Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Different Kind of Wealth

Not too long ago I started to take direct control of my finances on a daily basis to make sure I wouldn’t bounce my rent cheques or run out of money for groceries. I learned how to balance my chequebook for the first time in my life, and budgeted out to the dollar what my spending for the month would be, instead of just eyeballing it and guesstimating what was in my account. Along with this I’ve also started reading a number of personal finance blogs on a daily basis to help and inspire me on what can be a discouraging task at times.

This morning I clicked on a link from Get Rich Slowly that led me to Christine Kane and a post she put up entitled, “Don’t GET Rich Quick. BE Rich Quick.” It was definitely not something I was expecting to read and was more of a positive thinking/motivational piece. However, that doesn’t negate its value in my eyes and instead got me to thinking about my finances and life in a different way. She advocates for being more prescient in your daily life and taking pleasure in the little things, the here and now, valuing what you have instead of striving and worrying for things you don’t have.

I feel like a bomb has gone off in my life recently. I already had difficulties looking at my eyes in the mirror and finding value within myself on most mornings. Since the herpes diagnosis I have retreated from life even farther, feeling like a social leper and more confused and hurt about my future, relationships and what life holds for me now more than ever. Intuitively I know it’s not the end of the world, but emotionally I’m wracked with guilt and regret at some of the choices I have made that led me to where I am now. Any time I take a moment to really think about it, I end up in tears of despair.

What Kane’s post got me thinking about is the intangible wealth in my life and the things I should recognize and be grateful for on a regular basis. I have parents who are so supportive of my education and goals that they are willing to do anything necessary to see me through this, including sacrificing their time, money or going out of their way to get me what I need. My siblings are equally supportive, even if they don’t know exactly what it is I’m doing here in University, but they are interested and encouraging nonetheless.

While I don’t have a lot of money, I also don’t have a penny of debt which has been an incredible feat considering the fact that I’ve spent the past six years straight in post-secondary education. I have a roof over my head, a very nice and reliable car to get me where I need and more than enough clothing to keep me warm, dressed and even reasonably fashionable. Regardless of the herpes, the depression, my slipping weight gain and inactivity, I am still a beautiful person who has so much going for me if I could just see what other people see in me.

I desperately need to stop hiding from life, sequestering myself in my room, sleeping away my days in the futile hope that when I wake up everything will be taken care of and the stress will be gone. While I sit here and worry about the future and the things I don’t have, my life is happening. I have become so disengaged from living everyday that I’m missing out on so many things unnecessarily. Wealth is so much more than just the numbers in my bank account, and it took a blog for me to be reminded of that.

Monday, October 30, 2006

One Rainy Afternoon

After canceling plans with him the previous weekend, we finally met up for coffee this past Friday afternoon. It wasn’t the dinner he had envisioned, but under the circumstances it was the best I could give him. Our first plans fell through because I didn’t feel up to it after having gone to see my doctor for a barrage of STD test’s and blood draws that day. I was understandably upset and the thought of putting on a happy face to socialize was more than I could bear. I was feeling so bad that I cancelled over text message- something I’m not really proud of.

I was still apprehensive about attempt number two, but I made myself go regardless. Our original plans were to meet for dinner, but I called and said I had to be back in the New University Town by early evening because I got slammed with marking that week and was under the gun with deadlines. He was really great about it and suggested meeting up for coffee mid-afternoon at one of the independent café’s in town. It was nice to feel like a priority in his life since he took time off work to spend time with me, something Mr. Intellectual never did.

We caught up with each other’s lives from the past two years over multiple cups of coffee in a quiet little corner of a café I immediately fell in love with. It was so quintessential Uni Town in its atmosphere, décor and patrons. So much had changed and yet stayed the same in the past two years. He’s become more focused and settled, but has retained his boyish exuberance and frenetic energy at the same time.

Unbeknownst to me he has kept up with the major changes in my life through one or two of my brother’s. I have no idea exactly how much of the details he knows, but he knew about my job move, my move to the New Uni Town, and my Ph.d acceptance. I also knew through some of his friends that prior to the party at my brother’s house, he had asked to find out if I was going to be there and was excited to see me again. I was flattered and surprised to discover his continued interest in my life after we parted ways.

Conversation flowed easily and we found new common ground while traversing old paths of shared interests. For that afternoon we were just two old friends lingering over a great cup of coffee on a cold and rainy day. It was nice to just be uncomplicated for a few hours. We parted with a hug and he promised to call me again the following week to make plans for when I’m back in town.

I’m still uncertain of a relationship with him, but I feel that he of all people would be the most compassionate and least judgmental about the herpes, my depression and my driven, border line workaholic lifestyle. That being said, if I’m going to become more than good friends with him, I need to cleanly break away from the Jock once and for all. Which is easier said than done, especially right now.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Test Results, Part I

The Jock's test results came back this past Monday. He tested positive for Herpes Simplex Virus 1. Chances that I don't have HSV-1 as well? Zero. I don't get all my labs back until November 10th and from what I vaguely recall, my doctor said that they couldn't test for herpes without the presence of lesions, which I didn't have at the time of my initial visit.

I've been sick ever since I heard the diagnosis. A severe migraine has kept me in bed constantly for the past 48 hours and I am just now able to get up and do a few things without excruciating pain, light sensitivity and nausea. I don't know if its the combined stress or just a regular migraine that I get periodically.

Apparently 1 in 4 North American's have herpes. Which is ironic since I've only slept with 4 men. I don't know for certain who it was, but I do know for a fact it wasn't Mr. Intellectual since we were both virgins. The Jock and I have agreed not to play the blame game and accuse the other of passing it on. That doesn't help the situation for either of us.

He's taking it surprisingly well and educating himself on what it is and how to treat and prevent outbreaks, both medically and naturopathically. He ordered the book that his doctor highly recommended, The Truth About Herpes by Stephen Sacks. I on the other hand just don't really want to deal with this at the moment. I know it's not a healthy response, but if I think about it I can't stop crying. I can't afford another set beck on finishing my thesis and taking care of the two courses that I'm a Teaching Assistant for.

I suppose I should order my own copy of the book, but I can't justify the expense at the moment given the fact that I'll be coming up $20 short on rent this month. Once my pay cheque comes in a few days after rent is due, I'll reconsider.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Beyond Consoling

There's an 80% chance I have herpes. The test results won't be in until next Monday. What I thought was a yeast infection that I passed on to the Jock may in fact be something he shared with me. I am beyond upset at this news and really don't know what to do. I just keep thinking that I've only slept with 4 men in my entire life! I have been far from promiscuous.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Then and Now

The snow was falling in great big, thick flakes. You were living in that run down student house with a couple of buddies from work- fight club. You called the house Fight Club. After the movie and its impossibly dilapidated house where Tyler Durden lived.

The feel of your three-day beard, rough, on my face while your lips were so warm and soft on mine.

You had walked back to the house with me from the bar that night sometime after midnight. I was leaving early in the morning for my parent’s home and the Christmas break, so I left the get together early. We were alone in the front hallway, and emboldened by the knowledge that I wouldn’t see you until after the holidays…

I moved closer, assertively took your face in my hands and kissed you passionately, unexpectedly and without shame.

When our lips finally parted, we promised to see each other when we both got back from the holiday before I walked out into that cold, quiet, December night. It’s almost two years later now and there you are, in my brother’s house. From across the room I can see your smile and hear you laughing over some joke between friends. I have no idea what happened between us and why we never did see each other after that night. You never called and the next time I saw you, it was months later and you had another woman on your arm. Tonight you’re alone.

This time, you keyed my phone number into your cell at the end of the night and promised to call. Your lips are as soft as I remember them.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fortune Cookie Fun, Part II

I went out to lunch with The Jock last week at a chinese restaurant. After the meal the obligatory fortune cookies came out. We both had the same fortune, which I found a little ironic. I'm still spending time with someone, weeks after I wanted to get out of the relationship with them. For various reasons it hasn't happened yet. How do you break up with someone right after their grandmother dies? And then an Aunt? I suppose there really is no "good" time to leave someone.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Family's Expanding

"We're going to have a new baby, and it's in Mommy's tummy already!"

That was the proud announcement my four year old neice, Little Miss E, gave to her Great Grandmother yesterday. My Sister-in-Law is pregnant for the third time and we couldn't be happier. The best part about it is the fact that she's due on my birthday.

We also found out this past weekend that a cousin of mine is expecting their first child this Spring. Their due date also happens to fall on my birthday. May 11th is going to be a busy time next Spring. Although chances of delivery actually happening on that date are pretty slim, it would still be pretty fun if it did happen.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Taste of Winter

I woke up this morning to a bright, albeit chilly, fall day. That all changed as heavy clouds obscured the sun and then proceeded to dropped snow on us over the noon hour. At first it was more pellet-like frozen rain than real snow. I watched from my bedroom window in slight amusement until it turned into a white out of flakes and strong winds. It has now been snowing off and on all afternoon.

This is happening a little too early for my tastes. I knew that the new University town traditionally had more snow fall than both my hometown and my former University town, but this is crazy. The leaves have just begun to turn colour and haven't even started to drop in earnest yet. I don't know if my depression can handle a long, drawn out winter if I'm already experiencing some troubling episodes and it's barely October.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

25 Ways I Save Money

I’ve recently become fascinated with personal finance blogs, since I’m trying to find ways to save money or cut costs given my current situation. As a graduate student I don't have a lot of money coming in, and I have a lot of expenses at the moment. Frugal For Life posted a list of “25 Ways I Save Money” and invited readers to share their list. I wasn’t sure I’d have a whole 25, but it didn’t take long before I realized I do a lot of frugal things without realizing it. So, for something completely different on this blog I present my list of 25 Ways I Save Money:

1. I cut my dryer sheets into 8ths.
2. Wash my clothes in cold water and wait until I have a full load before doing laundry.
3. Borrow books from the library, friends or family and buy them used whenever possible.
4. Take my textbooks out of the library since I get full semester loans as a graduate student.
5. Watch movies at home.
6. Bring lunch to work or school.
7. Go public skating for free at my University- it’s subsidized by my student fees, just like open swim, the indoor track, squash courts, badminton, and gym memberships which only cost $30 a semester.
8. Use my bus pass when possible since it’s paid for by student fees.
9. Save all paper with 1 blank side for scrap paper, or printing off for proof reading.
10. Buy my clothes on sale in the off season as much as I can - I always find fantastic deals on summer clothes in fall, or winter clothes in spring.
11. Use empty food containers (like peanut butter jars and margarine containers) for storing leftover food, uncooked pasta, home made soup for in the freezer etc.
12. Use business cards for bookmarks, which I can never have enough of.
13. I bought a 6 foot banquet table to use as my desk. It folds down for easy moving which is a blessing since I move so often as a student and I can use it in the future for its intended purpose.
14. I read the newspaper online for free every morning instead of subscribing to the print edition.
15. I don’t buy bottled water or Britta filters, but I do keep a jug of tap water in the fridge at all times since I choose not to drink juices or pop.
16. Use old t-shirts and flannel pajama’s cut into squares for dusting cloths.
17. Eat out and order in very infrequently.
18. Bought my car used.
19. I pay off my credit card every single month to maintain a zero balance.
20. Look for online reviews of products I might want to purchase, everything from make-up to electronics, and then decide if it’s really something I want to invest in.
21. I don’t subscribe to cable or magazines since I have so little free time to enjoy either.
22. I bought an air popper and buy my popcorn kernels in bulk for a healthy snack I really love.
23. I use ontariogasprices.com to find out where the cheapest gas is, especially if I’m traveling out of town.
24. Wait for great sales on school supplies I know I’ll use and stock up or I buy in bulk. Photocopy paper in bulk is much cheaper than buying individual packages of plain white paper and I know I can never have enough of it as a graduate student.
25. I only buy clothes I absolutely love and fit well so that I know I’ll wear them, instead of having a closet full of clothes that I hardly wear because I don’t really like them that much for whatever reason.