Recession Mama

{September 29, 2009}   Broke Girl Frame of Mind

By Heather

I was digging through some papers this week and found a poem that I wrote back in 1996. It’s on a torn piece of notebook paper. Just something I scribbled down one night following a frustrating day of looking for a job.  I’ve kept it tucked inside my green folder with some of my other “thoughts” and stories. I’m not sure why I still have it. I  just don’t throw that kinda stuff away. (not a pack rat, just sentimental)

The “thought” or poem really gives one a sense of my “broke girl” frame of mind. I was just moving along in slow motion, trying to keep a positive attitude. But it was hard. I was failing miserably at being a “success” and accomplishing simple tasks. Even brushing my teeth felt like a major chore.

I was just tired of searching for a job. Tired of having all of the wrong qualifications. Tired of being jerked around.

I’m pretty sure this was around the time I answered an ad for a “public relations” position. I was excited to get an interview. I went into the office and discovered over 50 other people in the room.

Great! A group interview. I hate these. But I’ve been through them before. Better shine!

No such luck. Turned out they wanted me to sell vitamins, water filters and other health crap that nobody wants.

Whoa! Pyramid scheme. I gotta get out of here.

I rushed to the door and was stopped by a very tall guy who refused to let me out. The conversation, to the best of my recollection, went down like this.

“You can’t leave in the middle of the presentation”

“I’m not doing a pyramid scheme. I thought this was a PR job.”

“No but it’s a great opportunity. Really you should sit back down. You’re really not allowed to leave.”

“Either you let me out of here or I’m calling the police and telling them that you are holding me hostage.”

He got out of my way and I went home and sobbed.

So why share this now? Especially when it was so long ago.  It just feels right. I GET IT! It’s not easy searching for a job or learning a new skill in a crap economy. Once you’ve been in this position, you can never forget.

I don’t have any great “Dear Abby” advice or pearls of wisdom here. All I know is that when you’re on the bottom there’s no place to go but up. That’s what always kept me going when the going got tough. You’ll be reminiscing about the “bad times” soon enough. Now I’m going to torture you with one of mine.




Shoestring remedies and dime store anecdotes

A handful of full of change and a hole in your pocket.


Telephone rings and you wish you hadn’t answered

One more letter and it won’t ring at all.


Looking at the want ads cuddled up in a blanket

Turned on the heat, but it only blows cold.


One more day and you’re back where you started

Two more days and your start is long gone.


Deep dark thoughts, scratch it down on some paper

A whole idea once was great now it’s gone.


Brush in time with your voice a humming

Head down lights out you’re dreaming perfect songs.




{September 28, 2009}   Helping My Local Economy

By Katy

Friday night, I came out of a restaurant, and I noticed that my car was gone.  I scanned the street, hoping that I just had a senile moment and had forgotten where I parked my car.  Then, I noticed the sign.

“After 9 p.m., you will be towed!” It said.


I looked at my watch.  It was 9:27 p.m.  Aw, crap!  I didn’t even notice that sign when I parked the car.  Why was I so careless?  It’s not like I have a lot of money to burn right now.  Luckily, my fiance had driven his car to the restaurant before me, so he took me to the tow yard.  The lady behind the cage wasn’t too friendly.  I wasn’t angry, but maybe she’s seen a lot of angry people.  She asked for my driver’s license and then told me to go through a gated door to get my car.

“I’ll give you your driver’s license back after you get your car.”  Oooo K…It’s not like I’m going to drive through all of the gates!  So after getting my car down (the tow truck had just dropped it off), I went back to the super friendly lady behind the cage to face my financial fears.

“$207.50.”  What?!?!  Did I hear that correctly?  $207.50?!?!?!  Less than an hour at the pound, and it costs me $207.50 to get my car out?  Wow!!!!  I really did it this time.  Then, when I got back to my car, I noticed I had also gotten a $60 parking ticket!!!  How in the world can they double charge me like this?  $100 already goes to the City of Los Angeles for a “vehicle release fee.”  The $107.50 goes to the tow company.  No wonder they were so eager to tow me!  They’re making over $100 an hour.

Since the weekend is almost over, I am trying my best to look at the bright side.  Otherwise, I might as well slit my wrists and kill myself now.  I’m helping the local L.A. economy.  The city is broke, right?  I’ve now done my part (wayyyy beyond my part, in my opinion) to boost the city’s coffers.  Here’s $160 of my hard-earned money.  You are very welcome.  Now, please don’t come asking me for any more.

{September 27, 2009}   GUEST POST: Five weeks in Africa

By Stephanie Bowen (Stephanie wrote Thoughts from Uganda for Recession Mama awhile back.  By popular demand, she is back with an update and photos!)


I have been back from Africa for over a month now and parts of my trip feel like a distant memory, where others I know will stay with me for a very long time. It was a trip for work but I grew so much personally that I would’ve gone as a volunteer (don’t tell my boss)!

A little background: I work for the humanitarian aid organization International Medical Corps. We focus on health care and training with the ultimate goal of helping communities become self-reliant. Our work literally saves lives and builds healthy futures. I’m not just saying this as their PR person – I’ve seen it first-hand. First in Indonesia about two years after the tsunami, now in Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This was my first trip to Africa and as you may remember from my blog reflecting on my wanderings through Kampala, I was immediately struck by the warmth of the people. That warmth continued on into Kenya and the Congo. Bright colors and big smiles were everywhere. Children were always running up to our vehicle, chasing us while laughing and waving. At one point I was in the middle of a refugee settlement in southwest Uganda surrounded by children who couldn’t stop laughing and screaming, so excited that I was taking their photograph and even more intrigued when I showed them the digital images. It was so much fun for me that I didn’t want to leave. To see that much joy in a situation that quite frankly can be very joyless was quite intoxicating.


The reality of life in the refugee settlements I visited in Uganda and the internally displaced persons camps I visited in the Congo were tough. Women who had been raped and left alone and pregnant (, and children who were so malnourished it was a miracle they were still alive ( But there were also many stories that left me feeling very good.

I haven’t formally written about it yet, but we have an amazing program in Kenya that has made great strides in fighting HIV and helping those who are infected. It’s our Home-Based Counseling and Testing program. We started it in Suba, which is along the shores of Lake Victoria and the HIV/AIDS rate is very high – some say up to 30% — because many women there frequently trade sex for fish so they can feed their families. We reached 100% coverage in Suba and now have expanded to a neighboring community, Migori.


Marcy and Jessica are just two of the women who are participating in this program. Having met with a volunteer community mobilizer, Marcy, and her sister-in-law, Jessica, decided to get tested for HIV – they wanted to know their status. Marcy has a five-month-old baby with her husband, Jessica’s brother, and being able to get tested in their shared home made it convenient and confidential. After preparing the women for all the possibilities and educating them about HIV and AIDS – the difference between them, transmission methods, risk reduction, etc. – they took their tests, which only needed about 10 minutes to process. They chose to get their results separately and were both happy to learn that they were negative. If they had been positive, International Medical Corps would’ve been there to make sure they knew how to access treatment and counsel them through the process. International Medical Corps has 44 counselors who go door to door, administering HIV tests in this one area alone. We test 3,000 people a month!

This is one of our community educators in the Kyaka II refugee settlement. The t-shirt she is wearing is one means of conveying information.

This is one of our community educators in the Kyaka II refugee settlement. The t-shirt she is wearing is one means of conveying information.

I don’t want to get too bogged down in the details of the program, but what I observed with the several families I witnessed getting tested is that this program is not only helping people who are infected it is changing people’s views on the disease. Stereotypes are being broken down, treatment is being sought and prevention measures are becoming more and more acceptable. Change is taking place around AIDS in Africa, one person and one family at a time.


I think the biggest highlight for me was when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a stop by one of our programs in the Congo ( We of course knew she was going through Congo on her Africa tour but were thrilled to learn that she was going to visit our nutrition program at the Mugunga I camp for those displaced inside their own country due to the ongoing war. I was supposed to come home right after Kenya, but got diverted to Congo to help document her visit. Even though I had spent six years in Washington, DC working for CNN, it was so thrilling for me to see our field staff – 96% of whom are local – being recognized in this very big way. People asked me if I met her or got my photo taken with her and to be honest, it never occurred to me because it was all about them. They are the people who are doing the hard work day in and day out and I was so glad she took the time to SHAKE EVERYONE’S HAND!


Okay – enough about International Medical Corps! Some of the other highlights of my trip were visiting the Nairobi National Park where I saw giraffes, ostriches, zebras, a hippo and countless other animals roaming around in their natural habitat (with the Nairobi skyline in the background!), and floating along the Nile River at the point where it starts its 3-4 month journey to the Mediterranean. I also loved that everywhere I went the Coca-Cola was served in bottles that had been used hundreds if not thousands of times before and the power outlets had switches so you could turn them on when you were using them so you weren’t wasting energy when you weren’t.

I have written way too much already, so I will stop here. But I will just say this: if you get the opportunity to go to Africa just do it. I’ve traveled to many countries and cultures – modern and developing – but there is nothing comparable. I can’t wait to go back!

{September 25, 2009}   Who Wants A Little Good News…?

–by Carla

I went digging around on the Internet the other day trying to find an upside to all this recession talk…which honestly gets to be a total downer from time to time…and I  found this article.  It gives a broad overview of how the recession is “taking its toll” on various aspects of American life. But I chose to dig deeper for you and find the happy stuff…not all the doom and gloom. For example, here’s a little somethin’ about the old ball and chain: 


“Marital bliss also suffered. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans 15 and over, or 31.2 percent, reported they had never been married, the highest level in a decade. The share had previously hovered for years around 27 percent, before beginning to climb during the housing downturn in 2006. The never-married included three-quarters of men in their 20s and two-thirds of women in that age range. Sociologists say younger people are taking longer to reach economic independence and consider marriage because they are struggling to find work or focusing on an advanced education. The Northeast had the most people who were delaying marriage, led by states such as New York and Massachusetts. People in the South were more likely to give marriage a try, including those in Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas.”

The way I look at it, there are fewer people trapped in crappy marriages who are too broke to get out of ’em. KIDDING. Just kidding there.

Ok, now for upside point #2 from the article:

“The share of people who carpooled to work rose to 10.7 percent, up from 10.4 percent in the previous year.”

Recession: terrible for most other things, good for the environment. See?

Next “plus”:

“Women’s average pay still lagged men’s, but the gap has been narrowing. Women with full-time jobs made 77.9 percent of men’s pay, up from 77.5 percent in 2007 and about 64 percent in 2000.”

Right on, ladies! Oh wait, the one time in history we’re THIS close to getting paid the same as the guys (um…and exactly why AREN’T we?)…and I got laid off!? WTH!?

Anyhoo, there ya go. Some happy news to report.

Have a great weekend everyone!

{September 22, 2009}   Cowboys Crazy

By Heather

Cowboys Star

I was fortunate enough to witness sports history this weekend. Well sports stadium history anyway. The Dallas Cowboys had their first home game in the new stadium. Yes, the stadium is BIG. And yes it is really amazing. But after looking at the old stadium anything looks good. Unfortunately, the Cowboys didn’t dazzle like the stadium. They lost to the Giants. (can anyone scream turnovers!)

Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, is a proud papa of this new stadium. So proud that video aired before the start of the game compared the stadium to the Taj Mahal, Parthenon and other historical monuments. That might be taking it a bit too far. But I’m going to give Mr. Jones the benefit of the doubt and take it as a joke. I was giggling anyway.

The jumbo tron is well…. JUMBO! It’s so big I was distracted during the game. At 159 x 72 ft. it’s large and in charge. You can’t take your eyes off of the thing. I darn near got motion sickness while watching the Cowboys Cheerleaders do their high kicks.

Photo by Star-Telegram





Photo by Star-Telegram


Bye the way… this Jumbo tron doesn’t do anyone any favors. You can see fuzz, nose hairs, zits, any little defect on someone. I saw Jerry Jones scratching (picking) his nose, and a player tugging on his jock strap. I even saw a hint of cellulite on one of the cheerleaders and she burns thousands of calories a day dancing and kicking. Couple a too big screen with HD TV and you have some “reality” television. I shudder to think what I would look like on that thing. Stay away fan cam! Stay far, far away.

So was the whole thing worth the cost of admission ($340 a ticket for our seats), knocking down an entire neighborhood, and paying ungodly sums of money for refreshments and t-shirts and other merchandise? NO! But I was happy to be there anyway. I was happy to be in a stadium that was all shiny and new. I actually felt a little proud.

Just for the record the $10 truffle mac-n-cheese wasn’t any better than microwavable Kraft. My nearly $20 margarita (that’s for 1 not a pitcher) made me break into a sweat and left red splotches on my neck and chest. But it did help lessen the sting of a humiliating Cowboys loss. Sort of.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t included pictures of me at the stadium. That’s easy to answer. I forgot my camera. Ooops. I tried to take a pic with my phone, but frankly it looks horrible.

Cowboys - Copy

 Here’s a better picture of the outside.


(It really does glow like this at night. It’s like walking into a space ship or “Heaven” as I heard someone describe it.)

 Hey Jerry… if  you’re reading this blog, feel free to reimburse me for the refreshments. Better yet… how ’bout you cover next year’s season tickets. Just send the loot to my house.

Until then, make sure you’re not caught on the jumbo tron scratching body parts and tell quarterback Tony Romo to stop throwing interceptions.

See ya at the Thanksgiving game!

Check out the Cowboys and their new stadium @

{September 20, 2009}   Economical Emmy’s

By Katy

Kate Walsh at the 2009 Emmy Awards

Kate Walsh at the 2009 Emmy Awards

For last night’s Emmy Awards, “Private Practice” star Kate Walsh wore a strapless, flowy J. Mendel dress, Louis Vuitton shoes, jewelry from the Stephen Russell Contemporary Collection.  But what surprised me was when Kate showed E!’s Guiliana a $30 clutch and that she used SUAVE hair style products.  Now Suave…that was smart advertising!  It just got a major plug at the Emmy’s.  When would Suave ever get mentioned at an awards show?  Kate also mentioned that besides using Suave hair products, her look wasn’t her choice.  Instead, frugalistas voted for which hair style Kate would be wearing on television’s biggest night.

Here were their choices:


Obviously, she chose the modern bob in the middle, and I think it looks sexy and fresh!  I also think it’s sexy and fresh to choose a high-low mix for an awards show.  It’s how real people dress anyway.  Well, maybe not that HIGH.  But I definitely like to mix a Chanel bag with American Apparel and J. Crew.  Before words like “recessionista” and “frugalista” came into our post-recession vocabulary, I think truly stylish, and of course, girls without trust funds, always dressed this way.  But now, it’s fashionable to be frugal.  I wonder who else dressed for the recession at last night’s Emmy Awards.  And what do you think of Kate’s economical elegance?

{September 20, 2009}   Show Off That Smile!

Love to have a bright, white smile? Who doesn’t! But it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Here is today’s guest writer, Judy, in her own words:

Hi there, I’m Judy, Heather’s older neighbor growing up. My dad was her buddy. He was retired, so spent a lot of time puttering in the garage and Heather was always there. She’d also come to the back door during dinner and ask if Mr. “Hanglebur” (my family name is Hamburger) could play. My mom would say “Mr. Hanglebur has to finish his dinner first.”

I’ve been a dental hygienist for over 26 years so will tell you about tooth whitening on a budget. First of all, everybody’s enamel has a shade, just like your eyes and hair, not all are created equal. You need to have your teeth professionally cleaned by a hygienist; this gets off the extrinsic stain from coffee, tea, smoking. Toothpastes that say they whiten may keep your teeth CLEANER, but they don’t change the color of your teeth. If you get stain from any of the above mentioned, the trick is to brush (and floss/pick) your teeth more OFTEN to keep it off (4 times/daily for smokers).  To actually change the color, you must have a tray (preferably a professionally made one for YOUR mouth) to hold a whitening get (peroxide gels of different strengths) against your teeth for 30-60 minutes daily for 2-4 weeks. That’s my recommendation right there! Whitening products can cause sensitivity, so then you use them every other day, etc. (High acid food/drinks such as pop are the real culprit in sensitivity) The ultra-violet light activated systems that you see on makeover shows do work, but they can be painful and must be done with proper protection of the gum tissue. You then must also wear the trays for several weeks (that’s what they don’t tell you) to KEEP the lighter shade. I do NOT recommend those systems. They are much more expensive and risky. The trays have the same result but take 2-4 weeks. Also, don’t waste money on whitening paint-ons, they don’t work. The white strips are fine, but they are at a much lower percentage of peroxide and also don’t fit exactly, so get on your tissue and can cause irritation and sensitivity. So there you have it. And for what it’s worth, I like the Arm and Hammer brand of toothpaste. It has the most baking soda and keeps my coffee/tea stain off the best. Plain old baking soda is also great toothpaste, but doesn’t have the fresh flavor or fluoride! Red wine is the worst for staining; I won’t drink it in public at all!


{September 18, 2009}   The Lead Story That Means So Little

–by Carla

This week I heard the wonderful news that the recession was over.


You’d think this former news girl would at least post a link or have the mindset to have remembered where she heard such a thing, so here’s a picture instead. I’ve got two gorgeous baby boys under age 2.5 and they both had yucky nose issues this week (their 2nd summer cold in 2 months…ugh) so I’ve been up to my thick Lebanese eyebrows in tissues, hand sanitizer (or as Toddler Boy calls it “hanitizer”), baby Vick’s and gunk stuck in my hair (that last one is pretty normal, actually). So you’ll pardon me for not accurately detailing for you what should have otherwise been the top story on every station across the country: “The Recession Is Over!”.

Um, K.

This news had about as much impact on me as did the news that we WERE in a recession when it broke at the end of last year. Hello, I’d just been laid off. Not a real shocker. But even before then, while I was still anchoring the news, about a year and a half, maybe 2 years ago, we did story after story about this expert or that analyst saying we WERE already in a recession, or explaining why were weren’t ..and so on. I was so tired of those stories. Then when Lehman Brothers failed a year ago and the cards came crumbling down, it was clear to everyone on earth and possibly even some passing aliens just outside our stratosphere that we were in deep doodoo. But the “official” news that we were “actually” “in” a recession came months later. (Once again, if I were a journalist worth my salt, I’d look up that information, copy the link, paste it here and let you know, but I haven’t showered in 2 days, my hair is clumped up in 2 clips and I’m wearing the same thing I had on yesterday. Having 2 sick kids is a total beat down.)

So you can see that a recession “officially” having come to an end will likely mean little or nothing to most of us. It may do a little something something to Wall Street and Wall Street types, but there’s Wall Street and then there’s Main Street…and there are a bunch of houses for sale on Main Street. In fact, the story on the TV news the other night that followed the news that the recession was over was (no shiz) “150 Blockbuster Video employees are losing their jobs as the company closes several stores…” bla bla bla.

The financial experts and analysts and the smart people who do numbers and money for a living may have a sense of what’s going as far as “official” data, but it doesn’t change a thing for me or my family. I’m still a (very happy) full-time stay-at-home-mom now and we’re still living on a cop’s salary…and having a great time adjusting to this little curve ball.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to see what happens in this new period of economic recovery, but I also think we need to be realistic about it and not think that life (those of us for whom life changed, that is) is automatically going to snap back to the way it was..with us gobbling up everything we could possibly cram into our ginormous houses that we could barely afford on 2 incomes and charging every last purchase we made, paying the minimum each month on our credit cards, putting debt out of our minds, leasing new cars every 2 or 3 years and not putting money away for the future.

Wait, come to think of it, I don’t want that life back.

{September 15, 2009}   Fundraising in a Recession

By Heather

If I told you how much we had to pay in property tax last year you would probably gasp. I know I did. I also nearly cried when I wrote the check. I am grateful we could cover it. But still…. it hurt.

Much of that check went to the public school district where my son now attends kindergarten. “Well at least we don’t have to cover private school tuition,” we thought. School was covered by the property tax.


But not really. We soon discovered that because of the “Robin Hood Act” in our state , 70 percent of the district’s tax dollars actually end up in other schools.  That leaves parents to cover the rest. And thus the fundraising has begun.

Every school does this. You probably did it too. As a kid, I hocked candy, books, popcorn, ornaments and other crap to my neighbors and relatives. My next door neighbor, Mr. Hamburger, never failed to contribute. He even forgave me the time I collected his money and forgot to turn in his order. I got into BIG trouble with my parents.  (I had to work for the money to pay him back)

I can now add wrapping paper saleswoman to my list of items. Our first fundraiser is to sell wrapping paper. There’s also something call “Scot Bucks.” But I haven’t figured out what those are yet. It sounds like Monopoly money to me.

I’ve also purchased fundraising goods such as bumper stickers, yard signs and t-shirts. In November, the parents will hold fundraising auction. They’re asking for donations from $500 to $10,000 or more. GULP!  

Yes, we live in a highly ranked, highly desirable school district, but our school will not get many of the basic teaching tools  unless parents pay for them. The same parents who’ve already paid a fortune in property tax.

The fundraising efforts of mom’s and dad’s help pay for supplemental teacher salaries, all technology needs, sports equipment, school supplies, art and music programs, and facility upkeep.  

pencil erasers

The elementary school is in an old charming building in the middle of the neighborhood. But the community has outgrown it. So many of the classes are held in portable buildings. Our tax money will not be used to add much needed extra space. Parents are raising money for that too.

We feel grateful and fortunate to live in such a great community so I don’t want to complain, but I do see a potential problem. We’re in a recession. So many parents will not be able to pitch in financially this year or next. I don’t think this will send our wonderful school into ruin. But it could affect what new teaching tools could be purchased for our kids in the future.

But it is what it is. And whining won’t solve the problem. So I guess I better dust off my sales skills and get selling.

Wrapping paper anyone?

By Katy


Lehman's tower in NYC

One year ago, Lehman Brothers collapsed.  They filed for bankruptcy on Monday September 15, 2008 which created a domino effect that caused our current global economic crisis.  Today, the pundits say the recession is essentially over.   But is it?

According to CNN, only 59.2% of adults in the U.S. are currently employed.  So if I have 100 friends, almost half of them would not be working!  And you know what?  Although I am not consciously keeping track of whether my friends are working or not, I fear this statistic may be true.  On the other hand, even when we are working, some of us are not seeing the same amount of pay as before.  Now let me ask you, are companies scaling back with salaries and pay in order to survive during these hard, economic times or are they taking advantage of workers’ willingness to work under any circumstance?

I talked to a recent grad who just got a job.  Lucky right?  Well, she has to move to another city, and since the job is a government position, the hours and pay are less than what it should be in a “normal” economy.  A hotel employee told one of my relatives that he’s working three jobs these days!  Imagine that!  He has three jobs!  But he says it’s the only way to make ends meet and he barely sleeps.  As for me, I have worked this year, and I have not worked this year.  I have gotten paid less than my “normal” rate, but like the two people above, I am also not complaining because it’s absolutely better to work than to not work!

Happily ever after with my financial decision?

Happily ever after with my financial decision?

I have also postponed a wedding until 2010.  If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that.  You know that I just hired a wedding coordinator, and we’re looking at locations for a wedding next Summer.  What you don’t know…I’m still skeptical about paying for a wedding!  I have the entire amount saved up already, but I still think about whether or not I want to spend that money on one night.  My fiance and I think about putting that money into our retirement fund.  We think about paying down more of our mortgage and refinancing.  We think about buying the unsold unit next to my place, knocking down the wall, and building a bigger loft.  We think about starting a small business.  And sometimes, yes, we think about using the money for a wonderful party celebrating our union with our friends and family.  And no, that doesn’t have to cost the equivalent of annual private school tuitions.

I think this is what this recession has taught me.  You can have money or you can not have money…this recession is the BEST thing that’s happened to everyone…if you’re willing to learn and not repeat the same mistakes.  My recent lesson:  It’s important to think about our choices when it comes to money.  Just like it’s important to think about what we put into our bodies — healthy fruits and veggies or fattening fried foods and lots of sweets — the choices we make today will affect our health, physically and financially, later down the line.  Make healthy and wise choices today, and we’ll live better when we’re older.

When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t think about money.  I thought I had plenty of time to pay off the debts, to save up for retirement, etc.  And if I were to have a wedding in my 20’s, I would’ve done it without even thinking about it.  Now, I would’ve thought about whether I should be getting married or not.  But I wouldn’t have thought about the financial aspects so much.  Now that I’m in my mid-30’s, I don’t have as much time to save up for retirement.  And like most of you out there, I lost about 50% of my retirement account in the last year and a half.  Only this last quarter, did my 401K skip back into positive territory.  So I’ve been wrestling with this dilemma for awhile.  I thought postponing the wedding until next year would help ease my conscience.  It did for about one day.  But I’m taking this one day at a time.  Just like marriage, right?  Right?

et cetera