Home Alone For Halloween

Well, some of the car purchase stress has subsided and I am actually starting to feel more excited about my new little car. I went back today to buy the warranty. No amount of badgering could have convinced me to buy it yesterday on top of everything else but after sleeping on it I decided I had better go ahead and do it. Mj offered to pay for it but I think I've already taken enough money from him so I put it on one of my low interest credit cards. So doing the numbers it has basically cost me close to 20K to get into this car and out of my lease. Ouch!!! That includes the cost and warranty for the new car, the return to dealer fee and cost to fix the front windshield for the Liberty. Incidentally, that windshield crack showed up only about 3 weeks ago.  I had to replace the whole thing just last year. This is all quite shocking for a budget minded frugalista such as myself.

So, I picked up Subway for dinner and one pack of Mike & Ike's in honor of Halloween. I will watch a movie-The Proposal. Then thanks to Universal Sports which is broadcasting my favorite sport that is only popular during the Olympics, I'll get to watch World Championships (Gymnastics).  Super exciting I know!!

My New Ride

My cute little fully loaded gas guzzling Liberty

My new fuel efficient, dependable yet sporty Civic

Oh my what an exhausting week it's been. Running to car dealerships on my lunch break and after work. Getting home late. Carting stacks and stacks of papers with different car listings on them and fielding calls from car dealerships all day. The haggling, the negotiating. It's awful. After working my 9 hour days I got my Friday off today and it felt so good. I really needed it. So, I didn't like the Sebring. It just didn't do it for me. It had some of the bells and whistles that I wanted but I just didn't like it. So, the search continued and after test driving a Honda on Tuesday I decided that I would let go of my Jeep and try to get into a Civic.

Mj and I agreed that 17K out the door is the most that we would spend when it quickly became obvious that I was not likely to get a low mileage EX for anything less. I almost gave up after yesterday when a dealership would not accept my offer. Then, silly me I realize that I had a 39 and not a 36 month lease like I assumed. My lease isn't due Halloween...it's due in February 2010!! Well, that really took the pressure off so I decided that I'd keep searching anyways and if I didn't find anything today then I'd just wait for Mj to come back so I don't have to do it alone.

I hate it that I am putting so much money into a car but this is it. I wanted something dependable with good gas mileage that appeals to me and that I can keep forever. And, I got it. The first place I went to wouldn't take 17k but they countered with 17,800 which is $16,100 plus tax, title, license. An amazing bargain for an 07 Honda Civic EX with navigation.

I almost had a nervous breakdown and Mj had to talk me "down" numerous times. I am soooo grateful to him that he helped me get this car. He is so sweet. He said he was actually proud of me for handling the whole thing as well as I did. So, I felt a little sick to my stomach for a while but that feeling is slowly subsiding. I found out that my credit scores from the big 3 are 831, 788, and 819. My frugality and fiscal discipline have paid off in some way.

I am excited that I will no longer be held hostage by my poor gas mileage. I literally would avoid leaving home sometimes just because I didn't want to use up my precious gas that didn't last for very long in my Jeep. It almost feels frivolous what with house hunting, Christmas and wedding planning approaching. Really, that money could have been used towards so many other things. I am still going to have to face the $425 turn in fee and any other charges from Chrysler when I turn in the lease. In the long run I think it's a good decision though and ideally, I won't be in the market for a car for a long time to come. I am so glad it's over.

Lease Up Decision Time

I'm tired of dating. Although I am ready to settle down I have come to a point where I still want to explore my options. Just to make sure. I am engaged to be married and we plan on setting the big date very soon but I'm not talking about men I'm talking about cars. My 3 year lease is up and I will not be leasing again. I love everything about my adorable little Jeep Liberty. Everything that is, except the gas mileage. The car before this was also a Jeep with poor gas mileage and so was the car before it. Bad gas mileage that is, but not a Jeep. I have had horrible gas mileage on every car I've ever owned. So, before I buy out my lease I've decided to see what I could get that is comparable to what it will cost me to buy out my Jeep AND has a lot of the features I love about it, but with better gas mileage. Practically impossible. In fact, I wasn't even considering it at all and had long ago made up my mind about buying my lease until this week.

Used is fine. I won't go lower then 06 or higher then 40,000 miles. Considering my price range I know I might loose out on some of the features I love about my jeep. The leather seats, sun roof, 6 CD changer, and the little thingy that tells me what temperature it is and how many miles there are until my next oil change. And, I'll have to go sedan when I really love sitting up high in my little compact SUV. I've always thought a Honda would be a dependable solid choice of car that I would want to keep forever so I've priced those. I also found a Chrysler Sebring with super low mileage and a dynamite price from the same dealer I leased my car from so I stopped by after work. However, when I showed up the car was nowhere to be found.

The manager wanted me to wait because the car was due to arrive in an hour, but I wasn't having it. It was 6 by now, it had been a long day and I was ready to go home. He basically tried to threaten me into staying by saying that another person was interested in the car and that it may no longer be available if I wait until tomorrow. He tries to get me to "start paperwork" and sell me a car that wasn't even there. The thing he doesn't understand, is that I love my jeep. I really do. It was the first car that had everything I wanted and I've been really happy driving it ever since. I will not be devastated if that Sebring is gone tomorrow. I have a feeling that he may have fabricated that phantom buyer anyhow because when I refused to stick around he said he'd see me tomorrow. I hold the cards here. In fact, I am going to try to negotiate the price even lower then it already is. I have some cash and I am more then happy to stick with my Jeep so he can't scare me into making an on the spot decision.

He underestimates how much I really love my jeep. I am so over spending money on cars. I need to have one and it needs to be dependable but as everyone knows they are not a good investment. Leasing is not considered the most economical thing to do but the first time I did it I really needed security. My first car had gave me such problems then died inexplicably one day forcing me to make a quick decision. I fell in love with the jeep and I couldn't afford it any other way. I planned to buy it but didn't because the 2nd time they offered me such a dynamite deal that leasing and then buying it would only put me about $600 over the actual sticker price. I couldn't have done better if I'd straight out financed it.

Whatever car I go with will hopefully be with me for a long time to come. I will need to keep it until it dies. I need to see how I feel when I first lay eyes on that Sebring and what it's like to sit behind the wheel. If there is no wow factor, no connection then I will keep my Jeep. Not caring is really the best negotiation tool there is and I plan to use it to my advantage. The lease is up on Halloween so I should have my answer very very soon. Thank goodness because I hate having decisions like this to make.

I Don't Wanna Commute

When I started my first job out of college I had to commute. I was still living in N. County and my job was in SD so I commuted about 45 miles each way for 6 months and I hated it. Since then the longest commute I've had is right now at about 30 minutes. Definitely doable. But going back to an hour? Grrrrrr. I am not happy about that at all. I've known for a while that there would be a possibility of me having to commute again and now that it is upon me I am already dreading it. When Mj comes back we are planning to start house hunting and because Mj's job is in LA we need to pick some place in between for us to live. Mj's commute will actually be even worse then mine but he has a really good job there. It would be perfect if he could find one down here but I am kind of thinking that won't happen with the job market the way it is.

I think I'm tired now? I can only imagine how I'm going to feel after adding 1 1/2 hours to my day on each end sitting in traffic. Not to mention the expense. I can only drive about 280 miles on a 16 gallon tank of gas before hitting empty. 80 miles a day means I will have to get gas about every other day and it's costing me about $55 to fill up at the current gas prices so I would end up spending about $450 minimum a month on gas. More than twice what I have to spend now. I really don't know if I can afford that. Not only will I be worn out but I will be really broke too!! I know there are people that commute even farther but so what. I don't want to do it at all.

Which leads me to my other fear. Having to rent out my condo that I absolutely can't sell because of the horrible market. My condo is a studio which is obviously too small for two people to live in long term so I am going to have to become a landlord. Which is something I never wanted to do. This is a very expensive city to live in. After my divorce I didn't want to move back home or rent out a room from a stranger. I wanted to live alone but not in another crappy apartment where the rent could go up at any time causing me to have to move. The price was right so I bought it after my divorce pretty much planning to live here alone for the rest of my life. Well, those plans have changed and I am going to have to change right along with it but I am scared. I worry about having to pay two mortgages. What if I can't get a renter? What if the renter trashes my place? How do I handle repairs? I don't have a huge amount of cash flow so this is a very scary venture for me to take on but I don't see any other option.

I've known that all of these things were going to have to happen since Mj and I got engaged, but now it's getting closer to actually happening. I am kind of freaking out about all of this already but hey, that's what I do.

The silver lining in this of course is that I get to live in a house which I haven't had the pleasure of doing since I moved out of the parents house after College. And I get to live with Mj. I have to try to focus on that instead.

Tardy for The Party Whooooaaaaa

So once again I have found myself sucked into the Housewives of Atlanta. I started out not paying any attention to it whatsoever because the drama from last season left me a little disgusted and I didn't want to be bothered with it. It just comes on so often that here and there I'd find myself watching different parts of different episodes and before I knew it I was actually watching the show.

Let me preface this by saying that no one is perfect and quality of character is subjective. If I were the subject of a reality show undoubtedly I would likely find that a lot of people really don't like me. That being said, I really wish Sheree would shut up about all of this independence. She is always talking about how she is successful, confident, and has accomplished so much when it's obvious that she really hasn't. In the opening credits she says "People are intimidated by my success," but I'm still trying to figure out what success she's talking about. I'm not going to say that there is inherently anything wrong with marrying into money but its funny how she is the one who talks the loudest and the longest about all of her so called independence when she didn't earn that money. She married and then divorced into it. I just love the haughty way in which she refers to herself as a designer. She is an attractive fit lady but there isn't a modest bone in her body and that is not cute. Oh, and if I hear her (or Nene) talk about the "who's who of Atlanta" one more time I will scream. Her show turned out better then I expected thanks to Dwight but he sure did have his hands full with her and her ego.

Then there is Kim who basically has a benefactor. She has this mysterious fiancé who is actually married but pays her bills and keeps her in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed. Which, apparently includes about $12,000 per month in hair pieces. What the heck? If you spend that much money on hair pieces it shouldn't look like cheap Barbie hair. Wonder when he plans on getting divorced so they can actually get married. Oh, and is there anyone in the world who could ever convince her that she can't sing? I could do a better job on Tardy for the Party then she did. Just put me in the studio! I was baffled about how she continually talked about wanting to do a song and "what part is Nene going to do," but then when asked to get into the studio says, "I'm not wanting to sing." Uh....haven't you been going on and on about how you want to be a one hit wonder? She had the nerve to kick Nene off of the song the minute she found someone willing to synthesize her voice into half way decency. She literally stepped out of the studio and ditched Nene. Overall, she seems really fake and untrustworthy but, I must say her wigs are getting better.

Kudo's to Lisa for taking their impending life style down grade in stride. Only 9 acres!! Well, $200,000 per year in housing upkeep was pushing it. I think her and Ed are such a cute couple. She managed to put on her fashion show ahead of Sheree but it is quite clear that a fashion show does not a designer make. I think both she and Sheree clearly have a passion for fashion and a good taste in clothing but I don't really think that makes them designers.

Candy is the newest addition to the show but she is my favorite! She has such a genuine and bright smile. She really seems to be grounded and nice but she will tell you like it is if necessary. I think she has a great voice and I hope that she is able to revive her career like she wants to. She lives a fabulous life style like the others but unlike the others she has worked for it and earned every penny. I thought it was really messed up that Kim didn't go to her performance after she so kindly was willing to produce a song for her even though she can't sing a lick. Kim has a full time live in nanny and she can't take a couple hours out of her night to come see the show. Her daughter probably had a cold or something. My heart goes out to her for loosing her former fiancé AJ so tragically.

Nene. What can I say about Nene. She is hilarious. I REALLY didn't like her the first season but I guess she is growing on me with all of her "Neneisms." I hope she can find some peace on this quest to find her father though because it is obvious that she has a really difficult time with not knowing.

My, oh my, these ladies are so fortunate. Not that they don't have problems because everybody does. They don't HAVE to go to a 9-5 job everyday and hope for retirement some day. And regardless of what I think of some of their singing, designing, writing and other endeavors I think it's great that they have the opportunity to follow their bliss...whether they suck at it or not. I mean, at least they get the chance to try. Well, with enough money and/or media attention anybody can be anything they want to really.

I have to admit that I do find it entertaining otherwise I wouldn't have stayed up to watch the Season Finale. I may have been tardy for the party but it didn't take me long to get into it once I got there.

Is College Really Worth It These Days?

I just read an article on MSN money about how the average cost of a 4 year private University education has climbed to $35,636 per year. I am so glad that I am not a young high school graduate today who has to make the decision as to whether going to College is worth the money or not. When I graduated from high school it wasn't a question. You might have to go the 2 year Community College route first but bottom line, going to College was always seen as the way to go no matter what. These days, I am just not so sure.

The economy is basically in the toilet right now, but even if it weren't it is beginning to seem that the sheer cost of a College degree has outstripped and over shadowed the very purpose for which it was intended. Yeah, you may go to College for personal growth and enrichment purposes but ultimately your intention is usually to gain a return on that investment in income once you enter the job market. Trina Thompson may have been the only one ridiculous enough to sue over it but she is definitely not the only one who feels short changed.

Are 4 year Universities only for the wealthy and those who are smart enough or poor enough to earn full scholarships and grants? It seems the Community College route 1st is the only way to go if you are willing and/or able to because to spend $140,000 on a degree, especially to work in a field that is not a typically high earning one is plain stupid. State school prices are out of control too. Gone are the days where you could just go and major in general studies or whatever else just to get the degree and the satisfaction of a goal accomplished and worry about the field you will enter later. You could always wait until you get your Master's for a more focused approach once you figure out what you really want to do. I really don't think that's such a good idea these days. I didn't really have a plan but I knew I wanted a degree so I went and majored in a Sociology but if I were in the situation that these new high school graduates are facing and I didn't have a solid career path and plan in mind I might not have gone at all. And, if that had been the case I wonder where I would be now?

I worry about my little sis who is going to an extremely expensive school in an expensive city too far away to cut costs by staying at home with such stiff requirements that hardly anyone can even finish in 4 years. She has taken out a lot of student loans while she works part time. I want nothing more then for her to hit it big and be so successful that the student loans won't hurt her. I believe that if anyone can do it she can and I really hope that she does.

I am very glad I got my degree. I went to a 4 year publicly funded University. I graduated with 16k in loans and felt that wasn't really all that bad. I lived on campus (apartment, not super expensive must buy a meal plan residence halls) for two years and commuted the rest. I didn't get to "go away" to college but that's OK. My semester exchange out of state at Spelman College my junior year more then made up for it. The loans are paid off, I don't want to start all over and I still don't know what I want to be so I am not even considering a Master's degree at this point. I feel better about myself in general having earned my BA and I do believe that even though it was not a requirement for my current job it certainly helped me get it.

As an adult online and accelerated programs seem to be the route many are taking but those are by no means cheap. There are many who haven't gone to college who are highly successful and some who have degrees that are barely squeaking by. What is one to think? I wouldn't discourage anyone from getting a degree. I'm just saying that you really need to be careful about how much money you are willing to invest and cut corners financially where you can because there really are no guarantees on what you will get out of it. Crippling loans can carry huge consequences.

If you insist on going to that prestigious school because it has an excellent reputation, is far away from home and has the total college experience written all over it that's great, but be prepared for the possibility that you might be paying for it for the rest of your life.

Ladies Only Monday Night Football

Last night a girlfriend and I got together for Monday night football and homemade pizza night. Her husband is gone a lot for work and my man is out of the country so we end up watching football alone the majority of the time (among other things). She is such the creative Susie home maker type. She is my idol!! When I got there she already had the dough made. Whole wheat made from scratch no less. Our primary topping was chicken that she cooked and seasoned herself. Not the Tyson pre-cooked kind that I wanted to bring. Our other toppings included olives, onions, tomatoes, feta cheese and basil. She didn't have a roller so the crust puffed up quite a bit, but I liked it that way. It was like deep dish style and I love me some bread. We had Budweiser Select 55. Two each thank you very much. It's like how low can you go when it comes to light beers. They have one upped Miller 64 and seeing as how I can't tell the difference I'll go for the lower calorie count brand every time.

This particular game wasn't all that exciting so we were chatting through most of it. It was a really fun time. It's nice to have great girlfriends to hang with and while I don't have a lot I really appreciate the ones I do have. There was a time when I really didn't have any friends at all and so I realize the importance of having these wonderful women in my life. There was also a time just two years ago when I didn't understand football at all. It seemed so complicated and confusing for some reason so I usually just tuned it out and wrote it off as something I just didn't get. But I finally said, if you can't beat 'em join em and I starting asking questions and really paying attention when football was on TV. Now I can really enjoy watching it along with everyone else. I'm not just cheering because everyone else is...I actually know what's going on.

To me watching a football game is a little mini social event and the whole experience is enhanced by having food AND friends. At home or at a bar, it's so much better shared then watched alone. Monday night football was a blast. Just the girls.

Fall Shopping Extravaganza

Plane Ticket $435. Car Registration $330. Getting some nice quality fall basics that look good on me and make me feel good. Priceless. So, I did it. I knew that if I waited even a week that It wasn't gonna happen so on the way home from work on Monday just over 24 hours after the Ugg meltdown I drove to Burlington Coat factory and bought a classic Brown Miss Sixty Pea Coat with a hood and a finely detailed pleat in the back.
You can't go wrong with a classic Pea Coat
Then I brazenly drove to Macy's where I proceeded to try on every tall boot in stock until I discovered the comfort and casual chick effortlessness of the Brown Steve Madden suede slouch boot. It only took a minute to fall in love with a camel colored pair of Alfani Flex n Step pumps. The pumps are only about an inch high and have all of this wonderful padding inside so that they feel like Easy Spirits on the inside but still look fashionable on the outside.
I got a similar pump in camel

I got this boot in brown
They were all on sale and will make great additions to my slowly growing wardrobe. A friend of mine was looking at some old (very embarrassing) pics of me and he made the comment "You've never really been into fashion." Way harsh. But it's true. I have never been stylish or even close to trendy. Not for lack of trying, but I just haven't ever had the best eye when it comes to putting things together. And you really need that when you are trying to look good on a budget. I'd buy something just because it was cheap without really considering the garment itself and how it's going to look with other things. So, I'm workin' on it. Sometimes I wonder why I even care. Out of all of the things to care about in the world what difference does it make if I look cute? Well, if it makes me happy and is not hurting anything then who the hell cares why it matters!! If it does it does.

Then Mj booked our airline tickets to Delaware. Whoa! I could feel my anxiety meter going up a bit but for better or for worse I was really glad that I didn't wait because that would have surely been the nail in the coffin for my Fall shopping spree extravaganza. Yeah, our anniversary is next month and Christmas will be here before we know it. I have already started making my little lists of money spent vs planned future expenses vs my budget. But it's OK. I went on a mini shopping spree and the sky didn't fall down. Big surprise there! It really is gonna be OK. Now, the only question is when the heck am I gonna get to wear the jacket and boots. Fall was was in the air last week but today It's supposed to be 80 degrees!

Ugg Anxiety

I have a problem with spending money. It's not what you are probably thinking though. Whereas most people have a problem with spending too much money I have a problem with spending too little. How is that a problem you might wonder. Well, when buying a pair of Ugg boots (that I actually have the money for) causes me to burst into tears unexpectedly while telling Mj about them during our Cyber Date....Well, that is when it could be considered a problem.

I am very organized with my bills. I get paid once a month, pay my bills online once a month (some of which are on auto bill pay) and go to the ATM once a month. I have a set amount of money transferred automatically from my checking to my savings accounts so I don't even have to think about that. A lot of people find the one paycheck a month difficult but it's no problem at all for me. I know how to make a budget and stick to it.

I was feeling pretty footloose and fancy free when it came to my finances for a change and that felt good. I was looking forward to a few fall clothing purchases I'd been planning on. I happily bought a few shirts and everything was fine until I bought the Ugg boots. Suddenly all of my money anxiety came rushing back to me full force and I began to feel that I shouldn't buy anything at all for myself for the rest of the entire year. What made me think I could buy a pair of $140 Ugg's when I have car registration due ($300!!), an out out state trip planned, a special anniversary outing to plan and Christmas around the corner? It hits me that the only reason I've been feeling ok about money lately is only because I really haven't been spending any. Aside from the necessities like gas and groceries and food out here and there I really haven't spent too much money on myself in a while.

It's not like I buy a lot of things for myself. I don't have the most expensive taste. Well, except for my jeans which I feel are a must after years and years of wearing cheapos!! But, I know when to stop. I have my core set of designer denim that look and feel great so I won't be buying anymore for well...ever. I have one equisite expensive purse (that I never in a million years would have bought for myself); but that was courtesy of Mj (bless his heart!).

I actually got some off brand cheap Uggs last year and one of the boots actually stretched out around the leg. They didn't even make it one season. I am that person who will take a trip but not want to buy any souvenirs, partake in any activities that cost much money, or even eat at a nice restaurant while I am there. I am usually so thrilled just to be on the darn trip and I feel like I can't spend much more then what it's costing me to travel there. About 3 years ago when money was tighter then ever I actually forgot what it felt like to be in a mall. I stopped going because it was too hard to be there knowing I couldn't buy a single thing and if I needed any clothing item at all for any reason I was only allowed to go to Target, Walmart, or Old Navy. I couldn't even take joy in window shopping. I am ok with buying a top or a pair of shoes here and there but the minute I exceed what is comfortable for me I freak out. Is this what I have to go through every time I want something special just for me that cost's more then $100 dollars?

Well, it's pretty ridiculous. I've been saving money since I was 16 years old and I have never had credit card debt beyond what I could reasonably pay off (one purchase at a time). I use a credit card for monthly expenses to get a cash back bonus but its within my budget so I can pay it off monthly. I have always done the right thing when it comes to money and finances-it just came naturally to me. So, why can't I indulge every now and then? Part of my rationale for not wanting to is that my fiscal discipline is what got me where I am in the first place and I don't want to mess it up. I am also of the belief that you can't have everything you want. If there is something I want that I don't feel I can reasonably justify on my income then I can't have it. Plain and simple. I may not like it but I can live with it because that's just how it goes. I already feel like I don't save enough although I do what I can, so that reason alone is why I shouldn't be out spending money on expensive items and outings.

I work hard. I save. I am responsible with my money. I know deep down that I deserve the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of my labor every now and then but there is always that voice in my head saying "YOU CAN'T HAVE IT!!!"

So, I am working on allowing myself to live and enjoy things because I do realize that a lifetime of denying myself this and that just because I am not rich is really not what I want for myself. I will never be a shopaholic. There is only so much money available in my budget for that but I shouldn't feel bad for using it-within my means. The tears weren't really about the Uggs. I love those cozy boots and I don't regret buying them. What upset me is the anxiety that I so often feel just from buying something that should make me happy.

I still have money coming to me for those two model gigs I did back August. I WILL get those fall items I've been looking forward to and I WILL enjoy it.

Make New Friends But Keep The Old

"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold." We used to sing that song in Girl Scouts. I don't know about the whole silver and gold thing but it's so true about keeping the old friends.

My oldest and best friend was in town over the weekend. We had such a great time yesterday hanging out. She hasn't been home for an actual visit since she joined the military about two years ago although, I did see her when I went to go visit my sister in May earlier this year. No matter how much time or distance has passed between us it's just like old times when we do finally get together again. I picked her up around 3:30 and we drove downtown to grab a bite to eat but not before walking into a tiny boutique "just to get change for the parking meter" where we happened to do a little shopping on the way out! After that we walked over to the mall and shopped some more there. From store to store constantly talking along the way about anything and everything. No topic is off limits. There is really nothing that we don't feel comfortable talking to each other about.

We bought Ugg's at Nordstrom's and wore them right out of the store. The sales lady was getting really irritated with us because we kept asking her to bring out different ones and couldn't make up our minds! I got the short ones even though she tried to convince me that the tall ones looked better. Good thing too, because we spent the rest of the now chilly night on our feet. The casual daytime atmosphere has been replaced with a night time party vibe. The sound of loud music filters out as we walk past club entrances where the bouncers in all black have taken up their positions for the night. We went to a coffee shop for mocha frappuccino's and gelato. Then, wandered aimlessly about the city wandering into whatever little store that caught our attention. We didn't leave downtown until about 10:00. Oh, boy can we ever hang out!!

When it comes right down to it I don't have a whole lot of friends and of the ones I do there aren't too many that I could do that with. We had a great time remembering old times and catching up on new ones too. We've been friends since 8Th grade. We did cheerleading and gymnastics together and lived in the same neighborhood for years. She used to pick me up for school every morning in her old blue Corolla and I will never forget our wild party phase when Tijuana twice a week was standard. We are very different in personality but have always gotten along. Our lives have taken so many twists and turns over the years. We have drifted apart and been in and out of touch over the years but have always maintained our friendship nonetheless.

Incidentally, she just so happens to be the person behind setting me up with Mj. She took one look at him at a random chance meeting in AZ of all places and knew that he would be perfect for me and she was right. It is only fitting that my oldest and dearest friend would set me up with the love of my life. I am very disappointed that she won't be at our wedding. She'll be back home for Christmas and then after that I won't see her again until 2011. She'll be spending 2010 in either Iraq, Kuwait, or Afghanistan-wherever the Army decides to send her. It'll be nice to have her back for good in 2011.

Regardless of how little we might speak or how few times I see her I know she thinks about me just as I think about her. It's just that kind of rare and true friendship. I am so glad that we have stayed in touch over the years and I know that we always will.

Sleeping Is Not My Strong Point

There are quite a few things I am bad at. I suck at parallel parking, I can't sing and I am horrible when it comes to math and numbers. But, of all the things there are to be bad at I never thought sleeping would be one of them. I have suffered from insomnia on and off over the years and lately it has definitely been more on then off. My ability to sleep has been severely hindered for about the last 5 months. I was taking OTC sleeping pills and Benadryl. I finally went ahead and got a prescription sleeping pill and it has helped although not consistently.

Up until about two weeks ago my problem was that it took me a long time to fall asleep, if at all. I'd lay there all night waiting for sleep and probably getting some but not long enough or deep enough to feel rested in the morning. I haven't needed my alarm clock to actually wake up in over two weeks. I need it to know when to get out of bed but I have been waking up hours before my alarm clock and not because I have gotten all of the sleep I need. I seem to be OK on nights that I don't have to wake up early in the morning. I can stay up as late as I want and sleep in as late as I need to-though not usually past 9 am. Even if I didn't sleep all that well I am waking up late enough and on my "own" time so it compensates for any fatigue I might feel.

Sleep deprivation has simply become a part of my daily life, like it or not. I wake up tired. I go to work tired. I come home tired. I go to bed tired. And it just doesn't end. It takes its toll after a while. I am so worn out that I have no energy to do anything but drag my body through the motions. I come home too tired to even sit and watch a movie and forget about going anywhere after work. No errands, no happy hour-nothing. I am just too tired. I won't ever take a nap though, because by the time I get home it's 5:30 and I know that will only make sleeping even harder later.

Even if I am feeling rested enough on the weekends I still don't want to do anything because I've gotta recoup mentally from being so exhausted and fried all week long.

Monday was another rough one, but every day starting on Tuesday I've been feeling progressively more refreshed and rested then have in a long time. My eyes aren't glazed over and burning with fatigue. My head isn't aching and heavy. So, I am hoping that this is a continued trend and that my sleeping skills are improving. I just ordered a refill for another 30 day supply of Restoril but it would be really nice if I didn't need it.

Each Day Is Like The Other

Sometimes I can't remember what movie I watched yesterday, what day I requested that prescription on line, or even what day of the week it is. Did I wear this pink shirt two weeks ago or was it just a few days before? It's like deja vu sometimes how each day kind of blends into the next so that I can hardly differentiate one from the other. I am not the only creature of habit though. It struck me one day that the path I take as I go through my daily routine crosses with others who also seem to be doing the same old thing every day just like me. At least for that brief moment. I wonder if they ever notice me as I notice them.

I hear the familiar footsteps of a lady who lives in my complex and the gate slamming behind her as she makes her way out to her car. I hear the engine roar to life signaling to me that after my usual three snoozes if I don't get up NOW I'll be late. I finish my quick morning routine and am walking out my front gate. There she is again. The lady who lives across the street is sitting on her front porch as I carry my sandwich in it's cute little pink container and cross the street to my car. She is usually wearing red plaid flannel pajamas, smoking a cigarette, and sipping something out of a mug. I usually find myself wishing that I was sitting on my front porch in my jammies NOT smoking a cigarette and drinking warm coffee while the glow of the early morning sun warms the pavement instead of going to sit in an office for the next 8 hours.

At work I boot up my computer, eat my PBJ, and drink my coffee while I settle in for the day ahead.

At 12:30 pm like clock work Oscar the friendly security guard who knows everyone is making his rounds and greets me with "Hola" as he strolls past my desk. He usually follows this by saying how many days there are until Friday and we laugh. Every day from Monday to Thursday is just a countdown to Friday after all.

At around 1:30 pm I walk the same path down the hall, through the door, down the stairs and through one more door. I am usually on the phone by now talking to Mj. Like a fixture I see her sitting quietly in the lobby reading a book as I walk by. I think she is probably on her lunch break like I am. As I sit in my car chatting with Mj half way through my break the fifth and final character of a day in my life gets into the passenger side of her own car. She is usually parked right next to me and I watch as she pulls out her reading materials and her lunch for the day. When my hour is up I head back into my building chatting with Mj up until the last minute to finish out the last part of my work day.

By 4:58 pm I am shutting down my computer relieved that the work day is finally over. It usually takes me about 25-30 minutes to get home and less time then that to get into my comfy casuals for "me" time. I have a precious 4 hours or so in the evening to relax which usually includes the Internet, a movie, TV, reading or any combination thereof. Then, It's time for bed when I will hopefully sleep and then will gratefully wake up to do it all over again the next day.

Have You Seen My Bread?

Have you seen my bread?

Don't you hate it when stores suddenly, inexplicably, and without warning stop carrying a product or brand that you have grown accustomed to. They put it in the store, they make you love it, then they take it away! How cruel.

I am a carb fiend and sliced bread is very important to me due to my morning PBJ habit. I loved the Delightful Sara Lee bread because it has a decent whole grain and fiber content all for only 45 cal's a slice. What I don't love is the price. I was buying it for a while regardless, but when it got up to $3.99 (although I can get it for a little less at Walmart-if I am in the mood to deal with that madness) it became ridiculous and so I needed to find another option. Enter Nature's Own wheat bread. It showed up right on time smack dab in the middle of my bread dilemma. Only $2.19 with similar nutritional values as Sara Lee for only 5 calories more. It even had a few more slices per loaf. I found it at my usual grocery store and I could even get it at Walmart if I happened to be doing some shopping there. Problem solved!

Until I was at Walmart a couple of weeks ago and they didn't have it. "Darn it, now I have to stop by the grocery store too." And to my dismay, they didn't have it either. So, there I am still searching the bread aisle as if it will somehow magically appear out of thin air just because I want it to. When that doesn't happen I start examining each and every brand to find an alternative because I refuse to pay Sara Lee prices. I eventually settle on Orowheat "Soft Family." Yep, that's what it's called and the bread certainly lives up to that name. At 65 cal's per slice is the lowest I could find and it has a reasonable fiber content. The price isn't as good as Nature's Own but it will have to do. I supposed I could try other grocery stores but grocery shopping is such a huge inconvenience to me even when it's close so I am not about to go out of my way to other stores even for my coveted bread. You can bet that every time I go to the store I will be looking for it in case it makes a comeback though.

Am I being cheap? Maybe, but I have always been big on bargain shopping and coupon clipping not only in the grocery stores but in the shopping malls too. Am I obsessing too much over the calorie count of my bread? Probably!! As far as I'm concerned on both fronts it all adds up and every little bit counts.