I absolutely hate how easily stressed I get. Worse, I hate what my getting stressed does to those around me, especially my mate.

Earlier today I met with the head contractor on the extended assignment to get our house back in working order, and I found out that replacing the coal furnace and the heating system to the house is going to cost me five-thousand dollars out of pocket, or out of other repairs to the house that will still need to be done at some point. I can do things like not repaint any of the rooms that need it and that will save me some cash, and I can maybe ask Kelly if she can handle putting down fresh carpet and that will take care of another good chunk, but at the end of the day I'm still going to be out a good chunk of change.

This is a problem for two reasons.

The first and most obvious is that I can't really afford it. My credit cards are riding close to tapped, and this is going to push them to their limits, if not over them. Getting the house in the first place was a major setback to our financial situation, with the understanding that as soon as we moved into it, the house would start paying for itself in the money we were saving in the long run, but we haven't even yet gotten the chance to live in the place.

The second and less obvious and far more devastating is totally unrelated to the house. Jessie went out with some of our friends to the mall today to buy clothes, and when she got home with everyone else I was in an absolutely horrid mood that had nothing to do with her. So, instead of being able to say "Hey, great, glad to hear you had a good time" and be generally enthusiastic and positive, I was angry-mopey and short-tempered, and she
didn't deserve that. 

I keep saying that when we get into the house, things will get better. I truly believe that. We have at least one person committed to moving in with us and taking over the attic, and someone else that's expressed interest in
laying claim to the third bedroom, so once both of them arrive, we'll be cutting our mortgage bill to nearly nothing, meaning we'll be able to start actively and violently paying off these bills. I'll also feel a lot more confident about going to the bank for a debt-consolidation loan, which will help cut the interest rates on the debt and give me a better means to pay off what we owe. I have a plan for getting out of this massive hole.

I just have to get into the house, first.

I hate how uptight I get and how stressed I become over things like this. Now, admittedly, having one's house ruined from water damage is pretty stressful, especially considering it's my first house and I haven't even gotten to live there yet. That said, though, I can do nothing about the speed or the cost of repairs, only my own expectations and desires, and so getting upset about what has to happen is pointless. I know that intellectually, but it doesn't help much when I'm trying to deal with bad news.

The one thing I will say in my favor is that at least I get over problems quickly enough. I got really angsty and bitter at Jessie when she got home, and for an hour after that, but after a chuckle or two I do feel better, and I don't think there's any real risk of me slipping back into my earlier funk. Having recovered, I usually stay better.

As before when my hormones were out of whack, though, I've been crashing a lot lately. I really do feel like I'm in over my head right now. Getting into the house will help a lot of that, but that's proving to be a bigger challenge than just buying the place and moving into it. I'm still not earning what I think I'm worth, Jessie's not earning any formal income at all, and we're currently paying the bills on two living spaces at once. These have all added to the rising debt, not as quickly as saving for the house did, but fast enough to be a continuing problem.

I hate feeling like I'm in over my head, but until we're in the house and the finances settle down, I just have to live with it. Easier said than done.


Indeed, many things did come to pass....

I went off the diet yesterday. It seems kind of a strange thing to do, to intentionally break the good eating habits I've trained myself to follow that have led to the sustained and continual weight loss I've achieved. Deliberately going against that feels weird to me now. Most diet sodas are unpalatable to me, most non-diet foods are horribly oversweetened, and most breads and such just sit like rocks in my stomach and make me feel queasy. Why on earth would I want to put stuff in me that makes me feel bad?

The answer, of course, is that the cure is almost as bad as the disease. The Atkins diet—and any other ketogenic diet—works by forcing the body to cannibalize its own fat stores for glucose, because the digestion process can't convert most of the calories in fat and protein to glucose, and glucose is what the body needs to run. There's no substitute for that. However, the byproducts of fat breakdown, ketones, are actually toxic in high concentrations. They're the big reason ketogenic diet programs encourage people to drink a lot of water is because these chemicals need to get flushed thoroughly and regularly or they start causing damage to the kidneys and

Going off the diet, then, becomes a sort of reset button on the system. It's a chance to give the body time to recover from the effects of ketosis. Most of the books I've read say that going off every three to four months for
about a week helps keep the ketones from becoming a health risk of their own, and I haven't been off the diet since Thanksgiving, so I figured I was about due.

The other big factor is timing. I'm going to a party in Boston this weekend, assuming I get my car back on time (more on that below), and I'm going to want to be off my diet for that. Going off the diet causes a sugar crash—lethargy and dizziness—and going back on causes a sugar headache—migraine, irritability and lack of concentration—so those need to be timed to hit when they can be managed under safe conditions. This meant that if I was going to have the headache before Monday morning work, I needed to go back on the diet Sunday morning. This put the headache hitting in the middle of the drive home, but I'm sure at that point I won't be any worse than any of the other commuters.

Of course, to get any benefit from being off the diet, I need to be off for about five to seven days, so that meant going off on Tuesday. When I mentioned that to some friends, one of them suggested I go off Monday so I
could enjoy our regular Monday Night Dinner instead of eating chicken wings with bleu cheese like I do every week, and Jessie agreed with the logic, so I went ahead and started yesterday with some chicken fingers and then had nachos for dinner.

This morning I had a chocolate milk and a bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit from Wawa for breakfast. I don't think I'm going to be able to eat lunch.

My weight was up this morning, too, but that's to be expected. I'm going to estimate the scale will tell me I've restored ten pounds by Sunday. I should be able to purge it again fast enough, and the trend line shouldn't rise more than a pound or two, but it's still a bit nervewracking considering that I'm deliberately going against good eating practices to protect my health.

I must be crazy; there's no other good explanation.

I mentioned above that I'm taking the car into the shop. I seem to have the worst luck with cars irrespective of their ownership history. It's not that I actively try to destroy them, so much as I know more than "nothing" and less than "enough," so I end up thinking problems aren't bad when they are, and then by the time I decide they're bad they're really bad and cost squillions to fix, or else render the cars inoperable or worse.

This time I hope to circumvent that.

Of course, I've been driving it with some known problems, but the previous owner, with whom I try to keep in at least semi-regular contact, said that they're minor so I trust that they're not going to cause the car to explode in a sudden fireball (even if doing so would contravene the laws of physics; I'm just unlucky that way). The new fuel pump is mis-timed or maladjusted or had an unhappy childhood or something; the car stalls out right after I turn it over, then stalls out immediately when I put it into gear, and then will deign to let me drive it. Also, while it's cold, it tries to stall out when idling, only to suddenly spike up in revs to double its idle speed, then slowly relax back to idle before repeating this process. However, once it's warm, it quits doing this.

I've also managed to blow the computer-driven overdrive. I checked the fuse panel by my left foot, and the one for the overdrive looks like it's intact, but the light on the dash is on constantly and it never shifts up into fourth gear, so something's wrong with it. It would have had to die right as Jessie and I were starting a major road trip, so our gas mileage for that two-thousand-plus mile stretch was a disaster. It hasn't been so great since
we got back, either.

At least, I think think it was two-thousand miles. It had to have been at least that, but another thing that doesn't work is the odometer. It's frozen at 177178 and has been since I got the car. The previous owner assures me it
just died there a few weeks before he parked the car to sell it, so I'm not worried about it being wrong, but I'm one of those people that needs to see the numbers so I know when to take the car in for a routine service. "Every 7500 miles" means nothing to me when I don't know when I hit it.

Finally, I've managed to take out some of the light fixtures on the outside of the car. One Jessie cracked when she tapped on it thinking a few quick knocks would cause a loose wire to connect. One I broke trying to maneuver it
out of the really tight parking space. Both of them need to be replaced, lest some anal cop in Boston pull me over and give me a ticket.

However, all of these things need to be done by Friday morning, 'cause Friday night I need to have the car for the trip. If it's not ready by then, I may not be able to go, or I'll have to go with half the work done and schedule a
time to do the rest, which would really be
T3H SU><0r. Here's hoping none of it is difficult, just expensive.

Expensive I can manage. It's only money.

Actually, right now it's not even money. It's just "more time in debt." I've had to shift my thinking away from "I owe people money" to "I have this much of my paycheck going into servicing old accounts" to keep myself from going into the screaming meemies every time I spend any money at all. I keep thinking that when we're in the house and the car is fixed and the roommates we've invited have joined us and everything is situated, we can start paying off this huge backlog of credit card bills, maybe by getting a debt-consolidation loan or something fancy,
but right now I'm just throwing minimum payments at stuff because I know I'm going to take a couple more big hits before it's all said and done.

I've waited this long. I can wait longer.