Category Archives: Holidays

The financial idiot

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Remember the good old blogging days? When we all posted frequently, and could easily comment on one another’s posts? Those were some good times. But now, with all the elaborate word verification captchas, incompatabilities between WordPress and Blogger and everyone getting busy with life (what? Real life? What’s that?!), the blogging activity is falling by the wayside.

I still like it, though. I still check blogs that have not been updated in a year, just in case. I blog on my other blog. I blog here. Sure, it’s not as big a part of my life as it once was, but that’s fine. Things shift around and change. It’s OK.

So, I came here today to share my weird shame regarding my bank accounts. It’s just maddening to me that a grown woman with lots of responsibilities and a decent sized paycheck still manages to struggle each month to make ends meet. Especially months with holidays or trips. Dear GOD. I am without an effective budget right now, because I can’t seem to get ahead to the point where things are able to BE budgeted.

Right now, I am down to $44 in my checking account. And $21 in my savings.

That’s IT. That’s what I have to work with until I get paid on Friday.

The only reason I have $44 in checking is because I transferred a whopping $15 over this morning so I could buy some gas for the car this week. I want to get $10 worth.

This is so stupid and shameful. I don’t know how things got so out of control, but ALL of my money goes to paying bills and buying food/gas. The three basics. Every time I spend money on something fun, I wind up short. October it was Halloween and the trip to LA that did me in. November, it was the trip to NJ and then some money I threw in for Thanksgiving dinner stuff. Now this month, it’s friggin’ Christmas. Great. Well, this year they are all getting ‘creative’ gifts (AKA cheap/handmade) and a big pull-back from the years past where I went overboard on my family since I love buying for them. All those holidays added up, it turned out, and gave me a decent chunk of credit card debt. Who’da thunk it?

Well, something has to change soon. I’m considering a couple of options. One– refinancing my mortgage to a 30yr. fixed if I can qualify for it. That could potentially lower my payment. Or, turn the car in for a more affordable car. I thought I could handle jumping from a $128 car payment to a $286 one, but it turns out it’s really not working. I make the payment, yes, but because I am never one to skip a payment or pay less than the amount due. That means all my money that I’d use for other stuff just isn’t there. Maybe I should just do what so many people I know do: just pay what you can and leave it at that. I don’t know, though… I am proud of my credit score and don’t want to take any hits on it. I don’t know why it matters so much to me, but it does.

I’m starting to consider debt consolidation, too. Get all the stupid credit card bills together and make it into one payment. Maybe a lower payment overall. We’ll have to see on that one. I don’t want to close all of my cards out, or have trouble with my credit score down the road.

I hate being an adult sometimes. I really do.

I really have been feeling that hamster wheel thing these days… I keep running to keep up, and yet I never get anywhere.

hamsterwheel

My bloody Valentine*

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Hey, Blog. What’s up, man? You been just chillin’ here, or what?

I haven’t been into writing much about myself these days. I’m not journaling or free writing, and I’m certainly not blogging as regularly as I had been. It’s fine. My interest in purging and analyzing my thoughts is at a low right now.  I’ve had other things to do.

* – This blog title cracked me up. I’m all about puns today.

Last week I found out I was heading down the anemia road when I tried to donate blood. My hemoglobin has consistently been dropping since my first donation in July. The blood services has a cool website where you can see your own health records from each visit– everything from BMI to cholesterol. My first Hg reading was 15.9. The next, 14.3. Third time, it was down to 13.3. And then finally, last Tuesday, it dropped to 11.9.

You need to have an Hg reading of at least 12.5 to donate blood. They said I could reschedule in a couple of days, since it could change by then. So that’s what I did. In the meantime, I tried to eat more poultry and things like raisins, and cut back on calcium and added more citrus to my diet (calcium can block iron absorption, whereas citrus can help it). And, for good measure, I added iron supplements I bought in Target. I only had time to take it twice before my next appointment, but I was confident that I’d probably raised my Hg level quite a bit.

On Thursday, it was 12.6. Just enough to donate, but not anywhere near where I’d hoped it would be. I’ve since learned it takes more than a couple of days to make changes like that! Your body has to get used to it and everything.

So, I donated. It was a routine donation, until it was over and the nurse said to hold gauze on my elbow and raise my arm. I did this, and I got dizzy, lightheaded and knew I was going to pass out. I didn’t expect it at all, and there was no warning! I hadn’t even stood up yet. The nurse came rushing back over to me when she saw I was in distress, and tilted the chair back some my feet were up higher. I closed my eyes and couldn’t open them for a few moments… that must have been when I lost consciousness. It was short, but it made me feel so horrible. My hearing was all wonky and my head felt wobbly.

My blood pressure had been healthy when I came in: 128/82. But it had dropped all the way to 89/51! For the next hour, they kept me there, slowly lowering the chair, giving me Gatorade (YUCK) and putting an ice pack at the base of my skull. They took my BP several times, and it did slowly rise back up to somewhere in the 113/something range, and at last, I felt OK to drive home. Fortunately the blood bank is just two minutes away from my house.

At home, I felt like hell. A headache set in, I was dizzy again and had to lie down, I was nauseous… ugh. All night, I was shivering and sweating and generally felt sick. It stunned me that this happened. I’ve given blood three times since July (this was #4) and not once did I have a bad reaction. Not even a little lightheaded. And this time, blam. It kicked my ass.

I’ve since come to some conclusions about this. One is the most embarrassing one: I don’t think I ate enough of a dinner before my appointment. See, I’d had a very late lunch (super healthy too–salad with lots of grilled chicken) and when I finally got home, I wasn’t too hungry. So I drank a big glass of V8 juice and had a handful of cashews, followed by lots and lots of water. I felt great. But I should have known better and erred on the side of overeating that night. Duh. I haven’t admitted that part to anyone but my sister until now.

The other thing is I don’t think I should be donating every 8 weeks, like I had been. They called me to set up donation appointments after the first donation, and I’d just go “OK” and set it up. Plus, I was enjoying the rewards points I was racking up. You get points for each donation and you can redeem them for a CD or DVD, t-shirts or movie tickets. I was saving up my points for two free movie tickets. (I have now earned them, of course.)

Here’s the thing about donating blood, for me: It feels like something I really should be doing to help people, because I can do it. I know lots of people who can’t donate because of illness, medication, recent tattoos, and fear of needles. I don’t have any of the issues that would prevent me from donating. I’ve come to think of it as my contribution to human society. I do so much for animals, but I’m not as charitable when it comes to people. The whole marathon-thing made this clear as day to me, and changed my perspective. I started to really care about helping people who were ill. The blood donation, for me, is painless and quick, and I feel great about doing it.

For now, though, I am cutting back in a big way. Three times in one year is PLENTY, and way more than most people do at all. I’m going to aim for that instead of once every 8 weeks like they were asking. That’s too frequent, and I think that’s one of the reasons my hemoglobin was dropping so much. Too frequent donations is one of the causes contributing to anemia.

So, I am done for awhile now. I’m thinking maybe by the summer, I’ll consider it again. I need to be smarter and not say yes just because someone is asking me to do it. Lesson learned.

In house news, I finally finished putting my master bathroom together this past weekend. I got all the doors painted at last (4 coats of paint on each door!) and installed all the new hardware and a couple of switchplates. Then I had to clean, and MAN, did that take a long time. So much dust, dirt, dried paint splatters and general filth from moving around in the shower wearing sneakers… it took a detailed, on my hands and knees kind of cleaning session. It was painful, but it had to be done. The result was excellent, though. In the end, my bathroom came out very nice! I only have one more thing to do, and that’s get a storage tower/cabinet for the wall behind and over the toilet. But it feels so great to be finished. At last.

As for my room, well… I still have to put away all my clothes into the new furniture! What kind of moron buys new furniture and takes about a month to move clothing into said furniture? Me. And then I have to give that room a good cleaning, too, and finish decorating. That will be the fun part! Last night I hung my new white curtains (after ironing them for over an hour) and put the new duvet cover and sheets on the bed. Those two changes made a HUGE difference! Now the room is starting to look the way I’ve been wanting it to. Finally. I will take photos very soon, of course. I’m excited to show off the before and after photos of that room, for sure. It’s been a pig sty for almost three years now. Now that it’s not? PARTY!

I do still need to order and get blinds installed in the bedroom window and the kitchen window. They’re going to be at least $100-135 each, and I think I should get them professionally installed so it’s done right. I hung all the other blinds in the house, but it was very tricky given the weird metal windowframes in this house, and these blinds are longer (78 1/2 inches wide) than the others.

Then, I have to get the handyman to come out and put the chandelier on a dimmer, install some outdoor lights that are DESPERATELY needed, and possibly build a prefab metal shed for the yard. I *could* build one myself with a little help from someone to hold the frame and metal sheets still as I screw it all together, but I don’t want to. I did that already with X, and it was a suck-ass waste of a day.

The final thing is painting the damn exterior. I want to strike a deal with this guy my sister used to work with to paint the high parts of the house and fix/seal the trim, and I’ll paint the lower half of the house myself. Otherwise, it will be at least $1K to get it all done professionally. I want to get it down to about $400 or so, if it’s possible. We’ll see.

I must do my tax return!! All of this work hinges on the tax return money. I can’t wait to see what I’m getting back.

And finally, today is Valentine’s Day.

I like Valentine’s Day because of the commercial side of it! No, really. I like the pink and red stuff, the cute decorations, the hearts and flowers, vintage-looking cards… IOW, the stuff in the stores. Not necessarily the stupid stuffed animals or heart-shaped boxes of candy, and not the dozen red roses (not a roses fan), but the rest of it. The stuff you can get for yourself because it’s fun.

I have quite enjoyed the previous three Valentine’s Days I have had by myself, and I’m enjoying this one, too. When I was younger–high school, college — I bought into it and felt bad if I was single on V-day. Or if my boyfriend at the time did something lame, inadequate or just brushed over it, I would feel all let-down and disappointed.

And when I was married, I was the one who was never good enough. He’d expect flowers, too… and always outdid me with whatever we did for one another. I’d get him a card, he’d get me TWO cards, and then get annoyed at me for not getting him two cards. That kinda thing. Believe me, when the marriage finally ended, I was so relieved to be away from that kind of bullshit, it forever changed how I feel about being with a man, overall. And it’s why I don’t date, really. But yadda, yadda, you know all that already.

I feel bad for people who do take this day seriously and are alone or unhappy. I wish they could have the kind of relief and peace I feel on this day, because it’s a blessing. Plus, all the pretty stuff, all the candy, all the things you want to do… it can be yours! As Donna and Tom say on Parks & Rec, “TREAT YOURSELF!”

 

 

Oh, I’m just laying some fresh bullets all up on this list.

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Status report:

  • I remain quite happy with J! We had a lovely date night at his house on Friday. He made me a vegan dinner and showed me how to operate his juicer. We watched Despicable Me (which I loved!) and he gave me a Christmas present: a USB drive, engraved with my name on one side, and the name of my book on the other. I was so touched by that. He totally gets that writing is one of the all-time most important things in my life, and he supports what I do. I am so lucky.
  • I finally saw the neurologist yesterday (after about a 1.5 month wait) and the news was bad, but also good. I mean, the bad news is that yes, I do have serious back issues going on. The good news is that I now know for sure what is going on back there, which discs are affected and then I can figure out a plan to keep myself feeling good for as long as possible.
  • In summary, I have degenerative disc disease; two herniated discs at L5/S1 and L4/L5 with the L5/S1 being the most severe. This is where the sciatic nerve is being pinched. I also have something called trochanteric bursitis in both legs. This is an inflammation of the bursa, located at the top of my femur bone, where it goes into the hip socket. The spots where you feel the pain have always been sore, for years now, but I kind of ignored it and just thought I was out of shape and/or had worked out too hard.
  • Treatment for now: light exercise and continue to do my stretching and strengthening exercises I’ve learned over the years. However, no running is allowed. It appears that training for a half-marathon was one of the very worst things I could have done for my spine! Oh, well. Live and learn. I can do other things, and I’m happy to get ‘clearance,’ so to speak, to go hiking and bike riding again. I have to walk more, too. I’ve been sitting around a lot this past month or so, afraid to do too much because I’d get sore again… and I didn’t exactly take care of myself in doing this. I honestly didn’t know WHAT to do/not do until I saw the doctor, though. Now that I have, a weight has been lifted and I feel like I can resume getting my life in order, health-wise!
  • Speaking of health, I made my first batch of juice the other night using J’s juicer. (He lent it to me for two weeks! That was so nice of him.) My first juice was purely fruit, since that’s what I am most comfortable with going into this, and I really did enjoy the process of making the juice. If you ever have a chance to use a real, high-end juicer, I totally recommend it. It’s fun! I tasted the juice as I went, making sure I liked it, and the final product was amazing. I love me some citrus juices, and having this freshly-made concoction made all the other juices I’ve had over the years pale in comparison. I still have a little bit left, but I also want to make another batch but this time, add some veggies. The plan for now is to add cucumber, spinach and possibly yams–which are one of J’s favorite things to juice. It should be really interesting to experiment and see what I like and to begin to retrain my tastebuds! I’m excited about seeing some positive changes. Yay!
  • I had been thinking about changing Hurley’s food for a couple of weeks now, ever since a friend of mine was posting on FB about how her dog wasn’t responding to medications for her allergies. I remembered when I used to make batches of dog food for Sam when he was in his final years, and how his diet was pretty healthy. Hurley gets tiny little bumps that look like red pimples all over his back, and I am 99% sure that it’s coming from his horrible store-brand, cheap dog food. I read up some more on dog food ingredients and, OMG, I feel like I am the most irresponsible, lazy dog owner in the world now. How did I not know all this until now, and why didn’t I care? He’s such an incredible dog. I want the absolute best for him! So, in addition to revamping my own diet, I am also doing the same for him. And the cats. I guess my resolution this year is to be healthy and responsible regarding all the food consumed in my house.
  • CHRISTMAS… AHHHHH! When the hell did it suddenly become Christmas week?! I feel like it was only Thanksgiving about a week ago. I have never been this far behind on decorating and getting all festive. Fortunately, I did begin shopping back in early November, officially… I have just a couple more things to get for my BIL, mostly. But yeah, I have yet to pull out the bins of Christmas decorations from the garage. I did hang some lights outside, finally. But not my usual display. There are no lights going across the front of the house at the roofline this year. All I did was toss some white LED lights in the bush near my front door, and then put the 5 light-up candy canes out along the sidewalk leading to the door. Done, and done! I know it looks kind of pathetic, but it’s so much better than only managing to have a wreath on the door.
  • This year, the pink tree is getting a rest. I have another tree that’s traditional green, with white lights. Since Gremlin and Simon have not destroyed it, I really could put some ornaments on the thing. Non-breakable ornaments, of course.
  • I didn’t send out cards this year, either. I just never got around to it. And I don’t have a good camera this year so there could be no photos of me and/or the animals, either. Ehhh. I have no idea why I just didn’t care enough this year!
  • I have yet to make the chocolate chip cookies I’ve been planning to make for over a week now. All the ingredients are there, just waiting for me to move my ass and make the stupid things. Now, I am thinking of also trying to make a homemade apple pie. Oh, I have all these great ideas, and most likely… very few will ever come to fruition.
  • I have the money to paint the exterior of my house, finally! Thanks, Christmas bonus. The bonus will also be going towards that plumbing issue out front, too. Which reminds me… I better call that plumber today and set something up.
  • I’m one of those people who wants to get little steps to put next to the bed so the dog can easily climb up and down. It’s true. I want this, for Hurley. He doesn’t like jumping down off the bed in the dark. Poor little spoiled dog!
  • I ordered a T-shirt for J the other day, and it should be delivered to him anytime now. I know he’s going to like it, since we can’t stop quoting Anchorman.
  • That’s all I’ve got. Hope you’re having a good day!

Quickies!

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* I’m reading Next by Michael Crichton now… it’s got me hooked. J recommended it to me, and lent it to me over the weekend. Now I’m thinking a lot about drug patent law in terms of genetic research, and wondering if the Federal government would be above or “outside” the law if things were top secret… and if they were top secret, how would it work out if outside, private investors purchasing the patent to something created by the Federal government? Oh, the questions, questions and more questions that get my brain whirring and churning along as I write my book…

* I had to get my car fixed today. The thermostat was broken, it turns out. So last week when the engine light was on and the coolant wasn’t reading a temperature, this was the real reason. Ah HA. Well, it’s done now and I only had to spend about $225. It could have been a lot, LOT worse if I had let this go any longer. Whew.

* I put up my Christmas tree. Yes, I did the bare minimum. But this time I have a good reason: I want to get Gremlin acclimated to the tree before I risk decorating it. I expect it will be on the floor when I get home from work today. But there’s always a chance that he will surprise me, too. Either way, if ornaments do make it onto the tree this year, it’s all plastic and cardboard stuff only.

* I’ve been talking to J every single night. It’s so nice that he keeps getting in touch. I can tell he likes me a whole lot. This fact is probably going to amaze me for a long time. Well, I like him, too. (PS: I’m not sure I have mentioned this yet, but he is also pretty cute. Tall, dark hair and dark eyes… I finally got my wish to date someone without blue eyes!)

* I’m not done Christmas shopping yet. But I get paid tomorrow, so the buying can continue. Fortunately I don’t have much left to buy. I do, however, need to wrap the gift I got for Kristen’s son and mail that out. And get something for my Dad and mail that, too. By the way, I’m not doing Christmas cards this year. It’s not because I am a scrooge or anything… I actually lost my entire address book. And I don’t feel like making the effort. That, too. Sorry!

* I had the most delicious spinach I have ever had in my life last night. I’d bought it at the organic farm on Saturday with J. Well, I finally made a big salad of it for dinner last night and it was amazing. Huge leaves, crisp and bright green… it was almost like eating green leaf lettuce! I can’t wait to get back to the farm this weekend and hopefully, they’ll have it for sale again. It’s totally worth the drive over there. Holy crap. No one ever told me spinach could look and taste like THAT! Mmmmm. (Also delicious? The organic broccoli and carrots.)

* J is already a positive influence on me, and I can tell it’s only going to get better from here. He’s got me thinking about my diet and eating organic and unprocessed foods a whole lot and this is such a good thing for me, right now. Especially since I am still mourning the end of the marathon road and lamenting the subsequent slump of not-keeping-myself-healthy. I’m pretty curious to see how this juice thing works out for me. I’m preparing myself mentally for what’s going to be a true challenge.

* I’m almost done watching True Blood, season 3. Oh, hai, Alcide. That character needs a spinoff. The thing is, I am so burned out on anything with vampires and I honestly don’t give a crap about the vampires on TB. Not now, anyway. Not when there is THAT around, all the sudden. (I know, I know: I sure have a thing about posting about hot guys lately, don’t I? And I clearly have a type??? But they are like FINE ART. I just love looking at them, admiring the lines and colors… and…)

* Oh, look. Shiny!

 

Focus on the good stuff

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I’ve had some wonderful things going on lately. Sure, my car was acting up yesterday, but it led me to read the majority of my owner’s manual, so I now know so much more about my car. I was able to check the coolant level myself, and determine that yes, it was very low. I took it to Jiffy Lube after work, where I got a much-needed oil change and they topped off the coolant. After that, the temperature gauge was working again and today, after a few turn on/off cycles with my engine, the engine light went off. I’m so relieved! I think the low coolant was the problem. Of course, my Dad did warn me to keep an eye out and check that level every so often to make sure the level wasn’t going down again…because if it is, that could mean I have much bigger problems on my hands… but for now, I am hopeful it will be OK. Whew.

I didn’t write about it yet, but I got a very nice letter from Bank of America the other day. They wrote to tell me that my closing costs on my mortgage were determined to be too high, and even though I closed on the refinanced loan in July of 2010, they were sending me a check with the difference. And that difference is approximately $1,550!

Well, that was a great surprise. I got the check yesterday. It’s in my savings account for now, but I’m hoping to get the plumbing done now that I have a little cash available again. I just hope it won’t eat up ALL of that money. But it does need to be done. I turned the irrigation main off the other day, and since then there has been no leaking. Otherwise, the thing drips all day and night, and the bricks at the foundation are getting soaked.

Jason (who from hereon will be known as J, just to keep it simple) has been so great. We’ve been talking, emailing and texting since Saturday night and it’s fun as hell. I gave him the ultimate test, which is to watch some clips of “Tim and Eric” and laugh. Not go “yeaaaah, OK…that was weird,” but really get it. He has a fantastic sense of humor, so my hopes were high going in, but it went even better than I expected: He’s HOOKED. He has since watched dozens of clips on his own, and he has been quoting them in his emails and texts, making me crack up. He passed the big test! He’s in! Now I know I can really, truly, unleash my sense of humor in all regards. In fact, he was all incredulous that he’d never seen the show until now, because he says it is his sense of humor. I think he’s already shared a few clips with his brother. Awesome show, indeed!

You wouldn’t think such a silly thing like a bizarre TV show would matter so much, but honestly, it does! I feel really happy now. I mean, laughing is my favorite thing… and I want whomever I date to be someone I can laugh really hard with. If I can’t laugh with a date or boyfriend, it’s not worth my time. I have never dated someone who didn’t make me laugh longer than a month or so. Hell, even X once made me laugh a lot. But unlike J, he was never really a fan of Tim & Eric’s brand of comedy. So there you have it.

Today he sent me a text asking if I wanted to go to the Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden on Saturday night. Um, yes, please! It’s supposed to be gorgeous, and a very fun event. I have wanted to go for the past 10 years or so, but I’ve always heard tickets are expensive and/or hard to come by since they are limited. Now, J is saying he is getting us tickets and he’s excited to take me. Yay! I’m feeling all special and shit.

(Sidenote: I can’t avoid the fact that part of my brain is STILL wary and cynical when it comes to having guys do really nice things for me, early on in a relationship. It’s because of dumb X, and how he did that, and totally roped me in and then once he had me, he let his true colors show. I’m on alert. And I am totally counting on my gut instincts now, as well as the instincts of my sister and BIL. If all three of us feel that he’s legit and there is nothing to worry about, THEN I will drop my cynicism. I hate that I have to think this way, but I do think it’s to be expected after what happened.)

Other than all of this, I do still need to do my Christmas decorating and work some more on my book. I should also straighten up my pigsty of a bedroom, because it’s a mess in there. I don’t get how I can keep the rest of the house clean, but not my room. It’s like I never grew up.

Ah, whatever. Let’s not picture messy, sloppy bedrooms! Let’s look at this, instead:

Current loves and hates

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Things I love right now:

* The Muppets (such a fun movie!!!!)

* Beautiful Creatures (rich, Southern, gothic)

* Once Upon a Time (I love it more and more each episode!)

* The Thanksgiving episode of The New Girl (I’ve rewatched it twice now)

* The Walking Dead (I still have to watch last night’s episode, but damn, is that a fantastic show or WHAT?!)

* Rediscovering Monsters of Folk and loving the new Florence + the Machine album

* The fact that I have completed about 25% of my Christmas shopping, despite Black Friday (and I did most of that spending in independent local shops)

* Spamalot! (this was the musical we saw on Wednesday night and it was excellent. Nee!)

Things I HATE right now:

*My sciatica

*My sciatica

*MY SCIATICA

Thank you. That is all.

 

“I’ve been snappin’ necks, writin’ checks.”

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Last week turned out to be pretty bad for my work articles. I had two authors contact me to tell me they would no longer be able to make their deadlines… a couple of sources back out of stories… people going on vacation and forgetting they’d committed to being interviewed a couple months back (and when I emailed a friendly reminder, he was very surprised, apologetic and then, excited for his vacation; sigh)… articles coming in at sub-par levels of professional writing…

It got bad. Of five articles I was coordinating or writing, THREE had major issues all of the sudden. I had to scramble in a big, big way. My boss was all concerned and wanted to know what was going on and why this happened and that made me all stressed and scared I would be in trouble…ahh! But I told him that no matter what, I would have all three problem articles taken care of in time to meet the deadline. And I meant it.

The deadline is Monday 11/28. As of right now, I have written two of the three articles. All that’s left is the one I am ‘ghostwriting’ from an interview I did with someone on Monday. I’ll write that over the 4 day weekend. And BOOM. Did it. I fixed everything. There is no reason to doubt me! If I say I’m gonna do something, I will do it. Damn it.

So, now that this crisis is just about over (ghostwriting a column shouldn’t take as long as pulling together the two complicated feature articles from scratch), I feel a lot better about going into the 4 day weekend. Sure, yes, I do have to work but it’s not as bad as it could have been. Now I can relax a little and focus on having an awesome Thanksgiving dinner over at my sister’s brother-in-law’s house (no cooking involved for us, woo hoo!), hopefully seeing the new Muppet movie, and probably seeing a boy or two, too. (Sam has had friends in town since last Friday, and Jason’s got his three kids here from Colorado until Saturday… but both want to hang out after everyone goes home.)

And TONIGHT is a very cool event… I’m going to see a show with my sister and friend Amy– BIL is coming, too, but my sister is surprising him with what it is we are doing so in the off-off-off chance he reads my blog anymore, I won’t say what it is we are doing, exactly. But I expect to laugh a whole lot. 

Little snippets of stuff:

* I have scratches all over my arms and hands from Sunday, when I tied up the two biggest trees in my yard using these rubber-and-wire ties I bought at the hardware store. The trees have been drooping in bad directions. I got everything staked up again the right way, but it was only later when I realized I’d also gotten scratched up in the process. One person at work asked me if my cat “got to me” and I had to laugh. Not this time! The trees got to me, that’s what. The cats are blameless. For once.

* I do love Gremmy. He’s my constant companion and the biggest cuddler I’ve ever had. He and Hurley are now tied for kisses and love… both of them are nutty about licking my face like crazy until I squeal and squirm away. Hurley’s kisses are soooo wet and sloppy; Grem’s kisses are rough and painful. Either way, while I am quite excited about their obvious affection for me, I still don’t enjoy the kisses very much. Poor guys. I’m always shoving them away, going, “No, don’t!” Meanwhile, all Simon wants is for me to rub the feathery sides of his head until he finally lowers himself down into a lying-down position, purring and making little happy chirping noises. It’s times like this where I am just smitten with Simon’s simple, mellow and sweet presence. And lack of licking.

* I’ve done a preliminary budget for the first half of 2012 and it looks like, if I do everything I plan to do, I will be able to get the exterior of my house painted in March! Yay! As for the other stuff I mentioned on the last post, all of that will happening in the order I said. I will be getting the plumbing taken care of either this weekend or next week; and hopefully the Christmas bonus will go towards the new phone. It’s not the most fun way to use the money, but it is the BEST possible way to use it. Plus I still plan on getting a simple, dumb little phone. I will not be posting to Facebook from a phone anytime soon.

* A bunch of people in this office are going home for the day already because their bosses are letting them out early before the 4 day weekend. Not our main boss lady, though: She’s not likely to tell us we can leave until it’s 4:25 or something. I think she forgets we are here, sometimes. It’s weird.

* I still need to do some messin’ around with my iPod and iTunes this weekend. I had to go back to the factory settings and wipe everything off of my iPod this past week and it sucked. I learned the lesson to always make my playlists in iTunes and save them there; copying them to the iPod. That way if I ever have to reset the iPod again, boom, everything is still right there. That’s great, for my laptop, anyway. My big issue is that about 80% of all my music is on my old PC. And at the moment, that bastard PC isn’t recognizing my iPod. I don’t know what to do because nothing even registers that it’s plugged in, although the iPod itself is reading that it’s connected and everything (and the USB cable works just fine with the laptop so I don’t think that’s the issue)… all I want to do is find a way to combine everything onto one iTunes, if that makes sense. As it is right now, totally different music is saved on iTunes on each computer I have. I think I have to get it all onto the laptop.

This probably means copying everything to my external storage drive and saving it on the laptop, manually. And then making more playlists with the “old” music, too. Basically, make the PC obsolete. Poor PC. It’s been a good machine all these years, really. But I need to make a choice, apparently, when it comes to my music. Unless anyone knows differently, that is. Anyone…?

(By the way, I registered both computers using the “homeshare” button on iTunes, but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything to connect my two ‘puters through iTunes. Ugh.)

PS: The quote in my headline is from Stepbrothers…which I can’t stop quoting these days for some reason! I just love it so much. “You and your mother are hillbillies!”

The end of vacation

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Happy New Year! 

I haven’t blogged for awhile… I just haven’t had anything to say, I guess. I’ve been busy! I had a great Christmas with my family. Church was wonderful on Christmas Eve; on Christmas Day we went to my sister’s house to open presents in the morning, and then went over to BIL’s family gathering for the rest of the day. I got my Mom to play Wii Sports with me that night, so it was fun.

I love giving my family gifts. My sister and I bought my Mom a new vacuum, and she was crying she was so happy with the gift. I gave BIL a gift card to his favorite electronics store, and a power drill and some other stuff… and I gave my sister a stereo for her iPod and a bunch of other things I knew she’d like. It’s easy to shop for her. All I need to do is buy the things I would like for myself, because we have almost the same taste with a lot of things. I’m more excited to give gifts than receive them, definitely. Not that I didn’t love my gifts, because I really did! It’s just interesting how the focus shifts as we get older.

I think I know why my focus is shifting. I want children in this family!

It’s setting in that yes, I do want to be a Mom sometime. Of course, it’s been going in this direction for awhile now for me… but holidays seem to cement my desires lately. I just daydream about having a kid to share these times with, now. It’s weird, in some ways, but it also feels like it’s a real thing. I know that my life is morphing and growing along the route it’s meant to take, and I’m perfectly cool with that!

I have a feeling I’ll be blogging more about this kid-thing, soon. I’m still processing my thoughts.

Anyway, vacation from work was fantastic. I got to do a lot of things I wanted to do. I bought a treadmill, at last! I went hiking and made lots of progress on pulling my home office together. I need to make that room more comfortable and work-friendly so I will enjoy spending time in that room, writing my book. I just can’t get interested in being in there, and I know it’s because I’ve left it cluttered and unorganized, with several boxes still unpacked after a year and three months of living here. Now, though, I’ve unpacked just about all of those boxes and soon I’ll have that room complete, which is a great feeling.

It was freezing here this week, literally. There was a rain storm in the middle of the week that was perfect winter weather– it was a great time to curl up in the warm house, watching DVDs and hanging with the pets. The rest of the week stayed super-cold and windy, meaning there wasn’t a lot of viable hiking weather, sadly. But I stayed busy indoors, getting things done and spending time with my sister yesterday. Today, I took down the Christmas lights from the front of the house, and used the hedge trimmer to cut back the bushes that have been growing wild ever since I got the drip system installed. I’ve gotten smarter about yard work… for instance, I have a tarp now that I rake everything onto and then carry it to the trash bin. I spray wide swaths of new weeds (appearing thanks to the rain) with weed killer rather than remove each one by hand, spending hours and hours working and pushing my back and wrists to their limits.

I would have liked to do more work on my writing than I actually did. I also should have gotten a haircut. So there were a few things I’m not happy about, especially that writing-thing, of course. Still, I’d say this was a successful vacation, and time I really appreciated and enjoyed just the way I wanted to. It was a week and day of being self-centered and mellow, and I loved it and needed it.

So I’m not excited about returning to work in the morning. But, that’s life, and truthfully my job isn’t as bad as some other people’s jobs (like my sister’s job, for instance)… and at least I have a job. It’s just always sad when time-off ends.

Time to get to bed. It’s going to be a tough morning, and a real struggle to get out of bed. Everything is going to be fine, though, because in my heart I believe that this year will be much better than 2010. I know good things are coming. I’m going to make them happen this year. Time to kick ass and have fun doing it! 🙂

Anxitement and Turkey Breast, yippee!

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Here we are. Tuesday.

And today has been, so far, the least productive day at work I’ve had in a long time. Why? I’m not really sure. I think it’s that pre-Christmas anxitement (my invented word for anxiety and excitement) just getting to me. I’m thinking of shopping, of wrapping gifts, yeah… but more than that, I’m thinking about the lovely week off of work that’s right on the horizon.

Best part of working here: the company closes for the week between Christmas and New Year. It’s awesome.

I’ve got plans. Two lists of things to do: One is a list of chores, and the other is the list of wants. I want to:

* Find and hopefully purchase a treadmill. (I’m back to considering a used one, since many on Craigslist say they come with a transferrable warranty, and I could maybe get a higher-quality model than I could buying new.)

* Go to the movies. At least two times.

* Write my own stuff! Finish the short story; get some more chapters done on the book.

* Get a haircut, since my current style is completely boring.

* Hike

* Learn to use my new Wii (which I finally hooked up on Sunday night!)

* Laugh a whole lot. I don’t care with who, about what, or where… I just want to have so much fun I’m crying and trying not to pee my pants.

So, today I had a lunch dilemma. My current favorite lunch place went out of business. It was nothing special: just a Blimpies. But it’s gone now. I had a feeling something was going on, too. A few times now, they had next to no bags of chips to choose from. Two or three of the soda fountain flavors were labeled “out of order” and they would be out of one or more ingredients, like provolone cheese or onions. Then they stopped baking my favorite type of bread altogether for the last couple of weeks. It did feel kind of like they had no money to restock and were just letting it slide downhill.

I’ll miss it, because they knew the right way to make my sandwich (“Jersey Style”– in fact, the one guy who worked there actually called me Jersey, which was kind of nice. I like when a business recognizes you.) and it was never too crowded. Well, looking back, the not-crowded part might have been a big part of the problem, but still. I liked that I could go at the busiest time and know I’d have a table.

My stomach has been acting up between yesterday and today, giving me a poor appetite (YAY!) and making me crave things like veggies and vinegar, my usual go-to stomach-settling foods. Blimpies would have been perfect. Instead, I had to think of something else.

I went with my first instinct, which was “get some freshly-sliced turkey and eat it right out of the deli bag.”

I got a 1/4 pound of my favorite (oven-roasted turkey breast) and a little container of sliced strawberries. I drove over to a nearby park, sprayed my hands with a little hand sanitizer spray that I bought just for the occasion, and ate in my car while I was reading “Shiver” (I’m almost done). It was actually a very satisfying lunch. I don’t know why I think I need to make a whole, fancy sandwich when I have turkey breast. I like eating it plain. Maybe a little pepper would have been nice, but the paprika on the edges was very good. I remember asking my Mom to pack me just turkey when she was making my school lunch. I wanted turkey sprinkled with paprika and pepper, wrapped in foil. At lunch, I would shred it up and eat it off the foil. Mom would say, “Are you sure you don’t want it on bread?” and I’d be like nooooo, I like it this way. That’s how they serve it on catering trays from the deli and I love eating it that way. Sometimes I’d roll it up. Plain turkey was the way to go.

And now, it’s the way to go all over again. This makes me weirdly content.

Plus, I have to make more of an effort to get protein into my diet. I’m back to being practically a vegetarian again, but not because I am trying to do it. I’m just not a fan of meat. I’ll eat chicken, but even that I only have a couple of times a week. I also have plain burgers (very well done, like leather) or, if it’s available, turkey. My usual diet is salad, pasta and cereal. That sounds healthy, but I assure you, it’s not. I also like fattening dressings on my salad. The pasta is consumed in quantities that scream You Know Better Than To Eat This Much, and I usually sprinkle parmesan cheese all over it. Sometimes the pasta is in mac-n-cheese form, or slathered in alfredo, but mostly I am addicted to plain old marinara sauce. Love it.

And the cereal. Whew, boy. I need an intervention. I have little to no self-control in the morning. I wake up starving, and I end up eating several bowls of sugary cereal in a row. I have to add more milk, most of the time, because I keep eating. It’s disgusting. Every now and then, I make an effort to control my cereal intake. A few times a year, I get on a “kick” to measure out only one cup of cereal (usually plain Rice Crispies, Cheerios or Rice Chex) and eat only that much each morning. I can do it for a couple of weeks or so. And I almost ALWAYS will see some weight loss in that time… that’s how significant my cereal problem is. But sooner or later, the allure of Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Life, Honeycombs or Honey Smacks will win and I’m back to my gluttonous, shameful morning habit again.

I know what to do, and I know I can do it, but cereal won’t leave me alone. Last week, I was even having it for dinner, too, a couple of times. (All because I didn’t want to cook anything.) I’m not going to say I’m going to stop, or make a resolution to stop. Nope.

I’m just going to do it, one day. Probably as soon as tomorrow, as I am out of sugary crap-cereal as of this morning. I have nothing but Rice Crispies in the house. (And no, I never add sugar to cereal. Most of the time, it’s obvious why– I’m already eating a bowl of sugar. But some people add sugar to Rice Crispies or Cheerios, and I don’t like that taste, at all.)

What does this all mean? Well, it means tomorrow I will be cranky and annoying in the morning. At lunch I will likely overeat. By dinner I will feel guilty about overeating at lunch and so I’ll either skip dinner or just have a little snack, like a fruit ice pop.

I can be so predictable.

Maybe plain turkey is the answer!

Maybe I can have these little, relatively-healthy lunches and be ‘inspired’ to change my breakfast and dinner ways. Lunch is my most clear-headed meal of the day, after all. It’s where I have the best chance of success. Turkey and a side of fresh strawberries isn’t a terrible lunch to have.

And sitting in the park reading isn’t a terrible way to spend my lunch time. I forgot to mention it’s a new park; well, new-to-me. It’s close to work and has a parking lot, so you don’t feel creepy pulled up to the curb alongside some grassy area. There are picnic tables and a lake. Perfect for eating lunch outside from October-April. So this is what my new go-to lunch place will be.

I’m boring myself writing this, so I can only imagine how bored you feel, reading it. I’m sorry.

To make up for it, here are some random photos from my hard drive:

I do what I want!

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Let me preface this post by telling you all that it took me THREE days to write! I’ve been a crappy writer of journal-type stuff this week, I guess. And herein lies the rub: this isn’t even a particularly GOOD post. I’m sorry.

That being said, here ya go:

So, I haven’t put up my Christmas tree yet. I haven’t hung lights outside, and I haven’t decorated much. My reason? I’m just plain ol’ lazy. I don’t feel like doing it.

I’m not sure why I don’t feel into getting all Christmas-y with the decorations this year; especially since I feel Christmas-y in all the other ways. As in, I’m thankful and happy for what I have, for my family and health, my pets and my own sense of acceptance of myself. Also, I want to be charitable and give to others. I’m looking forward to going to church on Christmas Eve. I’m loving Christmas music, especially the religious-based stuff. So, I can’t say that I am not in the Christmas mood, because I am. It’s just looking different this year.

It’s funny how we change, year by year. If I had this lack of interest in decorating even one year ago, I’d panic and think I was just really depressed or full of anxiety about something, yadda yadda. Yet this year, I’m just calm and mellow about whatever I end up doing. I could still put the tree up. I may not hang lights outside, but to be perfectly honest on that one, it’s because I’m scared of climbing a ladder. (I even fell using my little step-ladder when I was hanging lights for Halloween… the thing actually broke right under me, and I fell in the rocks near my front porch, thinking to myself, “Wow, to have a ladder break underneath you means you gotta lose some weight, lady.”) I don’t trust myself standing on any elevated surface after the year I had!

Anyway, what I was saying is that it’s a blessing to feel OK about this. I’m not trying to impress anyone, and I just want to enjoy myself. The effort to decorate seems like work. I’d rather listen to music, think and daydream, read, watch good shows and movies, write, walk the dogs, go out with my family than make myself do anything I’m not really interested in doing. It’s my selfish time. I hear Eric Cartman’s voice in my head saying, “Whateva, I do what I want!” Hee.

Let’s see, what else can I blog about today?

How about an update on Sandy? Yeah, that sounds like something I could write about.

Everything is going just fine! It’s pretty cool how we’re all now settling into our new dynamic. She has not been even a little bit aggressive to Simon, or Hurley, for that matter. Whatever happened last week seems to be a bad memory. Simon is back to running around the house like a maniac, darting from room to room for no apparent reason. He’s even getting close to teasing Sandy. He was under the kitchen table, moving from chair to chair, as Sandy paced around the perimeter, tail wagging and face smiling… I think it was a kind of game for them. It made me so happy I felt damn near giddy.

For a few days, though, Hurley was trying to leave with me when I left for work in the morning. He’d try to bolt through the door to the garage; he was even leaving behind precious treats to do it, which is not like him. I couldn’t figure it out, because there was no sign of aggression or trouble while I’ve been away. He was even sleeping on the same dog bed with Sandy the other day. I think it’s that he misses being the only dog getting my attention. He wants to be the one to be with me, all the time. The first day he did this, he actually got outside and was trotting down the driveway toward the street, in the direction of his preferred walk-route. Fortunately, he came back when I called him using the Voice of God(TM). Since then, he has gone back to normal. Whew.

Sandy is very sweet. She’s not an attention-hog like Hurley is, so that’s nice. She’s easier to groom, which is also nice. Overall, she hasn’t made a huge impact on how we live our lives, which is the way I like it. I know it’s because I am being the boss and all of that, but still. Things are pleasantly falling into place.

Media consumption report:

1) I’ve seen 4 episodes of The Walking Dead now, and I love it. By the way, I keep wanting to type The Walking Dad. That wouldn’t be a very good show, I’d bet. Wow, Dad is walking again. Whoop dee doo. No one would care unless the Dad was once paralyzed or something.

2) I stopped reading two books. One was “The Society of S” and the other is the fourth volume of “Tales of the Slayers.” I just got bored of both for some reason. Also, I think I actually lost The Society of S someplace, so that was also an effective way for me to stop reading it.

3) I finally went to the movies again, yay! I haven’t been going because it’s either too expensive, nothing is playing that I want to see, or I was too sick to go (coughing, hacking and stuff). I saw the new Harry Potter movie. I loved it. My sister was right– it is probably the best of all the movies so far. It was really fun to not be stuck in the Hogwarts-world only. I like Hogwarts, I do, but it’s just nice to explore the whole world with those characters instead. Plus we didn’t see Professor Flitwick. Always a plus for me. Professor Flitwick scares the piss out of me. I had a nightmare with him in it once– he was hanging out in my old house’s carport, eating some raw, bloody meat, squatting behind my car. I’m not kidding. He’s bad news.

4) I will be seeing a preview of The Black Swan tomorrow night! So excited about it. It’s not playing anywhere in AZ yet, so this is a cool opportunity even if it means we have to all get there super early to get a place in line. Free movie? Free GOOD movie? I’m in! Plus, that movie looks so fuckin’ cool. I love dark things so, so, so much! Bring on the crazy, the murder, the blood, the treachery, the downward spiral of someone’s soul…! All of it. I love it.

5) Countdown to ogling King Caspian is now on: T minus 2 days (or so… I don’t really know when I will actually go see it.)

I was going to add a #6 but this is one day later already. I’m at work, getting ready to go to lunch, and I’m thinking it’s time to post this stupid thing already. Blogging shouldn’t take so much effort. I think I’m retarded.