Dec 19, 2013 - Holidaze    1 Comment

Living up to my favorite Christmas

Today, I looked up and realized that Christmas is less than a week away.  How did that happen??  I’ve reached an all-time low.   As I wonder how I’ve managed to stick my head in the sand to the point where I’ve forgotten about Christmas, I realize that it’s because nothing will live up to what was my absolute favorite Christmas.

We have a rocky history, Christmas and I.

For years, I’ve had different ways of dealing with Christmas.  Being an only child, and living in an area where I have very little extended family, family Christmases were always pretty boring.  The idea of visiting my extended family on the east coast didn’t sound like a terrible idea to me, but was annually vetoed by the parents who didn’t want to travel and pack all kinds of crap just to be immersed in what might have been their own traumatic family memories.  As my mother was the youngest of 11, and my father was the oldest of 8, I can’t say I blamed them.

So, we stayed home.  Our Christmas dinner was held in the same room, at the same table where I ate dinner nightly and there were no additional guests that made it feel especially festive.  We had a tree every year, but even as we decorated, I dreaded the chore of having to take the tree down on New Years’ Day — because my mother would have crumbled with shame had we left our tree up even one more day into the New Year.

We didn’t have the Norman Rockwell Christmas (or even the trashy Kardashian Christmas), where the whole family gathers in their PJs and gazes in merriment at the gifts below the impeccably decorated tree.  First of all, there was only one of me.  There was nobody to gaze at.  Second, I was lucky if my mother wrapped my gifts half the time — not that I really cared.  I could count on getting a major item that was on my “Santa” list (unless my personal team of Santas determined that my request was ludicrous and was therefore deliberately absent from my gift selection.  I once asked for a baby sister, and not only was there not a baby under the tree, that entire topic was never introduced.  I later thanked them for their prevailing common sense [and ultimate decision that they couldn't run the risk of having another like me]).

Then there’s my father’s odd collection of gifts.  Love my dad, but he’s a horrific gift giver, and he’ll wrap anything and put it under the tree.  To add insult to injury, he hermetically seals whatever he wraps in as much Scotch tape as they sell at Walgreen’s, which means that you’re fighting for your life to reveal what will undoubtedly be something that you don’t want.  We had to have a talk when I struggled to unwrap an oddly shaped gift that ended up being a giant candy cane stick.  Really, dad?  (As proof that you live and learn, he’s taken to giving me checks instead.  A tradition that he should have started years ago.)

At some point we began going to the more exciting homes of others to celebrate Christmas (because anything was more exciting than staring at my parents).  This was all good — or at least a welcome departure from the holiday doldrums —  until I realized that I never really enjoyed other peoples’ food, nor did I enjoy downloading the entire previous year to the relative strangers with whom I shared the holiday table.

At some point — well into adulthood —  I decided that Christmas would be MY day.  The first year I ordered thai food and watched marathons of Trading Spaces.  My parents were somewhat jealous (because even the worst Pad Kee Mao is better than dry turkey).  I was thrilled.  I felt like I was stealing time from the world, and I added elements each year.  Some years I went to matinees, and other years I chose to be somewhat social and visit friends for a handful of hours.  Was I lonely?  Hell no!

As an aside, only children tend to be one of two ways.  Either we have to be around people all of the time because we grew up solo and lacked a feeling of belonging.  OR we can be alone all day and not really notice until it occurs to us that we haven’t spoken to anyone all day.  It will surprise you to learn that I’m the latter.  

When I began dating the BF, he made me participate in Christmas.  He has a larger family, and they tend to make more of a big deal of these things.  He insisted that I go with him to his sister’s house on Christmas Eve the first year that we were together — even though we’d been dating mere weeks at the time.  His sister-in-law asked if we were exclusive, and I had no idea what to say other than “Ummm . . .did you ask HIM that question?  What did he say?”  (She and I are great friends now and laugh about this in retrospect)

I’ve been slowly trying to acclimate him to my version of Christmas, and he beats me over the head with his.  I’m gradually pulling him over to the dark side (even though he’s kicking and screaming to keep some semblance of Christmas tradition).

But by far, the best Christmas in either of our memories was our Jamaican vacation.  Eleven blissful days of sun and seclusion at an adults-only resort which included a Christmas morning of spa visits and  a phenomenal private lobster dinner on the beach.  Does it get better?  (In case you’re pondering, the answer is a resounding NO, it doesn’t.  Say what you like about family tradition, but seriously?  Nothing gets you excited about the birth of baby Jesus quite like eating freshly caught lobster tail while waves crash mere feet from your table.)  While everyone else was fighting the snow, we were laid out on the beach.  While other people were bundling themselves up in preparation of braving the cold and dealing with their most irritating relatives, we were swimming with dolphins.  Granted it wasn’t perfect.  The BF had a cold for the first few days (and managed to forget to pack socks and underwear) and I got stung by a jellyfish, but I’d do it again. (And before you ask, NO, he didn’t pee on me)  Seriously . . . if you’ve never traveled to a warm destination for Christmas?  Treat yourself!

I wish I were treating myself this year.

This will be our 5th Christmas together, and I’m still mourning our 3rd Christmas.  Last year wasn’t so bad because we were planning an extended trip to Miami in January.  But THIS year?  I haven’t done a lick of shopping (except for things that I’ve bought myself), and having had two colds already this season, I’m not overly anxious to be in social settings where people are breathing in my face and wanting to shake my hand.

So, now I’m at the point where I almost wish we hadn’t taken that vacation, because everything else will pale in comparison.

Or perhaps I need to start planning our vacation for next year.  If I’m going to stick my head in the sand, it might as well be REAL sand!

Oct 18, 2013 - Technology    No Comments

A Surprising Source of Entertainment

I hate sweeping, but I also hate dirty floors.  A few weeks ago, I broke down and bought a Roomba.  I’d previously received a cheaper model of robotic vacuum as a gift several years earlier, but it didn’t have cool features, like the ability to schedule cleanings or the programming to return itself to its charger.

So of course I got the one that has the remote control just because it has a remote control . . . not because I NEED a vacuum with a remote, or that I will ever use that feature.  I’m gadgety, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Roombas aren’t cheap (especially those with remote controls), but with one of the fabulous Bed Bath and Beyond coupons, I was able to get a generous 20% discount.

Roomba has an online registration where it asks consumer to name their vacuum cleaners.  Not sure why, but I had no choice but to go with it.  My lack of creativity at the time caused me to name it Zumba.

I programmed Zumba to dance its little way around the first floor each night at 7:30 (if I’m being honest, I thought I was programming it to run at 7:30 am.  Clearly there was a user error).

I have been entertained by Zumba since the moment it took its first sweep.  I haven’t been this amused since having cats.

The first time, I was amazed at how long it ran, and how much dust it picked up.  I moved it upstairs for a few days, and couldn’t find it after the second sweep.  My assumption was that there was so much dust and junk on the floor that Zumba rolled out the door in protest.  I finally found it wedged under the dresser.

I’ve since found Zumba stuck in various places, and it has a penchant for closing itself in the powder room.  It rolls in, and then closes the door behind itself.

We got in late last night, and I parked in the garage while the BF parked in front of the house.  When I approached the back door, I was wondering why he hadn’t unlocked the door because he had a head start.  I walked in and found him staring at the floor, perplexed.  There were white tufts all over the floor outside of the powder room and the door was closed.

The BF was a little freaked out, and didn’t know what happened.  I knew immediately.  This had Zumba written all over it.

When I opened the door, I saw what Zumba had been up to . . .


So, my forensic skills told me that the toilet paper, which once occupied the stand in the top right corner of the picture, somehow got sucked up by Zumba (which had already locked itself in the powder room) and was pulverized.  I had my work cut out for me, and it took about an hour to clean up the mess and unclog the toilet paper from Zumba’s rollers.

At this point, I’m wondering whether the time I’m spending rescuing Zumba couldn’t be better reallocated if I just decided to get off of my lazy ass and sweep.

Nah . . .






Oct 5, 2013 - Mi familia    2 Comments

The Move Aftermath — Because Some of You Were Interested


When we left off back in July, I was toiling over my father’s pending move to his new beautiful condo that happens to be across the street from moi.  I was preparing for the worst, believing that I would be the person who would have to organize and pack him, and that at the end of the day, it would have been much less strenuous (and far more cathartic) to load the basement of his old residence with C4 and blow it up.

I have to report that with all of my worrying and stress, my father is all moved in now.  And to be honest, the process wasn’t anything like my expectations.

It was WORSE!

His first moving day was scheduled for August 15th.  I have to admit that I stuck my head in the sand up until the week before the actual move date.  And then I got panicky.  I sent the movers over to my dad’s house for an estimate, and somehow, despite the fact that I’d previously informed the movers that they would be packing AND moving, somehow the packing piece was omitted from the estimate.    BUT my father assured me that he had been organizing and “getting things together.”

Serendipitously, the BF had a gig not far from my father’s old house on the eve of the move.  I was due to attend the gig, but we had a little spat when I dropped him off, so I decided to hijack his van and instead visit my dad’s house and see how the packing was coming along.

It wasn’t.

In fact it looked as though he wasn’t moving in the next 24 years, let alone the next 24 hours.  He was out when I dropped by, so I drove the BF’s van to Home Depot and loaded up on boxes and tape.  I returned to my father’s house and moved through it like a white tornado (or black tornado, as it were), packing everything I could in the most sensible way possible and trying to create some semblance of order in preparation for the movers.

My father returned home in the midst of my packing project, just in time to receive a few harsh words from me, given that I hate nothing more than packing and moving.  I told him that if he’d been honest with me, we could have systematically gotten this done over the last month or so.  Then I felt bad, because there’s really only so much that I can expect of an 80+ year old man who is clearly overwhelmed by his belongings (even if most of them should have been taken directly to the alley).

Potentially long story shortened, the movers arrived and moved everything that I was able to pack that day.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  I had to return several more times to conclude the packing and dumping of the rest of the stuff in preparation for the NEXT moving day (which fell on my birthday).  I also had to facilitate the work of the painters, who were scheduled to come in right after Labor Day to spiff up the place for the next sucker, I mean owner.  :-)

The trouble now is that he needs more furniture, as he decided to get rid of his living room furniture.  And the furniture that he wants?  MINE!  So, guess who gets to go shopping for new furniture so that my father will have a place to relax?

I swear, a daughter’s work is never done.


Oct 4, 2013 - Rants    2 Comments

Pedestrians Have Lost Their Damned Minds


When I was little, I was taught to look both ways before crossing the street, and take safety into my own hands.  I’m not sure if people are teaching their kids the same thing these days, because they seem to have no concern if they’re in the middle of street and a car is coming straight at them.

In fact, I think pedestrians in general need a little bit of tutelage in Chicago.

The biggest mistake we could have made was putting crosswalks all over the city.  They confuse people, and have made dumb people think that if there are white lines on the street in any formation, they constitute a crosswalk and cars must yield.

There is a big difference between a crosswalk — where traffic must stop to accommodate pedestrians — and a crossing area — where one walks when no traffic is present, or when traffic is halted by a stoplight, because vehicles are not required to stop for pedestrians when the light is green.  There is a LEGAL difference, people.  Figure it out!

I do my part to avoid killing people, but really?  If I’m driving the speed limit (generally 35+.  Okay . . .or more) and a stupid person decides (against all logic) to cross the street right in front of my car because there is a single white line drawn perpendicular to the passageway, I can only predict the perilous outcome of that situation.

Pedestrians take for granted that cars will actually stop.  In some cases, this is a BIG mistake.  If a speeding car is coming directly toward the crosswalk it would be best to make sure that the driver actually SEES the crosswalk, before you can go sashaying your stupid ass out in the middle of the street.

I love the pedestrians who glare at the driver with much attitude, to indicate that they have the right of way and will occasionally scream in the direction of the car.  Usually something about a lawsuit.  Apparently so that their heirs can benefit from their idiotic relative that refused to move out of the way of a speeding vehicle.

Here’s the thing.  Yes, pedestrians have the right of way.  Of course they do.  However, common sense and the right of way are a better combination.  There are hierarchies on the road, like it or not.  And the hierarchies are based on the ability to harm.  The onus is on you to get out of harms way, because you can’t speak to the attentiveness of the person operating those vehicles, and you, the unprotected pedestrian have the most to lose.

The road food chain is as follows:

1.  Trucks.  Sure, trucks should use their mirrors at all times because they’re generally behemoth road hazards that can’t possibly have a handle on their surroundings, but when I’m driving near them, I make sure to stay out of their blind spots — and stay away from them in general.  Whether or not they should be looking out for me, it’s the smart thing to do.  If I don’t think a truck driver can see me, I make sure that I’m out of striking range.  Because I will be crushed like a tiny bug!

2.  Utility vehicles.  If you don’t know better than to stay away from people who rent U-Hauls and generally aren’t trained to drive them?  You’re in your own way.

3.  SUVs.  They’re bigger than me.  Case closed.

4.  Cars.  They weigh more than two tons.  On foot or on two wheels, I’m no match for one of them.  I guess the recourse is that you could sue one of them, but I’d much rather be able to walk and breathe.  I’m actually more wary of the Zip Cars or Go Cars, because their operators aren’t regular drivers, and in some cases have been some of the worst drivers I’ve ever seen in my life.  I avoid them like the plague.  Also?  If you see a Zip Car in Chinatown?  Go nowhere near that vehicle.

5.  Motorcycles.  The driver is unprotected, but they have weight and speed.  When out of control, they can access areas that cars can’t.  I’m always looking out for them.

6.  Bicycles.  Bike riders are some of the biggest road menaces, and so many bikers are downright hostile about their rights to bike — yet few of them follow the rules of the road.  I think that many of them have determined that emulating bike messengers is the way to go.  Not so much.  This city has spent millions of dollars creating bike lanes, and in some cases giving them their own stop lights.  Yet, there are they, some of them . . . floating around in drivers’ blind spots like little gnats . . . running lights . . . dodging in and out of traffic.   I’ve also seen bizarro accidents where bikers hit pedestrians.  Those accidents never end well.  Just be mindful.

7.  Anything else on wheels.  This includes scooters, skateboarders, rollerbladers, etc.  One bump in the road, and these people could hit anything in their path.  At a pretty good speed.  And most of them have no insurance, so a lawsuit is futile.

8.  And finally . . . the pedestrian.

See how that works?  Be careful out there.  You are the only person you can trust with your personal safety.

Jul 25, 2013 - Mi familia    No Comments

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

My dad has been wanting to move for several years, but especially since my mom left us in 2008.

At first, he thought it would be a great idea to move to the suburbs.  I vetoed that idea.  When my mom was sick, I spent far too much time traversing the city to get to their house, and they only lived 15 minutes away.  I needed him closer to me, because none of us are getting any younger.  Even though he’s the most active octogenarian I know, we should still err on the side of caution.

Then, he thought maybe a fixer upper.   I had to laugh at that prospect.  Here’s a man who starts off changing a light bulb and ends up needing an electrician.

I had to take matters into my own hands. (Something that’s coming back to bite me square in the ass.)

So . . . a year ago, I located a fantastic condo and it’s right across the street from my house.  Even better that I know this building very well.  I watched its construction back in 2006, at the top of the market.  I know the couple that owned it, and felt sad when they moved to TX, and sadder still when I heard the remote news that they were divorcing.  It was bittersweet that they were underwater on the mortgage, as were most people who built/bought at the top of the market, because that perfect storm created the opportunity for us to snap it up at a great deal and significant discount from the original asking price.

It’s a pretty large space — 3 bed, 3 bath duplex — obviously more than he needs, but I would rather he have the space and not need it over needing it and not having it.

We put in the offer in April of 2011.  We waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I made a few hostile calls to the seller’s broker, who kept blaming it on the bank.  I was convinced that good old Bank of America was stringing us along, hoping that we would rescind our offer which had been accepted by the seller, but was still significantly below the asking price.

FINALLY, 10 months later, we received word that we would be closing on the condo in a hurry.  They waited so long that we were trying to beat the clock before the property went up for judicial auction — which nobody wants.

Where we sit now is that we own the unit, and my father is preparing to move.

What have I done?

First, my father has at least two dumpsters full of shit that needs to be thrown away.  And who is going to execute that nasty task?  Not the 86 year old (who thinks he can lift furniture). Nope.  That job falls into my hands.

And who is going to organize the place?  Not the man who was yelled at for years by my mother to pick up his socks.  Not the man who has a penchant for collecting newspapers from the past month.  Nope.  Again . . . my job!

And WHO is responsible for all of his moving administration, such as the vetting and hiring of movers, change of address cards, switching the utilities, etc.?  Him?  NOPE!  Once again . . . all me, all the time.

He moves on August 15th.  I wonder if we can sell the place back before then.

She Got Game

I started this post as a column, and then I never finished it.  It didn’t make the cut . . .

I didn’t think of myself as a person with a lot of Game in the dating world until years ago, when a friend approached me about the potential for being in his documentary, aptly titled “Game,” that would feature men and women in Chicago who were known for their sixth senses in dating.  I couldn’t resist, so I participated in a roundtable conversation with several people – mostly men – who had great grasp of the opposite sex and tactics to reach their end goals.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), the documentary never went farther than an initial conversation, but it got me thinking about Game.  What IS Game, exactly?  And is it a good thing?  Or is having Game another way of saying that you’re a dating menace?

Even after attending and participating vividly in the discussion, I was still leery about my level of Game.

The first issue was that men didn’t find me to be so attractive.  For most of my adult life and formative dating years, I’ve been a dating columnist. The irony is that nothing turns men off faster than the possibility of being analyzed and exposed in front of a large audience.  My entire package usually wasn’t appealing enough to take the risk.  There were very nice men who wouldn’t have touched me if they were paid large sums to do so.   And then there were the doozies who wanted to date me just so that they could be featured in the column.  Those were men to be avoided.

Second, I wasn’t necessarily a “boyfriend person.”  I knew serial monogamists who seemed to easily move from man to man.  Not me.  I’ve always had a vibrant social life and lots of fun friends, which enabled me to effortlessly go long stretches of time in between serious relationships.  There were many men that I was attracted to, so I dated the ones who weren’t scared off to indulge myself, stay current and to generate content for the column, but I was all about having a good time – which didn’t include waiting for a man to call.

Also?  I knew women with what I perceived to be Game. Those were the women who were showered with gifts and financial rewards for their efforts.  I was certainly not in that camp – and I began to think that if I really had game?  I had taken a wrong turn somewhere.

I couldn’t figure it out, so I decided to ask another male friend if he thought I had Game.  He pondered, and then told me that I have Game in the sense that I’m analytical and aloof.  I recognized Game, didn’t fall for Game, and didn’t seem to care if anyone was running Game because my emotions were beyond reach.

His theory didn’t make sense initially, but I eventually saw his point and determined that Game – or the manipulation of another’s behavior to suit your purposes – is born from a place of apathy.  If you’re running game on someone, you simply don’t care much about them.  Likewise if someone’s running game on you, you need to be aware of their intentions.

Somehow, it made me feel better that I wasn’t someone who had game, as much as I was a person who can deflect game.  I think.








Jul 23, 2013 - Home Improvement, Neighbors    4 Comments

Catching up

I feel like I could write four posts … if not more.  It isn’t that I’m not encouraged to blog, or that  I don’t have things to blog about.  Social media has evolved in a way that our soundbytes are smaller, and the things we say are shorter and less meaningful. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy “getting it done” in 140 characters or less, but the nuances aren’t there.  There are so many people who I follow on Twitter. Some of them are perfect for the character limitation, while there are others that leave me wanting more — at least a paragraph of information and witticism.  So, here we are.

The summer is going reasonably well.  My fitness plan has gone completely awry.  I took on a new project and have had no time to maintain a steady workout schedule, let alone ensure that I have healthy food.  Sad.  Very said.

In other news, I had a deck built — a deck that I’ve yet to truly enjoy because of the infernal temperatures that we’ve experienced lately.  I was forced to build the deck because my back porch was threatening to secede due to years of neglect.  With me on it.  I entered the project kicking and screaming (largely because of associated costs), but I have to admit that I like it.  I haven’t spent a lot of time outside because I had been neglecting the backyard.  Significantly.  To the point where weeds on the periphery became trees.  Not kidding.  One had grown so tall that it was mistaken for a tree.  I hired my esteemed contractor to cut down said tree-like weeds without the knowledge that someone might have grown attached to it.

While the deck was being constructed, I left the contractor to his business and went on a shopping trip to the Container Store — which is one of my favorite places to spend money.  So many possibilities for an organized home!

While perusing shelf organizers, the contractor called.  Apparently my neighbor was upset about the demise of the “tree” that grew between our properties, but technically on my side.  The trouble was that I didn’t know this neighbor.  Had never seen her before. She lives in the rental building next door and had moved in two weeks earlier.  Apparently she had grown attached to the growth, which she surmised was a Mulberry Tree.  Also, she was upset because she chose that unit because it covered the back bedroom window and her 7-year-old liked the tree because it attracted birds.  He handed her the phone so that she could make me feel like Mr. T., and I could explain my reasoning for cutting down foliage that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.  She said “I could understand pruning the tree, but I don’t understand cutting it down completely.”  To which I responded, “I’m sorry, WHO are you, again?”

My first inclination was to explain a few things to this new neighbor:

  1. The tree is NOT a tree, first and foremost.  You are not a botanist by any stretch of the imagination, because 1) a mulberry bush does not even remotely resemble the monstrosity that was removed, and 2) if you were, you would understand that the “berries” that grew on this tree were born of pure evil, and were on the verge of releasing their seed into my flower garden and creating offspring.
  2. You are RENTING, which means that you can move in a year, without consequence, while I’m left to deal with the possibility of jungle creatures setting up residences in my yard.  Not gonna happen.  Aside from the fact that this weedy tree originates from my side of the property line.  If your landlord isn’t upset, you don’t have a leg to stand on.
  3. If you were stupid enough to choose a unit because of an alleged tree, I don’t know how to help you.
  4. They’re called BLINDS.  Invest.
  5. This conversation is moot because the weedy tree?  Was already laying on the ground.  Done.

My second inclination was to be a little nicer while explaining everything I described in the first inclination — although my contractor was betting on the first, to the point where I disappointed him a tad.  We left the conversation in a friendly capacity and she bought curtains.  Crisis averted.

Fun stuff, yes?

More later . . .like maybe in a few minutes.

Jun 8, 2013 - Rants, Uncategorized    3 Comments

Why Being A Celebrity is Overrated



I have a few famous friends. I don’t think of them that way for the most part, but I’m reminded of their fame from time to time, like when we’re in public and they’re recognized, or when I read news items about them.  It’s a little weird, to be honest.

Most people are envious of celebrities, and I used to be.  What’s not to love, right?  There’s the money, the fame, the fact that your art is being shared with the world, the notoriety. The list goes on.  However, there are a lot of byproducts that I wouldn’t love about being a celebrity:

1.  The scrutiny.  People are mean, and now that there’s so many avenues for people to express their opinions publicly, it’s hard to avoid the negative comments.  No matter how good you try to be, there are always going to be people who don’t like you . . . just because.  When I was writing for RedEye, a few of my columns weren’t reacted to favorably, and the negative comments flew.  When the Six Brown Chicks were on “Iyanla Fix My Life,” the message boards were hot.  Some of the comments were complimentary, while others were mean assessments of how we looked and who had the worst personality (I’m most often vilified for being one who didn’t cry.  Whatevs)  I didn’t like those tiny tastes of it, and I can’t imagine being a celebrity and having that potential bad press every day.  No thanks.

2.  The lack of privacy.  Just because people are good actors, singers, athletes, it doesn’t give everyone the right to delve into their private lives.  Yet everyone does. Celebrity prying seems to be a multi-million dollar business.

3.  Having to be “on” whenever in public.  Whether a celebrity is at the gas station, in the drug store, or having a family dinner, there is the expectation that this person should cheerfully accept questions and intrusions from weird fans who would like to interrupt them to take pictures.   This is where a celebrity with a personality like mine would fail miserably.  I have nice moments, and I have bitchy moments.  I’m in my own head most of the time, and I don’t think I’d react kindly to someone approaching me for a snapshot while I’m buying tampons — even if their comments are complimentary.  And then we’re back at point #1, where the (interloping) fan (who feels shunned) then writes things on blogs about how their encounter wasn’t positive, and that said celebrity is a bitch.

4.  The inability to make anonymous mistakes.  When you’re a regular person, your mistakes are your mistakes.  Your drunken misconduct, bad haircuts or poor relationship choices are not a matter of public record or concern (unless that drunken misconduct turns into a DUI, in which case it IS a matter of public record).  Your friends might remember, but the incidents won’t be forever logged in blogs or on a search engine.  Celebrity mistakes are blasted all over the tabloids.  Although I’m not a fan, I feel badly for poor Taylor Swift, whose teenage relationships are ruthlessly dissected.  People .  . . do you know WHY she makes bad choices?  Because she’s a frickin’ teenager, for Chrissakes! She’s not supposed to have long-lasting relationships at 19 — or 20, 21, 22 or 23.  She’s supposed to have meaningless flings and quasi-relationships with men that she’ll look back on and regret when she’s 30 — like the rest of us do!  So, I’d say she’s right on track.  The difference is that she can write hit songs about them.  Which is actually the only part of being a celebrity that might be enviable.

5.  The body image issue.  Most people fluctuate in and out of shape.  Personally, there are moments when I’m really good, and stretches where I succumb to the pizza cravings and look like the before shot in a lipo ad.  But, really?  The person who cares the most is me.  And I like it that way.  But to take a vacation on a remote island and have the stalkerazzi take a secret bathing suit shot when I’m in pizza shape and blast it all over People as one of the World’s Worst Bikini  Bodies?  Would be a harrowing experience, and one that I might never recover from.  Granted, I’m known to say that it’s a celebrity’s job to look good, but really?  They’re human beings.  Cut them some slack.

6.  The expectation that the celebrity life is perfect and stress free.  To quote the Notorious B.I.G., “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”   I think the celebrity life is highly stressful.  Let’s examine . . .  say a woman — we’ll call her Bella La Diva — has a breakout hit movie.  She’s on the cover of Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair — all of the reputable periodicals.  She can bask in the fame for a little while, but really?  The pressure is on.  She needs to be worrying about the next thing.  Can she sustain her fame or was she a one-hit-wonder?  Will the public continue to adore her?  Or will she be unable to get work for a while afterward?  Well  . . . if we run the numbers, she might in a bit of trouble.  The first contract is never the best, so she’s certain to have made WAY less money than everyone thinks she has.  With her first check, she probably made an ostentatious expenditure, like a Ferrari or a Cribs-worthy house.  She must pay her “people,” her taxes, and maintain a lifestyle commensurate with public expectation.  Her friends and family have outstretched hands, because she’s a celebrity who obviously has millions of dollars sitting around to fund her trifling cousin’s latest wacky scheme, or take her friends to over-the-top dinners and spas.  But what if she can’t afford that lifestyle?  What if her career flounders and she really needs a job — any job — but she can’t take just any job because people will then ask if she “used to be” Bella La Diva?  These are the things that pill addictions are born of.

7.  Being a child celebrity.  There are no good stories about child celebrities.  Period.

So there we go.  If anyone has anything to add or rebut, please do comment.  I’m not a celebrity, so I’m sure this blog will go without much scrutiny.  :-)

Rant over.  Thanks for reading!

May 26, 2013 - Baby Steps to Fitness    3 Comments

Restarting the Challenge

If you read my last few posts, you’ll know that I had a false start on my fitness challenge.  Well … it’s time to start it up again.

I have a few catalysts.  First, I refuse to fail.  Second, I caught a glimpse of myself on TV the other day and thought “who’s that fat chick,” before I realized that the fat chick was me!

So, back I am on my mission to dump this 13 pounds.  We’re back in the game on Tuesday!

I’m planning to set myself up for success this time.   I will take the stellar advice of Dre and Stephanie (see comments from two posts ago), and prepare my food prior to the restart.  I will set my workout schedule.  I will have less of a love affair with wine.

Baby steps . . .

May 24, 2013 - Rants    2 Comments

Credit Card Theft — RANT!

Someone got a hold of my debit card number.  I’m not quite sure how, but this diabolical small-time criminal has been trying to nickle and dime the living shit out of my account, and I’ve been catching them at every turn.  I’m a relentless activity checker.

But here’s the thing.  I can’t be upset with criminals for doing what they do.  For whatever reason, they’re despicable miscreants whose lives took a wrong turn and instead of applying their creativity toward being productive members of society, they would prefer to steal from hardworking tax-payers.  I can’t stop them; I can only protect against them.  Which is why I use reputable banking institutions.   Or at least that’s what I thought I was using.

Although fraud alerts are mildly irritating and occasionally inconvenient, I felt somewhat protected and happy to know that someone is looking out for my financial well-being.

When I traveled to Miami earlier this year and all of my cards were declined at CVS, including my ATM card (despite the fact that I input my actual PIN number), I was slightly annoyed.

Okay, if I’m being honest, I was HIGHLY annoyed and told the customer service agent who was from another country that leaving their customers high and dry with absolutely no resources is not only irresponsible, it’s dangerous.  When she suggested that I inform them when I decided to travel, I retorted that my financial institution works for ME — not the other way around — and I shouldn’t have to report my whereabouts to a bank, especially not when my charges are authentic, and can be verified with a quick phone call.

At the end, I conceded, and have made a point of telling the bank when I’m planning to be in another city so that I won’t get declined while trying to buy mundane things, like water and q-tips (or important things, like rounds of cocktails).  I decided to cooperate for my alleged safety.

With all of the concessions that I’ve made to help the bank help me, I’m shocked and amazed at what this moronic card-stealing mofo has been able to accomplish with my card.

While doing my daily perusal of charges, I noticed a strange charge from  I’ve never ordered anything from there — especially not anything that costs $77.81.  A few lines later, I saw a reversal of that same charge, so I assumed that it was a mistake that had been rectified.

That was probably a good assumption until I received a UPS notice that I had missed a package.

Now . . . if you know me, you will know that I’m a chronic shopper with a penchant for online shopping. Especially late at night.  While sipping a glass of wine.  Yep, no earthly good can come of it.  That said, it’s not uncommon that packages arrive and I can’t truly recall what I’ve purchased and when.

Because I missed the package, I had to go to the UPS distribution center.  If you’ve never been there, consider yourself lucky.  It’s a hell-hole.  Trust me . . . you’d rather have a pap smear.  Even if you’re a man.  Nobody is happy to be there, which counts doubly for the workers who unenthusiastically search for your packages, wearing brown polyester, in a warehouse the size of a small country, moving slower than a corpse in the beaming sun.  If ever there was a place that needed a DJ and a full bar, it’s the UPS distribution center.

I waited 1/2 hour for the package (while listening to the woman next to me on her cell phone, having a loud conversation about how she busted her man cheating).  The only saving grace was my hope that the package could have contained a cute dress.  Maybe even two!  Nope.  It was a huge jug of berry-flavored protein powder from  WTF?  Berry?  (I would have been less upset had it been chocolate.)

So, not only does the card thief have terrible taste in supplements, but he somehow had his booty sent to my address.

I called to straighten it out, and the good people at promptly removed the charge and sent a return label for the berry delight.

A few days later, I noticed another erroneous charge.  This time from  Really?  So not only does this idjit mainline protein powder, but he’s buffing up to improve his appearance so that when he trolls religious dating sites, he’ll be attractive enough to either fleece some unsuspecting zealot, or get some good God-fearing ass.  Either way . . . not on my dime!  I called the good Christian minglers who reversed the charge and deactivated the account — although I couldn’t coerce them to give me the name of the hypocritical child of God who set up the account.  (In retrospect, this was a good thing, because I would have hunted him down and done unholy things to him.)

I had a choice to make.  I could have changed my debit card number.  But I didn’t want to do that, because I have so many automatic payments that it would have turned my life upside down with having to change that number with so many institutions.  My better option was to reset alerts.  If there was a charge over $20, I would receive a text message so that I could catch it immediately.

All was quiet for about two weeks, although the bank did send me two fraud alert texts because they were concerned about a $26 purchase at Jewel (where I go every week), and a $29 purchase at LA Fitness (which is a recurring monthly purchase for my dad’s health club account).

I was hoping that the criminal would have grown tired of getting declined and moved on to the next theft.  Not so much.

One morning, I received an alert about a charge from AutoZone to the tune of $135. I called the bank immediately.   The conversation went something like this:

Gina:  I’d like to report a fraudulent charge on my account.

Customer Service Agent:  Okay, I have your account.  Can you tell me which charge?

G: Yes, the Autozone charge that occurred roughly 10 minutes ago.

CSA:  I see that.  And you didn’t make that charge?

G:  No, I didn’t. I’m sitting at home in my office.  Can I asked where that charge originated?

CSA:  In Orlando, Florida.

G:  So, let me get this straight . . . every time I travel, I have to tell you where I’m going or else my card gets declined.  Is that right?

CSA:  Um . . . yes ma’am.

G:  Okay . . . so what you’re telling me is that while I have to check in with you to use my own card, a criminal can easily get away with charging something on my account in an entirely different state.  Aside from the fact that I haven’t been to Orlando this year, and haven’t informed you that I planned to return to the state of Florida.  Right?

CSA:  Um . . . right

G:  Also?  I need to understand your algorithms

CSA:  I’m sorry?

G:  I need to know how you determine what might be a fraudulent charge.  Because so far you’ve frantically contacted me for small charges that I make at places that I frequent, yet you think it’s a stellar idea to approve obviously criminalistic charges from places that I’ve never been, in categories that I don’t have a history of visiting . . . such as Christian dating sites and body building sites?  Does that make sense to you?

CSA:  Well . . . no . . . I see your point, but . . . would you like to change your card number?

G:  And the only way to rectify this, in your mind, is for me to completely inconvenience myself by changing my card numbers, which turns my entire accounting system completely catawampus?

CSA:  Excuse me?

G:  Topsy turvy?  Oh, never mind.  It’s a mess!

CSA:  Well, ma’am, it’s the only solution that will completely eliminate the problem.

G:  While I realize that, I can’t help thinking that a fine financial institution like yourselves, with whom I have several accounts, would extend themselves to assist me.    By the way?  Can you please reverse that Autozone charge?

CSA:  Sorry ma’am.  You’re going to have to call them yourself once the charge changes from pending to actual.

G:  So, you can’t even call on my behalf?  What exactly do you guys do besides hold on to my money?

CSA: Umm

G:  Never mind.  Just please change my account number.  If you have to cut it off now, can you at least express the card to me?

CSA:  For a fee.


Sometimes I think it would be better to keep my money in the floorboards.

As it stands now, I have a new card number that I haven’t yet memorized, and I’m starting to get emergency alerts from creditors that my card is no longer valid.  If I receive an alert from, I’m going to lose it.

Thanks for listening!