Sunday, April 25, 2010

Week Sixteen

Event:  Meet with a Financial Planner

Ten years ago I was working two jobs living paycheck to paycheck.  My rent was $425 a month and I could barely make ends meet.  Instead of balancing my checkbook like most OCD-anal retentive-have-way too-much-time-on-their-hands kinds of people do, I would just call the 1-800 number of my bank, cross my fingers and pray that there was money in my account at the end of each month.

Now, I'm fortunate to have a 'big girl' job that allows me to not sweat it at the end of each month.  You'd think though, with all my free time (not having to work that second job) I would maybe take the time to balance my checkbook.  Think again.  Ten years later, I still call the 1-800 number of my bank each month to see how much money I have.  Only this time, it's so I know how much I can spend at Target and Banana.

Thinking this behavior may not be attractive to my potential soul mate (I'll probably end up marrying an Accountant), I thought it'd be a good idea to meet with a financial planner - someone who can really whip me into financial shape.  As we started to discuss my 401(k)'s, my mortgage and my investment opportunities, I quickly realized I was in trouble.  I had no idea what we were talking about.  I mean, I have heard the word "Escrow" (I thought it was Esgrow), and I've been told about Money Market Accounts, Roth IRAs and CDs...but I have no idea what any of these are.  I mean, I thought Dow Jones was some big-wig financial guy and Warren Buffet was a successful singer/songwriter.  Apparently, I need to get out from under my non-financial rock and learn a thing or two. 

So, goodbye carbon-copy checks with an empty check register.  Say hello to Quickend.  (see, I still have soooo much to learn...)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Week Fifteen

Event:  Shooting range

Annie Oakley ain't got nothin' on this cowgirl!  This week I did something I've always wanted to do - go to a shooting range.  I've never shot a gun, but I've always been curious about what it'd be like.  So I asked my dad to take me to a shooting range.  I was excited, anxious, nervous, maybe even a little scared.  I mean, what if I was "that girl" that accidentally dropped the gun and shot some guy's toe off?  It could happen.

Unsure if we would be greeted by Tony Soprano or John Wayne, I was surprised to see we were greeted by both!  The first guy that helped me was a true cowboy.  He had Skoal in his lip and every 10 seconds he'd lean over and spit into a bucket on the floor.  Neat.  He had two guns on his belt and a camouflage ball cap.  Yee Haw.  The second guy that helped me was named Guido.  I swear.  He was about 12 feet tall, had a pony tail and sideburns three inches thick.  But don't be mistaken, his rose colored glasses made him a true bad ass.  He too had 2 guns on his belt and enough ammo around his waist to fight a war.  I wasn't sure if I felt safe or scared to death.

Guido and John Wayne walked me through holding a gun, loading a gun, shooting a gun and unloading a gun properly.  My palms were sweaty and I had wished they had instructed me on how to not drop the gun but oh well.  I put on my stylish safety goggles and ear protection and suddenly I looked like I should be landing planes.  Apparently I won't be picking up today. 

We were escorted into the shooting range where 3 others were shooting targets in their individual booths.  I couldn't believe how loud the gun shots were, even with my landing gear earmuffs.  As I stepped up to my own booth, John Wayne attached my target to the target hanger and sent it out about 15 feet.  He then tried to review the steps but I couldn't hear him and before I knew it, I was up.  I loaded the gun (scary), pushed the barrel into place (scarier), held it with my right hand (seriously almost dropped it), quickly added support with my left hand (now both hands are shaking like I have early stages of Parkinson's), I pointed the gun towards the target, spread my feet apart, bent my knees (my legs are jell-o by the way), leaned forward, closed my eyes and pulled the trigger!  HOLY SHIT!  I did it.     

When I opened my eyes I immediately looked at my dad and Wayne.  Wouldn't you know it my first shot hit the bulls eye.  Unbelievable.  It was down hill from there but boy was that fun.  Before I knew it, I was twirling the gun on my finger, tossing it under my legs, shooting it behind my back, blindfolded....just kidding. 

I did get a little confident after a while and that's when Guido called me over and pulled his own gun out of his holster.  Oh crap.  It was big.  It had a barrel as big as a Chipotle burrito and the bullets were the size of baby carrots.  Sweet baby Jesus I was in trouble.  I smiled and said "That's ok."  And he was like, "You're doing this."  So me and my Parkinson hands walked up to the booth, picked up his gun and I couldn't believe how heavy it was.  To add insult to injury I was like a 5th grader trying to reach the pedals of the car.  My pointer finger could barely reach the trigger.  I gritted my teeth, squeezed my eyes shut and pulled the trigger.  The kickback sent me into the middle of next week and I missed the target completely but it was a thrill of a lifetime.

As my dad I were driving home giving each other high fives, we passed three cops on the side of the road stopping speeders.  We quickly had heart attacks thinking how we'd have to explain the gun in my lap...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week Fourteen

Event:  Line Dancing at a Country Bar

This weekend a good friend of mine hosted what you might call a "Mom's Gone Wild" weekend.  Her sister and 3 good friends had their annual trip to "the big city" for a weekend full of shopping, pampering and partying.  While I don't meet the criteria (the whole "mom" thing), I have been an extension of the group for the last couple of years.  It always proves to be a good time and this year was no exception.

We started out with surprise transportation provided by a black, stretch limo and inside the country tunes were rockin' as we slugged back Coors Light.  The Moms and I kicked off the night with Mexican for dinner and that was our first mistake.  On our way into the restaurant we were 7 energetic women, a few beverages in, feeling no pain.  On our way out of the restaurant we acted as if we'd just entered a hot dog eating contest and won.  We were full.  We had fallen into a burrito/chip/queso/guacamole/why am I still eating chips-induced coma.  Moms gone wild turned into moms gone mild.  We were in trouble.

Attempting to rally, we drove around town before making our final descent to a place whose reputation precedes itself - Denim & Diamonds!  Where 'Cowboys Lie" and the bigger the belt buckle the better.  I don't think I've been to a country bar in 10 years but when I walked in, I was like a country girl in a Wrangler outlet.  I was in people watching Heaven!  I love how country and rock have collided.  Women were in sequined tank tops but had their shit-kickers on.  Guys were wearing cowboy hats, but yet had bedazzled jean pockets.  I was confused, but I loved it. 

As we got our beers and perched ourselves on bar stools, I learned that line dancing extends beyond Cotton Eyed Joe and the Cha Cha Slide.  The seven of us looked on, astonished at how many different dances there are - and every gal in the joint knew every one!  Dances called the Bombshell Stomp, the Cabo San Lucas and the Booty Call.  WTF?  I couldn't believe my eyes. 

Thinking I could fit right in, I jumped on the dance floor and attempted to learn the moves, making more of an idiot out of myself than anything else.  But, it appeared my attempt at fitting in didn't go unnoticed.  At one point, a sweet, older man (borderline grandpa) came up and asked me to dance the two step.  I accepted the invitation knowing THIS was a dance I could do.  Little did I know, grandpa's dream was to be on Dancing with the Stars and he was going to make a partner out of me whether I liked it or not.  While I started out like Bambi walking for the first time, before I knew it, I was twirling, boot-scooting, two, three and four stepping my way around the dance floor.  Reba ain't got nothin' on me!

Two songs later, I thanked grandpa for the free lessons and off he went.  The unfortunate part of the story is, about 30 minutes later there was a bunch of commotion near the bar.  The Police were here.  Then the EMT arrived.  Concerned (and nosey) I walked over to see what the commotion was, only to find my sweet dance partner had collapsed and was lying on the floor.  They had him hooked up to a bunch of monitors (yes, right there in the bar!) and had a wet cloth over his head and chest.  He appeared to be doing ok, but I can't help but think - did he have a heart attack because I was such a terrible dancer?

I might need therapy for this one.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Week Thirteen

Event:  Went to church!  (With a single guy from church singles group!)

If you look back to my post from Week Seven, you'll read about the time I attended a church singles group volunteer activity where I met a bunch of single, divorced dads with kids.  At the time, none of that fit my "criteria" so I wrote each and every one of them off.  Didn't even think twice about it.  Flash forward six weeks to today, and inspired by my psychic, I did the unthinkable.  I actually contacted one of the single guys from the volunteer event.  His name is Sean, he has two kids and although we didn't get to talk much at the event a few weeks ago, there was something about him that intrigued me. 

A few nights ago, I was on facebook and I looked him up.  We exchanged instant messages for 30 minutes and during that time we made plans to meet up again at another singles volunteer event.  So, on Saturday, I drove to church and met up with him and other singles for "Hey look at me I'm single and volunteering" - part two.  The highlight had to have been when a fellow volunteer asked me, "So how long have you been a member of the 'Lonely Losers' club?"  Seriously?  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

After the event we went back to church and Sean dropped me off at my car.  There, he asked me to dinner...and I asked him to church!  What the....?  I don't even go to church!  And I asked him to go with me...on EASTER SUNDAY?  I am seriously losing it.

So, Sunday morning, bright and early, dressed in my Easter bonnet and patten leather shoes (just kidding) I find myself not only going to church (I go about twice a year) but I'm meeting a single guy there, with his two kids.  And let me state for the record, there's nothing worse than pretending to know what to do in church.  I didn't know when to stand up, sit down, raise my arm, clap, sing out loud, sing quietly, repeat, not repeat, bow my head, say Amen, stand up, sit down, fight fight fight I was a mess!  Side note:  it's fun to pretend to sing along to songs in church you know you should know, but you don't.  That all goes well until you sing a part that only the lead singer sings, but you sing it with pride and passion.  Side note part two:  They say if you sing "watermelon" during a song you don't know, it makes it look like you know the words.  This is an incorrect statement. 

Anyway, I make it through the sermon sweating to death, hoping he hasn't discovered that the girl he probably thinks attends church every week really only goes twice a year.  As I attempt to make my escape before lighting strikes me down, he says he will call me later to schedule our dinner date.

If I'm not careful, I'm going to find myself volunteering to teach a Sunday School Class, so let's hope I can keep it together at dinner.  Amen.