Wining Wife®

Because housework goes better with Malbec...

Month: July 2011

On Being Outside the Box


Box, Memory and Nickel

Box, Memory and Nickel (Photo credit: Thom Watson)


The interesting thing about going your own way and finding your own path is that certain people feel the need to comment on it. It really doesn’t bother me anymore when people make comments about the fact that I’ve chosen to homeschool my son, and I’ve gotten used to some people being weirded out by the fact that I run my own business from home. What I’m not used to is people treating my business as something that’s not a job or something I want to do.


The thing is, I do treat my business seriously. I work, on average, between 40 and 60 hours a week. I’ve been known to put in extra hours beyond that for quick turnaround projects and extra marketing. Even though I don’t actually leave my front door to go to an office (something that may change in the future, as I’m looking into office space), I feel like I work just as much – or even more – than many other people. And that doesn’t even include the time I spend planning lessons, teaching math, or answering questions about ambiguous questions. Sometimes I feel like I’m busier than I was when I was a graduate student, and it’s absolutely vital that I schedule everything as much as possible.


Why am I saying this? I felt a bit insulted earlier when someone suggested I check out a job opportunity that was 1) a minimum wage job and 2) clerical because “you’re attractive,” and 3) benefits. Now, before I got my feminist pants all scrambled up on number two, I tried to remind myself that the person only meant well and probably sincerely believed she was being helpful. The thing is, though, that I think this assumption that I’d jump and down at the opportunity – because I’m just hanging out at home.


Benefits would be great. I won’t knock that. But the thing is, I make more doing what I do now – and there’s really no cap on what I can make in a month. There’s no way I’d have the energy after working eight hours at a minimum wage job to do what I do now. I would resent the amount of work I was doing for the tiny paycheck. AND I’d still have to have a second job in order to meet all of my monthly expenses. Even as a graduate student, having a kid means that minimum wage does not cut it, so I had a second job. I was both a teaching assistant and a research assistant for a professor – until the university told me I was working too much (even though I was in the top third of grad students, receiving As on my work, on top of everything, and presenting at professional conferences). It’s all about time management. And yes, that particular semester, I was also homeschooling my son.


Yes, being outside the box has its own challenges that come with it. For example, I have to be disciplined every day in order to get my work done. That’s not something I would have been able to do about 10 years ago, before graduate school, but the thing about grad school is that you learn work habits. You learn to make a tiny bit of progress every day towards a goal. You learn to organize those goals. Well, I did anyway. Another challenge of being outside the box involves the lack of a safety net. If I were in a 9-5 job – or even the minimum wage job – if I were sick, I’d still have a check coming. When you’re sick and you own your own business, you’ve got to rest – but you also get no billable hours in. You have to foresee times like this, and instead of spending that huge client check on gourmet meals, you sock it away – live like no one else now to live like no one else later.  And of course, there’s the health insurance issue. I’m on my own for health insurance. Luckily there’s writer’s unions where you can purchase such luxuries at a discount price.


I also don’t have a car. This is another thing people bring up often. I don’t want to own a car. Cars are expensive, they pollute the environment, and having a car would mean I would probably choose to drive rather than walk places. Some days, when I’m really busy, or it’s really hot and I don’t want to run, the only exercise I get is walking places – of course, that still means that every day, I’m getting in the recommended amount of physical activity. If I ever do really need wheels, in addition to public transportation, there’s a number of people who have offered rides should I need one. And worst case scenario? There’s always a taxi. By not owning a car, not only do I lessen my carbon footprint on the earth, but I also save the money that would otherwise be spent on a car payment, car insurance, gas, maintenance, and the emergency fund that goes with owning a car. And no, having a credit card does not count as having an emergency fund. Does it cause inconveniences? Sure, but usually only when I’d want to do something spontaneous like hop in a car and drive somewhere for a vacation. So again, it causes me to have to plan and save money. It also means I have to live close to things. It means that when I’m at the store, I need to think carefully about each thing I purchase – do I really want to pay money for that AND carry it home? So…not having a car saves a lot of money that’s not even related to the cost of owning a car.


I like living simply. Sure, I like a nice dinner here or there, and I like to look nice – but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do that.  I don’t like to spend money that doesn’t need to be spent. That makes it so that I can spend more money on things like healthy food, books, and the things that my son and I enjoy doing together. I like the flexibility of my schedule because if I want to run a 5k, go visit a friend, or volunteer a Saturday to help build a home, I don’t have to ask for the time off in advance. I just have to plan accordingly. Sure, running a business makes things complicated tax-wise, and not all months are created equally. But I continue to grow each year, and I feel like giving up now would be a huge mistake. The only thing I’m considering is finishing my graduate work part time while I continue to do what I do.


And honestly? I like being outside the box.


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All the Country’s Debt

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 01:  The National Debt C...

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 01: The National Debt Clock, a billboard-size digital display showing the increasing US debt, is seen on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 44th Street on August 1, 2011 in New York City. The House of Representatives successfully passed a bill that would reduce national debt and raise the national debt limit, though the bill still needs to pass the senate. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Okay, so…what happens when average Joe the Plumber – the sort of American Obama wanted to help – defaults on a loan? If the loan was for a house, then the bank takes the house. If the loan was on a car, then the bank takes the car. If it was a credit card or other loan, sometimes liens are put on a house or wages are garnished so that the money is paid back. No matter what Joe the Plumber’s position in life is, there are consequences when he does not pay back money that is owed.

I’m sitting here, editing a pile of articles, and preparing a menu for 95 local homeless people for tomorrow night, and in the background, I just heard the press conference with President Obama. What happens if the nation doesn’t figure out its debt problem? Joe the Plumber, Jill the Carpenter, and everyone else in the nation suffers. Here’s a list of who will not be paid and what may be in jeopardy :

  • The military – you know, all those folks who put their lives on the line to protect our nation from real and imaginary threats
  • The police departments, the fire departments, public hospitals
  • The elderly who depend on social security to buy food and have homes
  • The disabled who depend upon disability payments
  • Any government employee
  • Public universities
  • Students depending upon federal money to attend university or even jr. colleges
  • NSA
  • All governmental agencies
  • Treasury notes
  • Tax credits
  • Believe it or not, oil and gasoline would go short
  • Military contractors
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid (Meaning that doctors will not get paid)
Evidently 70 million checks are signed by the U.S. Government every month.  This is more than just a “disagreement.”
The stubborn nature of all those involved in this – members of both parties – with a total lack of thinking about what the fallout from default will cause in our already struggling nation upsets me. Something absolutely needs to be done. If Joe the Plumber defaulted, there would be consequences. When the government defaults, what do you do? We can’t go and repossess cars or the white house. The only thing we can do is withhold our votes, but that won’t matter much either when you don’t have gas for your car because you didn’t get your Social Security payment this month. I really don’t know what to do about it. It’s one of those situations where I feel totally small in comparison to the problem. All over the internet, people are sounding the alarm that this is really serious bad stuff. The list above doesn’t even scratch the surface of the fallout. With fewer people with money, the landlords, the service-providers, the businesses that depend upon customers and clients may start to shut down. This is bad, bad, bad news.
The only two things I can suggest to you are to first hold out hope that a compromise is reached and that we don’t have to find out what happens if a country defaults on its loans, and second, to make a move back to community – local community. Your social networking friends are great, but make sure you have connections in your own community as well. Introduce yourself to neighbors, your local grocer, the local farmer. Put a personal face to yourself in an anonymous world.
That’s about where I’m at in my thinking on the matter.
I like to be an optimist, and I like to believe that things will work out – and that many of those blogging on these issues and the news media is just doing what it always does – running around like Chicken Little telling us the sky is falling.
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Life and the Tour de France


The peloton of the Tour de France

The peloton of the Tour de France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Theme Song: Charlie Parker’s “Summertime”


Projects: More lesson planning, lots of writing, lots of editing, and some graphic design!


I don’t know how many people have been watching the Tour de France, but it’s something I’ve had on in the background while working this week. I have to say, that watching it  is a phenomenon. The most interesting part of the race is all the people who stand on the sidelines and cheer the riders on.  I’ve got to say, there are some interesting costumes on – I saw a guy with an executioner’s hood, a guy in a bikini, and many people dressed with capes. While watching I’ve come to the following conclusions.


  1. No matter what goes on in life, no matter how hard it seems, what matters is finishing the race. Some of these guys have no way of winning, but they are peddling their hearts out anyway. I’d like think if they allowed women to participate and I were somehow able to do such a thing, I’d finish the race too. I can’t remember who it was that I read, but they had expressed similar sentiments – what’s important is finishing the race.
  2. Everybody needs those folks who run after you clapping and cheering you on, no matter what you’re doing. They recognize the hard work you’ve done and they applaud where you’re going. I’m blessed to have a bunch of cheering folks in my life.
  3. Sometimes it’s determination, and not speed, that gets people to the end of the race. That’s the interesting thing about races. They go back to prove that whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right – something I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site.


I’m pretty sure there are more “life lessons” that can be taken from watching the Tour de France. Are you watching this event? What lessons did you pick out?


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The Commodification of Young Love


I have a confession. My first love was Jordan Knight. Yes, sometimes I would let my eye wonder over to band mate Donnie Wahlberg (didn’t he turn out to be a smoking hot talent?), but there was something about the dark hair, dark eyes, and the smile that said “yeah, I know I’m hot” that worked for me. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve listened to their albums. I went to three concerts. I had their dolls. My walls were lined with their posters. I took voice training lessons – just in case I might get the chance (please, don’t laugh too much, I was 12) to go on tour with them. I said no to drugs – and still am very anti drug – I ran up my parents phone bill on their 900 number. Did I mention that I had all their t-shirts and both tour jackets?

Adolescent girls these days are in love with the guy(s)? from Twilight. There’s Justin Bieber. There was that other group of boys…the something brothers. I’m out of touch. I’m fortunate to have a boy, and he hasn’t quite reached the stage where he’s got to have posters of his favorite musicians on the wall – though he has quite a fondness for The Beatles. A few years back it was NSYNC, 98 Degrees, and Backstreet Boys. Before NKOTB, it was Kirk Cameron and Chad Allen. Before them? Lief Garret, The Beatles, Ricky Nelson, Elvis, and others. But it wasn’t until NKOTB that the commodification of young love really took off.

The great thing about NKOTB was that there were five guys with five different personalities. You had the fitness buff, the handsome and brooding shy quiet guy, the “bad” boy, the sexy romantic guy, and the young guy. That meant they could appeal to a large group of fans, and you can bet that in addition to the clean-cut image the boys had, the marketing executives took advantage of this. You had Donnie fans, Joey fans, Danny fans, Jonathan fans, and of course Jordan fans.  Pretty soon, their items filled the rooms of teenage girls. I remember reading somewhere that Joe McIntyre recalled the surreal experience of seeing a marble with his head on it rolling down the hall of a hotel. That’s got to be a freaky experience.

Even after NKOTB broke up, and the posters and t-shirts were carefully taken down and put into storage (Vanilla Ice had replaced them, along with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, The Party, Wil Smith, and Mark Paul Gosselaar), I remained loyal to the five bad brothers from the beantown land. I started to date guys at my high school. Did he look like Jordan? Did he remind me of Donnie? I missed my boys and their band broke up by the time I hit my sophomore year of high school. Even so, I was known by everyone, still, as the girl who was all about New Kids on the Block!

I wonder if girls today compare their boyfriends or husbands to their first loves – those commercialized icons that make their way into the young hearts and homes through magazines and music. I didn’t even know who New Kids on the Block were until I’d seen a friend reading “teeny bopper” magazines (do they still make those?) and thought “If I want to be cool, I should have them.” The magazines had pictures of girls proudly displaying their shrines to their favorite actors – Richard Greico, Johnny Depp (yes before Pirates – when he was a 21 Jump Street guy), and Edward Furlong were part of my early wall collection. Then, I bought a cassette tape (remember those?) – Hanging Tough. Soon, I was wanting to compete with those girls in the pictures. I had to become the biggest fan!

Real boys weren’t like the idealized boy band members. Jordan, in my mind, was the kind of guy who would always bring you flowers. Donnie would randomly surprise you with a trip to the beach. Joey would serenade you. Jon would be your best friend and you’d feel like you’d known him forever. Danny would bring out your competitive streak and go on long hikes with you before racing you home. Of course, he’d be nice at the end and let you win. I, like many other girls, constructed an ideal version of each of the guys.

Imagine my surprise and disdain when the guys I met didn’t want to dance at the dances, weren’t into the whole roses and candlelight thing (not unless you mentioned it) and were not so much into letting girls win when you’d race. I was about to say I’d never been serenaded, but that’s not entirely true. My ex sang to me at karaoke one night in front of about forty people – one of the good moments. Not exactly a serenade, but not exactly not on either.

The fact of the matter was that the boy bands and teen idols of years past weren’t just selling their albums.

They were selling first love.

And yes I, like many bought it. And yes, I still buy all the albums NKOTB put out – as a group and as solo artists. I have to say, while Jordan, Donnie, and Joe still get the attention, my favorite solo albums are those coming from Danny. He is a true talent.

Who was your first love?


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Notes on My First 5K & Why Running?


Memorial to the oldest annual running race in ...

Memorial to the oldest annual running race in Europe. Prague-Běchovice, Czech Republic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Theme Song: Death Cab for Cutie, “Transatlanticism”


So on Independence day, I ran my first 5K race. I didn’t do too bad. I’d met two of the goals I’d had going into it – to finish the race and to have a race time under 45 minutes.


  • I placed at 183 out of 216 people who finished the race. The fastest score was just over 17 minutes, the slowest was 55 minutes.
  • I placed 30th out of 33 women in my age group.
  • My time was 42:14 and I averaged 13:36 minute miles. That was with walking for between 1/3 and 1/2 of each mile.
  • The average speed of all runners in the race was 30:46 for the median time, 22:12 for the mode time, and 32:30 for the mean.
  • The average speed for runners in my sex/age class was 32:18 median and 33:16 mean (no mode).


That’s not too bad for someone who was running a first race and who only had been seriously training for 3 weeks prior to the race – and hadn’t run for a week prior to the race due to weather.


I’ll be signing up for another 5k soon and training some more. I’d like to improve my time by at least 3 minutes.


So recently, I was asked “Ronda, is this some sort of Forrest Gump thing? I mean, all the running.” 


I took this question to mean – why are you so into running?


There are many things that contributed to my taking up running. Here are some of them:


  1. All you need to participate in running as a sport and fitness activity is a decent pair of running shoes. There’s no gym subscription, no special equipment, no trainer or coach necessary. This makes it an economical choice when it comes to cardio.
  2. Running builds bone density.
  3. I’ve always wanted to be a runner.
  4. I have many good friends who are runners. They’re awesome people who inspire me.
  5. I wanted to conquer a challenge. I’ve always struggled with running, so I want to improve that skill.
  6. I walk around 15 miles a week on average. I wanted to take that to a new level.
I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment completing a running workout gives me. So, yeah, in that sense, maybe it is a Forrest Gump thing…You never know, you may catch me running cross-country one day.


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