Monday, July 30, 2012

Money Monday: July 30, 2012

Well, dang. Not doing so good keeping up these posts, am I? Honestly, I don’t know what is going on with me lately. Eh. That’s not entirely true. I know what, what I’m not sure of is why it seems to be hitting me so hard in the creativity. Writing, knitting, dyeing, anything that isn’t purely and only practical keeps sliding further and further down my priority list lately.

{purses lips thoughtfully} Huh…weird, ain’t it…?

ANYWAY. I did actually work on my List (from three weeks ago) (oy, I suck!), and I tell you what: I had a horrible time trying to do it.

Not because I couldn’t think of anything, but because pretty much the instant I started, I was trying to skip ahead, not only to here, but pretty much trying to do the and then we hit the >> button and everybody lived happily ever after, the end thing.

Which is so typical of me, really. “Hey, that looks cool!” {immediately and enthusiastically jumps for it} “Ow! Well, what idiot put a briar patch THERE of all places?!”

Sigh. Dear Me: The point of the exercise is not just to write down a bunch of random things and then rush out and start doing them. It is rather about creating a map with built-in compass, to help you actually decide where you’re going – instead of just ending up somewhere and, well, like it or not, it’s where you are now.

So, backing up a little bit and resisting the urge to start doing anything what’s actually on the list? And what are those things collectively trying to say?

The next step in the exercise is to start organizing things – by overall ‘group’ (that is, “things to HAVE” versus “things to DO” versus “family things” or “career things” or “personal development”), by relative importance and effort/duration.

The relative importance is the tricky part; nothing is “unimportant,” but not everything can have the title of Most Important. It’s highly subjective, too, which is tricky because you can’t go to Wikipedia and get a definitive answer on which is more important, the chicken or the egg?

It’s up to you. ONLY you can answer that. (Yeah, it does kind of suck - sorry about that.)

I have to admit, my list is pretty easy that way. Fifteen years ago, this part was hard, hard, HARD…but now, well, you know…there’s really only two categories.

One is around here and now. We’ve had a rather spartan few years, really, while I was hyper-fixated on scrubbing away all the crap that had accumulated over the years before them. I have a few things that sum up to “giving the Denizens back a childhood.” More extracurricular things, more art and sports (yeah, um, they’re not actually all that thrilled about that one – but, tough beans, it’s good for you, dang it!) and music.

That is the easy one. After all, for me, mommy-hood is my number one thing – getting the kids from infancy to adulthood is kind of my master-work.

The other is around increasing our independence – which is a trickier proposition. Right now, we’re heavily dependent on paychecks, and retailers. (Unlike everybody else in America, right?) We trade our lives for paychecks, which we then trade for goods and services we don’t have the time or resources to make for ourselves.

If the recession highlighted any one thing for me, it is how precariously balanced that web really is; how many of us were in a world of hurt almost immediately after a job was lost, even if there was another job still in full swing in the household?

How many of us felt the rapidly rising prices on everything from cornflakes to gasoline as if they were sharpened icepicks driven into our guts?

Anyway, it really brought home to me how dependent we are on the massive, yet rather antiquated, commercial engine that is the American economy. We need it from both sides, too – first, we go to work for it, creating goods and services for others to spend their paychecks on. Then, we take our paychecks, flip them over, write “Pay to the order of MegaCorp” on the backs of them, and shove them right back under the door of our own office, so to speak – in exchange for the goods and services that make up our lifestyles.

It’s not that I want to build a compound and live entirely apart from the world (please. I love soft, clean sheets and Starbucks as much as the next minivan-driving suburbanite), but more that I don’t want all our eggs in the same basket. I don’t want us dependent on one or two regular cash-infusions from MegaCorp, followed by a need to turn right around and sign that check over to MegaCorp in exchange for t-shirts, electricity, groceries and everything else that make our lives what they are.

Seems like a great idea to me.



What does that really mean? What does “mission accomplished” actually look like, on something like that? What are the steps to get there?

This is where the dreaming begins to merge into the real world. Nothing is impossible, but not everything is easy; but neither is it automatically as hard as it might sound. Sometimes you look at something “big” and think it’s too big, or too far from where you are right now, and give up on it immediately.

But if instead you look at it not in terms of “the whole big thing” but rather as individual steps, one thing at a time, each individual step isn’t that big a deal. Each step is do-able.

And it is astonishing how often it goes faster than you thought, how one step leading to another and another “suddenly” becomes mission accomplished.

But it can’t happen if you don’t start taking the steps. And you can’t start taking the steps if you don’t know where you’re trying to go.

I think I’ve got a good rough idea – now, I’ve got to pencil out some ways and means and turn it into an actual map.

Hopefully with built-in compass.

And also a martini dispenser.

Because that would be COOL.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


I am becoming ever-so-slightly irked by my own lack of focus lately. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that I am irked by my inability to control where I am focusing lately. I’m hyper-fixated on problems at work, and having a lot of trouble focusing on anything OTHER than that.

Which led to a rather awkward problem this week.

My new job, see, is a bit different from most – instead of being a W2 employee of a contract agency, I reorganized our Enterprises from a general partnership to a limited liability corporation. That’s right. It is now Enterprises LLC, and you are talking to the chief executive member. {attempts to look dignified and business-y…fails…}

Anyway, I filed all the governmental paperwork way back in April. The LLC-1A to do the reclassification is done. The articles of organization properly written out. The business license is safely stored. Appropriate insurance policies purchased.

There was only one thing left to do, and that was to open a business banking account – because one can’t trot into their bank with a check made out to ‘My Corporation LLC’ and try to deposit it into Sarah Jane Smith’s account – even if My Corporation LLC is technically a ‘disregarded entity’ (meaning that Sarah Jane Smith is the sole ‘member’ and will be paying the corporations taxes via her own 1040 come April). Or even if the name of the company is “Sarah Jane Smith LLC.”

But then, well, I was waiting for all the paperwork I’d need to present to the bank in order to open the account to be finalized, and then…um…well, I got distracted. And while I have a list of excuses a mile and a half long, I still really shot myself in the foot there.

For those of you not keeping track at home, I started this job in May. I just got my first check. That’s one of the downsides to working this way: I bill the client at the end of each month, and then they have thirty days [or so] to get around to paying me…I won’t get paid for work I did last week until mid-September [or so].

 So I got this check, which I’ve been anxiously awaiting because, well, let’s just say that the cash on hand situation around here has gotten somewhat hairy. I’ve had “working full time” expenses (most particularly, Vanessa the Great’s paycheck, which is a fairly major ‘cost of doing business’ for me), but no “income” since April.

 And then I looked at the check, which as totally expected, as is right and how it should be, was made out to Enterprises, LLC.  And I said, “Aw, @^*&@!” and slammed my forehead onto my desk a few dozen times because GAH!! I never got around to opening the blasted business checking account!!!!!

Opening a business checking account isn’t quite as fast as opening a regular personal checking account – there are a few more forms to fill out, and the bank also has to do a little more due diligence to ensure I’m not a terrorist, money-launderer, or drug runner. Fair enough.

 And no matter what kind of account you open, the first thirty days or so are always the most restrictive you’ll have; for the first thirty days, it is regular practice for longer holds to be placed on new deposits.

 Which sucks from where I sit right now, but can’t really argue with – I understand why they do that.

 Not to digress, but sometimes I hate my heavy background in banking…understanding why things are done a certain way makes it hard for me to maintain a sense of outrage when, darn it, they should just do it differently for me. Because they should! Because I am not a check-kiter OR a terrorist, and also I am NOT running drugs NOR am I laundering money!


Anyway, I’m looking at between three and five business days to even get the account opened, followed by (probably) a ten business day hold being put on the funds. Whereas if I had gotten off my arse and gotten it done back in May, when I meant to, well. I’d be past the 30-day window, and could have deposited that check three days ago and had the money transferred to the household checking account to cover such trivial details as Vanessa the Great’s next paycheck and gas money.



 Oh well. Serves me right for letting myself be that way. Being tired or out of sorts, or too busy or too sick or whatever doesn’t mean you get a free pass to not do things you don’t feel like doing – if anything, it just means that it is more important than ever to keep the “first things first” mantra going.

 Which I totally know. But occasionally still decide to ignore, even though I also know it will lead to something like this – I’ve got the cash I need right in my hand, but I can’t actually use it for another couple weeks. Argh.

 Being a grown up sure can suck sometimes, can’t it?!

 …even if we can sneak downstairs right after we just told one of the kids “NO, you can’t have ice cream right now! AFTER dinner, AFTER dinner!” to dish ourselves up a bowl of rocky road, eating it in secret behind a locked bedroom door under the cover of “paying bills”…

 (Well, it sounded really good. Plus I always end up not getting any, because lately after I’ve eaten actual food my stomach likes to go on strike so when we’re dishing up dessert I’m usually going, “…eh, nah, I don’t think I can handle it…” so the entire box of ice cream is gone and I don’t get any.)

 (I’m sure I can come up with a few more rationalizations if you guys give me a minute. Probably could come up with dozens of them. I need the calories to maintain weight? Or how about, Because I need the calcium, to help with the charley horses? See? I excel at rationalizations! It is my calling, y’all…)

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Garden Report: July 23, 2012

I did a lot of yard work over the weekend. A lot of it. It had reached the point where it simply had to be done, no matter how much I didn’t feel like doing it. The last six weeks, I’ve been all, Eh, I don’t feel well enough…my back hurts too much…my ovary is throbbing…I feel nauseated…plus it’s too hot…and also did I mention the back pain?...AND, I’m tiiiiiiiired…(oddly, these sorts of things seem to get nothing but worse for me when I cater to them – go figure).

Meanwhile, although obviously there were Expectations to the contrary, the yard work steadfastly refused to simply do itself – instead, an ocean of weeds began to develop across the entire yard, the lawn grew and grew in length to the point where we were afraid neighborhood cats and dogs might be killed and eaten by tigers living in it, and a lot of the food growing in the back yard withered from a combination of drought and neglect.
I got up Saturday morning already doing the “Eeeeeeeeeh, I don’t feel…!” whine, only to glance out my back window at a weed-encrusted, largely-dead, so-called corn field and go, “…{long-suffering sigh}…c’mon, Toots, woman it up – we’re completely out of I Really Don’t Feel Like It passes on this deal…”

In related news, I really didn’t expect that I would feel any too good today because of it, and lo I was right. I feel like death warmed over today. I am regretting every weed I pulled, every cucumber I harvested, every square centimeter of lawn I mowed. I am so tired I could almost cry. Very Small Things™ are giving me a case of the weepies today. I am also having to tell myself, firmly, that one does not pick up the phone and scream, “I QUIT!!!!!!” into it just because one is having a touch of extra back pain and fatigue on a given day (or because folks are – all kidding and sarcasm aside, blithely and innocently dropping larger-than-they-realize bombs into your lap).

Sense of duty aside, I suspect several of my team members would literally have heart attacks and die if I were to simply walk out on them at this point. And only a couple of them would deserve it. So, you know, for the sake of the ten nine eight seven six five four three two one (eh, one and a half) decent men in Sodom…I shall spare the project.
I know. My magnanimity, it knows no bounds. (Magnanimity, mega-animosity…I never noticed before how close they are, spelling-wise.)

But at the same time, I’m glad I did it. Things really were getting bad out there; for example, check out this beauty.
Overgrown Cucumber

That would be a cucumber. It is the size of an overgrown zucchini. And also, it is bright yellow. When it is supposed to look more like this:
One day picking

Most of the yard looked kind of like this bed – which is more weeds than plants.
Weeds run through it

This is what was left after all the weeds were out of there.
Cleaned up

The other trouble spot is the roma tomatoes – they had rather ugly water issues, and thus we have blossom rot – in this really blurry picture (shot through my tears), you see how the bottom of the tomato looks kind of flat? Yeah. That’s the blossom rot. Sigh.
Blurry tomato

Some plants are wondering what all the drama is about – the Blue Nile potatoes are growing like gangbusters.
Blue Nile potatoes

And the cucumbers appear to feel that the heat waves are no big deal.
HEALTHY cucumbers

The butternut squash is fairly happy.

And half of the peanut bed is like a green carpet of peanut plants.

The red potatoes aren’t complaining much either.
Red potatoes

Don’t let the drooping fool you – the okra is doing just fine.

And yams are kind of slow to get started every time – the vines are perfectly healthy, so pretty soon they should start sending down those ‘extra’ roots and carpeting the whole box.

The watermelon patch is…a little scruffy.
Three amigos

And heat + peas = dead peas. (The corn-like stuff in the back there is broom corn – a.k.a., sorghum. Hopefully, there will be at least one (1) broom-worth of bristles on those stalks by the time they’re done.)
Dead peas

And my corn? Eh, not doing so good. The watering issue we’ve had have really stunted their growth rather terribly. Meh.
Scrubby corn

The rhubarb is pretty happy, though!

And the louffa are ready to start climbing!

The container tomatoes are doing pretty well – they’re a bit slow to set blossoms, but hopefully they’ll catch up soon.
Spaced tomatoes

And the container zucchini is proving to be great – it produces considerably less than the “regular” bushes, which is just fine by me. We got more than a little tired of zucchini by this time last year, thanks all the same.
Container Zuccs

The Stuben yellow-eye beans are doing really well – and dried beans remain one of the best things for a gardener with limited daily time to grow. As long as it isn’t raining, any dried out pods that stay on the vine an extra few days are no big deal – they don’t go bad or turn all stringy or any of the other things that other vegetables are prone to doing if you don’t get out there and pick in a timely fashion.
Stuben beans

The bush beans are doing OK – I planted a bunch more in that center circle yesterday, to give us a second crop of fresh-eating green beans in a couple months.
Bush beans

The brussel sprouts are doing pretty well – the alien ships are beginning to cluster around the mother-ship stalks.
Brussel sprouts

And Danger Mouse’s flower bed has morning glories peeking out of it.
Shy morning glories

It’s amazing to me how things are managing to survive out there in spite of me and my Issues lately; they could be doing better, I suppose, but all things considered we’ve got an awful lot going on out there. A lot more success than failure, overall.
But at the same time, frankly, weekends like this one are why I sometimes get this weird smirk on my face and avert my eyes when people start waxing poetic about how simply divine my weird lifestyle is, and how much they envy me (or those like me) and are themselves laying down Great and Mighty Plans in which they too will convert their whole entire living space over to the art, YES, ART, FOR LO, WHAT GREATER ART HATH MAN THAN THAT OF HIS OWN LIVING? of DIY lifestyle.
It puts me in an awkward place, really, because I know that for a lot of folks...this is so not an enjoyable lifestyle. It's demanding. It's unrelenting. It punishes laziness severely, while sometimes rewarding hard work with "meh" results for no apparent reason.
The work is often hard. It's sweaty. It's dirty. It's hours and hours of doing what you must instead of what sounds like fun right about then. And then you're sore, and tired, and also not ACTUALLY done.
There's always more that wants doing. Always.
And sometimes, find yourself thinking that on the whole, this whole thing kind of bites. And that giving it up is probably your best course of action.
But then, just can't. And you're honestly not sure if it is the joy of doing, or just mule-headedness...but...either know you're going to get out there again tomorrow. And the tomorrow after that. You know that you will be canning, and drying, and pickling all summer and fall, clear into the winter; that you will jokingly refer to your neatly labeled rows of Mason jars full of everything from baked beans to cucumber relish as 'Super-Advanced Laziness' because, see, it took a ton of time to grow and harvest and process and all? But look, ma, FAST FOOD!
And then I look at this person, at their soft hands and McPadded bodies, their perfectly clean jeans that have never knelt in a squip! of busted-sprinkler mud, the nails that haven't actually needed a nail brush since they were children...and I find myself smirking a little. Because I don't know what to say, really; I can't begin to guess how this person will react to the inevitable days when nothing is going right, and it's too hot, and there are far more interesting things going on but these things can't be left for even one more day...when backs ache and sweat is rolling down the inside of jeans, when something just hauled off and bit you from under that bush...gah, hope I'm not about to find out what a black widow bite really feels like today...because I don't have time for that, I've got this-n-this-n-this to get done today, or I'm going to lose this whole set...
Maybe they will hate it with a mad passion, and spit on the names of those who talked so enthusiastically about the "cunning" pea blossoms or the "sweet" little carrot fronds.
Maybe they will love it so much they hardly register the hard days.
I feel I should warn them. I feel I shouldn't. If they try it, if they build and tend it, will they look out their windows at their empires and realize they are its master and slave at the same time? And will that make them feel somehow whole inside? Or only trapped by the constant call of a duty no longer technically required of us?
Would they see something more than themselves in a shyly peeking morning glory, winking thanks for a new trellis to climb and a side-dressing of fertilizer?
Blue is hiding
Only one way for them to find I remain silent and smile and tell them the truth: It's hard work, very hard sometimes, but it has many rewards that make it worth me, anyway.

Friday, July 13, 2012


(Fair Warning: This post is about stuff like endometrial polyps and alien snot monkeys. It is probably not appropriate for any audience. But I just can’t seem to stop myself. I appear to be dead-set on sharing this, even though it is a) gross and b) gross and also c ) gross. So if gross girl-stuff makes your toes curl up, this is probably a really good post to just skip.)

So I’ve been having all these Female Troubles lately. And they have been unpleasant and varying degrees of disgusting for, like, two months now. And then Tuesday – after a night of epic cramping that had me sketching out plans for a DIY hysterectomy (one bottle of Glenlivet and a kitchen knife oughta do ‘er…), well…

I’m pretty sure I gave birth to an alien snot monkey.

It was possibly the single most disgusting thing I have ever seen emerge from my body. It was fleshy and tissue-y and, well, it looked like something you’d pull out of a particularly ill-cleaned dead chicken. I mean, GROSS, people, GROSS.

Now, with all the mayhem that has been going on with me, you’d think I’d be relieved that something tangible had finally shown itself. Not looking at it and going, oh, GREAT, what’s THIS?

But I was. And also, I had no idea what it might be. I’d never seen anything like this. So I scooped the thing into a take-n-toss container, called the poor, unsuspecting OB/GYN who so unwisely didn’t tell me he already had too many patients and to go away when I called back in May, and very calmly told him that I had just given birth to a 6x2x2 centimeter Alien Snot Monkey, and asked if that sort of thing was, you know, expected given Everything Else that was going on…or if I should drop everything and rush in for an immediate hysterectomy (hope springeth eternal and all) (if you are sensing that I am ever so slightly sick and tired of my uterus right about now – yes, yes I am).

“Huh. Sounds like an endometrial polyp,” he said (Dunno what that is, I thought to myself, but it sure sounds booooooring!). “Do you still have it? We should definitely send it to pathology.” (Ooooooookay! And now, it sounds vaguely sinister!)

And thus it was that one lidded Gladware container was delivered to his office, to be forwarded on to Pathology.

Now, it turns out that these polyp-thingees are almost always benign and not all that sinister really. So we can drop that and move on to more important things, like discussing the relative merits of the terms ‘endometrial polyp’ and ‘alien snot monkey.’

It is this writer’s humble opinion that the term ‘endometrial polyp’ is boring-yet-ominous sounding, and should be replaced with the far more interesting moniker of ‘alien snot monkey.’

Not only is it more visually appealing (oh hush, it is too!), but it sounds far more exotic and exciting. Plus it would make an excellent name for a band – a far better band-name than endometrial polyps.

Imagine if you will that you are in a large stadium waiting for a concert to begin. Which of these sounds like a better show to you:

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Endometrial Polyps!”

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Alien Snot Monkeys!”

SEE? Alien Snot Monkey  is a totally better term, and I vote that in future whenever some crazy freaked out woman calls up her gynecologist clutching a take-n-toss container full of something that looks like it was picked up off the slaughterhouse floor, s/he should immediately tell her that it sounds like an Alien Snot Monkey  and that pathology would love to take a look at it.

Because also, telling somebody that they should send their endometrial polyp to pathology sounds far more serious than it actually is…whereas I very much doubt anybody could manage to work up an ounce of concern over sending an Alien Snot Monkey to pathology.

Disagree with me. I dare you.

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Artiste is IN

Captain Adventure and I are bach-in it this weekend. That’s right. It’s just me-n-mah-boy, for three whole days. His father and sisters piled into Homer the Odyssey yesterday and headed off for the uncharted wilderness of the Los Angeles area for the family 4th of July party.

I couldn’t go this time – between Female Troubles (yeah, still…I think I may be approaching the point where I start proposing we just yank the whole blasted works out of there and be done with it), work-related deadlines and an epic amount of laundry (don’t laugh – one of the girls had scabies, and I’m so freaked out by Such Things that I won’t be able to sleep at night until I have washed ALL the things), I just wasn’t able to take five whole days away from Everything.

Which The Captain feels is possibly the second or third most awesome thing that has ever happened to him in his entire almost-eight-years of life.

I was a little worried last night, as he was revisiting the question of where exactly daddy and the sisters were right now. Would they be home later? Would they be home in the morning? Where did they go, again? And then, just as I was starting to think, Aw, crap, he thinks he’s been ditched!, he grabbed hold of my neck and yelled, “Good! Cause then it just you and me, just dat!

Sometimes, I think The Captain wishes he was the only child of a single parent. Just a hunch.

Also, I had to keep sending him back to his own bed, because he was totally trying to take over daddy’s spot while he was away. Possession is 9/10th of the law, dude…you left it unattended, I moved into it, ANY QUESTIONS?!

So this morning, he had a list of things he felt would be a good use of our time. Important things. Like marshmallows, cereal, and bendy wax sticks. Oh. And some of the fusible bead trays, so he could build cool things for me to obediently iron upon demand.

The young artiste, he has NEEDS, y’all.

So after some breakfast cocoa and a morning chat about video games, we went off to WalMart together. He chattered all the way there…and then promptly went into shut-down as we were walking up to the store.


He maintained a death-grip on my hand the entire time. The most I could get from him was a whispered “yes” or “no” when I would show him various products – or a wordless pointing as I started to toss the coveted and seldom-purchased marshmallows into the cart. How about the pastel ones, because the only thing better than marshmallows-at-all would be PASTEL marshmallows, which is, like, ULTRA awesome and stuff…

But WalMart…they had neither the fusible-bead things, nor the bendy wax sticks. Sadness. And. Woe.

So we went next door to Michaels. Where I found the fusible bead things on sale no less in about three seconds. But the bendy wax sticks…couldn’t find them.

We searched high and low, and with increasing desperation. When an autistic kid has decided that this and ONLY this will do? Not being able to find whatever-it-is becomes a big deal. I had to transfer his hand to my belt, because he was griping way too hard as aisle after aisle did not have them, and his anxiety began to mount.

Finally, tucked away in the Crayola aisle, waaaaaaay up at the top in unfamiliar packaging…bendy sticks.

Whew. Disaster averted. Captain Adventure was so happy, he started flapping his hands and skipping to the register, and even forgot that he was freaked out and overwhelmed and started chattering again. I’m going to make a GUY with really long LEGS and hey! How come they have YELLOW [inevitably pronounced LEL-LO, which I find so cute it half KILLS me to correct him] on the picture on the box, but there’s no LEL-LO stah-WINGS in the box? Huh? How come? Huh? HOW COME?!

And then we came home and he made a guy with really long legs and said I had to take a picture quick because his legs were going to fall off because they were toooooooooo LONG!

So I did.

(Note the very serious expression. He is an artiste, people. And arte, it is serious!)

And, they did. Pretty much immediately. So he made smaller people with normal legs out of the fallen-off legs and said it was a family of wax-string people.

And then he decided it was time for fusible beads. I foresee a LOT of ironing in my immediate future

We don’t get a whole lot of one-on-one time with any of the Denizens, really; normally, my home office is like the customer service desk at Target, a constant string of people asking for things, returning things, registering complaints and suggestions, coming and going day and night.

Sometimes, I can’t remember which kid was just in here bellyaching about what thing, and then I’ll be yelling at the wrong kid to quite harping on that! and whaddya mean, mommy, I only brought it up this one time!

…oh…that wasn’t you five minutes ago…well, anyway, QUIT HARPING ON IT, I KNOW YOU WANT GRANOLA BARS!

It’s always neat to get some of this kind of time, with only one voice to listen to, only one other set of needs to cater to, only one other person to focus on for a while.

…except…well, it is kind of quiet around here today…little bit creepy, almost…I think I’ll go see what the hamsters are up to, see if they want to start running around in their little balls on the tile floor, that might liven things up a bit around here…

Monday, July 02, 2012

Money Monday: July 2, 2012

Among the many things I keep thinking I should totally be better about are these sorts of posts – one of the many ways in which finances can be like dieting is that having something that keeps you motivated (and also honest) can really help you stay the course when you’re trying to accomplish something.

Which is actually a large part of my problem: I have a lot of vague ideas, a fistful of could and a pocketful of should and a side helping of would, but I don’t have a particularly clear-eyed vision around what exactly I want to do, or how precisely I think I should chart the course to get it.

This lack of vision tends to make it hard to actually get anywhere. Kind of like driving a car with the sunshield still up, you know? Where we goin? Dunno, but I think we’re getting there fast!

We’re actually at an excellent place in life to be having the sorts of conversations we need to have, too. Not only because we’re sort of between Grand And Sprawling plans at present (which is rather a problem that needs to be addressed), but because we are – whether we care to admit it or not – standing in the doorway to Middle Age.

(There. I said it. We are middle. frickin'. aged.)

(Well. Chronologically, anyway. Mentally…well, let’s put it this way: Fart. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! SHE SAID FART!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA! See? Maximum mental age: Fourteen, MAYBE.)

The way I tend to operate now is on an autopilot that was first set in place fifteen years ago – when we were newly-minted young adults learning just how hard this whole “being a grownup” gig actually was. We had six-figure dreams but only four-figure experience. We had lots of hope and energy, but not a lot of power in our jumps. We had tons of opinions, but not a whole lot of wisdom. And of course, we were desperately squeezing nickels hoping to transform them into dimes through sheer force of will.

But that isn’t where we are now. Now we are in our prime earning years. We are sailing into what we will undoubtedly look back upon as our best-ever earning years, the years when we were making the most money we ever made.

I could be wrong, but I suspect if I don’t get off my arse pretty quickly here and apply my experience in Such Matters to the question of how we want to leverage these literally golden years, I will be rather pissy with my younger self when we are sitting around in our Golden Years wondering why we even call them that, seeing as how it probably should be called the Once Upon A Time We Used To Have Some Gold, ‘N Now It’s Almost All Gone Years. (<= I very much doubt I will become less wordy in my old age. Just a hunch.)

The place I like to start for Such Things isn’t directly with dollars and cents and how many of them go to what categories – rather, I like to start by daydreaming a lot. This is actually a really fun exercise, because at this point in the game you don’t have to be realistic.

You don’t have to be sensible.

You don’t have to be all accountant-ish.

In Point Of Fact, the best way to approach this little task is playfully. Take yourself back to your childhood and play Let’s Pretend with yourself. Let’s pretend that we have all the time, money and talent in the whole wide world at our disposal…nothing is impossible, nothing is too big or too small, nothing requires too much pre-work that we haven’t even started yet, we can have, do or be anything we want

Well. What do we want?

Grab a notebook and a pen, and start writing! It doesn’t matter whether the thing is an object, a destination or an accomplishment. It doesn’t matter whether it is “silly” or “serious.” They don’t have to be all the same category, or level of difficulty – you can have “swim the English channel” next to “grow at least one edible radish.”

It doesn’t matter whether anybody else approves. It doesn’t even matter whether you approve – yet.

The point here isn’t to carve into stone all the things you will absolutely, without fail strive to and possibly beyond your utmost to have, do and be…it’s simply to give yourself permission to dream, to imagine what such a reality would look like for yourself.

Sure, ultimately we’ll go over this list and prioritize things and look at what steps are between here and there and all that boring sensible stuff.

But for right now…don’t worry about it. Just rough out what “reality” would be, if you got to decide on it.

It’s so easy to get so caught up in what is that we forget that we aren’t necessarily defined by it. Reality seems so…well, real. Finite. Defining. Immovable, and irresistible.

Living as we do within the boundaries of What Is, we can start to believe that we, too, are part of it. That we too are what we are, nothing more, nothing less, unchanging and unchangeable.

It isn’t really so. To our species has been given a terrible and profound gift – we do not have to be defined by the world we are born into, or have fallen into, or even have worked long and hard to arrive in, only to find that, eh, now that I’m here? It ain’t quite what I expected, ya know…?

We have this gift of imagining. Of dreaming. And daring to mold ourselves, so that we fit the reality to which we would like to become accustomed.

Whether the journey is across the street or across the world, though, we can’t get started until we have some idea which way we want to go…so!

Start scribbling, and don’t overthink things at this point. Let those hopes and dreams of yours talk without being interrupted with words like “but” or “if only” or “can’t” for a bit. Build some castles in the air.

Next week, we can start looking into how we can get some foundations under them.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Noble Achievements

Today was Cooking Day – a rather overdue excursion into What should I cook up before it goes bad?

And so it was that two dozen sandwich-shaped burger patties, two loaves of bread, about twenty lunch-sized servings of lamb and lentil soup, two dozen bagels, sixteen BBQ ham turnovers, four dozen each of four different cookies, a coconut meringue pie, a 13x9 pan of coconut bars, six dozen pancakes and four dozen waffles were born, ready to join the other turnovers, muffins, and ‘why did you make those square, aren’t they usually round?’ objects in the freezer. (Well, because. Sandwich bread, I almost always have…hamburger or hotdog buns, not so much.)

I sit here now with my feet and back complaining, fighting an impressive case of The Yawns and trying to remember that hey, all things considered, I did pretty good today.

I always feel like I should have been able to do better. I can find a dozen places where I should have started something else, should have done that first, then this…should have been working on that the day before, instead of this other thing.

It’s very annoying of me.

But at least it isn’t a particularly nasty Interior Critic. Mine is more like a cheerleader, expecting that with a little motivation, greater goals can be achieved. Yay! Go team!

A lot of folks aren’t so lucky. Their Interior Critics are downright vicious, skulking around in the shadowy corners of their minds muttering about ‘uselessness’ and ‘hopeless’ and ‘you stink.’

Mine just has…slightly inflated beliefs around exactly how much can or cannot be done by us within a given period of time. And a tendency to move the bar when I’m not looking, such that if I were to achieve next weekend what she thought I should have been able to do today, well, there will be just one or two more things she feels could have gotten done, if

Well, I’m sure it’s true. And I’m also sure that I could get just one or two more things done this weekend, before I dive back into another working week full of deadlines and changing requirements, and trying to get things done at work in an environment where everything is broken and nobody can fix it (mostly because of an understandable terror around touching.ANYTHING!...when your whole system is prone to barfing up a hairball and dying for no apparent reason right in the middle of month-close, welllllll, I can totally understand why nobody wants anybody to tinker with things) (even though we could so TOTALLY fix it…all it would take is a little [more] time, a little [more] money, a dollop of trust and maybe a pinch of pixie dust and with a hearty hi-ho-Silver-and-away we could make all those nested transactions stop locking each other [and themselves here and there, for bonus Hilarity Points] into oblivion, can I get an amen?!, BUT…I digress).

I’m sure I could get just a few more things done tonight. Before it’s too late and today becomes yesterday and the deeds are set in the stone of what is past.

But something else I should really get done today? More sleeping. Which tends to be mutually exclusive with getting other things done. Although I suspect I’ve tried. Few other things can fully explain the oddities around the things I find around here the way “I must have been sleep-walking when I did that” can.

TO WHICH END…I am going to bed, so that I can accomplish more sleeping.

WOOOOOO! WAY TO OVERACHIEVE, ME! (<= desperate times call for desperate measures…let us make of sleeping a Noble Cause, and strive for ever more nobility…)