Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Last One

Last geeky finance post... for a while...

I thought this was a cool way of explaining why our economy is in trouble right now:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

In Tribute

President Gordon B. Hinckley, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away today at the age of 97 years old. I have laughed and learned while listening to his words. His counsel and love strengthened, inspired and guided the millions of LDS faithful throughout the world.

President Hinckley, you will be missed but not forgotten. God Bless.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Digging Deep

I like to ponder the really important questions in life, such as:

Why do restaurants say "12 and under" next to kid's meals? Maybe I, as a grown adult, want to consume fewer than 10 bazillion calories when I eat out. Maybe the smaller portions suit me just dandy. And what are they going to do if I order a kid's meal and then rebelliously eat it myself? Will they haul me out and throw me in the snow? Will they scream, "And don't let us see your lousy, cheapskate face in here again, lady!!" Would they honestly not take my money if that was my menu item of choice? It just doesn't make sense.

Man, I could ponder questions like this all day long.

Good Luck/Bad Luck

Sometimes, what starts out as annoying bad luck turns into your dream come true.

Last year, we refinanced our home equity loan to include our new car. Good rates, convenient, blah blah blah. As part of the process, our home had to get re-appraised. So when we got our appraisal results, we were stunned--no, SHOCKED--at how low the appraisal was. It was high enough for our needed LTV and all that, but I was expecting it to be at least $20K higher and probably $40K higher. I think the appraiser was trying so hard to find other properties with accessory apartments that he ignored more obvious comparables. Or maybe he was padding his reputation, because appraisers who consistently throw out high figures get into mucho trouble. A house down the street sold the same week for about $35K more than our appraised value--and it's smaller and doesn't include an income source. In other words, I knew this appraisal was way off, but what ya gonna do?

My feelings changed when we got our property tax notice. They had readjusted our property value to be a whopping 50% higher than the year before! 50%! It was ridiculous. If anybody offered to buy my house for the amount the county appraised it for, I'd be gone within 24 hours and shaking the buyer's hand and wishing them luck.

I noticed some fine print that said we could appeal our value. A-ha! With crappy appraisal in hand, I headed down to the government building. Within a mere 10 seconds (I kid you not), my home was readjusted to the low appraisal amount, saving me hundreds of dollars on my property taxes for the year.

Did I feel a tad guilty about using an appraisal that I knew was way lower than my home's actual value? Mmm only for a minute or two. Luck was just going my way that day. And it turned out to be good luck that had gotten a bad rap.

We have an appraiser coming again today as part of our mortgage refi. If he brings in a more logical number, let's just keep it between you and I, shall we? The county doesn't need to know.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"In The Box"

It's great to think outside the box. But sometimes, being "in the box" is the best place to be:

One of my blog stalkers asked yesterday (via her husband) who we are refinancing through. This came about three hours after telling my mortgage company that I was going to blog about the great program they offer. If you're considering refinancing, do yourself a favor and read on! If you're yawning from two successive mortgage posts, my sincere apologies!

When I did some shopping around for our refinance, I discovered that my preferred lender would charge $4,000 in closing costs. My next-favorite lender, Countrywide, would also charge ridiculous amounts of money for me to give them their business. (I don't own a Costco card because I don't believe I should have to PAY someone for the privilege of giving them my business. I'm a brat that way.) Another place I called charges a whopping 4% origination fee! And I doubt they even blush when they kick people like that.

My brother recommended a place called "Box Home Loans." BHL is the brainchild of a company that we refinanced with years earlier. We had a good experience then so I looked into it.

The idea behind Box Home Loans goes like this: they only deal with people who have immaculate credit and a good LTV (loan-to-value ratio), and in return they offer the best rates imaginable. They also let you choose your rate vs. closing costs, so you can tailor the program to exactly what you want. We went with the closest-to-no-cost rate, which is 5.625% right now. We could have spent an extra $1,500 to get a 5.5% but I'm not "settled" enough to risk the extra money right now. Or we could have gone to a higher rate and had them pay for the privilege of refinancing. And the great thing is you can do this all online so you're not talking to a pushy salesperson. That's a must for me.

To summarize: we're refinancing for $150, instead of $4,000. And we're dealing with a great company. If you fit "inside the box" (credit about 700, 90% or better LTV and it's your primary residence), go give BHL a call. I reserve the right to change my mind later if they give us fits, as mortgage companies are so apt to do. ;)

When we bought our home, we got a 7/1 ARM loan which started at 4.75% for the first seven years. Pardon my valley girlishness when I say, "Freakin' awesome!" But we went a tad over budget and had to throw the extra money into a home equity loan, which we later refinanced to include our car. That loan is at 6.49%. Knowing that our ARM is a ticking time bomb, I have been watching mortgage rates for a long time. When they got to 6.25% last year, I was tempted. Then they dipped to 6.125% and I almost pulled the trigger, but waited. Rates went up again so I lost interest.

Yesterday, when I checked rates, they had dropped to 5.625%! Freakin' awesome! Still, with the word "recession" being bandied about more and more often, I thought the chances of future rate cuts might be pretty good. But I jumped anyway, because I am really not the gambling type. This morning, I went to the Mortgage Matters blog, expecting to hear a bit of talk about this and I wasn't disappointed. Everything Holden Lewis said confirmed to me that this is a really rare opportunity to get an amazing rate. Go read it if you're considering refinancing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Happy Dance!

I know, I know... I'm supposed to post pictures of my kids all bundled up doing fun stuff. I'm supposed to showcase my versatility at being a Fun Mom. Well, I'm obviously not a very fun Mom because the reason I'm doing a happy dance is....

Mortgage rates dropped again! Yea! I can do a no-cost refi at 5.625% and I almost refinanced last year at 6.25%. I was so tempted, but I resisted... That's almost $100 a month cheaper just by being patient for the refinance. And no closing costs. I love America. And Yeehaw Texas. And Holy Chunder, I am so happy.

I need to get out more often.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Book Talk :: Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas
by Dean Koontz

I'm not going to wax poetic. Nor will I get really long-winded. (And if you believed that one, let me sell you some real estate on the moon...) This will be a quick "review" or "report" or whatever these are supposed to be.

This book was unquestionably entertaining. And well written. Dean Koontz has a fun style to read.


This book was far, far darker than I like. I like books where each personality is multi-faceted and we can mourn the fatal flaws in our heroes and celebrate the small triumphs (even in the villains). The characters in Odd Thomas, while well-developed, seem in retrospect wholly evil or wholly lovable (if clueless).

That bugs me. It also bugged me that this book was so eerie. I mean, for heaven's sake, I've read every Agatha Christie book ever written and they were often a bit dark, but in general, that stuff is not for me. I love books that are gritty and real, but not when they deal with unadulterated evil. It just leaves me feeling icky.

I know that I'm in a vast minority with this issue--I have a rather weak stomach for suspense. I'm also afraid of the dark, so we'll just leave it at that. :-D

One last complaint: I hated the ending. Remember what I said earlier this week that some books leave you thinking, "I just read 400 pages to have the book end like THAT?" This book epitomized that for me. It left me feeling empty after the last page, as opposed to how full I felt after reading some of my recent favorites.

However, this book was intriguing and well formed. I would easily recommend it to people who aren't as squeamish as I am.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Have you seen my face?

It was a reflection--
      it held my image
      and my children's
      and my housework
      and my religion
      and my anxieties
      and my fears
      and my hopes
      and my dreams.

So many filters to look through.

The image is distorted.
Is it just my reflection?
Or is it a true reflection of a changed person?

Strip away the onion.
Yes, it might make you cry.

Truth cannot hide forever,
     it must fall out.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What do I know?

Finance & economy are mysteries to me. I know I could study the U.S. economy for decades and still be essentially a gypsy searching the depths of a crystal ball.


Fed Chairman Bernanke is reporting now that our economy is in distress and in dire need of a little help. I thought, "Great! Lower rates for mortgages will get people buying houses again. And I can refinance away from my ARM! Wahoo!"


I was a bit too optimistic. According to the CNN article: "Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers told lawmakers at a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee on Tuesday that Congress should immediately consider a stimulus package of $50 billion to $75 billion through a combination of tax cuts and increased spending on unemployment benefits and other programs. He also advocated that another $50 billion to $75 billion be set aside in case economic conditions weaken further."

So. The way to strengthen our economy is by increasing the federal deficit. Awesome! Or should I say: BOO!! I swear this country can't balance a budget to save their fiscal lives.

But what do I know? Just seems to me that it ought to be like airlines where they counsel you to put on your own oxygen mask before you help your kids. If the adult goes unconscious, it won't help your kids. I know I'm a total loser of a nobody in the economic world, but I can't help thinking that the way to strengthen our nation's economy is from the top down. Start decreasing the federal deficit. Enjoy a bit of fiscal responsibility. Then, once our nation's mask is in place, they can work on helping out the little guy.

But I still won't mind if I get a sweet refi on my mortgage. I've only got three years left on my 7/1 ARM.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Time OUT.

When your husband is working late... and the children are throwing FURNITURE down the stairwell... and laughing about it... and you are trying desperately just to put ONE load of laundry in the washing machine so you can have clean underwear tomorrow... and you have a cold... and the condescending guy at the Little Caesars wouldn't honor your simple request to have the freshest pizza because you live ten minutes away and instead smiles and says, "This one will be just fine, ma'am"... and of course the pizza is cold and disgusting by the time you get home ... and you wonder if the customer is always right or not? ... and you're living through this **bleep** while you were supposed to be enjoying your ONE evening a month out with adult conversation and good friends ...

Then you know it's time to take a deep breath and count to 10. 10 times. Then 10 more times. Then a few more deep breaths. And then hit the blog.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book Talk :: Moloka’i

By Alan Brennert

One of my favorite books, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, delves into the crazy idea that people don’t have to be miserable when the world around them is. Moloka’i is another such book. The message: life isn’t over until it’s over.

Separated from everything dear to her, the heroine of this book, Rachel, learns at a young age that life can still provide her with simple joys—and profound fulfillment. And though she spends many moments peeking into the abyss of despair, she also spends moments rescuing others from the black chasm of regret.

She encounters those who choose to allow their circumstances to define them, bitterness festering into hatred, until they are a shell of a human. She meets those who allow bitterness to overcome them despite the blessings and freedom she has longed so desperately for. This novel highlights that the human race is endowed with the ability to choose happiness…or to choose despair:

“God didn’t give man wings; He gave him the brain and the spirit to give himself wings,” counsels Rachel’s friend. “Just as He gave us the capacity to laugh when we hurt, or to struggle on when we feel like giving up. I’ve come to believe that how we choose to live with pain, or injustice, or death…is the true measure of the Divine within us. Some … choose to do harm to themselves and others. Others … bear up under their pain and help others to bear it.”

This historical novel chronicles the lives of those who lived on the island of Moloka’i: a colony of “lepers” who are outcast from their families, friends and the lives that were once commonplace. At times the colony is attended to and kept clean and up-to-date. At times, it is in ruins and neglected by the various governments who fly their flags on it’s shore. And mirroring the settlement are people who can choose whether they have come there to watch their life fall into ruin—or whether they have gone there to discover a new, if unexpected, life.

When Rachel first lands on the shores as a young child, she turns away, sickened, from the people who greet her with smiles. Later she learns to accept and love these people. She also learns to accept herself and the trials that have been handed to her: “Friends called out to her; the surf beckoned to her; her horse, on seeing her, happily nuzzled her neck. This was life, and if some things were kapu [or forbidden], others weren’t; she had to stop regretting the ones that were and start enjoying the ones that were not.”

This novel is also threaded with themes of religion, culture, family life and politics. Each piece flows together seamlessly, making this a novel that I would heartily recommend to others.

First words: "Later, when memory was all she had to sustain her, she would come to cherish it: Old Honolulu as it was then, as it would never be again."

Note: because of several graphic scenes, I would not recommend this book for a young audience. Although frankly, most books I read are not geared toward a young audience...

Book Talk :: Cannery Row

I have decided that it would be fun to occasionally post my thoughts on my recent readings. I personally love a good referral for a worthwhile novel. So many novels these days have a good plot, but insubstantial characters and canned dialogue. I require much more substantial fare. So I'm hoping that others can enjoy the recommendations, commendations and condemnations that I post here.

Cannery Row
by John Steinbeck

While the setting for this novel is somewhat bleak--an impoverished and ofttimes depressed coastal town in California--the characters are brought to life by everday exchanges and emotions the reader can relate to.

I knew after the first paragraph that this novel would be enjoyable because it is so well crafted. One would expect nothing less from John Steinbeck! I remember Steinbeck and Hemingway as the staples of my high school literary fare, as required by those who had seen more of the literary landscape.

Within a few more pages, however, I also knew this book would require a mind open to both the joys of human triumph and the pits of human sorrow. I am sometimes in the mood for lighter fare that is easy on the brain, but deep down I prefer novels that stretch my brain out of the comfort my body is residing in. Novels like Cannery Row, complete with mental illness, death, suicide, prison walls, mistakes and failed marriages, give me perspective on the small discomforts that annoy me.

Cannery Row, despite the earthy sadness that surrounds it, is not a depressing book. It is written in a very matter-of-fact tone. Emotions are not dwelt on. Facts are. Some novels spend 200 pages building toward a catastrophic tragedy that just feels unfair to the reader. They make the reader question, "Why did I just read all that setup for it to turn out this way?" Some novels seem to pull on the reader's heartstrings just to get a memorable reaction. Cannery Row is not such a book.

There is never the illusion that subjects will be whitewashed or ambiguous. Life is presented honestly and openly. For that, I consider it a breath of fresh air, tainted occasionally by the salty smell of the ocean wafting in over the pages of the novel.

The characters who weave the tapestry of Cannery Row's streets are lovable, if fallible. They are the kind of people one would be tempted to cross the street to avoid. Yet in the pages of this novel, one learns to love them and thrill to read of their small triumphs. At the heart of these emotions is "Doc" who is beloved throughout the town for the acts of charity he bestows on anybody who takes time to ask. There is Henri, the painter whom we can't classify as necessarily talented or untalented, but is definitely troubled. Lee Chong's surly attitude masks a large heart and a keen business intellect. The boys at the Palace Flophouse are as imperfect as they come, but intensely lovable.

First words: "Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream."

Friday, January 11, 2008


I sometimes wonder how different foods can have such divergent calorie amounts.

I just got a bowl of ice cream and decided that if I was going to have such an unhealthy treat, I may as well feel guilty about it. So I looked at the Nutritional Information and saw the bad news: 240 calories per half cup.

It got me wondering about food. Wouldn't it be cool if you could compare foods by the amount of space they take up on your plate? A plate of ice cream might be 1,000 calories while a plate of lettuce would be two. I propose that food be regulated by cubic inches on every package! That way we could compare foods directly, rather than comparing 123 fl.oz. of a beverage to 23 grams of a dessert. That's confusing and only slightly useful.

Cubic inches, now. There's an idea.


When I was a kid, and more importantly a teenager, I had ideas about what rich people were like. I unconsciously defined rich people as people who:

1. Had a house fewer than 10 years old, or...
2. Had a house with more than 2,800 square feet

Maybe my qualifications were loosely defined, but when you're a kid, anybody who has more than you seems rich. The house I grew up in was 2,400 sq.ft. (not all of that was finished square footage) and always had old age problems. I can't count the number of times we were lifting up the carpet and trying to dry it out after plumbing problems.

I had friends who had "big houses" and I thought they lived on Easy Street. But I had ideas about rich people, and I assumed my friends were the exceptions. I thought rich people were full of themselves, greedy and worldly. They seemed to act like they owned the world.

Fast forward to 2008 and I look around my house somewhat uncomfortably. It's big. It's comfortable. And it's only four years old. The plumbing, I'm pleased to say, works without a hitch. So why do I feel uncomfortable?

Maybe I have a feeling that it just can't last. Maybe I feel like I don't deserve a nice house like this. Maybe I worry about all those kids in third-world countries whose families would kill to have one room in a house like this. Or maybe I'm worried that I'll start to take it all for granted.

Maybe I'm worried that keeping up with the Joneses is a heck of a lot harder than it was growing up. Granted, I've always been too rebellious and independent to keep up with any danged Joneses. I'd rather be a liberal hippie than simply try to blend in. But I might be blending accidentally. Is that possible?

Before I moved into this neighborhood, I thought Rhinos were big, ugly animals, not cute and trendy little vehicle thingees. I didn't know Nordstrom had clearance sales because I'd never stepped foot in Nordstrom. I didn't know it was possible to park a huge boat next to your house on an RV pad because nobody in my neighborhood could have told you what the heck an RV pad was.

But I've learned other things with my neighbors. First of all, many of them may spend money at a faster clip than I personally do, but there's no need for alarm. They're awesome people! They have huge hearts, contagious laughter and good intellect. They're exactly the kind of people I want as friends. I never did have friends in my neighborhood growing up but this neighborhood fits me like a glove. I'm intimidated to death by my neighbors, but I admire them more than I can say.

Moral of the story is: teenage jealousy does not translate well into rational thinking.

...And yet, I do have to share one tiny little gem of a story. At my son's school, there are two lanes for dropping off kids. One is labeled for buses only and it is closer to the school. If you drop your kids off in the actual drop-off lane, your child has to cross a crosswalk in the Bus Lane to get to the school. I was informed by a neighbor on the first day that the principal would yell at me if I ever entered the bus lane. So I never have.

And yet, every time I drop Joseph off and he enters the crosswalk, some bleepity-bleep Mom or other pulls speedily into the bus lane. I see Joseph stop, hesitate and weigh out the situation. If he walks forward, he could get hit by that car barrelling through the parking lot. If he waits, he knows the bleepity bleep SUV will park in the crosswalk and sit there for five minutes so that Joseph will have to go in front of them or behind them (in front of another bleepity-bleep SUV that appears as big as Mount Everest to a scared five-year-old). Every day I watch this drama feeling a little annoyed. They always park in the middle of the crosswalk. Come on, people!

So today I was watching as a huge truck pulled into the bus lane. It's paint was peeling and it roared to life like only a huge truck can. It was obviously old but well-loved. I started feeling the familiar feeling of annoyance when, to my surprise, the driver of the truck pulled to a stop well before the crosswalk. He looked at the kids crossing the crosswalk--yes, he actually noticed them!--and was obviously concerned about their safety. I looked at the long line of SUVs piling up behind him and was grateful for one person who didn't act like his child was the only one whose safety mattered. He appeared to have a lot less money than the stream of perfectly-manicured Moms behind him. But his common courtesy reminded me of the good folks I grew up with, who couldn't afford to take anything for granted and still remembered that chivalry ain't dead.

New Moral of the Story: you really can't judge or categorize or stereotype people. You can just get to know them and realize that everybody has something wonderful to offer.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I Hereby Resolve...

Everybody seems to be blogging about their New Year's Resolutions.

Last year, I took a novel approach and made one (1) resolution. Then I really focused on it and tried to change my life. Looking back, I think it worked. I succeeded.

My resolution last year goes something like this: I will stop saying, "It can't be done because of the obstacles." I will start saying, "How can these obstacles be overcome?"

Last year was all about learning how to persevere, even when things seemed overwhelming (which, incidentally, was more frequent than I'd prefer.) As a result of that mindset shift, I overcame the obstacles that had prevented me from exercising regularly. I got up regularly at 5:45 a.m. and did 30 minutes of cardio, followed by a brief stretching routine (that's the reward for doing the cardio!) and a nice, but brief, shower.

What a difference that made in my life! I started getting energy back, stopped having so much back pain, and started feeling more cheerful and confident. It wasn't about getting perfectly thin--it was about feeling healthy. That was just a side effect of my "let's get it done" attitude shift for New Year's.

So how can I top that in 2008?

Drumroll please. My Resolution for 2008 is: I will stop looking to others to define who I am. I will reach to my innermost soul and discover confidence from within.

We all have our deep, dirty little secrets. I recently discovered one about myself, which has changed my life. It's not pretty, but now that I can define it, I can understand how to change it. The secret is that I have characteristics of "co-dependency." People who are codependent are uptight, anxious and bossy. (I'm not proud to admit this to friends, family, neighbors and perfect strangers...But most of you already knew.)

When you're co-dependent, you've taken the idea of "charity" way too far: you become completely enmeshed in other people's lives to an unhealthy point. You try to rescue them, and in the process, you make it so they don't have to help themselves. The book "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie describes this well: we're doing the WRONG things for the RIGHT reasons.

The ugly side effect of this is that when you become codependent, you start to lose your own identity. Then you get blown about by other people. When somebody else is happy, you're happy. But if they're sad, you're sad. You don't know why. You just are. And you can't control it because you've surrendered your control to somebody else.

It's icky. It's ugly. It's stress-provoking. It's anxiety-provoking. You give and give and give and people just take and take and then don't respect you. You don't respect yourself.

But the great thing about it is that once you realize what's going on, you can put on the brakes. You can start to think for yourself again. You can have fun in life again! Woohoo!

Being a mother has gotten my life completely wrapped up in caring for other people--and there is NOTHING wrong with that. It's awesome to be a Mom. But if I don't take care of myself and learn to like myself, my kids will suffer for it. So for the benefit of my children and anybody else who has had me worry myself silly over them and suffocate them with good intentions, there is good news: the old me, who was funny and happy and full of life, will be back soon. Stay tuned, y'all.

Can't wait for 2008.

Friday, January 04, 2008


There's a reason I only skim the headlines of Housing Wire. Namely: I know nothing about economics, so the details of what's happening in the subprime crisis are complete jibberish to my Bachelor of Arts brain. Here's an example of the most recent fare:

"Those differences, however, have helped make mezzanine financing into Very Big Business™, since mezzanine debt is often treated as equity by the rating agencies. And — much more importantly — modern mezzanine lenders have taken to using the CDO market to leverage their returns.

I think you can see where I’m headed with this."

Umm, nope. Anybody else?


The twins are nearly three years old and the day finally came. They are actually playing TOGETHER. Not just side-by-side in parallel play. Not just taking toys from each other and alternating screaming fits. They're actually chatting (unintelligably to me) with each other, working together to put together a train track. Taking turns with the battery-powered engine. And being happy together.

And I'm sitting here blogging. Nobody is pulling my hands away and crying, "Tommy took my engine!"

There is hope. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

More Festivities :: Green With Envy?

If you were green with envy over our hot Christmas plans, just wait until you hear about New Year's.

All the things we were hoping to do fizzled into silence, so we ended up at home, tucking the kids into bed at 8 p.m. as usual. (Okay, I admit: we let them stay up until 8:30. Whoop-dee-doo!) Then Josh and I played board games with my Mom until 10:15. Suffice to say, we were sound asleep by the time our neighbors decided to start shooting off fireworks.

Have you ever noticed that fireworks are less fun if you're trying to sleep through them? Here's how we rang in the New Year:

11:45 :: Asleep
Midnight :: Awakened by slightly annoying sounds of horns and noise makers
12:05 :: Back to sleep
12:07 :: Awakened by screaming child who is dead tired and does not appreciate the noise makers, horns and screaming
12:muchlater :: After forcing ourselves awake, tending to screaming child, losing yet a little more hearing, listening to more crying, etc. etc. we are finally able to get back to sleep
~30 minutes later :: Did somebody think Midnight came at 1:30 a.m.? Seriously folks, the fireworks were understandable at 12:01. Even 12:05. Even forgivable at 12:30. But there should be a limit on how late people can keep neighbors awake with fireworks. Since I know several neighbors read this blog, I dare not elaborate on the things I wanted to scream out the window as my sleep-deprived children and I tried to sleep through ANOTHER round of noise.

*sigh* I am getting to be such an old loser. Gone are the days (365 days ago?) when I was the one making noise and partaying. Someone teach me how to have a life again. Please?

~ ~ ~

Speaking of Festive Festivities, I feel it my duty to blog about the most unusual Christmas present my husband ever gave me. This was the pre-kids stage when we actually had time to remember we were married. One might suspect a fun Christmas present. Something impractical that Juliana's tightwaddery would never allow her to buy during the year. Maybe even a gift slightly romantic...?

Imagine my surprise when I opened up a package of ~10,000 staples. Huh. Staples! And thousands of them! I couldn't remember the last time I had stapled something, but I loved the gift! It was completely unexpected which is certainly worth big points. And memorable. So many Christmas gifts are entirely forgettable. But ain't nobody gonna forget 10,000 staples.

Fast forward to 2008. I had been searching all over the house for a stapler. Yeah, you'd think we'd have a nice stapler to go WITH all those staples. I found a cheap plastic 99 cent one that was broken. I could have sworn we had a nice one. Somewhere. (The trouble with a filthy house is that it's not always easy to find things like staplers, car keys or young children.)

So I went shopping yesterday for a new stapler. They had the same 99 cent cheap-os that I had tried before. Since that hadn't worked out, I decided an upgrade was advisable. They had some stapler combos for about $4 and some professional-grade staplers for about $10. The $4 stapler looked fine for what I need, but there was one major drawback. It came bundled with a staple remover and.... staples. Nooooo! No more staples! I actually stood there, staring at the $10 stapler for a long time, thinking it was worth the extra money NOT to have the staples bundled with it. But in the end, my tightwaddery won out and I am the proud owner of even more staples than I had before.

If you ever need staples, drop by and let me know. I'm here for you.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

An Ode to 2008

My arms reach out to you: a year of mystery.
The past is stamped with fact
The future, unknown, calls to me
Like a mysterious lover

I look into your teasing eyes—
Will you promise joys innumerable?
Will you turn your back on me?
You wink and turn, beckoning

I follow, drawn by the gravity of time
I cannot fight your power. I don’t want to.
I believe all your promises: {my dreams}
Though you have left them unspoken

I want to look into the crystal ball of your gaze
But I cannot—I am afraid.
I lack the strength now that I will need then

Serenity reigns: the future will come.
Though it is a chasm, a darkness that none can see
I will carry myself through.
The Heavens will light the path.
I will hold the hand of my friends.
When I start to faint, others will buoy me up.
And as I am strong, I will lift others.

So I embrace what will come.
I kiss the lips of fate.
Though you may turn your back on me

I will not reject myself.

All is well, all is well.