Life thru the haze of cat hair.

Category Archives: serious

Oh, hello! Help yourself to coffee.

Last May, I shredded my credit cards. I still have balances, but I now have no plastic. Well, other than my debit card. Yay for me, but OMG, do you have any idea how difficult it is to live these days with no credit card?

Why did I do that? It really had become not a choice, but a necessity. For the past several years before I took this drastic step, I had come to rely on my plastic in a really irresponsible way. In fact, I was living well beyond my means and had felt myself sinking and sinking. It got scary. So, now, almost a year later, I am sucking it up, buying only what I can pay for out of my checking account, and paying down my debt.

Looking back, I think I have been a “spender” for as long as I can remember. I am definitely not a saver. I wish I was, but I like pretty things and shopping used to make me feel better. I’m sure I could come up with some deep psychological explanation about my childhood, and blaming my parents, and the mailman, but guess what? It’s my fault. I can’t blame anyone but myself for being in the situation I now find myself. I wanted to have the nice stuff and all the clothes and blah blah blah. I’m sure it made me feel better to have people comment on the nice bag or blouse or shoes.

So finally, in May 2009, after I hit a fabulous sale at Cole-Haan for my birthday – I got a $400 purse for $59! (I love coupons!) – I went home, plugged in my shredder, and bzzzzzzzzzzzz, my cards were gone. I was sad and scared and excited and freaked all at the same time. What do I do now??  Again, I needed to suck it up and grow up.

So that is what I have done. I called the credit card companies, told them to close my accounts, negotiated a lower rate, and have picked away at the balances. A few have been paid off already. (YAY!) A few will take longer. Either way, my goal is to be debt free by this time next year.

How am I doing that? I am selling my stuff. On eBay. On Amazon. To anyone who wants to buy it. No, I’m not getting nearly what I paid for it, but selling stuff is doing a few things for me. It is bringing in some money, while at the same time, thinning out all the “stuff” I have in my house. As much as I would like to think otherwise, I was a really materialistic person before. ( I say before, because now, I can’t buy anything! hee hee). Some of the stuff I have let go has made me sad to part with. Some of it had really good memories or a story attached to it. Other stuff? Seeya! Good riddance. What the heck was I thinking.

Would I change something if I had to do it again? Would I do it again? Of course, hindsight what it is, I wouldn’t have gotten myself into this situation to begin with. But, yes, I’m glad I shredded my cards. I find myself thinking about each purchase now – is this something I *need* or want? Is it something I absolutely love? Will it improve my life? Will it be something I will have/use/love 3- or 6- or 12-months from now? This sort of screening process has really cut down on impulse shopping. I can actually go into Target now without coming out with bags full of stuff that I “had to have”. I get what I need, and move on. It’s nice.

What would I change? I would actually keep one card, for emergencies. Or travel. Recently, my job responsibilities have changed and I need to travel and that involved booking plane tickets and hotel rooms. One would think that the Gas ‘n Sip would give corporate cards for those who need to travel, but that’s not the case. We have to use our own, then get reimbursed. And, while it may not be an issue for some, I don’t typically keep $1,000+ in my checking account on the off-chance that I might need to go somewhere. It has made for a couple of awkward phone calls. So I wish I had kept 1 card for that type of thing. But otherwise? It’s nice to not dread checking the mail. Or to leave a store and think “Well, okay, how am I going to pay for that when the bill comes??”

Growing up is hard! Oh, and by the way. The purse I bought myself at Cole-Haan last year? I still have it, still use it, still love it. It’s been the only one I have used, mostly, for almost a year. So that was a great $59 I spent! \o/


Oh, hello! Come on in and have some tea with me.

After many years of resisting my mother’s pleas to go see my nephew play basketball, lately I find myself attending his games. He LOVES basketball. He wants to play professionally. And of course, my mother has been going to his games and gushing about how good he is and blah blah blah. Whatever, Mum, you’re his grandmother. OF COURSE you are going to say he’s good. That’s what grandmothers do. *eye roll*

So, my nephew? Eddie? Is *really* good. I’m actually really impressed with how good he is. He is in high school, a sophomore. He plays on the Varsity team – the only soph to do so. And he does really well with the older boys. Watching, I can see that some of the seniors are reluctant to pass him the ball at times, but I think that might be an ego thing, rather than an “Eddie sucks” thing. Which is too bad. He doesn’t hog the ball, he passes well, he’s great on defense, and is really all about the team.  When he’s on the bench and there’s a time-out, he’s the first off the bench to high-five (or whatever high school kids do these days) the players coming off the floor. It’s nice to see that. It’s a little thing, but I’m sure others notice it too.

The first game I went to was at a school that I had not visited in more than 25 years. If anything could define “surreal” I think that would be it. Then I got to people watch the other high school team’s fans. OH MAH GAH. If I was ever that young or that obnoxious, I am publically apologizing to anyone I came in contact with.

And the clothes?? OY! I’ve been trying to think back to my high school term. Granted, it was 25 years ago, so my memory is a little fuzzy. But I honestly do not remember, EVER, seeing girls wear so little, or with bewbs so big. I know there were girls with huge bewbs. And I know that there were girls who dressed, um…. far less conservatively than I. But, holy cows!! There was skin showing, and copious amounts of lycra, and short, and tight. YIKES!

It must be the style these days. I don’t spend a lot of time around kids. I don’t “get” them, typically. Or I end up talking to them as if I were one of them, and I don’t know that that is a good thing either. But to see these kids, putting it all out there, while still managing to look SO young? It makes me sad for them. They are so far ahead of where we were 25 years ago – socially, technologically – that they aren’t kids any more. They all have better phones/shoes/bags/cars than I do (which, quite honestly, is not saying much). But I still think it’s taking away the joy of childhood from them.

Ugh. Anyway. Enough philosophical blather today.

My nephew? I’ll tell you his real name when he goes pro. For now? He’s my Eddie and I am *really* proud of him. And he should be really proud of himself.


Oh, hello! Help yourself to some hot wings and fries. Good stuff.

I had to force myself to not do the ugly cry tonight.

Almost three years ago, Madam X started to not feel well. We didn’t know what was going on, but she kept getting worse. She was tired all the time, her spleen was enlarged, her mental faculties were diminishing. She was gray. There’s no other way to accurately describe how she looked.

After six months or so of living like this and slowly deteriorating, Madam X was taken into the hospital emergency room. Her spleen was of a size that warranted immediate surgery. Since so much blood had been diverted to her spleen, she wasn’t able to think clearly. That explained her inability to think clearly and remember things and walk more than a block without needing to sit down. While they were in there, digging around, they found out that Madam X has cancer. Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

During that time, Madam X and Mister Y were in the process of selling the house in which they had lived for more than 40 years. They were moving into a smaller house that was newer and more manageable. There was a lot going on. Madam X was going through chemo, moving,. Everyone was completely stressed. Luckily, the cancer was caught early enough that radiation wasn’t needed in addition to the chemo. We were all really hopeful.

After the chemo, Madam X went into remission. She recovered slowly, but we were convinced that it was a blip on the radar. Every checkup seemed to be a reaffirmation of this, as the blood tests showed that all counts were good and this vile disease was being defeated.

This past summer, Madam X started to not feel good again. She was tired all the time. She didn’t want to go to the doctor until her regularly scheduled checkup, despite me begging her to do so. I think she knew, better than anyone, what the results were going to be. I should have known. So, in September, when she should have found out that, yet again, she was clear, she instead found out that the cancer is back.

Her doctor seemed to be optimistic and encouraging. Chemo was scheduled for every three weeks for 6 courses. The doctor said this was going to take care of it. I’ve been watching Madam X during all of this and I see that she’s not recovering as well this time. She remains tired all the time. She is certainly not bouncing back as quickly. I can feel my heart breaking.

Thanksgiving is coming up. Madam X does not want to, or can’t, do such an event. Her daughter suggested that we all go out for dinner instead. But even that seems like too much for Madam X. The last time I spoke with her daughter, she callously shot off a “She probably won’t be alive for it next year, so we should do something.”

(Pausing for the ugly cry now…. brb…)

I’m back.

So ever since, that statement has been on my mind. I asked Madam X’s son if he thought that statement was accurate too. He said that he didn’t think it would be that soon, but that it was coming. Hence, the ugly cry.

I love Madam X more than anyone else on the planet. She has been there for me through everything – good, bad, or indifferent. She has been an inspiration. She has been my cheerleader, my leveler, my hero, and my friend.

I know that, at 42, I am of an age where people in my life will be getting sick and/or dying. But in this situation, I feel like I am 12. I should be mature enough to handle this. Of course I will be sad. Of course it will hurt. But do I need to have a complete meltdown at just the THOUGHT of this person not being in my life? People die all the time, and their loved ones go on. They go on with life, with love, with living. They don’t lose their sh*t.

I don’t want to hurry this process along, but how am I going to deal with this brilliant, lovely, loving woman not being in my life? I need to find a way to hold it together the next time I see her, the next time we get together for breakfast. I mean, if I am this much of a mess as a result of some off-hand, snotty remark by Madam X’s daughter, what will I do when the real thing happens?

I am angry and sad and I know that it is completely unfair that this woman is sick. She has worked hard her entire life. She has given everything to her family and her children. She never asks for anything in return. She is kind, and loving, and sweet, and (normally) full of life.

Tonight, this is my struggle. This is my challenge. This is my reason for sobbing.

Madam X deserves better. She deserves to reach the end of her life surrounded by joy and beauty and love. She doesn’t deserve to have this horrible disease get the best of her.

Madam X, I love you and I want you to get better. And if fate is cruel and doesn’t allow that to happen, I want you to know that you will be with me forever – as a constant reminder of how to live, as a good and true person. I can only hope to, one day, be a fraction of the woman you are.


Oh, hello. Sorry I didn’t have time to cook anything today. I’m sure I have something in the freezer I can reheat. Take a look.

Midterm elections were held yesterday. There were many things of interest throughout the country, but the one I was watching most closely is the question about repealing the recently enacted law that would allow Gays to marry. Yes would repeal, No would keep it on the books.

If we, as a state, won the No vote, we would have been the first state in the country to have this law on the books by the popular vote. Yes would make us just like the 31 other states who have repealed the law.

Do I need to tell you what happened? We, as a state, suck. The Yes vote won. The popular vote is to repeal the law.

Yes won by 32,000 votes. So, granted, the outcome was close, but the closed-minded, homophobic vote won out. Now, just like the other 31 states who have had to deal with this issue, Gays and Lesbians will not be afforded equal rights under the law with regards to marriage.

Fear ads were prevalent. The religious aspect was highly touted. I believe that this is NOT a religious issue. It IS a civil issue. It is a fairness issue. And I also believe that if “God” did not like Gays, “he” wouldn’t have created them.

So, today, I am not proud to be from Maine. I am sad for my gay friends who are once again relegated to the background. I do think it is somewhat encouraging that the vote was so close, so the next time this comes up, the open-minded option should win. Let’s hope this is the case.

My home-state pride will come back. But please don’t blame the ENTIRE state. Many of us were with you.


Oh, hello! Help yourself to some cheesy-poofs.

So, I just recently found out about this thing called National Novel Writer’s Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It’s a challenge for would be writers to commit to writing 50,000 words, or a novel of about 175 pages, in 30 days. Quality is not the focus. Quantity is. It’s a way to challenge yourself, and IMO give yourself a kick in the butt to get writing.

My friend K2Kid has often said that she wants to get a book published. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that she is one of the most brilliant people I know. So, when I heard about NaNoWriMo, I sent her a text with a link to the website, and 3 words: I dare you. I would love to see her do this and maybe get published. I mean, let’s be honest, there is some real dreck out there. If that can get published, something smart should be able to, right?

K2Kid signed up. And then challenged me to do it with her. YIKES! Have I ever wanted to be a writer? I don’t know. I mean, look how long it took me to start a friggin’ blog! And now, 50,000 words?? What in goat’s name would I write a novel about? I’m not one of those people who “see” their characters in their minds and know what they will be doing 100 pages in.

But, peer pressure being what it is, I signed up. In the back of my mind, I figure I can always sign up and cheer on K2Kid, along with Debra of Reflecting fame, and Jose of FabergeMonkey fame. I mean, I’ll give it a go for a few days, but quite honestly, 1,500 words in and I’ve already learned that OH MY GOAT I’M BORING!! If I’m boring myself, how in the name of all that is good and holy will anyone else want to read it. No amount of editing will save this.

I’m going to look at this as a great way to challenge myself, and definitely get out of my comfort zone. If nothing else, maybe I can use this as a way to be introspective and find out what’s going on inside. Maybe even find out how my fun got broken. A journaling intensive, if you will. I won’t be disappointed if I don’t make it to the 50,000 words. I know that it was a huge step for me to even sign up. And no matter how far my friends get, I will be there cheering them on for the same accomplishment.

FMI, or if you want to sign up or donate, go to www.nanowrimo.org.

 

 


Oh, hello! Lovely salad today. Dressing on the side.

I used to be fun. Honest.

Back in the day, I would get dressed up and go out with my friends. We’d drink, and dance, and laugh, and pick up boys (who wanted to be men.) The night would be considered young at 10pm. Heck, we wouldn’t even leave the house until after 10.  That was back when people could still smoke in bars – you’d come home reeking of cigarettes, and need to take a shower. Sleep (or pass out) for a few hours, then start making plans to do it all again.

But, somewhere along the way, my fun got broken. I’ve been trying to figure out what happened to it, and when, but the thought of going out and being jostled in a loud, too crowded bar holds all the appeal of the cats chewing my toes off. Maybe it’s a function of getting older, or the after effects of being betrayed by the above mentioned friends, or the result of acquiring more mature friends, or being more choosy with who I do consider a friend, but my fun seems to be gone.  (I know I previously described how I suck at the whole “I wanna be your friend” thing, so I won’t go there.)(Okay, just one thing about that – if someone calls to go to lunch or dinner or whatever, and I am not *completely* sure they are among my handful of friends? I experience something that can only be described as a mild panic attack. Seriously. WTF is wrong with me??)

Now, it seems that “going out” is more around the happy hour time frame. A lovely night is home, with a book. Dinner out? I’d love for it to be done by 8pm. Bed? On a school night, I like nothing more than to be in bed by 9, reading. Weekends? It’s later, but still not the crazy early morning hours of the next day. It’s a very low-key, comfortable existence.

But the more I think about my fun and what happened to it, I realize that what I have really *is* just an existence. Sure, it’s comfortable, it works (sort of), it’s somewhat lonely, but I’m not really *living*. I do have fun when I go out with my true friends. Or when I go to the hockey games with Herb. I really do. But how do I get out of my head, stop over analyzing every word/look/gesture with the ones who haven’t forced their way in. (And let’s face it – they do have to force their way in. And for those that have? Thank goat they did. I cherish them.)

Maybe once I stop expecting the worst from people, or suspecting the worst of myself, I will be able to find the instructions and fix my fun. I just hope that all the years of sweeping it into the corner, and moving it from one apartment to another, from one state to another, and finally to this house, haven’t permanently crushed it. I suspect the pieces have been pretty disintegrated and crushed, but maybe not irreparably harmed. Hopefully, with a little bottle of self-love, a healthy-sized box of kind words, and a final rinse-off of trust, my fun will re-emerge as some shadow of its former self. Maybe then, I will be able to water it daily, play it good music, feed it good food, and have it return stronger than before.  To be clear, I have no desire to relive the crazy days of leaving the house at 10pm and driving home (usually drunk. I know. You don’t have to say it. I KNOW!) several hours later. But I do want to not be suspicious of people and their motives. I do want to know that I have something to offer/contribute. I do want to hear myself laugh until my tum hurts.

I miss my fun. I hope it hasn’t given up all hope. After all, I did keep it with me for all this time, despite my neglect. That should count for something, right?

 


Oh, hello!  Help yourself to some beef stew. Mum made it.

So, after having read Debra’s brilliant post, I was inspired to straighten/clean/discard/sort through my stuff. It’s slow going, but the end result is worth it. This past weekend, I tackled, among other things, the front closet. More specifically, the shelf in the closet with all the really important winter scarves, etc thrown up there into a ball.

What did I learn? Bottom line? I have a problem. Turns out, I have eleventy jillion scarves. All beautiful. All ones I think I love. Also? I have 24,000 baseball hats. Which, you know. Good thing. Because I only regularly wear 3 of them. What. The. Heck? What do I need this much stuff for? Yes, I love the scarves. And yes, I still wear a lot of them. I could probably sell them on eBay, but it would break my heart to let them go to someone potentially yucky!

Earlier in the week, I had been wondering to myself why I still had so much outstanding debt. Um, duh, Mary. Why do you think you have so much debt??  (Yeah, I’m talking to myself. Don’t judge.) At least now, I have cut up my credit cards and can’t rack up more.(That’s a whole other post.)

I also recently went through all my purses, and weeded those out. And shoes. And I’ve been going through my clothes as I change them out for the season. It really is freeing to get rid of “things”. I think I’ve said it before, but I read somewhere recently that you should have in your life only things that enrich your life, and make you feel wonderful. Trying to eliminate things that don’t fit that bill is a worthwhile challenge, and one that I endorse heartily. It still isn’t easy, and I will continue to chip away at the rest of my clearly necessary stuff that I don’t even remember I own.

What will remain will be all things that I love. And make me smile. As it should be.


Oh, hello! Come in and have a Caramelized Apple Tart* and some coffee.

My rant today is about the media. And all the time that is wasted on stupid stuff.

Do any of us REALLY care about Jon and Kate? About her new stupid hair-do? About his girlfriend? What about Misha Barton having a meltdown? Or how much the First Lady’s sneakers cost?

I freely admit that I look at the headlines on the tabloids. I even buy a People magazine on occasion. (I used to subscribe, but thought it was a waste of money for something that could be read in about 10 minutes.) I am not “above” reading about celebrity crap.

But OMGoat! Enough! Give us the “big” stories – who is getting married/divorced, who had a baby, who died. I don’t need to know about every time Kate Hudson goes to a baseball game. Or Lindsey Lohan goes shopping. Or Matthew McConahay goes running. There has to be something more important going on in the world than the fact that Kanye pulled another assholish move and dissed Taylor Swift. Let me think… OH! that’s right! There’s a friggin war in Afghanistan (among other places) and we (Americans, among other countries) have troops (sons, daughters, husbands, wives, parents) there.

And as far as the President goes? The complaining about him screwing up the country started BEFORE he even took office. Really? Can the complainers see into the future?? And where can I buy that skill? Like him or hate him, agree with him or don’t, but Judas H. Priest! Give the guy a fair chance to phuck everything up before you burn him in effigy! I would expect that of ANY president, regardless of the political party to which they belong. And to sit and analyze EVERY SINGLE THING HE DOES – mostly on the stuff not “Oh, by the way, I’m running the country” related, is childish and petty. Analyze the big decisions. Call your Congress and Senate representatives about that stuff. Don’t bitch because the First Family is wealthy and Mrs. Obama can afford, and chooses to wear, $500 sneakers. I may think it’s stupid to pay that much too, but if she has the money and wants them? LET HER.

Jesus Christ. Move on. Let’s get out of the weeds and focus on the big issues. There are plenty of wonderful charities doing great works all over the planet. Find out more about them. Read to the elderly. Teach someone to read. Go for a walk. But, please. Just stop with the inane blathering of all things inconsequential. There’s too much noise in the world already. Maybe we can help quiet it.

 

 

*Recipe for tarts:

Ingredients:

2 boxes pre-cut pastry shells  

 

1 box no bake cheesecake  

 

1 cup dark brown sugar  

 

1/2 cup butter  

 

4-5 apples, thinly sliced  

 

3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

How to Prepare:
If using pastry sheets, lay out and cut into 4” circles. Lay pastry circles on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool then cut in half horizontally. Prepare cheesecake mix as listed on box and set aside. Melt butter with sugar in sauce pan on med-low heat. Add half of the apples to sugar mixture and cook for approx 8-10 minutes, until apples are tender. Remove apples and set aside. Repeat with remaining apples. Save 1/3 cup sugar mixture and discard remaining. Heat the 1/3 cup sugar mixture with cream on low heat for approx 3 minutes. Let cool.

Take one pastry shell (half), layer on cheesecake, add 3-4 apple slices, then drizzle with caramel.

Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Cook Time: 20 minutes 

Oh, hello! We’re having Mediterranean Veggie Sammies today – with cilantro hummus. Have one.

Do you wish?  Not just on birthday candles, or about big things. I mean about anything. Do you ever find yourself saying “I wish I could…”?

Reading the lovely Jose’s blog (found at http://www.fabergemonkey.com/) I found myself thinking, “I wish I could write poetry. It doesn’t even have to be lovely poetry.” I’ve said in the past: I wish I could…

  • speak French
  • run without my knees hurting
  • lose 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-pounds
  • live in Paris
  • save money
  • blah blah blah

I guess the real thing I have to ask myself is “Why can’t I…” I’ll tell you why. I can’t because I think I can’t. I bet if I changed it to “I am going to…”, that after a few false starts, I would be doing whatever it is I put my mind to.

I wish it were Friday. I wish it were sunny. I wish I had a better/different/easier/more challenging job. I wish I had bought that bag/shirt/wallet/perfume. I wish it were 5pm. I wish I could drink/stop drinking/smoke/stop smoking.

Does any of that sound like you? What are we waiting for? Why are we wishing our lives away?

On the other hand, does wishing give you hope? Is it a form of prayer? Does it give you something to look forward to? Or does it deny hope by reminding you of what you don’t have? What you lack? What you only think you want – regardless if it is really the best thing for you?

Do you wish?