We have Gnomes

“We have gnomes.”

These three simple words, typed to me in a text message from my fella, fully encompass why I love my family.

“Gnomes?” I asked, rather befuddled. I mean, this isn’t the sort of thing you hear on a daily basis.

“Wait” he said, “it wasn’t you?”

This message was followed by a number of pictures like the one below.

IMG_2045

Yes, we had gnomes.

Twice in the past week I’ve heard people ask me, “You come by it honestly, don’t you?”

The “it” to which they were referring is my love of silliness and general need to both give and receive whimsy. And they were right, I do come by it honestly. Because when my mother and aunt visited me recently, they decided to fill my house with these little guys. They were found peeking out of our kitchen cabinets, in my sock drawer, poking out of my purse, hiding in my car, perusing our bookshelves… and I’m told that there are still two more yet to be found!

So not only did they treat me and my plus one to dinner, take us out for a night on the town, and shower me in love and yarn, they also “gnomed” my house. I of course appreciated the yarn and food (the food was SO GOOD), but what I enjoyed most was being around their infectious joie de vivre. And I love them even more for giving me that touch of whimsy that I so desperately crave.

What’s more, is these two amazing ladies were able to leave pieces of themselves here with me even as they left. Twelve pieces, to be exact. I will always and forever be grateful to have them in my life. And I hope that I, like them, never stop doing things like this for as long as I live.

A Rose by any other Name May be as Sweet, but it May Cost More

The following is a short little piece that I wrote for McKay’s. I’m trying to get back into nonfiction writing and this was my first foray after what feels like an extra-long hibernation period.

A Rose by any other Name May be as Sweet, but it May Cost More.

New Year’s, 2014

I’ve been obsessed (I don’t use that term lightly) recently with getting out of debt. I’m tired of being poor and terrified that I’m screwed if something goes wrong financially. Especially since I know the job market is tumultuous, and that no matter how secure I may feel, it’s always possible (even if not likely) that I’ll be out of a job tomorrow.

That being said, my New Year’s Resolution for 2014 is to get out of credit card debt. I realize that I’m posting about this a bit late (thank goodness my NYR wasn’t to blog more), but better late than never. My debt isn’t as monstrous as most of my friends, but my income is also substantially lower than my fellow peers. Most of my debt (excluding the mortgage) is in student loans. The only high interest rate debt I have is my last and final credit card. I’ve had debt on three, and am finally, FINALLY working on getting rid of the last one.

The process hasn’t been easy. Due to lack of discipline and a general lack of income, I have not been able to put much more money on the card than the minimum. But slow and steady wins the race, and so I keep trying to eke along. My goal is within sight. And, after running the numbers (a big thanks to Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover program for helping grind the common sense into my impulsive brain), it looks like I’ll be out of all debt except for my house within 5 years.

Five years seems like five too many, but it’s much less than being in debt forever. And if no major catastrophes happen during this time, there’s a good chance I’ll be out of debt sooner, as I’m sure my income will go up at least a little, and I’ll occasionally be putting extra money against it outside of what is budgeted. And, as long as I can keep paying those amounts, then five years should be the maximum. It may take me until I’m 40 to really start having the money to invest and travel, but it at least seems possible.

So… yeah. Just needed to get all of that in writing. This year’s resolution is to be out of credit card debt by December, and to be free of all debts (except my house) by the time I turn 35 in 5 years. Here we go.

End of Boredom. Day 4: World Coloring-In Day

Day 4’s task was to take a map of the world, and color it in according to my desire to visit a particular country. Green was to indicate a place I’ve been, Blue is a place I intend to go this year, Yellow for those places that I want to visit before I die, and Red for places I’d be happy to never set foot in.

At the start of this task, I anticipated coloring in most everything as yellow. For one, I haven’t been to too many places. For two, I can’t afford to go very many places during this year. That meant I expected to color in most of the map as Yellow. As I started looking at the countries, though, I realized that there were a lot of places that I’d be happy never visiting. Don’t get me wrong, if someone offered me a free trip to travel, I’d happily take it. I’d love to see the whole world. But as far as whether or not it would make me happy to not go somewhere… the world is too ridden with war to make some places less than desirable to visit. Here’s a rather bad pic of the map I colored:

As you can see, much of the world is red. I’d love to visit some places in South America, Europe, a few in Africa, and Australia. I wouldn’t mind visiting Asia, not at all, but I’d be just as happy not visiting those places. I have no doubts that they are beautiful and would enrich my life. However, I’m under no illusions that I’ll be able to see the whole world, and so I needed to pare down the countries I’d really like to see. If I manage to visit all of my yellows, then I will definitely visit some of the reds.

Changes: Made me realize three things: 1. While I love traveling, I’d be content not seeing the whole world. This was a surprising thing to learn about myself. 2. I need to travel again soon. I miss it. It’s been too long. 3. I need to refresh myself on world geography. More than once I had to google a map to see which countries were where prior to coloring.

End of Boredom. Day 3: Throw Something Away that you Like

Day three’s challenge/activity/whatever was to throw something away that you like. This task ended up taking me much, much longer than I expected. Immediately after typing the second day’s review, I read Day 3 and thought, “This will take two seconds. I’ll do this tomorrow.” Weeks later, I finally do it.

So what was the problem? Basically it boils down to my inherent need to attach a HUGE amount of significance to intangible objects. That, and being broke. Being broke means that I do not have items in my house that I don’t, at a bare minimum, “like.” On top of that, I have a wonderful family who loves showing affection by giving gifts. That means that even little, seemingly stupid “junk” that I have, it now attached to that family member and object. I also have an uncanny memory for remembering where each and every object has come from AND when, and sometimes even what I was doing, wearing, and what the weather was like, even if I received it years and years ago! So the thought of throwing something like that away was a major obstacle.

A separate issue that come up was that the instructions were to throw the item away. Not give it to someone who could use it. Not donate it to charity. But throw it away. Like it was trash and unusable.

Accepting this book as my challenge, I knew I had to go through with it. And that’s when I realized another issue… one of semantics. What counts as something I “like” but not “love?” And if I picked something that seemed a bit too easy to throw away, does that mean I didn’t actually like it enough to count? Is the challenge here to become more minimalist and less attached to objects?

At any rate, after many days fretting over this, I have finally decided. I threw away one of my stuffed animals. It’s Dilbert’s dog, from the Dilbert comic strip. This dog was given to me by an ex, while I was in my master’s program in North Carolina, as a motivator. I’ve kept him in my office forever, as a reminder that school, or any job, that I do not want to end up in a cubicle, and that people in my life are rooting for me no matter what. There are no lingering feelings of love for that person (outside of friendship) and also no animosity, so I’ve retained my like of it without any additional emotions being projected onto it. But I suppose it’s time to let it go.

Day 4: Success

Changes: None… but I really do need a healthier, lesser attachment to objects…

End of Boredom. Day 2: Love of Your Life

“Day” 2 has been completed. The day’s task was to gaze at everyone wondering whether there were my one true love, and act in consequence. I did this task on Saturday, purposely chosen so that I would have to go to work (I didn’t want my co-workers to think me any stranger than they already do by gazing at them). The day was spent at home, a little bit of shopping, and travelling to Knoxville to play a show at a gay bar.

I have to say that the overall experience was interesting, and not nearly as entertaining as I thought it might be. As I thought about my task, I expected to have people pay more attention to me (in the same way I paid attention to them) as well as have them perhaps feel uncomfortable as I fixated them in my gaze and pondered their qualities. This was not the case. Most of the problem, I think, is that I’m already incredibly self-aware and have an excellent idea of the type of character my “true love” is. The other problem is that I’ve already met the person I intend to spend the rest of my life with. For the sake of this exercise, I was more than willing to gaze at people to see what I’d think if they, also, could be a “one” for me, but I found it to be work. It was near impossible to not compare them to my known “one”, and every time these new people fell short.

The other hiccup was that I was surrounded by homosexuals for much of the duration of this task. That knowledge in advance, and knowing that I personally don’t swing that way, put up an additional barrier for my gazing. Really, the end result was that I merely glanced at people, gave a smile and attempted to consider their potential as a life partner for myself. I estimated that that activity would take at least a minute for each person, but in reality it only lasted a few seconds.

I also disliked how it changed my perspective of these individuals. As I don’t normally meet people with the intention of sizing them up to see if they’re my long lost true love, I almost always immediately like everyone I meet. This exercise, however, caused me to view new people slightly more negatively, as I was immediately finding them to not be “the one” for me.

Day 2: Success

Changes: I have a greater appreciation for my normal way of being. I’m glad that I don’t gaze at everyone I meet to see if they’re “the one.”

End of Boredom. Day 1: Warm-up

Boredom has struck again. Despite how busy my days seem to be, I constantly find myself dissatisfied, unchallenged, and flat-out bored. A few friends of mine have taken to doing monthly or daily “things” to take a picture of, or post about, or simply experience on a regular basis. I don’t fancy myself an artist, but I do like the idea of being given ideas for things to do, especially things I’ve not done before.

So that’s how I arrived here today, on this blog, with a book called This Book Will Change Your Life. Epic sounding, I know. When I first glanced at the title, I assumed it would be a common-sense, self-help-esque pile of boring things that wouldn’t change my life at all. And besides, I’m not out to change my life. Just looking for things to do to cure my boredom. Curiosity took over, though, and I began flipping through it. And I must admit that I’m intrigued. The book is essentially 365 tasks for you to do and then write about your experience. But they’re not just any old simple task, or tasks that seem to be couched in psycho-babble. In fact, it’s rather humorous, and I immediately decided to buy the book and give it a try.

The ground rules: The book is laid out in such a way as to do a different task each day and write about it. The idea is that by the end of a calendar year, you’ll have changed, and in the process documented those changes. I’ll not be following the “every day” requirement. If I were to do that, then I’d be more likely to cut corners or simply not accomplish a task. And not doing tasks defeats the entire purpose. The deadline will also add stress to this activity, when all I want it for is my personal amusement. So my rule will be that I will do these 365 tasks to the best of my ability, as close to in order as possible, when I have the time. I’ll read step one, and then do step one at my earliest convenience. I will then write about it on here, thus documenting and reflecting on the experience.

This is the beginning. Day 1. The Warm-up.

Today a list was given of a variety of things to choose to do that are considered “easy.” They are. And, in fact, I’ve already done most of the options given, so I chose: Decide which one of your toes is the prettiest.

Deciding which toe was prettiest was difficult!! At first I thought it would be the big toe on my right foot, but the more I looked, I began to find beauty in all of them. I’ve never been a huge fan of feet, and at present, my toenails aren’t trimmed and are looking rough, but the more I looked at them, the more I liked them. In the end, I’ve decided that the middle toe on my left foot is the prettiest. It doesn’t have a weird angle to it like some of the others, it’s not too big, it’s not too small, and it also looks the happiest. If that’s a thing.

If I could figure out how to put an arrow to the middle toe, I would. But you can still see it here in all its glory.

Day 1: Success.

Changes: A greater appreciation of my toes