Friday, February 22, 2013

Debt Check (Feb. 2013)

$2,000 (Credit Card)
$5,670.29 (C Car Loan)
$6,917.68 (J Car Loan)
$2,400.00 (J Gov't Loan)

$770.00 (J Personal Loan)

TOTAL: $16,987.97

Result: Decreased debt by $1,532.75 this month.


student loan debt:

$62,373.11  $62,135.28
$31,271.43  $31,134.58

= $93,644.54   $93,269.86
Result: Student Loan decreased debt by $374.68 this month.

Thursday, February 21, 2013



Very, very happy about that. In fact, I can barely see my computer screen as I type this because me and m'pup have found the sunniest place in the kitchen and are sprawled out to catch some of it. This is especially convenient for him as it aso lets him keep an eye on all those squirrels. He gets to bark at them and thus save the homestead. (He's very brave.)

I have been working towards my goals since the Dream List. I have compared two schools I am interested in and have decided where I would apply. Also, I decided to go for a Ed.S. instead of a doctorate bcause honestly, quantitative research and statistics classes are incredibly boring and I really do not want to write a dissertation that would force me to do anything with those. Now, another degree in history or English? I can totally write me some papers.

Also, decided any kind of online photography program is not for me. I looked into it, and I know I'll need more hands-on. So that's been narrowed down a little.

I also worked out yesterday. Right after, I was talking with my mother, brother, and his girlfriend. She was saying how tall our family is (my brother is 6'4", mom is 5'10" and I'm almost 5'7") compared to her family. I was saying that people usually think we're even taller than we are- most people think I'm 5'10". She then said, "Yeah, you have really long legs that go all the way up."

I hope he marries that girl.

I need to add something to my Dream List, though. My skin is really, really bad. I got off birth control in May of 2010, thinking I probably need to clean my body of toxins if we wanted to start a family. It has been long enough now that I am categorized "infertile" and, even with drugs, who knows if I'll be able to get pregnant. J and I have come to terms with it and have both decided that we could be perfectly happy and fulfilled without having children. I don't know how we'll feel a few years from now, once we've hopefully paid down some debt and are living on our own. For now, though, we're ok with it.

Warning: This is not going to be pretty.

Anyway, so the Dream List: I want to have a better complexion. Once I got off the pills, basically my skin went to hell. I'm often mortified to go out of the house and, when it's really bad, I try all these different ways to not actually have my husband see my face.

This is my skin without any makeup. Not only do I break out, but I'm terrified that I'm startin to get pockmarks that I have no idea how to get rid of! When J and I met, I had much better skin. I feel terrible for him to have to see this, plus I teach, which means I have all eyes on me all day. It's really embarassing.

I'm getting back on the pill in March and am praying that will fix the issue.

In the meantime, IT.IS.SUNNY. and I am so glad to enjoy it before the next snow storm hits, scheduled for this weekend.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Reasons I Hate the Cold

 1. It makes my skin itchy and dry.

2. It makes me super pale, which is not flattering on me or pretty much anyone else who does not have dark brown/black hair and red lips.

3. My husband's skin is now dry and pale when he used to be confused with a latino. He feels unnatural.

4. The cold is depressing.

5. I hate stepping out of the shower when it's freezing.

6. Heating costs are astronomical.

7. People aren't really friendly when they're cold. Including (especially?) me.

8. No one wants to go outside when it's cold. My dog pretends to be asleep so he won't have to go out to go to the bathroom.

9. Pipes freeze.

10. Roads freeze.

11. I gain weight because I eat more.

12. I never want to get out of bed.

13. Everything I wear is the opposite of sexy because I just want to be warm and no cold hands anywhere near me.

14. Shaving my legs is out because goosebumps (that damn cold shower/bathroom situation) make my skin act like a cheese grater. Basically, using a razor would be debilitating for me and horrifying for anyone trying to use the shower after me.

15. The air is extremely dry. I went to the airport not too long ago and had a horrible freaking nosebleed, which never happens to me, right in front of everyone I was about to board with. I'm talking blood all over my face, hands, everywhere. So embarassing.

16. Static electricty is constant. I get zapped by my couch, my computer, my dog, my car door- everything.

17. My hair is flat, yet has tons of static electricity during the winter.

18. It is never really sunny during the winter, but during cold months, the sun completely sets by 4:30pm.

19. Salt on the roads makes your car look like shit.

20. Once snow starts to melt, but it's still too cold to totally melt, it just makes everything a slushy, muddy mess.

21. Chapped lips is a major concern and nothing but a tub of vaseline will fix it. Also, chapped feet can be fixed the same way!

22. Fresh produce is in short supply.

23. Social lives are in short supply. Nobody wants to do anything unless they have to and/or are in college.

24. Suicide rates go up.

25. Happiness rates go down (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Honestly, I should have looked at this chart from the beginning.
Seems to sum it up.

Update: J has a few additions.

* When it is cold, you have to bundle up. When you bundle up, you always have the feeling of being in a straitjacket.

* If you fall or hurt yourself, it always feels worse in the cold.

* You can't take the top off the Jeep.

* Parking is bad because there are mounds of snow from the plows.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dream List

Do you ever feel like your life is in a holding period?

I do. I do right now. I feel like this isn't my real life, but if I just keep my head down and get through it, I'll have paved the way for the life I want. I really don't want this blog to be an online journal of complaining; nor do I want to feel as though my life is in limbo.

I need to make a plan for happiness.

My Dream List is a list of anything and everything I want, not matter how insignificant or how implausible. I need to figure out what it is that I want out of my life and find out ways to get there.

Dream List
1. Love: I absolutely love my husband and our relationship.  We have the same sense of humor, and he still surprises me. He is the perfect husband: he respects me, teases, is very strong emotionally and physically, gets flustered and embarassed by compliments, is hilarious, still opens the door after almost three years of marriage, and says things like, "Baby, I love the way you look in those sweatpants." And means it.

2. Puppy Love: Our pup is the most adorable, pain in the neck, snuggly-soft pooch and has been my go-to teddy bear confidant through tough times. He has a funny little sense of humor and he and my dad hang out all the time and eat snacks, which is seriously the cutest thing ever.

3. Location: somewhere with four seasons, but for the most part is pretty warm. Like, lowest in winter would be 45 and in the summer could hit 100 for a few days. Lots of trees and lakes, rivers, ocean (?) etc. Close to a city, but not a huge city. Within 30 minutes of museums, great restaurants, concert venues, etc. A moral community, possibly with Christian values. Near a university or several would be great because I like that vibe and I want to always be taking classes. My husband really misses the South and I love stepping outside of my comfort zone, so probably the South.

Little Rock, AR perhaps?
River Market, Little Rock, AR

4. Primary Job: education, either teaching (possibly college level) or administration (possibly curriculum director or principal).
5. Second Job: Photographer. I would love to do this, but I need formal training. I have a pretty good camera and some basic editing ability. I would love to photograph people's weddings, new babies, engagements, military send-offs and senior photos. I would want to be really affordable. J and I had absolutely no money when we got married but the only thing we did spend money on was our amazing photographer who not only was reasonable but let us pay in installments. I want to help other people celebrate important moments like she did for us.

6. Home: I want a house with at least three bedrooms. J and I don't know if we will have children someday, so I'd want the space because once we find our home, we don't want to move. I want a big kitchen because that's where people gather. I would like a master bedroom with its own bathroom. I want light, lots and lots and LOTS of light. A little patch of yard would be nice for barbecues or someday-kids, but I don't need a ton of acreage. The house should be newer so we're not always fixing everything. I like architectural features, like really georgeous crown molding. I want a deck or a patio. Somewhere you can view water would be lovely.

133 Marseille Dr, Maumelle, AR 72113
Something like this, yes?
105 Corondelet Ln, Maumelle, AR 72113
Sidenote: Remember yesterday, I posted that picture of a house in our current area that's selling for $250,000?

This is a home in what I think is our preferred area, listing at the same price.

I know, right?

 7. Health: I want to be healthy. That is not code for stick-thin, perfect body, or anything like that. I do want to look good, but I also want to feel good. I want to eat foods, healthy and not-so-healthy sometimes, that make me feel good. I want more fresh vegetables and fruit, I want to walk more, I want to be outside more. (Not in the cold, because that makes me the opposite of happy.) I want to take some kind of dance class or something because I love to dance, and possibly hot yoga because I loved it when I tried it. I want J and I to cook more at home, but not at this home, because we have no oven or stove top. I love when he grills, and he loves when he grills, so that would be ideal.

8. Family: I want to have a good relationship with my family, and I think that will be better accomplished by not living close by. My family does not show affection, nor do they express joy at seeing one another. That sounds harsh, but I don't know how to explain it. I know that if I needed help moving everything I own into a new house, everyone would show up to help. The flipside is that when I came back home after living in Korea for a year, they didn't even leave a light on out front. There is a lot of love, but everything is expressed in how much work people are willing to do for you. Perfect example: my brother, who also lives at the house, has a lot of car trouble. By that I mean, he always buys absolute wrecks because he always wants to pay cash and never take out a loan. The other day he came looking for J's help on his car (for the 47th time) and J said, before my brother started speaking, "If this is anything car related, I'm off the clock, bud. It's date night!" because we were getting ready for dinner reservations. My brother said, "It'll just take a minute, if you'll just check..." End of the story: husband doesn't go to work for him, brother is pissed, brother is not on speaking terms with husband.

My family spends quality time with one another around Christmas and at certain points during the summer. Other than that, it's a lot of bickering or a lot of I-haven't-seen-my-brother-who-lives-in-the-same-building-for-at-least-two-weeks. Carefully planned vacations to see them and quality phone calls have historically made for better relationships.

On his side, his parents are very affectionate. They love to see J and, I know, would make a lot time to visit if we lived close by. He really misses them. Not only that, he really misses the South and what that means to him. He is also their only full-biological son (he has half-brothers, but they've distanced themselves from family after making some Lindsay Lohan-type life choices.)

This is what it comes down to: He would love to be close to his parents, and I know that my relationship with my parents seems to improve with distance.

9. School: I want to get my PhD in education, English Literature, History, or leadership. I'm pretty open, so it depends on the program available.

10. Travel: My husband would love to go to Italy; I would love to go back. I want to see new places and cultures, because I never feel more connected, grateful, or spiritual than when I travel and I want the travel bug to get my husband, too.

11. Friends: I want to keep the beautiful, close friends I already have who live from New York to Alabama. I want to make new friends wherever it is that we finally put roots. I don't want to make friends here because I don't want to get into a social circle I'll have to leave. Wherever we are, I want to join book and/or photography clubs, reach out to people, and have a group of friends we can invite to small get-togethers, call up if I'm in their neighborhood, watch their baby if they need someone, etc.

What, do I feel, is holding me back from these things?


Of course. But you already knew that.

So, plan:

1. Love: Keep working to keep our relationship amazing. Do good things for one another.
2. Puppy Love: Love the heck out of that little beast and give him new adventures.
3. Location: Move once it's financially an option. Probably Arkansas, but first have to take a trip to scout out neighborhoods/cities.
4. Job: Rock my first year at this school and get great observational reviews from administration. Keep working the technology angle to get more out of each lesson for the kids and me. Work, work, work on classroom management but keep my head up because I'm not a bad teacher and I can't let every little thing get to me. They're teenagers. They are supposed to test boundaries; it's part of their growing. If hired on next year, really look into tuition reimbursement to further train.
5. Secondary Job: Start taking advantage of those photography classes that are always on Groupon or whatever. Stop being afraid of sucking and just do it for the fun of it. Be brave!
6. Home: Move. (See #3.)
7. Health: Just start small. Get on the treadmill for 30 minutes every other day this week. Once you start feeling the rhythm and feeling good, pick it up a notch!
8. Family: Move. Visit MA family a few times a year, but get J closer to his parents.
9. School: Take advantage of tuition reimbursement through any school you work at. Look more in depth at programs you are interested in and do some research on which would be the most helpful to your career compared with what you'd enjoy.
10. Travel: Make small trips now. Bring J to Cape Cod, go up to NH, see Vermont and Maine. Take a train to DC or go out to Philly.
11. Friends: Do more for the friends you already love and make time to visit with them either by phone or in person.

Monday, February 18, 2013

True Life: Living in Massachusetts

I am picking up habits here that I don't enjoy.

I'm talking about the amount of stress, financial juggling, and the Rat Race mindset that seem to come along with the package of living where we live. I really miss Oklahoma. I miss living on our own, in our own space, and being able to see the sun. (We live in the basement where it seems to be permanently midnight.) I miss warmer weather and being proud of ourselves when we could not only pay our bills but maybe go to Chili's two times in one month. We weren't rich by any stretch, and I was proud that, when people came to our tiny apartment, they couldn't tell that everything in it was found at a Salvation Army.

Now, we're in New England, back in my home state of Massachusetts. I really do love a lot of things about MA: the beautiful summers/fall, the museums, the history you can find anywhere, the coast. I love my family.

What I don't love is that everyone is constantly competing for the best. They're not necessarily competing with one another (that's what it felt like when I visited a friend in Orange County, CA- no thanks).

Home for Sale in my area: $249,900 fixer-upper
Instead, they compete with themselves. If you buy a house (unless you are part of the Mega Rich category), you know that you are buying a life-long project. You will never be happy with it or entirely proud of it. In fact, discussing plans to totally revamp your house is standard conversation among women. Men get to talk more about the yard and how they know a guy that can get them a good deal on a new plow for the winter. Also a snowblower. And a backup generator, just in case the first one goes out.

One can never have too many generators.
When my husband and I first moved back here over the summer, he kept remarking on how everyone looked miserable. He calls it the "Stank Face" and brings it up when we're at traffic lights. I told him that it's not that people are mean here; it's a gruff lot, used to a consant amount of back-breaking labor. (This is not true of all parts of Massachusetts, but for a lot of middle class and/or blue collar workers, that's the case.) People have that face because most of the year is cold and bitter, and shoveling is not cute. Shoveling is a major cause of male adult death in the winter, because the snow, which has piled up, frozen over, piled up again and then been rained on, causes heart attacks. Older people are worried that they will be frozen by being locked in or out of their homes during storms. The weather here has not improved since the Pilgrims, and we all know how their first winter went.

People looking unfriendly because they're freezing.
Again, the generators. That's what separates modern day from life here in the 1600s.

The weather is bad. On top of that, people are constantly running through cycles of the rat race to improve, improve, improve, with really no end goal. Which  means people here angrily get through awful weather, only to work 70-90 hours a week, and taking a break makes people feel guilty or like they're getting behind. A stay-at-home mom? Lazy. A guy who retires at the actual retirement age in his 60s? He retired too early.

It's about work, and struggle, and constantly trying to improve your lot.

It makes me miserable, because I'm doing it now too. I have consciously lost touch with friends because friends cost money. Going out to dinner, or getting a drink, or going up to the lake all cost money. That's a fucking awful statement, but it's a big reason I only hold onto my soul mate friends and don't really reach out to other people. (The other big reason is that I just feel depressed and like I need to hide in my bed most days.) I feel guilty spending money with people other than my closest confederates. Then I blow a ton of money, because money= hard work= love.

That's why I never saw my father growing up. Because "You know your father loves you. He may not tell you and he might seem scary, but he works so hard so he can provide for us. That's how he shows how much he loves you. By how hard he works."

Man, I have heard that speech a thousand times. Mostly because my dad was the scariest person alive to me until I was about 11.

Anyway. This rant has gone all over the place, but I'm just trying to keep my eye on the prize. Although I do now  know money is not the most important thing, it is what is keeping me shackled to this life-in-limbo stage. Debt cannot run my life the way it does so many people around me, so I have to stay focused and live this life for a little while until we can break loose.