Thursday, September 30, 2010

Financial Update

I haven't done a financial post in a while.  I figure it's time with the monthly budget for October looming.  Yes, October looms.  Why?  Well, in Washington State property tax is due in April and October.  Typically we get a federal tax refund (oh shush, I know I'm not supposed to but I like getting the refund).  Since we bought the old house in April, our annual homeowner insurance was due in April as well as 50% of our property taxes for the year.  So with our couple thousand dollar federal tax refund, we'd pay our annual homeowner insurance premium and most of our property taxes in April.  Thus, aside for a few annual bills that came due in December, October was the only month where we got hit with a big bill (50% of our annual property taxes).

Then we moved to Big Ass House.  Our property taxes have more than doubled.  Ouch.  Again, we were rescued in April because our tax refund was a couple thousand + the $6,500 tax credit for the existing homeowners who buy a new house.  We used that to pay April property taxes (and toward our kitchen remodel).  But... that leaves us with the October problem x 2 since the taxes have doubled.

Since I know we have these annual bills & they aren't included in our mortgage payment by choice, I have accounted for them in our monthly budget.  When our monthly bill-clearing checking account gets sufficient extra padding from our personal monthly transfers, I transfer money from our checking account into our ING savings account.  Back in August, we had some padding in our joint checking account but I decided to let it sit and not transfer it to savings.  This is because I thought that we might be able to swing paying our property taxes from our checking account and not take the money from savings (even though the money is in savings).  So it's been a little game in my head to see if we could do it.  Technically, we can do it, but things will be very, very tight in our joint checking account in October.  It will be an exercise in frugality and doing without.  I know we're up to the challenge. 

In other property tax news, we WON against the county.  Of course, when I appealed, I knew we had a pretty good case.  See, we got our assessed values back in June/July.  These assessments are based on January 1, 2010 data.  The assessment we received said that the market value of our house was $70,000 more than we paid for it.  Since we bought the house on December 18, 2009 for $70,000 less than the value they said it was, I contested that the market value they gave it was incorrect & they should use the sales price of the house instead since that was a better gauge of market value.  Which is true.  Completely logical argument, and we were set to have a hearing on October 12.  Well, the county sent out an appraiser.  He found that our view was overstated (due to trees, which we're hoping we can convince the people below us to cut down), and he magically sent us an agreement for us to sign that lowers our assessed value to the purchase price of the house. 

FYI: I am a Democrat, and I do believe in paying my share of taxes.  But I don't think I should pay MORE than my share of taxes.  And we may have gotten a deal on the house because of the Hwang situation, but we paid our dues with how many trips to the dump with the crap they left in the house, their neglected maintenance on the house, them shortchanging us on what they verbally told us they would do, etc. 

We're in the process of refinancing.  Yes, it's the second refinance of the year.  We were in a 3.875% 5/1 ARM with Bank of America.  As you know, I hate B of A.  Well, the opportunity came up to refinance to a 3.875% 15 year fixed rate loan with a credit union.  Get rid of B of A as well as get another 10 years locked in at the 3.875% rate with no closing costs?  Terrific deal.  With a 15 year loan, the latest it will be paid off is when Julia is 17 in her senior year of high school.  Yay!  Part of me is thinking we should just stay here the 3 years required (1 year is almost down) to not pay back the tax rebate, and then get a smaller house.  Who knows what will happen.

Part of the refinance was an appraisal.  We got one when we bought the house, and that appraisal basically came in at our purchase price (okay, $5,000 over).  Given that the real estate market has been even bumpier in the past year, I wasn't sure how the appraisal as part of the refinance would pan out.  Yes, we redid the kitchen and redid counters in the bathrooms.  And painted, changed some lighting fixtures, tiled the laundry room. We have put about $30,000 into the house in the past year.  We were thrilled to find out that the appraisal came back at $90,000 over our purchase price!  (Don't let the tax assessor know!)  So I guess we're doing something right with the improvements we have made.

Hopefully, fingers crossed we'll sign papers within the next couple of weeks. 

Our cable bill went up to $50/month.  I don't really watch TV, and my husband only watches a few cable channels.  So we decided to downgrade to the broadcast channel package (with HDTV for the broadcast channels) and a cable box that gives us on demand.  That package should be about $20/month including taxes, so we're saving $30/month.  Yay for a little savings!  I hate spending money on cable.  Yes, we don't have much of an entertainment budget so we could technically afford it, but still...it's irritating to pay that much for TV. 

I guess that's all the financial news to report now.  I'm purposely making October tight on the budget because I don't want to transfer the earmarked money from savings.  Hopefully our property tax bill will go down a little bit in 2011.  We're refinancing to extend the term of the 3.875% mortgage interest rate.  And we downgraded our cable package.  Some small victories! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How can you live like that?

Sometimes surrounding yourself with estrogen, even if not by choice, is entirely too suffocating.  Thank heaven there weren't sororities at my college.  In fact, that's one of the reasons I picked the school I did.  I didn't want to feel pressured to live with 50+ girls under the same roof.  I would have seriously murdered 1 or more sorority girls if I had been in a sorority.  I hate girl drama, fighting over nonsense, and fragile self concepts.

Men are so much easier to deal with.   

***

Just watched the newest Hoarders episode.  Oh my goodness!  Lives with 36 cats, 13 of which that are dead.  Junk piled high to the ceiling, cat waste on everything including the sinks and stove.  How can you live with 13 dead cats? 

Hoarders is good for two things.  1) In comparison, I am a fabulous housecleaner.  2) Watching it is an awesome appetite suppressant.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Fever

I love reading blogs.  There's something nice about having lots of reading about other people's lives when I snuggle with my laptop after Julia goes to bed.  Yes, I snuggle with my laptop ... for warmth, of course.  I'm also quite a voyeur when I take walks at night.  I love seeing what people are doing; it's never anything very interesting.  But one day, one day I will see something interesting. Scratch that, I do see interesting stuff when I go to walk at Ann's house.

For being a loner, I sure am interested in other people.  What's up with that?

Fall is my favorite season.  I love everything about it: pumpkin, the holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving), the cold, the leaves, fireplaces, all of it.  Most people tend to favor Christmas in the holiday lineup.  I have never fallen in love with Christmas.  Gift giving stresses me out.   I don't like getting gifts.  It's too commercial.  Family get togethers are stressful.  Give me Halloween and a quiet Thanksgiving, a pumpkin pie, and a fire in the fireplace & I'm happy as can be. 

Do you know that during my entire dating life (ages 15-19), I started dating someone in late September/October?  Five years = five different guys.  There's some magic about fall, for sure, at least for me.  Walking through crunchy leaves hand-in-hand, fireplaces, the beach on a cool fall day, making cookies, hikes in the woods.  They're all dating perfection.  Best. Dates. Ever.

Fourth Batch of Dewey Entries

Making My Way Through Dewey

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031.02        Frauenfelder, Mark.  The World's Worst.
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081               Rakoff, David. Don't Get Too Comfortable.
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177.7    Stone, Deborah.  The Samaritan's Dilemma.
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248.845             Neumann, Connie. Parenting in the Home Stretch.
255.1                Okholm, Dennis.  Monk Habits for Everyday People.
261.850973     Zacharias, Karen Spears. Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?
277.3083         Meyers, Robin.  Why the Christian Right Is Wrong.
289.3082          Solomon, Dorothy Allred.  The Sisterhood.
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302.34082           Paul, Marla.  The Friendship Crisis.
305.4092             Merrill, Wendy.  Falling into Manholes.
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332.02401            Epperson, Sharon.  The Big Payoff.
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378.19822           Peril, Lynn.  College Girls.
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608    Cooper, Christopher.  Patently Absurd.
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658.812     Price, Bill and David Jaffe.  The Best Service Is No Service.   
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750.11        Richardson, Joy.  Looking at Pictures.
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771.33         Revell, Jeff.  Nikon D5000: From Snapshots to Great Shots.
782.421649  McQuillar, Tayannah Lee.  When Rap Music Had a Conscience.  
794.000     Orbanes, Philip E. Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game.
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817.000 Scottoline, Lisa. Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog.
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910.4     Leffel, Tim.  Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune.
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937       Nardo, Don.  Life of a Roman Slave.
940.21   Netzley, Patricia D.  Life During the Renaissance.
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973.92      Strauss, William and Elaina Newport.  Sixteen Scandals.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Unix

I miss Unix.  I suppose what I really miss are the computer systems from the 90s.  I understood them.  There were very few graphics.  It took methodical keystrokes to get where you needed to go.  Primitive e-mail systems, the first library online catalog, newsgroups, specialized computer systems back in the day.  They were all so spectacular in the way that I and few others can really appreciate.  Once I understood the keystrokes that got me to where I needed to go, I buzzed through screens like nobody's business.  It became my mission to understand how to drill down through the menus, back up, and tab to where I needed to go - all while making whoever was looking over my shoulder extremely dizzy. 

When you really understood Unix and all that specialized software (which really wasn't complicated since it used the same general premise as Unix), it put you at an advantage over the layperson.  I could get a computer to do things that most people couldn't get it do.  Not that I was very smart, but I just took time initially to really understand the system, which paid dividends as more things used the format as time went on.

Eventually the layperson got angry and wanted a greater level of usability (i.e., point and click, GUI, etc.).  And then Unix-based programs started dying off.  I lost my edge.

"I is flexible."  I came around.  Of course I love what HTML and GUIs have given us.  Made our lives easier in a lot of ways, increased complexity in others.  And my edge is now completely gone.

Boo. 

On Movies and TV

It's a quiet night.  It was a very relaxing weekend even though I didn't do much except get provisions (food for the landlubbers).  I did watch 4 movies, 2 sitcoms & 2 episodes of The Apprentice.  Since I'm not much of a TV or even a movie watcher, that's a bit of media overload in a weekend for me.  One of my goals for this TV season is to actually consistently watch at least one show.  I don't watch much TV at all anymore, which is probably a good thing, but some mindless watching wouldn't kill me.

I should never watch two Bradley Cooper movies back-to-back.  He seems like he's the next Jude Law - not the nanny thing, but the being-in-five-different-movies-in-the-same-year thing.  And he kind of wigs me out.  His teeth are a light source of their own; obviously he is quite indebted to a cosmetic dentist.  They almost look like dentures - way too freaking perfect.  And his hair doing that sticky up thing with all that gel.  It's kind of like Ryan Seacrest added 20 lbs and went into movie acting.
 

Bradley Cooper


The gel-coated, frosted tip, sticky up thing isn't my favorite hair style on guys.  Maybe it's what that look represents; the look takes way too much time in the bathroom.

Of the four movies I watched, Griffin & Phoenix was my favorite.  Have you heard of it?  I hadn't either.  It has Dermot Mulroney and Amanda Peet in it; thank goodness for a Bradley Cooper reprieve.  Dermot and I go waaaaaay back.  I remember him from a TV movie he did in 1987.  It's kind of trippy to basically watch him age over the last 23 years.  He still looks good though.  

I don't deal well with death.  Just like everything I don't deal well with, I tend to avoid the talk of it.  I don't watch movies that touch it.  So I haven't seen Terms of Endearment, Steel Magnolias, and all those other classic death movies.  And if I get sucked into a movie that ends up having a long, drawn out death scene, I usually just turn it off at that point.

Along those same lines, I don't do Lurlene McDaniel books.  Every main character ends up dead in the end.  Yes, I know we all end up dead at some point, but they really were depressing books.

Now psycho serial killer movies?  Friday the 13thHalloween?  That's different.  I'll totally watch those.  I just don't do the heart wrenching, slow deathbed stuff. 

Anyway, back to the movie.  It was well made and interesting but not a tearjerker even though death was heavily intertwined in the plot.  The focus was on life instead of death.  And the movie ended before anyone died.  Whew. 

Caught up with some new sitcoms on Hulu.  I do adore Keri Russell, so I had high hopes for Running Wilde.  Eh.  I liked Raising Hope better.  Maybe because I like the trailer trash family.  I don't think either sitcom will last very long. 

Had to catch The Apprentice.  I don't like the celebrity ones as much as the ones with everyday people on it.  Since this one has everyday people on it, I will definitely have to watch it this season.  It's so hard to make predictions about who will win, though, because they haven't given some people ANY screen time yet.  They've really only given screen time to the project managers thus far and the troublemakers. 

Some of my favorite TV shows are the ones from the early 2000s when PBS got into the reality historical experiences.  It wasn't like their version of Survivor.  It was more like they went back to a specific historical time and cast 8-16 people in roles.  They did a Texas Ranch House where they went to Texas and everyday people took jobs in a ranch as a ranch owner, a cook, a cowboy, a maid, etc.  They did a Manor House, where they went back in time to an English manor and took roles as upper class or lower class.  All of these were sociological experiences, and it was so interesting to watch the dynamics of power and class even in a small microcosm. 

Those PBS shows were a lot like that show three years that got all that flak.  Remember, kids ran a town.  Kid Nation, that's what it was.  It got flak because it was all kids.  But the premise of recreating a society in a microcosm was much like those PBS series of shows that went back in time.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Flaky People

You know what's really irritating?  Flaky people.

I'm sure we have all had moments of flakiness.  Other things come up, appointments don't get put in calendars, these things happen.  I totally get that.  But how come the same 3-5 people are consistently responsible for most of the flakiness I'm talking about?  They're late, they're inconsiderate, they forget more often than they remember.  Another thing that irks me is when I put the ball in their court - "hey, let's do this, call me and let me know."  And then I never hear from them.  The thing is that I'm being honest.  Seriously, let me know.  If you don't let me know, then I'm not going to follow up with you again.  I'm not your babysitter or wife, and even if I am your wife, I won't nag you.  I'll follow through what I say I'm going to do, absent a catastrophe, but I'm not going to hound people to follow through with their commitments.

Example 1:  My uncle.  I'm the only family member he has left, and we don't talk very often.  We talked in August when I called him, and then he said (about 5 times) that he would call me on Labor Day weekend.  In the back of my mind, I knew he wouldn't.  For my whole life, he's said he's going to do things and NEVER does them.  So why would this be any different?  Of course it wasn't different, and I only remembered that he didn't call me a week later.  What I don't get is WHY someone says he will do the smallest of things and then doesn't do them and doesn't consider the feelings of the other person.

Example 2:  My friend and I planned a date in Seattle tomorrow.  We planned it two weeks ago.  She said she would e-mail me about it.  Tick tock, it's been two weeks, and I've never heard from her.  So are we on or not for tomorrow?  I do not know, but since I haven't heard from her, I'll say probably not.  Yes, I could just call her.  But frankly, she said she would e-mail me and chose not to (for whatever reason) and considering that it's been a rough week for me, I'd rather stay home anyway so I'm not heartbroken.

Her schedule consists of 1 class.  It's a science prerequisite undergraduate class.  Yep, 5 hours a week of class.  She doesn't work.  She has 1 class.  No kids.  No house.  1 class and the homework from that class.  And she couldn't find the time to e-mail me within a span of two weeks. 

I'm not going to hound her about it.  Why?  Perhaps if I was itching to get out of the house I'd be more proactive.  But if someone isn't going to put anything into the friendship, why should I pick up the slack so much?  It would be different if she was going through a rough time or there were extenuating circumstances.  However, nothing is going on except for that 1 class (that I know of).  So I'll just wait until I get that e-mail from her, whether it be late tonight, Sunday, October, or November.

Again, she's notorious for not following up, saying she's going to call/e-mail and then not doing it.  It's not like this is the first (or fifth) time.

Rundown of the Fair

I'm writing this Thursday night after I got home from the fair, but I'll set this to post on Friday since I already set up a post for Thursday, which I had written on Tuesday.  I'm getting better about scheduling posts, but then I feel bad about having an inconsistent timeline.  I sometimes have insomnia, which gives me time to blog, and then I can set up multiple posts with time in between.  Particularly weeks that I know I will be busy, it seems to work better.

So, anyway, I'm home from the fair.  I went with a friend who I've known awhile, but we haven't really done anything together in the past few months, so it was an excellent time to catch up.  Our motto for the day: "What happens at the fair stays at the fair."  Raunchiness and hedonism were definitely apparent.

The fair does have rides, and it has a lot of animals (think 4-H), fruit/vegetable/flower displays, lots of exhibits (like infomercial stuff), all sorts of fair food, and a few different forms of entertainment on stages.  

I went once with my mom as a teenager to the fair.  She got free admission tickets, and of course everything at the fair is overpriced; thus, we weren't allowed to eat the food there or go on the rides.  That leaves us walking through every exhibit hall and all of the animal barns.  If there was a performance going on (like a beginning magician), we watched that.  The thing is, the exhibits and animals bore me pretty quickly.  There are seriously about 100 chickens/hens/roosters in cages, and after you've seen 5, they kind of all start looking alike.  Infomercial booths do nothing for me.  So although I technically "went to the fair" when I went with my mom, I didn't get to do anything I wanted to do and walked around in bored misery while every other kid my age seemingly got to go on the rides and eat cow chip cookies. 

So when my friend and I went 3 years ago, doing what WE wanted to do was a real concept to me.  I can ride on the rides as much as I want and eat what I want and not see every exhibit booth?  Awesome.  So I did.

And we did that today as well.  It helps when what you like to do at the fair jives with what the other person likes to do at the fair.  My husband?  He doesn't like rides, and he doesn't like booths, and he doesn't really like animals, and he really has little appreciation for fair food, and he doesn't like crowds.  So basically the whole fair experience is torture to him.  Of course he'd go if I asked him, but I don't really want to see him puking his guts out after the second ride.  My friend and I both really like the rides, a cursory look at the animals, and eating, so we're like the best fair buddies ever.

Yep, we went on this.  It's not like you can find just ANYone to go on this ride with you.  
video

Since the last time we went, they set up the concept of scannable bracelets for rides.  It's like those shopper reward cards.  They track everything you partake in.  The employees tell you that they're really neat because if you can't find your kid, at customer service they can pull up the bracelet number and see what was the last ride that the kid rode.  Just like they tell you that if you put the shopper reward card on your keychain, they'll mail you your keys if you ever lose them.  We know the truth.  We know they want to analyze our behaviors as customers on an aggregated basis.

We rode 26 rides, and we rode one of the roller coasters twice.  We went on at least 3 rides that went upside down.  I don't mind going upside down, but I'm not terribly fond of hanging upside down for more than a couple of seconds.  When you start hitting five seconds, the blood starts rushing to your head, you start wondering how strong the restraints are, you can feel like you're losing things off your body.  Since the rides opened late due to weather, it took a while for the crowds to come.  So for the first couple of hours, we breezed through a ton of rides.  Then as school let out, the teenagers started to come in like mad.  I do love observing teenagers.  Did you know Homecoming date planning is well under way?  Isn't it funny that people text each other to ask out a Homecoming date?  So a girl gets a text at the fair while she's with her friends in line for a ride, and then you have 4 other shrieking girls saying, "OMG!  OMG!  He asked you to Homecoming!"  Then the Aeropostale or Hollister-wearing girl with extremely straight hair and skinny jeans jumps up and down.

More Homecoming talk in other lines for rides.  In the line for the ferris wheel, there are two girls who look around 13-14 and this tiny boy who looks to be a little brother of one of them.  For about 10 minutes in line, he's flicking this Star Wars lighter and being, well, a 10 year old boy.  My friend and I are starting to call him the little arsonist.  Then we turn around a few minutes later, and he's making out with one of the girls!  He's, like, 10!  Okay, maybe he was 12 - a very, very young looking 12.

Kids these days....that makes me sound about 4,000 years old.

Anyway, a great time at the fair was had by us both!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The less than enthusiastic relationship response

I take it as a bad sign when you enter into a Facebook-confirmed relationship, and people respond less than enthusiastically.  It's Julia's teacher who entered into this relationship.  Frankly, I knew something along those lines was coming because she has been posting a lot about something she needed to pursue.  I quizzed her, thinking at first that she meant moving somewhere else, but that wasn't it.  So I presumed it was a guy, especially when she was cagey about whether or not it would happen.  She is a really smart young lady, and she has the best disposition to work with young kids. 

Given the less than enthusiastic responses from her family, I had to check out this guy (concern for teacher/nosiness/insomnia, you pick the motive).  He's an "oh my" just based on his photos alone, and that's not an "oh my, what have I been missing" kind of oh my.  That's an "oh my, you might be off the deep end" oh my.  Plus he has baggage: a kid.  It says he lives in IL, so I'm not sure if this is a long distance thing or not.  I hope it's a very long distance thing.  I want her to be happy, but...oh my.  I can't wait to talk with her after the buzz dies down.

I dread the day that Julia brings home an "oh my" type of guy.  First, I will have to give the husband an IV drip of Xanax.  Then I'll hook myself up to the IV drip.  Perhaps then I will ground her for five years because she didn't make her bed.  That's completely logical, right?  :)

No, really, that's got to be the hardest part to being a parent.  You don't want to see your kids make mistakes, but you know they have to make mistakes to learn.  You wish they could just learn through your experiences, but unfortunately they need to experience those things themselves in order to figure it out for themselves.   And that's why the Love & Logic program makes sense.  The program empowers kids to make their own decisions and then reap the consequences for those decisions early in life.  The theory being that the younger you are, the cheaper the consequences are & the more powerful the learning experience.  However, I will choose to ignore the fact that some people I know keep making the same horrible choices over and over and over again even as adults. 

 

 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I know which I'd choose

Am I the only one who does this?  Whenever I meet someone who is particularly idiotic, I think, "I'm so glad I'm not married to you."  Regardless of the person's gender. 

I would rather be a single spinster for the rest of my life than be married to a male or female asshat.

Just sayin'

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My First Parental Failure

My life changed three years ago today.  To be precise, it changed slightly more than three years ago, but three years ago today I found out that it would be changing.  That would be my little Julia.

My husband was always more open to the idea of children than I was.  I liked them just fine, but it was kind of nice to not deal with the ongoing responsibility of them.  Sometimes you have a tough day and just want to go home and be a lump on the couch and eat popcorn for dinner.  With a kid, you can't really do that.  If you factor in their cost, the maintenance, the time, the energy, their extracurricular activities, the worry, the illnesses, the pain, etc., my inner cost/benefit analysis always tilted in the favor of, "Are you freaking nuts to even consider this?" 

It was 2007.  We were fairly financially stable.  We both had completed our master degrees.  We both had jobs with benefits.  We had been married for 7 years.  We owned a house. All of the criteria I thought we had to meet before becoming parents had been met.  And, after both graduating while working full-time, we had a lot more time on our hands than we were used to.  We just might be able to do this.

It was, like, August 29th or something that we decided to try to have a baby.  That would be an early summer baby.  I certainly didn't want a late summer baby - I don't do heat - so we'd try for a month, maybe 2, and then reevaluate.  Maybe.

Our version of trying for a baby was really weak.  At the time I write this in 2010, I know there are about 50 bajillion fertility products on the market and several different methods to use, such as gauging body temperature.  Back then I had no idea.  Instead I just channeled my distant memory of what I learned while working at the OB/GYN and simply said, "I think now might work."

I had no faith that it actually would work. Most women with fertility determination are not to be messed with, and their obsession level with the process is quite high.  I kind of forgot about it because I had other things to preoccupy my time.  I had wisdom teeth removed, then I was painting the living room the next weekend.  I felt just fine, so I wasn't at all suspicious.  My friend and I took off from work on a Thursday, and we went to the local fair.  The fair runs 3 weeks a year, and it's the closest thing to an amusement park in this fine state.  We rode everything, ate a whole load of crappy fair food, and I felt great.

The next day (Friday) my husband calls me at work and asks me if I know if I am pregnant.  I tell him I think it's too early, and I feel just fine.  I highly doubt it.  But just in case, I stop at the store and pick up several pregnancy tests.  Okay, I really picked them up to shut him up.  Of the two of us, he is much more of a nag than I am.

So I get home, and I take it.  I see the one line that you get if you simply breathe (and can pee).  You have to let the thing sit for a while (10 minutes), so I start a load of laundry, start dinner, take out the garbage... 20 minutes later I remember that the test is sitting up in the bathroom.  I go look at it and see the one line there still.  Then I throw it in the garbage can.  Go back downstairs and finish dinner.  Husband is still not home, and I amble back upstairs.  I'm bored, so I go pull out the test from the garbage and look at the little manual that comes with it.  On further inspection, it does look like there may be a second line if you hold it up a certain way, but the second line is extremely faint.  Huh?  The little book says that after 20 minutes the test isn't valid, and you might see another line show up.  Oh, okay.

Husband finally gets home, we talk about random stuff, and then I tell him to look at something.  I retrieve the test and say that I'm not sure what it means.

My dear husband breaks it to me that I'm pregnant.  And I have utterly failed the very first parental hoop - reading a dang pregnancy test.  He proceeds to pull up pictures of what a positive pregnancy test looks like for this brand of test from the internet.  Oh.

Then we go out for a Friday night date to Target to pick up prenatal vitamins.  He seems happy.  I am shell shocked and rather insistent that a positive test result should have two lines of equal intensity instead of one really bold and one so faint that it almost isn't there.

It was one of those nights that goes down in the history books as something that you totally never planned that it would go anything like that.  It was quirky how it all played out, and I suppose my inability to read a pregnancy test, particularly really early on in a pregnancy, is actually kind of funny.  This will always be a monumental anniversary in my head because I officially became responsible for someone besides myself.

Monday, September 20, 2010

$30

I make a fair amount of entries about my Chase and Bank of America hate.  I am a good customer.  It's not like I fail to make payments, overdraw my account, bounce checks, etc.  I have a nice 800 credit score (verified multiple times within the past 5 years).  I haven't ever bounced a check.  I've never had a late payment.  I'm not saying this because I think I'm a vision of banking perfection, but I'm trying to convey that I'm not one of those people that expects THAT much.  Okay, I do expect for the bank website not to be down for two days.  I expect that when I call about a discrepancy, I won't be put through IVR hell.  When I want to make a withdrawal and can answer all the security questions, I don't want to be detained for 30 minutes. 

I am quite irritated that Bank of America does not have mobile banking in my state.  It's the biggest freaking bank in the country, but yet I cannot access my bank balance or transfer money via mobile device? 

What threw me over the edge today (and I'm already pretty much over the edge) is that I logged onto my Bank of America account via computer (see we've already established that I cannot do this via phone) and see that my mortgage payment due 10/1 looks weird. 

Our mortgage payment is $X.  We have a fixed rate.  It's been $X, and it will be $X every month. 

But our payment due 10/1 is $X - $30. 

Huh?  So then I think I'm seeing things wrong, and I log out and log back in.  $X - $30 still.  Later in the day I do the same thing.  Just now I do it again.

$X - $30.

I suppose it doesn't matter that the screen says we owe $X - $30 because $X automatically comes out of our bank account to pay it.  I know it really is $X because we don't have an escrow account (like I'd trust them to not screw that up!); it's merely principal and interest. 

But what if I didn't have auto payment?  What if I saw the amount due and just paid what it said?  Well, first I'd probably get a late fee because I didn't pay $X in full.  Then it would be reported to the credit bureau.  But wait, I'd call to complain that I only paid what I saw online.  By the time I wound my way through the Bank of America telephone system, it would be 30 minutes later and I'd be talking to someone in India.  That person would accuse me of getting numbers confused, and if the person is convincing enough, I may actually doubt myself.

Perhaps it's not a plot on Bank of America's part.  But WHY would my payment due show $30 less than it really is?  WHY?  WHY? WHY?

Outside of the mortgage loan which we are in the process of refinancing, I have $12.48 in Bank of America.  Once the loan with the monthly payment of $X (not $X - $30) is paid off, I'm closing my bank account.   

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Disconnected

I've been feeling very detached lately.  The world around me bustles and is on the move, but I'm choosing to sit on the sidelines and just watch.  Does it take too much energy to participate?  Do I just not want to participate?  Is something else going on?  I'm not quite sure what it is. 

I was a little bit wistful today.  I was reading a travel book for the Dewey project, and I kind of regret that I didn't travel more before Julia.  Oh, believe me, I've traveled.  I traveled a lot with my mother.  But I never traveled that much with my husband.  Aside from our honeymoon, we've only gone to forced family events.  Back in college, we did go over the border to Canada once, but I don't think that really counts. 

Traveling with my mother is epic hell.  She is moody as all get out, and if she's in a bad mood, you pay.  All. Day. Long.  She's one of those types that wants to be out the door at 6AM every morning and has an itinerary of 5 things to see, and you cannot stop to even pee.  Seriously, she will not stop if you have to go to the bathroom.  She will only stop if it's on the itinerary.  Lest you think you're held to an impossibly high standard of peeing twice a day, my mother gets motion sick and can throw up while driving.  She won't even stop the car to throw up.  Bodily functions will not throw the lieutenant colonel off the mission. 

Needless to say, traveling with her was a bit ... ugh, rigid.  And while I can be rigid in some respects, I'm the anti-rigid in others.  I would happily get up at noon on my own, take long walks through countryside, eat whenever I felt like it, and if I wanted to spend an hour more than planned somewhere, I'd do it.  My mom and I really don't travel well together, and I guess I started generalizing that traveling was awful instead of traveling with her is awful. 

And now we kind of got ourselves into a corner, being that Julia will be living in the house for another 16+ (let's hope it's just 16) years.  No long, fancy vacations for us.  Sure, at some point she'll be easier to travel with - you know, when we don't have to haul around car seats and strollers.  But still, it's not like you can take her to Paris and go out for a night on the town and leave the 2 year old in the hotel room. 

Perhaps we should have taken one or two big overseas vacations back when we had the time and opportunity.  At this rate, the next time we'll have to opportunity to do it is when one or both of us uses a walker and has dentures.  I guess that means backpacking in Europe will be out. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Third Batch of Dewey Entries

Several entries this week; I kept reading and reading.  College Girls explored the evolution of women in higher education through the years.  A little known fact about me: I love looking at old pictures.  I really enjoyed seeing pictures from the early 1900s from universities, and I enjoyed seeing advertisements from magazines circa the 1920s-50s.  Such interesting stuff, how times have changed.  While the writing was good in this book, the pictures and visual history were incredibly interesting.

The Samaritan's Dilemma discussed how altruism is necessary and apparent in society.  She tries to refute that altruism comes from self-interest.  I certainly appreciate her whimsical attitude; however, I think I'm a bit too cynical to buy everything she says.

Orbane's Monopoly focuses on the early history of the patents for Monopoly the board game. The author worked for Parker Brothers, so he had some inside knowledge.  A woman actually came up with the game concept, but Charles Darrow got his game to market in a better way (think Beta vs. VHS).  The book was slightly interested but really dawdled at the beginning.  The last chapter was about the national Monopoly championship that the author judged.  I don't know, it was a weird ending.  The book didn't really flow that well.

McQuillar's When Rap Music Had a Conscience focused on the "good" rap music from the late 80s to mid 90s.  Of course, I personally listened to the "bad" rap music, so I didn't know most of the artists and music she talked about.  There was a good discussion and it was a thought-provoking book.

Zacharias' Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? talks about the common belief that believing in God and tithing will bring you material wealth.  The book describes two general types of people: those who give for giving's sake and those who give primarily so they will get more material wealth themselves.  My favorite quote from the book is: "To suggest that any of the material blessings we enjoy are the result of our merit or our faithfulness is outright foolishness."

Price and Jaffe's  The Best Service Is No Service discusses having proactive customer service measures in place that allow the customer to get their needs met.  The book talks about Amazon quite a bit and how they are the pillar of customer service because they give the customer a lot of control and simplify the customer service experience.  I love the theory behind this book.

Frauenfelder's The World's Worst was an entertaining look at all of the "winners" for the various categories.  An entertaining read, learned lots of odd things, as you might imagine.  This book was written in the mid 2000s, so it was kind of sad to read that the worst scam was the Ponzi scheme knowing that it was far outdone by Madoff.

Making My Way Through Dewey

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031.02        Frauenfelder, Mark.  The World's Worst.
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081               Rakoff, David. Don't Get Too Comfortable.
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177.7    Stone, Deborah.  The Samaritan's Dilemma.
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248.845 Neumann, Connie. Parenting in the Home Stretch.
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261.850973     Zacharias, Karen Spears. Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?
277.3083         Meyers, Robin.  Why the Christian Right Is Wrong.
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302.34082           Paul, Marla.  The Friendship Crisis.
305.4092             Merrill, Wendy.  Falling into Manholes.
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332.02401            Epperson, Sharon.  The Big Payoff.
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378.19822           Peril, Lynn.  College Girls.
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658.812     Price, Bill and David Jaffe.  The Best Service Is No Service.   
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750.11        Richardson, Joy.  Looking at Pictures.
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794.000     Orbanes, Philip E. Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Retirement Ponderings

Tonight I'm talking about retirement.  Don't you just love how I jump around in topics?  I know I don't have any cohesion in my blog, but if I start up 5 different blogs, I won't maintain any of them very well so I choose to have most of my "isms" here. 

Below I'm showing a picture of a spreadsheet I made.  It shows a fictional person with a career that spans 45 years, assuming the person starts work right out of college at 22 and works steadily until 67, the current Social Security retirement age.  This fictional person starts out his/her career making $30,000 and receives a 3.5% salary increase each year.  The person consistently contributes 15% over the course of his/her career.  The person's retirement account earns 7.5% interest every year. 

Hopefully you can click on to make it bigger

Is this reflective of a normal person?  Probably not.  Of course, salaries will vary, the person might be out of the workforce for a couple of years, the person probably won't always contribute an exact 15%.  The biggest fallacy is that investments will earn a precise 7.5% each year.  Hopefully the dips will balance out with the exceptional years to earn roughly 7.5% overall. 

Despite not being exactly reflective of your specific situation, the spreadsheet does tell us some things.  After 20 years of diligent investing (age 42), the person has $282,000.  After 30 years (age 52), the person has $732,000.  After 40 years (age 62), the person has $1,700,000.  After 45 years (age 67), the person has $2,500,000. 

The first years of investing are tough.  Not only are you earning a much lower salary and amassing retirement contributions slowly, but you also don't see the power of compounding that easily.  It takes a good THIRTY years to start seeing the effects noticeably.  After 40-45 years, the compound interest principle really takes hold. 

Another thing the spreadsheet tells me is that delaying retirement by even just a few years makes quite a bit of difference in your retirement balance.  This spreadsheet isn't taking into account distributions from your account when you retire.  I'm merely looking at amassing a retirement nest egg.  If the person retires at age 60, the person will have about $1,500,000 to last the rest of his life.  But if the person delays retirement until 65, the person will have $2,200,000 to last the rest of his life, which is about $700,000 more than he would have as compared to retiring 5 years earlier. 

Financial planners talk about only taking 3-5% of the retirement nest egg balance in distributions each year.  I tend to be more conservative by nature, and I personally think 4% is a good rule of thumb unless your retirement portfolio goes into the crapper, and then perhaps 3% is a better rule of thumb.  But for most people, 4% should be a withdrawal amount that ensures you do not run out of money. 

So when using a 4% rule of thumb, the person will take a first year retirement account distribution that could vary widely.  If the person starts tapping into the account at age 55, then the monthly income would be $3,177.  If the person starts tapping into the account at age 60, then the monthly income would go up to $4,857.  If the person waits until age 67, the distributions go up to $8,617 per month!  Waiting definitely pays off. 

However, it's a delicate balance between amassing enough and waiting so long to amass enough that you don't get to enjoy retirement.  The vast majority of us don't know when our number will be called.  A chunk of us might never even see retirement.  A chunk of us might live until age 100+.  It's hard to tell. 

As you've been hearing for years, Social Security is running into issues due to there being so many Baby Boomers and not enough current workers to fund the system.  There seems to be murmurs of lowering benefits as one solution or delaying the retirement age even longer.  The likely solution will be a hybrid of the two - lowering benefits some and delaying benefits some.  Personally, I wish there was some way to elect which you would personally prefer.  I doubt that will happen though.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Best Year

It's 3am.  I've been up since 2am.  It sucks to have middle of the night insomnia, but what makes it worse, you ask?  The raging hunger!  I could totally eat ANYthing right now.  Of course, you're not supposed to eat ANYthing this late/early, so I suppose I will drown my hunger pains with water and pretend it's something more delectable.

The question posed a few days ago was: "What was the best year of your life?"  It's been in the back of my mind, and unfortunately it's turned out to be process of elimination.  If you've read this blog for any length of time, you can pick up on my sentiment that I didn't enjoy being a kid.  My mother was extremely moody and difficult to live with & I moved around a lot and it was draining to start over all the time.  I was always provided for as a kid & my mother was responsible, so it's not like it was awful.  It just wasn't great.

I'd want to say college because I did really like the college experience.  It was more like it was a social learning experience (who should you befriend, date, etc. - all through trial and error), and it was an exciting and confusing time.  As much as I liked it, I didn't feel completely centered throughout the experience.  There definitely were many moments of insecurity and hesitance and confused identity that took away from the experience.  But I suppose that's why it was so worthwhile.

Unlike many people, I enjoy being an adult.  I like choosing where I want to live, being able to control my life more than when I was a kid.  I'm very fortunate to have not run into a whole lot of huge problems in my life thus far, so I've found it manageable.  I consciously try not to get in over my head (although that doesn't always work), and I've found a partner who I genuinely enjoy and love.  I like how I spend my work time.  I enjoy having a toddler and teaching her about the world.  The freedom to make the life you want as an adult is extremely appealing, and most of the time I will say that I enjoy being an adult far better than a kid.  As a kid, I had a tremendous amount of responsibility but little to no control.  If I'm going to have all the responsibility, then I want to have it on my terms. 

So I will say that the best year of my life is April 1999 - March 2000 when I was 21-22.  In that year, we bought our first house and chose to legally be together by getting married.  Those were the first big things we did as adults, and we tried to thoughtfully tackle both of those big decisions.  It's funny now that if I meet anyone in their early or even mid 20s now who is buying a house or getting married, I think, "But they're so young..."  I'm a complete hypocrite because I was usually even younger than they are when I did those things!  21 just seems so young now when I'm 32 although I must say that I don't think I've changed a whole lot since I was 21. 

I've been reading a lot this week.  I am making some good progress on the Dewey project.  I think I'm going to have to take a Dewey break soon because I'm starting to burn out even though I'm reading some interesting and diverse books.

 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apparently there's a market for everything

Supply, demand, price is determined at the point these two curves intersect.  The demand curve slopes downward, the supply curve slopes upward.  Cocaine tends to have inelastic demand - people tend to buy that at any price.  As the price goes up for a "normal" good, demand tends to go down.  My professor for economics would be proud of how much I have retained in the past 15 years and how frequently I use economics in my daily life.

When I see something like this ad, my mind goes first to the simple economics of it.  Who would buy that?  Really - WHO would buy that?  Would you?  If you would, WHAT would you do with it?  I have a feeling that you wouldn't pay $250 or even the $500 that the seller wants.  If this was even free, I don't think you'd want it.  Maybe I'm just projecting though.  I think the demand curve for this item would be flat and would be at 0, regardless of the price. 

If there really was a market for such things, I think there would be applicants lining the streets, particularly if health benefits came along with the job. Can you just picture all of the enterprising applicants interviewing for the job?  These could be the new fall fashion line.  Maybe the world could be saved from Ed Hardy shirts and replaced with these.  And unemployment would go down!  It's a win/win.  Except for that whole demand thang...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Second Batch of Dewey Entries

I read three books in the last few days.  The Friendship Crisis talked about making friends when you're an adult. It felt like I was reading a book about how to meet a man: join clubs you're interested in, how to make first contact, blah blah blah.  It does talk about how friends are different than husbands, but I kind of disagree.  I talk to my husband about everything I would talk about with a friend.  Hence, I don't really have much to talk to a friend about that's different than what I talk to my husband about.  Except talking about my husband.  I cringe when he eats ice cream because his jaw makes this weird noise.  That's my big husband complaint.

Next up is Falling into Manholes.  Whenever I can during this Dewey project, I'm going to pick the humorous memoirs.  I love self-deprecating humor.  This book is supposed to be a humorous, self-deprecating memoir, but it comes across really tedious and not very funny.  It's more like you want to say, "I'm so glad I'm not the author because she is whacked."  

Last one was Don't Get Too Comfortable.   It was a journalist writing essays that basically poke fun at how Americans are really spoiled.  I think the same can be established if you read US Weekly, but he was a very good writer. 

After I logged the books below, I realized that I read two books that started with "30."  Oh well.  Guess I'm reading 101 books now!

Making My Way Through Dewey

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081               Rakoff, David. Don't Get Too Comfortable.
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248.845 Neumann, Connie. Parenting in the Home Stretch.
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302.34082           Paul, Marla.  The Friendship Crisis.
305.4092             Merrill, Wendy.  Falling into Manholes.
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817.000 Scottoline, Lisa. Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

It's like Parents' Weekend at college

Do you remember Parents' Weekend at college?  If you lived in the dorms, it was a weekend a month or two into school when parents came up to visit and you showed them your new, groovy life away from home.  But it couldn't be too groovy, or your parents would think that something fishy was going on.  So you had to hide all of the incriminating evidence before they showed up.  You had to stuff everything naughty into closets, majorly declutter, make your bed, and pretend to be the person you weren't.  Maybe it was just me.

My mother is the one person in the world who folds her dirty laundry.  And you can never tell if the dishes in her dishwasher are dirty or clean because she washes her dishes before she puts them into the dishwasher. 

I fail completely as a housekeeper in my mother's eyes. 

Tomorrow morning we have an appraiser come to the house.  It's actually a really, really low stress situation. We're refinancing our 5/1 ARM to a 15 year mortgage that is exactly the same interest rate.  We're only paying $600 in closing costs.  It's an awesome deal to get 10 more years of fixed payments.  Oh yeah, the best part is that it won't be with the devil: Bank of America.  It's with a credit union.  Now if they sell the mortgage to B of A I'm going to be pissed.  But for now, the prospects are looking good for us getting away for B of A.  The house needs to appraise for 50% of what we bought for in December.  Back then it had a crappy kitchen plus old bathroom cabinets and countertops.  The house next door sold 2 months ago for $75k more than we bought our house for, and it's smaller.  And the county assessed our house for $60k more than we bought it for.  So yeah, we're totally going to be fine.  Nothing to worry about.

But yet I'm stressed about it, and I'm running around trying to make it look as perfect as I can before tomorrow morning.  Of course we shouldn't have it look like a total dump, but I can dial it back a few notches.  Still, I worry.  I get nervous about being judged. 

I almost want to go into my hamper and fold my dirty clothes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

6 months after

When we moved into our house in December, we got the most disgusting kitchen ever.  It was gross, along with almost everything in the house.  Our first big project was to get rid of the hideousness (non-functional 3 burners on the stove, which may or may not have had to do with a likely rat infestation in the cabinets...ugh...makes me want to hurl...then there was what were supposed to be white cabinets and white tile countertops, which weren't). 
Before - you really need to see it up close to really see the hideousness

We picked out everything and coordinated everything in a matter of 6 weeks.  It wasn't just picking out the cabinets and countertops.  We moved appliance slots around, changed the cabinet layout, picked out appliances, found a cabinet supplier, found the specific cabinets, blah blah blah.  Considering we were still getting settled into the house, had full-time jobs, had a toddler, and were in the process of selling our other house, it was a lot to take on.  And a lot we could potentially screw up.  Oh yeah, and we were changing things even the day of demo.  Our contractor must hate us, but hey you can't be picky about your customers in this economy.  Right?

After the first day
After - new spot for the stove and fridge (I can't take a straight picture to save my life)


It's been six months with a functional kitchen.  I lovvvve it, but of course I'm comparing it to the rat infested, made no sense cabinet layout with tile stained by curry.


In our last house, we did a bathroom remodel.  That was agonizing.  It took forever to find a contractor.  The one we hired was Barney Fife-ish; he fell through the ceiling and took forever.  In the end, we were somewhat pleased but would have done things differently if we had to do it again.

So I was thinking that a kitchen would be even more regret-filled than a bathroom.  I was worried because we did a lot to that dang kitchen.  There was 1 big glitch during the process.  We ended up getting a different granite than we (I) thought we were going to get.  It's close though, albeit darker.  I sometimes "lose" things in the granite because there is some gray/black shades, and silverware and food can kind of blend in.  Or I'm getting blinder, which is certainly a possibility.

After 6 months, the granite color has worn on me, and I don't think it's THAT bad anymore.  I have only 2 complaints about the remodel.  1)  I really don't like our microwave.  The one in our last house was much better.  This one is supposed to have all sorts of sensors and crap.  When I put in a potato and hit the potato setting, I get a potato that's warm; however, you cannot cut it with a fork because it's still hard as a rock.  It takes a lot longer to heat things.  Wah wah, I want my late 90s Kenmore back.  2)  The other complaint I have is with our sink faucet.  We have a double sink, and the faucet gravitates to the middle.  So you turn it on, and it sprays the divider between the sinks, and water goes everywhere.  You have to force it to one and side or the other, but it slowly slides back to the middle anyway.  Grrr.... And the nozzle is hard for me to put back in. 

No other complaints though.  The new layout seems to work pretty well.  If people are sitting at the bar, I think it can be a challenge to get into the pantries behind the bar.  But there's really nowhere else to put the pantries, so I guess we just have to deal with that.  I like where the appliances are.  All in all, I'd say the kitchen remodel was a tentative success.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Self Help Needed

I checked out a book from the library for my Dewey project that I really should read; it's about making friendships with women.  Ugh, I suck at that.  I'm the crappiest girl friend ever (I'm an awesome girlfriend though).  I really need to read this book, and then I need to take its advice.

Being raised by an emotionally detached mother sets up the stage for being emotionally detached myself.  Then choosing to hang out with boys when I was younger probably made that worse.  I had one good girl friend when I was 12-13. She wanted to be older, and she wanted to explore everything that went along with it.  She dragged me to the mall to try on a bazillion outfits, we were on the phone together all the time talking about the boys who we would never talk to in person at school, we passed notes in class, we shared a locker covered in Luke Perry cutouts.  My heart wasn't into the whole thing though.  It just seemed stupid to talk for endless hours about clothes and scenarios with boys that would never happen since she and I were glued at the hip.  I preferred to just hang out with the boys and play video games and try to break into the houses they were building up the street.  Hanging with the boys was far less emotionally draining, and my inner thrill seeker was occupied.

The emotional neediness of women in general scares me.  Back when I was 12-13, part of me dreaded when the phone would ring at 3pm because I knew it would be my best friend at the time.  We had seen each other an hour previously, but now we would start our afternoon ritual of being on the phone.  Perhaps it's just that I don't have the social needs like most people, but even back then I'd just prefer to unwind from the day by myself and nap, watch TV, or read a book.  Having to talk on the phone for hours a day got to be really annoying.  Over time I became a less responsive friend, and she dropped me as a best friend for another girl who fulfilled the girl best friend criteria better than I.  I don't blame her.  My heart really wasn't into living at the mall and being attached at the hip. 

I know all women aren't emotionally that needy.  I've met some of them.  I like those women.  I like to talk, but I like to talk about things deeper than what outfit looks best on you or me.  Most women will go deeper than that, but then it becomes some really emotional, cathartic therapy experience for them & I become their counselor.  I don't want that either.  I'm seeking something kind of in the middle.  I don't want to talk about the weather, and I don't want to be anyone's personal therapist.  I'm hoping to find some sort of balance. 

"I like girls who wear Abercrombie & Fitch..." has been going through my mind on repeat all evening.  So sad to lose a Boy Bander even though I don't have even one clothing item from Abercrombie & Fitch. 
 

A pretty invitation

WebMD said it would take 6 weeks for whooping cough to run its course. It's been 6 weeks. I'm ready for it to be over. NOW! Yes, I'm definitely having less coughing incidents now. It's probably about 5 a day instead of 40 a day. But still...those disgusting little bacteria need to get out since it's been the obligatory 6 weeks.

Julia's been under the weather. Not sure if it's teeth or what, but since I'm not 100%, it's been hard to deal with a whiny kid. Oh, the whining! The constantly changing her mind thing gets frustrating, particularly with food. I want a hot dog. No, no hot dog. I want yogurt. No yogurt. We try to make her finish the first thing she talked about, but then there's a full-fledged tantrum about the unfairness of it all, and remember that I'm cranky to start with. The screaming and whining then prompt me to down a whole handful of Tylenol while I wait her out. And the Daddy clingy behavior is getting out of control; "I want my dadddddddy!" After I got her to bed, I went directly to bed, collapsed, and don't even remember my husband coming home. I have a twinge of guilt that perhaps she didn't go to sleep and was screaming when he came home while I was in my coma and didn't hear her. I suppose if she was screaming and out of control, I would have heard her. Maybe. Or not.

Cousin's girlfriend who we met last month is throwing cousin a birthday party. She sent out really nice birthday invitations. Oh my goodness, she is trying hard. It's so easy to spot her goal of marrying the cousin.

S and his mom had a conversation about that whole situation because she hadn't gotten our side of the whole meetup last month. She pumped S's brother for info, but he's pretty useless at that kind of thing. Remember that he doesn't have room to talk since his wife is a basket case who kicked his parents out. And it was obvious to tell that S's brother was infatuated with the girlfriend. Seriously, I don't get men that can't see past that sort of thing. Crazy is attractive? Guess so.

S's mother seemed to be quite impressed that we assessed the whole situation from one meeting, and the family (her and her 2 sisters, one of which is the cousin's mother) agree that this girlfriend will do anything to get into the family. Really!? You have to be as perceptive as a rock to not completely understand. The cousin's mother is getting nervous about the whole situation and is thinking about cutting the cousin off financially until the girlfriend is gone. Get this...the cousin's mother is very suspicious that they're sleeping together. It's quite a shocker in this very Catholic family, and the two of us just say "well, duh" because it's kind of a "well, duh" thing.  But with S's mother and his two aunts in their 60s and 70s, this is THE news.  Now the three of them speculate that she's going to trap him with a baby.  I have to roll my eyes at the thought of these three sisters on the phone every day trying to plot how to get rid of this girlfriend.

I just did a little investigation via Facebook. The girlfriend graduated in '89, so that makes her almost 40. She's never been married. My take on it is that she desperately wants to be married, but I think the whole trap a man thing would have been a strategy already employed by now in her life if she was that desperate.  She doesn't work and lives with her mother.  I definitely think she wants to marry a rich man to 1) get out of her current housing situation and 2) to continue not to work. 

Now this brings me to the conversation that the cousin had with his mother, which of course made its rounds to S's mother and us.  The cousin says he will never marry her.  As much as I don't like this girlfriend, I think it's unfair to her to lead her on like that.  The cousin has been divorced for less than a year.  He can't handle his two kids by himself yet.  He has a hard time juggling work with his kids.  I get it that it's difficult.  So why can't cousin take a break from women and just focus on getting his life together?  Honestly having her as a girlfriend, or anyone for that matter, is a ton of work.  Focusing on his kids should be a higher priority, especially since one of the kids has special needs. Easy for me to judge from here, I suppose, and I will truly never understand what motivates a man.  Okay, I do understand the motivations.  But I'm freaking lazy.  Even if I was a guy, I wouldn't put up with a high maintenance woman like that just to get laid.  Or I'd like to think that I wouldn't.

I want everyone to be happy. but there seems to be a fundamental disconnect when one person wants marriage (and fast!) and one doesn't.  Seems like it makes the most sense for those two to have an honest conversation about what they want and realize that it's likely not the same thing so they continue to not waste each other's time.  But that's just me.

Back to this pretty invitation we got for the cousin's birthday party.  Seriously, it even outdoes some wedding invitations I've seen.  Of course we're not traveling to the east coast for it.  I mean, really!?  But it was nice that she sent an invitation, even if it was to "Mr. and Mrs. S. G."  Another way to piss me off is call me Mrs. S. G.  Yo, I have a first name!!!  I did not get assimilated into my husband when I got married.  Yeah yeah, I know it's the old style way.  Still hate it. 

It's raining here.  Weird after so many weeks without rain, or if it did rain, it was more that dark clouds would roll in & we'd get a downpour for a few minutes.  Now it's more the steadier rain.  Fall is coming!  My favorite season.  Soup season.  Pumpkin season.  Halloween season.  Gain 20 lbs and hide it under big sweaters season.  :)

G'night!


Mrs. S. G.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

________________________ Anonymous

Do you know the reason I don't drink or take drugs? To put it simply, I know I'd become an addict; therefore, I must not even go down that road. My drug of choice is food for the simple fact that you can't get around not eating. You can live without drinking alcohol, doing drugs, gambling, etc. You can't live without eating, so if you're going to pick something to binge on, food makes the most sense, right?

Why do you think I've never taken Percocet or Valium? I know I'd become an addict within a week. I'd be one of those people who is at the doctor every week, complaining about chronic pain so I can get another week's supply of a drug.

Why do you think I don't let myself play computer games? I'd be a complete mess, playing hooky from work to get to the next level of whatever game I'm playing.

Why do you think I don't gamble? I'd be the person you'd have to drag kicking and screaming out of the casino.

Why do you think I don't drink alcohol? Because I'd have brown paper bags full of alcohol in my desk until I got fired.

See, binging on food at 3am is actually the lesser of many of the evils I could partake in. That's how I justify it to myself. I'm kind of proud because I showed considerable restraint today. It's reminiscent of the time I saw those Lofthouse cookies covered in frosting and sprinkles for $1, and I refused to let myself buy even just one. A small bit of progress, yet a long road ahead.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My first Dewey entries

I have officially started my challenge Making My Way Through Dewey.  I read three books this weekend.  Below is my master list.

I read My Third Husband Will Be a Dog from the humor section.  One might think it would be full of manbashing, as the title suggests.  But it wasn't.  It was the self-deprecating humor that I enjoy, and the author mainly talked about her mother and daughter.  It was a fun read, full of little essays that are about 3 pages each.

The next book was The Big Payoff from the personal finance section.  It was boring.  All personal finance books are pretty much the same.  Honestly, it's a really lame formula for creating wealth: maximize earnings, minimize spending, invest the difference.

The last book for the weekend was Parenting in the Home Stretch.  It was about parenting older kids and instilling values and ethics in them.  Quick read.  Again, it was kind of like the personal finance book in that it had shockers such as "model how you want your kids to act" and "don't for them what they can do for themselves."

3 sections of Dewey done, 97 to go!



Making My Way Through Dewey

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248.845 Neumann, Connie. Parenting in the Home Stretch.
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332.02401            Epperson, Sharon.  The Big Payoff.
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817.000 Scottoline, Lisa. Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog.
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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Making My Way Through Dewey

My life as an adult has had a few distinctive time periods.  I often forget that because we lived in the old house for so long that I felt like I did nothing for all that time, when in fact I did.  Here’s a rundown:

Late 1998: Graduated with 2nd major, rent an apartment, start work life

Early 1999: Switch jobs, buy house

2000: Get married, switch jobs again

2000-2003: Focused on losing weight and cross stitching/crocheting.  I cross stitched something for everyone I knew.  I freaking LOVED to cross stitch, and it also went hand-in-hand with losing weight because you cannot eat and cross stitch at the same time.  It’s usually a white fabric that you’re working with, and spilling anything on something you’ve spent 40+ hours on would be disastrous.  Wonderful weight loss plan because every evening I’d cross stitch instead of eat.  I watched a lot of TV during that time because you need to do something mindless while you cross stitch.

Late 2003- early 2006: Different job within the same organization x2, got my master’s degree

Mid 2006 – fall 2007: Obsessed with my Blockbuster.com membership and reading, hubby was getting his master’s during this time while I was done, so it was a lot of mindless entertainment

Fall 2007 – mid 2009: Got pregnant, mind full of all things baby, baby comes and is a complete handful her first year.

Late 2009 – mid 2010: Moved into a new house that needed a lot of work

Now here I am with some extra time on my hands finally.  I’ve debated going back for a PhD, but I don’t love anything that much to get a PhD in it.  I’m kind of commitment phobic, as in I don’t like to lock myself into anything (such as weekly activities/classes, or even monthly activities).  I do enjoy exercise, but I like to do it solo. 

Today when I was at the library I got an epiphany.  I’d like to improve myself by gaining more knowledge.   What’s a good way to do that?  Work my way through the Dewey decimal system!   I’m not crazy enough to take anything huge on, but I think a good sampling is warranted.  Then I started thinking through the logistics, and I think I came up with a reasonable challenge to myself. 

The Dewey decimal system essentially is 1,000 numbers:  0 – 999.  The system also goes out three decimal places, so for instance there’s an entry 657.435.  The first three digits denote a specific section, and the decimal digits parse it down even further. 

The challenge is to wade my way through 100 books, with the first two digits going through every Dewey decimal combination, thus:

00_.___
01_.___
02_.___
03_.___
And so on.

Why do this?  Because it will force me to read non-fiction books that I might not ordinarily read.  I will give myself the freedom to choose any book that fits the criteria.  Also, I do not have to read them in order.  I’ll keep a master list that I will post as I finish a book and then state what I learned from that book.  If I like a topic, I can certainly read more than 1 book from each of the 100 groupings.  And there’s no time limit although I imagine it will take me through 2011 to complete the project. 

I’m excited to start!  It will be fun and educational.  I know it sounds hokey, but I'm kinda hokey.