Shock me like an electric eel.

I’ve been feeling weird lately: restless, dissatisfied with the way I’m living, ashamed of how I never get anything done…and also completely exhausted. It’s not a new feeling and it’s not a rational feeling; after all, I hold down a job, pay my bills, take care of my animals, and I’m in a loving, committed relationship. What more could I want?  Should I want more? Am I being greedy? Am I being too hard on myself?

But I guess I do want more. I want to be healthy – I don’t think I’ve been truly healthy in a long time. I need to have my tonsils removed, I’ve gained weight since I started the Citalopram, my diet leaves much to be desired, and I’m alarmed at how addicted to caffeine I am. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve gone without at least one cup of coffee per day in months. I don’t even like the way I feel when I drink it anymore.

Furthermore, I want to be financially stable, but I don’t want to be totally reliant on this job, the way I am right now. I’m fortunate in that it’s not a consistently demanding job – obviously I have some free time at work – but I’m also coasting along not really doing anything, either. Compliance isn’t fulfilling, interesting, or…anything, really, to me. It and answering phones are the things I do around here so that they’ll let me stay and keeping putting a little bit of money in my account every two weeks, and frankly, it doesn’t feel good. I have free mornings Monday, Wednesday, and Friday right now (on weeks that I don’t need to cover for anybody). If I could find some people who needed their dogs walked, I could do that in the mornings, make a little bit more money, get some exercise, and meet both new people and dogs. Those are all good things. I would like that. And I’m uniquely fortunate right now in that my job does give me the time to do things like that. I need to take advantage of it.

The other thing that’s sort of vaguely stressing me out right now is writing. I haven’t felt like a writer in months. I know it’s not supposed to be about how you feel, but I’m just so discouraged. Everything that I write feels like utter tripe. I can’t create interesting, compelling characters, I can’t come up with coherent plots, and I can’t even describe anything very well. I don’t know what happened, but…words have become a mystery to me. Even my grammar and punctuation are horrible now. I don’t understand it. I used to be so convinced that writing was what I wanted to do, what I was supposed to do. I used to feel like I had a measure of control over my ability to put words together. I was enthusiastic about it, and sure that eventually, if I kept trying, things would click and one day I’d be able to actually finish something. You know what I’ve finished in the last six months? One short story. One. And it sucks. Being published no longer seems like even a remote possibility.

I think I’m just one of those people who thought they could cut it, but didn’t have the guts and the drive to see anything through. And frankly, I don’t think I’m smart enough to write. Everything that I’d want to write is so far about my head, subject-matter-wise, that even if I did finish a novel, I have little faith that any of it would make sense. Right now, just thinking about writing or looking back over past writing makes me feel like my brain is made of lead.

I know that all sounds very pessimistic, but I wanted to say it so that I would have something solid to start trying to solve. And to that end, here’s an incredibly ambitious list.

These are my goals for June:

1. Make some dog walking fliers and get them posted around town. Don’t worry overmuch about rates or anything complicated. Those can be determined as I go, and frankly, I doubt that I’ll have so many people interested that the more complicated parts will even be relevant.

2. Get my application in to the Animal Behavior College.

3. Wean myself off of coffee/caffeine.

4. Consistently keep the kitchen clean so that making fresh meals doesn’t seem like too much work. Cut my processed foods intake by about 50%. Work on smarter grocery shopping.

5. Rearrange the bedroom, get rid of all unused furniture, get rid of all unused clothing, and go through the high cupboards. Find a place to hang the planter.

6. Attend Scalzi’s book signing in Minneapolis.

7. Walk at least 1 mile with the dogs per day.

8. Get the cat in for his check-up.

9. Save money for the wedding. [Goal: approx. $2-300]

10. Meet all of my Compliance review goals at work.

11. Write. Work on rewriting Atlas City. Don’t be overwhelmed by it. Just do some writing. Maybe try out http://750words.com/.

Construction blues.

Holy hell in a handbasket.

There’s construction at the bank today – they’re filling in some holes in the entryway with re-purposed marble, which seems to involve lots and lots of jackhammering, rock dust, and general mess and mayhem. Oh yeah, and this is all happening about ten feet from where I sit, which means that I can’t answer the phone, can’t concentrate worth a damn, and my ears have been ringing for the past three hours. Fun times.

Anyway, Nate and I had a pretty darn awesome weekend. On Saturday, we went to the Minnesota Scottish Festival and Highland Games, where I saw more kilts in one place than I ever have in my whole life. It really was more like a small renaissance fair than anything else: tents with jewelry and various handmade goods, food stands, skill demonstrations (I got to see my first sheepdog trial, which was surprisingly cool), really, really good live music, and all in all, plenty to do. We ended up finding some people that Nate knew from his kilt forum, so we had a beer with them and hung out. I picked up some little celtic knot earrings, we had meat pies and banana cake, and Nate got to check out the Donald clan tent and do some research on his Scottish heritage. We hardly ever do anything like this, so going up to the cities and having a whole day together was a really nice change.

Then on Sunday we finally saw The Avengers, which was really fun – incredibly Joss Whedon-y. After, I was totally on a superhero high, so I ran over to the closest Red Box and grabbed Captain America, which we also hadn’t seen yet. It was freaking adorable. I loved it. It was also a good story follow-up to The Avengers, seeing as it dealt with all the tesseract hooey.

Um…what else. Samson somehow cut his carpal pad, so my poor guy’s been pretty miserable. It’s a lot better now, since the skin is finally growing back – I have no idea how he injured it like that. I’m just going to chalk it up to his crazy jumping and leaping when we play fetch. We kept it wrapped for a couple of days because he wouldn’t stop licking it, but he should be fine without the bandage now. I hope he is, because we have a pet interview as soon as I’m off work.

Oh yeah, I guess that’s news. I’m starting a dog walking business. Just a small thing to do on mornings and some evenings. I already have one client, though have no idea if there will be any more. I haven’t done any proper advertising yet. I just secured my membership with Professional United Pet Sitters, though I’m not planning on doing any real pet sitting…yet. I need to figure out what will work around my bank schedule, first. But I’m looking forward to it. Tonight, I’m taking my pups over to meet a little female pit bull. If it works, she’ll be joining us on our trips to the field a couple of evenings a week. I really hope it goes well, because I know mine would love to have another playmate, and it sounds like this girl needs some friends and socialization. So, fingers crossed, and in the near future I may be able to walk and play with dogs for pay! Which would be amazing! I think it pretty much goes without saying at this point, but I’m officially crazy about dogs now. I have no idea what was wrong with me before. They’ve improved my life in so. many. ways.

Well, I need to get going. I actually have a lot more to write about, but not enough time right now.

Quick post: The $100 Startup

I don’t usually read these kinds of books – in fact, I don’t usually read business books at all – but for some reason I ordered The $100 Startup a few days ago. It looks really interesting: studies and anecdotes of people who have started their own business with almost nothing, sometimes even stumbling into them accidentally. I’m going to try to write down my thoughts as I read it. I think the catalyst for this interest has been realizing, especially over the last few months, exactly how limited my moneymaking ability is. It really eats at me, to be honest. I feel like the skills I have are worth almost nothing, and yet I know that I’m not some shiftless ne’er-do-well idiot. But I don’t have a degree, I’m neither particularly handy nor good at crafts, and my patience with and desire to write tend to fluctuate severely. I know I wouldn’t be very happy being a freelance writer, and I certainly don’t have the qualifications to be a freelance editor. You know what I’m good at? Data entry. Data-fricken’-entry.

Also, I’ve never actually done anything on the side to make money before. My income has always been very straightforward: work, get paid an hourly wage, and pick up another job if the hours aren’t enough. 

But I’m tired of it. I hate knowing that the amount I get paid working at the bank is higher than I could get almost anywhere else in town…but I can’t have full time, and I can’t pick up another job for mornings because I need to be available to cover when other receptionists are gone. Barring yearly raises, which they are admittedly generous about, they’ve (I’ve? Is this my fault?) effectively capped my monthly earnings at about $950 after taxes and my 401K deduction…while also keeping me at part-time and ineligible for employer-subsidized health insurance. So the good parts, the parts that have kept me working here for over a year now, are that I’m in a position to learn a lot about banking, I’ve moved beyond basic reception-ing into compliance, which is definitely a step above, and the hourly wage isn’t terrible. But the bad parts are…everything else listed above. And I feel like the scales are beginning to tip.

I mean, seriously. $950 a month? That’s barely enough to live on, let alone make any kind of dent in my student loan debt or buy any kind of independent insurance plan. The last time I tried to take another job, it had to be a night job, and it was hellish. I have so little patience for food/customer service work right now, and I hate how under-valued those jobs are. So I’ve started brainstorming, but I’m at a loss because while there are plenty of things that I enjoy doing, they don’t have much business potential.

You know what the highlight of my day is? Taking the pups out for playtime and walkies. Now that I would do for money.

So anyway, the book. I’m going to read this it and see if it gives me any ideas. I’m really tired of drifting along just above the poverty level, but it isn’t going to change unless I do something different.

Screw it.

Following the news? Summarizing, discussing, and linking? 

Screw it. I’m too tired and too busy. I don’t care enough to commit to this right now. I already failed the Blogathon challenge – failed it within like, four days, actually – and every time I think about coming over here to write, I get overwhelmed by the restrictions I put on this site about what and how I was supposed to be writing. Which led to almost no writing at all.

So I’m done with the formal blogging shit. It’s not for me right now. I need a place to rant about personal crap, and for now, this is going to be it.

SO! MOVING ON.

We found out today that the house we were looking at buying is a no-go unless we can put down 10% plus closing costs, which is way more cash than we have on-hand. That means that it’s just not the right time for us to be thinking about purchasing. That simple. We’re trying to save for a wedding right now; we don’t need to stress ourselves out unduly about one missed house opportunity. There will be others. I’m not exactly relieved, but also not quite as disappointed as I thought I would be.

Also, it needs to be said that this place was quite the fixer-upper. Like, mildew in the basement, nasty carpets, a bathroom that needed to be redone, and horrible, horrible apple tiling in the kitchen. I know we could have done the work on it and dramatically increased its value, and yeah, it sucks to basically be throwing our rent money away each month, but it was also an insanely small house with an insanely small yard, and I was (legitimately, I think) worried about the logistics of fitting 150+ pounds of very active dog in it. I mean, the thing had like, ten freaking square feet of yard space. And I would hate – no, loathe – myself if we got in there, were committed to the property, and couldn’t stand living with the dogs. They’re family. In fact, they’re pretty much our childrens. Especially for me, because hello there, biological clock, and also, fuck you. I am not giving them up for one crap little house.

This means that now I can focus on more regular expenses: getting Nate’s ring, buying the new Sonata Arctica album when it comes out next Tuesday (YAY), squirreling away money for the wedding and honeymoon, investing, and…oh yeah, paying the normal bills.

Whew. Cranky post is cranky. Sorry about that.

Oh, one more random thing. Do you ever get cravings for certain foods that don’t go away for like, days on end? I’ve been craving tuna subs for the last three days, and it’s driving me crazy. I’ve even indulged it, but it’s still there! And it’s so specific: a cold tuna sub on Italian bread with cheddar cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, pickles, green peppers, onions, and just a little bit more mayonnaise on top. *swoon*

Dammit. 

Blogathon Day 3: I Don’t Understand College (pt. 1)

It’s true. I don’t understand college at all.

I used to think that I did, but the way I started my college career really should have warned me. I was eighteen when I decided to take a semester off to figure out what I wanted to do – as if that kind of knowledge would magically reveal itself in the span of four short months. It didn’t. What ended up happening was that I panicked about not having started college right away like everyone else I knew, which led to me making the safest, easiest school decision I could. For two years, I attended a small state school about an hour away from my parents, and for most of my time there, I was miserable.

My mom always used to tell me that she was certain I’d flourish in a college environment. “There’s so much structure! You belong in academia,” she’d say, sounding so certain. I guess I believed it.

I’m not so sure I believe it anymore.

I had enjoyed elementary and middle school; high school was hellish, but then, wasn’t it hellish for everyone? College would be better: more people, more challenges, more freedom. More interesting classes. Coming from a small high school and a strict home environment, these things were a big deal.

But paired with these great things were a lot of awful things: trying to make friends as an introvert terrified of crowds, dealing with a financial services department that didn’t care to explain to me what I was getting into with student loans (and then trying to scrounge up money for classes when aid inevitably ran out each semester), trying to balance work with class loads, and dealing with a terribly toxic, codependent relationship.

I didn’t know what questions to ask or where to ask them. I didn’t even know how to find out where I could ask the questions I needed answered. Getting help was an alien concept to me, though I made several half-assed attempts. I floundered. And then I broke down and gave up.

Gosh, this story is pathetic so far. More tomorrow.

Blogathon Day 2: Bad Exes and Other Ailments

A quick note – yesterday’s post was so pathetic because I worked a nine-hour day and then spent four hours at the clinic waiting to be seen. It was incredibly draining and left me with basically nothing to say. Today, however, I need to rant.

“How did I become so obnoxious? What is about you that makes me act like this? I’ve never been this nasty.”

– Pink, “Please Don’t Leave Me”

I’ve tried writing the first sentence of this post about seven different ways, but since nothing seems to be working, I’m just going to say it:

If you have been broken up with and have found yourself acting irrationally, irresponsibly, or abusively towards your ex, and if you feel like the above lyrics apply to you, LISTEN UP.

THE WAY YOU ACT IS YOUR OWN GODDAMN RESPONSIBILITY.

Yeah, you may feel like your life is over. You may be unable to understand where things went wrong. You may feel like your ex is a super villain who conspired to ruin your life, and as such deserves every ounce of venom and vitriol you can send their way. You may feel like you don’t have control over yourself, and that you’re such a nice person, usually, it’s not your fault you’ve turned into the Ex from Hell, because they made you do it! It’s their fault for being so mean! And if they would just listen to your ranting voicemails and respond to your Facebook messages and read your maudlin poetry, they would understand your pain and you could get back together and everything would be rainbows and roses!

Well, guess what? It doesn’t work like that.

And the only fault for that kind of behavior lies with you.

Relationships end for many reasons and in many ways. Sometimes they’re mutual, sometimes there’s a clean break, and sometimes one person is left gathering the shattered pieces of their heart from the floor even though the other person spend three hours gently explaining why things weren’t working. And yes, sometimes people are total asswads who don’t care how their actions affect their partner. I hate to sound cruel, but that’s just the way it is.

However, whether you’re the break-upper or the breakee, you can’t control how the other person reacts. The only thing – I repeat, the only fucking thing – you can control is how you react. Blaming the other person like they’re some kind of puppet-master pulling your strings is just a convenient form of self-indulgence that lets you convince yourself that they hold all the power. They don’t! And thinking like that  doesn’t allow you the agency to pick yourself back up and move on, it prolongs the healing period for both of you, and it’s manipulative as hell.

So don’t do it. After a breakup is, in my opinion, one of the best times to be totally self-absorbed…in a good way. Focus on yourself. Take care of yourself.

Do what you need to in order to heal – as long as it doesn’t involve the other person.

And for god’s sake, don’t write them poetry.