Sunday, December 30, 2012

NHL: Get Your Priorities Straight

A fight during last night's game,
via Denver's Facebook page
  I've been checking out some local minor league hockey games lately because of the NHL lockout that has persisted through three months of what would have been the regular season. The team here is actually pretty good--the games are fun to watch, and the atmosphere is pretty entertaining. Yet, it's not quite the same. I miss watching hockey on TV, and I miss the pace of NHL hockey. These games are a little more lawless--the refs seem to play favorites even more than in the NHL, meaning guys get away with stuff a lot more often.
    Some of the entertainment (contests, t-shirt tosses, giveaways, etc.) is a little cheesy, but it's all in good fun. The way the arena is set up, it's more like a football game than a hockey game, and it allows for more entertainment options than a game at the other ice arena. the mascot gets a lot more involved. The entire experience is much more personal than an NHL game, but somehow, the NHL games are more exciting. There's more at stake, and the players stand out more.
Angry hockey fans, via CBC
    All of which makes the lockout all the more upsetting. These guys are douchebags dividing up all this money and they are just being greedy. I would rather support a smaller team by attending the games because they can't fill the house. Not even close. They play even though they don't make millions of dollars a year. They get whacked in the face with a stick more often because the refs don't call as much and there's no league calling for major reprimands and fines when it happens.
    So, if Bettman gets off his ass and does his job to protect the SPORT and not the owners, if everyone involved realizes that the fans care about the sport, and won't want to support a game or a team that shows it's more interested in their money than their entertainment, maybe the season can be salvaged. If not, I'll be happy to see it come back next fall. But I will be doing it from my couch at home.
    I am not paying continually higher ticket prices, abominable concessions and merch prices, plus extra for parking at the fancy arena, to go see a team who continues to send the message that their paychecks are more important than the game, than the fans. You don't need $2 million a year to get by. You don't need an 80 thousand dollar car. You don't need two houses or fifty thousand dollar pieces of jewelry. If that's more important than the game, go be an investment banker. Go open a corporation that makes jumbotrons. But don't participate in a sport that means so much to so many people and pretend like you care about more than those matching Rolexes for your birthday.
Get your mind of your money and your money off your mind.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Belated Holiday

It's been an extremely short December! I feel like it's lasted forever, and at the same time, I can't believe it's two days before Christmas! I JUST got my holiday shopping done yesterday, but I already have to exchange something because I bought the wrong item and I need to get photo paper because photos were a part of my gift. I know I have photo paper here somewhere, but I cannot find it. That's what happens when you move in and out some many times. Stuff gets lost in the shuffle.

I've been working on editing my new book to publish and I've hit a snag--I'm starting to wonder whether I need to cut out a character because I'm not sure how much they actually help the plot. I just skimmed the rest of the story last night, and I think I need to straighten out some of my themes a little better. Right now it looks like a really long run-on sentence/stream of consciousness thing.

The holidays snuck up on me this year. I was so prepared last year--I had everything bought and shipped weeks before Christmas, but this year, I was so busy, I lost track of the time and had to do all my shopping 3 days before Christmas! I don't think that's ever happened to me before. It's also the first year I didn't put the Christmas tree up.

Even when I was living on my own, I came back home and put the tree up at my dad's house, but I lost track of time and my dad ended up putting it up! It actually looks nicer I think--I usually get carried away with the ornaments because we have so many pretty ones.

I am getting started on my New Years Resolutions though, though I'm trying to think of them more as goals rather than set-in-stone resolutions.

So far:
  1. Edit/Publish 3 books next calendar year
  2. Write a new novel/screenplay (haven't decided which)
  3. Write a children's story
  4. Lose weight (unoriginal, I know)
  5. Find a way to earn money at something I enjoy (earning money from my writing or my books would be nice, but if I found a regular job that I liked and that paid decent enough, that'd be all right too)
  6. Win Nano again :)
  7. Plus a few other things I've been wanting to do for a few years now, but haven't had the time/motivation to teach myself to do or the money to have someone else teach me...

Well, the world didn't end the other day. I didn't really expect it to. But with all the terrible things that have happened around the world and especially around the country lately, I'm hoping 2013 will usher in a new year filled with more positivity, peace, and compassion. I'm hoping these things go in cycles, and that 2013 is the beginning of a new cycle with more ups than downs.
New Year's state of mind.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Thursday and I'm Broke

  Remember how I mentioned my car insurance debt, and my broken electronics (camera, laptop battery, cell phone that is now replaced with a shiny new one)? I still owe car insurance money, I still haven't gotten my camera fixed, and I still need a new laptop battery. I was just lucky the phone only set me back $50. (Thanks, Black Friday!) But, now it's worse. Now it's my actual car. It's worse because it's the most expensive and probably most necessary expenditure on the list.
    I had noticed that over the last few weeks, it had begun a nasty habit of devouring gas and the "service engine soon" light came on last Wednesday. I took it and got it checked out to see what the error code was and how much it was going to run to get the part cleaned/fixed/replaced.
    Originally, I was told about $270. Fine. It's an important piece of the machinery, and compared to the godawful estimate we got from this other car repair shop, I was comfortable with shelling out $270 to get my car fixed. I live out of my car about 3 to 5 days a week, so it seemed a reasonable price to pay to help out the machine that's been with me for such a long time.
    Then, dad says I should have a diagnostic done (another chunk of $ that was more than I was told it would be) so we can take care of all the maintenance now, and also so we don't end up replacing one part when it was actually another part that was creating the issue in the first place. Again, I accept it. Not happy about it, but it seems like a sensible plan.
    Bad news: not only is it the ECG valve that needs replacing, but this has build up on it that needs cleaning and this thing is leaking and this other thing needs to be replaced and yada yada yada, $600.
    Fuck. Seriously. I know I don't usually full-on curse here without symbols, but this one hurt. For the most part, this car hasn't given me any trouble for the past 8 years I've owned it. Oil changes, O2 sensor, new tires, a few other minor things over the years, alignments, regular maintenance, etc. This is the most it's ever set me back.
    And the damnedest thing is, the thing I'm kicking myself for, is I was seriously thinking about selling it this year. I was going to sell it before it got too many more miles on it so I could still get a decent amount of money to put towards a newer (still used) car. If I had sold it two months ago when I was really thinking about it, I would never have had to deal with this.
    To come up with the scratch for the repair, I cashed in my piggy banks (yes, I still have piggy banks filled with pocket change) and all that was left of an emergency fund I've been saving for 9 years. It was really painful to see money I'd been saving up for such a long time get wiped out in just one day.
    Long story short (too late)--I was upset. I know I'm really lucky that I still have a steady (even if it's part-time) job, even if my emergency stash is all gone. I know I'm lucky that my car went this long before needing any serious repairs. And I know I'm lucky that I don't have to choose between putting food on the table and getting my car fixed, but that doesn't make me feel any better about all this.
    It really hurts that I saved all that money for such a long time for something that's probably never going to happen. I call it an emergency fund, because that's what I used it for in the short-term, but its ultimate purpose was to be for a big trip, like Paris or Hawaii or something. And now unless I win the lottery or something, that trip is probably not going to happen for another ten or twenty years.
    I wish I didn't live in a place that made it so difficult to get around without a car. I kind of wish that I had sold this car before something like this happened to it. But mostly, I wish that I could be more detached about it--it is only money--but to me, it represented something bigger that I feel like I've lost now.
    I hate being grown-up. I don't want to revert to being fifteen again or anything, but I wish there was some way of being self-sufficient without having to rely on "stuff" rather than people. Grown-ups more rely on their cars, on their phones, on their jobs, on their computers, on their morning coffee, to get them through all the emotional and financial burdens that come with adulthood--bills, mortgage payments, clothes, gas for the cars, insurance, etc. Kids rely on people--teachers, babysitters, carpool or bus drivers, friends, and most of all, parents.
    Does this seem a little backwards to anyone? I don't mean adults should always rely on other people to take care of their problems, but shouldn't adults have more "people" they can count on and go to when they need help, financial, emotional, or otherwise? Why is so much of adulthood wrapped up in relying on "things"? No wonder we're so cut off from the rest of the world!
    I'm anticipating a debate here, so jump in with a comment if you feel inclined to prove me wrong.
One day at a time.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

And it's December.

  How did that happen? Well, Nano is over. I stayed the course and won, official website count, 51,631. (I validated early because even though I had hit 50k, I was afraid I wasn't going to finish the story by midnight.) My end total (according to Scrivener) when I finished the story (just under the wire at 11:53pm!) was about 53,600. Yay! Streak unbroken four years running :)
    I JUST started editing my next story for publication (shooting for a pre-Valentine's Day release) and if the first page is any indication of what's come, it's going to be a LONG December. THat's as far as I got. There are purple marks all over the page. (yes, I edit in purple instead of red because of something my 11th grade psych teacher told me about self-esteem.)
    Double bonus: just got my first paycheck at the new job! I was shocked and amazed that my take-home pay was nearly 93%. I was only expecting about 85-88%, but since the check was a little small (a day short because I didn't get paid for the holiday), I think that percentage will probably change with my next "full" paycheck.
    Hopefully not by too much, though, seeing as I still owe money for car insurance, and a whole bunch of my stuff broke at the same time. I dropped my camera and now it won't turn on, and the battery on my laptop just conked out. Five years later, that's pretty good, I think, but it's still another chunk of change I'm going to have to shell out because I can't afford to get a new computer, and in any case, this one still runs pretty well considering its age. (knock on wood!)
    This last week, I fell really behind on everything. The blogging, the social media, my contract work, and even my health, was put on hold so that I could finish that novel.
    Now that it's done, I can procrastinate editing while I catch up on this other stuff. Over on Always Happy to Entertain You, I have the entire week's worth of shows to post about. As an added bonus, Netflix just got season 7 of How I Met your Mother, so I'm finally able to catch up on that (albeit 4 months into season 8, but better late than never!), and I'm going to enjoy catching up on the movies this winter as the regular network shows go on break for the holiday season.
    Despite the slight relief I have in not having to average writing 1,667 words this month, I am still going to be super-busy with things. I have to do Christmas presents, and I am completely behind on that too. last year, I did all of my shopping online, and if I want to do that again, I'm going to need to get on that ASAP to make sure everything arrives in time.
    Last but not least--I almost forgot!--new phone! Finally! The touch screen on my old one was starting to act up, only working about half the time, the data signal was going in and out, and battery was not holding a charge. So nice to have something that works! But, now that I have this nice new phone, I'm really terrified of dropping it! It's the first really nice phone I've ever had (I usually get the cheap/free ones that come with the new contract agreement), and I don't want to lose it or drop it accidentally and have to get stuck with one of the cheap/free ones again!
    Anyway, hopefully I can get back on track with the regular posts soon.
Happy December!

+Constant Writer

Etsy Addict: A Few of My Favorite Things