Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Bored and the Clueless

I cannot believe the conversation I just had with my almost 16 year-old. I was folding clothes. She had just gotten back from Fruit Loop and Sugar's house (her bio dad and step-moo). I said "Hold up a minute. Come grab your clothes and take them with you, please." And that's when she responded "Oh yeah, I bought a new shirt and a new pair of pants this weekend. I sooooo needed new clothes." WTF? This is the child who has used her own money to buy a new shirt/pants/skirt/sweater/etc. the last 4-5 weeks in a row. This is the child who--just off the top of my head--has at least 10 pair of pants and over 20 shirts. And this child sooooo needed new clothes? Am I taking crazy pills? Do I live in some weird alternate form of reality? Well, I responded to her with "Uh, no--you did not need new clothes. You've bought lots of clothes lately, but it's your money--so that's fine. But you certainly didn't need them."

It sends me over the really child is one of a subset of the population that EASILY/QUICKLY becomes bored with everything. She is constantly asking me to down new music because she is so bored with what she has. She gets tired of her clothes, shoes, bags and hairstyle. As a matter of fact, she has had 6 different hairstyles in the last 9 months. I don't know if I've had 6 different hairstyles in my whole life... I understand wanting to "spice up" your life. I have no problem with people wanting to add variety to their wardrobe and heaven only knows I have no issues with someone buying a new handbag. But isn't there something to be said about having some tried and true "go to" items? Isn't there something comforting about the old standby stuff or the incredible music you've loved all your life?

Part of what is wrong with our world is our "disposable culture"...I'm tired of my perfectly functional 22 inch TV...I want a 42 inch flat screen...I've had my cell phone for an entire year...I need a new one...I've had my hairstyle for 2 months...It's so old...I need a new one. We have disposable everything. Heck, I've read about lots of rock stars that have riders in their contracts asking for brand new socks at each tour that they don't have to worry about washing their socks. They just throw away what they have on and put the new ones on. And the whole celebrity red carpet thing--you can only wear a dress 1 time and NEVER again. Who in the hell lives like that?

At some point all of the consumer insanity needs to stop. I have no idea what will stop it, but I know exactly what will--and is--happening if it doesn't stop. And's scary.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Keeping my chin up...

Do you ever feel like the Universe is working against you? At times, I do feel that way. This past week was one of those times.

First, my family has purchased some new furniture recently as all the furniture we've ever owned has been hand-me-downs--literally every piece--and much of it has been falling apart for some time. Since I turn 36 in April, I don't feel bad about the purchase. 36 years of no new furniture whatsoever is pretty good. My husband took great pains to save ALL the packaging and haul it 20 minutes away to the recycling center. I give him loads of credit for this. A year or so ago, he most likely wouldn't have done this. As he was separating the cardboard from the plastic and the styrofoam, he noticed that the plastic recycling container was missing. At the same time one of the recycling center workers was driving by in a mini-forklift and yelled "Just throw it all in the same container--we just burn that crap anyways!" This was very disheartening for my husband. He figured "Why waste my time trying to dispose of stuff responsibly if they are just going to lump it together and burn it?" Now, I know that styrofoam can't truly be recycled, but does it need to be burned? It all sounds scary to me...

Second, a few times now, the recycling truck has skipped our house and doesn't pick up our recycling for the week despite the fact that we set it out the night before so that we don't miss them. When my husband called to let the company know this happened, they said they would send someone out to pick it up--and then they CHARGED us $15! Bastards!!! They charged us for not doing their job properly and having to correct their sloppy work. Absolutely brilliant... Well, last week they forgot again, but my husband didn't want to be charged, so instead of calling he tossed everything in the trash can--because they never forget to pick up our stuff. This made me really sad (that the company would put a customer in this type of situation). He has gone out of his way to recycle--which doesn't necessarily come naturally to him--and our recycling bin was full...which leaves a person in a rather precarious situation. I told him he should call the company, let them know the error (again) and insist we NOT be charged for the pick up. He chose to toss it in the trash can--and I understand his frustration...I really do. And you know what? I should have picked it all out of the trash and called the recycling company myself--but I didn't.

I should also note--my husband is an awesome individual. He didn't just think "screw it--I don't care about the environment". He is the one who has planted the garden and composted--without me ever saying a word...completely his ideas. He loves supporting local businesses and has often been the one to haul me out of bed to go to the Farmer's Market with him.

Which leads me to my current musing: All of us have times in our lives where we will fight the good fight. We'll see it all the way through...but what happens when you feel out of your element to begin with? What happens when you're exhausted (mentally or physically) and you run up against a brick wall? We all have times where we should speak up, but we can't..mentally, physically, emotionally...we just can't...we want to, but we don't. Sometimes it's hard to "keep your chin up" when the people who are supposed to care (i.e. the recycling company) don't seem to care.

The best I can muster up right now is to mentally prepare for them to forget my recycleables next week--and to call them on it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Coming Out of Hiding...

She's ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Muaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!

Where have I been? 2 teenagers with Bipolar Disorder...need I say more?

So what pray tell could bring me out hiding? Well, while our new president has been sworn into office (a history making event indeed), and the economic stimulus package is being hotly debated...Minnesota's senatorial election isn't over yet. Did you know that? While every other states' senators are deciding what to do to help our country Minnesota has no such representation in Washington D.C. yet. This annoys me...

For those who don't know--it is down to the incumbent Norm Coleman (who unmistakably looks like Mr. Ed and has a disturbing Boston accent) and Al you aren't seeing things...I said Al Franken as in Stuart Smalley/Saturday Night Live. Now please don't misunderstand me, I harbor no ill will towards the people of Boston or their accents. I just find it hard to overcome a midwestern state having a senator with a very thick Boston accent. And while numerous crass remarks have been made about having someone from SNL become our state senator--may I remind folks that our state voted Jesse "The Body" Ventura--a professional friggin' wrestler--in as governor a few years back... One could reasonably argue that the cold has frozen our brain cells! :)

Because I don't expect you all to have been following Minnesota politics--allow me to give you a quick run down of this particular senatorial race...On election night after many (not all but many) of the votes were counted, Norm Coleman had the audacity to declare himself the winner. Now mind you--Al Franken had NOT conceded defeat. Norm just decided "What the hell, I won!" The race was so close by the end of the night/next morning (within a few hundred votes) that a mandatory recount took place--by state law. Many thought Coleman was ahead at that time. Franken maintained that he would abide by whatever the recount came up with. Coleman swore he'd fight until the bitter end--going to court if necessary. After the recount was all said and done, it turned out that Al Franken won by 225 votes. Think about that--225 votes.

In other words (and to emphasize the gravity of the situation) all the eligible voters in a 6 block radius around my house (including myself) made the difference between winning and losing a major election...225 votes. We aren't talking about a school board member or a small town mayor (not that those people aren't important, because they are)--we are talking about a state senator--someone with major political force/influence.

So Franken won, right? Well kind of...Coleman's camp filed a lawsuit and now the whole deal is in court (as promised), so Minnesota is ass-out of representation for that Senate seat for the time being. While the economy is crumbling more and more every day...while THOUSANDS of people all over the U.S. are being laid-off...while the housing market is dying and small businesses are dropping like state has an empty Senate seat and the people of Minnesota have no voice.

Well, I said in my last post (before my unexpected hiatus) that I wasn't going to go political...and I tried not too. But enough is enough--this is crazy. In my city alone, IBM just laid off 800 people last week with another 200 expected to be laid off by summertime. The Mayo Clinic made national news by discontinuing their Clinical Trials division--which directly impacted my family. And Minnesota is down a state senator?

Let's stop the madness folks. Someone needs to take this loss on the chin like a man so we can move forward. I vote Coleman off the island because of his arrogance on election night, sore loser lawsuit and striking likeness to Mr. Ed. Let's get Franken suited up and in the game.

The Duck is back--QUACK!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Can't do it...Can't go political with ya'll...

Don't get me wrong...I'll vote in the upcoming election. I hate politics...I hate politicians even more...however, I know I have a responsibility to become informed and cast my vote. I will do it...but I won't join anyone's campaign...I'll not be donating money to the whole ordeal...I won't be making witty/snarky/sarcastic/cynical comments against any political candidate(s) on this or anyone else's blog. I certainly won't be forwarding ridiculous and unfounded mass e-mails about any political candidates.

I got burned out on politics and the media during the campaign of 2000. The constant Gore won, Bush won, Gore won, Bush won flip-flopping crap pissed me off beyond comprehension. There was no call for it. If you don't know within 98% certainty who will win--shut up Mr. Media...

So as seldomly as I'm able to blog anymore...none of it will be about politics other than to say "Please vote however you believe to be right for you---but please, do vote."

What have I been up to then? Reading...Jane Eyre (forgot how good it was/is...really good) and Pride and Prejudice (still amazing how books can so far and away be better than the movies)...I've been working lots and surviving major uproars at work...and of course with it being so close to youngest is manic...right on cue. Also, we had to tear our garage down due to severe and irreparable safety we've been dealing with demolition and pouring of new concrete, etc.

Oh! And don't forget my extremely needy dogs...gosh I love those needy, wretched creatures! My Jack (Bichon Frise) has had another bout of moist dermatitis requiring a change in food, an addition of costly nutritional supplements, and the dreaded e-collar on top of having to drop him off every Saturday for the past 3 weeks at the vet so that she may administer a different vaccine each week and moniter him for any further side effects. My Finley (golden retriever/Bernese Mt dog mix) gifted us with a present last Thursday morning...we woke up to view his explosive fit of diarrhea in the kitchen... It's like friggin''ve all heard these 2 stories from me before! Anyways...on Wednesday I received some very upsetting news at/about work and was very the time I got home I was in no mood for hyper dogs or children. Both my "boys" seemed almost to sense my sadness and sat by me as good as gold as if to say "Mama--we love you...we'll be good, promise! We'll make you feel better!" And that they certainly did. me detailing these events, please don't think I'm bitching and moaning...I'm not. I'm just trying to be honest. Everything thus far--despite it's stressful nature--is turning out OK and in some cases very well. So on that note...I think I might go start another book...whatcha think Emma, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility...? I'm on a classical literature kick now...I love Jane Austen...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


While so many people in the "green blogger" world have been triumphing and sacrificing and doing without in the name of all that is environmental...I've been purchasing things...predominantly clothing/accessories...they haven't been wacky, senseless purchases, but they have still been purchases. You see, I'm struggling...unlike some--I work in a professional office environment. Currently "business casual" is acceptable attire, but they are piloting a new "business formal only" dress policy that could go office-wide/mandatory. For me, this would mean skirts, blouses, dress pants, and suit coats. We already have a strict policy requiring socks or pantyhose for women at all times. We are not allowed to wear cargo pants, capris, shorts, tank tops, flip flops or jeans. For the past 5 years I've been skimming by with the absolute bare minimum/loose interpretation of the dress code...but lately I've wanted to dress better--not more expensively--just better. I feel that for a long time I'd kind of given up on my appearance and now I'm starting to want to feel "put together" again. By no means, do I want to be all hair, nails and make-up...I just want people to take me seriously and feel good about my representing their company.

At the same time I don't want to be wasteful and a clothing whore. It's hard...I do not at all support the thought that someone should be judged by their appearance...and yet we are judging and being judged by our appearance everyday. I want people at work to ask for and value my opinion, but who wants to trust someone who is a total slob? And...following along the "dressing for success" conundrum...I've been hooked on watching What Not To Wear. I love to see the transformation of the participants and hear how the show has touched their hearts.

Well, I better head for bed now...I keep nodding off in front of my computer...I'll write more about all of this later! Ciao!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

100 Thing Challenge...Really?...OMG...Ick...

This is quite possibly "old news" to many of you...but it is new to me and has really got me thinking about it over the past couple of weeks. Check it out:

Could you live--happily--with only 100 personal items for a year...or better yet for the rest of your life? It sounds like a lot of stuff. It sounds easy to do, but when you start adding up your stuff...well, that's another story. My husband is 100% certain that he could do it...and I believe him. Actually, he has done it before. When he moved to Oregon to help out his dad 7 or 8 years ago, he slept in a tent for 6 months and had far less things than that. My husband also has stricter standards for the 100 Thing Rules than I would. He views 1 pair of shoes as 1 thing. He views each dish as 1 thing....each book is one thing (which is just sadistic)...however I bet I could trip him up when it comes to tools...or maybe not...he's pretty darn good.

My interpretation of the rules is far more liberal. I think underwear (as a group) is 1 item...not 1 item per pair. I think 5 handbags should count as 1 item...3 pairs of shoes should be 1 item...5 books should be 1 item. While I love the look of a minimalist house and I love the idea of a simplified life, I'm still too attached to my stuff. So here I am back at square one...being attached to my stuff...Miss Consumer...Miss Materialistic.

Please don't misunderstand...I'm not "being too hard on myself"...and I know I'm not alone...many people are in the same boat as I a matter of fact, I think I'm in the boat with the majority of folks... But, this also reaffirms that I need to keep re-evaluating. I need to keep revisiting this topic until I get a better handle on it. I need to keep purging stuff.

The old saying "Less is more" is absolutely's true for wearing's true for eating potato chips and it's true for owning stuff...

Looks like I've got work to do...I better get to it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Holy King Corn, Batman!!!

So while I was out on sabbatical I rented the movie, King Corn. Has anyone else seen this movie? Wowie-zowie! It was jam-packed with information that I had never thought about/knew about before. It also made me a hard-core believer in pasture-raised/fed animals for my meat and dairy product purchases. I didn't realize how much corn had infected every facet of our lives!

**Spoiler alert...The most interesting and disturbing scene in the documentary was footage shot at the University of Iowa. Researchers are studying how corn affects cattle and they actually had this huge-ass cow in some sort of containment contraption and the guy stuck his hand through a big hole in the cow's side, reached into one of the cow's stomachs and pulled out some of the rotting food! My husband and I first saw it and looked at each other and said "That wasn't really a hole into the cow's stomach...nah, that'd be insane...", so we played it back two more times. After the first replay we said "Oh my g-d! That is a friggin' hole in the cow all the way to his stomach! Oh my g-d!" After the second replay we just sat there staring, mouths wide-open, noses wrinkled and saying "Ick...ew...yucky". This movie was the first time that I heard (from respected, legitimate researchers/scientists) that when cows eat corn, they quickly develop 'subacute acidosis'--a condition that causes them severe pain to the point that they kick at their bellies, go off the feed and will even eat dirt to try and stop it. And they endure all of this so that we can purchase our milk in mass quantity for low prices at our neighborhood "Big Box" chain stores!

However, I don't want to short-change this movie...there was SO much more to it than just feeding cows corn. It sheds light on how mucked up our government subsidies for farmers are and how corn is in EVERYTHING now pretty much by design and how this all just really took hold in the last 25 years. King Corn was enlightening, well-informed, well-made and thought-provoking. If you haven't seen it requires only about 90 minutes of your life and I highly doubt you'll regret it!