Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Crazy That Is My Life

It's been a weird couple weeks here.

If you don't know me, I'm really big into astrology.  I'm not super adept at astrology but I know enough about the movement of the planets and their placement in the sky to be cognisant of how they effect me, at least potentially.  I'm not talking about horoscope crap.  I'm talking about our perception of the movement of the planets from here on earth right freaking now.

Okay, so back to weird times.

In the week leading up to the Full Moon in Scorpio (Monday, May 16-ish), I was having a ton of anxiety.  I mean, a ton!  It all started the prior Sunday, Mother's Day.  Monday and Tuesday found me in a passionate argument with my boss about some projects I was supposed to be highly involved with.  By passionate, I mean I was yelling in his office about some frustrations.  Thankfully, he's super patient and a close friend and didn't seem particularly concerned about my outbursts.  Both times, I was more than a little embarrassed popping off.

The remainder of the week involved some fights with my partner.  Stupid, meaningless arguments, just for the sake of being pissy.  Just stupid.

Everything culminated in the Saturday prior to the full moon.  I had several anxiety attacks during the day.  I have no idea why, but I was sick to my stomach, sweaty palmed, and just super duper anxious.  One after another after another.  I had dinner with friends.  We spent most of the night relaxing, sipping wine, and chatting in the spa after dinner.  Late in the evening something dramatically shifted.  I can't explain it, but the anxiety was gone, whatever was attacking my nervous system vanished.

At the time, several planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars) were moving from fiery, compulsive Aries into earthy, steadfast Taurus.  The only thing those two have in common is that I wouldn't want to upset either!  Being that Mercury, Venus, and Mars are so close to earth, they tend to have the biggest influence on our day to day lives (Mercury in charge of transmitting information between two or more points, Venus and Mars have more to do with forming and dissolving relationships or connections respectively).

Okay, so what I'm saying is the influences in my life were going from crazy fast to slow and steady.

Have you ever been in a car accident?  Going from 60 mile per hour to 0 fucking hurts.  After impact, your body goes through the whole fight or flight for survival thing.

That's essentially what I was going through.

So around the full moon, the planets were set into their new path and I was feeling really excited about life.  My partner and I began planning some amazing trips, including a two week European tour, for this year.  I was feeling good about life, and felt like I had a lot to look forward to.

We took an early weekend to visit family and friends in Sacramento.  Some old drama got dragged up and between that and getting absolutely no sleep, I felt anxious again.  We went home much earlier than expected, and fortunately made good time. The trip back was nice, and we had some laughs along the way.  As soon as we arrived home, however, my overly adventurous cat Honey made a dive to run outside as the front door was closing.

For the first time in her 8 years, the door closed on her tail.  She ran back in after I opened the door, and she seemed okay, but I quickly found she had a deep cut in her tail.  Without thinking, I got her in a cat carrier and at the vet hospital on the phone.  She still seemed fine and was a  Fortunately, all she would need is stitches (I asked them to throw the collar on her since she's a compulsive licker).  No permanent damage.

Still, I felt like the worst person in the world.  In trying to protect my furry baby, I just brought greater harm.

Sunday I couldn't get off the couch.  I just cuddled with my grumpy kitty trying to bring as much comfort as possible, including hand-feeding her water over the collar.  I didn't look at my phone or check my email.  I just kept to myself.

Several days have passed, and I've learned to let go of a lot of things that are out of my control, be thankful for what I have, and say my goodbyes to those things I no longer need to maintain a grip on (especially since I never had a hold of it in the first place).

Honey is doing much better.  We see the vet in a couple days for a checkup.  She's eating a lot, more active, and less depressed.  She was never shy before, but not she's especially demanding about head and neck scratches, since she can't do it herself.  She is thankfully a good climber, but she's still not up to making big jumps.  But she does still spoon with me at night.

I'm starting to feel more relaxed again and looking forward to whatever craziness the future holds (like considering new job prospects, even if I don't actually make the leap).

P.S.  Sorry about the total randomness of this post.  I had sake with dinner and have just downed a couple cups of strong, black coffee.  Plus forgive any typos today.  It's impossible to type and correct proofed errors with a cat in a cone of shame on my arms.  I can never say no to her again.  I've created a mutated monster.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Things I've Learned About Cash Management

I decided to start off my month by getting into the habit of using cash for gas and food expenditures.  The idea being, once it's no longer in my hands, that's it!  I planned on documenting expenditures on the post-it notes attached to the money so I had some kind of accounting figured out.

I started strong.  Really strong.

I had everything for the month of May planned out.  When I could pick up dinner, what I had to do for groceries to keep to my budget.  I was doing really, really well managing the cash I had on hand.

Then something changed.

I took it for granted and splurged a couple times.  I was feeling pressure during a transaction and committed to noting the expenditure later.  I never did.  Unfortunately, I never did note a single expenditure after that.  I just fell into old habits of spending cash until the cash ran out.

I even went over the $200 limit I set for myself on yard work (some last minute snafu with the spa wiring) and I still haven't accounted for some last minute purchases that I need to pay back my friend for.

I disappointed in myself.  A dinner splurge now could mean no Disneyland trip for Danny for his birthday.  Biting off more than I can chew in purchases could mean I'm shy a couple hundred dollars I need for a potential overseas trip I'm considering this winter.

Honestly, we've been so good about cooking and eating at home, I generally find eating at a restaurant really tedious.  So I still feel good about not splurging on eating out as often.  But then, handling everything with cash and not keeping good accounting, at the end of the month I may never really know how much I spent on unnecessary dinners.

I debated abandoning my efforts this month, but instead, I'm going to try to recreate things as best as I can and just renew my efforts.  It's a process.  I can't expect to completely change bad habits overnight.  And while I'm momentarily disappointed, overall I think my increased awareness is a very good thing that I know I will reap the rewards of.  And for that, I'm still extremely hopefully.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Non-descript Weekend

You know, I'm totally okay with this chilly, wet weather that keeps interrupting the inevitable summer heat.  Yesterday, we were lucky that the little rain fall we had wasn't angled towards any of the windows so we got to keep them open all day and night.  The house was completely permeated with the smells of jasmine, lavendar, sage, and the various other blooming herbs and flowers nearby.  I felt so spoiled!

I had a super productive weekend planned including some yard work, some way overdue house cleaning, and majorly reorganizing my office/craft room that I haven't been using at all because it's so trashed.

Friday after work, we took Jeff's friend, Rene, out for curry (I don't think she liked it as much as we do, but at least she was a good sport about it) and I completely forgot to reuse my Groupons!  Grrr, but we got a lot of food so we had lunch and snacks for the whole weekend.

Saturday I worked in the yard a bit clearing out pots with dead plants and organizing the patio.  I tried to level a bit of the yard for one of the new and pretty hose pots I bought last week, but the crab grass proved unmovable for me.  Besides, I couldn't get the hose out of the current space saver (and part of why I decided to switch to hose pots).  I did some weeding in the front yard and called it a day.  I spent the evening with friends lounging in the spa; it was so lovely!

Sunday found me on the couch (Jeff pretty much was the only productive one this weekend) while my friend H and Jeff worked on getting our spa wiring done.  Five minutes before the final bit of wiring was to be put in, it started raining.  I was so bummed!  I was hoping we would be able to enjoy the next rain from within the spa, but alas, that may still be true, just six months from now.

We spent the rest of Sunday playing video games and catching up on shows.

This week is a bit of a nutter for me.  Lots of social plans, plus an excursion to Sacramento for a doctor's appointment.  I'm staying with a friend and hope to make time to catch up with others.

And yet, I'm still hoping to make up for some of the cleaning I didn't do over the weekend.  I think the cats would especially appreciate it if I cleaned out their litter boxes!  Poor babies!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why I Really Cut My Hair

 I started with hair so long that I literally sat on it whenever I needed to sit.  Adjusting in my seat often involved first picking up all of my hair and holding it so I could change positions.  Sleeping, already a naturally difficult task thanks to an ongoing battle with insomnia was impossible: I'd have to pick up my whole body to move my hair just to roll over.

So in 2006, I cut it all off, to the shoulders at least.  Since 2006 I've got red (a lifelong favorite), added bangs, chopped it all off to a bob, bleached it, grew it out, added henna, threw in some layers, and colored it black.  The long, layered look with the black color actually proved to be my favorite, even though I was the most hesitant about that transition.

In the first week of 2011, I got the wild hair to cut it all off.  Not a bob.  Something almost pixie-ish (I could never truly pull off a pixie, I'm just not that perky!).  I even let my boyfriend do it (can you believe I had to encourage him to just chop it?).  I really liked the results, but my hair grows like a week and within a month or two it became annoying.

1. I cut it because I was tired of maintaining the color.
Sure, I love the color and the cut, but it required a lot of time and money to maintain.  Yes, I could have done the coloring at home, but since I was having it done at a beauty college it was already as affordable as I was going to get.  There are other ways I would rather spend half a Saturday (did I mention it was a college?) than sitting in an uncomfortable chair, not permitted to move.

2. I have good natural highlights and coloring.
My hair actually has some really cool color in it already.  Most of the time it's kind of a mousy-coppery color, but there's a lot of blonde (especially around my face) and in the summer lots of red comes out of the copper. I'm getting to be a bit older, and I wouldn't be surprised if I start getting smatterings of gray soon.  I want to enjoy my natural color for a bit.

3. I'm kind of excited about seeing gray.
I know it's ridiculous, but I always thought I would look AWESOME with gray hair.  I don't know, I guess I've always been partial to silver and I'm not remotely afraid of growing old, as long as I do it well.

4. I didn't want to wash it anymore.
Seriously.  I have always hated shampoo and conditioner.  I've never found a brand or combination that I've liked, save one shampoo and conditioner, and it's so expensive ($30 to $60 per month, depending on hair length) that I'd rather put that money towards something else.  So I tried to go back to washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. I stopped the "poo-less" experiment in late 2008 because after an application of apple cider vinegar, my hair was left sticky and straw-like.  I ended up switching to a Trader Joe's brand tea tree oil formula and gave up baking soda.  What I learned recently is that apple cider vinegar stimulates oil production when applied to the scalp and it should be applied as a conditioner to the ends only.  Well, since my hair is so short, I've been using baking soda only (one to two tablespoons, depending on the perceived need) for five months now.  FIVE MONTHS!  I didn't have any yucky problems with transitioning either like I did when I started this before.  It was just like washing my hair with shampoo and conditioner, sans dandruff and limp, frizzy hair.  The only drawback is sometimes I either use too much baking soda or let it sit on my scalp too long (about two minutes is sufficient) and later it sometimes feels like I have a mild chemical burn on my scalp (and that's probably a more severe description than the reality, it's not overly bothersome at all).

Now my hair is past bob-length and I can actually tie it back in cute little pig tails.  You can actually see my natural color dominating most of my hair (there's still a little black at the tips, but it's faded nicely into my natural coloring).  Hopefully I'll stick to this for a bit, but I'm impulsive.
May 2006

January 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Cyndall!

After reading a few poignant blog posts, I realized I really need to get over myself already.  

Once a month Everyday Minimalist posts a quote of the month.  Today's was a gem from Geoffrey Chaucer:

"He who covets is a poor man, because he wants what he cannot get; but he who has nothing and covets nothing is rich, though you may think him no more than a peasant."

And then Adam at Man vs Debt turned me onto this tear-wrenching Last Post  (I'm not kidding, by the way) while talking about not having regrets and living consciously.

And then I read this.

I have flaws.  I have faults.  I have made many mistakes.  There are people who don't like me.  Even a couple who would consider me an enemy.

Okay, so what is the relevance of all this dribble in relation to the title of this blog?  Well, DUH!  It's Cyndall's birthday!

Cyndall, if I haven't made EXTREMELY obvious in the past, is my best friend. Who, despite my flaws, my faults, my mistakes, and ignorant misdeeds, loves me for me.  For my better qualities, as well as my faults. I can recall specific examples when she's challenged me to look at the good within and without; to be thankful for what I have and what I am doing; to be aware of my choices and why I'm making them; and "I wish you could see the girl that I see."

Me too, and I'm working on that.  

But I couldn't do it without you.  Thank you for being in my life, Cyndall.  You wouldn't be here if you were never born, and so much celebrating will be had! You inspire me (and I know others as well) every day to be a better person.  

Mission Impossible: Trying to Get Fit

Yesterday I talked about how I'm trying to get my finances in order.  I'm also trying to get my health worked out, too.  It's a band wagon I always want to be on, start with good intentions, and pretty much never see through.

Right now, I'm lucky.  I have virtually ZERO health problems.  My biggest problem is that I'm overweight by a lot, technically morbidly obese thanks to my small frame.  I started by going mostly meat-free (seafood is allowable, and I will partake in eating meat if I am a guest and that is what is prepared for me).  Switching to a mostly meat-free diet enabled me to lose seven pounds over the course of three weeks or so.  I hadn't intended this, but I'll take it!

This week I tried to throw in some exercise: walking every day at work; a small bit of Pilates; and jogging in place for a few minutes at a time, and the usual yoga.  It's little bits, but it's mostly to get me in the habit.

I shuffled up to the scale and discovered...a gained a pound.

It's incredibly frustrating and it happens every time I start adding more physical activity to my life.  The first six to eight weeks always, always, always include a 10 pound gain.  It's all muscle-density, and I would probably put body builders to shame.  Logically I can accept it, but it makes it difficult to continue working hard when I know the numbers are going to go back up.  Like the 180s last year, now I'm stuck in the 190s and every time I get close to the threshold I mess it up and bounce back.

Every time I say it's not going to effect me this time, and how I'm going to work to pull through, and blah blah blah.  I think I'm just ready to resign myself to being fat since I obviously lack the willpower to see anything through.

I did decide to break out the measuring tape, just to make sure I wasn't feeding myself a line of bullshit about the muscle-gaining trend.  I lost a whole inch all the way around.  Everywhere, well, except my thigh.  So that's something, right?  So why do I still feel really terrible about the whole thing?  Because I've convinced myself I did it wrong and it's probably just going to go up if I check it next week.

Tonight, I'm cooking a special pizza for my bestie for her birthday, and for her sake at least I'm trying to be upbeat, but I'm super flustered.  I'm jealous and angry that the process seems to be so much easier for everyone else.  Yay for being the eternally fat friend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Getting Financially Fit

A couple weeks ago, I talked about how shocked I was about my restaurant spending.  The grand total for the month of April ended up being $239.22.  Still ridiculously high but a $46.61 improvement from March.

I spent the remaining week of April trying to automate my finances as much as possible.  I switched my mortgage payments from a monthly payment to a weekly payment.  I've also increased the amount of principle I pay, so at the end of the year  it's like having three extra payments but going directly to principle (so the value is actually greater than three months of principle, since at the beginning of the loan term a larger percentage is applied to interest).  I have to pay the bank $2 per processing transaction, but I learned last year I can't do it on my own because their lockbox system doesn't recognize the non-standard payment amount.  However, having it set up outside my control gives me less incentive to go through Bank of America's annoying phone system to get to a representative to change it every week to suit me.  The object here is to be accountable.

I also set up my student loans to be withdrawn automatically every month.  I'm on an extended graduated payment plan so I can have smaller payments now, but end up paying nearly as much in interest as the original value of my loans.  I did this so I can still set aside some savings every month, which will hopefully enable me to pay off large chunks of my student loans every year.  If I'm good, I can have my student loans paid off in five years and end up paying only half of the interest as I would have on the standard payment plan.

Once my student loans are paid off, I can transfer that money to my mortgage payments.  My mortgage, again if I'm good and diligent, can be paid off in 10 years.

That's right.  I can be debt free in 10 years.  On just my modest salary.  In a three person household.  I think that's kind of badass.

I took a page from Dave Ramsey and instead of depositing the rent money I received, I broke it up into two groups:
Piles of money! My monthly allowance for food and gas.
I paperclipped the food cash ($120) and the gas cash ($160) together a put a post-it note on top so I could document where the money goes.  The food pile can go towards groceries or eating out, but once it's gone, that's it.  Same thing with the gas money.  If I have no gas and not enough money to fill my tank, I have to take the bus (which at most would be $40 to commute every day to and from work for the month).  However, anything left over is for me to spend on whatever I want (for now that will be saving up to take a 6 week yoga class when my bellydancing class ends).

There's just one little problem:  Jeff's temp gig that he's been working for nearly six months is just about over.  We're both confident they'll find a permanent position for him there, but we don't know for sure yet.  If the worst happens, I'll have to take on more expenses (like Dan's preschool and daycare) until the issue is resolved.  I'm not worried though.  Reducing my inflated mortgage payment will more than pay for the extras and I can pick it up again at a later time with very little upset to the overall plan.

It's not without sacrifice though.  I can't buy things for the house when I need them (or more precisely, WANT them), I can't contribute as much to potlucks as I would probably like, and I can't fit in as many social activities as I might be inclined to do otherwise (although I can certainly invite friends and family over instead of dinners or coffees out).  Actually, I kind of anticipate this journey being relatively peaceful once I'm fully acclimated to it.

How's your financial health?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I had a pretty rough week last week.  I didn't feel like everything was going wrong, but I felt unnecessarily challenged.  That included getting really sick, losing my car, and fighting with my boyfriend pretty much all week.

My car started having major engine problems on the commute home Wednesday night causing the engine light to kick on and off and in general driving pretty rough.  It wasn't overheating, nothing popped.  I was supposed to take the van out of town for the weekend, so I felt bad about leaving Jeff with no car.  He didn't seem to mind though.  Thursday, we gave the van a little TLC (okay, a lot, it was super disgusting).

Friday I went to the DMV to update my name and address and renew my car's registration (despite the fact that it's future was as yet unknown).  All I have to do is get my car smogged somehow and I can get my tags.  My new driver's license is four months out.

With my errands done, I headed for the hills to a friend's property in Auberry.  They own two full-service buildings on 125-acres of preserved land.  It's amazing, lovely, and quiet, except for the birds.  We awoke Saturday morning to a lizard on our breakfast table and a doe on the back porch.

It was a really relaxing weekend.  I discovered a few things about myself and much merriment was to be had by all.  I love weekends like that.

To top it all off, I came home to a clean house, nicely organized, and A WORKING CAR!  Jeff wanted to take me out to dinner, so we drove the car.  Turns out the spark plugs weren't spaced property for my car and bits of them broke off over time.  It's really amazing my car has been running as long as it has on crap spark plugs.  Thank goodness for having a boy who can work on cars.

The weekend was too short, though.