Category Archives: The house

Stop thinking

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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.

 

 

 

Other things on my mind these days

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Hey, so there are other things going on in my life besides polishing up my book. Maybe I should think about that stuff for a few minutes and let my book-brain take a break. Yes. Yes, that’s precisely what I need to do.

* My sister is still in Australia on her all-expenses-paid trip through her job. (Well, I guess meals aren’t included. So it’s actually a majority-of-expenses-paid trip.) She is having a great time, according to her sporadic posts on Facebook! She has had trouble logging into her regular email, and T-Mobile gets no reception down under, apparently. But, she did manage to call us on Monday from the lobby of the hostel she was staying in. It was mid-afternoon here, but about 8 or 9am on Tuesday morning for her. I loved hearing from her, and wished we had more time to talk. I seriously can’t wait to hear everything, and see her photos. I miss her so much!

* She took surf lessons. And got to kayak in an area of Byron Bay where a pod of dolphins live, and whales are passing through since it’s their migration season. I would die to see that in real life! Holy crap.

* I finally dyed my hair. I went with dark brown, so when I do the color streaks, they’ll show up well. If I’d done dark red, the colors could clash in a weird way. I still need to make the appointment for the streaks… I might be chickening out on it. I don’t want to look stupid.

* I love, love, love my pets so much. Sorry, I have to brag! My boys are so good, it’s ridiculous. On any given day, Gremlin will cozy up to Moose, purring like crazy… Hurley will sit with Moose and they’ll weirdly be doing almost the same poses at the same time… Simon swishes past, all orange cloud-and-whispy-tail, talking to me while I work on my book, watch TV, or just walk through the house (he likes to follow me, saying “merr, merr” the whole time)… They don’t fight, or cause messes. Well, OK, Gremlin has done it a few times now, but for some reason, he gets a pass. I can’t explain it! I just forgive him so fast. I’m really in awe of the harmony and the sweet nature of each pet. I am so damn lucky, it’s not even funny.

* Grem’s new thing is to sleep up next to my head at night, with his chin resting on my forearm or hand (I sleep on my side). The cool thing is that he doesn’t wake me up to do this. I simply wake up and there he is. I say good morning to him, and he flops around and reaches toward me as he stretches. He’s stopped the weird humping thing for the most part, but he still loves to stand on me. He doesn’t care where I am, what position I am in, or what I’m doing. I was lying on my side, talking on the phone the other day, and he jumped up and balanced on my side, between my hips and ribs. It was pretty funny. I’m touched he loves being with me so much. It’s cute.

* My sister brought her dog Jack over to the house about a week and a half ago so he could meet his two canine cousins. Everything went very well. Jack is sweet and happy, and clearly still a puppy. He bounces, and has a crazy-short attention span, all of which is adorable. He loved Hurley and Moose. I realized Moose doesn’t actually know the proper way to play. He wants to play, and he is friendly about it, but he tends to show his teeth and sometimes make bark-growls that startled Jack. His other body language at the time is perfect, though… he’s wagging his tail, no hair is up on his spine, and he does play bows and everything. He’s just got to learn not to put such a scary face on when playing! I think it did, actually, serve a purpose: Jack learned not to be sooooo insane and in Moose’s face thanks to the teeth-baring and growl/barks. Either way, they were working together to figure out their particular play threshold, and that made me so happy. There was never a moment of aggression.

*Jack didn’t meet the cats yet, but I’m sure he will. Simon, in particular, is very curious and wants to check him out. They’re in for a surprise– they have never had to deal with puppy energy!!! They’re spoiled with mellow Hurley and laid-back Moose. Wait till they realize not all dogs are that calm. Hee hee hee.

* I’m back to juicing on a frequent basis again. My goal is to get back to one homemade juice each day, replacing one meal… the only thing holding me back is getting my ass to the grocery store to get fresh veggies and fruit on a more frequent basis. I hate food shopping, even if it is at Sprouts or the farmers market! I wish I liked preparing food more than I do. Anyway, I’m watching what I eat again and trying to go as organic as possible. I had my green juice for breakfast today, and washed and prepped some stuff for my next juice. I don’t know… I might do a carrot-apple-ginger one tonight, we’ll see.

* I still have a ghetto-ass roof situation. Those shingles are still blown off/twisted up in the air, and I haven’t found someone to come fix them for me. I don’t want to pay a whole lot, and I don’t want to call a roofing company b/c I already know the recommended upgrades and repairs I *should* make, and don’t want to get hassled about things I can’t yet afford… I was hoping a male friend or acquaintance could come over and just do it for me. I’d pay, of course. Still, can’t blame people for not wanting to get up on a hot roof in 108-degree weather with the sun blazing down the whole time. Oh, well. In the meantime, my house is trashy. I should embrace it, and put a rusted car body up on cinder blocks out front. Borrow someone’s old coonhound to sit and bay from his place, chained to an old tractor tire under the tree. And I definitely need to throw empty beer cans in the driveway. (This gives me an excuse to drink beers. Many beers.)

* The current season of So You Think You Can Dance is almost over already. I hate the new format, but I do love that there will be two winners now instead of just one. All of my favorite dancers–except for Amelia, who was cut a couple weeks ago on a night they sent FOUR home all at once, yikes!– are in the top 6. I just adore this show, but again, I wish so much it wasn’t a competition. Just a showcase of different choreographers and dancers– they could have a new ‘cast’ every season. I don’t understand the reality TV obsession with competitions. Who says there has to be a winner when it comes to artistic stuff like dance?

* I watched most of the Republican National Convention, and last night the Democrats got started on their own. (Side note: Has there ever been a better First Lady than Michelle Obama?! She is so classy, intelligent and inspirational.) This is the first time I have watched these conventions, and the first time I am quite opinionated and sure of my decision to vote for Obama. I can’t help it– I see the glass as half-full when it comes to the issues in this country. Progress is being made, and that’s a good thing. Why anyone would want to HALT progress that helps other people simply doesn’t make sense to me. Ugh. The pessimistic viewpoints of a lot of (not all!) the Republicans freak me out and make me sad. I don’t feel they’re looking at things in a good perspective. I think people forget about all the blessings we do have just by virtue of living in the US, and how on the other side of the world people are starving, dying, there is violence and terror… Uh-oh, I am starting to rant again.

* I am trying very, very hard not to rant. Or talk politics too often. I don’t want to be a jerk. Or try to talk someone into my way of thinking. I’m just passionate and excited about my own choice, and that’s what’s at the heart of it for me.

* I’m soooooo, soooo close to being completely done with my book. So I do need to get back to it. I really can’t help myself right now–it’s all I want to do. Seriously.

The Brain That Wouldn’t Focus

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I’m still feeling incredibly psyched for the Writer’s conference in October. Today, though, I’ve got that overwhelmed feeling I get when I have way too many things on my mind at once. I know what I am supposed to do to only focus on one thing at a time. Yeah, it’s one thing to know what you’re supposed to do, and another to actually do it.

Just to give this a frame of reference, these are the current thoughts on my mind. I’m writing them very fast to try to capture how my mind feels right now:

* I want to be writing my book here at work right now, but I can’t. I have page proofs to do and I need to write an article. I don’t want to do either of them because they aren’t fun. But I’ll do them. As soon as I procrastinate some more by blogging.

* I need to write that one short story about the guy who makes balloon animals. I thought of it months ago and it would be ideal for a couple contests I want to enter.

* I need to edit my story “Favorite Pets” so I can get it out to a few more publications for consideration. The editor of that one magazine gave me notes and I have yet to incorporate them. Maybe later tonight I can make this a priority.

* I should cut my lawn. It’s getting so long again and it’s supposed to rain tomorrow-on for the next several days. Could be my last chance to do it before then. I hate mowing my lawn. I’d rather not do it.

* Hurley needs to go to the groomer– make an appointment for the coming weekend.

* Moose has his dental appointment on Thursday morning. Gotta get him there before I go in to the office. Good thing I have the CareCredit card to pay for it. I should also give him a bath.

* I just sent an email to the wrong person and I feel like a moron. Fortunately, it was nothing proprietary or personal… just a work email… but I really hate that I did that. I can’t even claim it was Outlook’s fault (it will do autofill if you start typing the first couple letters of an email address) because the two names in question are “Mike” and “John.” Sheesh. I get so easily confused when I have so many articles underway at once. I don’t even know which month’s issue I am working on, all the time. I can’t keep it all straight without my planner and my notes.

* Still gotta figure out what to do about my stupid roof. I got a message from the insurance company that their estimate to fix it is $560. My deductible is $1,000. So clearly, I’d be paying for the repair out of my own pocket. Boo. But I really want to spend my money on the writer’s conference… not my fucking roof. See? This is why I wish I didn’t own a house.

* I keep thinking about my one book, Jinni, and that I should really focus on the sense of touch in that one. It’s the one thing the protagonist was never able to do and now, he can. What would that be like? And how intense would everything be? Ugh… I should put that aside for now and focus on finishing Breedless! Or writing that new short story! Or editing Favorite Pets! I can’t keep thinking about all these stories, all at once. It’s making me nuts.

* I need to print out the page from United Healthcare for the gym reimbursement program; then, I have to get over there to the gym and enroll. I do still think that getting out of the house for a workout and having some structure to my evenings will be the best thing for my writing. I think I’m mentally sluggish because my body’s sluggish. I have to turn this around now.

* I hate my hair and need a haircut. My weird thing is I keep saying “you can get a haircut once you lose some more weight.” I think I don’t deserve a new haircut, in this chubby body. I know, that’s really stupid. But it’s what I’ve been saying to myself for months now. Meanwhile my hair gets more split ends and more fried-looking every day.

I’m now at the beginning again, thinking the same things over and over again. It doesn’t shut off. I don’t like it. It makes me sad. I find myself thinking I’m in over my head in life, itself, and I should just go lie down and forget about all of it. And that, in turn, makes me angry, because doing nothing won’t get me any closer to getting anything done, of course. And I want things done. Very much.

I don’t remember being this mentally constipated in a long time. I wonder why it’s hitting me now, as I get older, more than it did when I was young. Why can’t I sort and prioritize, and stop seeing only the bigger picture of EVERYthing I have to get done, always? Sheesh! I need therapy or some shit.

Fighting the “do nothing” urge

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Every now and then, a small task can feel like a huge accomplishment when you finally finish it. I feel accomplished, because last night I finally organized my kitchen’s junk drawer. Huzzah!

I know, I know. It’s a BIG deal.

I threw a lot of crap away, but mostly just sorted everything neatly into little baskets and an old bowl that fit in the drawer. Afterwards, I think I opened the drawer and admired the neatness no less than 5 times before I went to bed. And I looked at it again this morning before going to work, too. (Only once, though. I was running late.)

It’s so funny how proud I feel. It’s funny because I have been accomplishing so little in my personal life these days, so when I do finish something, it’s like woo-hoo, see? I’m not so lazy, after all!

I had a great idea but it requires $99. Plus tax. My idea is to take my beloved armchair out of the living room and replace it with a stationary bicycle. If I want to watch TV, I’ll have to watch it on the bike. I tend to flop down into that chair after work and keep on returning to it all night long. I slouch in that chair, too, since the cushions are getting flat and worn-out. And when I slouch, Gremlin continuously hops up onto my lap and kneads my fat belly. It’s not just that his claws hurt a little, and create tiny holes in my clothes… it’s the humiliation of having my cat bring my pot belly to my attention that bugs me the most! He never used to do this. But he’s been doing it ever since I became a lazy slug at night after work, almost every night.

What am I doing in that chair? Not just watching TV or movies. No, it’s the laptop that is my biggest time-suck. I sit there and play around online for hours. After sitting all day at work, for hours! WTF is the matter with me?

There’s no reason to spend as much time on Pinterest as I do. Or reading different news sites, almost obsessively, to always know the latest news. It’s stupid. I realize that. It’s just been too easy to do this, that’s the problem. What I have to do now is make it more of a hassle to sit and be a slug.

First thing: Move the laptop out of the living room. Throw away the shitty old laptop table that’s now somewhat unsteady thanks to years of use (and cats using it as a launching pad to jump across the room).

Re-arrange the furniture to break up the routine feel of the room. This is where I’d really loooooove to do the stationary bike thing. I won’t throw away the arm chair. I’ll just put it in the corner of my dining room, where it won’t be facing the TV. In fact, it’ll probably look nice in there if I set it up with the floor lamp to make it a little reading-area.

Sure, there’s always my couch, if I want to sit and watch something. But for whatever reason, the couch has never had the lure of the comfy armchair for me.

I just want to be more productive at night, you know? I want to clean and organize the house more frequently. I want to do a couple of paintings, and a couple of embroidery projects I’ve had in mind for awhile now. I want to finish my to-do list for the house (paint touch-ups, revamping my pantry so it’s more functional, etc) and use my Wii. Funny that I see playing video games as an activity, but I do, because I never, ever, use that thing for games. I own two games, and one of them is Just Dance. It sounds fun and I thought it could be a good way to get moving. I bought it in May, and have yet to play it once. This is so lame.

The other idea is to bring my treadmill out of the office and into the area between my dining room and living room (next to the place where my armchair is now). That way, I can walk on it when I watch TV. I’d do this because it won’t cost me any money to just move the one piece of exercise equipment from one room to another. However, I have never liked the idea of an ugly treadmill plopped down in the middle of the house like that. At least if I bought the exercise bike I have pinpointed as the one I want, it’s smaller and much more portable. I could move it out of there if I have people over or something. Moving the treadmill, however, will be nothing short of a grueling endeavor. I don’t have one of those folding models or anything, either. It’s a full-out standard treadmill.

Overall, I will work to make my comfortable routine that I’ve settled into a LOT less comfortable. I need to make even my relaxation time a little more challenging! I have to do this. If I keep going this way, I’ll be more unhealthy and overweight and my clothes will ALL have holes over the belly area from Gremlin.

If for no other reason, I’ve got to do this for my clothes’ sake!

A crucial point– time to make cutbacks

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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!

The junk drawer of blog posts

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A bunch of little things, rather than going into detail on one big thing:

* I completely cleaned up my home office over the past week; I got rid of all the boxes and junk that I’d let pile up forEVER and even broke open the big bin of arts and crafts stuff and sorted it all into neat, clearly-labeled boxes and smaller bins. Now, if I have the urge to paint something, or embroider a shirt, it’ll be so easy to just do it without digging through a huge mess, all jumbled together. I also hung curtains in my closet (I had the doors removed when I bought the house) and it looks totally cute now, because there are shelves and all the labeled boxes in there. I took “before” photos of the mess that room used to be, and just need to snap a few “after” photos. I did that for myself, my own motivation, so I would keep on working and get the whole room finished once and for all.

* I had my car windows tinted yesterday. It’s incredible what a difference it really does make. I already noticed my A/C doesn’t work as hard to get the car cooled down when I first get in, since it cools off so much faster now. Plus, a black car with sleek, dark windows? So freakin’ slick. I have one of those cars now. All sophisticated an’ shit.

* Tonight I am going to a party. I will only know a few people there, really, but this is all part of my plan to get out of my comfort zone and start venturing out into the world a bit more again. It’s way too easy to stay home alone or do my own thing, alone. I’m ready to give this a real, honest attempt.

* Tomorrow, my sister and I are going up north to hike our favorite trail in the world, the West Fork Trail in Oak Creek Canyon! It’s going to be so cool up there, so beautiful and peaceful. I cannot wait to get out of the city and be in the middle of nature again, even if it is only for a few hours. It has been much too long since I have done this.

* I have the best work friends ever. This morning, R decorated my cubicle in a specific theme and M made some cupcakes to celebrate my birthday. I took some photos on my phone, but this work computer doesn’t have the latest Adobe Flash updates so I can’t download them from the T-Mobile site here. I definitely think that explaining the theme without photos won’t really work. So I’ll do another post on it. I loved it so much, though. I love that my friends know me and play into my sense of humor. Even better is the whole thing perplexed a couple of older, humorless women in the office so far today. Heh.

* Moose now has three tricks down. He can sit, spin, and stand on his hind legs on command. It’s adorable as hell. Good god. That dog is cute. Every night he sleeps with me, curled up right against me. In the morning I have a hard time getting out of bed b/c he somehow moves into my arms overnight, so I have him up against my chest like a teddy bear when I wake up. Then Gremlin is there, too, either curled up against my head or plopped down right up against Moose, purring and rubbing his face on the blankets, my hands, Moose’s head, etc. all in an attempt to increase his adorableness-quotient exponentially until my heart explodes. AND then, Hurley usually hops up once he knows I am awake and proceeds to lick my face almost violently, tail wagging and face smiling. You might wonder where Simon usually is in all of this… well, he’s around. He’s just not big on “group hugs.” He prefers one on one time with me, on his own, where he can talk and get me to brush his back. 🙂

* I’m so gunshy when it comes to pulling the money trigger to get major house work done. I mean, I definitely need to get the exterior painted… it’s a matter of preservation and not just aesthetics and style; the wood is exposed and drying out the longer it bakes like that in the sun… but damn, I totally don’t want to lay the money out to do it. It could be almost $1,000 to do that. Yeeesh. I also need to get blinds in two of my west-facing windows (yes– west-facing windows in Mesa, AZ, where the sun beats directly on that side of the house all afternoon long) and I keep putting it off. Each blind will cost about $150 or so, and I would like to get them installed rather than me trying to do it myself. (I did that on the last two windows and it was a disaster, since the windowframes are brick, sheetrock AND metal, and it was impossible to find anchors that would not only go in but stay in… and on the second window, I ended up giving up and securing one corner of the blinds with Gorilla Glue. It worked, but it’s hardly the right way to do a job like that!) But, UGH. I want to keep my savings account for the little things that pop up year-round… have cushion if I might be close to overdrawing my checking account… rather than spend it in, like, two big chunks.

* I think I want to get some freelance work on the side. I’m worried about paying all my bills now that my car payment has more than doubled. My car insurance went up, too, with the Prius. Once more, I am really worried I’m living outside my means. It’s definitely, definitely time to finally cancel cable.

* That’s it! Time to finish up some work so I am not stuck staying late today. Have a good weekend, everyone. 🙂

I leave you with this total non-sequitar. Because this always makes me laugh really hard every time I see it on my hard drive:

Blowing the roof off

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My neighbors–the ones with the deformed rooster in their backyard– have been doing major repairs on their house over the past year. Last year, they got a new roof and A/C unit. Last month they got new windows. A couple weekends ago, they had new gravel installed in their front yard and it makes such a huge difference– their house is looking pretty great these days. I don’t know how they afford all of this, but maybe the business of raising deformed roosters pays off big? (They are retired.)

I guess now they are looking at MY house and thinking that I need to do repairs to mine, too. The other day, my neighbor knocked on my door with a shaggy-looking contractor guy, to talk to me about my roof. My roof is pretty ugly. It’s always losing shingles whenever there is a storm or high winds, and I have been getting letters and flyers on my front door from roof repair companies wanting my business. I know it’s one of the last remaining “old” roofs on my street, but I also know replacing a roof is expensive stuff.

Having my neighbor come over to try introduce his contractor/ handyman to me so the guy could maybe fix my roof was the last straw. Clearly, the universe is trying to tell me I need to address my roof issues. So that afternoon, I researched all of the companies who had contacted me and picked one that had the best record and good reviews online. I called, set up a time to have the roof guy come out to do a free estimate, and see if it was worth filing a home insurance claim.

(In October 2010, there was a massive storm here that damaged a lot of property… the winds were really powerful, and there was hail that, in some cases, was as big as tennis balls. I have friends who had to bring their cars in for body repair thanks to the hail that day. Anyway, my neighborhood was particularly hard-hit, and that’s why I have seen so damn many houses getting new roofs for the past year or so! Home insurance claims on that storm have to be filed within two years, so time was running out if I was going to claim damage from that storm… which I would be doing, since that’s when all the shingle-trouble started with me.)

Anyway, the roof guy told me it would be worth filing a claim b/c he saw storm damage up there, even on my A/C unit. So I filed a claim. The adjuster came out this afternoon and met the roof guy at my house to assess the situation.

Well, no new roof for me. The adjuster said the shingles are repairable, and replacement isn’t possible right now. This is a good thing, and a disappointing thing at the same time. I have a $1K deductible, and I wasn’t excited about laying that money down for a new roof… but the roofing company does have advertising agreements where, if you put a sign on your yard advertising their company for a certain period of time, they will pay $500 towards your deductible. So that’s pretty cool.

The new roofs around my house look so nice compared to my old roof. I was hopeful the value of my house could go up thanks to a new roof, and look better at the same time, but… oh well. Maybe in a few years’ time, when more storms damage the crap out of my roof, as I know they will.

For now I have to get someone out there to patch up and add replacement shingles to my roof, so I contacted the contractor who did a lot of work for me over the past couple of years to see if he could do it. (He’d repaired some of those shingles back in 2010, actually.) I’ll have him do a few other jobs, too, like install a new mailbox and some blinds for my kitchen and master bedroom.

I’ve asked him for an estimate for painting the exterior of my house, too. He once quoted me about $1,000, but I want to see if he can get it down closer to $600– I offered to do some of the painting myself if he can handle everything from the roofline up. (No way I’m getting on a super-tall ladder!) Now I’m just waiting to hear back from him. I’m anxious to get my house painted because yeah, it’s pretty ugly the way it is. The back is sun-bleached a lighter shade of tan than the sides of the house, and the sides are almost mustard-yellow– it’s a weird color. And the wood trim is drying out so bad because it needs the protective coating of paint. It just looks old, and drab, and sloppy. Aside from the roof, I think paint would make the most significant improvement to the exterior.

We’ll see what he says. In the meantime, I need to get back to writing now that a lot of the roof stuff is resolved. It was bugging me. I even dreamed about a new roof. This is not acceptable. I need dreams with hot guys and vacations and things like that.

I can watch “Get a Life” whenever I want, because I live alone!

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In a classic episode of “Get a Life,” Chris begins to stalk a woman named Tricia after she helps him when he’s hit by a car while riding his bike. She not only sets his broken leg right then and there, but she also pulls out a welder’s mask and fixes his bike. She’s a genius, “at least according to those silly tests, anyway.” Chris is smitten, and follows her to her job at a fancy science lab.

It’s here where he enters a chamber that contains radioactive materials, by accident. When Tricia finally pulls him out of there, he announces with pure satisfaction: “Hey, my sour stomach is gone!”

And here’s where I finally make my point: I want my own sour stomach to go away!

This past year or so, I’ve noticed that my stomach is more sensitive than ever to certain foods and drinks. I’m also more easily nauseated while doing intense physical activity over a sustained period of time. I have had quite a few bouts of nausea and vomiting this year. I don’t remember throwing up in the past as much as I do now. It sucks so much, because throwing up sucks so much. I hate it and I probably will need to sort it out somehow, at some point.

What I mean by “sort it out” is, of course, see a doctor about the problem. I don’t want to be bothered right now with that, though. It’s not a daily issue or anything I can’t live with. It’s just an annoyance and something to keep an eye on at this point, I guess. I’m not too worries because I know our bodies change over time and our tolerances for certain substances can diminish, and this is a normal thing. I’m just still figuring out what I can’t tolerate anymore, one puke-scenario at a time.

(I threw up yesterday after doing yard work for about three straight hours, and I’d only eaten a bowl of oatmeal and my usual daily fruit smoothie. The combo of overexertion in the heat — it did get hot out there as the day went on — and not eating enough was what brought it on, I think. I felt lightheaded, too, so that’s kind of the giveaway.)

I stumbled upon an intriguing website and FB community today: Quirky Alone.  It’s for all the people who live by themselves, and the many joys and indulgences that we sometimes take for granted. And of course, it talks about how people who live alone develop quirky behaviors and habits. I like this site, because it celebrates the coolness and uniqueness that comes with living alone. I don’t like it when someone insinuates that I might be lonely, or that my choice to remain single is unhealthy in some way, or abnormal. I’m surrounded by women who are either in relationships or are married, and that’s fine. For them. Hey, if they found happiness with someone, that’s terrific and I’m not looking at them in a negative light in any way. Everyone would love to find that someone to be with, really. It’s hardwired into our nature to seek out a mate. HOWEVER…

…the women who are fixated on relationships, on being social all the damn time, the ones who passive-aggressively talk about the joys of living with someone… they really annoy the shit out of me. Fortunately I have weeded out most of them, because why deal with that crap if I don’t have to? But it still happens in social settings, or in neutral places like the office, or in stores if you chat up the cashier, etc. I don’t appreciate someone trying to make me feel “less than” because of my choice to be alone. Whether they mean to do it, or not. So, I practice avoidance! And it’s very effective.

Now with this Quirky Alone site, I see that I’m actually part of a weird little community of eccentric people, and I like it! I love how people share the strange habits they do, or the things they would never do around other people but do while living alone because they can.

I’ve wondered off and on how it might feel to live with someone again, in the future. And it worries me. I don’t know that I’d want to go back to co-habitation after all this time of independence. Here is my list of main benefits to having someone else live with me:

1) Split the bills! Yippee yahoo!

2) We could team up in case of attack or invasion (equals a better chance at surviving)

3) Someone would do half the housework. Instead of me doing all of it, all the damn time.

4) Someone could be home to let the dog out after a long day if I am running late.

But the downsides of co-habitation for me, right now, would be:

1) Having to share my bed with someone. I don’t want to sleep in the same room as someone else on a regular basis, no matter how much I might love him. In fact, true love in my book would understand the importance of separate bedrooms. I want to snore, spread out, sleep with the cat on the other pillow, and hog all the covers. I don’t need to deal with some other person in there at THAT time. Just let me sleep how I sleep, damn it.

2) TV watching/ music listening becomes a team activity. You have to find things to agree on to watch/listen to at any given time. Someone might tease you for sitting there watching Dorian Gray for the eleventy-hundred time, or you might have to wait for them to watch 5 hours of Top Gear before you get to catch up on your DVRed episode of Once Upon a Time. Nah… I have been so spoiled by having 100% control over the remote, and I don’t want to give it back!

3) Arguing or feeling unspoken remorse or resentment because of the other person not doing/ doing something they were supposed to/ not supposed to be doing. Like if one person stays out pretty late without calling, or forgets to unload the dishwasher, or doesn’t get around to fixing that leaky hose they said they’d fix, damn it… See? It could be miserable. For both people.

4) The very real fear that someone could be allergic to my pets, or worse– not get along with them. Sorry, if it becomes a “either they go or I go” situation, guess who has to pack his bags, chump? You. Not them.

5) SHARING THINGS. Like a bowl of popcorn. Or a headcold. Everything eventually becomes community property, and that would take some getting used to for me. Everything I have is all mine right now. Mine. I’m like a little kid that gets all the toys in the playbox for herself. 

So, at the moment, I am content with my life and how I live it. Sure, there are lonely times, and sometimes I am scared because I am alone and I hear a weird noise outside, but the OTHER times far outweigh any of that. I never used to understand what my Mom meant when she said she was happy living on her own and didn’t feel the need to date anyone.

Now I do. This realization is either good, or bad, depending on how I look at it on any given day. I don’t want to wind up like my Mom had been for years, just sitting in her house all day with nothing to do. But on the other hand, to reach that sense of peace that comes with relaxing and being yourself 24/7 without interruptions is definitely worth having.

I like the calm center in the middle of my life. I like not feeling an urgency to join up with someone else. It works for me. And I think finding the thing that works for you is so important, and it does take some time.

Yesterday, I was glad to deal with my nausea alone without someone else being in my house. I hate throwing up in the vicinity of other people so much! Because I never want to be around anyone else who is throwing up… why would I be OK with letting someone be nearby when I do it?!  It was just one of those times where I was grateful to be alone. I showered, got into comfy clothes with no bra on, and relaxed all night before going to bed early. (The only thing that bugged me was I missed having dinner with my family last night as a result of the nausea, and when I pictured them enjoying dinner without me, I felt lonely/jealous.)  

So, there are some overall pros and cons to living alone, yeah. Sometimes it sucks a little–like when emergencies happen and you have to call someone to come help you. Sometimes it’s crazy-fun– like when you blast your favorite music and rock out in your horrible clothes and sing really loud as you dance around the kitchen. Either way, it’s the life I have chosen and the life I will continue to choose for quite some time to come, I think. It would take a really, really exceptional individual to make me change my mind about living with someone. And I ain’t holding my breath for that.

Whatever comes my way, comes my way, and that’s all I want to do about it! I’ll see where life takes me. 🙂

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!”

 

 

Breaking in the 4th belt notch

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I’ve had a super busy week… at work, anyway. Lots of articles coming in that needed copious amounts of editing; three articles I had to write myself (and I have only gotten two of the three completed so far!); meetings, emails, phone calls and various interruptions slowing me down… at least Friday got here relatively quick this week.

Yesterday I had to stay home. I’ve got a strange kind of cold or something that’s causing lots of congestion but not a lot of mucus. I know that’s kind of gross, but it’s true. I can’t seem to get the congestion OUT. I don’t even know where it all is, exactly. Mostly my sinuses, for sure, but I think it’s moved to my chest, too. It blows. I’m sure I’ll feel better soon, once it works its way out of my system, but in the meantime, blehhhh.

I do think I’d be even sicker if I weren’t eating healthier. I know how I get, and how my upper respiratory infections typically run their course, and if this is the worst of it, I can take it. It’s just got me feeling really exhausted and, well, I am a mouth-breather right now. I have Breathe-Right strips and they’ve definitely helped me sleep at night.

Last weekend I did paint my bathroom, at last. And it came out well! I also painted my three bedroom doors, but it looks like I need a third coat of paint on them. I bought a small roller because that might help me make the coat even. It’s not easy painting dark wood doors white. I know the primer helped, but it’s still ridiculous how much work it can be. I’ve often wished that I’d just bought new slabs and had them installed… they’re usually already primed and would probably only need one or two coats. But whatever. This is cheaper. I’m still using the same cans of primer and trim paint I’ve been using for everything else in the house, so I haven’t had to buy anything but new door hardware. I cheaped out on getting new hinges, though. I have left the ‘aged bronze’ hinges alone, just painting carefully around them. Way easier. Plus, it would be super difficult to re-hang a door by myself, let alone three doors.

This weekend I want to get a lot accomplished again. I want to finish those doors and get the hardware up in the bathroom. I have a new towel rack and TP holder from IKEA, and my sister’s giving me one of her shower curtains. Next, I want to move my clothes into the new dressers. I need to put a new lightbulb in my closet and pull up more weeds and spray the rest. Finally, there’s the usual vacuuming and dusting bullshit to be done.

I wish I’d had the energy to do some of this stuff yesterday when I stayed home. I didn’t even leave the house once. In fact, I didn’t even get dressed. It was lame. What a waste of perfectly good time. Feeling sick definitely sucks.

I didn’t lose any new weight this week, probably because I’ve been having some bad food again. I’m already working on ‘resetting’ my habits so I don’t get tempted to have stuff like chocolate and pizza. I did well with pasta this week, only having it a couple of times and when I did, it was a small amount. Fortunately, I haven’t gained anything back… so I still feel good about what I’m doing. Today I was able to use the 4th notch on my belt, which is a first. This belt is totally worn out around the 2nd notch. I’ve started to wear out the 3rd notch, but that 4th hole has never been used. It was actually tough to get the prong through there! But it’s where the belt needed to be to hold my pants up. It’s such a cool feeling having loose pants. Even if it does mean I need to cinch everything up with belts, and it probably doesn’t look that nice, either. I am waiting a little longer before I buy new pants. I did find a brand-new pair of size 12 jeans with the tag still on them, hidden in the bottom of one of my drawers. I’m at 14 right now (down from 16, my all-time high), and I’m excited to be back in size 12s. It’s been at least 3 or 4 years since I’ve been that size!

I saw the coolest thing on Pinterest the other day—take two glass jars, and label them “pounds lost” and “pounds to go” and then get the number of marbles that would represent how much weight you want to lose:

Ideally, I want to lose a total of 50 pounds, beginning from my original weight. That will get me to my ideal weight for my height. So, I want to get 50 marbles and throw 13 in the “pounds lost” jar to keep me visually motivated and reminded of the changes I have made each day! How awesome it could be to watch the marbles gradually all move to the other jar… It just seems like a fun idea.

I’ve finally begun to feel serious about the weight loss part of this. I’ve had great success with reducing migraines and feeling more focused when I am working, so my primary goal is already happening! Now, I can shift some dedicated focus to the next phase, which is shrinking myself. I haven’t wanted to get too wrapped up in the weight loss side of this, but it’s kind of tough not to, when you see your clothes are fitting different and people are commenting that you look thinner. It’s exciting! The last time anyone mentioned “hey, did you lose weight?” I was in high school. In my experience, the best way to lose weight is to not obsess about it, but just have it happen as a side-effect of doing something else that’s good for you. Senior year of high school, I lost weight because I started being active in gym class every day (I had the goofiest friends to mess around with, and by senior year, the gym teachers didn’t care if we played the games properly or not, so we ran around making up our own rules and acting like morons) and I had my first serious boyfriend, and when I thought of him, I got butterflies in my stomach and honestly couldn’t eat a lot. I still remember that feeling of just taking a few bites of something and being like, “ugh, that’s enough” and running off to do whatever I was gonna do next. I went down to 120 pounds that year and I looked and felt amazing—and it all happened without me trying. I mean, OMG, look at me, for Christ’s sake! How the hell was this ME?! This is the result of not giving a shit about eating, and running around like a complete spazz all the time? Interesting:

So, I am taking that approach again, for the most part. I don’t have a passionate love affair going on right now, but I can get out and enjoy the nice weather more and keep busy so I don’t have lots of time to just sit and eat a pile of food. I think over the years, I definitely got into the boredom-eating thing. Or rewarding myself with something bad or a huge dinner after a stressful day. But when I stop to think about this, it’s surprising how illogical that is. So you had a bad day, and you want to comfort yourself. But what’s the deal with comforting yourself with crap?! Why wouldn’t you treat yourself to something totally good for you; something that will actually make you feel better from the inside out? Now, I am beginning to want a healthy, fresh juice when I am stressed out. I don’t want to jinx it, but yeah, it’s happening.

“Because it tastes good” isn’t enough anymore. A lot of things taste good. But the taste part only lasts a few seconds when the food is in your mouth. The rest of its time is spent being broken down by the digestive system, with your organs searching for the nutrients to process and instead being hit with massive amounts of sugar, salt, fat, chemicals, etc. I’m surprised people don’t have fucked-up pancreas more often, for instance. Those things work overtime thanks to the crap we eat. And that’s just one organ that’s doing things it wasn’t built for, evolution-wise. Once you start thinking logically about what food is, and learn what the human body actually needs, all this stuff starts making sense.

I know I am talking about this a lot. I know it’s because it’s been a huge change in the way I live, so it’s kind of a big deal on my mind these days. I’m still trying not to be pushy or preachy about it, though… well, not in person, anyway! I’m still going out to eat with friends and family, and I’m not just ordering the salad every time. I don’t want to be one of those people who apparently want a medal for eating healthy. (How many vegetarians do you know who like to brag about tofu and weird vegetables and that they haven’t had meat in three years, ad nauseum? I know more than a few, myself.) I just want to do my thing, not get any shit for it, and that’s the end of it.

Actually, that’s all I want for life, in general. Don’t we all? 🙂

(PS: I still have that prom dress. Wouldn’t it be rad to be able to pose in it one more time? Maybe I will!)