Thursday, March 25, 2010

To Write or Not To Write

As usual, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated, though I did feel sort of like dying there for about a day. Punkin has had "the crud" -- aka a yucky cough -- for about a month now. She's been on two different antibiotics for it during that time period, but neither has been strong enough to completely knock it out. And this time my mommy immune system wasn't strong enough to keep it at bay and Mr. Daddy and I were both felled by the cough.

Unfortunately for me, I had too much to do to actually be felled by it. I had to keep plugging along because on Monday and Tuesday we inducted four new writers into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

This is, by far, my favorite event of the year, but for some reason it just wipes me out completely every year. It's a very labor intensive event -- lots of preparing in the days ahead and an attempt at complete attention to detail and catering to every need or anticipated need over the two days.

I love the event because I love being around writers. I love hearing them talk about writing and how they do it, and where, and when and what their process is. I always come away feeling inspired, like maybe I could write the next great American novel.

But that's as far as I get -- the inspiration part. I never actually DO anything about it. To a man/woman, every writer I've ever met has talked about the desire, nay the compulsion, to write, to get their stories on paper. And you know what? I don't really have that. I mean, I have stories and ideas for stories floating around in my head, but I don't have a burning desire to sit down and get those stories out.

I like to blame it on a lot of things. I'm tired. I have too much do. But one of the writers I met this week gets up at 3:45 in the morning to write. The other used to get up before her young daughter was awake so that she could write then. I already get up at 5 a.m. every day but there sure isn't any time to write. I think about writing at night, but by the time we get home and I get dinner ready and get everybody bathed and ready for bed and maybe fold a few clothes or straighten up the house, I mostly just want to sit on the sofa and watch television or read a book.

So, maybe I'm not really meant to be a writer. That's kind of hard for me to come to terms with because people have always encouraged me to write. Or maybe it's just not my time. I guess we'll see how it all plays out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Hey y'all. I changed my comments a little. You can no longer comment anonymously. I really wouldn't mind except my blog is getting spammed like crazy. I'm hoping this will slow the spammers down a bit.

I'm also about to update my blogroll. Some of those links are a little out of date. Sorry 'bout that.

At work I'm preparing for the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, which is next Tuesday and Wednesday, so my brain is just slightly fried right now. Sorry 'bout that, too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Perfection, fleeting

This morning as I went to wake Punkin, I realized that my children are never more perfect than when they're sleeping. Little angels, hands still clutching lovies, sweet breath, soft skin. The day hasn't begun yet, there have been no tantrums, no tears. No defiance has yet marred the day.

But I also realize at that same moment that I'm never a more perfect mother. I haven't been dismissive or angry. I haven't had to repeat myself a thousand times. I haven't yelled or lost my patience.

Oh, to be able to hold on to that moment for the entire day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Story of the Half-Asses

In her post on Sunday, AndreAnna over at Diary of a Modern Matriarch was talking about the problems they're having with their house and the fact that someone lied, boldfacedly (is that a word?), to a pregnant woman about the fact that water had never been in the basement.

Her situation reminds me an awful lot of my own just a couple of years ago. We bought from liars too. At least I hope they were liars because if they're not they're the stupidest people that ever lived. But since the husband is an elected official in these parts (not in our district anymore, thank God), I'm not sure whether to hope he's a liar or really stupid. That's a lose-lose proposition.

But Mr. Daddy and I came up with our own name for them. We called them the Half-Asses. They lived in the house we bought for at least 20 years and if something needed to be fixed during that time, they went about fixing it in the most half-assed manner they could.

When they painted the family room they didn't even attempt to spackle over the holes or the scratches in the wall. But the worst offense? They actually painted over dust and lint particles. You could see them there, like fossils in the paint.

The front room, what had been an old 60s-style formal living room, didn't have a light in it, so Mr. Daddy cut a hole in the ceiling and wired in a light fixture. When he took the switchplate off near the front door, there were actually two switches there -- one had been hidden under the plate. And it was taped into the up, or "on," position. Huh. That's weird, we thought and hooked the new light to that switch. Let there be light!

But then that night it started to get really, really cold in the house. Huh. We had no heat. Mr. Daddy started flipping switches and fuses. Nothing. So, he climbed back into the attic whereupon he discovered that the Half-Asses had wired their HEATER to a light switch that was located by the front door, taped it "on," and covered it up. Half-Asses.

But the real kicker, well, that was one was a doozy. When we had our annual termite treatment, the bug guy crawled out from under the house and said "You've got some water under your house." Hmmm...well, it had rained a lot recently and our soil was weird -- our land didn't "perk," whatever that meant -- so maybe that was it.

A few weeks later the pool guy (oh yeah, we had a pool, but that's ANOTHER story) was under the house hooking up the new and very expensive pump and came out and said "You've got some water under your house." Well. Hmm....this time there'd been no rain.

So, we called a plumber who was a friend of my dad's. He crawled under the house where he discovered a problem with the drain line from the washing machine. The problem, you ask? The Half-Asses had knocked a hole in the drain line. The plumber suspects they had a clog and instead of fixing it or replacing the drain line, the just knocked it loose. And water had been pouring underneath the house for over a year every time I did a load of laundry. With a toddler and a newborn in the house.

Now, someone who is more goodhearted than I might think, "Well, maybe it just burst. Maybe they didn't know about it." Well, one could think that except for the fact that they left their work light hanging there. Half-Asses.

And to top it all off with a nice big eff-you cherry, all of this had been missed by our apparently incompetent home inspector. I call him by a different name.

I don't really know why I'm telling y'all all of this. These thigns really used to piss me off, but I actually find it kind of amusing these days. Sort of one of those laugh so you don't cry kind of things.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The One Where I'm Sure

I've had some kind of stomach bug this weekend. I'm not really sure what it is, but it hit me early on Friday morning. I ended up going to the doctor on Friday afternoon because of the horrific pain I was having in my stomach. It was like the WORST case of indigestion I've ever had and nothing, I mean nothing, touched it. I took Rolaids, Zantac, and something my mom bought me at the store. I was so sick on Friday that I couldn't even drive back to my house (about 30 minutes) so I went to her house and crashed.

The doctor at the Doc-In-A-Box couldn't really figure out what was wrong with me, but told me to take Prilosec twice a day for 5 days. When I woke up on Saturday morning, the pain was gone but the nausea wasn't.

I haven't really felt like eating anything and sadly, coffee holds no appeal. I laid around the house like a dishrag most of the day yesterday and today, though I did finally shower and make it to the grocery store.

But still. I haven't felt like this since I was pregnant. And no, I'm not pregnant. I got a test and took one just to be sure. It was a definite no.

And I have to tell you, I thanked God. People always ask me if we're going to have any more and I always answer emphatically, "NO!" And this is how I know I'm sure...there was not even one tiny ounce of hope that I might be pregnant. Not one. Not even a sliver.

Just a hope that I'll start to feel normal soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sun, Sun, Sun, Here it Comes....

It's springtime and for a small-town Southern girl, at least one who hit her teen years in the 80s, that means it's time to tan. As spring break and the prom drew near, that meant it was time to don last year's swimsuit, spray oneself liberally with the awesomeness that was Hawaiian tropic and head out the back yard. Where, if it was still a little early in the season, one could just as eaily be covered by chill bumps as the rays of the sun. Or if later in the season, you could hook up an oscillating fan to an extension cord and keep yourself somewhat cool while the rays baked your body to tanned perfection.

Or if you were really serious about your tanning, you'd jump in your car and head to one of the many, many tanning salons and there you'd don those little glasses (or not, depending on whether or you valued tan eyelids over protecting your vision), maybe your swimsuit or maybe, if you didn't want any of those pesky tanlines, just the lower half of your swimsuit.

And though I haven't been in a tanning bed in nearly 15 years and I don't set out to get a tan (much!) anymore, I have been hearing the siren song of the tan for a couple of weeks now. I look at my pasty winter flesh and remember how much better it looks with a tan. I can still remember how absolutely wonderful a tanning bed nap is. I posit that there is no better nap. It's the perfect length and you're toasty, toasty warm the entire time.

I long for the smell of Hawaiian tropic. When you open that bottle childhood memories of the beach pour out like a genie, granting me my wish of taking me back in time to simpler days. Days spent playing in the waves, building sandcastles, heading back to the hotel room for a sandy lunch in the ice cold room followed by the most delicious post-beach nap, only to head back out again after the sun is no longer directly overhead. We'd stay out until it was time to get ready for dinner or until one of those passing summer thunderstorms ran us indoors.

I'm on a furlough day today and the weather has finally warmed up. This morning I sat on my back deck with a book and a cup of coffee. The sun actually felt good for my soul and I felt my spirits coming out of hibernation.

I fully understand the dangers of sun exposure , so no need to lecture me. I don't go crazy with the tanning anymore and I certainly don't get in tanning beds. But this morning as I sat there, I pulled the legs of my pajamas up and let the sun warm my shins. And it was good.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Budgeting is Hard, Y'all!

Sorry posting has been light around here. As part of our homework for the Financial Peace University class we're taking, we're required to make a zero budget. I don't want to give away all of Dave Ramsey's secrets for free, but he requires that you budget your entire month's income down to zero. Every month. Zero!! That shit is hard, y'all. Not only is it heart-stoppingly scary to budget your entire income down to zero, it's damn near impossible especially when you go from no budget to a fairly restrictive one and you have no real idea how much you've been spending on certain categories every month.

He also suggests that you spend a lot of your money on a cash basis. For example, you budget $80 bucks for lunches/dinners/coffees out (and yes, that's our VERY restricted amount we've allowed ourself for this month) and you take that money out in cash and keep it in an envelope. When you want to go out to eat or grab a cup of coffee or order a pizza, you grab the money out of the envelope. When the money's gone for the month, that's it, no more dinners out, no more pizza, no coffee from Dunkin Donuts.

Mr. Daddy and I have worked on this budget almost every night this week and my brain is tired and we still haven't gotten it down to zero. And we still have a cash flow plan to work on.

Nobody told me there was going to be homework when I grew up. If I have to do homework, don't I at least get a Spring Break?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hopes Are Dashed, Raised.

And you know what's worse than dashed hopes? When you're the one who's dashed your own hopes. Because you've done the grownup thing. The smart thing. The thing that sucks.

As I said on Facebook this weekend, being a grownup sucks.

I haven't talked a lot on here about mine and Mr. Daddy's financial issues. At first it was because I was a little embarrassed, but then I got massive writer's block and I didn't write much of anything as you all know. But now, now I'm past caring what others think and have come to a place of self-acceptance (mostly).

So, short story long....about two years ago, Mr. Daddy and I seriously downsized in an effort to get ourselves out of a financial hole we had created for ourselves (with the help of an asshat, some Half-Asses, and one severely troubled individual who didn't mean to give me the shaft, but did anyway.).

I mean seriously downsized. When I write my book about the whole ordeal, I'm going to call it "Living My Life Backward: How I Went From Tree-Lined Suburbia to a Double Wide Trailer in My Daddy's Backyard." Seriously.

In the spring of 2008, we moved into a double wide -- a VERY NICE double wide -- about 50 yards down the hill from my dad's house. My dad likes to joke that the crest of the hill he lives on is called Poverty Ridge and I joked to Mr. Daddy that if Daddy lived on Poverty Ridge, then we were at Rock Bottom. And at first it felt that way.

But, downsizing allowed us breathing room with our bills. It allowed us to live without feeling like our noses were to the grindstone every minute of every day. It allowed us to take some small, camping vacations. It gave us the money to allow our kids to do some activities. And next month, I'm going to pay my car off.

For the last month or so, Mr. Daddy and I have been working on plan called a debt snowball. This is where you take any extra money that you have and apply it to your lowest balance revolving debt. Once you've paid it off, you then take that extra money you have, plus what you used to pay on the debt you just paid off and apply it to your next lowest balance. And so on. We've also begun taking a class at our church taught by Dave Ramsey. You might have heard of him -- he's written a couple of best-selling books and has a radio and television show. Anyway, we've been planning to use my car payment money to pay off our debts and we have figured that by the spring of 2011 we can be completely debt free, including the car that Mr. Daddy just bought last summer.

But last weekend, everything changed. We found a house. And it was a really, really good deal. The house was on five acres and was structurally a great house. But, it was a foreclosure and it needed a LOT of work. But Mr. Daddy can lay tile and laminate flooring, and we're both good painters so we weren't really intimidated by the work that needed doing. All we could see was HOUSE. Bigger house. Bigger rooms. A basement.

And we were bewitched by the idea of having people over, our new friends that we've made in this community. We wanted a house that we're not (just a little bit) ashamed of. Our house is so small and even we wonder sometimes how we ended up in this situation. Even though we've come a long way about how we feel about the whole thing, we're still a little nervous to let people know we live in a double wide.

We started picking out paint colors, carpet colors, flooring samples. We talked about what we'd fix up first. Bubba and Punkin picked out their rooms.

But then the grown-ups showed up. Our inner grown ups. And they began to talk and unfortunately, they were making sense. I tried to block them out, but it wasn't working. What we began to realize is that yes, we could buy this house. We could buy it, but our situation wouldn't change. We would just be treading water, nose perilously close to the grindstone once again. We wouldn't be able to pay off any bills. And finally, the lure of being debt free won out over the need for a house.

We have a house. It's not my dream house, but it is a home -- warm in the winter, cool in the summer. What I began to realize is that this house is a means to an end. And that end IS my dream house. Once we're debt free our options will so much greater. And though I was severely disappointed to have pass on that house, I have hope that when the time comes the victory we will have won will be so much sweeter.