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So Yeah, There’s That

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Danger Will Robinson!

So my brain is broken. I broke my brain.

Overstimulated, overwhelmed, I just shut down, missing all my goals in the meantime.

The budget thing? Still working on it. I discovered that, despite holding all of my tax money out to pay for the dental work that was coming this month, I still went over my medical budget. I didn’t have a very realistic picture.  With just a couple exceptions (mostly bills that I had “summer budgeted for” like water and electricity), I went over in every. Single. Category.  I’ll know exactly where I stand at the end of the month.

I  managed to save $50 per paycheck, though, so my first month savings for the purpose of this exercise is a whole $100.  That, plus some birthday money and money I had due me that I had forgotten about puts my total at $1300.  Other than the automatic deduction for savings (take it out first, right?), I had no other areas that I could cut from to put any more away.  Where I saved money, I ended up spending it elsewhere because my pets would eat me alive if I didn’t feed them and my car wouldn’t go far without any gas. Or current tag.

So yeah. There’s that.  I guess it’s a start, but I just felt I should have done better.

The clearing out stuff?  Yeah. Didn’t do much of that either.  It’s not like I met resistance to throwing stuff out again; it’s not that I didn’t get frustrated with clutter piling up. I just sort of turned off. Spaced out and “forgot” where I was.

So. There’s that, too.

I’m still having an issue with food waste. I totally forgot that I had bought eggs–AGAIN–and now they’re like a month past the sell by date.  Things I’ve cooked (rare, but still occasionally happens) gets pushed to the back. How do I keep doing this? Something so simple…eat what I’ve made.  And I forget it’s there, opting for something easy–like a sandwich.

I want to have a garage sale, most likely in the fall. It’ll be cooler, I’l have time to prepare. I have three four boxes of stuff that I’ve “thrown out” (actually boxed up and never took to Goodwill), that I want to rebox and label and price so that I have nothing but unloading to do.

Am I procrastinating on the getting rid of stuff? Has another shiny thing distracted me?

I really, really don’t know.

I guess I’ll find out soon.

(Image Source: https://rashmanly.com/2013/06/23/danger-danger-will-robinson/)

 

 

 

 

Letting Go Challenge: Week 27 & 28

THE JUNK:

Weeks 27 & 28Not pictured-

  • 5 “cleaning rags”
  • cat food jug
  • Wrecked gift bag
  • Broken “flower pot”
  • Many pet pamphlets
  • Wiggle giggle ball that doesn’t giggle when it wiggles any more
  • Post its (this time not from work)
  • Out of date Vitamin D
  • 4 magazines
  • Dog-chewed lid
  • Broken scissors (put back in the drawer, even)

Med bottles and various other things from the cleaning closet that I’m just too beat to list. It probably wasn’t nearly 42 things. But it was something.

After a week off (funny how life just happens and suddenly I realized I missed a week), I was attacked by my cleaning closet.

This is what the closet looked like:

In the process of finding way too much stuff to get rid of, I discovered whatever the opposite of a treasure trove of stuff is:

  • A bread bag (really?)
  • Spoons from MREs. They were leftovers from Katrina, my only guess is that I brought them into the house before I had silverware
  • A bottle of Windex with a quarter inch or so of Windex still in it.
  • A jug of vinegar with even less
  • Lightbulbs I didn’t know I had
  • A bag of clean socks (whaaaat?) with medical papers in it (double whaaat?)

I had “stacked” (and I use that term loosely) torn towels and t-shirts in the closet, presumably to use them as cleaning rags.

NOBODY NEEDS THAT MANY CLEANING RAGS!

This week was an epiphany of sorts: I really want to spend as little money as possible. I want out of here.  I had left Mississippi years ago, returning after about five. After living in the desert, I fell in love with her all over again. Got a job, got my degree, got another job.

This week I sort of “woke up.” I’ve been complacent. I’ve held my current position for almost eight years–that’s far longer than I’ve held any job before. With an awesome boss and awesome coworkers and a work load that doesn’t ask too much of me, I’ve grown complacent.

Everything I love about Mississippi is wrapped up in my family and my immediate surroundings. I was born here and left the state for about five years in my mid 20’s.  The summer nights, filled with fireworks and lightning bugs; the boat rides to Ship Island and from Long Beach to Biloxi and back again; the sheer greenness of the honeysuckle, grass, and oak trees stood in stark contrast to Arizona–a place whose state color should be beige. Beige for the rocks, beige for the houses. Everything running together and nothing really standing out.

So wrapped up in my memories of childhood, I was shocked when the South came thundering back in all its greenness and pinks and yellows and purples of flowers, demanding that I take her back again.

And I did.

But now it’s time to go.  I’ve been back for thirteen years now, so very much of that spent miring in complacency. It’s time to go. But there are many steps between here and there.

Paring down the house is just one step. Another is saving money.  One thing I did do this week is to change my cell phone plan. From unlimited everything (and I swore, they’d have to pry that plan from my cold, dead fingers) to a finite amount of data. In doing so, I saved $10 a month.  After watching how good I am at seeking out wifi, I may be able to pare it down again, for a total of $25 saved a month.

Sure it’s only $10 now (and .70 cents that the state will no longer get in sales tax), but it’s a start. I may be able to pare it down again when I see how my data use works when I’m paying attention to being on wifi.

Ten dollars and seventy cents a month. It’s a start.

Oh, and I also did my taxes. And my brother’s taxes. And go grocery shopping.

And cook up some chicken at 830 Sunday night because I refused to let it go to waste.

It’s been a productive week.

Letting Go Challenge: Week Twenty-One (AKA Lots and Lots of Words)

THE JUNK:

  • 1. Broken binder
  • 2. Broken Otterbox
  • 3. Spatula
  • 4., 5. Ice packs for shipping my Enbrel
  • 6. Box of papers
  • 7. Box for heating pack
  • 8., 9. Two jars of paint
  • 10., 11., 12., 13. 14. Five paint rags
  • 15. Paint stirrer
  • 16. Used painty-thingie for a painting edger
  • 17.  Vanilla coffee syrup
  • 18. Chicken wire
  • 19., 20., 21.  Tea that expired in 2011 or earlier, two boxes of it that I had never opened.

If I had a loose plan for finishing one room a month, I’m woefully behind schedule. Good thing I’m not getting graded on it.

I realized a couple of things this week: 1) Sometimes things just aren’t worth messing with and 2) I have bought a lot of stuff that I never, ever use.

The Otterbox has a lifetime warranty, yes. But after having replaced a couple of parts on it multiple times (and dealing with their shitty customer service), I just decided to trash it and buy a new non-Otterbox one.  It costs something like $2.50 each time you file a warranty claim. For the number of times I dealt with them, I could have paid for the excellently-rated cheapie that I partnered with shatterglass at least once–and probably a couple of times over.

There comes a point where it’s just not worth throwing money in the same direction.

As I’ve begun keeping a closer eye on my spending (aside, why is it that every time I start tracking my spending a bazillion “unexpected” expenses come up?), I’ve managed to shave a minimal amount of spending down, with the goal of cutting my spending 10% by the end of the year. Maybe because these two things are intersecting, but I’ve noticed that there’s a hell of a lot of low-dollar stuff I’ve bought that I just didn’t need. Or want. Or thought I wanted but got distracted by a shiny object.

I’ve been at the purging for over five months now. Without counting the weeks that I did more than 21 things, that makes it four hundred and forty one things that I’ve counted, and that’s not including the things I’ve thrown out but was too lazy to count because I was in a frenzied cleaning mode. (It’s about as rare as a solstice blue moon, but it does happen.)

Sometimes I amaze myself.

THE LAGNIAPPE:

A most awesome thing happened this week. In clearing out the garage, one box at a time, I discovered that I haven’t lost all my writing from before Katrina after all.

Mud-covered, faded, and stained, I have bits of poems, bits of dreams, bits of stories.  Letters from people I didn’t even remember writing me. A whole lot of bits that I didn’t even remember writing. I spent a bit of time ooh-ing and aah-ing over them, tickled that I’d found them.

Lots and lots of words. Words I’d written. Words others had written to me. Words and words and words.

It’s over ten year old writing, from a place I was before college, before the second great love of my life, before my dog, before my niece and nephew were even thought about.  Before I had a home for myself. Before R.A.

All of it is now in a file folder to be transcribed when I have the opportunity. Filed away for closer inspection.  I daresay I’m in for a bit of nostalgia.  It’s kind of exciting, a world I’ll be revisiting.

I came across this, though, before I really studied the meaning and use of words.  And here, nearly eleven years later, it still rings as true for me as it did over a decade ago:

Words
Words will be the death of me,
And in truth, I am reborn.

Words, the perfect Universe,
Perfect Circle,
Imperfect Perfection,
Perfect.

Within words, we are born,
Hatching ideas from the Egg of all Wisdom—
We create, and are created—
We expand, and are born.

Words, the jailers of our soul,
Measuring the infinite with finite descriptions:
How does one describe the essence
of God?
of a laugh?
of an orgasm?

Within words, we are slain,
Leeching our power and losing it freely—
We belittle and are belittled,
We wither and are slain.

We choose destruction when we could save;
Choose to begin when we should end.
Gather Hope, in words, for the Spiral dances,
Another opportunity, again and again,
Until it ends.
Only to begin anew.

Raise arms, in words, to destroy the truest monster
That eats away our very soul—
Apathy.
For therein lies true death, from which there is no salvation.

“Fear is not the end of this,”
“Death is only the beginning.”
Truth lies just beyond the doorway,
Embraced, sheletered, and protected
By words.

Will you dare? Do you care?
Are you even truly alive?

© 2005 N. J. Ray

 

 

 

Letting Go Challenge: Week Nineteen

THE JUNK:

  • 1. Movie: Double Hugh Grant movie combo
  • 2., 3., 4. Rusted Fork, Knife, and Spoon
  • 5. Book: Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer
  • 6. Key Chain
  • 7. Teddy Bear
  • 8. Router
  • 9. Christmas ornament
  • 10. Black rose
  • 11. Rusted Cable
  • 12. Pocket Calendar from 2003
  • 13. Rubber bat
  • 14. Framed crocheted butterfly
  • 15. Empty perfume bottle
  • 16., 17., 18., 19. Large glasses
  • 20. Part of a cat feeder
  • 21. Nail file

THE FILING:

I did not get my filing done this week at all, although I did start a bin to put all my notebooks and binders in one place. Well, a bin and an empty box, courtesy of the garage.

I have no idea how I managed to collect so many notebooks and binders. I use them to write in, to organize whatever in; I buy them because they have peace signs on them or some other cute design.

Oh. My. God.  So it’s a start.

THE BONUS:

The interesting thing about this week is I’m finally clearing out the stuff I’ve had from when I first moved back to Mississippi.  The router, the cable, the modem, and the cat feeder (who knows where the other part is) are things that were muddied by Hurricane Katrina, as was the framed butterfly.

My grandmother, before her hands became too knotty to do much, was an absolute artist when it came to crocheting. Filet was her specialty: incredibly time-consuming work, fine thread, and endless patience.  She did her best to teach me how to crochet afghans, but all I mastered was the chain and single/double stitches.

I did manage to make a king sized afghan during a 6 week convalescent leave from surgery once.  I just kept going and going and going.

While I do have a couple of her afghans, all I have left of her filet is this butterfly. In all of her work, she made window dressings, table runners, and all sorts of gorgeous pieces.  When she’d finish, she would give them away.

As I was slushing through the mud, I spied it and grabbed it, throwing it in a box to deal with later.

It’s now later.

I’m going to keep the butterfly and toss the frame. I can wash it by hand, but I think it will always have a blue hue,  the background bleeding into her art, forced by a hurricane.

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It seems fitting.

One of the big gains this week is my garage. I’m no where on schedule (always on Nancy time, I suppose), but the space is definitely widening on my shelves. There are shelves in this garage. I had never seen a thing until I toured it for the first time.

Ideally, I’ll have nothing on them but animal supplies and water, but we’ll see how that goes. I still have quite a few boxes left, ones that aren’t even on the shelves but are on the floor, making it difficult to get to the shelves.

I think it’s still a win. And these days, I’ll take any win I can get.

 

 

Update: Letting Go Challenge

For weeks 14 and 15, I swore I’d have them on the new site.  And I did.

For about a week and a half.

I’m still doing them, as evidenced by these pictures:

Week 14:

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Week 15:

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…and then I broke the site again.

Unfortunately, I lost my words in the process, although they may be floating out there in space somewhere.

Apparently, if there’s one thing I’m really, really good at, it’s breaking web sites.

If I were going to have a tombstone, they could personalize it for me:

Here lies N J Ray

She broke the web. A lot.

Here’s hoping I’m back on posting track next week.

I’ve actually picked up a few readers through this minimalism challenge, and I thank you for your patience.

 

 

 

Desperately Seeking Solutions

Another attack at a theater today–this time in Tennessee, apparently armed with a gun, a hatchet, and pepper spray.

Apparently, this guy wanted to get everyone.

This, directly following another shooter at a theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, where two people were killed.

No one was killed in today’s attack, and I find myself exhaling only a half-sigh of relief.

This, less than two months after the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and just over two weeks since the shooting of two marines and a sailor in Chattanooga.

According to the Grc’s Mass Shooting Tracker, there have been 215 mass shootings this year, with a “mass shooting” defined “when four or more people are shot in an event, or related series of events, likely without a cooling off period.” (The link takes you to their main page.)

Today, the fifth of August, marks 217 days so far this year, and there have been 215 mass shootings, with only a handful of them actually making the news.

What. The. Hell.

When Columbine happened,  America was in mourning. How could this happen?  Everyone tried to figure out what went wrong–why it happened, how to stop it from happening again.

And now, sixteen years later, it seems like we’ve stopped trying to figure out what went wrong, why it happened, how to stop it from happening again. We’re quick to point fingers and assign blame: hate groups, religious terrorists, fanaticism, mental illness. But we’re reluctant to TRY anything.

I remember a few years ago when there was a shooting in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Perhaps my memory’s failing, but it didn’t seem that this particular shooting garnered the attention that the Charleston church  did. I remember reading somewhere that the shooters believed they were killing Muslims.

Not only were they armed and hateful, but they were armed and hateful and STUPID.

This sort of violence isn’t isolated: it isn’t limited to one religious group, one race, one subset of the population.  This is systemic, this complete lack of respect for life. A desire to not just put down, but to actually kill another human being. This is a disease in our blood, that courses through our veins, and the violence is merely a manifestation of a much deeper disease.

Like a staph infection.

Continue reading Desperately Seeking Solutions