Wet Blanket

The past year in this neighborhood has been relatively uneventful, thank god, especially when compared to the last few places we’ve rented. The peace and quiet had been really nice. Until tonight.

Unfortunately, there are several other rentals on this street, which inevitably means that people don’t respect their fellow neighbors, those people’s property and cars, or their own. I don’t know why it’s so rare for a person who doesn’t own their home to care about the people who live around them, or the property that they’re renting.

There are about ten people three houses down from me blowing up – for pleasure – what sounds like car batteries and garbage cans full of popcorn and bullets about every two and a half minutes.

For the past forty five minutes, the trash down the street has been having a fireworks party. Clearly, to celebrate the birth of our nation, not at all because fireworks (other than sparklers) are now legal in Indianapolis. It’s because they’re incredibly patriotic, which explains why they’re here, setting off explosives in the middle of a crowded street with cars parked on both sides and not running to sign up with the Army.

I don’t know if this makes me a party pooper, a wet blanket, an old fogey, or what, but it irritates the holy hell out of me. I guess I don’t oooh and aaah the way the average person does over pyrotechnics, so perhaps I don’t understand the excitement. As a youngster I admit to setting on fire my fair share of things, I just don’t enjoy them going off over top of my brand new car. The dogs are nervous and whining while the cats bounce off the couch every time a pop goes off.

And then there’s me. The 31-year-old grumpus who’s been up since five in the morning – for seventeen and a half hours – a young lady who, although it’s barely 10:30, would like to be able to lay down and get some sleep.

By the way, July 4th is on Wednesday. Today is Saturday. Just FYI.

Stephen Colbert in 2008

Should Stephen Colbert run for President? Probably not. As much as he entertains me, I realize he’s a comedian, not a politician. Still, the idea is amusing. A group called Unity08 has created a Web site to encourage the people to elect an official they deem worthy of running for office. Al Gore, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Moore, Bill Gates, whoever. Back in the good ol’ days the President and Vice President were a Republican and a Democrat, not both members of the same party. I sometimes wonder whatever happened to the checks and balances . . .

The group has three goals:
1. Elect a truly bipartisan Unity Ticket to the White House team in 2008.
2. Make history by nominating the next President and Vice-President through the first ever online, virtual convention.
3. Demand a focus on crucial issues by creating a New American Agenda.

By registering you can become a delegate to nominate someone in their online convention.

In theory, it’s an idea I can get behind, especially (and I’m showing my true, bleeding-heart-liberal colors here) if it means nominating Al Gore or Howard Dean again. But, to quote Lewis Black (and Unity08 does so on their site) “Republicans have nothing but bad ideas and Democrats have no ideas.”

It seems time people did something other take the lesser of available evils.

Trying Not to Buy It

I finally checked out “Not Buying It” by Judith Levine from the library. I was on a waiting list for a few weeks, but I felt that going to Borders would sort of defeat the purpose of the experiment. I was a bit disappointed. I don’t know what I expected the book would be like, but this wasn’t it. I guess, in typical American fashion, I was expecting a how-to guide more than a personal memoir, although it’s right there in the title: it’s her year without shopping, not how to go a year without shopping.

She mentions some interesting articles and studies and a lot about her personal politics. She makes the connection between the far right and the far left, how both groups tend to lean towards simplicity for very different reasons. I’d talked to Charlie about that a few days before I read the book. Mainly, that I’d begun to notice a lot more “liberal” people homeschooling their kids and quitting good jobs and careers to stay home and cook, clean, and make their children’s clothes. As opposed, of course, to the typical hardcore religious families refusing to send their kids to public schools in an attempt to steer the children towards a more “righteous” and less secular life.

On a related note, I think this experiment of mine has been contributing to my crisis. I’m doing fairly well in terms of not spending money, although we haven’t “officially” started “not buying it.” Charlie lasted about two days during our trial week before he felt like he was going crazy in his cubicle. We talked about it and I mentioned that the reason for the trial period was to determine what each of us did or did not consider “essential.” For him, being able to get out of the office for lunch was a big thing. So I suggested taking a walk or run, or bringing in his bike. He prefers to walk around the mall or Fry’s, which I said isn’t really an issue. As long as he takes the Matrix, the more fuel efficient car, I don’t see an issue with him driving a mile to walk around for an hour. As long as he takes his lunch and isn’t spending forty, fifty, or sixty extra dollars per week on going out to eat, I think this is a fair compromise and is certainly not a trade-off in terms of gas. There’s no way he’d be wasting that much gas unless he spent an hour every day driving all over town.

So, me being crazy . . . as far as I can tell, there are a number of issues contributing to my feeling more nuts than usual these past few days. For one, I’ve been married for six years and have had a housemate of some sort for at least four of those years. I’m really over it. It’s nothing personal. I just need to have a relationship with Charlie. Although we can’t really afford this place on our own right now, I’m willing to do what it takes to make up the difference if I have to. If I have to work more during the semesters and don’t get straight A’s, that’s okay. I’ll do the best that I can.

Then you have to factor in trying to quit smoking, and the emotional rollercoaster involved in that. I suppose it’s difficult to explain if you’ve never tried to break an addiction, and, as I keep telling myself, at least it’s not heroin or crystal meth or something awful like that, but there are a lot of ups and downs. Mostly centered around feelings of self worth, my lack of self discipline, my feelings of failure, my anger with myself for being angry with myself. If I could get over that shit I think I’d be fine.

Falling Off, Temporarily

Yesterday was the second day in a row when I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. In fact, I was so incredibly irritable Monday and Tuesday that I did the unspeakable; I bought a pack of cigarettes last night. Then I fought with myself and yelled at myself and called myself names for giving in. I asked myself, if I was able to get through the first week, why was the second harder? Was I stressed out from not smoking, or for some other reason?

It’s another reason. I’m not going to go into all the sordid details, but suffice it to say that I’m having my own little existential crisis right now and, rather than trying to determine what would make me happy, I just had a smoke. It didn’t solve my problems and it’s not going to. I have no idea what initiated the crisis, why I’m having one all of the sudden, or how to go about fixing it. But I will and it won’t be with nicotine. In fact, since I’m now re-enrolled at IUPUI, I could utilize their psych program (CAPS) and start using some of my six free sessions. If nothing else, maybe a trained psychologist working on campus might be able to help me figure out what’s up.

I’m admitting this to you because you’re all very supportive in my trying to quit and I want to be honest about what I did. I’m ashamed, but I’m going to try not to beat myself up too much about it and just get back on the wagon. Beating myself up is just making me feel worse. I think the frustrating part is my lack of motivation. I thought I was more disciplined than that?

I think once I’m back in school things will be better. Right now I just haven’t got enough to do. I haven’t got much money and I’ve been on this major antisocial kick so, even if I had the cash to galavant about town, filling up my gas tank and having lunches with people, I probably wouldn’t really want to.

Today was my first morning as an official supervisor. I made it to work on time, which is my biggest fear thus far, and managed to do all the money stuff correctly. Now I just have to do it all by myself on Saturday and we’ll be good. And, of course, without any smokes.

No Relation to the Director

I had a dream last night that my friend Liz, who’s getting married in a couple of weeks, sent me on an errand to find a bridesmaid’s dress to wear. She said she’d seen this Absolutely Perfect dress at a vintage shop and she wanted me to wear it.
“But I’m not in your wedding, Liz,” I told her (she and her fiance aren’t having a bridal party at all). She said she didn’t care, I had to get this dress.

She described it to me in detail, but once I arrived at the shop, I kept forgetting what she’d said it looked like. I looked around for a long time, and every time I saw something that looked like what she wanted, I’d forget even more information. The guy who owned the place, whose name apparently was Brett Ratner, came up and introduced himself. He said his name was a coincidence and he was not the guy who directed the X-Men movies. He said it to me several times.

Brett Ratner tried to help me find the dress Liz had described but we had no luck. Instead, he suggested, why didn’t I go for a ride with him in his car? He’d really like to introduce me to his daughter, he told me. I thought this was a little odd, but went along with it. It turns out Brett lived about seven hours away, in a town the name of which I forgot upon waking up, but recall was a really funny-sounding name for a town.

I fell asleep in the car and, when I woke up (in the dream), we were at his house but it was really late. He hadn’t told me how far away he lived and this pissed me off. “I have to be at work really early! You’ve got to turn around right now!” I yelled at him.
He told me he could, but he also thought I’d like to know that when I was asleep, he’d had sex with me. I didn’t say anything for a minute, but was horrified. Finally, I asked “Have you ever tested positive for any sexually transmitted diseases or infections?” And I asked it just like that.

Brett sat for a minute, thinking, then shrugged and sort of put out his hands like aw-shucks and said “Well, HIV.”

Post Wedding Consideration

Yesterday afternoon we went to Kit and Shae’s wedding. It was really nice and the food was absolutely outstanding. Kit’s brother is the chef at the Eiteljorg Museum’s restaurant and he provided the spread. There was baby fennel and a wonderful salad, smoked salmon, bruschetta and pesto, pickled carrots and other veggies, strawberry shortcake, and I can’t remember what else. All of it was wonderful.

I had this whole long post written out about what I didn’t like in regards to my own wedding, what I would have done differently, how I regret including so many people and letting them make decisions for me because I didn’t know the first thing about planning an event like that. But, honestly, this isn’t about that. It was a nice ceremony. I was glad to be invited. I saw a lot of people who I enjoy spending time with.

I guess being a witness to Kit and Shae’s love brings up a lot of issues. On the most basic level, I’m really happy for them and was thrilled to be a part of it. Then I start thinking about my own wedding and what could have gone differently (I’d probably just elope). Then I start thinking about all the other people who can’t have the same thing because a few uptight nutjobs can’t stand the concept that men or women could fall in love each other.

Wiser, But Not Wealthier

Every other Friday, payday, the owner brings in our paychecks, each one signed by hand. I used to think this was kind of quaint, when I first started working there. I was excited to have been hired to work at a pretty classy coffeeshop that was independently owned (that is, not a Starbucks). But the cuteness quickly wore off as I was struggling to find the time to get in, pick up my check, and get it to the bank before noon.

I’m still glad to have this job. I get paid relatively well, considering the joke the government calls minimum wage and the fact that I only work part time. My next check will have my shift supervisor raise on it, and I’m due for a merit raise in August, at my second annual review. I doubt that’ll happen, which is just another not-so-quaint aspect of working for a very small company. Then again, I make more in tips during one five-hour morning shift than I made in an entire week at Starbucks (their tipping system was seriously screwed up). If you average in tips, and if I worked 40 hours per week, I would make almost the same – before taxes – as I did at the corporate gig.

Luckily I have an account with a local bank that happens to be the same one my employer uses. So when I deposit my checks, they go through almost automatically. But it would be nice if, say, the owner just got her signature put on a stamp, and turned the checks over the night before payday, so I could pick mine up whenever I needed to on Fridays. It would also be nice if they would, say, spring for direct deposit.

For the past three years I’ve been paying off all my debt through a credit counseling business that negotiated lower interest rates with my creditors and just automatically withdrew my payments twice per month. I fully admit to making terrible credit choices when I was younger and really shooting myself in the foot. I accepted every $300 line of credit with 26.99% interest because I was making a little under four dollars per hour, had a car payment, insurance, rent, and utilities. The credit lines allowed me to buy clothes and kept me from starving. I wasn’t one of those young women who went into debt because she thinks she deserves the best; I just couldn’t afford to buy groceries and keep a roof over my head otherwise. But once the bills were due, I didn’t have any money to pay them. So maybe one thing would be paid one month, while the other three or four would be 30 days late, then I’d pay another the following month, and so on.

I got my free annual credit report the other day and was thrilled to see my credit score higher than ever, with just about two or three more years to go before any negative information falls off.

A few years ago I decided it was time to wipe the debt clean. When I was working for the publishing company, I set up the payments to come out the day after my direct deposits. But once I left there, was in school, and working for my current employer, there were a lot of payments coming out that caused me to panic. I made about three times what I make now when I was at the office job, so there’s been quite a bit of sweating in the past two years to make sure the money was in my account.

After all those years of budgeting and balancing and switching money around to cover my payments, I wonder if I’m going to break the habit. As of this past Monday, my counseling program is officially completed. I went in yesterday and paid the remaining balance of twenty dollars. They canceled the automatic withdrawal and sent me a little congratulations letter. When I went in yesterday everyone made a big deal out of my completing the program, which I thought was kind of cute, but silly.

But when I went to the store for coffee this morning around 7:30 I found myself a little irritated that the checks hadn’t been dropped off yet. The owner just brings them whenever it suits her; at six the night before, at seven in the morning, at ten, at her lunch break, whenever she gets around to signing the checks and getting in her Mercedes to shower the little people with their meager earnings. Despite the fact that I don’t actually have to get the money in right now, I would still prefer to. The second truck payment is due in a couple of weeks, and, before you know it, student loans. Nothing wrong with keeping up good financial habits.

Entertain Me!

There’s this blog I discovered a few months ago that I find entertaining for all the wrong reasons. The author is a woman about my age who seems to alternate between acting like everything is hunky-dory, and the next post would be this morbid, woe-is-me, misery-filled blubber fest where it was clear she was just looking for reassurance from her two friends who always posted in the comments.

Don’t worry, kids, it’s absolutely not any of you that I’m talking about. I don’t even remember how I came across the blog. But one thing that’s irritated me is that she has not updated since last month. It’s been something like three and a half weeks since her last blubber fest and I’m tempted to send her a message like “Come on! This is boring!” Except I don’t want to expose myself, nor do I actually want to encourage her behavior.

So I’m trying to figure out the point. Why would you start a blog, gush about how many views your page is getting (“Five today already!”), then just completely stop posting? I noticed that no one has posted in her comments in a half dozen or so entries, so my best guess is that she isn’t getting the affirmation she wants, so she’s just stopped writing all together. Which is too bad; she was making me feel a lot better about myself.

Day Two

I’m only halfway into Day Two but I feel pretty good. Not “great,” but good. I think it’s true that if you’ve tried to quit smoking in the past it gets easier next time. I’ve already been through the really tough first-time-trying-to-quit where you don’t know what to expect or you start crying at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason. It also helps to have all you kids giving me cheers. I don’t want to let you down.

The moments come and go where I’m breaking in to a cold sweat or I really want to punch someone in the face, but I keep telling myself “At least you’re not addicted to heroin.” Imagine trying to break that habit. Then I repeat “This urge will pass” over and over again while I take deep breaths.

Today is my day off this week and, although I managed to stay pretty busy all of Monday, I’m having difficulty today. Yesterday I was up at 6am, worked till a bit after eleven, came home, cleaned the crap out of the entire house, and ended up getting called back in to work at three.
This morning I went to JoAnn Fabrics to get a specific color of thread to finish my mom’s birthday present, but driving was . . . well, driving me crazy. There’s something about being in the car, not to mention passing a hundred gas stations selling Marlboros, that makes it really difficult for me not to stop and pick some up.

But I absolutely despise being controlled by this habit. And that’s what it is; a habit. It’s not even the nicotine anymore. I can’t remember the last time I actually enjoyed a cigarette. So I’ll just keep telling myself this will pass, take deep breaths, and keep moving. Sooner or later the psychological need will be gone.