Category Archives: Deep thoughts (not by Jack Handey)

5 Great Things in My Life Right Now


Good things are happening in my life.

I tend to blog or journal only when things are not going well. I think most of us do that. We need a place to vent and collect our thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with that, but… if it’s ALL you do, you’re kind of manifesting the crappiness by putting your energy there, rather than in positive places.

So anyway, I thought I’d share some things I’m pleased about:

1. My house is my beautiful home.
I’m beyond happy I decided to sell my old house and buy the one I have now. Not only is it a nicer home in a nicer neighborhood (holy shit, I have legit mansions for neighbors!), but I am saving money every month on mortgage payments and utilities. But one of the coolest effects of being in the new house is how much it brings me back to how things were, before my Mom had her brain injury and I was perfectly happy being an independent single woman.
This house reminds me of my old one, the one I put lots of work into and personalized until it was my own space. Not only is the layout similar, I’m treating the space like it is MINE. Meaning, I have been turning it into my haven, my place to relax and be calm and happy. I’m phasing out my old, function-only stuff that reminds me of days better left in the past. There’s something to be said for choosing beautiful items to surround you. I know, THINGS are not important in the grand scheme of life, of course. But we do need some things, like furniture, bedding, and lamps. So why not hunt around for ones you truly love to look at, touch, and use? It’s been really fun and I love walking into my home at the end of the day and feeling this cool energy that’s manifesting more and more all the time.
Another benefit? The animals seem very happy there, too. Poor arthritic Hurley appreciates that we have more carpet again. The cats have more windows to sit in, and my Mom bought them their own water fountain. The dogs don’t have to navigate around a big pool right outside the back door anymore, and they have more room to lounge in the sun now that I put the patio in. (I do need to try to break them both of their bad habit of using the patio as a toilet… I am currently hosing things down every day and trying to coax them back into the grass.) They also seem to enjoy our mellow walks every night up and down the street. Hurley cannot walk very far these days, but he loves the grass over at the Mormon church that’s 4 doors down from us. Not sure what it is, but he could spend an hour just wandering around and sniffing every single thing if I let him.
Anyway, it is just so nice to be comfortable in my home again and feel like it is a perfect home base for me, my pets and my family.

2. Got a job interview.
I’ve been quietly talking with a company for almost two months now and finally, this Thursday, I have a phone interview with the person who could be my next boss. It’s another marketing job, and it would be a slight pay cut, but I am still psyched about it because: it is 100% telecommute. I could work from home and not leave my babies every day for 10+ hours! And I’d be saving so much money on gas, food, and wear and tear on my car. I would also be away from the negativity that is my currently work situation and maybe even be more challenged and motivated under a different boss. I’m so burned out from being the ‘voice of reason’ over here–I feel like there are multiple times a week someone panics/overreacts to something and I am able to calm them down, but that role gets tiresome pretty damn fast. Anyway, I hope I am not jinxing anything by writing about this here, but at this point I’m just excited that this opportunity is not off the table yet. A friend of my sister’s works there and she has been batting for me all the way from day one when they created this new position and now they are finally ready to hire and I like to think I’m a top candidate. Fingers crossed!

3. Nephew is on his way!
Two weeks from Wednesday, little Samuel is scheduled to join our family. This time around, my sister has had a MUCH easier pregnancy (no cancer this time!) and the baby is doing just fine. I just adore my niece more than anything, and I can’t quite get my head around how it’s going to be with not one little adorable kid to spoil, but TWO. I felt this way before Rose was born, too… unsure how it was all going to feel and if I could find more love in my heart, so obviously I am confident that we’re going to have a great time with this new unknown! I’m excited to see how Rose reacts to being a big sister and all the times I will be able to “steal her” so her parents can have some one-on-one time with the newbie. I now have a car seat installed in my car and it’s been awesome knowing I can go pick her up if I want to spend time with her. Right now, i am beginning to set up my 3rd bedroom as a kid’s room/guest room, too. I’m in the market for a crib/toddler bed and a chair-top high chair. It’s really fun! I love being an aunt. Love it, love it.

4. It’s often like it never happened.
So, when it comes to ‘getting over’ the horrible asshole ex, I am doing better all the time. A main reason for this is because I am out of the house that totally felt like OUR house (not MY house), of course. But more than that, I have returned to my previous state. As I mentioned in my first section above, I did well being an independent single woman, with my own house and no desires to date again. Now I am back to that, essentially. I transitioned pretty well back to single life, if I don’t say so myself. I love sleeping alone. I love being able to sing and dance around the house and put things where I want them. I love the lazy mornings where I don’t have to get dressed right away and can just lie in bed and read, or the nights I get a burst of energy and start working on a project or cleaning until 1am. So not only does my current house remind me of the house that was “the most ME” of any I’ve lived in so far, I’m mentally working my way back to being totally cool with not having a man in my life.
I miss certain things about being in a committed relationship, but those things aren’t better than what I have now, if I really think about it objectively. I mean, one of the things I liked about the last relationship was the fact that he never gave me crap about anything I wanted to do on my own, so I just did it. Well… that has not changed, now that the relationship is over. No one is STILL not giving me crap about what I want to do. ūüėČ And it’s not like I had sex in my last relationship, so THAT hasn’t changed, either. In fact, it’s better now in one sense… I can fully enjoy my silly crushes on celebrities without any sarcastic/teasing comments or anything. My Ben Barnes crush is more potent now than EVER because the dude is finally enjoying some success in his career. He has been so great in The Punisher and Westworld. So great, and so effin’ hot. I can’t with this guy. I’m ruined for all real-life guys unless they look and sound like him.

5. Writing is creeping back to life.
Another thing I am hesitant to jinx, but I’ve been thinking the way I used to about my book(s). I am back to creating playlists and writing out snippets of possible dialogue when they come to me. These are all things I once did automatically when I was deep into writing my novels, so I am happy as hell these things are coming back. I wasn’t doing this stuff for at least a year (it coincides with the fucking Dolphinaris activism stuff, followed by political activism… I got carried off with the work there and my creative side took a huge and debilitating hit). But now I am waking up again and I’m going to finish writing my current book very soon. I haven’t written more than a couple handfuls of new words so far, but that’s OK. It’s coming. I can feel it. I am SO, so, so damn grateful, because this is ME. This is what I do, what I am proud of. If I do not have my stories to tell and my characters, I am hollow. I’m filling back up again, though. I’m feeling more grounded and centered than I’ve felt in a long time in regard to “what I do.”

I have new goals I’m developing now and trying to put concrete visions into, mostly regarding health and how I spend my time each day, but that’s all stuff for another post. Either way, the point is, my life actually sounds pretty fantastic when I write about it like I did here on this post. That’s cool. I could have written about all the things that suck, that stress me out, that I dislike and I feel helpless about, but I didn’t. So that’s a step in the right direction, I think. I don’t need to fixate on that crap. But it’s fine to fixate on the GOOD. Hell, yeah.


Stop thinking


I need a true vacation.

I know, I know. Everyone says that. Everyone wants to be¬†somewhere else, everyone wants to be relaxing and having a good time. I know. The thing is that I haven’t had a true vacation in a really long time.

I go back to NJ when I have time and money, but the entire time I am there I’m visiting people, doing things, running around… I’m not taking lazy walks in the woods. In 2011 I had the best trip back there b/c I arranged group get-togethers¬†to see people to be¬†more efficient and it worked out well. I had time to go kayaking at the Manasquan reservoir with K and her sister; we went to Belmar to lounge around on the beach another day. For once, I didn’t try to fit too much in. It was awesome.

But since then, my travels have all been for a purpose. Drove out to LA for teh¬†Writer’s Conference in October; that was nice, but it was a tight schedule the whole time I ws¬†there and I had to deal with the anxiety of pitching to agents. Went back to NJ right after Hurricane Sandy– yeah, that definitely made the trip stressful. The next vacation days I took were when my Dad came here to visit for 10 days, and we all know that was a stressful time. We spent a lot of money, energy and time trying to entertain him and keep him busy. And trips for work definitely do NOT count as vacation. No friggin’ way.

There’s a reason I need some time to run away for awhile. My mind is busting at the seams from all of the thinking I’ve been doing. I just changed my depression/anxiety drug cocktail last month and that was a tough ride only b/c my body was reacting to the chemical shift. At one point, when I was technically on 3 drugs at once for a couple of weeks, I was dizzy and forgetful as hell, and even worse, I was seeing things just out of my line of vision. One day when I hung out with R and T cruising estate sales, I completely saw Hurley out of the corner of my eye twice that day. I knew he obviously wasn’t there, but the fact that my brain was making those images appear so clearly definitely freaked me the hell out.

Now I’m evened-out, for the most part. But brain chemistry aside, outside forces are making my synapses fire overtime and I’m worn out.

Here are the main things I can’t seem to stop thinking about:

1) NO LONGER QUERYING MY BOOK. My longtime friend S read my book “In My Blood” and returned to be¬†a scathing, no-holds-barred review. He sent me a full 20 pages of specific notes! I was overwhelmed, but ultimately relieved and excited to have someone just break it down and tell me what doesn’t work, WHY those things don’t work and some general writing-wisdom notes here and there to help me improve my writing structure, tone, characterizations and descriptions. I can’t tell you how much I think I needed exactly this. I have had a strong feeling that something was off about my book but damned if I could pinpoint the problems myself. I couldn’t tell if I was being overcritical of myself like usual, or if I just couldn’t see anything clearly anymore because I’ve been so close to the story for so many years now. Either way, having someone who had never read any of the previous versions read through this with a critical eye changed everything.

It would take me so long to get into details of what S explained to me, but suffice to say I agree with the majority of his critiques/suggestions. I’ve decided to stop sending my manuscript out to agents, entering it in contests or submitting it to independent publishers. It’s currently off the table.

Meanwhile, I am revising it from the floor up. In short, I’ve created an improved, tighter plot that is easier to explain. I’m taking out the diabetes cure thing. Zachary’s no longer imprisoned on an island, as a lab animal. Now, he is 20 and just ended his 2nd year of college. He wants to be¬†a vet and will be interning at a SeaWorld-like¬†park over the summer. He has a secret skill –he can understand the thoughts of animals. He can’t¬†get them to understand him back. Yet. But one day he figures it out and it changes so much for him. And, in his experiences at the SW hellhole, he sees the whales and dolphins don’t belong there. He meets up with a Paul-like character¬†and begins to become an undercover activist. Things get more¬†dangerous all the time, and he risks exposing¬†not only his secret talent but the secrets of the Coalition, a think-tank his parents are a part of and¬†is responsible for making him what he¬†is.¬†On top of that, he’s fallen in love with a fellow activist and his actions are putting her in¬†danger, too. He’s branded an eco-terrorist by the end of the book. THIS is the story I have been trying to find. THIS is the story I am passionate about and the way I can get my message across now.

I’m excited about it and have¬†written about two dozen pages so far. It’s¬†flowing so easy and so far, it’s a blast putting my Zachary into an entirely new life. He’s really been living a normal life, with a mother and father. Friends. Schools. Texting on a cell phone. Driving a car. Working to rehab injured or sick cetaceans at the facility his parents run. ¬†I am so happy for him. He’s far from a normal guy, but he is living a good life.

2) MY TARZAN¬†BOOK. At the same time I’m revising my first book, I am writing the first draft of this Tarzan steampunk¬†book. It’s taking a lot more research than I first expected, but without the benefit of total immersion in a mountain/ tropical forest terrain in Western Africa, I have to try to learn as much as I can about the fauna, flora, weather and topography of the area as I can, so I can pull from it as the story flows out. Fortunately, it won’t be¬†long until my MCs¬†leave Africa to fly by airship back to the Jersey Shore around the year 1900. Then, things take on a carnival, amusement park atmosphere and a love story blossoms. It’s also a LOT of fun. These two books are being written¬†simultaneously. That’s not something most writing pros encourage, since you need to focus to write your best work. But for now, flipping between the two almost daily is working for me now. I am hoping to get some kind of advice as to which one to dive into as my primary project. Which one’s stronger and more compelling? We’ll have to see. If you’re interested in reading the first few pages of each book and letting me know which one you are most interested in reading what’s next– please let me know. No pressure, though. Seriously.

3) NEW JERSEY. I can’t get into this in depth¬†with details, but a future move to NJ is now officially in the works. The real estate values in AZ are rising quickly and I can now make a decent profit if I sell my house, and it seems like this trend will continue for awhile. I have to time things right– sell before the selling price per sq/ft begin to drop off– so I can pay off my debts and hopefully have a nice chunk of money for a down payment on something in NJ. Yes, I will probably buy again even though owning a house has been a huge struggle out here for me. That’s b/c it’s cheaper to buy AND I have 4 pets. Who’s going to rent to someone with 4 pets? I’m just not sure I can find something reasonable. Also, my family will be moving in with me at first. They’ll help me with the mortgage payments, and yes, the work around the house. Living together while we all get settled and established makes the most sense. Again, timelines are TBD and I don’t want this news getting around just yet. It could be way too early,¬†and it could backfire if work finds out.

The main thing is that I’m obsessed with thinking about all the steps I’ll need to take to sell, move cross country, buy a new home, find a new job…all of it. It’s a lot to take on, but I want to be home so very much. It’s just harder every year that goes by that I am away from my home. My best friends. You only get one chance to live your life, so I want to live the rest of mine on the East coast again.

4) BURN OUT. My job, man. I feel so completely done with it. I can’t get a promotion, nor would I want to, seeing how people are treated¬†here from the top down. I write the same kind of articles all the time, month after month. I’m so sick of the processes and working with the contributing authors. I feel bored and uninspired and mostly distracted as I think of the other 3 things on this list all the damn day, every day. I know there is more to my writing career than this. This go-nowhere, no recognition position can’t be¬†the end of the line. I can do a lot more than this. I know a lot more. I could turn things around, get new web-based initiatives moving… but the truth is, I don’t want to do those things here. I don’t care enough. I am done. Just now–literally just now– I got a review back on an article I worked on and it’s saying my article is terrible and has no relevence to our readers. I swear to god, I am just DONE. I want to walk out so bad right now. I am not kidding. I’m tired. I don’t want to do this shit anymore. I hope I find something a lot more exciting, rewarding and less spinning-my-wheels than this crap job when I move away. So many more writing/editing jobs in the NY/NJ area, anyway.

Wow, not FIVE MINUTES LATER, I got my second review back and it also says my article sucks. That’s two thumbs-down reviews in 5 minutes.

I’m out.




Changing it up


I saw my psychiatrist this morning. Told him all about the apathy and lethargy, and the concerns I have with my energy levels being so low and all of that. It was a good talk– a half hour, opposed to the usual 15 minute med check. He decided that we should try something different for about a month or so to see if I feel any better.

I’m going to wean off the Zoloft and start Nefazodone, while keeping the Wellbutrin the same. If it doesn’t help or if I feel any worse, we’ll figure something else out. But for now, he thought it might be time to try a¬†new medication mixture.

Nefazodone is a tough call, though. On one hand, there are a couple of good things about it: it’s slightly sedative, so taking it before bed can help me sleep through the night. It also doesn’t have the weight-issue of Zoloft; with Zoloft, it doesn’t cause weight gain, usually, but it makes it a lot harder to lose weight. Interesting.

The downside to¬†Nefazodone¬†is it’s got a checkered history. It was recalled¬†here when it was sold¬†under the name Serzone, because it’s linked to severe liver damage and the death of several people. My doctor has a dark sense of humor, and said, “There’s a 3 or 4 in a million chance of you dying from this pill.” He didn’t seem too worried, though, the longer we talked about it. Since he’s been my doctor since 2005, I do trust him with this stuff. So I guess we’ll just see what happens. I go back to see him on July 2 to determine if it’s a prescription I should continue.

He also recommended I talk to my ob/gyn¬†about going off the continuous birth control, after I mentioned it was something I’d be considering. I’ve been on it non-stop since April 2003 to treat the endometriosis/ keep it from coming back. I haven’t had any real problems with the endometriosis stuff for years and years, and in the meantime, I have been dosing myself with hormones that trick my body into thinking I’m pregnant. I’ve gained weight on a pretty steady basis every year since I went on it, despite exercising and eating OK in the earlier years of taking it.¬† (I worked out a lot more often back then, so I can say for sure that weight was coming on¬†even though I was doing everything else right to lose weight; and I started the Zoloft in 2005, so if you think about it, my continual slide to obesity might have been helped along a bit by my medications. HOWEVER, I am not ready to blame the pills for all of it. I think it’s still largely my own doing, and my own genetics, that are to blame for me gaining weight as I age. I could do a lot better with the food and exercise things these days, and I know it.)

The kind of birth control pills I take can also lead to thromboembolism, which are blood clots in your veins. The risks for that get worse after age 35 (yay) and since my Mom had this very condition the year after we moved to Arizona, I’m worried I could inherit it. It can also raise your blood pressure, and I know for a fact that my BP has been getting higher these days. Also, some women on the pill are at greater risk for depression. So, who knows… I might end up being healthier, overall, if I stop taking that pill. It’s worth looking into, anyway.

Am I worried I could get another endometriosis¬†flare-up? Yeah, a little bit. However, I’ll know exactly what it is if and when the symptoms start up, and I’ll know what to do about it. (Probably, go back on the pills and/or get those shots I had after surgery; worst case scenario, I have ablation surgery again.) Also, once I hit menopause I won’t have endometriosis problems anymore, anyway. Not that I am close to menopause, even though my physical health already makes me feel that I am going through it…

So, this will be an interesting 4-6 weeks. Especially if I stop the birth control pill, too. Who knows? I really might be on my way to feeling a LOT better. Mentally, yes, and physically.

Finally, he didn’t think I needed to bother with counseling right now. If medication doesn’t help, then yes, I can consider it, but he firmly believes, based on my history, that my depression is biological in nature. It’s responded well to medication, for the most part. We’ll just have to see how things go with these changes.

Bonus moment: He made me walk in to his other office to see his two beta fish. “C’mon, you have to see these little guys,” he said, almost pushing me forward. “You’ll see they’re not that bad.” And they weren’t. I’m better than I used to be¬†about fish– but I’m also better at hiding my inner screaming. ūüôā Anyway, he’s just as amused by the icthyophobia as most people are, and he’s a professional. That cracks me up.

The honest truth


I’ve reached a point where I need to get something off my chest.
I’ve been hiding the real me for a long time now. Months, at least. I have grown smarter and more experienced in life itself, and I know all the correct things to do, say and even think.

And yet, I’m having lots of trouble with my health and level of energy/motivation to do anything.

I’m in pain every day. My sciatica hurts all the time. Lucky for me, it’s manageable the majority of the time. (Pain level around 3 or 4.) I’ve gotten used to it, and I hate that I had to get used to that kind of pain. At any given moment, there’s pain in my left leg. Recently, the pain along the nerve spread further into my left foot and has given me cramping, throbbing pain in the bottom of my foot. I have been trying the thing with rolling a tennis ball under my bare foot and it has helped a little. I think some of my shoes actually exacerbate the problem so I am slowly weeding those pairs of shoes out of my closet. The thing that sucks is that the pain is now in a place where it once wasn’t. I feel so annoyed by that fact.

I’ve been short of breath a few times over the past few months, and that’s scared me. I have never been the most athletic person, even as a little kid. I used to get called to sit down and rest because I’d overheat easily (my face goes totally red and blotchy, making everyone ask me if I’m OK, which is annoying). I don’t know it it’s because of my heart murmur or what, but I’m not happy that breathing itself is sometimes a chore for me.

Right now, I’ve got ear pain that’s stabby¬†and sharp in my left ear. It’s always my left ear. I get this pain several times throughout the year, at random. I think it’s related to my sinuses, which are constantly giving me trouble. I’m so tired of the pressure, the pain, the dryness. Neti pots and nasal moisturizers (saline) keep me functional, but functional is not the same as “feeling good.”

I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I eat awful stuff. I think I’m addicted to sugar, even though I feel like shit after I eat it. I have no energy to get off my ass and exercise. I’ll even change into my workout clothes, but never make it to the gym. It’s pathetic and I feel disgusting. I hate how I feel. I hate it so much. I don’t understand what’s going on, because I KNOW exactly what I have to do. I have read the tricks and mental tips to motivate me into working out, and when I try them in real life, I haven’t had much luck. I know how I will feel better if I eat better– I have done it in the past and my body does remember how it worked so much easier when it was getting a steady diet of veggies and fruits (and juices). So what’s the friggin’ deal, now? What the hell is the big roadblock keeping me from being the BEST ME I can possibly be?

I don’t know anymore. I have tried journaling about it but all I wind up doing is berating myself for not acting and doing what I KNOW I SHOULD BE DOING.

I think it’s time to bring my psychiatrist in on this. My past few visits have gone so well and I have only told him the good stuff. We haven’t changed my meds in years, now. But maybe we have to.

And maybe I have to begin counseling. Just try to work this stuff out, force myself into living a healthier life.

I may never get rid of all the pain, but maybe I can learn to cope with it better. If the pain is what’s creeping slowly in through the back of the theater to ruin the whole show, that’s stupid. I have to get better control of the psychological side effects, damn it.

This morning, a publisher asked me for the first three chapters of my book and normally that news would make me ecstatic. It’s a PUBLISHER, not an agent. I’d be skipping the agent step,¬† but that would be just fine. Today, though, I stayed home from work because I felt like shit, and I am still sitting here unable to pull those three chapters and send the damn email to the publisher. My writing looks terrible, the story all clunky and messy, and I’m doubting everything all over again.

So, yes. This is all bullshit.

And it has to stop.



It’s been a very difficult weekend. On the surface, it’s been fun, because I kept myself busy and I was social, and did a lot more things than the usual weekend. But inside I’m like every person in the country right now, crying out for the victims of Friday’s massacre.

Honestly. The words “children” and “massacre” should never¬†be in the same sentence. Yet that’s all we are seeing in the news. It was surreal and unimaginable to read that news about what happened. I¬†have been¬†horrified¬†by a lot of stories in the news. I have cried at news stories before this, but not like I cried over this one. The level of horror is beyond anything else I can think of, outside of 9-11. I know each person reading this right now feels just like I do; and I know we all desperately need something to CHANGE, so this can’t keep happening. This event, this loss of 20 innocent children’s lives, needs to be¬†the final straw for all of us. We can’t just ignore the problem, or let politics get in the way of what needs to be done. And in my opinion, I’ve narrowed it down to three basic things:

1) Reinstate funding (federal, state) for psychiatric facilities and treatment.¬†Too many of those places closed starting in the 1980s, and that’s right around the time people began these kind of massacres. It’s so sad to read about parents who are ‘terrified’ of their own mentally-ill children, and have almost no support or help. I don’t believe the parents of these disturbed killers are always to blame. I think sometimes they really do try to do everything they can to help their kids, but if the professional support isn’t available, what are they able to do?

2) Ban the sale of military-grade assault weapons.¬†It doesn’t matter which gun models these killers used… they used weapons that can fire at fast succession so they could kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Someone needs to explain to me WHY these are manufactured¬†and available for sale in this country. For hunting? Why? Are deers really that hard to take down? They are items made specifically to end life, animal or human. Stop selling them, and when people are caught¬†with them, give them massive fines, take the weapons away and possibly given them jail time if they have a criminal record. The pro-gun people are like, “people kill people, guns don’t kill people” but that’s bullshit, obviously, because all of these killers who have carried out the most deadly attacks have used GUNS. Yes, the person behind the gun was the problem, but it still took a multi-round weapon to carry out the killings.¬†Gun control isn’t the entire answer, but it does need to be a big part of the national discussion if we’re talking about stemming violence. If the weapons are no longer as easy to acquire, it could save some lives. And some lives is worth the restrictions on the pro-gun people’s “rights.”

3) Encourage positive actions and getting to know other people as much as possible. The social disconnect in our society is nuts, if you think about it. So many people don’t know their neighbors’ names (myself included), or want to even have phone conversations anymore in favor of the less-personal text or email. If you don’t have regular interaction with other people, especially people outside of your own cultural circle, religion, etc, you won’t know how to empathize properly. Other people become just that– Others. Who cares about everyone else, right? As long as you and your little circle of family and friends are safe, screw the rest of the world. It’s become too easy to isolate yourself and become desensitized to the violence we see on TV, in movies and video games, and other places. Hell, even death on the news isn’t a big deal to most people. We’re used to it now. But I’m thinking, we start a conversation in this country to encourage everyone to step back and take a look at their own actions and attitudes. It’s hard to do, because not many people are comfortable admitting their own faults or flaws, but DAMN, I think it’s necessary at this point. Let’s put a premium on BEING NICE and INCLUSIVE¬†instead of snarky, indifferent or even hostile. You know that whole “pay it forward” movement? It works. People who are the recipients of a kind act tend to reciprocate at some point, because they recognize the wonderful feeling they got when they realized someone reached out and cared to do something nice for a stranger– and how great it feels to do the same. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of some of my own indifference to others and I don’t want to write gratuitous violence into any of my books. Because, WHY? Why do I have to do that? Why add ugliness to the world when it’s easier and more satisfying to find something better to put out there?

So, that’s my reaction to this tragedy. I really do hope that this time, it’s enough to spur action and actual change. The answer isn’t stepped-up security at schools, or people keeping their kids home for fear the kids will get shot up at school. The kind of violence that happened Friday could have happened anywhere. (The mall, the movie theater, a ‘meet your Senator’ event at a supermarket…) So let’s get to the heart of the discussion and figure out where the violence comes from, and why it’s happening, and begin to sort out what we can ALL do. It’s on ALL OF US, I believe. I’m not sitting around waiting for politicians to get the work done. I’m doing my part to be a better member of society. I hope you’re thinking about this, too.

I’m not crying for those children and adults as much anymore. Because I am angry and totally¬†fed-up with the world as it has been.¬†Now I am just resolved to do my personal best to make this a country that properly honors their memory by working to ensure something like this never happens again. I mean it. Accepting this as a sad ‘sign of our times’ or something like that is a lazy cop-out. So stop whining, and do something to make your tiny contribution to this planet MATTER.

It might not be as tiny as you think.


Lonely without it


I wasn’t feeling well this past weekend, and spent two days stuck at home. Now, it could have been the illness (I had a fever and everything, yuck), but I realized I was feeling kind of depressed. My depression has been in ‘remission’ for the most part, thank God. So I was like, “what the hell is THIS?” What did I have to be depressed about?

I journaled about it, free associating all over the place, to work it out. Two things came to the forefront.

1) I’m sick of being single. FINALLY. Many times, I’ve wondered when this day would come! Because, of course, I love the way my life is right now without the drama of dealing with a relationship. But lately, I’ve been thinking about it again as a possibility. It comes up when I am at a party surrounded by couples, or when people post sickly-sweet¬†things about their spouses on FB, or I am once more the only single person in a group of friends or people at work. I feel the creep of time closing in, and know I am (gulp) only 2.5 years away from FORTY… and think, damn it. Am I honestly going to wind up the weird cat-lady spinster I don’t want to be? Will I wake up one day and be like, oh shit! It happened! I’m Forever Alone(TM)!

Well, here’s the bitch of it: Dating as an activity just doesn’t appeal to me. I can’t¬†get interested in trying the route again, at all. I’d rather it be the way I’ve done it in the past: I find someone I like. I find out a time and place we might be in the same place. I approach the guy. I tell him, bluntly, that I am interested. He asks me out, and before long we’re BF and GF.

OK. This approach has only worked twice, but those were fun relationships. I do have my eye on someone right now, but… I AM AN IDIOT.

I can’t seem to make eye contact with the dude when I’m around him! I feel all stupid and awkward. I’m not sure what my problem is. He’s now one of my FB friends, and I feel like I’m back in high school when he likes a comment or a post of mine. I’ve thought about messaging him, but don’t want to come on too strong. And THAT is my eternal problem with guys: My tendency is to just jump in with my blunt “I like you” approach, but normally¬†my doubts trickle in and I chicken out. I’ve ‘passed up’ a few very good guys in the past because of this. (And ended up with lame-ass guys instead, blechh.)

So, who the hell knows? Either way, this little crush thing is more fun than it is depressing… so I know the “lonely because I’m single” thing isn’t actually a cause for full-on depression. No way. In fact, I was thinking about it this morning and realized that having this silly crush puts me in a GOOD mood. Maybe I’m a masochist. No. Maybe. I don’t know. Leave me alone!

OK, so the other thing that came out of my journaling was this sentence: “I miss writing Zachary.”

It probably sounds strange to non-writers, but I miss having Zachary in my head. He’s been in there for a good 16 years! And now he’s sort of left the building. I can’t explain it, but now that the first book is complete, he’s not in the forefront anymore. I go do something new, and I don’t immediately start imagining, “what would Zachary think of this? What would he do?” Now I just do something, and that’s it. It’s so weird…! I’m not explaining it well. All I know is there has yet to be another character that’s demanding my full attention. I know it’s only been about a month and a half since I finished, but I guess I thought I’d be deep into the next story by now. I have those two other novels started, both with very fun protagonists, but I suppose I’m not ready yet to get too involved with either of them…?

I did start messing around with the sequel to Zachary, but even that’s not taking off like I’d expected.

So, I appear to be¬†in some sort of transitionary¬†period, where my brain’s recalibrating and (hopefully) preparing for the next character that can’t be ignored.

It feels so, so weird. I’m anxious for it to go away.

I plan to FORCE it to go away, by writing. Writing anything, freely, who-cares-what-it-is. Just get my fingers flying over the keyboard again, see what happens. It may be¬†an entirely new character is waiting to be created. I did get a brand-new idea (a romance!)¬†on the plane ride home from our NJ trip that’s kind of fun to think about… I just need to figure out which of the two characters in that story is the protagonist.

In general, these are the rough physical prototypes for the new story:

And the whole thing came to me from listening to this EP: We Can Make the World Stop.

Yeah, this one is fun.



The summer of 1994


Last night, I got a lot accomplished on my book again. Thank god. Because the other two nights in a row, I did nothing. (One night was hang-out-with-my-family night, which I loved… and the second was the results show for So You Think You Can Dance and there was no way I’d miss it; yes, I am lame, and yes, I actually cheered when Chehon¬†and Eliana¬†won.) Anyway, one of the advantages of getting a lot done on the book is that I end up having a better night’s sleep afterwards. Even if it is usually a shorter night. I regularly work on that thing until midnight (sometimes, starting around 8pm) once I get going. It must be¬†the resulting¬†sense of “ahhhh” that lets me sleep through the night.

Speaking of sleeping, I did a little experiment to see if I could manage to sleep naked. NOPE. I can’t do it. I woke up a bunch of times, hot, then cold, then hot again, etc… And I hated what my boobs were doing. And, I kept thinking what I would do if my house caught fire and I had to run outside really quick, as implausible as that is.¬†I can’t be¬†the only one who hates sleeping nekkid! Right? Who’s with me on this?

I wrote about it on The FB yesterday, but I woke up wanting to listen to old CDs I haven’t played in years. In some cases, entire decades have passed without me putting the CD into the player even once. For instance, I have about 8 different Tori Amos albums; several of them are bootlegs of her doing covers and they’re actually very good. I didn’t play any of them yet, but I marvelled over them as I tried to pick the first album I would play.

I finally chose “Throwing Copper” by Live. Which I’m pretty sure I have listened to in the past 10 years, but that’s because this was once my favorite album.

I associate it with the summer between freshman and sophomore year in college. My best friend Kristen went to an all-girls’ college in Pennsylvania, and I used to drive out to visit her once in awhile¬†for the weekend. We started listening to it at the end of that school year, and then when she was home for the summer we had it on repeat as we drove around in either her white Eagle Talon or my amazing ’86 Chevette. That was a fun summer, except for the point where my boyfriend at the time got to go to Woodstock and my parents would not let me go. I was so sad about that. In retrospect, I honestly don’t think I missed anything.

I probably would have been miserable there with all the mud, the crowds¬†and the stinky, violence-prone people. Anyway…

That was the summer I was writing a story that ultimately fizzled out and I never finished. It was called “Jason and Donovan” and it was basically a M/M, twisted romance. One of the guys was a rich chemist, and wooed the younger, beautiful guy with designer drugs he created himself–and then wondered why the kid couldn’t really love him. It was a depressing, horrible story, but the song “I Alone” inspired it. What a shame, because I do like that song. But I hated that story.

But the rest of the songs don’t hold any specific meaning to me… they’re just great. I listened to the album a total of 3 times between yesterday morning and then while I was writing last night. It did remind me of when I was younger, more energetic,¬†openly passionate about things I loved, and HAPPY as HELL because that summer,¬†I finally got my sciatica under control after months of physical therapy. I could walk for long distances again; I could walk without being hunched over; I could sit¬†through an entire class or a movie without¬†a¬†ridiculous amount of fidgeting and shifting around. It was amazing, and I didn’t take any of it for granted, because I had come from 8 months of constant pain, to a point where I wasn’t in constant pain. Anyone who’s dealt with that sort of thing probably knows what I’m talking about all too well. The absence of pain is beautiful. And, to have it come without painkillers or drugs? So much better. And long-lasting. I was a lucky person that summer (Woodstock notwithstanding, ha!).

It’s so hard to believe that was 18 years ago already. Holy crap.

I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever work my own life experiences into a character’s life. I experimented with doing that a few weeks ago, when I wrote a short story about a ghost in a woman’s house. It was fun, and it made for easy writing overall, but I think I just prefer going way outside myself when I write. There is nothing I enjoy more that coming up with some fantastic, new world, person or idea. I think of characters all the time. The majority of them never make it into a story or anything. But I do that thing where I see someone, sitting at a bus stop, and I make a quick character sketch of who they could be. That average-looking woman with¬†a toddler¬†crying next to her? She’s an ex-assassin. There’s a gun in her diaper bag. The old man working in Wendy’s? A widower who’s actually scoping out a new wife and actually thinks he has a shot with one of the young, stupid teenage girls who work there. There’s a woman in my neighborhood who’s mentally-challenged, and I usually see her carrying groceries home from the store. She wears her hair in a long braid down her back, has glasses and usually wears frumpy jeans and t-shirts that are too big. I once imagined that, when she gets to her house and closes the door, all these magical creatures come out and talk only to her. She actually can create them, by drawing their sketch on a piece of paper and then leaving it in a patch of sunlight as the sun goes down. The house is getting too crowded for all the creatures, but she can’t just kick them out. So that’s why she is always walking to the store to get groceries… she has a lot of tiny, magical mouths to feed.

As I write this, I think I figured out just one of the many reasons I feel stressed out in crowds. There are too many people to observe; too many possible characters. ūüėČ Well, maybe that’s true to some extent, but I know the real reason is because people can be so freaking annoying. A whole lot of them in one place is¬†just the¬†worst.

I don’t really have a point to all of this. I’m just rambling again.

My mind just bobs along wherever it wants to most of the time. No wonder I’m fine living on my own and remaining solitary 90% of my free time. I have enough flitting around upstairs to keep me occupied. For better or for worse. (Mostly for the better, thankfully!)




Not settling for vanilla anymore



So, I am taking an online course called “How to Blog” for work right now. Honest to God, it’s the most useless, waste-of-my-time ever. I didn’t have a say in taking this course; my boss signed me and my co-worker up for it because we might, one day, create a blog for our magazine. But since there are red-tape hurdles in our way, it might not be for a long time, yet. Still, he thought we could all benefit in a class to learn about blogging.

Some of the class’ questions: What is a blog? How do you set up a blog? What kinds of things should you blog about? How do you add links in your posts? Ad nauseum.

I know it’s good for people who know nothing about blogging, but it’s so¬†boring for me. I already know how to write in business-blog style (as opposed to my regular voice), so the one thing I could have benefited from learning– how can I retain an individual voice while remaining very professional/factual?–isn’t going to be addressed in class. I know, because I asked the instructor flat-out and she told me, “I can’t really give you recommendations on your writing style. Your work is great, though! Good job!”

Oh, wow. Thanks.

My boss and co-worker are complete newbies to blogging, though. I actually had to set up both of their blogs because they were utterly confused, and I’ve been teaching them more than the class has. The class didn’t really TEACH anything. The assignment for the first week was: Create a blog. Write 10 posts. Seriously, that was it. And the teacher recommended looking at Perez Hilton for an idea of what a good blog looks like!!!!! What?! We’re paying for this?! (Thank god it’s the company’s dime and not mine.)

Boss and co-worker need help with everything. I made them blogs in WordPress, since it’s easiest, but they’re still floundering three weeks into the class. I have to show them how to edit a post, how to comment on another person’s blog post, how to add in photos (something one of them has not mastered yet at all, which seems weird to me) and change the title of the blog itself. (Both of them still have just their URL’s name as the title of the blog– without punctuation or anything. It annoys the crap out of me.)

I’m somewhat amazed that people who use the internet all the time don’t know anything about blogs. And this is my BOSS, to make it even more mind-boggling. How’d he get to this point, as an editor, without knowing anything about blogging? Oh, well. My amazement doesn’t change the facts. Sigh.

I wish I could get some kind of extra credit for all the help I’m giving them right now. I won’t, though. I just had my performance review and he just sort of glossed over all the stuff I am doing to help them get through the blog class.

I’m ready to do something else. I mean, when the next phase of my life kicks in and if an opportunity to do something else to earn money for a living comes up, I’m going with it. This job’s been fine. I made decent money, and I don’t lose sleep over my work. Sometimes I get really busy and have to work at home and on the weekends, but other times it’s slow and I have time to waste and/or work on my real writing. So it could be a LOT worse.

But, you know, this is IT for me, at this job. There is no potential for advancement unless my boss leaves, which he won’t, because he has three kids at home and needs the job (he’s not dynamic enough to get hired anywhere else easily, to be honest). Every year it’s the same old thing. I write the same type of articles each issue, I coordinate the same two columns and I attend the same conferences. I’m bored. My creative headlines and leads get dumbed down and pasteurized, for lack of a better word. I don’t have the final say on that stuff, and it shows. (I would never willingly use the word “thus” in an article– yet, my editor puts it in there all the time. All the time.)

I could not be more ready to plunge into this fiction industry than I am right now.¬†I’m doing tweaks to my book’s first draft now, which is fun, because I’m revising and tightening up sections and writing neat little flashbacks. I’ve begun my pitch and query letter drafts. I’ve begun to outline the sequel. And then, I am formatting two other short stories to submit to some writing contests and magazines (each one has different formatting standards, which is time consuming, but I’m playing by the rules). I am SO doing this. I’m done being vanilla and safe.

When I sell my house this coming year, I’m gonna be so psyched¬†to leave the responsibility of home ownership behind me. I would much rather rent and put money toward experiences; things like travelling. I’m ultra aware of how short life really is, and I am done wasting it doing the safe, expected things. None of that has made me any happier, first and foremost. And none of that ‘responsible’ stuff has brought me a good man, or the ability to adopt or have a child. So, what’s the point? Why not have more fun with my everyday life?! Make the most¬†of what life’s dealt me, and move into a newer, more creatively-fulfilling existence?

I’m changing my appearance to better match my real personality, too. The first, easiest change is my hair. I cut off about 5 inches last night, so no more layers. They only made my hair look thinner and drier. Now I have a blunt bob cut, just above my shoulders. I love it. I will be dyeing¬†it a darker color within the next couple of nights and then going back to the salon for weave/extensions of dark purple and/or blue streaks. I’ve wanted to do this forever, admiring it on some people I see online or at events, and yet I always go conservative. WHY? My job doesn’t require me to have a certain look. We don’t even have a dress code. What am I waiting for? I have to do it now or never, otherwise I will be old and look really weird with purple hair. (Or… it will make me look younger…? I don’t know.) All I know is that I want to be able to compliment myself when I look in the mirror, instead of going, “Ugh. So boring, again.”

The rest of my changes in appearance will simply come from how I carry myself once I start feeling proud again, and feel more like the real me. I’m really excited for that.

I know I am just rambling here at this point. I am simply so ready for What’s Next. I feel like tap dancing towards it! Which is a feeling I will gladly take, for sure. It’s so preferable to the depressed, low-energy, mundane-everyday way I have been living for years. I’m not scared, because I’m not doing anything risky like quitting my job to go “be a writer” or something… and I am older, wiser, more experienced, every day. I’m bringing good things to this fiction journey. I’m not so hung up on trying to keep my expectations realistic as I once might have been. I am allowing myself to believe my writing is strong and unique, and that I do have an honest shot at being picked up by an agent and selling some of my work. It’s a really, really new way of thinking, but it feels nice! I welcome it.

Now: here’s where I ask you if you might be interested in reading my book.

Not right this second. But, before October. Before I take it to the Conference. (Plus, like I said, I am still tweaking it at the moment.) But I do need some readers to just read through it, beginning to end, and give me HONEST impressions and criticism. I don’t need proofreading, per se (although I won’t turn it down, of course), but more or less I want to find out if the story holds your attention, if you are sympathetic to the main character, if it’s got enough action, if it’s paced OK. The ‘big picture’ stuff. I just want to know. I am waaaaaay too close to it to ever really know for sure. Outside, critical feedback is what I’m craving.

I know some of you have already read some of the early chapters, so you will be familiar with many parts of it, but I do think the entire thing has changed since then and so it won’t be a total repeat for you if you read this again. Plus now, it’s an entire story, not just singular chapters. ūüôā

Anyway, if you are interested, let me know. When I finish the tweaking-stage, I can send you the document. I really recommend reading it on a Kindle or something, because I can safely say it looks terrific on that screen as opposed to sitting in MS Word. ūüôā

Thank you so much! (Oh, one other thing: You are so, so, SO not obligated to do this, so please don’t do it out of guilt, or anything like that. That would suck for both of us.)

Time to switch gears!


I guess I’m feeling kind of off these days. What I mean is that it’s been tricky for me to organize my thoughts into something cohesive because I tend to jump around from topic to topic very fast. I don’t give things a chance to really percolate. There are so many things I want to do, need to do, and then so many silly distractions.

It’s the same old story. I have to start exercising. I have to stick to eating better. I have to work on my writing. I have to take care of my house and keep it clean. All of this swirls around and around in my head and instead of sorting it all out and taking one step at a time towards action, I do nothing. I don’t get why that’s my reaction, especially since I know better and I aware of what I am doing.

I feel like I need a severe ass-kicking to get me out of my lethargic “whatever, I’ll do all that stuff I need to do later… sometime…or never” funk. And no one’s gonna kick my ass but me, so it’s time to do it.

The first thing is probably to make meaningful lists of all the things I have to get done. And break it down accordingly. I can’t make one master list and hope to just cross everything off one by one; that doesn’t work for me. I need to say OK, I’ll do this, this and this on Monday night, and then on Tuesday night I’d do this and this, and on Wednesday…etc. I need to plan and schedule things. I am bad at planning and even worse at scheduling things.

The main point here is I must take action. One way or another. DO something and not just kinda think about doing something. This shit’s gotta stop here, now. I have goals. Things I want for my life. (And things I don’t want) So it’s now or never.


A few weeks back, I made a decision to simplify my life by getting rid of half of my possessions. So far, I’ve only managed to do this with my shoes, but it was really worth doing! It felt amazing to do a massive purge like that. It really does take hauling everything out and dumping it on the floor, rather than picking at the pile here and there like a little wimp.

Next is my clothes, because that’s the biggest challenge of all. I have squirreled away old clothes all over the place. I’ve long had the¬†misguided idea that I will want to wear all of those old size 10 jeans and medium shirts again once I lose all the weight. In reality, who wants to wear stuff they last wore in 2002 or so? And besides, it’s not smart to keep clothes around that no longer fit. Just have what you can wear right now. End of story. It’s simple.

Anyway, I am doing all this simplifying so it will be easier when it comes time to move out of Arizona. The second major thing I decided a few weeks ago is that yes, I am absolutely going to leave Arizona within the next year or so.

I’m done with it. I’ve been here for 14 years now, which is much longer than I’d ever intended. But it’s true that time goes so fast! It doesn’t feel like 14 years in a lot of ways. However, when I think of the messed-up situations that have happened out here in my life (the bizarre relationships I had with guys being the most obvious ones, but also the illnesses, the bad luck streaks, the struggles at different jobs and two different layoffs, for starters), it feels like I have been here for all 37 years of my life, and counting. I feel kind of worn out and dead in some ways.

It’s like sludge around me, all of the memories, lessons learned and the general ugliness of this particular state. I mean, this place is run by some psychotic Republican conservatives and they seem dead set on halting anything that could be considered progress. Maybe it’s the heat, but no one here knows their neighbors. We scowl at one another in stores and in traffic. We have no place to go in the summer except to work and home because we can’t function outdoors. I am not charmed by the people here, whatsoever.

I think it’s like this because there are no roots here for people. As I get older, I see how important it is to have a true community, a fundamental “home base” where you can be¬†who you are with people who accept you for who you are and what you can bring to the table. Most of the people in AZ are from some other place, so you have a lot of hollow-feeling people walking around here every day, lacking a basic connection to a community, because they left theirs behind a long time ago. I feel like that. And I am tired of feeling this way. I really am.

You can’t fake, or force, community or friendships. It’s never going to work. Real relationships with other people come with lots of time and shared experiences. That’s why my biggest dream right now is to move back to the NJ area so I can rejoin a community that makes sense to me. I have true connections and ties to people and places back there; nothing out here compares to what I have there. I can count on one hand the number of friends I would sincerely miss seeing every day if I left AZ. Interestingly, I can’t see those people really living here in AZ for the rest of their lives, either. They belong living alongside an ocean or lake somewhere, or in a ghost town, or in a big city like NYC…

If I can’t make a move back to NJ work for financial¬†reasons, then I’m considering the Pacific Northwest. Particularly, Oregon. I know it’s kind of a hipster paradise, with lots of do-gooder liberals and people like that, yes. The thing is, I wouldn’t mind being around positive, open-minded people again. It seems like people grow and flourish, like flowers, in a place that is alive with rain, living plants and trees, and soil with real substance you can dig your hands down into. Out here, it’s dry, dusty and the plants that do grow here naturally are tough and covered in thorns or spikes. Nature is on the defensive here, because it’s such a hardscrabble existence. You have to fight for every drop of water, every life-giving nutrient. This isn’t an environment conducive to true¬†growth and development, physical or psychological. The longer I am here, the more stifled and dried out I feel in general. And I’m tired of it.

I’m very excited about whatever happens next. I’m keeping an open mind about where, exactly, I will end up living… It makes me happy to have a nice, lovely unknown in front of me. I like knowing the mediocrity of the life I’ve settled into will be coming to a close. I love that fact, actually.

I’ve thought about moving away before, many times. I even started to make plans here and there. But this time it feels a lot different, a lot more concrete and planted in reality.

And there are so many little things I’m excited about experiencing. I can’t wait to see Hurley and Moose in a new, wetter environment. They hate the rain now. Which is silly, especially in Hurley’s case, since he has a coat designed to hold up well in the rain. But they’ve never known anything different than hot, sunny, dry weather 98% of the time. I cannot wait to walk them someplace where the pavement isn’t on fire even at 9pm at night.

I’m excited for the sound of crickets outside¬†in the summer as I fall asleep.

I’m excited about being able to go sit down near the water, any old time¬†I want. What water? The ocean, a lake, a river, a creek, I don’t really care. Just having access to something like that again without taking a 2+ hour car ride and then the place is swamped with people all seeking the same exact thing… man, that will be amazing.

I’m excited for leaves falling off trees in the autumn. Not in December or January.

I’m excited for snow days and actually wanting to eat/drink something hot.

I’m excited to see old buildings and historic sites; feel¬†history around me again. You just don’t get that out here. It’s really strange, when you stop and think about it. Or try to feel it out. In Arizona, everything’s kind of plopped down on the surface of the earth, and anything old is demolished. I have to laugh when people make fun of NJ and say it’s nothing but malls. Whoever thinks that has never been to the Phoenix area. This entire city is one giant mall, basically. I never had a real shopping problem until I moved here, because shopping’s one of the only things you can do sometimes. Stores are everywhere. I have to drive miles and miles to find an actual¬†park or some kind of open space, and only¬†3 minutes to reach the nearest strip mall to the east, and¬†4 minutes for the nearest one to the west. It’s kind of lame.

Yeah, the time has definitely come to move on.

I can’t wait.

A crucial point– time to make cutbacks


I am in desperate need of a revamp of my monthly budget. And it’s mostly due to the new car payment on the Prius.

I worry all the time if I got a car that’s outside my means. Is it extravagant? I think that it is. Here’s why: I went from a $128 a month car payment on the HHR¬†to a $286 payment on the Prius. YIKES, right?! I knew it was going to be¬†higher than what I had before, yes, since it was a more expensive car than the HHR. I also bought the extended warranty, so that got tacked onto the loan amount. I figured that the savings I’d see at the gas pump would even things out a bit.

And yeah, that’s true to a point. I am spending less on gas, but it’s not $158 less a month. More like $40 a month.

So I’ve decided to take some action to cut my expenses everywhere else. First thing: I’d like to refinance my mortgage if it makes sense to do that and would save me money on my monthly payment. The last time I did a refi, it saved me around $120 a month. It added a couple thousand to my loan¬†once closing costs were wrapped in, but in the long run it still worked out. I’ll be selling it well before I am in there 30 years or something, and I don’t plan to put it on the market until I know for a fact I can recoup my mortgage amount in full. I don’t expect a profit anymore, because hell, NO ONE is seeing a profit when they sell these days. I just want to at least break even.

Anyway, the point is I am hoping to refinance and save some money there. I should hear back from the bank tomorrow.

Second, I thought I’d switch car insurance. I have Progressive at the moment, but have State Farm for my home insurance. I approached SF asking for a premium quote today, and not only would it not save me any money to switch to SF, it would COST ME $73 more a month! Wow. Even with a discount for having home insurance with them. I’m very disappointed.

The third thing is I’m finally cutting the cable TV and DVR cord. It’s hard, because I do love me some TV that’s only available on basic cable. (The Walking Dead, Falling Skies, American Horror Story mostly.) But times are tough, and I have to be¬†realistic about what’s a luxury and what is a necessity. Clearly, cable TV is not a necessity. I should be able to save about $100 a month if all goes well. (Wish me luck– the cable company is relentless in trying to talk you out of cancelling service!)

After this, there isn’t too much more I can do other than stop all extra shopping completely. I mean, no more clothes, music, books, shoes, household stuff beyond essentials… none of that. I can do it. I simply need to discipline myself and remember that most of the time, when I buy stuff that’s not necessary, I’m doing it for psychological reasons. Boredom, depression, frustration, etc…

And finally, the last thing is trying to find another way to make more money on the side. Ideally, if I could find some freelance work that I could trust I would actually get paid for doing, that would be best. Problem is, in this market a lot of people are expecting writers to do their work for very little money or FOR FREE. The ads I’ve seen say they will “offer college credit” and talk about the value of “adding to your writing portfolio” like they are doing YOU a favor by having you do all this work… and yet they want you to do copy for an entire website, write a script for some commercial or do some other monsterous job. I don’t get it. Does this work? Do they really get desperate writers to actually¬†do this for them for free? It’s terrible. It cheapens the freelance environment for ALL writers when this happens. (And I know this is true in art and graphic design, too. It’s a real shame.)

Either way, I’m looking into it anyway. I hope to find something out there that fits. I also wonder if I should take a course in other kinds of writing, like grant writing and technical writing. Those are the jobs that do offer payment, usually.

The other idea is to find a part time second job. I have no clue where or what I could do, though… and I sincerely hate the idea of never being home, and the stress of trying to rush home, take care of the pets and get back out the door to another job several times a week.

My overall conclusion in all of this? I am living outside my means.

I have too much debt. Too many bills and too much to take care of all by myself. I’m trying to do it all on just my salary and it’s been coming together somehow up until now, but I am never comfortable. I am always skating way too close to the line by the end of each pay period, and I often need to pull money from savings to get through to the next check.

I’m not happy with myself for living this way; for having all these expenses and for the way I feel trapped by all of it. I wish I’d never complicated my life as much as I have with STUFF. Do I need all of it? No, I definitely do not. I could be quite happy with a hell of a lot less STUFF.

It will be three years this July that I have owned my house as my primary residence. After that point, if I were to rent it out or sell it, I no longer would be obligated to pay back the $8K tax credit I got back when I bought it. I can hardly believe that ALL of that $8K went right back into my house, too. I got the yard landscaped, put in the new gate, had some painting done, had baseboards installed and the back porch added on. So I wouldn’t have been able to pay that money back if I wanted to. Technically, I should remember to add that $8K to the selling price when I eventually sell my place…

At this point, I’m realizing how exhausted and sad all of this has me feeling these days. I love my house… it’s very nice now and I’m happy living there and I love that I haven’t had to move for almost 3 years now, making this the longest I have lived anywhere since I’ve lived in AZ… but I see the other costs now that come with it, and it’s not worth it.

I should have rented instead of purchasing a house. And if I purchased something, I should have been more prepared for the closing so I could have gotten a better company to do the remodeling that was wrapped into the mortgage amount. (As it was, the company I did use ripped me off and did crappy work for the money.)

I could get rid of half of everything I own (except my pets!) and still have a lot of things. Half of my books, half of my furniture, half of my clothes/shoes, half of my computer-stuff, half of my holiday and yard stuff… and maybe I should. It might be a good exercise in not feeling so top-heavy right now.

Depending on how this refinance thing goes, I just might start considering a drastic move. Like renting my house out (the market rate in that neighborhood is at least $200 more than my mortgage payment) or putting it on the market in the fall. I do worry about one aspect of renting: can I find a place that will allow me to have my 2 dogs and 2 cats? Because I absolutely refuse to part with any of them, ever. If they were human kids, I wouldn’t turn a couple of them over to family members or give them up for adoption!¬†So, it might take awhile to find the right place, but I’d do whatever it takes.

Maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Or, maybe I am finally getting wise to my options. In the long run, am I going to be so glad I hung on to a house I had trouble paying for, a car I struggled to pay for each month, and all the material things I own? Or would I be happier living simpler and with less stress? Maybe even having money to do things to enrich my life, like take vacations to real destinations and travel the world…?

I think it’s obvious which is the better long-term choice. Is it a pipe dream, though? Can I feasibly cut myself out of this money¬†cocoon I’ve tightly knit myself into?

I guess we’ll see.

I often say, jokingly, how I want to just run away and live in the woods someplace. But really, that IS what I want. When I daydream about winning the lottery, it’s all about paying off all my debts as well as my family’s debts (especially my sister and mom). And after that, I buy a small, 3 bedroom cottage someplace. Not a mansion. Not a place with granite countertops and double vanities in the bathroom or something… just something LOVELY and small. I love small, older¬†houses, always have. I love the coziness and simplicity of a small home. I love the idea of having “only what you need and nothing more.”

So that’s my goal, I guess. To pare it all down, strip it down to essentials and appreciate, once more, the things I DO have and make the most of my time on this earth rather than be a slave to my belongings and debts. It’s silly.

I don’t know what happens next, but anything I do has to be an improvement to the way my bank account is functioning right now, so… here I go!