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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hometown Geography & Weather

We had an inch of snow here Tuesday night, and every school and most businesses shut down for a rare and precious snow day. Tuesday, in anticipation of wintry mix, everyone was also closed, though freezing rain didn't arrive until sunset (the Ross where Mums and I went for Senior Citizen Discount Day closed at 5:30).  Before noon Wednesday, the roads were dry and clear, and the dusting of white was retreating from the curbs, exposing the dead gold grass, but Augusta was still like a ghost town.  I wanted to drop off two batches of consignment items, but both stores were dark and locked, as were many, many others on the main and back roads, including groceries, restaurants, and car repair.  I went to the gym instead. 
 
Then I came home, showered, and prepared for bed.  Before I dozed, I decided to update the prices of my Amazon book listings.  I have 164 items in my inventory, and with the click of two buttons, I intended to "match low price" on all.  I was using my iPhone instead of my laptop, and hit the wrong line on the tiny scroll-down menu.  And accidentally closed all my listings.  Turns out, you can close 'em all at once, but you have to re-open them one by one.  Which process took four hours.  At least I had an audio book to listen to while I did this.
 
Hot weather doesn't faze Georgians, but the sight of a single snowflake sends us into tizzies.  As a re-engrafted native, I find this amusing, and also have to chuckle at the uncanny juxtaposition of several hometown enterprises and signs.  There's the high-tech laser eye surgery center built thirty feet from the heavily-traveled freight train tracks.  Just diagonally across the road, a sophisticated spine-treatment center, encased in hideous primary-color avant-garde concrete, glass and steel, sits right next door to a squat and ramshackle house fronted with a peeling sign (topped by a tiny rack of antlers) which reads "taxidermist". 
 
And then there's the familiar (to me, from years in the liberal north) "War is not the answer" sign stuck in the front yard of one of my mother's neighbors.  Just around the corner, at the stoplight, you can see an enormous billboard (14' x 48'), with the smiling faces of two lab coat-wearing men and in gigantic black lettering the shouted assurance: "We have the answer!"  
 
Because of the telephone and electrical wires at the intersection, you can't actually see what the billboard is advertising until you pass under the lights--varicose vein treatment, it turns out. 
 
I suppose war isn't very good for treating unattractive leg veins...
 
 

Friday, January 24, 2014

I Hate Babies "Ya" Us!

It's not just because of the stupid backwards "R" in the name (which, as a Russianist, I always read as the letter "Ya"), but I loathe Babies "R" Us.  Actually, I didn't have any strong feelings about the pre-ambulatory division of Toys "R" Us until this evening, when I was trying to order shower gifts for my cousin, who is expecting a little boy.  The shower is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Columbia, SC, and I didn't have time to make it to the store earlier this week (primarily due to back pain), and won't have time to undertake a huge shopping trip tomorrow.  But I was cheered to see on the Babies website (she was registered there and at Target) that they had a "pick up in store" option--the items you chose "would be ready for pickup in an hour".  Cool.  Pre-order, pay, swing by the store three miles away and pickup.  Seemed pretty simple and customer-friendly.

SEEMED being the operative word.

First, you couldn't just select a list of items, see if they were available at your chosen store, and then add them to your cart wholesale.  No, you must select each one separately, see if the local store you chose originally was the one at which you wanted to pick up each successive item, and if, in fact, that store had the item in stock, and then add it.  So, that took half an hour.  Then they had a byzantine checkout process--although Paypal was listed as an option, and usually communicates flawlessly with external websites, the Babies website insisted it "couldn't deliver to the address chosen" and demanded I re-enter my personal data despite the fact that I'd carefully, SLOWLY requested the items to be readied in-store for ME to pickup from THEM.  Finally got the order confirmed at 7:52, and sat down to eat dinner and watch an Amazon movie.

At 8:50, my phone chimed, letting me know that I had an incoming email.  Glanced at it, and saw, to my surprise, that Toys R Us/Babies R Us had sent me a notification-only email to the effect that "We have received and processed your request for the cancellation of order #--".  What the hell?!

I phoned them immediately.  After I gave up trying to deal with their irritating automatic phone system and punched "0", I reached a very nice little customer service person, who explained that, "yes, many customers are confused" but the fact was that the store where you have asked to pick things up doesn't actually take them off the shelves, but a local warehouse ships to them, and the warehouse was out of what I ordered.  First of all, this makes no sense--they had a "ship to store" option, too, but I didn't choose that!  Second, why on earth would it make sense for them to maintain a "pick up in store within an hour" system when they don't keep the items in the store?  Seems to me the delivery vans would be constantly out on the road, running from store to store--why not just drop the items off at customer's houses?  And furthermore, I forewent several items (which I could have had shipped), because they were listed as being unavailable at my local store.

I was nice to the little customer service rep, but I told her that she should share the recording of our phone conversation with her superiors--they just lost my business.  I will NEVER buy from Babies "Ya" Us again.  Oh, what slowed me down further on the online checkout was the fact that there were no online coupon codes--the Babies/Toys people have basically hijacked all the couponing sites' space for "deals" by using them as advertising space--instead of "click on this link to activate code" (with other online retailers, these can be anything from percentages off to free shipping on any order), their links promising percentages off are just links to the regular store pages.  "No coupon necessary" indeed.  Their prices are high, their website promises what it doesn't (literally) deliver (or have available to be picked up), and I heartily discourage any of my fecund friends and relations from giving them further custom--they most assuredly don't deserve it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pains In The Back

Clothes shopping has never been one of my favorite activities, but I did have a good time being with Susanna last night.  She is going to a semi-formal afternoon wedding on Saturday, where "ladies hats are encouraged", and had neither a hat nor an appropriate dress.  She came over after work to raid my hat and hat-pin collections, and then once we'd had dinner we went to Ross to rummage through the clearance racks.  We piled all the possibilities into a shopping cart and headed to the fitting rooms, where she was to spend a solid two hours changing outfits, while I hauled armloads of "maybes" and "rejects" in an out past the staffed counter.  IPhones are God's gift to bored shoppers, I contend--when my back began to hurt, and I was forced to hunker down against the wall in the changing room corridor, waiting for Susanna to emerge from her booth with each successive possibility, I was able to distract myself by fooling around on my phone, checking my eBay listings.  She eventually found two dresses (one for the wedding, one for church) and a cute sparkly shrug, and got all three for around $50 total.  I was happy for her sartorial success, and happy she drove--my lower back was really aching by the time we made it to checkout.

Tomorrow, I plan to make an appointment to see an orthopedist--the nurse at the urgent care had given me a referral, but they never called, and I am hobbling around like an elderly dowager.  My mother and I plan to drive down in the morning to see Grandmommy; I may take some meds so I can sleep most of the way going and coming. 

As of this past Tuesday afternoon, I am the proud renter of several dozen cubic feet of space at a local consignment/antiques mall. I have put out everything saleable that's ready to hand, and it's spread kind of thin, so I texted both of my brothers that if they had anything smallish they wanted to unload, they could feel free to take advantage of it.  All the FireKing lusterware I accumulated for my mom (she loves it, but doesn't have room for it anymore) is ticketed and on display, as are three of my lamps, and a random assortment of other household items. 

I have been "casting my bread upon the waters" with relentless enthusiasm (read: desperation), and must say that I have found the "after many days" caveat to the promised recovery of it to be true--thus far, in addition to the items on my rental shelves, I have eight lamps and more than 30 pieces of fine and costume jewelry on consignment, besides that 19th-century oil painting that I left with the antique dealer up in Maryland in November, the 150+ books I have Fulfilled by Amazon, and the revolving listings on eBay.  Apart from the ten Amazon-shipped books and forty eBay items I have sold in the last month (which isn't enough to cover my basic expenditures, particularly car repair), none of my consignments have yielded any fruit.  This afternoon, I overheard someone attributing the overall slow retail sales conditions to the fact that peoples' Christmas credit card bills have come due, and saying she thinks it will be another several weeks before the stress of that expenditure wears off and people are willing to start shopping again.  Makes sense.

In the meantime, I'll hope to find out whether physical therapy will fully address my spinal discomfort, or whether another round of surgery will be necessary. [sigh]  And maybe, just maybe, I'll get called for a job interview!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nutty

The only food obsession I have that comes close to my mania for skim milk (and my lifelong love affair with sweets as a class) is for peanut butter.  There are days I've eaten the wonderful gummy stuff at breakfast, lunch and dinner, dollopping it onto my morning banana, spreading it on my noontime sandwich, and spooning portions onto my evening apple slices and popcorn.  I grew up eating the natural stuff, which Mums would produce in vast quantities from a red electric grinder--that sucker was so bone-shakingly loud that I expect that were we not already genetically disposed towards hearing loss, the exposure would have still assured our middle-age investment in Miracle Ear.

It makes me feel noble (but makes the peanut butter at the bottom of the jar unspreadable) to pour off the oil that rises to the top of a jar of the natural stuff--I use it to pop corn.  My parents used to make the most wonderful, gooey peanut butter popcorn balls when we were little (I don't even want to think about the caloric content of those sweet, buttery things), and I've wanted some way of getting that great taste without all the "energy" that I don't need.  And then, last week, I was puttering around on Amazon and found that someone had invented cold-pressed powdered peanut butter! A quarter of the calories and a tenth of the fat of the conventional, spreadable kind.  I'd traded in a boxful of media material for a gift card, so I decided to try the stuff, which had garnered rave reviews.

It arrived today in a vacuum-sealed briquet, like coffee, and when I opened the package I found it to have the fineness of powdered sugar--breathe deeply and you could aspirate the stuff.  It's like cocaine for peanut butter fanatics.  Great taste--I made a milkshake with it, and mixed it with honey, and was wowed. Apparently, you can bake with it--I wonder if a batch of peanut butter cookies would be noticeably different if you used it instead of the conventional kind.  Hmm. Must experiment.

My back continues to ache, but I am reluctant to medicate, particularly with the muscle relaxants.  Best not to get too dependent on those things!  Especially as I tend to be even more loopy and peckish than normal on meds, and at present I can't exercise.  It'd be a shame to undo a month's worth of workouts in one week of noshing.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Am The Lamp Lady

When not laid up by lower back pain, I've been busy making lamps.  Pictures!

The shade looks a little cockeyed in this picture, but I thought the whole turned out well!  I'd been mulling this idea for almost a year, and finally had the wherewithal to assemble it.

The floral vase is actually antique and hand-painted, but I rejuvenated it with a nicer base, better hardware, new wiring and a new shade (left the plastic on the shade until I got it safely to consignment a couple of days ago). Antique green glass finial to match.

Classic Asian ceramic vase on a rosewood base. Brass finial.

Hand-painted Chinese ginger jar vase and lid, on carved wooden base. The red shade doesn't match exactly (the red on the ceramic is a little more orange-toned), but I thought it added a dramatic touch.

This is one of my all-time favorites, and the iPhone photo doesn't do it justice--the vase is handmade glass, very heavy, a swirl of blue and green. I painted the wood base a dark Prussian blue to coordinate (the color is so dense it looks like black at first glance).  Need a cool silver-tone finial to match the hardware, but in the meantime it's got a little blah button one.

Handmade vase I bought from a friend of mine (one of her students made it). Flipped it, drilled it, put on a brass cap and a simple wood base, and tada!

Should have taken the plastic off the shade for this picture to give you all the full effect--the shade is faded denim, with leather stitching. Vase is handmade ceramic. A nice young masculine look.

I was thrilled to find this shade and this vase three days ago in two different booths at a local consignment/antiques mall.  Had the carved wood base already, and painted it black with gold detailing to match the rest.  It came together beautifully. 

So, although these lamps are kind of standard (no wild modern examples here), they do represent what I've been up to, artistically, over the last couple of days.  I love finding cool finials, and I am always on the lookout for great shades, and especially those wooden bases!  I've had no luck finding the latter here in GA thus far, and my stock is dwindling.  People on eBay want a fortune for them.  If anyone runs across a store or a person with a cache, who wants $5 or less each, drop me a line!

Say It Ain't So!

For the last three weeks I've had ongoing lower back pain, in roughly the same place where I strained my ligaments and whatnot doing the charity booksale for Aloysha almost a decade ago. Although I couldn't point to a specific event which might have triggered this, I've been schlepping all sorts of things around my house, and so I assumed it just needed time and ab-strengthening exercises to heal. But it didn't get better. I thought my brand-new, memory-foam mattress might be to blame (though I'd never heard of one causing back problems--usually they are credited with nigh-miraculous cures of such things). Two nights ago, I switched downstairs, to the guest room bed, and though I did sleep better, I continued to have daytime discomfort.  Wednesday, after my morning massage, I was reduced to tears by back spasms, and my mom ended up taking me to the local urgent care center.  After asking me questions geared toward the middle-aged menopausal woman, they took x-rays and said that I had some (you guessed it!) "narrowing of the spinal cord passage".  But that it wasn't severe enough to warrant surgery at this time.  So, they gave me pain killers and muscle relaxants, and instructed me to take it easy for a week--no heavy lifting, etc.  ARGH!

I have begun to feel a whole lot better sleeping on the downstairs mattress, though. 

I thought it was just me that was surprised to see how younger people had grown up in my absence, but this ego-centric "other people are left as they are while I don't see them" attitude has had a happy reverse manifestation--people who have known me most of my life assuming that I am still in my late twenties!  It's funny how this has occurred several times over the last couple of weeks.  Maybe the secret to eternal youth is just to return to your old haunts every ten years. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Music & Melancholy

I re-joined my home church choir yesterday, back in my old seat among the altos.  I was ten minutes late to practice, which started at seven, so I did my scales and warm-up exercises on the way, trilling weirdly from behind the wheel (I am sure to the consternation of any other driver who glanced in my direction).  The church is hosting the local observance of the Martin Luther King memorial service on January 20, and I think it will be the first time that there has actually been a historically white (though not exclusively, even in the "bad old days") church hosting what has largely been an African-American celebration.  Our choir will be joined by some four others from other area churches--I wonder if they will be wearing robes, as we have let ours gather dust for years now.  Anyway, it was great to be reabsorbed musically, as daunting as it was to really sight-read after mostly forgetting how over a decade. 

My friend Nathan Brand's father died suddenly of a heart attack earlier this week, and my friend Susanna and I decided to go to the visitation.  She came by today to pick me up at 6:30 (by that point, I'd become wholly absorbed in hanging pictures with the help of Mums' "all-purpose teenager"), and when I opened the door to her knock I burst out, "Crap! I forgot!" and quickly rushed to put on suitable clothes and proper makeup.  The funeral home was the same we used for Daddy's arrangements, and the parking lot was packed when we arrived at seven.  In addition to the viewing for Nathan Brand's father, there was another mourning family receiving condolences.  I was walking past the first reception area when I recognized an elderly man, his face covered in sadness, and he looked at me with surprised recognition: it was my long-time psychiatrist, and he blurted that his 51-year-old daughter had died suddenly of COPD.  I hugged him, and he told me "we covet your prayers."  He's such a dear old man.  He buried his wife of 50+ years a while back, and now he is burying his daughter. 

I was so glad that Susanna had fetched me.  Not only did I end up signing the Brand family guest book, I signed the other one too.  It was peculiar knowing members of two next-door bereaved families in a single evening, but I was glad I was able to be there both for Nathan and for my doctor, as accidental as the latter was on my part.  Nathan's mom is from South Korea, and though his dad was in the US Army when they married, they met in Oklahoma, of all places, not Inchon or Seoul.  They'd been married forty years, just like my parents, and Nathan's father's body was laid out in a coffin exactly like the one we chose for Daddy, in exactly the same spot in the same room where we all gathered 3.5 years ago.  His mom is devastated, and spent most of the hour we stayed to talk with Nathan and his wife curled over her husband's body, weeping.  I had never met either of Nathan's parents before, but if his father was anything like him, he was a sweet and godly guy. 

People don't understand how jarring the sudden death of a loved one is until it happens to them.  You can commiserate, you can imagine hypothetically, but until you know that horrible tearing sensation firsthand, you don't know how fundamentally it upsets your balance, leaves you simultaneously numb and miserable.  Thank God, if you are a believer, there is real hope and comfort, and you do really experience this "peace that passes understanding" as you work through the days and weeks waiting for your reeling world to rock down to equilibrium.  But anybody who thinks death is "natural" or reactions to it can be methodically moved through is deluding themselves.  I told Nathan's wife that if I can help address envelopes or something, to let me know--sometimes, the best thing you can do for people in grief is to help them get through the mundane responsibilities of ritual, since I know from personal experience how dumbstruck the brain can be by all the unexpected reality of mortality.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Interview & Delivery

One of the many reasons I've never been tempted to become an actress is I become completely confused when I have to deliver prepared lines.  This morning I had an interview at a placement agency, and they have a useful HR search tool that involves job-hopefuls addressing a video camera with a few sentences about themselves, their qualifications and interests.  Prior to my sitting down in the chair and speaking to the tiny device on the large tripod, I was given a pamphlet with some guidelines and empty spaces into which I could pen ideas for things to say.  I managed to stutter out an approximation of what were much more fluent written phrases after about six takes.  I was assured that complimentary editing would be employed, and resolved to leave my fate in the hands of the professionals.  I am much more poised than I used to be, but knowing the camera was recording, I was gripped by stage fright to a degree I haven't had since high school.  That being said, the ladies at the agency were very kind, straightforward and professional, and said they may already have a lead on a technical writing job for me already.  I need to take several online assessments of my computer skills first, but I wanted to be rested before I attempted them, and except for a nap between 6 and 8 AM, as of 3 PM I had been awake since just after midnight.

This was not the insomnia which frequently plagues me, but the fact that I was anticipating a furniture delivery at 2 AM.  That might seem an odd time to expect one, but I'd asked the same fellow who did my move to Georgia to pick up a bedframe I'd bought from an eBay seller in New York State, and the inclement weather put him even more behindhand than usual.  Initially, he'd said I'd get the frame midafternoon Tuesday.  Then, it was 2 AM Wednesday.  At 4 AM I texted him to ask whether he'd an update on his ETA, and he responded that he'd just gone through Atlanta.  He finally pulled up in front of my house at 5:30 AM.  The bed is beautiful--my mother's all-purpose teenager is supposed to come over tomorrow or Friday to help me assemble it.  I still don't have a rug for my guest room, but that is going to have to wait, because the placement people said that even if the company they have in mind wants to interview me, it will be at least two weeks.  And, my little Honda is in the shop, having its axles and brakes replaced, to the tune of $700.

Even before I looked up the possible diagnosis on internet auto repair sites, I figured I had a bum axle--when I turned the wheel sharply, I was getting a growing cog-wheel popping sound from the front.  Given that the car has almost 200,000 miles on it, this is not an unexpected repair.  I had not noticed issues with the brakes and shoes, but my father had said they had some life left in them four years ago, and it is not at all unreasonable that they'd reached the end of their use now.  I took the car to a service station my stepfather swears by, and I did not get the feeling they were trying to sell me a bill of goods, though the bill for the goods I needed is considerable!  Still, less than the car is worth, and much, much less than what it would cost to replace it.

I have been debating for a while about taking down the "Bossy Non-Boss" post of a couple of months ago.  Although the person in question was not named, of course, nor identified in any great detail, I'd hate for someone to recognize her and treat her with prejudice because of my singular experience.  Also, I did forgive her before more than a couple of days had passed, which took a tremendous weight off my mind and spirit, and meant both she and I could relax for Thanksgiving and return to work together afterwards.  She and I actually spent more time together after my goodbye luncheon, and she wished me well before I left town.  I think I will let it stand for the time being, reminding myself and readers that I've screwed up and offended others in some really spectacular ways myself, and that no one's personality remains static--by God's grace, we can sweeten and better, where we were sour and worse.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Gas Tanks & Trash Cans

You know what the weirdest thing about living in Georgia has been thus far?  The fact that my car’s gas gauge has been sitting at roughly the same level for almost a week.  I am so accustomed to burning through entire tankfuls of gasoline in mere days, that the sheer imperturbability of the needle has begun to fascinate me.  True, I haven’t been going many places—the post office, the grocery store, the gym, Mums’ and John’s house, church—but everything is so close, and I don’t have to sit in traffic for hours on end. 

Today I’ve listed several items on eBay (and packed three I sold yesterday), talked to two temp-to-hire agencies (I have an interview with one next Wednesday), cut an inch off the top of glass lampshade with my Drimmel tool, fixed the broken frame on a gilded wood mirror (I’m going to have to pick up some new gold leaf base coat tomorrow, because I discovered mine had solidified in the jar), assembled a work bench, and culled a dozen loose gemstones from my collection for consignment.  And I went to the gym at 11:30PM, after it finally quit raining. Unfortunately, by that time, the wind had picked up to a really astonishing level, and the temperature had plummeted 20 degrees, so when I got back at 1 AM, I couldn’t pull into my driveway until I climbed out into the bitter cold to right my neighbor’s trash bin, which had been thrown across my sidewalk, tearing off a wheel in the process.

I am buzzed on endorphins (and sugar—I’ve been binging on candy corn, post-workout) right now, so it may take a bit before I’m ready to sleep, but the wind whistling through the eaves and knocking over more trashcans down the street is making enough noise that I’d have trouble dozing off anyway!  There may well be garbage scattered all over the place when the sun comes up tomorrow…

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!  The last year served up some surprises, the chief among them being the sudden necessity of neck surgery, and all that ensued as a result, ending with my return to my hometown of Augusta, GA.  But, despite all that, it was a good year, and, as my sister reminded me this afternoon, ultimately, even on a secular level, what matters in life is not what you did for a living, but the relationships you built, and with whom. 

Today was little Theo’s first birthday! It was such a pleasure to get to watch him grow throughout 2013, from a wee tot to a big boy, from not being able to turn over by himself to being able to climb a flight of stairs in seconds.  I cannot thank Susan and Steven enough for hosting me in their home from June to November, feeding me such yummy meals and putting up with my eccentricities.  Likewise, Amy and Larry and little Faith welcomed me in November and December, though because of my hectic schedule the last month they barely ever saw me, and could ascertain that I was still around only by the steadily-dropping level in the skim milk jug!  Faith always yelled my name with such joy—I will miss her enthusiasm and huge grin.  Anita and Tom also let me crash at their pad while jewelry-making and jewelry-selling, fed me sushi and listened to me grouse.  Rachel and the NPV, Leah and Aaron and Micah, DesertRose, Paxifist, the ladies on my trivia team and colleagues with the estate sale company, my art dealer boss, my two German professor friends, Ira in Russia and my LDC in Korea & Berlin, not to mention others at church and Susanna here in GA, all proved, once again, that they are the best of friends to me, faithful and supportive far beyond what I could ever hope to deserve.  And that’s not even mentioning my awesome family, immediate and extended.  God has really blessed me.

With that, we go on to a review of last year's ten wishes list, and the introduction of this year's...

Neither the best-selling novel nor the co-translation got published in 2013, but Lord willing both will this year!  I didn’t make it outside American borders last year, but I did use that plane ticket voucher for a great and memorable trip to Colorado.  Circumstances beyond my control (the three herniated disks in my neck) meant I earned very little money in 2013, and spent much more on health care, but thanks to my church, I didn’t have to dun my mom for the majority of the shortfall.  Also, thanks to her, although I didn’t buy a condo this year, I am now living in a very nice townhouse—I don’t know if I’ll be able to work out a “rent to own” agreement on it, but that largely depends on my finding a regular job.  My lamp making and selling was curtailed early in the year by my neck problems, and then by the fact that I had to put all my supplies and components in storage.  Still, I managed to sell more than 14 in the first few months of 2013, and once I get my stuff squared away here, I hope to resume this process in local shops and online.  I re-started my physical fitness training late in the year, after my figure took a major downturn, and I’m already feeling better (even if I did just eat a large piece of red velvet cake while typing this blogpost).  There were a couple of nice Asian guys of whom I made acquaintance, and one with whom I continue to correspond (it’s not romantic at this juncture, but that’s not ruled out for the future).  Jewelry sales were lousy in 2013, but on December 31, I consigned 35 pieces of jewelry with a store five minutes from my new home, so I have ambitions for 2014!

Therefore, the following are my goals (wild wishes!) for the Year of Our Lord 2014:

1. Get the non-fiction Russian co-translation of Being Grounded in Love (formerly “Two Motherlands, Two Fatherlands”) published!
2. Make $10,000 in jewelry sales alone.

3. Maybe the fifth time's the charm as far as international travel (I am adding a fifth country, too!): I want to go to the Czech Republic, Canada, Ireland, South Korea and Germany.
4. Arrange to rent-to-own my mother’s townhouse.

5. See at least three dozen of my lamps sold at galleries in Georgia and DC.
6. Pay off at least a third of my financial debt to my mom.

7. Resume my personal physical fitness training and develop decent abs, non-bubbly thighs, and ripped arms.
8. Rent out my mother’s townhouse for Master’s week.

9. Join a prospecting club and go panning for gold.
10. Finish the best-selling novel and get a literary agent for same.

 
Must refill my glass of milk and take photos for a jewelry listing on eBay…