127 - Tempted

I stood on the edge of a cliff and looked down knowing there were only two options... I could retreat to the safety of what I know, or I could embark on a new adventure. I dove into the nothingness of the unknown and let myself be consumed by it, exhilerated by the feeling of my reckless abandon...

About halfway into the abyss I realized this was wrong. I pulled the cord, letting the chute billow out to slow my descent. I began to glide toward the walls of the chasm. There I found a rope, and I used it to pull myself back up to the edge, my head clearing with every advance I made toward the familiar. I survived my ordeal, and I had a new appreciation for what was right there in front of me all along.

That's exactly what it was like.

This afternoon, after more research and number crunching, I took Trixie in to get an oil change, a visor repaired, the tires aired up, and the coolant sensor replaced. I told her that this might be the last time we saw each other. I told myself she was just a car, she was not a person. I was numb.

While I waited for the oil change, I met with a salesman and he herded me into a new Mazda 3 iTouring, hoping to entice me with the new car smell. I turned the ignition off and moved the conversation back into the showroom. I told him I would take a test drive once the numbers were on the table and I knew it was what I wanted to do. I was honest -- I was very much on the fence and didn't want to make a decision tonight. I told him I wanted to see what my monthly payment would be after they screwed me on the trade-in (I paraphrase). He had his associate -- what is known as 'a smooth talker' -- come to the table and show me the deal. The deal was good but I maintained my position -- I didn't want to make a decision tonight. He offered to sweeten the deal. I was honest -- I didn't want to waste his time, because I was still going to walk away and think about it before I decided on a course of action. He said no problem, let him see what he could do and then I could decide. He thought I was playing coy.

These numbers were even more tempting. $0 down. $125 less/month than what I currently pay. Savings on gas. Free oil changes. 2.9% APR. No payments for 3 months. I faltered. I asked if my extended warranty would be refunded on a pro-rated basis, he said that could be included as a down payment. I lost my mental faculties and took the test drive. Alone. When did they start allowing you to take the car out by yourself?

It was fun. The car had pep to it. I was zipping along the twisty bits I would enjoy on my morning commute if there were no other cars on the road with me. I could let the car shift for me, or I could switch to manual mode and bump the gears up or down. I admit, it was exhilarating. But without the clutch it felt weird. I wasn't driving the car, I was just steering a box. I did enjoy smoking people at the green lights though... oh how I enjoyed that!

I came back, still on the fence, but my nasal passages were now full of new car smell. I looked at Trixie. I looked at the anonymous car. I looked at the numbers. I looked at Trixie again. And I repeated that cycle for several minutes. No -- she's just a car. It felt like I was betraying my best friend, but I decided to go for it. It was logical... I could save money, I could save on gas... I was so close to yes. I filled out a form, it was so easy, but I wasn't excited, I was nervous and conflicted. He took it to the finance guy to run my credit, leaving me alone. I had time to think... and as I thought... staring me in the face was a poster of an RX8... not helping...

I got up, went outside and sat down inside Trixie. It was the only way I was going to know... The cockpit felt like a hug. The other car's seat was so high up, the window so far away. The controls looked cheap compared to Trixie's... spread out... unfamiliar. The stereo wasn't as powerful. I realized I hadn't even looked in the fucking trunk!

I was still debating with myself... was this the right thing to do or was I doing it because I wanted a quick fix? I can afford the payments, I just wanted extra money to put toward a house... but would $1,200 a year in savings for two years be worth much in the long run?... Not on a home loan where a thousand dollars is worth roughly $10/month... The reality of it finally hit me... I didn't want to do this. I've only had her for three years, but it's the longest I've ever owned a car before I traded it in. I know it sounds melodramatic, but that's when I started to cry.

The salesman came to get me. I told him I was sorry... I didn't think I could do it (after I sobbed and hiccuped a couple of times). He said it was alright, a lady came in to trade a car she inherited from her father and she broke down, too. He said it's hard to let a car go... it's been a part of my life for three years. I thought he understood that the deal was off. I thought he was leading me to his manager to tell him so, but I guess my indecisive words didn't sink in. Instead he led me to the finance guy who stood up to greet my bloodshot eyes and runny nose... to his credit, he looked slightly unnerved. The salesman introduced us and said he'd take care of the paperwork. I said, "I'm not doing it. I can't sell her. I'm sorry." He looked stunned. The finance guy looked stunned. He grabbed the manager. He tried to tempt me by further sweetening the pot -- what if we could work more magic with the numbers? What if the numbers stayed the same but the $500 from my extended warranty came back to me as cash? I told him it wasn't about the money. I appreciated the deal they'd gotten me, and I'm sorry I wasted their time -- but I loved my car. He asked if I'd had any problems with the engine... the rotary sometimes floods...

WHAT? You sold me that car! Well, not you, but this dealership... this Mazda dealership... don't start bad mouthing your own product to try to get me to buy a new car! And the engine is covered for 10 years thank you very much -- you know that! It kind of hit me then that I shouldn't feel bad for walking away. They were ready to say anything to get me to buy a car. They didn't care how upset I was. I didn't want to believe it, but I think you have to leave your soul at home to sell cars!

It took me almost signing her away for me to realize that I don't want another car. This is the first time I've had a car and never looked ahead at what my next car might be. First time I've still been giddy when I see my car. In two years she'll be paid for, and maybe something better will come along, but until then she's my dream car... and the 3 was just a car. A sacrifice. An empty, soulless sacrifice. And it wasn't worth it. After four cars, I've finally found the one for me.

I also realized the power of not needing a new car. When you can say no, and mean it, you have the power. I caved too easily in the past, but now I know phrases like 'advertising budget' and 'overage exception'.

All that said, maybe I could find one of those new car smell air fresheners and get her detailed so I can trick myself into feeling that new car feeling...


126 - Get 'er done

Liquid Plumber is my new best friend. For the last few days, my bathroom sink was barely draining, even after a double shot of baking soda and vinegar (cheap and fun to watch but apparently limited in its effectiveness, or effectivity if you'll grant me the latitude to coin a new word). This morning I remembered to buy some LP, and now my drain works again. It's so nice. Little things like that that we take for granted (BAGPIPES! sorry... distracted), and I, for one, don't understand. If this didn't work I was on the verge of calling a plumber.

I got to see some of my family this afternoon. I finally met my cousin's wife, I'd seen lot of pictures and knew, from her ever-present smile (and the fact that David picked her), that I'd like her. Meeting her clinched it, she's wonderful. My aunt and uncle are moving to be closer to them, which sucks for me, but is great for them and I look at it as another opportunity to visit another city someday.

I feel kind of flaky in crowds because I have a hard time concentrating on just one conversation. I am invested in the conversation that I'm having, but half an ear is also listening to everything else that's going on around me. I think I've always had that problem, but it seems worse now that I'm old enough to be cognizant of it. It's not so much a problem for me as a listener as it is when I try to tell a story, I lose my train of thought... which is kinda where the blog title came from. The comparisons to characters like Ally McBeal probably also stems from the disjointed way that I tell stories because of it... and also the oddball way I have of looking at things. Side note... mom has this stuffed bear that plays a Christmas song when you squeeze its foot, it's holding a plastic 'Jingle' across its chest, and as the song spells out 'j-i-n...g-l-e bells...', the letters light up. Then the bells light up. It wouldn't be noteworthy except that the placement of the two bells are in the crotch area of the bear's anatomy and I have the kind of mind that can't ignore that kind of thing. Moving on...

Because they're moving, they offered my grandparent's buffet and dining room table to me. I don't know if they'll fit in my house, I remember them as huge, but I'm so sentimental that it's hard for me to pass them up. It's funny though, I also remember my grandparent's dining room as being huge, but when we went back years later, the house seemed so small. Ironically, I was just thinking that I wanted a bigger dining room table, because I have dinner parties and it's hard to only invite 5 people, but that's all that my table can hold (well, six including me). On the other hand, my dining room is only so big and I don't want to overwhelm the space... I was kinda thinking of my next house rather than this one. We'll see. He's supposed to send measurements and pics so I can let him know.

Okay, random sideline... I just heard the most amazing thing... this little kid on Extreme Makeover's Home Edition... he has leukemia and he said that when he found out that his blood type was B+, he decided that would be his motto as well... be positive... people who have that much courage amaze me, especially kids... I'm just in awe. If I ever end up sick like that, I hope I have that kind of strength. He even started his own foundation. He's in a single digit age group... holy cow!


125 - Kristy is bored

This afternoon I decided to watch the Taylor Swift episode of Saturday Night Live. Wanna know what? As they rolled the cast credits... I didn't recognize a single person. Not one. It's probably been ten years since I last watched an episode of SNL. I grew up in the era of Phil Hartman and Jon Lovitz, and after that cast started to move on I didn't like the direction the show was going. It just wasn't funny anymore. Luckily about half of the skits on this particular episode were pretty amusing. Doesn't mean I'm going to make it a habit or anything, but maybe from time to time I'll dabble instead of avoiding it altogether. Maybe.

Wanna know what else? Taylor is actually pretty, but she looks better in almost every other hairstyle they put her in, besides her own. Even cornrows. I just don't like her hair... it doesn't flatter her.

Wanna know what else? There's a guy on there who looks like Jim Carrey, only with a square head.

So... today... I organized a little. That's my goal for this coming year... to clean out my closets and the garage, and get them organized. It's partially about letting go of stuff, and partly about trimming down so that when I do move, I don't have so much to toss or pack. It's hard for me to get dressed in the morning because I have too many choices, and some of those choices don't fit. Or they don't flatter me. So why do I keep them? I'm waiting on a tension rod to get here so I can put it in my armoire and hang stuff in there so it'll be easier to find. Right now I have piles of shirts and sleep pants, and it's a hot mess. Good thing I can close the doors! I don't do well with drawers or shelves... they're like the freezer... once I put something into a drawer, or the freezer, I don't think about it. It just sits there, useless, until I go through it to see if I want to keep it or toss it, and I end up keeping it but the cycle begins again (well... the freezer I toss... I don't wanna die!).

I need to figure out what to do with my hairdryer and flat iron. They're just laying on my counter, and there's not a lot of counter space. I found a holster for the hairdryer, but I think that's going to look messy with the cord hanging down. So I haven't found that solution yet. Anyone have a trick for that?

And I made a comforter... or maybe it's a duvet cover since I need to stuff it with something before it's anything more than two pieces of fabric sewn together on three sides. I had all this fabric I'd bought when I thought I was going to become a sewing fiend, and one of the fabrics was perfect for the room I'm trying to fix up, mostly neutral with some red flowers and green vines, enough color to pop but not be too busy or overwhelming. Later on I can get a couple of pillows, paint the bed rails and maybe get a red or green throw, and it'll look awesome.

So now I'm bored. I'm broke because of all the shopping I did yesterday (and today), and I'm not in the mood to go out... but I'm bored. Sigh. If my kitchen stuff was here I'd be organizing the kitchen. I finally bought one of those wall mounted organizers for aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and a can organizer so I can see what I have and don't end up in my current 11-cans-of-tomatoes situation again. I wish I could do something about the wasted corner space in my cabinets, especially since I have more stuff I'm going to need to store soon, but barring replacing them (which ain't gonna happen), I can think of a solution.

Bored!!! Argh!!!

Hope everyone's having a great weekend!


124 - The agony and the... agony

Black Friday. Two words that either terrify you, or turn you on. I'm in that first group... with latent tendencies toward the latter. I went out on a Black Friday several years ago, and even though I came away feeling like I'd gotten some bargains, the toll it took on my psyche was enough to dissuade me from ever doing it again. Our mall parking lot has been at 80% capacity since I woke up at 6:30 this morning... I imagine it was like that at 4 am when JC Penney first opened their doors. I hear that the line at Toys 'R Us was about a block long at midnight (including fidgety kids who should have been in bed). I also hear that those shoving matches you hear about... they really happen.

So even though I was terrified, I did end up shopping the sales, I just did it online. I set my alarm for midnight when the Kohls online sale was slated to begin, got out of bed and woke my computer up, too. I was excited... 10% cash back using Bing, $10 Kohls cash for every $50 you spend, there were several small kitchen appliances that I wanted, most of them $9.99 after a $10 mail-in rebate, and then there was the 20% off coupon I found + free shipping. I had it all scoped out... another purse exactly like the one I have now, a J Lo Glow giftset with perfume, shower gel and lotion, a hot air popcorn popper, a slow cooker, a breadmaker, underwear, a GPS... and after all was said and done, I'd probably spend just under $100. *giddy*

Par for the course... when I get all worked up over something, I am usually met with a whole new level of frustration.

The website was s-l-o-w. Slower than molasses on a frigid day. Then it crapped out altogether. Then it was back up but still slow. After 45 minutes I finally had everything in my cart, so I clicked on Checkout. And it took me back to the homepage. I clicked on my cart again, clicking on the Checkout button at the bottom of the page instead of the top (my rationalization knows no bounds). Took me right back to the homepage again. I attempted it five more times (cursing so much that my cat's eyes grew wide) with the same results... which clinches it, by the way... if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome... I am truly insane... but just for now, let's call it optimism. 'Tis the season, right?

I called the 866 number and listened to a pre-recorded 'yeah, we know... sorry *shrug*' message. It's 2 am and I have to work in the morning. I gave up and went to bed. Pissed.

Not one to give up, I tried again later in the morning and now they had a cutesy message that popped up. It had an elf on it because they assume no one can get pissed at an elf. Ha! I called the 866 number, I wanted to know the ETA... after all, door busters end at 1 pm... Now the message said that they were busy helping other customers, but I could log on to Kohls.com if I wanted (seriously?), repeated it, and then added 'goodbye' for good measure before it hung up on me. Lesson learned -- I can glare at elves -- their cuteness is a form of mockery.

I tried intermittently until 10 am, at which point I finally got in, only to find that the popcorn popper, bread machine, purse, and slow cooker I had in my cart this morning, were now out of stock. The purse upset me the most. I love my little red purse and it's starting to show its age. So... I decided that even though I could still get some of the other stuff, Kohls was no longer getting my business. They cost me at least 3 hours of my time, at this point I didn't have enough in my cart to qualify for free shipping, I no longer had enough to earn any Kohls cash, all the rebates were moot, and I think it even dipped to the point that the coupon became inactive. So I shopped at Sears and Overstock.com and Buy.com and Kmart and Home Depot and The Container Store, but I did not shop at Kohls. I guess since they sold out, they probably won't miss my business, but I have a memory like an elephant, and they failed me... miserably.

Truth be told they've been pissing me off lately anyway... they send me catalogues with a sticker that touts a 15%, 20% or 30% coupon code underneath the peel-off sticker. It's like a little lottery, with the same basic outcome because now that I know there is a 30% discount, and I expect to get it. If I get 15%, which happens more often than not, I feel like I've been screwed. Honestly -- what do they think is going to happen? People are gonna be like, 'well at least I got 15%?' LMAO!

I was talking to a co-worker and he said the most backward thing I've ever heard... When we were discussing the long lines, he said if he were just shopping for himself, he'd probably stick it out... but if he was standing in line to get a present for someone else, he'd bail. Not worth it. What??? Christmas is about giving gifts (so kindly ignore my previous paragraphs about all the stuff I got for me...). But seriously, it seems like we should at least put in the same amount of effort into buying things for our loved ones as we do when we buy for ourselves. I joked that he was going to be single for a very long time (but as I'm sure you guessed... the jokey nature of it was only half-hearted).


123 - Gobble, Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it this month, or at all. I'm waiting on my potatoes and green bean casserole to finish cooking so I can head over to mom and dad's and have some cornbread dressing and Thanksgiving chicken. I don't know why we don't bother with a turkey, but yes, we have a Thanksgiving chicken. And I don't mind, because it's delicious. =)

I've gotten most of my Christmas shopping done over the last couple of days. There are some really good deals out there. For $1,100 you can get a Sony desktop, Toshiba laptop and a smaller laptop-like computer at the Clearance Club. For $17 you can get an 8 GB memory stick at Buy.com. Aeropostale has their clothing on sale at 50-75% off (I was eyeing the pajama pants). Hanes.com has $1.99 shipping. Lots of stuff if you have the money! Anyway, I only have to set aside some cash for dad, and get a couple more stocking stuffers and the 'rents are done. My friends and I are doing the white elephant thing this year, so that's zero cost. That leaves my cousins and grandma and I'm done! Yea! Phew!


123 - Cruisin' along...

First off, I think I should let you know something about me that's not immediately apparent -- I walk on water. I do. Or I can. When it's frozen. I think. It doesn't actually freeze much here so I can't prove that. Anyhoo, now ya know how special I am. Odds are you're pretty special, too, you just don't know it. ;)

Secondly, a friend has been saying and saying it... ever since we took our trip to Ireland, 'you should be a travel agent.' And I laughed, thinking 'there's no money in it.' And I went to Scotland and people saw my photo recap and said similar things and I laughed. Then I started planning this cruise and when I sent the email with all the information in it, my friend said it again... and I laughed again. Then something changed. I realized that I was doing probably 90% of the work an agent would do, and even once I turned the trip over to an agent (and by this point I had been referred to no less than four), I would still be the central point of contact for gathering data, forever a responsible party because I was the initial contact. Why not just finish the job?

So I researched it, and there are a few agencies out there that offer training, cover you under their Errors & Omissions insurance policy, allow you the use of their resources, access to their providers, and charge a nominal fee for support. Because they have size on their side, they can negotiate larger commissions and better deals than I could get on my own, and I can work as much or as little as I want. From home. What a magical combination of two simple words... 'from' and 'home'.

When I start to see fees, I usually talk myself out of things, thinking they might not be legit. But these sites seem to be real, and the first one I found actually seems the most fair. Hell, I even ran the idea by my mom as a sanity check and she even seemed to think it was a good idea (which never happens).

I don't really intend to go global and seek out clients, I'm thinking that if my friends need to book travel and want to use me then I'll do it, and I have enough friends who travel that I should at least be able to cover my fees. Mostly I want to be able to seek out discounts for my own travels, and make a little money doing what I'm already doing (I can even make a commission on myself!). With 31 people now interested in this cruise and the potential for more (toldja I was likeable!), I would get a decent commission, even if only half of them go.

Airlines apparently don't pay commissions, so it depends on what kind of travel... but almost everything else is up for grabs... admission to theme parks, hotels, cruises, train travel, resorts, rental cars, even travel insurance if anyone wants it. I'm not looking to get rich off of it, definitely don't intend to screw anyone over, but I can do it for a couple of years and see what happens and maybe I can save my friends a little money along the way. It's something I can do part-time. That's what tripped me up before... I was thinking of it as a full-time job when it didn't have to be.

I'm a little worried that some of them may think I set this up... got everyone interested in the cruise and then SURPRISE, I'll be your travel agent for the evening! I know that's not the case, but I can see how it might look that way. Luckily I've known most of them for a long time and (hopefully) they know I'm not like that.... in fact, that's what makes me such a horrible salesperson (in so far as money is concerned) I'm usually too honest! We'll see...


122 - All packed up and ready to go

Trixie has been turned into a pack horse and the house looks tidy again (there were bags of clothes and fabric all over the floor but now they're in the trunk and ready to go). Tomorrow I need to drop a couple of packages off at the post office, then drop by Goodwill... after that, my to-do list will shrink to practically nothing. Well, not nothing... I get to make mashed potatoes and a green bean casserole on Thanksgiving... that's my thing. I went ahead and picked up two more cans of green beans, an extra can of cream of mushroom soup, and a second can of the fried onions for Christmas. Cuz that's my thing.

I'm excited, because the day after Thanksgiving... Lifetime becomes Fa-La-La-La-Lifetime and they play Christmas movies every day. I love Christmas movies. I love Christmas. I'm a total Christmas nerd. I didn't know how I would handle Christmas with the cats, because last year I had Sammy and she was a stray, and Gracie was a kitten... I knew my Christmas tree was doomed. One the one hand I didn't want to not put up a Christmas tree... on the other hand, I didn't want to murder my cats for destroying said tree. So I compromised. I had a wire tree meant to be put out in the yard, and I put it up in my living room instead. After the initial once over, both cats left it alone (no dangly bits to tempt them). We were all happy. So happy that I'm doing it again this year. Hopefully Daphne will be just as disinterested. And maybe Sammy will come home. And then I'll be the cat lady, but I'll have my Sammy back.

I watched Hotel for Dogs as I piddled around the house this evening. Whereas I though it would be a complete waste of time, it was pretty entertaining. It tugged at my heartstrings. I can't stand to think of animals without homes. I become a weepy mess when that Sarah MacLachlan commercial comes on... in fact I have to change the channel. I think I mentioned that when I went to the pound to find Sammy I started sobbing as I looked around at the room full of cats in cages... it breaks my heart... all these animals... good dogs and cats... in little cages. They get a little attention from volunteers, and they get food, but they can't run around and play, and it stinks even though the cages are kept clean. It's miserable and all of them are still so affectionate. Coming from that situation, Daphne just loves everyone, she laps up any attention she can get... which can be frustrating if I just want to be left alone... but mostly she's content just to lay next to me on the couch or follow me from room to room like a little dog. Enough of the cat talk...

I need something uplifting after that. Imagine doing this to someone you don't like. Muahahaha.... the possibilities...


121 - Shudder

Had the most bizarre dream last night. I was both the girl at the table, and the guy sitting across from her. As the girl, I was going through some sort of animalistic transformation. At the start of the date (?) I was normal. Then I felt fangs growing in my mouth, and I realized that I was hungry; starving. I'd just gotten my first taste of blood, my own from accidentally piercing my lip with a fang, and it was making me edgy... eventually it made me eager. I realized that the guy sitting across from me was full of the blood I craved and it would be much more satisfying to drink than my own. I felt my control slipping and I didn't care, I relished the freedom of not having a moral code. I wanted to kill him, not because he deserved it, but because I could. I was powerful.

As the guy, I was watching this transformation take place. I was perplexed at first, didn't understand what this girl was projecting. Then I began to categorize the wild look in her eyes as hunger and I felt a sense of panic as I realized that it was directed at me. My sense of self-preservation warred with the idea that I was crazy to be scared that this wisp of a girl was going to eat me... it was such an irrational thought, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was in imminent danger, especially as she began to crawl her way up the table, looking ready to lunge at any second.

Then I was living in a trailer, and even though I was supposed to be alone, I knew that I wasn't technically alone. There was the constant sound of children's footsteps running through the house, and the feeling of a malevolent male presence. I don't think he was a ghost, I think he was supposed to be a real threat, perhaps having killed the children whose footsteps haunted the place. I was always looking over my shoulder, but too stubborn to leave, too proud to admit that I was terrified.

What the hell? It was another one of those nights when I woke up, panicked, frozen, afraid to open my eyes. I don't like those nights.

I'm watching House Hunters International. It's amusing. Everything is so matter of fact. "I like the bedrooms, what do you think about it?"... "Yes, it's a very good bedroom."... "The view is spectacular, how do you think about it?"... "Very nice, the view." I shouldn't laugh, most of these people speak at least two languages, but I can't help myself. I chuckle at the strangest things... why not this? And after my dreams I need a laugh!

I have decided that I am going to keep Trixie. I love her too much, and it makes more sense to pay her off in two years than to save a little extra money in the meantime but end up owing three more years on a new car loan. I think when I get the oil changed, I'm going to ask them to spray some of that new car smell on the upholstery though! I'm trying to be more responsible, including making sacrifices when necessary, but I think it was the wrong road to travel. So I'm curbing my impulse and staying the course.

Wow. 24 people are interested in the cruise at the moment. I figure when it comes commitment time, some of them will drop out, but I feel pretty confident that most of the group will go. A lot of us went to a friend's wedding in St. Louis, and they travel fairly often, so I think it's going to be an awesome cruise. Far, far away. But awesome.


120 - Ho-Ho-Holidaze

I was wondering what the hell I was going to blog about tonight, and I thought -- I know! It's Christmas-time, and a lot of my co-workers ask me where to find the best deals because I have a holy trifecta that I use when I buy stuff online. So, I figure I'll share my 'secret' (which is not a secret at all) with everyone. Without further ado... here (in order) are the steps I have been taking to save money:

1) EV'Reward - This site is not necessarily the best coupon site (although sometimes they have good ones) -- what it does excel at is breaking down the rebate sites to show which site offers the best rebate for the store where you want to shop. Visit it first.

2) Rebate sites. The four I use are Ebates.com, MrRebates.com, BigCrumbs.com and Bing. All of them are reputable, all of them allow you to sign up for free. You can sign up with as many as you want, but since most have a minimum balance before they'll pay out, it's best to concentrate on a handful. You have to sign in and access the store through their website in order to get the rebate. They receive their referral fees from the vendors -- you pay nothing. The amount of the rebate varies from o% (they may just list coupons, like Amazon) to something much higher (I got 35% back on magazine subscriptions). Here is a breakdown in some of the differences:

-- Ebates - They automatically send their checks out (on a quarterly basis), but you have to have at least $5 in your account. They usually offer you $5 to sign up, ocassionally they'll bump it up to $10.

-- Mr. Rebates - I think they put $7.50 into your account if you sign up now. Once you have $10 in your account you can either request a paper check, or have the money sent to your paypal account.

-- Big Crumbs - Right now they seem to be offering huge rebates. I think I got 8% back from Sephora, and this is where I got 35% back from magazines.com, as well as 10% back on the suitcase I bought. I've been a member for a month, haven't bought that much and I already have $40 in my account. Loving that! There's no minimum for payment, and it's automatic, but they skip a month to allow for returns and such.

-- Bing - Their payout minimum is $5, but they cut checks every month (no signup bonus offered). As an example, they offer a 12% rebate for Barnes & Noble, which is the largest I've seen. But just because they are the best on one store, doesn't mean they're the best for every store; this is where EV'Rewards is valuable. You have to have (or create) a Windows Live ID to use this one, but you can use your current email address.

3) Retail Me Not -- So after you've identified your largest rebate, and you have logged into the rebate site and entered the store through their website, you can start to look for coupons. Retail Me Not has the most extensive list of coupons I've found, and they will save you even more money. They even rank them as to which are the most reliable and let you know if there are conditions (like if you have to use your Kohls card or have a B&N Membership card to redeem the code).

So for illustrative purposes, here's a typical purchase:

  • Item costs $10
  • Coupon for 20% off = item now costs $8
  • 12% rebate on purchase price of item ($8, pre-tax, pre-shipping) = item effectively costs $7.04
  • If you have a rewards credit card you have also earned approximately 7 miles or seventy cents and if you earned seventy cents, the item effectively costs $6.34.
  • Occassionally during the holidays you find sites like drugstore.com that give you an extra $10 for using your Mastercard or Google checkout or Paypal. That kind of thing would be detailed at EV'Reward.com.

Savings = $2.96 - $3.66 with additional potential to save during holiday sales

It looks like a lot of work, but it really only takes an extra minute. I've been doing this for three years now and I've saved $292.17, just buying stuff I was going to buy anyway. So I figure it's good information to have, whether you use it or not. ;)


119B - Adult Stuff

Watching Suze Orman... she gave a code for the free use of her Will & Trust kit, the code is CNBC (click on the Will & Trust Kit and then enter it as a gift code). It's only good tonight and tomorrow though. So if you don't have a will, and don't want to hire an attorney to draw one up, I'm guessing hers is pretty thorough... she said it's a $2,500 value, so why not, right?

The movie was awesome by the way. It had way more humor than I figured it would, and it made me wonder what life would be like if everyone had someone like that in their corner to encourage them.

119 - Huh.

Why is it that when I watch How Clean is Your House, I get inspired to clean the house (even if it isn't really dirty)... yet when I watch You Are What You Eat, I always seem to be eating fatty foods? Strange. I usually eat farily healthily... a salad... or a baked potato, but with turkey bacon, reduced fat cream cheese, and caramelized onions... but today I was having pizza and wings and little tater tot-like things with jalapenos and cheese (a little of each, but somehow I don't think Gillian would approve). Now I feel bloated and icky. I need to get back into the habit of drinking water again... the trip got me off track and I've been drinking 2-3 sodas a day plus a hot chocolate at night instead of 1 soda a day and water the rest of the time. If I don't watch it I'm going to regain the 10 lbs that I lost... at the very least I'm not going to lose any more. And I haven't been exercising. It's not pretty and hilly here like it was in Scotland... and I've only gotten on my treadmill once. (and I'm not doing it for anyone else but myself, I'm tired of being overweight and I hope one day I'll find that energy everyone brags about)

Yesterday I saw an article that linked sleep deprivation, not only to obesity, but also to depression (which has often been linked to obesity). It's interesting how we can look at something and see it going in one direction, but not the other. Does obesity cause you to lose sleep, or does lack of sleep cause you to be obese? So anyway, I guess that's part of my problem... I end up getting about five hours sleep a night, so I'm fat and crazy. Instead of getting hooked on anti-depressants I should get myself some sleeping pills! Seriously though, I don't know what my problem is, but I can't fall asleep without the television on, and even though I do fall asleep fairly quickly, I also wake up several times a night. I could probably do a lot of things better if I slept. I dunno, I guess I also feel like when I'm sleeping, I'm missing out on things, and to quote an Aerosmith song that I don't actually like very much... I don't want to miss a thing. lol So I stay up late, and don't really make an effort to get to bed early.

So tonight I'm watching that new Sandra Bullock movie with some friends. It's one of those things that sounds great, so I agree to it, but then as time passes I usually talk myself out of. The high of the idea has passed. Well I'm not doing it this time. I forced myself to get dressed so that I have no excuse. My friend is even picking me so there's no effort required on my part. I get a ride up there, we sit in the dark and eat dinner while we watch the movie, and I don't have to impress anyone. How can I possibly say no to something so simple? We're going to the 4:20 showing, so I'll still be home in time to do some of the things I want to do around the house.

One of my friends is coming over tomorrow, maybe I can talk her into seeing New Moon. I was going to hold out for the dvd, but I'm getting caught up in the hype. Other people tell me they're going to see it and I feel a small measure of jealousy that they're doing it and I'm not. I loved the books (I won't argue her literary credentials, I just enjoyed them). The first movie was just alright... or so I thought... until I found myself craving it a second time... and a third. I think there's a spell on it or something. Anyway, I'll probably end up seeing it.


118 - So frustrating

I started the day in a good mood and ended the day wishing I had invested in a punching bag. But that's work... and I won't go into it except to say that I hate revising contracts.

So I was thinking... last time I checked, the Kelly Blue Book trade-in value of my car was about equal to the value of my loan. And that got me to thinking about a couple of other things... it's the end of the year which means there are supposedly great deals to be had... lots of factory incentives and such... so I could potentially reduce my monthly payment... and the IRS also added a deduction for the sales tax on the purchase of a new vehicle. I'm all about the deductions this year.

That said, I love, love, love my car. She still makes me giddy. But. Trixie is an RX8 and she's a little different. She uses premium gas and only gets 18 mpg, so it costs me a lot for the privilege to drive around town and look pretty. She's pretty low to the ground, so if I so much as encounter a puddle... I worry I might drown in it. I have a 6-speed... but it's not as much fun to drive as it sounds like it would be because I'm always surrounded by other cars. In fact, sometimes it's a pain in the ass because I'm shifting all the damn time. All those people who inch forward at the light? I've quit. It's not worth pushing the clutch in, shifting the car into first, inching forward, pushing the clutch in, and putting it back in neutral... not worth the effort unless it's at least a car length... She uses more oil than a regular car because of the rotary engine, so I have to be mindful of that and check the levels once a month (I don't drive very far... if I did, I'd do it more often). People sometimes try to race me -- usually dicks in those overpriced Nissan Z's -- and I can't count the number of times jealous people have pretended not to see me, so they just pull over on me... I've started driving far more defensively since I've had Trixie... or more truthfully I've started to block people if I think they're going to cut me off... if they don't pay attention, I make them pay attention. And still... I love Trixie more than a person should love a car...

So anyway, all this in mind, I'm looking at cars online. I look at the Mazda 3, nice financing terms, but it seems spartan compared to what I have. I'm not sure about the pep, but I'll consider it. So what do I end up doing? I end up ogling a Pontiac Solstice. It's about $5k less than an 8, plus there is a $3k cash incentive. Awesome. Plus I'm a member of a credit union so there's an eensy additional GM discount available for that. Cool. And the dealer has a $250 coupon on their website. I'll take what I can get. So I go to KBB to verify my trade-in value... what the smurf? It's dropped by about $1,500 since last month? I go to the Black Book valuator and it screws me over even more! Now I'm $3,000 upside down. This does not compute. The only way this will work is if the dealer makes an exception like they did when I traded my Accord in; they increased the trade-in value to something reasonable without rolling it into the loan. So I talk to the dealer... what? It's been discontinued? So this dealer no longer sells new ones, they only have a used one, same age as Trixie but with double the miles. Nope.

My cousin sent something to my work email address this morning... which isn't anything out of the ordinary. What was unusual was where the email ended up, which was in my 'junk' email folder... yeah... it's actually called the 'junk' folder. They use filters with certain parameters to determine if the email is spam or not, and for some reason this particular email ended up there. The email address she sent it from was the same, there wasn't an extensive recipient list, no attachments, no curse words... Nope... what I think set the filters off was the title of the email, which was 'CHRISTmas' (just like that, capitalized and everything). Now, I'm not a churchy person, I don't like being preached to... but I do have a belief system, and frankly, I don't think there's anything offensive about God. It bothered me that religion was even a parameter when I supposedly live in a country that was founded on religious freedom... because what they're saying is that an email about Christmas is as offensive as.... things that are actually offensive... It rubbed me the wrong way. What doesn't.


117B - Smurfing awesome

Laurell K. Hamilton wrote a fascinating blog... amazing and honest and raw... I love her blog.

117 - Booked

I stay home most nights, and I spend a lot of time alone. Don't pity me -- I do have friends (I'm very likeable, lol), and I like people, but I needs my space. All of sudden the holidays (or holidaze, as you wish) come along and I have tentative plans Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thanksgiving, two Saturdays after that and the following Saturday (and while we're at it -- the night before Christmas and Christmas day). It's nice... but for me it starts to feel overwhelming to have plans so far out (I know... this from the girl who is already planning her 2011 vacation... I'm nothing if not conflicted). I'm not one of those people who goes out every night... oh no... I like to laze around and do things around the house (housework, emails, blogging, movies, reading, cooking... it takes up a lot of time). I used to feel bad about my propensity for staying home, but I have come to realize that I am who I am, and that's just the way it is (when in doubt, rely on catchphrases to make your point). Guess what I'm saying is... ARGH! I just want to relax!!!

On the way home there was an ad on the radio that made me laugh. It said, "Hey! It's me -- Cathey from so-and-so Chevrolet!" Who? If you're a rock star you can pull that 'hey big city' routine, but if you own a car dealership? Sorry. The city doesn't know who you are.

...sigh... Tomorrow night I'm going to start pulling my donation stuff together so I can drop it off Saturday. Doesn't sound like a lot of work, but I have to get rid of a lot of stuff in order to take the maximum deduction. I don't give junk away, so I have to sort through it first, and that takes time. And I think before the 'winter' is over, I'm going to clean out my garage and demo that work bench. I would leave it, but whoever built it left a six inch gap between the bench and the wall (but it's built in... so I can't just push it to the wall and be done with it, plus it's that old kitchen counter material... it's not really meant for a workbench). I would rather build shelving; that's more useful. The part I dread most is getting rid of the spare floor tiles. They're heavy. Oh, and the dirt... garages are always so dirty...

Mmmm... My house smells like peaches. I burned one of my candles down to the point of uselessness last night, so I got to light a brand-spankin-new candle this afternoon. I love candles. I have tons of them that I haven't even used yet, I just grab them while they're on sale and stock up. They're relaxing... Off to relax...


116 - Don't hate the playah

Why is it that the paso doble must always be performed to ritualistic, satanic-sounding music? Seems like every time its come on SYTYCD lately I expect Damien to pop out of the floor and attack someone!

I was talking to a friend this afternoon and we got on the subject of sugar daddies. Not the candy, but the other kind. I decided I need one to pay for my meals and such so that I can save more of my money and reach my financial goals more quickly. But then I realized that in order to do that I need to change a few things about myself first:

Lose about 40 pounds
Dye my hair blonde
Get bigger boobs
Lose a few IQ points
Become more subservient
Actually pay attention to the back of my head when styling my hair
Stop biting my nails, and worse... get a mani/pedi

I realized it's like a job. A job with a hell of a lot more downsides than the one I have right now. Pfff. Forget it!

Speaking of my job, I just got some really, really, really good news this afternoon, but I can't say anything just yet because some of the people I work with may stumble across my blog, and it isn't official until it's official. But I'm ecstatic. ECSTATIC!!!

The cuz wasn't so ecstatic about Alaska... She asked me why I can't ever go some place warm... Well... that's because I live in hell, so I like to go somewhere that is more temperate. Anyhoo, I'd been mulling over the idea of seeing the shuttle launch next summer, and since the shuttle launches from Florida, and a variety of cruises also depart from Florida, and those cruises usually head to warmer parts of the world... maybe I can combine those two things and do Alaska with another group of people. I'm flexible (sometimes)... it'll all work itself out.


115 - It's Cold in Alaska

I've come to the realization that I'm a nerd. Every year about this time, I do a preliminary tax return... just to see what I might get back from my Uncle Sam in February (and as soon as I get my statements in the mail I'm off to the races). Because of all the snafus with the house, I spent a heck of a lot in sales tax this year, and because I installed energy efficient windows, I can claim take a tax credit, so this is shaping up to be a good year! It means that I can probably pay off most of my debts!

I haven't ever had discretionary income before, so I don't quite know what to think about it... It's a little scary actually. I don't want to waste it by going crazy and spending it all on frivolities, but I do want to loosen the belt a little. I intend to jack up my 401k contributions and go back to making charitable donations, but other than that I think a savings account and maybe a Roth IRA are as imaginative as I can get right now. Actually I think maybe I should have three savings accounts... one for emergencies... one for a downpayment fund (be it house or car)... and one for travel. That way I'll be saving for all the things that are currently important to me.

That said, I think I'm going to end up donating most of the patterns, fabric and clothing I'd intended to sell on eBay, so that I can increase my charitable donations to closer to the maximum (and save myself the headache). Kato, if you want to look at them before I do that, you can email me at khutchis13@yahoo.com, I can upload pics and let you peruse them. Most of the patterns were going to be 4/$1.00 (a couple of the nicer or vintage patterns were higher), fabric would depend on how much there was of it, and then whatever the shipping costs are. I have some flat rate boxes but I don't know if that counts when you send them to Canada. And if you don't want any of it, not a problem.

Speaking of travel... I know, I'm insatiable... I just got back from Scotland and I'm already planning my next trip... Actually I have a few things in mind... First, in May of next year I think I want to see a shuttle launch before they stop launching altogether... Then in June of the following year, my cousin wants the family to go the Grand Canyon. And then I'm thinking... Alaska. It's not been high on my list, but all of a sudden it's wormed its way into my head and it won't go away. I like the idea of a cruise, and I like the idea of relaxed. I even like the idea of a Christmas cruise. All this depends on what else happens in my life, but for now, that's the outline.

Today a friend of mine was in the area and wanted to know if I could meet her for lunch, so I got to hang out and chat with her instead of sitting at my desk eating a frozen dinner. I like nice surprises! Then, because it was there, we went to Baskin Robbins and bought ice cream cones.

As an adult female I get self conscious about eating ice cream cones in front of guys, but I needed to stop by and see one of the guys in the shop, so I meandered in... Okay... not that I was trying to be sexy, but I am probably the unsexiest ice cream eater in the whole world... the ice cream was melting and running down the cone, dripping onto my fingers, I had chocolate on my chin, when I bit into the cone, more of it came off than I intended and some of it broke away to where I had to chase it with my mouth... it was horrifying (and rereading that I'm not making it sound clumsy... it still sounds provocative... believe me, it wasn't!). He was highly amused. I think he wanted to tie a bib around my neck and go at my face with a wet wipe. So I said what I had to say, fighting the ice cream battle in the meantime, and got the hell out of there.

Okay... my cat is staring out the window in that 'I see something strange out there' sort of way that never fails to freak me out. What the hell does she see? It's times like these when I wish she could talk... I mean, is it a lizard or is it a coyote or is it a frickin person? Her ears are cocked back and she's intent... Look away Daphne... look away... I think she's just messing with me... There's nothing there (...I tell myself).


114 - Crushed

I'm a little obsessive sometimes. Until I take action on something it can sit in my head and fester, pushing out any other useful thing I was supposed to be doing. So accordingly, I discussed my feelings on the house with a couple of people and came away feeling like maybe the neighborhood wasn't an issue after all.

So I called the realtor and went to see it this afternoon. And just in case, I pre-qualified for a loan. I don't do anything small, do I??? Of course all this was contigent on a) me actually liking the house once I saw it, and then b) me selling my house for x amount of money in order to pay the closing costs and downpayment (there would have been a c but I'd already pre-qualified). I was a little excited because, although I'm not entirely sure I qualified, there's a $6,500 tax incentive for people who have lived in their house 5 out of 8 consecutive years. I say I'm not entirely sure, because I bought my house in November of 2005. If you just use the 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 model -- I'm in. If you use the November 2005, November 2006, etc. model, I'm a year short. Smurf. Ah well, I didn't learn of it until I contacted the realtor, so it wasn't factored into my thinking, but it still sucks to feel like you're being screwed out of something.

Honestly, the neighborhood wasn't bad. There were a few nice neighborhoods along the way, and what looked to be a nice house being built directly across the street. There were some dingey looking parts, but nothing menacing. The house itself was very nice, but ultimately disappointing.

I knew it was 200 sq ft smaller than my house... but it's the way it's arranged that's ultimately the problem. Deck was a little small, and limited in usefulness because of the sliding glass door and front door; it's just not very wide, so you couldn't put anything in front of the doors. Kitchen is awesome, but only has room for a very small refrigerator. Living room is alright, except that the sliding glass door to the deck needs to be replaced. Guest 'bedroom' is very small and has a hotel-like exposed hanging rod that functions as a 'closet.' I don't think a queen-sized bed would fit in there. If it did, it would be almost wall-to-wall, with no room for anything else... I honestly thought I was in a closet when I walked in. The 'study' was a very small room. The utility room would not have accomodated my washer and dryer, not even stacked. I don't think my piano would have fit into the study, which was like another closet, but with no door.

Upstairs, the master bedroom was a decent size, but even though the measurements claimed otherwise, I'm pretty sure it's smaller than the one I'm in. It's hard to tell without furniture in there. And there's a larger problem... the roof slants, and the ceiling slants accordingly. Say you have a sleigh bed, like me... no frickin' way is it going to fit in there. And the 'closet'? More like a nook with a rod and a shelf. No door. Master bath was rockin' though. Loved the tub. Not sure there was a showerhead... so you might have to get one of those weird shower sprayers or go downstairs to take a shower... I say this because I don't recall a shower curtain rod...

What I couldn't help thinking is that the design of the house is going to drastically limit his target audience. No counterspace for makeup in the bathrooms, no closets, limited wall space due to the angles of the walls, small rooms... 4-car garage. All in all I think they're going to have a hard time selling it to anyone who isn't a minimalist, and I am certainly not one of those. I walked away a little heartbroken, but I guess things work out the way they're supposed to. Having the house that I do... it's going to be hard to find something I like better, and this wasn't something I'd planned on doing anyway.

So back to things I was thinking of doing... I was thinking... instead of doing all this ebay business myself... they have companies that do that sort of thing for you. Yes, they take a percentage of what you make, but it seems fair because they'll probably do a better job of putting the ads together and monitoring the activity and all that, and I think it will be a lot less headache for me. AND I get the stuff out of my house right away... Woo-hoo! Off to investigate!

(sorry if this one was a little boring, I feel pressure after winning two awards, but they can't all be winners!)


113 - Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you

I spent the day grocery shopping and organizing. My life seems to be all about organizing lately... organizing finances, organizing the pantry, organizing stuff in my closet, organizing the future. I feel like I'm trying to get somewhere but I have no idea where I'm trying to go, and all these little steps feel like me trying clearing the air, figuring out what's important to me.

Right now, de-cluttering is important. Knowing what I have, knowing what I want.

I have all these closets stuffed full of stuff that I don't use but continue to hang onto. I still have stuff in my garage that I haven't unpacked... I rifled through it when I moved in (five years ago) and determined that it could stay in the box... I've kept it instead of tossing it out or passing it along to someone else to use. I could just give the stuff away, and I have given a fair amount of it away, but because I want to pay my debts down, I want to try selling some of it on ebay instead. I'm just worried that it will be a lot of effort for very little payoff.

I spent a couple of hours on Saturday, gathering up dress patterns I'd bought on ebay -- I don't even wear dresses! But these were primarily Rennassaince Festival type costumes I thought I could make. Okay... in all honesty it started out that way, then I thought 'I can make some tops too... and oh that retro dress is kind of cute, maybe I'd wear that... and wow, I kinda like that apron, that would be something easy to start out with... to learn to sew...' I'm so stupid. I sorted them by style and size, and divided them into sets, because I think sets will sell better; it's a better deal for people. Now I just have to take pictures of the contents and put up my listings (which may take a while since I am a born procrastinator). If that goes well I'll start selling other stuff. Like all the fabric I bought, with the intention of sewing said patterns.

Financially I feel like I'm lost. My whole plan has changed. It used to be 'pay off all of my debts.' Period. When I paid one off, I would snowball that money toward the next one. Now I only intend to work on paying down the debts with low interest rates that expire, and what I owe mom and dad (I hate that I owe them, it makes me feel like a failure). After that, I'm going to pay a set amount to the others each month, but put the rest of the money aside. So when I start doing that (hopefully early next year), I need to know what to do with that money, and right now I don't have a plan.

I'm thinking of putting some of it into savings as a slush fund. That way if an emergency happens I can use that money instead of a credit card, if my car poops out (hopefully not any time soon) I can afford to put down a nice downpayment, if I see my dream house I can jump on it... Or I could put it into a Roth IRA. Then I'm saving for my future, but since I've already paid taxes on the money, I can pull my contributions out with no penalty if I need to. I really like the idea of working hard now so that maybe I can retire early... I just don't know if it's feasible. Things change all the time.

I got something in the mail from ING, it's about a program called Share Builder. It looks a little like a 401k account in that you contribute a certain amount each month, and the money goes into the stockmarket (stocks you choose). I don't really understand the market, but if I contribute a smallish amount of money each month, an amount that I wouldn't miss much if I lost it, maybe it would be worth it. Who knows... sometimes it pays off, as long as you're not counting on it.

All is for naught anyway... I watched a documentary on the whole Dec 21, 2012 thing and well... I don't want to panic anyone... but we're all gonna die!!!!

I dunno... sitting there watching it I thought to myself... if it's going to happen, it's going to happen, and there's no sense in sitting here worrying myself to death about dying on an arbitrary day chosen by an extinct race of people several thousands of years ago. Disaster can happen every day. Personally I think the Mayans just got tired of projecting into the future, so they stopped the calendar in 2012. Maybe the calendar guy died on the 21st.

Some of the theories were interesting, but what killed me was that some of these guys (one of whom thinks we're descended from Martians...) were railing about how no one is taking preventitive measures. Let me pose this question... if there's a 30 foot tidal wave sweeping the world, and earthquakes and volcanoes are ripping the continents apart... what is anyone supposed to do to mitigate that? Build a 50 ft high damn? Launch ourselves into the air in hot air balloons?

I think something's wrong with me... I bought some eggnog and I was all excited about it, but now that I'm drinking it... I don't want it. It's too sweet. I ended up throwing it out.

Oh. And as I was clearing out the pantry I realized that I do NOT need to buy anymore hot chocolate. I have three boxes and about another boxes worth of orphan packets. Not to mention that I can make my own with the baker's cocoa I have in my spice cabinet. I also have four bags of dry cat food, and three boxes of canned cat food. Aaaaaand about 10 cans of whole or diced tomatoes. As well as enough rice to feed a small country. Sometimes it's good to clean out the pantry... Now I can just buy lettuce and I'm good!


112 - A return to reality

I got two awards this week! Thank you Sarah for the From Me to You award, and to Kato for the Best Blogger award. I'm scatterbrained, so I didn't load the pictures until after I wrote the rest of the blog... you'll just have to read to the end for me to perform my awardly duties. ;)

I was online looking at the house next door, curious to see if they dropped their price yet. The whole thing intrigues me... would someone actually pay their asking price? I admit, part of me was hopeful, because it bodes well for the value of my home, but I'm a realist. It appears that they dropped the price by $6k. I think it's got to drop a little more before anyone's going to make an offer, but I did see someone stop to pick up a flyer the other day.
...Unfortunately my first impression was that this flyer snatcher didn't seem all that bright, so I kinda hope they don't buy it... There's a four-lane road that runs through the neighborhood, two lanes on each side of a median... and it's fairly busy... these dumbshits (there's your answer, Ian... I speak fluent french, lol) put their flashers on as they crossed the intersection ... and the car sat idling in the right hand lane, where people had to go around them, instead of them pulling alongside the curb in front of the house, on a far less busy street where they wouldn't obstruct traffic. (I don't know if that makes sense or not... I feel kind of feverish so my brain is scrambled right now... happened all of a sudden...)

So then I took a gander at other homes on the market. I don't know why I do this to myself. I imagine it's much the same feeling a guy gets when he goes to a strip club and sees all the strippers, then goes home alone... I found a house and I fell in love with it. I could actually afford it... with the difference in the tax basis, my estimate is that it would only cost me $30/month, even though it was about $20k more than my current mortgage. It was about 200 square feet smaller than my current home. It had two bedrooms instead of four. It had a gas stove. All these are negatives (gas makes me asthmatic), but I didn't care because I got caught up in the moment: it had wood floors, it was open and modern. The 4-car garage (wtf?) was on the bottom floor, the living area was on the second, and the (two) bedrooms on the third. Flooding? Not a frickin' problem! Four car garage? Ridiculous! But I'll take it! If nothing else, I could take half the garage and turn it into another bedroom someday... who needs a garage that size when you only have two bedrooms?

It also appeared to have a nice-sized yard with trees, and it had a balcony, and a bitchin' kitchen... it just called to me. I was getting caught up in the momentum of the moment, so I was an inch away from calling the realtor to set up an appointment before I decided I would rather drive by first. I couldn't tell what the neighborhood looked like, and I thought I saw a chain link fence in the background (which, for the area, doesn't bode well).

Screw driving. I am a child of the internet... I went to Google Maps, input the address, drug the little man to the street, and decided to pass on the house. There was a decent looking house next door. The one next to that was a little less spectacular. The one next to that had about 6 large trashcans in the yard. The one next to that was a dilapidated trailer. Across the street it looked kind of junky, and I think it was right next to the bayou... which could be good, or it could mean flooding. Did I scoff at the flooding earlier? Well that was before I realized that Trixie (car) wouldn't be on the second floor with me... and she can't swim (and still no pontoons). I also don't know about the resale value in a neighborhood as esoteric as all that... further down there was some nicer houses; it was random.

So it turned out for the best. I really shouldn't think about buying another house right now. The one I have is fine... I still love most aspects of it, and there's not much left to fix at this point. So I should wait until I can save up a nice downpayment, and take my time until I find the perfect house that has everything I want... including the location.

Oooookay. Back to the awards. =))) For the Best Blogger Award... remember it? Waaaaaaay up there at the top of the blog because I can't figure out how to put the pictures where I want them unless I load them first... which I failed to do... and I can't seem to cut and paste and I don't feel like retyping everything?... GAH!!! So... first I have to list 5 blogs I enjoy reading on a regular basis. As you can see by my sidebar, I subscribe to quite a few, but the ones I enjoy the most are written by the people I connect with personally... so pretty much for this award it's gonna be a mutual admiration society of you guys (in no particular order because I like them all). I'm going to list seven, because then I also honor the second award where I link to seven more blogs (I'm a multi-tasker... I'm also watching tv):

-- Kato, who gave me this particular award. She had me at "I'm a lady who enjoys burping and farting..." I like honesty in a person. =) I am still chuckling over her Is It Friday Yet? post.

-- Sarah, whose blog I ran across after flagging the words 'query shark' on Google. She's also a writer, and we're in about the same place in the process, so it's nice to have that in common with someone. She blogs nearly every day, and I always look forward to seeing what she has to say.

-- Nanny Goats in Panties, the very name of the blog was so absurd that it made me laugh, so I was pleased to see that the blog was also entertaining. And she does talk about goats! (goats are adorable)

-- Bendigo, I think I found his blog when I was scanning a long list of blogs people had submitted. I like it when a blog is genuine and not gimmicky, his is a slice of life, and an interesting one at that.

-- Kate, I admire her bravery for blogging about her office... I intentionally steer clear of it because everyone knows I blog and I don't want to lose my job... but aside from that, what an interesting office! It's like a soap opera and I can't wait to see what's going to happen next!
-- Plenty More Fish Out of Water provides me with perspective as to why I'm still single, lol... I didn't take the dating 101 courses I guess.
-- Andy (yes, ANDY... not that other name I once accidentally called you), I never would have thought a blog about a bakery in Mozambique would be my cup of tea, but it's fascinating because it's a slice of life I don't normally get to see and I like reading about things outside of my realm of experience.

And, Sarah gave me a From Me to You award. The rules are as follows:
1. Thank the person who gave the award to you. (thank you Sarah!)
2. Copy award. (check)
3. Post it in your blog. (done, if rather ineptly)
4. Tell us 7 things that your readers don't know. (that might be hard as I'm pretty much an open book, but I'll try...)
5. Link 7 new bloggers as receipients. (covered)
6. Notify winners of award with comment on their blog. (bossy little award aren't you???)
7. Keep being awesome! (I'll try my best, lol)
Seven things you don't know about me:
1. Oddly, I too like doing dishes. It's a mindless task that keeps my mind occupied, and if you can't tell from my blogs, my mind is a pretty busy place (also an absurd one), so it's nice to have a little silence from time to time.
2. I wrap my bacon slices individually, because I never use a whole package at one time and don't want to waste it.
3. I get chills when I hear a mosquito sprayer truck go by. I sometimes even mute the tv, like the truck driver is stalking me and can tell that I'm home by the sound of my television... I'm not always rational...
4. I eat my fingers. I don't just bite my nails, I bite my fingers. But it's especially odd since I have a major phobia when it comes to anything happening to my fingers.
5. I don't like coffee, tea or beer. It can be a social handicap sometimes, because what do they always serve at buffets and picnics? I'm also not particularly fond of wine, but I drink it sometimes.
6. Instead of a birthday cake, I ask my mom to make lemon icebox pie. It's basically like a lemon version of key-lime pie. Drool...
7. I didn't actually have the hang of driving a stick shift when I bought my first car. I'd practiced on my ex-husband's truck but always killed it in first gear, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that my Saturn was far more forgiving... I didn't stall it once on the way home! Phew!
So there you have it. I'm about to crash, so I'll leave the award comment on your blogs tomorrow, but if you drop by here before I get the chance -- congrats, and thank you for allowing me to peek into your lives, thanks for giving me something to think about, and/or thanks for keeping me entertained!


111 - Day 7 - The return to Edinburgh

Happy Friday the 13th!

It really creeps me out when my cats head snaps up and she stares out the window... what is she looking at???

We passed through Glasgow on our way back to Edinburgh. You can barely make it out, but that white bendy thing is called the Squishy Bridge.

This is what I have... a standard life...

Arthur's Seat in the mid-day sun. Gorgeous eh?

We climbed up Calton Hill, which is a mish-mash of monuments. This is the Nelson Monument, commemorating Admiral Lord Nelson who died at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Nelson Monument, a tree, a monument that looks like the Acropolis, and a bench.

The Nelson Monument looks like a giant... tribute.

Please don't sit on the window ledges... and keep your damn pigeons off 'em, too!

I estimate that I climbed about 1,000 stair steps on our last day in Edinburgh. These are about 56 of them (28 up, 28 down). Yes, they are that steep.

Another war memorial. The city is peppered with them. Kind of makes me feel at home... like we're on the same team, because they're typically a tribute to Scottish-American soldiers.

A crypt in the Calton Cemetery

Remember Robert Burns?

I thought this was pretty

Remember this guy? The Scott Monument? Well today... it accounted for 574 of the stair steps I climbed... 287 up... 287 down. All in a spiral. A somewhat claustrophobia-inducing spiral... that sometimes had handrails, sometimes had rope, and sometimes... nothing. And passing on the right? Did they seriously suggest that? Don't make me laugh!

Oh it looks menacing...

Remember when it looked inviting?

Looks like a little puppy dog (who's been defaced by disrespectful brats)

Steep spiral stairs. Very small steps. Very few windows. It becomes disorienting after a while. You don't know where you are. Are you approaching a viewing platform or did you find your way into some form of purgatory, lost forever on stairs that never end?
There are four viewing platforms.

Up we go!

Platform 1. Pretty high up. Very windy.

Platform 2. Even higher up. More windy. Those 28 steps up to Calton Hill seem paltry in comparison, and thanks to the hilly nature of Edinburgh, I'm higher than the Balmoral Hotel's clock tower. (I used my zoom)

Platform 3. At this point I'm on my own. My cousin is slightly claustrophobic, and when the handrail ran out, she decided to turn back. I admit that as I got further up, I began to have to consciously will myself to keep climbing. My legs were a little shaky. I have nightmares about climbing stairs sometimes. But I was determined.
This is the view from Platform 3. Where it's even more windy. This is Waverley Station and the North Bridge.

Still one more platform to go...

The stairway became more narrow... I'm not typically claustrophobic, but...
Ah... fresh air...

So this is the doorway at the top, leading down... it has a few battle scars from others who have conquered this beast. Have I mentioned the nightmares I have sometimes? Well they are primarily about going down the stairs. It took a minute or two to convince myself to go through that doorway. Once I did though, I was fine.
There was a couple coming up to the third platform as I came down from the fourth. Luckily we met up at the platform and didn't have to squeeze past each other...

St. Giles Cathedral during the day.

Pretty doorway

Calton Hill from afar

Another war memorial

On the way back to our B&B... Calton Hill!

Arthur's Seat in the afternoon

It's hard to sleep with the light monster hovering over your bed... watching you... it never blinks...

Our hotel had no lift, so we had to walk up the stairs. Jamie and I were on the third floor. That's 52 steps up. I went up and down four times (total stair count: 838).
Nighttime! On the way to a yummy dinner and lots of fun.

If anyone tells you that the food in Scotland is dull... they haven't eaten from this plate.

No one can refuse The Godfather... oh lordy... I climbed 1,000 stairs. I deserve it!
Trip to bathroom: 20 stairs (times two)

I was going to buy some Glenrothes whisky... I like it... it has a honeyed raisin taste... just ignore that blast of sulfur at the end. Anyway, this whisky shop had a gift set of three smallish bottles, but I decided not to buy it... until it was the end of the day and I still had a lot of money in my wallet. So I went back and they were closed... *pout*

We had a little time to kill... I'd had a lot of sugar... and the whisky picture started an avalanche of silliness... This is Jamie, the babushka.

This is Laura, the reindeer

She's a witch! Burn her! (This would have been so much more convincing if the fire guy had been performing in the background)

Jamie's squishing the moon! Look at those tiny people, she's a glamazon!

We ran into a little more trouble... at least they didn't pus us in the stocks this time.

Remember the old saying that sh*t rolls down hill? Well it did... People used to put anything they wanted to get rid of (bodily wastes, food scraps, dead rats, etc) into a bucket, and at the end of the day, they tossed the contents out the window where it rolled down hill. If you were lucky, you weren't walking by as they did it, because they would yell something akin to 'watch your head' and if you didn't realize that, and you looked up... you probably never felt clean again.
Stairs to get down to this street: 35

Laura, Jamie and I went on the Haunted Graveyard tour to face off with the MacKenzie Poltergeist. There's nothing special about this picture except that guy's face at the bottom right... he must have seen something horrifying!
Stairs up to the cemetery: 25

The moon... I finally got a good moon picture!

The tour guide unlocked (yes, unlocked) the gate leading to the Covenanter's Graveyard. I'm going to try to condense this story, but it's not going to be easy... The Covenanters were a group of men who signed a petition for religious freedom, proclaiming loyalty to God, rather than the King (Charles I). For their trouble, Charles I had them hunted down. His lead dog was George MacKenzie, who imprisoned, tortured and killed hundreds of these men.
These men are buried here, in the Covenanter's Graveyard.
So is George MacKenzie.
Supposedly it is his ghost that scratches, pokes, pushes and bruises people. Supposedly it is his ghost who causes them to faint or feel an intense sense of panic.
At one point they actually exorcised this graveyard (actually I think they did it twice), and shortly thereafter, the priest who performed the exorcism died. The city locked the graveyard. This tour company has the key (money talks).
The guide led us through the gates and into the graveyard. There are two trees standing just inside the gate. The guide explained that for whatever reason, the entity can't seem to get past the trees, and it didn't matter whether we believed in it or not, if we were an 'inductor' it would find us. It would take its time, but it would find us. And then it would torment us.
He said that it is an accepted belief that if you walk around the trees to enter the graveyard, and through them when you leave, the ghost won't follow you home. Done and done. Then he led us inside this crypt. I went first, and since Jamie was glued to my side, so did she. Muahahaha!
This meant that we were in the very back of the crypt when everyone else piled in. Got a little dark in there.

Then he told us that we had nothing to worry about while we were in the crypt. The poltergeist didn't really start to toy with you until you left the crypt. He said it doesn't matter how big you are, it's not afraid of you. He said there was a six-foot-four Norwegian body builder in one tour group who learned that he was an inductor after he fainted. Twice. After the second time he fainted, the group began to panic, and they ran in all directions, screaming and trying to get out of the (locked) gate. Then they remembered the bodybuilder who was still inside the crypt, passed out. Some of them went back and began to drag him from the crypt, toward the safety of the trees. He woke up. Last thing he knew, he was in a graveyard getting creeped out by a poltergeist story, now he's being drug along on the ground... The guide said it's funny now, but when it was happening, it was a horrible experience.
We didn't experience anything.
We got nothing except the experience of going into a graveyard where the bodies are stacked so high that it created a hill where there was no hill in the natural landscape, where when it rains enough, bones begin to make their way to the surface of the soil. He said that some people (me) try to respect the graves and walk around the edge as opposed to tromping on the top of them, he said it was futile.
Oh. I got this orb. It's dust. Or a bug. Not a poltergeist. Poltergeists, by the way, typically occur when there is limestone in the ground, and also when there are pubescent children around, because they are emotional.

Nope... no poltergeist here...

George MacKenzie's tomb. And zombies. Look at them, they're all staring straight ahead, even Laura!

This tree ate somebody

I don't know about this... as I heard it JK Rowling actually gave 'birth' to Harry Potter on a train trip... and it was Nicholson's Cafe where she used to go to write... but it said Harry Potter... so I took a photo...

The trees looked really cool with the light shining through them... almost to the hotel to turn in for the night...

...and my mind was still working... I looked up again... to see what the light monster was up to... he was still up there... watching... and I realized that this light resembled something else...