Thursday, March 20, 2008

the handbook of misinterpreted activities

Its very Gray here and hard to remember that it is officially spring.
They've boarded up the windows in my office so even the gray doesn't penetrate--my whole world is brick-and-beige. If it weren't for the doorway (and sobriety) it would feel like a Poe story.
Its for progress that they've gone and bricked up my view, but it doesn't make me very happy. My understanding is that this is a temporary situation, but that doesn't really make it suck less.
I've been thinking about that, the temporary: Mostly my time lines for things in a "Your money or your life" way: I want to be living it not working for it, you know?
Sometimes I could kick myself for going to graduate school the way I did. If I hadn't, I would still have had school debt, but on a much smaller scale. I would also, however not have had the work opportunities that I've had with the extra degree. But maybe that would have made me get off my ass and get writing, something I tell myself I would like to do more of but rarely manage to do more of.
And I really like my job. I do. When I first started it, I wondered several times the first month if I hadn't actually hallucinated it: its that good. But (as my father always has said) there is still a reason they pay you to go there: right now that reason is that I can't see the outside world or any natural light at all from my desk: I'm pretty much in a packing crate. This is really sad given that I used to have a great view of the river.
So: how long am I here for anyway? Is this what I want to do with my life? What could be next?
Always the questions, huh?
I know I would like to try my hand at self-sufficiancy. Living off the land as much as possible. I've read a lot on the topic and it is exciting and also scary to me: mostly in that big-bad-world/woman-alone way. So (don't laugh please) I've been doing some weight training and taking a karate class. damned if I will be a girl in distress if I can help it. There is a school of traditional building an hour or so north of here that does timber framing workshops a couple of times a year(and once you take a class they'll let you host a workshop on your property--i.e. lend their help to put up your house, which is quite appealing), or there are always Yurts--which as they are lightweight might actually be a better option for a girl to think about putting up on her own. These are not exactly low-cost things though, The timber framing course is around $800 and a Yurt can run close to $10,000 (that was for a used one with some sort of deluxe snow package, which this year might have come in handy here). So I've got a little ways to go. But I do think (well, obviously) that that is the direction I'm headed in: I'd like to pay down as much of my school loan as possible and build myself a fat little efund and also buy a little piece of the planet to call my own and live as close to it as possible. At the rate I'm going, I think I'm looking at 5-8 years. Is 5-8 years in a packing crate worth it? Hard to say, and who knows, maybe I will have changed my mind by then anyway.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

into the lab again once more

The weekend away was great! Raleigh was a very cool (fairly inexpensive) place to go for a weekend. There were even daffodils! It was still pretty much sweat-shirt weather, but I did wear my flip flops the whole time without ill effect.
It was really great to re-connect with my friend from gradschool too, and totally fascinating to me how different our lives and backgrounds are--this has always fascinated me about this particular friend, but I kind of forgot until we were talking and comparing our career paths and also to a certain extent our finances. I was bowled over by how different our paths have been.
Without giving too much away, let me explain: I had written something fairly long and detailed about our particular paths and current places, but it seemed to just come off as though I was bad-mouthing her decisions. I don't want to do that. Everyone makes their own choices and has to live with them, and I don't want to be the sort of person who casts aspersions and questions the abilities of others or even be a person who sounds like they are by comparing themselves to another. Suffice it to say, I had a really good time, but there were several times over the course of the weekend where my inner cheapskates' eyes popped at some of the things that we differ on budget-wise. I thought it was really interesting that people who are so similar in some ways can be so completely different in other ways. My major memories and experiences with this person are all attached to a time in our lives where we felt we were broke, at least temporarily, and though I have sort of stayed in that mind-set (or budget, I guess) she has moved beyond that and is finding herself frustrated by the limitations of her income.
But aren't we all frustrated by the limitations of our income? I know I am always hoping I can spend a little less and save a little more--even when I go and do things like take a weekend trip. And I did manage to keep my spending to cash and spend less than $100 over the course of the weekend on food and drink and a birthday present for my dad, so I am pretty happy about that!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Okay, so re-reading the posts I linked to yesterday, I feel I should say. Ultra-ready I am not. I am most likely much too laid back to ever actually commit to that sort of distance (though I have trained for marathons and run them in the past). Ultra is different. I have a feeling it would shred my hip joints.

I'm going away for a weekend, to visit a friend from grad school. Its pretty exciting (to me)--I haven't been doing much in the way of traveling lately. I've been a crazy little saver lately instead, which makes me nervous about this trip: for awhile after I bought the plane ticket I was regretting having spent the money ($158 round trip) --it could have gone so many other places! But I've never been to North Carolina (where my friend is currently living) and I haven't seen her since I finished up my program (I got a job pretty quick and was living too far away to go back for graduation).
I've already committed to going to a wedding in California in April, it will be an expensive (and tight) couple of months. I am waiting to hear back from a friend who might come out to California with me--it would be great to have someone to split the hotel room with, but I am not sure if she is about to bail on me (I called her yesterday to say I was ready to buy the tickets and book the hotel room and she asked me to wait until today...dun-dun-duhhn). She just had a baby, and as far as I know it doesn't have any sort of job at the moment, so I can understand her reasons if she decides she can't go. (yeah, we're supposed to take the baby too--traveling with a 6 month old will be a new experience for me).
Its a hard thing: I have all of these savings goals and a massive percentage of my income (I think I'm at about 55% ? its not a huge amount of money, sadly, but it is kind of cool--totally only do-able because my living costs are so low right now--having 4 roommates has a definite upside!) being direct deposited into various accounts and holdings, and I don't want to stop any of it--which I can (conceivably) get away with if most all of my discretionary money gets put toward travel expenses...which will be hard given the price of gas and necessity of food. But I have been saying I wanted to loose some weight...Not that starvation for budgetary reasons is really a good diet plan to follow. I just get nervous when it looks like the numbers are going to be close--if I have any sort of snafu like my double-deposit nightmare I could be in some trouble real quick.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

In it for the T-shirt

I keep reading on various PF (personal finance--I love these!!) blogs about connections between running and PF/ frugality, and similarities between running and professional careers(okay, both of those are talking running as in Ultra running--which I have yet to catapult into. I've done my 26.2 and at the moment I will probably be staying well away from any Ultra events--I've only just gotten my hip to stop screaming at me on a daily basis!). Its interesting to me because I am/ have been a runner for awhile, and I am sort of paranoid about money if not totally frugal.
I don't run much with groups--I am thinking that that might change, there is a local track club that has a meeting once a week about a quarter mile from my house, I would be an idiot to not take advantage of that, but for the time being, I usually just run by myself, occasionally with one or two other people (my little sister and I have been known to buddy up for training runs: where she kicks my ass, and sometimes she will stick with me through the beginning of a race). For me, running isn't necessarily a social activity, but I wonder if I would do it more if it were?
I'm not really uber-social, I like a good book or long weekend totally to myself every now and again, but sometimes having people around can be good(like at the end of that long weekend where you find yourself talking to your cats).
Running appeals to me because it is something you can do alone, and because it is something you can do with very little equipment (sneakers, and if you're a girl, a good bra) and very little training (really, once you learn to walk you're on your way). So the initial costs are very low. Sure, you can buy some really spiffy stuff (that ipod that has the shoe attachment and tells you your mileage) but you really don't need it. So I think that might go a ways toward explaining the PF-running connection, but the professions? The two I've seen mentioned were teaching and programming. Anecdotally, when I was helping with course clean up after my last race, I was doing it with an electrical engineer and a programmer (I'm in education myself). So I guess that could be a pretty true-to-life equation. But I have family members who are runners and belong to other professions (and doing a poll of my extended family the largest running group are those in the medical professions) I think it is maybe a little closer to the truth to say that people who tend to be overachievers/perfectionists/totally and ridiculously passionately involved in their careers are more likely to find running appealing. My youngest sister (@med school currently) has said it best I think: "there is nothing else that makes you feel like you're working quite as hard". Its all about the push I think.
And on that note: I'm hoping to do a timed 5k on my own tonight in preparation for a race I'm running with work folks next week. I want to kick some ass at that one.

Monday, March 3, 2008

tripping on the alarm bell

Why isn't daylight more of an intoxicant? Don't you just wish sometimes that the mere act of respiration could infuse your soul with glee--that some sort of genial hallucinogenic powder could have accidentally been spread on your office chair?
I am having a sort of longing for college lately. But not the class part (and in general I enjoyed the class part) more the alleged extra-curricular illegal substances part. It was never a huge part of my life, but it was certainly an interesting sideline.
Yesterday afternoon was sort of pleasant that way, only with alcohol and live Celtic music at some bar downtown. It was nice. I got very full (nothing goes with Sunday like Guinness) so after the second one I called it quits and had a pleasant little glow to go with the fading afternoon light. Very nice indeed.
My finances were a little out of control at the end of February--that whole double-withdrawal thing really freaked me out, and so with the start of this new month I am still feeling some hesitation and worry in the financial sector of my life. I am hoping it doesn't happen again, and also worried that it could--that my finances could be totally out of my own control for the foreseeable future. That would be a very bad thing. Some of the worry comes, I think, from waiting for money (seemingly endlessly--I got my federal tax return back in the mail late last week: I forgot to sign it! so I don't know when I will actually get the refund I am supposed to have coming to me). I have a roommate who hasn't been doing so well financially (a post for another day: diet and finance: the mind-money-health connection)--she just started a new job, so things should be better. She's owed me money for utilities for about a month now, and when she got her paycheck on Friday she sent me a happy payday email letting me know she was going to pay me...but she still hasn't. She has been out to dinner with friends every night this weekend though, and did a (from the looks of the fridge anyway) huge grocery shopping as well, so I'm a little nervous that her good intentions may have been subverted by her stomach. Which, well, I don't feel like I can complain about honestly: you need to eat. I totally get that. I am not going to deny someone food so that I can get my money. On the other hand, its kind of inconveniencing me (not to the extent of starvation, but to the hey-can-I-really-afford-another-beer?-nope-not-really point). I don't want to have to hound her for the money, I know (the text message) that she knows she owes now I'm just waiting for the check. And waiting. And waiting