Money Work- HP2014 Prep

If you recall, January is the start of my Happiness Project 2014 and I am starting with money.  I’d like to spend January setting up a system that will allow me to not worry about it.  I want to simplify

I have a thing about personal finance books.  I love to read them so I can’t claim that this is all prep work.  They give me this awesome boost of motivation.  I am currently reading Suze Orman’s 9 Steps to Financial Freedom and the first step I’m supposed to take is talking about my earliest money memory, when I realized that money had value and how it made me feel.

I was the lucky child.  When my brother was growing up my parents were pretty broke and even filed bankruptcy.  The hardest financial time when I was growing up was when my father was laid off from Pontiac Motors.  I only have vague memories of it but even then he would load me into his beat up pickup truck, take me to McDonald’s 15 miles away, and then take me to the part store down the street from us.  I loved the part store because they had stools with spinning seats and they all thought I was adorable.  Plus, Dad would take me back in the junk yard once in a while and I loved the strangeness, that forgotteness, of all those rusted out relics.

What I remember most about money when I was growing up was the pleasure it bought me.  Sometimes it was a Barbie.  Sometimes it was a ride on the penny horse at the grocery story.  I used to get so excited about those penny horses and so devastated when they were out of order that for years we would say “Horsey is broke, horsey’s not broke” before I went to bed.  Isn’t that a great motto for life?  I don’t remember ever being told that I couldn’t have something because there wasn’t money.  I was, honestly, pretty spoiled but I did not know it.  I grew up around cousins who had less money than me and I always had them over and let them play with my Barbies and that was that.  I didn’t really think about money.  Money wasn’t what made me happy.  I was just as pleased to go play with the trash in the back yard or imagine a kingdom and tell myself stories about it.

I would say my first formative memory of money happened when I was in eighth grade.  My grandmother, who was my absolute dearest everything, was in a home by then with dementia.  They had a Christmas tea that year and I invited my friend J to come because I was starting to get a little bummed about my grandma’s whole situation.  J came and looking back I can see how very nice that was.  I cannot even imagine going to a friend’s grandma’s old folks’ home for a Christmas tea.  Not even my Bestie and she’s like a sister and I know both of her grandmothers.  Anyway, J came along and after the tea we were in the back seat of Dad’s truck play fighting with each other and I said, “Well, at least I’m not poor.”

The whole car went silent.

My mother made me apologize again and again.  After we dropped J off, she tore me up one side and down the other.  I was ashamed.  I had not meant to hurt J at all.  To me, money really did not mean a thing.  My parents had more than a lot of people around us at that point and we always shared, took my friends to the mall and to dinner and to the movies.  I never knew that it was shameful not to have money.  That had never once occurred to me.  I had just begun to understand that having money was something that I could use to defend myself when people made fun of me at school.  One girl actually told me that I couldn’t live in the house I lived in because rich people weren’t fat and weird.

Looking back now, I really do see that money was not even an object to me until that moment.  After that, I did not want to think of it as having anything to do with who a person was.  Having a lot of it was never one of my goals.  My first fiance wanted to have a big house and nice cars and money in the bank while all I wanted was an old house that I could make my own (see the junkyard), a fast car (ok, that’s genetic), someone to love, a room full of books, and cats to cuddle.  These were not money things to me.

In recent years I have begun to feel the need for more money but now that I think about it, I can see that I have been trying to compete with people I don’t care about in order to prove that I am better than them.  That’s ridiculous!  I don’t even care about those people and I treat people way better than they do so perhaps I am already better than them.

So, there.  The air is cleared.

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The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno

I love Joe Meno. I have loved Joe Meno since Hairstyles of the Damned. It was the book that sent me scrambling to read all of his books. Each one is wonderfully different and wonderfully odd. At the end I always feel… satisfied.

In The Great Perhaps, we meet the Casper family. Grandpa Henry is living in a nursing home, mailing himself notes of his memories and uttering one less word each day until he can disappear. Jonathan, who suffers from a condition that causes him to have seizures whenever he sees something his brain registers as a cloud, is absorbed in his work studying giant squids. His wife Madeline studies bird behavior and her experiment is going terribly wrong. Eldest daughter Amelia is failing at getting her revolutionary anti-capitalist beliefs across at school and then fails at blowing up the school newspaper office with a pipe-bomb she made by studying the internet. Youngest daughter Thisbe is looking for God, praying to be a martyr, and confused about her feelings for Roxie.

We have this complicated family and each and every member is living his/her own life with little disregard for the others. When Madeline and Jonathan decide to separate, they put the family in a tail spin that will send each of them trying desperately to grapple with the realities of their lives.  I love books where everything comes together so solidly in the end.

Beautifully written and heartfelt while still being quirky, this was a great read.

The Five Stages of Writing

1. Inspiration!  This is by far the best phase.  Maybe you’re hanging out with some friends, playing cards and drinking, or you’re working out or you’re driving and BAM!  the muse strikes!  “Wouldn’t this make a great story?” you think.  Over the course of an hour or a week or a month, it differs every time, your brain goes back to the story again and again, fleshing it out, adding characters, adding scenes.  You think it could be good, you decide to get started.

2. Procrastination.  This is the phase in the project when you decide that you are going to write.  Maybe you sit down and open a new document.  You put your fingers to the keyboard and realize that, OMG!  You forgot to unload the dishwasher!  While you’re at it you realize the kitchen is actually super dirty and needs to be cleaned right now.  Then you’re hungry so you eat.  Next thing you know, you’re passed out on the couch.

3. Actually, seriously getting down to it.  You ran out of things to do around the house or have been shamed by a loved one (this is Hubby’s job) into actually starting that project.  You sit down and get started and, holy crap, you are actually enjoying yourself.  You soar into a literary world where everything is at your command.  You write and write and feel pretty good about it.

4. Crippling self-doubt.  And then you realize that what you are writing is complete and utter shit.  You collapse on your keyboard.  You get really drunk and sob about never being a great writer.  You compare yourself to Hemingway and Faulkner, Plath and Woolf.  Everything in your life is also shit.  How could you have been so stupid!

5. The Dammit All to Hell Phase.  This is where you say, “Screw it!  I’m doing it!”  You take off in flights of fancy.  You write some great stuff and some great crap but you write and eventually you “finish” and that, my friends, feels great.

Why I Envy My Husband His Hobby

Hubby is a big Magic the Gathering player.

I know, I know.  Some of you may have just lost respect for the man but in all fairness he has been playing off and on since he was like 10.  He doesn’t usually play out and he never has people over to play.  We play, for the most part, and it is fun. When we first got together we would buy decks and play those then he started making me make my own using mostly his cards.  (I don’t buy cards.)  Earlier this year he decided to start building cubes so that we could draft together and build new decks every time.  If this means nothing to you, don’t worry.  I’m done with that part.

Why am I so envious of this?

My husband has a hobby.  I have hobbies, right?  I mean, I read and write and I have been known to make a quilt or two and to cross stitch and I enjoy playing the Sims.  You could probably even count napping at this point.  I like to play games, board or card or video.  I do a lot of fun things.  Or do I?

MtG is a great hobby for a number of reasons.
1. Other people do it.  There is a community for it.
2. It is constantly evolving.  Every however months there are new cards to buy and learn.
3. You build your collection.  You can go to the store and drop $4 on a booster pack and be excited to open it.
4. There are blogs and podcasts.

Do books have these things?  Well, yeah.  I mean, a lot of people read and there are book clubs and stuff.  New books are constantly being released, so it’s always evolving.  You do totally build a collection (and if you don’t believe me ask me about my office closet and the bookvalanche of ’13) and books can be picked up from as little as a quarter if you shop the library book sales, used book stores, and garage sales.  Even better, you can borrow them from the library(Working in a library is great for the book lover.  You have a never ending list of books to read and access to nearly anything you want.  My office also happens to be where a lot of the donations for book sales end up temporarily stored and the people who run the book sales pay me rent in books.)  There are blogs and podcasts, but these are the things that kind of suck.

See, as a book lover, I’m totally cool with reading about books.  (I actually prefer reading about reading but that’s just me.)  The problem is that facing a book blog or podcast can be disastrous.  There is always a chance that the blog is about to contain a spoiler.  It might make a book that you were really looking forward to sound crappy even though you realize that it varies from reader to reader, thus thrusting you into the awkward “to read or not to read, that is the question” debate.  Even worse, it may be a book you hadn’t planned on reading that suddenly sounds really good, thus adding to your literary backlog.

And here’s the real topper of all this.  Hubby can buy a pack of cards and go through them in minutes.  A game usually takes no more than a half an hour.  He can sit and listen to podcasts when he’s not playing and read articles and get great ideas for the next time he does play.  Me?  A book usually takes me days to read.  If I buy a book it gets shoved into my closet.  If I read a book blog or listen to book podcast, I am just making the problem worse and I also end up berating myself for reading about books instead of reading a book.

It’s a shame.  I’m starting to think that I need a real hobby.

Randomness, NaNoWriMo, and Happiness Project 2014

Randomness:

Watching Jenna Marbles tonight, catching up.  I always get a little jealous when I see her getting drunk (ON STRONGBOW IN A CAN!!!!) looking all warm and comfortable.  I remember when I used to be able to get drunk like that.  It was summer.  It wasn’t long ago, though, that hubby did not live here and I did not yet have a bar in the basement.  (The bar, btw, was a gift from his parents.  Hubby brought lots of good stuff with him, like lamps.)  When I first bought my house, I lived here for over a month without a couch.  I had a recliner and two lawn rocking chairs.  We would sit at the table and play games and it was nice and warm.  Once in a while we’d go to the basement to have a smoke and we’d layer.  Now we live down here.  It’s too cold to pass out by 9.

NaNoWriMo:

Day 19 of NaNoing and I am back on day 14.  Reading through my backlog of prep talks today, I got super inspired and spilled out 3200 words.  I’m actually really proud of myself.  I started a week late and there were days I just didn’t write and then consecutive days of 3000 word counts.  I like what I’m writing.  I’m doubtful of my ability to pull it off.  It’s a time period I’m not up on.  Still, NaNoWriMo is about letting it go and letting it happen.  I don’t let that happen in my daily writing life.  I like this pushing myself.  I feel capable again.

Happiness Project 2014:

In the planning stages of HP14.  In the past, I start every year with a DIEt.  Not this year, baby!  I’m starting with a budget.  Kind of.  In the past I’ve done the Dave Ramsey thing and it has worked really well.  I build my savings.  I start a snowball.  Things get a little less tight.  I make a big purchase.  Not so much part of the plan but it’s gotten me a house and a car so whatever.  In January I am focusing on the Dave Ramsey plan again.  I am picking a budget and sticking to it.  I don’t do envelopes.  I give myself cash for the week and fill my tank as needed.  (I drive A LOT for work.  Gas is essential.)  Some weeks I spend all of my budget on groceries.  Some weeks I have money leftover to blow.  Whatever.  I’m fine with it.

The thing I came across this week was that in my preliminary planning a month or so ago, I added couponing to my list of goals for January.  When I looked at it this week, I laughed out loud.  Look, I’m not going to coupon.  The goal of January is to not have to worry about money so much.  Couponing and I do not get along.  I forget to bring them to the store and I forget to use them and I never need the things I buy.  The point of a happiness project to be happier, not frustrated by doing something I don’t like doing.  My plan has been edited and fixed.  No couponing for me.

What makes you happy may not make me happy.  Is there something other people do that you just can’t stand??

Today is a Better Day- Living by My Rules

Sunday a major storm blew through the area (and, really, most areas) leaving a bulk of the county without power.  Sunday I wished for the county seat to lose power so that maybe I could have a three day weekend.  I haven’t been feeling too hot though I can’t really tell you what is wrong.  I’m tired and feel kind of fuzzy and worn out.  It could just be my issues or it could be an oncoming cold or it could just be me being tired after last week’s amazing toss and turn sleep routine.  Any old ways, I slept in an extra 40 minutes yesterday and debated calling in but told myself that I would be fine and it wasn’t like I had a hard day anyway.  Mondays are traveling days for me.  I do a story time at the far south of the county, one at the east end of the county and then run my branch of the library in the north of the county, which is always nice.

Only, when I got out on the road I realized that some of the branches were without power and would be closed for the day.  I called the main office and asked about the branches but everyone was still trying to figure out who was without power verses who was without computers and when things would be back up.  I did my first story time but the second branch was closed so I went back to my office at the main branch and waited.  Well, my branch was closed too and I had a surprise 7 hours in my office.  With very little that needed to be done and still not feeling well.

I stewed all day.  It used to be the policy that we went home if our work place was without power and as I wasn’t feeling well and had almost called in, I was really looking forward to that.  It’s not that I don’t have the sick time so much as I have been not feeling very well a lot this year and I feel like maybe it’s starting to look bad.  But I stayed and I worked in my office for a while.  I left an hour and a half early, figuring I could come in early the rest of the week and it would be fine, which it will.  Still, I felt kind of cheated by the sudden policy change even if I can’t tell you if it was ever actually policy or if my previous bosses were just the kind of ladies who really appreciate a “snow day,” which they totally were.

The outcome of stewing all day was this: I ate horribly and thought mean thoughts and was even a little ruder than I should have been to a couple of people.  It was like I had a black cloud hanging over my head.  This could have been solved by just calling in in the morning.  It could have been solved by just telling my boss that I wasn’t feeling well and would like to go home.  I do not thing it would have been a big deal.  But, no, I had to stew.  And this morning I woke up with a stewing hangover.

I used to have all kinds of rules that I lived by and more and more I am noticing that I have let myself slide away from them due to my issues.  I have spent the past year being easy on myself because I’ve been stressed and depressed.  But there is really no excuse for that.  So, when I woke up this morning and thought to myself, “I still don’t feel great.  I should call in today.” I got up, worked out, and showered.  I know that I don’t have any really decent physical manifestations of illness that would be contagious to the kids or my coworkers and that really give me a good reason to sulk at home.  In fact, I bet I would feel worse if I stayed here.  By bucking up today and making myself work and making myself be nice and, most of all, forgiving myself for my bad thoughts yesterday and turning a new leaf, I am more likely to feel better when I get home tonight.

There is nothing wrong with being kind to yourself, but sometimes it’s not that beneficial to be easy on yourself.  You have to have your own rules to live by and you can’t break them.

Here’s to a better day.  Hope you folks have power and heat and homes.

Why I Did the Rockabilly Thing

The easy reason for why I fell into the rockabilly scene for a couple of years is that I was dating an upright bassist.  Here, my motives may not have been the best.  Just out of my nine year relationship with X, my ex-sister-in-law, here dubbed T1, was married to the front man of a rockabilly band.  T1 is also my tattoo artist and while on the Fateful Camping Trip (You need to read some older posts to catch up on my crazy ass life.) I had told X that I wanted to cover my first tattoo because it had become a blue blob on my thigh because some tattoo artists have the ethics of snakes and will not warn you that shit is not going to look good in 6 years.  Thus, my lovely Roman numeral II (for Gemini) with Venus written in lovely scrolly cursive around it with swirls (the name of my first car in my first car’s color) was, indeed, a blue blob that took way more explaining than it should have.  I said I might like a birdy because I did birdies.  X laughed at me as he floated along the river with his future wife.  Needless to say, I came home from the trip with some third degree sunburns and a tremendously shattered heart.  As soon as the sunburn went down a little, I went to see T1 and get my swallow.

Side note: That was a great little block of time.  I was completely distracted from my broken heart by the searing pain of tattooing over a sunburn.

Anyway, T1 had explained to me that swallows were traditional sailor tattoos because they were often the first birds sailors saw when nearing land so it signified coming home.  I wanted the swallow because I wanted to remind myself that home is where I make it.  I had been kicked out of our house and was living in my parents’ basement (it had a fireplace and a bathroom so I can’t complain) and I needed to know that I was not homeless.  While getting the tattoo, T1 asked me how I felt about younger guys.  I was 25 and she wanted to hook me up with a 21 year old.  The bassist in her husband’s band.  She invited me out to a show at the lovely Machine Shop in Flint and I went.  I met R.  He was awkward but he had me the moment he said that he could weld.  (Welding is a big deal in my family.  It’s incredibly useful when restoring cars.)  He had me further when he asked me what my least favorite book was.  I painfully admitted to him that my favorite band is Hole and he painfully admitted to me that his was The Smiths.  It was an awkward rebound match in heaven.

So, originally I got into the rockabilly scene for these reasons.  (1) It was presented to me.  (2) It meant taking away something X loved, because he was a huge fan of T1’s husband’s band and had been taking me to shows for a couple of years.  (3) My cousin was in the band and his wife was super nice to me and hated X’s new gf.  (4) I was dating an upright bassist.  A good one.  Actually, completely nonbiased, the best I ever saw live.  And I saw some big bands.

Soon, I had taken my PBR drinking self to the thrift shop and bought some nice dresses and high heels.  I bought fishnet (really to replace my old ones from the Goth scene).  I learned how to put my hair into victory rolls and I became a scientist of applying red lipstick so that it would last through at least two sets of smoking and drinking PBR and Jack.  I was with R for over a year and he was a great guy but way too young for me.  (The long story includes some cat stuff that I’ll tell you some other day, about Delilah the ninja bunny cat.)

But now that I am out of the rockabilly scene, I can tell you that there were a number of reasons I dug it.  First, I liked the music and the clothes and the booze and the car culture.  My dad has 2.5 1967 Mustangs and a 1953 Chevy pickup.  In my family, PBR is really a family tradition.  While we’re at it, so is Hank.  I ordered in a Hank CD, one of those Master’s Collections or whatever, and asked my mom why I knew all of the songs and she explained that it was because my grandma LOVED Hank.  I actually have one of her records to this day.

Second, Rockabilly is probably one of the least judgmental scenes I have ever been associated with as far as the female body goes.  Any woman willing to dress up for a gig is going to get props.  She is going to get props for her body shape no matter what it is.  I have a nice, classic hour glass.  Props!  My cousin’s wife was a stick.  Props!  T1 was built like Bettie Paige and had this crazy sexy androgynous thing about her.  Props!  The rockabilly world LOVES women and they LOVE women who are willing to put on a dress and heels and makeup and act like a lady while drinking copious amounts of alcohol.  I fit in.  It was great.

Now that I am out of the rockabilly scene, I adore that I had that time.  It was really the best place to recover.  I still love it all but now I am a bit more laid back about myself.  I can put on my heels and my dresses but for the most part I am please with my flannels and flip-flops.  Rockabilly taught me that I was sexy and would be no matter what size I was.  It taught me that it was okay to be a little behind the times and to be a little hillbilly.

In short, Rockabilly helped me be okay with me.  And I appreciate it.