What do you do when everyone is on lockdown and you're not?

This was such a stressful week. My firm sent out three memos about policy for coronavirus, and they were all bad. Memo one: nothing is changing, you’d better come to work, everyone is required to be at their desks every day. Memo two: ok, well schools were shut down so if you have kids and don’t have childcare, BRING THEM IN TO WORK WITH YOU. And we’ll have a spare room set aside for them. No supervision, mind you. Just a room. Memo three: ok, attorneys can work from home if they have remote access already. Everyone else better come in.

BAD BAD BAD ALL OF IT IS BAD. And the guy who was approving all of this was really ugly to me over email, which sent me straight into a panic spiral of “omg am I getting fired” so thank you for THAT.

I don’t want to work from home. I hate it. But I will if they would fucking let me.

BUDGETING

OK, this is where I”m going to figure out how to get YNAB’s system to get me ahead. It’s been fabulous for getting me to essentially zero credit card debt, zero car payment debt, and not being shocked when I had to make an $800 repair to my car. But now it’s time to take it to the next level.

Line item: unexpected spending! This used to be Discretionary Spending, but I realized today as I was doing my budget from my last pay day (And finding it a little tight due to an Ulta not-splurge that I’ll talk about later) that my Spending Brain was translating “Discretionary Spending” as “Spend all of this money on whatever the hell you want”. But maybe I don’t want to be doing that! I mean, what do I really need to be spending money on – I have groceries covered, I have the monthly bills covered and I’m putting money into savings. But I don’t need to spend every penny down to zero every two weeks. I can, in fact, spend nothing, or very little.

That’s going to be a little challenging in that it is a direct conflict to my vow to say yes to more things. But I think there’s a middle ground where I say yes to things that improve my life (social events and outings with friends, for example) and no to things that don’t (all the dumb shit I spend my money on).

Line item: Grocery week 4 – I gave myself $100 for Week 2 and came in under that. Moved that to week 3. Week 4 is when the Chewy order for the cats comes in, and it’s worth it to keep that going because it’s cheaper than buying at the store, and also keeps me OUT of the grocery store. So that line item is “Grocery Week 4 + $47 Chewy” to remind myself that I need to add in that shipment.

So the next two weeks is going to be tight tight tight, but I think I can do it.

$100 in Unexpected Spending, and I’m just going to take that hit for the breakfast/lunch I had on Friday even though I knew better. $52.18 kind of scattered among my Wish Farm. And if I run out of money, then I will remind myself that I dropped ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FOUR DOLLARS at Ulta without planning for it, and this is my punishment, haha.

But I don’t feel bad about the Ulta shopping because my skin has been a disaster lately – flaky and angry red, just really bad rosacea flareups. I wanted something that wasn’t prescription that I could try on a daily basis because I just look awful. So I bought Exuviance Antiredness Calming Serum and Exuviance A.G.E Less Everyday, and am going to be really dedicated to using them twice a day. And then last night I also put on a pretty heavy just regular skin moisturizer and then coconut oil, and when I woke up my face wasn’t nearly as dry and tight. The goal is to get the redness down with the expensive stuff, and stay moisturized during the day with the cheapo stuff, ha.

OK, back to today’s goal of cleaning house. Tonight I need to make a smart shopping list so I can have breakfasts and lunches without eating out. (With the caveat of if my mom wants to have lunch, I have lunch – that would be an Unexpected Expense.)

COVID-19 silver lining – we’re not supposed to go anywhere anyway.

My tech woes and other things

I’m writing this on my new laptop that I got because I was sick of fighting with the dying keyboard on my old one. A year ago, I had;
* A Macbook Air that I used mostly for work travel;
* An iPad Mini that I used mostly to watch YouTube while on work travel;
* A Lenovo Windows laptop that I loved dearly but which was old old old;
* A Kindle Paperwhite which was also for – you guessed it – work travel.

The iPad was super damaged when I left it in a rental car and the Hertz people thought that it would be totally ok to just drop it in a box with no bubble wrap or anything. However, I just didn’t care enough to do more than have the Batteries+ people fix it, which they were sort of able to do, but really, it’s barely usable.

The Lenovo just – died, I don’t know what happened.

The Air decided that I didn’t need the A key, space bar, backspace, tab, or any number of other keys on any kind of regular basis. It would have cost me around $800 to get it fixed. This sexy little Acer laptop was less than that, and does what I need it to. Which is: minimal internet surfing and Skyrim through Steam.

I’m dipping into my money I’ve set aside for the no-commission months, but I’m still salary right now and will make it up. I’ve got around $2700 coming from state and federal tax refund, which I will use to finally pay for Buddy’s surgery and get that off of my credit card. I’ve hated carrying that balance! Sadly, it won’t change my budget much, as I wasn’t really paying it down – I have monthly bills that go on the card, and paying those covered my minimum payment. But any reduction in debt is a good thing.

The job is going well, although I need to get quicker at DOING things. I have a tendency to put off doing something if I know I’m not going to do well at it, and to let some things slide longer than they should. Bad habits from the old job where there weren’t a lot of deadlines. But at this new place, if I don’t get these cases closed, eventually I won’t get paid. So now is the time to get those good habits set. (She says, like I don’t know this already.) But I am happy there. I’d rather not be working anywhere, and be independently wealthy etc., but that’s a pipe dream and I’m going to retire old and poor, but at least I can learn some basic skills that working at Lawyer Daycare didn’t teach me.

Personal life update: I have an admirer. It’s sweet. It will never go anywhere because she and I are diametric opposites in just about every way. I honestly don’t know why she likes me! Fortunately, I don’t see her that often, and our mutual friend (who would be doing the inviting to the things I go to) is aware that I have zero dating interest in this lady, so she won’t be putting me in awkward situations. Weirdly, when I told my friends about it, my best friend’s response was “You’re cute. Why won’t you go out on just one date with her?” Weird because I don’t need a reason to not date someone beyond not wanting to. Also weird because what does my relative cuteness have to do with anything?

Regardless, tomorrow is a new work week, and I’m going to get shiz DONE.

So many lesbians

Friday I got a text from a friend that I see occasionally but am always happy to spend time with. “What are you doing tonight?” As it turned out, the answer was nothing and boom – I had an invite to Pride Night at the local hockey rink. It was a blast. Then Saturday, a slightly larger group of the same women had a game night, and I was invited to that as well. So – guess who had a social life this weekend? THIS GIRL.

Today I cleaned my bedroom (probably need to vacuum again and then hit it with the carpet cleaner). I looked at it and thought – girl, you are a grown-ass adult, you are fucking MIDDLE-AGED, why does your bedroom look like a teenager’s?

Honestly, it’s a good thing no one reads this but me, haha. It is the most boring journal ever. But hey, last year I couldn’t even write it. Every day a little better. Every day a step towards mental and physical health (except for the crap food I ate this weekend, I can literally feel my stomach resting on my legs and it is pretty fucking gross).

Work and gym tomorrow. Hell yeah.

Thwarted intentions but it is ok

It’s just past 10pm on Sunday night, and I’m in bed with a lidocaine patch on my back and three Tylenol PMs making their way through my system with a fourth to come when I’m done writing this. I had a whole plan for the weekend with some built-in lazy time, some errands, some family time and a lot of time cleaning and organizing the second floor of my not-large condo. (Two floors! But only 1200 square feet, so it really isn’t as big as it sounds. Bigger than some of my apartments, smaller than others.)

What happened is I woke up this morning mentally raring to go, curled up on the couch to eat breakfast, and when I stood up – OUCH. A dull ache right where my bulging disk hurt last year. I usually have some minor back pain due to poor posture and a body physiology that carries all my weight in my belly, which also throws my posture awry. But this was concerning and it didn’t go away all day. I took four ibuprofen and decided I would be best served by being very gentle to my back. Which means not a lot of bending, which means not a lot of cleaning got done.

I did go visit my grandmother, which was lovely. And I got a couple of errands done on the way home, which was good. But my benefits at the new job don’t kick in until March, thanks to a ridiculous probationary period, so until then, I am basically terrified of my back hurting me again. I can’t afford to pay for all the uncovered treatment, and I don’t really want to have to get COBRA because it’s crazy expensive – but I will if I have to.

So today was intended to be a HOME post, which it’s still going to be! I am going to sound like the biggest slob but here are the habits I need to get ingrained in my soul, and will be focusing on first:

Really cleaning the kitchen every night. Normally I’ll pile all the dishes in the sink and call it done, but there’s no reason for that when I have a perfectly functional dishwasher and also I AM ONLY ONE PERSON. So far I’m batting .1000 on going to bed with a clean kitchen. But some nights I have gotten out of bed and gone downstairs to clean because I slipped back into my lazy ways.

Getting all the crap off of my couch nightly. This one is a little harder because I live on my couch. Probably why my back hates me. Definitely why my cats love me, though. So I’ll have dishes, Xbox controller, a quilt or blanket, books, knitting supplies, all of that just piled up around me. I also kind of hate my couch these days but am stuck with it for the time being, so it would behoove me to take better care of it.

Taking better care of my clothes. I am The Worst about this. I swear, some days I don’t even feel like an adult, and I am a flipping middle-aged woman who can’t be bothered not to undress to the floor. Why am I like this? It’s ridiculous.

Three small steps that fell by the wayside during my two-year depression. Slowly, slowly, I am regaining who I was.

MENTAL HEALTH MOMENT
My grandmother and I talked today about my new job. I told her that I’d given up a lot of things for this new job – things like 100% paid for health insurance, and more vacation days than I could use, and a fully-funded HSA. But that what I got back was worth it. And her response? She said that it was wonderful having the “old” me back. She could tell that I was happier without the stress of that job, without the constant travel and worry. And I do feel more like myself. It’s a good thing. I still have moments of dread, and I had to tell my old paralegal not to ask me questions about my old cases; it stressed me out and was an anxiety trigger because there was nothing I could do about them anymore. But they’re less frequent and I can mostly handle them without needing an anti-anxiety pill. I still carry those with me, but I haven’t taken one in days, and before that, weeks.

Things are looking up.

On the go post

January 3. I have made no big resolutions but I do have a short-term goal for the month: Low-Spend January – with some rules as follows:

  • Friday: I eat lunch out.
  • If Mom wants to do something, I do it.
  • New jeans. I need them and have clothing money set aside in the budget.
  • Makeup maybe. Would come out of the same budget.

Honestly if I just stop eating out all the time, I’ll save a lot. I have BW bills coming up (note to self check SW balance for flight) so I need to be prepared.

The nice thing is, and this is new for me, I’m actually ahead on my budget with about $6000 in the bank.

January is fully budgeted.

February is budgeted except for $400 for my mortgage – which will come out of the 1/17 paycheck. That check will also start funding March, and pay down a chunk of Buddy’s vet bill, add to the BW bank and the maintenance bank.

If I don’t think of my budget as paychecks but as a month as a whole, I think I’ll stay ahead of everything.

Mental-health wise, I think I’m okay with all of this. It’s on my mind but not in an obsessive way. I’m just aware of what I’m spending and changing my perspective on my discretionary funds – I don’t have to spend it all in the next two weeks!

This is positive movement. Next post: all about the living situation.

Christmas, 2019

So I got billed for a year of this site and I thought – well, time to commit, woman. Things have changed a lot since I last poked at this site. First and foremost, I’m at a new firm. It’s personal injury, mostly pre-litigation, and a world away from my previous firm. There are lots of management differences (exponentially less vacation time, definitely not as spoiled as far as office supplies go) but here’s the biggest thing.

I spent eight years at a job that essentially defined and took over my life. It impacted every area – I traveled all the time, I thought of work all the time, and while I loved it for a long time, the last two years were a mix of depression and panic attacks. Now? This job? It is just a job. I go to work, I advocate for my clients (or I will beginning next week, as training is effectively over), and then I go home and don’t think about the office again until the next morning. It is a world of difference.

I was talking to a friend about everything, and she asked if I took a pay cut for it, then said “you know what, your mental and emotional health is worth whatever pay cut you took.” And she is RIGHT.

So, onward from there. I’ve been there a month, I’ve been away from the old job for five weeks, and it’s time to start getting the rest of my life in order. To wit: body. Mind. Home. Friends. Family.

Fresh Start

Today is November 2. In sixteen days I will be starting a new job, without having been fired from the old job. It’s been eight years at that firm, and I loved working there for a really long time. The past couple of days have been a storm of emotions – nerves about the new job (but not as much as you would think), relief that the things that trigger my anxiety spirals at the old job are no longer my concern, and also, not a little sadness at leaving people I really like working with. When I left work to go to law school, I had no regrets and no plans to miss anyone. And I didn’t. Onwards and upwards etc. But I’m going to miss my paralegal immensely.

2019, the year that wasn’t

The fact that there’s nothing here since January 2019 isn’t because I was lazy or dropped this like any other journal. 2019 SUCKED. The whole year was just terrible, and I think I need to talk about it here, on a site that no one knows about, and no one I know will read it, but where it exists outside of my battered yellow journal that G wants me to keep using.

So what happened in 2019? Depression like I’ve never had before. Intense work burnout. It turns out that even when you know that’s what is going on, it’s still really hard to kick or to see the other side of. Poor choices about food and socializing (nothing salacious, more that I didn’t do any and spent a lot more time at home alone with my brain than I needed). A back injury that laid me out for two weeks, and slowed me down for four more, the repercussions of which I’m still dealing with vis-a-vis wrecked schedule, numb legs, and occasional instability. An annual friend weekend where I ended up sobbing in bed one night, while the friend I was sharing the room with tried her best to comfort me. A vacation that was sorely needed, one day of which I barely left the hotel room and utterly wasted. And then The Conversation with my bosses, where I was basically given three months to wrap up my work, free rein to job hunt from the office no questions asked, but absolutely 100% I’m not going to be working here anymore because – well, all of the above and because my bosses don’t know how to manage people or address concerns beyond just “having them”.

Truthfully, leaving is the right thing to do. Had I been able to see clearly two years ago, I would have started job hunting, but I was drowning and didn’t know it.

MOVING ON. 2019 sucked, it is still sucking although marginally better. I’m still in therapy, which helps. I have an Ativan prescription which really helps for when I get that DOOOOOM feeling. I’m not suicidal or self-harming, but some mornings I wake up and it’s just DOOM in the back of my brain, coloring everything I do.

So an even keel isn’t the goal in life?

I don’t like feeling BIG emotions. It’s not that I don’t like emotions at all, or fear them, but I like my life to be pretty even. Nothing too high, nothing too low.

I’ve been in therapy for a few weeks now. I started it to help me deal with the work burnout that I’ve mentioned here before, but APPARENTLY other stuff crops up. I promise this isn’t going to turn into a therapy blog, but also maybe it will a little bit. So I’ll tag that shit.

a. I minimize my accomplishments. I don’t know – do I? My friends say I do, but I feel like it’s more that I’m being realistic about what they are.

b. G asked me if other people were “safe”. Obviously not everyone! (she jotted down a note at that.) But people don’t need to know what’s going on inside my head or my heart. That’s MY stuff.

c. I got the impression that G believes control is a big thing for me. I don’t feel like I have a lot of control over most of my life, or the dumb decisions I make. So… maybe what’s going on is similar to those who develop eating disorders because that’s something they can control? I control my emotions because I can? But that doesn’t make sense – I cry all the time, super easily, I flush, and I’m blindsided by emotion.

Emotions sneak up on me. I’m running along just fine and then boom – someone says something nice about me TO me and I’m sobbing in my car. I don’t ever seem to be blindsided by happiness or excitement. Anxiety, sure. Negative emotions feel like they come out of nowhere, and I can’t stop them, and then my eyes well up and my skin flushes, and it’s embarrassing and yes, it feels shameful in a way, and I hate it. So I guess I’m also a hypocrite because of all the times I’ve fussed at BFF for not showing emotions and called her a robot, but here I am fighting to preserve my shallow emotional sine wave – or at least better regulate the outward expression of it. (Granted, what I mostly wanted from her was hugs, but the comparison feels valid.)

“Even keeled – characterized by stability or consistency.” See, that’s nice! Thanks, Merriam-Webster.