Saturday, November 27, 2010

Second Home

I want to direct your attention to my new location. No, no... I'm not going anywhere.  I just have a second home.  I am doing a little writing for a parenting magazine.  (I know, right?  They obviously don't read my blog.  I won't tell if you won't.)  They have agreed to post some of my works and I have agreed to go to some much needed parenting classes.  So, while I'm in class, please enjoy this little blurb I posted on their site.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This is Your Second Notice (Please Pay Your Attention on Time)

I will be jumping in a few directions today.  Some of you will keep up and some of you won't.  Either way, you can always soak this up at your own pace.  Because I personally HATE when people try to change me and not let me do things on MY time.  So with that in mind... HURRY UP AND READ!

The first NEW thing I have noticed is that I wake up just about EVERY morning with a song in my head.  Some people might think that's cool... It's not.  The song is often loud and it repeats over and over and over... and over to what seems like infinity. Of course it can't really go to infinity.  I'd surely die before then, right?  (I'm still trying to work out the details on this one.  A lot of things are up in the air right now.  I'm still trying to work out NOT dying without turning all glittery in the sunlight.)  But the point is it goes on and on and I can't stop it!  It's not enough to drive me crazy but it is enough to REALLY get on my nerves.

And here's the worst part of this... It's never even a good song!  I don't wake up to good stuff like Prince or classic rock or Evanescence or Old School Hip-Hop or some Motown or really just about ANYTHING from the 80s.  No, it's always those really dumb songs my kids listen to.  It's usually some Lady Gaga mess or some Justin (Leave It To) Bieber mess or some Ke$ha mess or really just ANYTHING from Disney.  (My stomach is turning just from writing the word Disney when talking about songs.  I have to take a moment.  I'll be right back.  And don't even get me started on Kidz Bop junk!)

Most of the time I don't even know the names on the songs.  My mind just decides to pick out the the most annoying parts of the stupid songs and play them over and over.  (And considering the songs, my mind has a LOT of annoying parts to choose from.)  It's playing so much in my head that I'm starting to wonder if I'm breaking any kind of copyright laws in my morning routine.  And if all of that wasn't bad enough... the part that almost makes me want to end my (possibly infinite, glitter-free) life... the part that makes the problem ten times worse... the part that makes me want to do harm to my favorite little cartoon mouse from my childhood... the part I TRULY detest is when the song in my head keeps building and building up to the point of explosion and my mind can't find a way to get it to stop.  That's usually when I freeze in horror because I just caught myself singing it out loud in the shower!  I don't even feel human at that point.  I really wish I hadn't noticed ANY of that.

But enough of that topic.  Let's move on.  Here is another thing I noticed.

The other day I was behind a person who was driving crazily.  (That actually looks weird to write but I think it's proper English.)  The driver was speeding.  He (Yes, honey.  I said HE.  You get your ONE.) was switching lanes.  And it wasn't the normal kind of lane switching.  It was the kind where he wanted to go into the other lane but somewhere in the middle of lane changing he decided that it's too much of a commitment to go into a new lane at this point in his life.  But instead of going back to his original lane right away, he just decided to ride in BOTH lanes presumably waiting for the road to shift underneath him and make the decision for him.  THEN he finally make a choice he can live with and turned the wheel of the car to go back to the original lane.  But when peer pressure, or zombies, or the IRS, or something else (just as scary or convincing) invisibly occupies the original lane, he immediately cut the wheel back and went into the lane he had commitment issues with before.  

(I call this the possum move.  If any of you have ever seen a possum cross the road then you understand what I'm talking about.  I have run over a many o' possums (get it) that have crossed from my side of the road and safely made it to within a foot of being off the entire road on the other side only to look up and see me coming and then deciding the safest course of action would be to RUN ALL THE WAY BACK across the street to their original starting point... on MY side of the road.  And this is really bad to say but I don't even feel bad hitting them anymore.  I'm never mean to a creature but that kind of idiocy really hits a nerve in me.  Plus, after you hit them you can't tell if they are really dead or just playing... well... possum.)

So the guy gets into his lane just as we get to the red light.  He stops a little past the white line that goes across the road telling you this is as far as you should go if the light is red.  But that wasn't a big deal.  We all do it.  Who can stop before crossing that line every time?  But this guy start inching forward.  Now, mind you, the light JUST turned red so it's not turning green any time soon.  But he doesn't care.  He keeps inching and inching forward.  After about 15 seconds of this (I promise you) his whole car is past the white line.  Cross traffic is now starting to slow down because they think they might hit him as they pass.  So I stayed far enough behind him in case he wanted to back the car up in compliance with the law.  He never backed up.  As a matter of fact, he stayed there and might have inched a few more times before the light turned green.  And just to top off everything before the light changed, he threw his cigarette out the window... litterer!

Finally, the light turns green and he takes off!  He gets through the intersection and then cuts BACK over into his original lane.  The person in the car who was ACTUALLY (and not invisibly) occupying the lane had to slam on their brakes to keep from getting hit by this person who obviously didn't care about the law or his fellow man.  I started to think that the person must really have an emergency on their hand and is not thinking clearly at this moment.  But before my mind could finish excusing the crazy driver and giving him the benefit of the doubt, the driver turns into a car dealership.  REALLY???  THIS was the emergency I was about to give him a mental pass for?  Now that I've told you what anyone would have seen.  Let me tell you what I noticed.      

The person who violated at least 4 to 5 laws (in just the 3-minute span that I had seen him) had a HUGE window decal covering the passenger side rear window of Jesus. After watching that scene, I'm pretty sure that's NOT what Jesus would do.  If you are a believer then I understand if you want to display your love for your savior with a gaudy, vinyl testification in your rear window.  It's your right.  I also understand that no one follows the rules ALL of the time.  But this case...THIS case makes me think that if Jesus HAD been in the car with him, he would have gotten out at the car, WALKED to City Hall and filed a Temporary Restraining Order on this person.  I couldn't help but think the guy probably also had one of those "Jesus is my copilot" bumper stickers but Jesus, HIMSELF, came down and scratched that sticker right off of the back of that car.  I don't know.  To me, it's kinda like being a Red Sox fan but going out and buying Yankees stuff.  There is no direct rule against that but if you really have that conviction those actions should make you feel a little dirty.

Well, I guess I will leave you with that.  It was a little hard to write this with the songs going on in my head right now.  But I managed to put the mute on my mind while I finished up.  Now, if I can just figure out how to do that in the shower.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Have Noticed Me Noticing

My challenge to try to notice more in life has been met with mixed results.  I try to make it a note to notice things while they are happening a few times a day to make sure I'm not letting life just pass me by.  And with my new time crunch it's been increasingly difficult.  But I will continue to try.  Though the idea has been great, the experience has been a little... frightening!  I'm noticing things that probably should have stayed unnoticed.

Here's the first thing I noticed. I'm not completely sure if I want to tell it because I don't know how people will view me after admitting to such things.  But I told myself that I was going to try to focus on the here and now more.  And that means paying attention to the things that might otherwise get unnoticed.  And when I say unnoticed, I meant by ME.  I'm sure other people have noticed this particular thing that I just noticed and I'm sure other people have been noticing it for a while.

When I grocery shop alone... I talk to myself.... out loud.  (I know.  Weird, huh?)  Now, to validate your level of concern... I don't talk the uncomfortable, LOUD "I just got back from the the health department and you need to get checked too" mobile phone conversations you get at the checkout line.  When I talk out loud, it's a little bit louder and a lot more discernible than the mumbling you do when you are singing a song you have known for years but get to a part where you have never figured out the words.  Yeah, just a little bit louder than that.

I noticed that while I'm going down the aisles I just run my mouth like someone is there with me.  I speak the next thing on the shopping list as if I'm going to forget it if I don't. (I must get bread! Bread, Bread. Bo-Bread.  Banana Fana. Fo-Fread...)  I say what aisle it is in.  (Applesauce is in aisle 4... I think.  I'm not sure.  But that's where we are headed now!  Applesauce, applesauce.  Gotta get the applesauce!) I say what aisle I think it SHOULD be in.  (I think the applesauce should be put next to the apples. But noooo.... that would make too much sense.  I have find it on aisle 5, the baking aisle!)  I challenge other parents to a cart race.  (They have no idea that I just beat them!  They didn't even know there was a race!  Either way... I win... every time!)  And I do more than just mumble.  If you were standing within 3ft of me, you would probably be able to hear everything I'm saying.

I also talk about things that were supposed to be on the shopping list that, for some reason, weren't.  And the only reason I know they are supposed to be added is because I get a text message from the magical Phone Fairy letting me know milk needs to be added to the shopping list.  (Thank you, Phone Fairy!  Good thing you have a calling plan with unlimited text.) Sometimes the Phone Fairy is on time.  Other times I receive my text message right when I'm about to stand in the checkout line or even worse, when I just paid for the items and I'm leaving the store..  That's when the talking to myself begins again.  And, I'm COMPLETELY aware that people can clearly hear me OVER the other person in line talking about his *ahem* medical issues.  No mumbling there.

That situation causes a temporary case of undiagnosed Tourettes.  The only time it gets worse than that is when there is something on the list that is completely a non-standard item... like gouda cheese.  What's a gouda?  And why are we getting cheese from it?  Personally, (to make sane my insanity) I like to think it came from the Gouda Monster.  And after years of hard fought battles, the US Military finally took out the heinous creature with an unparalleled aerial assault that left the creature lying lifeless just before he was about to destroy Washington, DC.  (This was bittersweet because the good news is that the victory of our wonderful Armed Forces saved a LOT of innocent people that day but the bad news it also saved Congress and the Washington Redskins. (Sorry, I'm a Cowboys fan.  So that had to be said.  The Gouda Monster already took out my team months ago!))

But anyway... The Gouda Monster, realizing that it was about to die, had a change of heart and decided it wanted to leave the world with a gouda taste (I know. Terrible Pun.) in its mouth.  So it left its family recipe (passed down from generation to generation of goudas) on how to make its special cheese. (It really just tastes like blue cheese to me, but I'm wasn't going to tell him.)  His dying breath was to have this cheese shared with the world.  But with invention and capitalism comes profit.  So the recipe leaked out over the internet within minutes on the same site that gave us the Colonel's secret recipe.

Blue cheese makers were all over this.  They were already making this stuff to begin with, they just needed to re-market it.  They decided to package it under a different name, charge 300% more and live fat and happy on the new-found cash cow (so to speak).  Their marking departments also realized they didn't want people to confuse this "NEW" cheese with "BLUE" cheese, so they decided it needed to go into a section of the store that was COMPLETELY different than ALL of the OTHER cheeses in the store.  And THAT, my friends, is the story I spoke out loud to myself while I was trying to mentally justify the extra 30 minutes I spent looking for this odd item.  And before you say, "Why didn't you just ask someone?"  (I was probably too late on that one.  I'm sure some of you already have asked that.) It's kinda like asking for directions.  If it's a place I wanted to go to or an item I wanted to buy, I would already know how to get to that end before I left the house.

So that is the first thing that I have noticed.  There are others but I'm going to save them for a different post.  I think I have done enough sharing for one day.  But as a Public Service Announcement to my handful of male readers (not to exclude my female readers but I can bet YOU already knew this)... If you are sent to the store to get an odd cheese that you have never heard of, start at the deli.  Apparently, that's where they hide it from us.  Knowing this fact alone will probably save you about 30 - 40 minutes the next time you are tasked with grocery shopping.  Or, in a pinch... just get blue cheese and scratch the name off of the package.  You will thank me for it later.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Reeducation of America... and me

I was asked (in a non-nosy manner) why I took on a 2nd Full-Time job.  So I figure if THAT person was wondering the same thing, then someone else probably is too.  I have decided appease the masses and give a little insight into the World of Que.  Unfortunately, this section will be classified as the non-funny portion of Que World.  It's a pretty small section but has a HUGE impact.

Money, Money, Money
Where to start... Well, we have debt.  That's the simple truth.  We, like most American households, have enough debt that it makes us uncomfortable.  We have tried a lot of avenues to rid ourselves of the evilness of debt.  Some worked but none worked well.  So we decided to try OUR last resort.  And that was to increase our income by finding another job.

It's the dietary equivalent of trying to lose weight but not knowing the right way.  Then trying every diet plan under the sun.  THEN after having marginal success with some plans and complete failure with others, deciding to go to the last resort... a lot of exercise!  This is us putting aside a lot of other "luxuries" in life and getting on the dreaded financial treadmill and just running until we pass out... literally.

I personally think the debt mentality starts a lot earlier than we care to accept.  I started teaching our oldest daughter about debt and finances at the age of 7.  Some may feel that is early.  But I don't think it's early enough.  It wasn't like I was having her file my taxes.  I was just teaching her basic principles of money.  But not just that.  I was teaching her some of the basic principles of finance.  I think this is where the disconnect in my life started.

My parents didn't teach me those lessons.  I don't BLAME them one single bit, though.  They grew up poor.  Their parents grew up poor.  And their parents before them grew up poor. (You get the picture.)  So how do you teach your child about how to bake a chocolate cake if no one ever taught you how an over works?  Eventually, if you are to break the cycle, someone has to teach someone how to bake a cake!

Another place that I think fails is school.  And I'm not talking about all schools.  As a matter of fact, I think teachers should be one of the highest paid professions in the world.  But here is what I'm talking about with school.  School is supposed to help prepare us for life AFTER school.  One of the biggest (if not THE biggest) dilemmas we face after school is how to handle money.  So why isn't there a LOT more emphasis on that?  Yeah, we learn what money is and how to use (spend) it.  But most of us never truly learn how it works.  And that is the HUGE fail in my book.

If we really think schools are supposed to help prepare us for life, then this is something that should be taught almost every day and at almost every grade level.  Finances should be a reflex by the time you graduate.  We are a capitalistic society.  And that is true whether you agree with it's principles are not.  I just think that economics classes in school should have more "real world" value and not just a class that people glide through.  As important as money is (again whether you like it or not) economics should be ranked up there with reading, 'riting and 'rithmatic.  I think we as a society should be given better tools to deal with such a huge problem that affects everyone.

I know some of that sounded like a rant but it really wasn't meant to be that way.  I honestly believe that ultimately, we are responsible for WHO we are as well as WHERE we are in life.  So this is not a pity party "blame the system" post.  This is more of a "yes, most of us were failed but here's what WE plan to do about it going forward" post.  I do believe that it's sad when you live in a time when you feel having 2 full-time jobs a blessing.  But that's what it is and where we are at this point.

In case you are looking to buy me
something but didn't quite
know what to get.
For those of you who would think that I'm not doing this to have some of the the finer things in life... You would be WILDLY mistaken.  I would much rather get some sleep than to work extra hours to get the first flat-panel HDTV for the home.  We are really doing this so our family doesn't have to sacrifice one kids dreams for another.  We are doing this so that we don't ever have to rely on anyone (friends, family, govt) from now to well past old age (retirement and such).  We are doing this so that 5 years from now we aren't STILL telling our kids they can't go to the movies, to the store or even to a friends house because we can't afford it.  We are doing this so that emergencies don't cause us to have to decide whether to keep the house or the car.  We are doing this so that when my 3 girls get married off (in their 40s because they can't date until then) they will start life knowing how money works and knowing the best way to keep from having to work 2 jobs is to make sure you stay out of debt to begin with.  We are doing this to help break the "poor" cycle.  And, truly, we are doing this so that our finances start to have some resemblance of our character.  For me they haven't matched since college.  And it's LONG overdue.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Week Two Down... 50 more to go!

Man, you miss writing in your blog for one week and the world gets angry.  I have received death threats. (No I haven't.)  People have threatened to hold my dogs hostage until I make another post. (I completely made that one up, too.)  My family and friends don't want to talk to me anymore.  (Ok, that part may be true.  But it has nothing to do with my blog.  It has something to do with shaming my friends and the family name at a past New Year's Eve Party.  (Who knew polka music was out of style and the accordion never was in?  I most certainly didn't!)) With all of that in mind, I decided it was time to come out of hiding and write a small something for you guys out there who are reading this... my true fan. (This is a shout out to all ONE of you.)

I wish I had something good to write.  It has been a long week.  It's the 1st week in which I have worked both of my full-time jobs.  Again, in one of my previous blogs, I said I was not going to complain. (I lied.  I probably will.  Just not right now.)  I am a little tired, though, but that's to be expected.  I get to bed close to Midnight (after Midnight when training is over) and I get up at 5:00 AM.  It's a vicious cycle, but necessary.  I should be tireder that I am.  I'm sure that will catch up with me.  I don't require much sleep so I'm fine at the moment.  Besides, I get an extra 15 minutes of sleep on the way in to my first job every morning. (I can't confirm that I sleep on the way in.  I can just say I don't EVER remember the drive.)

I will take a moment to say one thing that I thought I was going to miss out on but it turns out I was wrong.  I thought I was going to miss out on all of the happiness I used to get when I got home from work.  That turns out to not be the case.  Every time I walk into the room (from upstairs working), my two youngest girls yell out "DADDY!!!"  The baby one even stops what she is doing and comes running to give me hug to go with the wonderful screaming.  That's something money can't buy and something that can't be explained to someone who has never experienced it.  It gives me the strength to go back upstairs and continue working.  I'm doing it for all four of the wonderful girls in my life.  (On the other note to this... When I get back upstairs and I hear all of the OTHER screaming and yelling going on downstairs a whole different emotion goes over me.  It ALSO gives me the strength to stay upstairs and keep working.)

I HAVE noticed, too, that I don't notice as much.  I'm sure that will change as I get into a groove.  But I don't see the funny in ordinary stuff as much.  Not that I'm sad, by any means.  But I'm thinking about work a lot (both jobs) right now.  So, my mind is more occupied with work stuff than play stuff.  And that's not normally me.  I have ALWAYS been good at separating work and home.  But now I'm in this weird middle ground between the two.  I'm not sure what I want to call this 2-ingredient jambalaya of metaphysical existences that mixes all of the joys and pains of home with the all of the joys and pains of work.  Using a little creative liberty, I think I will call it a state of "homework".  (I might have to Trademark or patent that name or something.  Now that I'm using it, it will spread like wildfire. (Oooo... I like that phrase too!))  But in any event, this "homework" thing is going to take some time to sort out and become second nature.  And when it does, I can go back to writing once or twice a week instead of once or twice a month.

So if you see me walking around in a daze I assure you I'm not thinking about parties of New Year's Eve past.  (I'm over that!  And you should be too.  Everyone knows Polka is King!)  I'm just in the middle of thinking over my homework and how to get an A+ in both.

While I'm studying, I will leave you with this.  
And if you STILL don't like polka after listening to this whole song
then something is wrong with YOU!

For the life of me I can't figure out why my wife can't appreciate this guy.