Friday, April 30, 2010

A Week in Review

Hello All. It's Friday morning, and I'm feeling reflective. Let's do a Week in Review .

In my ever-lasting quest for a page layout that really suits me, I’ve changed my blog again. I’m still not sure how I feel about this one. You know, the constant changing may give you the best picture of me – indecisive. I honestly can’t make up my mind.

David McCullough
Last night I went to an event called A Celebration of Family History in the Conference Center. There's been a family history conference going on in town this week with lots of people from all over the country attending. This event was a part of that conference, and it was fantastic. I lucked out getting tickets. A coworker had some that he wasn't going to use, so I grabbed them, not so much because of my interest in family history, but because I really love David McCullough. He is the writer of the books “John Adams” (later made into a great HBO mini-series), “1776”, “Truman”, “The Johnstown Flood”, and more.

He had so much to say, and I wish that I had a pen and paper with me, or could just get a transcript to share with you. I will try to tell one of his stories. McCullough was an English major, and after graduation he decided to try writing a book about a flood that wiped out the small town of Johnstown, PA. He'd never done historical research or writing before, and wasn't sure where to start, so he went the public library and asked for information on the flood. They referred him to a book called the Dictionary of Biographies. He sat down with that and got to work. And now he's an acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize winning historical writer. Fascinating. He said that he hasn’t known much about any of his topics before starting a project. He just dives in. I think that's so interesting. Too often I, maybe all of us, think we'd like to do something but feel so unqualified. What if Mr. McCullough had let that stop him? We shouldn't let it stop us, either, none of us.

The Car
I get my new car tomorrow. Mom and Marla have been on the road since Wednesday. It takes a while to drive from Minnesota. I'm excited, but I'm also having a hard time picturing myself in a new car. I've driven the Honda since October 1996. Some of you have gotten married, had children, finished school, and bought houses since then. Meanwhile, I've been here with my car. Dad told me to take the Honda to a junk yard and leave it, but I don't know that my heart can take that. I keep thinking that I'll keep it around and just drive it every now and then. Of course, that means keeping insurance on both cars, and that would be dumb. I'll probably be sensible and sell it to a junk yard for the parts, and then cry a little. Silly, it is just a car, no reason to be sentimental...

That's it for today - just a short review. Thanks, as always, for your continued alliance.
You are loved.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Springtime Downtown

April is the best month to be downtown. The daffodils and tulips and trees are beautiful.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Week in Review

It’s been an extraordinary week – remarkable, life changing. Would you like to hear about it? I’ll tell you with A Week in Review.

Who Knew?
As most of you know, I have an old car. If it were a horse it would have been shot years ago. But because I can’t afford a car payment I’ve been piecing it back together every time it falls apart, and then giving it a reassuring pat on the dashboard and asking it to please keep going. The truth is – I am bad with money. I’m even worse with credit cards. There, I’ve said it. My name is Angie, and I am in debt. I have for years spent every dime I’ve made, and then charged the rest of what wanted until I had myself buried in such a hole that I could barely see the clouds in the sky. When I do see them they look pretty dark and foreboding. Thus my inability to buy a new car. The irony is that every time my poor Honda breaks down, I have to put the repairs on credit, which makes it even harder to get out of debt.

I’ve been very, very stressed about the whole situation for some time. I’ve thought about ways to make more money, even to the point of clicking on those dumb ads that are always along the side of Facebook and CNN news, “Mother earns $5,000 a week working from home!” I don’t think anyone is really making that much money posting Google ads online.

Anyway, I simply could not find a way out of my mess, not without intervention. Intervention from where I didn’t know, but I needed something, so I started praying for help. I didn’t have any idea where help could come from, I just asked for help.

A couple of weeks ago I sat down to figure out my taxes. I usually owe some money, but the last few years it hasn’t been much, so I wasn’t too worried. I got to the end of my federal form, did the final math on the calculator, and what? I owed $500. I left my desk to go cry in the bathroom, but was too shaken even to cry. So I went back to my desk, stared at the forms for awhile, and then my mom. Not to ask for money but because a girl needs her mom when she’s hurting. I told her what was going on, and then I cried, and apologized over and over again for being such a mess. She, with all of the compassion that a mother can give, she said that she and Dad would help me. I had mentioned to her before that I was having financial trouble, but never in any real detail. She told me that when they got into town (this was before they were here), they wanted to sit down and look at everything. All of the credit card balances, my income, everything, and we’d figure out a way to take care of it together. My first reaction was terrible guilt. My parents have worked very hard all of their lives, and are at an age now when they should be able to relax and enjoy what they’ve earned, not bail out their irresponsible daughter. I told her as much. She reassured me that this is just what parents do.

So when they were here I laid it all out on the table for them, literally, and my dad said, “You’re in trouble Angela”. Yes, indeed. We talked about ways that I could be more frugal. And then Dad said that it was time to start deriving my enjoyment not from frivolousness and spending, but from making progress toward a goal. I’ve thought about that over and over since, and I’m sure he’s right. Working toward improving my life will in the end feel much better than throwing money around ever did.

It’s unusual for me to be able to take instruction from my parents. I have acted like I’m about 15 years old since I was about 15 years old every time they’ve tried to critique what I’m doing, not very mature for someone who thinks of herself as a smart, independent adult. But this time I knew two things, that I was in no position to be stubborn, and that their council came from an honest concern for me, because they love me, because they’ re my parents. Maybe the fact that I don’t have children has handicapped my ability to appreciate what a parent feels when a daughter is unhappy? I’ve always been defensive when they’ve wanted to talk about things. But not this time, and it was good to be able to talk openly, and in the end it set me on a path that will help me take care of my debt.

This is getting to be a long story. Let’s skip ahead. While they were here, Dad spent some time working on my car, of course. The car always needs help. On Monday, after they were home, Dad called me and said, “Angela!” because that’s how he always addresses me on the phone. He said that he’d been thinking about my car and was convinced that it didn’t have much life left. He’d found a 2003 Ford Taurus for sale, not too many miles on it, and he wanted to buy it, drive it out to Utah and give it to me. WHAT?! I was seriously stunned speechless. I had no response. He was planning to take it for a test drive and then would call me back. I spent a few hours feeling dazed and confused, just sitting and staring at walls. He called again and said that the car was just like new. I asked them both if they were sure that they’re ok with this, and then I said ok. I’m getting a new car. My parents bought me a car. Actually, I’m looking at it more as me borrowing the car from them until I can buy one myself, and with my new financial plan I should be able to do that – someday. And then they will take this car back. But in the mean time, I get a new car.

I’ve talked to Mom again a few times since, and she told me that Dad’s worry about me driving my car was obviously weighing on him. He was quiet for days. And then he found this Taurus and devised a plan and was a happy man again. I still can’t believe that any of this is happening. I have some guilt over accepting something so huge from them. But I’m grateful, too, more grateful than I can say.

I’ve remembered many times, over the last couple of days, those prayers for help. I never expected that it would come from my parents. Who knew? But now it all makes sense. Who better? I think that after all of these years of being on my own and living so far away I just stopped thinking of them as a support system. Loveable parents, yes, but loving from a distance. When it came down to taking care of all of the day in day out work of running a life I felt entirely on my own, and too often all alone. That’s different now. I don’t feel alone anymore. I’m independent by nature, and stubborn about doing things my way, and I don’t expect that to change. But I’ve discovered a safety net, one that has probably always been there, in the form of two people who love me. It’s changed how I feel about my life, my whole existence, and it means more to me than the car.

Although I am pretty excited about the car.

Oh, and in the end I found a credit that shaved $400 off of my tax bill. What a relief.

I think that’s it for today. I’m not going to take the time to proof read this, so please forgive me for the mistakes. Maybe I’ll go back and catch them on Monday.

Thanks, as always, for reading my stories.
You are loved.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Look How Pretty

You remember the girls? Any of you who have ever worked with me will remember lots of lengthy stories about Sierra, Mariah and Savannah, my nieces. In fact, some of you might right now be thinking, "The girls again, really?" even though you haven't heard me talk about them for years.

Here are Sierra and Mariah
Sierra loves nothing more than to do the self-taken picture, and she's very good at it.

And here's Savannah with her cousin Noah
The girls are growing up. Sierra just left for her next semester at BYU-Idaho. Mariah will soon finish her junior year of high school and Savannah her sophomore year. Where does the time go? I can't tell you. But I can tell you that with time they get better and better. They're growing into smart, kind, good people. And they're fun, still so much fun. And I still love them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Week in Review

It’s Friday morning and I am struggling to stay awake. What a week. Would you like to hear about it? Ok, let’s do A Week in Review.

I realize that I’ve been sporadic about the weekly post, or any other post, over the last few months, and I’m sorry for the frustration that’s caused my loyal fans… er, um, I mean friends who read this out of obligation. Our society has become one a public apology from someone on almost a daily basis. And while I’m sure this won’t make the local news, I’d still like to say that I’m sorry for the slow demise of A Week in Review. I’m not feeling it lately. I guess the weeks haven’t been interesting enough to write about. I’ve just been doing my thing – working and hanging out at home. Sometimes I see a movie. I like to have dinner with Barry, Melody and the girls on Sunday. I talk to Marla a lot on the phone… all a nice ways to spend my time, but not many stories there. And now I can’t think of anything more to say about not having much to say, so let’s move on.

They arrive this afternoon. I’m very excited to see them. There are lots of full family gatherings when they’re here, and I really love that. Dad is going to give my car a full physical tomorrow, hooray! I don’t know that we have any big plans for fun outings, but that’s ok. It’s just nice to have everyone together.

The West Wing
I’ve discovered a new/old tv show. Melissa rented the first season of the West Wing, and it’s awesome. So smart, and funny, and I’m amazed and thrilled by how brilliant these characters are from beginning to end. Why didn’t I watch this when it was on tv? Maybe I wasn’t home the nights it was on? Probably. Anyway, I’m happy to be watching it now, and I highly recommend it to anyone else who hasn’t seen it. So good.

Fabric Nightmare
It’s inventory time at the store. I went last night to help count Mormon Handicraft stuff – or in other words yard and yards of fabric. And we had to count the yards. Just saying “That’s one bolt of fabric” wasn’t enough. We had to count how many times the fabric wrapped around the bolt and multiply that by four to get a yardage count. It seemed easy at first, but after 4 hours of picking through the folds with a crochet hook and going so cross-eyed I couldn’t see, I was pretty much done with fabric for the rest of my life. There was, though, a great pattern with dogs driving cars that would make a lovely jumper. What a find! I might have to get my friend and sewing superstar Nicole on that…?

Unfortunate Fortune Cookies
Melissa’s birthday was March 31, a happy day for all. One of the many things I like about birthdays is that they cause me to think about the person and why I like him/her, and appreciate all that they mean to me. Melissa is a good and generous friend. We went with friends and some of her family to dinner at the PF Changs on Wednesday where we ate our fill of quality Chinese food. While opening the fortune cookies, her brother was joking about finding something not so fortunate there. He came up with quite a few. The ones I remember are “You have 48 hours left to live” and “The police are waiting for you outside”. That one about the police still makes me laugh. Can you imagine? One of you cleaver people should write up a whole series of unfortunate fortune cookies. I bet there’s a market for that out there somewhere.

I think that’s it for now. I’m going to paint eyeballs on my eyelids and see if I can get a nap in at work without anyone noticing.

Thanks, as always, for your consistent greatness.
You are loved.