Image for post
Image for post
Restaurant marquee: “In 20 Years Our Country Will Be Run by People Homeschooled by Day Drinkers.” ”: Design Boom.

Doing okay in a very not-okay way

Happy Halfway through the Holidays and Almost Through 2020! What have we learned?

  1. Hobbies are for amateurs. Like a lot of middle-class officer workers who hadn’t seen their families during daylight in a long time, my immediate response to the pandemic was to take up baking. None of us really know why this seemed like a good idea in March. We thought it’d be nice.

Image for post
Image for post
Bielany Wrocławskie, Poland. The photographer, Paweł Czerwiński, says, “The last photo I took that day. I was photographing the trees separately and found those two that just needed to be shot together. Obviously metaphoric and kind of sad.” Via Unsplash.

My own circumstances improved as the world we knew collapsed

Dear Me,

Remember when we used to write letters to our future selves? Warning, giving advice, reflecting on the adventure that lay ahead?

This letter is not that.

This letter is written in reverse. It’s from your future self, two years more or less from the day a roof leak led you to start blogging your financial despair and recovery. Maybe there is a warning here. The warning might be: Life comes at you fast. Or Be careful what you wish for.

What have I learned, this me of the future? …

So I embarked on this crazy project a few years ago, to read every book in my house (still at it).

The first book took me two weeks to finish.

The next one took about a week.

The third one, I devoured in three days. I started filling notebooks and underlining quotes and scribbling ideas in the margins. Just like my mom used to do.

Beautiful as they were, these books I was reading back then were not what you would call pleasure books. They led not to escape but to confrontation. I’m not knocking escape, mind you. …

Image for post
Image for post
open door, image: Pexels

The story of my mother leaving was not funny at all

Here is all I know about the day my mother left:

I wasn’t alive. For as long as I could remember, the family had told hilarious stories of hijinks and mayhem that did not involve me. They always went something like this:

Older sister: Mom, Dad, remember that time when we had all those jars of pennies, and we counted the pennies, and there were so many that we had enough for all four of us go to Six Flags together?
Mom: Of course!
Dad: That was so fun!
Older brother: Haha, yeah!
Me: When was that? I don’t remember.

During COVID-19, I think about my mother every day. She was essential. She would have been there for other people.

Image for post
Image for post
Hands. Image by Costanza on Flickr

NOTE: My mother passed away many years ago, but not a day of the pandemic goes by that my heart does not go out to nurses, and their families.

My mother was a nurse, and it defined her life. She fought her parents to become one, put herself through school without their money. They believed nursing was beneath her. All those bedpans. All that blood and stink. …

When “Back to School” is not what you dreamed of, at least your books can be

Image for post
Image for post
A stack of well-loved books. Photo by Kimberly Farmer for Unsplash

Note: This post contains affiliate links to Bookscouter and to Indiebound, two services I use to buy and sell books. Proceeds from this post will go to the Maryland Food Bank)

I can’t get around the sadness of this back-to-school season, let alone the ongoing fear and occasional fits of rage. Why are we here now? Some of us are grounded; others of us forced to risk our lives to put food on the table and put our kids at risk for school. What do our kids make of all this?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Thomas Renaud on Unsplash

You, too, should be winning at conserving toilet paper

Sometime in the first weeks of the pandemic, people on the Internet began dispensing wisdom.

Not much wisdom. Just the same wisdom.

Over and over and over.

Suddenly, THE job appeared. Life won’t be the same again.

Guys. I got a job.

Image for post
Image for post

Not just any job, but A Really Great Amazing Job. One that satisfies so many things I’ve been trying for:

  • A title that matches my skills,
  • a boss and team that ‘get’ me, and — for the purpose of this blog, maybe the most cravenly important fact —
  • about 60 to 70% more salary and benefits.

I’m pinching myself.

Tiny Changes Make a Big Difference

Image for post
Image for post
Hang in there. You can do it. (Photo by Vanessa Lee on Unsplash)

It’s been a year since I started to document my long, slow climb out of debt. Looking back on the year’s posts, I’ve pulled out some of the key lessons for kicking your own debt to the curb. Let’s take a look.

1. Give yourself a financial detox period.

When you first begin to address your debt, take a time-out to assess and change your habits.

Two Simple Goals for the Whole Freaking Year

Amusement ride with people in swings, against a beautiful blue sky
Amusement ride with people in swings, against a beautiful blue sky
Scott Webb, Pexels

Yes, I know. I picked a hell of a year to try to have fun.


The Traumatized Budget

I’m a 50-something bohemian with a mountain of debt and regrets. Can I dig out before it’s all over? I brake for poets.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store