Friday, December 20, 2013

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Or not.

I've been my usual Grinch-y self pretty much all season and for various reasons. The biggest reasons are the fact that in a very short time I will be unemployed and I'm constantly worrying about how we're going to pay our bills (we're already struggling and I'm not unemployed yet!). Other reasons include the nasty cold weather, the assholes on the road--none of those people are in the "Christmas/holiday/whatever spirit"!--my long commute in general, all the things I will miss about my current job and friends in Cape, etc., etc.

On top of all that, there's the Christmas shopping, which I still haven't started, ya know, because we're poor and whatnot. It combines three of my least favorite things: Christmas, shopping, and spending money. Ugh.

And people kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas and honestly I really didn't know what to tell them most of the time. I feel bad asking for things when I'm buying gifts for very few people this year, and the gifts I do buy will be pretty small. Plus most of the things I want/need, people can't buy for me. Things like getting a job, being able to pay bills (I guess cash works for that stuff, but most people don't want to hear that the Xmas cash they gave you paid your electric bill or whatever).

I considered not buying gifts at all. But I would feel bad getting gifts from people and not giving them something in return. Even if that something was cheap and sucks and they'll never use it. It's the thought that counts, right?

I really think that's the main reason I get all Scrooge-y and Grinch-y this time of year though. And it's not the whole giving/receiving gifts thing necessarily. It's mainly the commercialization of it all. The shopping and putting yourself further into debt for all these material things. It kind of bums me out. The fact that there are stores staying open 24/7 from now until Christmas Eve for shoppers who waited until the last minute and apparently can't go shop during normal hours sickens me. It's stupid and unnecessary and an awful way to spend the week/weekend before Christmas. And some people will end up working on the holiday too.

I think everyone has just forgotten what all these holidays are really supposed to be about. It's not about gifts or spending money or any of that. It's supposed to be about family and friends. Spending time with the people around you. And giving to those who have less than you and need more than you. And it doesn't matter what holiday you're celebrating--Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc. There are people who don't have roofs to hang lights on, or living rooms to put a tree, or the money to buy a turkey for dinner, or clothes for their children, etc. We all know these things. We know there are people out there who are struggling more than us. Yet we go to the malls and buy the latest and greatest and most expensive electronics, games, clothes, whatever. All these material things have taken over our lives.

If you told your family you weren't buying anyone gifts but instead you were going to donate your time/money to help someone who really needs it, they'd probably look at you like you were crazy, be a little (or a lot) mad because that's one less present they're getting--but maybe they would think it's a great idea and join you.

Maybe it's a little late to do that this year (well it's never too late to donate) if you've already bought gifts and people have already bought gifts for you. But it might be interesting to give it a try next year. Instead of asking people for the stuff you want or think you really "need" see if they'd be willing to donate to a charity instead. Or volunteer at a food pantry or homeless shelter. Then, when the holiday itself gets here and you go to spend time with your family, you actually get to spend time with them rather than focusing on what they got you.

And no, I'm not suggesting this just because I'm cheap and I hate shopping. I think it would be interesting to try though. Instead of figuring out the perfect gift to get someone, you could instead ask what charities they are most passionate about, and donate to those or find ways to volunteer. You'll probably learn a lot more about that person, maybe become closer with them, and create new traditions by volunteering with them or something like that. The holidays should be about family and friends and the time you spend with them making memories and old and new traditions.

Obviously, I don't have much spare cash to donate right now, but pretty soon, I'm going to have a lot of time on my hands, so I plan to start looking for more volunteer opportunities.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Is this something you think your family and friends would go for?

Happy Holidays everyone! Enjoy the time off and be safe!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 14, 2013: I said "Really?"

Then I said "Yes!" And cried.

Here's the story:

Chris and I had plans for Saturday night to go see all the Christmas lights at the Zoo. Unfortunately for me, the night before I was up the entire night. No matter what I did, I couldn't sleep. So I spent most of the night looking for jobs and saving several to apply for the next day.

On top of that, it snowed all night. So I spent most of Saturday applying for jobs and then shoveling the driveway. And I finally took a nap around 3:30. I was exhausted and starving.

Chris came home and asked if I was almost ready (I had only gotten out of the shower about 15 minutes before that!). I was, but still deciding what to wear. He suggested we get dressed up and I told him I was probably just going to wear jeans and a hoodie--we were going to be outside in the cold! For one, I wanted to be warm, and two, we'd be wearing coats anyway so you wouldn't be able to see what was underneath.

He said okay and then asked where I wanted to eat dinner. Because I was exhausted from not sleeping and hadn't eaten very much earlier that day, I said I just wanted to go get McDonald's or something because I didn't want to wait too long to eat. I probably would have gotten very cranky otherwise.

So we ate at McDonald's and then headed off to the Zoo. Everything was really pretty, but very cold! Here's a couple pics:

Penguins at the Zoo! 


Not engaged yet :p

After the Zoo we headed home. And managed to get lost. So we took a little detour through downtown. Oh well. By the time we got home I was ready to put on my pjs and curl up in bed. Plus, I must have pulled a muscle or something when I was shoveling the driveway earlier that day because my foot, ankle, and calf were all really sore. While Chris was letting the dog outside and then back in I was busy getting my boots off.

When he came back in he had turned on the Christmas tree lights and told me to come out in the living room because Copper wanted to play with me. So I finally went out there and started to pet her when I realized there was something shoved in her collar. I honestly wasn't sure what it was at first. It felt like a jewelry box, but that didn't mean that's what it was, or that that's what was inside. 

I said "What's this?" and Chris told me to open it up and see. 

As I opened it, I realized it definitely was a ring box, but it was empty. As I was doing that, Chris had gotten down on one knee and pulled the ring out. 

He asked me to marry him and I was in so much shock I actually asked "Really?" first before I said "Yes!"

And then I cried a whole bunch. Then we turned on the lights so I could see the ring. It's beautiful, and he had it sized before hand, so it fits perfectly! He did a great job picking it out!


After I calmed down a little, he told me to put my shoes back on so we could go meet my parents. They were at Hendel's having dinner with people from church. I cried some more when we walked in and I hugged my mom and dad. People couldn't believe that I had no clue, that I didn't even suspect that he was going to propose. I honestly didn't. Obviously I knew we would get engaged and married some day, but I just assumed it wouldn't happen until sometime next year. 

Apparently he planned to propose in a more secluded area of the Zoo (which is my favorite place there), but it was closed off. And I had made it clear I didn't want to be proposed to in front of a bunch of people. So he waited until we got home. 

He also fessed up to all the little lies he'd been telling me about the money he was spending and stuff. Apparently he planned to wait until Christmas to propose, but I kept asking too many questions and getting too upset about all the money issues (can you blame me?! I'm about to be unemployed!). 

It turned out to be a perfect night though. We had a couple drinks with my parents to celebrate and then headed home.

On Sunday I went to my grandparents house to show them the ring and I also called my BFF to tell her. She literally screamed. It was awesome. 

Later on Sunday I met Chris at his work to go out to lunch with him and a couple who will be opening a Massage Luxe in Chicago. They gave me/us some beautiful flowers and treated us to lunch at a pizza place in Maplewood (can't remember the name right now).

They smell amazing :)

It turned out to be an incredible weekend. And I'm already freaking out about planning and stuff. But the first thing on my to-do list is to get a job! So hopefully something will come up soon and then everything will be perfect! And by "something" I mean something in an office-setting at least, even if it's not related to my degree. I'm hoping to avoid having to resort to retail. 

So that's our engagement story!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lacking Motivation or Something

Sorry it's been a while (again). You'd think with all the time off I've had with the holiday and snow days I'd be more rested and have the time and energy to write, but I just haven't for some reason. I'm not sure if it's been lack of inspiration/motivation, the overwhelming feelings of anxiety/dread/depression from having zero luck in finding a job coupled with all the bills I keep getting that I obviously can't afford to pay if I'm unemployed, plus all the Christmas gifts I have to buy, which I also can't afford. Probably a combination of all those things. Oh and it's cold. Super-duper-stupid cold:

It's blurry, but that says it was 5 degrees at 7:03 this morning.

Quitting school definitely helped me de-stress and I was completely relieved when I did it. But the way things keep piling up is stressing me out all over again. 

I've applied for around 20-ish jobs since October (I applied for a few jobs before that and got rejections on those). Of those 20-something jobs just since then, I've gotten one response, which was a no, but at least it was a response. 

It's starting to look like I'll be working retail or something for a while until I can find something better/in my field. 

I've also begun to look more seriously at trying to get some freelance gigs. Whether I'm working or not, I could definitely use the extra cash. 

The best news I've gotten this week is that they interviewed and picked someone to take over my job. Since we're technically on a hiring freeze until Jan. 1 or 2, she can't be officially hired or start any time before then, but it's definitely a relief to know that someone will be taking over not long after I've left. Plus she's a friend of mine, super smart, nice, and funny. Training her shouldn't be a problem. And that's a big relief. 

One less thing I have to stress over (which really means I can put more of my "energy" into stressing over my upcoming unemployment and bills--yay).

So if any of you happen to need or know someone who needs a freelance writer or editor, please contact me about it! Or if you happen to know of any businesses in the area that are hiring. I would really appreciate all the help! 

I sincerely hope not all of you are dealing with the snow, ice, and well-below freezing temps that we are here! It's no fun! And has made me realize I could really use some kind of boots that aren't just "fashion." 

Also please try to give to others in need this season--and all year round, really. There are many, many people out there who are much worse off than most of us are and could really use some help. So give what you can: time, money, a shoulder to cry on, a meal or two, etc. You could really make a difference in someone else's day/week/month/year. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Recap

How was everyone's Thanksgiving?

Mine was pretty good. Not nearly as 
relaxing as I hoped it would be, but it was still good. 

Wednesday was probably the best day even though it started with me and Chris driving to Farmington to get my personal property tax waiver, which we had to pay a freaking dollar for. 

Once we got that over with though, we drove back to St. Louis and headed over to The Hill to buy some soap from Herbaria. That store smells amazing! 

After that we happened to drive by Steve's Hot Dogs so we stopped to have some hot dogs for lunch. They were delicious and it's such a cool place. Definitely recommend it!

Later that day we went to see Catching Fire at the theater. It was a really good movie and I can't wait for the next one! 

That night we met my family at church for the Thanksgiving service and then we went out for some pizza and beer :)

It was probably one of the best days I've had in a while. 

We spent Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle's and then at Chris's parents'. It was a long day with a lot of food, but it was fun seeing everyone. We went home after that, had more dessert, and watched a movie. 

On Friday I had planned on going to get my license plates renewed but discovered that I couldn't find my current insurance cards. It took most of the day before I could get them printed out. So I decided I would go Saturday. 

I baked some chocolate chip banana bread for Chris (partly because I didn't have time to make it Thanksgiving morning and partly because Chris didn't want to share lol). 

I got up bright and early Saturday morning to go to the DMV to get my plates renewed. Turned out the DMV was closed Friday so it wasn't all bad that I couldn't find my insurance cards. 

I was third in line and could have been done quickly except for one little problem: the renewal notice they sent me said I didn't need an inspection, but since I've moved back to St. Louis, I do need one. And no one could get me in Saturday to do an inspection. I seriously can't catch a break. 

My first attempt at a pumpkin pie. 
So I went home and spent a few hours being mopey and pissed off that I'd have to take Monday off to deal with all this. 

Once I was done moping though, I baked my first ever pumpkin pie. I tried it after Chris got home, and the verdict? I still don't like pumpkin pie. But Chris said it was really good. I also made chili for the first time. It turned out pretty good as well :) 

They actually took a nap together! It was freaking adorable--while it lasted.

Later that night I went over to my mom and dad's house to watch Christmas Vacation

On Sunday we spent most of the day getting out our Christmas decorations. Chris got the lights up on the house. We got the tree up and lights put on but we didn't get the ornaments on. We went out and bought a tree skirt (those things are stupid-expensive), stockings, and a tree-topper. I guess we'll get the tree decorated eventually. 

If you look closely, you can see Copper in the window. Creep. lol

All our stockings, hung from my fancy new bookcase because we didn't have anywhere else to put them. 

I was pretty grumpy most of the day because I hate doing this stuff. It probably doesn't help that I'm so exhausted lately. 

My Thanksgiving weekend was good, but it was busy and not very relaxing. I don't feel like I got nearly enough rest. And I didn't get much else done either. Very little exercise, no violin-playing, and no reading or writing. And as of January 2, I'll still be unemployed. I've applied for a lot of jobs now, and I haven't heard a single thing--good or bad--from any of them. 

Here I am on Monday morning (thankful I have so many sick days) waiting for my car to get inspected and then I get to go to the DMV to hopefully finally get my license plates renewed. Yay Mondays. 

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!