I’m positively giddy . . . school girl giddy. Guess why? No, Paula isn’t returning to American Idol (I wish!). And nope, Kate and Jon haven’t reconciled. But, almost as exciting . . . I’ve hired an accountant!
Okay, so you may not get that funny tickle in your tummy or need to use the restroom, but this is a special milestone for me and our blossoming company, Windy City Publishers.
Surprisingly enough, I have convinced, yet, another friend to join our little family. Doris and I go back, way back, to my first few years in Chicago. We bonded when, as senior accountants for a troubled hotel company, we single-handily saved them from financial ruin (at least that’s how I remembered it).
Doris is a no-nonsense gal who actually enjoys accounting and is proficient at it. She’s no drama queen, keeps her nose to the grindstone and stays out of trouble (or she’s just really good at not getting caught). Just like me. Maybe that’s why we get along so well.
I had been telling Dawn and Kristyn that I had become too busy to work the numbers, but in reality it was literally (figuratively?) boring me to death and squelching my creative instinct. Not to mention, I have a small bald spot on the side of my head where I have pulled out the hairs – one by one – while looking at long columns of numbers.
Dawn and Kristyn initially looked skeptical when I mentioned Doris could “cook our books” (this is my own phrase that comes from a combination of my catering and accounting background. It has nothing to do with illegal or unethical activity).
But, the good news is that I am an excellent sales person. “We” decided that WCP needed a professional and they jumped on board quickly because, apparently, it is important to them that our bills and employees get paid on time.
When Doris first arrived at our Global World Wide International Offices in Palatine, Illinois, I welcomed her with a warm hug and a raspberry martini.
“It’s 9:00 in the morning,” she said, not blinking (FYI – you can always tell a real accountant by their steely stare, their passion for butterscotch and their penchant for Lou Reed).
“Is it?” I winced as I dumped the drink down the drain. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“We should get to work.” She carefully arranged her coat then pulled out a portable adding machine. “Where should I set up?”
“Right this way, ma’am.” I said saluting her. This was going to be just like old times – Doris working the numbers and me, supervising and keeping it real.
I showed Doris the books and, while she looked at the numbers, I filed one nail to a sharp point. Idea – no need for toothpicks, hmmm. “Look, Doris, built-in tooth cleaner.”
She looked up.
“Impressive.” She put her head down but quickly looked up again. “Have you paid Craig this year?”
“I give her lunch.”
“What’s this?” Doris pointed to a line item labeled “Swiss Bank Account.”
“Hmmm, that’s weird.” I scratched my chin. “That should be our savings account. Kristyn probably did that. Sometimes when she gets bored she gets into the system and messes with it.”
“What about this expense? ‘Dale’s Escort Service and Spa’? For $850?”
“Oh, yeah . . . that’s personal. That’s a mistake, an honest mistake.” I poked my sharp nail into a pencil and then balanced it perfectly on an upright finger. “Hey, can you do this?”
Doris peered over her glasses at my finger. I thought I saw a glimpse of envy in her steely stare.
“What about this, ‘Money owed to @#$%^&*’.”
“Ah. That’s money I owe Dawn. I just blanked on how to spell her name.”
“Have you begun to do your 1099’s?” Doris was like a machine, typing furiously and moving the mouse like no one’s business.
“Your 1099’s? It’s what you need to give to your employees by January 31st. Next week?”
“I’m working on it, but . . . “ I sighed a long sigh as I drilled my nails on the desk. “I think I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Can you fill them out?”
“I’m assuming you have the forms?”
“You have assumed incorrectly. I do not.”
“Well, it’s too late to get them from the IRS for free – they’ll never get here in time. You’ll have to buy them.” She clicked away. “You can get them at Office Max. $25.00. Next year, order them in advance and you can get them free.”
“No biggie. We have plenty of money. Look at our bank account.”
She clicked away again. “You haven’t balanced your checkbook in three months. You have $38.67 in your account.”
“That does not sound good.” I pulled out another hair from my bald spot. “I’ll just go out back to the money tree,” I joked half-heartedly.
Doris clicked and typed and a few minutes later she announced she had done all she could do. She promised to return and, as collateral, I held her birth certificate until she did so. I walked her to the door and thanked her profusely.
“I don’t know how I have gotten along without you, Doris.” I patted her on the back as I handed her a plate of leftover enchiladas and a butterscotch candy. “Thanks, I appreciate your hard work.
She had tears in her eyes as she took the gifts. “No problem.”
She walked out the door but, just before I closed it, turned and said. “Hey, if that idea for the tooth-cleaner ever pans out . . .”
“Sure, Doris,” I replied. “You’re in for a cut.”
It’s not easy being an idea person.
I don’t usually like to brag, but there are some things I do, and I do well. The first that comes to mind is yodeling naked in the shower, a close second is starting a land war in Asia, and the third is birthing babies. I don’t kid myself that I can compete with Octomom, or Kate, but four times is nothing to shake a stick at. I’ve done it alone, in front of an audience, twice with no drugs, and once as I was arguing with my mother . . . on the phone.
As a matter of fact, my reputation was such that my presence was requested by my good-friend (let’s call her Lisa Schmagenbuch), at the birth of her first child. She knew that I had expertly handled all of my own birthing events and was impressed with how effortlessly I had sailed through my personal sea of pain. Of course, I agreed. And frankly, being a role model comes as second nature to me.
But, it’s no secret that the bigger they are the harder they fall. This is the story of my tumble from grace and the valuable lessons learned as I plummeted from heights of greatness to the humbleness of defeat. It’s not easy to show weakness and vulnerability, but know this – I share this story with you for one reason only, and that is – it is a required step in a particular “class” I am associated with.
Looking for Lisa
Lisa Schmagenbuck was clinging tightly to the hope that a certain aging rock star would marry her. But, besides a few brief stalking episodes, they had never met and we all thought Lisa would become an old-maid waiting for him. Then she was introduced to “Dave” and we were all thrilled when he asked her out. He was not a rock star, but he was successful, handsome, intelligent, and it didn’t bother him in the least that Lisa practiced witchcraft as a hobby. I’m sorry, not witchcraft – astrology (I always get the two mixed up).
Within the year, Lisa broke up with the rock star she had never met and accepted Dave’s request for her hand in marriage. They had a fairy-tale engagement, marriage, yada yada, and a year later Dave and Lisa found themselves staring at a cross on a urine soaked stick.
Lisa has always looked up to me and since becoming a wife and now an expectant mother, she relied on me more than ever. I couldn’t go five minutes without her calling, wondering whether she should have a bagel or toast for breakfast. Now, we all know that a bagel in the first trimester is a given, but these are the kinds of things that Lisa was clueless about. Please don’t blame her. It wasn’t her fault – she was the youngest of four and had been waited on and babied her whole life. Once again, I think this is another example where we can point the finger at the parents.
It was apparent she was headed for trouble when, during one training session I held, she put my infant son’s diaper on backward and inside out. Then there was the time she made a tuna-noodle casserole and forgot the peas! Her washcloths were always folded incorrectly and don’t get me started on her silverware drawer. Dave appeared unscathed by these “issues”, but I knew the hard, cold slap of reality would be a painful one for my dear friend, and I vowed to be there to witness it when it happened. I just didn’t know that I would learn something in the process.
You don’t know what you don’t know
When Lisa asked me to be in the delivery room with her and Dave, I knew at once that it was a duty that I would have to perform. Besides my own experience, I had actually never see a live birth, but judging from my successes, I felt confident I could assist. We talked at length of the things she would need in the delivery room: lipstick for pictures, refreshments for the hospital staff, “Footloose” on DVD, flattering birthing wear and of course, a CD mix of her favorite tunes.
For a brief time, Lisa seemed preoccupied with the Lamaze Method. It took a few weeks, but I explained to my inexperienced friend, over and over, that breathing came naturally – she didn’t need to pay someone to help her do it, and besides, I wasn’t sure how legit the whole methodology was. Sometimes these “necessary” classes are scams. I can say this with confidence as I had taken the class three times and I didn’t remember it doing much more than relaxing me when the pain became the greatest.
We discussed our birthing plan in great detail. The brownies were in the freezer – ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice and Lisa had chosen a couple flattering shades of lip stick. We went with basic black for the birthing wear but were still up in the air on whether or not to include her former flame’s songs on her CD mix. Other than that, the stage was set.
I sometimes say “Hindsight is 50/50 – could have gone either way”. Looking back, this was definitely the case. We could have sailed through Lisa and Dave’s birthing debut, but it didn’t happen that way. Like most disasters, you either blame someone else or wonder “what if?” “What if” I hadn’t lost my temper? “What if” the brownies had gone over better? “What if” the whole epidural debacle was just a dream? Could I have done something differently? You betcha! But what?
To be continued . . .
“Mom. . . Tanner pooped in the laundry room.” Max shook me gently as I opened my eyes and squinted at the clock. Six am. “It’s diarrhea,” he added.
I looked over at Craig who was holding his hand over his mouth and gagging. I shook my head in disgust and wondered how he would feel if I told him Tanner used his toilet as a water dish. Some things are better left unsaid.
We weren’t looking to get a dog. Craig and I had decided long ago we were not “dog” people (we weren’t even sure we were “children” people). So you can imagine my confusion when three years ago, an unknown man called and told me he’d received a message from me about adopting his dog.
“I didn’t leave you a message.” I explained.
“Someone named Gracie emailed me that she was interested in adopting a dog.”
“She did, did she. Hold for a moment, please.” I put my hand over the phone and screamed in that crazed-mother voice that Kate Gosselin would appreciate. “Gracie! Get down here!”
Why some animals eat their young
My daughter had always wanted a pet and apparently the thirteen year-old cat she’d had for two months didn’t count. Come to find out, behind my back my only girl had been emailing shelters all over the Chicago area just to “ask” about the dogs available for adoption.
“If you don’t take him we’ll have to put him down,” the very bad man threatened. He had shown up at our house, Tanner by his side. “We’re moving to Europe tomorrow and he can’t come.”
I thought the circumstances somewhat suspect, but that red flag got lost in the desperate cries to save him and the whispers that good mothers do allow their children pets. I was also going through a vulnerable phase in my life (the “Protein Diet”) and by instinct, my children found the crack in my armor and exploited my weakness.
Chow? Shepherd? Mutt???
Tanner was an interesting looking dog. He had the face and upper body of a Shepherd, and the tail, tongue and coat of a Chow. He was colored as his name suggested, and his owner must have warned him of his future because he sat there obediently as though he knew of the consequences if he didn’t.
I questioned him up and down about Tanner’s manners, his temperament, and his ability to use an outside bathroom. I was assured by the man-that-told-many-lies, that Tanner was a model citizen, was perfectly potty-trained, and got along well with anyone – man or animal. Against my better judgment I gave into offspring pressure and Tanner came to live with us.
Tanner started out on good terms. He stayed near the house, came when called and did his business in the business section of our yard. But soon his instincts crept back in and the craziness of a Chow combined with the protectiveness of a Shepherd made for an unpredictable mix.
He was not, I repeat not, friendly with other dogs. As a matter of fact he was diagnosed dog-aggressive by our vet after he jumped through our electric fence, attacked one of our neighbor’s Shelties (requiring stitches in the dog’s paw that cost us a couple hundred dollars) and jumped back through the fence taking the shock for the second time. My neighbor has just recently started speaking to me.
The vet recommended that we either put Tanner down or get the dog therapy. (I forgot to mention, Tanner also bit a hole in one of my mother’s dogs’ head, chased and almost bit a play-date as well as biting my nephew’s leg. Oh, he also got into a number of fights with any dogs he met while on his walks, chased cars as they drove by and stood in our door and growled fiercely at anyone who dared ring the doorbell)
But by this time, my husband was having a love affair with the dog. He would call and in a baby voice ask me how our little pumpkin was or if Tanner had had his morning poop. When he came home from work, he’d brush by me as I stood there mouth puckered, calling out “Tanner” and rolling on the floor and wrestling with the dog that he initially did not want.
Maybe he still has issues with his parents?
We decided to spend the $450 for an hour with the “behaviorist” as we just couldn’t bear the thought of a death-row dog. This is what we got for our money.
“How do you verbally respond when Tanner misbehaves?” The doctor held his clipboard, pen in hand.
“We usually say something along the lines of ‘Tanner, no, no, no. Bad doggie.’” Craig spoke up in his baby-voice.
The doctor raised his eyes at us as he scribbled furiously. “Do you ever hit him?”
“What?” Craig whispered, horrified.
The doctor shrugged. “I’m just asking.”
I couldn’t hold back. “I know it’s wrong and we shouldn’t compare him to other dogs, but last week after he chased the Fed-Ex man, I told him, in a very stern voice, that he was no Bo Obama, and I was sure that Bo didn’t act that way.” There I’d said it!
The doctor couldn’t write fast enough. “What was the situation when he attacked the Sheltie.”
I started to explain before Craig cut me off. “Those dogs are stuck-up. The prance by Tanner every day and they tease him. They’re like ‘Our dog dodo doesn’t stink’. When they bark it sounds like ‘ha ha ha ha’.” I looked over at Tanner, sitting nicely beside the vet and I swore he winked at me.
“I think I see the problem,” the vet answered as he put the clipboard down. His recommendation was eight hours of behavior modification, every day. We could put Tanner on medication and work with him but there were no guarantees. As a matter of fact, he told us, it may be too difficult to teach an old dog new tricks and we couldn’t, in good conscious, give him to anyone. Most shelters did not take aggressive dogs and we may be better off, well you can guess what he told us he would do.
We left in a bit of a huff, wondering why no one saw our dog in the same light we did. We would just have to keep him, literally, on a short leash. Now, when someone comes to the door, I ask them if they are afraid of dogs that bite. If they answer affirmatively, I put Tanner in another room.
He is getting older, we guess he may be around ten, and his bark has lost some of the vicious gusto it used to have, but he is our dog and we love him. We’ve been lucky to avoid a lawsuit so far, but we do we have an attorney in the family so in case of an incident, we got that goin’ for us. Which is nice.