Take A Plunge

I grew up spending my summers in California, and every August my family would pack up the RV’s and travel to Yosemite National Park for a week-long adventure. I was the youngest of the brood, and therefore suffered serious small-kid persecution on a daily basis. This attributed to the desperate need to “keep up” with all my older cousins.

If you’ve ever been to Yosemite National Park you know that there is a ghastly tradition of climbing to the top of “The Bridge” and jumping down to the freezing cold river below. All the water is basically melted snow that runs down from the tops of the mountains so it really, literally, is ice cold. When I was only 11 years old, my cousins decided it was time I sucked it up and took a jump.

“Come on, Julie…don’t you want to be able to hang with us now?” they would chime in together. I bit my lip and swallowed hard. I knew if I said no I would be the laughing stock around the campfire later, but if I said yes, and happened to barely survive, my parents would go ahead and finish the job by beating me to a pulp.

I decided my life would be over if I didn’t jump, so I climbed my way up to the top of that bridge. I stepped atop the tall, stone wall and looked down to the icy waters below. I froze. Suddenly everyone was laughing and pointing, including complete strangers as they called me a coward (newsflash: kids can be mean). I gulped and held my breath, but still couldn’t move.

I glanced over to see my cousin Shanel glaring at the crowd as they laughed and pointed. I saw a fierce rage in her eyes, one I had never seen before.  Apparently she could poke fun at me all day, but how dare someone else? She nonchalantly walked over to me and whispered through the side of her mouth, “Just do it. I will jump right after you and swim you to shore…”

“But I can’t…” I responded in a frightful tone.

“Just trust me!” she whispered loudly.

I continued to hear the snickering banter behind me.

“Hurry up! There’s people waiting who are actually gonna jump!” a random voice shouted from behind me.

I despairingly looked down in shame.                                                          

“Look at me,” I heard Shanel’s loud whisper once again and glanced over my left shoulder at her stern face.

“Trust me…” she said and winked.

Before I had a chance to say, “huh?”, I felt her hand position itself in the arch of my back and shove.

Just like that, my body was forced forward and I realized it was too late to turn back. I held my breath as I soared through the air and eventually splashed into the icy cold waters below. As I struggled to swim to the surface, I suddenly felt an arm wrap itself around my waist and gently pull me up to safety.

“You okay?” it was Shanel.

All of a sudden I heard a booming sound of cheers and applause coming from the bridge above. I looked up to see my naysayers clapping and holding their thumbs up. I flashed a smile of relief and paddled to the shore.

“Sorry about that, but you were ready to jump. You just needed a push,” Shanel said.

“It’s okay, I’m glad you did,” I said through chattering teeth.

“Wanna do it again?” she asked.

I grinned.


Caviar Dreams…My Ass!

“Entrepreneur”-one who owns, launches, manages, and assumes the risks of an economic venture.

I have been very excited since taking the plunge into the world of the self-employed, thus becoming a tad liberal with my time and money. Seriously, someone needs to put a potato sack over my head, drive me to an unknown bridge, then dangle me over the edge and very forcefully explain that I’m not making the big bucks just yet! Yes, I am unfortunately known for diving head-first into anything that excites me, and lately I’ve been simply fascinated with new business ventures (whatever they may be). Case in point: This past weekend I took a 3-day real estate investment course. Now, let me just start by telling you this wasn’t some flim-flam bogus bullshit that you go to and decide to give up your firstborn child and sell your soul to the devil just to be a part of. This advertised as a legitimate educational course with a planned curriculum. It was taught by a real professor, who also happened to have made it big time in the real estate biz. It cost a total of 500 bucks, but I’m a sucker for success stories…plus the housing market has me intrigued right now, so I signed up for the course and got ready for a long weekend of learning and inspiration. Yeah, right.

First of all, I will say that the course was slightly educational. I did learn a few techniques about wholesale real estate, pre-foreclosures, and mortgage options. I also met a few people who, like myself, were hungry for a great investment opportunity but not sure where to start. With that being said, let me explain how this ingenious plot works to have you saying “Here’s my American Express…” before your coffee gets cold.

Day 1: They prep your emotions by filling your heart with some great motivational stories. I love that shit. Then they tease you with a tiny bit of informative and educational material, just enough to have you taking notes and sitting on the edge of your cold, hard seat. Then they tell you how important it is to have great credit. Once they have everyone in agreement, they tell you that during lunch, you need to pull out your plastic and call to increase the limits as much as you can. This theory, (or so they say), is to give you a higher credit score. This makes sense because the less you owe compared to your limits, the higher your score. This is the part where my red flag went flying, especially since they just finished explaining how you should use “other people’s money” to buy property, and never put anything in your name. Hmmm. This “assignment” was to be done by everyone and then we all had to report back after lunch and say how much we got our credit limits raised. I’m sitting at my table, totally dumbfounded and wondering if anyone else in the room had figured out what the hell was going on. As I watched them race to their cars with their cellphones, I realized they didn’t.

Day 2: I contemplated not going back for round two, but curious to see how quickly my opinion would be validated, I simply couldn’t resist it. I walked in the class a few minutes late only to suffer glares from the professor. She quickly explained how she had been to boot-camp courses taught by (insert real estate tycoon here), and HE would have charged her $50 for being late. I slowly removed my oversized sunglasses and sipped my coffee through a smile. Bitch.

The first hour was another tease-o-rama for real information. Just as I started thinking I may actually start to learn something here, alas, get my money’s worth, the Bitch starts telling us that in order to ever make wise real estate investments, we must enroll in “Advanced Training.” Advanced training? Then what the hell had I paid for, a hand job without a happy ending? Apparently so. She then proceeded to list the various courses needed in order to become a millionaire. I was flabbergasted when she wrote down the final figure for how much this “Advanced Training” would cost us. $48,000. Yes, I said $48,000. For a 6-week online course and a fucking mentor. Once I realized no one was going to come out and start talking about timeshares, I looked for Ashton Kutcher’s hot ass since I was absolutely sure we were all being Punked. He never showed up.

Day 3: Remember those lovely credit cards you increased the limits on the first day? Well, now is the time to whip those babies out! Don’t even think about saying you don’t have the money for “Advanced Training”, since the instructors vividly remember each one of the poor suckers who felt compelled to share their stories with the class after lunch that first day. I specifically remember the sweet little guy at the table next to mine. He was an ambitious young man who worked overtime at two different jobs just to afford THIS class. What he lacked in brains, he made up for in spirit.
”I called at lunch and they raised my Visa limit to $2500!” he excitedly proclaimed.
”Good! Now you need to fill out a few more applications so you have more available credit on your report. This way, you can get approved for more houses and become a millionaire quicker! Now here’s the phone number for Citibank…I have it memorized for some insane reason…hahahaha!” the Bitch said.
Heaven forbid there be any naysayers, since she would make them feel like Tom Thumb in front of the room and tell them they were destined to a life of poverty since they were too pussified to take the “Advanced Training.” Who knew the Anti-Christ was a short, pudgy white lady? 
I didn’t participate in the assignments, but she never gave me a hard time. I think it’s because once I removed my sunglasses on that second day, she saw the question of authenticity in my eyes. I locked her in a stare-battle and refused to look away. That was when the Bitch realized I wasn’t intimidated by her browbeating, and she avoided me at all costs. 

Before lunch on the third day, I packed up my shit and left early. I still had some of my weekend left to do something productive, and maybe even a little partying…after all, this entrepreneur was ready to get off her butt and start hanging out with some real motivators…her friends!