Raising Boys, Working From Home, Music and Another Lesson For Me

No Doubt JAG
No Doubt JAG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m no different than the rest of the parents in the world — I think my kids are the coolest. You busted me. From time to time, I’ve even used them to further my Facebook [insert sarcasm] popularity. I never wanted to be one of those parents, but, I can’t help it at times.

Personally, I think I’ve done a fine enough job of embarrassing myself. Here are more Facebook status updates from the archives of my life.

Judge for yourself.

Funny_Facebook_Status_Office_Job
Courtesy of Robin Matteri Facebook

As a mother who works from home, it’s hard to balance work, guilt, and everything else. Summer vacation proved to be an obstacle course similar to a set-up on the television game show Wipeout.

My son wanted attention, and I needed to work. After a few days, staying home began to make me feel more guilty than dropping him off at daycare. Finally, I had to break it down to him. Here’s how it happened:

Me: Nicholas, you have to pretend I’m one of those normal moms who goes to work each morning in an office or something. I’m so sorry but I can’t cater to you every second of the day. We’ll play hockey in a couple hours. Why don’t you go read a book for thirty minutes.

Nicholas: Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t hear you since you’re at work in some office.


My oldest is eighteen now and I’ve been blocked by him on Facebook more times than I can count. It’s tough raising boys when you’re a sappy mom who has NO clue. During a time when I wasn’t blocked one of Tyler’s Facebook status updates made my heart sing. (See Screenshot below)

I think what he’s trying to say is that his love of music is diversified and because of this, he’s become a more culturally aware person. His ability to love No Doubt and Eminem defines him as a person who appreciates art.

I taught him early to respect people who were free in showing vulnerability through music. I allowed him to listen to music that no other mother would have believed. I explained to him how art evolves in many forms and words translate differently to everyone.

In this respect, I am completely triumphant as a parent. So here is the actual screenshot from his Facebook page. Pay attention to the comments which are hilarious and sweet. Bottom line? I didn’t completely “f” up as a mother.

THIS boy LOVES me. :)

Robin_Matteri_Son_Facebook_Status_No_Doubt
Screenshot courtesy of Tyler Hall Facebook

//

Old School Social Networking: No Fancy Wording or Insights. We Called it MySpace! Yep, Yep!

Back in the day, social networking was simply called MySpace. Instead of Photoshop, we introduced ourselves with music that defined our spirits and an themes that told their own story. That’s networking homies!

There were no fancy terms designed to amplify views or increase user engagement and everyone blogged for the purpose of telling a story; not monetization. Content Marketing was something the bigwigs of NYC did from nine-to-five. We logged on, stalked like crazy with advanced searching that was on point,  spammed the hell out of everyone with friend requests looking for connections and potential dates.

I’m pretty sure I was a rock star at age thirty-two, kickin’ it on MySpace. No joke, my son was ten at the time and he set up an account for me. OMG, he’s going to be a fantastic writer — my crazy antics have made it easy for that child (now eighteen), to fill journal after journal with notes to have analyzed at future psychiatric visits.

He was also a personal photographer for my online dating profile picture

Facebook and MySpace collaboration would’ve been cool.

What am I — a teenager?

How to Decorate a Kitchen with Junk

I’ve decided to share one of my true passions. Vintage. I love it. I love all things cheap, so of course, I’m a yard sale whore, an auction junkie, and what I like to refer to myself as, a Vintage Groupie.

It’s been said that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and I genuinely live by that rule. In following this philosophy, I’ve also learned to decorate with a mix of vintage and modern, all of which were at one time someone else’s junk. Here are some examples of mixing odds and ends to make a cozy space.

The window is above my kitchen sink and is home to treasures that I value. From left to right, let me help you recreate this look.

Vintage and yard sale finds help create an awesome decorating style.
Vintage and yard sale finds help create an awesome decorating style.
  1. Vintage postcard is framed and matted. I found the postcard at an auction and the frame in a bin at a local flea market.
  2. Chicken plate found at yard sale.
  3. That’s a turtle. FREE decorating tip: Use kids art. This piece was created by my son when he was in the 3rd grade. YES! It’s a turtle.
  4. Yard Sale picture frame holds a photo of our kids.
  5. Random bottles from friends who sale online.
  6. A certificate that belonged to my dad who passed away a few years ago.

I love how everything in this spot is meaningful to me. Without a lot of walls to use for decorating, I had to improvise. The window ledge has worked great to showcase fun things without obstructing views.

This look cost less than $2.00 to create. Find unique vintage items and yard sale treasures on eBay, Etsy or other online marketplaces, like Facebook, if you’re unable to make it out to a yard sale.

Vintage and Yard Sale Treasures to Decorate a Kitchen
Vintage and Yard Sale Treasures to Decorate a Kitchen

I’m in love with my kitchen so I’ll show it off. The cookbooks are a collection of vintage books that I found at an auction, and a more modern one found at a Thrift Store. I can’t help it. All of the chicken art was a yard sale find from a friend, and the Portuguese chickens on the ledge were a gift.

This area of the kitchen cost less than $5.00 to decorate.

I’ve spent years trying to use books, trends, and sales to customize the look of room’s in my home. Without trying, I added such character to this kitchen for very little money.

Lesson learned.

Vintage Groupie — Top 5 Questions About Selling Online: Do You Agree?

Portuguese Chickens-- Not for Sale but FUN to collect.

If it’s time to sell unwanted yard sale, or vintage collectible items but don’t have time to research all the online marketplaces available these days — your problem is solved. Vintage Groupie is a website dedicated to those who love to buy, sell, and collect yard sale and vintage items.

The initial focus will be on helping people sell online, but from time to time, we’ll throw in buying tips as well.

 

The million dollar question(s) we hear repeatedly are:

5. “Is eBay better than Etsy for selling vintage?”

4. “You can sell your own stuff on Amazon?”

3. “Isn’t Craigslist a bunch of creeps and spammers?”

2. “Are Facebook yard sale groups as great as everyone claims?”

1. “Which marketplace is the best for making money? Profits?”

 

Here’s my answer (Robin):

As a reseller, I’ve spent the last year selling both yard sale and vintage items at Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Etsy, and Facebook. What I’ve discovered is each online marketplace has positive and negative aspects depending on the item for sale. Yes friends, in my NOT-even-close-to-scientific experiment, I’ve found that each spot works for profitable selling — it depends on the individual item, the time of year, your physical location, and, networking.

How Do You Make Money?

Understand each platform. It’s overwhelming, daunting, and time consuming to read, navigate, and understand everything, I know.

That’s where Vintage Groupie comes in. We’re going to share insights, easy how-to’s, tips, advice, and all the other stuff that can seem complicated at first. 

In all honesty, many people don’t have the time to read through the hundreds of guides, and tutorials for each web site; understandable. 

Stay tuned as we break it down for you, as best we can.

This is a great time to mention that Vintage Groupie DOES NOT claim to be an expert in the field of online selling, vintage and antique collecting, or Internet technology. We are a group of average people who enjoy selling yard sale and vintage items. Throughout our learning process, we’ve taken notes, watched trends, asked people for help, and navigated through the sea of sellers to carve out small profits, and a LOT of fun.

If you feel like you have something better to contribute, feel free to let us know.

If you disagree with one of our theories, let it rip.

If you have something to sell, PLEASE share it with us by using the (hashtag) #VintageGroupie on Tumblr, or on @Vintage_Groupie on Twitter.

We also love to buy, learn, explore, and share…. we hope you do too. 

Fondly,

 

Vintage Groupie(s)

6 Facebook Updates From the Archives

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The Irony: A Modern Day Madam Spammer

In dealing with mental health problems, it’s natural to also deal with self-esteem and self-worth issues which I find more and more ironic every day. Statistics indicate a significant amount of writers and authors who produce brilliant work, are also inflicted with issues concerning mental health. My favorite list is one from Listal that details award-winning authors and their actual or assumed diagnosis. Jack Kerouac was thought to be schizophrenic, Kafka endured years of severe depression, and many others were diagnosed with similar ailments.

Jack Kerouac
Cover of Jack Kerouac

Here’s an article about famous actors with mental health disorders.

The Irony?

I’m a PIMP! Yes, you heard me. I struggle daily with my talent to produce words, with overwhelming feelings of poor self-worth, inadequacies, and self-esteem problemos! BIG TIME!

English: Entrance to Madam Jojo's
English: Entrance to Madam Jojo’s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

AND still…. I spend 5-8 hours a day pimping myself out to editors, social media sites, friends, family, and any damn person who’ll read something I wrote. I’m still baffled.

I’m too poor to hire someone so I pimp my writing out. A lot. My experience with pimping myself out has turned me into a modern day Madam—more commonly referred to as a “SPAMMER” — I admit it.

EVEN MORE ironic?

After intense pep talks with the friends living in my head (we need encouragement to “promote” my work), I become more depressed because of the obsession to check the stats on an hourly basis.

Like clockwork, I share a new blog on Facebook and almost ALWAYS immediately receive mobile notifications—“One friend ‘liked’ your new post.” My heart races, anticipation mounts…. 

THANKS MOM!                  

Self-pity, pimping, and on and on and on…..

Ironic!

(DAMN Nigerians are brilliant!)

How Facebook Burned Me With Target Advertising

Well played Facebook, and the geniuses who run the marketing department. This advertisement just showed up in my News Feed. Ironic? Hardly. I’ve spent the last few days creating blogs like a machine (no kids this weekend!), and what-do-ya-know? The crickets are back, and my posts are going unnoticed.

I guess I need to get with the program.

  1. Create Better Blogs For People to “Pretend” to Read
  2. Start Writing During the Week Like Normal People
  3. Wait Until Christmas Eve to Post My Next Masterpiece. 

Right? I mean, it’s only the last week of summer. I can’t be the only loser protecting my skin from cancer by parking it on the couch. Right?

Keep scrolling…I’d like to answer Facebook’s question….

Facebook Burn: How target marketing is telling this writer that she sucks. "Tired of writing blogs that no one reads?" This author puts a funny spin on it.
Well Played Facebook and the “target marketing” advertising geniuses!!

Dear Marketing Stalkers at Facebook,

Thanks for the cool ad today. You’ve obviously been paying close attention to my blog. Whoot! Whoot! It looks like I’m not the only one working today either–the robots are still clocked in. Boo!

Robin

To answer your question:

FACEBOOK: “Tired of Writing Great Articles that Nobody Reads?”

LOSER BLOGGER: “No! I’m not tired of creating hilarious blog posts for my MOM to read. She’s a HUGE fan. Personally, I think I’ll just grab a piece of scented stationary and a pen for the next blog. I’ll whip up some fancy paragraphs full of calligraphy and send the post directly to her mail box. It’ll be cool.”

GOOD LOOKIN’ OUT FRIENDS! :)

Top 10 Funny Mishaps From 90-Year-Old Papa

My nap was interrupted this morning by overwhelming thoughts of my grandpa. We called him Papa Matteri. It’s a good thing I love him so much (may he rest in peace!), because missing my A.M. snooze makes me a little cranky. Originally posted on Robin Matteri Facebook in 2011

Papa died about one-month shy of his 90th birthday, so don’t be sad, he lived a full life. His life was a mixture of ups and downs; some good, some bad, some stupid, and some sad.

Papa Matteri and Nicholas
Papa and Nicholas (Age 3) cruising all over town together.To my sister, my cousin, and me he was always good, and always hilarious. For no reason, I feel like sharing–I think we can all relate, even if the stories are a little different.

The Top 10 Funniest Things Papa Matteri Did (off the top of my head!) before dying at 90

10. His desire to be deaf.

As a child, I remember my grandma constantly yelling at Papa about his hearing. She told us repeatedly that he “only heard what he wanted to hear.” As a child, this never made sense to me. I finally understood her frustration when I was an adult. The aggravation of trying to have a conversation with him became, at times, so unnerving that I just walked away.

Typical Conversation went like this:

Me: “You need hearing aids!!”

Papa:“Huh?”

Me:“Heeeaaarrrrinnngggg A-I-D-S!”

Papa: “Oh, shit, I can’t hear you.”

This exact interaction occurred between him and every member of my family on a daily basis.

9. Who wants to spy on Papa?

Let’s just say that as children we weren’t as fortunate as the youth of today with an abundance of technology. When we played, we had to get creative.

My grandpa worked the night shift at Hank’s Deli and would typically sleep a lot during the day. With nothing better to do, Michelle, Alan and I would crawl around the house like we were in the army, creep into Papa’s room with super stealth-like moves and totally mess with him.

We’d tickle his toes with a feather, tickle his nose or just crawl around trying not to laugh. The object of the game was to piss Papa off (for some reason), and we always won.

8. Yeah, I have my license, I can drive. I was 14.

He owned a 1972 Chevy Pick-Up (still parked out on the Ranch somewhere), and I wanted to drive. We were twenty-two miles north of Patterson when I asked him.

Papa's Chevy Robin Matteri Facebook
The Chevy Pick-Up- Maybe in not so much of its glory these days…but still alive.

I about panicked when he pulled to the side of the road on Highway 33, got out of the pick-up, walked to the passenger side, and told me to take over.

I made it less than a mile before I started crying, and fessed up.

7. Want to kill him and bury him in the backyard?

Ummmm, No.

I cross my heart; he was just acting macho. No one is buried in the backyard.

Papa ain’t that gangsta!

My Grandpa Being Funny
Papa Matteri and Tyler. He was always a funny man to us.

6. Who bought Papa, a cell phone?

Why, thank you Alan. In the event of an emergency, Alan thought it would be good for Papa to have a cell phone. Well, unlike the rest of my family, I answered when he called 300 times a day. Please refer to number ten on this list and imagine those calls.

5. His love of poker.

English: Quads Aces, to represent poker games.
English: Quads Aces, to represent poker games. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in the day (40-50 years ago), the hottest poker game in town and on the streets was called Lo-Ball. Papa loved his poker.

As the name implies, the object was to get the lowest five-card hand instead of the highest in most poker games.

Now, please keep this in mind: With seventeen years experience in the world of poker and casinos, I have heard everyone use “bad luck” to defend their losses in gambling. In most cases, luck had nothing to do with it.

Most people lose because they play poorly.

However, in all those years, I will confirm TWO people who truly had bad luck at the poker table.

One was Papa.

When I started dealing poker in the Central Valley, Papa began to become a more frequent customer.

“Looks like you’re working for free today Robin,” said my supervisor whenever he walked through the door. The entire card room called him Papa, and every time he played, I bankrolled him with my tips.

He could never figure out how to play “that stupid high game” (as he called it), so he sat down playing Omaha, a version of high and low poker. Without boring you non-poker people with all the details, let’s just say it’s a hard game.

Let’s also say that in small poker rooms customers are enticed to play with promotions and jackpots worth thousands of dollars. Poker players everywhere are waiting to hit the “jackpot” to break even from their losses.

One night I walked up behind Papa, as he was in a hand of Omaha, and I heard him say, “raise!”

He was excited; his hands were shaking like a leaf (odd for a veteran like him), and he couldn’t wait to dump all his chips into the pot.

Which he eventually did after a series of re-raises between two players. Papa, of course, was one of them.

When Papa was out of chips, it was time for the showdown. This is the part where the players turn their cards face-up.

I looked at Papa’s hand, and there it was in all its beauty…… 3-3-3-3. Quad 3’s. As Papa started to get excited, his opponent turned his hand over and beat him with a Straight Flush.

Papa was about 80 at the time, and this was the first time he had ever made a hand this big. AND OF COURSE, it got beat. And to kick an old man while he was already down, the hand didn’t qualify for any promotional jackpot. Papa got screwed that night. But don’t worry, he didn’t lose any money, I did.

He was back the following day as if nothing ever happened.

4. Papa and his scooter.

There are so many funny things to say about this and then, of course, there is a picture that will forever be in my heart. Him on his scooter and Nicholas on his tricycle, cruising around as happy as can be. BUT, the funniest thing ever was the time he ran Uncle Jack over with that thing—-TWICE!

Papa Matteri on his scooter after running Uncle Jack over
Looks like he’s aiming for Uncle Jack now.

It had apparently been having some problems so Uncle Jack said he would look at it. As he was inspecting the front-end, Papa hit the accelerator and knocked Jack to the ground. Funny huh?

Well, imagine what happened when Uncle Jack attempted to examine the rear of the vessel? You guessed it; one wrong move and Papa backed over Jack.

Happiness is witnessing those moments.

3. An illegal left turn.

As Papa approached 87 or 88-years old, the California Department of Motor Vehicles made him take a behind-the-wheel driving test before they would renew his license. Thank you DMV!

Papa failed this test due to an illegal left-hand turn on a red light.

Of course, his failed test was my fault.

According to Papa, I had messed with his visor earlier in the day, which obstructed his view, and caused him to think that under the RED light, there was a green arrow instructing drivers to turn left.

My bad!

2. All these old people.

At one point in Papa’s life, he was forced to stay in a nursing home to recover from a hospital visit. It was minor; his stay was short and we visited almost every day. He was 88 years-old.

At one visit, he looked at me and said, “all these old people are making me depressed.” I freaking busted up laughing.

First of all, he had them all out-aged by at least 20 years, and second, every time we visited he would lay in his bed and all dramatic about his situation. Seriously, it was a wound on his leg that was taking a long time to heal. However, the drama king didn’t realize how depressed he made us by begging us to kill him on every single visit.

“Just put a pillow over my head!”—Papa from the Nursing Home to Me

OMG…… oh and while I’m thinking about it….thanks to the facility for also allowing him access to a PHONE!!

“Robin come kill me. Robin, come kill me”

To which I responded:

“I can’t Papa. Tyler and Nicholas need a mom who isn’t in prison.”  

My bad….again!

1. Going to Alaska.

In 2005, Papa was about 82 or 83-years old, when he called me. “Robin, I’m going to Alaska.”

Say what??!!

Papa needed me to go with him to Modesto to get his birth certificate so he could get a passport, because he was “going to drive an old man and his camping trailer to Alaska so the old man could go fishing.”

Deep breath.

The “old man” was 90 and blind. Why was this happening? How did no one in the family try to stop him? Why were we already at the point in this mission where he was convinced he was going? Why was I getting in my car to take him to get his birth certificate?

Well, because he was an old man. To hell with it. Let it be known now, since it’s obvious they made it to Alaska and back safely, that Papa had very little feeling in his feet and had to tap his hands continuously because they felt numb all the time.

The deaf old man (refer to number 10), and the blind old man took a three-week journey to Alaska and back. If I had honestly thought they were going all the way, I would have contacted Hollywood and installed hidden cameras. I thought for sure Papa would get to Sacramento (the next day) and say something similar to this: “forget this, I’m going home.”

But, he didn’t.

He took that old man fishing.

Man, I miss him.
//

How I Discovered the Internet: Late to The Party Again


In 2000, I accidentally landed my first real office job. I worked in a cubicle (OK, semi-office job), as a call center representative with thirty-three co-workers in a space built for about five. It was here I learned why the world loved the nine to five lifestyle, and why office jobs were so popular.

 The Internet.

English: An image of a lot of cubicles that se...
English: An image of a lot of cubicles that seem to go on forever (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In between calls, we were allowed to use the Internet to enhance our skills as customer service reps. We were allowed to read, learn, and surf the Web during down time as long as goals were met and call quality remained top-notch.

Keep in mind, the Internet was “relatively” new back in those days. There wasn’t easy access to the world via smartphone, there were FEW laptops (if any), and people with home computers were “special” and “rich”–in my mind anyway.

So, this newly discovered vessel was unbelievably exciting to me.

These office prodigies educated me, and I was in awe!

I had spent my adult life working nights as a poker dealer and a bartender. I worked nights because the tips were better, and had never had an office job.

I had adamantly refused to be normal and couldn’t imagine working in an office or working for a paycheck.

It all became clear one morning, on the third floor, in a small office space, in the middle of Wisconsin…….

Bored.com became my favorite website during those breaks intended to enhance my productivity and level of expertise in the field of customer service. It was also during this time as well that my cyber-social life began to explode.

Couldn’t wait to get to work every day.

I learned how to email, how to find old friends at reunion sites (WAY before Facebook), and after a quick call to my mom, learned to send an attachment. I wrote letters to people I hadn’t “seen in forever” (I  graduated high school seven years earlier), and loved keeping in touch with the group of friends I had just moved away from in California.

Wisconsin was amazing, but the homesick was beginning to set in. Email correspondence cured that.

I emailed everyone (I was popular, ya know!) and waited eagerly for responses. That same year I learned how to use the “refresh” button and found myself cutting customers off so I could refresh my email account. I loved this form of communication.

I “talked” to my Chris the most. He had just graduated from Sacramento State, and found a writing job that allowed him to travel, interview, and share his love of music.

I think I was secretly jealous.

Chris sent me (and still does, by the way), the most hilarious emails ever! During my time in Wisconsin he amused me with stories about the drunk girls we used to work with, his tortured life interviewing Primadonna (not MADONNA!) music artists, and perspectives on the world that he “needed to write” about.

At this point in my life, I was still taking ball point to the Composition book and calling it poetry.

I was totally jealous.

//

My diligence as a daily journal-keeper had dwindled. I was rarely inspired to write unless drunk, and the illusion of putting music to my words was beginning to fad. I was 25-years old, and my chance at fame had long passed. I was too old to ever be a songwriter, (and too over-dramatic to take a peek at reality!).

Old school email.

The second logo for AOL, used from 2006–2009

So I wrote emails-For the very first time in my life.

JAN 8, 2001
DEAR CHRIS,
THAT WAS THE FUNNIEST EMAIL I HAVE EVER READ!!!!!!!! MAN, I MISS YOU GUYS. THOSE CHICKS ARE STUPID AND SO MUCH DRAMA!! GOOD FOR US THOUGH BECAUSE THEY MAKE THE BEST STORIES. WE NEED TO BECOME WRITERS!!!!! LETS WRITE SOMETHING!!! CASINO STUFF? ANYWAY—-WISCONSIN IS COLD AS SHIT BUT SO MUCH FUN. ILL CALL YOU AGAIN SOMETIME WITH ANOTHER DRUNK KARAOKE SONG TO SING YOU? CAN YOU BELIEVE SOMEONE GAVE ME A JOB AS A BARTENDER/ FUNNY!!!!!!!! GOTTA TAKE A CLL- WRITE BACK SOON
ROBIN


January 8, 2001
Dear Robin,
Okay, I can’t handle it anymore, what the hell is up with your emails? Every time I read one of them, I feel like you’re yelling at me. HAHAHA! The ALL CAPS, and exclamation points scare me!!!!!

Anyway, the girls here are still the same-hilarious, chain-smoking, white trash, and always ready to party. Of course I love them.

Well, I have to go—-I think my Editor is going to make me interview Britney Spears this week (I WANT MADONNA!), and I’m loathing the thought of it. I have no idea what sort of questions to ask because I could care less.

Talk to you soon.

Chris


JANUARY 8, 2001
CHRIS!!!!!!!!!!
WHAT THE HELL!!  I DON’T KNOW HOW TO TYPE!! WITH THE SHIFT THINGY AND SHIT—-IT’S CONFUSING!!! I DIDN’T’ TAKE TYPING BECAUSE I DIDN’T EVER PLAN ON HAVING A TYPEWRITER OR BEING A SECRETARY!!! HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO PREDICT THE FUTURE AND KNOW COMPUTERS AND THE INTERNET WOULD TAKE OVER? IT TAKES ME 45 MINUTES TO FIND LETTER G. I HATE THIS SHIT. 

——————— It took me about six years to type well enough to attempt a career as a writer. In addition to passing on the chance to take a typing class, I also had a drunk as a high-school English teacher. I was never formally trained to write. You can read more about my English teacher, (who called me Sparrow, instead of Robin, lol!), and my miseducation (<—-got that word from Lauryn Hill) in the art of punctuation, and grammar.

My apologies if I offend you. I do pay for grammar software, but sometimes even it gives up on me.