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About this blog

This is Bree's journal talking about how life changes, and how you grow with them (probably with the occasional freakout, I'm good at panic mode too!).  Life has been hard since day one, and not doing it alone is the key!

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So.  The neighbors.  Again.  Yes.  One of the many reasons I'm not sad that Nikki pushed the moving idea.  :)

I have a trick for large item trash to avoid paying fees.  I put the times out the day AFTER trash pick up, so they have roughly a week until the next one.  And only once has it failed me and the item did not 'just wander off on it's own!".  So we found out that Yuriko had been peeing behind the filing cabinet I had for years to organize.  She died of brain cancer, but no one knew she had it until the day we had to put her to sleep, but in the last six months or so of her life she had developed some strange behaviors as the cancer was changing her little brain.  My poor kitty.  But anyway, she had taken to peeing behind the metal filing cabinet, and apparently on this ancient pressboard bookshelf I've had since I was 16.  That is 1988 for those who really wanna know the age of this thing, and no, I have ZERO idea how it lasted that long, it's the kind where they sorta glued sawdust together and called it wood but this thing really didn't wanna die.  So pretty much unsalvageable, so I put both out on a Friday afternoon and resolved not to think about it unless they were still there by Wednesday, in which case I would call the trash company and arrange for the Thursday pickup to take them.

Saturday morning I am started out of my bed, at FIVE IN THE MORNING.  By the sound of grown men arguing LOUDLY just under our bedroom window.  I am exceedingly confused why it seems two random strangers chose to have some sort of what sounded like a deeply emotional conflict on my yard at that hour, so I hauled myself out of bed and reached for the curtain, and pulled it aside just a wee bit to see.  And yup, it's the neighbor son, fighting with some random dude who was loading the filing cabinet into his pickup.  Which I suspected would go easily, it's metal and metal salvage is big here among the poor now . But the neighbor is yelling at him his mom saw it first and it was theirs.  Dude was finally like then you should have taken it, finished loading, and left.  Yes, there were two people who argued for nearly a half hour over my TRASH.  We have reached the point where people are actually fighting over peed on, trashed furniture that really isn't usable anymore. 

So I figure that's the end of it, the bookshelf will sit, and I'll have to pay a coupla bucks to get rid of it.  Or Nikki can take the hatchet to it and we can burn it in the fire pit out back.  Whatever.  I got back to sleep, and we get up a few hours later and go out to run a few errands.  As I'm standing by the car, something is bugging me for a minute, and I can't figure out what... and then I realize, yup.  The creepy neighbors actually took the ancient bookshelf that had finally begun to disintegrate and was so soaked in cat urine that no amount of the enzyme cleaner I tried to use to salvage it made a difference into their house.  Where they have cats, who are going to take that as a challenge and pee all over my cats pee. 

Some days the crazy just won't let me not look at it and contemplate how we got to this point on this street.  Here's hoping future battles over my trash occur at reasonable hours at least.  Do you think it would be taken amiss if I put out a sign that reads "All battles over our trash must occur in this corner of the yard, and only between the hours of 1pm and 6pm".  LOL

So Nikki's back has been out for a while now, so I dragged him strait to the doctor Friday, based on the pain response from limb manipulation test, they think at this point it's an inflammation problem rather than an injury from all the physical labor we've been doing.  (I'm sore as anything too, but I still have full flexibility and only sore-pain not crazy pain like after the surgery I had or what he's feeling so I'm sure I'm just tired) and they gave us anti-inflammatory pills that are helping.  And new doctor reassured me a bit that maybe this relationship will work out because she addressed on her own that the pills and his antidepressents are contraindicated for each other, but he's not going to be on the new stuff long enough to run into trouble so not to worry without us having to ask or see the warnings.  These days a doctor who is paying attention to what medications you are taking and how they mix is great, so many have stopped. 

We start driving Friday, and board the ship Sunday.  I'm so tired, stressed out, trying to figure out how to proceed forward in the best way, I need this vacation.  I had a weird breakdown over trying to pack.  Simply the act of deciding what clothing to take was the last raindrop that burst the dam, but there is so much going on right now internally and externally that I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  Like I told my friend recently, you feel what you feel, it doesn't go away even if you don't act on it, and you do have to deal with those feelings. So taking my own advice and trying to sort through it all.  A reminder that no matter how good you have it there are things that harm you.  I know I have a good life, I do, but still, there are ugly things trying to claw my eyes out.  And when people say "I wish my life was as simple as yours!" it's a trap you can start to fall into and forget that your life isn't really so simple.  I just keep a lot of internally irl, I don't talk about things nearly as much as I do here, and aside from coming to learn about transgender, I have also come to learn a great deal about the safe space concept and it's real world emotional applications here.  Good lesson.  So I try to make my home and interactions with others safe space. 

So getting to know my paternal aunt a bit better, we've been talking on Facebook a lot, and at first she was trying to fix things between me and my dad, but as time goes on she's coming to understand what happened and that it can't be.  She just got back from a visit with him, and his 70-something pound german shepard just bit her, and instead of controlling the dog or correcting it, Dad just stood there laughing about it.  And when she was rightfully upset, he did the whole "Roscoe wants you to know he's a scared little being in a world he doesn't understand, and he can't help his feelings".  Really?  No one is challenging the dog, and as usual, Mr You have to take responsibility refused to take any for his responsibility to properly control and handle his pooch.  It's a beautiful dog, and I don't really want to see that poor thing put down because my dad is stupid about his dogs.  And then it became 'you're obviously an unhappy person, and we'll pray for you!" when she refused to just brush it off and left.  Which is really sad, because my Dad made so much fun of my poor grandma for saying things like that.   I didn't really want to be involved in that conversation, but she was worried I needed to know about the dog and the issue. I already knew, same thing happened when I was younger, to both her and me.  She'd forgotten about that, and it was her aha moment, that she really didn't understand the dynamic between dad and me was a lifetime of things, and calling my kid and me stupid was just the final thing that made me realize how unhealthy it is.  But hey, at least I sorta have a relationship with an aunt I didn't really have one with before, so that is potentially good. 

I'll relax when we've achieved the goals I guess.  Even on vacation this stuff is inside, it goes with you.

Just life.

By Briannah,

Life evolves.  The original plan was only moving if Nikki found a job out of town. Which as of yet has not happened, but it's always a potentiality.  Unfortunately, I got curious, and I looked at towns around our area and asked NIkki what the maximum commute was, as apparently there are several choices in a city a half hourish south of us that would put our mortgage at a third to half of what we pay  now.  Let that percolate a moment, yeah.  And the houses are bigger and nicer.  One is so flat out gorgeous.  but we're not ready to list (although working hard at it!) and that city doesn't have a huge it's possible it will still be there when this one sells.  I need to sell this one first for the down payment for the next one.  And watching Trump deconstruct our country has forced me into the realization that we need to get a setup where if we have to we can survive okay on minimum wage jobs.  We can't do that in this house, and I feel financially insecure in what he's going to do in the next four years to realize now is the time to change that.  Course, if he drives us into another Great Depression, I'm not sure there will be any burger cooking (I just can't say flipping, I've worked at McD's, no flipping involved it's a giant really hot clam thing) jobs to be had. 

Especially if you're me.  Republicans are trying to pass a bill now giving employers the right to genetic test employees and get the resutls.  So much for Hipaa.  I'm asthmatic, among other things, and I have no idea if that will show up or not.  But I imagine if that law passes people with conditions can start saying goodbye to jobs so employers can save money on insurance feees.  There is seriously no real reason an employer needs that level of medical information on potential employees.  And since they also want to defund medicare and welfare and everything else, I wonder what these jobless ill people will do to survive.  I imagine it won't be pretty.

But the decision to sell the house and go has been finalized no matter what he does job wise.  And it's weird.  On the one hand, there is new life possibilities!  on the other much work, and crazy fears, an waiting for the house to sell being stuck in a limbo you can't control til that is done.  And resentment that it literally is the fact that I can't count on my country to care about people like us, or anyone not in the top 2% financial positions, that i have to do this.  Weird headspace for me right now, and I"m sorta volatile.  The trump fans are trying to tell me I'm overreacting.  I'm not.  When you see a potential weakness, you fix it.  $676 a month when I could get $150 to $290 a month is not an overreaction, it's a positive change so that if they automate, offshore, or just downsize nikki's job out we're not screwed. 

My offspring is coming home next weekend to get the rest of his things, he's moving back with crazy ex.  Here's hoping she's grown less crazy with time and it works out okay.  It'll be great to get to see him, originally he was coming the weekend after but his moving plans changed, which is good becuase the weekend after I'll be driving to wehre it's warm to hop on a boat.  PALM TREES!  I'm coming palm trees!  I can't really explain the palm tree thing, they just make me happy. 


So I watched about a billion youtube videos about doing the fairly simply, layered haircut I favor yourself.  And it is actually fairly idiot proof, you basically let your head do the work for you.  Ponytail it all at your forehead instead of your crown, cut teh ponytail at the desired length, and take the band out.  Voila.  The natural spaces on your head arrange the hair at different lengths as it takes further from the nap to your forehead than mid-head and crown, etc. etc.  It's faster, no awkward descriptions and miscommunications, and best of all, no product hard sell.  There is nothing a the salon I can't get cheaper elsewhere.  And my hair is long enough that if it doesn't work out for my texture(you never know, salon or at home really, what a particular cut will do with your individual hair I have learned the hard way, I look like a weird porcupine with some kinda bent quill birth defect if I try to rock the really short hair) I can go in and get the layered bob I was thinking of.  I'm going to cut it longer than I was thinking I would like it to see how it looks first, and then I can always do it a second time if it works for me.  Then I have to redye it green, it's fading into blond really fast now.

What is everyone else doing with their hair? 

So there is a still a lot of work, I swear the cosmetic parts are more work than the actual structural parts, but the decaying and failing runners have all been replaced by new ones, that are deeper (the come out a but further, giving a larger space for the foot) with new pine runners.  Nikki did an awesome job, sawdust is everywhere (sawdust smells good, I forgot that), and w'ere ready to start worrying about making it look nice now.  I forgot how QUIET stairs are when they're not...well...ancient.  I'm really having to confront some internal senses of helplessness about changing things in a house and diy stuff that I didn't realize I had or the extent of which I allowed to hold me back.  I'm firm on the professionals only for electrical work, but the rest is negotiable apparently.  This has been good for me, and I think Nikki likes all the praise. :)  I helped.  Awkwardly.  And at one point AssassinFeline decided he was going to be a carpenter too, but we got him shooed away without bloodshed.  That's a victory! 

Nikki is really good with wood, while I'm still terrorized about power tools.  In my small defense though, I was constantly given the message since I was small "Machines will hurt you" and I'm having trouble overcoming that lifelong conditioning.  It didn't help when my 8th grade metalshop teacher cut his finger off (not when I was in the room, it was a few class periods before mine, but still) and my father worked accident scenes with trains and used that to scare me to make sure I respected trains and the damage they can do. 

Nikki didn't get the first job he tried for, but we're not giving up.  :)  We had a talk with the people at this therapy place, and they recommended a second therapist who went to school with the one he was seeing and has a similar approach, so he's going to start seeing her when we get back form the cruise.  Like the day after I believe.  I think with the stress of trying to job hunt and move us it's better to have someone than wait, and he either agrees with me or is humoring me hugely. 

I've started plotting out a deep clean as stuff vanishes into totes and boxes and moves to my mom's.  We might have to invest in new carpet for the upstairs, 10 years of cats puking is problematic, but I'm going to try to shampoo it first and see if I can't coax into something reasonable enough to present to buyers if we reach that point.  The weather has been fairly reasonable, I think Nikki is eyeing fixing the broken fence cracked by the falling tree from the neighbor next door (Yes, I know he should have fixed it, but he's a slumlord and sugin him would cost more than just dealing with it). 

I've been dealing with my mom having a cow that my aunt new about our work to leave town before she did.  Of course my aunt new, she and I talk all the time.  Aunt is unpredictable and can be difficult without warning, but she genuinely is trying to help.  If he does secure the job, I was planning to ask her to come to Dayton with me and do the house tours, she has a great eye and is super nitpicky and notices EVERY little detail, great resource!  I'm sure that will give birth to a whole herd of bovines with my mom, but I don't have time to humor the fantasy land anymore.

In one month vacation begins!  WOOHOO!  CARIBBEAN here we come!  *stupidly excited*  And the night before we get on the ship a guild mate of ours from an online game is in teh area, we're planning to meet up for dinner and have a bit of silly chatter. :)  It'll be fun to put a face to the voice in my headset. It's going to be a great trip! 

So that is what I've been busy with, how are all of you? *hugs all around*

So I got the new webcame to skype and roll20 game with my son now that he's moved, and I Thought, ya know what?  I wanna say hello to the world.  Omegle, here I come!  So I loaded it up.  Now, I FULLY expected to run into a lot of pervyness.  I went into it with the realization I will see things, there is no way around that, the next button is my friend.  But I had it in my head that there were other normal people who just wanted to talk to the world, and after I waded through the unspeakable things, I would find and chat with interesting people.  But it seems like the ENTIRE thing was unspeakable things. 

And it makes me really sad.

Random video chat is a lifechanging technology.  It has the power to connect people around the world, to talk, meet, share their lives and stories, educate each other about different places of the world, and learn the truths in the world for yourself through contact instead of media.  And we've let it languish into some sort of perverts only waste.  We could change the world here, and we just...don't.  I wouldn't even mind wading through the random body parts and weirdness if it meant there would be gems of awesome somewhere.  I"m an adult, I can push the next button and not be irreparably harmed.  But there was nothing no matter how many times I nexted.   If you are under 18, stay off these things, even the ones rated 13+ the users really don't care.

So my webcam sits off quietly, until someone I know someday might also get a webcam other than my son.  And I'm still lonely at night hwen it's quiet, and I could have spent that time broadening my understanding of the world, and I think I"M a little mad at the world for not being there.  To tell me why Togo is an awesome place, why I need to fight pollution to try to save the Maldives from vanishing because they have this awesome thing, what this custom I don't understand is all about, or to answer any question they have about american weirdness.  Lonely turtle.

How Nikki sees the new tool kit we got today (because I broke the drill, don't ask) - Ooh, cool, I can do cool things like built in book shelving and better closeting!  I can be all sorts of productive!  These things are kind of dangerous though.

How I see the new tools: Hm..if anyone breaks in again, I could totally kill a person with those....and not have to worry about a cord.  I wonder if it would get stuck in the bone?

Some days I think there is something really wrong with me.  In my defense, it was IF someone breaks in, not I could just go out and drill into someone. :)

Between you've drank the Kool-Aid, joined the paranoid tinfoil hat brigade, or are having a reasonable response to something? How do you REALLY know? 

Because I might be over that line.  *closes prepper information websites*  Or the line is over me, and I'm just starting to realize things can slide really quickly.  I don't know.

Nikki's therapist, his younger than me, super healthy therapist, had a heart attack and passed away this weekend.  I can't wrap my mind around it.  She has been so helpful working everything out, and such a huge part of our lives (Nikkii's directly, mine through the effect she has on our life) that i just am floored.  So far Nikki is okay, but I don't know how this works for a patient.  If my former therapist had just died, it would have really messed me up, I can't even imagine.  And she was so sweet.  :(

I know rationally that if we moved, a new therapist search was in the near future, and nothing we feel is anything like what her family feels, but the finality and suddenness of it is just stunning.  And of course now I"m worried for Nikki, having that taken away so suddenly can't be good for him. 


By Briannah,

So it was a rocky year, but we made it out okay.  Today was our 18th anniversary, and we had a great day.  And the weather was almost nice!  ;)  We had a nice brunch out(Nikki is trying to live on my schedule during staycation, silly sleepy boy so we didn't wake up til 11), my aunt stopped by to drop off my birthday card since I was busy yesterday only she actually forgot the card on her counter, then we packed up more tubs and moved them to my moms and stopped and my aunts on the way home, grabbed some dinner, and spent the night gaming together.  It was fun.

Right now my cat is super high on a catnip stash I didn't know he has, and is amusing the daylights outta me.  Drunk cat. I think he may be in need of Catnip Anonymous. 

So I bit the bullet and had the we're leaving as soon as reasonably possible talk with the family, it went better than I expected.  Turns out the aunt's interest aligns with our desire to be outta here (She's not eager to be rid of us, but she thinks my mom will have to come outta lala land without us to pick up the slack).  She asked to see some of the houses I saved as potentials, and we had fun looking them over.  She has a good eye too and was helpful picking out little tidbits and we had a good time.  I like my aunt most of the time, but sometimes she gets WEIRD. Runs in the family.  She also thinks we just sorta lingered too long here after Grandma passed.  The deal with Nikki was we couldn't leave unless there was no way around it until Grandma passed, and she went in 2011.  There was a long time of depression where change was a bad idea, and then we just sorta got into a holding pattern.

It was kinda disturbing when I talked to my mom though, I asked nicely if I could stay with her for a while and before I could finish explaining she got all gleeful thinking I was getting divorced.  It's not about Nikki at all though, don't misunderstand.  My mom married my dad reasonably young, I think they were 21, I"m not really clear on that bit.  I think they were married three to four years before I was born. And only three years after, my dad had the affair I talked about before that he involved me in.  So they divorced, and she literally never did anything again.  No dates, no talking to anyone, didn't even make a single non-work friend, just sat around all the time reading romance novels.  It's creepy to me as an adult, but as a kid I thought that was what grownups did.  And we never got along after my divorce when I didn't sit around doing nothing, and started dating again immediately on the separation (it took me a few years to save up for my actual divorce, but everyone I went out with knew I was legally married but not in contact with my husband at all and why).  And then it got worse when I succesfully married again.  She literally resents me for making it obvious it was her own choices that led her to her current life, that you can get up and start over and find the happy ending.  So I get frustrated realizing how it is, but at the same time I just sorta shrug cuz what can I do?  I can't make her less crazy.  And I'm not going to babysit a grown woman who won't do anything to improve her situation.  I make no apologies for continuing to kiss the frogs til I found the prince/ss. I do make some apologies to the frogettes for not understanding the difference between bisexual and biromantic though, I dropped the ball on that one and hurt some women's feelings and own up that.  But those experiences were part of what made me me, so that's ultimately okay too, I didn't do it on purpose. 

So sorta creepy in an otherwise great fun weekend.  I think I don't even understand how much pressure and emotional weight will be gone when I am.  Sometimes I back burner things I know I cant' really change, and then am astonished when the situation is gone and how happy I am that it's gone.  

And let's be real, with the Cheeto destroying everything, lower living expenses to pay the crazy medical fees that will be there since there won't be any protection against my pre-existing conditions or lifetime caps is important.  I may have to go back to college and major in chemistry just so I can figure out it the local water is safe to drink. 

I'm 45 today.

By Briannah,

It's after midnight, that makes it my birthday!  LOL 

And even better, NIKKI HAS AN INTERVIEW!  And while I fully comprehend the difference between an interview and a job offer, it's still good to see him get a nibble less than two days after he applied.  It's done wonders for his confidence, and I'm proud of my Nikki.  :)  It was amazing news.

And if it does work out, both GREAT and OH MY TURTLES IT"S GONNA GET CRAZY.  LOL


Just rambling.

By Briannah,

I think I grew up a bit more somewhere along the way.  I'm at the post-stressout phase and tired, but Nikki's wish to leave isn't as scary as it first was.  I still have a lot of fears, but I think they're valid fears.  What if he can't get a job, the unemployment rate in Ohio is still bad, what if we can't sell the house, what will my mom do since my son is moving out of state next week and then we're leaving too (I know, on the one hand she's pretty much made her bed with me, but on the other hand it wouldn't make Grandma happy for me to just not care if she were still alive, so mixed feels).   Now I'm actually kinda getting worried that this new life is really starting to sound GOOD and something will happen and I can't have it.  Grar.  I"m so silly sometimes, huh?  Two days ago freaking out that this was a thing, now freaking out if it can't be? LOL

At least I'll have Siri to help me find my home without the embarrassing call to anyone having to admit I don't know how to find my new home, please give me directions!   And someone who knows the town well willing to show me around and share the local info. 

I did a lot of work, my house is starting to look kinda naked and weird.  Even if we can't go, the overhaul of the house will still occur and that will be massively easier without all the clutter.  So it's not wasted.  Well, I'm off to work some more.  Working hard at night so I can spend afternoons with Nikki.  :) 

So more talking occurred, and it seems that making moving the focus is pretty much the desired outcome.  Which will mean a lot of job hunting on Nikki's part, and packing/cleaning/repair work on mine.  And a discussion that I'm not overreacting if Nikki wants this to happen.  Now is the time we have to do all the preparation work, so that if things do fall into place we are ready and not having a financial crisis making this happen.  So Nikki got on board with my 'we prep now, since either way it will work out whether we go/stay" and we started today.

The cons:

  • Having to sell a house.  My paralytic terror that no one will buy this hosue and how to we afford two.  I know I could rent it out, but that is scary too.  LOL
  • Potentially having to separate for a while, I live up here he lives there during the week.  Having to stay with my mom most likely, I hate being alone in the house at night.  Like possibly phobic level hate, still trying to work out what my issue here is. 
  • Living in a strange place.  Even though I moved here from New Jersey, I spent summers here with my grandparents, so was already very familiar with the town.  This will be the first time in my life I move to a place I'm unfamiliar with.
  • So much work to prep this place for sale and move.
  • Won't be able to hop up to the Toledo zoo every time I get a whim.

The Pros -

  • One of my closest friends lives there.  Getting to hang out with her irl more instead of phone/virtual will rock.
  • Distance between me and the last of my relatives in the town. 
  • Lower mortgage payment, they got hit hard by the housing bubble bursting and didn't recover as well, so we have quite a few options that lower our overall expenses and open up more fun things.
  • Nikki possibly getting a job with normal hours and not having to get up at o'dark of the morning.
  • A larger city increases the likelihood of meeting people with common interests.  And if I'm remembering properly there was a trans group down there for Nikki.  I have to look that back up, I may be confusing it with the city an hour further down the highway.
  • Shaves two hours off our annual summer drive to join the friends, and two hours off the biannual cruise drive.  Could possibly restore cruising to annual despite my not working. 
  • Bigger population area means more pokemon in pokemon go.  (I know, I'm a goofy nerdgirl). 
  • It's 45 minute drive to another group of our friends, instead of an hour and a half. 
  • If it's still available after we sell this house they had a great house for a really good price.

So obviously doing whatever we need to do to secure a new job for Nikki there and moving is in our best interests.  I just wish you could push a button and just be settled and done with it.  So many things can go wrong with this 'new life' idea.  He may not get a job, the house may not sell forever, trump may blow us all up, another back to the stone age storm could blow through the state.

Wish us luck I guess.

SO....Nikki turns to me today and tells me that he's seriously job hunting in Dayton, has done research in the cost of living and it's lower and the salaries are the same as here so we can live better.   And he has a pocket ace in the hole, he's looking to move to the town that one of my closest friends lives in.  And apparently the child knew before me.  *headdesk*  After a lot of talk the current consensus is this is something Nikki is fairly serious about and we should actively work towards.  He did say check back in a month after his Zoloft takes effect again (the holidays are the worlds crappiest time to have to find a new doctor, that took FOREVER.)  But both his and my meds are now refilled.  And I have a new inhaler while I'm pocking at ancient carpet padding. 

On the plus side, I did see a $50k house that is near my friend, cute, and has an acceptable yard.  That is less than our current house, but a little bigger, adn lower mortgage. So this could be a really good thing financially as well as letting him find a job that he doesn't have to get up a o'dark of the morning.  There is more to do in Dayton.  It's a city vs. a large town.

And I'm completely freaking out.  Moving is the seventh circle of hell.  And I have a paralytic fear of real estate business.  I wanted to have a meltdown, but I kept my Bree calm and started researching what is involved in all of this.  Said close friend was called to explain to me how taxes work when you sell a home.  Because I have ZERO clue how that all works and it's something I should vaguely understand if we are potentially selling our house.  She's good though, she immediately new that while that was key information I was looking for, it was a cry to be saved again by my dear friend. And she gave me some links for Nikki to find a room to rent until I/we finish this place and sell it off, we think just a single room rental from someone is probably cheaper and more realistic financially until we sell this house. 

So renovations have not turned into potential sale prep.  I had a limited information talk with my mother, and arranged to start storing things in her basement. Whether we go or stay, I need to pack all non-essential things up so that we can work without tripping over things.  (Yes, this might have been prompted by me getting hit in the head with something that I knocked over while sorting books for the C-bus trip next week).  I just left out the possible fleeing town to start a new life elsewhere. 

I feel VERY unsettled and will until a decision is made to move or stay.  I can't just not worry about it, it's a Big Thing that is going to be on in my brain all the time until decisions are made and completed.  I feel both the possibilities for improvement and cringe at the sheer amount of logistics of making it actually happen. 

This all came outta left field, but just writing it out feels better.  Here's hoping for new things I guess.

So much for best laid plans.  Thanks to a sick cat spewing over the ENTIRE staircase top to bottom, Nikki and I had a quick meeting to figure out how best to deal with this mess, and the staircase IS on the renovation RENOVATIONS HAVE BEGUN!  I repeat, they have begun! This is not a drill!  Grab your emergency breathing masks!  *laughing*  At this point it's easier to just start early and toss the carpet than to clean that up, poor cat really didn't have a good night last night.  The vet thinks it's lingering damage from his starvation period, he's never been quite 'right', and while all cats are puke machines to some extent or another, this one apparently aspires to be an Olympic specialist in the sport. 

So...we did not get a pleasant surprise under the carpet, I admit I had a silly hope maybe it was nice under it, it wouldn't be the first time a homeowner removed carpet to find something pleasant underneath.  But it wasn't a horror show either, it is just a set of aging painted stairs in need of cleaning from sitting under slowly disintegrating padding.  Then probably it wouldn't hurt to trowel on some wood putty to smooth out all the nicks and tack holes from the carpet, and we can paint them so they don't look quite so bad.  The good news is that they do seem to be in decent condition, and the website I saved on how to redo them doesn't look like it will be necessary at this time, unless, of course, Nikki drives that hammer through them into the basement or something. 

So, in my ongoing quest to improve the new budget and live better on what we have now, and my growing fear that Trump is going to throw us back into 2009 or worse when all the jobs vanished, I have been working on one of the biggest expenses that IS mutable, unlike the mortgage, internet, etc.  And that  Most advice seems to always stem around don't eat out, cook yourself, but groceries are stupidly expensive, and the whole process of fitting cooking into a busy life isn't that intuitive. Add in a rage issue with planning like I talked about earlier (I know, I'm nuts sometimes) and not eating out doesn't REALLY fix the issue. 

SO....I have found two solutions that work for me, and want to share them with the other potential cooks who want to get a handle on their food expenses, especially with the prices of food going up all over the place now.

The first is going to sound dumb, but is your friend.  It brings you to a HUGE amount of cooking blogs and food sites that you might not find just googling, and offers pictures of foods  you might not have been exposed to before but could be interested in trying, and an easy place to 'pin' things to look at later.  MOST of all, it's free and no need to spend money on a cookbook, make one in your computer.

Then, start a free account at

This site has a pro paid version, but most of the features are available in the free version, there are just ads you'll have to ignore.  Or there's another one that is $5 a month, I forget the name but I could find it again if any one wants it.  I prefer free because my goal is both organization and spending reduction, but if someone is just organization, I think the other site looked a little spiffier.   The free one seems a bit more awkward to use than the paid one, but it's not overly difficult once you poke at it a bit and figure it out.

So how this site is affecting my goals - It allows me to import recipes from websites, and enter my own.  So I'm bulding up a catalog of everything I actively cook now and want to try.  Sounds like just a cookbook, I know.  But then it has a meal planner option where I can easily create a two week plan by going to the recipes, clicking 'add plan' and it asks me for the date and breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack.  And then I can also add it to a grocery list that I can then print out or put on my phone and take with me.  It considerably cuts into how LONG it takes to meal plan, and those advice sites are right, I am reducing the amount of money I'm spending on food by planning everything and living on a 'schedule'. 

Yes, I have some internal resentment of the time it takes to plan things and losing my rights to whimsy, but I am slowly countering that with the fun of having money to save for the big things we need and to spend on entertainment because the food budget is shrinking.  I'm wasting less, spending less money, and spending less time trying to figure out what to do for meals or what my 'mood' is.  I'm not entirely sure now that my issues with giving up the 'freedom' to do whatever I like whenever I like isn't some form of my add or self-destructive part of the dismorphia disorders trying to control my behaviors, or if it's a normal emotional reaction.  I really can't tell. 

And I'm sharing this because I have picked up on that there are people here also struggling with money like I do, and maybe this can help someone else like it helped me.  Maybe not.  But I have a perspective that the legion of every day things I wasn't taught growing up which did NOT magically morph into this mythical 'well this is just common sense, you should have figured this out the minute you became a grownup!'  Some people do figure things out they weren't taught and their brains have no reason to conceive of, I don't dispute this.  But just as many are like me and these basic living skills don't magically pop up in our minds and we need to be exposed to them to learn to utilize the strategies to improve our lives and counter the others we were taught. 


No one here will be surprised when I mention my need for information to make ANY life choices, small or large, and vacation is not an exception.  I really don't understand my head here.  Researching the options = fun and entertainment to my brain, but actual specific planning sends me into a tailspin of resentment for my time and energy being sucked into the process. 

So I'm always reading new things about everything I'm into, including cruising, and I like to read those 'things I wish I knew" and 'get the most of f your cruise' type articles, and I did learn a few new things, like despite neither of us like fish Nikki and I are going to try a bit of sushi for the first time ever, we never knew that the Tamarind (one of those you pay extra to eat at places) has no extra charge at lunch, only at dinner.  So we agreed to try it, if only to put a stop to all the 'how can you know you don't like it, you never treid it!  Best place to try suspicous new things is on a cruise, where they will bend over backwards to find you something you like if you don't like the new thing.  It doesn't always work out great, on the Royal Princess i tried the cheese mousse.  It sounded okay on the menu...but on the plate in front of my I nearly lost my nerve.  It smelled like rotten feet, and it visually looked like baby poop.  Other people all around were me eating this thing though, so okay...but no, it tasted like my nose tells me baby poop would too.  I can't believe I ate that. *Shudders*

So this article is all about getting the most for your money, and has 10 tips, and 9 of them I already knew and vetted, but the one I hadn't tried said that booking through your cruise will cost you up to twice as much, and you get less.  The author then mentioned three third party tour services that guarantee on time return to your ship (because that is one of the big things, a ship will NOT leave you if you are booked on a tour THEY sold you, but if you are on your own they will leave you on time because every minute over costs them thousands in fees at a port).  So I googled the websites, and started looking around, and that author must live in Colorado and have taken a break when they wrote this one point on the list to smoke somethine, because not only was there not more variety (Really, shoudln't there be more OPTIONS at least if these company specialize only in tours where a crusie just vets enough to keep its' passengers happy?) they ALL cost more.  Not one would have saved us any money, and it had LESS options, the rain forest we  are going to tour through the ship cruise in Puerto Rico (El Yunque) didn't appear in anything at all.  If I'm being kind I'm going to assume the author has possibly out of date information, and the cost trends have shifted, entirely possible if a service gets big enough with enough loyal customers they stop undercutting the competition to get started after all and start looking to increase profit.  At worst that author was going to sell us all out. 

Follow up on that information, this world really is out to get us all. 

So usually my add and natural personality has us living very by ear.  Planning is SO not my thing, and it has been an herculean effort to start developing that skill.   But the staycation and vacations after peak season are important to Nikki, downtime after that crazy work schedule, so I'm trying to be more organized about it to further reduce the stress on Nikki. Easier said than done, but I'm definitely making headway. 

I have a menu list for staycation, no more arguments about what to eat.  We have this weird dynamic there, where Nikki apparently believes I won't eat ANY food so he's not going to choose anything and that responsibility is fully upon me (complete with complaining when I do pick) and I have an inherent emotional pushback against "whatever you want" that stems from a sense that relationships should be about both, and I emotionally hear "whatever you want" as "I don't really care, pick something and shut up so I can go back to forgetting about you for a while".  I've tried communicating this to Nikki, but no change in our patterns from that side yet, so I'm trying harder on mine to be different.  Avoid the entire context then and pretend it doesn't happen I suppose.

As for vacation, I have already done the budget, booked the cruise, booked the excursions, booked the hotels (except hotel B, I want his input on it since there are options half the price of our preferred hotel brand in the area and it is just one night) on a planned we are driving from home to destination a day one, and destination a hotel to hotel b that is right by the marina day 2, and then from 2 to the parking which I have already prebooked.  And booked the hotel we always use on the way home.  Two stays on the way there because we arrive in Florida at night, one becuase it's fine to arrive home at night. :)   So this will remove the everyone is tired, cranky, and really wants out of the car fighting over finding a place to stay that usually occurs trying to find an open reasonably priced room Florida.  Nikki often doesn't want to prebook everything because he likes the flexibility of driving and stopping at will, but it's really not working out so well.  We're going to try organized.   And under budget.  Black Friday got us a good deal on the room, so did prebooking the hotels, and the parking area we use always includes on free day if you pay in advance instead of at the lot(and I signed up for their parking rewards card, every 10 days you earn a free one, and the credits supposedly never expire).  And then I put all the paperwork into one of the old travel clutches they used to give you when you went on cruises (now everyone is just supposed to print their documents, I know it's cheaper and all, but I really miss the little thrill of getting that clutch in the mail with the formal tickets, luggage tags, and welcome aboard brochures to leaf through!).  Fortunatly I had saved one, it's a great way to keep the pass ports, all travel papers, and such all in one place and make it easier on the trip. 

I've even improved my packing skills.  We pack a small seperate duffel bag entirely for the hotels so we don't have to mess with the big luggage.  Just grab our litle hotel bag and carry on for the ship (becuase this usually has our electronics and toothbrushes), quick and easy.  We started doing that last two cruises, and it worked wonderfully.

So I'm apparently teaching my brain the value of organization little by little.  The big successful vacation improvement emotional behavior reward is starting to spill over into other things, planning meals and shopping off a list instead of just getting food in general I"m familiar with and trying to wing it. 

There is some internal emotional blowback of course, I can't quite overcome the resentment of all the time it takes to plan everything out.  I know rationally that I'm actually saving time, and stress, but emotions don't come from rational thinking.  If they did, this would be a much easier place to live in.  But it's easier to deal with those resentful feelings knowing that I'm getting something out of the work.

And the lesson I learned today, if it's this hard to push myself to improving my behavior and actions on a thing that isn't hugely emotionally invested, I need to have more patience with the world no matter how much I hate bullying and segregation and oppression, because how much harder is it to change the feelings that create that.

So..had those amazing flourless chocolate cakes before.  They are awesome, I love them.  Something that awesome had to be can make a version with three ingredients and it's awesome.  Basically it's like a really chocolately dense souffle, made from eggs, chocolate and butter.  That blows my mind.   I have a tendency to overcomplicate a lot of things, and simple things blow me away. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I require some chocolate chips to make a cake apparently.

Scary wind.

By Briannah,

It's shaking the house, and the fence was just at a really odd angle to the ground.  ti's a six foot wooden privacy fence, not a little flimsy decorative fence I mean.  I'm glad we had the roof finished last year from the windstorm that tore it up and made it look like someone ran a giant sander over it, because I think chunks would be gone tonight and smacking the neighbors house.  Don't like the neighbors, but I still don't want their home to get hit by my roof chunks.  

One year I got hit in the head with a flying green plastic turtle shell, you know the little tykes turtle shaped sandboxes?  We were coming home from class and in the couryard of the apartments and the wind just lifted the shell top right off it and winged me.  At the time it sorta hurt, but in restrospect now it's sorta funny when I think about it.  Nikki called that sandbox Angry Gamera the rest of the time we lived there.  And the big tree in the back field had cracked, and it was a sort of nearly spherical shape after it broke off the trunk, and I remember another day watching it roll around on the ice like the worlds biggest tumbleweed.   And what had to be a really inexperienced plow driver was trying to plow UP the angle of the small lane back there instead of down from bigger road to the next bigger road, and got royally stuck because of all the ice and the angle, and the tumbleweed hit his plow truck.  It was a weird night.

Its funny that moments you haven't thought about ever get called back without warning with the right stimuli.  Thank goodness neighbors on the other side landlord was finally forced to fix the chimney, or I'd be really worried right now.

Cold Weirdness

By Briannah,

Watching Unusual Suspects while waiting to get sleepy(Deadly Women auto qeued this) and I think the cold medicine is making me wonky, but the murder victim's name is Brianna, and despite it being a pen name, it's really creepy to keep hearing "And he murdered Brianna..."  Mr. Plus Turtle says he'll defend me though.  :) 

I'm not sure I like cold medicine anymore.  I couldn't take anything for years, most of it contains pseudoephidrine, and you can't mix that with the daily powdered asthma control inhaler I was on for years, so I just got used to colds and dealing.  Aspirin if my throat was really unhappy cuz I'm kinda wimpy.  But I don't have to take Advair anymore for like three years now, so I took the NyQuil pills Nikki offered me, and I just feel loopy.  I don't think I feel better, I think I just care slightly less that I don't feel good from the medication. 

So.  It took me 12 years of alarm clocks, schedules, and struggles with insomnia and exhaustion to get my body to a roughly midnight to 8 am sleep schedule.  Where I still needed the alarm clock, but most days I woke up without it or just before it went off.  But there was that knowledge that it wasn't fully reliable and I had better have that thing set so I didn't get fired. 

And it's taken roughly...four weeks to end up back on my native 4 am to noon sleep habit.  And now I get tired around the same time every night.  I am asleep within a half hour generally of hitting the pillow, I still get the occasional insomnia I can't sleep for a few hours, but it's been twice in the last three months, not four times a week like before.  I don't need sleeping pills four outta seven nights a week anymore.  I sleep solidly around 8 hours.  I no longer have this exhausted desperate need for a nap in the middle of the day anymore.  I occasionally do enjoy a nap, but it's not the same I need one every day or I fall apart in the evenings. 

Why am I talking about this?  Because many people kept telling me that sleep schedules are easily adjusted, and completely overlook the physical effects side of changing it.  Evolution has NOT caught up with our modern lives.  We evolved multiple internal sleep clocks as a survival tool, someone in the group was always awake to alert the others to dangers.  But a tool that worked for us for thousands of years didn't just vanish.  I'm not saying it won't evolve out.  Our brains a whole still are, the shapes of cars in the last couple of decades has been added to the 'instant recognition of a basic shape that is not a threat moving around us' reflex.  That was a fascinating article, about how we subconsciously identify threat vs. harmless by overall silhouette shape, and what has been introduced to that catalog in our brains.  Even for children and people who don't drive, because they are such a common thing in our world now.  But people in places where they are not have not added the shape.  Sorry, got off on a tangent.

Night owls unite.  We just are what we are.  And if you're like me and just can't adjust to the day shift world, do try to find a night shift somehwere, you're body will be happier for it.

There are some broad tendency (probably from social upbringing) differences between men and women.  And one of those differences is staring at me from catching up on Deadly women (and other forensic shows, I have some weird obsession with forensics, I don't even know why).  This is in regard to premeditated murder, not heat of the moment kind where everyone male or female has just lost their minds for a minute.

When a guy is going to kill you, most of the time he just does it, and fairly quickly upon deciding it has to be done.  When a woman is going to kill you, it reaches some insane levels of crazy detail planning and some really long term patience.  And we tend to like poisons in general.  Sometimes accidents, but we seem to have picked that up from the guys who often try to use accidents to cover it up and in a general sweep (or at least what cases they decided to feature) we really like poison.  Not suprising I guess, we know a lot about them in our day to day role as keepers of the house.  Very few women don''t know the dangers of the household chemicals and pest controls we use.

Why do they still get caught?  Because male and female murderers share a similar thought processes again; most of them don't think or plan beyond the actual murder to what to do with the body and evidence. 

I'll just not kill anyone and make my life easier both without all the time and mental effort required to plan and then physical effort to carry out and clean up and the jail part. 

Still cold ridden, but Nikki fed me chicken soup, I have my plush turtle, my favorite Halloween microfiber blanket, this cushy recliner, my Ipad, and more episodes of Deadly Women to entertain me while my head feels like it weights a few extra tons.  I think I'll make it.  :) 

Tangent - this is why that commercial for the flu shot is so stupid.  They keep showing this commercial showing people missing out on life moments because they are sick, and they imply that if they had their flue shot it wouldn't have happened.  So while hopefully they got the flu strains in the shot right this year and I won't get the flu (because I got the real influenza a couple of years ago, not the stomach 'flu' or heavy cold 'flu' people associate with the word and I heartily respect flu now, and now understand why it can kill people) it doesn't save you from other ailments.  Colds, strep throat, GI infections, etc.   In other words, flu shot taken, but plush Mr. Turtle has job security anyway.   Don't show us a birthday party with a woman who looks like she has a cold, advertise how many people actually died of it last year (because they did).  I totally respect death statistics when considering if I should get a immunization.

Get your immunizations folks, let's all live!


By Briannah,

I have Nikki germs.  Decided to share the cold germs with me, ah the joys of marriage.  MEH! 

I'm going to go whine at my favorite stuffed turtle for a while. 

Nikki's passport has wandered off somewhere, again.  And I"m only 60 percent sure mine is still where I remember it being.  I honestly think these things are alive, aware they are at the end of their lifespan, and Really Angry about that.  (I have to renew them next year, and I never renewed them before, and I'm disproportionately freaked out by official things I've never done before).  And I still have to organize excursions (we like to have them ordered and paid before we go, the less we spend on the trip the less we risk whatever they call that when the numbers get big and you start spending like crazy because it seems a little unreal.  There' sa name for the psychological effect but I cant' remember it.  Reason number two we're postponing Assateague til next year when we're not planning to cruise.  I'm super excited to share all my memories physically with Nikki though of that island.

I'm really excited that there are beaches in my future.  I really miss living on a coastal state.  I lived in the center of the state, nearly the real center weirdly both north/south and east/west so I wasn't right on the coast, but depending on the winds some days when it was warm the sea winds were strong and blowing in ward you could get whiffs of the sea even as  far inland as we were.  And of course, an half to full hours ride depending on which beach was desired and a coupla bucks of parkway money (and I'm so odd, I know, but I loved throwing money at the little funnels and going, it  always struck me as hilarious!) and some really frustrating circling trying to find a parking spot later and you could be on the beach.  :)  I would love to be coastal again.  Even though I have recently learned there is actually a sand crisis on pretty much every beach on the world, and everyone is angry at Africa for not sharing their sand, i guess from teh Sahara?  Crazy right?

Heck, I have this silly wish to go home, and live in New Jersey again.  Surprisingly a lot of the people from my childhood and early adulthood are still there and in touch.  But it's crazy expensive, and impractical.  But that's what dreams are for right?  I'm such a cliche, I spent all my time in Piscataway wanting out, and now i just want back in.  Go figure.   It's one of the two places I dream of living when I'm not focused on making where I actually live more pleasant, the other being with the palm trees and lizards in Florida.  I wouldn't be sad to have warmish winters.

Speaking of winter, we're in full swing yo you mode here.  It's rained or snowed ever day for roughtly 9 days or so now.  The sky is angry, and it's mostly been cold, with a few abrupt swings to the 60's.  WEATHER GONE WILD! 

Oh, and I have to share this so you ladies can all be weirded out with me.  We're out driving, and definitely in town proper, when suddenly...PIG!  A real live, sorta goofy looking, black pig in someone's lawn.  I can only assume it's their pet, but it was outside in an unfenced lawn unattended.  So I guess it's a well behaved pig?  I'm going to guess a female Vietnamese potbelly pig on the basis that it was vaguely shaped like one of those and had no tusks, but I have zero pig knowledge so feel free to laugh at my identification attempts.  It was just so bizarre and unexpected.  And this is from a someone who lives here, where there used to be a guy who kept a bear in a dog kennel by the river. 

Ya know, the more I talk about it with you guys, the more I realize my life is sorta weird.  Even by my standards.   Pull up a hot chocolate (or beverage of your choice) and enjoy the weird with me.  Share your weird.  It's fun!

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