NYC Is A Fabulous City.

 Buildings in Tribeca neighborhood of New York City. I spent the week in NYC God do I LOVE this city…  so vibrant, energetic, exciting.  It is true, the City never sleeps!

Isn’t the picture fabulous!?!  Big thanks to JoeyBLS Photography for taking such a fabulous photo!

I was in town to visit with customers and help with a company event.  In between, I had time to catch up with a very close friend.  Here are my thoughts after processing the week.

  • Arrived town and had dinner @ Artisanal Bistro with my good friend.   The restaurant was delicious and it was so good to catch up in person!  We ended up having a fabulous time… did I mention he is extremely handsome?!?  I know, a bit of arm candy for Paula!!
  • I stayed at the Tribeca Grand Hotel . It was a great hotel – gorgeous rooms, excellent customer service.  I would consider myself lucky to stay there again. Picture is of the building that I could see from my room on the 8th floor.
  • According to a customer of mine, my company’s only redeeming quality  is a colleague of mine.  I love my new team.
  • NY men like to say, before they let it all out, that they are going to unleash it all, after all, they are “from NY”.  Apparently being from NYC means you are open to tell it like it is.  I LOVE the directness.
  • There are a lot of non-white folks with white babies in this town.  I know,  I know, they are nannies and babysitters.
  • Kids walk in NYC (well, really pulled by their parents really).  Parents don’t slow down for their kids, their kids keep up.  Kids do not set the pace in NYC, the parents (or babysitters) do.   Certainly helps keep the pace and reduces the number of abrupt stops while walking through the City.
  • And I’ve not seen a “double wide” stroller as of yet….  People stack their kids on top of each other. Love it.  There should be room on the sidewalk for everyone, it is not for people who want to hog sidewalks with their buggies.
  • Women are very fashionable in NYC, men are so put together and handsome.  I like that people dress up, don’t do everything in casual attire.

I loved the trip. I’m so happy that I have customers in NYC, and that I get to go to this fabulous city on a regular basis.  Yeah me!

I will have to learn to pace myself though, I’m home today, Saturday night, nursing a cold… I’ve fallen sick with all the party-ing and lack of sleep… I’ll catch up just in time for work on Monday.

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Family And Money Never Mix. Just Don’t Do It.

bad-tatooAs you all know, I am very close to AbFab and her kids Mayonaise and Shanaynay. These ladies are from my twin sister’s lineage.  Although I did not birth any of them, I love them like my very own.  What I’ve probably not shared as of yet, is that I have two other sisters that are much younger than me.  They are 9 and 11 years my junior.

I was friends with my sister that is 11 years younger. For blogging purposes, we will call her #4.  I liked her, loved her son Bubba to the ends of the earth.  She had such a great sense of humor.  For whatever reason, she has decided to end all contact with me. This happened a few years ago.  I don’t know why… I’m guessing it’s because I still communicate with my parents (she doesn’t).  I still don’t understand the dynamics between she and my parents, but I do know that we got along, that I enjoyed her company and I loved her son.  Why she cut me out I’ll never know.  Its been years since I’ve seen her.

The other sister, the one who is 9 (#3) years younger, is a piece of work.  She has, for whatever reason, always been my dads favorite.  My parents have done so much to help her, but its never enough, they continue to give, she continues to take.   They are always “saving” her, most of the time it’s from herself.  Growing up she was a mean, angry kid – she would lie to my parents about our interactions, and my parents would just believe her.  For example, one time, as kids, she told my parents that I did something to her. I don’t remember what she told them, but it was fabricated; completely false.  She looked me in my eyes, confirmed whatever it was with my dad.  My dad, without question, made me eat bits from a bar of soap (Irish Spring cut up into pieces for just such an occasion).  #3 watched with a smile on her face, like she had won.  That’s who she is.  I stayed as far away from her as I could.

Fast forward a few years.  I moved out of my parents house when I was 17.  #3 was 8 years old.  I don’t know her, she doesn’t know me.   She gets pregnant (on purpose), lives with my parents with her kid while my parents go through one of the roughest periods one could face: my dad was in an accident, he almost died. It took him 2 years to recover (had steel pins put in his legs, couldn’t walk, had to go through painful physical therapy, etc).  In the meantime, my mom took care of him AND worked 2 jobs.  #4 was still in high school, shocked by it all.  #3, what did she do? Sat on her ass and didn’t do anything.  Did she get a job?  No.  Did she help with trips to the doctor, physical therapy? No.  Did she cook dinner? No.  Will she tell you that this is absolutely not true? Yes.  She has  skewed view of “help”. If help means sitting on your ass in a basement apartment, watching TV, and sending your kid upstairs to be fed by the grandmother during her 2 hours between jobs, well, then yes, she helped.

Fast forward a few more years. My wedding.  My parents really wanted all of us sisters to get along.  #4 didn’t come to the wedding (I wished she would have), #3 I invited of course.  I also invited her son to be my ring bearer.  My dad said it would mean a lot to him so I did it.  I paid for her accommodations.  What I learned later was that she was angry about her son being a ring bearer.  My parents had to agree to take her new-born (drive to/from Utah to/from CA).  She was a complete bitch at the wedding; acting as if she couldn’t wait to leave. Well, it’s because she couldn’t wait to leave.  After the wedding I received a scathing letter from her, telling me that she hated me, that I “used” her son, that she never wanted to see me, and never wanted me to interact with her kids.  It confirmed my belief that she didn’t want to be at the wedding, but it was way over the top.  I make a hard copy of the letter (no snail mail in those days) and send it to my parents saying she should seek medical help.  That’s the last I heard of anything.  Seriously, whatever.  She’s unstable and needs help.

Fast forward a few more years.. I’m hanging out with my parents, AT THEIR HOUSE with all the grandkids, #3 and her kids show up.   I don’t know what to do so I go to a separate room and wait for her to leave.  Then I think to myself, fuck her.  I’m in UT from out-of-town, staying with my parents, she knows it.  If she doesn’t like it, she can take her kids away.  This moment was a defining moment for me – this is when I decided I would no longer stay at my parents house or deal with her bullshit while visiting with my parents.  This is when I decided that owning my own place in Utah was a good idea.

Fast forward a few more years, her husband helped me out with the first condo I purchased in Utah (helped me remodel a few things). He is a very talented contractor, and specifically a very skilled wood worker/cabinet maker.  I really like her husband…. they have their issues (we all would have issues with her), but he hangs in there. He is still with her.  Anyway, they asked to borrow money. Against my better judgement I did it.  I did it because I liked hubby and I wanted to help out.   This was .. lets see, somewhere between 5 – 10 years ago.  Over the years, I’ve requested the money back.  Every time I asked for it back, she goes ballistic.  So, I put in my yearly request, via Facebook message this time.  Below is the exchange – Keep in mind a few things:

  1. She and her family (hubby and 3 kids) are living in my parents 3 bedroom very spacious and nice basement apartment.
  2. she hasn’t held a steady job ever.  Always an excuse not to.  She will go to school sometimes, sometimes she will hold a job for a month or so… I think the last time her husband told her to get a job she got pregnant.
  3. my parents always bail her out, to the detriment of themselves.
  4. her husband is a hard worker, nice guy, and honestly, must have the patience of a saint. I wouldn’t know what it’s like to be married to him, all I do know is that all my interactions with him are pleasant.
  5. Given #1, 2, and 3, they go on a long vacation to California (as we all know, vacations and California are not cheap).

Anyway, enough said, here is our exchange (my comments added for clarity):

Paula to #3:  Hi #3.   I hope you are well. I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’d like to get my $5000 back. Given that you have enough $$ to go on vacation, I think that you and your hubby have enough money to pay me back the $5000 you borrowed. You can pay me $417/Mo for 12 months, $210/mo for 24 months…(providing guidelines on how to pay, I’m helpful like that). Of course I would take a lump sum as well (like you promised many years ago).  Please let me know what your plan is wrt returning the money you borrowed from me. Thanks.
Paula to #3 Follow-Up:  Hi #3.  Any update on this? 
# 3 Response:  Paula, all I am going to let u in on is there is a reason why we are living with parents (really? Shocker (not, this is sarcasm) . I know we owe u money and I’m sorry we haven’t got it to u yet (she takes ownership of the loan) but as of right now there is nothing I can do. If I have any extra money I’ll send it your way! 
Paula to #3:  XXX doesn’t have a job and manages to pay $100/mo. You seem to be fine – after all you aren’t working, you don’t have a mortgage, and you were able to take a vacation (maybe a little bit judgmental  but shit, it’s all true).  Just do whats right. Figure out a way that you can pay me back. If you can’t do a lump sum, pay me $100/mo, and when you get your taxes back, you can pay me back. After all, that was the original deal – you would pay me back when you got your taxes back.
#3 Response:  U don’t know what’s going on in my life so please don’t assume. That’s good for XXX her situation is completely different from mine. To be honest with u I NEVER wanted to borrow the money from u, if u remember right this was a deal u and hubby made. (now all of a sudden it’s a deal between me and her hubby).  I am doing what’s right (really? Is stealing from your parents retirement income the right thing to do) . Like I said if I have extra money I’ll send it right to u. I’m not living the high life, we pay rent, utilities and have bills to pay yours included. Please stop with your accusations, like I told u before ill do what I can.
Paula to #3:  What accusations? I’m just stating the truth – you owe me money. I need it so I’m asking you for it. I don’t want to be asking as much as you don’t want to be asked. There is no need to be defensive. Let’s just get through this. I’m asking that you make it a priority to pay me back. $100 a month is a good place to start. If you feel it’s better to wait until tax time OR there is another time, great. But please just give me a plan… something that works for you, that I can count on. Thank you.
#3 Response:   I’ll talk to hubby and he can let u know. I’m at school  (yes, so many years at school, no degree ever, it’s a past-time until no one is looking, then she quits) and don’t have the time or patience for this. If I HAD an extra 100 I would give it to u. My kids didn’t get school clothes u don’t afford that for me I guess that’s just Ashley’s girls (Ashley’s kids were not even born when she told me to stay away from her kids). PLEASE STOP ASSUMING AND ACCUSING ME OF BEING WRONG. I don’t deny we owe u money never have. U don’t know my situation (and don’t care to know, does it really matter?) so please take my word when I say if we have extra I’ll send it your way! (trust her?? really??)
Paula to #3:  Why are you yelling? And you are the one that told me to stay away from you and your kids. Yes, please let me know when you can pay me back. Thanks.
#3 Response: The only reason I told u to stay away from my kids was because of your attitude and favoritism in front of their faces (I’ve seen them maybe a dozen times in the last 10 years).  They never did anything and were in an innocent party to your pettiness. I’ll talk with hubby this week since he is home with just having surgery. (the “my life is so tough story. He’s probably in surgery because he works so damn hard to support her bitchy ass).  One of us will let u know “the plan” by the weekend.(Awesome!!). 
Probably not the best thing to blog about family and money, but shit, I’m soooo tired of the elephants in the room (this is just one of many)..  Isn’t it time we just admit that we all don’t get along and just open the communication gates?  It’s ok to not like each other.
So, this is my very long-winded, sharing of a personal experience, on why you should never, ever lend money to family.
The meaning of the picture? It’s perfect – its a return image from the google search “family and money don’t mix”.  Mixing family and money is worse than this Epic Failure tattoo…  🙂

Strange Addictions.

breaking-bad-meme-11This post is going to be about a lot of things, but the common theme is addiction…

As one junkie to another, I’ve moved on from Breaking Bad to Prison Break.  Both give me the same crazy I-need-more adrenaline rush.  On Saturday night, I think we watched 6 episodes of Prison Break in a row, no, maybe 8.  Why the switch?  Because I only had one more episode of Breaking Bad to watch. I just watched it tonight.

Re: Breaking Bad, just finishing up the last episode, I’m sad that it’s over.  I know tomorrow, and the very near future, I will get the shakes.  Just minutes after watching it, I’m missing it… my feelings all askew around what is next.  I really just want another hit episode.  Please dear god, let the idea of “the last episode” be a bad dream, let me wake up with another episode, just one more, on my recorder.

I have been cheating on Breaking Bad though… since I knew it was almost over, I fell for Prison Break (yes I was cheating on BB).  So, while waiting impatiently for the final Breaking Bad episode, I found Prison Break.  Not an evening has gone by without me watching 3-6 episodes.. yes, you read correctly.  Last Saturday alone I watched 6+ episodes, in a row…  All I can say is I love the pause functionality on Netflix, it allows me to go to the bathroom and grab food to nourish myself… otherwise, I’d be as emaciated as a drug user…

I have realized that I do have an addictive personality.  Not only am I addicted to TV Dramas, I now recognize I am also  addicted to real estate.  I have forever, since I became an adult (I call it enlightened, which happened when I was in college while watching Shawshank Redemption), felt that “safety” and “security” meant owning real estate. You see, as a kid, we traveled a lot.. we moved to a new place every few years.  I thought this was normal until I met my EX, who low and behold, grew up in the same house since he was 2 years old.  Blew my mind…   I thought to myself, “what would life be like if I had lived in one place all my life?”.  What I saw looked good.. it felt safe, secure. A place to call home.   A place I could decorate, make it my own space…Delighted by the idea,  I purchased a few properties in Utah in the early 2000’s as a single gal.  When I got married, I swapped those properties for a luxury condo in 2008 (stupid me), which I thought I would rent and use (VRBO is awesome).  Didn’t work out so it’s now a full-time rental.  In addition to this condo, I purchased a house for my niece AbFab, her husband, and her kids to live…  She is now divorced and living somewhere else; the home is now being rented out.

In addition to these rental properties, I purchased a house where I live, in Northern CA, which I remodeled, I absolutely love, but I do not live in. I cannot afford to live in my own home. Why?  PMI.  $700/mo in Private Mortgage Insurance.  Without the insurance, payment is a stretch but I can do it.  With the PMI, its out of my reach.  To live in my own home I would need a roommate.  I have to rent it out to pay the mortgage.  So where do I live?  I currently live in a 2 bedroom apartment a few miles from my house.

When I am completely honest with myself, I realize that I can’t afford to own these properties – I “own” them for “safety” and “security”.  What I realized was that they are actually a noose around my neck.. that I’m not getting anything out of it, that instead of feeling “safe” and “secure”, I’m stressed, tied down, and handcuffed if you will to these properties.  I just realized this a few months ago. I’m still wrapping my head around it…  I’m drawn, addicted if you will, to owning property.  But what I realize is that it isn’t good for me (unless subsidizing other people’s lifestyles makes you a good person).    I have begun proceedings to sell the Utah condo.  I’m pricing it just right so that it will sell by the end of the year.  I just want out.  Next up will be the property I purchased for AbFab and her kids… At the end of the day, I am no longer interested in subsidizing someone else’s living situation.  I feel like my addition is subsiding….  but we shall see. Once the properties are gone, will I get an itch, the shakes, to “get something of my own” again in Utah???

One other addiction that I really miss, that was good for me to?   Grey Goose and her funny stories.  Where is she? Does anyone know?  Is she safe, just working hard? Found a man who has swept her off her feet and giving her some good bicycle rides?  I keep going to her blog – http://myguidetobadinternetdating.wordpress.com/ – for updates, thinking my email alerts aren’t working, but no… nothing new.  Come back Grey Goose, I love and miss you!

O.k. this is it for me tonight. I’m exhausted.  I have other pieces I want to write about the wedding, precious gifts, the miracle of the human spirit, etc.. but I’ve run out of time.