Follow That Rainbow! Or, How I Did My Budget

It doesn’t pay to be a grown-up.

Image credit:  mystica at openclipart.com

Image credit: mystica at openclipart.com

I’ve been thinking that, at some point before I retire, it would be nice to buy a house.  To that end, I recently spoke with a financial advisor (I may be glamorizing his job here a bit–it was just a guy at my bank who agreed to talk to me) and went through my finances with an eye toward getting things in shape, eventually, to own my own home.  He warned me, “This is going to take some belt-tightening,” and I believed him.  My job is more spiritually than financially remunerative.  I just wasn’t quite prepared for how tight that belt was going to have to get.  Here’s the gist:

Of course, federal and state taxes come out of the paycheck before you ever get it.  Then there are all the other automatic payments for things like retirement accounts, flexible spending plans or health savings accounts, student loans, personal savings accounts, and things of that nature.  Then there’s rent (or mortgage, I hope, eventually), utilities, groceries, pantyhose (I need a separate line in my budget for these because I go through so many), beer household necessities, all the stuff you really do have to have.  Most people also have a car payment or at least an amount for gas; I have taxi money.  There’s whatever other categories your life calls for, like beer child care, beer medical expenses, pet supplies, property taxes, things along those lines.  Then there’s what you have to put aside for a down payment, and then there’s what’s left.

I’m not kidding, I actually had more pocket-money when I was a kid with an allowance.  It really doesn’t pay to be a grown-up, and I’ve got the spreadsheet to prove it.

It was raining while we were doing this, and it stopped not long after we finished.  I looked out of my window and saw a rainbow that came right near my home.  It was so close, I could actually see the end of the rainbow.  I craned my neck, because it would have been fantastic timing to find a pot of gold just then.  Where do you think the rainbow ended?

In the graveyard next to my apartment building.

I don’t know what to make of that.  I’m completely not just coming up with a cool metaphor to give added dimension and meaning to my blog post.  This really happened.  I actually saw where the rainbow ended, and it ended in a graveyard next to my building.  Is it the death of hope?  A commentary on the ephemeral nature of human lives and dreams?  A message from above that I should just give up now?

And then I thought, maybe that’s just where the rainbow starts.

By Photograph: Eric Rolph at English Wikipedia Crop + shadow: user:BokicaK (File:Double-alaskan-rainbow.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Photograph: Eric Rolph at English Wikipedia Crop + shadow: user:BokicaK (File:Double-alaskan-rainbow.jpg) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Respect Your Blog

Image credit: openclipart.org

Image credit: openclipart.org

I’m not gonna lie, I used to post a good portion of my blog entries while wearing PJs.  I’ve come to realize, however, that when I’m wearing PJs and slippers and I’ve got my rat’s nest of uncombed hair pulled back in a scrunchie so I won’t have to deal with it and I’m not wearing any makeup because it’s not like any of you can see me, anyway, I usually end up writing a sloppy blog entry.  Because I’m sloppy.  So I came up with a resolution:  respect your blog.  Treat it like something you value, not like something you just got from a fast food restaurant that you’re done with and you throw in the back of your car because who cares.

I like to dress up a little while I’m posting to my blog.  I put on pretty shoes, I do my eye makeup, I try to make my hair look presentable.  I know you can’t see me, but it makes a difference.  When I respect my blog, and my blog readers, enough to approach it like a professional, I write better blog entries.  I also try to make sure that my apartment has achieved at least a basic level of cleanliness, because I can see my living room reflected in my computer screen and it’s really distracting when I’m typing a post and I see the reflection and think, why do I have three coffee mugs on my end table?  I don’t even drink coffee.

Why is this important?  Because I’m a freaking adult.  I know my laundry has been piling up and I really need to empty the trash and I haven’t been grocery shopping in two weeks so I’ve just been ordering in (which is probably why the trash is so full), but it helps me concentrate when all my crap is where it’s supposed to be.  It helps me write when I know, somewhere in the layers of my little blind mind, that I could walk outside to get the mail and not worry whether anyone’s around to see me, because I look decent.  It’s all part of not becoming a crazy cat lady with 27 cats who goes to the grocery store wearing a house coat because she forgot to check the mirror before she sat down to post to her blog.

This blog may not be an actual job, and thank God because most people end up hating their jobs and that would suck for me, but it’s something that’s important to me.  It’s important to me to write a good blog entry for you to read.  And I don’t mind if you read it while wearing your PJs.  That’s totally OK.  That’s almost what you’re supposed to do (unless you’re reading this while at work).  Get out your scrunchies and put on your slippers and know that I put effort into myself as well as into this blog post, because I respect my blog and I respect you.  Peace out.

Things Cats Can Do That My Ex-Boyfriend Never Managed

1.  Knock

2.  Wash

3.  Leave me the hell alone when I’m in a mood

scaredy cat

4.  Cover their poo (cat equivalent of flushing the toilet)

5.  Get their own food

Cat on birdhouse

6.  Just tell me when they’re pissed off

7.  Make themselves useful around the house

cat eating bug

8.  Chase their own tails…no, I tell a lie, he managed that one

9.  Make me love them!

Most adorable cat

 

Why My Dad Is The World’s Best Dad: With Examples

Father's Day Cake by Jason Trommetter on Flickr

Father’s Day Cake by Jason Trommetter on Flickr

I’ve seen a lot of merchandise out there in anticipation of Father’s Day, or more accurately in anticipation of cashing in on Father’s Day.  I’ve seen any number of mugs and T-shirts saying “World’s Best Dad” and foam fingers proclaiming the wearer to be “#1 Dad”.  What I haven’t seen is any evidence to back up these claims.  I mean, anyone can wear a t-shirt and drink from a mug.  Most people can even bring themselves to wear foam fingers from time to time.  But I have yet to see a treatise laying out the reasons that one’s particular father is the best in the world.  And I think I know why.

Because my Dad is the best in the world.

In keeping with my opening paragraph, I’m going to lay out the reasons why.  I fully realize that many of you may disagree and say that your father is the best in the world, and I’m ready to admit that there may be a tie for this position, but I’m going to need to hear the reasons before I concede the stalemate.  Here are mine:

  1. The Sledgehammer:  One of my earliest memories is of my father handing my sister and me a sledgehammer and telling us to knock down a wall.  He was remodeling the house from roof to basement, and the house was mostly plaster for a year or two.  If you didn’t put a cloth over your belongings, you came back to find them coated in white dust.  We’ll find out eventually, I’m sure, that breathing in plaster causes some horrific medical condition, but it was totally worth it to be a five-year-old wielding an adult-approved sledgehammer.  Even if I couldn’t lift it yet.
  2. Democrats are Evil:  My father and I were arguing about politics one evening.  I know, I know, not a good call, but there was an election approaching and I hadn’t yet come up with Life Rule #37:  Never Argue Politics With Dad.  I made some clever, witty observation (I’m assuming; I don’t actually remember), and my father, a staunch Republican, made the comment “All Democrats are evil.”  I said, a bit miffed, “I’m a Democrat!  Does that mean I’m evil?”  To which he replied, “You’re not evil; you’re just misguided.”  Best comeback line ever.
  3. BBQ SNAFU:  I was out with a few fellow graduate students on a summer afternoon.  We went to a local park where there were grills available for public use.  We brought hamburger patties, rolls, fixins, charcoal, etc.  We totally had it covered.  Except that, when we got there, we discovered that no one among the dozen or so of us there actually knew how to use the grill.  I hadn’t worried about it because I assumed that all guys know how to do this, which I realize is a total feminist fail.  Everyone just sort of milled around, debating possible approaches but never actually doing anything useful, which now that I think about it is a pretty good analogy for grad school in general.  I, however, being the daughter of an engineer and a science teacher, knew exactly what to do:  I called my father.  He gave us step-by-step instructions to get the bricks placed correctly and the fire going, and they worked perfectly.  That, however, is not what makes him so awesome.  The part of this story that makes him so awesome is that he picked up the phone right away, was totally ready to drop what he was doing to help his daughter, and knew exactly what to do even with no warning.  World’s best Dad!
  4. Night School:  When I was a little blind baby, my mother went back to school.  She went to night school because my Dad worked during the day and, strangely, the school wouldn’t admit a squalling infant.  That meant that childcare fell largely to my father in the evenings.  You know those commercials where moms fantasize about fathers who happily share child care duties and don’t think it’s somehow emasculating?  My dad is that dad.  We hung out, him and me, chillin’ at home while the Moms was in class.  He had it under control:  diapers?  Check.  Formula?  Check.  Baby who won’t stop crying until you pick her up and rock her?  Check.  Forming unbreakable bond with tiny baby girl?  Massive check.  Right now you’re thinking, that is the pinnacle of awesomeness.  She can’t possibly top that.  And yet, I can:
  5. When a Fail Really Isn’t:  For those of you who don’t know, I’m adopted.  I was having a conversation with my father recently about health issues.  He told me I ought to get such and such checked out because it was a serious issue on my mother’s side of the family.  I looked at him a little funny and asked which mother he was talking about, biological or adoptive.  He looked completely blank, then sheepish:  he forgot I was adopted.  He completely forgot that I’m not his biological daughter because he really, honestly loves me and thinks of me just as if I shared his DNA.  I was going to dare you all to top that, but I know you can’t.  My dad really is the World’s Best Dad.

And so is yours.  Everyone’s got a list.  I encourage everyone else to let their fathers know what’s on their list, because many dads don’t realize how incredible they are.  Happy Father’s Day!

Didn’t You Get The Memo?

I visited a friend from high school not long ago.  In high school, he wasn’t part of the inner circle, though he wasn’t an outcast either.  But he fielded his fair share of bullying and cruel comments.  He never lost his temper about it, or even seemed to mind that much.  He said his father had told him to just let it go, that someday he would be their boss and make them all jump as high as he wanted.

My friend started a business that has become quite successful.  I met him at his office–lots of glass and steel and polished wood everywhere, and you can always tell when a place that’s decorated in the modern style is doing well or not by whether they can afford someone to clean all the smudges and fingerprints off of all the reflective surfaces every day.  When you’ve got that much square footage that’s got to be cleaned that carefully that often, you have to employ top-notch cleaners.

Anti-Advertising Agency and Finishing School on Flickr; modified for size

Anti-Advertising Agency and Finishing School on Flickr; modified for size

Anyway, I met him at his office.  Perfectly clean, not a smudge in sight, even though it was vibrating with activity.  Clearly doing quite well.  I was talking with him about old times when he winked at me, summoned his secretary into the office (his executive secretary, mind you.  He’s got two others) and gave her a message to email to the staff right away.  She left, and about a minute later, the entire building exploded with people running everywhere, clutching papers and looking really anxious.  Sadly, no one jumped, but I still almost fell out of my chair from laughing so hard!

So take heart, young ones.  Also, if you ever find yourself in my friend’s enviable position, be sure to include something in your memo about jumping, for my sake.

The Stress (Fracture) Is Really Getting To Me

limpingchickenSo I may or may not have a stress fracture in my foot.  I may or may not have had it for a few days now.  I’ve had them before, and I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on now, but I don’t really know because…ahem…I haven’t been to the doctor.  I think I’ve blogged before about my dislike of going to the doctor.  It’s like some weird cult: they strip you down, clothe you in a shapeless one-size-reveals-everyone’s-backside garment, take your money, say a lot of strange-sounding words you don’t understand, and expect you to nod obediently.   The x-rays and scans and suction cup machines never show anything concrete, so you have to take it all on faith, and you keep getting bills for about four months.  Though, come to think of it, cults just take all your money up front, so that last part is not very cult-like.  But it is very doctor-like.  So, I’ve just been walking around on a (probably) broken foot.  It’s (probably) fine.

Actually, it’s really starting to hurt.  But I’m kind of getting into it.  “Check me out, I’m a tough guy!  I walk around on a broken bone like it’s nothing!  I chew gravel for fun and I laugh at pain!  Not only can I walk on a broken foot, but I can do it in heels–watch!  Oh, God…”  In retrospect, not the best idea in the world.  My office wife is pissed at me, mostly because she’s the one who has to drive me around while I heal.  Also, it’s getting more difficult to find work-appropriate shoes that will fit around the swelling.  And the top of my foot is starting to turn colors.  Still, I have not gone to the doctor.  I keep hoping it will go away on its own, not unlike my last few relationships.

Drinking-BeerI’ve been trying to take it easy once I get home.  Prop up my foot, maybe put a pack of frozen peas on it, crack a beer–nature’s painkiller–and watch a movie.  Except, I just realized I’m out of allergy medicine, there’s no one around to drive me to the store, and the nearest store that sells my medicine is four blocks away.  That sound you hear?  That’s my office wife laughing her ass off.  Well, maybe the non-stop sneezing will distract me from the throbbing pain in my foot.  Or maybe I’ll forget about how miserable my allergies make me when my foot falls off.   I’m all about the positive.  And yes, Office Wife, I will call the doctor tomorrow.

Oh, God.  I’m out of beer, too.  Now that’s a f*cking emergency!

Close Encounters of the Chain-Bookstore Kind

BookstoreMy friends and I were in a bookstore once–one of those big national-chain-type bookstores where you need to use your GPS to find your way around.  Actually, this was long enough ago that you had to leave a booktrail to follow back–you know, where you take a book you like and leave it facing cover-out so that you can follow the books like a breadcrumb trail back to the front door, The Sound and the Fury to American Gods to The Maltese Falcon and so on…if you’re with friends you know well enough, you can also use this method to find each other in the store.  Anyway, one of my friends was being hit on by this totally obnoxious guy who was being a condescending jerk to her just because he was very good looking, which would have been less offensive if he hadn’t been spouting really bad existentialist philosophy at the time.

Disclaimer:  I have nothing against existentialist philosophy, as long as it’s done well, preferably in a French accent while smoking a cigarette.  Sadly, this was both crappy and in a Middle America kind of accent.  Not that I have anything against Middle America, it’s just not known for its existentialist philosophy.  Crap.  This is bound to offend someone.  Don’t hate me.

So my friends and I stood watching this for a while, because it wasn’t a big town and that counted as entertainment, when suddenly I’d had enough.  I mean, there’s only so much douchiness you take, especially when it’s being dished out to your friends.  So I ran around a display, rushed breathlessly up to my friend, and said, “Oh my God!  It’s really you!  I can’t believe it!  No one’s going to believe me when I tell them about this!  Can I have your autograph?!”  And my friend graciously signed her name as Douchebag Hairdo gawped moronically on the sidelines.  Friends:  50 million.  Douchebag Hairdo:  0.

Friends are awesome.  Can I just say?  Also:  everyone deserves to have that happen to them at least once in their lives.  Except maybe for Douchebag Hairdos.