Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Goals For the New Year

2016 is coming. I should plan for the new year, right? Not, like, resolutions or anything, because those are made to be broken, but at the least I should have a few goals in mind for the next 12 month period of time. I've given it some thought and I've decided on the following goals for the new year:

1. Have an adventure. Doesn't have to be a big or expensive adventure, just has to be something exciting. Something that gives me a story to tell while sitting around with a group of friends and family.

2. Save $6,000. An incredibly generous relative has gifted us a sizable amount of money, enough to pay off our credit card debts (about six grand.) What I don't want is to use that money to bring the slate back to zero without having anything else to show for it, so my goal is to use the money to pay off the debt and then put what we would have been paying towards credit cards into savings, along with a bit extra, so that at the end of the year we've saved enough to have been capable of paying off the debt without help. My original goal was to pay off the credit card debt, but then we got a windfall so I had to change it a bit.

3. Run a 5K. I can be the last person across that finish line, but I want to be able to say I did it. I'm less of a runner and more of a chocolate cake sort of gal, so this is a big one for me.

I think this is enough for me to accomplish in 2016. I'll post here occasionally about how I'm doing in my attempts to meet my goals next year and I hope you will comment with your goals and the occasional update on how things are coming along for you too!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The News

Sorry I've been gone, but I've been busy and injured and, more importantly, I have been ruminating over the concept of our mass media as of late.

Our government is set up in three branches - executive, judicial, and legislative - to create a system of checks and balances intended to keep people intent on harming America from gaining too much power. Whether or not that system is working is a matter of debate, but that is how the system was designed. I've always thought of the media, whether that be newspapers, broadcast television, etc., as an invisible fourth pillar of the checks and balances system. Reporters and broadcasters are theoretically supposed to ferret out information from the darkest recesses of our political system and make the citizens aware so that we can hold politicians and their ilk accountable for their actions. But it is becoming more and more obvious that the media no longer serves that function. If you have enough money you own the reporters. The head of your channel, paper, website, or station tells you what you can and can't report, and they decide that based on what the person who signs their checks wants the American people to know. The most recent and egregious example of this is with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who by all measures has the support of the majority of the Democratic party, but because he doesn't accept donations from corporations or allow lobbyists in his office he is being ignored by the press. Stories abound about Hillary visiting the sets of various TV shows, Hillary taking a break to go to the bathroom during a commercial at the debate, etc. but when Bernie Sanders does something truly remarkable like surpass the number of donations from individuals to a candidate in any campaign in history or get the backing of two major unions representing a combined group of almost a million people the media is silent. The sabotage of his campaign by the DNC because they are so clearly backing Hillary Clinton has been ignored by everyone but Buzzfeed, which isn't surprising as one of Hillary's biggest donors is Time Warner, owner of CNN. This makes me concerned about what other incredibly important things have happened that have been ignored by the media and how different life would be if they actually functioned as agents of communication instead of spin doctors for whoever gives them the biggest financial boost. Shame on you reporters and broadcasters who are giving the people the news you need, not the news we need.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Halloween will soon be upon us, which means many of us are already buying candy in preparation for trick or treaters. I would encourage everyone this year to avoid Nestle products and purchase Hershey's instead. Nestle has a history of being awful, most recently regarding water rights in California. The CEO of Nestle, Peter Brabeck, said he believes water is not a human right and should be privatized. 

Hershey, on the other hand, has been named one of the most ethical companies of 2015 because of their efforts in environmental sustainability and ethical sourcing. It is all pretty tasty, so why not use this opportunity to make the ethical choice? 

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Dog

What is it with dogs?

Dog: Excuse me, but would mind if I sit on your lap while I sleep?

Me: I really can't right now. I'm going to get up in like 3 minutes.

Dog: No no no - I promise it will be fine. I just need to cuddle for a minute.

Me: No, not right...

Dog: Thank you!!! *Jumps into lap*

Me: Sigh.

*3 minutes later*

Me: Okay, time to get up.

Dog: Are you sure? Do you see how comfy I am?

Me: Yes, get up.

Dog: *grumble grumble*

Me: I warned you before you got up here!

Dog: Ooh, a warm spot! I'm cool, you do what you have to do.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Full Monty - Then and Now

I assume you've seen The Full Monty. If you haven't, you can read about it here.

The first time I saw The Full Monty was my senior year in high school, otherwise known as 1999/2000. I remember thinking it was really funny. Robert Carlyle is incredibly talented and the concept of the movie seemed almost like a more sophisticated episode of I Love Lucy, a simple plot designed to cause plenty of misunderstandings and embarrassment on the stage. As a fan of I Love Lucy I thought it was super cute but I didn't really give it much thought.

Fast forward to 2014. I've gone to college, gotten married, had a baby, moved to the suburbs. And during the first 19 months of our marriage my husband was looking for work. He had been laid off three weeks before our wedding during what would turn out to be one of the most difficult economic periods since the Great Depression. After 19 months he finally found employment again right after the birth of our daughter. Time passed, I did the stay-at-home-mom thing for a year and a half, we moved to another state, and found ourselves bored one evening with access to Amazon Prime streaming.

We stumbled upon The Full Monty and, remembering it as a pretty funny flick, we paid the $2 rental fee and popped some popcorn. And then I went through an emotional roller coaster so unexpected it could have popped out of a can of peanut brittle. What had originally seemed to be a lighthearted romp set in an era of economic instability became a deep, introspective look at the emasculating effect of unemployment on men of all ages. Watching these men who want nothing more than to take care of their families struggle, fail, ultimately come up with what seems to be an insane idea that they force into being out of desperation despite how incredibly degrading it has the potential to be brought tears to my eyes. My husband never considered stripping (at least not that he told me about) but he ran errands, worked temp jobs, performed manual labor, and almost gave up on it all and took a job as a barista until I begged him not to, not because he is too good for that but because it would have been full time and interfered with his ability to interview for jobs that were a closer equivalent to what he had before he was laid off. Seeing how these men felt such deep shame at their inability to provide for their families, take care of their wives, and contribute to society was almost like the writers of this movie had seen 18 years into the future and 3,500 miles across the Atlantic when they put this script together.

People need to feel productive. People need to feel like providers. People need to feel like they have value. When something like a spike in unemployment takes that away from huge swathes of society we are all left worse for it. The need to contribute in life is so great it is a theme that can cross cultural borders, thousands of miles, decades of time, and all races and genders. But you know what else people need? They need to laugh. That is why they made this movie a comedy when it could have so easily been a dark, introspective drama.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Blueberry Muffins

I will not eat any blueberry muffins tonight.

I made them for breakfast tomorrow. The whole family will have delicious vanilla blueberry muffins waiting for them because I didn't eat them tonight.

I am going to ignore the siren song wafting from my kitchen, gently calling out to me. "Come have a muffin, it'll be okay. You want to taste one while we are warm out of the oven don't you? You can stop at one...or maybe have two. Or three. You know, why not just make some tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast? Then we can all be yours..."

I swear to all that is holy in this world, it is like twelve little paper cups full of heroin in there.

Damned delicious, taunting muffins.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kids are Funny

Daughter: Mama, can I have some milk?
Me: You've already had enough milk today, but you can have some water or some orange juice. Which do you choose?
Daughter: Orange juice please, but no plump.
Me: Plump? You mean pulp?
Daughter: Yeah, that.


Today my daughter said to me, "Mama, I know dessert is a sometimes thing, but it has been a long time so I think tonight I should get some dessert, okay?"
So I gave her a cookie and she brought it to bed to eat while we read stories. I told her it was getting crumbs all over and she said, "Yeah, you probably shouldn't have given me this cookie."


Giving my daughter a bath:
Me: "Let's rinse your hair. Rrrrrinse. What letter does Rrrrrrinse start with?"
Daughter: "R!"
Me: "That's right!"
Daughter: "Mama, I know my letters! I'm ready for high school!"


From this morning-
Me: Honey, time to brush your teeth.
Daughter: Nope, I'm an octopus and octopuses don't have teeth.


Daughter: Mama, I want some of that cake that is all frosting.
Me: Cake that is all frosting? (Thinks for a moment) You mean cheesecake?
Daughter: Yeah, can I have some?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I Love Lucy

Happy 104th birthday to one of my favorite people in the whole world, Lucille Ball. Actress, writer, producer, model, and studio executive, she literally wrote her own ticket in Hollywood. When people said, "You can't do that!" she simply said, "Watch me." A pioneer in the industry, she was the first woman to run a major Hollywood studio. Her insistence that Desi Arnaz play her husband on I Love Lucy and then insistence that her pregnancy be written into the script was the sole reason America was exposed to their very first interracial couple and pregnant lady on TV. And the very first episode of I Love Lucy didn't air until after her 40th birthday, so at an age where Hollywood put most women out to pasture her best was yet to come. Thanks, Lucy, for proving that women can do it all and have a sense of humor at the same time.

Friday, July 24, 2015


We are so broke.

Not getting-evicted-broke or empty-refrigerator-broke. Those types of broke are on the broke/poverty border and we aren't teetering precariously on that line, hoping and praying to fall safely away from cavernous hole that is poverty. We are middle-class-broke.

Having-a-yard-sale-to-pay-for-home-repairs broke.

Sitting-in-front-of-a-fan-with-an-icepack-instead-of-using-the-AC broke.

Taking-7,000-surveys-online-to-earn-$5 broke.

Not-replacing-the-broken-TV broke.

Hanging-laundry-to-dry-outside broke.

Searching-through-old-coat-pockets-for-gas-money broke.

Laying-awake-at-night-worrying-about-paying-all-our-bills broke.

Pretending-we're-on-Chopped-to-use-up-ingredients-in-the-kitchen broke.

Our basics - food, clothes, and shelter - are all taken care of, but that is about the best we can say. It is horrifying to see you bank balance get down to $46 making you pay your $70 internet bill late because you can't afford it. Last month was my 33rd birthday and today my husband turns 34. It hurts like hell to know that we are still in this situation. I always thought that by the time I was a proper grown up we'd be making enough money to enjoy life instead of just getting by.

But that is enough complaining for now. I'm off to complete another Swagbucks survey and eat lunch before I head back to work.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Chocolate Cake For Breakfast

Horrible behavior aside, most people are familiar with what is arguably Bill Cosby's funniest stand up comedy bit about feeding his children chocolate cake for breakfast. For those of you who have never heard it, Bill Cosby talks about being forced to get out of bed at an early hour to cook breakfast for his children. Angry about being woken so early, he goes downstairs and his children convince him that he should give them chocolate cake instead of eggs and milk. Convincing himself of the brilliance of this plan, he slices up some chocolate cake and a cup of grapefruit juice for each child and they have a breakfast celebration. That is, until his wife comes downstairs and has, in his words, "a conniption" and sends him up to his room.

As a kid this was always hilarious and even as an adult it holds up as being a classic for a reason. But as a mother this joke causes a twinge of sadness in me every time I hear it. Not because he is angry at getting up early, because I can absolutely understand that. As much as I love having a preschooler I am very much looking forward to the days when she wants to sleep in until noon. It causes a twinge of sadness in me because I know why Camille (Cosby's wife) was so angry that she had a conniption. Not just because she wanted her children to eat something with some nutritional value, though she certainly wanted that, but because he made her out to be the heavy.

Now the kids have a "fun" experience with Dad at her expense. She is cast as the bad guy who destroys everyone's good time by trying to be a good parent and it is just that much more cemented in her children's brains that dad is the fun one and mom is the strict one. She has missed out on a moment of joy that could have been a family event! What mother wouldn't love to see the light in her children's eyes as they get such a treat so early in the day? Who among us hasn't sneaked our child a cookie before dinner or given up something we really wanted to buy the perfect gift for our kid? And knowing that your children had that moment isn't a bad thing, but knowing that this moment is completely based on not letting mom find out because she is a big spoilsport makes your heart hurt just a tiny bit. You are happy for their joy but sad that it came at your expense. I remember the scene from Mrs. Doubtfire where Sally Field explains to Robin Williams that his need to take all of the fun bits of relationships and parenting and leave her with all of the responsibilities is too much for her to handle and she is filing for divorce and it is completely understandable. I consider myself so lucky because my spouse works hard at his job and is a wonderful parent and I know that he and I will each have fun moments with our child without the other and that is a really good thing. I feel so appreciative that we both take our turn as the disciplinarian and the clown, but most especially I appreciate that we respect one another's decisions and if one of us says it is time to do something responsible the other doesn't respond with, "Pssht...who needs that? Let's go eat candy and light fireworks!"

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Historical Moments

I would just like to say how proud I am to be an American today.

I'm not always proud of my country. When we invade another country, when we watch as our government officials are bought and sold to the highest bidder behind the scenes, when we allow companies to damage our environment and hurt our citizens all in the name of corporate profit I am tempted to pull the brim of my hat low over my eyes, flip up my collar and go on the lam, like a crimeless Carmen Sandiego. I never do, though, and instead I roll up my sleeves and get busy working to change the things that need changing.

Today is a day that reminds me why I stay and do the heavy lifting. Congratulations to the people who are now legally able to be married today. Congratulations to all the people who still have their health insurance because the SCOTUS voted in favor of the affordable care act. And, while I don't live there, congratulations to all the people in California who determined that whatever beliefs you hold do not allow you to force disease onto other people and have removed the religious exemptions for vaccination requirements. We should all join hands and rejoice in our success. Let's continue to make sure all of our citizens are healthy, happy and included in all of the very best parts of our society.

Monday, June 22, 2015

No Compressor For Weymouth!

Spectra Energy wants to build a gas compressor station at the base of the Fore River Bridge in North Weymouth as part of the expansion of their pipelines through New England. This would be incredibly dangerous for local residents and expensive for everyone in Massachusetts.

Compressor stations are explosive. Spectra is quick to tell you that they have never had an explosion but a simple Google search brings up a list of multiple compressor and pipeline explosions associated with Spectra and their subsidiaries/affiliates.  If this compressor explodes it will damage or destroy the bridge and half a dozen volatile regional facilities such as the Calpine power plant that also border the new bridge, not to mention the significant number of homes within a half mile radius of the compressor site in Weymouth, Quincy and Braintree.

Compressors also vent toxic gases including methane, toluene, radon and benzene 24 hours a day. When cleaning, repairing, or working on the pipelines they have to vent massive amounts of pollutants to empty the lines to allow access by their employees. During an explosion the compressor would release hundreds of thousands of metric tons of pollutants into our environment.

Spectra says they’re expanding the pipes to meet increasing energy needs and to lower gas prices. This is untrue. Much of the fracked gas that would be shipped through these pipes will go to Canada for offshoring purposes as LNG. Canadian media outlets have been very honest about this in their reports. Governor Baker has stated he is considering a tariff on utility rate payers to fund the expansion of the pipelines, passing the cost of Spectra’s infrastructure onto Massachusetts residents.

Spectra also says construction of the compressor will bring jobs to the area. They fail to mention that the jobs created by the compressor will be a small number of temporary construction jobs with no guarantee of hiring local labor. There is one potential full time job for someone to monitor the station during the workday. All other monitoring would be done remotely from Texas.

Spectra isn’t worried about any of these things. They don’t have to be. They don’t live here.