Turn off that damn TV!

Life has been changing around here at a semi-dizzying pace, but all in a really good direction.  HH and I have actively made some of those changes, and others have simply happened as a result of those.   The first thing we wanted to do was get out of debt.  We sat down, added up all the debt we have so we could look at it in one place, passed out on the floor for a while, stood back up, looked at it again, slapped ourselves in the forehead and then got down to business.  We were spending money in places where we shouldn’t and neglecting other things that were much more important.  So, since neither of us seem to be getting a new job or a tremendous raise anytime soon, we had to make the changes with what we already had. The task seemed seriously daunting, but when we really took stock of what is important to us and what we want for the future, it wasn’t all that hard.  A little sacrifice now will go a much longer way in the future, so that’s what we decided to do.

First to go was our recreational activities.  Everything but snowboarding had to go.  We already own everything we need in order to go snowboarding and bought super cheap season passes in September, so that’s pretty much all covered.  Plus, we needed to leave ourselves with SOMETHING to do, so as not to lose our minds.  Next, we put down the credit cards.  If it ain’t cash(debit), we don’t buy it.  My mantra on credit cards has become this, which must be said loudly and in the ilk of Samuel L. Jackson, circa Pulp Fiction: “It’s not yo’ FUCKIN’ money, Honey!”  Also, credit cards are from the devil, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

The last thing we looked at was where we could save on the bills that are just a part of life.  I switched my electricity supplier to wind energy.  It was cheaper and I felt greener every time I turned on or off a light.  Nothing much changed that was noticeable, except my bill went down.  Cool.   Next we looked at the cable bill, which had just gone up for some unidentifiable reason.  I checked out the bills and couldn’t figure out why it went up, so I called.  They told me that my two-year promotional rate had expired and that this was the standard rate.   I asked what I could do to get back the other rate.  Basically, I was told that I was shit out of luck.  When I asked why a loyal customer should be treated worse than a new one, they said they could offer me $5 off my bill.  Great, thanks.  You just jacked my bill by $50 a month for the same exact services I had before and now, out of the kindness of your hearts, you’ll give me five whole dollars back?  Gosh golly whilikers, how awfully generous of you.

And so, the decision was made that much easier.  Let’s just cancel TV altogether.  (I’m keeping the internet.  Someone’s gonna have to pry the internet from my cold dead hands.)  So we did cancel the whole package (internet included), but only so I could sign back up a week later, for just the internet, as a nice, shiny new customer.  So my bill went from $150 a month to $33 a month.

Now I know what you’re all thinking.  No TV?  At all?  What are you people, crazy!?!?  I thought we might be a little crazy at first too.  However, my dad told me that there is still free TV being broadcast over the air and all I needed was an antenna to access it.  Cool.  $30 at Radio shack, and we’re in business.  It wasn’t exactly HD, which is sad, since my father had turned me into an HD snob, nor did I have 387 channels, but I got 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 pretty well.  But, even better, when the cable guy came to install my internet back, he took one look at our rabbit-ear antenna and took pity on us.   He took the cable line that ran into the house and simply plugged that right into the back of the TV.  Voila!  HD channels, plus Animal Planet and Food Network, the only 2 cable networks that we watched anyway.  Completely free and legal.  Awesome.

But the best part of it all, really, is that during the week when we had nothing, we had to figure out other things to do besides watch TV and surf the internet.  And you wanna know what we did?  We TALKED to each other.  Like, a whole lot!  And we always knew this about ourselves, but we had let it get away from us, had let the TV and the internet drown out the fact that HH and I really, really love talking to each other.  And we love cooking together and coming up with ideas together and just being together, without distractions.  And I think, just maybe, we fell in love just a little bit more.

Now we do have some TV back in the house, as well as the internet, but we don’t use it half as much as we used to.  I’ll admit to being hooked on Glee and Grey’s Anatomy.  But all in all, 2 hours a week of TV watching, down from probably 20 hours, is a vast improvement.  The only other time we really put it on is for 20 minutes, on a timer, so we can fall asleep.  That’s it.

So yeah, it may seem crazy, but it may be the best thing you ever do.  Turn off that TV for a while and see what happens.

An Assignment

So my friend xisting4me and I like to challenge each other to blog assignments sometimes. She usually gets my challenges done in a matter of hours, and I make her wait around for weeks. Cause that’s just the kind of procrastinator that I am. But on this particular challenge, I wasn’t simply being lazy. I was attempting to answer her challenge honestly while hanging on to some semblance of my pride. After much and careful consideration, I’ve realized that it can’t be done. So I’ll just answer honestly and let my pride have the day off.

Her challenge looks like this: How many people can you look through on your facebook friends and delete because you don’t talk to them regularly, you don’t really need them knowing stuff about your life, you added them because they asked or you haven’t talked to them in years? I did it and deleted 138 people. It was a scary thought. So why did you put them there to begin with?

At the time of this posting, I have 249 friends to my name on FB. I will say that I have had real world contact at some point in my life with all of my friends on there, but admittedly, not for quite some time with many of them. Do I absolutely need all of them? Nope. Have I spoken to half of these people in the last year? Probably not. Do I leave them there anyway? You betcha.

So that was the easy part. But now we get to the why part. Why did I add people who I haven’t spoken to in years and most likely are not going to be starting up a new relationship with anytime soon? Because they remembered me. Remembered me enough to either friend me or accept my friend request. And right here is where my pride just hung it’s “Out for lunch” sign. Because I am not proud of this, but I have lived much of my life thinking of myself as a very forgettable person. As though once I was physically out of someone’s life, that I also popped right out of their memory altogether. And so, when someone from my past pops up and recognizes and remembers me, I guess it makes me feel good, in some strange, psychologically-unhealthy way. It makes me feel like I made a difference in someone else’s life.

One particularly heart-wrenching incident of this was when a girl I had gone to 3rd grade with friended me. She had moved away in the middle of the school year and had left her address with the class in case anyone wanted to be penpals (remember those?!?). I had written her a letter at the time, but never got a response and it went long forgotten. When she friended me, she added a note telling me that I was the only one from the class who had written to her after she moved, but that something had happened to the envelope and she lost my return address, so she never got to write back to me. She told me that she had always felt bad about not being able to write back to the one person who had written to her.

I don’t know exactly what it was about this situation, but I was literally brought to tears. I had affected this person in some way so much so, that 20 years later, she was so happy to have found me just to say thank you for a letter that, to be honest, I don’t recall writing. But it was something. I had made a difference and someone remembered.

And I guess, to be fair, I have to give a part 2 as to the why. And part 2 is that on most days, I feel like I have no friends. I guess I have no everyday friends, people who you talk to all the time and know everything about you. I mean, I do have some very good friends out there, but we don’t see each other or talk all that often. We’re more like those kinds of friends who you can not see for a long time, but when you do, it’s like you just saw them yesterday. I have lots of those. I guess I’m missing some BFF’s, as cheesy as that sounds. Someone to vent to when I’m pissed at HH or something. And I guess the feeling of knowing things about other people from what they post on FB, makes me feel closer to them somehow. Like I can turn to HH and be like, “Oh, So-and-So is having a baby soon” or “So-and-So just posted a picture of their new haircut” or something.

I guess, when it all boils down, it helps me to not feel so lonely. But now that I’ve gone over the brink into the realm of pathetic, I’m going to stop and consider the challenge completed.

The Happy Post

Ok, so oh. my. god. I had no idea how difficult it would be to come up with 100 quantifiable things that make me happy. Seems simple, but it’s really not! I don’t even have the energy to put a whole lot of preamble on this so I’m just gonna throw it out there. Here you go!

Things that make me happy – In no particular order of any kind

1. My wife, HH. And all the goodness that she brings to my life.
2. The sound of rumble strips. I have no idea why. I’ll always roll down the windows when approaching a toll just to get the full affect.
3. Reading. Anything and everything.
4. Baking. Especially from scratch.
5. Thinking about the rare occasions when I heard my Nana curse. Cracks me up.
6. The fact that Tootsley lets me wedge my feet completely underneath him while I sleep. He keeps my tootsies toasty!
7. The rare occasions when Chadwick turns into my personal teddy bear.
8. Snowboarding. I never would have thought I’d find a reason to love winter, but there it is.
9. Hot tea and a cozy robe on a cold night.
10. Porto Rico coffee.
11. Cooking things that make you go hmmmm and having them be delicious anyway.
12. Actually using the ginormous spreadsheet that took me two months to put together that I thought would be useless.
13. Realizing that my brother is turning out to be a fine little human, if not a little strange.
14. Driving. Especially when I get to play with my SPORTSHIFT manual on winding roads at high speeds.
15. Grocery shopping with HH. I don’t know why, but we end up having some of our best conversations in the supermarket.
16. Apple picking in the fall.
17. Shopping at the wonderfulness that is Delicious Orchards after apple picking.
18. When HH and our #1 Lezbro, Mike, have dinner waiting for me when I get home.
19. Babies laughing.
20. Black Walnut from Banana Republic. On HH. Makes me VERY happy.
21. The smell of the ocean right before it rains.
22. The first peeps of green on the trees after winter is over.
23. Really good chocolate.
24. Rubbing HH’s bald head fuzz.
25. When I catch HH staring at me and I can see how much she loves me.
26. My mother’s laughter. And all her open mouth pictures, cause that’s exactly how she really is.
27. Giant dogs that are really big mushballs.
28. When Gia secretly sneaks onto my lap and falls asleep without me even realizing it.
29. That new-baby smell.
30. The thought of my dad being the best granddad to my kids.
31. The color of my eyes in direct sunlight.
32. When my car is seriously clean.
33. Good hair days, of which I have few.
34. Movies with Angelina Jolie in them.
35. Making other people laugh.
36. Having pre-selected books waiting for me at the library.
37. Camping. Especially the no-cell-phone rule.
38. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 20 and making it look effortless.
39. http://www.icanhazcheezburger.com/
40. Baby animals of all kinds.
41. When my dad lets me drive his car.
42. The fact that my cars have now spanned 20 years. My first was an ’89 Mercury Sable and my current is an ’09 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport.
43. My newly revamped credit score.
44. Rashi wine.
45. Kitchen gadgets. The weirder the better. My current favorite is my new Wilton pastry cutter.
46. My Kitchenaid mixer.
47. My spice rack, which is bigger than your spice rack and the fact that I know how to use all of them.
48. My snowboard.
49. The fact that I have a roof rack to attach said snowboard to!
50. Key West. Especially the wonderful world of the woman-only, clothing optional lesbian bed and breakfast known as Pearl’s Rainbow.
51. Successfully NOT talking to other people on my commute.
52. Designing my ideal house in mine and HH’s heads.
53. Beating HH at Wii Bowling, cause she can’t take it, even though she kicks my ass in every other sport.
54. The $5.25 cup of hot chocolate at Café Charbonnel in Saks Fifth Avenue. Worth every damn penny.
55. Hearing songs that bring up really specific memories.
56. Dreaming of my future children’s names.
57. The mini library that I have accumulated. I’d say I’m well over 500 books at this point.
58. My original 1873 edition of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.
59. The ring that HH bought for me early in our relationship, which we told the guy we bought it from was to be our wedding ring. I never take it off.
60. The fact that my parents see HH as a true daughter-in-law.
61. Mamasoo and Ruddyna, without whom work would be a truly bottomless pit of hell. They are my sunshine.
62. So clearly remembering instantly falling in love with my brother, the moment my mother put him in my arms. Also, thinking “I need to get me one of these.”
63. Reuniting with old friends and finding that it’s just as easy to talk to them as it was 10 years ago.
64. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic by the Police.
65. 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.
66. The plant that I and each of my cousins still have a piece of that belonged to Nana, even though she’s been gone for 8 years now.
67. Hosting parties.
68. Going out on the porch in the middle of the night and listening to the quiet.
69. I’m going to borrow from Mamasoo here and simply say yes.
70. The knowledge that I will finally hit the slopes on December 12th at Plattekill Mountain!!
71. Seeing other gay couples. Makes me feel like I’m not so weird.
72. That moment of satisfaction right after I have scrubbed my kitchen clean.
73. Alternately, the messing up of my kitchen, knowing that I will be eating something yummy as a result.
74. Vodka Sauce Pizza.
75. Vacations. Of all kinds. As long as I’m on them.
76. When HH and I are cracking up laughing at something, and Chadwick simply MUST come and investigate the source of the laughter. He can also tell when we’re faking the laughs.
77. Wii tournaments with Nick & Jen.
78. When HH surprises me by being outside my work door when I go outside.
79. Having random coincidences work out spectacularly.
80. Witnessing things that, I swear, ONLY happen in NY.
81. Guilty pleasures, such as Otalia and Spashley, and I don’t care who knows it!
82. A Touch of Sea Salt chocolate bars from Lindt.
83. Road trips!
84. My inner compass, which was very upset by the sun being on the wrong side in Los Angeles. I’m an East Coast gal!
85. Music in all its forms.
86. Learning things, all things, and any things.
87. The bioluminescent bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
88. Sunday mornings snuggling in bed with the wife surrounded by our kitties.
89. Blu-ray movies.
90. Chipotle’s Vegetarian Burrito bowls! Yum.
91. Reminiscing about childhood memories.
92. Watching the leaves turn colors in the fall.
93. The random days during which all my neighbors end up stopping by and hanging out. Makes me feel all June Cleaver-like.
94. Scotland Road Behr paint. It’s in my dining room and has such a calming effect.
95. Looking at old pictures.
96. The laughing day. That’s the day when you can look back on crappy stuff that happened in the past and finally laugh about it.
97. Heated front seats in the car.
98. Peppermint Bark. Gotta make a batch of that real soon.
99. The fact that I’m now old enough to realize that what I once thought was unfair treatment from my parents was only them teaching me how to truly survive in the real world.
100. Finishing this list!!!