Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I don't know what else to say, and I'm not sure if you got here via The Bloggess or Holiday Doodles or some other weird-for-me search engine, but thank you for visiting, and please come back!


I didn't blog yesterday!  I decided that I would rather say nothing than to say NOTHING.  I forgive myself for having nothing to say.

In the ten months that I worked at The Joe, I got really quite physically fit.  People noticed my muscle tone in my arms.  I noticed that most of my jeans and shorts hung loosely on my hips.  My tummy was pretty flat, and my thighs weren't all cheesy.  I was pretty happy with that.  Then I lost my gig, and slowly-but-surely, my arms AND legs went cheesy, and the jeans I'm wearing today I have to button so I can zip them, only to unbutton them so I can breathe.  I'm turning into either the Pillsbury Dough Boy or the Michelin Man when I wear the jeans that hung loosely just over half a year ago.  It's okay.  I FORGIVE MYSELF for not being inspired or motivated to maintain my level of activity.

Today, I gave myself blisters and shin splints and sweat because I wore tennis shoes that need to be TRASHED and a hoodie to protect myself from the potential "cold" I might feel while carrying a ten-pound box of books on a mile-and-a-half walk to the post office.  I forgive myself for those things.  I also forgive myself for not being able to maintain my former walking pace of 3 1/2 mph.  I am out of shape.  So what?

I forgive myself for not knowing what you want or need at any given moment.  I forgive you for not telling me, or asking me for my help, even though you know it's readily available (and lovingly offered).  I forgive you for not knowing what I want or need in any given moment.  I forgive myself for not telling you, or asking you for help, even though I know it's readily available (and lovingly offered).

Do you seek happiness and joy on a daily basis?  Are you grateful for what you have?  Do you FORGIVE?  I've come to realize that these are difficult things to do, in general, until you just DO them, on a daily basis, and make it a habit.  But they are SO important.  Anyone who hurts you and is unaware of the hurt inflicted lives rent-free in YOUR head for as long as you can't bring yourself to either confront or forgive the sinner.  If you hurt someone else or yourself, through words or deeds, online or in person, on the phone or in negative self-talk, and you KNOW it, your negativity continues to dwell in your head until you seek to make amends and forgive YOURSELF.

Do me a favor today.  Pick three things that you're willing to comment on here.  I'd like to know who (or what forgiveable action) you're forgiving; what you're grateful for; what little thing has brought a moment of happiness or joy to you - TODAY.  If you're a "To-Do" listmaker, add this task to your daily list, for a week or three.  I'd like to hear from you at least once, but if you'd like to update me daily, that's cool, too.  It takes 21 days to form a habit.  I'd like to see if anyone will form a new habit of forgiveness in the next 21 days.

And don't worry - if you DON'T, I forgive you. ;)

Monday, April 28, 2014

No one left anyone today

... at least, not in this particular household.

We had a busy day.  Here are the "checked" To-Do List items:

  • empty a bookshelf
  • lug it downstairs to the van (to take to the flea market on Saturday)
  • recover from THAT

  • sort through Stephen's dresser and some of the closet to "keep, sell, or discard" (downscale) his clothing
  • make a short run to visit with his stepmom
  • visit a bank to turn coinage into paper
  • mail a package to Cheryl

  • EAT
  • run out to Trader Joe's to pick up a small week of groceries (this is a 40-mile round trip, so that makes it a "To-Do")
  • get a free cake square from Dewey's (Stephen had NEVER had one before today!)
  • stop at the used bookstore and spend some store credit for new (for us) Blu-Rays and a couple Phil Collins CD's
  • sell another doll

  • blog

We're heading towards four big milestones, starting this weekend.  Things are getting exciting.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Stephen left me this morning

... around 9:30 for the nearly-hour drive to start his 9 1/2 hour day at work (they're having a company meeting after they close at 7) so he can drive for nearly an hour to get home late.  I know, I know, that title was quite a tease!  He just had such a long day ahead of him, and with me home all day, I didn't know what I'd get around to doing.

I've posted a flyer about my "Drop-In Non-Yard Sale" but I haven't seen a neighbor drop in yet, nor do I know if the HOA is allowing it to stay at the mailboxes where I posted it.  This little "community" is ridiculous.  There are nearly 100 condos; plenty of parking and trash dumpsters; "lawn" space where there was a big church-sponsored event yesterday; central mailboxes with no central bulletin board.  The church folks had left flyers in the doors a week ago and then came around with more flyers yesterday morning, and had posted one at the mailboxes.  I'm not spending the money on ink and paper to leave my flyer in every door.  But I've been "warned" by the president of the HOA that "the board may not approve" my request to post my flyer at the mailboxes.  Whatever.  I shouldn't have called for permission - I should have waited for the reprimand and then asked forgiveness.

What all of that leads to, though, is the fact that NEXT WEEKEND we will be hauling furniture to a local Flea Market.  At least one dresser will go on Saturday, and hopefully we come home that afternoon with an empty van, so another one can go on Sunday.  This means we've got to start downscaling our wardrobes.  THAT is what I've been doing today - I've been on my feet for several hours, going through every pair of hosiery, undergarments, t-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, yoga pants, sweatpants, and swimsuits - unfolding, refolding, sorting what gets kept, tossed, or potentially sold this weekend.  While I was at it, I also consolidated my jeans onto one five-part hanger down from two, and every long-sleeved top in my closet got sorted as well.  The keeper tops have been stashed in a couple of "suck bags" to make shipping easier.

I'm done.  When the doll that sold gets paid for, I gotta pack her up to ship tomorrow.  In the meantime, I think I'm gonna sit here on my ass and play Minesweeper.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What's happening on YOUR Saturday?

MINE started at seven o'clock this morning, awake for no good reason but awake.  I'd listed a few new (old) dolls yesterday, and one of them sold overnight!  So I got it packaged and ready for the mailman, and tried to determine what else to accomplish today.

The local church folk had sent out flyers that there'd be a "Family Friendly Fun Event" happening in our adjacent lawn from 11 - 4 today, so I was sort of planning on attending to meet my neighbors ... and maybe generate some interest in a "Drop-In Non-Yard Sale" so we can move our furniture out locally for cash.  'Bout 10 o'clock, the doorbell rang, and this couple from the church were handing out MORE flyers!  Had a little chat with 'em; we were all friendly enough, and they encouraged me to definitely drop by to do as I had intended with MY flyer.

I got back online and found that THREE MORE dolls that had posted last night had sold, so I had to figure out if I could get them out today with the shipping supplies I had on hand.  YES, I could, but I definitely needed a trip to the office-supply store for MORE boxes as well as stickers for all the junk we'll be hauling to the flea market next weekend.  So.  Prepared the dolls for shipping; put them and myself in the car for a quick trip to the real world (my mailman had popped by while I was chatting with the churchies).

So MY Saturday has been:

  • awaken early
  • ship additional doll
  • befriend some churchies
  • ship three additional dolls
  • buy more sales supplies
  • get a free hot dog at the Church Revival Service disguised as a "Family Friendly Fun Event"
  • talk to the one neighbor I already know
  • come back up to the office and try to list DVD cases in the store - NOT HAPPENING - they weigh just enough to cost an arm and a leg and a kidney to ship, so any buyers would pay 500% of their purchase price in shipping
  • listen to the revival from my open window, and wonder how they're ever going to get all the way to 4:00 with their "entertainment"
  • blog
at least the weather is nice... I do need to post my "flyer" at the mailboxes, and I can hope that my Money Magnetism will carry into this week, here at the apartment, and that most of the furniture (at least the heaviest) will get moved by others down those stairs before I have to help Stephen load the van for next weekend.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mommy and the Red Hat

Today is, among other things, Red Hat Society Day.  I only care about this because Mommy considered herself to be an honorary member (in that she would wear her red hat with her purple gown, not that she ever attended any of their functions or "joined" the group).

When she died, I asked all family members who were willing to write eulogies that I would read at the funeral services, if they were unable to read them.  I had somewhere in the neighborhood of a dozen pages in my hands, that I had shuffled randomly, so no one would know "I'm next" and everyone could just listen to each one.  Then, when you were called on, you could decide in that moment whether you wanted to read yours or have me read it.  I think it worked out pretty well for all involved.

I got called out by my aunt, though, because what I wore to the services was Mommy's purple gown and red hat.  The aunt said I wasn't old enough to wear them.  My internal response was something along the lines of "listen, bitch - I'm not trying to join some damn club" while my external (actually voiced) response was "I'm wearing this in honor of Mommy."  Both sentiments were true.

So.  If you have a red hat, wear it today!  If someone you know and love has a red hat, encourage them to wear it!  If you can somehow honor someone like my Mommy by wearing their red hat, I give you my permission and blessing to do so.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


When we sold all the trains and train accoutrement to the train guy, he had indicated LOUD AND CLEAR that he did not want any of our spare track.  So today, we took 23 pounds of #2 Steel Scrap to the local recycling place (a bin full), and made BIG MONEY!  Seriously, NOT.  Not even enough for a single cuppa at the local joe joint.  BUT, we no longer own a bin of worthless train track!  Woo Hoo!

In other news, we sold a book today for a few dollahs (well, ONE dollah, really) more than the track went for.  And there are lots of watchers on a few items that close in MINUTES!  In fact, if I publish this BEFORE I check ebay once more, I may find that we sold another doll or two for even more dollahs!  That'd be SWEET!  If they don't sell today, though, I bet all those watchers come back for the renew.

Still have too much furniture in this place though, and the only real option left to us is to haul it to the flea market the first weekend of May and hope to not bring it home.  We're at the point where we almost don't even care what people offer for it, if they'd just MAKE an offer.

The sun is out.  The air is "clean."  My personal pollen count is still high, but we've run our air filtration system on "sanitize" and we've got ceiling fans blowing, and I'm hoping that by the time I get to bed tonight, I'll sleep my allergies away.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spend some, Earn some

Today was the day I picked up the check from the train guy.  Not a spectacular offer for the four big bin/boxes of (mostly) Lionel Post (World) War (II) engines, rolling stock, transformers, and landscaping accessories.  But a fair and decent offer.  One that Stephen can live with.  One that puts us that much closer to our move.  And when I got home, I did the "take a picture" direct deposit with the bank, and they've accepted it and told me to void the check.  Now it sits there collecting interest before it actually "clears" in five business days.  Still, better than sitting in my wallet.  WAY better than cash, at this point.

Before I got home, though, I had to go over to Precision Tune.  My car's been making a metallic grinding noise - sporadically, on occasion - and since we'll be driving it across the country soonish... might wanna get that checked out.  Usually, your brake PADS give you an audible warning that it's time to replace them.  If my last set actually did that, it was long enough ago that we ignored it and it went away.  So NOW, I've got worn-out pads, etched rotors, and air mixed with fluid in the brake lines.  TOTAL "do-over."  To the tune of almost twice the value of the check I just picked up today.  YIKES.

But, while I was in the lobby waiting for some status (they hadn't given me the "bad news" yet), I went to clean my glasses, and I noticed an eyelash on the left lens.  Do you ever make a wish on an eyelash?  I don't have any idea if that's a common thing, or just something my crazy sister made up, but I just went ahead and made some monetary ebay-related wish, and blew the eyelash away.  Since it didn't stick, I'm supposed to get my wish.  ... Left there with another six months "same as cash" deal and came home.

... where I discovered new bids on another item that closes today!  Yay!  And more watchers on other stuff!  Yay!  I am a Money Magnet, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

POSITIVE feedback only, Dadgummit!

Got my first "neutral" review on ebay today.  From someone who has received at least two "neutral" reviews in her recent past.

I had listed a Chatty Cathy with both auction and Buy It Now prices, including photos and all the history I had on her.  In the TITLE of the listing, I indicated that she wasn't "Chatty" because she had no pull-string.  I very clearly stated "no returns - ask questions before you buy" and had actually gotten a question regarding her composition and coloring (were her limbs a different color from her torso?).  She had four "watchers" while she was up for bid for a week.  The chick who bought her had sold, in her own store, THREE Chatty Cathies in the last month, all as "parts."  She paid the full "Buy it Now" price for mine, rather than bidding less and seeing if the other watchers wanted her badly enough, and she asked no questions.  I'm not sure she bothered to read my description or look at the pictures.  I sent her out Priority Mail with some air-bag filler.  I did not wrap her carefully, because she's a PLASTIC doll and should ship easily.  Priority Mail comes with $50 insurance against loss or damage.

When she arrived, I received a message through the system saying that the doll had been "broken into and re-glued badly" and that her arm was OFF.  My response was a reference back to the listing, with photos, and an indication that I knew nothing of the "broken into/re-glue" as well as all of her limbs being properly attached when I shipped her.  I suggested she file an insurance claim through the Post Office.

I waited for her response, and went to her feedback page to see what folks had to say about her.  I discovered the three Chatty Cathies she'd sold in the last month, all listed as "parts."  The oldest one in the system had sold for less than she paid for mine.  The other two she had accepted "Best Offers" on, but they were both originally listed for more than double my listing.  Her "neutral" comments indicated receipt of items not as described.

So today, having still heard nothing back from her, I noticed that she had left feedback.  It essentially said that I had sold her an item "not as described" and that, when informed of her dissatisfaction, I had said "to bad."  If you know me, you know I would NEVER say "to bad" unless it were in the sentence "Things went from good to bad."

So I'll never sell another doll to "For the Love of Dolls" ever again.  I feel to bad about that. ;)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Winding it Down...

Had NO ITEMS scheduled to "close" today on ebay, so it was time to post a buncha new stuff.  Stephen went through more of his trading cards (you know, the cards you used to buy with bubblegum?) and we listed short stacks of NBA, Battlestar Gallactica, Movie Monsters, and a really big stack of NFL cards.  Most of the cards will ship in a large envelope.  Not the FOURTEEN HUNDRED NFL cards.  Nope.  Those fit perfectly in a large Yoplait yogurt box, the kind you get when you buy your yogurt cups in bulk at the Sam's Club.  You read that right, kids. One. Thousand. Four. Hundred.  Ebay limits you to twelve photos per posting.  I didn't even try, (I posted three).

Also got some dolls listed.  Also took more photos for some listings tomorrow.  But I'm limited to 17 more listings this month, before I have to start paying for the privilege of listing them.  They limit my inventory to 100 unless I upgrade my seller status.  I think I can wait until some of this stuff sells this week, or May 1st.  We're getting close to the wire here, where we're going to shutter both stores, and take any remaining "inventory" up to the flea market or the stepmom's yard sale or back into storage in stepmom's attic (from whence the dolls came).

Still hoping to unload most of the furniture at the local consignment shop before then, though.  Don't really want to have to haul anything "big."  Gonna pick up a check for the trains this week, we hope.  Might haul all the comics to the comic guy and let him cut us a check.  Maybe this week, maybe next.

We'll be flea marketing on the May 1st/May 2nd weekend, probably.  Maybe scheduling that will be my primary task for tomorrow.  Just winding it all down.  Feels good.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Regret and Loss of Family

My mother was Seven of Nine.  The birth order of her half-siblings was George, Gloria, Charles, Charlotte, Fred, and Irene.  Then their mom died and their dad remarried, and my namesake produced Lois and Janet, the twins, and one last boy, Edward.  Most, but not all, of the Schaffer children created progeny of their own, and I grew up with lots of cousins.

Fred was crushed by a car he was working on.  Then a few years later, George died of heart issues.  Then quite a few years later, after Mommy and Daddy had just bought their newest home, and she had just started to make it her own, some similar health thing took Charles.  Mommy hopped in her pick-em-up-truck and drove to New Jersey to spend a few weeks with her remaining five siblings.  They had many adventures in those few weeks, and while she was there, she let Aunt Gloria call me.  I'm grateful that they got my voicemail, because I still have both voices there.  On her way home, she stopped to see my brother, her only son and youngest child.  Leaving Kentucky for Florida, she was struck by another vehicle and taken from us.  That was at the end of 2006.

I still grieve my mother, but not as heavily as I did in the beginning, obviously.  Time heals.  But then my father's mother died of cancer(s) within a couple of years after serving as my Matron of Honor.  So at that point, Daddy was grieving both his wife and his mother.  But time heals.

At some point in the last year or maybe two, Aunt Janet died.  Mommy's twin had had a hard life, and was institutionalized for a good portion of it, and geographically estranged from her siblings but emotionally estranged from her progeny.  When I learned she'd gone, my reaction was not one of grief, but maybe more of an "oh, that's sad."

Yesterday, Aunt Gloria died.  I'm having a hard time with this one, and I don't really know why.  I'd moved on, living my life.  Her voice is in my phone from 2006, but I haven't seen her since well before then, and I hadn't even been aware that she'd been taken down by Alzheimers.  I'd lost touch with that whole side of the family, to the point that I can't put faces, even YOUNG faces, to the names of the cousins my sister knows and is in contact with and will say anything about.  I remember Dennis, Aunt Gloria's son, who would be much closer to my parents' ages than mine.  I really don't remember the rest.

So Cheryl changed her profile pic, and someone said "RIP" and I was floored.  I called her, and we chatted briefly, and I teared up a little.  And I didn't really know why.  Then, over dinner, I was telling Stephen about everything, and crying a lot more, and I didn't really know why. He consoled me with, "I know exactly what you're going through," and I asked him to explain it to me.

When we first got to North Carolina, in the first four months, Stephen went to three funeral/memorial services for CLOSE family.  We got here for his Dad's, and then both of his mother's sisters passed by February.  His Mom is his only living blood relative of the previous generation.  So, with the timing of everything, there is a slight worry about another passing before we reestablish our lives.

My Daddy's had some health issues lately that put him in the hospital for more than a week.  I now have one living aunt and two or three living uncles (Daddy's two brothers and possibly Uncle Eddie).  I'm running out of my older generation!  And I'm completely disconnected from the cousins on Mommy's side.  At least I have my siblings, and my nieces and nephew, and the cousins on Daddy's side.  But with that, I also have what I can only label as regret.  And not much to do about it.


I'm in the process of moving.  I can't find my envelope of black-and-white photos that came from Mommy's last disposable camera.  I wanted to post some of the pics from her final trip.  If you have yours and can scan them, will you please attach as a comment (if Blogger will let you)?  Otherwise, shoot them over in an email and I'll edit this post.  Thanks, Cheryl or Brett or Rachel or Daddy!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Self-Assigned: 1000 words

How many words is 1000 words?  When writers write, they tend to put a “quota” of 1000 words per day on themselves, so as to be in the habit of “writing” 1000 words.  How long does it take to write 1000 words?  And if a writer does have that self-imposed quota, is that just 1000 rough draft words that may end up being total crap?  Or does it include editing, to write 1000 useful words each day, as a chapter start or scene or whatever?  I guess I’ll make this a blog post, but started in Word rather than on, because Word is counting the words for me in the lower left corner of my screen, and it’s not very many so far… so I’ll just keep “writing” to know.

Here is a non-story of a non-writer writing.  Stephen is an actual writer, both of screenplays and novels, and he has a partner that he works with to get their stuff either published or produced.  The partner is still living and working in Los Angeles, where we will be by July, and at that point, Stephen will be able to join him at networking events, readings and book signings, and whatnot.  In the meantime, that’s all on the writing partner, and the writing still happens in two places, to my knowledge.

I, on the other hand, am not a writer, as I’ve said.  I started a blog in December of 2013, but I wasn’t really sure why.  More than likely, I needed to supplement my sitting at the computer playing games and checking emails and facebooks with something else at the computer.  I’d already started shipping things Stephen had listed on Amazon, and I was having such a great time participating in raising funds for our coffers that way, that I decided to start selling other items on ebay.  The ebay store took off, and the Amazon store went to “simmer,” and I kept shipping things out.  I got better at taking pictures of my items; I got better at finding the right categories to list things in; I got better at writing descriptions. A-HA!  I guess I am a writer!

So it only makes sense, then, that I should also start a blog.  I didn’t need one more thing to do at the computer.  What I really needed, and still do, is stuff to do away from the computer.  That will be taken care of when we get back home to Los Angeles.  In the meantime, I still check emails.  I check bank accounts and pay bills.  I check Facebook.  I check a few film industry websites, looking for work.  I apply for film industry gigs.  I check ebay and maintain a decent inventory flow.  I play Mahjong, Minesweeper, and Solitaire.  I blog about how weird selling things online is.  The only thing I ever really do away from the computer is ship sold items, check our physical mail, and drive into town for weekly grocery shopping.

Stephen doesn’t need an excuse to step away.  He’s got a four- or five- days per week JOB that he has to drive into town for.  When he leaves for his job, he’ll kiss me goodbye and encourage me to step away from the computer.  It’s hard to find a reason to step away that doesn’t involve getting in the car but does involve a trip beyond the sofa.  Especially on a day like today, where of all the locations whose weather I check (online, of course), we’ve got the worst.  It’s not that our weather is particularly bad today – it’s overcast or scattered rainy, and only 54 degrees.  Everyone else has either warmer temperatures or sunnier skies or both.  I gotta get home.  Ain’t no place for me to go today.

So I sit at the computer.  This particular post is now at 645 words, up from 585, since I went back and added some stuff to the first paragraph.  And normally, most of my blogging would end about here, if not sooner.  It’s taken me fifteen minutes or up to half an hour to let these words spill out of my brain through my fingertips, which is “normal” for me, but then I like to “preview” my posts and make sure that everything sounds right… that can take another hour before I publish.  Then I hit that button, and go back in to “view” it so I can “share” it on Facebook.  Then off to another bookmarked page or a game or something.

My jaunts at the desk aren’t boring, at least not for me.  I don’t stay too long on any one page.  If one of the games I’m playing just can’t be won, I’ll close it and go back online.  If everything I’ve needed to check online has run out of updates, I’ll open a new game.  If both of those situations “peter out” then I’ll probably take some new photos of a couple more dolls to list, which I can then tweak in Paint before creating a new online (ebay) listing.  Everything is connected to the computer, and a good bit of it involves writing.  But between blogging and ebay listings and emails and Facebook stati and comments anywhere, I probably do not write 1000 words each day.  I’m trying to get there with JUST THIS POST but I’ve run out of commentary, and I’m still 100 words shy.  100 words!

I can see folks who carry the label “writer” and who also put the 1000 word quota on themselves being able to hit 1000 words easily in just an hour or two of inspiration.  Folks who write for their living and do nothing else probably put a much larger quota on themselves, like 5000 or 10,000 words.  Because if you’ve got ALL DAY to let the words spill out of your brain and onto the page, 1000 words will come easily.  10,000 may not.  I have just put 1000 words on this page for you.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Next Assignment: Storytelling

I think, maybe, that "storytelling" might actually be the niche that this blog might fall into.  Please let me know if you disagree (because, frankly, I'm kinda having a hard time "defining" my niche.  Maybe that's because I'm a Gemini and I don't like to be put in boxes.  In fact, when people ask me what my sign is, I make them guess {because I don't put much faith in astrology}, and it typically takes those people 8 or 9 guesses - OUT OF 12 - to land on Gemini, even though I've given them the BIGGEST hint I can by making them guess, if only they "knew" what they purport to "know" about astrology).

Wow.  That was a long intro to this story I'm about to tell. :/

I've had a few "great" jobs in my life.  I'm not afraid to leave a job if it's not a good fit.  I've worked a lot of temp office jobs, and even quit particular temp assignments.  In fact, I was scheduled for ONE week at a law office, and I was so uncomfortable in that environment that I called the agency at lunch time on the first day to replace myself for the rest of the week.

When I was in college, I worked the concession stand and box office at a movie theater.  That was a GREAT job, even though the pay was minimum, and the hours were kinda crap, and the manager was a bit young.  I got to see free movies; I got to see perfectly clean prints the night before the movie opened; I could eat as much popcorn as I wanted, and drink as much soda as I wanted, as long as I wasn't using concession supplies (cups or bags or buckets), as they were considered inventory.

After I was married the first time, my family helped me realize that I belong in Los Angeles, working in the film industry.  For me, the film industry and being ON SET, is a PERFECT fit.  Every gig is a temp job, so even if you work the complete shoot from Day One to Day Fifty-Four, there is still an "end" in sight.  The longer the shoot, the more the crew becomes a new family, and in my family, the extended family is just as valuable as the biologic one.

Moving to North Carolina, we thought I would get involved in the film industry here.  Supposedly, production is "running away" from California, and all the jobs are "running to" Louisiana and North Carolina.  In theory, I ought to have plugged right in.  Such was not the case, as I had no "network" to speak of - all of my film "family" was still in Los Angeles!  So I had to look for a "real" job.  But first,

There is a chain of grocery stores that I fell in love with in LA.  I would walk from my apartment to my bank whenever I had a deposit to make (typically 3 times a week), and from there, I would walk to my grocer, carrying my one (or two) empty shopping bag(s).  While I shopped, I'd stand at the demo station, which I called my "internet cafe without the internet."  I loved the "family" of crew and customers.  I learned a lot about the products, just by trying them.  I learned the layout of the store, and I felt a real camaraderie with everyone I encountered there.  It doesn't matter who you ask - if you have a question about something in particular, you'll get an answer right away, and typically from the nearest customer, who happens to be a big fan of that item.  So when my bag(s) was/were full, I'd check out and walk home, working my triceps as I walked by weightlifting the bag(s) behind my head.

When we were considering moving to North Carolina, one of the factors that weighed in its favor was the fact that "my" store was opening a new location, not far from where we'd be living.  Even if I got work in the film industry, I'd still have my favorite grocer to shop.  In case the film industry didn't pan out, I mailed in my application from California, and I made phone calls to let them know I'd be coming.  I spoke on the phone with the "Captain" (manager) and felt positive that I'd be hired.  When we got here, we went shopping.  I acquainted myself with the layout, and assured myself that my product knowledge was probably in the 80% range, and I introduced myself to the Captain.  I interacted with enough of the crew to get the "you should work here" response.  They gave me another application to complete, because the one they'd received in the mail had been mislaid (they'd interviewed over 3000 folks for the opening).

When I shopped the next week, I turned in the application, and they made an appointment with me for a "real" interview.  I went back for the "real" interview and kept it light and bubbly.  I'm an ENFP, and if I know the words to the song that's playing, I'm singing it.  If that song's got a dance-able groove, I'm be-bopping.  If, as a customer, I'm near another customer who seems to have a question about something, I'm going to engage that person to help them make a decision.  This store NEEDED me.  They were GOING to hire me.  I was an ASSET.  And so, a week or so later, they called to say "yes" and gave me my start date.

From the get-go, I was eager to be their star TEAM-player (if that's possible).  I had a little difficulty in my training, because, while I knew the core values and the products, I did not know the grocery business, so my communication in learning "how things work" was a little goat-y.  But I did learn, and I adopted most of my teammates as family, and everyone (for the most part) was happy to come to work and BE who we were.  I did manage to become a star team-player.  I had "fans" in the customer base; folks would seek me out when they shopped, even if they didn't need any help.  They just wanted to feed off my bubbly energy, and I was happy to let them have that.  My job was FUN.

But in the grocery business, as in all retail, you occasionally wait on someone who's having a bad day, or a bad week, or is, in that moment, in a bad mood.  Those folks seemed to seek me out as well, although there was naught my bubbliness could do for them, except piss them off further.  I had conversations with customers that did NOT go the way they relayed them, but because they had made a complaint, either in person, on the phone, or through the CORPORATE email, I ended up getting a "talking to."  And while my "version" of the events was always HEARD, it was never documented... you get enough verbal warnings, and finally they're going to end up on a piece of paper you have to sign.  You get enough WRITTEN warnings that you've signed, and even though your side is NEVER documented, and the folks who LOVE you outnumber the haters by a factor of 10, you're still facing termination.

Yes, the ENFP with the bubbly personality who would sing and dance through the aisles and help every customer, that you HIRED ten months earlier is the Exact. Same. Person. as the one you are now firing.


They did me a favor, actually.  I filed an unemployment claim through the state of California, because I had wages there to draw from, and I did piecemeal film gigs as I could find them.  I went back to that store on a weekly basis, and I continue to do so, so I can still visit with my extended family and shop the products that I love.  I STILL sing and dance and help other customers.  I STILL haven't changed from that person that they hired.  But now, they can't say anything about it.  SUCK IT! :D

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Could Shoulda Woulda

Do you ever compare yourself to others?  I don't mean "others" like people that are way out of reach, who have gobs and gobs of money and apparent smarts and whatnot.  I mean "others" like those you consider your peer group or your network.

You DON'T?  What?  Are you not human?  If I prick you, do you not bleed?  Or are you saying that I'M the "crazy" one because I put where I am on a scale?

Okay, I know you do - we all do.  Here's what I'm doing lately, and what I'd like to stop (or curb, at least a little):

I have a blog.  You know this, because you're reading it.  (Yes, it's this page that's open before you RIGHT NOW).  I have not had this blog for very long.  It's not even been six months yet, for goodness' sake!  Day One was published on 12/13/13 (or 13/12/13, for all y'all who date things the European way - or is that the NON-U.S. way, making it the actual "norm"?).  Today is 4/17/14.  Four. Months.  That puts this blog still in its infancy, as far as blog-writing goes.

I started either on the same day or at least the very same week as Anne Wheaton.  I discovered she had started blogging because I frequent her husband's site.  Do I compare my blog to Anne's?  You betcha, because I'm human.  Here's the problem with that, though.  Her husband is a FAMOUS geek, and he set up her site for her, and by marriage, she has acquired some fame, too.  I try to find something to post every day, but I also check her blog EVERY DAY because somehow I'm in competition with her.  WHAT?  I'm not even competitive!  And I know she's not competing with ME, because while we've had "conversations" in the comment section of her blog, she doesn't actually KNOW me.  And I don't know HER.  I only act like I do, when I do things like link her blog here.  What am I accomplishing?

I found Wil's site via The Bloggess, who I consider the QUEEN of the blogs.  If you click on any of these links, you'll probably discover that they're all "humor" (or "humour," if you're so inclined), with occasional "meaningful" posts.  I don't know what my place is in the world yet, and that may be part of my problem.  If you read my profile here (=====>), it'll tell you that I'm NOT a blogger!  So what is it I'm doing here?

Ennyhoo, I've also recently discovered A Life Less Frantic, I think also via The Bloggess, and THAT blog is the reason I'm debating Coulda Shoulda Woulda today.  Kelly's blog seems (to me) to have a POINT: it's a self-help by way of someone sharing her own trials and tribulations to reach the end result of a Life. Less. Frantic.  It's not humour-based, altho Kelly IS funny.  She starts meaningful conversations.  I have opinions, and I express them in the comments.  Recently, she indicated that I should maybe write her blog.  I don't know if SHE was comparing her life experiences to my own and measuring up short, in her own eyes, or if she was complimenting my willingness to share, or what, exactly.  It made me feel bad, though, that I might be making another person, someone I consider my PEER or at least my NETWORK, feel even slightly inferior.  I love her blog!  I love that her comments section is open to engage in!  I LOVE that she replies - to EVERY comment - and I wonder how that allows her to live a life less frantic.


Back to Coulda Shoulda Woulda.  I am enjoying blogging, for the sake of getting whatever's on my mind "out there."  I appreciate all of my readers, and I check my stats frequently to see how many folks are visiting me and from whence they come, and I also notice which websites are actually driving traffic my way.  I don't want to compare myself or my four-month-old blog to any of the folks who got me started or have connected with me since I got here.  I don't want them to compare themselves to me, either.  EVERY blog I've linked here is on a privately-managed website.  I'm still using Google's community, because they don't charge me to be here.  Once it starts costing me something, maybe that's when I should care where I exist in the blogosphere.

Until then, let's all just be happy in whatever niche we're in, shall we?  NO MORE "Coulda Shoulda Woulda!"  That goes for you, too. ;)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WELCOME, New Zealand!

I'm sure you're probably here by way of A Life Less Frantic, and that's cool.  Thanks for giving me a read, and please comment if you feel compelled!  ... I mean, on other, more "meaty" posts, obviously.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Train (-ing) Day

We had gathered all of Stephen's dad's trains from the attic.  Well, all that we could find.  He'd set up a small stretch of track to test all the engines.  There were two incomplete N-scale sets that had belonged to Stephen, not his dad, but they're "incomplete" in that there's no transformer to send juice to the tracks.  N-scale is really quite small, so it won't take much for us to transport those sets back home and fortify them with another set, so that, in his spare time, Stephen can start a "Train(-ing)" hobby.  Plus, they're not expensive.

The next size up, HO-scale, is a good scale for someone who has a little extra space and doesn't want to devote their life or lifestyle to "train-ing."  We found one complete set, in its original box, and promptly listed it.  It was up for auction for a week and held its starting bid for almost the entire week.  It had a watcher or two... or six... or ten... or twelve!  I received a message from someone asking me how much it would cost to ship to Malaysia!  The bidding started to climb in the final 24 hours, and it ended up doubling in price, which is probably more than we had asked for "Buy it Now" but not terribly expensive.  Like I said, it's a good size for someone with a small "hobby".  It got shipped out today.

The bulk of what we found in the attic was Post- (World) War (II) Lionel trains in the "O" scale.  That's the Big Boy of "Train-ing."  That's the size with all the fine detail, with specific mechanisms that allow the milkman to deliver cans of milk from the refrigerated car.  That's the size where the lights light and the "steam" engine delivers puffs of "smoke" and the setup can get VERY elaborate and VERY expensive.  It also takes up whole rooms, when done right.  Stephen's dad's house is an old Victorian, so he could easily have devoted one entire room to "train-ing," had he wanted to.  The old Lionels are not the kind of thing we'd want to have to research so specifically that we could list them online.  Packaging them for shipping would likely be as difficult as it has been to package porcelain dolls.  And again, they'd be expensive to ship.

So the first thing on today's agenda was carrying three boxes and one bin of engines, rolling stock (all the cars that don't have a motor), transformers, specific track pieces, and any other landscaping accessories we had to a man in Greensboro who deals in Post-War O-scale Lionels, primarily.  When we got there, he had another dude in his office (he doesn't have what anyone could consider a "storefront"), who was going to help him with his purchasing decision.  We had already had a couple of conversations about what we were hoping to get versus what we could expect to get.  It's kinda like the TV show "Pawn Stars" - as sellers of an attic "find," we of course value our items well over retail.  The dealer has to make a profit if he's going to make an offer, and he's got cleaning/repair/maintenance and storage overhead issues to deal with, as well as researching how much he can reasonably expect to get for each individual piece.  Had we just taken him one engine, one transformer, and two rolling stock pieces, he'd have probably cut a check right then.  But we took in FOUR large containers!  So we went through them together for a simple inventory so he could write us a receipt, and then he asked for a week to do what he needed to do.  We're happy to leave it all there, rather than carrying any of it back up our own stairs.  We're hoping that, because we've established a trusting relationship, he'll come back with a very reasonable offer.  We've already gained a lot from him; now we just need him to "show us the money."

We left there feeling good and headed up to the hobby store to give Stephen a feel for the items he'll likely acquire once we get settled in back home in LA.  I don't mind a bit that he needs to break the physical connection with his dad, as long as he keeps the mental/emotional one.  And N scale is cute!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Welcome, CHINA!

That's a big country ya got there, lighting up my map all green.  Snoop around and stay awhile, if you're so inclined!

just over a month later

from THIS: "waking-to-gunfire-and-dragging-of-bodies" and we're in the middle of warm breezes, and flowers everywhere, and the trees that had BEGUN Spring with flowers now completely green.  Yay.

All that's LEFT of that (^) is the tree limbs that line Every. Single. Street. from here to eternity in rural North Carolina.  Over a month of tree limbs that may never get removed by the environmental portion of the sanitation department.  And we'll be HOME in just over TWO months!  Yay!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

an uncultured swine

I had a pretty lazy day today...

I checked all the emails and Facebook posts and blog stats (repeatedly, due to my "A Difficult Topic" post possibly "kickin' up some dirt," as my sister, Cheryl, the InnerHippie indicated).  I mixed that up with several games of Mahjongg, Minesweeper, and Solitaire.  I helped Stephen carry out a little furniture that we'll be taking to the consignment store on Monday.  Back to my rotation, and he went to work.

Then I plopped in front of the TV and watched the oldest unwatched movies in the DVR queue.  The oldest thing I hadn't watched, so the first thing I watched today, was "The Bourne Legacy."  Since I am a self-proclaimed non-reader, no one expects me to have read Robert Ludlum's series.  I own the first three "Bourne" movies on Blu-Ray.  All I knew of "Legacy" was that it did NOT star Matt Damon, so I assumed the producers were doing a reboot, with Jeremy Renner in as Jason.  Stupid... it's another sequel!  And if you can get past the handheld camera work, particularly during fight and chase scenes, it's not bad!  For what it is, you know.

Then I popped a batch of popcorn and went to the next-oldest in the queue, "Anna Karenina."  THIS movie is why I call myself uncultured.  I managed to never read it in high school; I have no idea if the movie even remotely follows the Classic Russian Literature that it is.  But I have NEVER been a fan of Keira Knightley - I've always hated how she holds her mouth, and there's just ... I dunno ... something ... off-putting about her.  Then I start watching this movie, and I cannot for the life of me follow it.  I can't remember how people are related to each other, and there are too many Alexeis, and when the affair actually starts, I really hate all the players.  All of them.  And then she throws herself onto the tracks (I know, SPOILERS!) and I'm happy she's dead, but the movie doesn't end!  And then it finally does, and I'm left feeling, "WTF?"

And now I'm back to checking emails and Facebooks and blog stats (repeatedly, because, you know, reasons) and playing more Mahjongg and Minesweeper and Solitaire.  Unless I watch whatever's next in the queue... but I'm afraid to do that - it's "Les Miserables."

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Difficult Topic

Missy Meyer has a page devoted to "obscure holidays".  Today is her birthday, which is NOT a Difficult Topic.  Happy Birthday, Missy!  The rest of this post, the "Difficult Topic," is taking "wobbly courage" not to tell but to publish.  I am grateful to the blogging community for supplying me with that courage.

Today is also Child Abuse Prevention Day.  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  The reason I mention Missy is that I needed to know these dates, and since she doodles obscure holidays, I asked her if she'd run across these in her research.  Obviously, she had, or it didn't take much for her to find them for me, as well as February 9: National Stop Bullying Day, February 20: World Day for Social Justice, June 9: World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse, October 2: International Day of Non-Violence (Mahatma Gandhi's birthday), October 6: Blue Shirt Day (World Day of Bullying Prevention), November 19: World Day for Prevention of Abuse and Violence, and November 20: Universal Children's Day.

Some of you may know my feelings about the topic of child abuse.  Some may not.  What follows is a monologue of sorts, that I wrote when I was in the Associate (nee "Apprentice") Acting Program at Theatre West in Los Angeles.  We, the Associates, were about to participate in TW's WestFest presentation of original works, and our "play" was called "Your Roots Are Showing."  It was designed to tell our community who we were, where we came from, and what made us tick.  My original piece was about my love of jumping - on beds or trampolines or pogo sticks or over a spinning rope or into hopscotch squares.  Another girl talked about running, so I figured jumping was an appropriate topic.  As you will read, the moderator of our group (and "editor" of our "play") felt I should dig deeper.  I give you, "Monster in My Closet":
STAGE DIRECTION: I play "ring around the rosie" and leapfrog by myself, with only my teddy bear as companion, in a small circle of light.  The rest of the stage is dark.  Stop playing, and step forward into center of light, facing the audience. 
I am afraid of the dark.  It's because I have a monster in my closet.
My Daddy drinks a lot.  HIS Daddy drinks a whole lot.  Daddy doesn't act funny when he drinks, but Grandpa does.  I don't know about when Daddy was growing up, but I know about ME and Grandpa.
Grandpa's jobs always take him all over the world, so whenever they live in America, he and Grandma spend as much time with their kids as they can.  They come visit us, or sometimes, we go visit them.  Days are spent doing whatever is fun in town.  Over dinners, we hear stories of Daddy and his brothers.  After dinner, my brother and sister and I go play a game or something, and the grown-ups stay up real late to play pinochle.  We kids go to bed, expecting more fun tomorrow.
At some point in the middle of the night, in the dark quietness of the house, I wake up to a strange touch.  Or to hear my sister crying (STAGE DIRECTION: one female voice or all female voices crying out of the darkness): "Go away, Grandpa.  Grandpa, go to bed.  Leave me alone, Grandpa.  DON'T TOUCH HER, GRANDPA!"  His breath always stinks, and he very quietly tells us to just go back to sleep and forget about it.  And we don't like to go back to sleep, in case he comes back in.  But we do go back to sleep, and we never talk about it to each other, and I don't think Mommy knows.
And then the next day, he's fun again.  We do whatever is planned, living our happy childhoods, and never mention the nighttime.  But always, the day they go back HOME is the best day of the visit.
CHARACTER TRANSITION from ~6 years old to ten.
Now I'm ten years old, and my grandparents live in Alaska.  This summer, Mommy packed up us kids into the Volkswagen camper, and we drove all across the country from Miami, Florida, so we could spend a month with them.  It was an educational summer.  We learned the state capitols and saw both oceans, the Redwood forests, Niagara Falls, and Mount Rushmore.  It even snowed in Yosemite, THIS SUMMER!  In Alaska, we fished for salmon, and then we smoked it and canned it and ate it.  We visited a glacier and hiked through tundra looking for ferns to eat for a salad.  Yech.  But we were there for a month, and every night my sister and I would try to find a way to lock the door, and we'd pray that Grandpa would NOT visit us that night.  It was good to see Grandma, and Alaska was interesting, but only the two months with Mommy, criss-crossing the country, including picking up 3 hitchhikers, was SAFE.
 CHARACTER TRANSITION from ten years to about twelve.
That Alaska summer is long over, and now they live in Maryland.  Everybody's planning and packing.  I don't want to go.  I love Grandma and Grandpa.  But I don't want to go.  My sister wants to stay home, too.  Mommy wants to know why.  We're scared to tell her, but it's more scary to think about spending any more time at night with HIM.  Amazingly, she said she'd take care of it, so we get to spend next week with friends. 
Not until years later did I learn that "I'll take care of it" meant (STAGE DIRECTION: single strong female voice from the darkness speaks) "You touch my babies again, you asshole, and I'll have you thrown in jail."
He never did touch us again.  I managed to forgive him by the time I got through college.  Grandpa died knowing that for me, my siblings, and my cousins, he was the only Monster ever in the closet. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Readin' and Writin' but no 'Rithmatic

All my life, I have proclaimed myself to be, and "owned" this statement: "I am not a reader."  When we were young, Mommy would take us to the library every Saturday to check out our allotted six books for the week.  My brother had a library card when he was three, because, not only could he read, but he could also print his name in the signature box on the card, which was probably 1/2" x 3".  So he'd check out six books aimed at Kindergarteners, and my older sister would check out six books that were not yet classified as YA, and I would find six comic-strip books.  We'd walk home and start reading before going back outside to play, and by the end of the week, I MIGHT have finished reading my six; my brother would have read his six plus my six; my sister would have read all eighteen (plus, possibly, anything Mommy had checked out, as well).  My sister was (and probably still is) a VORACIOUS reader.  That's okay.  She can "have" that.

As I got older and found myself in the entertainment world, either as an actor,  production assistant, or Script Supervisor, people would ask if I wanted to direct, or write.  The answer is "no" to both.  I don't call myself a "writer" because I don't have stories in my head, begging to be told. (Possible irony that I've become a blogger?  I dunno - I'll let you decide.)  I'm not a "director" because I don't have a vision for telling other people's stories, and that's ABSOLUTELY a requirement for someone who directs.  I'm happy to perform someone else's words, following someone else's vision, adding my own insight into the character, and that's what makes me an actor.  I'm happy to sit behind-the-scenes and take copious detailed notes so the editor can cut together the film that the director is hoping to show the audience, which makes me a good Script Supervisor.  I'm happy to do any job on any film or tv shoot that will pay me a reasonable wage, and that's what makes me a PA.  But I digress.  My point is that I don't consider myself a writer.

But I've been assigned a writing task.  I've been asked to write a living eulogy.  When Mommy died, I asked everyone who felt up to it to write one for her, and that was a beautiful thing, reading all of those very different perspectives at her services.  But this one?  A eulogy for a living person, a friend, to let that person know how you feel about him/her?  That's a toughy.  I mean, I get "WHY" - our loved ones should know how we feel about them before it's too late.

So I'm going to "cheat" a little and write mine about the person who assigned the task.


I have never met Kelly, but I feel a very strong connection with her, as if she might be a long-lost sister, adopted into my family by fate, as people are wont to be (in my family).  I discovered her via Jenny, whom I discovered via Wil, whom I had the great fortune of meeting in person at the bank one day (he doesn't remember it, I'm sure).  I'm not a reader, per se, but I get a lot out of reading these blogs, and Kelly's is no exception.  She speaks to me, on a deep level.

Kelly is just like anyone you could meet or relate to.  She's a triathlete, and a wife, and a mother, and she wonders how she'll get through her day, and she manages to do just that.  And she writes an insightful blog, and when folks comment, she replies TO EVERY ONE.  She has a self-deprecating sense of humour.  She appreciates the help she receives, even if she hasn't asked for help.  She's not afraid to ask for help when she needs it.  She LOVES her family.  She is kind to her friends.  She inspires those strangers she encounters, including those who find her through no fault of her own. 

I hope that Kelly will continue her blog.  I hope that she grows such a large audience that she will somehow not have time anymore to respond to every comment.  I hope that when she does reach that point, she will still be able to be a great wife and mother, and compete in the athletic competitions she loves, and connect with the friends she has collected, both familiar and "cyber".  I hope to get to meet her someday.


IMO, not great, as eulogies go.  Am I being too hard on myself?  I've always been better with numbers; let me find some math problems to solve!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Welcome, Australia!

I know who you are, btw.  That is VERY cool.  Welcome to my page, and thank you for reading this far.  I only HOPED you'd read the ONE page I sent you to!

blogging stats, in case you're interested

When I discover new readers in a foreign country where I'm not sure if I know anyone, I post a "Welcome" message, to encourage those readers to return.  I have no idea if it's an effective way of marketing myself or my page.  Not that it matters.  I'm not doing this to make a living.  I'm just doing it because... reasons.

But in case you're interested in my stats, here's a screenshot of what I get to see.  Usually, it shows me a week's worth or a day's worth, and which posts have been "hit" but I wanted to see the map of "all time" for my particular page.

If the picture is too small, you can embiggen your display by pressing (Ctrl)-(+) until you can see what you want.  (Ctrl)-(-) will smallerize the display, and (Ctrl)-(0) will reset it to default.  You may have already known that; I'm just lettin' ya know in case you didn't.

If you're competitive at all and think "I could do better than that!" (regarding blog stats, of course), then by all means, start blogging!  Here at it is VERY EASY to start.

UPDATE: here's today's screenshot:
How is it that I've suddenly made more friends in Australia who have visited in the last 24 hours than anyone who reads me in the US?  This is very funny to me.  Look.  On the map.  AUSTRALIA is a darker green than my HOME COUNTRY!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

WELCOME, Tanzania!

Wow.  I'm just honored.  Thanks for joining my little party.  Bring your friends. ;)

Stephen made me do it...

... sort of.

There I was, "minding the store," LITERALLY, because I knew several auctions would close today, and I'd sell at least ONE item, because it already had a bid.  And I was Facebooking, and I was checking emails, and I was playing games.  Here, sitting on my butt in my pretty purple desk chair, in front of my computer.

Stephen had finished all he'd do on his computer this morning, and was moving towards leaving for work.  As he came in to kiss me good-bye, he said, "try to get away from the computer today.  I dunno, take a walk, or watch a movie with commentary, or SOMETHING."


So here's SOMETHING:

I'd been saying that it was making me crazy, and I was only keeping it "long" because of wanting a natural "hat."  I was planning to cut it as soon as the weather would lead me to believe that it is actually SPRING here.  But I've got three months before I'll be home and it may need to be a "reasonable" length for any background acting gigs I get that aren't "Butch Lesbian."  (Yes, the film industry is THAT stereotypical.)  So I went for it - I stepped outside, visiting with my neighbors on the front deck, plugged the trimmers in and used my storm door as a mirror.  Not that you need a mirror for this.  You just keep going until it's all gone.  Great head massage.

Showered and re-dressed; anyone else notice the irony?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

on Faith in the Big Picture, Part Three

Christmas, 2013.  It has been several years (probably since my Mommy died) since I've had any holiday spirit, at least in regards to decorating.  In 2012, Stephen had acquired an artificial tree from his stepmom, as well as more decorations (his dad had been the King of Christmas and there was PLENTY from which to choose).  That year, as in years past, I watched him decorate.  In 2013, for some reason, I had enough spirit to HELP.  So I did.  I've suffered enough minor depressions, and Stephen's been witness to enough of my minor depressions, that my HELP with decorating made him very happy.  And it certainly didn't make me UN-happy.

In years past, if our finances were tight, we'd limit our Christmas spending, even to the point of filling each other's stockings from one trip to the $.99 store.  This year, we didn't let finances rule.  We opted to not spend anything, on purpose, because we realized that we were done in NC and it was time to go home.  We needed to start downsizing, rather than buying more junk, and start saving in an ING account, as much as possible, as soon as possible, as regularly as possible, to reach a specific financial goal by June of 2014.

We started by listing Stephen's books and comics on Amazon.  Things immediately moved!  We went into his dad's attic and found a BUNCH of very old dolls that his dad's mother had collected or home-crafted over the years, and I created a store for those on ebay.  Things immediately moved!  OMG!  Selling and shipping stuff is easy, and actually kind of fun.  And while the CA EDD tells me that I must still apply for two jobs a week to continue collecting UI, managing our two stores has become my job.

Since most of the "work" I was applying for was actually film industry stuff, both local and in Los Angeles, Stephen put in for a transfer at his job.  He told them he'd have to move because of MY work.  Not a complete and utter lie, but it's very possible that he'll get transferred in a specific timeframe (because the new store needs him in that timeframe) before I book an LA-based Scripty gig.  Doesn't matter.  June is our real deadline.  We're not questioning the "how" - we're simply "putting it out there" that the "what" is "get home to Los Angeles" and we're taking action as we're being led.

In the last year and one-half, we have left the industry and town that we love, because we knew we were needed here.  We've learned that it is NOT cheaper to live elsewhere.  We've learned, or we are still learning, how to downsize.  We've learned how to be disciplined with our time.  We've learned how to be disciplined with our money.  We've co-grieved and recovered.  We've listened to our hearts, and to each other, and to the voice of God.  Coming to North Carolina was not a mistake.  It was a re-boot.  For Stephen, who had become a bit jaded with LA, it was a hard-boot-because-the-system-crashed.  For me, it was just a log off.  Now I'm logged back on.  We've run the antivirus; we've cleaned the registry; we've deleted the unnecessary programs.  We're at 85% of the financial goal, and we have almost three months to acquire/save the remaining 15%.  This is SO doable.

The reason I've titled these "Faith in the Big Picture" is because we are people of Faith.  We don't believe that there's NOT some larger-than-us entity guiding things.  We don't care if you believe in Universal Energy but profess no faith in "God."  People of Faith are People of Faith.  We would NOT have done the things we have done in the last year and one-half if we had no Faith.  Even if we HAD come to NC, without Faith, all we'd be NOW is MISERABLE.  It is because we have Faith that we can KNOW that we are doing what is meant to be done, by us, in this place and time.

Thank you for reading this whole thing.  It's pretty heavy, I know.  But it needed to be said, and I needed to say it.  Please feel free to comment, if you are so inclined.

on Faith in the Big Picture, Part Two

We did everything we were "supposed" to do - funeral home (planning), funeral itself, meeting with lawyers, consoling other family, etc.  We had thought that we were moving to NC to help his dad survive and then get back on his feet with his handyman business.  Stephen's dad was The. Best. Wallpaperer/Painter.  And he wasn't half-bad at Handymanning.  So Stephen was supposed to learn.  From The. Best. and then eventually (probably) take over the "family business."  I was going to get hired on at the newest Trader Joe's, which had opened the same weekend we left LA, so we'd once again have money in the bank and money in the pockets.  Everything's supposed to be cheaper in North Carolina, so we weren't going to worry too much about our finances.  We were where we were supposed to be, so with that faith, we'd be okay.

But Stephen's dad died, so there was no mentoring in the Handyman Business.  I did get hired on at Trader Joe's, and my income was sufficient for a good long while.  So Stephen stayed home to write.  He and the partner would email pages or call or text, and as long as we kept an eye on the phone minutes, it seemed to be working pretty well.  But the family who needed our support pretty much stopped needing our support.  And items that should clearly have been designated as inheritance for Stephen and his siblings got conveniently sold by his stepmom's brother.  We don't begrudge her; she should have the cash flow that her husband had cryptically promised her.  What bugs us is that her brother stepped in where he shouldn't have; he did no research on where to get "the most" buck for his bang; he was just being an alpha male where he needn't have been.

Somewhere along the line, my income stopped providing for everything, and we started arguing again.  Stephen put out serious feelers and applications (he'd been busy writing for six months, and making real progress, so prior to this point, his "feelers and applications" had been less-than-serious).  Within a month, he got hired at Sam's Club.  His job was only about five miles from mine, and since we were already 25 miles away from both, we carpooled as much as possible.  Our situation improved, and we started apartment hunting closer to work.  Then we started HOUSE hunting closer to work.  My Daddy had already indicated that he'd co-sign a homeowner's application if we needed him to.  Both of our jobs were great; no one at this end of the world needed us; Stephen was still able to write.  Then I lost my job, through no fault of my own, but I was FIRED.

So I had to reapply for unemployment.  I had a pretty fat bank from my last Scripty gig in California, so I filed through CA first.  I started an NC application, but with my last job being a termination rather than a layoff, I saw little hope of collecting.  And then I spoke with someone in that office (Department of Social Services) and discovered that having two open UI claims is UNLAWFUL.  Like, it's a CRIME.  Punishable by IMPRISONMENT or some other such nonsense.  I closed that claim toot-suite and pursued California.  It looked like all the ducks were in a row, and they kept sending me claim forms, so I kept sending them in.  But the money - where was the money?  Ah, I got caught up in the "it's-been-thirty-years-so-we're-overhauling-the-system-so-your-funds-may-be-delayed" debacle, only to discover that I'd be getting a phone interview while I was visiting my Daddy in Florida for Thanksgiving.  Seems "fired" is not a good reason anywhere.

Had the phone interview.  Got an email THAT NIGHT saying that my funds were being transferred from the debit card into my account.  Two days later, my account was FLOODED with funds (it had been eight weeks' worth of $D'Oh! they'd been holding).  Life is good again!  Stephen had T-Day off work, but had to work the rest of the week, so he hadn't joined us in Florida.  I and my SIL did the meal, and by that night, only my Daddy and his brother were still well.  We figured out it wasn't food poisoning; it was probably a daycare bug my 1-year old niece brought with her in the minivan on the drive down.  Lovely child.  She really is, and I love her to pieces.  I just don't love her playmates.

Back home; Stephen's been published by now and is working on the next book; I'm collecting UI and trying to figure out where to work next.  I'm only obligated to put in two applications each week, so I'm being selective.  I had LOVED my TJ's job.  There was not a point in staying in NC anymore, really, so I shouldn't apply for anything long-term that I'd end up hating.  And all this time, we had thought that the film industry was supposed to be booming here, so I'd tried for various gigs when I had the time.  It IS booming here, to a degree, but I'm not networked in.  My entire network is LA-based.  And this is a right-to-work state, so I'll never make a real wage in that industry.  Not here.

So now what?

on Faith in the Big Picture

In 2012, I was working fairly steadily as a "new" Script Supervisor, filling in gap days as a Background Actor, filling in other gap days with Personal Assistance, and if I somehow hadn't made more than $89 in any given week, collecting unemployment for that remaining gap.  The film/tv industry appeared to be grinding to a halt; I'd been eligible to collect UI (Unemployment Insurance) benefits continuously due to several different Federal extensions that were in place... but it was all kinda dying, from my POV, by the time we got word Stephen's dad was ill with numerous cancers.

Stephen had been working steadily for YEARS as a server in a local Italian restaurant.  He'd gotten to the point of "seniority" so his schedule was Monday - Friday lunch shift.  He'd been living on a cash basis for all those years, taking public transit to work, and getting there hours before his shift would start so he could be a writer hanging out in the coffee shop.  That's where writers write in Los Angeles.  That's especially where screenwriters write, and that's what Stephen was.  On weekends, he and his writing partner would meet at our place or the other guy's, and they'd spend (what felt to me like) all day discussing where they were in the film, tweaking this scene or that scene, and actually putting words into the software so that someone else could eventually read it.  It took them two years to finish a very good film that the other guy's manager was unable to shop out.  By the time we learned of Stephen's dad's illness, they'd shifted their focus to writing a novel.  They still worked the same way, but using different software.  The thinking was, "we can self-publish, and then we'll be PUBLISHED, and then if the manager likes it enough for us to turn it into a film, we can do that."  At any rate, Stephen always had cash, and I never knew how much, and he never knew what was in the bank, and we argued over money.  A lot.

Then we learned that the cancers were pretty aggressive, and since his dad was "Strong as an Ox," the doctors were prescribing the most aggressive therapies.  Stephen started to pre-grieve, and what with our finances being what they were, we came to the conclusion that MOVING to NC would be more effective and beneficial for all parties than just putting him on a plane for an extended visit.  So we put our notice in with all concerned parties, and we accepted all offers of any kind of help, and we got stuff shipped out, and the dad's wife (who manages rental properties) got us into a cheapish apartment, and we mapped out our route to cross the country in my Civic with two cats, staying overnight with each of our brothers.  We visited the Grand Canyon on a foggy day, Stephen's first chance to see it and his last chance to speak to his dad (on the phone).  We spent Halloween night with his brother's family in Colorado.  The day his dad died, we spent the night with my brother and his very pregnant wife in Kentucky.  The next day, I got us here; we stayed with the stepmom until our stuff arrived while the cats had the run of the empty apartment.  The drive was not unpleasant; the cats did really well; we enjoyed ourselves and we had faith that we were where we were supposed to be.  We were listening to the voice of God, or feeling the pull of the Universe, or following our Destinies (or however you are most comfortable phrasing that, feel free to phrase it for your comfort).

We arrived in North Carolina on the 3rd of November, 2012, ready to start over, but in full-on grief mode.