No, you’re not…. starving

My daughter and I recently went to see Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, do his stand up routine at The Wilbur in Boston, MA. We are hooked on his show so we were so excited to be there. He is a half-African, half-German from South Africa. He’s a super interesting person and also very intelligent and hilarious. I recently read his autobiography and it was fascinating.

About half way through the show he was talking about what it was like when he first moved to the U.S. He said he was getting ready to go out for take-out for dinner when his roommate said “Dude, I’m Starving”. He laughed and said “No no no……. you’re aren’t starving my friend, you’re hungry”. Growing up in South Africa in hard times, he knew what “starving” really was, and his friend was not experiencing it.

I find that we (Americans) tend to be overly dramatic, un-self-aware and lack a true gauge on suffering…. in many cases.  Dude I’m Staaaaaarving…. I haven’t eaten since my pancake breakfast at Burger King for $2.99 this morning I might die if I don’t eat.  Eye Roll.

“I’m having the worst day… ever”.  Are you? Is having hard meetings at your white collar job and maybe missing lunch or having a cold at the same time the worst day ever? If it is, I would like to transport into your life immediately because my worst day ever looks like Dante’s 5th Circle of Hell compared to your worst day ever.

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Don’t be confused, this is not a post about “snowflakes”. This is about conservatives, liberals, tea party, green party, catholics, jews, anyone…. this is for people who’ve lost self awareness and have adapted to this American sense of self-entitlement that is my official #1 pet peeve.

I need an SUV. I need 2 bathrooms. I need a bigger kitchen. I need high speed internet.  Seriously?  You NEED 2 bathrooms? I grew up in an environment with 1 bathroom and countless people in and out of the house and somehow we managed to survive! #NeverForget   You want an SUV. You want 2 bathrooms. You want a bigger kitchen. That makes sense.  Reach way back in time and think about your grandparents and parents… and think about need versus want.

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My daughter recently told me that she needs a new backpack because hers had a stain on it. She also needs a new lunchbox because hers broke… but her sister’s old one was at home. Did she NEED a new one? or did she want one that wasn’t her sister’s old one.  Duh, we know.  Could I get her a new lunch box? Of course. Did I? Of course not. I consider it my responsibility to train her to understand want versus need so she doesn’t grow up to be one of these people that drives me up a tree with the “need” …. ahhhhhhhhh.

Let’s move on to my favorite un-self-aware statement…. “I’m broke”.  The last person who said this to me has a house they bought in 1999 that is nearly paid off with a monthly payment of $850/month and they are about to pay off their mortgage. It’s safe to say they have about $350K in equity in this house.  i.e. At any time they can sell this house and make $350K.  Guys… no.  They also have a 401K with about 850K in it and enough money to pay their bills.  That said they have 10K in credit card debt because they like to go out to dinner, play golf and have nice clothes. I’m not judging… you do what you need to do it’s not my problem. BUT someone who had 350K home equity and 850K in a 401K is not “broke”.

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Do you know what “broke” looks like? “Broke” looks like going without lunch for 3 years so you can pay for your daughter’s after school program.  “Broke” looks like stealing underwear from KMart.  “Broke” looks like working at places that sell or serve food so you can skim (aka find a way to get some of that food for yourself).  “Broke” looks like selling blood plasma for pasta money.  “Broke” looks like mixing orange juice with water to make it last longer. “Broke” looks like stealing because you have no other choice. “Broke” looks like going without medication so your kids can have school supplies. If none of this sounds like you, stop saying you’re broke. It’s like a man saying they understand how it feels to be a woman or a regular citizen saying they know what it’s like to be in the military. Just stop. I know, I know, the word broke in itself is not the insult…. but just stop the conversation. You wouldn’t tell someone with diabetes you were just as sick as them if you had a cold… that’s what this is like. Please stop.

Is this what every person born into the working class who ends up working in a white collar environment has to deal with? Maybe. I spend a great deal of time pretending that I can relate to the horrors of white collar life, when secretly inside I’m thinking… this person is weak…. or this person is an idiot…. or this person has no idea about real life. Some of them could probably step up if needed, but you just can’t ever know. #RedneckPolice Am I also being a dick? I have no idea. I probably am. I can be “a bit much” as it were. But that’s ok. This is my fucking blog so… there you have it. I think people who haven’t suffered are weak, as a default. Can you blame me? Probably… I’ve heard I can be a bit much. I’m also on my 4th jager, obviously. But you already knew that.

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One of the most common phrases that I suggest people avoid is “Nothing was ever handed to me”. This is legitimately true for some people. But it’s very rare. VERY rare. Did your parents pay for college? Did they help you pay for college? Then THAT was handed to you, ok? Did someone help you with your security deposit on your apartment? Your deposit on your home? THAT is something that was handed to you. There’s nothing wrong with taking it. I hope I can “hand” my children these types of things. But accepting these things excludes you from saying that nothing was ever handed to you. Has your parent/friend given you a recommendation or the name of someone to get your foot in the door somewhere? THAT is something that was handed to you. Yes we get it you are a super hard worker and you are amazing, but you’ve had things handed to you. If you can admit that, you’re on your way to self awareness.

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Saying “nothing was ever handed to me” seems innocent enough right? But saying this is insulting and to anyone who really hasn’t had anything handed to them. There are millions of people on earth who literally have nothing handed to them. They have to start from scratch, or beyond scratch, and fight against all odds to even be in the same room as you or in the same country or in the same meeting. If you had anything handed to you, please stop saying you didn’t, or that you had to work for everything you have.

Say you understand what it’s like to be in the military but you’ve never served? My friend E-GF would like 5 minutes alone with you in a closed room. Trust me, after that you will then gain a full understanding of the difference between you and someone who has served active duty in the military. Nothing compares to being on active duty other than being on active duty.

Say you understand what it’s like to have cancer because your xyz had cancer at some point? You don’t, my friend James would like to speak to you. No, You don’t know. Neither do I.

Oh you can relate to what Muslims in America are going through because someone you know was once an immigrant who is now totally ok? My grandparents and my father dealt with “Italians need not apply”. That was horrible. But a: that was not me it was them. b: It was not the same as religious persecutions. c: Muslims face something we can’t possibly understand unless you are one. If you’re not, shut it.

So…. I was going to write a blog today about some crazy/funny/intresting/depressing/real travel stories because I’m doing more business travel now than ever. But I have so much upcoming travel that I’m afraid I’ll publish and then my next trip will have the best story ever. So I’m going to try my best to wait until the end of the year to post that one.

In the meantime, you get this random rant about me being sick of people who think they are suffering but they aren’t. OR is this a post about me being unsympathetic to people’s perception of their own suffering? Is it me being a dick thinking my suffering makes me more aware than those who haven’t suffered? Probably the latter, but fuck it. This is who I am. And this is my blog so….

This rant has been brought to you by GoldIsFromAliens.com

I’m adding the following meme for no reason other than the fact that I love it so much and jager:

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Day Trading Drug Dealers

How to use hillbilly skills to explain to people that you aren’t a day trading drug dealer…

Click Here to see the blog that inspired this post by the interesting and dynamic Jeff Cann. Thanks Jeff!

In one of Jeff’s recent posts he talked about a family in his neighborhood that people didn’t know well. What they did know was that they didn’t leave the house for work every day, and that they gave out full sized candy bars for Halloween. The neighborhood consensus was that there were two, apparently employable, adults living with a couple of kids in this home. Neither adult left for a 9-5 work schedule, or any regular schedule for that matter.  So… they must be either Day Traders or Drug Dealers. That’s when I realized that I’m in the same situation.

If you read my blog regularly, you’ve probably figured out that I work… A LOT. My daytime job is in strategy for a large insurance carrier. My part-time night job is working as an Economics teacher at a local private college. Not-Tom-Brady is a stay at home dad, or “Mr. Mom” as he calls it… as well as the Keeper of Family Sanity. He does every single thing you all hate doing on your time off so that I don’t have to do it… and I stay sane for my two jobs. I have literally never used my washer or dryer. Enough said.

This picture is totally unrelated I just love it so much. 

What I haven’t told you is that I only go into the office a couple of times a month. The rest of the time I work from home. Our new home in Anytown USA has a finished basement, which is my domain during work hours. For school, about 1/3 of my classes are in person and the rest are online.

We just moved from a city to a small town. This is the first time I’ve lived in a neighborhood setting since the 1980’s. In the city, my neighbors were just happy that I wasn’t leaving garbage in their yard or assaulting them. They probably never even noticed that I didn’t leave home for work. In Anytown… not so much. Not-Tom-Brady leaves several times a day, delivering children to school in 2 different school districts, music lessons, football games, sleepovers, dog walks, picking up items from the store 10x a week, dry cleaning, post office, liquor store (jager!) and other things I have no idea about because it’s been about 6 years since I had to worry about things like this.

I think Jeff is right, the neighborhood has obviously decided that we are either day traders or drug dealers. Let’s face it, we have a decent house and decent cars. We have a package delivered from Amazon pretty much ever hour on the hour. We have no apparent set schedule. Are the neighbors peeking through the blinds whenever we leave the house to catch a glimpse of a scrap of evidence that we have gainful employment? Jeff thinks this is a yes. He’s probably right.

We met one of our neighbors on day 2. They seemed very nice. They seem understanding, but it’s hard enough (sadly) for people to understand a Mr. Mom household, but in combo with remote work for the wife, it seems to melt brains. There are two houses across the street. One is a family who appears to have a regular family schedule going on. The other house has at least 6 cars in the driveway at all times, with no sign of a normal schedule. These are either “our people” OR they are day trading drug dealers. My neighbor that I met asked me if I thought it was a boarding house. What I didn’t say out loud, but was thinking, is that it’s probably a meth lab. I imagine them at the dinner table tonight asking themselves if WE have the meth lab. I’m not that interesting… are they?

 

The people across the street? 

We are in a small town. People talk in small towns. I’m just getting to know a very small handful of people but I’m getting there. We went to the local Chinese food restaurant last weekend. We walked in to pick up our order and the owner said “Marie”? Clearly very obvious I’m the only person who has a name he didn’t recognize or a face he didn’t recognize. I tried to have a “productive member of society” look on my face. I’m not sure if I accomplished that.

I recently met a woman in town who fixed my shoulder and also has a super positive smart-person-in-a-small-town vibe that we will call J-Healer. She is amazeballs and she reminds me that I made the right decision moving here. I’m also going to also try to do something I’ve never done before. I am going to a board meeting at a non-profit 4H camp in town to see if I might become a board member. Fun, good for the community, making friends, and also spreading the word that I’m not a day trading drug dealer. Hey guys I can totally save your non-profit with this new finance strategy in exchange for you telling all of the life long residents of Anytown that I’m not a day trading drug dealer. #TheMoreYouKnow

So, line of defense #1 is to just be a good person and spread the word that you are a productive member of society. Line of defense #2 is to let go and let your hillbilly reflexes kick back in. Again I’m not sure if the correct term is hillbilly, redneck, working class or just regular person. Either way after living in two cities for decades I’m going zen and bringing back the hillbilly street cred.

Using Hillbillly street cred from my real, original life, to inform people that I’m not a day trading drug dealer: (And if I was, which I’m not because I’m not that interesting, they wouldn’t care):

  • Say “Mornin!'”.
  • Just order “tea” instead of “Earl Grey” or any other such nonsense. Tea is fucking tea, end of story. You get what you get when you order.
  • Eat fried hot dogs (Disclosure: I fry turkey hotdogs now which is only half hillbilly)
  • Say “How’s it going?” to at least 50% of the people you see.
  • Give a half-head-nod to people you know from town but don’t know well enough to approach.
  • When you don’t have to ask why there is a fan next to a bucket of ice at the convenience store.
  • Jager: Enough said, this is the tie that binds. (Jager post pending I swear. There’s a lot of material here but I’m trying to find a way to present it that won’t make me seem like a raging alcoholic. Good luck me!)
  • I learned to drive a standard transmission in a corn field.
  • My high school boyfriend was arrested because his father had 2 acres of weed growing in their back yard.
  • My 15 year old daughter recently asked if I could show her how to open her orange soda with a lighter. NO. A good redneck has a bottle opener on their keychain. Jesus christ kid get with the program. Kids these days! (Side note: Remind me to post later about not getting a social work job once because I had a bottle opener on my keychain when I was 22).
  • High school friends had nicknames like Beaver, Fish Bowl and Puddles. In case you’re intrigued: Buck Teeth, Bad Breath and what you’d turn into if he started punching you.
  • You might be a redneck if you’ve ever been in a car on a frozen pond (Lauren, do NOT do this… )
  • 9 year old smoking and drinking… normal
  • Ever have massive credit card debt just to be alive?
  • You can identify rashes without ever seeing them. Yup, it’s impetigo so you don’t need  doctor just some dial soap and warm water.
  • You’re constantly preparing for winter, and talking about preparing for winter. Never. Enough. Firewood. Is the generator working? Just a little more firewood. Venison. Meat freezer.
  • We can’t tell you were Idaho is on a map (geography: Nope: Fail) but we know the spectrum for alcohol content without google. The chart goes from Coors Light to Grain Alcohol. It’s a special, and useful, skill.
  • Even if you’ve never smoked pot you can offer suggestions for something to smoke out of as if you’re a pot-Macgyver. I’ve seen everything from a tampon case to an apple. #OhThe1980s  I don’t smoke but I wish I did/could #LegalInMass
  • If you need to start a literal fire you came to the right place. Not only can we start a fire anytime and anyplace but we can keep it going as long as you need it.
  • Know what doesn’t scare us? Blood. If you want to eat, you’re going to have to kill it, skin it, cut it up and cook it.
  • We can let rich people patronize us and pity us so we can take advantage of them in some way. I don’t do this anymore because I live a double life. Not day trader / drug dealer but redneck / non-redneck simultaneously.
  • Food has three categories: Killed, Grown and Grocery Store. The less you rely on the last they more you’re winning. When you’re 9 years old and your favorite food is trout. #RealTalk

I’ll leave you with one of my fondest hillbilly cred stories. I was working out of a gift shop in a small town as the box office manager for the Big Apple Circus. I was literally in a closet at the gift shop it was pretty sweet. This was in the early 1990’s so I had a computer but it wasn’t linked to anything (ie. No internet). I took reservations via phone or people walking up to an external facing window at the “box office” aka the closet. I had  a boom box from which I played the Eagles and The Guru almost all day because they were the only cds I had that weren’t metal or hard rock.

As the circus came close, the carnies arrived. They set up trailers and tents on the property next to the gift shop. It was really cool. The trailers had awnings and window boxes of flowers. These guys were very used to this. They had the complete set up it was awesome. They were also true carnies. Some were acrobats, clowns, elephant trainers and the set up crew.

Some of the younger guys approached me and asked me what people did in town for fun. Of course I laughed. There was no where to go and nothing to do. I told them the truth that we survived by spending time with friends and laughing. One of them noticed I was reading Dennis Leary’s book “No Cure For Cancer”. I LOVED this book. It was a great escape for comedy and reality. Irony: I moved to Dennis Leary’s home town and lived there from 2006-2017.

Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant READ THIS BOOK. Stands the test of time. My friend Lisa met him once and said he smelled amazing. #TrueDennis

He asked me if I would come to their pop up village and read them the book that night. I did. This was my first official public speaking appearance. We had strange soup that someone had cooked that I think was soba noodles and miso. We had some kind of wine that in hindsight I think might have been plum wine. I’m not sure who was cooking but there were people from at least 10 different countries of national origin present. I read page after page and chapter after chapter of Dennis Leary’s brilliance as a crowd of carnies.. men/women/children…  laughed hysterically and stared at me in eager anticipation for more. Smoking cigarettes, drinking wine out of styrofoam cups, enjoying a united moment in time… before snapchat, iPhones or anyone even considering documenting the moment other than in our memories.

In an interview 20 years after that a hiring manager once asked me “Have you ever done any successful public speaking?”. I said yes, and told him about the time I conducted a training class at my first insurance job. What I really wanted to say was… there was this one time… with this bunch of carnies….

Straight Outta Woo-Town

 

If you read my last blog post, you know that I recently moved.  I’ve moved many, many, MANY times, but this time was the most drastic change and the hardest worked for.

After 10 years and about a hundred thousand dollars in expenses and mortgage payments, I was able to sell this June. YAY!  I was even able to make some money on the sale (Thanks Dave! Sorry I panicked and tried to convince you to lower the price.  You were right, I was wrong… you are smart and I’m stupid.)

We ended up having to replace the entire sewer line.  It was incredibly expensive and stressful… after our 2nd sewage back up in 2 weeks of purchase. Thanks to Dave we were able to use the proceeds to pay for it. I never realized how exhilarating flushing a toilet without fear could be. Who knew?

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Nothing to see here.  This is all totally normal. 

We moved from Worcester to a country town about a half hour outside the city. I wouldn’t call it a suburb.  It’s a working class area that has been hard hit by the continuous loss of working class jobs.  I like to think we are doing our part for the community having immediately injected about 30K into the local economy through our many post-move catastrophes.  You’re welcome!

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Makin’ it Rain!  Until the money is gone… so… now.

Worcester is the 2nd largest city in New England. It’s known for its booming restaurant and art scenes, and also for a lot of crime and deteriorating schools.  I always liked the city, and I will continue to visit often.

New-Town is different.  I told a friend before we left that we were moving with the hillbillies, but that’s ok because I’m a former hillbilly and still speak fluent hillbilly. He responded “It’s Massachusetts hillbillies, so…”.  True.  Massachusetts hillbillies are… different. I’ve also noticed that the distinction between a hillbilly and a redneck appears to have disappeared post-Trump Presidency.  Or maybe it was before and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention? At this point I’m unable to self-describe.  Am I a current or former hillbilly? Current or former redneck? I’m just going to check off all of the boxes and call it a day.  TBH that’s probably accurate.

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Immediately I noticed that everyone here is wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  Seriously, almost every single person. Other options appear to be gym shorts that basketball players wear and pajamas.  As people came to the house to help us with various service needs, I tried to wear the jeans and t-shirt uniform, so as not to be discovered as a city slicker who’s too big for my britches.    It seemed to work!  Mostly.

Things NOT to do if you want to go undetected:

  • Wear all black
  • Wear $400 Burberry Sunglasses (even if you bought them at a silent auction for charity. That actually makes it worse)
  • Take down the American flag the prior owner left on the house
  • Go for walks wearing matching fitness clothing
  • Carry Trader Joe’s Bags into the house during daylight hours
  • Resting Bitch Face
  • Mention politics, even in passing
  • Read a book in public (unless it’s to children)
  • Ask what kind of bourbon/wine a restaurant has, just order Makers’ Mark/House Merlot
  • Do not blare “Straight Outta Compton” because you love it or because it’s ironic
  • Tell the sewer line replacement guy “fine whatever it costs” after getting a $10,700 quote.
  • Complain about only having 25K in your 401k at age 45 (Hint: A lot of people have NONE, k miss fancy pants city slicker?!)

Things TO do if you want to go undetected:

  • Forget you have bed slippers on when you go to pick up Applebee’s take out and go in anyway
  • Be very clear that you have dogs and love all dogs
  • Ask people about their lives even if they are cleaning sewage from your basement
  • Smile when people walk by
  • Don’t cover up your tattoo(s)
  • Sigh really loudly when you say you left Worcester to point out how relieved you are
  • Mow the lawn with a push mower
  • Wait a year to buy a snow blower. Not just because you’re out of money but as further evidence that you aren’t a damn fat cat city slicker
  • Get supplies at Walmart.  It’s cheap. It’s 5 minutes away. Target is an hour away, get over it.
  • Hide your mosquito magnet, even though you want to tell everyone about it.
  • Eat all of your DQ fries before you even get back home (less than a 2 minute drive)
  • Stare at your garbage disposal in wonder every time you use it… this thing is magical!

straight mosquito

Dear mosquito magnet. I love you so…

There are awesome things here like tons of farms where you can buy fresh food.  We went grocery shopping last night and couldn’t bring ourselves to buy tomatoes and eggs at Big Y (no offense Big Y you’re awesome buddy!) because we knew we could get them fresh from a local farm.  We also found a farm that has milk and a bunch of pre-made stuff right from their place like shepards pie, pulled pork and chicken pot pie.  Take that Worcester!

I will admit that when I take my daughter into the city for her voice lessons we stock pile Chinese take-out to bring back to our hillbilly Shangri-La.

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When the take out lady at Nancy Chang asks if you’re having a party because your order is for like 20 people and there are only 2 of you standing there…

So far we are happy here.  I feel most comfortable living in a working class community.  That’s not a huge surprise considering that’s how I grew up.  I feel like I can be myself… even with the Burberry Sunglasses.  I can adjust to wearing all black only SOME of the time and can definitely get used to DQ fries and fresh eggs. Resting bitch face may be harder to let go since it’s… well…. My face.

One thing though…. Is it me or is this landscaping at the local cemetery WAYYYY too creepy.  What the frig is happening with the corpses in that cemetery? What is happening to them that would make them cry out for help in this insanely disturbing way?

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Nothing creepier than all hell going on here. 

Dear readers… have I waited long enough to post about politics or are we ready for some real talk?

straight kermit

Dave’s Not Here, Man

If this title doesn’t mean anything to you, I suggest you hit up Google, YouTube or Siri then come back (although technically you can still follow along unaware).

You might be thinking to yourself, Marie Christine, where the heck have you been? OR you might be thinking… hey Marie Christine, I didn’t even notice you were gone so get over yourself.  Either way, here’s the story of the long strange trip that was the last 7-ish weeks.

A very intuitive person told me that this entire process would be a flume ride… with anxiety inducing moments weekly, sometimes daily.  He was right.   Here is the story of my flume ride.

I put my house up for sale. Not-Tom-Brady and I are very different people.  I handle moving by putting everything I haven’t touched in the last six months out on the sidewalk for anyone who wants it to take…. I’m surprised I moved with anything at all.  I even sold our living room furniture on Craigslist before we even sold our house. When they showed up to pick it up I just started handing them random items like a serving tray and an ottoman… everything must go!!!!

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This is where most of my stuff went… gone within hours.

Not-Tom-Brady, on the other hand, sifted through what seemed like hundreds of boxes of odds and ends, cherishing the memory attached to each one.  The process took a long time.  Being the anti-clutter queen of the universe, the process almost drove me over the edge.  But for Not-Tom-Brady, I stayed strong. Number of my “boxes of memories” = 1.  Number of Not-Tom-Brady’s boxes of memories = I have no idea.. a LOT y’all… a lot.

 Ohhhh Not-Tom-Brady!

We also handle stress in very different ways.  Not-Tom-Brady is an optimist with an everything-will-work-out-like-it’s-supposed-to attitude. Not fair. With the knowledge that a flume ride could be imminent, I turned to my 2 saving graces in times of high-stress… productivity and booze.  Yes, these two options can happily co-exist.

house 6Jager Nips I packed for my business trip to San Diego.  This is about 20% of what I packed.  Airlines allow these in carry on AND checked bags, especially if you have TSA pre-check.  For those of you that were unaware of this, you’re welcome. 

Stay busy, stay productive, then drink…. and repeat.  My realtor, and friend, is Dave. During these 7-ish weeks Dave has been reassuring and always available. I, on the other hand, have been overwhelmed, busy and moderately drunk.

house 11

Me overwhelmed, busy and moderately drunk when Dave would stop by…

I have two jobs, so staying busy usually isn’t a problem.  Between the two I work anywhere from 40-70 hours a week.  BUT during this time I pretty much needed to be busy 24/7 to avoid having a complete nervous breakdown.  I was living in a difficult-to-sell home.  We had 13 showings and NO offers.  During the 14th showing we got bored and decided to go to an open house for a small ranch that didn’t appear to be a good fit for us.  We opened the door and saw a sprawling open floor plan with a SUNKEN LIVING ROOM.  I LOVE SUNKEN LIVING ROOMS!  Then there was a finished basement.  A partially fenced yard.  Privacy.  A two car garage and landscaping like I’ve never seen. We all knew… THIS IS OUR HOME.

As it would turn out, the 14th showing was the charm and an offer was made on our house the same day as we made an offer on the new home.  Let the joy (I mean flume ride) begin!

First, our buyers were first time home buyers.  No problem!  Except that their realtor was also a first time realtor.  Awesome!  She can’t fill out basic forms and asks ridiculous questions like.. Can the buyers come in and clean the week before they buy the house? Um no, it’s not their house so… no.

house 444

We decided on closing dates. My purchase the day before my sale.. easy peasy! NOPE.

I did a home inspection on the new house, the seller refused to make any of the updates I requested, basically stating that they didn’t need to be done.  One was replacing a cable leading into the circuit breaker box (I’m using the wrong lingo I’m sure)… I won’t spoil the surprise on how this turned out, we will get there.  Fine asshole.. have it your way… don’t make the repairs.

Then, I realize that we are only a week away from closing and the seller still hasn’t signed the P&S agreement.  It turns out he was on vacation and didn’t think it was a big deal.  Guess who DID think it was a big deal? My mortgage company.  He ended up going into the lawyer’s office on a Saturday and we got it signed within about 4 hours of the timeframe necessary to close on our closing date. Awesome!

As I’m reading the P&S, when it’s eventually sent to me, I notice that it’s missing an entire parcel of land attached to the property… yep… true story.  At least we have 3 whole hours to fix it… lucky us!

house 16

Thanks to a very cool cast of characters on my end (Dave, Mortgage-Guy and Lawyer-Lady) they got shit done.  Literally at the 11th hour.  High five team-Dave.

Finally my title is clear and the P&S is good.  Just call Fidelity to get the 401K loan right? NOPE, I need the money for the mortgage within 7 days and the best they can do is get it in 14 days in the form of a check, and it will take 7 days to clear.  Perfect!  I spent 7 hours on the phone with Fidelity.  Eventually they agreed to wire me the money.  I can’t even tell you how I did it. Let’s just say manipulation and negotiation skills are key in life, and I probably also owe the director there a kidney, but it was worth it. Jager.

house 7

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, all is peachy keen with the buyer!  Oh wait no that’s the story of another person that I’ve never met.  Since the buyer is inexperienced, and their realtor is new, no one noticed that their mortgage broker went on vacation and forgot to process their paperwork.  The bank appraisal on my sale home was never ordered, and the closing was in 4 days.  But it’s all good right? Nope, it’s not all good.  Even with a rush appraisal the house would not sell/close as planned.  They order a rush appraisal.. I stay busy, and wait, and drink. Oh and I also attend Dead & Company’s show at Fenway Park with Not-Tom-Brady because I got him VIP Tickets for his birthday.

Yea that’s right. When you aren’t sure if you’re about to have a great year, or if you’re about to lose everything, you might as well go big right?

house 10

Dear John, I forgive you for what you did to Taylor Swift and/or Jennifer Love Hewitt. Thank you VIP heaven. 

My appraisal on my purchase comes back $3,800 under the asking price.  We all know that the bank home appraisers have some subjectivity here.  Probably in the 10K range. Mine, nope… she decides to prove some sort of point during my flume ride.  Let’s just say I don’t want her to have any sort of tragic event, but if she were to get the worst sunburn of her entire life this week I would be ok with that. So, I got to pay $3,800 to the buyer that I wasn’t expecting because some lady decided it was her day to shine in I-Have-Self-Declared-Power land.  Perfect!  Why not right?  p.s. My sale is now completely up in the air at this point.

My sale house finally gets appraised and I’m told we will close in about 10 days. Ok scary. I’m going to own 2 homes for at least 10 days and don’t have the resources to support it past that… deep breaths. The house will sell.  We will be ok… it’s all fine. Nothing to see here. Jager.

house 12

I finally close on my new home and move in. YES!  Sunken LIVING ROOM!  The movers are awesome.  Life is good.  Not-Tom-Brady and the kids are thrilled.  There is still drama with the sale but hey at least we are in Shangri-La right?   Waiiiit for it..  wait for it…. What is this water leaking into my finished basement?

I call a long list of plumbers in an unfamiliar town in a house I’ve lived in for just a few hours.  One finally comes over.  I can’t figure out where the water is coming from.  I assume a broken pipe is my worst case scenario.  Ya know what? A broken pipe is NOT a worst case scenario.  It turns out that a sewage drain back up IS.  And you guessed it… it was a sewage drain back up.  There  is a stand up shower in the finished basement, full of…. well full of shit… Literally.  I call a restoration company and a drain specialist.  The next thing I know I’m writing thousands of dollars in checks to get the drain unplugged at the street level and to have my finished basement sanitized.  Yay! Jager.

house 8

Two days later the sewage is removed from the house.  They tell me it was a single paper towel flushed down the toilet that caused the problem. I have no idea if that’s even a thing but it’s all very calming (hint: It’s not).

The very same day I get a call from lawyer-lady.  Great news!  The closing on your sale is going through.  OMG that’s great news wow!  So they pushed it ahead to the day after tomorrow instead of next week isn’t that great?  They will be coming tomorrow night for the walk through. Insert visual of me picturing my old house with a basement full of junk that needs to be hauled away and 11 years of grime in every crevice of the 100 year old house… Remember… at this moment I have sewage in my new home and men wearing masks working. I thought I had at least 7 more days.  No rest for the wicked.  Jager.

The next day Dave swoops in with the number of a cleaning lady that turns out to be some sort of magic sorceress.  I’m so exhausted from the past 7 weeks plus the sewage back up that my 45 year old body can barely manage.  The magical cleaning wizard asks if I want her to start in the downstairs.  I nod.. sure.  15 minutes later I walk downstairs and she has transformed the house of horrors into a beautiful home full of rainbows and glitter happiness.  Meanwhile, Unicus, the Junk Master General, shows up and hauls away every bit of junk from the entire house.  He makes all of the bad disappear. #Unicus The buyers are on their way for the walk through.  We finish with 23 minutes to spare.  They could probably see us driving away.

house 22

Now that things are “calm” I call an electrician. Remember that silly cable that the prior homeowner insisted didn’t need to be replaced? It wasn’t just susceptible to leaking into the circuit box, it has been leaking for a while.  So this Saturday I get to pay to have the entire thing replaced.  Isn’t that exciting? Who doesn’t love an unexpected 2K expense for something you thought you already had (working electricity)?  Side note: I knew this in advance but I also need to replace the furnace.. yea!  Do people still offer money for blood plasma donations?

Did anything go right?  Well, we love the house.  The fence guy showed up on time today to install a fence so that my dogs can run free, unsupervised, for the first time in their entire lives.  My teenager has her own hang-out area for her and her friends in the finished basement. I have a garage.  I don’t have a sidewalk to maintain. I can hear birds outside.  People here smile and say hello. My kids can walk to DQ from the new house. Did I mention the sunken living room?  I have a front porch and neighbors who wave to me.  I have a kitchen with enough counter space to prepare food on without using the stovetop.  My backyard has plants and flowers I’ve never even seen before.  There is a breeze in my back yard 24/7.  The people who bought my old house are over the moon happy to be there. I have EIGHT parking spaces, 2 in a garage.  At my old house I didn’t even have enough room to invite more than one person over at a time… and even with one person one of us would have to move our cars to a side street.  My family is HAPPY.  The redneck police did not show up, they are letting me have this one.  Stay tuned.

E X H A L E

house 17

Gigi dancing in the sunken living room the day we moved in. 

  • house 3

How to handle a flume ride.

 

 

 

The Redneck Police

Let me start off by saying that I have a self-imposed blog rule.  I do not talk about my parents, or childhood, except in passing… on this blog. I don’t say anything good about it that would make my mother (who is reading this right now) feel awkward, and I don’t say anything bad about it that would make her feel regretful or sad.  It’s very unlikely that my father is reading this, but the same rules apply.   

Now let’s begin the story of the ever looming Redneck Police.

When I graduated from college, I moved to Norfolk, VA. I had been to Virginia Beach to visit a boyfriend who was in the Navy at one point, and thought hey… why not?  They have a beach, it’s nowhere near my hometown, and it’s not so far South that I won’t fit in… so I grabbed a college friend, and we went.

I got a job as an underpaid financial products sales-rep during the day, but worked at Morrison’s Cafeteria at night.  Sadly, Morrison’s Cafeteria paid more.  I had waitressed at Friendly’s Restaurant during college.  This was different.  In a cafeteria style setting the customers would get their food, and essentially I would refill their drinks and bring them extra napkins.  There was no assumption that I would receive a tip, so I was forced to get creative and make them feel as though I had earned one.  I’m a hustler, I did well there, but it was not fun.  It was, often times, humiliating.

imposter waitress

One evening, a very Southern man and his family came in for dinner.  I engaged them in conversation and refilled their drinks and napkins quickly, essentially securing at least SOME tip, even if it was just a dollar.  The father asked me if I had considered college, and I replied that I had recently graduated.  I turned and saw a teenager across the room drop her entire tray of half eaten food on the floor, and walk out.  As was required, I went over and started to clean it up.  Beef stew does NOT come out of a carpet easily, Plus, who puts a carpet in a cafeteria?

I felt a tap on my shoulder, looked up and saw the Southern man from earlier.  I stood and asked him what he needed.  He put his hands on my shoulders, paused and stared at me for a moment.  I said, “Are you ok? What can I do for you?”  He said something I will never forget.  He said “Marie.  You don’t belong here.  You need to stop cleaning up after rude customers and start the rest of your life.  Quit this place.  Quit and never look back”.  I looked over his shoulder and saw his wife, nodding in agreement.  He squeezed my shoulders, and walked out of the restaurant.  I still remember exactly what he looked like and what he was wearing that evening.  He also looked and sounded like Morgan Freeman, and somehow that makes the advice much more powerful for real. That is the day I decided to elude the Redneck Police and take control of my professional life.  2 weeks later I moved to North Carolina and got a job as a paralegal.  I’m skipping a short stint at a sewing factory when I first arrived… but trust me, you want that to be its own blog story.

Imposter Over it

Fast forward to the next 20 years of my adult life. In 1997 I started working as a claims adjuster at a Fortune 500 Insurance Company in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Fast forward a few years later and I was managing a team of complex claim adjusters at a Regional Insurance Carrier in Central, Massachusetts.  Fast forward to me running all Claim Management at one of the world’s largest retail companies.  Today I’m an adjunct Economics Professor at a Private College and a Strategy Director at a large insurance carrier.

I hope to be adding to this progression in a couple of years: Assistant Vice President of XYZ.  I feel confident that this is on the horizon.  Yet, I’m still an imposter.

Imposter Syndrome is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.   What does this mean?  How does it apply to me? How might it apply to you?

Impostor Cartoon

There is even a debate on the spelling of “Imposter” vs. “Impostor”.  Both are correct.  “Impostor” is more widely accepted, so I chose to use the underdog.  The imposter of the imposter choices, if you will.

Imposter syndrome is especially prevalent in woman, and even more prevalent when crossing over social classes.  My bosses and colleagues over the years have expressed nothing but confidence and appreciation for my work ethic, work product and friendship.  I have no evidence that I’ve ever disappointed any of them in any professional way.  I would also argue that I’m one of the most confident people you’ll ever meet. Yet I still, at times, feel like an imposter.  Why?

I’m currently surrounded by co-workers who were seemingly born and bred for success.  Their stories are almost identical to each other’s, even though their personalities are very different.  They don’t appear to even realize how similar their backgrounds are.  You’ll often hear them talking about having struggled as children with parents who were perhaps middle or upper-middle class.

I nod in acknowledgement as they re-tell the horrors of only vacationing locally or having a job during high school. They usually have very deliberate, and readily available, examples of not having everything handed to them, even though it essentially was.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t hard workers or good people, but there’s a lack of perspective on the reality of the experience of being in another social class.  Just as other social classes lack the perspective on having resources or proper guidance and what that might be like.  Overall I would say that the middle class and rich can never really understand how the struggle feels and evolves for the working class. The working class can never really understand that the middle class and rich have struggles as well, just different ones.

I avoid talking about myself in most work situations, with the exception of a very select few (who are probably reading this right now). Even then I try to keep it to a minimum whenever possible.  It is what it is… “normal” means something different to everyone,  as does “struggle”.

Impostor Maya Angelou

The vast majority of my friends from childhood did not go to college. I, personally, always assumed that I would go, and I did.  I got a B.A. in Sociology and went on to get an MBA.  I don’t see my high school friends very often, but when I do I try to downplay my job and my education to the point where it’s probably ridiculously obvious that I’m doing so.  I truly care about them and want them to know I’m the same person.  But, it is what it is.  I’ve never believed that you need college to be smart, or successful.  But I always knew that I would go to college, to give myself as many options as possible.

My first day at a real corporation was on January 17th, 1997. I felt very proud wearing my professional dress and heels, walking into the building.  I met my training class and immediately realized I was not with “my” people.  People talked about graduating from Brown University or Salve Regina and their family vacation homes in Newport. They asked questions about being taken off their parents’ health insurance (health insurance?!!!! I get health insurance?!!!!) while I asked questions about how health insurance works.  They lived in condos in the city, and in Westerly near the beach.  I lived in a basement apartment in Pawtucket, in the parking lot of a working factory building, with 2 roommates and a dog that we hid from the landlord.        

I participated but was, for some reason, assuming there would be more people like me there.  There weren’t.  At UMASS there were all kinds of people.  Rich kids who couldn’t get into better colleges, poor kids on scholarships, people from other countries…  A lot of us working toward the same goal, a degree.  Not here.  This was a group of people born with resources.  People born with the assumption of a white collar future, and health insurance! I made friends and did well.  3 friends I made there (Lisa, Stacey & Cyndi) I still speak to today and cherish their friendships and opinions.  One of the 3 is a black woman, which was as close as I could find in the group to another person not from the exact mold. Years later the two of us left on the same day to go to another company together.

20-ish years later I’ve come to understand that being an outsider isn’t a bad thing.  I actually believe that it’s an asset.  That said, it’s VERY hard to find like-experienced people once you’ve crossed a line like that.  Walking into the building with my dress and heels back in 1997 I didn’t realize I was passing through an invisible portal separating one life experience from the other. It’s probably even harder crossing in the opposite direction.

imposter portal

It’s best not to try too hard to find our counterpart portal-jumpers.  We tend to gravitate toward each other seemingly driven by some unknown force.  Once the realization hits that you have this common life experience it does reduce the amount of times a day you question your decision to cross the line.  You create a sort-of secret society of people who have infiltrated the system.  It’s one of the strongest bonds I’ve seen in a professional setting.

Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not one to pretend I’m someone I’m not.  I’m not a new person.  I’m just me.  I’m the same person I was in 1985 in high school as I am in 2017.  I’m the person who drinks cheap beer and smokes generic cigarettes in a 2 bedroom apartment with 9 residents AND am also the person who eats lobster and drinks bloody marys in downtown Boston. I’m both of those people, but also an imposter in both of those situations.

This is a fairly accurate pre and post-portal depiction, sans black hair.

For the most part, both of those groups of people continue to accept me.  I like to think it’s because they recognize that it’s possible to be both of them at the same time.  I think it’s really the assumption by both groups that I’m strictly theirs. I won’t say it’s easy, because honestly it’s not.  You’re in a constant state of feeling like you’re betraying one group or the other just by simply existing. You belong everywhere and you belong nowhere… and there’s no going back. 

I’ll be at a party and feel like people are staring at me because my earrings are expensive or because I’ve had a manicure… or maybe they “KNOW” that I went to grad school. I’m in a conversation thinking “Please don’t ask me what I do for work.” I’m an imposter there.

The elevators of the tower I work in will open and I’ll begin to step off the elevator in my suit, as my co-worker complains about the contractor for her beach house working too slowly or not meeting her expectations.  I’m an imposter there.  I’ll start to feel faint and look to the left and look to the right.  I’m looking for the Redneck Police.  They will tap me on the shoulder and say the same thing the Morgan Freeman doppelganger said at Morrison’s Cafeteria in the summer of 1994.  “You don’t belong here.” … “It’s been a nice ride lady, glad you enjoyed it, but the jig is up.  No time to pack a box, just leave.  We don’t want your non-beach house having a$$ up in here.”

As of today, the Redneck Police haven’t shown up.  I’ve learned that they are a figment of my imagination, and the imagination of those like me… and that there is a real term for this: “Imposter Syndrome”.  As a middle aged woman I tell the women I mentor and the men and women who will follow in similar footsteps… you are not an Imposter. Be strong. Stick together. You belong everywhere. Infiltrate the system, and take it over.  It’s up to you.  If you can’t trust Morgan Freeman’s doppelganger, who CAN you trust?!