Thursday, March 30, 2017

Serious austerity measures

When I told my husband we should not engage in any discretionary spending until our tax mess is resolved, I think he took me more seriously than I intended.

I got home from work this week and turned on the TV to this message:

I'm locking down the spending, but I might have a different definition of discretionary -- I'm still paying bills at the same amount I was paying before (like I round up on my new car payment so it will be paid off sooner, and I'm not stopping that practice during our "austerity measures" two month period), but I'm trying not to go out to eat or go shopping or pay for any fun plane tickets.  Maybe my husband took "no discretionary spending" as don't pay anything except groceries, car, gas, tolls, boot camp, dry cleaning, and phones. 

I think it's more likely he forgot to pay this bill than that he thought we shouldn't pay it pending resolution of the tax issue, but I can't honestly say I'm sure that's the case. 

In any event, we're paid up now and can watch TV again.  Which is good, if we're staying at home and not going out to spend money...

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pain in my ginocchio

I've had tons and tons of times I thought I was injured in the last 10+ years of running.  Usually random pains that go away after a few days off, usually coinciding with peak weeks or taper time.  I've also had a few falls, resulting in a couple sprained ankles.  Plus I've had two legit injuries -- a pulled muscle back in 2005, and then I broke my ankle in 2015 when I stepped on a rock.  Those are the only two times I've been off running for over a month. 

Oddly enough, in all this time running, I've never had real knee issues that I can remember.  It always seems to be my feet, ankles and calves that get hurt. 

But suddenly, knee pain! 

Oh yeah, the Italian word for knee is "ginocchio."  (Pronounced -- jin -OH -kee -oh, which is odd, because occhio means "eye.") 

Well, somehow my left knee is about the size of a softball right now.

Here's the chronology:

Sunday:  half marathon, pretty slow.  Well, 5-7 miles as planned, then a very slow slog to the finish.  It got into the upper 80s that day, super sunny, not fun.  No pains. 

Monday:  boot camp, less than one mile of running included.  Quads somewhat sore for no clear reason. 

Tuesday:  5 miles, mostly about my average pace from Sunday (so I'd say medium effort).  No pain.

Wednesday:  boot camp, including probably 1 mile of running, and then about 28 flights of stairs up and then down (Mount O) (not something we do often, but probably once a month?).  No pain.  Came home from boot camp, had breakfast, then ran to work.  No pain.  Walking through the lobby and noticed my left knee hurt.  Like hurt.  Went to my desk, went down the stairs to shower (8 flights).  Showered, took the stairs back to my office.  By then my knee really hurt.  It was popping at times, especially at angles, and it felt pretty swollen.  Almost screaming pain when I tried to move my leg certain ways while seated at my desk (so no pressure on my foot).  Wasn't sure how I was going to run home.  Considered getting an uber, but decided to set out after work.  Did a very slow run-walk thing to get home, no pain while running or walking.

Thursday:  5 miles, again, no pain while running.  But my knee was so swollen other people could tell something was horribly wrong.  Again, crazy pain when bending it at certain angles, very painful pops.

Friday:  rest day.  Maybe getting less swollen and painful?  Laying on my back, trying to bend my leg all the way and get my heel toward my butt, I feel like I can't get within 12 inches on the left side, my knee hurts and is so swollen. 

Planning to rest today, and maybe skip my planned "long" run for tomorrow (only 7 miles since there's no race on the calendar now). 

What the heck? 

Part of me thinks it could just be sore from the stairs since yesterday I seemed to feel pain mostly when going up stairs at home.  Maybe it will blow over with a weekend off?  I really don't want it to be anything real. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Baby Names

Not that we are planning to have kids, but we still can't help but pick names.  Just in case, you know?  Within the last few months, we have added two names to the list.  It's hard to say why, but I guess it's a good idea because at my age, if we wanted to have kids, we'd probably have to do in vitro, and they'd probably have to implant a whole bunch of them, and maybe 7 would stick?  Then we'd be all set because we now have 7 names selected:

For boys:

Rubicon Julius Caesar Winston.  Rubicon just sounds so strong.  Especially if we had this boy, our first-born, in Texas.  Couldn't you just hear the football announcer talking about Rubicon?  And since he'd be the first born, we'd want him to be a leader, so we added some solid leader names.  We chose this name more than a decade ago, and for the longest time, it was the only baby name we had.  And since there's a chance that if we had kids, we'd only have one, and since it would probably be male (given my husband's family history of 4 straight generations on his father's side with only male births), we would probably use our "Bennifer" last name (a combo of my husband's last name and mine). 

Mario.  No middle name, just Mario.  It might be hard to explain this to our second son with straight faces, but technically, he'll have been named after a Russian monkey.  When we were in Red Square in 2010, there was one of those guys who had two monkeys.  Kind of looked like this:
Image result for rhesus monkey

But the male monkey (the one I held) was wearing an Italian soccer jersey.  And his name was Mario.  And when I was holding him, and he was squirming instead of looking at the camera, the handler kept doing a low volume shout "Mario!" to get his attention.  The female monkey didn't seem well, she was wearing a little dress but laying in the cart, kind of listless.  After I held Mario, we walked around Red Square some more and had lunch at the cafeteria in GUM (the Russian department store).  We had grapes with our lunch and my husband saved a handful of them and fed them to Mario and his sister when we walked by them again.  So our second male child would be named after a monkey, but my husband has an Italian last name.  So this child would have my husband's name. 

Lamarte Siegfried.  We added this name in mid-2016.  Lamarte was the first name of someone in a case I had at work.  It's pronounced la-MAR-tay.  The name just stuck with me, so I asked my husband if we could use it for our third male child and he agreed, but he wanted to pick Siegfried as the middle name, after one of his cases at work.  We both felt like we spent a disproportionate amount of time at work dealing with Lamarte and Siegfried.  It would make sense to give the name to a later child, to remind us that he probably needs a lot of attention, rather than just letting him get away with stuff like lots of younger kids do.  This one would have my last name because, given the middle name being from my husband's work, he doesn't want the name Siegfried anywhere close to any part of his last name. 

Baron Bush.  Yes, after Baron Trump.  And after W.  If we get up to four male children, we will certainly be super-wealthy, and if we're not, we live in Texas, so at least we'll live like we are!  This will make the late-born child feel very special, entitled, privileged, all that stuff.  And it's a good Texas name -- we'll never be pegged for the liberals we are if we have a child named Baron Bush.  Baron will have our fused last name since it's alliterative. 

Leroy Elmer.  After my grandfathers.  We just added this name in the last couple months (my grandpa Lee died in September).  My husband said in some random conversation that he had never met a Caucasian person name Leroy until he met my grandfather.  That just seemed weird to me.  I'm all about breaking down any racial stereotypes I can (incidentally, my college roommate did the same thing with her son).  I guess sometimes I associate a race with a name, but I don't to the extent some people do (my husband pegs some last names as Jewish for example, and I never would have considered it and usually can't say whether the person is Jewish or not, and I can't even say if I agree that last name is usually Jewish or not).  Living in Texas, I encounter a fair number of Spanish-origin first names (and I learned that Jesus (who I meet a few days per week to run) and Jesus (who is depicted in lots of church art) aren't pronounced the same), but I don't speak Spanish, so if I have to guess at pronouncing a name that's unknown to me, I defer toward an Italian pronunciation.  Anyway, to break down barriers or stereotypes held by anyone besides my husband, our final male child will be named Leroy.  And middle name for my other grandfather.  Glue shouldn't get to monopolize the name.  Nor Bugs Bunny.  It's a very nice name.  But given the glue association, best suited to be a middle name I suppose.  So Leroy will have our fused last name -- he can't have my last name since my grandfather had that exact name and early in my legal career, I defended a credit reporting company, and I learned having two identical names in the same family can cause a lot of needless headaches. 

It's been less pressing to pick girl names with my husband's family birth history.  But of course I had a name that I'd used for my egg baby in high school, and there are family names and other pretty names to consider. 

So, for girls:

Tilapia Sleven Emerald Mafalda.  Our first girl will be Tilapia because that name is way too pretty to be only used for a fish.  Even though I'm allergic to seafood, I've had an affinity for this name for a long time for some reason.  I had pretty much forgotten how long until Mardi Gras last month, when my best friend reminded me about the original Tilapia in my life:  about 20 years ago, I had a freakishly long forearm hair that I named Tilapia.  Tilapia on my arm died (just like the egg that could be fertilized to be a female child Tilapia will probably die inside of me, but just in case...).  My husband actually encountered a real person at work named Tilapia.  It wasn't a good experience for him, but he likes tilapia the fish enough that he was willing to agree that we could use Tilapia as our first female child's name.  As for middle names, it's a random combination that we liked.  Sleven was a movie and it just sounds cool.  Emerald was my high school choice for my future daughter's name, and I used it for my egg baby.  Mafalda is for my husband's grandmother.  It's one of those old school Italian names that you just don't ever hear anymore on anyone under the age of 80 (and very few women over 80 even!).  For unknown reasons, whenever we talk about Tilapia, we assume she has my husband's last name (even though Mafalda did not, she was on his mom's side). 

Florence Genuvia.  Florence is after the city in the country that has our hearts.  And it's one of those pretty names you just don't hear very often.  On my list of things to do when I take over the world is to rename cities in foreign countries (and the countries themselves) so that they're pronounced basically the same everywhere.  It's crazy that we say Paris instead of Pa-ree, Florence instead of Fee-ren-zay, and Germany instead of Deutschland.  It's just as bad in Italian -- they say Monaco instead of Munchen (and we say Munich, also not Munchen), and then they have to distinguish the principality of Monaco by using its full name.  So we really shouldn't have picked Florence since technically, I think everyone in the whole world should know that city in Italia as Firenze, but it's still a pretty name and not too common anymore.  As for the middle name, yes, it's chosen after the prescription drug, but with an Italian spelling.  If we're not doing the first name the proper Italian way, at least we can spell the middle name an Italian way.  Drug companies are really picking all the good names. Given the Italian connection, this daughter would have my husband's last name. 

So if we have septuplets, or I have seven individual births, or some other multiple birth combinations adding up to seven kids, we'll be all set as far as names go! 

But yeah, we'll keep taking precautions to prevent that. 

So really, I don't lay claim to any of these names.  Feel free to use them for your own offspring.  Or suggest them to anyone you know who is pregnant.  However, if the person is having male twins, please join me in pleading that they be named Jesus (not the Spanish pronunciation), and Lucifer.  It will just be so interesting to see how that plays out!  Are people inherently nicer to Jesus?  Or does Jesus do bad stuff and blame it on his brother?  Or is Lucifer the naughtier one? 

Friday, March 17, 2017


Long, largely pointless entry to follow.  But at least I'm writing! 

I had a run-in with the law in January.  I had gone to the movies with a friend.  I got to the movie and looked for my wallet, and realized I had forgotten it at home.  I had my bigger wallet, which contains random stuff I rarely use (my bar card, my insurance card, my ATM card, a Sears card and a credit card I don't like).  So I was able to pay for the movie.  After the movie ended, my friend and I chatted for a few minutes and I went to my car because I was supposed to go to the airport to pick up my husband from a visit with his parents.  I should have been fine on time (airport is about 20 minutes away), but when I got to my car, my husband texted me -- "Surprise!  We landed 25 minutes early!" 

So instead of getting there right around the time he landed, he was going to have to wait.  Incidentally, this was day two of round one of the travel ban, so there were hundreds of protestors at the airport here in light of the detainees.  My husband doesn't like being around demonstrations like that, particularly when he's unarmed (as he is about 90% of the time when flying), both because of a fear of violence breaking out around him, and because of a fear of repercussions at work if someone thought he was a protestor or something like that (his supervisors are largely what you'd expect in Texas criminal justice...). 

So I got on the highway, and it was pretty empty.  I got in the express lanes, which have very few entrances and exits, and at this time on this day, even fewer cars.  I maybe passed 4 cars in 10 miles?  The speed limit was 75 and I was probably driving about 90. 

Then the express lanes ended.  Speed limit drops to 65 or 70 I think.  I merged in and there was more traffic, but still not too much.  I was sailing right along until I got pulled over.  Yow.  The first thing the officer said to me:  "I've been out here all day, and you get the prize for being the first car over 90!"  I was horrified, and then even more horrified to have to say, actually, I don't have my driver's license with me -- I do have my insurance card and multiple "other cards" in my name, and I know my DL number, but uh, nothing with my photo and name. 


Since then, I've tried to be better about carrying my license when I'm driving.  I've also obviously tried to be more careful about my speed.

I'm least likely to have my license with me when I'm going to I work out, since I don't need a credit card or ID or anything, and it's such a pain to put it in the trunk before I leave the house (my husband has trained me well not to put something in my trunk after I park, and never to leave something of value in the car).  So anyway, this week, I went into my trunk to get my wallet so that I could then drive somewhere and use a credit card but not take my whole purse with me. 

I reached into my purse for my wallet and came out with (clean) underwear.  It was like a flashback to single life especially if I'd been particularly promiscuous (I was definitely more of a serial monogamist, but yeah, I'm sure I still had underwear in my purse on some random occasion). 

So last week I had my most feared commuting crisis.  I ran to work as usual and rode the elevator to my office as usual.  When I got to my office, I checked my email, filled my water bottle, and got my stuff to take to the locker room:  my bag that lives at work (makeup, deo, hair stuff, flip flops), and the contents of the garment bag I'd brought from home for the week (outfit, shoes, underwear, jewelry).  It seemed to all be there, so I went down to the locker room.  Showered, dried my hair, and started to get dressed.


No underwear.  I sent a text to the only person in the office I thought I could ask to look for clean underwear in my office (my accounting buddy), but she wasn't in for the day yet.  I pondered my options:

1.  Text my coworker.  She has kids, she'd probably have no objection to handling a colleague's clean underwear, but yeah, that just didn't feel right. 

2.  Wait in the locker room, half dressed, until my accounting buddy came in for the day.

3.  Go commando up to the office and search the bottom of my garment bag myself. 

I sat around in the locker room half dressed and in a towel for about 10 minutes.  A few more texts and I realized my accounting buddy wasn't even close.  I was leaning toward option 3, and I started packing up my workout clothes, when I suddenly realized that in an outer pocket of my bag that lives at work, there was clean underwear for just such an emergency! 

It was a pair I hate (which is why they stay at work) (much like the hideous black pumps that live under my desk for the commuting emergency I've encountered a few times -- no dress shoes).  But clean underwear nonetheless! 

I got dressed and went back to my office.  Sure enough, my packing system had not broken down, I'd brought clean underwear, they were just overlooked in the garment bag.  So I put the clean good underwear in my bag that lives at work until I could wash and replace with the pair I was wearing that I hated.  I washed the hated pair and put them in my purse to execute the swap -- and then apparently forgot. 

I'm just kind of glad it's austerity measures and I'm not pulling out my wallet in front of anyone with any frequency -- I can imagine some acquaintances would have been concerned about the state of my marriage if they'd seen me carrying underwear around...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Austerity Measures

For the first time ever, my husband and I are under austerity measures for two months.  We're fairly conservative spenders for most things, but we also both have jobs and get paid enough (especially since we don't have kids, tuition, etc.) that we spend money if we want to.  I feel like our spending usually lines up pretty well with our priorities.  We mostly spend on travel, which is our favorite thing, but of course other discretionary expenses add up. 

Early in March, we did our preliminary look at our taxes.  We usually run the numbers ourselves before getting them done, and usually, the number we get is exceedingly close to the final number. 

And we ALWAYS owe.  We both withhold at 0, so I have no idea how this is the case, but it always happens.  And most years, in addition to what has been withheld, we have owed roughly the same amount.  So we budget for that and it is what it is.  I guess we could ask that additional amounts be withheld so we don't owe so much or so we actually get a refund, but we're pretty good at setting aside what we usually need to set aside, so we just leave the withholding at 0 and then write a check in mid-April.

Well, this year, our preliminary numbers indicate we need to write a check for about $10,000 MORE than we usually do. 


I have no idea how or why that happened.  We each have one employer and we each withhold at zero.  And we have "the usual" deductions (a mortgage, real estate taxes, charitables), and this year we even got to add the purchase of my car to the usual sales tax deduction (since there's no income tax in Texas).  I was thinking maybe we got screwed because we don't have kids, but my coworker said hers were much worse this year too, and she has three kids.  So that's good, I don't need to have a kid to ease the tax pain. 

(I should note here that we're definitely not arguing for a lower tax.  I mean, I get that our President doesn't have to pay taxes, but we firmly believe we should.  We like living in a country where there are schools for kids, roads for us, a military to defend us, police to keep us safe, courts to adjudicate cases, jails to hold bad people, agencies to provide licenses and permits, inspectors for our food, checks for the elderly to keep them off the streets, emergency rooms that treat emergencies, etc.)

We're obviously fortunate in that we can swing the payment as we've presently estimated it, and we're also lucky to have more than a month until we need to make the payment, but we've decided to implement austerity measures for the months of March and April in hopes of having that big check wipe us out a bit less than it otherwise would. 

Austerity measures are nearly killing me.  And we're only two weeks in! 

No fun trips for us.  Especially tough since I've been dying to make another trip to Oregon to see my brother and his family.  And since we were planning to go to French Quarter Fest in New Orleans (but wow, plane tickets were over $500 each! definitely not allowed under austerity measures).  This is probably the biggest sacrifice.  We're also considering using miles for our Fall trip, though we'll defer that decision another month or two anyway. 

No shopping.  I'm not a big shopper, but trying to be a non-shopper is a little more challenging than I expected.  My husband somehow got the elbow of one of his favorite dress shirts caught at work and it tore.  No new blue dress shirt for him (until May).  He's also waiting an extra week for a haircut, so maybe there will only be 2 cuts during austerity measures instead of 3.  No renting movies.  No going to the movies.  But we have Netflix and Amazon Prime, so this really shouldn't be asking a lot.  No extra races -- but I'm planning to register for next year's half marathon since it will be cheapest next weekend, and in this instance, there's no point in saving money now only to spend more later.  But no signing up for races just because. 

No entertaining, aside from what was already on the books -- we hosted a "breakfast party" this past weekend, which was fun.  At the store getting ready for the party, I was picking out flowers for the bar between our kitchen and the dining room, and my husband said they didn't come within austerity measures, but I said we aren't heathens, so we got the flowers anyway.  And we'll have our usual rehearsal dinner anniversary party next month.  And we have a houseguest this coming weekend (visiting for our local RNR half marathon), but she's low maintenance. 

Minimal eating out.  We went out for dinner this past weekend with people we'd usually treat (younger family who just moved here), but we split the check (they are nearly 40 and gainfully employed...).  We have brunches out planned the next couple weekends, we have a "dine at Chipotle for charity" type dinner one night, another dinner out with the new-to-town family, and we'll go out for our anniversary, (and we'll probably each end up going out for lunch on our own during the week once or twice) but I'm hoping for a total of less than 10 meals out (on our own dime) in the two months.  (I'm not counting meals out on my expense account when I'm traveling, or when my coworker takes me out to lunch (using up a Christmas gift card to a restaurant her husband hates), or when visiting attorneys take me out for lunch...  That should ease the pain a bit!) 

I'm sure there are other categories of spending that I'm not thinking of, but regardless, general austerity measures.  Bah humbug! 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Favorite Things

For about the last year, I've been unable to sleep through the night most nights.  I usually get up at 3:xx to pee, and I'm bummed to see I have to wake up in an hour (or less).  Sometimes I fall back asleep, sometimes I toss and turn until my alarm (4:40 lately). 

But last night, I woke at 2:10 to pee, I was so excited to know that I had more than two hours of sleep to go! 

I'm adding "knowing I can sleep for HOURS more" to my list of my favorite things. 

I have tried curtailing my water intake starting in the afternoon, but it doesn't seem to help -- or at least not enough to justify the misery of being thirsty.