Thursday, April 30, 2009

Original Recessionista

Where have all these shoppers come from? They used to stick to the malls and didn't stray from their favorite boutiques. Now they are crowding my favorite discount stores and picking them dry. It was tough even finding a parking spot close to the Marshalls store last week!

All of the magazines are giving "recessionistas" ideas on where to shop. What these new bargain shoppers are discovering, I've known all my life. Frugality can be fun! I grew up at yard sales (.;jsessionid=a6302b14acf52c1682b557148461555774a5?ID=341) I could make a dollar last all day! I furnished my first home with fab finds from closeout sales and thrift stores. My secret thrill today was knowing that my entire Ann Taylor outfit; skirt, sweater and shrug cost less than $30. Why am I complaining? Too much competition for the good deals! The clearance racks have nothing but a few irregular odds and ends that I'd never wear or give as a gift. Even my fav discount spots are thin on inventory.

It could be my own fault. I'm shopping less because this just isn't a good time to invest in yet another pair of black patent leather shoes. And every savvy shopper knows that when it comes to discount stores and thrift shops, the more you go the more likely you'll find an unbelievable deal to brag to fellow bargain hunters about.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Orange Power

I've made fun of the overuse of the spray tan on "Dancing with the Stars," but there's obviously something about being spray painted that gives these hoofers their edge. Ty, the rodeo guy, got sprayed up for the competition this week and wound up performing a darn good salsa. He's just fun to watch and even more fun to listen to. His down home quips make me smile every week. I hope he can outlast Chuck. Don't get me wrong, he's likable too, but Chuck just doesn't make me chuckle like Ty. Of the folks who were healthy enough to compete last night, those two guys had the lowest scores. Ty had a 24. Chuck's Cha Cha got a 26.

Melissa, who usually wows the judges and the crowd with difficult routines and a cutie-patootie personality, didn't get to show us her best thanks to a rib injury. Without the costumes or her game face, the pre-recorded rehearsal video of her jive fell flat. The judges gave it a 21.

Gilles and Shawn were tied with 27s. Watch out when Mr. Hotness gets another Latin dance. The judges liked his Lindy Hop, but I noticed some awkward steps near the start of the routine. Hearing his professional partner, Cheryl, curse at him when he can't catch the steps or when his shoulder injury is bothering him, really works my nerves. For that reason Cheryl is my least fav of the pros on the show. Shawn's Samba didn't exhibit the fire that she showed off last week. Unlike L'il Kim she's just not the booty-shaking type.

Despite the lack of booty-shaking moves, L'il Kim rocked the Paso Doble with the help from Derek's great choreography. She messed up BIG TIME in the team dance, but the judges didn't mind a bit. L'il Kim brought her raunch-i-tude back to the competition so the judges were in dance heaven. The Tango team of L'il Kim, Ty and Gilles earned a 28. The Mambo team of Shawn, Chuck and a pro filling in for Melissa got a mere 25. Props to pro Lacey for stepping in for Melissa, that girl was born to dance. Lacey upstaged everybody!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wanted: Hungry Realtor

The saga continues. From the day I moved into this house, I started thinking about the day I'd move out. It's a lovely huge, home in a beautiful, friendly neighborhood ( Lots of amenities, close to shopping and great restaurants, less than 30 minutes from uptown Charlotte. Before this entry turns into a classified ad, I'll just sum it up by saying the place is far from a dump. But, between the crappy economy and my bad luck with realtors I'm afraid I might die in this place.

At first I decided to stay true to the realtor who sold my previous home. He told me when to put the house on the market. I did some painting, made some repairs and when I'd finished sprucing up he told me NOT to put it on the market after all. I decided that if there was any hope of selling, I needed to put a sign out front no matter what. A friend told me about a realtor who only takes 1%, but offers less services. I jumped at the chance to make a little profit. Of course, this realtor would put no effort into marketing my home, but for 1% what could I expect? What I didn't expect was an e-mail, not a phone call, just an e-mail telling me that the 1% man was taking his business in a "different direction" and he no longer wanted to list my house. I swear the place isn't a dump.

About a week before the "Dear John" e-mail from Mr. 1% (who dropped by to pick up his sign and lock box and casually left my key on the front stoop) I got a call from a dude who appeared to be the kind of realtor I'd been looking for. He noticed my listing would soon expire and gave me his pitch over the phone. I liked his style. He couldn't meet with me any morning last week because that's his time to work the phones. Wow, a real go-getter! He e-mailed a letter of introduction that touted his "strong commitment to personal service" and a "22 step action plan proven to sell homes." I sure liked the sound of that. I thought the telemarketing realtor was the answer to my prayers and believe me I pray about selling this house every single day.

I cancelled the day trip I'd planned and made an appointment to meet with him at 3:00 pm on Sunday. At 3:15 I called his office to see if he was lost and needed directions. No answer. Checked e-mail and voicemail for a cancellation... nothing. I took a second look at his original e-mail and noticed that he refers to himself in the third person. I guess that should've been a red flag.

So now I'm realtor-less and trying not to worry. I took my ad off of Craig's List because of an oddball fear of a Norman Bates character showing up at my door (,2933,517090,00.html). Know a good realtor who is hungry to sell a house? Here is my realtor want ad:

Wanted: Driven, pushy negotiator to market and sell my home. Must be part of a strong relocation network with the stamina to spend hours each week hunting for qualified buyers. Realtor must feature my home on all the high traffic real estate websites with gorgeous professional photos of every room. Desktop publishing skills needed to produce full color brochures for other agents and potential buyers. Strong communications skills a must to keep me abreast of your activities, to give me feedback from potential buyers and to network with other agents. Only results-oriented top sellers with glowing references need apply.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lamer than You

Give me a lame moment in your romantic life and I can top it. Stood up? Been there. Set up on a blind date with a gay man? Done that. Third wheel on a parent's date. Honey, I've done that twice. I'd gladly repeat the first two. The third wheel situation? I'd rather not live through that again.

My cousin was supposed to come visit for Easter and so was my nephew. My cousin just got a new job and had to start A.S.A.P. My nephew got picked to play in a basketball all-star game. I swear I'm happy for both of them, but damn! When they cancelled that left me to have dinner with my mom, Wheezy, and her friend, Mr T. It was just the three of us... or should I say the two-plus-one of us.

It wouldn't be so bad if my mom and her friend weren't the king and queen of senior citizen sexual innuendo. Jokes about sneaking in for bed check at the nursing home? I've heard them all. Wisecracks about special things people can do when they take their false teeth out? You don't want to hear them. So, you can imagine that I approached Easter dinner with a hint of dread about the comedy that would ensue.

It didn't take long. It started the moment we were seated when my mother announced that she wanted to sit across from Mr. T so that they could play footsie. Not to be outdone, Mr. T had to tell her about a phone call wishing him happy "Resurrection Sunday." Chuckle-giggle-snort-snort... he thought the caller had said something out "erection" Sunday. Yes, I know the comment was inappropriate on many levels. Yes, at the moment it was said I was wishing that the 7 foot Easter Bunny roaming around the restaurant would break free from his handlers and choke me `til I passed out.

Being the third wheel in that situation is a new definition of lame. I dare you to even try to top it!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tragedy to Triumph

I've seen it before, but every time it happens it touches my heart. Its when people turn personal tragedies into triumph. These aren't grand miracles. They are the acts of everyday people who do extraordinary things when faced with horrible situations.

A dad I met while volunteering at a shelter had lost his job. Sitting around and feeling sorry for himself wasn't an option. Since his son had the day off from school, they were spending the day at Hall House ( helping out people who were less fortunate.

A mom, Alice McGinley, lost her son to suicide (;jsessionid=a630305c92e46ea25e94407417321e5d2818?ID=188). She started a support group called H.U.G.S. (Healing and Understanding Grief from Suicide). She volunteers her time and her heart to meet with people who've lost a loved one to suicide.

A businessman, Paul Zimmerman from Ashdown Roses, who after finding out a friend had lost a daughter, named a new breed of rose after the baby girl and donates 40% of the proceeds to the March of Dimes (

My friend Sharon Decker is one of those people who is always saying wise things. We were talking a few weeks ago and she said, "each of us can do something to bring misery to and end." I know she's right. Tragedy may knock the wind out of us. It may leave us feeling helpless, lonely or sad, but looking beyond the darkness to help others find the light? I think that's a big life lesson for all of us.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Death by Multi-tasking

Have you ever called someone and while you waited for them to answer, you forgot who in the heck you were calling? Either you pull the cell phone from your ear to check for a name and familiar number or you just hope you'll quickly recognize the voice. Just doesn't sound right when they say hello and your response is, "well, hello to you to my friend, relative or business associate..." The problem isn't your mememory. The culprit is MULTI-TASKING (cue the thunder sound effect)!!!

Driving while taking an important call, cooking while changing the sheets, texting while performing heart surgery (I know that last one is a stretch)... you know where I'm coming from. We could die if we don't slow down (cue the thunder sound effect again)!!!! Multi-tasking is robbing us of precious moments of calm, clarity and total concentration. That's why your keys are in the refridgerator and there's a half-eaten tuna sandwich in your purse.

I'm guilty of quietly tapping on my computer keys w hile listening to a particularly long monologue on the phone. I confess to staring into the eyes of a co-worker, pretending to listen, while making a grocery list in my head. Its gotta stop. Besides venturing across the lane line a bit while multi-tasking behind the wheel, the biggest danger lies in what we miss. Sometimes a story about what happened at school, at work or the doctor's office may not seem important, but when multi-tasking prevents us from giving people our undivided attention, it damages what we care about the most.