established themselves in the heights of their art. And it also was cool when I recognized bits and pieces of music from my own memory, as well as remembering news from way back when. We watched the unrated director’s cut, which was about two hours and 48 minutes long, but it really didn’t feel that long. I did not want to sit for three hours, but the pace of the film made it fly by pretty well. I’m curious what was cut for the theatrical release (probably a lot of the party scenes).
I love it when a movie makes me want to sit on Wikipedia for hours reading about the people depicted, which I did, and makes me want to buy music, which I didn’t, actually, because I don’t really like it beyond the beats here and there.
So, in all that, I’ll say that I highly recommend this movie. And I think it did get robbed by the Oscars, but Ice Cube himself said that the accolades he received from the fans and movie goers was worth more to him than the industry recognition. Indeed, they make movies for the people, not the industry awards. This one was a labor of love, clearly, and they knocked it out of the park.

Saturday, January 23

No snow, but a ton of sunshine

When there's bad weather, Brian is obsessed with watching The Weather Channel. No joke, the station was on our television all day. He compulsively watched all the snow updates, government press conferences, and meteorologists standing in the wind. It's entertaining, to be sure, but also, kinda monotonous. They're all like, "It's snowing outside everybody! Look how cold I am standing out in the snow!"
It really just makes us both miss living in Boston, where we would have been able to go outside and play in the wonderful snow, rather than just watch it on our TV.
Incidentally, here in the desert, we had a high temperature of 68 degrees today. Boring.

Friday, January 22

Short, sweet, and 3,001

Holy crap, you guys. Last night I wrote my 3,000th post on It's All About ... . I don't even know what to write about tonight, though that seems silly because this is not my 3,000th post, so it's really no big deal. Actually, it's just the first on a long road to 4,000.

Thursday, January 21

Tiny Thing #6: If not here, then there

In my stocking on Christmas Day, Santa Claus left me a totally awesome little book designed to give me ideas here and there for blog posts, called 642 Tiny Things to Write About. Since I seem to be lacking in inspiration at this very moment, I'm going to try it out.
As there are no page numbers or ideas numbered in the book, I've had to figure out my own way of keeping track. Remarkably, it is by numbering the ideas myself. Herein, #6:
Where would you choose to be exiled?
Since being exiled technically means being pushed out of your native country or land, I need to consider where I would choose to be if not in the United States. I would select Australia. Mom, Howie and I spent two weeks there in 1996, and it was fabulous. I loved it, all of it. Every different kind of environment, from desert to rain forest. So many different and interesting animals. And just the beauty of it all. No kidding, if Trump is elected, I may self-exile my ass to Australia out of protest and disgust. A friend told me that the Australian government won't let you emigrate with any debt to your name. This is concerning, certainly, because I have a lot of debt.
What three essential items would you take with you?
First and foremost, of course, would be the family: kid, mom, husband, dogs. Second, would have to be my phone, so I can take photos, blog my adventures, Google Maps my way around, communicate with all my other loved ones and bug them about visiting me, and probably check in on Facebook everywhere. All those wonderful things can be done with the little device in my pocket, and that's pretty amazing, don't you think? Third, my reading glasses, because to not be able to read would be awful.

Tuesday, January 19

Catch you on the flip side, awesome school

And then you find out that they’re closing down your childhood.
Word came down from the Internet gods last night that the elementary and middle schools I attended will be closing down after this school year. I attended two different campuses, the first, from kindergarten through fourth grade, and the second, from fifth grade through eighth grade. I met some of the best friends I’ve ever had at this school, and we all continue to be close and see each other as often as possible to this day. So when the news broke that the schools would be shutting down, we all felt the loss keenly, and it spread through our Facebook pages and posts like wildfire.
Granted, it seems silly to hope that your school will be where you left it forever and ever. It seems naïve to think that your school will survive all the hardships that so many other schools face, and have faced. It seems immature to be sad that your school is closing, especially since you haven’t stepped foot on its grounds since the 1990s. But here I am, all silly, naïve and immature, and thinking that a grand and special era has ended, simply because the doors are closing.
There is no way to quantify everything that the school gave and taught me, from confidence in myself and pride in my education, to the ability to meet and exceed expectations, and socialize with people. And most especially, I appreciate the friends I made there, those who, more than 30 years later, are my everything: my emotional rocks, my loving hearts, my candid reality checks, my spiritual reboots, and my best times ever.
So, the school is closing, and that’s sad, but I am more than grateful that it was there when I needed it, and that it continues to be an influence on me, and I daresay all those friends, still. It’s just another monument to my youth that will fade into memory, but will remain in my heart.
Also, we all can still sing the fight song.

Monday, January 18

I don't *feel* like I'm 43 years old

Today is my birthday. I turned 43 years old at 7:39 a.m., California time (because that's the best kind). It was the first time in 10 years that I had to work on my birthday, and I was reminded at about 6:30 this morning that working on your birthday f*ckin' sucks. I had played around with the idea of calling in sick today, but I figured that being "sick" for the first time at this job ... on a Monday ... would kind of be a red flag. So there I was, at work, on my birthday. But the decision I made as I was driving in, to sign in to my Facebook and sit on it all morning, ended up being the best thing for me today.
It was a virtual birthday party, if you can believe it, and it was awesome. I felt like it was the perfect get-together, with me just hanging out in a chair, and throughout the morning, people would arrive, wish me a happy day, maybe hang out for a chat or a smile, and then they would leave and go about their business. Glorious. Honestly, there were, like, 40 people at my party today, and it was super cool. Of course, the actual phone calls and texts were fantastic (and better), but as Facebook birthdays go, me having the ability to just chill at a computer all day today made this one among the best.

Does anyone ever really win a debate?

I can’t help but feel like all political debates are like kids getting into arguments on the playground. They all just kinda yell at each other, no one really understands what they’re saying, most of their statements are just sorta true, and the actual point of the “conversation” gets lost among the kerfuffle.
Full disclosure, I don’t watch the debates anymore. As a rule, I hate listening to people argue on television, whether it’s politics, sports, religion, or anything really. I can’t stand it. To sign up for a couple hours of watching some normally contained and stable people devolve into arguing like elementary school kids is not my thing. Nor do I read much about the debates after the fact. Perhaps I only click on the fact-checking articles, since they are the only real things going on up there. 
But every morning, on my news page, I am subjected to so many images of the debaters, arms spread and gesticulating, angry and offended looks on their faces, and I am reminded how very smart I am to not watch all that garbage. It’s interesting to me because presidents don’t debate. They take in all the pertinent information (or at least, they should), and then make a decision. Beyond the campaign trail, debating is moot. So it interests me how people in the voting populace think that the debates could possibly show them how a person will lead the country. If anything, it shows how someone wins and/or loses an argument at home with their spouse. That’s how emotional and sometimes heated these people get, in my eyes anyway.
This morning’s news feed, with its five or six articles on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, is hurting my eyes and heart. I hate that our political system seems to cater to the lowest denominator of theater and continues to host these things. It would be nice if the issues were themselves the only things people were interested in, rather than watching adults argue and insult each other. Their ability to do that, and “win” even, is not super presidential, I don’t think.

Sunday, January 17

It really is beautiful music, you know

I'm obsessed with the Beautiful Instrumentals (820) radio channel on DirecTV.
I can't tell you how I landed on it, probably just looking for something relatively soothing to have on as my background while doing some computer work (actually, I can tell you how, apparently). But as there hasn't been any other real television to watch over the last few weeks, the music channel has stayed on every night. It's super relaxing, and nice to have such a chill background noise going on. I especially like it when I hear something I recognize, such as "Three Coins in the Fountain" just a bit ago. The music allows me to concentrate on the task at hand, whether it's reading or writing. Also, if I choose to watch something on the DVR, the channel just disappears into the background to be there when I'm done. It's reassuring, for certain.

UPDATE: SafeSearch continues to work. No vaginas were seen in the search results of "pretty music" for that image.

Saturday, January 16

Pretty pictures, no more vaginas

I've had my pretty, pink quilt on my bed for all of three days, and it already has a small spot on it, because dogs. Oliver has a super sensitive wart on his shoulder that will bleed over any little thing, and evidently, he rolled over onto it while sleeping last night, and he bled on my pretty, pink quilt. I'm bothered, but obviously, I can't expect a pretty, pink quilt to stay a pretty, pink quilt when I have two dogs.

Also, I just discovered something pretty awesome that, as a parent of a kid on the Internet, I should have discovered and enacted a year or so ago. I have turned on "SafeSearch" on Yahoo!'s search engine. It's been bothering me a lot lately that when I do image searches for my blog posts, I can put in seemingly innocuous phrases like "pretty pink images," and end up with several photos of girls with their vaginas all out and open, with and without penises in them. It's disturbing, to say the least, when all I'm looking for is a photo of pink flowers or something, and I get an eyeful of vagina from girls that I can't confidently say are consenting, sober or older than 18. Typically, if a search has brought up images such as that, I clear the computer's page history before shutting down, because the last thing I need is Sydney wondering why I was looking for "princess" images and finding several cartoon drawings of Ariel getting pounded from behind by Eric, you know? Tonight's search grossed me out, and suddenly and vaguely, I remembered that there is such a thing as parental controls on online searches. I found the SafeSearch function, turned it on and locked it, and then was very pleased to discover that a second search for "pretty pink" images yielded zero vagina. ... Honestly, even though I say I'm doing it for Sydney, I'm really doing it for me, because I don't care to see that stuff. Because like I said, who knows if those girls are consenting, sober adults when those photos are taken .. and yuck. I'm kicking myself for not enacting this particular safety measure way before now.

Friday, January 15

Last night's ITEM! list, today

ITEM!: Randomly, it makes me very happy to compose my blog posts at work because here I have Microsoft Word on my Apple computer, and I can finally type in my favorite font again: Book Antiqua. And that’s about all I have to say about that.
ITEM!: Last night, I finished the second book that I started reading since I started working. That shouldn’t be an accomplishment, by any stretch of the imagination, but it kind of is, since I’ve had the hardest time sitting down with a book since November. I have a couple other awesome tomes in my room that I need to dive into, and I intend on finishing another this weekend. Anyway, last night’s book made me cry at the end, which rarely happens (I can count on one hand how many times a book made me cry), and also I stayed up until 1 a.m. to finish it. So along with the puffy eyes this morning, I was super tired.
ITEM!: Also, excitement of all excitements, Oliver has begun climbing up and down the stairs again, a full 10 months after he tore his ACL. And he’s getting pretty bold and cocky about it, too. He makes a bit of noise while ascending, for sure, since it’s an effort for him, but he’s determined and motivated, since he seems to think that Sydney always has food upstairs. The downstairs trek is scarier for Brian and I, since all we can imagine is him tumbling, but he made it on his own last night (silently, so I didn’t even know that he’d done it until he was downstairs again). This morning, he wandered upstairs only to want to get on the bed with me. Of course, he is still old and wobbly, so he actually toppled off the bed about 3 a.m., giving B and I heart attacks and fits of parental guilt and anxiety (he’s doing fine this morning, like I said, since he made his way back up around 7). Still, he’s getting stronger, thanks to the increased pain medications for his arthritis, and the daily walks and exercise, so we’re very pleased. He’ll never be able to jump up onto anything again, i.e., sofa or bed, but at least he’s got the strength to move around the house again. And more than anything, that means I need to start being more diligent about emptying the bathroom trash cans again, or he will.
ITEM!: Also, I’m wearing a pink hoody sweater that I haven’t worn since I was living in Boston. It feels weird, but also pretty cool, to be rolling “old school” in a sweater I bought in Maine.

Wednesday, January 13

I like my job. Let me do it

I’m reminded today that I really enjoy editing, and that I’m really good at it.
We have a ridiculously wordy staff writer here who loves to write everything about everyone. Today, she turned in a 5,000-word personality profile (an article about a person). If that sounds like a whole lot of words to you, it’s because it is. No personality profile should ever roll longer than 2,500 words. In fact, really no article, unless it’s s super in-depth, should ever be more than 2,500 words. People just don’t want to read that much. And they certainly don’t want to read that much about one person, with quotes only from that one person. Yes, indeed, the only quotes in the article are by the subject of the story. That’s a bad thing, certainly.
As for the story, I tackled it gamely, first just doing a light editing and proofreading job. Having reached the end though, I said to my editor, “This is super, super long, and too many words.” She basically told me to have at it with my mad editing skills, and boy, did I ever. The 5,000-word article is now 2,700 words. I was told that it could stretch to 3,000 words, and I intend to have it that long, after the writer gets additional quotes from other people for me to add. I found out a few days ago that this particular writer emails all her questions to the story sources and subjects, so I made this task easier by writing out the sources I wanted, and the questions I wanted asked, and forwarded that to my editor. I do not want this girl to get this story back, so suggested that she just send the quotes back to us, and we’ll fix it all. And I’m holding on to it until it’s done.
The whole project of the article has put me in a splendid and productive mood. This is what I’m here for, and I finally feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. If I can get my editor to let me tackle the articles first and fix them to the best of my abilities before she gets them, then I’ll feel like my purpose is a real one here. Also, I really enjoy doing this. It makes me happy, because I’m really good at it.

UPDATE: 20 minutes later.
Having said all that, come to find out that we don’t have the time to send the article back to the writer for any additional quotes. My good feelings about the article, about it becoming something so much better, effectively go down the drain. And now I feel like it’s all kind of wasted, you know? I don’t understand what the what is going on, in that we don’t have time to make a story so much better for the magazine. All this editorial should be turned in way ahead of time, and there should be days and days to make it perfect. Sadly, no. *sigh*

UPDATE: 45 minutes later than that.
My editor read through the questions I had emailed her, and even not having read the article itself, she said she saw that the answers to those questions would be compelling for the story. So, she contacted the writer and asked her to get the additional quotes. I'm pretty excited to have gotten my way in this regard, but I fear that the writer may blow off the extra work and I'll be stuck with a less-than-awesome article on my hands anyway.

Tuesday, January 12

I can win it. I really, really can!

I think my mindset is infinitely more productive when there is not a huge, multi-million (now billion) dollar jackpot to be won. In my life right now, I’m spending way too much time figuring out what I (Brian and I) will do with the money. I read an article this morning that listed advice for the new billionaire from Mark Cuban, another billionaire. First, he said, hire a tax attorney. I’m happy to say that Brian and I have already agreed on this, so doing that shouldn’t be a problem. I’m not going to run through all Cuban’s advice, as most of it was about treating people nicely, but also being sure to say No. If someone you love and know needs help, he said, you’ll already know about it and want to help, so anyone else is on their own. No one needs $1 million, or even $100,000. I love that thought process.
Remarkably, for me, I fantasize a lot about having everything I want, but not too much, or spending too much. I mean, I want a cool house, but it doesn’t need to be a mansion in Beverly Hills. A nice house in my home town, or close to it, would be fine. My kid will still have to go to school, so I won’t be able to flit about here and there with the family, unless it’s school break, when we will go on awesome, epic adventures across the globe. I’ll get a new car, for certain, but not some crazy Maserati or Porsche or anything, just a nice, super quick BMW. And we’ll probably get a Land Rover, because we like those, too. We’ll go shopping, of course, but that is just every day stuff. I’d like to start taking random classes about stuff, like cooking, or boxing, or photography, or stuff like that. I want to be a gym rat again.
There will be no stopping us when it comes to travel though, and that’s what I’m most excited about. I want to be able to say, “Hey, have you ever heard of this thing at this place?” And then say, “Cool! Let’s go!” I want to revisit all the places I’ve been already, but with Sydney. (Maybe not Thailand again.) We’d go on European vacations, and back to Australia, and to China and Japan, and the Scandinavian countries, and I really want to see Iceland. Regular jaunts to Hawaii because Hawaii. And fun cruises and trips to warm, sunny places, but also skiing in cold places. My passport would be chockablock full of stamps again.
Aside from the obscene amount of traveling I would do, honestly, I think I’d be a pretty tame multi-millionaire.

Monday, January 11

Awful woman wants advice on stealing

I read an article this morning that has bothered me a whole lot. It’s one of those write-in advice columns, but this one in particular focuses on money issues. This person and her new husband are both in their second marriages, each has children. Hers are grown, and his are still quite young. As part of his divorce decree from his first wife, the husband had to set up a $300,000 life insurance policy and name the two small children beneficiaries, to be enacted should he die before the children have both turned 23 years old. The policy itself, apparently, has the new wife named as the beneficiary. Her question, to the advice column person, is: if her husband were to die, would she really have to pay these kids the money, since she’s the listed beneficiary? What are the legalities involved there? To his credit, the advice guy didn’t immediately tell her what a selfish bitch she is, and instead pointed out that, yes, she will have to pay the kids the money because the divorce decree supersedes the insurance beneficiary information. The fact that the divorce decreed the policy, and that he has the exact policy, takes precedence.
I can not believe that this woman would be so blatantly evil and selfish with her thinking. I mean, honestly, lady, you are this guy’s second wife. Those kids are his children. They are entitled to that policy from their father. Even if her motivation was to be sure that the first wife didn’t get any of the money, it’s none of her damn business what those children do with it once it becomes theirs. If they get the money after they turn 18, even their mom can’t do anything with it. And besides, who does this woman think she is that she would win in a legal argument over something like this?
Honestly, all I can say is that I hope those kids’ mom happens to read that particular advice column, and calls that guy right quick to be sure that all the paperwork is in the right, working order. Because that second wife is not to be trusted.
As the child of divorce, I am really offended by this lady and her question. I’d be pissed if my stepmom, when she was my stepmom, tried to pull any of that garbage. I’d expect my stepbrothers to have been pissed if my mom had tried any of that. How second marriage participants can roll into a relationship thinking that their “claim” to the person’s inheritance is more important than the first marriage’s children is beyond me.

Slippers belong in the house, not at work

I’m accidentally wearing my slippers at work this afternoon. I am more uncomfortable with this than you could possibly imagine. I hate, hate, hate wearing slippers out of the house. I cringe when I have to step a single foot outside to water the plant at the front door, or even go in the garage, and will always change into “outdoor” shoes to even take the trash out in the backyard. To me, slippers belong inside, and nowhere else. The fact that I had to walk across the parking lot in them, and then will have to go into the bathroom here in them, is giving me very real anxiety.
I went home at lunch, as I do, and the first thing I did was change out of my shoes (which are slip-ons) and into my slippers. I made my lunch, did my random things, moved the laundry around, and fell down a shame spiral when I realized I hadn’t packed Sydney and snack or water for the day. I was upstairs hanging shirts when I realized that I really needed to get my ass out the door. So I hoofed it into the kitchen, grabbed my stuff, and bolted out into the garage. I was parked in the parking lot at work, and had turned off the car and stepped to exit when I realized that my feet were encased in a striking red color, rather than the black and white shoes I’d been wearing.
Oh, I considered turning around and going home, for sure. If I had another five minutes, I definitely would have. But as it was, I needed to get back into the office. I hated walking across the parking lot. I slipped in through the door in Leslie’s room and confessed to my inappropriate footwear. She told me they just looked like Uggs to her, and to not worry about it. I’m all, “But they’re SLIPPERS. I can’t wear them OUT OF THE HOUSE.” Again, she told me to forget about it, but that she would pick on me whenever she felt like it.
So here I sit, basically trapped at my desk, because I don’t want to walk anywhere not my house in my slippers. Again, I am having anxiety.
I think I may stop at home to change shoes before I go pick up Sydney after school, too. I can’t walk along all that sidewalk and into the cafeteria in my slippers. The sole is very thin, though at least it does have one. I guess I’ll just deal with my slippers for today, and wash the soles tonight when I get home. Yes, I’ll have to wash them. Not washing machine wash them, but use one of those Costco disinfectant wipes on them, to get all the work and school germs off them. Yes, I’ll do that.
I’ve figured out how I’m going to fix this, apparently, but I’m still having an issue with it. The slippers are a concern. They are weighing on my mind, and I’m struggling.

Sunday, January 10

"I was thinking that I'm an asshole, really"

So here's my theory on the whole Mel Gibson/Ricky Gervais thing at the Golden Globes tonight. This was Gibson's attempt to publicly "mea culpa" his way back into the industry's good graces. There, honestly, is no better way to get everyone back on your side than to be seen as the punching bag for one of the best and sharpest wits, on national television. And to be skewered as never before, and to have a brave (?) and seemingly game (?) attitude about it. I mean, he had to have known that Gervais would take the starch out of him in a horrendous manner. And he still showed up, and probably agreed to letting Gervais do the introduction.
In my mind, the whole situation harkens back to Hugh Grant visiting The Tonight Show with Jay Leno after his incident with the sublimely named Divine Brown in a car in Hollywood. Everyone remembers Leno looking at Grant and asking him, with all candidness, "What were you thinking?" And Grant made his apologies, and took responsibility for his actions, and then everyone in the industry "forgave" him, and he's still working today.
As for Gibson, his comments and actions offended a whole lot more people, for sure. And he's been exiled for years, right? He's done a couple things here and there, but nothing that a significant number of people have gone to see, except maybe Machete Kills and The Expendables 3. (You see what I mean there?) And he's really kept a low profile ever since his run in with the law.
So then there's tonight, where he allows himself to be eviscerated ... again ... with no movie to promote or project in the pipeline. I can't help but wonder that's there's some ulterior motive to him showing up there tonight. And my best guess is to have Gervais ask him, basically, "What were you thinking?"

Saturday, January 9

I didn't tell her she misspelled it

This note is in reaction to a facetious and ridiculous conversation Brian and I had about what we would do with the millions and millions of Powerball dollars, if we won them. Our plans run ... non-parallel ... to each other, and realizing that had us in a fun back and forth about winning all the money, splitting it, and then getting divorced because we don't seem to want to do what the other wants to do. I want California. He doesn't want to pay the taxes in California. I don't care, that's where we're living. ... You know, the argument you all would expect us to have when he can't tell me that we can't afford to live in California. We giggled and "argued," going back and forth about what we would each do with our half of the money.
Apparently, Sydney was not amused. She wrote this note then left it on the stairs for us to find. We didn't find it, so she brought it to me while I was making her dinner. She had a very real concern that we would really get divorced if we won the money, so she told me she was actively hoping that we would lose. I'm like, no, we won't get divorced (but we might, if it came down to California versus not California, but don't tell her that), and please hope that we win, because I'd like a bigger house and to not have to work anymore.
Still, the note was a bit heartbreaking, if remarkably over dramatic.

Friday, January 8

Lately, I'm rolling my eyes at you, too, Fallon

I'm refalling out of love with late night talk shows. Does that make any sense? I'm feeling very much the way I did when Leno and Letterman were on television, kind of. I mean, I really disliked Leno and Letterman. I don't feel that way about Fallon, because more times than not, he's totally adorable. But honestly, it's been weeks since I sat and watched any episode of The Tonight Show. As for Colbert, and this pains me to say, I can usually take him or leave him. And you know how much I love Colbert! It just occurred to me a couple months ago that most all the awesome bits that happen on those shows are linked on my Facebook via Entertainment Weekly the next day.
I was thinking about pulling the Series Recording of The Tonight Show and The Late Show. I write that as I watch tonight's The Late Show, for sure. And I'm giggling at Colbert. So, I guess I'll keep the series recording and check the shows out when I want to, or I'm bored, or I hear about something amazing happening. I wonder if this restlessness regarding the late night shows is a direct reaction to my working. I have less time to watch television now, and have less patience for fluffy stuff.
But still, I'm mostly over Fallon, and kinda over Colbert.
So there's no resolution, and I'm back in the same place I was at the beginning of this post.
This was a bad story.

Thursday, January 7

Ugly sweater cookies = adorable + delicious

These are the Starbucks Ugly Sweater gingerbread cookies. I’m sure you saw them in every Starbucks this holiday season. I watched these cookies from afar for weeks, and pined for them. I thought it would be ridiculous to spend $20 or whatever for six gingerbread cookies. And I still hold to that. Twenty dollars for six cookies is crazy.
But after Christmas, when they went on sale at my local Starbucks for the bargain price of $12, and I had my Mom’s Starbucks card to buy them on, I picked them up. I won’t lie to you; I’m thoroughly enjoying them. They’re thicker than I thought they would be, but they are just as delicious as I hoped they would be. They are the perfect strength and taste of gingerbread, if that’s makes any sense. I’ve been pacing myself and only eating one a day. Today, I’ve eaten the fourth one. There are only two more. I’m starting to get scared about living life without these cookies. I can’t not eat them, because then they’ll just get stale, and then they’ll taste horrible. So they have to be eaten. And I’m eager to do that. But once they’re gone, they’re gone. And that will make me sad.

Wednesday, January 6

Wait. What's that? I *need* new shoes?

I rediscovered recently that I have a whole bunch of shoes. I have been, up until a few days ago, living a very Toms And Flip Flops lifestyle. That lifestyle served me well, but now that I’m working, I’m getting pretty tired of wearing Toms every day. (Flip flops are not an option, I don’t think. But I’ll be able to decide that for sure when summer comes around.) Before this week though, I was wearing my Toms every day, and only a single pair of sneakers that are comfortable and kinda cool enough for work.
But the day before yesterday, I was checking out my closet, having decided I did not want to wear Toms in the weather, and rediscovered the Work Shoe box. The box is glorious, with loafers and mules and all kinds of cool things for my feet. I wore an awesome pair of Dansko loafers, with a plaid on the outside that day. Yesterday, I wore my hiking boots, because it was raining, and I’m wearing them again today. I have a boatload of Dansko shoes, I’m reminded: a black pair, a brown pair, a cordovan pair, and that awesome plaid. There may be some others in there. I’ll have to check again. Also, I have a tremendous selection of beautiful leather loafers by brands that Howie used to afford for me.
And while the current widening of my shoe options is huge and impressive, I am woefully short on sneakers. Large walking tennies and workout shoes, I’ve got. And I always used to have the sneakers to wear for everything. I have one pair now, and they aren’t very comfortable. I need to up my sneaker game, STAT. I wish I was comfortable in Converse or Vans shoes. They would be ideal. I’m intrigued by the fact that Nike bought Converse and supposedly made them cushier, so I may investigate those in the next couple weeks. And I think there are sturdier Keds to check out, too, because they used to give me shin splints something terrible.
So that’s it then. It’s time to find Work Shoes. Awesome!

Also, it should be noted that I bought these particular hiking boots (pictured, above left) while I was in college. I'm going to say 1992 or 1993. I love them, and they have been very good to me. The insides are falling apart, but the outside is still functional and they look better because of the wear and tear, I think. These are the boots I wore to work today and yesterday. ... The boots are 25 years old. ... Older than a significant portion of the staff were I work.

Tuesday, January 5

Target is going to be awesome this weekend

ITEM!: Sydney got her first tentative invitation to a sleepover birthday party today. Her friend wanted to know that if she was invited, if she would be able to go. I don't know this little girl's parents, but I know the parents of the other little girls that are going, and honestly, if they're cool with it, I'm cool with it. ... I say that, but I'll want to meet them first, of course. It was super cute the way Sydney asked me, though. "Do you think I'm old enough for a sleepover?" I told her that she was, and that made the rest of the conversation move along how she wanted it, but no doubt she questioned her maturity when I told her she couldn't take Bear with her. She is not impressed with that, at all. The party's in February though, so she's got time to wrap her head around falling asleep without Bear, on purpose, in a strange house. I'll have my phone on me at all times, for sure.
ITEM!: My birthday list for Target is coming along splendidly. I see a pink quilt in my future, bought with a gift card and a good-sized coupon. Also on the list are all the fun, pink accessories I see and want, and the turquoisy rugs and towels for Sydney's bathroom. Also, boring stuff we need in the house, but mainly the fun stuff. I think I'll visit Home Goods and Barnes & Noble, as well. What a fun Saturday for me!
ITEM!: That's all for tonight. I got a new computer at work, and it's taxing my brain a bit. Though it shouldn't because it's an Apple, but I'm still having to learn something new. And that takes me more time now than it used to. Which is exhausting.

Monday, January 4

Ah, I see you, pre-menopausal body changes

When I talked with my doctor about changing up my birth control pills this year, she suggested the lower estrogen, static-leveled dosage every month. I think I told you about that. My concern was any mood swings and whatnot, but she reminded me that the switch is supposed to lessen my chances of cancer and stuff. Happily, the change in estrogen level hasn't caused any undue mood swings, weight gain or crazy acne.
You know what has changed? My period this month only lasted eight hours. I remember my doc telling me that I may stop having periods on this pill. Well, I remembered her saying that this morning, after my period ended crazy shorter than normal. And I thought, "Huh. That really did happen. Weird." Of course, this could all fall apart should the menstruation decide to start up again, but that probably won't happen, because it just won't, and that would be much weirder.
So this month's period lasted a matter of hours. And I didn't have any cramps or hot flashes either, now that I think about it. Could we have discovered the miracle pill that will keep me emotionally stable, physically even-keeled, and menstrually barren? I think we may have. That's pretty exciting!

Sunday, January 3

Rethinking the baking for Christmas

I need to rethink the baking strategy for the holidays around here.
Currently, in my kitchen, we have a surplus of sugar cookies and fudge. We are woefully short on Chex mix, Christmas cake, and cherry pie. The recipe for the sugar cookies is a large one, and even with Mom taking a bag of them home with her, and after I took a pile to work, we still have a large amount of them hanging out in a container on the counter. I think I may put a bunch in a bag and then freeze them. As for the fudge, well, no one eats it but me. Mom may have a piece or two, but I'm the only person who really snacks on it. Brian doesn't like it, nor does Sydney. So there's a lot in the fridge, but I'm eating it all, which is not the course of action that I prefer.
The Chex mix, which Mom made, disappeared super fast, and I'm missing it terribly. The cherry pie, which we bought at Village Inn (a place that makes delicious pies, I'm telling you), also was gone in a puff of smoke. The Christmas cake that we ordered at the bakery was good, if a bit frosting heavy, and got stale quickly, so that's in the garbage, too.
As you can see, we run heavy on desserts in this house, and that's okay with all of us. Having said that, I feel like we could probably plan better for the holidays next year. No fudge, sadly. Maybe doubling up on the Chex mix, and getting a second cherry pie will be a good bet. Halving the sugar cookie recipe will definitely happen, as well. I'm thinking half of the peanut butter cookie recipe will be a good addition, though? I'll be considering all this throughout the year. But right now, this moment, I'm regretting the fudge.