Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Feeling Grinchy

I normally love the holiday season. It makes me happy to decorate my house, and send out Christmas cards, and sing along with holiday music. Not this year. And I think it's because we sort of had Christmas ripped out from under us. It was already going to be a tight year, but we've had tight years every year we've been together, and we always manage to come up with a little money to get each other something. Then we had to get a new car. And while I'm very, VERY grateful that we were able to do that, it forced a reworking of our budget that will not allow for any Christmas gifts this year. As it is, I'm holding my breath to see if my Christmas bonus will be enough to cover J's spring classes. If it's not, I'll have to tighten the budget even further. Sigh...it's just frustrating. I'm too old to be this broke!

I know I have a lot of good in my life. And, for the most part, I couldn't care less about material things. The part I enjoy about the holidays is finding and giving the perfect gift, and I won't be able to do that this year. That's what makes me feel Grinchy. And then I feel guilty for being so selfish, which makes me even more Grinchy. Rinse and repeat.

Maybe I'll get lucky and something will happen between now and Christmas that will snap me out of this funk.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Update

Well, I fell off the face of the earth, didn't I? Sorry about that. Things have been stressful around here, and when life is like that, I tend to do what I call "turtling." I pull my arms and legs close, tuck my head down, and try to let life pass me by. Sometimes it works; sometimes I end up a spinning shell in the middle of a busy highway. Don't worry, though, it's nothing serious.

Our car died. (Ok, maybe it's a *little* serious.) We were really hoping to make that car - a 2000 Ford Escort with 125K miles - last another six months or so, but the transmission started giving us trouble. Since we'd already replaced the transmission once, and since the car had other issues, it just didn't make sense to do it again. So when J. was driving it and the first two gears disappeared, we decided it was time to make a switch.

Granted, we weren't really prepared to buy a new car. With my credit history, which includes two repossessions (gotta love what divorce does to your credit!), I had to take what I could get. I was able to qualify for a last-chance program through a local Ford dealership. They got us into a 2004 Ford Taurus with reasonable payments for only 27 months. The plan is to keep the Taurus for 18 months and then, since I'll have good car credit history, trade it in on a new car.

One problem: the Taurus is leaking oil. We weren't thrilled with the fact that it had 120K miles on it, but it's in overall good shape, and it was the only car they had that I qualified for, so we didn't have much choice. And then it started leaking oil. Thank God the dealership is doing the right thing and fixing it for us (it doesn't hurt that my dad has worked for this dealer for 30+ years). So right now my "new" car is in the shop and I'm driving a loaner. Sigh.

Other than the car thing, J. has been really stressed about school. He's got three weeks left, and there's a 50/50 chance he's going to fail one or two of his classes. He's worked really hard, and I think he'll end up passing both of the ones he's worried about, but we just don't know for sure. If he passes both those classes, he would still need to take a 4-hour winter term class to be eligible for financial aid in the spring. Which means he would have no break between semesters. Plus, after having to buy a new car, we don't have the money to pay for the winter term tuition and book. After talking about it for the better part of a week, I put my foot down and told him that he's not taking the winter term class. He needs a break. *I* need a break, because when he's stressed, it stresses me (not healthy, I know...not sure how to fix that problem, though). That means that we won't get any financial aid until the fall semester, but we'll figure things out. If I get a new job with better pay, that will help loosen the financial noose we're in now that we have a car payment.

Oh, didn't I mention that I'm job-hunting? Yeah. As if I didn't have enough on my plate, right? After talking with a good friend who has a similar background and work history as I do, I've realized that I'm making a LOT less money than I should be. Like, $9,000-$18,000 less than I should be. I know that the only way I'm going to get a significant raise in my current position is if I get promoted, which will be a ton of added responsibility, including being on-call 24/7. Why on earth would I do that if I can make a "lateral" move (in terms of title) and make more money? So I've been putting my resume out there. I had a call the day after I posted my resume on Monster, but the job wasn't offering enough money, so I didn't even schedule an interview. Haven't had any more nibbles yet, but I'm continuing to apply for positions, and I've got two friends who are professional recruiters looking at my resume.

Phew! With all this going on, and the fact that there will be zero dollars for Christmas presents, (my Christmas bonus will go to pay for J's spring classes), we've decided to skip Christmas this year. We're not dressing the house, and we're just going to avoid the whole thing as much as possible. It makes me a little sad, since I had some good ideas for presents for J and my mom, but overall I like the idea of having a low-key holiday season. I just don't need the added stress this year. Sad that I equate stress with the holidays, but we all know that stress is an inevitable part of the season.

So...I guess it's not surprising that I got off track with my Days of Thanks project. But while I've been turtling, I've had some time to think about being thankful. Here are some of my thoughts: I'm thankful that my in-laws were willing to help us make the down payment on our new car. I'm thankful that we are able to make a car payment, even if it does make our budget really tight. I'm thankful that J is devoted enough to his education to stress when things aren't going well. I'm thankful that I have the ability to give him the opportunity to go to school. I'm thankful that I have the ability to look for another job. I'm thankful to be healthy and happy. I'm thankful to be married to the perfect man for me, and to have a real partner with whom to share my life.

I may be stressed, and I may pull into my shell from time to time, but I know that my life is blessed. Now, if only I'd won the PowerBall jackpot...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 14 - This Blog

It's hard to be thankful every day! Wait...rewind that...being thankful isn't the hard part; writing a post every day is difficult. It's important to me that my posts be thought out and (at least somewhat) eloquent. I'm lucky enough to have a few people who follow this blog, and I want their time reading it to be well-spent. But I have a job, and a husband, and a life, and it's easy to go days or even weeks without devoting some time to my writing.

Today I'm thankful for the opportunity to write this blog, and for the people who read it and leave me comments. I've said before, and it's still true, that I write this blog for me. I needed a space where I could explore my thoughts, but I wanted it to be available to others. I guess, ultimately, I hope for feedback, even though I don't necessarily write for anyone but myself. Does that make any sense? I hope so. If you're reading this, even if you don't leave comments, please know that I'm thankful for you (although I hope you'll let me know you're out there). 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 13 - In-Laws

I am so thankful to have in-laws who have truly made me a part of the family. They have accepted me as a daughter, and I have come to love them dearly. Having a second family who accepts me for who I am (even more than my own family does) was such an unexpected - and wonderful - bonus of falling in love with J!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Days 9-12

Whoops, I got a little behind. Let's catch up, shall we?

DAY 9 - I'm thankful for my job. I may not make as much money as some, but I have a great boss from whom I'm learning a lot, and my coworkers are wonderful. I'm thankful for the career I've had so far, for the opportunities I've been granted, and for the (hopefully) happy endeavor I will undertake in the new year.

DAY 10 - Some are busy, some are quiet; they're all far too short. I'm so thankful for weekends!

DAY 11 - I'm thankful for all the men and women (and canines) who have served our country. It is an honor to know some of them, and it is a blessing to go to sleep each night knowing our interests are protected by so many I will never meet.

DAY 12 - I know this will surprise some of you, but I'm not always perfect. Today I'm thankful for forgiveness. Forgiving someone who has wronged me feels good to both of us, and I believe it is good for my well-being. Hatred and bitterness only hurt the one who feels them, and what's the point of that? Better to forgive and move on. Receiving forgiveness, whether the betrayal was large or small, intentional or accidental, apologized for or not, is the greatest gift one can receive. I'm thankful to have been humbled enough to know when to ask for forgiveness, and I'm grateful to all those who have granted it.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 8 - Random

I'm thankful for coffee, especially on a cool, crisp morning.

I'm thankful that the election cycle is over and the mudslinging will (hopefully) stop for a while.

I'm thankful for Texas cold fronts.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to rebuild a friendship based on 20+ years of history.

I'm thankful for fall traditions, especially pumpkin carving, high school football, and apple cider.

I'm thankful for anticipation: Christmas is coming!

I'm thankful for bacon, fresh pineapple, and chocolate chip pancakes with real whipped cream.

I'm thankful for my wonderful, handsome, growing-up-too-fast godson.

I'm thankful that I have the ability to love so much it hurts.

I'm thankful for those who foster animals and those who work with animal rescue.

I'm thankful for fuzzy blankets and good books on rainy days.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 7 - Quitting

It's been a month since I had a cigarette.

Wow...that feels *so* good!!! The first few days were really hard, and I wondered if I was going to get to the one-month mark without slipping up. I am so thankful that I had the strength and willpower to get through those cravings and make it to this point.

So how do I feel? I rarely cough in the mornings anymore, I'm breathing better, and I've stopped wheezing. My sense of smell seems to be improving, too. Overall, I don't notice a huge difference in how I feel physically. Mostly it's a mental change; I've gotten to the point where I don't think about cigarettes as much as I did in the beginning, which is very nice.

I'm still not ready to call myself a former smoker, but I'm very, very thankful to be one month into being one.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6 - Freedom

I may not always be proud to be an American, but I'm damn sure thankful to be one. See, it's difficult for me to be proud of my country when the rest of the world sees us as meddlesome, arrogant fools. In many cases, I think we *are* meddlesome, arrogant fools. We worry more about our children seeing a woman breastfeeding than we do about them watching violent movies. We try to legislate morality, instead of parenting our children, including teaching them our values. We judge others instead of looking in the mirror. We spend our time watching reality tv and coveting the celebrity lifestyle instead of using that time to help others.

Ah, but I've gotten off topic a bit...

Today is Election Day in the United States. By the end of the day today, we will have chosen our next President. Will our current President win another term, or will there be a changing of the guard? I don't know, but I'm so happy to be a part of the process. I cast my vote on a peaceful Saturday morning, surrounded by other men and women eager to have their voices heard. After the election, there will be no civil war, no rioting in the streets; some will be happy and some will not, but life in America will go on tomorrow much the same as it was yesterday.

I may not often be proud to count myself among 21st-century Americans, but I'm thankful to live here, where I am free to form an opinion and speak it aloud. I am free to choose what I wear, whom I will marry, where I will work and live. I believe we have a long way to go towards ensuring true freedom, which must include equal rights for everyone. But we have come a long way, and we make progress with each passing day. And that is something for which I am very, very thankful.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 5 - Chocolate

Over the weekend, I went to Costco. Costco makes me happy, even though I spend a fortune every time I go. This time, it made me extra happy, because I found the most amazing candy I've ever eaten: milk chocolate sea-salt caramels. Oh. Em. Gee. These things are so, so, so yummy! One is satisfying, but I could seriously eat them until I was sick. That's how good they are.

Sigh...I'm one of those people who think chocolate should be its own food group. It may seem trivial to say that I'm thankful for chocolate, but how could I *not* be thankful for such a delicious food that also has health benefits?

Excuse me...the candy bowl is calling...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 4 - Friends

I've always been a very social person, and enjoy being surrounded by friends. I've been lucky to develop some strong and enduring friendships from school, jobs, and even from online forums. I am so thankful for these wonderful people, the ones who have my back when I need support, and who are there (even if it's only virtually) to celebrate my successes with  me. It's a true blessing to be able to say, "My computer is broken," and have a friend that I haven't seen in a year say, "I can fix it." That's real friendship, and I am so wonderfully lucky to have so many good friends in my life.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 3 - The Internet

I'm thankful for the internet, which has given me a way to share my voice, a group of fantastic friends I've never have otherwise met, and a giggle every time I need it. If you need a giggle, check out this series of photos from Cute Overload.






Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 2 - Life

Life isn't easy. We all know that, but the more enlightened among us realize that some have harder roads than others. My life hasn't been charmed, but I haven't faced the challenges that some people have. In some areas, I've been lucky. I was dealt a good hand and worked hard to make up the difference. Other times, I had to struggle just to make it from one day - or minute - to the next. Either way, I've tried to make it a point to learn from what I've experienced.
So here I am: at least a little more than the sum of my parts, I hope. Who I am - the compassionate, loyal, honest, sarcastic, optimistic, loving person I believe myself to be - is a direct result of everything I've been through. I'm pretty happy; how could I regret the experiences that brought me to this point?
Of course, there are things I want to work on. I want to get some money saved. I want to lose weight. I want to continue being a non-smoker (26 days today!). But look at all that is good in my life right now: I wake up each morning and feel well. I have an amazing husband who adores me. I have a job that supports J and me. There is a roof over my head and food on my plate. I have a network of friends who shore me up when I need it, and who celebrate with me when the occasion arises. I am blessed!
When things are hard, I will remember that every situation is temporary, and I will trust that things will get better. And every day, I will remind myself to be so thankful for my crazy, wonderful life.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1 - A Month of Thanks - Leaders Who Hug

Now that Halloween is over, it's time to start thinking about the winter holidays, but before the madness of Christmas descends, I think it's important to focus on Thanksgiving - not on turkey and pumpkin pie, but on giving thanks.  

Beginning today, I'll post about something I'm thankful for each day. Hope some of you will join me in this endeavor - I'd love to hear what you're thankful for, either in the comments or on your own blog!

Today: I'm thankful for leaders who hug.



Monday, October 22, 2012

How Much is Too Much?

I love journals. Pretty, fun, funky, pristine books, just waiting to be filled with my (admittedly atrocious) handwriting. My most intimate thoughts. I inevitably write for a few days, then stop, then write in fits for a few days here and there, and then the journal ends up in a drawer or box somewhere in my house. Rinse and repeat.

This blog began as a new kind of journal for me. I thought I might write more if I could type instead of writing. I thought it might encourage me to say the things I wanted to say, if I could publish them (relatively) anonymously. Then the blog evolved, and it's no longer anonymous. Not that I have any great following; in fact, I'm only sure of one person who reads regularly. But that's not the point.

There are things I'd like to write about, things that are dark and painful. I'd like to release some of that ugliness from my heart and mind, even if that means putting it back out into the universe. But, even for a ridiculously open person like me, it's too personal to write on an open blog. It might be too personal to write on a blog at all. I haven't decided yet.

I'm thinking about taking this blog private. In some ways, I like the idea. I can write what I want, and control who has access to it. But part of the reason I want to write about some of the ugly things I've experienced is the hope that I can help someone. If the blog is private, no random person will ever be able to read it. So, then, what's the point? And, if I'm writing it just for me, why allow anyone to read it? Why not just keep a hand-written journal and release these experiences there?

Sigh...what do you think? How much is too much for a public blog?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Call Me a Quitter

It's been 12 days since I had a cigarette.

I'm not ready to call myself a non-smoker yet, and in fact I think it'll be a very long time before I'm ready to say that. I'm superstitious, you know, and I quit for a year once before (when I was 25). Maybe when I get to 18 months I'll feel ok saying I'm a former smoker. We'll see.

But I'm starting to feel like I've really quit smoking. Don't get me wrong - I'm still having cravings, and it's still hard as hell to get through them sometimes, especially when I'm stressed. It feels good, though, to have gotten through every craving for 12 days without a single slip-up. And every day that passes is easier than the one before it, because I sure don't want to have to start the clock all over again.

So...yeah...I guess you can call me a quitter.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's a Weird One, Charlie Brown

Today is a weird day.

My cravings are better, but I still *reeeeeeeeally* want a cigarette.

J. is having a meltdown because the cable is out in our bedroom and office. I think the boxes just need to be reset, but he's convinced that our service has been disconnected, even though the living room tv is working just fine. Sigh. I'll deal with that when I get home, I guess.

I want to figure out when The Great Pumpkin is going to be on tv, but I always forget to look. Last year, I missed it altogether, and it's my favorite Charlie Brown movie!

Someone just turned in a $100 bill that was dropped in the hallway right outside our office. If no one claims it by end of day tomorrow, I'm going to split it with my coworker. I'm crossing my fingers that no one claims it, but also hoping that whoever dropped it won't be too devastated by the loss of $100.

I still really want a cigarette.

Sigh.

Is it time to go home yet?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On the Clock

3 days, 6 hours, and 34 minutes...

That's how long it's been since I've had a cigarette.

Yesterday, and all of this morning, it was pretty much all I could think about. My coworker came into the office after smoking, and it smelled so good. But I resisted. This afternoon, I don't feel irritable and the craving isn't as strong. Mostly I just feel tired and glad that it's almost time to go home.

One of the hardest parts about this is that I don't *want* to quit smoking. I *like* smoking. Purely for health reasons, I've wanted to quit for the last two years, but I just didn't have the balls to do it. I'd dance around it, make plans, etc., but I never made a serious effort. After the health scare I had this past week, it has to be done.

Every time I have a bad craving, I remind myself how afraid I was when I was driving to the doctor on Monday, thinking that I had two blood clots in my arm. How I thought for sure he was going to hospitalize me, and I was going to have to have an IV - which is pretty much the scariest idea in the world to me. Remembering that fear has gotten me through the worst of the cravings, and I hope it will continue to do so.

As much as I enjoy smoking, and I don't want to quit, I'm ready. I want to call myself a former smoker. I want to get to the 1 week mark...the 1 month mark...the 1 year mark.

3 days, 6 hours, and 47 minutes...

Friday, September 28, 2012

What do you think?

Disgusting or brilliant Halloween costume?


Thursday, September 27, 2012

In Our Home...

Yup, this pretty much sums up how things work in my home.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On Moving

Back in May, when my mom suggested that J. and I move in with her, September seemed a long way off. But as it tends to do, time flies, and here we are: five days post-move.

I should say first that I have the greatest husband ever. Even though he's in his first semester with four classes, and has a ton of studying to do, he did the vast majority of the prep work and packing. It works out: I hate packing and he hates unpacking, so we each take charge of the one we prefer.

Second, moving is a real pain in the ass.

T-1 day until move (Wednesday): J. took off school. I left work at noon. We went to mom's and got some furniture moved around. Went back to the apartment and finished packing. Got to talking about how we'd be ready for the movers a lot earlier than expected (they were scheduled for noon), so called them and rescheduled for 9 am.

Moving day (Thursday): Up at 5 am. Corralled all three cats with only a little bit of bloodshed and cursing. Loaded the car with clothes and miscellaneous stuff we didn't want the movers to take. J. dropped me at mom's to wait for the cable guy. Appointment was between 7 am and 8 am. Cable guy called at 8 am and said he's 30 minutes away; he finally showed up at 8:45 am. Meanwhile, J. waited at the apartment for the movers, who arrived right on time. They finished loading around 10:30 am and got to the house around 11. Movers and cable guy both finished about noon. 15 minutes after they left, it started pouring rain. Spent the rest of the day situating furniture and unpacking a little.

The day after (Friday): Mom had zero groceries in the house, so she and I went shopping while J. went to clean the old apartment. $295 later, we had a fully stocked kitchen. Met J. at the house and got all the boxes into the proper rooms so I could unpack them. Worked on unpacking boxes all afternoon.

T+2 days after (Saturday): J. organized the garage, and I unpacked the last few boxes.

T+3 days after (Sunday): Hung all our wall hangings and tried to settle in.

Monday I went back to work. Could have used one more day off, but that's always the case. I think we're going to like living with mom. She's a little bit smothering at times, but I'm good at setting boundaries, and she's good at accepting them. All our kitchen stuff is still in boxes, and we have to go through mom's cabinets and our boxes and decide what to keep/store/sell at our garage sale. The next few weeks are busy for J. and I, so I'm not sure when we'll get to that, but I don't really care. The boxes are out of the way, so they can sit for a while before they start to bother me.

It feels good to be settling in to a new place, one that will hopefully be our home for a very long time. I think we're going to be happy here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thoughts on Quitting

I started smoking when I was 15. I quit for a year when I was about 25, then (stupidly) picked up the habit again. Now I'm 36, and I'm quitting.

Or, at least, I'm trying to.

I downloaded an app for my phone that keeps track of how long it's been since you've had a cigarette.

It's been 7 hours and 23 minutes.

The only thing keeping me from smoking right now is that I desperately don't want to have to reset the app.

Sigh...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friends, Regardless

I've been having really vivid, really bad dreams lately. Dreams where J. tells me that he doesn't love me, that he never loved me. Dreams that are even worse than that. When I drag myself out of bed after one of these nightmares, I follow my usual routine: coffee, cigarette, check the same sites I read every day. One of the first places I visit is the RAoK (that's Random Acts of Kindness, to those not in the know) forum on Amazon. I joined up with this group just after I got my Kindle for Christmas, and I cannot say enough about how wonderful it is!

It's nice to get presents for no reason, and being a regular at RAoK means that happens, but that's not why I keep going back. Just in the last seven months, I've found that this is a group of true friends. And it's not the first time this has happened to me. Back in 2002, I was participating in the Child-Free By Choice forum on iVillage. When R.J. and I got married, I joined the Happily Married forum, where I met some of the most amazing women! I'm pleased to say that some of these women have become real friends, and one of them I would count among my closest friends, even though we've never met in real life.

The internet is a fantastic thing, giving us the opportunity to make and keep in touch (in real time) with friends who live a state, a continent, even an ocean away. It doesn't matter that I've never seen these women in person, they are my friends. I hope that someday I get to Denver to meet R., to Dayton to meet D., to Philadelphia to meet H., to Ontario to meet L., and even to a tiny town in Norway to meet (the other) L. I'm sure that (if) when it happens, we'll be nervous, and then we'll pick up right where we left off in the virtual world.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life and Death

I'm too young to be tired of funerals, and yet I am. In my life, I've buried four great-grandparents, three grandparents, and five friends. In the three years J. and I have been together, we've attended two funerals and zero weddings. How sad is that?

I'm thinking about this because a woman who was a close friend and like a second mom to me for many years suffered a burst aneurysm on Sunday and is now fighting for her life. She has a 50% chance of survival. It hurts my heart: for her, for her family, which includes two grandbabies and one on the way, and for myself. Even though we aren't close anymore, I love her dearly, and the idea of her dying breaks my heart.

I know that death is a part of life. I know that  most people wouldn't want to live forever, even if they could. And most of the time, I'm okay with that. Today, though...not so much.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Falling Together

Marisa de los Santos has become one of my favorite authors. I loved her first two books, Love Walked In and Belong To Me, and I eagerly awaited her new book, Falling Together. I was not disappointed. I think part of the reason I love this author so much is because her background is in poetry, and she has a way of phrasing things that really hits home with me. Below are some quotes I pulled from Falling Together. These lines each struck a chord deep within me, so I wanted to share them.

"...no matter what happens, loving someone to the best of your ability is exactly the right thing to do. It's the only thing to do."

"You must stop measuring - over and over - the line between loving and being in love."

"...sometimes there is nothing to do but surrender yourself to wonder."

This is my favorite passage from the book:

"And I'm not just talking about love. I mean any kind of love. You don't mess around. You don't walk away. You can't."

"Can't. Can't is hardcore."

"It's what we're here for," explained Pen. "It's what we're for."

I believe this with all my heart: love is the purpose of our lives. Some people live that in a big way, giving their lives over to charity and serving others. And some people don't live it at all; instead they search for meaning in titles, money, and material things. But the people who get the most out of their lives are those who love deliberately, who choose to love their spouse, children, families, and/or friends completely and unconditionally.

I never wanted to be famous. I don't need to have an important job title or make a lot of money or have the whole world know my name. I believe that my purpose is to be J.'s wife, and to love him with all that I am, for the rest of my life. That is the meaning of *my* life, and I can't imagine any greater purpose.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Oh, boy...

My mom has tentatively proposed that J. and I move in with her when our lease is up in September, and we are considering it. I'm not sure, but I think I've lost my mind.

I've had a difficult relationship with my mom for (literally) my entire life. The root cause of our problems is that she suffers from depression and other undiagnosed mental disorders, for which she refuses to get help. It's hard to explain, but, in addition to the typical symptoms of depression, she just doesn't look at the world in a normal way. I can't even give a really good example, because to someone on the outside, one example doesn't seem like a big deal. But there's just something...off...about her, and it makes her very challenging to deal with at times.

As soon as I was in middle school, we started fighting, and it continued and escalated up until I left home at the beginning of my senior year of high school. She drove me so crazy; there were times I was really afraid that I would hit her, just to try to knock some sense (or normalcy) into her. Since then, I've sworn up and down that there's no way in hell I'd ever consider living with my mom again. I've said that I'll always make sure she's taken care of, but that we will never, ever live under the same roof.

Never say never, right?

So why am I even considering this? Well, that's complicated, too.

First, I know she's lonely, but that's her own fault. She's never fostered friendships, and now that my grandmother is gone, she has no one in her life other than me and a couple of former coworkers to whom she occasionally talks. She's not in good enough health to return to work, and I'm not really sure she could get a job, even if she tried. There's plenty she could do: volunteer, get involved with a church, etc., but she just won't do it. She won't put herself out there in the world. Still...she's lonely, and I know that having J. and I and our three cats in her house would bring a lot of joy to her life.

Then there's the money factor. Living with mom would allow us to pay off our debt, save money, and even buy a new (to us) car in a year or so. I can't ignore how enticing that idea is. To have extra money...be able to take a vacation...not have to worry about money so much while J. is in school...well, that sounds a little like heaven to me.

The house mom lives in - which was my grandparents', and which will be mine when mom is gone - is a 4-bedroom, 2-bath with two living areas. It's ridiculously big for one person to live in all alone. Moving in with mom could be good for her, and it could be good for us. But it could also be really, really bad.

Sigh...I'm going to have to do a lot more thinking about this.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stay

Music has always been a huge part of my life, a way for me to express emotions when words fail me. When RJ and I were separated, one of the songs I listened to over and over was Sugarland's "Stay." It's a really pretty song, written from the perspective of the other woman.


I haven't thought much about the song, at least in an in-depth way, in several years, but I heard it on the radio today, and it dawned on me why it struck such a chord with me during my divorce: I felt like the other woman.

RJ had become involved with a woman he worked with. Their relationship was a train wreck from the start. She knew we were having problems, and she took it as a challenge to see if she could get him away from me; she didn't really want to be with him. For him, he felt like she needed him in a way that he needed to be needed. Even though *I* needed him, it wasn't in the way that turned on his protectiveness, and in fact, I think it pushed him away. She got under his skin in a way I couldn't stop, even though I'd seen it coming from a mile away. By the time I put my foot down and told him that their friendship had become too intimate, it was too late. When he left me for her, I told him that she didn't really want to be with him, but he couldn't believe it. Their relationship lasted less than two months.

It's only been in the last year or so that I've been able to think about that period of my life without becoming overwhelmingly sad. Getting divorced was the best thing for me and for RJ, and the pain of it was worthwhile, because I ended up here, where I'm incredibly happy with my life and my marriage. Still, divorce makes a person feels like a failure, and my divorce led to the lowest point of my life, when I did things of which I never thought I was capable. I can own my bad decisions now, though, and see them as things I had to endure to get to the place I'm in today. And it's nice to be able to think about all I went through in a sort of abstract way, without so much emotion clouding my thoughts.

When I hear Sugarland's "Stay" now, I realize that I *was* the other woman at the end of my marriage, and that RJ had already moved on to someone else. Even though that was the catalyst for our divorce, I can say I'm glad it happened. We weren't meant to be married to each other, but we might've kept on trying for years if something hadn't forced us apart. After all, we weren't happy, but we genuinely loved each other, and I don't think we would've separated. In the end, I'm glad it happened while we were both still young and had time to find the person who would make us really happy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Resolutions

I'm extremely mad at myself. I spend a lot of my time thinking about things I should do, or want to do, or need to do. I'm introspective, and think about wanting to write in my journal. I want to read more books, so I make a plan for how to read more books.

WTF???

Get a pen and write in the journal!

Pick up a book and read!

I'm about to turn 36, and I'm tired as hell of being introspective. Since I know it's not possible to change my nature, this post is a get-your-happy-ass-in-gear message to myself.

I've gained weight, and it sucks. Instead of feeling bad about myself, or whining to J. about how none of my clothes fit, I ordered a bike trainer. I'm going to buy a bike this weekend and I'm going to ride it in the mornings and/or evenings while reading a book.

March 2012 is the first month in a very long time that I didn't finish a single book. Nothing held my interest. I set aside three books:
The Night Circus, Devil in the White City, and 11/22/63. All these are well-reviewed books, and one of them *should* have grabbed my attention, but none did. I think the biggest reason for this is that I have too many distractions at home now: tv, computer, J., the cats, eating dinner, etc. I am going to make time for reading by doing it while I'm riding my bike each day.

I'm just sick to death of talking about doing things - making a plan for doing things - but then not actually *doing* them! That is going to change. And since we're at the beginning of April, I'm calling these my April Resolutions:

I will read one book per week.
I will ride my bike each day.
I will write in my journal at least once per week.
I will turn off the tv/get off the computer and *do* something.
I will quit smoking.

We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Stolen From RoseAnn

1. What are you looking forward to this summer?

~ Nothing specific, but I hope that J. and I will get out and experience some of the things that Dallas has to offer during the summer.

2. How many times have you been in love?

~ Four: my high school boyfriend, M.M. - my first adult boyfriend, R.S. - my first husband, R.J. - and, of course, J.

3. What's your favorite thing to cook?

~ I love to cook lots of things, and I love to bake, but my favorite is probably lasagna. J. loves my lasagna so much, and since I show love with food, it makes me really happy to see him enjoy it!

4. How often do you exercise?

~ Unless you count walking up one flight of stairs in the parking garage at work, never. I need to improve on that.

5. Are you happy?

~ Very. More than that, I'm content - not complacent, but just extremely happy with where I am, and where J. and I are together, right now.

6. What are five of your hobbies?

~ Reading, watching tv/movies, playing online, writing this blog, and spending time with friends

7. What's your favorite current tv show?

~ I love "Modern Family."

8. Name one of your random dream dates.

~ I really want J. and I to take a tropical vacation someday - that would be an extended dream date!

9. Do you play any mobile/computer/video games? Favorites?

~ No, I'm not into games.

10. How often do you deprive yourself of something?

~ Very, very rarely. See #4.

11. What is your favorite way to relax?

~ Talking with J.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Happy Hour

From Mental Floss: "Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else's reply, whatever you want. On to this week's topics of discussion..."

Looking back at your resume, what job experience do you think would make the best book?

From December 2007 to June 2008, I worked for an outsourcing company answering customer service phone calls for AmEx. The things I heard on those phone calls would make a pretty entertaining book! One example: the guy who told me that he needed to cancel his card because it had been stolen by the Peruvian prostitute with whom he'd spent the evening before. Really, man - you could've just said you lost it while traveling!!!

How would you improve the grocery store experience?

I'd require all grocery stores to stock their shelves in the same order. They wouldn't have to carry exactly the same brands/products, but if bread is on aisle 1, then it's on aisle 1 in every store. And if peanut butter goes next to coffee, then it's the same in every store. (Can you tell I hate not being able to find things in the grocery store?)

What’s one book you think every student should read before graduating?

The novel We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver has been on my mind lately. I was able to snag it for a quarter for the Kindle last week, which has made me want to re-read it very soon.

This book is slow at first, but amazingly powerful. I think it should be a must-read before a person decides whether or not to have children. While I understand that it is a novel, and that the outcome presented is only one of an infinite number of possible outcomes, the unfolding story of this family is one that every potential parent should witness.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monkey's Horoscope

Inspired by this post on the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee blog, I looked at Monkey's horoscope today. It says: "Go exploring today -- preferably with a friend. You can make the time if you try."

First of all, Monkey has plenty of time. No matter how I encourage, nag, or yell, none of these cats will find gainful employment. So I keep them in food and toys, while I try to figure out my reward. But I've gotten off topic...

Monkey and Bo spend the majority of their day here:



They're sitting on a shelf in our bathroom window. We're on the second floor, and this window looks down on a (mostly) quiet courtyard with a large tree. Sitting here, they can watch the birds and squirrels. Occasionally, squirrels get on our balcony or on the outer windowsill, which really drives Monkey crazy. His body starts to twitch, and he makes tense little noises in his throat. It's very, very cute.

He will occasionally run from his perch in the window to the back door, which opens onto a balcony with stairs going down into the courtyard. Today, he began running to the door and trying to turn the doorknob with his paws.

I'm pretty sure that damn cat can read.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Happy Hour

From Mental Floss: "Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else's reply, whatever you want. On to this week's topics of discussion..."

When someone asks if you’ve read a book, and you’ve actually listened to the audiobook version, do you point that out when answering?

~ I don’t listen to audiobooks, so no. But if I did, and someone asked, “Did you read X?” I would probably answer, “I listened to it.”

Tomorrow is Middle Name Pride Day. If you could re-middle-name yourself, what new name would you choose?

~ This is easy, since I *did* re-middle-name myself. I was born Carol Elaine D---. When I married the first time, I dropped Elaine, and legally changed my middle name to my maiden name. Now that J. and I are married, my maiden name is my legal middle name, and my last name matches J’s.

You have to install a coin-operated arcade game wherever you are right now. For that specific spot, what game would be the most successful?

~ I’m at home, and since this was/is J’s favorite arcade game, I’ll say Super Mario Bros. He just told me that if we had that game and an Addams Family pinball machine, he’d be playing one or the other right now.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February 2012 Book List

Everyone knows I’m a voracious reader, and I’m often asked for recommendations. I decided that on or around the first of each month, I’ll post a list of the books I read the month before. I give each book a numeric rating, from 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent. I do not generally rate non-fiction works; those will be shown with a rating of N/A.

The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic by Kathleen Valentine (novella) - Rating: 3

Freaks by Tess Gerritsen (Kindle single) - Rating: 3

Almost Perfect: the True Story of the Crawford Family Murders by Greg Fogarty - Rating: N/A

The Five Love Languages: the Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman - Rating: N/A

Mile 81 by Stephen King (Kindle single) - Rating: 3

Are You Lonesome Tonight? by Mishka Shubaly (Kindle single ) - Rating: 4

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Happy Hour

From Mental Floss: "Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else's reply, whatever you want. On to this week's topics of discussion..."

(Now that I actually have followers of my blog, I’d love to see your responses in the comments here. Tell me what you think, friends!)


What was your favorite magazine as a kid?

~ I *loved* Cricket magazine. Thanks to my grandparents, I had a subscription for many years. I can remember at one point having a stack of issues in my closet about three feet tall! In high school, I read Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Games. Today, I subscribe to Redbook, Glamour, Everyday with Rachael Ray, O: the Oprah Magazine, Smithsonian, and Discover. What can I say? I love magazines!

Do you have a (true) story about scattering a person’s ashes somewhere special?

~ No, but I intend to be cremated and to have my ashes scattered in a very special place. Where that very special place is, I haven’t decided yet.

What historical pairings would you like to read more about?

~ I wish I knew more about Socrates and Plato, and about Plato and Aristotle.

What’s the silliest thing that scares your pet?

~ Oh, my sweet Monkey is scared of *everything.* Let’s see…plastic grocery sacks, people, his kitty sisters, dry cleaning bags, paper sacks, newspapers…I think I’ll stop there, lest I embarrass the boy.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Shake, Shake, Shake...

Daily tasks can be really annoying when you're having hand tremors.

Let me back up. I've been doing extremely well on my treatment for depression since May 2011; I was stable on 225 mg of Effexor. But over the last month or so, I've noticed mood swings. A couple of weeks ago I came home to find that John had made cookies - the same cookies I'd been promising to make him for several weeks. I instantly burst into tears, and by the next morning, I realized it was time to add a mood stabilizer. My doctor had mentioned that I might need to add one when I started the Effexor, since I'd had to take one before to maintain level emotions, but we decided to wait until I needed it.

Because I've taken Abilify before, the doctor started me on 10 mg and we made an appointment to follow up one week later. My appointment was on January 30. At the appointment, I told him that I was already starting to feel better, so we kept the Abilify as-is. Since I really want to quit smoking, he also started me on 150 mg of Wellbutrin. (I know, I'm a walking crazy-pill pharmacy.) I've taken Wellbutrin before, and stopped because it gave me hand tremors, but since that was almost 10 years ago, I decided to try again.

Yeah...I have tremors. They're not debilitating, but they're irritating the hell out of me! I need steady hands for lots of things I do, more than I realized. Some of these things:

~ Putting in and taking out contact lenses

~ Painting my toenails - this is already not my best skill, but hand tremors make it so much worse. I just get my toenails covered and clean up the mess around them after they're dry.

~ Writing in my journal - I *just* started writing in a journal again, and now it's difficult to do that. My handwriting is already atrocious; that's why I wanted to keep a hand-written journal. But I'm not giving up; I'm going to keep writing and hope it gets better.

~ Typing - proofreading is even more important to me now, since I make about a gazillion errors in every paragraph I type. I don't necessarily think this one is the fault of the tremors, though. There seems to be a short somewhere between my brain and my hands, causing my hands to type incorrect letters. Occasionally I forget how to spell a word. On Friday I was trying to type the word "doubt," but I typed "dought." I knew it was wrong, but it took me a few seconds to remember WHY it was wrong, and how to spell it correctly.

I am still taking the Wellbutrin, and don't intend to stop, at least for now. I'm hopeful that these side effects will pass, but if they don't, I think they'll be manageable. I should only have to be on the Wellbutrin for three to six months, as long as I can stay off the cigarettes. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Girl Crush

I have a huge girl-crush on Kelle Hampton. She writes a blog called Enjoying the Small Things, and I wait anxiously for each new post. She's obviously very different from me: she's a SAHM with two daughters. She lives in Florida (a state I've never set foot in). But the way she thinks, and writes, and the kind of mom she is to her girls - that's what I aspire to (or would, if I intended to have kids). I want to meet her. I want to be her friend.

Kelle's photographs are amazing, and it always surprises me how seeing photos of her girls can make me happy. I'm not a kid person, but Nella's huge, cheeseball smiles never fail to make me smile. And Kelle has a way of saying things that makes me think, "Yes! That's the feeling I've been trying to put into words!!!"

Yesterday, she did it better than ever. Here's a quote: "...Because if there's one thing I have a problem with, it's joy-suckers. Don't suck my joy. Don't suck someone else's joy. You think I don't know what's ahead?"

The only way to do justice is to share Kelle's post with you. Please, enjoy Joan of Arc on Enjoying the Small Things.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 2012 Book List

Everyone knows I’m a voracious reader, and I’m often asked for recommendations. I decided that on or around the first of each month, I’ll post a list of the books I read the month before. I give each book a numeric rating, from 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent. I do not generally rate non-fiction works; those will be shown with a rating of N/A.

The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases by Michael Capuzzo - Rating: N/A

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - Rating: 5

World Without End by Ken Follett – Rating: 4.5


Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Happy Hour

From Mental Floss: "Every Friday, I post a series of unrelated questions meant to spark conversation in the comments. Answer one, answer all, respond to someone else's reply, whatever you want. On to this week's topics of discussion..."

What is your all-time favorite fact?

~ Best useless trivia ever: Chevy Chase was the original drummer for the band that later became Steely Dan.

If you had to add a non-traditional pet to your life — no cats, dogs, fish, birds, rabbits, hamsters, or anything you’ve ever owned before — what would you choose, and what would you name it?

~ In addition to cats and dogs, I will someday have pygmy goats, donkeys, and a raccoon. Ooooh, and maybe a hedgehog! No idea what any of them will be named; I have to wait and see what name fits each animal.

What is the one niche subject you believe you know more about than anyone else reading this post?

~ Eh, these questions are always so hard to answer; I’m sure it would be much easier for my friends to answer this for me. Hmm…oh! I am the queen of random movie quotes.

Albuquerque.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

MiA

So...it seems that I have wandered away from my own blog again. Not all that surprising, when you consider the ease with which I get distracted, but it still makes me sad. I want to write! This blog is an outlet for me, and I often want to put up a new post but just can't decide what to write about.

A while back I bought a book of exercises for training your brain to write. I may do some of those and post the results here. I'm also going to start writing in a journal again, and I may translate some of those musings into posts. And I've got some other ideas to jump-start my writing, including working with some of my favorite quotes.

I don't want the few followers I have to give up on me. Not that I have anything especially important to say, but I like knowing that when I put up a new post, one (or more) of my friends might read it. If you have suggestions for me, I'm all ears. I hope you'll stay tuned...I'll try to give you something soon.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

This Is Your Life - 2011

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

~ Had a really awesome Christmas with J. I found him some amazing stocking stuffers online, and was so excited to give him all his gifts. The best part was that I had a large credit with Amazon, so I got everything for very little cash.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

~ I don’t make resolutions, but I am going to quit smoking this year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

~ Yes, a close friend finally had a boy (after having two girls).

4. Did anyone close to you die?

~ I lost my grandmother on November 2. It has been difficult for all of us, and we’re still adjusting, but I can already see that some good has come from her illness. My family is closer than we’ve been in at least ten years.

5. What countries did you visit?

~ I did not travel outside the U.S.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

~ I would like for my stepsons to be a part of our life.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

~ I don’t know that any dates will stick in my mind, but I’ll always remember being forced to move because our lives were threatened by our landlord, and dealing with my grandmother’s illness and death.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

~ Making a good impression on three different bosses. I started the year under a property manager I’d been with since November 2010. In August, I was moved under an interim property manager. She can’t say enough good things about me, and wants very much to see my career advance. In September, the interim manager was replaced by the new manager. She has also been very impressed with me, and began talking about me being promoted within a week of beginning to work with me.

9. What was your biggest failure?

~ I don’t know if it is really a failure, but I’m having an extremely hard time being patient with my mom. She handled my grandmother’s illness so well, and I let myself believe that she was not going to fall apart the way I had feared. As the numbness has worn off and reality has begun to set in, her mood swings are off the charts, and I’m having a very hard time dealing with it.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

~ Nothing serious. I had a tooth pulled in July, and the recovery was much more difficult than anticipated.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

~ J. was my rock in 2011. From the recurrence of depression in the spring, to my recovery from having a tooth pulled, to my grandmother’s passing, he was by my side. I am continually amazed by how very much he loves me, and how good our relationship is.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

~ My mom’s. I’ll have to talk about that later.

14. Where did most of your money go?

~ Bills and things we needed. Each of us lost a lot in our divorces, and the first two years of our relationship, we had zero extra money. In 2011, we were finally able to get things we really needed: a computer, new clothes, and a few things for our home.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

~ J. got me a Kindle for Christmas, and I’m still very excited about that! I love it even more than I thought I would, and it has made me fall even more in love with reading.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

~ “Crazy Girl” by Eli Young Band

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? ~ Happier
b) thinner or fatter? ~ About the same
c) richer or poorer? ~ Richer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

~ Taking time for myself

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

~ Worrying

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

~ We were not able to travel for Christmas in 2011, as we originally planned. However, several of the things that prevented us from going this year are now out of the way (or will be by Christmas 2012), so we have already re-booked our trip.

We spent Christmas 2011 at our home with the kitties. We opened presents, played with the cats’ new toys, and watched season one of Dexter all day. It was wonderful!

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

~ Yes, I fell even more in love with J.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

~ “Modern Family”

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

~ No. Hatred only hurts the hater; the person who is hated doesn’t care. I do my best to work through and let go of negative feelings about others.

25. What was the best book you read?

~ Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

~ I didn’t fall in love with any new artists in 2011. I’m getting to the age where all the new music just sounds like crap, so I’m listening to old favorites almost exclusively.

27. What did you want and get?

~ Another year with J. Even though there were some stressful times during the year, our marriage is strong, and we are happy – individually and together. Nothing else matters.

28. What did you want and not get?

~ To become fabulously wealthy

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

~ We watch lots of movies that I like, so I don’t know if I could pick one. I’ll answer this way: we went to one movie in the theater in 2011 (our first time going to the theater together). We saw “127 Hours.”

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

~ I turned 35 in April. We went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant with J.’s sister and brother-in-law and some other friends.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

~ See #28.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

~ Comfortable and classic – I don’t like fashion.

33. What kept you sane?

~ J., as always

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

~ Princess Catherine

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

~ It wasn’t an issue, but a person. Texas governor Rick Perry is running for the GOP nomination. A rotten tomato would be a better choice for President. I believe that he is not just incompetent, but dangerous. It seems that the rest of the country agrees with me, since he’s currently dead last in the polls.

36. Who did you miss?

~ My Mema

37. Who was the best new person you met?

~ My current boss

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

~ I learned that sometimes - when you get the chance to say goodbye, and you know the person is ready to go - letting a loved one pass into the next life can feel like a (bittersweet) celebration.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

~ From “Crazy Girl” by Eli Young Band:

“I wouldn't last a single day
I'd probably just fade away
Without you I'd lose my mind

Before you ever came along
I was living life all wrong
The smartest thing I ever did was make you all mine”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

December 2011 Book List

Everyone knows I’m a voracious reader, and I’m often asked for recommendations. I decided that on or around the first of each month, I’ll post a list of the books I read the month before. I give each book a numeric rating, from 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent.

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich - Rating: 4.5

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry - Rating: 5

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory – Rating: 5

Micro by Michael Crichton & Richard Preston – Rating: 4

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris - Rating: 4