Thursday, October 31, 2013
My husband asked me to take him shopping the other day. Believe it or not, that never happens. We shop differently. He goes to the hardware store and comes out empty-handed. I go to the mall and buy everything. But this time, he wanted me to come along because he wanted my opinion -- another first.
"I need makeup," he said, as we headed out the door.
Oookay. What could he possibly need makeup for? To cover up the scratches in the kitchen table? Don't they have something at the hardware store for that?
"And I need it to match my skin tone," he continued.
Then it dawned on me. We'd recently been invited to a Halloween party and he was planning his costume. At least, I hoped that was it.
I haven't been to a Halloween party since I was young and thin enough to fit into a French maid costume. There's no way I can wear any of those sexy outfits as a middle-aged woman. First of all, they wouldn't fit around my middle-aged fat. And secondly, no one wants to see my sun-spotted skin, thunder thighs and beer/wine/coffee gut protruding out from that skimpy material. There will be no more Naughty Nurse, Bawdy Barmaid or Pretty Princess costumes for me. Now, if you want a hospital custodian, drunken old sot or weight-challenged witch, call me.
"So what are you planning to wear to this Halloween party?" I asked, worried he might be thinking of going as a Naughty Nurse, Bawdy Barmaid or Pretty Princess.
"A Meth Dealer." That made complete sense. We've been so caught up in marathon viewings of "Breaking Bad," it seems like Walter White and Jesse Pinkman are part of the family. As for the meth part, we're not sure what that is exactly. Probably some kind of metaphor for life.
"I've got the baldhead cap," my husband said, "but I need it to blend into my skin so it looks real."
"I see," I said. "As for the rest of the costume, you're not planning to go in your tighty whiteys like Walter White, are you? Because there's no way I'm going out in public with you in your underwear."
"Fine," he said, channeling his character. "I'll wear pants."
"So," I said, "if you're going to be Mr. White, the chemistry-teacher-turned meth-cook, do you want me to go as his beautiful wife?"
"I was thinking you'd be Jesse Pinkman, Walter White's assistant." What? He expected me to wear baggy, low-slung jeans with my boxers showing, a T-shirt that says, "Yo, Witch!" (edited for the family newspaper), an oversized hoodie and a knitted stocking cap? Works for me. Hopefully no one will recognize me.
Tom is totally into this costume. In fact, he plans to "cook" his own blue crystal candy (he got the recipe on The Food Network site.) I just hope there are no DEA agents there, or we may have to call Saul to bail us out of jail.
Oh well. It's only for a few hours, right? Then we can go home, eat a bunch of leftover Halloween candy and watch the last episode of the best TV show ever: "Breaking Bad."
Friday, October 18, 2013
Want to see something really scary?
I love scary movies. When October rolls around, I turn on the Chiller, SyFy and FX channels and record every movie that offers a thrill.
It doesn't matter what kind of scary movie -- teen slashers at haunted camps, mutant bugs the size of Godzilla, creepy clowns that come to life when no one else is looking, marine mammals that turn into tornadoes. I even like the old black-and-white classics when Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman at Dracula's Castle (with or without Abbot and Costello.)
As a kid, I was scared of everything. The dark. Boogeymen. Spiders. Even the Tooth Fairy gave me the creeps, sneaking into my room in the middle of the night. How did she know where I lived? How did she know I'd lost a tooth? How much did she know about my hidden treasures?
Back then I never watched scary movies. When I was in fifth grade, all my friends at the slumber party had seen "The Blob" -- that scary movie in which Steve McQueen and his teen pals stumble upon a gooey sticky substance that begins devouring everyone in sight. I got nightmares just looking at the movie poster.
When I was in high school, I took my little brother to see "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The House of Usher," but I spent most of the time in the well-lit lobby, pretending to buy popcorn. I was probably the last one to see "The Exorcist," terrified I'd find myself possessed by the devil.
So now I'm catching up on everything I missed. My TiVo is filled with zombies (undead, walkers, breathers, brain-eaters), ghosts (spirits, phantoms, apparitions), witches (pagans, wiccans, warlocks), spiritualists (voodoo queens, tarot readers, fortunetellers) and other paranormal activities. I'm looking forward to watching things that come out of the swamps and chase you, things that swoop down from the sky and pick you up and things that hide under the bed and grab your feet. I'll be eating them up like popcorn.
But as fearless as I've become over the years, there's one thing that scares me more than any of these so-called scary movies. Something scarier than any sharknado-crocsaurus-chupacabra-mutant beast combined: floating around in space.
Alone. Untethered. And running out of air.
Yep, I just saw "Gravity," the Sandra Bullock/George Clooney movie. In high-resolution Imax (10 times larger!), 3-D (be a part of the experience!), with digitally remastered sound (feel the vibrations in your bones!) Big mistake.
I haven't been to a movie like this since Ben-Hur came out in Technicolor. Not only did I hold my breath the entire 90 minutes of the film (like Sandra Bullock's character, who didn't even find someone to buddy-breathe with), but I was so tense trying to help Sandra grab onto the side of the space station, I had a knot in my neck the size of a lunar module. That movie scared the spacesuit off me.
Now I'm back to watching plain old horror movies on my plain old flat-screen TV.
Today's lineup: "Halloween," "Halloween II: The Sequel, Duh," "Halloween III: The Return of Michael Myers," "Halloween IV: The Revenge of Jamie Lee Curtis," "Halloween V: The Curse of Freddy Kruger," "Halloween VI: The Resurrection of John Carpenter's Career," and "Halloween The Thirteenth: With Abbott and Costello."
I ain't afraid of no ghosts.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Check your spam for important news!
Like most computer uses, I have a built-in spam filter. Every now and then I check it to make sure I haven't missed anything important, such as a receipt for a purchase, a letter from a reader or a diagnosis from my doctor.
I hadn't done this in several months, so I took a day off from work to read through my spam and see if that check from Publisher's Clearinghouse had somehow ended up there. No such luck. But I did find lots of emails waiting for me that I thought were just as important. If I hadn't checked, I would have missed the following:
Urgent Message from Mongolia. Doesn't "spam" know that the word "urgent" means I need to see this message right away? Especially one from Mongolia. Maybe a dear friend is stuck there and has lost her luggage and passport and all her money and needs me to send her a sympathy card.
"Girl" Finder. I can't print the actual word that was used instead of "girl," but suffice it to say, I'm not looking for a date at this time. Maybe later.
Eighty percent-off Viagra. Eighty percent off! I can't pass up a deal like that, even for a product I don't really need. Now if only they had 80 percent off Breathe Right strips. My husband could use those.
Learn Your Credit Score. I'm going to pass on this one. The less I know, the better. I plan to continue using my Visa as if there is no tomorrow.
Earn Your Degree. Who wouldn't want another degree in this economic climate? I'd like to get my doctorate in massage therapy or cooking. And a degree in liberal studies would certainly come in handy.
Congratulations Dear Lucky Winner! Finally! I've never won anything in my life before this! I wonder what I won. A new car? A vacation in Hawaii? A ShamWow? Can't wait! All I have to do is send them a check to let them know I really want this.
The Very Worst Food You Can Eat! I'm not sure I want to know. I've eaten a lot of junk over the years, so it's probably too late. Especially if chocolate and cupcakes and cookies are on the list. Delete.
Luxury replica watches! No one wears a watch anymore, now that we have smart phones that tell us the time, remind us to take our meds, and wake us up in the morning. But I'd like to buy a bunch of fake Rolexes and give them as gifts to older people.
Dr. Oz Fat Buster -- Drew Barrymore lost 24 lbs. Another one from the TV doctor! I love how Dr. Oz has taken a personal interest in me with all these emails. And I could really use a Fat Buster, since I look a lot like Drew Barrymore when she was 24 pounds.
These so-called spams are just the tip of the iceberg. I have so many more to read to make my life better. Time's a-wasting, according to my new fake Rolex.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Financial Planning for Clueless Retirees
As my husband and I neared retirement, we did what smart pre-retirees do -- we saw a financial planner. Of course, we quickly learned that we should have seen that financial planner when we first opened up our joint bank account four decades ago.
The recent appointment with the financial planner went better than we expected -- at least initially. We gave him all of our receipts and whatnot, and he typed up a bunch of numbers and put them in columns. According to his calculations, we could live comfortably on what we'd rake in from our retirement accounts until at least the age of 106.
That was until my husband remembered he'd neglected to include the monthly Visa bill.
Uh-oh. For that we needed a whole new column. After the financial planner finished recalculating, he told us if we retired now, we'd have enough money to last until Halloween. Maybe Thanksgiving if we gave up food and gas.
Well, this was quite a shock, to say the least. We figured all that money we'd been pouring into various retirement accounts, including Social Security, would keep us in a life of leisure indefinitely. Now it seems we may not be able to retire until we're 106. We're currently looking at ways to cut expenses for things we probably won't need when we're sitting around the house all day, watching TV, reading the newspaper, and drinking coffee.
Like, do we really need a landline telephone when we have two cell phones? Well, yeah, because what if someone from our distant past tries to call us, like my old boyfriend from college?
We could cut down on cable, but I won't give up my channels -- Sci-Fi, FX, Chiller -- and Tom won't give up his -- sports, food, history. Besides, sometimes, when I'm surfing the 500 choices currently available, I stumble upon a show I wouldn't have found if I didn't have cable, like reruns of "The Big Bang Theory." So what would we do all day if we're retired and didn't get but four or five channels?
We could stop eating out at restaurants so often, but every time my husband buys groceries for a simple pasta dinner, he ends up spending twice as much, what with all the extras he puts in the cart, like beer, wine, ice cream, candy bars and potato chips.
We could give up annual trips to Disneyland, except the grandkids are growing up so fast and we'd hate for them to miss any of the rides.
Oh well. I guess we'll just keep on working, earning and spending like we've been doing all these years. If we run out of money, we can always move in with our kids. After all, according to Wikipedia, where I get all my important information, we spent $389,000 raising each of our two children. If they'll just pay us back, we could live comfortably pretty much FOREVER.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
The Wolf's at the Door of This Old House
I feel like Fifer and Fiddler from the Three Little Pigs. They're the ones who built their houses from straw and sticks. No wonder those homes fell down when the Wolf came huffing and puffing.
On the other hand, the neighbors flanking our tiny one-story home are more like Practical Pig. They both just gutted and remodeled their two-story homes, and while they didn't use bricks (not safe in a California Wolfquake), they essentially have brand new homes.
Meanwhile, this straw-stick house of ours is falling apart.
Just the other day, as my husband, Tom, was getting out of the shower, the glass shower door shattered into a billion pieces. Luckily it broke into rock-salt sized chunks, so he wasn't bleeding from head to toe, but it startled him -- and made a huge mess. After checking the price of a new shower door, we decided to hang a shower curtain over the gaping hole -- temporarily, I hope -- and maybe take more baths.
Then the toilet broke. Since we need a minimum of two toilets in this house, thanks to grandkids with imperfect aim, my husband ran down to the toilet store and brought back something called "The Throne" -- the equivalent of a brick toilet, I assume.
Naturally, as soon as he finished caulking the toilet base, we noticed water dripping from the roof. Tom checked it out and discovered the gutters along the roofline are rusted and cracked and about to cave in. One puff from a wolf, and the whole thing would come crashing down.
Like I said, the whole house is falling apart. It was new when we moved in, but that was 33 years ago. My husband refers to it as our "pine box." That's comforting. But unless we completely gut and remodel it, we're gonna need a better pine box.
Now I'm starting to notice all kinds of things that need repair. The front lawn could use resodding. Maybe we should invest in that fake lawn stuff. It's supposed to last forever. The house needs a new paint job. Maybe we should look into aluminum siding.
The carpets are like a scrapbook of memories -- the spot where the kids spilled their grape juice, the streaks from the permanent markers they got into, the stains where the cats threw up. Personally I'd like all hardwood floors -- easier to clean up the grape juice and markers and cat puke. But they cost more than what we originally paid for the house, and my husband isn't down with that.
I figured we'd just move into the RV when the house no longer kept us safe from the wolves at the door, but Tom had a little accident on our trip home from Calistoga last weekend and that caved in the left front end. Now it's in the shop being repaired. Estimated time: at least two months just to find the right parts.
Oh well. Now that we're nearing retirement, we'll just have to get used to not keeping up with the practical neighbors. I'll buy some straw to cover the carpet stains, cover up the old paint job with some decorative stickers and spray the cat puke with that new "Bacon" fragrance.
Meanwhile we're having our RV rebuilt from bricks, just in case.