But, yeah. I booked my trip today, hotel and airfare. Going over October 10, coming back October 17. I am so excited I sort of don't know what to do with myself. I don't think I've ever pushed the button on anything that expensive before, and it made me so nervous I thought I was going to puke, so I just tried to remind myself that 75% of it was essentially free. That made it easier!
I got my birth certificate in the mail yesterday, in preparation for getting a passport. Remember back when your birth certificate was something you were supposed to put in a safe deposit box or whatever, like if you lost it it was a huge deal to get another one? Now it's a $23 check and a copy of your driver's license to the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Washington DC (if that's where you were born) and presto, a week later, you have your birth certificate, all raised-seal and official looking.
(A couple of things of interest: First, there is a box for occupation of the father, but not the mother; I imagine this has changed since 1971. Second, there is a section that asks for the number of children previously "born to this mother," and mine says "1". I thought this was funny because my brother, while obviously an official child of my parents, was technically not "born to" my mother. I asked my mom last night, and she thinks someone just asked her how many other kids she had, and that was that.)
So anyway, now there are six months of planning and saving ahead of me, a good amount of time for both, I think. I'm upping the amount of money that goes directly from my paycheck into my savings account, for one thing. For another, I imagine the necessity of every purchase will now be weighed against this trip, and I'm thinking the trip will win almost every time.
As for the planning, I have my Fodor's guide, the interwebs, and you lot, all of you who have been before! You will tell me what to do and see and hear and eat and drink, n'est-ce pas?
So the big news around here is probably old news to all of you, since I'm pretty sure that everyone who reads this is also on either Facebook or Twitter, but earlier this week, I won a March Madness pool for... OMG... $805.
I KNOW. It's insane. I wasn't even in the running after the first weekend, so I didn't bother to take my bracket home to follow along on the second weekend. Then the interim results came around a week ago Monday (when the Final Four had been determined), and lo and behold -- I had won $20 (on a $10 entry fee) for picking 10 of 12 in the 3rd and 4th rounds, and I was the only one with the most points to have all Final Four teams correct. I had picked North Carolina to beat Michigan State in the finals, and in the finals, North Carolina beat Michigan State. So I won. $825, all told.
And there is very little question about what I'm going to do with it.
Obviously $800 doesn't get me all the way there, but you'd be surprised how far it goes. I've priced out a couple of packages and can get a six-night stay in Paris in October for about $1100, including hotel, airfare, and taxes.
Of course, my father chimed in with an e-mail full of advice about how to invest it. We hadn't discussed what I'm doing with it, and I'm going up to see them this weekend so I decided to wait and tell them in person, but I replied with this:
I appreciate the advice, I really do, but I've had a week to think about it, and I have already decided what I'm going to do. It's something I've wanted for a very very long time, and since this money basically fell from the sky and landed in my hands, I feel okay about doing something extraordinary with it.
Because the truth is, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, my biggest regret would not be not getting married, or not having children, or not having finished my novel. My biggest regret would be that I hadn't stood on a bridge over the Seine at dusk and watched the Eiffel Tower light up, that I hadn't sat in the park in front of the Hôtel des Invalides with a baguette and some brie, that I hadn't spent an afternoon lost in the Louvre, that I hadn't stood under the Arc de Triomphe or peered in windows on the Champs-Elysées or done any one of a hundred things I've wanted to do since I was 17.
This October, I will finally be able to do them, all because North Carolina beat Michigan State.
Yeah. It's totally ridiculous. And, you know, completely awesome.
( What 1985, 1994, 1997, and 2000 have in common, if you're me.Collapse )
Honey. It's called counting your chickens before they hatch. Cut that shit out, okay?
2. I have been pondering my catlessness lately and am thinking that once I get back from my trip, it might be time to get a kitten. Or two. I'm thinking seriously about two, because everyone says two are happier. I have to warn you, though, if I do get two, the urge to name them after characters from the Russell Davies oeuvre might be too strong to resist. Yes, I could be like the gazillions of people in the 90's who had cats named Mulder and Scully. Only no one would know who mine were.
3. I have also been pondering my somewhat ludicrous desire for a new computer, and think that a Dell netbook might be a solution.
4. I am totally annoyed about the fact that the 20-year reunions for both my high schools are the exact same day. GDS (the high school I actually graduated from in DC) has always had its reunions in October, but they sent out an e-mail this week saying that too many people complained about it being so late in the year, too close to the holidays, kids are in school, etc. etc. etc., so they moved it up. To June 13th, which is the same date as the reunion for my high school in Kansas, which I left the summer before my senior year after having gone to school with the same kids since 1st grade.
There's really no question here, I'm going to the one in Kansas. Aside from having friended a few GDS classmates on Facebook, I don't actually keep in touch with anyone from that year, although I was looking forward to reconnecting with them in October. Maybe I'll try again at the 25th reunion!
5. Despite all my job grumblings over the past few months, I have decided that the only thing to do for now is keep my head down and be thankful that I have a job at all. There have been massive layoffs going on in the world of major law firms, with both associates and staff getting kicked out the door, sometimes with barely one month's severance. Nearly 1000 were laid off in the last two days alone. Horrifying. All signs point to my firm being okay, but no one can really count on anything anymore.
6. But let us end on a happy note: Hooray hooray hooray and millions of congratulations to tracing00 and Keith on the birth of their son, Baby Whose Name Has Yet To Be Announced!
Anyway. I am writing today because February is going to be a bit of a windfall month around here. My tax refund will be coming in soon (the only place where being single, childless, and a renter means anything but Loserville is in terms of tax return preparation; the whole thing took about ten minutes), and I am fortunate enough to work at a firm that actually did okay last year, which means we'll be getting our bonuses as planned in our February checks. They will range anywhere from 5% to 10% of our salaries. I won't know the exact amount for another couple of weeks, but at a minimum, it's still a nice chunk of change.
I am going to do my damnedest to be responsible about this money. To that end, I am making a list of everything I want to use it for, including necessary (bill paying), discretionary but reasonable (high school reunion trip), and totally, utterly frivolous (new iPod). Once I know the entire amount, I am going to go through the list, estimate some costs, and apportion my influx of capital in such a way that my id, ego, and superego are all satisfied.
( More of a to-spend list than a to-do list...Collapse )
Hmm. Many things to ponder. Will be adding to the list as the mood strikes, and I'll gladly take suggestions, especially in the area of (3)!
(P.S.: The title is a totally obscure Moonlighting reference. In case you were wondering.)
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can't, we will repsond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes, we can.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
My suitcase is packed, zipped up even! My carry-ons are packed. You'd think I was getting on a 3-day flight the way I plan for diversions and snacks, when in all likelihood I will put on my headphones and be asleep before we take off and wake up because we land. My house is a mess, which is disappointing because it's always so much nicer to come back to a clean house after a vacation, but I just didn't get around to it because I had to work until 8 last night (ugh) and spent too much time at Target after work tonight.
It occured to me while packing that it has been years since I have been on a plane. I think the last time I flew was in 2006. That's probably the longest stretch of my life. I can't say I've missed it, as it seems to be a big damn hassle mostly, but it will get me to St. Louis to see my dear friend, and that is worth all the hassle in the world.
Christmas was fine, lovely. I got the two things I specifically requested, Series 4 of Doctor Who and a speaker dock for my iPhone, and some other little things, and some cash. We had decided a long time ago that it was going to be a light Christmas, so we were all good with it.
and all was well. We were bummed about missing the Pope, which is an odd tradition of our non-Catholic family, but otherwise it was all very nice, and gave me the opportunity to use the word "Dickensian" in my Facebook status update.
We went to bed in the dark, but it was back on in the morning -- by the count of a digital clock, we determined it had come back on around 3am. Some discussion ensued about whether the turkey breast would still be okay, and although we all thought it was, we called the Butterball Hotline just in case, and the woman on the phone said "Oh, I'd eat at your house in a heartbeat."
The second notable thing is that I played Scrabble with my mother and got my first honest-to-goodness bingo, using all seven of my letters, which included a Q, over a triple word score, for a total point count of 107. And yes, I took a picture of it:
The use of the word "quaintly" then became quite popular over the weekend.
I hope your holiday was just as lovely.