Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tax refund (Message ID K82737-L15)‏...

...Is yet another one of several email messages I've been receiving from the IRS or someone that claims to be the IRS. It generally starts off with:

"After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $873.20. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 3-9 days in order to process it. A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline...

Regards, Internal Revenue Service."

But see, there's one problem. Last year, I worked as a stay-at-home mom without pay! Come to think of it, I may have actually earned $37.50 for test piloting a calandering software for FamilyFun Magazine. That's all! So, if you've been getting this email as well, I hope you've been putting your "delete button" to good use. After all, we all know that Uncle Sam does not give it away. least not that easily-;)

Friday, February 15, 2008

English is my Second Language

I consider myself level headed, thoughtful, somewhat intelligent…in fact, I consider myself totally awesome, in general. Yep, and let’s not forget modest too! However, on occasion, particularly during the ragweed season, when I’m fighting that "foggy fog" feeling, even a clever cookie like yours truly can somehow manage to not get the point of a conversation, a riddle, an anecdote or a popular cliché.

While tidying up my desktop this morning, I stumbled upon a document I had previously posted on one of those online “anything goes” message boards, titled, "About Forrest Gump."

“Anyone who'd seen ‘Forrest Gump’ is more than likely familiar with this line:
'My momma always said, Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.' (or something like that).

Well, here I am several years later, thinking, what genius wrote that line? I don't know about you, but if I'm at the store and happen to pull out some dinero from my wallet to pay for a box of chocolatte, there better be nothing other than chocolate in that box when I get home! I expect no more or less. Woman wants chocolate. Woman pays for a box of chocolate. Woman should know that she is definitely getting some chocolate in that box of chocolate that she’d just paid for. Full stop!

A handful of the board members quickly responded with one variation of "you missed the point, or another. While others teased that I had a lot to learn about chocolates or American clichés. "

The following morning, Daddoo of course, says to me, “I read that thing you wrote about Forrest Gump…blah, blah, blah…lecture…blah…I think you missed the point…blah blah." And all I had to say in my defense, was, "Hey, English is my second language."

That my fellow legal aliens, is a seriously legal excuse you could always take to the bank-;)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sub Zero

NOTE: The "Embrace the Wonder" series features excerpts from a collaborative book/music project in progress. John Droese is the main author. However, there are other contributors whose stories would also be featured in this category...

I have always wanted to write a book but the fear of failure keeps me out of the game. Every time I show someone one of my stories, the slightest, not-so-favorable, comment can send me running to the backyard to bury my work… far out of the world’s view. Anyway, I have a good job that pays the bills. If I save my money wisely, I think I can retire early and then really start living. Who says 55 or 60 is too late to start enjoying life? Well, I guess maybe those people who only live to be 54. There is no time for thinking about this stuff now. There is a more pressing issue at hand.

I’m going camping. My friend Tony and I drive to (Flagstaff, Arizona) from (Miami, Florida), hoping to escape the routine of life for a little while. As we make our way through route 517, we see deep secluded woods on both sides of the road. I tell Tony to pull off so that we could try and find a place to set up camp. Pointing to patches of snow on the ground, Tony asks, “John, you think it gets cold around here at night?”
“No way Man!” I reply. It’s like 75 degrees.” Seeing the look of concern on his face, I add, “Don’t worry about it.”
“I don’t know about this John,” he complains.
“Look, it’s March, winter is over!” I state. (Spoken like a true Miami boy where to me, winter was officially from December 25th to January 2nd or something like that.“)
John we are pretty far out here in the woods,” says Tony. “You mean you’re not afraid of some wild animal dragging you off into the dark?”
“Don’t be a wuss, we are men! We fear nothing” I reply. (Now, I don’t really know if my words actually eased his mind; but, we set up the tent anyway and get ready for nightfall).
As darkness creeps in, I feel a chill in the air; but I’m not worried about it. I roll out my sleeping bag. I had bought it at the Salvation Army for two dollars just for this trip. It has definitely seen better days! I look over at Tony and he is busy fluffing up a pillow and spreading out a thin blanket.

“Tony, what are you doing? Where is your sleeping bag?”
“Aw John, I don’t have one.” He replies. “I think this blanket will do the trick.”

Outside, the tent is now smothered in a black veil. Growing up in the city, I never knew it could ever get this dark. I take a moment to look up at the sky and comment loudly to Tony, “Man, there sure are a lot of stars.” But this moment is short lived as Tony yells from inside the tent.
“John! It’s kind of getting cold, don’t you think?” (He was right. It was cold and seemed to be getting colder by the second).“Tony” I say, trying to sound unfazed by the situation. “Let’s just sleep in our clothes. I don’t think it will be a problem.” To me, this is a good, so I climb into my sleeping bag and Tony tucks himself into his blanket, wearing (jeans, a shirt, a sweat shirt a leather jacket with his socks and shoes on). Soon, it starts to get really cold. We grab our denim jackets and wrap them around our heads.

From my corner of our tent, I could hear Tony shivering. “Hey, let’s try and get some sleep. Just close your eyes; next thing you know we’ll wake up and this will all be over.”
Under his breath, I hear him say “Yeah right.” I must have drifted off, because suddenly, a rustling in the tent startles me. I open my eyes(not quite sure if I’m awake or still asleep and dreaming). Then I hear the zip, zip, zip, of the tent’s zipper opening, followed by Tony, who is heading for the exit.

“Tony where are you going?”
“Screw this! I’m getting in the car and turning on the friggin’ heat.”
“Come on man, don’t leave me here alone to be dragged off by some crazy animal” I plead jokingly.
“John, I thought you were not afraid of anything” he snaps. Now I wish I hadn’t been so smug earlier. Tony disappears into the night and moments later, I hear his car engine roaring to life. I attempt to get up and realize that my body is numb. Without even trying to get out of my sleeping bag, I get on my feet and hop out of the tent all the way into the car. It takes a couple minutes for the heat to start blowing.

“I’m only going to keep it on for about 15 minutes; just to warm up and then I’ll turn it off” says Tony. I nod. Next thing I know, I’m waking up; the sun is shinning, Tony is sleeping; the car is still running!

Well, we survived! We went camping to experience the wonders of the great outdoors and ended up sleeping in the car. However, I learned a valuable lesson…

Our greatest achievements can make for great stories, but our failures can make for even better ones. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s okay to fail as long as you never stop trying.

When I get home, I think I’ll go out back to dig up a few of my stories and show them around. I’ll just have to make sure that there’s a car with a good heater near by just in case I get a chilly response-;)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Scrawny's Words of Wisdom

Our school board has kept me busy as a substitute teacher throughtout this past couple weeks. I can't complain. Why should I? Not only did it come with a title upgrade from "stay-at-home-mom(sahm), to "sub teacher," I've been enjoying making a difference(hopefully) to some child, somewhere. However, I must ask...why didn't anyone warn me that working with varying sets of young children could also place your health at risk?

So, here I am home today, sick as sick can be; down and out with some wicked virus or a flu bug that's got a bigger bug up it's rear end. My head's been throbbing. My stomach's been churning with nausea; my entire body, aching like it's been driven over, and over again by a tractor trailer. I had to keep my younger two at home too. Daddoo is up, up, and away on some business trip and this morning, I could not pick myself off my bathroom floor, let alone drive anyone, anywhere.

Anyhow, I say to Scrawny, who had the same symptoms (sore throat and stuffy nose) just like yours truly, the day before...

"So, how come you're feeling better already and I'm getting sicker and sicker?"
"Mom, you're old," was exactly those uplifting words of wisdom that I needed to hear-;)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Previously on 24...

Last year, the 2-hour premiere of ‘24’ a high octane, hair raising, bone chilling, adrenaline driven, 007ish, hit TV show kicked off the season with a big bang. As usual. Jack is back and we (the fans) can thank President Wayne Palmer for that. However, within the first few scenes as the plotline unfolds, we realize that Jack’s release from a Shanghai dungeon and the claws of the Chinese government came with a hefty price tag. He is to become the proverbial sacrificial lamb. The plan is to deliver Jack to a man named Abu Fayed in exchange for information regarding the whereabouts of an infamous terrorist -Hamri Al-Assad, who is allegedly responsible for a wave of suicide bombings across America within the past 11 weeks. Over 900 people have been killed thus far; Jack is fully aware of this grave situation and could have tried to make a run for it. But, he didn’t. His life is on the line. But the stakes are higher. For many to live, he must die. As he’s been handcuffed to a metal grate in some deserted alley by one of his co-agents to await his grim fate, he says, “The only reason I fought so hard to stay alive in China was because I didn’t want to die for nothing. Today, I can die for something. My way, my choice.”

That scene. That dialogue, gave me goosebumps. How about you?

Anyhow, while I'm busy counting backward(yes, I've started counting already in anticipation of this season's opening), I find myself wondering about how the mastermind of 24 plans to reel us Jack Bauer junkies in this time around. Who's with me-;)

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