From Diapers to Double Dates

My parents are retired now and California 'aint cheap so they started house hunting in August.   I was fine with it, as if I have any say so in the matter. When they got back, they told me they found a house.  Okay, so their really gonna move.  I knew it was happening and I was still fine with it.  I was at work when I got a text message that the new house would finish being built in December.  I was no longer fine with it and I cried because it wasn't until then that the move felt real to me.  Like, really, real as in I will no longer be able to see my parents whenever I want to.  My sisters' moved a way a long time ago so they already know what it's like not to have mom and dad nearby, but I don't.  I moved out six months after I graduated from college so I really didn't expect to be crying about mom and dad moving in my thirties.  They sold my childhood home last year.  It was sad, but they were still here and I knew this was coming, but it feels different when it's happening next month.  When I say next month that's next week since November is all but done and they are moving the week after Thanksgiving.  Las Vegas isn't far.  I've been going there at least once a year already, but it's not here.  It's not forty five minutes away and that is going to take some getting used to.

They spent their 43rd wedding anniversary knee deep in packing and fielding inquiries on Craigslist about five drawer dressers and sofa tables.  Does anyone remember the Penny Saver?  Well, my parents sure do and that's where they put an add to sell a bunch of stuff, but us young whipper snappers know that Craigslist is everything.  My mom is learning, but not quite computer savvy enough for Craigslist so I posting their stuff and oh, my gosh is it crazy!  I have to forward all e-mails to my mom and I've only seen a portion of the interaction she's getting, but she says keeping up with it is a part time job.  They got two calls out of Penny Saver. 
We are trying to squeeze in as much as we can with them while they are still here.  My mom and I did mother daughter facials and lunch a few weeks ago and on Saturday we met at  The Cottage in La Jolla for a double date.  It looks like a house that's been turned into a restaurant and I've never had food come out so fast.  I'm always on a quest for the best french toast in San Diego and this place takes the #1 spot away from DZ Akins.  We've come a long way baby.  My parents used to change my diapers and now we go out on double dates.  They have been through a hell of a lot in their 43 years of marriage and yet here they are stronger than ever, sitting across from MJ and I who have barely just begun.  It was one of those days that I stood there tilting my face into the sun and smiling, just because it felt so good to be where I was in that moment.  My beautiful parents.  My amazing husband.  The weather.  San Diego still has no clue that it's not Summer.  Sitting outside in 75 degree temps chowing down on french toast and sipping on a mimosa with them was a really nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

This is the last Thanksgiving with my parents, and I don't even want to talk about Christmas.  I'm grown and married.  Why am I taking this so hard?  Just thinking about it gets the tears rolling but, we're making the most of the time we have left.  


About Walking Dead, Just Wondering

Is there anyone else still completely obsessed with The Walking Dead?  Dumb question.  The show has beat Sunday night football in ratings for three weeks in a row.  I can't even glance at Twitter until after I've watched it or else it's spoil alert city.  If that's not a hit show I don't know what is and if you aren't watching it yet you're missing out.

Spoiler alert: If you have not watched the episode from two weeks ago (Season 5, episode 5) you may not wish to continue reading.
Five seasons in and I'm still completely fascinated with this show.  The zombies, the plot twists, the raw exposure of human nature at it's worst.  The characters are so complex.  Some I've wished would die five episodes before they finally did.  I vowed I would quit watching the show if Herschel or Andrea died.  That was a lie of course, because there is no way I'm not watching this show.  Bob was a love hate character.  I hated him when he couldn't put down the bottle but he redeemed himself.  I still can't believe nobody cared about Bob as much as I did.  I'm the only one I know who cried for him and if anybody deserved tears it was him.  Seriously, that was a really bad way to go.  The worst.  How could you not cry for Bob?  Daryl was a love hate for me too.  I hated him almost as much as I hated his evil brother but now I think he is one of the most beloved characters on the show.  Now that I think about it, I've also love hated Herschel (may he rest in peace), Rick and Carl at different times.  Even sweet Beth was driving me nut at some point.  It's the kind of show where you don't know whether to pull your hair out or cover your eyes.  I know anything can happen, but it's really nice that they have gotten so efficient at zombie killing so I'm not terrified that everyone is going to die anymore.  Well, everyone except Eugene also known as liar liar pants on fire who needs to learn how to start taking care of himself now that the cat's out of the bag. I will shed no tears over his death.

This show has it all, but season after season I find myself asking some of the same questions, none of which have been answered to my satisfaction. 

+How are the women of Zombie Apocalypse land handling that time of the month?  It has to be dealt with. 

+It's obvious that they wear the same clothes every day, but are they wearing the same underwear everyday too?  I remember one episode last season when Beth found a sweater and looked clean for about half a second before a zombie killing ruined it.  The dirt, blood spatter, and vagabond lifestyle have to make cleanliness impossible.

+How bad is the body odor?  Between their rugged, outdoorsy active lifestyle, lack of deodorant, soap and toothpaste it must be pretty bad.  I'm assuming that even if they still had those things at one time they have to have run out by now.  I'm sure they can pillage some of them stuff on their runs but it has got to be hit and miss.

+How sexy can sexy time be at a time like this?  It's not happening a lot, but people are doing it and it seems a little awkward what with the lack of privacy, hygiene considerations and dead people running around.  Lori and Shane were the worst in season 1.  They had no shelter whatsoever at that time.  The apocalypse had just happened and she ended up pregnant.

+What are the men using to shave?  Rick is looking pretty scraggly lately, but I've seen people on Naked and Afraid with beards bushier then his after 21 days.  Glenn is smooth as a baby's butt and how does Abraham keep his mustache so nicely shaped?  I wouldn't know this type of man thing.  I suspect you can make a knife work, although it would be really tough without shaving cream. 

+I imagine Carol must be resorting to a knife to maintain that pixie cut.  It's also, not entirely unreasonable to think she may have scissors.

+How have they not wasted away to nothing?  Their entire life is one big giant work out that never ends what with all the keeping watch, miles of walking and zombie killing.  Their calorie expenditure cannot possibly be met with whatever squirrels and canned foods they find along the way and carry with them.

+Is baby Judith eating squirrels too?  She's a big girl now.  Surely, she has run out of powdered Milk by now.  What are they doing about diapers?

This is an example of the randomness that runs through my mind anytime I watch an apocalypse, on the run, war, type movie.  I'm a 1-2 shower a day kind of person, who is scared of spiders, very picky about food and feels anxious when my house is dirty.  Tent camping is hard core for me.  I am the definition of wimp and I already know that I would not manage well under those conditions and would have probably died or wanted to not to long after this whole thing broke out.  I don't even like eating meat off a bone so I don't know if I could bring myself to eat roadkill.  I'd like to think that I'd be as bad ass as all the girls on the show have become out of pure instinct for survival but I'm not so sure.  
More questions:
+How long has it been since all hell broke loose?  I haven't seen much of a change in weather conditions but that may or may not be that obvious in Atlanta.  Look at Carl.  I almost forgot that he was just a little boy when the show started.   His voice has changed and he looks so much older.  With everything that's happened and the size of Judith it's got to be at least two years.  Maybe more.  If it doesn't wrap up soon Chandler Riggs may age himself out of the role.  

+Why has Maggie never once mentioned Beth?  When Glenn was lost, she risked life and limb to find him even though she had no idea if he was alive or dead.  Not a peep about her sister Beth.

+Is it really that swift and easy to slice through bone to brains when you are stabbing someone in the head? I don't think I really want to know the answer to this one.

+I'll probably never find out if they are brushing their teeth, but what I really need to understand is what was so terrible about living in the hospital that Beth would rather jump down an elevator shaft into a basement of dead bodies to escape?  She was safe.  Outside she has to sleep in the dirt with one eye open to avoid being eaten by zombies.  That police lady (and her henchmen) seems a little off and they have to work to earn their keep but clean sheets and edible food sounds a lot better than the alternative for this clean freak.

I do realize that most of my questions, specifically those related to hygiene are completely non essential to the story line, which is pretty outrageous on it's own, but I can't help wondering.


Writing A Novel Is Hard

Writing a novel is such a freaking roller coaster ride and I don't even like roller coasters all that much anymore.  One day I'm really proud of what I've created and then the next day I'm convinced it's the worst thing anyone has ever written. I have loved and loathed this painstakingly created collection of words a million times over during this entire process.

I let my mom be the first person to read it in paper form and make edits.  Then I read it for myself and made edits of my own.  I tried not to even think about it for about two months so that helped me look at it with fresh eyes.  It started out really good.  It was interesting and I liked what I was reading but then it fell flat.  There were different parts of the story that were just boring and other parts where I just didn't like my own writing.  I was probably really over it the day I wrote certain parts and I could tell.  After spending years and years on this it was really discouraging and I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do to fix it.  I had a few ideas, but nothing concrete.  Nothing I felt confident about making that difference I needed to make. 

I decided to deal with the basic edits first.  Getting through it was tedious but I had to get it done from the paper version  before I started making any major changes in Word.  A lot of it was grammar, some of it was wording, some of it was calling characters by the wrong name, but all of it was really time consuming.  It was page after page, correction after correction and it felt like it would never end.  It took me about three sessions to get it all done.  I did session two at my favorite coffee shop and I felt really old school carting that giant stack of paper around but in a really good way.  A really proud way.  Like, I wrote that.  Those are my words.  Every single last one of them.  It's technically a manuscript although I don't feel comfortable referring to it as such. 

After I finished that round of corrections it was time to get back to writing mode and start trying to make it better. That's when I got discouraged again because I still wasn't sure exactly where to start.  Part of me just wanted to be done with it.  I wasn't totally satisfied, but I did what I set out to do.  I wrote over 100,000 words.  I wrote a novel and it's done.  I was tired of thinking about this thing so maybe that was good enough.  That's what I tried to tell myself, except it wasn't good enough and I couldn't rest until I made it better. 

Spurred along by forces outside myself that wouldn't allow me to give up; I sat there at my dining room table with my laptop open one Sunday morning.  I looked at the random notes I'd made in my phone while I did my paper reading.  I made some more notes in my dog eared spiral notebook.  I did a little bit lot of staring into space, and then I started typing.  Once I got started I couldn't stop.  I removed entire sections added new ones and moved existing things around.  If changed one part of the story I had to go through the entire thing and update any related parts.  One thing led to another and I was sent into constant editing mode of finishing and improving for a good two weeks.  I'd think about a sentence that should be changed or something else I needed to add on my way home from work and immediately open my lap top and do it when I got home.  If I thought of something else while I was in bed I'd add a note to my phone and add it in the next day.  My mind was constantly racing with thoughts and ideas about this fictional group of people that I've come to know and love.  It's exhausting and it doesn't seem to stop no matter how much I kind of wish it would until I feel that it's where it needs to be.  I've only had a few different updates pop into my head over the last week.  I'm really excited about the changes I made and I think it's pretty much where it needs to be for now, until I decide that I hate it again.  I mostly meant to trim things down but my word count unintentionally went up.  I'm sitting at 471 pages and 111,301 words of double spaced Courier New. 

The obvious question is, "Now what?" and the annoying answer is still, "I don't know."


Not A Halloween Post

Greetings from Costa Rica
It was another uneventful Halloween for us.  I went and had drinks with friends and MJ stayed home to pass out candy.  I couldn't even post anything on Instagram because if it wasn't Halloween related it wasn't allowed.  I kid, but that's totally what it seemed like!  I had lots of fun checking out everyone's costumes and creativity though.  While I was out with friends I vowed that I would dress up next year.  We all said it would be fun to do a group themed girls dress up outing but even as I said it I wasn't so sure.

We had a lot of left over candy; which is very expensive by the way.  We spent $25 bucks which is not much in general but a lot for candy.  MJ wanted to take it all to work and I said, "No you aren't," and was given a deadline of 4:30am on Monday morning to remove whatever I wanted to keep from the bag.  I kept all classic Snickers, Snickers Peanut Butter squared and some of the Snickers Almonds and Reese's peanut butter cups.  The most I've eaten in one day is three and I've been taking one to work with me each day.  My sugar addiction is much improved from last year.  I didn't even have any today.

I got into the Halloween spirit by watching two scary movies.  We watched the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Saturday night.  Oh my word, that movie is disturbing and just all around weird.  It came out in 1974 so it was interesting to see how those movies have changed over the years-which is not much.  They have a formula, it works and they are sticking to it.  I also watched Cabin in the Woods Patient Zero alone on Sunday.  I'm actually kind of embarrassed about this one because it was pretty bad but I kept watching.  I mean, it was good but also really bad.  The fight scene between the two partially disintegrated former babes was just so bad.  I'm a sucker for scary movies though.  I don't know why.

This is totally off topic but we also found ourselves watching Sex Sent Me to The ER on Sunday.  Well, not totally off topic because one of the couples that ended up in the ER after sex was wearing costumes.  The only thing is that they were celebrating his birthday not Halloween but that's just a minor detail.  Anyway, did you know that sex could be medically dangerous?  I'm not talking about STD's or unplanned pregnancy either.  It could potentially result in a ball permanently lodged in your mouth (that was the birthday celebrating couple) or even a brain injury (that was a couple celebrating their engagement).  I'm just saying-be careful.

Another Halloween thing is the time change and I have to say I'm not a fan.  It was bright enough for me in the morning before although I know it won't be once Winter hits but headlights on my way home from work is just bumming me out right now.   I actually forgot to turn them on yesterday because it's not quite dark when I leave but definitely dark by the time I get close to home.

Mid-term elections also happens around Halloween.  I'm a mail voter so I dropped my ballot off at the public library last Monday, because let's be real.  Who actually has stamps?  I may have a few somewhere but I decided to save myself the effort of searching for them by dropping it off.  I have a history of forgetting about mid-term elections but this mail voter thing is keeping me on track.  I think I can only miss one or two elections before I lose my status.  I like the flexibility so  we can't have that.

By the time Halloween hits it's also supposed to be chilly, even here in California.  We got about a week of 70's and tall boots but now it's supposed to be in the low 80's again through Saturday. 

I'd say my Halloween post was late but it's really not because I didn't really 'do' Halloween.  Also, I almost didn't post this at all because I couldn't think of a single picture that made sense but then I got a postcard in the mail from Costa Rica from my parents.  They've been back for over a week now, but it's the though that counts and I really love it that my mom sent it to me.  This is their first big trip as a retired couple and I'm still really excited for them.

This photo still makes absolutely no sense for this post but who cares. 


I Really Like Free Money

My last few posts have focused on things I suck at which include but are not limited to driving, cooking and even taking a bath.  So this post is about something I'm good at.  Making money off credit cards.  I've never considered it an option to spend money that I don't have and have made saving money a priority since I got my first retail job at age sixteen.  I'm not sure where this came from but because of it I've never been in any kind of credit card trouble and I have always had money in savings no matter how little money I've made.  I'm also really good at saving money.

I hate debt but I love using credit cards.  I like to buy what I was going to anyways, pay it off in full each month and earn rewards for it.  One day MJ and I were out having a drink.  I was already in a good mood because it was Friday night but I got an e mail telling me I earned $13 in cash back bonus and I got ridiculously excited.  He rolled his eyes at me but, it's free money!  Of course it's exciting.  It doesn't work if you are not 100% clear on your budget, have the potential to get into trouble with credit cards or are disorganized when it comes to paying bills.  One late payment or one month of interest kind of negates what you are hoping to get out of it but this is what works for me.

1// I focus on one card at a time.  It should be one with no annual fee and no expiration on points.  It's easy to keep up with.  The one I use most often has has no annual fee and I get 1% back on all purchases.  I get 2% at restaurants and on gas up to $250 per month/$3,000 annually (then 1% after that).  For a while Discover was my primary card but I have other cards with good points programs as a back ups if I want to keep the spending separate like for vacation or a particular purchase or if a retailer doesn't accept Discover.

2//  I Spend only what I can afford and pay it off every month.  I use a credit card for gas and day to day expenses and pay it off each month just to get the points.  The key for me is to know exactly what the bottom line figure that I can spend and don't exceeding it.  If I know my max and don't exceed it then I know I can pay it off at the end of each month and avoid interest.  To do this you must also know your budget.  And you can't be late on a payment either. 

3// I use credit cards for large  purchases even if I have the money. Whenever we have had big purchases for the house we put it on a credit card then pay it off even if we have the money to pay for it so we can rack up the points.  It really sucked paying $400 for a kitchen sink but it helped ease the pain to know that I'm getting something back for it even if it's only $4.00.  It adds up.

4// I take advantage of partner retailers for increased cash back rates.  Any time I make a purchase online I check first to see if the retailer is listed.  If I log in and make the purchase through their link I can get between 5% and 15% cash back on something I was going to buy anyways.  They have a lot of great places you are probably shopping at anyways like Groupon and DSW.  That's how I got $13.00 just for buying my contacts at 1-800 Contacts which I was already planning to do anyway. 

5// I Sign up for special additional cash back offers.  Two of my cards offer different promotions throughout the year where they offer 5% in different categories like gas or grocery stores.  If I get an e mail about a promotion I sign up right away.  I earned enough for a $20 credit in just 3 months.  Maybe that doesn't sound like much but it's free money just for going about my business using that card.

6// I don't let the points dictate everything.  I use the card that makes the most sense.  It would make me crazy if I were constantly obsessed with getting more points every single time.  Sometimes it makes more sense for me to use other cards and I'm okay with that.  I left my Discover at home when we went to Europe and just used my MasterCard so I could carry one card and not have to worry about the limited retailers that accept Discover.  If I want to use a coupon at Macy's and it requires me to use my Macy's card I'll use my Macy's card.  If I'm at Target I use my Target card because they offer 5% instant cash back savings on all Red Card purchases.  If I'm buying groceries I use our joint debit card that has no points associated with it because that's the stream of money that is set up for that.  This is supposed to be easy so I don't want to complicate it by having to remember to transfer money later.

7// I let the points stack up over time and then cash in.  With Discover I can redeem the points as cash on Amazon, as a credit on my card or in gift cards.  They have a huge selection of gift cards to choose from and some of them offer the the gift card at discounted prices so you get more for less then what you pay for it.  They also have big ticket items like airfare and other household products and electronics.  I earned enough for a free airline ticket once.  It was awesome to get that airline ticket but it took so long that now for the most part I've just focus on smaller rewards.  I like that instant gratification of getting things faster even if it's in smaller increments instead of waiting years and years to be able to get something.  I like to save them for spending money.  When we went on our honeymoon to Oahu in 2010 I used my cash back bonus to get a $100 gift card which I used as spending money.  Mj was racking up points on a card of his own at the time and it paid for both of our airline tickets.  I was able to use $36 cash back bonus towards a pair of shoes I bought on Amazon.  I also had $60 in cash back earnings when we went to Maui last year, a $50 card when we went to New York and I have enough points from MasterCard for a $50 gift card.

I've been doing this for a while and I'd feel like I was throwing away extra money not to do it at this point and sometimes I feel like I'm getting away with something.  The credit cards are only offering incentives like this because they want me to stick with them, use the card and pay them interest and possibly any other fees they can get.  For about two seconds I felt bad that they pay me without getting anything in return but they should actually be ashamed of themselves for how much money they get out of people.  They have some really sneaky rules that almost got me.

I took advantage of a 0% interest balance transfer offer with Discover and then ended up using the card for a few purchases because I was buying something from partners where I'd get that extra cash back.  I paid off those purchases in full at the end of the month and was shocked to find an interest charge on my statement.  Normally, there is a 30 day interest free grace period on new purchases. Turns out, if you carry a balance as a result of a balance transfer you lose your grace period on any purchases thereafter.  The minute you charge something it begins accumulating interest so it didn't even matter that I'd paid it in full by the due date.  I'm sure it was in the fine print somewhere but that is a ridiculous rule and it's clearly to take advantage of people that might still need to use their card.  I'm in good standing, so I got them to waive the interest charge and stopped using it but how sad is that? 

I don't feel sorry for credit card companies at all and I plan to continue to make money off of them as long as they'll let me.  If you have questions on the specific cards I use let me know.


Woman Driver Mishap

Last week was so excruciatingly awfully slow that I thought it would never end and this week flew by.  It's funny how that happens but I'm not complaining.  I couldn't be happier that it's Friday.

Today I have just one confession.  One that I never even got around to telling MJ and there is a good chance he'll find out by reading this post.  Not because I was worried about his reaction but because I was so mad at myself that I didn't even want to talk about it.  At all.  Like, maybe if I don't mention it then I can pretend it never happened but the only problem is that denial doesn't work.  There is still a cluster of deep nasty black scratches that go all the way to the metal on my right rear bumper because I backed into a sign last Friday morning.

I tend to be a bit of a nutcase in the morning.  I get into my car then get out to run back into the house to make sure I turned off my flat iron.  Then I back out of my garage and stop in the driveway so I can go back to make sure I turned off the closet light.  I also forget things.  Sometimes it's my water bottle other time it's my phone but this time around it was my hard boiled eggs and I got all the way to the exit of our housing complex when I realized it.  I was already running late but I had to go back.  I'm so dramatic about my routine.  My breakfast won't be the same and then my day will be ruined without my eggs. 

The other thing working against me is that I suck at driving.  I hate to be that woman but I kind of think I am.  My speeding ticket days are behind me but I can't parallel park, find it difficult to maneuver into tight spaces and I'm scared to make left turns without traffic lights.  I will sit there forever and ever making sure it's clear and then I get all flustered if someone behind me gets impatient and honks.  Sometimes I don't even like making lane changes.  I also have a terrible sense of direction.  Even GPS is confusing sometimes.  All it takes is one wrong turn and suddenly I don't even know what planet I'm on.  I only know one way to get anywhere and I refuse to drive in other states.  I also get really confused when I back up.  I can't seem to find the connection between which way to turn the wheel and the direction that my car will go.  I'm relatively harmless, but I'm a mess.

When I realized I forgot my precious eggs I backed out of the exit but turned my wheel too soon and didn't see the street sign sitting on the corner until I heard that awful nails on chalkboard sound of it screeching into the side of my poor little Honda.  Thank goodness nothing happened to the sign or else I'd have the HOA on my back.  I braced myself before checking out the damage and it's not terrible but it's ugly to look at and a nice little reminder of my stellar driving skills.  I still haven't decided if I'm going to get it fixed or not.  I love my little Honda to pieces.  She is old but she is the best car I've ever had.  I like to keep her clean and pretty but they'll charge you a thousand bucks to fix a scratch.  I don't know why it has to cost so much.  Then I got to sit in traffic for an hour stewing about my stupid mistake because there was an accident and I was thirty minutes late to work.

But that was last Friday.  Last week sucked, this one-not so much.  I made it out of the house today without forgetting a single thing and got to work 15 minutes early.  We're still hanging onto the 80's around here which I love.  I'm looking forward to meeting friends that I haven't seen in a long time after work so I'm wearing my five minute face AKA I actually put on make up.  And I really like my outfit.

It took me a almost a week but I'm over it.  I still can't drive but I like to think I have other qualities that make up for it.  We've already established that being a great cook is not one of them.