The Crazy Crew

The Crazy Crew

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I hear her now . . .

It’s the fat lady and she is singing . . . it is over folks, bye-bye 2009! It was a year that was sweet & sour, had its good, it’s great, and was peppered with a little blah, some blech, and a couple “What the crap?” times. I suppose in this respect 2009 wasn’t much different from each year that came before. The specifics of the good, great, blah, blech, and holy crap make each year unique and worth remembering.

Alex the Great! 2009 brought the daughter’s graduation from High School and a couple months later her departure to Utah to embark on her college adventure and adult life (well as close as you get at 18, calling home for money and craving care packages.) So far so good, she passed all her classes and made it home for the holidays. Hmmmmm . . . now that I am thinking about this I suddenly realize that before she arrived in Arizona I had a few measly bucks and now that she is here we are buck-less!!! Proof once again that children have no shame and will take your last buck or at least use it to buy Pickles or Cheez-its!

It turned out to be a very Good thing for my family that I was given the “unique work offer” (ultimatum) in my Idaho position and subsequently applied for and accepted a position in Phoenix. This transition has taught me that if I had to survive on only what could fit into three suitcases and six boxes I could make it. Urban camping is what I called it . . . other people might have likened me to a squatter.

Much of this year was just Blah, for me anyway, like the over publicized death of Michael Jackson. This is my opinion people if you are a Jackson-a-holic, moonwalker or whatever his followers are called do not get all weird on me. Yes, death is sad and as you know, I still have some serious questions before I am ready but there were people who died this year that had greater impact on me as a mom, a woman and a consumer. As a mom I felt horrible for the Travoltas who lost their son Jett, as a woman the loss of Patrick Swayze struck me hard, he was Johnny, “the” Johnny, in Dirty Dancing, a movie who helped shape me (and many of my friends) into who we are today. He is also, why I will ALWAYS carry a watermelon when asked. I want to end up at a kick ass dance party like that! Finally as a consumer, I will miss Billy Mays. I am marketing major, a lover of shopping, and infomercials are unendingly fascinating for me. Also Blah is the craziness over the H1N1 virus, swine flu. Actually too blah to even blog much about.

Blech (this is really more of a sound than a word) sums up things like the housing market, the stock market, rising prices at the local market. Blech is for all the topics that when mentioned by someone else you want to just make the noise . . . blech!!! Gas prices are still in this category as is unemployment. I am sure you can think of a lot more but since they are so incredibly disgusting and make my stomach churn, I am done talking about them.

There are always events, moments, or weirdness in a year when the only appropriate reaction is to say, “Holy Crap!” 2009 brought us the first African American President. Of course in the end either option would have been Holy Crap choices since the other option came with a woman in the passenger seat. Holy Crap does not necessarily mean bad. In this instance, I just didn’t think our country would do either in my lifetime. Maybe the only reason it happened is because it was going to be one or the other and the crazy lady from Alaska just scared the hell out of people. I am a Republican and I was all for picking out a dog with the Obamas instead of shooting Moose and other wild creatures with Mountain Mama! The Holy Crap title also goes to the economy as a whole and who gets bailed out (millionaires) and who does not (minimum wageaires.) There are others in this category too, stinky, smelly, holy crap that really shouldn’t be swept under the rug but it will be . . . we should accept it and move on. Our world has a big rug that is getting so much holy crap shoved under it we are going to put pine trees on it soon and pray for snow so we can ski it! I am only one person though . . . and I am too broke to even go green.

2009 . . . love it or hate it, you have to take it for what it was. 2009 was 365 days that each of us got to choose how we wanted to live, what stupidity we would put up with from others, what level of love we would give and to whom, and how much time we would spend watching reality TV. I am happy to report that my year was mostly sweet with just enough sour to make it interesting and make me get off my butt, stop watching the reality TV, do something about the stupidity of others and refocus the negative energy into love for my family, friends and myself instead. Today is the ending of 365 days for better or for worse, they were what we all made them. Tomorrow is your chance to do it differently, 365 fresh new days all ending in 2010 . . . so don’t get to the end of next year just to wonder what the hell happened to you once again . . . vow to do different, be better, live richer, choke the stupid people, do something . . . do anything . . . if you need help ask. (Side note: I was born into the Belt family; I am good at choking.)

Oh . . . I hear her . . . got to go, she is singing my song!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

When I am dead

I am not ready to die . . . and it isn’t because of all the reasons that anyone else may not be ready to die such as, being too young, the need to be there to raise young children or having amends I need to make with someone out in the world. This is not to say that these things are not very good reasons for me to keep breathing every day and do my best to stay out of harm’s way however my reasons are more literary and theatrical . . . literally.

I am not ready to die because I do not know some very important things. I need to know, when I am dead and in heaven, if I will get to watch movies and read books. Not classics or books/movies that were around at the time you die but new releases, that will be coming for an eternity. I am assuming I go to heaven because I have been fairly good in my 38 years so far and assume whatever years I have left I will continue to be about the same on the “goodness” scale. I am worried that right after I die there will be a great movie that comes out or a wonderful new novel and someone will watch/read them and say to themselves, “Tracy would have loved this.” I do not want people saying this about me. I want to watch those movies and read those books. I want heaven to be like a giant free rental library with all the newest releases and to have unlimited copies so there is no wait list.

These questions, that I need answers to, before I can die in peace, sparked some lunchtime and car pool drive home conversations with my friends (who happen to be co-workers.) We cumulatively agreed that you should be able to see all movies and read all books when you are dead. One suggested that dead people go to drive-ins for movies though so they can float around outside and be comfortable. This is of course assuming that we stick around Earth I suppose. I am wondering more about the possibilities of giant movie theaters in heaven.

You may mistakenly think this all has to do with my popcorn obsession that I mentioned previously however it doesn’t because my concerns also deal with books or access to a bookstore/library neither of which ever have had popcorn to my knowledge though I think it would be wonderful but tons of greasy fingers could be hard on the books. This is about knowing that there are very cool things that are going to come around after I am dead and I am going to miss out on all of them. So people here is the plan . . . if you or any one you know is anything like those girls on the TV show Medium or Ghost Whisper will you please ask about what is available to me in heaven? Maybe even put in a little request for me that in the years between now and my death someone can start an Angelflix subscription where I can have two Movies out at a time or something . . .

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bliss for a Buck

I have come to the conclusion that I can be quite obsessed. I cling to things with childlike enthusiasm that most individuals don’t spend much time thinking about at all. Today I am really excited for a trip to Target at lunch with a co-worker friend of mine. Now, you know I am totally broke so why be excited to purposefully go somewhere and torture myself with all the fun things I can’t own? One very good reason . . . popcorn.

This is an ongoing story of unbridled passion and lust over the salty and crunchy goodness of every golden kernel. I love, love, love to go to the movie theater and it has nothing to do with the movies, yeah they are good and all but I can always watch the same movie at home a few months later for $1 when it makes it to the Redbox (see blog entry on “Poor Folk Fun” for more on Redbox) and then I can also wear my PJ’s (better known at my house as comfies.) Movies to me mean being able to get the king of all deliciousness (Tub o’ Popcorn) accompanied by a big soda, days that include these two components are heavenly!

Now for years the movie people had secretly held tight to how this popcorn deliciousness was actually created (they were more tightly lipped than that Bush’s beans dog.) In the past the only way you could get your hot little hands on the buttery delight was to fork out money for a ticket to get into the movie and then hand over two arms and a leg and hop yourself into the theater on one leg while holding the bucket in your teeth. Not any more . . . along came Target. The store must be owned by someone in the mob because Target’s popcorn is a perfect replica of actual movie theater popcorn. Mobsters are notoriously well connected and have ways to get trade secret popcorn making steps out of a person who otherwise would not talk.

Just a side note and word of warning . . .Those microwave versions that say things like “Movie Theater Butter” are lying sacks of crap . . . do not be duped by them! The 98% fat free versions are fine however, in case you were wondering. Not heavenly but it will calm the craving until you can get your next real fix.

I knew yesterday at about 1 pm that today I would be tagging along with my friend to Target at lunch and I have thought about this trip about as many times as sex crosses a 19 year old male mind in that same time period . . . in case you didn’t get that reference it has been A LOT. Truth be told I actually suggested to her the trip to Target yesterday by pointing out something she would love in the weekly circular that happens to be available and on sale today. How self serving am I? Who the crap cares I am going to get popcorn! I have been thrilled for nearly 24 hours that for $1 I will get to indulge in my obsession. We head to Target at about noon, a few hours from now . . . and by 1 pm today I plan to be in a dopamine coma, lips salty and shining, curved into a smile . . . blissfully happy. Did any of you know you could buy bliss for a buck?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Poor Folk Fun

It is my opinion that being broke is not fun. There are weird and deranged people out there that will tell you that lack of money brings the family closer together and makes you really see what the important things are in life, builds character even . . . and then there is me saying that these are the things other people tell you when you are broke in hopes that you feel less crappy in the current situation. When faced with being broke and bored it is my opinion that the tough have to get creative.

These days there are very few activities that one can do without an associated cost. Think about it . . . what can you actually do with no money? Something to do that does not cost admission or gas in the car to get there. In my current situation, no money and half my crap still in storage in Idaho I have two equally thrilling free choices. I can stay home or I can go for a walk. This is it for the no cost options. Now, staying home means I can watch TV or movies, play video games, read, maybe craft (if the right stuff made it to Arizona) or I can creatively cook and bake with what is in the pantry. Option two; going for a walk . . . well I live in the middle of nowhere. The only thing within walking distance is a grocery store. This brings me to what I consider poor folk fun. Fun you can have for very little money or incorporate into the things that are necessities.

Too broke to do things does not equal too broke to eat or wash clothes. I just want to make sure you understand the level of broke so you don’t worry that I am melting away into nothingness or smell bad. No worries at all, this is not happening! When you have only enough money for the necessities creativity is crucial. Thank my (broken and tarnished) lucky stars that I got that marketing degree so I am officially smart in the creative category. I am a lover of a bargain and enjoy the feeling of pushing a cart around a store filling it up with things to purchase. This means my new favorite thing to do is grocery shop. It is a trip out of the house, which honestly (and you can verify with the daughter and husband) is a luxury these days.

I believe there is a direct correlation between the amount of money you have for a grocery shopping trip and the healthfulness of the food purchased. I think this is a conspiracy by some government agency to weed out poor people slowly through high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, driving everyone with a single income directly to heart attacks! Seriously, why is it I can afford the fattiest meat available, a starchy boxed meal, two bottles of soda and chips for the price of one 8oz bag of salad mix and a single lean chicken breast? Regardless grocery shopping is the one joy my family now clings to. It is our time to interact with other people, peruse all the options available, carefully select what best fits our needs and the budget for that trip, it has become a game to get the most for the least. I now get the same thrill from getting the $1.98 pint of Bryers ice cream as I used to from buying $40 new shoes.

The other low cost fun option is to rent Redbox movies. For those of you who have no knowledge of Redbox (rich bastards!) Redbox is a machine where for one dollar you can rent a movie for a day. With just a few dollars a week we supplement our TV viewing and the movies we already own with some newer releases. We have the excitement of a drive to the Redbox as well as the actual watching of the movies. For a few hours, we can pretend we are the same as the people who rent movies for $3.95 each at fancy places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.

Now I don’t know if you noticed but poor folk fun (and even the free “staying home option”) is comprised of two main portions . . . eating (grocery shopping) and sitting (watching movies). Another government plot to weed out me and my kind I fear . . . I grow bigger with every one of my lacking paychecks! I suppose when I feel my arteries start clogging I could always go on a walk . . . it’s free. Maybe I will . . . after I wash these nachos down with Diet Pepsi and my movie ends.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What goes BUMP in the night!

What keeps you up at night? Do you have something that your brain goes to like clockwork when your head hits the pillow, something your mind will not let go of when the lights turn off at night? I certainly do. Money is the thing that robs me of good quality sleep on a regular basis. I am always figuring in my head how much I have coming in, how much will be heading right back out for bills, and does that figure leave room for luxuries like gas in the car or a loaf of bread!

Money anxiety is not something new for me. I knew full well we were in for some lean times when I decided to take the job in Arizona. When money is already the number one stressor in your life and you make a choice to take a job in another state, which means, your spouse will have no job and you will be down to one income, it can be seen as a bit crazy. Add to this that we are in a time and economy when people would sell out their favorite relative to the mob just for the opportunity to say, "Would you like fries with that?" Things are not great in the financial world and I decided what the hell . . . things are not quite stressful enough . . . let's try this with one income! Are you still trying to decide if this is a mid-life crisis? I sure the hell am.

This morning I woke up, not rested and not able to get back to sleep and I noticed I was thinking of the same thing (money) when I woke up that I was when I went to sleep. This made me really wonder if I actually slept at all. Maybe I just lay in a comatose state all night rolling thoughts of money or lack of money around in my head. This could certainly explain all the headaches and mid-day yawning I am prone to. I look back fondly at the days when I could spend $5 without a second thought. Now, I analyze every quarter to determine if that will be the twenty-five cents that means the difference between getting by and going under. I know the situation is temporary, which helps, but I also know that where I am today is the accumulation of a lot of really bad choices on my part starting from when I was 18 and thought I needed a Bon Marche card with a $100 limit.

As little kids, we worry about what goes bump in the night . . . monsters, vampires, zombies, giant bugs. Little did I realize as a child that when I became an adult what goes bump in the night is actually me, night after night, kicking myself in the ass for all the monetary stupidity I was a part of over the years. When you add up all the bad choices, they equal an empty savings account, no emergency fund and a pile of spending regret. Here is to a future with more dreaming of giant vampire zombie bug monsters and less of dead presidents!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day Crazy Came Back

Well here it is . . . my first blogging attempt. I have been debating for a while about setting up a blog and after posting on facebook today decided today was the day to start. The day after Christmas . . . 364 days until next Christmas. A whole year to work on living better, making better choices, and to create more meaning and substance in a life that to date has been more out of my control than I thought life could get. At 38 shouldn't I have the answers and know the path that I am taking? If I should then I have done a very poor job up to this point.

Now, I will admit in the last few months I have actually began taking steps to create something better for my life and my families well being. (Or maybe this is my mid-life crisis. Feel free to decide amongst yourselves.) After living in Idaho, within 45 minutes of my family since I was 6, I took a leap of faith and applied for, was offered, and accepted a job in Phoenix, Arizona. I got Alex (the daughter)dropped off at college, moved to Phoenix and was joined two months later by Lester (the husband), Moose (the dog) and Taz (the cat). Since then I have also completed faculty training and began teaching college courses. Will these steps all take me to the end results I am looking for? I have no idea. I do know that not doing all of these things would have left me in the same place I had been for years. Which, was not a place I could stay any longer without doctor prescribed medication and a lot of booze, which are both too expensive for my current financial situation.

What is all this getting to you ask? Again, I don't know . . . in a way I am hoping this blog helps to dig out why at 38 I tossed my entire life, as I knew it, up into the air and together we can all find out where the pieces fall and what it looks like on the other end.

364 days until next Christmas, a day that brings out a level of joy and happiness that at least for a day drives away the crazy. December 25th is always a calming day for me, no work, no real life, no worries. For one day I let go of all the stress and enjoy the feeling of family and peace. So, here I am on December 26, 2009, the crazy was creeping back in as the holiday faded away and I decide that I don't spend near enough time on the computer everyday at work, teaching, and facebooking so I better blog too! Hmmm . . . maybe a beer and a nap would have been a better option. Stay tuned, I can honestly say I have no clue what is going to happen from day to day.