In with new, out with something else

It seems I am about to get a different car yet again.

First and foremost, M and I are not frugalistas; we have zillions of ways to waste money and probably do so routinely without giving it a second thought. However, we are also very responsible with money. Big things like savings for retirement, HSA-funding, future spending goals (home and car maintenance and repairs, vacations, birthdays and other gifting events, kitchen remodel, replacement car, etc.), secondary emergency fund investment account all get funded before we start spending each month.

That said, from a purely financial point of view, it makes no sense to sell my 2013 Rav4 and purchase a brand new 2017 Camray. We take care of our cars, and my Rav has less than 35,000 miles on the odometer after 3.5 years in our household and looks pristine. It’s serviced per manufacturer’s schedule and would likely be fine for another 10 to 15 years at the rate it gets driven. Plus, I LOVE that car.

Unfortunately, it has no trunk. The windows are tinted and it is not a simple glance to see whatever I might have in my car (usually nothing but my reusable shopping bags and the plastic box I keep them corralled in when full), but every week I drive and meet with clients and have both personal and business financial documents in my possession. Recently I walked up on a guy trying to break into my car while my work box of files was in the back. I have no idea if he was actually planning to try and steal my car (it has an alarm) or if he was after its contents, but it freaked me out to the point that I now carry my box around with me to meet with other clients.

So there is that.

Add to this that M also drives and AWD SUV, a 2008 Highlander, and it is the go car for us. The Rav commutes to the office, goes to the gym, toodles around town when I go to client offices, but the rest of the time, it’s at home in the garage. M and I are going anywhere, he prefers to take the Highlander.

The Rav has again become “too nice” to take out for a spin on the weekend.

This happened with the first Rav we had, a 2007. I owned it for 4.5 years and sold it with just over 40,000 miles on the odometer because M and I became paranoid about something happening to it. M far more so, but it was infectious. I wanted something older may with a few scratches in the paint to make me feel better.

A 4Runner and a Honda Civic later, and we arrive at the present Rav4. For awhile it was the go car, then we sold M’s older (silver) CRV in favor of a newer (blue) CRV, and in it’s plushy-ness became the go car. Then the Highlander became available, and as it had belonged to my former boss, I knew its entire history and knew it had been well maintained and kept in good repair. So the blue CRV was set aside in favor of it and went off to its next owner. M loves that hulking Highlander beast, so he is set for awhile. But our time with my present Rav4 is about concluded.

Entirely possible the Camray will remain “too nice” to take anywhere, but I doubt it. This would be the ride we choose for coastal adventures where we do not go boonie-crashing down gravel fire roads just because they’re there. And it has a trunk, so I can stash my crap out of sight. I would be really upset if my car was broken into and my gym bag stolen, but I’d be frantic if I lost client documents.

In my life, I have learned that sometimes purchases make no sense on paper or financially. This is another of those occasions. However, as in all things personal finance, it is personal. Yet my inner budget professor is scratching her head trying to make sense of this decision. To her I can only say, the emotional impact of finding some strange man standing next to your car with the slimjim is not to be underestimated. My own sense of personal safety is very well developed, probably overly so, and while this will not advance us financially in any way, shape, or form, it will also not set us back in dangerous ways. So I work another 5 or 6 months before leaving the paid work force, but for me, for us, it makes emotional sense.

On another matter, I have been sorting through photographs from my mom’s house. I’ve taken dozens out of frames and sorted them into me and my kid and my sister and her family. I don’t keep in touch with my nephew, no idea how to reach him, and will keep the pictures in envelopes until I get some motivation to find him.

There is one picture of my oldest daughter, her last school picture. I have dozen of the same photograph, but mom had a wallet framed and kept it in her bedroom. I cannot remove it from the frame and have no reason to keep yet another copy. I am not sentimental; I do not need the framed photo to remember my daughter or my mother. So after 2 weeks of vacillating and trying to decide what to do, I stuck it into the trash and threw it out.

I’m not sentimental at all, yet my stomach aches and I feel out of breath (in the bad ways) thinking about disposing of it this way. It’s not my daughter or my mother. It is simply a duplicate of something I already have and don’t actually need. As for my mom, our relationship was more toxic waste than warmly fuzzy. Thinking about her does not make me happy or sentimental or misty with nostalgia. Frankly, think about mom makes me furiously, irrationally angry, feelings and emotions I would really rather purge from my system and my life.

Even now, 21 years later, I mourn the loss of my child, miss her every single day, and shed a few tears throwing away this single copy of her final school picture, even if I have a framed copy in my family room and dozens of other copies carefully preserved in storage boxes. At the same time, it is one more step in the wall that separates me from my toxic family of origin and the truer horrors of my life.

Life is not fair, and rarely does it balance evenly. But for every bad thing in my history, there is something better, richer, more rewarding.

This week, there will be something new and different, a tool that makes my life easier and work better and strengthens my sense of safety. Out with something else that at once breaks and heals my heart simultaneously.

 

Car stuff, weekend random

First and foremost, thanks so much for all the kindness and support from my last post. While there are still several days left in March, my personal March madness has quietly concluded. Never do I underestimate the intensity of emotions that surround anniversaries.

M has an older car with nearly 200K on the odometer. He loves that vehicle, except for the fancy-smancy gizmos and gadgets that are designed into it.

This week, the battery died of old age. It is a 2008, battery has been in there since 2010, so it has had a good long life. With the push button start and keyless entry systems, it was not so simple as to replacing the battery and everything is fine. Oh no. While it did start up fine just after M put the new battery in it, our keys refused to electronically open the doors or start the vehicle when we walked out of the grocery store. Apparently our fob batteries failed as well? Or it needed to be repaired, like my phone with my car’s bluetooth? Not sure. But we consulted the manual, followed the emergency steps, and voila! Car started without issue. Get home, read more in the manual, decide there is some graduate course out at Toyota U that must be successfully taken to know what to do with this vehicle. Unfortunately when I go back to put the manual away, key fob is again not working correctly for some reason. Maybe its batteries die sympathetic deaths with the car battery?

M goes through the whole process again of manually opening the door, repairing the key to start it, and drives off in search of the super special battery needed. I stay home just in case he needs rescue. When he gets back he replaces batteries in both fobs and voila! Both keys are working again.

For good measure, every time he gets up throughout the night I hear the front door open and know he is going outside to check to see if the key is working. So far, so good.

We knew buying an older vehicle with lots of miles the potential for it needing repair increased. Since I am familiar with the entire history of this vehicle (purchased from my former boss), I knew it had been well maintained and not driven too crazily with its prior owner. But M seems to have a far lower tolerance for repairs than I do, but more than the expense the gadgetry of later model vehicles and his ability to diagnose and do repairs himself tends to drive him crazy. This too shall pass.

Or we’ll be hobnobbing around in some 70s vintage POS car that M can fix himself. Assuming he can find parts, of course.

Not a whole lot going on around here right now, other than the car drama. Busy work weeks. Busy trying to get my crap organized at home. We are in the process of moving from one storage to another smaller, closer space. Because we have waaaayyyyy too much crap. Good news on that is we are winnowing down our crap this go-round. Stuff we (M) has been keeping and storing 20+ years is now going into the trash or the donation box. Unfortunately, we still need a storage unit. I have big dreams of someday not needing an offsite storage unit, but at long as M owns the project car (that has been in pieces for the entirety of our relationship) we will likely need storage.

Once we get that stuff sorted, though, I plan to get cracking on our garage. It’s a mess. It’s a mess of crap that (1) we no longer need, (2) we no longer need to keep in the garage, or (3) we have no idea what it is or was or why we (M) actually own it.

Work is a messy schedule this week. Tuesday is usually my work from home day, but this week my admin had to take emergency leave so I will e going into the office tomorrow and moving my work from home to the weekend. Thankfully my private clients are understanding about my schedule.

But work is good, remains 95% satisfying and 5% somewhat dreadful tasks I wish I could delegate to anyone else. Allergy season is also winding down, thankfully. After a severe sinus dust-up and almost 2 weeks mild yet ongoing congestion, I am happy for the break and return to normality.

Everything else – things are good. And for that I am always grateful.

Rocks, cars, year-end brain dump

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I actually feel on the verge of feeling crappy. I know that sounds sort of vague and mysterious, but I have felt “off” since last night with a stomach ache that is not going away yet not getting worse. Bad food was my first choice, because M and I ate a quick fast-food-like dinner last night (Noodles and Company) while out doing a zoom-zoom-zoom through landscape places. Landscape designer (and M’s best friend) REALLY wants us to consider at least a tree in the front yard, despite M telling him repeatedly that he’s doubtful I will go for such an idea (yep, still resisting it). However, when M brought it up, I did thaw ever so slightly on the idea and suggested maybe the lace leaf maple M is so fond of? Except (1) it will likely die because of our black thumbs and general negligence, and (2) lace leaf maples would not occur naturally in the simulated granite forest we are created. My good natured “So? Who the f–k cares? This is our rendition completely not based in reality,” was agreeable to M, but he/we are sensitive to our friend’s talent and business. We don’t want to be THAT friend and client.

So we went to the landscape superstore to examine tree possibilities. Hated all of them. No way do I want something in my yard that has to be groomed to look like cake pops or columnar swirls – as if either of those things occurred naturally in the wild. In the end I caved and agreed on some pretty ground cover that occurs naturally in our mountains and will not spread and overtake the entire front space, grow too tall and need to be trimmed every 3 weeks, and not require sprinklers or drip system to keep alive. We shall see what landscape bestie says on Monday.

Anyway, something is not agreeable with my virtually cast-iron stomach. Mildly nauseated, low energy, sort of yuck. But I thought the gym might make me feel better, and for the most part it did. I say it that way because for as empty as it was, every single machine was occupied and no fluffy cuffies were deployed. Frustrating, and I was not in the mood to negotiate or wait them out. So abandoned the rest of my lower body List and finished up with my dumbbell matrix. Now just feeling general malaise and like I’m trying to become ill. Yuck. So not the way I want to end 2016 or start 2017.

Yesterday, the rocks in my head became the rocks in my yard.

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12/30/2016 – We have rocks! Granite boulders delivered and placed.

Yep the granite boulders were delivered. Took them 2 hours to place them just-so, as the rock place owner is an artist and has an artist’s temperament with rock placement. Still, the yard is truly starting to take shape.

 

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12/30/2016 – Retaining wall. One more row of stones and capstone to add.

Monday the rest of the retaining wall stones will be delivered, and M and I are going to a couple of landscape places to check out their decomposed granite and such today. I know, I know – such an enthralling life I am leading today. Honestly, I don’t much care if the decomposed granite is light gray or reddish gray, but M wants what he wants (lightest gray possible) and would like to know in advance so as to adjust his expectations.

I will mostly be happy when the dirt is no longer being tracked everywhere the way it is right this minute.

But after 2 years of waiting, our front yard will finally look like we have done something to make it attractive. I am delighted with the way things are progressing, and even if I do relent and we get the tree, I will insist upon nice decorative rock at its base. Our expensive tastes already have it selected for this application if it comes to that, because it will be a small enough area to justify the cost.

I was putting fuel into my car this morning and contemplating the filthbomb it inside right now when a brand new version pulled up on the other side of the pump. I drive a 2013 Rav4, and after 3+ years it has just over 30K on the odometer. This is essentially less than 10K mile per year, and M and I have tentatively agreed that we keep it at least another 3 or 4 years before deciding whether or not to upgrade or get something else.

Temptation is everywhere, though, and while admiring it’s 2017 twin, I was idly thinking maybe we should advance our timetable, upgrade sooner. This is the terrible accountant in me coming to the surface, because my car is practically brand new, extremely reliable, and the present level of filth bomb interior will be restored to its usual clean and tidy state with a vacuum (yard dirt is everywhere even though Rav lives in the garage) and a dust rag. M’s car is approaching 200K on the odometer and is our primary go vehicle, so our dollars are better spent ensuring it continues to enjoy its present level of robust good order. I don’t know what it is about a brand new car; perhaps I am influenced by the new car smell? A good interior scrub, having M hand wash and detail the exterior and I’ll be over the moon again abut my car. But for a few moments I was dreaming of bright and shiny objects I do not really want. I am far more comforted by the replacement car cash building and driving our paid-for vehicles.

And in all fairness, I’m not 100% sure I want another SUV when the time comes. M will always have an AWD/4WD SUV because of his hobbies and places he goes. Me, my next car could be a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle. Or a Rav with a bigger, more powerful engine. Things may change with environmental regulations under the Trump administration, so probably best to wait and see what happens with cars on our present planned trajectory.

M and I have been discussing our plans and projects for 2017, and this may be the year when we do not have a big home improvement. The deck last spring and the front landscaping now pretty much leave us wanting to let things settle a bit before we decide on what to do next. This year was so busy, hectic, crazy with both kids getting married and then C moving to Florida, so we may need to revisit our plans and priorities for the new year. Definitely we will want to go to Florida to visit C and A, but when is in question right now. Summer does not appeal to me in the slightest, G and K would also like to go, but they have a destination wedding in Mexico in March, so it does seem more prudent to let some time pas and savings build for them to join us. I like the idea of October, but M kind of wants to go to Portland and visit our friends up north and support them in an ultra race. He may also go to Colorado to support his bestie at Leadville, and while he would love for me to go as well, I’m not that excited about the idea. The primary reason I like the Portland event is that a lot of our runner friends up in that group have non-running spouses that I genuinely enjoy hanging with. We shall see.

Work continues to be an evolving adventure. While a bunch of my tiny self-employment clients have found other accountants to help them, I did pick up 2 new regular clients that I could not turn away. When one of my existing long-term private clients refers someone to me I always say yes, no matter what. I doubt I will regret these addition, although I feel mildly intimidated by the volume of catch-up that must be done and the challenges of working and educating them to avoid such mishaps into the future.

Sometimes it seems the biggest disconnect that M and I suffer is the fact that he is essentially retired and I feel as if I am only just now cresting my peak working years. While I have zero resentment about being the breadwinner in our relationship, he feels some hesitation to pursue his hobbies and interests when larger cash outlaws are involved. I’m grateful for our baseline communication, where we can talk about things honestly and openly and figure out whether or not we can make things happen. That he might travel without me is of no consequence; if I really wanted to go I would make it happen. Fact is I truly love the work I do and it satisfying the little slave-driver within that keeps pushing to do more, more more, as well as the organizer who wants to find balance and manage the time I have available.

My hope for the new year that the quest for balance continues to evolve into a life that satisfies my needs as well as fulfills more of my wants. In 2016 I came face to face with the idea that success in personal development is not just a fluke or something that happens to the gifted and the blessed. Persistence, hard work, discipline have their place, and surprisingly, I am capable to stepping up when it matters. Perhaps I always have been capable, yet not quite ready to embrace and accept that it happens even when not gifted or blessed with any special talents.

The desire to learn and challenge myself in new ways sparks joy in unique and exciting ways, and pursuing the various tendrils of new and evolving interests is invigorating. Either commingling that with my jobs or finding time to prioritize my pursuit is part of what makes my life interesting. I am, at heart, a very simple soul.

I do love the beginning of a new year. If I view every month as a chapter in my personal book, I see a year as a volume in my book of life. I am always excited about new beginnings, fresh starts, resets. For me, 2016 was an absolutely amazing and wonderful year. The plan is to continue to build on that, and with the zeal of the born again, I plan to make it happen.

Happy new year, everyone! Please be safe tonight.

 

Friday junk drawer post

It has been quite a busy, hectic, crazy week at work. And at home if I stop long enough to contemplate my whole days and whole life. All good things, just all good things happening at once this week.

Workload at my office job. Things are particularly busy right now with new clients and incoming work and other cases suddenly heating up and consuming a lot of time and attention. We have new staff that have had to hit the ground running from day 1, and I think everyone is happy to be immediately billable, even if they did not quite know how to report their time in and expenses in the billing system (that’s today’s training from me). For the most part it’s been working out pretty well – they are green enough to be happy to do the tedious reading and compiling of information and yet experienced enough to be mostly trusted under supervision. They also have bazillions of questions when I’m juggling a lot of tasks myself, and I finally just all the new hires for a how-to-succeed-administratively training course this morning. It actually went pretty well. I went over everything from how to input their time, guidelines for request time off, what to do when they are sick (stay home, call in ASAP to get coverage for anything needing immediate attention, and we will try hard not to bother you with phone calls and texts), payroll and payroll issues, expense reimbursements, when they can expect formal reviews, who to talk to about office supplies, the upcoming move, formal and informal chain of command, and how cubicles and office spaces are assigned. For the most part, it went very well, all their questions were answered, although there is always someone who is dissatisfied with the responses I provided and wanted to either discuss it in more detail, as if it were negotiable. She does have quite a lot to learn.

Office relocation for my office job. Our firm is moving to a larger office space in December. The actual build is starting in 2 weeks, but before that happens there have been reviews, changes, and approvals of plans, etc. I hate moving. I really hate moving in the office sense. While our new space will be a welcome relief of the cramped space we are presently utilizing, the logistics of finding, securing, and now building a new space are endless. Now that the majority of the actual physical space decisions have been made, the logistics of selecting a replacement/updated phone system, office equipment, office furnishings, updating stationery and updating our address in literally hundreds of places. It just seems like a lot of information and requests for quotes all arriving in my physical or email inboxes all at once, following by the phone calls and follow-up emails to ensure I received the information and have any questions.

My own small business – I feel like a rainmaker! Zero complaints about this, but I feel overwhelmed and over my capacity for work on my own little business right now. It is truly a temporary, transitory thing, with a couple of client referrals bringing in very specific and very time-consuming projects. I am adamant about never becoming so … ugly … as to have resentment toward clients for referring friends and business associates. That said, I am one person; I am my whole little firm. And for the most part I like it that way. I am already utilizing subcontractors I trust for a couple of larger jobs that really only require my review of final deliverables. My 2 most recent clients had interesting projects and for the first half of the month until they are wrapped up I have a lot of material to review and reports to prepare. But it’s okay; the projects are likely one and done situations and the follow-on maintenance work is just a few hours per month. I can grin and bear it and be grateful for the work.

New-to-us car for M. It has been a couple of months but M and I have been seeking a new-to-us 4WD/AWD SUV for him. He already drives a Honda CRV, which has proved to be a bit too small and light for where he likes to go, the running and camping type hobbies he likes to pursue. Last weekend we went to look at a 2008 Toyota Highlander, which was probably the most perfect vehicle of all our previous viewings. It was a private party sale, which tends to be complicated. Anyway, we looked it over, ran the VIN through Carfax, looked through his maintenance records … and walked away without committing. Since I buy all the cars in our household (I tend to be calm and reasonable during negotiations), this is our strategy. We knew we wanted this particular vehicle – it was well maintained, in good shape without being so perfect M would be reluctant to take it out for fear of scratching the paint. But it was FILTHY inside and out, and I felt it was overpriced. However, it had been listed for a few weeks and the people were moving soon, and I wanted to do some additional research and test my theory that they would call me back before I had a chance to contact them about it. Took a couple of days and some back-and-forth, but we finally came to terms on a price and picked it up yesterday. It’s still filthy dirty inside, but nothing that some soap, water, and elbow grease will not cure. The negotiating, the discussions with M, the picking it up and now doing the paperwork to get the title changed also gobbled up more of my time than I anticipated this week. And again, no complaints; M got a vehicle he really, really wanted at a price we are both happy about. And M will be the one with the bucket of soapy water supplying all the elbow grease to clean up that bad boy. I would be fine taking it somewhere and having it professionally detailed, but M’s perfectionism would surge forth and he would be nitpicking the results. Better he just do it himself and then tell me about all the work required to get it cleaned up to his satisfaction. Hearing about his cleaning efforts is far preferably to his complaints about a detailer we have hired.

August cardio challenge. I knew this would be a challenge for me and for others, because finding an extra 30 minutes per day is not super easy when in the midst of a very busy month. But I am managing, between lunch hours and ability to expand my time in the gym on Saturday and get a walk in after pilates on Sunday. While not so much for me personally, I am super excited about this for the level of participation and conversation going on in my realm right now. It’s nice to see those who exercise regularly trying to fit more into their schedules and encourage others who are trying or just getting started to get off the couch.

Better health quest and tests, test results. This week was great to be done with breast cancer screenings and investigation for at least another year. The doctors appointments, the conversations, the reassurances that all is will no matter what – it is just another line item on my to-do list. I am extraordinarily grateful that people care and the ways they express it, and why it surprises remains one of life’s enduring mysteries. But it does. I feel very fortunate that it was not cancer or anything worrisome. Hopefully the trend continues forever.

Better health quest in general. Making a note to myself to not do shoulders/abs and chest/triceps Lists back-to-back on consecutive days. Perhaps it means something that upper body felt sort of weak this morning after yesterday’s shoulders and abs go-round? Nothing terrible happened, just felt different and probably should have flip-flopped tomorrow’s legs List with today’s chest and triceps. Living and learning, I suppose. And the mysteries of weight loss continue to perplex me. I eat pretty much the same stuff, day after day after day, and suddenly the scale is on some sort of determined march downward. Possibly, probably it is the additional activity, with the walking with my associates, or maybe it’s just time for body to release a few extra ounces each day.

Balancing their crazy with my desire for mainstream normal in a public space. The nutty guy who has been coming into the gym and the room where I typically work was back again this morning. Anymore he tends to leave me alone, other than a random greeting, but he runs around the room, climbs all over the TRX frame, shadowboxes, and talks loudly to invisible friends. His workouts are distracting and disruptive to my practice, a problem I accept is likely more my issue than his, because the second I notice his presence I lose my focus and not in good ways. However, I do not want it to escalate, because what can really be done? I do not foresee management having a conversation with this guy, because in truth he is not doing anything wrong enough to warrant that type of intervention. J is aware of him, and how much he tends to bother me (because in truth this kind of crazy seems to bother J as well), but again, the guy may be crazy but is seemingly harmless otherwise. I have found myself with a plan B for dealing with him to get my stuff done … and kind of resenting having to have a plan B in the first place. This morning I was early enough to be finishing up my List of the day when he appeared, so I was already fast-tracking to somewhere else in the gym to work at a couple of nemesis stable exercises. Maybe he is on a 2-week trial and will decide against signing up as a paying member. I can hope, anyway.

Being a sounding board for family members and friends. K had a difficult meeting with the aunt who took her in and raised her when her biological parents were incapacitated with drugs and alcohol. She arranged it with her therapist, because K felt meeting privately with her aunt was unhealthy. My admiration for my future daughter-in-law grows as the days pass, as her self-awareness is maturing and she is working on building up and strengthening inherent weaknesses from her childhood and family of origin. Unfortunately the meeting did not go as well as she had hoped, and she was left with the realization that she truly dislikes her aunt as a person, that the negative toxicity is not something she wants to be around, particularly when the aunt seems to have no interest or desire to alter her behaviors. Listening to her, talking about about this situation with her through the last year, I have come to realize that while we are family now, the trust she extends toward me is genuine and personal, not merely a token of respect for my place as G’s mom, that she values my input and thoughts. It’s humbling. I have rarely thought much good would ever come from my own childhood of Very Bad Things. From there we cross over to friend J, who called me about something else and me, horrible friend, ended up laughing out loud at some of his descriptions of the situations and emotions he is working through and coping with right now. Repeating it to M and I was laughing just trying to spit the words out, all the while feeling kind of terrible and horrified with myself for seeming so unsympathetic. But I am sympathetic and did talk him through the range of stuff he wanted to discuss; I just wish he had used more serious-sounding terms to describe the issue. But he still loves me, still trusts my judgment (mostly), and will never let me forget laughing when trying to discuss this existential crisis. (And yes, I am laughing now just thinking about it; not the actual crisis so much as the terms he deliberately chose to frame and describe it.)

I often joke about me and my first world problems. Because I really do not have problems right now; the issues in my life are temporary situations that will resolve themselves in short order and are very small cakes in the big picture. There is always going to be something worth worrying about or obsessing over if I allow it, and suddenly my very small cakes issues are elevated to Very Big Deal problems inside my head. I remember times when it was hard to get out of the tarpits of worrying about financial or relationship or parenting problems facing, trying desperately to find solutions when only time, patience, some level of sacrifice, or simply accepting the problem was not mine to solve was the only long-term cure.

Occasionally it’s good to recognize, and appreciate, being me.

Sometimes I surprise myself

Early to bed, even earlier to rise. Body had its own ideas yesterday, and threw on the brakes after yoga class last night. I got home, showered, and fell asleep – at 6:30 on a Friday night. Obviously we are party animals around here.

Whether it was too high of temperature in the class (Bikram is not referred to as hot yoga for nothing) or something else, I came home with a queasy stomach when I rarely have tummy troubles. Unless I eat bad food, of course; food poisoning seems to happen to everyone once in awhile.

So after a solid 8+ hours of sleep, I was awake with M at 3:30 in the morning. Oh well. The nice thing about self-employment is that I got a lot of work done and can reprioritize other chores and errands after I’m done with my practice today. My client is still out of town, so I have a pretty free day after this.

And practice … oh my. After a few weeks of doing the day series J has been working on with me, I returned to the favorite full-body dumbbell routine. Fortuitously, J was subbing for the instructor at the 9 a.m. class, effectively pushing it back to 9:30 to accommodate his regular Saturday morning training clients, so I had extra time in the practice room with the bench. It’s not that the other teacher boots me out or that I am somehow interfering with the class; I just prefer to be done before they start because between the music and her cueing the class I become extraordinarily distracted.

Anyway, today was full-body dumbbells, and I did 5 sets of the first section, 4 sets of the second, which is that maximum range J has written on this List. And it was a first for me, but I reasoned I feel stronger now, having been doing a lot of other stuff between the last rendition and now, plus it’s Saturday and I had extra time. What’s the worst that could possibly happen?

Nothing bad, actually no down side for me today. I walked away feeling very pleased with myself for how far I have progressed in this, between slightly heavier weights since last time and still making at least the higher minimums for each exercise. Fatigue, for sure, but in the best ways. And I am sure it’s just me, but 5 then 4 sets of this List time just seemed to whiz right on by. Lately we have Lists with 4 sections of 4 exercises each, but this list is 2 sections of 8 or 9 exercises. My familiarity with the cadence and  order made the practice zoom-zoom-zoom without having to pause and check what was next made time pass quickly.

But this is my first time of going through the complete 4 sets of single leg Romanian deadlifts followed by curtsey lunges on the same leg. Those curtsey lunges have been killing me since their introduction; it always feels like someone is stabbing me directly in the side of my ass cheek with an icepick. I suppose that makes them effective? Today by the third set, I felt as if my bum was completely numb. I was cruising along, methodically working my way through the List, but the curtsey lunges came up and there was minor sound deep inside body, probably my glutes bleating out weakly “is it over yet?”

Now, sitting down and typing this hours after leaving the gym, I feel fabulous. I can definitely feel I have been doing something at the gym, but still feel particularly energized and spectacularly good, as if I have won something big. Considering the events of this Saturday, perhaps I have while working my way through my Saturday chores and errand-running and then dinner with friends.

On my to-do list today was taking M’s car in for a smog check. One of the weirdnesses of M and I is that I am the purchasing agent for all our vehicles and I am also somehow responsible for taking them in for service. Today was M’s car for smog, and I swear it was not in that bay for 5 minutes – it took longer to fill out the paperwork and my credit card slip to print. For once there was no waiting, though, and I was in the midst of several conversations about wedding issues and mini-drama about my dress and then poof! He’s back, it’s passed, and I am on my way.

I was going to do a separate post about the dress (for G and K’s wedding in exactly 2 months), but it has become a non-drama by my choice. K’s aunt has purchased the exact same dress, in the exact same color as the one I planned to wear. K told her that I, mother of the groom, had purchase that dress months ago and perhaps she should wear something else, and her response was “oh, it will be fine; we’ll be twinsies!” No appalled reaction, no “OMG, I can’t wear this dress to your wedding!” (as would be MY reaction upon learning this was a wedding party member’s choice). Nope, she felt fine about wearing the same dress, and despite all 4 of her daughters (2 of whom are also engaged and getting married in the next few months) trying to encourage some empathy, her response was something akin to “but she’s only the mother of the groom, and I am the mother of the bride.” For any guys reading this, I know this is another of me and my first world problems, but it’s a serious stress-inducing thing for the bride, knowing how upset she would be in this situation and thinking that I probably believe her entire extended family are crazy. After my initial shocked reaction, I told K not to worry about it, I would find another dress. Then  I went online and found another dress, or rather, 4 other dresses, and will pick one of these or keep looking. It is difficult to have any kind of reasonable argument with someone as insensitive and socially backward as K’s aunt apparently is, so I chose to not to further the distress or K’s stress level and simply got online and went shopping for something else.

There are worse things in life than having to shop for clothes, especially online. One of today’s 4 will be The New Dress and all will be well. I’ll look even better in the pictures with the contrasting color. But really, it’s all about G and K, and fortunately I am not so madly in love with the original dress that I am more upset about it now. I worked all that out in my practice this morning.

But at dinner tonight – which was actually more like a party with heavy duty finger food – we crossed paths with my old friend and her husband, the one I ended up cutting off communication with because of her ongoing campaign about weight loss and not really being serious about my health. I do look different than last she saw me, if only that I’ve cut several inches off the length of my hair and am sporting a new setting for my wedding rings. Plus I was wearing a sleeveless dress and showing off the new tone in my arms, and yeah, I have a visible bicep muscle now and worked damn hard for it, because I am the probably the only person in that entire gym that dislikes curls. Arms and body are showing tiny signs of tone these days … at least that’s what several of our other friends were telling me. So yeah, I do have some baby muscle definition starting to peek out. Lots and lots of work yet to do, butI have the whole rest of my life to work at it and can be patient.

Old friend greeted me rather stiffly, and since I made no move to hug her as I typically do everyone I know and have not seen in awhile, she believe I am still mad at her. That is actually an inaccurate statement. I cut off our communication because coping with her ongoing negative attitude toward me and my better health efforts was not at all helpful or encouraging or enhancing either of our lives. Tonight not a word was said by her about my appearance, but there was big show and big enthusiasm for M and his thinner frame. It did not hurt my feelings, which really did kinda/sorta of surprise me even if I was prepared for it. What I’m realizing – I’m a lot tougher than I was 6 months ago. I have another 6 months of nearly daily training under my belt and a significant amount of successful mastery to my credit. I can be very honest in my assessment that I no longer give a flying f**k what she thinks about me or my efforts, and her negativity will no longer have any real impact me the way it would have at one time.

While it is very liberating, it is also a little sad. Her own body image and world view is so narrow and so focused, and there is nothing I can do to change that for  her. It might give her a little zing of power to see a flash of hurt in my eyes from her cutting words, but I was quite ready for it tonight. Not spoiling for a fight. Not even looking for revenge or to even the playing field with an equally cutting remark right back. Merely curious as to what she might say and feeling highly confident that it was not going to ding my ego or bruise my pride. I’m off the insulin and diabetes management drugs. I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m growing stronger and more confident every passing day. From my perch where I am sitting right now it would be very difficult for her casual cruelty to knock me down or even piss me off a little bit.

I’ve come a loooong way, baby. And damn, it’s feels pretty damn swell.

 

Car conundrum – “I am an idiot” addendum

Commenter SAK mentioned a cargo cover for my Rav4, and I thought they did not make one for this model. I have asked about one every time I have had it in for service, only to be told there is not one available. Admittedly I have yet to “bond” with a service advisor at the dealership and have a different guy each of the 4 or 5 times I’ve been in there with this car, but still. Those lying service people. Okay, maybe it’s partly my fault for using the wrong words to describe what I was seeking, but still … Amazon has one for $104. Heck of a lot cheaper and much less hassle than buying another car.

The Avalon was quite lovely and drove like a dream, but I am not ready to give up my exuberance for and terminate my mad love affair with my Rav just yet. Tomorrow I’ve scheduled time to clean the interior thoroughly and wash it’s rather dusty exterior. Once upon a time I would wash my cars every single week and put a coat of wax on them by hand every 6 months. I will still run it through the wash when I buy gas, because between California’s water rationing drama and my various jobs, I have not made time for it on the weekends. And if I want it waxed I’m going to find myself a detailer to do the heavy buffing for me. But seeing it through the “maybe” eye of selling or trading it, I realized I am definitely not ready to let go of it and I need to maintain it in a much nicer manner than I have been lately.

And who knew Amazon sold car parts? I am not a great pursuer of such things, but apparently no one bothered to enlighten me. Ah well. Learn something new every day.