Sat, Nov 26, 2022...spending more money (and potential love stories)

 I just booked housecleaning for about $200. If it goes well, I might do it quarterly. That's who I am now. Once the tap started flowing, it can't stop. I unfroze my one remaining credit card to charge it to because I'm not sure what my money is doing at this time of year. 

I was like this last year I think. With all the Christmas shopping, it just feels like the time of year to buy stuff. And I know what my regular expenses (for the remaining month) will be so it's easy to loosen the purse strings.

My Old Navy haul came in and it was fun to try on all the stuff. I was both excited and dismayed. I got a little mad because by the time the items came I'd already decided I wasn't going. But then this morning, I woke up excited again and had fairytale daydreams of being back in Seattle for a winter holiday. 

I got this really cute puffer coat that I want to wear...somewhere! Like one of my reality stars, I was going for the outfit!

I remember again when I had that detour from college and was living off the kindness of relatives, I used to store up all these clothes I'd wear once I got to college and my "real life" started. 

While I do want to get excited and expect only good things to happen next year, I need some guardrails in place. I forgot how long in advance is best for me to plan for from an emotional management standpoint. But 5 months is probably too much. Yet, I did have a loose idea of being okay to gather nuts in preparation for likely events. For example, a picnic blanket for the picnics in the park I dreamed of having. 

I vacillate between going to Seattle for 9 to 12 months or just 4 to 5 months. 

Less so, but sometimes I wonder if I should just stay my happy butt home and not go at all.

I vacillate on what my theme should be - one last shot at love; YOLO for my last year in my 30s; or just a spring/summer and fall vacation. 

I love my daydreams of being loved, but when I try to flesh it out to see what parts of it are achievable, so that I can prep for it I find myself stuck. 

Is there a future with Sean or was it just a casual fling? Did he mean it when he blurted out that he loved me? Or does the silence and end of our relationship give me the answer I need?

Will I be able to rekindle things with Dan or was that just a summer fling? 

Who do I fasten the day dream to? Or do I let both stories play out?

Do I start anew and add up all the fantasies together into one magical year? Do I keep the puffer coat!

What's different about this versus starting over in undergrad? Starting over in grad school? Living in DC? Living in LA? Moving to NC with the full dress and makeup and starting over then? All the summer programs where many people fall in love and make fast friends?

What will be different this time if I decide to go all in?

But even if nothing is different, what have I really lost?

I want to plan out next year so I can remember to be happy when I get what I want.

Well, kids, can we celebrate that I lasted 1 holiday break without feeling down? Not devastatingly down anyway. I actually want one more day to myself to just day dream. 

It probably helped that I got some phone calls from a committee member just about everyday. 

There are 4 scenarios I want to plan out. I'm only planning for happily ever after.

Scenario 1: The Sean story, I go in March. I go to 3 meetups where I think he might be... we get reacquainted. I follow Dr. Pat's book and we are engaged within 9 months. I stay in Seattle. I book for 3 months at a time...following the stages I guess. 

Scenario 2: The Dan story. We contact each other 3 times before Spring/Summer. By the third time, he continues the conversation. He inquires when I'll be back in Seattle, and I confirm...soon. We stay in regular contact and our conversations move from platonic to friendly to romantic. I get to Seattle in late May and we start to date. After 6 weeks, he asks me to be his girlfriend. We get to know each other and the compatibility we initially had deepens. It's hard to imagine that we were ever apart. That we are so different on paper. I don't know that we reach burning love but it is a slow and deep and comforting love. It is a love that feels certain. It is a familial love because when we are together we are family. It is the love that you hear of that the person is still happy and supports the other person even if they were to choose someone else. But somehow we choose each other every day. It's the love of two people that feels full. It is both enough and plenty. It's comforting and safe and filling. It's the love of two people who know they will grow old together and the idea delights them. It's a forever love. 

Scenario 3: Forget those guys. I never hear from them again. And I never reach out. I go to Seattle in the spring/summer and start from scratch with dating. I go on a few dates a month. This is the story I can't flesh out. Maybe I meet someone? Is it a fling? You'd think it be easy to make an amalgam of all the love stories that have gone through my head both real and imagined. But I usually need a starter in the shape of a real human or a real interaction. Otherwise it's pure fantasy. Ok, so I go on some dates. I meet someone, follow the rules in Dr. Pat's book, and we are engaged by the end of the year. I live 1 more year in Seattle officially and we marry and move in together. In this scenario, I do just go ahead and do the split summer. Just to have a break and make sure we can continue while apart.

Scenario 4: I do the split summer. I don't really date. I go and have fun in Seattle in spring/summer. But due to lack of any real connection in romance or friendship, when I come back in the fall, I keep it to Sep and October and just have a cozy last season in Seattle. I never go back. 

Wed, Nov 23, 2022, Am I being gaslit....again?

 I thought Counselor Katie was telling me to radically accept the possibility that my life won't be much more than this. When I brought it up, she said that's not what she meant.

Then Counselor Mark...I thought he told me not to give up until I've exhausted every possibility of getting a partner....he said he didn't say that... I have it in my notes.

I'm a bit annoyed at Counselor Katie, only because her payment system is a bit problematic. I have to manually do it. And I don't get invoiced or anything. And her admin is telling me to schedule the check to arrive the day of the payment. Errr...I'm not scheduling a pre-payment. That's just crazy.

So I have 4 days off with no human contact.

So much to say and think, yet so little at the same time.

Biden delayed student loan payments for what appears to be about 8 months next year. I'm just budgeting for no student loans for the whole year. This threw quite a spanner in the works. Without the student loan payment, I decided to just make the monthly (really quarterly) overseas payments come out of my bonus. It amounts to about $6k/yr. I think I'll just take a lump sum out of whatever my bonus is and put it in a separate bucket so I don't have to account for it.

So without student loans or tithing money in my monthly budget, my total expenses for the 2023 calendar year is around $18k, rounded to $20k. I didn't want to do another sparse year, but here we are.

It's hard not to feel motivated to save more. But I'm stuck with...what am I doing with all this money. 

I thought planning my perfect year would be a great exercise in claiming my life and ceasing to wait for the other shoe to drop. But alas, it's just kind of taken the fun out of it. I feel like I've run the gamut of emotions of all the things I've planned for next year.

I think that's part of the reason flying to Seattle for the Nov/Dec timeframe just never took off the ground. I was pretty set that I'd spend Nov/Dec enjoying the milder late fall climate in NC. So without an obviously compelling reason to stay in Seattle, this was the easier choice. 

So I have $800 worth of clothes coming on Monday and no place to go. It's overwhelming. And I discovered an Old Navy glitch that was giving away $20 coupons but couldn't bring myself to splurge on anything. My mind is too pre-occupied.

I've gone through different iterations of which of the $800 haul I want to keep. I think I'd settled on the 2 tight dresses (more warm weather clothes) and 3 pairs of leggings.  I might still try everything else on just for fun. But a winter trip to Seattle is like at a 0.0% chance of happening at this point. 

I'm still trying to convince myself it's okay to keep a few items because I do plan to return for a late spring and an early fall, so some of the cool weather clothes makes sense.

But I'm not really interested in figuring out where to store everything. 

I really, really regret not staying and see where things would have gone with Sean. I imagined if I were still there and we were still getting along, this news from Biden would have been the "sign" I was looking for to stay all of next year.

It would've been awesome! 

But now that I'm not actively sobbing and it's been about 3 weeks since I left Seattle, and it's the holiday season, it's hard to imagine upending my life to be back in cold, dark, Seattle this time of year.

In today's session with Mark, he was trying to talk to me about likelihood with rejection, etc. I think the numbers don't lie. It's like 1 in 3 black women will get married. 

So if I do go back, right now, the thing that makes the most sense is just shoot for low hanging fruit which is a summer fling. But this time, don't wish for more when it ends. So with that as a goal, a spring/summer trip for 6-8 weeks makes sense; take a break; then go back for late summer/early fall. 

I won't need a puffer coat and warm sweaters...or pants! I won't get to wear my cute fall boots, but that's okay. 

I did get to use 2 of the glitchy Old Navy coupons and got 2 dresses/tops to wear over leggings and a pair of ankle boots for $9 total. 

Depending on how some of the other stuff fits, I might keep a couple things for the late spring/early fall..but just a couple. And then just remind myself that I can always wear...pants. Ick. 

Now I wonder if the cost was ever the issue with moving to Seattle. I could always have technically afforded it. And I think it would be scary to move to Seattle to be with a boy as much as I thought that's what I wanted. But with this free year of no student loan, I really don't have an excuse not to move, but I feel even less compelled than I did before.

Mon, Nov 21, 2022, Retail therapy

 I'm not sure what this "Amazon recruiter" is on... if it's a scam, he's not doing a good job of selling it. Something's off but I'm not quite sure what. Right now, he's trying to submit me for a project manager that works on site. Eek, not really what I was looking for. It's only 3 months, so who knows.

Since I'm not spending $5k on a winter getaway, decided to blow a bunch of money on some make-up. Because of shipping and different sale prices, ended up ordering from three different places. At some point, I'm going to have to put gas in my car and drive to all these places.

I'm thinking of putting the futon back closer to the window so I can feel the sun on my face. 

I washed 3 makeup brushes today that I forget I even had.

One of my Dollar Store shadows might actually work well for a blush. But I bought the palette I saw on the YouTube video anyway.

I kind of decided to stay but we'll see. 

I just would rather plan for My Perfect Year next year than have a little bit of fun this winter.

It'll be good too once my manager gives me an idea of what my project schedule will be like next year. 

I think the beauty of this potential Winter 2022 vacation was that it capitalized on my free time, something I've been leaning into. Why not, have fun elsewhere.

I'm not sure which loose goal to follow right now- stay in NC for the sunnier weather even if temperature wise they're similar; practice temperament (finally) for 2022 and just enjoy my life in NC for the rest of the year, ie, take a break from dating and chasing boys; or YOLO and just enjoy the holidays in a cool spot and my light workload.

But I think since I'd had it in my mind this whole time of spending Nov and Dec in NC, it's easier to stay.

Honestly even the thought of spending 2 to 4 weeks in Maryland with my aunts feels dreadful, and I'm not sure why. But I'm leaving it open in case I start to get the single scaries come mid December.

So that's where I am.

I'm like 90% staying but still day dream about going.

Side note: I turned my cell phone on today because I was hungry and McDs was the easier choice. It filled me with a surprising amount of anxiety. I just felt the need to check all the apps. So I think I may just need to limit cell phone time to when I'm in Seattle. This is why I didn't want a phone. I know myself. 

So maybe this Nov-Dec is a good reset and recharge. #theSimpleLife.

But I also can't help but feel like I'm running out of time. I don't really need to reset and recharge when faced with an unknown amount of years of early retired old person life. 

Maybe I want to run out of battery. I don't see myself chasing boys and being super active after I cross 40. But, My Brain Says, remember how old you felt when you moved to NC. I was all of 27 and was a bit embarrassed going back to school. Wow, to be 27 again! 

Twenty seven is the perfect age to be in Seattle. Well 27 and gainfully employed for 2 years, that is. 

A long term that includes Seattle really depends on how I want to craft life after 40. 

Maybe I'll just turn 30 again... wouldn't that be fun. 

Wouldn't that be funny. Nothing memorable happened between 17 and 27 anyway. I'm not in touch with any of those people. Other than the giant lie, maybe I could start my life over again. 

Here's the thing... I didn't see my 40s as my ascent... I was thinking of it as a descent, I want to coast. But I never really reached any sort of peak. 

Sun, Nov 20, 2022, $800 worth of new clothes?

 Don't be fooled, I only plan to spend about $250. But I was a true American and ordered a few items in multiple colors and sizes with a plan to return the ones I don't use. I did not account for the fact that they're not supposed to arrive until Monday of next week! Two days before I plan to fly out!

I haven't purchased my braiding hair yet, but I probably should. That is less returnable, so I don't know. 

I know I can get my work done in the next 10 days but I'm hoping I can put this trip planning aside and get the bulk of it done in the next 3 days. Then I can resume trip planning.

This is why I don't like trip planning and have been booking my last several trips at the last minute. After awhile, it just gets to be too much. It's a lot of thinking and planning and then I start to wonder if it's even worth it.

I think that's what I mean by, is it the right decision. I ask this question all the time, but no one ever answers. Unfortunately, I don't have any frugal accountability partners, so I've just been spending without a care in the world. 

The old lady meetup group was going ziplining today. At first I was relishing in the fact that I just didn't want to go. When I checked in with Future Regret, I took a closer look at the event details and realized it was like $60 and it wasn't super warm outside. I was okay with my decision not to go. 

I'm 100% going back to Seattle to chase boys. If there weren't even a whisper of seeing Sean again, I would not feel so inclined to go. I mostly am going for one moment. I want to wear the hair style he said he liked and show up in a cute outfit (with makeup I still need to learn to do) at a board game event and just see what happens.

Fantasy Brain taking over again.

I just want the moment. 

Getting my hair done is actually the hardest of the things. It's a lot of coordinating. It's 3 different steps. Order the hair, get hair washed, and find someone to braid my hair.

Then trying to convince myself to be active in winter. It's easy to wish I had stayed because it's been sunny and nice here. And let's face it, even with mostly sunny, mild weather, I've preferred to just stay in the house the last week or so. 

I tried rationalizing that I'll be okay even if I do sit in the house in Seattle, I'll still have my TV shows I want to watch. But I don't know.

Eve is probably going to be on break for half of December, so there goes half of my entertainment. Lots of people with families to go to are probably going to be gone. I did find a couple activities I would be interested in doing in Seattle, but .... I don't know.

I think it's just hard not to want to capitalize on this free time. I know in early retirement, I'll have loads of free time, but I won't have cash flow. And there's just something delightful about taking advantage of remote work and living this version of early/ pre-early retirement. Where when I see a break in workflow, I go on an adventure!

Maybe it doesn't need to be anything more than that.

I've been fascinated by the shows Summer House and Winter House. Sure I'm not a reality star, but I do like the idea of a getaway (even if I don't have a house full of friends). 

Part of me is afraid of doing too much of a good thing.

But the other part of me is quite aware of how unlikely it is I'll want to do this in my 40s. But who knows.

It's just hard to know what to choose...especially when there's no metric. #morefun?

I can't believe at 38, I'm still chasing boys much the same way I did at 7 or 8 or 17 or 18. 

Okay, let's brainstorm, what will make it a bad trip:

- Sit in the house all day

- Bad weather, where I'm eating junk and feeling horribly physically

- Never cook or eat anything yummy

- Don't go out or hang out with anyone

- And see Sean and something horrible happens (ie, he sees me but nothing is rekindled)

- The weather is depressing and I just sit around doing what I do here; I'm unmotivated to do any work I need to do; don't wear any of my cute outfits; 

- I don't get asked out on any dates and I spiral into depth of despair

- There are no cool events to attend or there are and I'm not motivated to attend

- I'm othered at the events I am looking forward to attending

- I have such a bad time, I don't want to go back next summer, thereby ruining plans for My Perfect Year

Fri, Nov 18, 2022, I feel hopeful

 Symptom tracker at 8:32a = 0. That's a first! I think the worst is 18. Like everything, I thought I'd remember, but I didn't. 

My priority is getting through this work project and slogging until Dec 19. A finite timeline...this I can do.

I think I'm especially boosted because in a spurt of who-knows-what, I turned my phone back on. Surprise, no messages!

I tried to break into my most recent Seattle account, and even Google said it would take 120 hours. Ha!

I think I might as well wait so I don't get locked out permanently.

But I was comforted by the not knowing which is knowing for certain I've been ghosted. And I got to check, which quelled that need. 

I haven't even been wanting to go to the few low-key Meetup events with the old ladies. I'm just trying to enjoy the time to myself. I think when the day starts off cold it's hard to imagine it warm again. With the phone on, I was able to quickly check the weather in Seattle, temperature-wise, it's pretty similar. Oh well. 

I've been thinking more about just going to Seattle in March. But is that reality or fantasy. Fantasy! March because that's what I told Sean. See, this is why I can't be a Carefree Katie, I actually say things and then want them to be true.

It's 33 degrees outside. As much as I want some biscuits, I'm going to stay my happy butt inside. I might make some hot chocolate but I'm afraid of the sugar crash.

I'll probably cry today, but oh well.

As long as I can get this project done by Tuesday, I refuse to be sad. 

I just have to make it to Tuesday, and the rest will be very manageable.

I dreamed about going to Seattle again just this weekend. I think that's why I wanted to break into my phone. Just a glimmer of something to say, yes, do this!

My black neighbor got a new car it looks like. I think that's the third car in as many years. She had Car #1 which I don't remember but shortly after I moved in, she got a black jeep. Now there's a cool looking sports car.

I think more and more, I find myself in a de facto version of early retirement. If my job continues to be cushy, the next 5 years will be very fun. Can you imagine me...enjoying life! Blasphemous!