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“Screw you….I have enough friends.” March 17, 2011

Filed under: How to be a Sarcastabitch — sarcastabitch @ 12:53 pm
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Or:  “How To Be a Sarcastabitch:  Lesson 1”

I cannot remember where or when I first heard this expression, but it would not surprise me if I heard it from my dad.  Having one side of your family hail from the South, you end up with quite a few of these kind of sayings in your repertoire.   For instance, if you say something that shocks or surprises one of my cousins, you may hear him respond with the phrase, “Well, f*ck me up the butt and call me Shirley!”  Politically correct they are not – a lot of fun at parties, though?  You betcher britches. 

I have adopted this particular quote as something of a life philosophy (the “I have enough friends” one, not the “Shirley” one) and that is why I chose it for Lesson 1 in the “How To Be A Sarcastabitch” series.  It may sound negative, but taken in proper context, it is about having healthy boundaries, keeping poisonous people at arm’s length, and finding your inner Towanda.

Have you ever known, in your innermost core, that someone was “after” your partner?  That given the chance, they would cover you in honey and push your ass off a cliff into a lake of red ants to take your place?  What happens when you share these feelings with said partner?  If they are enjoying the attention, or if they truly try to see the best in all people, you probably got a response along the lines of, “He/She is just a really good friend!  He/She is so nice, if you would just get to know him/her.  I would really love it if you and he/she could be friends.  How about if we have a barbecue and invite him/her so you can get to know him/her and be besties and play video games/go shopping together?”  Repeat.  After.  Me.  “Screw you.  I have enough friends.”

You know that woman you meet, usually at work, who suddenly wants to be your bestie, and you slowly (or quickly) realize that this is because they are a giant sucking hole of need and have exhausted all of their other friends and need new ones?  You know, the woman that is always in crisis with her boyfriend/husband/married lover and who is always sick and/or injured and needs you to bring her food/take her shift/keep her company because no one else is sucker enough for the job?  Say it with me now, loud and strong:  “Screw you.  I have enough friends.”

If you are divorced, you may have particular use for this phrase.  For instance, your ex-spouse may develop a habit of taking actions that infuriate you and that they KNOW will infuriate you – no really!  this actually happens, I assure you – and as a follow up to those actions, as you fume, they may say something in the area of “I thought we were going to be amicable”, or “We need to be friendly, for the children.”  Or, their new partner, anxious to grab the crown labeled “Princess of Nice” so that you take the remaining tiara labeled “The Bitchy One That Won’t Be Nice Back” will make attempts to buddy up to you in order to give you all that great advice on how to raise your kids.  In both of these situations, and their opposite sex equivalents, a little “I have enough friends” goes a long way toward your overall feelings of confidence and toward building the Wall of Boundaries (Keep out, effers!) around your Sacred Space of Serenity.  The “screw you” part is not to be left out, however, as that is the Towanda part.

I hope you’re still reading because there is one caveat.  “Screw you, I have enough friends” is just as effective SILENTLY.  Listen, it’s all about you, ok?  Sarcastabitches are not out to save the other guy.  Sarcastabitches are realists, not martyrs.  And as such, the Sarcastabitch lessons are meant to give YOU a sense of “I’m okay, and you can be less than okay if you want but that’s not so much my problem.”  So as you’re listening to the glowing review of the personality traits of someone you can’t stomach, or having your boundaries pushed upon by someone you wish you’d never had the misfortune to share a bed with, or being scolded by someone whose intelligence is rivaled by most toddlers for setting and keeping said boundaries, just say it really loudly in your head.  Trust me on this one, I’m your friend.  But you have enough of those anyway.

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Mid-Life Crisis the Sarcastabitch Way March 9, 2011

I think I’m having a midlife crisis.

On February 8, 2010, I got off a plane from a vacation, drove straight to my office where I was a VP of Programs for one of the big name non-profit agencies, put my keys under the computer’s keyboard, wrote a one-sentence letter of resignation effective immediately, and walked out.  I had no savings, no back-up plan, and three kids to feed.  It was also the right decision and frankly they’re lucky I didn’t sign my resignation letter in machine gun fire.   

I quit on Monday afternoon and by Tuesday I had two part-time jobs.  I first called the ex-wife of an ex-boyfriend, Nicky (who I affectionately refer to, and she to me, as “Double X” as in the ex’s ex).  She and her new husband owned a cleaning company and I begged her to give me some work and bless her heart she did, at $10 an hour.  I then called the tutoring company I’d formerly managed and asked for tutoring work and they were able to give me 10 hours a week if I was also willing to clean the center since budget cuts had eliminated their ability to pay a cleaning company, and I jumped at it.  That gig paid $12 an hour.  A couple of weeks later I picked up a third part-time job making $8 an hour helping out at the sunglasses booth at the flea market.  Of course I was looking for a “real” job all this time, too, but this was early 2010 as some of you may recall was a “bit of a tough time” (a.k.a. a national crisis) in the job hunting area.  For the next four months, I worked seven days a week between these three jobs.  I also cleaned a lot of toilets.  A LOT OF TOILETS.

I learned so much during this time about myself.  First, I learned that physical labor was invigorating and thoroughly enjoyable if not exactly a path to riches.  Second, I learned that when desperately poor there are things I can live without (fast food, cable, new clothes, name brand soda) and things I cannot live without (International Delights creamer, mainly.  And an occasional Mocha Joe from Burger King).

After this four month period I moved back to my home state with my children  and into the home of Mr. B, with whom I had been having a long distance relationship for a year.  We decided that I should not take anything full-time to save the cost of child care and help our kids through the huge transitions taking place.  When I couldn’t find something that fit that bill fairly quickly, I went back to the methods I’d used before – I called the local tutoring franchise who were thrilled to have me part-time, albeit at a fairly low hourly rate.  Then, I called Nicky and she helped me through starting my very own cleaning company.

Shortly afterward, I found myself with an amazing job offer to work 20 hours a week from home for a local non-profit.  However, working all three of these jobs, I make approximately half of what I did at my peak in non-profit – and as you may have guessed, I’m working about 40 hours a week.  I’m still available to the kids, but I’m working a little bit while they have breakfast, a little bit at play rehearsal, and a regular “I just need to answer a couple e-mails” after dinner.

And Mr. B and I have had several “Hi, I’m Life, I’m going to smack your ass around” financial moments this past year.  And we need more money berries than are currently on our money berry tree.

I know that the non-profit I work for would pay me more if I can do the fundraising work to give them the budget to do so.  Thing is, I’ll need to work more than my 20 hours a week, (read this, “donate my already nonexistent time”) to get it there.  I also know that the cleaning business I started has the potential to be a $40k plus income for me if I could give it the time – the local Land Bank has even offered me the post-renovation and new construction clean-up contract if I just pay for the $1700 in workman’s comp and liability insurance they require.  The tutoring company owners have recently taken me to a Saturday morning breakfast feeling me out about my interest in a full-time director’s position there as well.

Now, I know you may be saying, “Quit whining – you want us to feel sorry for you for having too much opportunity?!”

Well, yeah, kinda.  I mean, I made all these opportunities happen because I am ridiculously driven and hell bent on being over-extended and overwhelmed, at least I’m sure that’s what my therapist would say if I could afford one.  But I don’t know which one to pick.

Mr. B, who is the most supportive and wonderful man on the planet (and bad-ass breadwinner, p.s.) told me this weekend that by fall he wants me to pick one and give it my all and let the other two fall away.  I think that’s pretty generous, and makes sense because his youngest child goes to kindergarten then.  I think, for flexibility’s sake, that the tutoring center is my third choice.  But between the non-profit work and owning my own cleaning business, I am very torn.

And I feel like, since that fateful day last year when I walked out of executive life and its 60 hour weeks and big paychecks and oh, you know, HEALTH INSURANCE…that I’ve been in survival mode, not “thinking of myself as an executive” mode.

I think I’ll go read Dr. Suess’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” again and see if it lends any new insights.  Oh, and Jen Lancaster’s “Bitter is the New Black”.   But what would YOU do?

 

Choosing My Religion (apologies to R.E.M.) March 2, 2011

Filed under: Recovery & Spirituality — sarcastabitch @ 1:18 pm
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It is a random Wednesday morning at 7:30 and I have answered two hotline calls for Alcoholics Anonymous today.  This is the one bit of “volunteer work” I still do now that I work three jobs.  I have been sober for nearly 9 years thanks to God and AA and I owe these people – those that came before me, and those that will come after me.  And so I answer the phone when it rings, or at least, as often as possible.  There are six of us in the rotation so if I let it roll by me I know someone should pick up.

One of the calls I took today was from a senior citizen who is still trying to find her way.  I could tell she needed to talk a little bit beyond her initial question of where she could attend her first ever AA meeting, so we chatted.  I told her a couple of funny stories from when I decided to get sober, to try and make her feel “part of” and see the ways we are alike, she and I.  I told her about running into an old friend from high school who was five years sober when I was still a drunk.  He’d suggested AA to me and I, being a “die hard atheist” at the time, said, “Forget it.  I can’t do the God thing.”  He said to me, “Do you believe that fifty people in a room who have the same problems and issues as you are more powerful than you all by yourself?”  I had to say that yes, I guessed that would be true.  He said, “That is a totally acceptable higher power.”   The caller asked, “Are you still a die hard atheist?” And I said, “Oh, no.  God and I are tight today.”  And we are.  But that’s not what this post is about.  It’s about Tom Petty.

You see, by the time I was a couple of months sober I really wanted a Higher Power.  I was looking around at the people who had more than a year dry and they all had one, so I figured I should too.  I started trying with dead people.  I tried talking to my stepfather, my grandmother, and my ex-boyfriend, all deceased, and maybe they just didn’t have time for me or something but I didn’t feel anything coming back.  I tried talking to God a few times, taking the AA advice of “fake it til you make it”, figuring if I just talked long enough I’d hear something.  About two years sober, I was still trying, and my marriage was falling apart.  The only alone time I ever had in those days was in the car, so that was when I continued my attempts to talk to God.  Someone in a meeting had said that when they talk to God, they talk to him like He is a person.  Well, I was upset with God at the time.  I wanted answers about my marraige and I need His HELP!  So my “little chats” with God were more like angry, out loud rants that went something like this…

“WHAT exactly is it that You want me to DO?  Am I supposed to LEAVE?  Am I supposed to STAY?  I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!” 

During these rants, I would silence the radio.  I mean, I wanted God to hear me, naturally.  When I was done hollering and pleading, I would, of course, turn the radio back on.  Now this didn’t happen just once – it was nearly a daily occurence.  And one week, it went down like this.  Monday – pray/rant, turn radio back on, and it’s playing Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels”.  Wednesday – pray/rant, turn radio back on, and it’s playing Tom Petty’s “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”.  Friday – pray/rant, turn radio back on, and it’s playing Tom Petty’s “Don’t Have To Live Like A Refugee.”  THAT DID IT!  “That’s right, Tom Petty!  I don’t!  I DON’T have to live like a refugee!”

Later, I called my best friend Jenn and explained the situation.  She said, “Ok, I think I get it.  Tom Petty is God?”

“Pshhh.  No!  I believe that Tom Petty is a conduit to God.”

“Ah, ok.  I get it now.”  (She’s awesome like that – in the “not thinking I’m crazy” department.)  Years later, she went on a road trip with another girlfriend of ours and Tom Petty kept coming on the radio.  They called me to make sure I was okay.   

I declared my new religion Pettyism.  Isn’t that a great name for a religion?  It sounds like people who worship being upset for no good reason.  I would totally fit in there.

I don’t truly believe that Tom Petty is a conduit for God.  I do believe that you will find what you seek if you keep seeking, and that there are baby steps along the way to the end goal, and you just have to be where you are.  If the closest you can get to faith in a given moment in your life is believing in the Power Of Petty, that’s just fine for that moment.  Nothing worth having – not even faith – comes easy. 

However, Tom?  If you’re willing to lead a church, I’ll help you get it going.  Amen.

 

Cheesecake, Jammies, and Tiaras: The Oscar Way February 28, 2011

Filed under: Parenting & Children — sarcastabitch @ 1:21 pm
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My best friend, Jenn, has, for years, hosted Oscar Night at her abode.  Her home is one of my favorite places to be, with its comforting smells (a combination of patchouli, men, and meat) sounds (admittedly, often blaring 80s heavy metal music courtesy of her husband, which I love) and sights (her beautiful paintings on the purple – yes purple! – walls).  But our Oscar Night is even more magnificent than a typical night at House Of Jenn, because there is gluttony involved.  During the Academy Awards you can safely bet that we will be feasting on heaping plates of Jenn’s famous stuffed mushroom caps, chips and homemade salsa, raspberry cheesecake (from SCRATCH, babies!), and any number of other goodies.  I have actually fasted the day of the Oscars to ensure I had room to properly gorge myself that evening.  One Oscar Night I arrived with an invention I was very proud of – chocolate layer cake with hot fudge, cool whip, and maraschino cherries between the layers.  But our hostess has recently been diagnosed diabetic  (it wasn’t my cake.  I SWEAR.)  so this year, just the cheesecake. 

Just being in this home is enough pleasure for me.  Being surrounded by Jenn’s now grown children (one of whom proposed to me when he was 5 and insisted last night that we’re still on) generates a feeling of family I cannot possibly explain.  Add to this naughty, fattening foods and inappropriate commentary…(During the Eclipse autotunes parody, when the lyric rang out “She’s so glad he doesn’t own a shirt”, Christy yelled “And so am I!”) and really, it’s bliss, isn’t it?  But wait, there’s more.  There’s a tiara.

During preshow, all Oscar Night guests are given ballots and pens and take their places in the living room.  (Do not take the Jenn chair.  Do not.  She WILL remove you physically if you make her.  She takes her Oscars VERY seriously, ok?)  For each category, we are allowed to vote one “W” for “will win” and one S for “should win” (you may use both on the same nominee).  A “W” is worth 2 points and an “S” is 1 point.  There are 24 categories, so the absolute maximum in points someone could theoretically receive is 72.  Here’s the thing – Jenn. Always. Wins.  Mainly, this is because she begins researching her votes before the nominees are even announced, watches all the “smaller” awards shows to follow the trends, and reads ALL of the critics.  I told you, she takes this VERY seriously.  The winner (aka Jenn) waits a full 365 days to receive the prize – at the following year’s Oscar festivities, said winner will don the Oscar tiara and everyone else must wait upon the princess hand and foot, making sure at all times that her royal beverage, food, and pillow needs are properly, and promptly, attended to.  Once, about five years ago, I won – by one point.  I insisted on approximately twenty photos the following year to document my brief moment in the sun.

I must also mention that with the exception of the males who LIVE in Jenn’s house, this party has always been “no boys allowed”, and absolutely, without question, requires commitment to the dress code (pajamas).  If you show up at this party in blue jeans, you SHALL be asked to leave.  If we take pity on you and let you stay, you’re getting last dibs on cheesecake.

I scored 26 points last night to Jenn’s 47 (we’ll be serving her gloating, tiaraed behind pizza dip refills AGAIN next year) but last night, it wasn’t about the tiara.  (Oh who am I kidding.  If there’s a tiara involved, it’s at least a little bit about the tiara.)  Last night, I took my daughter to Oscar Night for the first time.  She is almost 12, about the same age her older sister was the first time I took her.  This rite of passage is a major milestone.  It involves staying up very late on a Sunday night – leaving Jenn’s about 1am, with almost an hour drive home.  It also involves “hanging with the big girls” and being part of our friendship rituals instead of observing them.  It’s a big deal.  My little girl’s first Oscar Night was everything I’d hoped it would be.  She scored 24 points – but more importantly, after the first four categories she was ahead of Jenn by one point!  She made at least three snarky comments about celebrities that elicited out-loud laughing from the crowd.  And most impressive, she coined the term “Cheerio” for a score of zero (since we usually write our points scored next to each category on our ballot, and circle it, a zero score with a circle around it…you coming with me, here?) and I think the Cheerio reference will now be a part of our regular tradition.

I guess that’s what I’m saying here, folks.  It’s about traditions.  Good girlfriends are a good thing – good girlfriends you’ve had for 15 years are an amazing thing.  Having a night like Oscar Night – a fun thing.  Looking forward to it every year for weeks, and having it become one of the major events in the growing up process of your girls?  A beautiful thing.

I have to go wake up my daughter now – hopefully, she isn’t too exhausted, and hopefully, like me, she is still basking in the glow of golden statues.

 

Hello, it’s you. I mean, me. February 26, 2011

Filed under: Working for a Living — sarcastabitch @ 1:24 pm
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I am not an organized person.  I am, however, fairly good at appearing organized.  If you have never been inside my car, for instance, you would never know that at this moment it contains such items as a ream of paper, a mop and bucket, and a box kit containing the materials to make mosaic tile coasters.  As you might imagine, each of these items has an intended home other than my vehicle.  However, if you have a hot beverage I can make you a paper cup to hold it in, give you a coaster to set it on, and/or clean it up if you spill it.  So color me prepared!

If, like me, you were not born with the gene that produces color coded closets, carefully labeled file folders containing bills and important papers, or a system for getting your voicemails and emails responded to in a reasonable time period, you probably have some sort of method for compensating for your lack thereof.  I have several.  One, and possibly the most effective, is to leave myself voicemails.  I have these moments – most of them occur while driving – when something I was supposed to do suddenly dawns on me with a gasp and a hand to forehead.  In these moments, I grab for my cellphone (is it in my coat pocket?  No.  In my purse?  Negative.  Ah, there it is on the dashboard…) and leave myself a message on my work phone.  It’s always a little bit awkward to begin these messages.  “Hello, it’s you.  I mean, me.  Um….” Inevitably, there is then a long pause while I try to remember what I just remembered.  Why I feel the need to say “Um” or “hold on” to fill the silence while I think, I do not know.  “Oh yeah, buy tampons.”  I smile, satisfied.  Good work.

My messages take a more exasperated tone when I’ve forgotten yet again.  Fast forward to the next evening on the drive home.  “It’s me again.  You forgot to buy tampons.  Do it on your lunch break or by Friday you are going to be running around looking for a bathroom that has a machine.” 

And even more so the next day.  “HEY DOUCHEBAG!  BUY.  TAMPONS.”

Now, the major drawback to this method is this:  I generally listen to my voicemail on speaker phone.  Listen, I am almost never on time to work.  So I tend to multitask first thing in the morning, in order to feel like I’ve caught up to the brown-nosers who arrive at 8am.  The reason no one gives me a hard time for lateness is that I am three times as productive as the others in my office most days.  But at 8:20am, you will generally find me playing my messages on speaker while also hanging up my coat, pulling out yesterday’s to-do list, and scanning my email inbox.  I keep my office door closed until this process is completed, so it’s never been an issue.  Until…

My boss, Mark, enters my office at 8:25am one Thursday morning.  I bet you can guess what Thursday morning.  He is one of those bosses that radiates impatience at all times.  So he is doing his best to appear to wait patiently (fail) for the few seconds it’s taking me to cross my tiny office and hang up on my voicemail.  In those few seconds, here is what is playing…

BEEP!  “Hi, it’s Angela in accounting, I have a question about your expense report.  Please call me back as soon as possible, at extension 5879.  Thanks!” BEEP!

BEEP!  “Hey it’s Jack, just wondering if Bob has gotten back to you about who he’s sending on the Indiana trip.  Give me a call.”  BEEP!

It is about here that I realize what’s coming up next.  I am now attempting the superpower of flying – you never know until you try – but it is simply too late.

BEEP!  “HEY DOUCHEBAG!…”  And then I died of embarrassment.  The end.