Sunday, August 28, 2016

A 'Cat' Update

I've been catching up on some blog reading this past day or so.  In January 2008, when I began my attempts to straighten out my emotional state once and for all, I would read sites like "The Simple Dollar" and "Get Rich Slowly" and other personal finance oriented sites.  These sites, and particularly the comments that readers would leave, helped me to realize that I was not alone in my financial balls-ups ... and that was a positive boost to my very damaged mindset.  What happened to those original sites, however?  They are no longer the communities they once were, not by a long shot.  Where does everyone go these days to commiserate, learn and share?  Since those sites lost their original voices (and founders?), it seems they've lost their 'heart' too. Oh well.  Life goes on.  Nothing stays the same!

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Cat is back in town, but we don't speak.  We haven't seen her since Thanksgiving 2015, day of the massive and final family blow out which ended with her being locked out of the house in a drugged out state.  I am thankful that we were at least able to get her through her university course of study.  She had been accepted to the top program in her field in the US. The last 2 years of school were HELL but somehow, even though the spouse and I did not attend, she made it to the graduation ceremony, completely alienating the best room mates anyone could hope for along the way.  Another family member did attend the grad ceremony and took pics .... Cat, wearing an ill fitting dress that was better suited for lounging on the sand and totally unsuitable for graduation, performed with desperate happiness for the camera .... clueless as ever.  At least she still has her education .... no one can take that away from her.  A paradox she is, if ever there was one.

Cat has lost a couple of amazing jobs because of her erratic and arrogant behavior.  I guess it makes it easier for us to wash our hands of it all .... it's not as if she is totally on the street with nothing, although she is always just one step away.  I want to believe that she is smart enough to not ever end up on the streets but ... one never knows.  I've seen it happen to other families.  Heck, I've even accompanied friends on trips to the homeless encampments, looking for their missing family member.  I know what it looks like.  I know what it feels like.

I try not to compartmentalize my feelings because that is what got me into a whole world of financial and emotional trouble all those years since early childhood.  When it comes to Cat, however, I compartmentalize.  I shut it out.  I forget about her.  I don't think about her.  I don't worry, I don't lose sleep.  I know that I have tried my best, offered all the help that is needed ...and I have been rejected.  I know that I didn't always handle Cat the way I should have handled her, but I do know that I kept trying, trying, trying to help her.  Better than anyone, I know that a person MUST hit rock bottom before changes can be attempted and accomplished .... one step after the other for the months and years it takes to truly, truly change.  Cat has not yet hit her bottom.

As a result of my choices and behavior at the time (August 1996 to December 1998 in particular, and then the manic free fall from January 1999 to December 2007) I almost died.  I realize that those years were Cat's very formative years and I wonder what damage have I contributed to her instability?  Other family members tell me that Cat was 'wacko' (their words) from about age 5 onward.  Definitely age 6.  I remember her being completely clueless to 'stranger danger' even then.  Nothing we could say would stop her from chatting up total strangers, disappearing into people's houses, roaming off, taking risks, befriending losers.  In the end, we had friends and neighbors helping us to corral her, calling us whenever she just took off and showed up at their houses, just to make sure that we even knew that she had left our home.  Cat's lucky she didn't end up on the 9 o'clock news, another missing child.

I know a lot about Cat and what she's up to right now, courtesy of Instagram mostly.  Her ex-boyfriend posted the most horrible diatribes about her ..... videos of him burning her love notes and the clothing she had bought for him .... smashing the gifts she had given him.  What I don't know is what actually led up to this angry display but I can guess .... Cat moved in with another man for a few months before ending up living in a garage with the latest man, which is where she has been for the past almost 2 months.  Only a matter of time before this living arrangement implodes and Cat moves on yet again.  Is this an unusual end to one of Cat's romantic relationships?  No, unfortunately it is not.  Cat has a number of exes, some of whom have become so angry at being used and abused that many times, the spouse and I have feared for her safety.  She has been threatened, stalked and almost run over by spurned ex-lovers.

Until Cat deals with her drug problem and the long, long line of bad relationships (romantic and otherwise) that she has been engaging in for the past 10 years, I don't see how she is ever going to be able to break this dangerous 'lifestyle'.  I am waiting to see if she has been fired from her lucrative government job .... somehow, despite being on probation and having her hours reduced, she has barely hung on to this job.  She is supposed to return to contract work next week but we'll see.

There is so much more to say about this situation but I'll leave it here for now.  It helps me to get it out of my system and to also leave a record lest I forget some of the details.  We may need the details some day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New Normals

Stock market is up.  Housing market is up.  At the risk of sounding smug, that is good news for me.  I'll enjoy it while I can because undoubtedly, a bust of some kind looms on the horizon.

We're getting ready for a 3 week vacation and we're doing things slightly differently from here on out.  Our car will be parked at the airport, which will avoid long delays at the airport in waiting for friends/family/shuttle services/rental cars once we return to the US.  I missed a shuttle home one time recently and spent the night on the floor at Los Angeles International.  I'll never do that again.  My plane was late on arrival (11pm) and everything was closed ..... nightmare.  Another time, the shuttle driver drove like a maniac, throwing the van around corners and slamming on the brakes, and the spouse almost puked.  So, for the first time ever, we are splurging a little and parking the car at the airport for the entire time we are gone so that we can drive ourselves home in 'civilized' fashion.

I've prepaid for train travel in the country of our destination.  Apparently, all I have to do is use the credit card at the ticket machines at the station on the other end and hey presto!  Our tickets should print out right there.  It was much cheaper to pay ahead.  Another first.  This had better work.

In other news, bills are paid up on time and pet sitting has been arranged.  I continue to sell stuff on Craigslist and donate to Goodwill.  Even if I don't end up selling the house next spring, I am continuing to move towards a minimalist lifestyle.  I have discovered that I never needed all the crap with which I surrounded myself.  The 'high of the buy' was nothing but an illusion.  It is an illusion.  Sort your emotional baggage out, get healthy, strive to stay on track.  It's hard at first but it does get easier as time goes on and bad habits are replaced with better ones. 

'Normal' gets reset to a new 'normal'.  I continue to work towards a healthier body and mind.  One of the kids went off to medical school almost a month ago and I've lost 10 pounds since.  I've been trying to reset my weight for years and I believe I finally may have this one in the bag too.  I need to get down to around 150 pounds to see where it all sits ..... so that's 70 more pounds to go.  Even though my family is nothing but a big can of worms at times, I will not give in to stress eating any longer.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cleaning and Selling

So.  I have been busy cleaning and photographing clothing, furniture and other items.  I have made a nice sum on Craigslist selling my stuff.  Of the 5 bedrooms, 3 of the closets are completely empty as are the bedrooms, save for the beds and side tables.  Everything else is gone and these items will go too next year, once we are absolutely certain that selling this house is wise.

We are having a few thoughts regarding the house sale.  One of our kids has moved into an incredibly expensive area and the house prices and rents there are sobering.  I don't see how people who are moving to that region today are affording to live there.  Families are doubling up to save money but people are also fleeing the area as well, done in by the high cost of living.

My house is, for all intents and purposes, paid off.  I can take money from our investment account and pay this house off tomorrow.  We are located in a nice neighborhood on a neat and well maintained street.  However, we are also located directly on an earthquake fault line and every so often, the house jumps.  One big earthquake, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of equity could be swallowed up by the ground.  This fact alone should be enough to force the house sale.

The problem is, everywhere we go the house prices and the rents are too high.  I can't imagine that we'd ever be able to afford to buy another house here in California unless it was located out in the boonies and I don't fancy that.  I guess I'm afraid that the RV plan may not work out and I'm going to be sleepless in Seattle, wishing that I had a stable place to call home.

We may rent our house out for a year just to be sure that we'll be OK out on the road, to be sure that this is what we really want.