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Losing My Religion

So the other night I posted something on Facebook that someone later took offense to, so they reported the post to the Facebook administrators. Rather than screw with it, I deleted the post. Was I being a jerk? Pretty much. That happens sometimes. Do I still agree with what I posted? Pretty much, yeah.

I was raised Catholic. And it wasn’t fun. I hated going to church. HATED it. It seemed to take forever. On top of going to church every weekend, I went to a Catholic grade school, so we had church during the week as a school as well. Then when I was an altar boy in junior high I often sat through mass seven days a week. Our church had a 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. mass Monday through Friday, but it wasn’t the full-blown mass like on the weekend. Even though almost all of the boys in my class were altar boys you know who got stuck waking up early and doing the 7:00 a.m. masses? Me. And Tommy Falduto. Because our mothers made us be responsible and actually show up, which of course meant we got punished with getting scheduled for 7:00 a.m. mass all the time.

Our church, Immaculate Conception in Elmhurst, Illinois had both a church proper and a chapel. The weekly mass was held in the much older church, along with mass at 7:30, 9:00, 10:30, and noon on Sunday. The chapel also had mass at 10:30 on Sunday, which was apparently the most popular time. In addition, there was a 5:15 p.m. mass on Saturday in the chapel that "counted" as Sunday mass.

Our family went to the Saturday 5:15 mass in the chapel, to "get it out of the way." At some point it occurred to me, if we’re only doing this to "get it out of the way" why are we doing it at all? We’re not going to get some deep, meaningful, spiritual session with the lord; we’re just going because we have to. We have to "get it out of the way."

The other cool thing about 5:15 mass on Saturday, is that it was often said by Father Mateo, a Filipino priest who talked fast and didn’t mess around with lengthy homilies. Which meant we got out of their faster. Go on Saturday to "get it out of the way" and hope Father Mateo was the priest so we’d be able to get out of there quicker.

Father Mateo was different than the old fogey white priests. He interacted with kids more, and allowed us to have face-to-face confessions (that we had regularly--part of school). You would just sit in a chair next to you and he’d pat your knee while you told him about being mean to your little sisters and not eating all your vegetables.

Father Mateo was so popular that my dad and I even took him (and I think Timmy Collins) to a Chicago Bulls basketball game. In the old stadium. He was cool that way, you know?

Well, in return for stuff like that, Father Mateo would take altar boys to the local YMCA, where he had a membership. I don’t know why I didn’t go with him as much as some other kids, but he did invite me at least one time, and I went along. Dad dropped me off at the YMCA and in I went. So we swam, and jumped off the diving board, and talked about god and religion and stuff. Pretty uneventful.

After we were finished swimming, we got out of the pool and headed to the locker room, where he insisted we take a shower. I always thought taking a shower after swimming was odd anyway (you were just in a huge tank of water, right?). Well he stripped down naked and urged me to join him. I stood in the shower next to him, at the next showerhead over, and he implored me to take my suit off, which I insisted on keeping on. He told me "the lord wouldn’t want you to be ashamed of your body." I wasn’t world traveled at that point, but I knew when something felt wrong, and that sure as hell felt wrong. Needless to say, while I stood there and looked at his uncircumcised junk, I kept my drawers on. So much so that even after I got out of the shower, I put my jeans on OVER my wet swimsuit.

So back to his room at the rectory we went. He implored me to sit on his lap, which I think I remember doing. He kept asking me to take my pants off so we could dry them and my swimsuit off. As he got more insistent, I finally said "I think I need to call my dad and have him pick me up."

I didn’t tell my dad what had happened. I told him many, many years later, when he called me at college to tell me that one or more boys that I was in school with were apparently molested by that fun priest Father Mateo that we used to take to basketball games, and they had taken it up with the archdiocese. Funny you mention that, dad. Let me tell you a story...

I’m glad my dad and mom had taught me to know when something about a situation is wrong. And to stick to my guns. I was spared the horror of what happened to some of my classmates. (I still don’t exactly know who was molested, but I have a couple of ideas).

As soon as this came to light, whoosh, Father Mateo was transferred to a diocese in Los Angeles. You’ll never guess what he did once he got there. Yep. I think you can even Google his name and read all about what he did in L.A.

After that came to light? Whoosh. Off to the Philippines, where he couldn’t be prosecuted for what he had done in the United States. He was off the hook.

I had a lot of questions I wanted answered. Why would a supreme being allow his acolytes to act that way? I’m supposed to worship this being that is allowing me to almost get molested? I went from fearing god to not really liking him all that much.

I started having a problem with belief as well. Why do we believe in god? The bible says so. The bible also says that the earth is several thousand years old which WE KNOW is wrong. The Adam and Eve story is ridiculous. The story about Noah and the Ark is baloney. All the water on the Earth is on the Earth. Even if it DID rain for 40 days and 40 nights, all that water would have had to evaporate already, so the ocean level wouldn’t rise (and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg as to why the Noah story is ridiculous). Well, if all that isn’t true, why on earth believe that any of the rest of that book is the actual truth either? I don’t.

Why is there starvation? Why AIDS? Why polio? Or any other disease or malady? Why wars? Because of the devil. Okay, seriously. You buy that? No kid deserves to starve to death. Or die of malaria. Or to be blown up by a bomb that some religious zealot has made because he doesn’t agree with the religion someone else is practicing. Seriously. This whole business in the Middle East is about people who don’t get along because of their differing religions.

If god exists, I kind of don’t like him. I don’t know that I like what he’s done on the planet I live on. I definitely don’t like what he’s done to many of my fellow human beings.

So as I grew older, after having kept my newfound atheism to myself, I gradually found that there were other people like me. Other people that also had the questions I had, and also came to the same conclusions I did. Should I poke fun of religion on Facebook? Probably not. I try to be a guy that doesn’t care what anyone else believes as long as it doesn’t interfere with me. I’ve seen some pretty awful people brag about how religious they are. And I’ve seen an awful lot of really nice, genuine, honest, caring folks who are "good without god." Discrimination against people because of your religion makes me a little angry at times. Were Jesus to be here today, I think he’d be pretty disgusted about people discriminating against gays or anyone else.

So that’s it. I don’t think I go to heaven or hell when I die. I think the lights turn off and that’s it. I try to live my life as a good person, because that’s the right thing to do, not because I’m afraid of some bearded old man floating in the clouds, laughing at all the starving kids in Africa.

Posted: Sunday, March 29, 2015, 9:02 pm
Mood: Fine | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


In the Works...

The last 18 months have been interesting, to say the least. I was happy to be rid of 2011, and I think while 2012 was better, I'll be happy to get that behind us as well.

Lots of things have changed. The redhead and I have one year left in our debt management plan and this time next year will owe nobody anything other than our mortgage company for our house. What a relief that will be. We started that program 3 years ago. It was rough at first, but has been much better as it has gone along.

I have made a hop-skip-and-a-jump during that time that I may or may not have blogged about, but for where we live in the world, I make pretty decent money. The redhead has also settled in at the University and is doing quite well herself, and in the past few years we have increase our income by, well, an extra person, if that makes sense.

We're poised to be able to hopefully pay for our brilliant children to go to college without them or us owing a hefty amount of money at the end, and if all continues well should be able to afford to retire when we want to and live relatively comfortably.

While we have tightened the belts the past few years to keep up with our debt repayment plan, the belt has started to loosen a little, and things like home improvement projects have picked back up again. I finished the tub surround tile the other day, as well as the missing pieces of floor tile in our main large bathroom, and I hope to dig up old grout this week and grout the whole tub and floor and everything next week.

We're well on our way into turning the third bedroom upstairs, that used to be our daughter's, into a den/library, with a computer desk, a substantial amount of bookshelves, a new television, and new hardwood floors. Our daughter seems quite happy in the fourth bedroom, which is in the basement, and which is much less warm during the summer months (and I think it is slightly bigger...).

Work is going well for me. I'm at the crossroads of status quo and ladder climbing, both of which seem to be available to me for the foreseeable future, which is a cool thing. I think I'm done with school, although I am itching to take a class of some sort--I may take an astronomy class at Parkland just for something to do.

Things are going well. I'm optimistic about the future.

Posted: Monday, December 24, 2012, 2:22 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Forty Three

Tomorrow is the 43rd anniversary of the day that I was born, which was back on October 8th, 1969.

I haven't liked my "birthday" in several years, and I don't know that it is just because I'm a few years past 40 years of age.

Tomorrow has nothing to do with me.

I was born William McLhinney to single mother Carol McLhinney, who lived in Hinsdale, Illinois with her mother Adelaide. Carol was a young model, and was having an affair with a married dude. He apparently had other children. I was given up for adoption shortly after I was brought into the world, and became Michael Thomas, the son of Don and Mary Ellen Greifenkamp.

There were a lot of important decisions that were made around that time, and none of them by me. A young model made one of a couple of choices. A young family made another choice. I don't know what was going on with the married guy, and probably never will. Do I owe him thanks?

Alex and Mary Ellen (kids!) are both first in their respective classes. They are truly brilliant. I think even though he's a junior in high school now that we have Alex's scholastic and career future well in sight, involving computer engineering at my alma mater. Em is still making some decisions, but I envision a brilliant future for her as well.

Not to put any pressure on them, but these snotrockets may just very well make a significant difference in the world that we all live in. And they are here because I am here, and I am here because Carol McLhinney made a pretty important decision many years ago, and my parents made just as important a decision to pick me up from waivers. (Sorry, watching football...)

Tomorrow isn't about me. It's about mom and dad, and Carol McLhinney, and the offspring (Alex and Em, not the band).

And lest anyone think this post is about "pro-life" it most certainly isn't. I'm pro-choice. Or pro "woman's right to choose." I don't have a uterus, and certainly don't want to speak for anyone that has one, least of all an unmarried young woman who made a small (huge?) mistake by having an affair with a married older dude.

Oh, and in case anyone cares, she actually died before my mother did. Sorry, Mary Ellen is technically my adoptive mother, but she's my mother. My natural mother is my natural mother.

I know, naming offspring number two "Mary Ellen" hasn't helped make sense of all this, and even that is all screwed up (that's a post for another day--maybe I'll make it when I'm standing in line at the social security office fixing her name there...).

Tomorrow isn't about me. It's about a lot of other people, many of whom are no longer alive, and some of whom have little idea of the ramifications of what happened all those years ago.

I wish I'd write more, but the 170 letter Tweets and the slightly-longer Facebook posts have really made the days of page-long musings extinct, in much the way that e-mail made the art of the handwritten letter mostly unnecessary.

Tomorrow might be an okay day. Maybe I'll play golf. Hopefully mow the back yard.

But tomorrow isn't about me.

Posted: Monday, October 08, 2012, 1:51 am
Mood: None | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Twenty-One Days

Well, I think it has been long enough that I can finally talk about this in the open.

I wasn't a partier in high school. Didn't go to parties. Didn't have parties. Just didn't party. Mostly that was because my parents were really strict. I was focused on school, college (Stanford or MIT!), and the future. The my world got turned upside down my sophomore year when my mother died suddenly of leukemia that nobody knew she had until about a week before she passed. (This was the 1980s, not the 2010s...).

I'll try to go easy on the melodrama, but yeah, my life changed a bit. I still remember senior year when Roger Peto and I spent Honors AP Biology first period getting bitched at by Ms. Dorsey for something to do with Coach Newton and the track team. And we decided to take the day off, grab a case of Coors (which he bought in his York High School Cross Country jacket from Liquor Country on North Avenue in Northlake), and sat at my house and tanned ourselves and drank beer. My dad was out of town. We even passed our second period teacher, AP Calculus instructor Mr. Eide in the hallway after the bell had rung and we were walking away from class. We nervously said "Hi Mr. Eide" and he briefly looked up and said "hi guys" and we went right on by and out the front door of the school.

Well Stanford and MIT didn't happen, and like many in the rest of my class of 600 students, I ended up at the University of Illinois. I moved into the dorms about a week before classes started and my roommate, Bud, and I went out the first night and walked over to a party that was being held in the parking lot between Aggers (Alpha Gamma Rho) and Delta Chi over on the corner of First and Gregory. They had a big burly guy at the entrance (the entire place was surrounded by that orange snow fence stuff). I told Bud "they aren't going to let me in--I'm only 17 years old..."

It didn't matter. They just wanted to make sure we were students. So in we went.

There was a live band playing in the back of the parking lot that was shared by the two frat houses. Next to the stage was parked a beer truck where 3 or 4 of the hottest girls I have ever seen where pouring big 24-ounce cups of beer. (And I went to a pretty big high school, and had known some pretty hot girls, but this was ridiculous...). I stupidly asked "how much?" and was told that the beers were free (she may have well have ended that with "idiot..."). So we each got two beers, and went over and leaned our backs against D-Chi and watched the band. At one point I looked over and about 10 feet from me was a uniformed Champaign police officer. I was scared to death for a few moments and thought I should drop my beer and hurry out of there (but that would look too obvious) before it was explained to us by another partygoer that the police were off-duty and just there as security.

So my first night at the University of Illinois I stood leaning up against a fraternity house, watching free live music, holding two 24-ounce cups of Miller Lite that I didn't pay for, all while only 17-years of age. And I thought "so, this is college..."

And much of that WAS college, unfortunately. I joined a fraternity of my own (not that any of this is their fault). I started working at a bar (not that any of this is their fault either). I'm actually sort of surprised that I made it four-and-a-half years before I finally realized I had done nothing but party and kinda forgot to go to class for an entire semester and dropped out to work at the bar full-time.

I drank a lot. Beer. Jagermeister. "Dead Nazi" shots. Mmm. Beer. Stayed out late every night. Had Bamba almost every night.

One night I met the cutest redhead you'll ever see and she asked me to dance and we slow-danced to "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton. Soon after that my relationship with the girl back home was over for good.

Betsy and I got married and I started running another bar, and fortunately for us, we rented an apartment right upstairs. Brought beer home every night I worked. And nights I didn't work sometimes I'd call down and ask a waitress to bring up a pitcher or two. There was always beer. And shots. What's that crap everyone drank at Office II? Oh, Sambuca. Blech.

Well the redhead and I got married, with no great career paths marked ahead for either of us. Papa intervened and sat me down and did the Jedi mind trick that he does and told me to go back to school. Fortunately for me, I had left the big U on good terms and they were nice enough to allow me another shot at finishing up my degree. The talk with the dean maybe wasn't quite as pleasant as I make it sound--there was definitely a little bit of "get it done..." in there. So back to school I went.

Which was a good thing, because right about that time we managed to become pregnant. Funny how stuff like that happens.

This story is quickly getting significantly longer than I meant for it to be, and I'm sure in the six or seven years I've had this blog that I've told the "story of us" once or twice before, so I'm going to skip forward a few years.

My love of beer grew over the years, even if there were some years where Old Milwaukee was all we could afford.

As we became more successful financially, I decided that I liked red wine too. I really like red wine. But I'm not drinking another Merlot. Heh.

Then I met bourbon a few years back. Maker's Mark. Then my cousin turned me on to Eagle Rare (which Binny's in Champaign has--if you are a bourbon person, give it a try--it's fantastic).

Then I ran into Scotch. Don't let ads fool you--J&B and Johnny Walker suck. That blended crap is terrible. Single malt is the way to go. And yeah, it's more expensive. Personally I'm a fan of The Glenlivet.

Okay, I'm getting tired of writing this story. It's too melodramatic. Maybe I'm too used to 120 word updates on Twitter now or paragraph-long updates on Facebook. (Which is also why I used to blog two or three times a day for YEARS and now if I can get a post in once a month I'm lucky--poor blog...).

Here's my point: Over the past 20-25 years I drank a lot. I mean a LOT. I drank with friends. I drank by myself if nobody else was up for it. I drank on weekends. I drank on weekdays. I suffered through hangovers at work in the morning most days. I pissed away a lot of money that could have been spent on a lot of other things because I spent it on booze instead.

My dad thinks I drink too much. My in-laws know that I drink too much. I'm sure that all of them consider me an alcoholic. "Oh, I can quit any time I want," I always said. "Oh, I'm not addicted to alcohol." That's what they all say.

I would guess that over the past five years I've probably gone a total of 15 days without having a drink. And there's no "having A drink" with me. It's lots of drinks. Bottles of wine. Over a dozen beers a night. And oh that so delicious Bourbon and Scotch.

Here's where the story finally gets interesting, for anyone that is still awake...

June 9th I played golf, had beers while playing golf, probably had more beers when I got home, bottles of wine with dinner, more beers after dinner, etc., etc., etc.

June 10th, a Sunday, I woke up and thought to myself "this has gotten out of hand." We have two teenagers. I am 42 years old. I am 50 pounds overweight. I'm spending $500 a month on beer, wine, and liquor.

I *love* happy hour. I love beer. I love drinking! It's fun! I love the social aspect. I love how it makes me feel. I love it just a little teeny tiny bit too much.

So I stopped. Twenty-one days ago I stopped. Just like that? Yep, just like that.

I talked to my therapist two days later on Tuesday and told her what I had decided to do. She told me that any physical addiction would be evident within 48 hours. Two days had come and gone. No shakes. No cravings. No booze. Then three days. Then four. Then a week.

I told her that I don't want to quit drinking. I just want to be a normal drinker. Normal drinkers don't drink seven days a week. Normal drinkers go to happy hour and have 3 beers and then go home. Normal drinkers have a couple of beers after a round of golf and then get something to eat and call it an evening. What I did was far from "normal" drinking.

I asked her if I could go from being the drinker I was to the drinker that I want to be. She told me "I know what you want me to tell you, and then there's the truth." She knew that I wanted to hear that I could just turn if off like a switch during the week and immediately go to being like my dad when I was a kid and have two bottles of beer while grilling dinner on Saturday and that's it for the night. Or split one bottle of wine with dinner and be done. "You have to quit," she said. Not forever, but for a while. Probably a long while.

And I knew that was going to be the truth.

I see my therapist, who is also an addictions counselor (which I knew, and which is why I asked her about it) every other Tuesday. When I talked to her two-and-a-half weeks ago I told her I didn't want this to become the new focus of my sessions with her, but I needed her to keep me honest. I just needed someone to answer to.

I can't tell you how anxious I was to have my appointment this past Tuesday. The first thing she said in her office was "well?" She absolutely was stunned when I told her I hadn't had a drop in those two weeks. She said it doesn't work that way. Especially not after all those years. I guess I'm just lucky. Or more likely, stubborn.

I didn't want to write about this after three days and be like "woo hoo! I'm sober!" Today is three weeks. I think it is safe to say now that I can do this.

And not forever. I don't want to do forever. I just want to be like "normal" adults who "enjoy responsibly" and don't drink a case of beer a day. I'd like to build up a nice collection of good wine for special occasions and quit with the crap in the box. The Bourbon and Scotch will have to go into hiding for a long time as well and only take a peek out of their dusty cabinet once or twice a year.

Who knows how that part is going to play out. I'm not there yet. I'm not going to be there a long time. For now, I'm content with total sobriety. It's kind of nice, actually. I go for a long walk every morning. I've started doing push-ups and sit-ups. I've lost 12 pounds in those three weeks. (I also stopped drinking pop back in April and my total weight between both of those is down 23 pounds).

I have work to do. There's no doubt about it. But I have suffered no ill physical effects from quitting. The first weekend was tough, just because I was so used to sitting on the deck with a beer (and then ten more). But I'm getting used to it. I'm not in rehab. I'm still at home. Still going to work.

And we're probably not talking 70 days. Unlike the late Ms. Winehouse, I will spend 10 weeks, and more. My gut tells me it may be a year. Who knows. I'm not worrying about when I get to have my next drink. I'm just glad that I'm able to not have any and that I haven't had to check into rehab to do it.

And I don't write this because I want a pat on the back from anyone. I'm not doing this for anyone to be proud of me. Or because I felt pressured by anyone that thought I drank too much. Or that *gasp* I am an alcoholic. And the only reason that I talk about this publicly is to keep myself honest. And so that people that know me will understand when they offer a beer and I politely decline. Nobody needs to tiptoe around me. I'm the last person on the planet that will ever look down on someone for having a drink, or two, or twenty. I just needed to stop.

I did this for me. And my family. I'm Michael. And I'm not an alcoholic, even though I pretended to be one for twenty-plus years. It's getting easier. I actually don't even think about it much on a day-to-day basis.

Okay, I'm going to run down the street and play some golf and see if I can't get the rain faeries to unload some of their moisture onto my poor garden, and more importantly, onto Papa's fields.

Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 11:51 am
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Hello, Blog

Hi Blog. Sorry that I've been a bad friend. You're my Data. And my Lor. I didn't use some software that some kid made to create you. I wrote all the code for you myself.

It's not the best code in the world. But it is our code. I don't fight with Microsoft curly quotes.

I've had some crossroads to deal with lately, not all of them fun.

I no longer think I will retire at UIUC. I think when the kids get to college age that the redhead and I will have some decisions to make.

Illinois, the state, sucks. Michael Madigan is an arrogant s.o.b who has way more power and control than the President of the United States. Screw this recall of the goof from Wisconsin--we need to get rid of Michael Madigan.
I am essentially going to have no pension, no health benefits after retirement, and no half-priced tuition for my kids.

I think we're outta here.

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2012, 3:41 am
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Torture

We watched 60 Minutes tonight (we being myself, the redhead, and our daughter) and most of the show involved talking to the guy who was head of the CIA's "torture" section in the years following 9/11.

I've moved much left of center in the past few years but apparently nowhere near where my daughter is at. She muttered under her breath and was irritated with everything that this guy said.

And to a point, I admire her from that.

But these people are trying to kill us. They are trying to kill her, my daughter. No, by "these people" I'm not saying "all muslims." By "these people" I mean terrorists. Although I do have a problem with the quran and the baloney it spouts. (Not unlike the problem I have the bible and the baloney it spouts....).

Anybody that wants to kill someone because a book was peed on has very, very, VERY misplaced humanity. It's a book. A stupid one at that.

And yes, if someone wants to kill Americans--like my daughter--I don't care how much torture it takes to get them to not be able to do that.

I hate to sound like Republican, because I no longer am one, but there have been no attacks on our soil by foreign nationals since 9/11. I don't know if torture of murderous freaks has made that the case, or if we've just been lucky.

I do know that if we HAD been attacked again in the last 10 years all sorts of people would be crawling out of their skins asking "WHAT WERE THE CIA AND FBI NOT DOING?"

Is torture the best answer? Certainly not. Neither is blowing up two huge buildings (and a few smaller ones) with commercial airliners and killing thousands--THOUSANDS--of people because of some bullshit political ideology.

Sorry, my daughter. But I'm glad you're safe. I'm glad that the CIA or NSA or whoever tortures the right people to keep them, and their ilk, from harming you, me, your friends, and our family.

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012, 2:17 am
Mood: Curious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Hello, Blog

And the first thing I see, as I try to clear the cobwebs away from my blog, is that Spring has Sprung!

No it hasn't, idiot.

Someone needs to rewrite some PHP code, especially if someone isn't going to be updating the Javascript code by hand every year that determines when Spring has started, and when that message needs to be removed, etc.

It's been a rough few months. The roughest in my life. I am not going to go into it, but I am back in therapy, my wife is in therapy, and we are both in therapy together. We had a rough 16th year of marriage, but we are both committed to fixing everything that we can and going forward.

I take medication for my mood now. Something called clonazepam. It's actually anti-seizure medication but it has an anti-anxiety side effect. It works well for me, I think. I was taking Zoloft or something else that just turned me into a zombie. Anyway.

Work is going well. I was going to try to apply for and take over my old boss' job as head of I.T. for the department, but after long walks on the beach (not really) have decided to just stay Mike the Web Guy.

This site is in serious need of a makeover. Maybe not the blog, but the rest of it.

And I need to start posting content again.

Not taking the boss' job (assuming I would have been hired to do so) will make that much easier.

Plus there is golf. We're joining the local country club again this year (yay!). And finishing the main bathroom. And the new pool liner. I have a busy few months ahead of me.

Will start hot pepper seeds from "Pepper Joe's" tomorrow.

Maybe tomatoes too.

The offspring are both doing well, my wife loves her new job at work, and I love them all. Onward and upward.

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012, 3:19 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Good Riddance, 2011

I know I haven't blogged in three months. My fault.

Twitter has been a big part of that. Rather than writing paragraphs and paragraphs of complaining, it's easy to just write 140 characters and quickly get something off one's chest.

I thought, however, I'd chime in quickly before the ball drops (well, it already has in New York) and make one more post for the year.

Good riddance, 2011.

Some good things happened. Some bad things happened.

Ready to start fresh tomorrow.

I'm happy for my wife and my children (and the dang dog) and hope that our next year together can be the best yet.

Posted: Sunday, January 01, 2012, 4:35 am
Mood: Anticipatory | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


End of That Experiment...

It occurred to me the other day after I paid an extra $2 for signature confirmation for a plate that I sold on eBay for $2.99 making my total profit drop to about a buck and thirty cents, that maybe selling crap on eBay wasn't the way to go. Nobody has bid on any of the coins, and while I did sell the textbook, now PayPal is being difficult about "releasing" the money for it because they think I'm shady. Seriously? I've sold two things and both people are happy.

So whatever. It's easier to make ten bucks by NOT eating lunch out on any given day of the week than it is with all this listing and watching and packaging and shipping. So I think the big eBay experiment is officially over.

Which is fine. I checked and my raise does take effect this Friday, which is cool. We're in great shape financially, and I expect that by next Spring we'll have a flush savings account and a golf cart in the garage and a crew of people putting a new liner in the pool. And then maybe, just maybe, we can even plan a vacation.

So I'm going to keep saving, keep paying down the debt, and keep the belt as tight as possible for the next few months. We can do this, and it will be so awesome when we've finished. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel already, and I'm pretty sure it isn't a train (derp derp derp).

Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 1:30 pm
Mood: Awesome | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Optimism

Weird couple of weeks, these past were. A few Fridays ago I took the day off and went fishing, and managed to get poison ivy--worse than I've had it for years.

I went to convenient care the following Tuesday and got some prednisone, but not the countdown dose pack thing that I've gotten in the past, and it didn't work so well. To make it worse, the bit patch I had all over my right arm was seeping all the time (I know, gross) and I kept it covered up all the time with adhesive bandages (big ones). So it got infected.

So on Labor Day I was back in convenient care. Finally got the step-down "Hulk smash!" steroid pack, as well as some antibiotics to fight the infection.

Anyway. Writing about my maladies makes me sound like an old man. Three more days of poison ivy pills and that should be the end of that. No more fishing at the old reservoir.

So the ridiculous lawsuit that the redhead has been inadvertently embroiled in has finally (hopefully) come to a close. The idiot that didn't pay the money to the sue-everyone people at the carpet company finally agreed to pay them, so my wife has been cut loose. Now we just have the lawyer bills to pay. We've made some payments over time, and her dad has paid some of it, so I have some money that I owe left to the lawyer, and then I can start paying back her dad. Really getting sick of having to owe people money all the time. Trying desperately to build up emergency savings so that I can use that instead of standing around with my hat in my hand every time something goes wrong.

eBay selling has started to take a turn for the better. I finally sold the water pump to the other bidder who promptly paid, and I shipped it and got my first positive feedback, which, after all, is what makes the eBay world go 'round. The guy that bought the plate finally paid as well, so yay me.

When looking through a drawer the other day I found a book from my last grad school class. As much as nostalgia wants me to keep my books, what ever on earth for? So I looked online and it sells for over $100 new, so I put it on eBay for $40.

Four bids already, with 21 views, and one "watcher." And I just listed it a day or two ago. Time to see what I have on the shelf in my office...

I think I'm going to try to challenge myself to list something new on eBay each and every day. The other evening I also went through a jar I had of old coins. Some of them are from Europe from when my Uncle was in the Army there. None of them are particularly old, or for that matter, are worth (seemingly) a whole lot, but maybe I can get unlucky and unload them in groups or something. I also have about sixty buffalo nickels with all the dates rubbed off them. If nobody wants those I suppose I can trade them in at the bank for five cents each. Heh.

As we prepare to enter the last quarter of the year, it seems to me that this turned out to be a pretty good one, and the fourth quarter should be the best (financially) for us. I got a raise last month that will take affect on my upcoming paycheck. The redhead didn't get one because their union contract has expired and is still being negotiated, but once that happens, I'm certain she will have a pay increase, and they'll back pay her to the middle of last month when the contract expired, so that will be cool. And the mortgage payment actually goes down eighty bucks starting in October to offset the amount it went up a year ago when I switched auto insurance to the gecko and that made my home insurance go through the roof because I no longer had it all in one place. Whoops.

We're making great strides with our debt. I should have the lawsuit paid off by the end of the year. I already have the plans in place for fixing the pool next Spring. The only think thus far that is on the radar for me money-wise is affording a golf cart so that the kids quit harping on me about that. And really, I miss playing golf several times a week as well. But I'll pinch my pennies and save up for that--totally doable.

All in all, everything is going well. Now let's sell some more of this stuff...

Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2011, 11:38 am
Mood: Relaxed | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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