- Sight: So. Much. Olympics! I’m a huge fan of the Winter games. So far, I’ve caught the opening ceremony, some biathlon, figure skating, skeleton, men’s & women’s hockey, men’s & women’s halfpipe, speed skating, ski jumping, curling (of course!), and on and on and on. It’s literally the only thing keeping me from cutting the cord at the moment.
- Sound: Natalie Imbruglia came crashing back into my life something fierce this week like it was the late 90s all over again. I’ve listened to her Left of the Middle album at least once a day. Maybe more. It’s not the radio hits that have been stuck in my head. So give this song a shot. It’s slow but gorgeous.
And my world falls down
And I’m there calling out
But it’s something I can’t say
- Taste: Lightning round! The mom and step dad came up Sunday for a concert, so we hit up Midwood Smokehouse after finding out Bill Spoon’s BBQ was closed. Lunch Roulette was Smashburger. It was my first time there and it’s okay. I’m a little salty that my boss went to JJ’s across the street while I was gone. And yesterday was Blaze Pizza.
- Feel: Reflective. On Monday, I stumbled across a conversation between an atheist, conservative video games journalist I used to follow and one of his Patreon subscribers, a young Methodist pastor. The podcast is fascinating and got me thinking about and questioning a lot of my stances on faith. The face of Christianity would benefit for more representatives like Matt Patrick. Then the school shooting in Parkland, Florida happened Wednesday. And it’s so frustrating. The loss of life. The urge to politicize a tragedy by the Left. The flippancy of the Right to nonchalantly shrug it off. The damn near impossible problem everyone thinks they can solve in 140 characters (or whatever Twitter is up to now). Americans need to be better to one another. And quit shooting each other up.
I’ve been searching for a great photo or painting of the Charlotte skyline for my house. Something I could blow up pretty huge to make the focal point on a main wall. It’s been a struggle. But Wednesday, our building had a pop up shop in the lobby for Valentine’s Day and I stumbled across Cody Hughes and his site Point of Hues. Love, love, love his shots.
So my weekend will be spent measuring walls and budgeting in artwork. And taxes. Ugh.
Happy early President’s Day!
- Sight: I finished up the first season of The Leftovers on Wednesday night. It’s been pretty good so far. Color me intrigued. But it also helps that it’s only three seasons long, so even if it turns awful (ahem… I’m looking at you, Bloodline), it’s not a huge investment to tough it out.
- Sound: Because every week can’t be a track from Paramore’s After Laughter…
I’m so caught up
in the shit that the world throws at me.
The only girl I loved
is married to someone else, oh please
- Taste: So… JJ’s Red Hots across the street from work has been a steady stop. I think I’ve been four times in the six weeks it’s been open. I ain’t hating on that. Lunch Roulette was Eddie’s Place for a birthday. Last week was my first trip to Lebowski’s. Pretty rare for there to be a regular lunch place in Charlotte I haven’t hit yet after five and a half years. And for an extra little treat to the coworkers at Ally, the former coworkers at RoundPoint, and my dad for our ski trip to Sugar Mountain, I tried my hand at some mint chocolate chip cookies. They were delicious… and my kitchen smelled like Thin Mints for days. Definitely moving into the regular rotation of baked goods!
- Feel: Incredibly off. This year has been awful. And I can’t shake it. Everything started snowballing downhill with Lucy attacking Harper on Christmas Eve. Clemson got dismantled by Alabama, who then obnoxiously won another championship. Work has been suffocating, which erased any semblance of being re-energized from break. Four separate, unrelated friendships have fallen completely apart in borderline irreconcilable fashion from people I talked to almost daily. It finally hit home that I was chasing someone who didn’t want to be chased. Finances had started feeling a tad smothering. My semiannual dentist appointment turned into needing a crown. And after getting the temporary crown put on, that has since turned into the very real possibility of needing a root canal. 2018 has just been in a constant state of suck.
My silver lining has been that the dogs haven’t had a single issue since coming back to Charlotte from the holidays and that I got blindsided by a larger raise (and much larger bonus!) than I had been anticipating. So hopefully that begins turning this bad boy around but call me skeptical for the time being.
Enjoy the return of the blog. And your weekend!
Where did 2017 go?
This time last year, I was typing about the thumping Clemson dealt Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. This year, I’m watching Oklahoma FLY against Georgia in the Rose Bowl. It’s the last game before Clemson gets Alabama, round 3, in New Orleans. I’m not confident in it. But if they pull it off, the brother and I are going to be in Atlanta for a third straight national championship game appearance.
This isn’t real life.
But resolutions are real! So let’s see what this year has in store.
- 15 Books: I fell one book short last year, so I’ll stick with the same number. I got two books into my re-read of the Dark Tower series, so I have a stack of those to get through. I’m always a bit intimidated to dive into non-fiction books since I typically read for entertainment and pleasure. But I have all of my biographies (Jobs, John Muir, Truman) left to cross off too. Of course, my mom’s next book will be out in Spring as well.
- 5,658.91 Dollars: 2017 was the year I spent all of my money. I bought a house. I bought a dog. I bought furniture. I bought blinds. I bought rugs. Buy, buy, buy! Fortunately, a lot of those purchases were made on 0% interest credit cards. So for 2018, my goal is to get back to being debt free (mortgage excluded). I have $1,069.47 in vet bills for Harper’s surgery/stitches, $1,400.02 left on Lucy’s training bill, $939.88 on a Wayfair credit card, $1,249.54 on my Best Buy credit card, and $1,000.00 on my Bank of America credit card.
- 4 TV Series: Last year, I got into Game of Thrones, Westworld, and Sons of Anarchy. This year, I think I’m jumping back on to the cord-cutting bandwagon. So I thought I’d do a little binging this year to check out some new shows. I have Justified on my list to get to. I’m ten or so episodes from wrapping up Sons of Anarchy. I want to check out The Wire since I have access to HBO Go. So hit me with your best recommendations on Netflix or HBO!
- 1 Doctor: Last year, after the National Championship trip, I caught a pretty nasty bug that drug me down through the first quarter of the year. Trying to do the
anti-millennial adult thing, I called to set up an appointment with a local doctor instead of running to an urgent care location. The good news? Everyone I talked to was accepting new patients. The bad news? New patients have to wait at least two months before getting an appointment. Urgent care, here I came! But this year, I need to get my knee checked out after my half marathon last year. At 35, I guess it’s time to finally become a little bit of an adult.
- $3,000 Savings: I’m doubling down on the financial goals this year. Not only do I want to pay off my debt, I want to start building my savings back up. I opened a second savings account last summer to try and earn some solid interest with Ally. But then Lucy needed training. And I needed money to pay off my furniture. And I had to donate to IPTAY in November for football tickets. Which left me with less than $100 in it. This may be tricky to do with the amount of money I’m trying to throw at debt but I’m going to make a run at it.
- 12 Cookies: Several people (the mom, San Diego, etc) have
obnoxiously hassled me to make a cookie blog. But with the resolution blog posts every quarter and another weekly entry, I’m not sure I have the time to regularly maintain a picture-heavy blog. So my attempt at a compromise is to find 12 new cookie recipes this year. That probably means I’ll swing and miss on a few but the goal is to find something new worth adding into the rotation of regulars.
Let’s try some stretch goals this year too.
- 2.9 Percent: So I lied… Let’s triple down on the financial goals. Checking out the balance left on my mortgage, it looks like I have 2.9% left before I can request Mortgage Insurance being removed from my payment. It’s not a huge difference but it snowballs into my other goals. Less money earmarked for my mortgage means more money to pay towards my debt. The quicker my debt gets paid off, the more money I have to save.
- 100 Pages: Every year or two, I read something that jump starts my wanderlust itch and makes me want to document my trip around the country from 2010. Towards the end of last year, I read Almost Somewhere by Suzanne Roberts, a memoir of her month-long hike on the John Muir Trail. Do I have anything profound to tell from my story? No. Would a lot of people read my story? Probably not. But it would be cool to have something formal to show for it all. I’ve been ambitious in prior years to try and get an entire book written. But I’ll take a step back and shoot for 100 pages this year. Just need to put pen to paper.
And that’s that! I’ve added a couple of additional goals this year compared to last year. But hopefully working on one financial goal helps out the other two and makes it a little smoother to complete the additional resolutions. I’ve also added some new ideas I haven’t used before to make it a little interesting. And my coworkers aren’t going to complain about monthly cookies for the office.
New year, new clean slate! How ambitious are you feeling this year?
I wholeheartedly had good intentions of trying to end the year on a positive entry since I’m pretty disappointed with the popularity of flooding social media with negativity towards 2017. Yet here I am, struggling to cross the finish line with a productive mindset given my less-than-ideal Christmas. So let’s scrape the bottom of the barrel and see what’s left.
- Paid $1,065 per ticket for four tickets to the National Championship game
- Drove to Tampa with my brother, his old roommate from college, and our dad
- WATCHED CLEMSON WIN A NATIONAL TITLE 35-31 AGAINST ALABAMA
- Closed on my very first house
- Closed our first loan at work three days later
- Got incredibly emotional locking up my apartment of 4+ years for the last time
- Spent $900 on blinds
- Spent $9,000 on living room and bedroom furniture
- Spent $800 on new tires
- Finished watching Westworld on HBO with the Momma
- Left my sprinkler on for 10 hours. Oops?
- Met a University of South Carolina girl on a date at Midwood Smokehouse
- Ran my 10th consecutive (11th overall) Bridge Run in 1:15:50
- Spent $3,100 on a backyard fence
- Planted periwinkles in my backyard… because who am I?
- Ran my 2nd consecutive CPCC Skyline run in 34:34 and saw my ex on the course
- The Houston Texans drafted Deshaun Watson and I have a new NFL team!
- Met an Arizona State girl (and honorary Clemson fan) on a date at Amelie’s
- Saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 for Mother’s Day
- Took the nephews to see the Disney Cars display at Charlotte Motor Speedway
- Bought rugs for the house… because who am I?
- Saw Tegan & Sara at The Fillmore and had a blast
- Finished watching Bloodline on Netflix
- Met a University of North Carolina girl on a date at JJ’s Redhots…
- Watched E3 conferences but wasn’t impressed with much this year
- … and a date at Haberdish…
- Saw Cars 3 with my brother, sister in law, and oldest nephew for his 1st movie
- Opened my first Ally account only a year+ after I started working there
- … and a date at MayoBird…
- *Record Scratch* Crash and burn #1
- Met an Appalachian State girl on a date at Piedmont Social House
- Went to a step-uncle’s wedding in Clemson
- Got a 2nd puppy, Lucy (pit/lab/plott hound mix)
- Bought & hung drapes for the house… because who am I?
- Lucy got sprayed by a skunk (of course she did)
- Left my sprinkler on for 8 hours. I’ll never learn a damn thing
- Went to my first Carolina Panthers game… Against the Texans to watch Deshaun
- … and a date-ish at Dandelion…
- *Record Scratch* Crash and burn #2
- Experienced a total eclipse (of the heart) with lots of family on Lake Murray
- San Diego popped up out of the blue for the first time in months
- Helped AK move across town in exchange for a Leroy Fox dinner!
- Met a Duke girl on a date at Earl’s Grocery
- Started, caught up, and finished watching Game of Thrones on HBO
- Watched Mean Girls for the first time
- Spent $1,000 on an entertainment center
- Bought Destiny 2
- Took my favorite fake cousin and her husband to their first big time college game
- Rebooted my “What I Learned” blog as the “Come to my Senses” weekly entry
- Inherited twin beds for a spare bedroom. Come visit!
- Lucy started attacking Harper
- Took the oldest nephew to his first Clemson football game, a 34-7 win against BC
- Emergency vet trip for stitches on Lucy
- Ran my neighborhood’s 5K (but really 2.8 miles) in 26:20
- Spent $3,000 on Lucy’s obedience training
- Met another University of South Carolina girl on a date at Paco’s Tacos
- Gave up on dating
- Clemson lost to Syracuse 27-24 in a bad loss
- Had 17 trick or treaters during my home’s first Halloween
- Finished watching Stranger Things on Netflix
- Ran my 1st half marathon (!!!) in 2:28:48
- Ran my 6th consecutive South Park Turkey Trot in 27:57
- Lucy almost killed one of my mom’s chickens
- Clemson did kill the South Carolina chickens 34-10
- Bought my first live Christmas tree
- Went to the ACC Championship game to see Clemson destroy Miami 38-3
- Saw Chapel, As It Is, & Waterworks at The Fillmore
- New Mariana Trench song was released! Probably means new album in 2018!
- … and a non-date date to Charlotte’s Christmas Village…
- Saw Les Miserables at Ovens Theater with AK
- Jerry Richardson will sell the Carolina Panthers
- Lucy attacked Harper and caused $1,000 in damage to her face at the emergency vet
- Finally hit me that I may have to re-home Lucy and my heart’s been broken since
- Christmas was good but awful because of the dog news
- Sold Sugar Bowl tickets to a Clemson senior who was excited to go to New Orleans
- 12 episodes from finishing Sons of Anarchy on Netflix
- I’ll ring in the New Year back in Charlotte in front of football (Go Tigers!)
Safe to say that 2017 was a roller coaster of extreme highs (National Championship! 🙂 ) and extreme lows (dogs! 😦 ). So how’d the resolutions go?
- 15 Books:
- 4Q projection – 15
- 4Q actual – 14
- I actually did well this quarter and read four books but ultimately fell short. I finished The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne. It took me all of ten days to read Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton. I caught the wanderlust bug reading about hiking the John Muir Trail in Almost Somewhere by Suzanne Roberts. And I trudged through High Crimes by Michael Kodas about the greed and criminality of climbing Mount Everest. I was working my way through The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz but only made it about a third of the way through. Looks like I’ll have a jump start on 2018.
- 365 Miles:
- 4Q projection – 365
- 4Q actual – 196.80
- I came up short on this one too. I only ran 54% of what I intended. But I’m going to chalk this one up as a moral victory. I completed my 10th consecutive Bridge Run, my 6th consecutive Turkey Trot in Charlotte (also my fastest 5K in years, if not ever), and MY FIRST HALF MARATHON! I’m excited and extremely proud of that last one. So I’m okay with where this one left off.
- 4 House Projects:
- 4Q projection – 4
- 4Q actual – 4-ish
- Here’s how I left this bullet point on the last entry:
[I]f Lucy comes back obedient, calm, and controlled, I’m absolutely counting that as a project to improve my house given the fact that she just chewed the inside of a door
- So… That hasn’t happened quite like I envisioned it. But the good news is that nothing else has been destroyed. The
bad not-good news is that I haven’t done anything else to the house. So we end the year where we ended the last quarter – complete but without progress.
- 83% LTV:
- 4Q projection – 83%
- 4Q actual – 81.5%
- Money got a little tight at the end of the year but I still kept my goal of getting 17% equity in my house. My goal next year will be to get rid of Mortgage Insurance, which shouldn’t be that unreasonable to hit by summer.
- 1 Website:
- 4Q projection – 100%
- 4Q actual – 0%
- Ha. I’ll never learn.
- 12,000 Gamerscore:
- 4Q projection – 12,000
- 4Q actual – 3,950
- My video game playing fell WAY off this year. There weren’t that many games I was excited about getting. And the few I was I either passed on to try and save money or didn’t get for birthday/Christmas. It may be time to shelve this one for a couple of years and try something new.
An ugly, mismatched, incomplete bow to top off 2017. How did your resolutions go?
I’m heading back to Charlotte for the New Year. Both the dogs and I need a day or two to decompress from the holidays, get back into our routine, and lounge in front of the last few bowl games. If Clemson gets a win against Alabama in New Orleans, guess who will find their way to Atlanta for another National Championship shot?
Hope your holidays went well and that you have a safe, happy New Year!
- Sight: Lucy trying to maul Harper. I came home on
Saturday Christmas Eve Eve with the pups in tow for the holidays. It started with Lucy being possessive over a box of pecans. Then later, Lucy got a hold of Harper’s head but we split them up without any casualties. The final straw ended with a deep, nasty laceration on Harper’s face, my hands beat up pretty bad from having to pry Lucy’s jaws off of Harper’s head, and the early morning hours of Christmas Eve at the emergency vet, forking over four digits to have Harper put under and sewn up. The good news is that Harper’s doing well and being her happy-go-lucky self. The bad news is my entire Feel bullet point.
- Sound: Let’s go out with an alt-rock late 90s, early 00s bang! This had been my planned final song all along. But it seems extra fitting now. Emotions. My bowl picks. Dogs. 2017 in general, for a lot of people.
She calls me from the cold
Just when I was low, feeling short of stable
And all that she intends
And all she keeps inside, isn’t on the label
- Taste: It’s been a quiet “eat out” week since I’ve been at home. There was a trip to Marko’s on Saturday. Christmas Eve was Pizza Hut before the little dog lost her mind. Christmas was ham, green bean casserole, and mac & cheese at my step mom’s parents’ house. Tuesday Christmas was delicious tenderloin, green bean casserole, mac & cheese, and sweet potato casserole at my mom’s. Wednesday, I switched it up and went with Domino’s at my brother’s place. Thursday was lunch with my grandparents at Wellmore.
- Feel: Absolutely fucking awful. First, I apologize for the language. Second, I’ll apologize to anyone I’ve spent time with who has tried to make this year’s Christmas enjoyable. I’ve been a wreck. Driving to the emergency vet at 1 AM on Christmas Eve, I was ready to put Lucy down. Without question. Driving home at 3:30 AM without my dog, I had shifted to being ready to re-home Lucy. The weight of that completely crushed me. I lost it. Even now, five days later, I have to really concentrate not to tear up when thinking about it. I’ve cried more times than I can remember. The dogs have mainly been separated since then. Either Harper’s palling around with the two mini dachshunds in my mom’s room while Lucy gets free roam of the house or Lucy’s crated while the other three stretch their legs. The added stress to it all is that Lucy has been an absolutely dream dog since then on her own. She listens to every command. She’s the sweetest, most laid back dog. She’s been incredibly cuddly. No offense to my #1 girl Harper, Lucy has acted like exactly what I’ve always wanted in a dog. Minus the whole “try to murder the other dog” thing… I’m stressed. I’m confused. I feel helpless. I feel like an absolute failure to my dogs. Do I give Lucy time to grow up and mature to hope she outgrows some of it? Do I double-down on the obedience training she’s had and try to really get my money’s worth? Do I give up on her and find a new home for her? None of those are right. None of them fix the issue. None of those make me feel any better than the absolute trash of a mood I’m in. I’m tired of my dogs fighting. And I’m tired of crying.
I think I can officially chalk this Christmas up to the worst one I’ve had. But I do want to thank any and every one who’s listened to be vent and cry and freak out since it’s happened. My mom. My dad. My brother and sister in law. AK. EW. KBrock. My old AIM buddy Jenna. My favorite fake cousin Suzanne. Know that your words are very much appreciated. Thank you.