Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No Hockey, No Sharks, No Money

So, the NHL in all of its infinite wisdom has locked out its players for the second time in 8 years. We can all commiserate and sit around and complain how much we, as fans, miss the game, berate all those involved and try fill the void in our miserable hockey-less existence. But what about the rest of us? Not only is my family big fans, we also depend on the game for a big chunk or our income. My husband has been working at HP Pavilion as a bartender since 2006. The San Jose Sharks play 41 home games there a year. Adding up his wages and tips that is over $10,000 in income we are losing. And that is not even counting the playoffs. The deeper this team gets into the playoffs the bigger the tips are from happy club-level season ticket holders. From late September into late May we make enough supplemental income to carry us through the summer months (of no hockey) and are still able to keep up with our bills and a little something put aside for the family and household (last year we remodeled our kitchen).

I paid careful attention during the summer to talks and rumors of a lockout. Considering the NBA just went through this last season and the NHL just went through it 8 years ago (don't even get me started on the NFL replacement refs fiasco) I though it was highly unlikely that a strike/lockout /work stoppage would occur.  I was, obviously, wrong. We are now mid way through November which is normally the second full month of games. All games through the end of the month have thus far been cancelled. Tomorrow night, which should be a heated game versus our hated rival the Dallas Stars... is for not. On this night I should be making dinner for my family, enjoying a glass of wine and turning on the TV to watch Randy and Drew call the game on Comcast Bay Area.

Do you know what I'll be doing instead? I will be working at BevMo!. It will be my first shift. I have to help make ends meet, so I took a part-time job. I won't even go into how expensive it is to live here, you'll just have to take my word for it that two full time incomes is not enough for a family of four to get by on. Not with a mortgage and a couple of unfortunate financial choices from our past that we are dealing with.

On a positive note, this situation has made me rip the bandages off, so to speak, and really take a hard look at our finances and deal with where we are headed and what we can do to better our circumstances. I had a severe eye opener when I checked out the balance on our HELOC. We have been paying the minimum on this thing for the last 5 years and the balance has not gone down. At all. We have paid around $15,000 (in the last 60 months) to have our principal balance go down by a mere $250. I was so depressed when that sunk in. We have credit card balances, all with different rates, balances and credit limits. Needless to say I have been doing a lot of number crunching and consolidating in the last few weeks to try and make things work on the income that we have. We are trying to re-finance our first mortgage as well, but that might be in jeopardy unless we get a good number back from the appraiser. Fingers crossed.

So? Basically I've been juggling a lot of financial balls lately. I wish they were pucks, but I digress. Until the pucks start flying again I'll be at BevMo!, hawking alcohol to patrons for the holidays and to the community of sad/pissed-off hockey fans who will be drowning their sorrows this winter.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Monday Morning Irritation

Question: What was the last thing that irritated you?
Answer: 14 year-old Male

Synopsis: Boy hurts foot at skate park late Sunday evening. He calls the tricks he does (attempts to do) fun and challenging I call them dangerous and suicidal. I do not always enjoy being right... and this is why:

Monday morning (7:05 am) boy (who usually walks himself to school) limps theatrically into my room as I'm blow drying my hair and getting ready for work. "I can't walk."
"I'm sorry." I said genuinely empathetic.
"Go get ready for school. I will come back (instead of going strait to work) to get you after I take your brother (across town in morning commute traffic) and I'll drive you to school."

"But, I can't walk."

"But you are going to have to try, because you are not going to miss school."
Ten minutes later I head out the door. "I'm leaving, I'll be back as soon as I can."

45 minutes later (8:00am, school starts at 8:15) I come back to the house, open the front door and boy is sitting on the couch. In his pajamas. Eating Cheerios strait from the box.

My head nearly exploded. Why it is not socially acceptable to drink at 8:00 am when you are raising teenagers is beyond me.

"What are you doing? Why aren't you dressed?"

"I told you I can't walk."

I stared at him, eyes narrowed and jaw clenched. A temporary calmness came over me, one that has saved this boy's life many times in his short existence. I swallowed (almost choking) a deep breath, looked at the ceiling and willed some extra patience to find its way into my person.

"You managed to walk out here to the living room, you managed to walk to the kitchen and back for some cereal, you knew I was coming back here to pick you up... WHY, in all that is good and Holy, did you not get dressed?

"Why can't I just stay home today?"

"Because,"  I replied, realizing there would be no trying to reason. "You know what? Go get dressed right now. You are not missing school, I am already late for work, we are not having a discussion about this and you area already late. GO!"





Friday, September 07, 2012

PMS Cafe

I walked in to this quaint cafe not quite knowing what to expect. I had never heard about it and there weren't any Yelp reviews to prepare myself for the experience. I didn't pay to much attention to the ambiance or decor so the best way I can describe it was "interpretive." I'm sure it would be different if I were to go at another time during the month.

The place seemed clean and there were other customers spread out amongst the various tables keeping to themselves. No one even noticed when I walked in. I picked a seat by a window and picked up a menu. I wasn't really in the mood to eat which made me wonder why I had come in in the first place. I quickly remembered, however, that I came in because I didn't want to be at home or at work and I didn't want to be anywhere else because everywhere else seemed irritating and annoying.

A glass of water appeared out of nowhere and I took a sip suspiciously wondering which perky waitress I would have to thank graciously even though I didn't feel a bit of gratitude but knowing logically that of course I should. I really wasn't up for anyone being nice to me or anticipating my needs. I put my elbows on the table, covered my eyes with the balls of my hands and rubbed them gently. I let out a deep breath and began to accept the state I was in.

I looked again at the menu and my eyes narrowed as they focused in on my options. Almost every single struggle, annoyance, irritation, disappointment, challenge and item on my to do list , no matter how big or small, was staring at me from the pages of the menu.

"Husband's clothes on the floor."
"Teenage angst"
"Three empty toilet paper rolls on the ground in the kids' bathroom."
"Toothpaste squeezed from the middle"
"No response from company I submitted a resume/job application"
"What to make for dinner"
"Funny noise the car makes when the engine starts."
"Stupid radio commercials that try to sound like actual conversations."
"News stories that aren't news"
"Idiot drivers with no common sense."

Someone came over to my table and gave me knowing nod. Not really a smile or a "hello" but a "this-is-my-job-and-it's-probably-the-best-greeting-I-am-capable-of-mustering-for-you-today-as-opposed-to-almost-any-other-day-when-I-don't-have-this-perpetual-cloud-hanging-over-my head. I recognized the sentiment and realizing I was feeling the same exact way, I nodded back with a weak smile. She seemed to appreciate the intuitiveness and effort on my part and asked if I was going to have anything from the menu.

"I'm assuming everything here comes with PMS?"

She nodded in response, visibly pleased that she wouldn't have to go into a big dissertation about how the place worked.

"I'll have an order of insolent teenage son and a side of abhorrent traffic, please." I didn't look up as I continued reading over the menu one more time and she didn't seem impatient as I took my time with my order.

"We're having a special on messes your boss created and you have to clean up. Today only."

I groaned inwardly. "Oh God... Ok. Does it come with any annoying co-workers stepping on my last nerve?

"Yes," she replied. "But those are regular price."

"Can I get a discount if there is endless drama to listen to or it is the same drama that this person has already droned on and on about but won't do anything logically to make it stop?"

She looked over her shoulder, then over the other shoulder and asked "Have you advised her on what she could do to fix the situation?"


She looked one more time around her to make sure she wouldn't be overheard, "On the house sweetie."

I looked up gratefully at the empathy I had just received. "I probably shouldn't do this but can I get some last available space in the parking garage bordered by two assholes that can't park within the lines? Oh, and if my phone could ring incessantly all day so I can't get any work done... That would be great."

"No problem. Did you want any of those phone calls to be from your kids' school or from your husband who is in a bad mood?"

"I'm gonna pass on those. But thanks for asking."

"Sure honey. You sit tight. I'll put that order in and you can be on your way. Thanks for stopping by."

I recommend this place to anyone with misplaced anger, out of control anxiety caused my temporary hormonal imbalance, or just anyone who could use a sounding board and some well deserved empathy. I will be back for sure.

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Friday, June 08, 2012

Looking for a sign?

I saw this sign on Highway 9 in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Please "caption" this photo for me.

Slap - what actually happened

Well. It didn't go exactly as I had written it. I tried to slap him. I wanted to slap him really hard across the face and really shock him. I ended up barely grazing his cheek with my fingers. I think the shock value was enough. I got his attention anyway.
I said the first part, and most of the second part about how he can't walk all over me and expect me to take it... but lost my train of thought after that. I ended up telling him something like how my love for him is a burden to me these days instead of a joy. I told him no matter how cool he thinks he is and how many friends he has that what he is doing is wrong. At one point he started to walk away but I told him not to walk away from me. He was mad and very defensive in his posture. I hope the message was received.
I asked him later if he was going to offer any apology to me or to his dad and all he said was, "well I was." I told him I'd be ready to listen when he was ready to put an appropriate apology into words.

Ugh. This kid. He is truly breaking my heart. Just when I think I am all cried out and have reluctantly accepted the inevitable. He manages to step all over my heart again. Again. And? Again.
He turns 17 in 3 weeks. I only have a year left to convince him to get on a better path.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Slap heard 'round the world

"SLAP" - Right across the face.

That is for sneaking out of your room last night and not coming home all night.

How dare you sneak away from here, knowing everything that you know about this area where we live. Knowing that I am at home not being able to sleep worrying about you and wondering if I am going to get a phone call from the police saying that you have been injured, killed or have been arrested. Knowing that I have to get up  early for work in the morning. How dare you do that to someone that has nothing in their heart but love for you.

There is nothing you can do that will ever make me stop loving you. But that doesn't mean that you can walk all over me, use me, tell me your lies and expect me to roll over and take it. Do you feel any shame? Your behavior is shameful and you should feel small and embarrassed. How dare you do that to your mother.

My opinion of you is becoming lower and lower by the day. I hope some day you will think about that and take steps to make sure I have a higher opinion of you and the kind of person you are. Personally? I don't care to be around anyone whose mother has low opinion of them. To me that says a lot.

You didn't fall asleep at your friend's house. You were up on Facebook all night commenting on and "liking" statuses. You knew, we knew, you were gone. Your dad tried to call you. You can say anything you want to say, but I only care about your actions. Your words at this point are only noise. You need to grow up. You can start giving me an apology.

Beyond that you need to do some soul searching because what you are doing isn't right. 

Long stare. Dramatic exit.


This is my plan. Wish me luck.

The Proactol Plus Experiment

 I have seen my weight fluctuate all of my adolescent and adult life. At my healthiest and most fit I was at around 140 pounds. This is a weight I am very comfortable with and is healthy for my 5 foot 6 inch frame. Throughout the years I would hold on desperately to maintain between 145 and 150 and still feel good about myself. When my weight would get to be over 155 one of two things would eventually happen. I would either get pissed off enough to cut out the bad habits that were putting on unhealthy weight or I would sink into a depression and give up all together. It was the latter choice that I found myself dealing with more and more often as I approached my mid-40's.
As I got older the bar of my acceptable weight began to rise.  Instead of 155 I would find myself at 160. I would get upset and get back to 152 only to give up again when I couldn't get below that mark. I gave in to triggers and was guilty of being a stress eater, eating to self medicate or eating for comfort. As good as those endorphins feel after a great workout, there are is always the voice in my head that convinces me it is equally good to open a bottle of wine, surround myself with yummy comfort food and block out the world..  Earlier this year (after nearly a year of neglect) my weight hit an all time high of 180. My size 14 pants were too tight and I was miserable. Even typing that number doesn't seem real.  Carrying that much weight made me feel so unhealthy and sad. The sadness was reflected in my everyday life and I began to give up hope. This has been my burden to bear and I know that it is up to me to find my way back.
Since the end of March this year I have gotten back on the wagon with my eating choices and fitness regime. I eased back into things by giving up one thing (bad habit) each week. The first thing I chose to give up was alcohol. The second week I gave up sweets. The third week I gave up starchy, fatty foods like potato chips and anything deep fried. I began exercising again at the YMCA and when the weather finally turned, I got back out on my bike.
I lost a couple of pounds each week and by the first of June I had lost 15 pounds. During this time I began researching fat burning supplements. I liked the idea of something in my system that would help in burning up the fat or increasing my metabolism. I didn't want an appetite suppressant because most of them contain caffeine. I gave up caffeine years ago and don't need it in my system anymore to increase energy or help me to be awake and alert. I have been able to sleep so much better at night since being off caffeine which makes the trade-off so worthwhile to me. In my research I found a website that rated different fat burning supplements and published their findings in a top ten format based on their research on actually using the products.

I was originally curious about a product I had seen on TV called Quick Slim which claimed to be a fat burning supplement but I was quickly drawn to the number one product on their list which was Practol Plus. Proactol Plus claimed to burn and block fat in addition to reduce cravings and appetite. I wanted to try something that would help give my diet a boost, especially when I hit that first weight loss plateau. I read up some more on the product and decided to give it a try. Here are my results so far:

Week 1 - After being stuck on a weight-loss plateau for three strait weeks (stuck at 165) I was able to break through and have a loss of two pounds the first week using Proactol Plus. I really didn't do anything different in my routine, I even indulged a couple of times more than I had in the previous weeks. I started taking the pills on Thursday (5/31) and in the 7 full days on the supplements I have gone from 165 to 163 pounds. Highlights from the week include: A long bike ride on Saturday followed by eating out that evening and had two glasses of  wine and sushi for dinner. I exercised on Tuesday at the YMCA (elliptical and treadmill) and over indulged on Monday eating some chips, a few cookies and the bacon quiche I made for dinner. On Wednesday I did not workout and ate 4 cookies (which isn't bad but over-indulgent when trying to lose weight). Other than that it was the usual routine of oatmeal in the morning (except Saturday and Sunday when it was Grape Nuts), a fruit and dairy snack mid-morning (berries and non-fat milk), a frozen Lean Cuisine type frozen lunch followed by a lite version (smaller portion) of what ever was for dinner that night.

Sunday, April 15, 2012