Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sunday April 29 Running Primo's life

Primo: I'm not doing it right.

Me: Nope. You need to do what I tell you.

Primo: Like what?

Me: Like when I tell you to take a shower and you don't.

Primo: Not today.

Me: No, the other day when you were complaining that you felt lazy when you woke up and I said you might as well take your shower right away because that takes no brain power. You had a meeting at 2:00 and that way, you wouldn't be in an unshowered panic at 1:45 like you usually are and then you're Mr Typhoid Stress Mary, infecting everyone around you with your panic.

Primo: Maybe.

Me: Not maybe.

Primo: I told Political Wife that I trusted her to manage my campaign and that I didn't need to get competing bids.

Me: But you don't trust me! You don't even trust me to take a shower.

Primo: You know how it is.

Me: You don't trust the person who loves you most to tell you how to run your life. I care about you more than she does and I know you better, but you won't listen to me.

Primo: And I'm not as nice to you as I am to other people.

Me: Nope.

Primo: I'm not doing it right.

Me: You sure aren't.

Sunday April 29 I hit the neighbors' car

I am assuming you guys already know the advantages of marriage: reduced living expenses, someone to zip up your dress, someone to point out when you're doing it wrong, but perhaps you are unaware of the disadvantages of a legal contract that can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to break.

One of the main disadvantages of this contract is that if you do something really, really stupid, you don't get to keep it to yourself. Even if this really, really stupid thing caused no damage to your car or to the other car and the other car owner says, after his daughter points out that, "Oh, Dad, that's what a bumper is for," and he has to bend over and get within two inches of the bumper just to see the one-inch scratch, "Well, I guess there's no point in spending $2,500 to replace an entire bumper just to get rid of one little scratch" and you sigh a huge sigh of relief because no, there isn't any point in spending $2,500 to replace an entire fender just to get rid of a tiny scratch and how many times did you wave off someone who had bumped into you? At least three. At least three. So now maybe your karma is coming around. But will it do you any good?

No. No it won't. Because when you waved people off, you were unmarried and driving your old Toyota and didn't have to explain yourself to anyone.

Now, you bumped into someone while you were driving 1. your husband's car 2. while you were married and 3. guess what you bumped into someone in the exact same spot while you were backing out of your driveway a year ago.

Ouch.

For the record, I'm blaming my sister. She was in the car with me and I was distracted.

Remember the van I hit right before we were leaving on a trip? The guy wouldn't take my insurance information. I kept trying to give it to him. He wanted to get together for lunch and talk about it. Which was weird. He emailed months later with an estimate. We told him to mail us a hard copy and we'd send him a check or submit it to our insurance and we never heard from him again.

So yesterday, I was backing out and not doing my due diligence. Our street is narrow and if you're not careful - well, bump. I bumped into the car parked on the street across the street.

I felt my stomach fall. I felt sick. I got out and looked. I couldn't see any damage, but I suspected eagle-eye SH might find some. To me, a car is merely a means to transport a person from Point A to Point B. I don't want to have too many scars, but I don't care about a few bumps and bruises. But he is a little more particular about his vehicles, a difference that has caused me to lament more than once that I should never have sold my car when I married him.

I walked the slow walk of the guilty to my neighbors' door and rang the doorbell. Ruth opened the door. I winced. "I just hit the car parked in front of your house," I said.

"Oh!" she said. "That's my dad's. He just got here."

Great, I thought. I have great timing. If I'd left for the store ten minutes ago, this wouldn't have happened.

They came out and looked at it. He didn't look too happy, but she waved it off. "Dad, it's not a big deal," she said. "That's what bumpers are for." I gave him my insurance information anyhow. "In case you decide to repair it," I said, silently praying that he would continue to think it complete insanity to spend thousands of dollars for what is truly a one-inch long almost-invisible scratch.

When we got back from the store, I noticed he'd moved his car into Ruth's driveway.

Smart man.

Telling Ruth's dad I'd hit his car was not the worst part.

The worst part was having to tell SH that 1. I had backed into a car 2. IN THE EXACT SAME SPOT I HAD BACKED INTO A CAR LAST YEAR.

This, my friends, is the reason to stay single.

The End.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Saturday April 28 what if I become a bag lady

Probably the thing that scares me the most in life is the chance that I will be out on the street with nothing to eat.

You are laughing. "Really, Gold Digger? You really think that is an option? You have savings, a house that's more than 60% paid for, not one but two defined benefit pensions, and social security. And family."

I counter with, "Savings can melt. My 401ks have not budged in the past 10 years. I can pay off the house, but I still have property taxes every year and they are not low. I have the pensions, but by the time we retire, they won't be enough to pay the phone bill. Today, they are enough to pay the property taxes and the homeowners insurance and that's it. Social security. Are you making a joke? And yes, I have family, but it's not like they're rich. I could move into my mom's basement if I had to, but she's not going to live forever."

I want to throw so much money in the bank that I never have to worry again. I want to pay off the house and bank thirty years' worth of property taxes. It would be really nice if property taxes would actually go down. Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week please tip your waitress. I want to have enough in savings that we can fund our retirement. I want enough in savings that we can put a new roof on the house. I don't want to put a new roof on the house. I just want to be able to pay for it if we need to do it.

Primo earns a decent living. He works his butt off to do it. I hate that he works so hard, but have to admit I like the income. Not that we spend it. A good chunk of it - a really good chunk of it - goes to his ex wife. Remember what I told you? If you ever get divorced, get a really mean lawyer. Mediating a divorce works only if both of you want a divorce. Or, if you don't want to pay a lawyer but one of you doesn't want the divorce, at least look up the divorce laws in your state to find out about alimony. You might discover that the laws define how much alimony you have to pay. You might not end up paying twice as much alimony as you would have paid by statute. Just saying.

So we pay a lot of alimony. It ends in a few months. I was looking forward to finally getting my hands on that money. I was going to replace the from-hell smoothtop electric stove in our kitchen (duh - where else do you put a stove?) with a gas stove. Then we were going to pay off the house and bank, bank, bank the cash.

But now, if Primo wins the election, we'll have four months of alimony-free income before he quits his job to start serving in the house. And then Primo's income will drop by ALOT percent.

I've applied to over 50 jobs in the past three months. I've been qualified or over qualified for all of them.

I have not gotten even a phone interview.

I can't sleep.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saturday April 28 Polka Dot Prom

Primo is going to a big political deal tonight, the Polka Dot Formal, where the mayor and all the Polka Dot Bigwigs will be hanging out. It's the big annual Prom for the Polka Dots, the event they look forward to every year, hoping that special someone will ask them out. My friend Jen asked if Primo will be getting his photo taken under the balloon arch with the Important People. My gosh, I hope so. I want this all to have been worth it.

He told me about it the other day. "I could meet some really important people," he said.

"But my sister and her boyfriend will be visiting!" I protested.

"It could help me in the campaign."

I sighed.

"The thing is, it costs $125."

I looked at him.

And looked at him.

"Do you know what kind of shoes I could get for $125?"

"I could get one or two good contacts out of it."

"Just one or two? That's $60 to $125 per contact!"

"Actually, $62.50," he corrected.

I glared at him.

"The Political Wife said she might be able to get me a free ticket."

"Fine. If you can go for free, then go. But I don't think it's worth it to spend that much money on one or two contacts. Ten dollars a contact, fine. Sixty? No."

For those of you in big cities, you might think, "One hundred twenty five dollars? That's it? That's a swanky, expensive event? That's what it costs to get access to the top political figures?

Know that our city is a thrifty city. We may be the only city in the United States that ran a surplus yes that is correct a surplus during the Depression. These people, my people, do not waste. We are not big spenders. We hold onto a penny. We hate to see money leave our hands. Even politicians are reluctant to spend. Not as reluctant as other people because they are after all politicians but reluctant.

Last night, after my sister and her boyfriend, who is a keeper - if she breaks up with this one, the very first one I have ever liked, I will cry, arrived, and we were eating the Pinter's steak that as usual, Primo had prepared to absolute perfection, Primo said that the Political Wife had indeed come through with the free ticket.

"Will you be needing arm candy?" The Boyfriend, who henceforth shall be known as Matt, asked.

"He'll have the Political Wife," I said.

"Does that concern you?" my sister asked me.

"She doesn't need to worry," Primo assured her. "Political Wife loves her husband."

I turned to him and raised my eyebrows. "That," I said, "was not the right answer."


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Primo says I should be his campaign manager

So I saved a post with just the title, thinking I would get back to it later, but now, in November, I cannot remember a word of this conversation. So I will sum it up thusly:

Primo: I think you should run my campaign.

Me: No.

In retrospect, I should have. We would have been far better off.

Monday, November 19, 2012

In which we consider what to give Sly and Doris for Christmas (a non-political, real-time post)

Primo and I are thinking of giving Sly and Doris a framed photo of ourselves for Christmas this year. (In addition to a four-day visit from Primo through Christmas Eve.)

(Primo's Christmas present to me is that I am not going with him to Sly and Doris'.)

(They will hate a photo that has me in it.)

(This is a feature, not a bug.)

What we're not sure of is whether we should also give them a cast-iron cat.

Tuesday April 24 Primo's parents send him a poison pen email asking him if he should run

Primo came downstairs and slumped into the bed. "I don't know what to do. I haven't gotten anything done all day."

I glanced at the clock. "It's 9:30!" I said.

"I know," he sighed. "I have a meeting with that graphic designer tomorrow. I have work to do. But I can't concentrate. I'm gridlocked."

"Why?" I glanced back at the book in my lap. I'd spent a few hours trying to put his website together, including trying to figure out to upload a photo to the front page. I hadn't worked in that application before. I never did figure it out.

I'd done three loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, washed the kitchen floor, gone to the grocery store, changed the sheets, vacuumed, taken out the trash, cleaned the cat box, baked a cake, gone running. I had let the cat in and out of the house three times. I had gone to the good hamburger place to use the two for one coupon before it expired. I had gone to the library to return books so I wouldn't be fined. I had washed mustard greens and cooked them so Primo would have a green vegetable for supper.

I had finally sat down to relax. Now Primo wanted my attention.

I guess he deserved it. He still had a harder life than I did.

"My parents sent me an email."

This was never good. I took off my glasses. I would not be returned to the book any time soon.

"My dad wants to know if I've put enough 'due diligence' into running. He doesn't want me to make the same mistake they made with the restaurant."

His parents had invested a lot of money in a restaurant with Primo's brother. The big difference between Primo running for office and the restaurant, however, is that we are 1. not taking a second mortgage against our house of 2. $250,000 for 3. a business about which we know nothing and 4. have researched not at all.

I rolled my eyes. "What else?"

"And my mom says I should worry about taking care of myself instead of trying to fix the world."

I double rolled my eyes.

"This? From your mother? Your mother who is the biggest emotional drain in your life? She is telling you to take care of yourself and not to take care of anyone else? Does she see the irony in this?"

"Everyone else is happy for me. Everyone else is supportive. Even you are supportive and you don't agree with me."

I shook my head. "What are they trying to accomplish? Are they trying to talk you out of this?"

"I don't know."

"Besides, what's the downside of your running? If you run and don't win, then what? It's not like you lose your job. I know you hate your job and want to do something different, but if you lose the election, we just make another plan. But there is no downside to running. There is no risk. I don't know why they would discourage you. You'd think they'd be all over this. It's not like they've ever been proud that you're an engineer, anyhow. Your dad thinks you should have gone to grad school. He doesn't think you really work. You'd think they'd be excited that you're going into politics so they can brag to all their activist friends that their son is in the House. I don't get it. Why do they always have to be such downers?"

"Maybe it's because they know if I'm campaigning all summer, I won't have time to visit them."

I laughed. "I'll bet that's it!"

He smiled. "And they called you an Ice Queen. And blamed you for keeping me away from them."

"Oh yeah. If it weren't for me, they would see you all the time. Wouldn't you?"

He nodded. "That's it. I just love visiting them and spending time with them."

He paused. "They think I'll be corrupted."

"They do? The people who raised you? They think that what, you'll get sucked up in the cesspool and lose your moral center?"

"Yeah. I'll start taking bribes. Except it's your side that does that."

"Oh right. Let's see. The most recent bribery scandal in our town was - Oh! On your side! For Johnny X! For $500!"

He laughed. "Yeah, for the big money, you have to go to the Stripes party. The Polka Dots aren't smart enough to go for the big money."

"Uh huh. That's it. That's the only time X ever took money. And he just happened to get caught. Your side is the side of angels. Nobody on your side ever does anything bad." I rolled my eyes again. I need to be careful. One day, they're going to get stuck.

He signed again. "What am I going to do about my parents?"

"I don't know. Were they drunk when they sent it?"

He thought. "It was 7:30 when they wrote it, so yes."

I seethed. "I hate addicts. I hate how they can't keep their poison to themselves. I hate how they have to spread it out and contaminate everyone around them. Why do they have to infect you? Why can't they be content to be bitter alone?"

"They don't want to be miserable alone," Primo said. "They want to suck me in."

"Tell them to leave you alone," I said. "Tell them to shut up."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Monday April 23 raising money

Primo met with Blake, the chair of the county Polka Dot committee, this morning. This was his first official meeting with the party as a candidate. Samantha had set it up. "Be nice to Primo," she had emailed to Blake. "He's quirky, but he's smart."

"Quirky?" I asked. "What does she mean?"

"Oh you know. I bring wine to the meetings. And I correct the grammar on the mailers."

"Wouldn't they want the grammar to be correct on something before you mail it out? Or do they want to be the party of grammatical errors?"

He shrugged. "You would think they would want to be correct."

"So why do you have to meet with this guy?"

"Because if he doesn't like me, it's bad. He runs things around here. If he approves of me, it will be very helpful. But he's really demanding and picky. I'm worried."

****

The night before, on his way out the door to a campaign event for another candidate, he had asked me to do some research for him to prepare for the meeting. "Find out how much it costs to run a campaign for the State House."

"How on earth am I supposed to do that?" I asked.

"Google it," he suggested. "I need to go to a meeting."

"I'll do it tomorrow."

"No! I need to know by tomorrow at 10 a.m.! I have to know so I can talk to Blake about it. Forget it. Just forget it. I'll do it myself when I get back."

"No, I'll do it. Sheesh. You could have given me some notice, you know. Is this what it's going to be like for the next seven months? You decide you need something right now so that means I have to drop everything? I don't mind helping you, but I would appreciate more than five minutes notice."

"Start with the election board. Try that." He hovered over me nervously, which I hate, while I searched. I found a series of reports.

"Which ones?" I asked. "Which candidates?"

"Let me see. Find the results from the last election."

I googled 2010 state house elections. (I might capitalize "state house" on this blog, I might not. It's however I feel.)

"There," he said, leaning over me into the screen. I hate when he does that. "District 4. District 16. Let me see. Let me see!"

I took my hands from the keyboard. Sat back. Pressed my lips together. Breathed.

"See how these were close?"

"Yes."

"Well, the ones that were close."

"Just tell me which ones you want."

"The ones that were close."

"No. Just tell me which districts."

"The ones that were close."

"That's not what I mean."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean tell me the numbers. Don't make me think about it. You already sprang this on me. I didn't want to do this. I didn't ask for this. Just tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it. Tell me the districts and go away."

He grit his teeth. "Forget it. I won't go to this meeting. I'll just stay and do this."

"No, I said I'd do it. But you have to tell me which races you want. I'll pull the numbers for you, but you have to decide which ones you want."

We glared at each other. Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

"Fine," he hissed. He looked at the screen. "One. Five. Seven. Fifteen. Twenty. Twenty six. I have to go."

"You're welcome," I muttered under my breath as he slammed the door. Oh this was going to be a fun, fun seven months.

It didn't take me long to find the appropriate reports. It took even less time to figure out that running for office is not an inexpensive endeavor. Forty to sixty thousand dollars. No wonder it's rich people who go into politics. Rich people with rich friends. Who else can afford it? And this is for a simple, state-level office without much power. This isn't even national-level office.

I wondered what kind of job I could get if Primo were to be elected. Michelle Obama got a $200,000 raise the year her husband was elected to the Senate, but that was at the national level. What kind of raise do you get at the state level? Maybe $20? Of course, you have to have a job to get a raise. Maybe I can parlay Primo's position into a job! Someone will hire me because I will be a peddler of influence.

****

Primo was pale after he returned from the meeting with Blake.

"He says I need to be able to raise $2,000 by the end of today. He says Joe Smith, the candidate from the 28th district, did it."

"Two thousand dollars? In one day? How does anyone do that?"

"You call your friends and family."

I felt sick to my stomach. I hate asking for money for myself. I don't mind asking for others or for a cause, but for myself, I can't bear it. Primo is not much better.

"What are you going to do?" I asked. "How on earth do you raise $2,000 in one day?

"I don't know if I can do this," he answered miserably. "Who am I supposed to ask? My parents?"

"Oh yeah. That'll work. Your mom and dad have been so generous with you."

"I don't want to ask them."

"I'd rather use your bonus than ask them. Except I don't want to use our money on this."

"Teresa spent her own money."

"Yes, but Teresa was running for a job that pays $130,000 a year. She was making $60,000 a year. She took a gamble, but she was taking a gamble to more than double her income. You are running for a pay cut. We already decided that investing our own money for you to take a pay cut is probably not the smartest thing to do."

He shook his head. "No, it's not."

His shoulders slumped. "I don't want to do this part."

I shook my head. "I don't blame you."

"I guess I should call my mom and dad."

"Remind them of the twice a year trips - plane fare plus car. That's what, $250 for each flight plus $130 for the car. Five years of that. You can do the math."

"They pay for everything when I'm there," he reminded me.

"Oh, so you eat $380 worth of food?" I asked.

"You know what I mean."

"I'm not holding my breath," I muttered.

He went upstairs. Came back down

"I called them," he announced.

"And?"

"They said they'll contribute."

"OK. That's good. How much?"

"They didn't say."

If they broke $100, I would be surprised. Cynic, that is I.

"I called Tom, too. He said he'd contribute. I need to call Sam."

"Wow. This is going to be hard. Do you think he'll contribute?"

"I don't know. Maybe. I think so. I would give if they were running. They're my friends. I might not give a lot, but I would give."

"What if they were on the opposite side? Then would you give?"

"I don't know. Maybe. Yes. I would give some. Not as much as if I agreed. If they weren't extreme. I wouldn't give to Dave. He's gone off the deep end. I don't even think we're friends any more. But anyone else, yes. I would. Twenty five dollars. No more than that if we disagreed. But I would give $25."

"Me, too," I mused. "And I have never donated money to a political campaign. But if one of my friends were running, I would."

A few hours later, he called Sam. I heard his happy, Sam voice coming from upstairs. It's the voice I hear only when he is talking to Sam. I never hear that voice when he is talking to his parents. I don't even have to hear him say a name to know who he's talking to. Somber, grim voice = parents. Happy voice = Sam.

He bounded down the stairs, happy. "He maxed out! One thousand dollars!"

I gasped. "You're kidding!"

He smiled. "Nope!"

Upon further reflection, I wasn't surprised. Sam is amazingly generous. When Mike, Sam and Primo's friend, lost his job and his company computer, Sam went online, bought a top of the line laptop, and had it shipped to Mike the next day. "How can he find a new job if he doesn't have a computer?" Sam asked. "He has a wife and a baby on the way. He needs a job." We only found out about it because Mike told Primo about it a year later, tears in his eyes.

The phone rang. We looked at each other. We looked at the phone. It was Sly and Doris. They never call. Never. It is always incumbent on Primo to call them. Primo took the phone and walked into the bedroom. I followed him. No way I was going to miss this.

"What? Oh! Yes! Thank you!"

"No. No, I can't take that much."

"Because it's illegal."

"The limit is $500 a person, $1,000 a couple."

"Mom, Dad, thank you so much. I don't know what to say. Thank you. Thank you so much."

Then they blabbed for another half hour and I tuned them out, although I had half an ear cocked for any talk of bad bacon eating. Nothing.

When he hung up the phone, he said, "They told me that I hadn't asked for a cent since I was 20 and they'd given a lot of money to my half brothers, so it was time they gave some to me."

"How much did they want to give you?"

"Two thousand dollars!"

"Wow!"

"But they can't. That's over the limit."

"Oh well. Wow. That's really generous. That's really, really nice of them. Not that I don't think you don't deserve it. But that's really nice of them."

He smiled. "I've just raised two thousand dollars! I get to go to the county meeting tonight and tell Blake I've raised two thousand dollars!"

I hugged him. "You're a superstar. You did it."