Friday, April 29, 2011

The Past Adventures of Idiot Woman: Dating Disasters

Not too long ago, I wrote the post, "Can Stripping in your Car Lead to True Love?" about the night I met my now-husband Anthony at the Yule, a Christmas Banquet held by my college (California Baptist University) every year.

I met him during my sophomore year.

What I haven't told you about yet was my date for the Yule msy freshman year.

I don't quite remember how I met Isaac. I think he was in the cafeteria, eating his third serving of food.

For some reason (I guess I was feeling brave that day), we started up a conversation.

He was a good-looking guy with black curly hair and deep brown eyes.

He was very tall and masculine- probably one of those guys who started growing chest hair in the 6th grade.

Isaac was a great conversationalist. I ended up sitting at his table for his fourth serving of food and talking to him for the next hour and a half.

He talked about really interesting things, and as he talked or listened to me talk, he would stare directly into my eyes with his deep brown beautiful eyes.

There was only one problem: he was crazy.

When I look back on it now, I wonder why in the world I ever went out with this man.

He was clearly a loony bird...and I was pretty well aware of it...but for some reason this didn't dissuade me from going to the Yule with him.

Sandy's Logical Brain: "Perhaps you shouldn't go out with clinically insane people."

Sandy's Illogical Brain: "He's really interesting...and cute! And he seems to like me."

Sandy's Logical Brain: "He seems very hungry. And the pupils in his eyes seem really, really dilated. Aren't those signs of drug use?"

Sandy's Illogical Brain: "Don't be so suspicious. Can he help it if he needs to eat a lot...and has big, beautiful eyes?"

Sandy's Logical brain: "All your roommates say not to go out with him. They are pretty smart people."

Sandy's Illogical Brain: "La la La la La...."

To his credit, Isaac never tried to hide his nature from me.

In fact, he told me, "Yeah, I used to be schizophrenic. I was even admitted to a mental hospital for a while and then they released me and put me on a bunch of drugs to control the schizophrenia.

But then after I got out, I went to a Tony Robbins Conference. That guy was great. He healed me! So I quit the medication after that, and I've been doing fine ever since."

Sandy's Logical Brain: "Red Alert! Red Alert! Danger, Danger, Crazy guy alert! Get out while you still can!

Sandy's Illogical Brain: "Wow, what an interesting story. This guy is fascinating. Let me stare into his eyes for a little longer."

A few days later, when Isaac called me up and asked me to the Yule, my illogical brain was still the one in control and I said yes.

My sister was going with a boy named Richard. That is a story in and of itself. But I digress.

Carolyn and Richard and Isaac and I all headed down to the ticket office to sign up for our tickets.

Richard paid for he and Carolyn's ticket.

When it came time for Isaac to buy our tickets, the lady at the window said, "That'll be $60.00 please."

Isaac looked at me and said, "I need $30.00 from you."

There was silence in the office for a very long moment. Carolyn and Richard froze. The other couples waiting in line froze. I felt my face turning an unattractive red color.

"Of..of course." I said as-if-that-were-the-plan-all-along. "Here it is." I heard the other people around me start to breathe and move again. Only Carolyn still looked perplexed.

I felt as if I had been slapped.

I wouldn't have had a problem paying for my own ticket...if Isaac had told me ahead of time! Thankfully, my logical brain had strongly suggested I go to the ATM that morning.

Isaac told me he'd call me later with the details and disappeared. I now had a ticket to the Yule to go on a date with a crazy boy who never even informed me I was paying my own way.

I could have still gotten out. The Finance Office would have given me my money back.

But I was determined not to miss the Yule my freshmen year...and I still wanted to give Isaac a chance. He had those eyes, remember?

Plus...I just didn't have the guts to make the phone call to break things off with him.

In my next installment...I will tell you about the date itself.

What about you...have you ever gone out with a crazy person when you really should have known better?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Trailer Life: Anthony versus the Poop Monster

In the life of a trailer dweller, few phrases inspire more fear than the utterance, "the toilet tank is full."

With those words comes blame and recrimination.

"Did you put enough water down the tank, Sandy?"

"I always put enough water down the tank, Anthony - maybe you didn't!"

And after a few more rounds of the blame cycle, my husband will volunteer, like a true hero.

"Fine. I'll deal with it."

"Oh, good! I'll cheer you on. From inside."

For any of you non-trailer dwellers, you lucky people with toilets that actually flush, let me explain how the toilet tank works. Basically, our trailer bathroom sits on top of a 20-gallon septic tank. When you use the toilet, you push a lever with your foot which opens a hole directly into the tank and sends all the bodily fluids and solids and a lot of water down into it.

Theoretically, the bacteria and the water in the tank will break down the solids and they will move out of the trailer into the pipes and eventually out into a real septic tank, where the poop can never be seen or heard from again. Theoretically.

What actually happens sometimes is that a poop mountain will begin to form directly beneath the toilet, refusing to be broken down, growing bigger and bigger, until the smell enters our living area and lets us know that there is something terribly, terribly wrong. We have to deal with this immediately, lest the poop mountain develop sentience and take over.

This is when Anthony will bring out the septic tank turner, a bent lightning rod attached to a drill motor, which we affectionately refer to as the "poop stirrer." He will insert the poop stirrer into a special hole on the side of the trailer and turn it on, which will fling all the fluids and solids against the walls at lightning fast speeds.

From inside the trailer, I flush as much water down it as it can hold, and shout inspiring cheers at my hero.

"You stir that poop, baby! You can do it!"

"Poop mountain, go away! Go to your home!"

The contents of the septic tank empty out into the pipes and so disaster is averted yet again. Until the next time the toilet tank gets full.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"You Want us to Live Where?"

My husband Anthony and I had just come back from a visit to his parent's place. They have about 15 acres of land. It is a nice property with one small residence, an above ground pool, an orchard, a large vegetable garden, a grape arbor, a flower garden, and rocks and weeds. A lot of rocks and weeds. It was my husband's dream that someday...when his parents built a larger home on the property, then we would move into their small residence (which was originally only meant to be a garage but they ended up living in it for 30 years) and eventually build our larger home on the property. At that point, the garage/house would actually be used as a garage.

Anthony and I had only been married for two years. We lived in a 2-bedroom rental a few miles away from his parents. Rent was cheap, and the house was hideous outside, but inside we'd created quite a comfortable little home for ourselves. A home where I felt safe and happy. Anthony often discussed the "move-up-there-and-build-our-own-house" plan, but it always seemed to be far, far away in the future like some kind of imagination game that we would play together. It was supposed to happen sometime after my in-laws built their house, which didn't exactly seem imminent since they hadn't finalized blueprints or broken ground in 30 years. So as a young bride I felt pretty secure knowing that we would not be moving from our cozy home anytime soon.

But then Anthony said something chilling.

"Sandy, I had an interesting talk with my father tonight."

"Oh?" I responded cheerily, unaware that my future was about to be irreparably changed.

"He said that he doesn't think he'll ever build their house."

"Oh... hmm...that's too bad," I said.

"So he told me that when we're ready, we can go ahead and start building our house."

"He did?"

"Yes, he is going to let us build on their house plot. We just need to move out of the rental."

"Umm, Anthony...if we move out of the rental, where will we live?"

"I think we can pick up a nice used travel trailer to put on their property and live there while we build the house."

Anthony was trying to make all this sound like a wonderful, wonderful thing that was happening, yet I felt something like the icy hand of death close around my stomach. I wondered if I was going to start vomiting.

"So...we're going to live in a trailer in your parent's yard?" I said, trying to control the rising hysteria in my voice.

"Only while we're building the house."

"How long do you think that will take?" I asked.

"Oh, a few years- however long it takes us to save up the money for the house."

"You think it's only going to take us a few years to save up enough for a house?"

"How hard could it be?"

"But...what about having babies?"

"I'm sure we'll have the house done in plenty of time for you to have babies."

A few days later, we started looking at travel trailers. By the end of two months, we had successfully moved out of our comfortable two-bedroom home into a 30-foot travel trailer from the 1970's. With fake wood paneling. Lots of peeling, fake wood paneling. The trailer was only 20 feet away from my in-laws house. What had I let that man talk me into?

I wish I could say I had a good attitude at this point...that I embraced the dream easily and was willing to do whatever it took to fulfill me and Anthony's dreams...but most of the next few months, I spent just going through the motions, trying not to sulk or act unhappy, and generally feeling miserable.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pork Chop Promises

I took the pork chops out of the freezer this morning and set them on a plate in the refrigerator.

This may sound insignificant...but it's not. Taking frozen meat out of the freezer is a promise to yourself. It's a promise that sometime in the next 2 or 3 will return to the meat and actually spend time preparing and cooking it before it spoils. Meat is expensive.

Our pork chops came from a local student who raised a pig for FFA. The 1/2 pig that we purchased cost about $4.00 a pound which is not bad when you consider that it was locally raised, killed, and butchered in healthy conditions. For me to actually remove the meat from its frozen security, thereby risking high-quality humane organic $4.00/lb meat to the possibility that I will be too busy to prepare it before it spoils was a big deal. It signifies that I have something very valuable in my life again: TIME.

It's been at least 3 months since I defrosted meat. Most of the people I know my age are in the same situation my husband and I are. Both people work full time and spend the weekends trying to tackle the dishes and laundry that accumulated throughout the week. I can't imagine trying to do all that with kids, too- but people do.

We've been eating a lot of peanut butter in the meantime. Is this what the feminists envisioned when they pressed for equality in the workplace...that husbands and wives would be equally stressed and have equally small amounts of time to take care of their families? I don't know.

In any case, the play I was directing is over. The yearbook I was creating is done. All I have to do for the rest of the school year is just teach, which all I really wanted to do from the beginning.

I actually got to sleep in until 6AM this felt like heaven.

I feel so good...I am even thinking about defrosting a chicken!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You Can't Take it With You

There is a scene in the play, "You Can't Take it With You," where Grandpa Vanderhof gets visited by an IRS agent because he hasn't paid his taxes. Ever. When the IRS agent asks him why, the grandfather just replies that he doesn't ever see tax money going anywhere useful and he throws the responsibility back on the agent to explain what they need all that money for. The IRS agent mutters something about the military needing it, and roads and schools, and of course, the constitution. The grandfather argues that the constitution was paid for a long time ago and maybe those other things are important, but he thinks they're only worth about $15.00 for the lot.

We sent in our federal income tax forms today. I do often wonder about the purpose of all that money.

Roads and schools are good...but doesn't my state pay for most of that?
The military is good...but do they really need that much of my money for it?
Is my money paying for people on welfare?
Or unemployment benefits for people who've lost their jobs in the recession?
Again, I see the value of taking care of our fellow citizens, but does the government really need as much as they're taking?
I think the national parks are a good idea...I can get behind paying taxes for those.
I like my firemen and my police officers, but again, doesn't my state pay for those, not the federal government?

In any case, I think it's all worth about $10,000 a year for someone like me. Unfortunately, they take considerably more if you're a debt-free married couple who both work with no kids.

They're like, "congratulations for paying cash for your house and not getting knocked more taxes!"

If the federal government was a business, it would be a pretty lousy model. It doesn't generate any of its own income and it's not self-sustaining. Couldn't some of the smartest people in this country figure out a way to make the government just a little more independent? I mean, if someone gave me so many billions of dollars a year, I could invest it and earn interest on it and hopefully figure out a way not to keep needing billions of dollars a year, instead of just spending it all every single year.

Here's what I'd like them to do with my taxes this year: Hire a financial analyst. They might have to put my taxes together with my parents in order to do this, but between the two, it'd be plenty. The financial analyst could come and take a look at the federal budget and trim the thing. That is what a business would do if they were billions of dollars in debt.

Aah, well, it's only money, right? And you certainly can't take it with you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hope is a thing with feathers

I went outside yesterday morning and breathed in the fresh spring air.

For the first time in a while the future seemed bright.

Is it that the play I'm directing is almost over?

Is it that the yearbook is almost completed?

Could it be that I finally got enough sleep?

Or is it just spring?