Starts With G

Have I already bitten off more than I can chew?  Hmmm.  I wonder.

The Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day prompt for January 2nd is “Starts with G” which seems simple enough.  Who can’t find plenty of things that start with the letter G?  Only, I ended up with eight photos, all of things from around the house.  I actually took more than eight, but after I downloaded them and did some basic editing in iPhoto, I realized some of them were no good so I deleted them.  Actually several of the ones I deleted were duplicates of the ones I saved (’cause you always take multiple pictures in order to get the good one, right?  Right.)

Anyway, after staying up most of the night last night, and accidentally sleeping all day today, followed by going out for dinner with a friend and not getting home until around 9:00, I didn’t have a lot of time for taking pictures.  Here’s what I came up with:

First up is my swim goggles.  I wore these goggles twice a week, nearly every week from August to December as I took the “Fundamentals of Swimming” class at the local Community College.  I nearly drowned twice before I was six years old, once in the Pacific Ocean when a large wave crashed ashore, knocked me over and then began to drag me back out to sea as it receded and again at my father’s apartment complex when I fell into the deep end of the swimming pool.  On both occasions my father immediately pulled me to safety, but the experiences traumatized me enough that for a long time I was afraid of the water altogether, and once I got over that, I was not willing to get into any water where I could not see the bottom and could not stand up.  I finally decided it was time to conquer my fears and to learn a means of exercise that I would actually enjoy doing.  After one semester of swim classes, I can safely say “I know how to swim”, but I’m not very good at it and I still haven’t gotten into water in which I can’t stand up.  The next session starts up on January 22nd and I hope to make vast improvements during this next class.

Anyway, after each class, I would bring my bag home from the pool and unpack my gear, take my goggles into the bathroom to rinse them off and hang them from my bed post to air dry and be ready for the next class.  They have been hanging from that post since early December because I haven’t been in a pool since the class ended.  Along with the new piercing I vaguely (or not so vaguely) eluded to the other day, I also have a new tattoo I’ll share about sometime later.  Both instances of “body modification” needed to be mostly healed before going into a public swimming pool, essentially exposing “open wounds” to the potential soup of other peoples’ bacteria we’d all prefer not to think about when we go for a swim.

Swim goggles hanging from bedpost.

Swim goggles hanging from bedpost.

The next two pictures go hand in hand.  One is my glasses.  I made a very unspecific reference to these when posting something completely unrelated several weeks back, but as of mid-October, I am officially a full-time glasses wearer.  I picked these glasses while my eyes were still dilated which is certainly a risky proposition.  I had some assistance from one of the opticians in the vision center, but I wasn’t completely sure what I’d be getting when I went back a week later to pick them up.  I must have done a fairly good job, because when I arrived at work later that day, no one seemed to even notice that anything was different, as if I’d had the glasses all along.

My first ever full-time wear glasses.

My first ever full-time wear glasses.

The other picture is of a mirror that hangs behind my front door.  The mirror has hooks along the bottom from which I have always hung my sunglasses.  I have multiple pairs so that I could always match the color and style to the clothes I was wearing that day.  The sunglasses have been rendered somewhat obsolete by the introduction of the glasses in the picture above and a pair of prescription sunglasses.

Mirror with sunglasses on hooks.

Mirror with sunglasses on hooks.

Some of the other pictures I took are pretty self explanatory.  A few G words around my kitchen:

Gas flame from my stove.

Gas Flame

Gas Flame

Double Gs:  Green glass sweet and dry vermouth bottles in my bar.  And a bonus G:  The green label on the back of the Apple Puckers bottle you can just see on the bottom right side.  

Green Glass Vermouth Bottles.

Green Glass Vermouth Bottles.

And a green Starbuck’s label on the front of a plastic reusable cold drink tumbler with a green, plastic, reusable straw.  Heck it’s even “green” in the environmental sense.  Boom!  Triple Gs!

Green Starbucks Label

Green Starbucks Label

In my bathroom, there is grout between the 12 x 12 marble tiles that make up my floor and shower surround.

Grout.

Grout between tiles.

And finally, still starting with G, the kind of “green” we all know and love, money.  As a Bartender, I come into possession of many small bills so this is not a terribly large some of money, it’s just the money I had left in my pocket when I came home tonight.

Green Money.

Green Money.
“You don’t want to know what I have to do for $20s.”

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Thirty-One in Thirty-One

Check this out:

Pretty cool right?  I don’t know if I’ve ever accomplished that before.  Possibly a millenia ago when I first started blogging on my old and long forgotten, top-secret blog.  I think that’s pretty neet though.

I said I was going to make an effort to write more and clearly I did.  Some of it was fluff, but hey, I can’t imagine you want to read deep and insightful every day any more than I want to write deep and insightful every day.  And yes, I’m giving myself credit for being deep and insightful even if I’m not really.  LET ME HAVE THIS!!!  🙂

It’s been a pretty fascinating experience too.  I’ve actually seen my blog readership grow this month.  Crap! I swore I wasn’t going to do this!  I find it kind of annoying when people write about how many people read their blogs but in this case it seems kind of important.  See, I used to want to be a big famous blogger.  I wanted to have thousands upon thousands of readers and I wanted to make money off my blog and I wanted to be able to quit my job and live off the revenue.  (Oh, who’m I kidding?  I still want that, but it’s not going to happen.)  I realized that I don’t have the right stuff for that.  I don’t have an interesting enough life, nor the ability to be all cute and quippy about my life, nor an endless influx of blogging material to draw from.  I also don’t have the business acumen or the social skills to promote myself enough to make it work.  (That’s something that may become a problem for me, which I’ll be discussing further in the near future.)  And don’t even get me started on my lack of technical skills when it comes to web development and making all the different features and applications and websites at my disposal play nicely together.

So I know I’m not going to be a big, rich and famous super-blogger and I’m okay with that.  But here’s what I am.  I am a writer.  I write about my feelings.  I write about my experiences (however uninteresting or few-and-far-between they may be.)  And I write about my views.  Nobody asked me.  And nobody has to read my opinions, but that’s why this is my space and not someone elses.  And that’s all well and good, except, I AM a writer and as a writer, I want people to read my words.  So I like to watch my statistics and see the numbers growing.

Last month, I assume due in part to my increased activity, I went from four blog subscribers (2 by e-mail – and both the same person – and 2 on WordPress.com), to 29.  (Don’t be fooled by the 372 listed at the top of this page.  WordPress is being generous and including my twitter followers in that number.  I guarantee you, most of them are not coming to my blog.  Hell, half of them aren’t even people.)  In addition to the subscribers, I seem to be getting a lot of people randomly coming across my blog through search terms, or because they’ve saved my URL as a favorite instead of using a reader or e-mail subscription.  The truth is, the most hits I’ve gotten in a single day is about 45 and that’s rare, but my numbers have still climbed considerably from where they were a year ago (or even a month ago.)

Thanks to my participation in the Write on Edge community, I’ve gained some additional periodic commenters; it’s no longer limited to only Terri.  It’s awesome to see more participation on this page.  I’ve also been more actively participating on other people’s blogs leaving comments more regularly…  That may have helped with bringing people here too…  Maybe.

Anyway, it’s really been a lot of fun, this month of writing.  It’s been surprisingly invigorating.  I remember, now, that writing is something I need to do.  It’s why I’m on this earth, I think.  (It may not be the only reason, but it’s certainly a reason I can’t ignore.)

So I’m grateful to all of you who read this.  I’m thrilled that you’ve stumbled across these pages and that so many have continued to come back.  I hope you’ll tell your friends…  No really.  Tell your friends.  That’ll be relevant later when I get around to that problematic, self-promotion thing.

What’s the Opposite of Clinical Depression?

The last month and a half or so have been surprisingly good.  I mentioned some time ago that I’m doing okay emotionally speaking.  It’s weird for me.  I’m used to being dissatisfied and unhappy about the way things are.  I’m used to this underlying current of…. well…  depression.  That’s what it is, so why am I looking for another word to convey it?

I am, by no means, implying that I’m “cured”, and I am afraid that it’s not going to last, but, something has changed.  Things are different now.  I’m not quite sure what did it.  Maybe it’s not having the secret of my sexuality hanging over my head.  Maybe it’s the fact that I finished my book and I’m taking the next steps in that process.  Maybe it’s just that 36 1/2 years was long enough and those depressive neural pathways have shorted out.  Somehow I doubt that it’s that last one.

Admittedly, it was easier to feel good about life when I was on vacation and therefore could sleep late and do whatever I wanted with my day while still having the guarantee of a pay check every other Friday.  Now I’m back at work and really nothing has changed about work.  I’m finding it really hard to go there.  Not because I’m dreading going to work specifically, just because it’s really hard to get up and get moving in the mornings.  And my brain seems to want to believe that I’m still on vacation even though I know it’s not true.  I’ve been staying up way too late, which makes getting up early for work very difficult.  I’ve got to change that behavior, post-haste.

That is not to say that I don’t dread coming to work… Or more specifically, it’s not to say that I look forward to coming to work.  But I’ve really begun to see what an easy gig I’ve got, and how little is required of me for the money I make.  In that respect, at least, I’m really, very lucky.

As I mentioned before, I’m very much aware of how little value I add to the operation around the office and knowing that leaves me unfulfilled.  I want to do a job that I feel like matters and/or that leaves me fulfilled with the outcome.  It seems like that would be one and the same, but I’m not sure.

I’ve been dragging my feet a bit on the EMT thing and if most people asked me why, I would tell them it’s because there aren’t really any jobs to be had, and that’s true.  And I’d tell them that I haven’t figured out a way to do that job and still make a living wage, and that’s also true… though my definition of “a living wage” may or may not be accurate in most peoples eyes.

The reality is, though, I’m scared.  I’m scared of taking a huge risk and finding out that I’m not happy doing that job.  I’m scared of finding that I’m not really very good at it.  I’m questioning whether it’s really right for me.  And I don’t know if that questioning is because my spirit is trying to tell me something my brain doesn’t want to know, or if that questioning is my fear trying to hold me back.  We’ve all heard the old saying, “…those who can’t, teach.”  What if that’s all I am is a teacher?  (And before anyone says it, I can’t be a teacher either, not before I have some practical experience to fall back on.)

So it’s true that I’m dragging my feet for practical concerns but that’s not the only reason.  Still, I put a lot of effort and energy into that training and there’s a part of me that feels like to give up on it would be wasting something valuable.  What I’ve been thinking about for the last several months, though, is that I can’t make enough money to support my current lifestyle working full-time as an EMT.  And then I realized, I’ve fallen back into an all-or-nothing way of thinking.  IF I can find a part-time job as an EMT, I have the option to go part-time in my current job as well.  I’d still take a cut in pay, but not nearly as much.

A recent comment on my blog reminded me of something that, oddly enough, I’ve forgotten:  I love to write and would really like to get paid to do it.  Actually, for some reason it seems important to make the distinction that, more so than wanting to be paid to write, I want to be paid for my writing.  I see a difference between the two and for me that difference is this: when a person get’s paid to write, they are compensated for the act of writing.  When a person is paid for their writing someone has purchased the words, placed value on the information or opinion or story that is created and ideally it’s a residual income for the product rather than a one time check for your time.  I suppose I’m splitting hairs and I certainly wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to be paid to write, but I’d really like to be paid for my writing.

Yesterday, I discussed my position with Deb: Ten years in a job I don’t love with no idea of where to go from here, but knowing there will be no more advancement in my current position.  A desire to make use of my training.  A desire to write for profit.  We talked about figuring out what it is I want to do and then how to pursue it.  I told her, “That’s kind of my problem.  I want three things: 1) to make use of my EMT Training, 2) to write and 3) to make at least $XX,XXX a year.” (Obviously, those X’s were real numbers, but I’m wondering if it’s tacky to talk dollar amounts here…)

Deb said, “But don’t you make pretty close to $XX,XXX already?”

“Including my bonus, I made $XX,XXX and change last year,” I told her.  (those first two X’s were the same numbers in all three instances.)

She said, “Okay!  So you’ve already achieved one of those things.”

Part of what I’ve been struggling with is the money.  I think we know by now that I grew up in a poor family and I suffered a lot of lack.  The pain of that manifest itself in my own relationship with money and how I handled it when I started earning my own.  It took me a long time to understand that and learn to be more responsible, and I would by no means say that I’ve learned everything I need to in that regard but for the first time I feel financially secure.  I make a nice income and can afford all my bills.  Recently, I’ve even been able to afford a little bit of a social life, though admittedly that’s due, at least in part, to the insurance reimbursement for my therapy bills.  Still, I’m understandably hesitant to make a change that will reduce my income.

So it’s difficult for me to not see things in a limited capacity.  Either I accept that what I have here and now is the only way for me to make a livable income and I stay here for thirteen more years (the company has some odd equation having to do with your age and the number of years of service for when you can retire with benefits), or I quit and pursue some of my other interests which will, at least in the short-term, leave me extremely lacking.  It might be noble to “do what you love, even for less money”, but for me, the money is part of the equation.  If I’m not making a satisfactory income, I doubt that I’ll be happy doing what I’m doing…  I know that’s not all there is, it’s just that, for now, I can’t see anything else.

Deb said, “You’ve already accomplished one of those things.  You already make $XX,XXX a year.”

I told her, “Yes, but I didn’t say I want to work as an EMT, get paid to write OR make $XX,XXX.  I said I want to work as an EMT, get paid to write AND make $XX,XXX, or more.  The problem is, I haven’t figure out a way to make those three things happen.”

There was a brief pause and just as Deb opened her mouth to say something, I said, “And yes, I realized the end of all of those sentences is, ‘At least not yet.'”

What is the Deal

Watch this video from my favorite Christmas movie.  Don’t worry, it’ll open in a separate window.  I tried to embed it but the person who posted this set it up so it couldn’t be embedded and it was the only clip I could find with the crucial line in it.  If you don’t have much time, skip ahead and watch from 3:03 to about 3:30.  (Thanks a lot, Christmas Dave for ruining the flow of my blog post.)

Go over to YouTube and watch the clip.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  I’ll be here when you get back.

Finished?  Great.  Now allow me to branch off into a seemingly completely unrelated topic, only to loop it all back around in then end…

I’ve got a bit of seemingly minimal crap going on in my life.  But of course, “a bit” of seemingly minimal crap can pile on and amount to one big pile of smelly, unpleasant…  stress.

The apartment I have lived in for the last four years has only one built-in source of heat.  It’s a small, gas-burning fireplace with asbestos (probably not asbestos) logs that glow when hot to make it look like they’re on fire.  The flame itself only resembles a smoulder and offers no ambiance to my apartment.  The fireplace gets pretty hot right where it is and according to “them” is supposed to be sufficient to heat my whole apartment.  In reality, it s about 85 degrees at the fireplace and about 65 degrees 8 feet away.  Plus, the fir place puts off an obnoxious odor that gives me a headache.  I choose not to use the fireplace and in the meantime, it is freezing in my apartment.

Yesterday I went to the Orthodontist for what was supposed to be my take-my-braces-off appointment.  Last month, the younger Dr. Tinloy (it’s a father and son practice) told me to pay close attention to my teeth over the next month and see if there was anything else I felt needed to be corrected and this month we’d talk about taking the braces off.  Realizing that literal perfection is not a possibility at my age, without extraction and implants, I’m pretty happy with the way my teeth look these days, but I did notice that the back teeth on the bottom are not in-line with the rest of my teeth.  I didn’t know if it really mattered, or if it was worthwhile (or even possible) to try to correct, but I didn’t want to look back on this experience in a couple of years and wish I had stuck it out and gotten those last two teeth straightened out.  When I pointed this out to the older Dr. Tinloy yesterday, he agreed that it could be done and even said he did think it was worthwhile.  So here I sit with braces still on my teeth and in some respects tighter than they’ve ever been.  I’m aware that after only one year and nearly finished I’m better off than most and my threshold for pain is pretty high so I haven’t had a lot of discomfort, but they’re a hassle and I’m ready to have them off.  In the end though, I chose to continue with the process and finish what I started.

Some time in the last month or so, some ne’er-do-wells managed to sneak some contraptions into the self-service check stands at several of the local Lucky’s grocery stores.  These contraptions record and somehow transmitted or conveyed the information from customer’s credit cards to the ne’er-do-wells who have been using the information fraudulently and causing a lot of trouble and heartache for the owners of those cards and the banks they’re attached to.  Sadly, I frequent two of those Lucky’s grocery stores and while, fortunately, I have not been a victim of any identity theft, or bank fraud, my bank, proactively, decided to cancel my debit card because I shopped at those stores.  They sent a replacement, which I received yesterday, but for several days I was without access to my money…

This was not as much of a hardship as it could have been, because, well…  I really don’t have any money.  I have $38.00 in the bank until payday which is this Friday.  I need to do Christmas shopping (soon, since most of my gifts are going out of state) and I have bills that are coming due soon, but for the moment, I’m OK, financially speaking.  Still $38.00 isn’t much and I would certainly prefer to have more money just hanging around…  I suppose we could all say that, though, no matter how much we actually have “hanging around.”

For a few weeks, ever since the very sniffly, coughy, non-hand-washy DMV worker, I’ve been struggling with cold-like symptoms.  First it was a couple of weeks of running nose and sniffles.  Then just as that was dwindling away, I started coughing… TWO. WEEKS. LATER.  The cough has persisted.  It’s not constant, though it is a nuisance.  It’s not productive and despite my best efforts it’s not offering any kind of relief to the irritation that causes it in the first place.  While I have not been short of breath, I have had a hard time getting a full, deep breath and when I try, it just makes me cough some more.  Also, after nearly three weeks of coughing, I have muscular pain in my chest and back when I cough.  Monday, I finally broke down and called my health care provider.  I wasn’t sure there was any point in me going in – I don’t go to the doctor for the common cold…  though maybe I should.  After a conversation with an “Advice Nurse” it was determined that I could probably make do with a “phone appointment” and a little while later, I spoke with a doctor who, after discussing my symptoms said, “it sounds like you’ve got bronchitis” and proceeded to put in three prescriptions for me; two inhalers and one bottle of pills.  Now, what I’m about to say is going to sound really ungrateful, so let me just specify that I KNOW I’m luckier than many people when it comes to health care coverage and yet, even for me, an employee of my healthcare provider, costs have gone up.  Everything is relative and compared to the coverage I used to have – $5.00 for prescriptions and $0.00 for everything else – the increased expenses suck.

Remember that my ATM/Debit card was cancelled and I did not have access to the $38.00 in the bank.  I happened to have very full jars of change on my dresser which I took to a coinstar machine and cashed in.  It gave me enough cash that I should have been able to get through this week without any fears of running out of lunch money.  My three prescriptions on Monday night cost me $45.00 and I had to pay another $1.00 for parking.  I had $49.00 cash in my pocket.  Suddenly, I didn’t have any more money for the week.

Monday, I reminded K of a task she needed to complete for me this week.  It’s a task that will take her all of 20 minutes to complete and normally she wouldn’t have to do it right now, but she’s on vacation next week and I’m taking another two weeks stay-cation starting at Christmas.  What she needs to do for me needs to be done and announced before I go on vacation, therefore, she needs to do it this week.  Her response?  “See this is why I asked you last week if there was anything else I owed you.”  After thinking of a number of less friendly things to say, I simply said, “You’re welcome,” and left it at that.  I chose not to make her attitude, my problem.

Yesterday, I had about an hour and a half between my Orthodontist appointment and my bi-weekly appointment with Deb and while I was at home I had a thought that caught me a little by surprise and when I expressed the thought to Deb, “With all this stuff going on, I’m not stressed out about it.  I’m doing just fine,” I got a mental picture of The Grinch in the scene above…

To paraphrase a little bit, “I’ve got all this crap going on, and I’m fineWhat is the DEAL?!?!?”