4

The Spender of ALL the Money

I am the spender of all the money.

All the money.

Not “all” as in, “oh there is just SO much of it dahling I’m simply exhausted just thinking about it. Someone fetch me a Perrier…”

No.

“All” as in “….aaaaand there goes this week’s paycheck. Sorry electric bill, you didn’t make the cut. Better luck next week.”

It’s kind of like Brewster’s Millions, but on a much smaller scale. I spend the money and have nothing to show for it. I swear that at least once a month I’m sure that my bank account has been hacked and all the money has been stolen by some criminal in a land far, far away (who for sure is disappointed that, after all his hard work targeting me, and stalking me, and figuring out my tricky username/password combo, has only stumbled upon enough money to buy him a week’s worth of groceries. As long as he uses coupons.) I’m seriously genuinely shocked that all the money has been legally withdrawn by none other than moi. And that all purchases are legit (if you consider daily coffee a legit purchase, which, fortunately, I do.)

It’s completely insane how much everything costs. There is baseball, and soccer to sign up for. Gymnastics and dance. New cleats for growing feet. Baseball gloves for growing hands. Recital costumes. New tights because the old ones have a hole in them. Field trips that I didn’t realize were coming up. Bills that I DID know were coming up. SO much food from the grocery store (because these kids insist on eating 3 squares a day), not to mention the money that I have to put in their school lunch accounts. And all the freaking snacks. And the wine (that’s for me, not them.) The amount of money that pours out of our bank account is ridiculous. But what is my option? Extreme couponing? Somehow I don’t think that having a garage full of laundry detergent and stool softener is going to help us very much.

My husband is as baffled and horrified as I am (and with good reason since the poor man works his tail off!) Sometimes he looks at me suspiciously (while I sip a hefty pour of two-buck chuck) as if he thinks I’m somehow embezzling money from the family fortune. I often point to my eyebrows, (unprofessionally waxed by my own unsteady hand) as “proof” that I’m not spending money foolishly and needlessly (although whether or not my eyebrows “need” a professional waxing is up for debate…) I say loudly, and indignantly, “Look at my eyebrows! Go on, take a gooood long look. Not a pretty sight, is it?! Don’t you think that if I were living a personal lavish lifestyle while the rest of you eat no-name brand cereal for breakfast I would at LEAST get my eyebrows waxed by a licensed and qualified person?! Do you think I like walking around like Bert? Do ya? Do ya? Huh? Huh?!” He doesn’t, by the way. He doesn’t think I like walking around like Bert.

I try to convince us both that we aren’t the only ones who are like, “what the heck?!” as we try to balance our checkbook. That we aren’t the only ones who feel like we are one bad week away from living in a cardboard box on the corner. But, truthfully, everyone else seems to be so totally fine and in total financial control of their lives. I’m afraid that if I asked someone if they are horrified at the cost of living they would look at me all wide-eyed and say something stupid like, “well, we have enough money saved in our high yield bank account to last us about 3 years, should we ever decide to leave our jobs and travel the world for a short time.” And then I would be forced to pull out all the moves that I’ve learned from watching Beverly Hills Ninja and stealthily attack them while yelling random crazy things about how WE have enough money stashed in the cabinet to last us three days, as long as we don’t leave the house.

Luckily (depending on how you look at it) I am unfazed by this crazy, where-the-hell-does-all-the-money-go, absurdly expensive life. I live with one foot in the land of “la-la-la, I can’t hear you…” and the other foot in the land of “everything will work out fine.” Kind of like, eh, whatever, it will all work out the way it’s supposed to. It’ll be fine. This state of mind has worked well for me so far. I’m sort of half way between reality and denial…maybe leaning a little bit closer to denial. Like, I’m not actually IN denial…but I can see it from here. That sort of mind-set. And THAT is something that money CAN’T buy.

 

2

I Hate that I Hate Christmas

I hate Christmas.

Please don’t tell anyone. I mean, what kind of person hates Christmas? A person whose heart is two sizes too small, that’s who. The thing is, my heart ISN’T two sizes too small, but I hate it anyways. And I hate that I hate it.

I don’t hate the actual day though. Not at all! December 25th is an awesome and fun (and kind of tiring and hectic but mostly awesome and fun) day! And the day after is even better because I usually just stay in my pajamas all day and not clean or do anything productive at all.

It’s just the weeks leading up to the big day that I hate. It’s supposed to be a magical time, but it’s not. It’s supposed to be joyous, but it’s not. It’s supposed to be filled with good cheer, but it is NOT. It is a non-magical, non-joyous, no good-cheer shit show. And. I. Hate. It.

I hate it every year. Which makes it weird that my hate takes me by surprise every year. Although, in a way it makes sense because the season DOES starts out quite stellar. Buuuuut, then it goes downhill at a remarkably pace.

October: Life is good in October. There are Halloween costumes to think about, and parties to attend, and free candy to collect from the neighbors, and Fireball Jell-O shots to pass out to everyone. And its smack dab in the middle of football season! October is the best month ever. Ever. What is better than October? Nothing. Except, perhaps, the beginning of November.

Early November: I’m usually on a 24 hr sugar high during the first two weeks of November. Some of the radio stations are playing Christmas music (“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” …squeal!! I LOVE that song!) I spot at least one car per day that is decked out like a reindeer and I LOVE it! Even though I’m eating candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and at least one snack in between) my pants haven’t gotten tight yet. It’s like a Christmas miracle. I LOVE it! During this timeframe, I start spending a lot of time trying to remember all the great gift ideas that I had for my kids during the previous 10 months. There are some real doozies. Some pretty, pretty good ideas. That I can’t remember. Probably should’ve written some of those great ideas down. Not to worry, I’m sure it will come to me. I have a good energy during this phase. A good aura. I’m starting to be optimistic about the magic of the season.

Day before Thanksgiving: Shit. Shit. I can’t find where I hid the elf. Where in the name of all that is holy did I store that freaking stupid freakazoid elf when I put all the damn Christmas stuff away last year? Where. Is. He?!  Things are starting to get hectic as Thanksgiving Day approaches. My pants are tight. The candy is gone. Not even an O’Henry is left. Nothing. NOTHING. I can’t remember one damn present that I knew my kids would love, so I’m starting from scratch. Most of my free time is spent helping my kids spell things to add to their enormous Christmas lists. (How do you spell American Girl Doll? “A” What does an “A” look like? Up, down with a line connecting it. What does an “M” look like? Up down up down. Down up down up? No, that is a “W”. Up down up down is an “M”. Like, for real.)

Thanksgiving Day: There is so much food and so much pie that I’m lulled into thinking that the magic that is in the air might actually last all through the next couple of weeks. At some point during the meal I half-heartedly ask my sister if she wants to meet me at 4:00 in the morning to get a cup of coffee and watch people as they do some Black Friday shopping. She declines. I decide I might go myself. I’m planning to really get into the season this year. Really enjoy it. Really feel the meaning of it in my heart.

December 1: This sucks. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” is starting to sound like a threat. At least once per day I’m subjected to BandAid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” And even though I know it is mean, I change the channel every time it comes on. I can’t handle the guilt. That’s it! I refuse to listen to any more Christmas music. I’m feeling very grinch-like. I have to stop Christmas from coming, but how?! Crud, maybe my heart IS two sizes too small… who knew.

December 2-24**: Did I mention that I hate shopping? Well, I do. Which is most unfortunate given the fact that the meat and potatoes of this holiday has become all about shopping. So, I guess this is kind of where the whole thing falls apart for me. I’m buying WAY too much, and yet, somehow, I’ve barely even scratched the surface. The buying is constant. It. Never. Ends. There are gifts to buy for the Christmas grab, and gifts to buy for the Yankee Swap, and gifts to buy for the mailman, and the bus driver, and coaches, and all the kids’ teachers, and every single person in-between. So many gifts. So much money. I am in a constant state of stress. Bordering on panic.

These 22 days of torture pass by at warp speed…which sounds good, but really only serves to create a really condensed, really potent blend of stress hormones that course through my body daily.

This isn’t fun. This is the opposite of fun.

**It is around this time, every year, that I think perhaps I should run away from home, head to Pennsylvania Deutsch country, and hope to be adopted by a nice Amish family. The Amish people don’t shop ‘til they drop. Nope. I’m pretty sure they just whittle a few things for their kids for Christmas Day and that is it. And their kids are all, “Denki, Mamm.” Done. They don’t whittle things for everyone they’ve ever crossed paths with. Everyone else most likely gets a warm hug, a Goedemorgen” and a “have a wunderbar day.” Sooo loving and relaxing and stress-free.

December 25: Aaaaaaand, just like that it is all over in about 10 minutes. I feel mysteriously sad.

December 26: What the heck?! There are no more Christmas songs on ANY of the radio channels? Just like THAT it is all over? *sigh* I should have enjoyed it more. I should have slowed down. Why didn’t I take the time to embrace it? Why?! I already can’t remember what I hated about it. It all seems quite lovely and full of potential joy, when I look at it in hindsight.

December 27: eh, fuck it. I’ll try to do it differently next year. Next year I’ll enjoy it. Next year will be different. Next year. As for this year? I’m just glad that shit show is OVER!

Hallich Nei Yaahr! (That is Happy New Year in my new native Amish tongue)