Friday, April 22, 2016

Step Away From The News

It's been a newsworthy week and not one iota of it was remotely positive.

I used to be a news junkie and for the life of me I cannot explain why since I would wind up horrified and depressed.  And as someone with an anxiety disorder...well, I was just feeding the beast with my
news intake.  Now I steer clear of news to the best of my ability.  I unsubscribed from any site or page that was news-oriented or where news might seep in.  Of course none of those actions protect me 100% but even if I'm at 80-85% that is a healthy change.

Wise words on this from Thoreau:

Tip:  If you must have a news fix, better to read it than watch it.

Further Reading:
- Overcoming News Addiction: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/09/overcoming-news-addiction/http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/09/overcoming-news-addiction/
- Dr. Andrew Weil on news fasting: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA401018/Need-a-News-Fast.html


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Insomnia & Some Other Stuff

Periodically on a regular basis I go through a insomnia-ish thing which means that I fall asleep with no problem but I don't sleep as long as I should.  My inner alarm clock thinks that 5 hours is plenty of time to sleep and so since I tend to fall asleep between 10-11pm I will wake up at 3:30am or thereabouts and there is no getting back to sleep.
As a result I frequently have reallllly long days that are basically non-productive because one cannot create when one is an exhausted zombie.

It's all very frustrating and my mood can be very cranky whilst stuck in an insomnia flare-up.  Did I mention how much lack of sleep affects my pesky chronic pain?  Yeah, I am just a big ball of delight right now.  An impatient, reclusive, frustrated, hair-in-a-ponytail-no-makeup-sweatpants-and-tshirt-carb-craving ball of delight.

And there is so much to do.  So so much to do.  There are pictures to be taken, photo art to be created, signs to be painted, website to be worked on, house to be cleaned, walks and bike rides to be taken, fun to be had, etc.

I have no energy for any of it.  Coffee doesn't help except to make me a jittery exhausted person who can't go back to sleep because I try to use caffeine to battle the crippling fatigue which never works and I should know better but I keep doing it anyhow.


Yesterday on the Internet someone wrote that something was a "fig mint" of their imagination.  I'm tired and it annoyed me.  Fig mint! lol

That's it for now.  I'll write more after I've had  a nap.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Simple Hello

The other day JP and I were returning home from a Craigslist excursion*.  As we approached our house we saw a woman with some kids and a dog stop in front of our house to let us pass by. She had no way of knowing that we were not going to pass her but instead were going to back into our driveway which was maybe 20 feet from where she had stopped to wait.
As we were backing in I waved to her.  We're new here in this close-knit neighborhood that we've only lived in for 3 months and of course we're wanting to be nice and know our neighbors.  We wave and say hello to everyone, we are neighborly like that.  "Hi neighbor, nice to meet you, come by for a glass of wine or a swim in our pool when the weather gets nice!"  That's us.

So she is kind of fussing with the dog or the kids but is looking up toward us.  I wave, she sees me waves and she clearly ignores me.  No smile, no nod, no mouthing a hello.  Nada.
What the hell, right?
I don't do well with being ignored particularly when I am being friendly and/or it is blatant so of course I wait until I catch her eye again and wave one more time.  Because I'm bitchy friendly like that.
Now she's caught and she knows it so does this really curt wave while doing that thing people do when someone keeps doing something and you're like "yes, okay, I see you, okay?".  You know, that sort of annoyed thing complete with the roll of the eyes.


I have annoyed her with my insistence on being friendly.

I'll just let that sink in for a minute.

Afterward I am annoyed by her unwillingness to be friendly to us and I express this to JP, eventually telling him that what I should have done is to have said to her "sorry, just trying to be friendly."
This frightens him as I am wont to call people out for their bad behavior and he doesn't want us to be thought of as the cranky new neighbors.  He was concerned that if I had said that to her that she might have mentioned it to other neighbors in a "do you know what the new people said to me" way.
I, on the other hand, could not care less what she said to who...especially since she would have to out herself as someone who couldn't bother to say a simple hello to her own neighbors.  "Do you know what the new people said to me...when they smiled at me and my kids and waved hello and I completely ignored them?"  She couldn't tell the story and leave that part out.

What has happened to people that it has become too hard for them to say or indicate by way of a gesture (nod, smile) a friendly greeting to a neighbor?

Coincidentally, I read this article in the Wall Street Journal just this morning.  In it, the author talks about the French expression simple comme bonjour: simple as hello.

"...bonjour is an acknowledgement of your interlocutor, a nod to your coexistence. Omitting it isn’t just rude, it’s a refusal to see the other as an equal."
Saying hello to people you encounter isn't just good manners, it's almost your duty as a human being to acknowledge other human beings.  Not doing so only acknowledges that you somehow think you are superior to those you encounter...and ignore.  Obviously I am not suggesting that you run around tapping people on the shoulder to get their attention the next time you are at the grocery store just to say hello to them, but if you are anywhere and eye contact is made...than, yes, you greet that person with a hello, a smile, a nod.

It's the human - and neighborly - thing to do.

Do you know that something that simple can make a real difference to someone?

A hello is probably the easiest small kindness you can offer.
And kindness always (always always!) matters.

So, hello, I'm Sharon.  Nice to meet you.

Further reading:
The Power Of Hello
Beyond The Classroom: The Power Of Saying Hello

*Craigslist excursion: journey of varying length in which we endeavor to procure an item at a greatly reduced cost that someone else no longer wants in order to fill our home with items that we in turn will some day sell on Craigslist.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Home Ownership, Or How To Sound Ungrateful

Since I can remember, people have told me that owning a home should be something I should achieve.
It was just one of many things that  I didn't see the point of but would feel bad about not caring about nonetheless.

I grew up, got married WAY too young (partly because I was told it was something I should achieve), and at the age of 22 moved into the house my builder father built for me.

It was a fine house but it didn't take long until my misery kicked in.  My then husband acted as if his life was complete because WE OWNED A HOME...and there was me spending way too much time staring out the window, dreaming about what was out there that was out of my reach because we were now tethered to the HOUSE WE OWNED.

It should come as no surprise that we were divorced after a few years and he bought me out of my share of the house.  Au revoir, boring suffocating life.

I lived in many places after that and rented every single one of them.  Houses, not apartments, that I treated as if they were my own in that I planted flowers and mowed lawns and made other various improvements.  My rented homes did not look any different than the owned homes around me.  But I had something they didn't have and that was the ability to leave each year when lease renewal time rolled around which is (mostly) why I rented instead of owned.  For someone with a massive case of wanderlust (and claustrophobia), that freedom was worth every month of rent I paid.  For the record, I stayed in one rented place for eight years, giving my daughter the stability she deserved during her school years.  I didn't leave for all those years, but I could have. That made the difference.

But wait, people always say, you are throwing your money away on rent.  It's such a waste, they would say.  Nope, I countered.  A waste is a life being owned by what you own.  Some people want that; some see it as a measure of success.  I am not part of that tribe.  My husband, though, is.  And I like a happy husband so when he pushed to buy a house a year and a half ago, I caved.  "As long as it doesn't alter our lifestyle," I said, which meant that we would still hit the road on a whim, off to whatever adventure was the mood du jour.  For the record, too, I told him this when we first met.

"Of course it won't," he assured me sincerely.  He knows how I am. He also always want me happy. His intentions - and heart - are consistently in the right place when it comes to me. Sometimes, though, even when we think we've looked at the thing over under sideways down, it still doesn't work out the way we were sure it would.

We've been together since 2005 and we've moved a lot thanks to job changes and bad economies. The proverbial dust has been settled for awhile now but still we were renting because we weren't sure where we wanted to...settle.  Ugh, I even struggle with typing that word.  He wanted his own house badly, I could tell, and like I said I always want him happy.

So we searched and searched and finally found an amazing house...

 ...and it probably took about six months before I started feeling the old familiar stirrings of panic.

We spent our first summer last year restoring the in-ground pool that came with the house.  I don't really feel like talking about how much money that cost but, okay, it was a one-time expense so not a huge deal.  The bonus is the gorgeous pool that is steps out of our back door.

You can see that the pool is surrounded by trees.  In fact, our entire property is heavily treed.  We have so many trees that there's only a few hours each afternoon when the sun is directly overhead that the sun shines on the pool.

Here are some more pictures of our treed property:

That's D-Shark floating in the pool.  We named it after someone who once asked me
"you've caught the shark, now what are you going to do with it?"  Snort.

Trees, lots and lots of trees.  You know what that means, right?  It means that the pool has to be vacuumed every single day and since we have a very complicated filter I can't do it which means that my husband has to.  So every single evening instead of going out and doing fun things, I sit there drinking wine while I watch him clean the pool.

Not what I had planned for summertime.
Not what I had planned at this stage of my life.

But wait, there's more!

From these pictures you have a good idea of just how many trees are on our property.  Do you know what that means when summer is over and we can finally stop spending every day cleaning the pool?

It means all the leaves on all the trees fall down and they have to be gathered up so that the township can come by and vacuum them all away.

Last fall we spent TWO SOLID MONTHS blowing leaves every day for hours.  We had 6' tall leaf mountains all along our curb waiting to be vacuumed up. We have so many leaves to clear off our property that I had to go out and get my own leaf blower (you're jealous, aren't you?) so we could simultaneously blow leaves.  Our electric bill literally tripled in November and December just from hours and hours of running two leaf blowers.  You can't make this up.  I wish I were kidding.  I wish I were exaggerating.

To somewhat of a lesser degree, we continue with the leaf blowing in springtime to get the millions of stubborn leaves that decided not to fall until March.

Listen, we are not young people.  I have no intention of breaking my back doing YARD WORK as I get older and older.  This does not in any way, shape or form resemble the life I had in mind.

Last week my husband was going to spend $300 on rocks.
This week we have had two tree companies come out for estimates to cut the trees back some.  One estimate was for $1200 and the other was for $1800.
The previous owners installed amazingly expensive kitchen floor tile...that looks like utter crap.  It can't be cleaned properly and it turns out that's because they installed it wrong.  It will cost a few grand to demolish it and put in something normal and cleanable...or I can shell out $400 for the tile guy to clean it and seal it like it should have been sealed in the first place.
The kitchen sink was installed wrong, too.  The sprayer only sprays cold water and doesn't cut off the faucet flow when engaged.
The white rugs (what the hell were they thinking?!) in the living room and master bedroom have to be replaced sometime very soon.
Did I mention that we had a new furnace/central AC unit/water heater installed for 10 grand a couple of months ago?

If we rented, not one of these expensive problems would be our problem.

Meanwhile, we go nowhere.  We sit home now.  Well, except for our weekend trips to Home Depot and Lowes.  Aside from going to the home improvement stores, wine has replaced adventure, fun, experiences.
But, hey, at least we can tell people that we're homeowners now and they can in turn tell us how lucky we are.  Woo hoo!
And did I mention that no one comes to visit us because we live a whole two hours away (or 80 miles) and, by God, that is just too too far for friends and family to travel.  That's nothing really new, though...move ten miles away and people forget about you then, too.  Our new neighborhood seemed like the perfect place to meet new friends...maybe have some dinner parties, barbeques...that sort of thing.  But no, turns out this is a keep-to-yourself kinda neighborhood.  After 18 months I have no idea who the people are whose house abuts my own backyard as they never seem to actually come outside.  Sigh.

If you compared pictures of the adventure-having, wanderlust-fulfilling, renter me...

with the go-nowhere, couch potato, homeowner me,


Okay, I wouldn't spill wine on my furniture so this one is more accurate:

you would be shocked at the difference.  It is significant. Significantly bad.

Wait, I'm a bit remiss here.  We sit home only in the prime months and seasons.  In winter, we're free as carefree little birds to flitter about.  Oh, except for that who the hell wants to go anywhere in winter thing.

Yet there are still people who will say that this is better than renting.
I won't tell you what I want to say to them.

They make medication for this kind of thing, don't they?  Like a calm-down-so-you-can-like-what-everyone-else-likes pill?  An cream or salve to rub vigorously into every square inch of you to remove all traces of wanderlust and the hunger for adventure and experiences?


Fill up the wineglass, please...



I have had time to digest and re-read this a dozen times since I wrote it.  I probably should have expounded on the benefits of owning a home such as it's yours and you can do to it what you want which is obviously a very real benefit.  I am not convinced, though, that it outweighs the freedom of not owning.  I shall explore this further in due time.
Also, my husband has read it, too, and he reminds me that there are significant tax benefits to owning vs. renting.  He is, of course, right but no one should be surprised by that because he is the stable one in the relationship.  ;-)

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