Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winning Isn’t Everything. (Especially If You’re A Loser.)

It’s no secret that one of my dreams in life is to win the lottery and never work again.

“But what about goals, a career, purpose?!” people say.
“Fie!” I respond.
“What?” they ask.
“Fie! It means ‘That’s nonsense!’ I believe it’s popular amongst the ogre crowd,” I reply.
“Oh,” they say.

There’s some more confusing back and forth, but the sentiment is clear: To me, ambition is like herpes – it’s okay if you have it, but every now and again it’s going to prevent you from doing something really fun.

(Incidentally, I think this is one of the most overlooked benefits of communism. Now, I’m no political scientist – I don’t even know why it’s called a science – but the way I understand it is that you may not be able to get that 50-foot yacht or the heart transplant you were hoping for, but all you have to do is stand in line and they give you all the accoutrements of life like food, water, and a goat. Think of it this way: What you’re losing in iPods, you’re gaining in apathy, which can be very relaxing.)

Ever since I learned about the concept of money (the first time my mom refused to buy me a toy because it was too expensive and I called child services to report her) I knew that I wanted a lot of it, and I wanted it now.

This was around the time I began coercing my mom to play the lotto. I figured it was a no-lose situation: She wasted her money on the tickets, but if she won we all enjoyed the spoils. Little did I realize that my mother was too smart for the lottery scam. Our family’s income went to the important things: clothing, therapists, and any food product bearing the label “NEW.”

Still, undeterred in my quest for unearned money, I discovered the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. I started in the summer of my 12th year, stuck in a weird age where I thought I was too cool to go to camp, but in fact wasn’t cool enough to do anything besides sit at home and watch TV. But then Ed McMahon showed up in my mailbox (not literally) telling me over and over how all I had to do was mail in entry forms and I, too, could win millions of dollars.

It was my first brush with bureaucratic paperwork, and I took to it as though I was executing a very important business deal. When the submission forms came in the mail, I would pour myself a glass of chocolate milk and spread the pages out over the living room coffee table. Then I would go to work deciphering all the documents stuffed in that small envelope. Once I learned that the magazine sales had nothing to do with the sweepstakes (or so my naïve 12-year old mind thought) I would sequester those pages on one side of the table, label them UNNECESSARY, and set to filling out only the pertinent forms.

I still remember receiving the notification that I WAS A WINNER, only to find out that I was merely the winner of having made it to the so-called quarterfinals. For this I was awarded more magazine order forms. Several months and broken dreams later, I gave up on sweepstakes altogether, having my first of many existential crises, concluding that if time is the one thing money can’t buy, then I wasn’t going to waste mine filling out any more forms.

But then, the internet. Like a local dog park, there was free shit around every corner. While I entered most any contest I came across (I’m still waiting on that free second-generation iPod), the contest that came to be my Moby Dick was the HGTV Dream House sweepstakes.

What more could you want out of life? Here was an opportunity to not only have a brand-new house handed to you (without going through the hassle of losing your family in a tragic wildfire like on Extreme Makeover), but also to start a new life in some quaint fishing village or rustic mountain community. Islamorada, FL (2008). Winter Park, CO (2007). And my personal favorite, St. Mary’s, GA (2004). Did you know there were islands off the coast of Georgia? Did you even know that you can live in Georgia? Well you can, and it’s beautiful.

After finding out I didn’t win the St. Mary’s home, I did some poking around and found out that the winner of that house (Kathi Nakao from Sacramento) never moved after securing her prize. Apparently, Sacramento is the cultural, financial, and intellectual hub of the modern world – a place where children grow up to be astronauts and the elderly die peacefully in their sleep while dreaming of fields of golden heather, because instead of inhabiting the 3,000sf riverfront home, she sold it and put the money towards renovating her own home.

Well pardon my southern accent, but fuck you, Kathi. (And nice name while we’re at it.) The contest isn’t called the HGTV Dream Liquid Asset Sweepstakes. I, for one, would never look a dream house in the mouth like that. Besides, not relocating is an affront to everything the contest stands for. The towns these homes are built in were chosen carefully, with the idea in mind that everyone needs to chill the fuck out a bit. These are places noted for beauty, serenity, and the fact that no one there knows that you once urinated on an ex-girlfriend’s dorm room door on a drunken dare (made to yourself).

Of course I gathered myself up and persevered, entering and losing for the next four years. And now the 2009 sweepstakes has begun. This year’s home is in Sonoma. (“Hello, Fate? This is Dan and I love wine.”) I’ve bookmarked the entry form and visit it once a day to make my submission. My expectations are in check: Hundreds of millions of entries are received, and people under the age of 50 never win these sorts of contests anyway. Yet I dream of a day when I can wake up every morning, go outside to get the paper and smell the sweet scent of wine in the morning and appreciate the fact that it’s coming not from my breath, but from those rolling hills over there . . .

Until then, I will have to be happy with the spoils I’ve won thus far. And though they may total one, and in the cash equivalency department fall about $999,850.00 short of the Publisher’s Clearing House bounty, the winnings have been plentiful:

That’s right, bitches. You’re looking at the second place winner of the Oren's Daily Roast Proof of a Superior Bean Sweepstakes. A three-month supply of gourmet coffee. You know what Kathi Nakao drinks? Folgers. What a loser.


Blogger Uncle Ebenezer said...

My dream is to win the lottery, I talk about it often. Power of positive thinking and all...

January 15, 2009 at 1:24:00 PM EST  
Anonymous wishmewell said...

this post inspired me to make a new motivational poster

January 15, 2009 at 2:02:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brooke: Did you really pee on a girl's door?
Dan: Yes.
Brooke: Was it during some crazy party?
Dan: No. I was alone.
Brooke: I like you a little less.
Dan: I understand.

January 15, 2009 at 2:09:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like un-earned money as much as the next guy but I'm deathly afraid of the lottery curse!!

January 15, 2009 at 3:36:00 PM EST  
Blogger Joy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 15, 2009 at 4:18:00 PM EST  
Blogger Joy said...

You know what? I looked it up, and MOST of the winners sell the Dream House after they win! They keep the cash and the car, naturally, but then they put the house on the market so that they can fix up their own little homes in their own little towns.
Seriously, winners? SERIOUSLY? You totally disappoint and depress me.
You can be sure that, when I win, I'll be rocking it in my million dollar ski chalet/beach house and waiting tables at the nearest Hooters', just enough to keep the power on.

January 15, 2009 at 4:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Jillian said...

I hope that you emailed this post to Kathi. Seriously...Sacramento?


January 15, 2009 at 6:14:00 PM EST  
Blogger Smash said...

I'm sorry, I'm laughing too hard to think of a witty comment. You are a trip.

I agree with Jillian--you should def email this post to Kathi. Or maybe to the folks over at Dream House. Maybe they'll repurpose the show and start awarding the houses to twentysomethings who want to retire by 30. :0)

January 15, 2009 at 6:42:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I'm totally going to win that house in Sonoma. When I do you and Brooke may visit us for a glass of wine. Sonoma is far better than Napa & to have a home there - even better.

January 15, 2009 at 6:42:00 PM EST  
Blogger sleeptalker said...

Too bad you used up all your luck winning coffee and have opened the door for me.

I, for one, have a daily Outlook calendar reminder with the link. My boss and coworkers likely think my "daily entry" has to do with entering billable time (which I suck at tracking) ... little do they know that I'm using the first few minutes of every day to do the only thing (in my life) that I actually do consistenly.

I will win. I will live there. But don't worry, I'll invite you and Brooke to visit, as I find you both entertaining and would probably enjoy sharing a glass of wine with you. I'm gracious like that.

January 15, 2009 at 7:19:00 PM EST  
Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

OMFG! Would you not go apeshit if you won that house?!!

It's fecking gorgeous!!

January 15, 2009 at 8:08:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should know that most of those 'dream houses' comes with a $20K/year homeowners association fees, roughly $90K in property taxes and we haven't even talked about the gift tax yet. Most people who win them can't afford to keep them.

January 15, 2009 at 8:37:00 PM EST  
Blogger Katie said...

Hey now. Sacramento has rilly killer Mexican food, Arco Arena (the best place, EVER, to see an NBA game, especially when the Kings suck, which they usually do) and over 300 days of sunshine annually -- not to mention all the best crops within 20 minutes of downtown. You can pull off a road just about anywhere and buy a peach pie so good it’ll make you cry. It may be in the middle of nowhere, but it is 1 or 3 hours from everywhere. Including Sonoma.

January 15, 2009 at 10:12:00 PM EST  
Blogger sid said...

I'm also a big competition whore. Never entered the sweepstakes before.

January 16, 2009 at 4:55:00 AM EST  
Blogger swampthing said...

six degrees of desperation. hey pal, can you spare some java beans for a down n out fella?

January 16, 2009 at 9:44:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always tell people I'm 6-digits away from retirement. Now Florida has the Powerball. The. Powerball. I almost orgasm just saying it.

January 16, 2009 at 1:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger Joanna said...

I enter the HGTV sweepstakes daily, thanks to my email reminders. I have already redecorated the house in my mind. It will be mine, since I just keep winning crap like this I'm on a goddamn roll.

January 16, 2009 at 1:31:00 PM EST  
Blogger Dana said...

Heh. Dan, I'm afraid it's MY house. But after I throw a couple of killer parties, I'll probably sell it and move to something that requires less dusting. I'll let you know when I put it on the market.

Btw, my understanding is that they now give enough cash to pay the gift tax that comes with winning.

It's a shame you used up your win on the coffee, but it bodes well for me.

January 16, 2009 at 3:56:00 PM EST  
Blogger Sarah said...

You think Kathi's an ingrate? I just read all of the reports on HGTV's website about other winners.. each more annoyed with HGTV for giving them this house than the next.

January 18, 2009 at 9:44:00 PM EST  
Blogger the frog princess said...

I'm pretty sure I was in that dorm room...

January 19, 2009 at 12:10:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Lindsey said...

Funny stuff. Have you ever visited ? Hilarious!

February 1, 2009 at 10:58:00 AM EST  

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