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Saturday
Sep242011

House Rules

This is the correct etiquette for returning to a hotel room at 2 am when your wife who was too tired to go to the dinner is already in there sound asleep. What you do is enter the room VERY quietly, tiptoe to your side of the bed, remove your clothing, softly climb in to bed and (lying on your side to avoid snoring) go straight into a deep slumber. What you do NOT do is stumble noisily into the room and decide it's a good time to recharge your computer, trip over various obstacles on route to the desk and spend TEN minutes fumbling with chargers, wires and adaptors and then another five minutes trying to locate a plug socket. Having made enough noise to wake not only your wife but the occupants of the room next door it is then COMPLETELY unacceptable to flop onto the mattress, lie on your back and start snoring in surround sound thereby ensuring that (now very crabby) wife is wide awake for the next three hours. 

This is the correct etiquette for packing up and leaving the same hotel room. What you do is co-operate fully with the procedure and take the initiative wherever possible. What you do NOT do is approach the suitcase that your wife has JUST finished packing and decide that you simply MUST have a certain pair of socks that are right at the bottom of said suitcase. Saying "have you emptied the safe?" when you are standing right next to the safe and could easily check it, is on a par with stupid rhetorical questions such as "Where are my glasses?"

This is the correct etiquette for arriving home after a few days away. What you do is put the kettle on and make your wife a cup of coffee or better yet offer her a glass of wine, having already run her a soothing bubble bath. What you do NOT do is put the TV on at FULL volume having pored YOURSELF a large glass of wine and plonk yourself down on the sofa to watch the Golf while she does the unpacking.

Just saying......................................


Monday
Sep122011

Win-Win Situation

I have a new obsession. It started a week ago when I was invited to play Words With Friends and I have been surgically attached to the computer or my phone ever since. In recent years the only person who would play Scrabble with me was Genius and he lost interest pretty quickly when it was apparent I had little hope of beating him. Now a whole new world of opponents has opened up as I can play all my friends in far flung geographical locations. So far my track record is pretty good but I am especially proud of my victories against a certain person of superior intellect who I will refer to as Big Skill as his initials just happen to be BS. 

Big Skill is one of those annoying people who is good at EVERYTHING; you know the type, plays most instruments, speaks multiple languages, and climbs mountains. BS is also a football player, talented artist, an accomplished actor, film maker AND makes pasta from scratch. He considers himself the Maestro of word games so Imagine his shock when I proved to be a formidable opponent running away with our first four games. I think he has a new found respect for me but he is currently MIA which is MOST annoying as we are halfway through three Words For Friends games and one game of Scrabble. No doubt he has found something more intellectual to do like advanced Russian Language classes.

I am COMPLETELY addicted to the game (which is why I've had no time to blog) and as I am jet-lagged in Hong Kong I'm awake at the weirdest hours so it's keeping me sane when I can't sleep. The other HUGE benefit is that I am losing weight because I am less interested in eating than I am in playing and I think the challenge to my brain must be burning off extra calories. It's just as well I have a demanding job to do five days a week or I might be in danger of becoming one of those sad souls who lock themselves away in dark rooms with their computers for months on end.

So far my husband has been fairly tolerant of the hours I'm racking up on my new hobby. However this may well change if the Formula One coverage comes to an end. Fortunately to date he has barely noticed my preoccupation and the added benefit is that I am not constantly chattering away to him so no more arguments about why he is NOT listening to me; it's a Win-Win situation.

Sunday
Aug282011

Spend Spend Spend

Last night Rockstar and Genius were discussing (fantasizing) about what they would do if they suddenly had one hundred million dollars. What was interesting was that both of them were adamant that the very SECOND the money was in their grubby little paws they would rush off on a MEGA spending spree involving the purchase of expensive cars, houses in remote beach locations, and designer label clothing. They seemed to think that my concept of taking at least forty-eight hours to decide how best to use the money and to actually formulate a plan was RIDICULOUS. In their minds one hundred million dollars is SO much money that they are confident that they would NEVER have to worry about lack of it again. It was actually quite scary listening to them because they are both normally so frugal but it seemed like just the IDEA of extreme wealth was enough to make them completely crazy and totally irrational. 

What they couldn't seem to grasp was how quickly they would blow through that money if they just went out and bought everything they (thought) they wanted. Perhaps that would be feasible with one hundred BILLION dollars but not with one hundred million. Like most lottery winners they would probably be bankrupt within five years; which is why it is probably better to accumulate wealth slowly and adjust gradually to an improvement in circumstances rather than inherit millions overnight and become giddy and irresponsible from the shock. However I would be VERY happy to test that theory and prove it wrong. 

Of course if you are over fifty when good fortune strikes you are almost certainly past the point of wasting it all on frivolities. For most of us who have been slogging away for decades just trying to keep our heads above the waters of our debts, a large windfall represents freedom and we already know that freedom simply means working because you want to not because you HAVE to. The allure of the big house (too much maintenance) the fast car (expensive to insure) the fancy clothes (too tired to go anywhere that would necessitate wearing them) has somewhat worn off and a yearning for a simple, peaceful, stress-free existence prevails, although my husband is quite clear that in order to fully enjoy HIS peaceful existence he would need a Ferrari. 

A woman my mother knows won twelve million euros on the Lottery. She gave a little money to her family, bought a few small treats and continued on with her job as a cleaning lady. She had no desire to spend spend spend because she was happy with her life before she won the money and she is just as happy now. I suspect that she is someone who discovered a long time ago that the best things in life are not things.


Sunday
Aug142011

Breaking Point

No matter how much you love your family there are days when you would gladly wring their scrawny necks. Today is one of those days. I floated into the house all serene from having a lovely spa pedicure and was verbally assaulted by Rockstar who was in a rage due to some news that was not to his liking. He wanted my opinion and when it wasn't completely in line with his own view he got even angrier. Meanwhile I have been nagging Genius ALL DAY to come downstairs and pack his shipping boxes for college, the contents of which are strewn around the living room floor. It's a ten minute job that I would be more than happy to do myself but he is INSISTENT that he must be the one to do it. After the umpteenth request for his co-operation was met with yet another excuse as to why he would do it later I snapped. Still furious with Rockstar I let rip and screamed at Genius to GET HIS SKINNY LITTLE ASS DOWNSTAIRS AND PACK THE BOXES RIGHT NOW. We have a guest arriving in two hours and it would be nice if our visitor could walk through the front door without tripping over the contents of a dorm room.

Enter my husband stage left having returned from Publix with several flagons of wine (thank goodness.) He walked through the door minutes after my screaming episode and said "Where's Mom?" He didn't see me although I was standing about three feet away from him so when the boys said "She's left you, she couldn't take any more"  he replied "GOOD" It would have been quite funny except that I have a horrible feeling he was serious. He then announced I had ruined three of his best shirts by washing them with the dog's red bandana which apparently was not color-fast. I was not in the mood to be contrite but I managed to control the urge to make the situation worse by telling him exactly what to do with his pink shirts.

So now all three boys are on my S*** list. Only the dog is still in my good graces but no doubt he will find a way to upset me before this day is done. Sometimes the people you love just need to push you to Breaking Point.

Friday
Aug052011

Radiators and Drains

People are either Radiators or Drains. Radiators give off positive energy to all those they come into contact with. They are givers; happy souls who are fun to be around and know how to laugh off the rough stuff that occasionally we all have do deal with. Drains on the other hand will suck the life blood from you. They are always miserable and entrenched in victim mode. They are convinced the world is against them and always see the glass half empty. Drains are full of complaints while Radiators are full of gratitude. Regardless of circumstances our attitude will always color what we see and feel but it is the only thing we actually have ANY control over. Radiators know this but Drains don't get it at all.

Yesterday I had a run-in with a Drain that lives in my neighborhood. This woman seems to live in a permanent state of angst. She got super aggressive and confrontational with me because she thought I was trying to tailgate behind her into my OWN community. She approached my car and DEMANDED to know why I had moved from the visitor lane to the residents lane and even when she clearly recognized me and realized her mistake she did not feel any need to apologize for her neurotic and unpleasant behavior. She just stormed back to her car as if my very existence on the planet was justification for her antagonism. I pity the husband she went home to.

The older I get the less patience I have with Drains; I used to be quite accommodating, a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on but NOT ANYMORE. I have had ENOUGH I am tired of dealing with drama queens WHINING on about petty nonsense and dumping all their crap on me, I've got enough of my own problems without having to be responsible for solving everyone else's. I need more laughter in my life and less negativity so I am going to make a point of attracting Radiators and repelling Drains. If I get so much as a SNIFF of an approaching drain I'm going to head for the hills and stay well out of sight until the Drain finds another unsuspecting friend to glom onto. Meanwhile I am going to do my BEST to become the sort of Radiator that other Radiators want to be around. I want to be a little ray of sunshine not a dark grey thundercloud. 

Joy is contagious so if you surround yourself with happy upbeat people it will be very difficult to remain unaffected by the warmth they radiate. On the other hand misery loves company so if you find yourself surrounded by Drains move swiftly along before you succumb to the black hole they are trying to suck you into.


Saturday
Jul302011

Inside Every Thin Woman is a Fat Woman Desperate to Get Out

A recent e-mail from a close friend who loves food as much as I do, brought me to a stark realization; the reason I have SO much trouble staying slim is that my alter ego is a four hundred pound couch potato. In fact my TRUE motivation to get super skinny is not for how great I will look and feel, nor for the fabulous clothes I'll be able to wear or all the compliments I will get, it is simply that the skinnier I am the more I will be able to eat and eat WHATEVER I want before alarm bells start ringing and I have to get back on the diet wagon. When I am thin as a stick carbs will no longer be the enemy, desserts will not have to be rationed, calories will no longer need to be counted and I can let my inner fat child run wild.

I think four years of living predominantly on Lean Cuisines and dry crackers has deeply affected my psyche. The novelty of not having to think beyond opening a box and microwaving the contents has worn off. The weight loss is so slow that after eating these hideously boring meals for two or three weeks I lose a pound and a half that goes straight back on the first time we go out for dinner. Of course I eat the most fattening food on the menu as a reward for my period of suffering. I wonder how old I will be before I no longer care what I weigh? 

I am currently on a quest to be Fabulous at Fifty and I have less than six months to shed the seven more pounds required to meet my goal. But I've SUDDENLY decided that the following decade should be dedicated to becoming Substantial at Sixty. How amazing and liberating it will be to just reinvent myself as someone who actually WANTS to GAIN weight! I will finally be able to ENJOY social occasions because there will be no more angst about how they interfere with my diet and no more irritation towards people who invite me to these various affairs (unlike now when I literally DREAD the next event.) Of course by the end of the first year I will not fit into any of my current clothing so my plan is to float around in vast colorful artsy kaftans and buy even larger chunkier jewellery. I am SO excited - this is going to be a whole new way of living with every day focused on all the delicious things I can chow down on.

But will I really be happy? Aye there's the rub, because can I be sure that this new me will truly be any more content than the current one? Because after all inside every fat woman is a thin one who is DESPERATE to get out.


Sunday
Jul242011

Yawn Yawn Yawn

I apologize for my low productivity on the blog front but I don't seem to have anything to write about these days. Part of the problem is that one of my main sources of material was my husband who has provided me with much inspiration over the years, regularly spouting little gems like "I didn't realize you had a mustache" and "are you aware you are putting on weight?" 

It is very unusual for a whole weekend to pass without some incident or another that will have me whipped into a frenzy and bashing out my indignation on the keyboard. Last weekend I was on full alert waiting for one of his priceless dictates or observations but every time I walked past him he was ASLEEP. Seriously, I am NOT exaggerating he must have slept for at least FORTY TWO hours of a forty eight hour period. At one point I passed the sofa (where he was sleeping while pretending to watch the golf) and he had vanished. I was sure that he had finally mustered the energy to change the battery in the smoke alarm (that I have been nagging about for FOUR months) so I went upstairs to sort laundry and found him asleep AGAIN in our bed. During the short periods when he was awake the only conversation I got out of him were variations on the theme "I'm SO tired."

My other sources of inspiration, Rockstar and Genius were equally uncooperative. Closeted away in the studio working on their latest project they were too busy to talk to me unless it was to request that I delivered sandwiches and drinks to their hot house of creativity. Sure, why not? I have nothing better to do - I am BORED OUT OF MY MIND.

Eventually my husband arose from his slumber and after enduring a TIRADE from me about the changing of the smoke alarm he pulled out his tool box and did the needful. It was a FIVE minute job but he seemed to expect lashings of praise from me upon completing it. I was actually very grateful because the constant BEEP BEEP BEEP from the low battery was ruining my life. Only MY life you understand, because the three males in the house swore that they couldn't even hear it, but then these are the same three people that slept through fifty minutes of our burglar alarm going off which is a noise so loud you can hear it in the next county. Clearly men have selective hearing, proven by the fact that I have to ask the same thing HUNDREDS of times to get a result and they are adamant each time that it is the FIRST time I have mentioned whatever it is. Which is really ironic because Rockstar claims that he hasn't had a real conversation with me for about five years. He says every time he talks to me and he thinks I am listening I am actually in my own little world and not paying a scrap of attention to the VERY important information he is trying to impart.

Well maybe that's because I'm distracted and busy bathing the dog, unloading the dishwasher, sorting the laundry and doing all the other little jobs they are supposed to help me with. Once a month I snap and have a bitching session about all my grievances and Rockstar counters with his well rehearsed speech highlighting what lucky parents we are to have kids that are so respectful, hard-working and EASY. He maintains that we have NO CONCEPT of what other parents put up with from their children. He will then illustrate his point by unloading the dishwasher while entertaining me with some horror story about another family, effectively squashing all my negativity and restoring the status quo in which I walk around in a moronic state of gratitude feeling blessed to have them under my roof. This weeks offering was the best so far; after I had been complaining about the constant flow of friends through the house at all hours and requesting just a few hours of uninterrupted peace, he sauntered into the kitchen and casually said "You know what happened Mom? A boy in Port St. Lucie killed his parents with a claw hammer because they wouldn't let him have a party in the house. Just saying....................."

Did I say my life was boring? I think I am OK with that now.


Sunday
Jul102011

Your Fault State

It's taken me ten years and several teenage fender benders (theirs not mine) to understand the meaning of living in a No Fault State. At first I naively assumed that the term was an acknowledgment that an accident is exactly that (an ACCIDENT) and that no-one would be held exclusively responsible. Of course this is nonsense because nine times out of ten one STUPID IDIOT (who probably thinks using turn signals infringes on his right to text while driving) is guilty of reckless endangerment resulting in the so called accident. 

Apparently the No Fault clause means that no matter who caused the accident YOUR insurance company must pay YOUR repairs. What this REALLY means that even if you are stationary and some clown runs into the back of you, the accident will still be partly YOUR FAULT by virtue of the fact that you were THERE! Incredible but true, and worse still in these exact circumstances (and even if the other party admits complete fault and their insurance company DOES pays all the damage) your own insurance company will STILL view you as a higher risk candidate when they are calculating your premium. The whole thing is RIDICULOUS. Where is the deterrent against careless driving? Where is the reward for safe driving? If an accident is proven to be NOT your fault why shouldn't the guilty party's insurance pay for ALL the damages leaving the innocent party with a squeaky clean record? Can you imagine this philosophy applied to any other sector of the law? "You are hereby sentenced to three years on probation for having your wallet in your back pocket and therefore facilitating the theft."

Whatever happened to taking responsibility for your actions? As usual this law benefits no-one but the insurance companies which is probably why it exists in only twelve states out of fifty. Unfortunately I happen to live in one of them. Bear in mind that to pass your driving test in Florida you don't even need to leave the CAR PARK of the test center!

Worst of all there are some seriously deranged (or desperate) people out there who are actually trying to create road accidents as a way of claiming damages and disability in lieu of doing an honest days work. Their tactics include: 

The Drive Down - A driver waves on another driver, indicating it's O.K. to proceed, and then intentionally hits the passing car.

The Sideswipe - A driver in the inside lane of a dual left turn lane in a busy intersection drifts into the outer lane, intentionally forcing a collision.

The Swoop & Squat - This scam occurs when the vehicle you are following is suddenly passed by another vehicle that "swoops" in front of it. This causes the vehicle in front of you to stop abruptly, or "squat." As a result, you are unable to avoid colliding with the rear end of the vehicle. The drivers of both the swoop and squat car planned the accident. The swoop car will never be seen again and the driver of the squat car plans to submit vehicle damage and personal injury claims to your insurer. Oftentimes, multiple occupants in the squat car will fabricate bodily injuries as well.

All this fraud costs billions of dollars a year and obviously someone has to pay. So NOW you know why your insurance premiums in a No Fault state are so high. But don't complain it is YOUR FAULT for living there.