My brain has been on autopilot all day. Today is not a good day for autopilot buni, because there are things at work demanding attention. None of it explicitly involves me, but all of it involves my department and the fact that one of the applications we're supporting doesn't work the way it's supposed to work, or even the way we were told it would work. This is a lot of shit rolling past my desk, and right now I'm just glad that it's not stopping on top of me on the way.

Part of the problem I'm having is that I slept very poorly last night. I had a dream about Aly... the first one I remember, in fact. We were in a house I don't recognize, but it reminded me of my friend Carmen's parents' house when I was little. I was talking with someone, and then all of a sudden Aly was just there, wearing a blue-jean jacket and a tan ankle-length skirt with boots. She looked post-transition to my brain, though there wasn't
really anything changed about her other than her attire. I remember feeling extremely embarrassed about having given away or sold all of her belongings, and I mumbled something about this. She smiled and made a dismissive wave of her hand—human—and said she didn't care. I asked if she was back, and she said, "forever," and then walked out of the room. I waited for a few seconds, unsure if I had just seen what I thought I had, and then I
ran after her, but she had vanished.

I remember later in the same dream trying to talk to someone about the experience, that she had visualized to me and then disappeared, and the general opinion I remember getting back was something on the order of "yeah, that happens sometimes," but nobody would explain or tell me anything more. In fact, I don't remember anything beyond this, but it was still a very unsettling experience.

The alarm clock dragged me painfully out of bed after that. I snoozed three or four times, I think, dragging myself vertical around 07h40 and throwing myself together in a hurry after that. I still made it out the door on time, but I have got to do something to figure out why I'm waking up so hard. In this case, it's probably because the alarm dragged me out of REM sleep, which is always hard on me. I need a better alarm clock.

Before that, though, I need money. Because of a budgetary screwup and a broken washing machine, I'm out two-hundred on my last paycheck that I hadn't planned on spending. I could theoretically recoup that by telling my roommates I was hitting them up for forty each—not fifty because I count Jessie as a separate live body living under the roof, even if we are married—but I feel somewhat scummy about such things. Generally, I don't like passing on bills to people unless they agree to pay them, which in this case means oil, electricity, water/sewer/trash, and rent. Everything else is out of my pocket, because that's the agreement and I don't
intend to change it. At any rate, my money ran out early this paycheck, so my account's currently in the red while I wait for my paycheck to clear tomorrow morning.

I've managed to get both of the companies sitting in adverse status on my credit report to tell me verbally that they'll change their reporting to say that I'm in good standing, but so far neither has done so. MBNA should be
changing over on the seventh. Chase could be any time between now and June. All I can really do is wait until July 1 and hope that when I order my credit report with score it comes with the corrected information on it. Until then I can't really do anything. At that time, I have to decide whether I want to screw over my credit for seven years by applying for a debt consolidation program and cut the amount I owe people, or whether I want to tough it out and risk more adverse statuses by getting a new balance transfer card and doing another money shuffle to lower my monthly interest rates. Either way, I'm stuck paying six-hundred dollars per month in finance charges between my two credit cards for probably the next three months.

I've looked into debt consolidation loans, but my credit score is too low to support any program that will give me enough money to actually be worthwhile and pay for my back debts.

Ah well. This next paycheck is going to pay mortgage and a bit is going onto one of the cards, the more demanding of the two. Everything else is going into a bucket not to be touched except for emergencies, the start of my financial cushion in case something happens. That doesn't hit the bank account until tomorrow, though, and I've got other bills to pay as soon as possible. Hopefully I'm getting money from my other roommates soon for rent and such, but this really isn't about them. They're fine, really.

Ultimately, it boils down to a feeling of Sisyphean debt. I've dug myself far enough into the hole that there doesn't feel like a good way out for years and years and years, and events are conspiring to shovel in on top of me as
fast as I try to dig out. I'm making more money now than I ever have in the past, I have two people actively paying rent to me and increasing my funds, but somehow I'm still coming up at the end of every pay period short because of past financial obligations and continuing crises, but if I finally admit to the world that I can't carry all of this debt and I go to a credit counsellor, I screw my credit rating for the next seven years.

So... even years, or potentially a lifetime? There's no good answer to this.

If this is what you ask of me, then let me be proud to give it. 


I think today's a personal record: I spent over eight-hundred dollars at the mall and didn't come home with anything.

First, I went to Sears and bought a dishwasher. I promised Jessie that I would buy one as one of the highest priority items after I started getting paychecks from my new job, and Friday marked the depositing of my second
paycheck, so it was time to buy one. I'd originally intended to get one from Best Buy, but we need a hookup installed before we can get a dishwasher, and Best Buy's technicians don't do hookups. All of their policies are geared towards replacing an existing unit, not putting in a new one where none was before, so they couldn't help us. Sears' sales reps claimed that they could do the hookup installation as well as the dishwasher installation, but that would be extra on top of what we'd already paid. They also said, however, that if we chose to cancel the installation we would get a full and instant refund on the dishwasher purchase itself. Thus, I felt safe in dropping
five-hundred-forty-three dollars and change on a tall-tub Kenmore with a three-year full warranty, delivery and installation.

Always get the warranty. I cannot stress this enough. When it breaks—and it will break—the warranty will save you. If you get the warranty, it may not break. If you do not, it almost certainly will. If you don't get it, and it breaks, you will wish you'd had it. 

After that, I wandered through Wilson's Leather and found a leather trenchcoat that I really, really liked. It's a men's coat, which annoys me mildly, but they will not make a women's leather trench that fits me right. I can guarantee it. So, a men's coat it is. They had two styles, one with a removable liner and one without. Each was on sale, from $350 to $250, or $425 to $270. They had the ones with removable liners up to large, and those without up to extra-large, but none in XL with a removable liner, so I asked the clerk if they carried such a thing. He checked with his manager, who informed him—and me—that they did make them, but that they were
out and likely wouldn't get any more considering the season and the fact that they hadn't sold the ones they had. I asked the clerk to call around for me, and after four tries he found a store that had the one that I wanted in the
size I needed, and they even deliver! So, I paid an extra five dollars to have it delivered, and I'll have a new coat in two or three days.

The only real problem with all of this is the sense that being as in debt as I am, these kinds of expenditures are... not frivolous, but ill-conceived. Poorly planned. I have more important uses of my money, going to things like debt repayment and savings in case I lose my job again and retirement funds so I can quit my job one day. These kinds of expenses, especially the trench coat, really make me feel like I could've done something better with the money.

All that said, though, I recognize that the quality of life is as important as the quantity, and right now these are things that will greatly improve the quality of my life. I have wanted a trenchcoat for years, and having found one that fits that was on sale makes me incredibly happy. Plus, I needed a new coat; the one that I've got really doesn't serve as a useful winter jacket, even if I did wear it as such. As for the dishwasher... it's a luxury, I admit, but one that I really think we could use at this point. Jessie's getting sick of doing the dishes, and with her arthritis, she just has trouble keeping on top of them. I could do them, but I get so little time in the evenings to just relax because of my commute that I really have no desire to spend my time working on more chores. Keeping up with laundry and cooking is enough for me.

Plus, it feels good to spend money like this, in a roundabout fashion. If I'm well-off enough to buy these kinds of things, I'm well-off enough to help people again. I may have to watch when and how, but I can do so and not
suffer for it. I like being able to do that. Plus, even little things like not having stacks of dirty dishes on the kitchen counter will make me feel better about my house, and that's important to me.

One thing I'd love to do is schedule a refinance on my house. I know I just bought it, but I'd love to be able to roll my standing credit card debt—or even just a chunk of it—into my mortgage payment to lower my bills. Right now I'm dropping $600 a month on one credit card, and then balance-transferring $400 off of the other onto it. It's taking down my debts, but not nearly as fast as I'd like. I could do more, but I need to rebalance my budget again and actually see what things cost me before I tweak anything else.

I'm also looking forward to upping my spending on my retirement account, but for now that's just waiting on my dividends to roll over into more stock. There's a critical mass I'm hoping to achieve, of every dividend payment I
receive earning me enough to buy more stock, but until my dividends reach a certain level, I'd be paying too high a percentage of my expenditures on commissions to make that viable. It'll be a while before I'm at that level,
but once I'm there, things should snowball nicely. 

I can do anything I want, if only I have the patience and focus.