365 Project – Day 18 – News

News flash…our lazy dog CAN run!

PL365Day18Newswm

I’m Baaaaaaack…

And I’ve gotta rant about some Sidewalk Chalk Nazis out in Colorado.

But before I spout off, you should probably read a little background information here…

Sidewalk Chalk Art Against the Rules in Stapleton

First of all, I want to say that it pains me to speak ill of any community in Colorado right now. With the wildfires raging and destroying homes as I sit here writing this, I’m half-fearing some sort of immediate karmic backlash from the Universe if I unleash on the group of morons in Stapleton who are trying to keep a 3-year-old from coloring on the sidewalk with chalk. But, I can’t help myself. This news story popped up on my phone while I was on vacation last week, sending both Steven and I into tizzy, and it’s been bothering me ever since. So, today, as my vacation has officially come to an end and I begin to settle back into a routine, I figured I better get this one off my chest before I pop a blood vessel.

Here’s the deal, people. Even the most optimistic person has to admit that times are tough right now. Our economy is in the toilet. People are losing their jobs and their homes. We’ve got brave men and women in our armed forces being killed to protect our freedoms overseas. The costs on almost everything are rising. Fires are burning out of control. And people are literally chewing each other’s faces off.

It’s a shitstorm out there, my friends.

And yet, in spite of all the craziness and negativity, humans have a very natural instinct to find the simple beauty in life and hold fast to it. Little things like sharing a hot cup of coffee with a friend, singing along to a favorite song on the radio, and feeling a cool breeze against your face on a hot day are often the things that make all the difference, the things that keep us going in spite of all the odds stacked against us.

To put it simply, sometimes a little sidewalk chalk is exactly the therapy we need to get us through a difficult day.

Hell, Cadence and I had fun drawing with some sidewalk chalk on the patio just this afternoon…

So what’s the big problem?

Apparently, a sub-committee of a local HOA in a neighborhood in Stapleton has received complaints from a few of the residents, and they’re saying that “because it is a shared space, anything that offends, disturbs or interferes with the peaceful enjoyment isn’t allowed.”

Seriously??? What the hell is wrong with these people? They’re so miserable, they make Ebenezer Scrooge look like that cuddly little bear from the Snuggle fabric softener commercials.

Here’s my response to the complainers and the Courtyard Committee…If a 3-year-old drawing her ABC’s and some pictures of hearts, flowers, and balloons on the sidewalk is disturbing or offensive to you, you need to seek immediate medical help, because that stick you’ve got wedged up your ass has obviously migrated north and is starting to affect the parts of your brain that regulate logical thought, pleasure, empathy and compassion. If your health insurance won’t cover a complete asshole-removal and personality transplant, feel free to drop by my house tomorrow afternoon. I’ll gladly slap you in the face a half-dozen times to try and knock some sense into your empty head.

And if that doesn’t work, I’m fresh out of ideas, and I might have to admit that the old saying is right…You just can’t fix stupid.

So, tonight, I’m soliciting prayers for the people out in Colorado. Please take a moment to pray for the people affected by the wildfires, and the brave firefighters trying to bring them under control. And please pray for the hardhearted morons in Stapleton that have forgotten what it feels like to have fun.

The 3 Reasons I Do Really Want To Win All That Lottery Money

Steven and I aren’t lottery addicts. In fact, we don’t really gamble much at all, which makes it sort of ironic that we were the couple who ended up having a big destination wedding at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Between the two of us, we maybe dropped a whopping $20 total into a couple of slot machines while we were there.

But, there comes a point where even we get sucked into playing the lottery. There’s just something about seeing that jackpot number climb into the hundreds of millions that gets even the most cynical person’s imagination going. We start formulating a gameplan to spend our imaginary riches. We dream of a life free of mortgage payments and student loan debt and trimming our household budget to accommodate the rising price of gas and groceries. We dream of a life free of money-related woes.

When the jackpots reach epic proportions, like tonight’s record $640 million, it always irritates me to see stories popping up like this one…

5 Reasons You Really Don’t Want To Win All That Lottery Money

Really?

I mean, I’m a writer, so I understand getting creative and looking for a fresh angle on a story. Everyone’s writing about the ginormous jackpot and smart ways to spend the winnings, so why not try to come up with a fresh idea. But coming up with a list of reasons why people don’t wanto win $640 million? Even fiction writers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling wouldn’t try to spin such a far-fetched tale. Honestly, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to hit that jackpot?

And even if Steven and I still didn’t strike it rich tonight, I thought I’d share the three reasons I do want to win all that lottery money.

1. Our House, In the Middle of Our Street

In a way, Steven and I consider ourselves extremely fortunate. In an economy where it is becoming nearly impossible for the average person to actually get a mortgage, we own not one, but two homes. We bought our first house in Arizona in the summer of 2008. At the time, it made perfect sense. The house was a foreclosure in a great neighborhood, and everyone was saying that the housing market was bottoming out. For the same price as renting, we could be homeowners, so we decided to jump in. Little did we know that just two years later, we would be moving away from Arizona and our lovely house was barely worth half of what we paid for it.

So much for the market bottoming out!

So, we decided to secure a tenant and lease the property until the market recovered enough for us to sell. We never fancied ourselves landlords, but here we are, settling into a new house in Nebraska and waiting for the day we can finally kiss the house in Arizona goodbye. So, what would we do first with those lottery winnings? Pay off those houses of course!

2. School’s Out For Summer

After the mortgage payoff extravaganza, our second agenda item would be to send a fat check over to pay off my student loans. It’s been nearly 10 years since I graduated from Concordia with my B.A. and I’m still paying for it.

Funniest part is, I’ve got a Master’s Degree too, but that debt is all settled up.

Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe that my education was worth every single penny (and probably more). I’m not even sure I could put a price tag on the experiences I had at Concordia. After all, I met some of my best friends and mentors there. And best of all, I met Steven there. So, without Concordia, there would be no marriage, no sassy 2-year-old named Cadence, no lazy hound dog. Hell, I’m not even sure I’d be here at all, so yeah, it’s been worth the 10 years of payments and a whole lot more.

I’d be happy to see that monthly payment gone though. Just sayin’.

3. In A Rich Man’s World

I wouldn’t consider myself a greedy person. I don’t need a lot of money to survive. I like to pay my bills, treat myself every so often to a bag of gourmet coffee or a movie, and have a little left over to squirrel away in the bank for a rainy day. I don’t covet all the newest, most expensive gadgets. I don’t dream of wearing the latest designer clothes. I don’t need to drive a tricked out sports car or live in a massive estate and throw elaborate parties to impress people. Hell, I didn’t even own an Ipod until 2 years ago, and I’m happy to drive around in my $1000 minivan, complete with hail damage and a busted factory stereo.

What would be nice about the lottery money though, is the financial freedom it would provide. Instead of worrying when the car breaks down and needs $3000 worth of repairs, we could just get it fixed (or get a new one). Instead of worrying about the cost of preschool and gas and airfare and Cadence’s future college education, we could rest easy knowing that it will all be taken care of. So no, we don’t necessarily want or need the entire $640 million jackpot, but we sure wouldn’t turn it down if our numbers popped up in that machine.

Honestly, after that, I don’t know what Steven and I would do with all that money. We’re not the type who splurge just to splurge. We would probably do a little updating to our home here in Nebraska–replacing the rest of the windows that the former owners didn’t, turning the garage loft into a music studio/man room for Steven, and installing a separate shower in our upstairs bathroom. And maybe, we’d do some traveling, making sure we were able to visit all the friends and relatives we live so far away from and miss so much, and then maybe head over to Italy and Ireland and London and Turkey so we could finally have the honeymoon we never got the first time around.

After that, life would probably just go on as usual around here because, really, we’re just pretty ordinary.

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