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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Boring Life

Let's see - my boring life. I am post-op fifty months or a little over four years. I knew about weight loss surgery for years thanks to the girl from Wilson Phillips who made it a house-hold name, but I wasn't ready until I learned about the DS. It was love at first sight. I was so sure that this was the right surgery for me that I actually TURNED DOWN a RNY Gastric Bypass paid for by insurance, and instead travelled to Brazil, and went the self-pay route. I was fortunate at the time to have the means to do so.

Before surgery, I had high cholesterol, and had topped out at 277lbs. Bear in mind - I am UNDER five feet tall, so despite the low number, I was still Super-Morbidly Obese. I also had/have hypo-thyroid, a genetic condition I inherited from my mother. Within 6 months of surgery, I no longer needed ANY cholesterol medication, and my stats are enviable. In fact, one of my blood tests actually showed my good cholesterol level HIGHER than my bad. My doctor had never seen that before. My triglycerides dropped 90% from 650 3 years pre-op without medication (when I was first diagnosed) to 76 post-op without medication. I have lost and maintained a 100lbs and am regularly at about 160lbs.

This is about 15lbs higher than my lowest continual weight, and it's weight I would like to lose. To do so, I'm working out and watching carbs. I am not, nor have I ever been, at all interested in moderating carbs in any fashion. I keep a general eye on carbs with the idea of keeping it between 100-150g a day, that's all.

A couple of years ago, the stars aligned, I lost about 10lbs of water weight. Looking back, I believe this was related to one of three things - I was anemic at the time, had recently upped my Vitamin D, and had changed my thyroid prescription. At that same time, I was working out quite a bit as well (although I have done this before & since with no such diuretic results), so I had quite a bit of muscle mass. My body fat at that point was under 15%, which is Olympic athlete levels, yet my BMI still showed me in the "overweight" range. My lowest weight ever was 141 lbs. BMI charts want me at 118lbs. Had I lost EVERY ounce of fat, I STILL would have been "overweight" per the BMI charts, so a good bit of that extra weight is just excess skin.

I have not had plastic surgery, yet, although I DEFINITELY want to. Based on conversations with a couple of plastic surgeons, I can expect to lose 15lbs of excess skin through a LBL. I'm also not interested in augmentation, but do want a breast lift as well. I have enough stuffings for a C-cup, which should be more than plenty on my tiny frame.

So what is my life like today?

I have a great job, working for a large well-known telecommunications company. I'm a NOC manager, with a good group both under me and above me. Was it just being in the right place at the right time? Who knows? But I have always been a hard worker, a go-getter, and the kind of person who does things well.....but it was only AFTER I lost 100lbs that this opportunity presented itself. There are other managers here who are overweight, some significantly, so it may be just coincidence. Or it may be that the change it had on ME gave me that extra oomph to get the job.

I have a vitamin sorter that I keep next to the toothpaste, and my morning routine includes teeth, vitamins (1 dose of prenatals, 20 MEQ of Potassium, 100,000 Units of Vitamin D, and Synthroid for thyroid), and a good healthy bowel clearing. I actually weigh myself before and after, and generally lose about 2lbs!! It's one of the ways I can tell if I'm done. *heh*

I bought a motorcycle a couple of years ago, which I love to ride. I actually ride year-round as long as the roads aren't icy. This uses a lot of muscles, especially on long rides. I would like to do an iron-butt ride, which is a minimum of 1000 miles in 24 hours. I found a freeway in Texas that would be great for that - speed limit is 80mph, so I can go fast LEGALLY. The longest I've ever ridden is 19 hours, but that included a lot of rest stops to warm my hands. Now I have heated gloves.

I also learned to rock climb, although I haven't done as much lately because it's expensive and I've been cutting back. To really rock climb well, you need to climb at least 3x a week. Twice a week you'll maintain but not improve. Gym membership is either $100/mo or $15-18 each time. So, I'm rearranging some expenses so that I can afford it.

I'm in two pool leagues, 8-ball and 9-ball, so I play twice a week. Andre usually has iced tea waiting for me when I arrive, and I typically order the mini-corndogs. For 8-ball, I have to get to the bar before 7pm to get breakfast. Pre-op i often ate dinner foods for breakfast. Now I eat omelets for dinner, and will go out of my way to be there on-time to get one. My captain refers to my meal as "the plate o'cheese". I get a ham & cheese omelet with cheese on the hashbrowns. Yum!!

I buy Premier Protein RTD shakes, which I love. They have a decent flavor (similar to Muscle Milk Chocolate), but they have 30g of protein and only ONE gram of carbs.

I have developed hypoglycemia post-op, and that actually gives me more trouble than anything else DS-related. It means I *have* to carry food with me at all times. This is especially problematic when travelling. I need a) protein & carbs that will b) pass TSA regulations that c) doesn't need heating, refrigeration or d) any kind of implements that wouldn't pass TSA restrictions and e) won't drip, leak or explode in flight. Since the airlines don't feed you anymore, and the food places in airports close at night, I cannot depend on them to make sure I'm okay. My solution? A peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. I even managed to get one to Hawaii and back. It was a little smushed, but hey.

I still don't like how I look in a bathing suit (too much flabby excess skin), but I can buy a pair of jeans or a shirt without trying it on, and find them in almost any shop I go into. I can also buy stuff off the cheap racks, in the discount bins, or the consignment shops. One time on the way to the gym, I realized I didn't have a clean shirt - it was actually cheaper for me to run by Plato's Closet (clothing thrift shop) and buy one (for a dollar!!) than it was to spend the gas to drive home to get one I already own.

I get more attention in stores, restaurants, malls, movie theatres, etc from the staff than I used to pre-op, and it's easier to get waited on. I'd like to find a boyfriend, fall in love again, maybe have a family. I'd like to make more money, but I'm happy to be working in an environment where I'm appreciated and am less likely to be laid off. (No one is safe, but some areas are safer than others). I'm not gorgeous, or beautiful or anything out of the ordinary.

I'm just a normal healthy middle-aged woman who doesn't look half bad in a sweater and jeans - and I paid a lot of money out of pocket to be able to say that.

--BT

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Record Setting

It's 103 and counting in Seattle today. In 119 years of weather keeping, this is unheard of for the temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest better known for its near daily rain. Prior to today, the record was 100 degrees set in 1941 and matched degree for degree on July 20th, 1994.

Now, I know there are those of you who live in areas that regularly hit the 100's and then some, and you may be thinking "What a bunch of whiners - we deal with that all the time!!". But there's one thing you gotta understand:

We don't have air conditioning.

At least not at home. Just as we have no snow plows to handle the freakish amount of snow we got last winter, none of us are prepared for the unseasonably hot weather we're experiencing now. Why would we? Year round, the weather here is normally between 40 and 80 degrees. Fluctuations outside this zone are anomolous freaks of nature.

In the immortal words of L. Frank Baum's infamous Wicked Witch of the West...I'm melting!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CERT Dreams

I've been taking a course from the local fire department, called CERT - Community Emergency Response Team. This is a broadbased program designed to train the general public how to act when "the big one" hits - whatever that is. For Seattle, that would be the 12.9 earthquake that's been threatening the area for the last several hundred years.

One of the credos of CERT is "The greatest good for the greatest number of people", so some of the choices they teach are seemingly the anthithesis of what you might expect from the people who respond when you call 911. For example, don't waste time performing CPR. The logic behind this is that
  • if it takes 5 days for an ambulance to arrive, you can't physically do it.
  • if there are two rescue workers and 200 potential victims, you can't leave 199 of them stranded while you concentrate on one person.
  • even if you spend just 1 minute with each person, it will take you FOUR HOURS to touch base with everyone. You simply don't have time to spare for time-consuming aid.
  • if CERT people are engaged, it's because the crisis is severe enough that the REAL emergency responders can't handle the load. You may be all they've got as far as 'help' for days or even weeks.
  • Rescuer safety is #1 - even more than the people you're trying to rescue.....because if YOU become a victim, who is left to help?

It's been a fascinating class, and we just finished week 7 of 8 tonight. We've gone over triage, light search & rescue, disaster psychology, disaster first aid, and fire extinguishers. Yes, we got to play with real fire, and fire extinguishers - that was my favorite part. We even had a practice night with pretend victims who were impaled with glass & screw drivers, amputated limbs, bloodied up, and even dead. Well, fake dead, of course. We didn't borrow anyone from the morgue. We just imported local school children and a makeup artist. Next week is the final, where we get to put all of our newfound knowledge to the test.

So is it any wonder I'm dreaming about this stuff?

In the dream, I'm a passenger on an airplane that has run into trouble. This probably came up from the two long discussion we had at work about the Mythbusters story over whether or not an airplane on a treadmill would take off if it reached lift speed. I still say no way, despite the fact that Mythbusters apparently made it work. It's not the speed but the wind under the wings that makes it take off, and just as you don't get a breeze when YOU'RE on a treadmill, why would the airplane?? It just doesn't make sense!!!

So anyway, there I was - one of a hundred and some people on an airplane when there was a jarring sensation - as if we hit something or there was an explosion under the plane. Whatever it was, it was enough that the oxygen masks came down, and most of the people did as they were supposed to, placing the masks on themselves first. But something was in the oxygen that instead made most people become unconscious.

The pilot opened the cockpit door, and fell down as if having a heart attack. The co-pilot was dead. (My dream didn't identify a cause of death - he just sort of didn't exist anymore in that dream logic that makes sense of nonsense). There were 7 of us who were still conscious and calm: Me, a flight attendant, a blind guy (and his dog), a little old lady, a doctor, a pregnant lady and an 8 year old boy. There were others who were awake, but not rational - either from panic or the oxygen masks.

Other than the Captain, there were two licensed pilots on board - the doctor and the 8 year old. Lovely. Here's where my CERT training kicked in. (yeah, right). The Captain & the pregnant lady needed the services of the doctor. The flight attendant acted as his nurse. The older lady herded all the younger ones to the back of the plane where she kept them occupied. The blind guy and his dog handled security, keeping the rest of the people calm & orderly. That left me and the kid to fly the plane.

So here I am, internally freaking, and outwardly calm, giving a report to the Air Traffic Controllers. We've got 7 green, 21 yellow, 2 black and 130 red. (Black means dead - I don't know who the other casualty was). However, most of the red would probably be green if they were conscious. Next, letting them know that I had never flown a plane before, and my co-pilot, while licensed on small aircraft, was somewhat underage. Meet Billy. Then asking if they have anyone handy who would be interested in giving me a free flying lession.....and if we could skip straight to "landing", that would be grand.

Billy and I talked for quite a while, basically turning it into a grand adventure so as to keep our minds off the freakish circumstances that caused us to be there. Just think when you go back to school, and they ask what you did on YOUR summer vacation. "I landed a 747" wins the coolest kid on the block contest for at least a week or two.

When it was all over, I hurled. I guess all that adrenaline had to go somewhere, but you'd think in a dream that could invent a circumstance where I've got an 8 year old copilot and a seeing eye dog as head of security, could give me a more graceful denouement.

--BT

Monday, September 22, 2008

What?! No!

I seem to be saying that a lot lately. People ask me questions, and I look at them like they are insane.

Recently I was on a date. This was a Date Zero (a meet & greet with a guy I'd met online) where we eat, chat & determine a) is this person psycho and b) do I ever want to see them again. Now, a Date Zero is NOT a first date. A first date comes AFTER you've met, and you've figured out that there is a modicum of attraction there, so before the first date is the time you met. It is an introduction. A how-do-you-do. If you met at a party, you wouldn't consider the party to be your first date. It's the same thing - the 'thing' that comes before the date. What comes before one? Zero, of course. So there you have it. I was on a date zero.

He was actually better looking in person than his picture implied, so that was a good start. Seemed a gentleman. Offered to pay for dinner. Did his homework on my profile, and even thought up a date extension or two if things went well. Conversation was fairly easy. We even shot a few games of pool. So far, so good.

Then came the crux move.

We were in his stomping grounds, and everyone there knew him. I'm certain he phrased it differently than this, something about going & listening to him sing. But this is what I heard - did I want to sit *alone* in a crowded bar surrounded by drunk people I don't know while he gets his groove on?

What?! No! That's not a date, and I'm not a groupie.

A week or two ago I was talking to a bank I do business with about getting a HELOC, or Home Equity Line of Credit. I have several things I'd like to take care of - new windows in my condo, have some zero percent balance transfers that will expire in 2009, and I might want to see about getting some reconstructive surgery done, or even purchase a new (to me) car.

Everything was going swimmingly until the end. Instead of 80% equity, they only wanted to go to 65%. The appraisel came back low and would only allow me to get $17k out, and for loans under $25k, they charged a VARIABLE interest rate higher than two of my credit cards. What?! No! I am not putting my house on the line for a WORSE interest rate than I can get via unsecured credit balances on Visa or Mastercard, and a *variable* rate at that. The point of a HELOC is that you're supposed to get a BETTER deal because it's secured.

So then there is the matter of my car. I bought this car four years ago, immediate post-Hurricane-Ivan in Florida. At the time, it was a great deal. It was my brother's fleet car, had reached its mileage limit to either be turned in or purchased, it had NOT just been through a hurricane (unlike every other car in the Gulf Coast region), and I could get it for $3500 under Blue Book value. It wasn't my ideal car - I prefer something a little smaller and sportier myself, but given the situation, it was a deal too good to pass up. At the time I bought it, I was able to pay cash, so I have had the enviable position of having "No Car Payments" for four years. I had planned back then to keep it for four or five years, and then look for something new.

Over the years, I have had some fairly substantial repairs done - perhaps invested $3-4k in it, between tires, brakes, water pump, heater core, yet even with all of that, the money has been well worth it. I've averaged about $75/mo over the four years I've had it, and that's not bad in lieu of a car payment. Fast forward to today.

Last Wednesday evening, I noticed the car giving me some issues as I would attempt to accelerate up a hill on the freeway. It was jerky, and I thought it might be transmission issues given that that would be when a car might attempt to downshift to gain power. Friday evening, the 'check engine' light came on, so I called the Ford dealer and made arrangements to take it in. Saturday morning, they call and give me the low down.

They wanted to replace the head gasket, and because of the way the engine is designed, that means replacing every other gasket in the engine as well. They wanted to replace the timing cover gasket, the water pump gasket, two fuel injectors, and take the heads off to be machined and/or replaced. Ball park estimate (and this could be LOW) was $2550 before taxes.

What?! No!

With 160,000 miles on it, the car is only worth about $1800. They could buy me a whole new car for that, and pocket $750. I called my brother to make sure that I wasn't ignoring good advice over sticker shock, and he agreed with me - the estimate seems *way* out of line. Why does all of that have to be done? What if I only do part of it? If the head gasket is blown, why don't I have milky oil, white smoke or black smoke? There are only three ways a gasket can blow, and it doesn't seem to be affecting any of them.

So I called them back, starting asking for details & writing down what they were saying. I rolled it over in my mind for a day, and decided to go pick up my car & take it somewhere else for a second opinion. I called my old mechanic, and went over what had gone wrong, and the diagnosis I had received. He agreed with me that it wouldn't be worth putting $2500 into the car, so if all of that was truly wrong, he'd let me know and not do anything.

He came back a couple of hours later, with a new diagnosis - one that actually addressed the symptoms I'd been having - and an estimate of $250. Now, he couldn't say for sure until he'd completed it that it would completely fix things, but he was fairly confident that it would. Sure enough, an hour later, the car was running fine.

So.....I called the dealership and asked for a manager in the service department. He'd already left for the day - did I want to talk to someone else in Service? No, but thank you. But I would like the manager's name so I know who to ask for when I call back tomorrow. I'll be asking for a refund.

I have a feeling their initial response will be "What?! No!", but I shall prevail. I have the old part in my car, and I can show them what was actually wrong. I'm not paying for a misdiagnosis, nor am I going to put up with fraud or incompetence from a supposed expert.

I've been frustrated all weekend long, and I finally feel relief. I think I'll go have some shrimp.

--BT

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Best Boyfriend I Never Had

Long ago and far, far away, back in the old BBS days, I was a member of a board called Chrysalis. In its heyday, it was a 64 line board that was *always* busy, with hundreds of active members that would redial for hours trying to get one line to free up. Unlike the anonymity of the Internet today, we all knew each other - in real life.

We had a weekly Lunch Bunch that met on Wednesdays. We had a regular group of 60+ that met at Denny's on Thursday nights, and anywhere from 20 to 100 of us would meet on the weekends at clubs, restaurants and bowling alleys across the Metroplex. We babysat each other's kids, girl-talked about the boys, gossiped about the girls, roasted newbies over an open fire and a number of people dated, mated and married amongst the Chrysalites. We even had t-shirts.

It was an odd time in my life - for about a year and a half, I was really popular. Everyone knew me. Everyone wanted to be where I was, wanted me to come to their parties, and hang out with me. And of course - they wanted to know everything about me. But I was (and am) a very private person, so I didn't talk online about who I was dating in real life.

One of the regulars was a guy named Kana, and rumor had it, we dated and were even engaged for three years. Rumor, however, was wrong. ;)

Around the time that we met, I had made the decision to move several thousand miles away. Life just wasn't working out for me there - I didn't like my job, had trouble with my roommates, my romantic life was going nowhere, and I just needed a new start. My brother lived on the West Coast, and after one vacation too many, he said "Why do you spend two weeks a year here and 50 weeks a year there, when you could do it the other way around?". So I decided to move.....but I needed time to save up, and prepare, so I actually gave my boss three months notice.

Kana was a good-looking guy, about my age, single, in good shape, great personality, olive skin, little bit of an accent, and all heart. He'd lived in Hawaii for a few years after getting out of the military, and opted to leave paradise for Texas, for reasons only he understood. He was single, but he had a policy - never get a new girlfriend until he'd paid off the credit cards from the last one. An admirable stance, to be sure.

That didn't stop him from flirting, however, and he was a popular guy at the weekly gettogethers. Ally and I often said, "I don't know who taught that boy how to hug, but someone should give her a medal". A good hug from him could last five minutes, and you just might want a cigarette afterwards. Whew! (fanning self)

It was not unusual for us to cuddle up in a booth, chattering and flirting away. He'd lean back into me, and I'd casually caress his arms or belly, enjoying the feel of taut muscles under smooth skin. So it's not surprising to me that people thought we were an item.

One Saturday afternoon, a girlfriend and I went shopping at one of the really ritzy malls in town. You have not been shopping until you've been shopping with Krystal. Holy Cow! That woman could get shopgirls running in six directions with a glance, and walk out not buying a THING. We perused furcoats, ostensibly for my mother who was taking a cruise to Alaska. We tried on $100/ounce makeup and $200/ounce perfume. Funny how the $500 shoes didn't quite fit right. Would have to think about those & come back. It was like playing dress up, only we were 28.

That night, Krystal, Kana, Ellen, me, Wynona, and a number of others were in a chatroom together. Ellen was home relaxing & grading homework. Kana had been out late late late on Friday night, so wanted to take it easy on Saturday. Wy had a bad crush on Kana, but he really wasn't interested in her - he just sidestepped the subject as often as possible to avoid hurting her feelings. We were talking about all the cool stuff that we had seen and done, and somehow the conversation turned to weddings.

Ellen talked about her previous marriage. Kana said he would love to get married on Black Diamond Drive in Hawaii, flying everyone in, spending at least $30,000 on the wedding. I was like, "Oh hell no! If there are more than 25 people there, I'm not entirely certain I'd show up!".

From that conversation, Wynona assumed that Kana and I were actually engaged - not just conversing about our ideal wedding scenario. We didn't plan it that way, but once we realized what was going on, we did not try to dissuade her from that notion. It served a purpose for us - it gave her a reason to back off, and leave Kana alone, and I didn't have to worry about meeting/dating anyone new, knowing that I was leaving the area.

He really was a great guy. When everyone else was saying, "Don't go! We'll miss you!", he was the only one who said "Go!". He understood why I had to go. He'd done it before, leaving Hawaii, and he knew it was what I needed. Had we met at a different place and time would we have dated? Perhaps. But for that moment, he was what I needed and vice versa.

And to think, I never saw him anywhere but Denny's. Who'd have thought?

--BT

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sadness Peels Away In Layers

It's over.   Perhaps it shouldn't have been, but it was entirely unexpected.....at least by me.    Sure, we had issues - doesn't everyone?   I didn't think they were enough to call it off, but apparently he did.  I'm practicing the words "He's a great guy - It just didn't work out" (which are true...they are just hard to say), and more hours go by in a row in which I'm fine.  Then I cry again.    

The first night I cried in his arms for hours.  By the time he left, I had left stains from tears and sobbing on his t-shirt.   We've talked a few times since then.   He said he felt like the bottom of his world dropped out.   The only thing he's sure of is that he isn't sure.   We intend to remain friends, but that's difficult right now when I still want him, and he doesn't know what he wants.     I don't want the relationship we had - that wasn't working for either of us, but I still think we could work it out, if he chose to go that way.

I want to talk to him, now that we have acknowledged the elephant in the room.  And I also want to go out & have fun (with him) so we can remember why we became friends and fell in love in the first place.  He's not opposed to that, but he's not ready for it either.

The first day after I let my boss know that I wasn't up to coming in and facing people.  My friend Cheryl babysat me during the day.  I set up my laptop at her house, and when I needed a break, she let me cry on her shoulder.  Afterwards, I went and spent the evening playing pool with my brother.  Oddly enough, Unbreak My Heart didn't phase me.   I even sang along.   But on the way home, I hear "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" and broke down again.  

Tomorrow is the full moon, and Expiration Friday.   I haven't spoken to him or IM'd him in days.   I promised myself that I would give both of us the space to figure this out, and so far I've managed to do that.   My sunburn from Sunday is healing, and my skin is starting to show signs that it will eventually peel away - little bits of life sloughed away, pieces of me I no longer need.

That's how it feels like my sadness is lifting.   I'm not as devastated as I was a week ago, but I'm certainly not ready to rush out and find someone new.    

--BT

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Momentum

Putting things into motion is powerful - there's a lot of inertia to overcome, and once things get moving, they just want to keep going.   I've changed courses over the last few days.  After the excitement of the last weekend, I've discovered I know other people who are doing the same level of investing I'm interested in.

Instead of continuing the classes from the institution I met with over the weekend, I've found other sources of education, and information which I'm pursuing.  One allows me to practice my trading skills in a real environment with virtual money.  Of course, the profits are as virtual as the losses, but that's good news.  This will save me from some of the 'beginner'  mistakes I might make, and still allow me to test my theories in the real world.  

Another friend has already been through the courses, and is now teaching them.  He has materials he can make available to me at a fraction of the cost.  I like saving money as much as the next girl, so I'm all about that.  

I've also recently joined (and funded) a site called Prosper.com.  It's a micro-lending site which allows for real people to act as borrowers & lenders in real life loan situations - without needing vast amounts of cash to participate.  I just bid on 5 loans tonight, and put $50 towards each of them.  That's five people out there who are getting an opportunity because I (and several hundred strangers) took a chance on them.   What will I get in return?   Same thing a bank would get - three years worth of interest & principle on the money lended while helping people achieve their dreams.

I'm also looking at joining a group of real estate investors - people who want to join together to buy several pieces of property to share the profit & risk.    At any given time, one or two properties out of ten may be duds, one or two may be rock stars and the rest will just plod along normally.   If I own 100% one property - I've got a 20% chance that it's going to be a 100% dud - but if own 10% of ten properties, chances are 2 will be duds, 2 will be rock stars and six will be normal.    My duds & rock stars will balance out,and it improves my chances that my investment will come out at least average.    And once we identify the dogs, we can get rid of them.

My boyfriend once asked me (after seeing me reading a book about becoming wealthy) if I wanted to be rich.   My answer was YES!    Why?   Because there are so many things I want to be able to do.  I currently take 10% of my income, and put it into my Giveaway account.   Some of that goes to "official" charities, and sometimes, I see a need I can fill and I do.    

I recently bought 37 bags of dog food which were being clearanced out at the local grocery store.  As I loaded five carts up with anywhere from 15 to 50lbs bag of dog food, the people in line all smiled and asked me what kind of dogs I have.    Much to their surprise, the answer was "None".   "Uh....secret ingredient in your soup recipe??"   *laugh*  No -  I spent $360 (including tax) to buy two car loads of dog food because I knew that somewhere out there was a local charity that needed it, and this was a great deal!   They couldn't buy it for this price (it was worth over $1000).   

I wanted a local organization that might not have the funding or connections that a larger, nationally known charity would have.  So I google'd charity dogs Seattle.   That's how I found RescueEveryDog.Org.   They are a local Seattle organization dedicated to helping both dogs & cats, and helping to rescue them from situations where they might be euthanized or abandoned.

Another example - one of my friends was having surgery, and the process leading up to it was a paperwork nightmare.  By the time she was recovering, she was *really* stressed out.  She'd travelled over 1000 miles for surgery, and had an aunt who had come with her - but when her aunt's return ticket date came up, neither of them were ready for her to leave.    I was able to help with the costs of changing the return flight, which I was more than happy to do.  Do I get a tax deduction?  No, of course not - that's not why I do it.  The love and support of family is so important, especially in a time of need - you can't put a price on that.    Her aunt gave up much more than I did, because she was able to be there personally for her.  

But if this is what I can do with what I currently make - what more could I do if I increased my financial position ten-fold or a hundred-fold?    Yes, there are things I want for myself.  I'd like to be able to travel more, to work when I choose instead of when I have to.  I'd like to be able to buy more books.  I want reconstructive surgery to finish the task I started in 2005 when I underwent weight loss surgery.   I want another little sports car like the one I used to have.  I love having a cleaning lady!   It's such a stress reliever to know that my home will be a lovely place to be, and I don't have to scrub toilets or floors.   I want money in the bank - waiting for opportunities, protecting me against unexpected events.   

Do I want to be rich?  Hell yeah.    Nothing wrong with that either.   One day I'll get there.  It's only a matter of time.  

--BT

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Anticipation

The part of anticipation that is cool is the excitement; the uncool part is the waiting. And right now, I'm waiting. Waiting for Monday. Waiting for my classes to start. Waiting for the chance to start putting my training into practice. Waiting for my boyfriend to return. (He just left day before yesterday for ten days, so I have plenty of time to practice that one.)

I just finished up a three day training class on investing and signed up for two more years, and I can't WAIT to put it into practice. I was up until 4:30 in the morning yesterday reading, reviewing, researching, and checking out the information we'd been learning. At the end of the class, our homework was to NOT read, review, look at, think about, any of the things we'd been learning for the rest of the weekend.

ARgh!!! Do you know how hard that is?

My parking was paid up 'til 11pm, and yesterday was a GORGEOUS day in Seattle - 86 degrees, clear blue skies, no precipitation, and a Saturday. Perfectamundo! At lunch, I sat out on the granite wall with my peanut butter, banana & granny smith apple sandwich and caught a few rays. That ought to up my vitamin D for a day or so.

The class ended early - about 4pm - and I called my brother to come into the city and do something with me. We met up at Von's (a great restaurant across from Pacific Place) - open air, good company, herb-roasted chicken for me, bbq chicken for him, and a cocktail. Perfect! Afterwards, we went to see Ironman in DLP. Love that about Pacific Place. And I didn't have to pay for parking again, because I left my car at the hotel.

By the time I got home around 10pm though, I was wiped out. I'd been up all day on less than four hours of sleep. Now - I'm restless. I want to do things, but I don't know what. My house is clean (thanks to my cleaning lady), but I could do laundry. But it's another beautiful day - not quite as warm as yesterday, but still clear. I could go ride my motorcycle. Or go out to Port Townsend to visit Laura. Or just stay home and do nothing - which is actually somewhat appealing. (Normally I hate doing nothing).

I do have to go to work at some point today, and set up my office. We moved over the weekend, and everything I use at work is in a box - including my plants. But I feel that sense of quickening, anticipation, of conflict. Work is not where I want to be. I want to sleep in, and I want to go for a walk. I want to stay home, and I want to go out. I'd like to sit around and read, and I want to go for a ride. I need to do laundry, but I'd rather take a nap. I really should wash my hair. Yet I'm here, writing instead.

I think I'll start there. How about you?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Define Free Time

So I was at dinner the other night with my boyfriend, and at one point in the conversation, I said "When are you going to have some free time?".   "Define free time", he replied.    So I did - "Sex!"    The look on his face was priceless.   He laughed and blushed and we laughed some more, for about 10-15 minutes before he gave me an answer.  ;)  And no, I'm not telling you when.

I'm not quite sure who was more startled though - my boyfriend, or the guy sitting at the table behind us.   Apparently my exclamation wasn't quite as quiet as usual.    But damn - he's been working a lot of hours, we've both been sick for most of the month of March, and much of the free time we *do* get is bits and pieces here and there - a bike ride, meeting up at Best Buy, lunch, or occasionally longer excursions that involve other people - his brother, my brother, his sister, friends, etc.   I enjoy the friendship side of our relationship, don't get me wrong - but sometimes, it's just not enough.

There's a song by a local Seattle songwriter, Amy Roberts, that I love - it has a great line in it "let's have a conversation skin to skin".   That's what I've been missing - the interaction of love that's more than just a kiss.   (Apparently he has, too, as he was lamenting later that he'd promised to work overtime that night.) 

Let the conversation begin!

--BT

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Big Climb 2008

It may seem a little crazy, but today I climbed to the top of one of the tallest skyscrapers in Seattle.....on purpose. *laugh* It was a charity event for the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society,called The Big Climb - 69 flights of stairs, a total of 1,311 steps to fight blood cancers. I didn't think I was going to make it, but I did!

For the last several weeks, I have been down sick with a cold/flu thing that has been kicking my butt, so I haven't had any opportunity to prepare for this. I almost didn't go. I thought my start time was at noon, and I almost didn't wake up in time. When I did finally get up, and get moving, I was trying to figure out how to reach them to let them know I couldn't make it.

Then I decided to at least go down there, and talk to them. I have people who have sponsored me, and while I'm sure they would understand, I'd like to at least check in, turn over the sponsorship funds, etc. My start time got moved to 2 o'clock (and later 2:30pm), so I had time. By the time I got downtown, I was actually feeling pretty decent. I thought about asking whether I could just do part of it, and then bail when I couldn't handle it anymore. It probably would have been fine; I'm sure I could have taken off at any of the water stations if I needed to.

Downtown Seattle always makes me crazy when I'm driving. The directions I had took me in the wrong direction. I ended up totally lost, however, I'm headed to the tallest building in Seattle, so despite the lack of good directions, it wasn't hard to spot my destination. It's just a matter of getting there, given the number of one-way streets around. I finally located it, and got directions to the parking garage (which long way around turned out to be across the street).

Check in was on the 1st floor, which is 3 floors down from ground level. There were tons of people there.
Over 5,000 people were scheduled to climb today - with start times ranging from 8:30am to 3:15pm. Due to some mix-ups on the list, I ended up in the 2:30pm group, which was fine with me. Got my t-shirt, and goodie bag. Checked my stuff at the Bag Check so I didn't have to cart it up the stairwell, and got in line.

At the last minute, I ran back to the Bagel stand and grabbed a little something for the road. *laugh* In a nice orderly procession, much to my amusement, they led us up the escalators to the ground floor. We're here to climb sixty-nine flights of stairs, and they're taking us up an escalator? Irony.

They led the participants in front of a sign, took our photographs, and then staged each climber about 5 seconds apart. By the time I reached the first step, it was about 2:34pm. I had done some practice in the past on the stair climber, and thought I would do fairly well for the first 20 floors or so, as that's about how long I had been working out.

It seemed a reasonable hypothesus......however inaccurate it turned out to be. After three or four floors, I was ready to die. My heart was pounding in my chest, and I had to stop to rest. I bit into the bagel, thankful for an excuse to stop. Three floors? Oh my god. Only sixty-six to go. What have I gotten myself into? I finally caught my breath, and made it up a few more floors. Again I rested, and watched the parade of climbers behind me pass me by. Fifth floor, eighth floor, twelfth floor - I was the only one who seemed to need a break. Another bite of bagel to pass the time.

Agile young teenagers bounded past me two steps at a time, their lithe bodies in motion seemed a blur and in a second or two they were gone. I leaned against the wall, 
and made a mental note about the sign that said there was an emergency intercom every fifth floor. Somewhere around the 20th floor, I hit the first water station. They were out of cups. She offered to squirt the water in my mouth, but ended up giving me a bath instead. By then, I was alone. All the members of my group had long since passed, and the next group hadn't reached me yet.

Oddly enough, my legs didn't ache at all. I felt no body pain at all - other than my heart pounding in my chest. I can remember being 250 lbs, barely able to climb two flights of stairs without hearing my knees creaking. If I could just catch my breath, I'd be fine. I stopped for a minute or two here and there, and then kept going. The rest of the water stations had cups, for which I was grateful.

Along the way were little signs, factoids about cancer and the climb. The oldest participant was 83 years old. Over 5,000 people were registered to climb today. Of those, 52% were women and 48% were men. The average age was early 30's. (32, I believe). The number of people making it to the five year mark after treatment has tripled in the last ten years. That's truly remarkable. I've known a number of people who've had cancer, and most were not so lucky. But most of those were a long time ago, so it's great to see that progress has been made.

And then at 2:52pm, I reached a big bold, sign in all caps that read "HALF-WAY POINT". Hallelujah! Somehow I'd made 34 1/2 flights so far. I sent a text message to my boyfriend to celebrate! By then, 
I was being joined in the alcoves by other climbers needing a rest. Even the buff young athletes were moving slowly, dripping in sweat and reaching for that cup of water with relief. Of course - these were the ones from the 2:45pm group who'd made it up 34 1/2 flights of stairs in SEVEN MINUTES.

God what I wouldn't give to be young again, full of energy, with a body that could do whatever I asked of it. What am I saying? I never had that. When I was their age, I was able to walk and bike, but running or climbing stairs would have been out of the question. I'm thankful to have the ability now though, even if it does take me eighteen minutes instead of seven. By the time I reached the last water station, I was in a pattern - two flights, rest, two flights rest. I didn't need much time - just enough to get some oxygen before I started again.

Then the count down began - ten more flights, nine, eight, seven - I could feel my lungs expanding trying to take in more air so I wouldn't have to stop. "We Are The Champions" by Queen began echoing down the stairwell, and I could tell I was close. One flight shy of the top, I stopped and had my picture taken. And then I made it. As people exited the stairs, others who'd already made it cheered and a picture was snapped of the moment when we crossed the finish line.

The top of the tower doesn't have much - it's mostly an exterior hallway leading to the broadcast room for the traffic control room. These are the people who keep track of where the accidents are, what's causing slow downs, and why you should take I-90 today instead of 520. Lining the hall were many tired and happy people, leaning on the windows, parked against the walls, perched on table tops, walking restlessly around, sipping water and taking photos. 


Two stairwells were in use today - one for climbers like me, and another for racers who were being timed. I ran into them accidentally while looking for the bathroom. A big trashbin of cut bracelets was leaning against a wall, and a group of people with a bell were there to greet people as they emerged - tap the timer to complete their race, cut the bracelet and congratulate them. The fastest racer had done it in seven minutes. That's ten floors a minute!

A week ago, Firefighters from around the country met here to do the same climb, in full gear. There were 1100 men and a hundred women that day. One of our homeboys from Redmond won last week with a time just under twelve minutes. If I'm ever in a burning skyscraper, I want it to be in Redmond!! (Except - I don't think there ARE any skyscrapers in Redmond. I think the tallest building I've seen there is maybe 6 flights.)

While I'll never be able to match those kind of times, it was a feat for me to even attempt something like this, and I'm happy I did it. They ask each participant to raise $150, and I think I've got about $350 so far. Donations are due by April 4th, so I have a little time to collect it. If you're interested in sponsoring me as well, let me know - I can send you the link to my page.

Wonder if I'll still be able to do things like this when *I* am 83? I hope so!

--BT

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Am I Going To Commit Murder Between Now & Monday?

Not your typical Tarot question, but it was one I asked Friday night. (The Tarot said "no" btw - Phew!)

I have a friend who came into town Friday afternoon.....and by Friday night, I was ready to kill her. Ever had a relationship that frustrates you to no end, yet you're bonded in a way that is deeper than like or dislike? We've known each other for twenty-seven years, and while we're not involved in each others daily lives, the history is there, holding a steady course under the currents up above.

I used to call her parents Mom & Dad, and often walked right in the backdoor like I lived there. She knew my brother, and both of my parents - all of whom are dead now. She remembers when I used to sing, and has a strange rivalry with me over brains and money. We get along, most of the time, and sometimes? *sigh*

She once told her roommate that I was coming, and then said "Don't judge her by me". She and the roommate weren't getting along, and she wanted her to meet me without prejudice. Cynthia and I got along very well - she was warm, motherly and worried about my friend. We talked for a number of hours, right out of the gate.

I spend most of my time with people who are/were suffering from an illness, and working hard to overcome it. That illness, obesity, has many children that come with it - diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and more. I know most of those people through a website dedicated to weight loss surgery, and they are in all stages of health. Some of them are post-op four or five years, and some are still fighting insurance for a chance to live. Health is something we live and breathe.

So it is rare for me to spend concentrated time with someone who is actively self-destructive. She talks about retiring when she's 60, but I could easily see her dying before then. She once was an alcoholic, which she gave up years ago. She surrounds herself with people in crisis, and is actively involved in their daily dramas. The bankruptcy should fall off her record in the next three to four years, yet she still talks about credit as if it's free. She makes more money than I do, yet I've owned two homes, paid cash for my car, and am putting thousands of dollars into my 401k, and she has $500 to her name.

Today she told me that she quit smoking about six months ago, which I'm both happy and surprised about. Apparently she has COPD, a lung disease which is both incurable and unstoppable. Today she has difficulty breathing. By the time she is sixty, she'll have emphesema. The only solution they've offered her is to lose weight, yet she considers dieting too much trouble. I would NEVER recommend WLS to her, because she simply can't comprehend the consequences of inaction. If she neglects her health as is, she may live another twenty years. Given the same surgery that saved my life, she'd probably be dead in five. Neglect would no longer be benign.

How do you help someone like this?

As much as she frustrates me, I don't need to kill her. She's doing an admirable job of killing herself, one day at a time. I bang my head against the wall in silent agony, seeing the potential that is wasted, and she doesn't get it. What good am I to her or her to me?

She is one of my memory-keepers - the people who remember me from way back when. That is of value to me. But what am I to her? I have no idea - but no matter how brutal I am to her, how honestly I share my frustrations, she can't wait to come visit me no matter where I live - Seattle, Florida, Texas, Kansas - no state is too far or inconvenient. So she must get something out of it.

Her flight leaves Tuesday night, and she's checking into a hotel on Monday...to watch tv. Yes, I'm one of those preternatural aliens who *gasp* doesn't own a television or subscribe to cable, and it's worth $130 to her to catch up on soap operas - the fabled lives of people who don't exist. She just spent seven days on a train and doesn't read, and hasn't seen a show in over a week. I haven't watched television on a regular basis in almost twenty years. (Although truth be told, I do enjoy CSI and try to catch an episode here and there at my brothers and one of my favorite hotel luxuries is staying up until 4am at the Beau Rivage watching reruns of the X-Files.)

Despite all of that, we had fun today. And probably will tomorrow.

I'm still counting the hours.

--BT

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Steady and Constant Heartbeat

Driving is a form of meditation in motion - the rhythmic movement between the lines, waves of light and sound drift passed in a steady and constant heartbeat. Energy is on the move, and I feel the pulse of life reverberating off my skin. I had a really interesting day, and just couldn't go straight home. I took the long way to enjoy the quickening and peace that come from the road.

I've been reading a lot lately, mainly books I had started and never finished. Yesterday I was engrossed in a new one called The Thirteenth Tale, and read until after 3am. I awoke full of energy and verve, my skin radiating heat, my passions awakened. I'm usually cold and 'not a morning person' doesn't begin to describe it. Was it the return to literature or the ferrous gluconate I've been taking?

My doctor's nurse called me this morning with the results of some labs I've had recently - apparently I reacted poorly to the glucose tolerance test, but my D3 is really good. Now I need an iron tolerance test because my recent labs indicated I have no stores left.....thus the ferrous gluconate. At the DS support group meeting tonight, I inquired about whether hypoglycemia is a known side effect of the DS. The answer I got indicated that there is something that is seen with RNY patients, and it *could* be in the DS population as well - there just haven't been enough cases for it to come to the attention of the researchers.

I also learned late tonight that a DS'er named Kelly K passed away this morning. She was a sweet and interesting woman - knowing that she was at risk for complications, she went into it at peace. Still she could not have imagined the last six months of daily battles she would fight with septic shock, infection after infection, and the ever-present attendance of the man she loved. They had ten good years together, but it's never enough when you're faced with the reality of what 'til death do us part' really means.

My own love confessed this morning that he's been secretly concerned about the potential of pregnancy, which manifested in an odd form of abstinance I only now understand - this despite our use of birth control. I recognize the base of fear isn't really about babies, birth control, or our future together - it's about stability and mitigating risks. He's preparing to take a huge leap into the void, wanting to buy a house, and that's one little duckling that could throw the whole row off track. It's a big decision - where you live is such an important foundation for the life you live within its walls.

I went to a house concert tonight, which was held in a gorgeous location. The house itself had a great open floorplan, simply classic lines with light and air and space in abundance. Walking inside I felt as if I could breathe a little deeper. Even before they took the stage, a quiet vibration of harmony echoed down the hall, up the stairs, stretching out the multitude of windows towards the city lights. I want to live in a house that feels like that.

The music has ended, but certain notes and images linger on. I still feel that steady and constant heartbeat underneath my skin.

--BT

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Loose Ends

I do not know how to slack. Jesus. Procrastinate? THAT I'm really good at, but I tend to do it by getting busy at something else. I've been varying degrees of sick since a week ago Monday. Many of those days all I have had the energy to do is drink a glass of water and go back to bed. I slept 17 hours on Friday, 15 hours on Saturday. I think I've gotten at least an extra 30 hours of sleep this week.

I spent four hours at the doctor's office yesterday for them to shrug their shoulders and say "you're ill". Uhm, yeah, I knew that - thanks. Seems I have pneumonia, so they took X-rays, gave me a breathing treatment, gave me antibiotics, which *have* helped, although I'm still more sick than well.

However, each day there has been a few hours in which the planets aligned, and I had the right combination of food, water, drugs, rest and sunshine so that I actually felt all right. Not great, but okay. During those times, knowing how fleeting they were, I have strived to get things done.

Over the last week, I made it to Costco, to the DS Support Group meeting, introduced my brother to my bf's brother (job opportunity), finally got some pears from Harry & David, and got my software program back online (which involved organizing five people to move a server into a secured area, get it back online & bring the program up - that took DAYS). Sorted mail, organized some filing, finished two books that had been partially read for over a year, and did a PILE of dishes. And I'm annoyed that I don't have the energy to finish the laundry tonight.

This morning I laid on the couch, fully intending to stay there all day, and got up after about fifteen minutes because I was bored. I even logged into email and did some stuff for work.

And then the hands of the clock move like a guillotine, and my energy comes to a dead stop. Plonk! I just want to face plant into a feather pillow and forget the world exists.

My bf is actually going to have Friday night off.....the first in many months, and we're both hoping that we feel well enough to do something besides take a nap together. We laughed at that - what an exciting couple we've become. We're practicing how to be old married people.

There's just too much to do for me to enjoy doing nothing. Everywhere I look there are things to do - I want to live in France. I want to take dance lessons. I want to organize my kitchen. I want to get better at playing the piano. I have unused vouchers for tickets on Continental Airlines. My carpet needs to be vacuumed. The trash needs to go out. I have email to answer, and research to do. I have a presentation on Friday, and have things I *should* have done this week for work - but I didn't have enough neurons firing to do them.

How can I slack when I have French Flash cards, a cat, and a bookcase full of books beckoning me?

I think it's time for another nap.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Clean House

I don't know how anyone ever keeps a clean house. It seems like "clean" is a state that lasts for about two microseconds, and then quickly degrades back to "lived in".

It seems like I spend hours going through things, putting away things, finding places for small treasures, and redoing the same chores over and over and over again - dishes, laundry, countertops, taking trash & recycling out. Last weekend, I cleaned the bathroom top to bottom, and mopped all the floors. Took out two loads of trash, cooked, cleaned and sorted until 3am. You'd think at some point I would get ahead....even if only for a minute.

My kitchen counter is a magnet for the avant garde of miscellani. Two hugging bear salt & pepper shakers, a 'so ugly it's cute' old japanese cream & sugar holder gilded, painted, and shaped like birds. Two cups I bought in Mexico, an old magnetic poetry calendar, the 80 proof remains of a bottle of sherry - shaped like an elephant no less. The dining room table is the same - though less artistic, and more practical. Pens, paper, things I've sold on ebay, coupons, books.

I emptied a box tonight which has been on my bedroom floor since I moved in. Mostly French books/notes and photographs. I cleaned out my wallet. I sorted out items to be mended & altered. More laundry - two loads down, one to go.

Tomorrow, it's errands. I have:

Rite Aid/Bartell's/Office Depot: CDR's (they all have sales on them)
Linens & Things/Bed, Bath & Beyond: Bath Pillow & Mesh Laundry Bag
Super Supplements: Calcium Citrate
Target: Broiler Pan
Costco: Shredded Cheese, Cheese Slices, OatMeal for a co-worker, and Premier Protein drinks if they have them (they haven't the last half dozen trips)
Tailor: Mending & Alterations
1/2 Price Books: Trade in Books/VHS Tapes
Mail HSA Paperwork
Drycleaner: Quilt
Work: Get the 2 frozen meals I left behind before the cleaning crew throws them away

Oh, and in my copious spare time, a chiropractor appointment.

How do you people do all this AND raise kids? Or work two jobs? Or spend time with *anyone*? For that matter, how do you even have time to watch TV?

I'm going to bed. Perhaps the magic "errand" fairy will stop by tonight and cross everything off my To Do list. Well, I can dream, can't I??

--BT

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

That Didn't Go As Planned

I'm in that lull, the letdown after the holidays. I ended up spending several hours on a mind-numbingly boring task this afternoon. I'm alone today - tried to reach my best friend who is supposed to be back in town, but no answer. I haven't talked to my bf since I kissed him goodbye this morning on the way to work. That's not unusual, he works a lot - but I've been seriously missing him lately.....and one day of his company only serves to me make miss him more.

We had a brief but serious talk last night....one of those mood killer 'we need to talk' conversations, and despite the fact that things did need to get said, I was bummed that our evening went that direction. We had a good four hours to spend together, and instead of launching into a wonderful evening of love and romance, we sat quietly on the couch holding each other while I tried to keep from crying.

Then today I reached a friend who has been trying to reach me for most of the last day and a half. She's coming into town over President's Weekend.....a weekend I already plan to be out of town. I told her "of all the weekends....". I told her what my plans are, and oddly enough, she's all excited to come with! Now I certainly don't mind friends joining me that weekend - in fact, I've invited people to join me almost every year that I've gone. But still, I couldn't believe it - of all the people I know, she's the LAST person I would have thought to invite.

This perhaps explains how and why I invited an alcoholic on a wine-tasting tour. *wince*

Seriously. That didn't go as planned.

(She's recovered & sober over ten years, and she loves the beauty of the wine country.....plus she's offered to be designated driver. )

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dormant Lives

Somewhere in my heart lives a woman I'm not - she loves to wear skirts, and makeup, and carry matching purses. She crochets, makes marbled paper, can whip up a dish from thin air, and fills her home with crafts she's made with her own hands, while the lovely scent of flowers drifts up from the bay window.

I've spent a lot of money on her over the years, but it seems that I've never really spent TIME with her. I found her eyeliner in one of those purses, along with a calling card for international calls to Mexico, about $4 in change, and a map of Paris. Did I mention she speaks fluent French, and lives in the south of France? I started to learn it several years ago, but didn't keep it up.

It seems that I have a penchant for buying certain things, which in reality, I never use. That could be why I own about twenty books in French, along with CD's, DVD's, and flash cards for French vocabulary and grammar. I love purses. I own at least a dozen. Yet, do I carry a purse on a daily basis? Uhm, no. Or I should say "not right now". I go through phases with purses. I'll carry one everywhere for months on end, and then one day, everything ends up in my jeans or jacket pocket, and the purse is relegated to the bedroom floor, slumped over a box of filing, collecting dust.

Vases! Oh my - a fascinating curve, a twist of color, a sensuous shape, something reminiscent of antiquity, and I'm all over it. Do I buy flowers? 'Sometimes!' my mind shouts in defense of my collection, even though it has been years.

As I was going through an old purse, I found lists of movies. I love movies, and own hundreds of them on VHS and DVD......yet I don't own a tv. Some of the DVD's have never even had the shrinkwrap cracked. I used to see over a hundred movies a year - in the theatre! I love the theatre experience. There's something about the lights dimming, the smell of popcorn, sinking into a seat and looking expectantly at the screen that I love. It's just NOT the same watching it at home. Yet I can scarcely walk by a DVD on sale without being tempted.

I have dozens of hobbies that I *think* about, yet don't actually pursue - bits and pieces of cloth and paint and glue guns litter my spare room. I have genealogy carefully filed away, and notes stacked up on possible places to check for the next big find. Two boxes (BIG boxes) are filled with scrapbooks, photo boxes, frames, awaiting that magick moment when I suddenly have the inclination to put one together.

What is it about our dormant lives that is so potent even while they sleep? Like a frozen seed, it lays there immobile, left for dead, but somewhere in its little secret heart, it holds in one invisible remnant of life, the shadow of a flame.

I feel like I have all the ingredients of a fabulous cake sitting on my counter - yet I have misplaced the recipe. How does one get from here to there? I'm not sure, but I keep stocking the shelves waiting for the chef to arrive.

--BT

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Catching Up With The Tortoise

I'm not 'there' yet, but like The Hare, I am getting much, much closer every day.

Six months ago, when I had my rear brakes done, I was told by the dealership that the front ones would need replacing as well. With winter arriving in a hurry, I ended up getting that done on Thursday, along with an oil change, tire rotation, and diagnostics on the lukewarm air coming out of my heater. Five hundred dollars later, with a forecast of a good thousand more for the heater core and other maintenance, I was able to cross a few big things off my long-term To-Do list. Firestone said I still had about 50% of my tread, and everything looked in good shape - good thing, as the snow began falling Friday night, little tufts of cotton tucking itself into the nooks and crannies, coating the grass and drifting across the windows. It continued during the daylight hours on Saturday until we had about 4-5 inches.

Despite the weather, I was crossing things off my To-Do list left and right. Ebay sale item put into the mail. Take shredding to Work. Complete several audits. Empty dishwasher. Do more dishes. Make a Costco run! Get a fill for my nails. Return the next day for a pedicure. Lampshades, vanity lightbulbs, handsoap, eggs, cottage cheese, lemon juice. I ran out of eggs a few days ago. Lampshades, on the other hand, I've been needing since June. One by one, I slayed the dragons before me.

Made it to the International Motorcycle Show this weekend, and bought SEVERAL items I'd been wanting to get - a pair of heated gloves, something to keep my neck warm on a winter ride, a rain suit, a book on good rides in the Pacific Northwest, and a Xmas gift for someone else. I still need a new pair of boots, a jacket & riding pants. The boots I have are difficult to get on, and I've been borrowing clothes for six months. But all in good time - I did look for those as well, but didn't see anything that stood out as something I *had* to buy.

A few days ago on the way home from work, I was reminiscing about one of my favorite resort hotels and casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - the Beau Rivage. I *love* that place. One of my favorite things to do was to lay in bed and watch an X-Files marathon for three or four hours. I don't have a TV at home, so this is my little sinful indulgence. I've had good luck there in the past, but I also truly enjoy staying there. The rooms are luxurious, and being surrounded by the beauty and ambiance there is very relaxing. The Indian Casinos up here just don't have the same feel - many of them don't even have a hotel, and they cater to the local crowd who may come in to spend $20-50 on a Friday night.

With that having been on my mind, it was a bit of providence to find an email from them yesterday inviting me down and offering two complimentary nights accomodations - good on two different weeks that I already have vacation scheduled. Despite all the time I've had off recently, I could really use some R&R. I have $600 in travel vouchers, and a bunch of airline miles, so I started checking to see what a flight would run me. Turned out to be ten bucks (and some airline miles). Sweet! I'm there!

My bills are all paid - I put checks for the power bill, and my cell, into the mail on Saturday. I even started pulling out the Christmas decorations, and putting them up. I've done a ton of filing. Yet even as I'm getting things done, especially things I've been meaning to do for a long time, it feels *weird* - even a little bit WRONG.

In the old story between the Tortoise and the Hare, the Hare never actually catches up - he just gets closer and closer until the difference between them is statistically null. What happens if I actually DO catch up? Will there be lightning bolts from the sky? Polar shifts? Will a darkened screen pop up whispering "The End"?

I am reminded of a day years ago when my plaster cast was cut off my broken arm. It was the summer I was nine years old. I had carried around the extra weight for so long that it felt like a part of me, and my arm seemed strangely weightless when it was gone. The void that being caught up will create actually disturbs me, as if I need to mourn the burdens of responsibility that are lifted when things get done.

Now what?

Rapidly accelerating as I'm approaching that blank canvas, the anticipation of impact is making me tense. I don't know 'now what'. But I feel like a breakthrough is imminent, a spiritual quickening makes my pulse race. In addition to the drive for organization, I've started cooking again.....and enjoying it.

I've had times like this in my life before, and while rarely self-destructive, they scare me a little bit - like a manic phase, where the energies that are flowing are possibly too powerful to control. I start doing unpredictable things - like cutting two feet off my hair, getting rid of things, or taking off in the middle of the night for destinations unknown. I once called in sick to work, and spent the entire day in a movie theatre. At these times, I crave change the way some people need caffiene or cigarettes.

In the Tarot, the Tower Card is often read as unexpected necessary change forced upon you by circumstances beyond your control.....yet despite their traumatic nature, they are ultimately good for you. A common image is the lightning bolt striking the tower, forcing the residents to jump.

Death, another 'change' card, is cyclical, like the waxing and waning moon, birth gives way to fullness, the golden glow of the Harvest Moon, then slowly dies out. The long cold winter seems lifeless, but it gives one time for reflection and rest. When spring returns, new life returns with it, edging out the old to make way for the new.

Will I get my time of reflection and rest? I desperately need it. While I still sleep physically every night, I am an insomniac in spirit. Even in my dreams, I'm busy. No rest for the wicked, they say....or is that the weary? It's one of the reasons I look forward to Biloxi - it was my place of rest when I lived down on the coast.

My To-Do list is complete for now......and will start fresh again tomorrow.

--BT

Monday, November 26, 2007

Life Lessons At Another's Expense

Years ago, when I was a senior in high school, I had a friend named Kathy. We were good friends, hanging out at school together, going out driving around, talked on the phone all the time. We talked about everything - school, boys, college, family. I remember going over to her house one time, and it was her parents rule that she study until 6pm. We got there about 4 o'clock, and her mother pointed at her and indicated Kathy was to go to her room & study. She then looked at me, and pointed at Kathy's room letting me know that *I* would be studying until 6 o'clock as well. *laugh* Love and discipline were the house rules - and not just for family.

Then one day something happened, and I ended our friendship without an explanation or another word. She literally sat RIGHT behind me in math class, and I never spoke to her again. To this day, I have no idea whether or not my interpretation of the events was accurate, and I'm not sure it matters. I handled it badly, and for whatever damage I may have caused her, I regret that.

What did she do?

She touched my arm. Yes, literally - that's it.

At a time in life when I was young, inexperienced, unsure about where I would fit into the world of boys, attraction, and relationships, that simple act was enough to completely freak me out. As an awkward, emotionally immature teen who was severely overweight, and (who felt) very unattractive, this was NOT positive reinforcement for me. I wanted the attention of boys, and what I got was the complete opposite - I felt like I had completely screwed up, and this was just further proof that people of the opposite sex would never be attracted to me. I'd die an old maid, ugly and unwanted.

As the years went by, I continually thought about her and what I did. I missed our friendship, and the funny, happy girl I used to know. But it also made me think about what I *really* think about homosexuality, attraction, and love. Was she gay? I have no idea. I could easily have misinterpreted things- it's not like she tried to kiss me. But as I said before, it doesn't matter - even if she was a lesbian, she didn't do anything wrong. If I was right, she took a chance and faced rejection.

I'm not glad that it happened. But I'm glad that it happened when it did - a number of years later, several members of my family came out of the closet. By the time they did, I had already thought through my views on homosexuality, and was better able to handle it.

So what do I think about these things - what did I learn?

Attraction is a compliment. I know that there were a number of times I was attracted to boys/men who did not return my affections either - but what I was offering was the best of myself, which is the best compliment you can give someone. I've learned to appreciate that, even when the feeling wasn't mutual. It has allowed me to be more gracious with those who have approached me - both male & female.

Self Esteem Some men find me attractive; some don't. Whether I'm 150lbs or 250 lbs, I have found that some find me attractive and others don't. Who I am, and my value to the world is inside of me - it doesn't change because I happen to go through a phase where a number of people suddenly like or dislike me. Having that confidence inside has helped me survive experiences like the end of a relationship. My self-worth isn't dependent upon whether or not OTHER people love me, but upon whether or not I love myself.

I was talking about this recently with another DS'er, about whether losing weight had given me more confidence to set boundaries, and I don't think that changed for me.....but a lot of that was because I had already done a lot of work on figuring out who I am, and where I stand in this life.

Homosexuality I've decided that as long as everyone involved is consenting and an adult, I don't care what you do. Love is love. I believe it was St Augustine who declared "Love God and do as you please", for if you truly love God, what pleases you will please God. I'm no longer a Christian, but I tend to agree. I do not believe that God is an angry, petulant being waiting in the wings to strike people down for doing nothing more than falling in love.

My cousin is married to a wonderfully warm and caring woman, and yes - they are legally married. Her wife is Canadian, and gay marriage is legal in Canada. The first time I suspected she was gay, she had introduced me to a 'friend' and it crossed my mind that perhaps it was more than friendship. I didn't say anything as I figured it wasn't any of my business. If she wanted me to know, she'd tell me.

A year later, there were six of us going on a trip: My cousin, and his then-gf (now wife), my cousin and her 'friend', my brother and me. Since I suspected already that they were dating and didn't know how to tell me, I told them a story about an old boyfriend of mine who was bisexual, and let it be known that I was okay with that. (I was okay with his being attracted to both men and women - not that I would have been okay with him DATING other people.) As the trip progressed, they began to relax and let the true nature of their relationship come to the surface.

They were together for well over a decade, and I was glad to be able to share some of those years with them. Her ex-girlfriend was, and still is, an amazing woman - petite in size, but with innumerable strength. She recently came through a bout with ovarian cancer, fighting for survival and winning.

A number of years later, my cousin's father came out of the closet as well. Now, he was a minister in a conservative Christian church at the time, so needless to say, it was a life-changing decision. He lost his job. It eventually ended his marriage, and caused rifts with some of his family who were not accepting of his revelation. My father, also a minister, was asked during a job interview, about his views on gay ministers - and he said that God was free to call anyone he chose. He then talked about the decades of successful ministry that Jim had had, and how devastated he had been when that was taken away from him.

When he died, my aunt learned something interesting from the man he'd been partnered with for the last decade of his life - that some of the problems they had had in a straight marriage, Jim had also had in his gay relationship. Gay or straight, relationships are complicated and affected much more by the character and personality of the people involved rather than their gender.

I understand that homosexuality makes (some) people uncomfortable. It made ME uncomfortable the first time I experienced it first hand, and I wish that I *had* had more contact with gay people growing up. Perhaps then, I wouldn't have trashed a perfectly good friendship over it.

--BT

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Strange Findings

I have been going through papers for weeks now - another stack, five more boxes, a dozen bags or more of bits & pieces of documentation on how I've spent my life. Movie stubs from seven years ago, fast food receipts from Florida, scraps of paper with handwritten notes on them.

I carefully read each one, and make action items to handle it. Hmmm - Marie. Cool lady. I used to work with her 5-6 years ago, but lost track after I moved away. Left a message on her voice mail, hoping to reconnect. Wonder what she's up to?

Two left over visors for my stolen motorcycle helmet - put them up on Ebay to sell.

Taxes from 1990??? A 1992 lease from an Apartment in Texas.....including the little post-it-note stating the ferret was okay without a pet deposit. Old phone bills from 7 years ago, credit card accounts I closed years ago. All of these go into the "To Be Shredded" pile.

Two days ago I opened an envelope that I mailed to myself, containing a picture of my cat. I think I know the reason for that - the letter with it sounded like a prayer or protection spell. Then yesterday, I found one from my POB down in Florida, to myself at my house address - the contents??? A piece of cardboard with the number "26" on it. Nothing else. WTF?????

Happily one of the visors sells, but this is a holiday week so we're a little short-handed. I'm too late to drop it off at my nearest post office, so I look online for the nearest one that's open later. The postage label I printed is dated today, so have to get it out the door. As I walk in, there's Marie!! I haven't seen or talked to her in over five years and 24 hours after I find her phone# on a scrap of paper, I run into her.

Then there was the file from someone who must have been a customer......she had the same birthday as mine, and for reasons I no longer remember, actually faxed me her driver's license and social security card. Why I have been carrying this around in a box for over five years, I have no clue.

Then there was the letter from my brother who had passed away almost twenty years ago.....telling me that a lot of people cared about me, and that he was working on some issues. Three hours later, I found my letter to him that he was responding to, where I really laid him out.

Then there were two checks I found in unopened envelopes - one ironically enough from a time period when I was absolutely DESPERATE for money, and the universe sent me $250 which I ignored because I never opened it. One of those check is SEVEN YEARS OLD and never cashed.

I feel like ice floes are melting, and long-standing energy is coming to the surface. November is an energetic period in my life - both of my parents passed away in November. They always celebrated their anniversary on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving that my first love and I broke up......the same day that Freddie Mercury died. I'm due to close on a loan on the last day of the month.

What else am I going to find as I dig under the surface? I would have made a lousy time-traveller - I can hardly keep the events of my life straight one day at a time. How on earth would I manage two or three days out of sequence??

It's nearly 4am on Thanksgiving morning, and I have a lot to be thankful for this year.....new love, a new promotion, friends and family, good health, and an odd drive for organization. Considering I found Wal-Mart receipts over ten years old, it should be apparent this....organizational thing.....is an anomaly.

We'll see how long it lasts and what other strange findings await me.

--BT

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What I Want For Christmas

That's an interesting question to pose to a witch. :) I'm instantly flashing back to that scene in Miss Congeniality where they ask Sandra Bullock what is the one most important thing our society needs, and she responds "Harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan". When the crickets chirp, she leans in again "AND.......World Peace!", as the crowd goes wild! *lol*

What *DOES* a pagan want for Christmas, and why is this even a question? Well, the second half is easier to answer than the first. Everybody else is (celebrating Xmas), so even though I changed ships spiritually, the warm family traditions that surround this holiday are still a fond and important part of our rituals. It's actually one of my favorite seasons......Christmas Carols, the smell of pumpkin & ginger spice, peppermint and pine. It's also the one time of year when people will LET you give them something and NOT ask "what is this for?".

My family was one of those growing up that had Santa and all eight reindeer flying around our living room. We spent one evening with the paint-by-numbers ornaments, and that is STILL one of my fondest memories of our family as a child. (I got purple, and THAT is why there is a purple puppy on my tree! Years later, one of the laundry detergent commercials had a little kid asking his mom if it would help get purple paint off the puppy, and I laughed and laughed.)

Many Christmas traditions have pagan origins anyway, so I get to celebrate MY religion AND theirs at the same time. It's a beautiful thing. Winter Solstice is about the birth of the Sun King, and Jesus is a perfect example of that. Mind you, I have no problem with Christianity or its tenants....it's just that my beliefs expanded beyond what would fit under that label, and it wasn't the right label anymore. I still have the family creche, and willingly put it out for all to see.

So.....what do I want? You know, for the first time in a long time, I actually HAVE answers to that question.

A Cashmere Sweater! - Cashmere is a delightfully soft and luxurious fabric reserved for the beautiful people it seems. For years, I have wanted a cashmere turtleneck sweater, only to find they didn't come in plus sizes. Now that I'm a small or a medium, I can finally fulfill this wish! I love the feel of it, and the elegance. Cream, black, red, purple, blue, grey, petal pink or harvest gold - it doesn't really matter. I'd probably wear it every day even if it were chartreuse.

A Stereo or a Boombox. My old stereo broke down in Florida, and I never replaced it. As I settle into my new home, ever so slowly but surely, I miss filling it with the sounds of music. Nothing big - my brother is the true audiophile in the family. I'd settle for something that sounds better than the Itunes playing out of my laptop.

A Bluetooth Headset for my phone. I am THAT WOMAN that you hate on the roadways who is constantly on the phone. I admit it! Now, I don't read the newspaper, or put on mascara in the car, but colour me guilty when it comes to the cell phone. Come January 1st, however, I will no longer be allowed to do so without a handsfree device.

Black Boots! I have been looking....and looking.....and looking. I have an idea of the feel of what I want. Feminine, knee-high, 2-3" of heel, solid black, but with some unique accent, zip up the side, leather, looks good, feels good, that will fit over my ankle. As small as I am, I have inherited the good Prussian stock ankles of my ancestors. Not just any boot will do. I want to be able to wear it with skirts or pants. I've looked everywhere from Payless to Nordstrom, and have only found two pairs I even wanted to try on.

DVD's - I have a bunch of VHS tapes that I would like to replace with DVD's so that I only need ONE machine to play them. I've got the list written down, and have been scouting Half-Price Books for replacements.

Perfume - As I finally unpack all of my goods, I'm finding that I have a ton of nearly empty bottles of perfume. I love scents, and wear them everywhere, including to bed. As I've started braving the malls again this fall, I find myself drawn to the fragrance aisles, looking for new adventures.

Sheet Music for the Piano - I finally have a piano again, after over twenty years without one, and I have nothing new to play. All the music I have memorized was from junior high or before. We used to have a Reader's Digest collection of "popular music" which included songs from the 50's, 60's and 70's - that's the type of thing I want, so I can pick and choose what I want to play.

There are other things I need, and that would probably be useful, but they are more afterthoughts. A gas can and jumper cables for my car. More CDs. Several years ago, over half my CD collection was stolen and I have yet to replace them all. I'm missing some tools from my toolbox, and a number of items from my kitchenware. I used to have a very well stocked kitchen for a woman who doesn't cook. Not anymore. Several boxes of items went missing in the move - probably ended up in Rhode Island or something.

I need riding gear for my motorcycle as well, but I haven't seen anything yet that really jumped out and said "buy me". There's a show coming up in January which should have some good things.....hopefully then, I'll see something I can't live without. Like my gloves; Love my helmet. Need something to protect me against both freezing cold and road rash of the jacket & pant variety.

Riding Boots are my biggest need there - riding gear for a petite woman with small feet & big ankles isn't on the agenda of most designers. I'm currently using a pair of Kid Size boots, but they can be a pain to put on. Were I a men's size 13, I'd have a much easier time finding things.

Anything else? Oh yes......

"AND.....World Peace!"

--BT

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

HobNobbing From The Cheap Seats

A year ago I stumbled onto a project which has turned out to be the magic bullet when it comes to my career. Literally, I was in a new position for a month, and they sent out an email asking if anyone was interested in working off the phones.

I think my response was "Don't know if I've been here long enough to be considered, but I'd be interested". Apparently mine was the 2nd response they got, because two of us newbies got assigned to it, and I was given the position of "backup". I'm glad I was....because it freed up several hours a day for me to work on projects, and one of those projects has led me where I am today.

And where is that?

Over the last year, I have been the acting project manager developing a piece of software to automate & streamline a complex, labor-intensive communication process. In August of this year, in recognition of that, I was promoted to a first level Team Manager. Now this is typically a front-line position, watching over a herd of cats, errr...employees, and making sure that certain metrics get met. And it is that, to be sure, but for me, it is so much more.

This project has come with me, and we're now looking at expanding it to levels I had never imagined a year ago. I've already demo'd this for my Senior Manager and Director (people two and three levels above me), and the Director had indicated that he'd like me to show it to the VP and the head of Customer Service. Today, my Senior Manager emails me, asking me to call him on his cell. I laughed for a moment, as he genuinely expects that I have that number already.

Apparently word has gotten out, and other high level executives are interested in my program, and what it can do for ALL of our call centers. So we're going to set up a demo for them as well. These people have funding connections, so if they like what they see, budgeting money could come pouring in our direction.

I work for a VERY large corporation, with hundreds of thousands of employees. I have to wonder how many front line managers ever even talk to the level of executives that are becoming more and more prevalent on my calendar. As you can imagine, this is a lot more high profile than I ever expected to be, and very important to my chain of command.

It's exciting, and kind of scary. It's kind of like riding a shooting star and wondering where it will lead.

--BT

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Grounded

If you could see my kitchen, you'd see candy bars (full size) in one cupboard, mega size pudding cups above it, a half gallon of Peppermint Ice Cream in the freezer, and soft chewy caramels on the light apple green CD storage box on the counter. On top of the fridge are two bags of chips - Cheetos Twisters and Lays potato chips. Last night, I had a half rack of ribs and fried shrimp from TGIFridays. Today it was mac & cheese, with a bacon cheeseburger and pumpkin cheesecake for lunch. Not exactly the portrait of a woman on a diet.

So I find it strange that I've lost ten pounds over the course of the last six months. I know what it's from - two years ago I had weight loss surgery, but I really thought I was done. I started buying better clothes, because I figured I would stay that size, yet I find I'm shrinking again.

As of this morning, I weighed 142.4 lbs, and I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my mind around it. For over a decade, I weighed around 240, so I keep (mentally) wanted to make that first digit a 2. The last time I was about this weight was JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL - I'm regressing in age, and it's a little disconcerting.

This evening I realized that I am only FOUR pounds away from a magical number - I'll literally be half my old weight. I once was 277, and in 4 more pounds, I'll have LOST 138.5 lbs and WEIGH 138.5 lbs.

What's funny is that I once worried that I wouldn't feel *solid* or grounded at a normal weight.....like somehow gravity would release its hold on me a little, and I'd have trouble sticking to the ground. Yet I'm here, as much earth bound as I've always been, with no temptation to blow away in a stiff breeze.

I'm home alone tonight - me and the cat, and I'm rather content to stay here. I've got laundry going in the other room, and books to catch up on. Earlier this afternoon, my brother and I went for a delightful ride - down Novelty Hill Road, over to Cherry Hill area. The weather is warm for this time of year, and the skies were cloudy, but cooperative.

We ended up riding past the Nestle Regional Training Center, which always makes me laugh. It's out in farm country, nestled in a curve along a meandering road with quite a view of nature. There's not a hotel or other business for miles! Who are they training, and where do they come from? How the heck are they supposed to find this place out in the middle of nowhere? I'm just picturing a treasure map with a big X on it!

My boyfriend is on nights for a month, which he is most definitely NOT accustomed to, so he's home sleeping. Makes me laugh - I worked graveyard for about fifteen years, and loved it. But not everyone is cut out for it. He stares at me in disbelief when I tell him that I once waited a year and a half for a graveyard position to open up!

My laundry is done, and so am I - for now.

--BT

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Midnight Hour And Beyond

There's something about the midnight hour and beyond which is made for rearranging furniture. It seems like my To-Do list is filled with things that need to get done, and is interrupted occasionally by bursts of late night spontaneous combustion. Where does life fall on your Things To Do list?

Last night I came home about 10:30pm with the intention of going to bed which I did.....eventually. But not before 5am. Around midnight I decided to put together the bookcase which has been occupying the middle of my living room since the middle of September - obviously a high priority project that couldn't wait any longer. God only knows why.

It was a mostly quiet endeavor that went fairly smoothly. The rhythm and excitement of watching it come together overshadowed the hour, making me forget it was the middle of the night. That is, until I was about 40 nails in to a 50 nail project of putting the back on it, and it occurred to me that *POUNDPOUNDPOUNDPOUNDPOUND* is probably NOT what my neighbor wanted to hear at 1am. But as I only had 10 more nails to go, I said to hell with it, and finished the job.

Of course, with a new six foot tall, five shelf, Harvest Cherry bookcase birthed into existence, I couldn't simply lay down and go to sleep, now could I??? Of course not. Eight boxes, and four hours later, I had unearthed, unloaded, unpacked and uncovered enough books to fill this bookcase and another one. (Except....I don't *have* another one. Let me put that on my to-do list) Iris Johansen, Dorothy Gilman, Agathie Christie, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Clive Cussler, Dick Francis, JK Rowling all rose up to greet me. Books in French goes over there. Journals, both virgin and experienced, went into the closet. Racy stuff stays in the bedroom, but let's not put the unread books on a low shelf or they shall remain unread.

Why do I have two copies of HP and the Half-Blood Prince? In hardback? I found two of my three copies of The Golden Hawk by Frank Yerby. What's hiding behind my computer desk - oh THERE are the books I bought at the Friends of Seattle sale. Tucked into a black file were books I brought with me from Florida. Little boxes dated 11/2005 remind me how much of my reading tastes I shared with my father. Seeing my books finally come into the light is like finally catching my breath after a hard run. The words soothe my nerves even from behind their jagged, worn covers. I know they are there, and for now, that's enough. I need that, especially now.

I am at a cross-roads of sorts right now. I have been looking for a roommate for a number of months now, with no success. The few people I've had respond to me were unsuitable for a variety of reasons, some scary, others just didn't fit. Even the ones I met decided against me/my place for their own reasons. Financially I'm in a downward spiral. I cannot afford to continue living the way I'm living - SOMETHING has got to change in the next 4-6 months or I will be in dire straights.

Since the universe has not seen fit to send a suitable roommate my way, I need to look at other options. I recently was promoted, which increased my income.....but not enough to compensate for the negative cash flow I have going on. So, what are my choices from here?

Influxes of cash: Bonuses, a 2nd job, tax returns. These would all be good, but all would be a temporary band aid on the problem. I've done the 60 hour weeks before, and it was hell. I've just been promoted 2 months ago, so another promotion is not likely in the next 4-6 months. A roommate would be better as it would be a continuous source of money which would not require a heavy commitment of time on my part.

Reducing my expenses: This is the area I'm looking at now. My main issue is that the gap is big......about $1000 a month, which I'm currently supplementing out of savings. So again, small measures will help, but reducing my grocery bill by $50 is really nothing compared to the issue at hand.

I think where this is leading me is to refinancing my home and cashing out some of my equity to pay off debts. That is really the only option that is going to have a significant enough effect on my income/outgo to make a difference, other than a roommate. I really did NOT want to do this, as I would like to sell my home in a year and a half or two years and don't want to be sucking equity out of my home prior to doing so. But neither do I want to foreclose or sell prematurely (and pay Capital Gains).

I have a nice place. It's freshly painted, brand new carpet. The room available is big - eleven by thirteen - so I find it really odd that no one wants to move in. It's really quite charming here, especially now. As summer slipped past, the leaves are changing and what little warmth we had has faded into my favorite season. I love the smells of Autumn - the winds that send the birds away, burning leaves and the warmth & spice of harvest time. The cool crisp days bite back a little like a Granny Smith Apple, and I'm torn still about whether or not to fully occupy my home. Do I take over the 2nd bedroom and commit to the path of refinancing, or do I keep it reserved for someone interesting to come into my life? Decisions, decisions.

I've had a number of great roommates in the past, and have maintained friendships with quite a few. One married what became my best friend. Another is still a close friend over a decade later, whom I see weekly at pool league. A third still keeps in touch, and helps me practice my French. Still another texts me intermittently with updates on her life.

So yes, while there is a strong financial incentive, a roommate for me is more than just business. It has brought some interesting people and experiences into my life, and I love that. My loan officer isn't going to poach a fish in the dishwasher or teach me how to play pool. I tend to be a loner and a homebody, so it also provides human interaction within the walls of my sanctuary.

One big obstacle to refinancing is the paperwork involved. I have been living in limbo for two years, with financial papers drifting into whatever corner became most convenient. I have a filing cabinet now, and have been working on getting things organized, but as of now - they are still a mess. I still have two tax returns that need to be filed, but the paperwork is, uhm, somewhere. Or rather, everywhere. I'm missing documents, and have several areas of question as well on how to handle certain things. They both involve refunds, so penalties aren't the issue - it's just gathering it all together and getting it done. THAT is easier said than done.

Many of the steps towards that goal are items on my To-Do list, and many have gotten done.....getting a filing cabinet, buying rails, finding files, gathering unread mail. Sometimes I feel as if my To-Do list is never ending, but I am making progress, slowly but surely.

I know I could do both refi & get a roommate, and perhaps that is the lesson here....we'll see. For now, I am trying to do the little things that I can do to prepare - filing, sorting paperwork, unpacking boxes and clearing space to breathe....and leaving the 2nd bedroom available for now.

Getting the bookcase together may seem counter-productive, but clearing eight boxes of books out of my bedroom frees up mental energy as well as space. I try to remember that when I wake up at 3am with an urgent desire to rearrange furniture. I don't always understand WHY it needs to be done at that hour, but I'm sure it won't be the last.

I'm a night owl by nature, and I love the strength and solitude that comes with the midnight hour and beyond. The disturbances of the daylight hours are silenced by laws and by nature - solicitors are home in bed, and acquaintances think twice before coming to call. These hours are reserved for more important things in life - a time for sleep, for love and romance, for reading and quiet conversations, and taking care of things that need to get done.

As always, I look forward to the Midnight Hour and beyond....but for tonight, I hope all it brings me is sleep. The furniture, I hope, can wait until tomorrow.

--BT