Saturday, August 28, 2010

Freebies and the FBI

Summers of my youth meant spending almost a month with my Grandparents.  Midland was my summer home.  Grandmother  planned adventures for everyday.  There were cooking lessons with her.  Baking lessons with her sister, Aunt Irma.  Trips to see movies and visit the water park with my Aunt. Every year she had some new adventure or project.  Her favorite involved freebies.  

One summer when my sister and I were in middle school Grandmother had gotten her hands on a book, 1001 freebies.  Not having Internet it meant sending letters to places and getting the freebies that they offered.  Sometimes we would have to shell out the $0.75 for shipping.  We mailed out a ton of letters.  If anyone complained of boredom the book would be thrusted at us as a suggestion.  Most of the goodies and free treasures arrived months after we left.  The favorite, a Time Life magazine from Russia, Grandmother called as soon as it arrived.  

The next summer we were excited to see the foreign literature.  Grandmother kept it in a special place to show off to visitors.  After looking over the cool find we were recharged with attempts to get free stuff.  That was until we got a call from the FBI.  Grandmother back from a long day making computer chips for Texas Instruments got the call.  When Grandfather returned from Hobs fixing typewriters for IBM he got an earful.  Out came the yellow pages and he was dialing the local FBI office trying to figure out what this was all about.  They told him call us with their badge numbers and we will confirm for you if they are indeed agents.  They did not talk about it after that.  The only way I learned about it was my keen hearing and the thin walls of that tiny house. 

The following evening we had dinner early.  We were in the middle of watching Wheel of Fortune when a knock was on the door interupted our evening ritual.  The two men in dark suits were on the porch.  Grandpa opened the door just enough to see the badge number and Grandma was on the phone calling to verify.  Not to be left out of the excitement I was up at the door peaking under Grandfather's arm, finally seeing what the commotion was about I had only one question for Grandfather, "What did you do now?" 

A furrowed brow and loud, "Get to your room!" Was his only reply.  Like any good eves dropper I was silent and listening through my cracked door.  The suited men walked in and asked for one thing, the package that was received from Russia.  

"Oh for crying out loud," Was my Grandmother's reply.  She could be heard coming down the hall...boy was she miffed.  Like good little spies my sister and I were on our separate beds fake reading when my Grandmother walked in.  She marched over to the closet and pulled the prized Russian Life Magazine and marched back out to the front room pulling the door completely closed as she left.  The FBI left along with them they took Grandmother's zest for the freebie.  Grandfather banned any more sending away for fun freebies.

What about the freebies?
God bless the Internet!  Grandmother would be so proud of me.  After wading through many unseeingly sites that spiral into some identification spam mess I have found the most perfect place to carry on the tradition of summer freebies.  (My two favorites!)
  • Shop 4 Freebies is sweet!  You can find anything from shampoo to dog food for free.  After a few minutes of filling out my address I am sure I will not have to buy shampoo for at least 4 months. 
  • The Freebie Source is easy to navigate and you get genuine deals not nonsense. 
  • Not to be too hyper focused on one single way to save money I have found some other great tips.  On Bread is Pain there is a great article about saving money on food. Freebies can come in the form of great tips.
  • Another favorite is Craig's list the free section.  It is amazing what people are just giving away. 
I am pretty sure that Grandmother would be overjoyed at all the freebie options there are today that won't trigger some government investigation.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Christmas in August

How else would you describe the first day back at school?  Teachers everywhere anticipate this day.  We plan, go to classes and plan some more. There is painting and decorating that changes every year.  Not to mention the endless attempts at peaking at our possible list of darlings.  Text and emails are exchanged discussing who the specials are that we don't want to have...then second guessing of the source. Each teacher is sure that the little darling had a magical summer and outgrown the annoying traits that they had before. 

Today was that day for me.  I feel the same exhaustion that takes me when I am sitting in a pile of ripped up Christmas paper with a kitchen full of dirty dishes.  Feet are pounding almost as bad as my head.  The soaking summer heat is unrelenting outside and my new teens are still struggling to remember to put on any deodorant.  Smelt great by the end of the day.  It is not quiet turkey and pie. 

Parents eager to help with the transition drop off students early and are early eager to pick them up again.   There are other ways to help your child's education.  Then waiting in a cool car.  On the Cubicle Chick, she elaborated on how to help your child's education.  As a teacher drunk on the possibility the new year holds I say communicate.  We promise not to believe all the stuff your child says if you promise the same.  Realize that your sweet baby acts differently here...and that is okay.  We are here because we love working with these little weirdos.    

I love the promise that this day holds for them and for me. It is magical.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sorry my dear blog...

I have abandon you of late.  Instead of my religious posting I have been choosing to work like a crazy lady on my book. It is a delicate balance that I have been failing.

The book rewrite is almost complete. It is time to climb out of my cave and emerge back into life. There are but a handful of chapters left to comb through.  The query process will begin soon and I will come back to you seeking balance and begging forgiveness like a scorned lover. 

Maybe..then again school is starting again. The preparation has been waiting for me.  I have a short 5 days and shiny little faces will be there ready to learn. 

I also have been back at the gym...another long lost friend I am returning to in search for my regular routine.  It was a chubby summer.  My skin feels tight.  Enjoyment in the minute has become a spare tire around my midsection.  I am seeking out my stretchy pants in the morning not a fun scavenger hunt. 

Be patient with me I will be back this weekend.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Take a breath and enjoy the dream

When I grow up I will have the happy family with the big house and be able to travel all the time.  That was the mantra of a little girl who was in love with the Disney fairy tale and summer vacations. 

Fast forward a few years and well- the prince never showed even though I've kissed way too many toads. I take that back...he showed but he was married or engaged and he already had his own house and was working on the family thing with someone else.  Not to worry his creepy stable boy  tried to hollar at your girl but when she found out he was living with his parents she politely said no thank-you. 

As for the happy family...what would  a writer do with a happy family?  Instead we prefer a little bit of crazy gives us inspiration for that next book.  I accept the crazy and have added to it three phyco dogs. 

The American dream, is it the same for everyone? 

I must admit in my American dream I never was working two jobs and struggling to make ends meet.  In a survey of 2,200 American families 84% described themselves as middle class.  I would agree with them I am in the middle...barely.  The Parade survey defines the middle class to be those families earning between $30-$99,000.  Of those surveyed 66% say they tend to live pay check to pay check.  And 83% agree they don't have much left once all the bills are paid.  It is good not to be alone.  What is amazing to me is that in this same fiscally pitiful group 80% still believe that the great American dream is a possibility. Maybe it is in our American blood not to give up the hope it could happen.

This entire blog post was inspired when I read Remembering to dream, by Lindsay Shugerman.  She recently posted a picture of a 2 million dollar house to her facebook wall.   It spoke to me.  Breaks from writing my next Great American novel have been filled by me searching for a mountain home in Colorado. Not to mention the the eclectic antique furniture and paintings to fill it.  Part of it could be because it is a million degrees outside and we are all eager for some relief.  It is not that I feel I need more because I am more.  I am fully aware of how important it is to be happy with what you have.  I understand that there are so many around the world who will never have all that I take for granted on a daily basis.  But it is just the feeling that maybe I could have "It."  That this daily grind, the worries I carry they could all go away and be replaced with only joy and relief.  I think we all want a little of that.

Friday, August 6, 2010

What are your favorite all time quotes?

Quotes stolen from movies, music, literature and friends infiltrate our daily language.  I've seen the smirky smile that is snuck between two people when one recognizes the quote from a new movie or cheeky television show.  I've been the one with the sly smile when I recognize it in others. 

It is amazing how things that surround us sometimes are lost to our own perception.  I never really thought about it before this morning when I ran across the blog Practice of Madness, by Scarsarestories. She asked what was your favorite all time novel quotes?  It got me to thinking...dangerous I know.  How much of our daily conversations come from quoted material?  And what is it that we are quoting the most?

US Today did a story, 25 Most Memorable Quotes apparently we are all heading out the door with a quick, "Lets roll" before we go do work.  I know I have been guilty of a "just say no," although most of my 7th graders don't get it.  When  backed into a corner I have thrown out a "You can't handle the truth," the effect is a slight different then the movie I dare say. 

Screenwriters are sometimes so good we all want them to be the writers for our own life.  The American Film Industry was doing a 100 years in review and this list emerged...100 of the most quoted film lines.  Some of you are saying "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." But I know that some of you are cheering and bidding that I "Go ahead and make (your) day," with this amazing list of more conversation quote arsenal.  I have to admit finding this list has got me entire blog post done with out of nothing but popular quotes would be more then fun. 

On a side note...
In my exhaustive research I stumbled onto a site that is hilarious.  The site is made up of random snippets of conversations overheard in New York city.  As a writer these are great fodder for story starters. Enjoy!