Tag Archives: Molly Rossiter

The Year of Me

Wow. That sounds kind of narcissi20160520_143643-1stic, now that I see it in front of me. “The Year of Me.” Who does that?

Well, I do. Or I will, soon.

It’s not what you think – I’m not going to go all self-absorbed on the world, caring only about MY wants and MY needs and MY chocolate. This is something different.

A few years ago, a friend and former coworker had the “Year of Chris.” She has two daughters, and twin grandchildren, and a husband, but she spent the year doing things that made her happy – or being happy doing the things she was doing. It was awesome. And I was jealous.

Having been a single mom since 2002 (you have no idea how much I HATE playing that card, seriously), there had been relatively few “Days of Me,” so the idea of taking a full year? That was amazing. That’s what dreams were made of.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a bitter, angry person. In fact, I’m actually quite happy. I laugh a lot, I smile a lot more, I enjoy the “todays” because they’re so fleeting. I enjoy life – I truly do, and I am honestly happy doing the things I’m doing. Do I wish I had more money to enjoy it more? Sure. It would be nice to have extra to be able to go more places and do more things. But do I let it get in the way of enjoying today? Not in the least.

But this year is going to be different. Kind of.

My big dream has always been to go to Ireland. I’m third generation Irish-American, and there are still some distant relatives I’d like to go meet. And let’s be honest – Ireland. It’s beautiful. Flights aren’t horribly expensive, and if I (and however many friends and family members care to join me) stay in an Airbnb place, lodging won’t be too bad, at all. So, I thought, set it up. Make a plan. Do it.

In 2017, right smack almost perfectly in the middle of the year, I turn 50. It’s not a frightening number to me – 20 years ago I was terrified of 30, but 50 sounds almost exciting – but it’s a milestone and I want to mark it as such. So, sometime in the Year of 50, I’m going to Ireland.

But what about the year leading up to it? I don’t really want to spend a year in wait, saving every penny (though I’ll be saving several), waiting for the calendar to turn the right amount of pages so I can go on my adventure. Plus, I’ve loved my 40s, absolutely loved them. This has been the most fun decade by far – even with scraping to get by, failed relationships (which made for some pretty funny stories, I gotta tell ya’), and the loss of my favorite canine companions. My 40s have been great, I can’t just let them end on a whimper.

No, what I’m going to do in the year between 49 and 50 is allow myself to do the things I haven’t made time for/didn’t save for/made excuses for over the last several years.

I’m going to Phoenix to stay with a cousin I don’t get to see very often. I’m going to go to one of my college football games and try to connect with some college roommates and friends. I plan to go to Chicago. I’m going to go see an Iowa Cubs game. I’m going to go to the movies. I’m going to go sit on a friend’s balcony and have drinks. I’m going to do things for me.

I think we all need to take a year for ourselves. Just not this year – this one’s mine.

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It’s time to stop caring

coexist

Walks slowly across the empty stage to the microphone.

Ahem. (Taps microphone a few times)

Is this thing on?

I know I’m probably talking to an empty room. It’s been a while, you know, since I’ve last said anything here, and many may have given up. That’s OK, I don’t blame you. It’s like checking out a book and seeing a bunch of blank pages. Who wants to do that?

But I’m here, today, with my Christmas list. Well, more like my Christmas wish. It’s just one thing, really, but it’a a pretty big one.

My wish this year is that we all stop caring. Not about our neighbors, not about our families, not about causes that seem dear to us and make a difference. No, we should continue to care about those things with all that we have.

My wish is that we all stop caring about our differences.

I am a Christian, and a fairly intelligent person. There. I said it. I have a strong faith in God, but I haven’t been to church in several years because I have a real problem with the hypocrisy of religion. That whole, “Love thy neighbor, except not that one, or that one, or that one, and only that one if he changes his ways” thing really turns me off.

I have friends – very good friends – all along the religious spectrum: Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindu, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, and some I know I haven’t listed here. Each of them has a belief system that is just as meaningful to them as mine is to me. That, to me, is a wonderful thing. I don’t judge them, or point fingers and tell them they’re wrong because, well, I don’t know who is wrong, or if any of us are. They’re called “belief systems” for a reason: We believe. In something. Or in nothing. And that’s our choice.

I don’t normally use this space – when I do use this space – to preach or try to change people’s minds about anything. And, really, I don’t want to change anyone’s mind today, either. Just their behavior.

As a former religion reporter, I met people from all kinds of backgrounds. I remember doing one story on an atheist event, and then going to church the day after the story appeared in the paper. One of my friends – a good friend – mentioned the photo that went with the story, and told me he could tell that person was an atheist because “there’s such a vacancy in their eyes, there’s nothing there.”

I was taken aback. This source – a woman – was one of the most vibrant, alive people I know. She’s full of life and charm and concern for her fellow man. But because she was labeled “atheist,” my other friend saw something different. Something that just wasn’t true.

I’ve seen atheist friends question the intelligence of Christians on social media, comparing the belief in God to a belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, or indicating that anyone with a brain wouldn’t believe in “the fairy tale” of Christianity.

It’s insulting. It’s divisive. And it’s not what we need.

So here’s my wish: Stop caring about what someone else’s belief system is. Stop condemning entire groups of people based on the actions of a few. Stop saying atheists are “soulless,” or that Christians and Jews who believe in God are “idiots.” Stop believing all Muslims are “terrorists.”

Just … stop.

(Exits stage left)

 

 

 

 

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Why didn’t I think of this?

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends and fellow wine lovers (she was an admirer long before me – I’m still in the “getting to know you” phase of my wine relationship) introduced me to this guy (well, via his videos) and I love it. Matt Bellassai works at Buzzfeed, which has got to be one of the coolest jobs ever, and then gets drunk at his desk one day a week and posts a video of him whining about something.

Um, hello?? Totally what I should be doing.

I’m incredibly jealous of his job. Why didn’t I think about this? I clearly used the whine/wine reference when naming this blog oh so many years ago. It probably has much to do with my fear (?) of being on camera – including webcam. And the fact that I just didn’t think about it.

Damn.

Anyway, enjoy Matt – maybe we’ll get lucky and have a guest merger – Pour Me Some Whine About It.

 

 

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My car is out to get me

JalopyIt’s no secret women – particularly single women – have a love/hate relationship with their car. Oh, sure, it’s a grand mechanical masterpiece that gets us from here to there, carries our children and friends, totes all of the loads from shopping and moving and picnics and ball games.

But some devilish imp full of mischief lies underneath. It’s almost like the Bad Child, the one who seems nice and polite and sincere on the surface, but who spray paints graffiti on your garage when you’re not looking. It’s the part that makes the car put off a God-awful noise that persists until you take it to the mechanic, and suddenly it’s gone, or that makes it burn gas so incredibly fast – until you’re trying to empty the tank so you can use your Fuel Saver card to the get the maximum benefit.

I’ve had my car for a little more than two years and it’s served me well – a handful of trips to Chicago, one to Denver, several to Galena and Cuba City, and countless trips to Carroll and Altoona to visit family. It’s the first car I’ve had with remote start, which I have come to absolutely LOVE in the Iowa winter, and the remote lock and entry helps me find it when I can’t remember where I’ve parked.  There have been no major repair issues, and I’ve had it serviced regularly. It’s a good car.

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house later than I should have been on a “school night,” and I pressed the unlock button on the key fob as I walked to my car. When the car knows you’re coming (because the doors have been unlocked) the headlights and interior lights come on for safety – so you can see your way to the car and see inside. This time, though, the passenger headlight didn’t come on.

Great.

Normally I wouldn’t have worried too much about it – but I live in a smaller city, about 18,000 people, where the crime rate is low and the police force gets bored. I’ve lived here for four years and have had five run-ins with officers on patrol: twice when I was driving my son’s old car and got pulled over for the light over the rear license plate being out, once for driving a friend’s SUV in the middle of the day to pick up a piece of furniture and she had a headlight out, once for not using a turn signal and once when my now-ex-boyfriend and I were on the sidewalk next to my apartment with my dogs at midnight one night and he had a bottle of beer – and an officer pulled over and made him pour it out.

Needless to say, driving into my community with one headlight out at 11 p.m. made me just a little nervous. Fortunately, it wasn’t my turn to be pulled over.

The burned-out bulb bothered me, though. I live across the street from a mechanic’s garage and I know they’d replace the bulb – but I never seem to have enough time in the morning, and they’re closed by the time I get home after work. So last week I went to the store and bought a bulb ($22! Holy cats!) and planned to change it myself.

Except I don’t know how. And I couldn’t figure it out. And my car didn’t have the owner’s manual – which presumably would have told me how to do it – when I bought it. And I didn’t think about Google.

For 13 days that light has bothered me. Every time I unlock the car when it’s dark, the shadow of where it should be taunts me, like a classroom bully: “Nyah nyah nyah, you’re going to get pulled over!”

I hated that light.

Today my son’s car is having issues so I took a last-minute vacation day to help him take care of those. Since I was home, I took the car across the street to have them change the bulb. They were busy at the time and told me to come back in a half hour.

A few minutes after I got home, my phone rang. It was the mechanic – none of my lights were out. They all worked. They. ALL. Worked.

I told him it had been out for nearly two weeks, and how I’d come to discover it was out. They hadn’t tried the key fob yet, so he told me they’d try that and I could come get it in about 10 minutes. When I went over, the new bulb was still in the package, still in the bag.

And the old headlight was shining brightly at me.

Sometimes … I really hate that car.

 

 

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“All representatives are busy helping other customers. Please remain on the line …”

dT8xa6GTeIt really shouldn’t be so hard to give the Internal Revenue Service my money.

I mean, if they don’t want it, I’m more than happy to hold onto it. But I know they do want it, and if I don’t move heaven and earth to get it to them I have no doubt they’ll move a few firewalls from my bank account to take it themselves.

Let me explain first by saying this: I am not a tax evader. I pay taxes with every paycheck – even a little more than is required – and file my taxes diligently before April 15 every year. Every. Year.

What I am, though, is a single mom (even though the “kids” are now young adults and one lives on his own) living on a single person’s budget (child support ended when The Youngest turned 18, college or no) and someone who can generally find a place to put any extra income that comes my way.

That said, in 2009, 2010 and 2011 I ghost-wrote or co-wrote three books, and received healthy advances for each of them. Those checks were very nice to get, especially since I still had two teenagers in high school for the first two of those years. Those checks helped with school expenses, clothing, car expenses as the kids got older, and just bills in general.

They were very, very nice to get.

What those checks didn’t do was pay their own taxes. There were no taxes taken out of them (think “contract worker”) and I failed to set anything aside. With any of them.

To say I took a beating when it came time to file taxes was an understatement.

I set up a payment plan the first year, and it was so easy that when I forgot/neglected to set anything aside with the second book, I extended my plan. By the third book extending the plan just seemed like the right thing to do.

The payment plan wasn’t a big deal, just a set amount paid every month. The IRS sends me a ticket stub, I send it back with a check. Easy peasy.

Easy, that is, until you’re late. The IRS doesn’t like you to be late.

What happens when you’re late – even a day late, I’ve since learned – is that you only get so many of those before the IRS determines you’re in default. When you’re in default, they stop sending you the payment tickets. When they stop sending you the payment tickets, you have no real address to forward your payment, and you can’t go online to set up a payment plan or pay on your existing plan because, well, you’re in default.

So … I was in default. And I didn’t want to be. I wanted to pay the IRS the money I owed, and I really, really, REALLY didn’t want them just taking it out of my paycheck or my bank account.

I scoured the website for a contact number. I called the local office only to be told, via message, that that office doesn’t offer live telephone help. I scoured the website again. And again. Finally I found a toll-free number (well, it’s the IRS, so I’m sure it’s only kind of free) and called. After going through six (or was it seven?) prompts to get me to where I needed to be, I received a message telling me my expected wait time is “15 to 30 minutes.”

Yeah. Right. This is the federal government, after all.

A mere 57 minutes later, I heard a click on the other end of my phone (“Oh, God, no, please don’t disconnect!”) and then a ringing. Then Brian or Mike or Steve, Badge No. XYZ, came on the line to see what he could do to help.

“I just want to give you money, but I don’t know how to do it,” I said.

I highly doubt he gets many of those calls.

In less than 20 minutes, Brian or Mike or Steve, Badge No. XYZ had me set up with an online payment plan, an extended due date and a free pass for October (“… although you’re certainly welcome to make any kind of payment you want in October, if you’d like.”).

It really shouldn’t be that hard to give the IRS my money …

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The thing about breakups …

Note: This is not a quest for sympathy or well-wishes. I greatly appreciate your thoughts, but one of the reasons I put this post off for so long is because I made it through the hard part. – Molly

Let’s face it, breakups suck. No matter how amicable, how cordial or how mutual they are, they still suck. Injured heart

Sometimes, as with my recent breakup, the more amicable they are, the more they suck. Rather than having that anger/distrust/rejection/fury that comes with a cheat or a liar, you have … nothing. Hurt and sadness. As we were putting an end to our 2 1/2-year relationship as a couple, we were still telling each other how much we loved each other. We made the obligatory “let’s be friends” promise, but unlike most times those words are spoken, I think we actually meant it. We severed our romantic ties a little more than two weeks ago, but we still chat often.

That’s probably because we really are friends. In the 29 months that we were together, there were no fights – no angry words, no yelling, no arguments. There was one topic on which we disagreed, but conversation – although tears were involved – was just that: conversation. What we did do in that time frame was build a great friendship.

Still, the breakup – like any – still sucks.

Breakups suck because of unfulfilled plans. There are so many little things we were going to do – go to the Quad Cities to see a ball game, go to his favorite breakfast joint before it closed, have the first Christmas in his new place, get all the kids together on Christmas Day to see the final installment of “The Hobbit.” Then there are the bigger things: next summer’s vacation (sadly, the breakup came just two weeks after we had a fabulous vacation in Denver); a “someday” trip to Ireland; trips out east and out west. Many of those I can still do on my own, if I want, and some of them I will. Most, though, I probably won’t.

Breakups suck because, as adults, they’re not just between two people. Two whole families broke up. My daughter created close bonds with his daughters and their children. My son became good friends with the guys in his family. We met and loved each others’ friends. I felt like we were one big family – I loved his kids and grandkids and enjoyed all the time we spent with them. I had a great relationship with his mother, and my parents loved him like they never loved anyone else I’d been with.

Breakups suck because, eventually, you begin to see the holes, the places that the relationship wasn’t as “perfect” as you thought it was. I knew we weren’t perfect, but I honestly thought we’d be riding off into the sunset together.

And breakups suck because the landscape has forever changed. Where once there may have been a clean slate, there is now a “record.” A broken heart mars the playing field.

But breakups are also a time of growth. I don’t regret having given him that chunk of my life – despite the one issue that persisted, it was a very joyous time of my life, where I felt loved and cared for and comfortable. Incredible new people are now a part of my life, in some big or small way, because of him. I learned things and went places I’d never known before. And I pushed myself because of him – not because he asked me to, but because I wanted to be a better person for him, and for me.

And for those things, I will always be grateful.

* * *

Note: Snark will return with the next post. I promise.

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Still recovering from vacation

20140803_145557I have a vacation hangover.

True, getting away for a week to the beauty of the Rockies and the “newness” of Denver (my first visit to the city that lasted longer than a 2-hour airport layover) was, literally and figuratively, a breath of fresh air. I needed that vacation, more than I even realized. It had been six years since my last vacation, and that was a whirlwind weekend in Phoenix where I stayed with a friend/cousin. There have been overnight getaways but nothing like this, where I actually had the opportunity to unpack things and leave them for several days before rounding them up again.

We’ve been back for a little more than a week now and I still haven’t gotten this blog written or posted. When I’m not at work, sleep always seems to get in the way.

But here it is – a bit more on the wonderful trip to Denver.

Our first full day in Colorado we went to the mountains, driving to Mount Evans. Although I’d spent seven years in Alaska growing up – Dad’s uncle helped built the Alcan Highway and told great stories to his nieces and nephews, making my dad determined to live there one day – I still found myself caught up in the peace and the beauty of everything the mountains had to offer.

Young mountain sheep

Young longhorn sheep

We drove to the summit of Mount Evans – 14 miles up (the highest paved road in North America, according to the website) and 14,000 feet above sea level. On our way we had to stop for young longhorn sheep, and a mountain goat (yes, there’s a difference) met us at the top.

Mountain goat

Mountain goat

The drive up was interesting: I remember once we left Alaska my dad would tell stories of the mountain roads we had to take to get to our hiking destinations – long, winding roads barely wide enough for two vehicles, with steep mountain going up on one side and going straight down on the other.

I didn’t remember the roads being as treacherous as he made them seem, and I do my dad is a bit of a storyteller (blarney runs deep in our blood), so I just dismissed it at a bit of an exaggeration.

Then we drove up to the summit parking lot at Mount Evans. Mountains straight up on one side, straight down on the other, and despite the steady speed of about 25 mph, there were many curves on which we slowed down considerably.

Ummm ... don't look down.

Ummm … don’t look down.

I drove us up, Mark (thankfully) drove us down.

Once we got to the top, I found myself experiencing a bit of altitude sickness. I got a little dizzy and had a hard time drawing a deep breath at first. My speech was slurred, almost like I was drunk, and I just fell a little … off. I sat down and took some breaths and started to feel better – until I realized how cold I was. The outside temperature at the base of the mountain was 85 degrees; at the peak, it was 50.

Our second full day, Monday, was a trip to the Denver Zoo. It was hot and there was little breeze, so many of the big animals weren’t out. Mondays must also be the day zoo staff clean the cages, so to speak, so in some exhibits we saw humans instead of the lions or bears we were hoping to see.

The last night in Denver, Tuesday, included a Rockies-Cubs game with club level seats Mark’s daughter and son-in-law had won at an auction. There were a couple of firsts that night: I’d never seen the Cubs play live, and I’ve never sat in club level seating in a baseball stadium.

One of the things that was most striking about our vacation was that we traveled nearly 800 miles from home to learn just what a small world it really is. Either Mark or Nate, his son-in-law, was almost always in some kind of Hawkeye gear and that drew the attention of many people in our hotel and in the places we visited – not because they were interested in learning more about our state but because they were from our state. There were at least a half-dozen families from Iowa staying in our hotel at the same time we were there, most of them from Eastern Iowa. One of the ushers was originally from West Branch and still has family there. The restaurant we went to on game day, Stadium Club, was first opened in Iowa City, and a customer at a nearby table grew up in Iowa and moved to Denver just five years ago. Even the owners of the marijuana shop we visited (we were in Colorado where it’s legal – the curious cat in me had to go in just to see what it was like) were from Iowa – one was a University of Iowa business school graduate.

It’s always a nice reminder that, no matter how far you travel, you’re never too far from home.

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