The Wedding Industrial Complex. COMPLEX is an understatement

Is there another event as tied up with miscommunications, expectations, etiquette (barf!) and general craziness as a wedding? If so, please advise so I can put it on my list of Things To Avoid Like the Plague.  A wedding, however, will probably not be something I am able to avoid, so today I thought we could talk about how to put one together and also stay sane.

I mentioned a while back that I ‘m trying to convince Garrett that we should start planning our wedding this August when all our house projects are OVER!  People seem sort of shocked when I say that, because “OMG! The horror! Who talks about a wedding when they are NOT ACTUALLY engaged?” So presumptuous!

And, I guess I understand that sentiment, kiiiiiiiiiind of. But also, I don’t understand it because are there people out there walking around in relationships who don’t actually talk about this kind of stuff? I mean, don’t you KNOW if you are in a relationship that is leading to marriage? Is this really a “surprise” to most people? I’m asking this question honestly. 

I feel like the whole surprise aspect of engagement is a little bit lost on me. Even further there is a part of me that dreads the “engagement period” because in my nightmares I imagine having to give strangers wedding updates every damn day. (This article sums up my fears quite nicely.) And while, of course there will be excitement and joy — because YES! This is the man I want to marry! I am just not convinced that a surprise engagement will even be possible. 

Garrett and I have been together for almost 5 years and I would say fairly shortly into our relationship we both kind of knew that this was it. This was no casual relationship, this was a serious one. Potentially leading to marriage, if we both wanted to make that commitment. Not if he decided to surprise me with a ring. Because of that I am absolutely NOT anticipating a surprise shower of rose-petals and a giant diamond bauble. 

Because we already have a family diamond that is sitting and waiting to be dealt with, and because I think that Garrett knows me well enough to know showy romantic gestures are lovely, but not my only love language, I just don’t imagine a traditional proposal is in our future. (Though never say never, and I wouldn’t be horrified to have a lovely romantic moment. I mean, I do have a heart and a sappy side, I swear.)  But can we count as engaged already, or do we need to do the down on one knee thing?  I know, so many questions. 

The most common ones I get are as follows: 


This is the eternal question, I suppose.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled at the idea of marrying Garrett.  THRILLED. IN ALL CAPS.  He’s my lobster and all that and I am very pro-marriage.  But after a number of years attending weddings, being in weddings, hearing about the weddings of others I am just sort of tired of the entire Wedding Industrial Complex

I’m all for traditions, but I’ve never been one to follow them blindly (especially when they were invented as a way to make money),  and I really have no intention of doing something because a bridal magazine tells me it’s required. Also, I think it is lame that I may have to pay twice the price for something just because I will need it on my wedding day as opposed to any other day. 


Oh man, let’s talk about the spending for a minute, can we?  I’m just going to come out and say that I will absolutely, positively, not spend an amount of money equivalent to a down payment on a house for a party.  HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN? 

I will happily choose to rank as below average in this category of life.  I’ve spent too many years getting myself into and out of debt, learning how to save, and making a financial plan for my life to someone spend half of my annual salary on a party. That just seems like taking a hit off the crazy bong! 

Please, no more nightmares of Suze Orman yelling at me, I have engaged in enough of that trauma just surviving my 20s. 


I know. You are right. It totally is (one hopes!) And trust me,  if you threw an extravagant wedding, please do not think I am judging you.  I’ve been to some great ones and they were very fun.  No complaints here.

I’m just not sure I can personally part with my own money that way because I have absolutely no “wedding vision.” It’s like I was just born without one. (And yes, I assure you — I am a woman!) Also: I just have some other financial goals.  

I swear if you would have asked me about my dream wedding ten years ago I probably would have said “Get me unicorns!  No price is too high!”  But the thought of doing that in reality is just a hard pill to swallow these days.

Also, I sort of hate this “One Time Event” argument, mostly because I feel like that it’s a marketing tactic.  It’s like when you go to buy a car and you find one that seems nice and the sales guy says, “You better sign the papers now because it may be gone tomorrow.”  As if I would never be able to find another silver Honda Civic anywhere in the state of California. Not that I am comparing my wedding to an economy car, but wait – well, maybe I am.

Yes, the formal celebration of a marriage usually only happens once — you know unless you are Ramona Singer and then of course it happens once every 17 years — but what about the marriage?  Can we talk about the marriage part? How come it’s all wedding wedding wedding and no one seems to care about the whole Til Death Do Us Part part.

I guess for me, it just seems to make more sense to focus resources on the marriage itself, because that sucker lasts FOREVAH, right? Not just once in a lifetime. The marriage — IT IS YOUR LIFETIME. But apparently the Marriage Industry doesn’t have quite as savvy of a marketing team as the Wedding Indsutry.


And in the end, this is the part that will ultimately (and probably) make me go back on every word I have said here.  You see there was a time when I was trying to convince Garrett to elope or have a destination wedding to avoid all this wedding planning hullabaloo (Oh god, this would be my sweet dream!) Because, let’s be real, wedding planning will probably not be that stressful – FOR HIM.  

But he just kept getting sad at the thought, and saying “I really want my family and friends to be there.”  And really, how can I say no to that? YOU CAN’T.   So if I had to make a bet, I would bet we will actually have a normal wedding — with a little bit of kicking and screaming from me. (Is there another option? Seriously? How do people have weddings without kicking and screaming? I am genuinely asking.)(Wedding planners? Crap! Because that is probably NOT realistic at all for us.)

But reconciling “Planning the wedding we want to have” vs. “Planning the wedding I have the patience and desire to plan” does look to be a bit of a challenge.  I know in the end we will create a wedding that is meaningful for us, I’m just not exactly sure what the looks like at the moment.  Luckily, I can see the marriage part very clearly. And that part? I couldn’t be more excited about!

Reading and Ritual

I finally updated my goodreads profile the other day and came to the sad realization that in the Month of May I didn’t finish a single book.  Since reading is pretty much my favorite way to spend down time, I was obviously a bit disappointed.  It is especially sad when you compare it to last May when I read 8 books!  Granted last May I spent 12 days in Maui where I read 6 of those books and spending the early mornings drinking coffee on a lanai is far more conducive to reading than the hustle bustle of everyday life —  but STILL!  That is no excuse. 

Last week I spent a few minutes browsing some of my favorite reading blogs (minutes!  ha!  I kid. I kid.  It was more like hours) and immediately pulled up a second browser with my local library’s catalog system ready to request whatever piqued my interest.  I ended up with about 20 new books in addition to the other stuff I previously had on hold.  These have been slowly but surely making their way to the hold shelf at the library and I have been stopping by to pick them up little by little on my way home from work and I contend there is nothing more exciting than a stack of new books, fresh from the library waiting to be read! 

I wasn’t joking yesterday when I said I am inspired to try and create a life that I don’t want to escape, and one of the things that gets me giddy when planning some escape time is:  Can I squeeze in some uninterupted reading time? I mean hours to read all to myself is such a luxury unavailable in the everyday life, right?   Well forget that, I say!  I have come up with a solution that makes this luxury come standard in my everyday life.  I’ve been setting my alarm for 5am — which I know makes some people’s mouths drop — so please don’t think I am recommending this for everyone.  But for me?  I’m a morning person and basically the second I get out of bed, I’m up and ready to have a conversation or take on the day or whatever.  I know that sounds sickening, but it was not my natural state, trust me.  I spent over 10 years in the coffee industry and part of that job description is that you learn to get up at unimaginable hours, so mostly it’s a non-issue for me as long as I go to bed at a decent hour.  So the other day I asked myself — why am I not taking advantage of that? 

Getting up early is someting I love.  Uninterupted time to myself to read is also something that I love.  So why not combine the two (especially when it is summer and it is BEAUTIFUL in the morning) for a little daily luxury?  I have started almost everyday for the last week with almost 2 extra hours to read, drink my coffee, enjoy the weather before it gets crazy-hot, and just RELAX!  I mean my backyard is no Maui Lanai but it has totally felt like a mini-vacation every single day, not to mention I’ve been tearing through books like gangbusters (Well for me at least, I read dreadfully slow).   I’m just so happy to be able to make one tiny intentional change that so far is making a world of difference. 

So, now that that is out of the way — tell me, I’ve got my Library Catalog Browser open…what are you reading right now???

Creating A Life That Needs No Escape

No Escape

I’ve been reading a number of things about personal finance, simplification and consumerism lately. These are things I think a lot about anyway just because I find them fascinating, but with all the recent lifestyle changes we have been making I have found myself even more committed to making sure we are doing the best we can with our finances, saving where we can, DIY’ing when it makes sense, and generally being cognizant about Need vs. Want. With Garrett working part time right now there’s really no glossy way to put it, our income has been reduced by almost half.

That’s actually kind of a panic inducing number when you think about it – but in actuality it really hasn’t been that stressful. I know what you are thinking, “But Holly, what do you mean things haven’t been stressful, I read your blog. You’re life has been a ball of stress lately.” And to that, I would agree, but I would also clarify: I’m not saying we haven’t had stressful things going on – um, you are correct to note just about every post over the last two weeks — but the reality is that this stress would have been there no matter what, whether we were both working full time making twice as much money, or not. And my point is that our reduction in income hasn’t made life more stressful and in fact, I’m going to posit the exact opposite.

What has been amazing over these last few weeks with all this stress going on is that with Garrett’s new part time gig at Peet’s (free coffee, FTW!) it has been so incredibly awesome to have him around because he is well suited to be Captain of Team Fix It. These types of stressors are things Garrett handles better than I do, so he’s kind of the obvious choice. So even with all the craziness going on there is definitely a more relaxed energy around our house.

For me, it has been because Garrett has been majorly owning life on the home front (instead of us both juggling to split it) and for him, the fact that this new job is about 90 Bazillion times less stressful than either of the jobs he has had in the last 5 years is improving his quality of life in ways we didn’t even plan for. No doubt we have definitely had to contemplate decisions about purchases more carefully, and we have had to (sadly) say no to a couple of experiences that we would have normally jumped at the chance to be a part of, but overall life with less money has felt (dare I say) better.

This is weird, right? Stick with me for a minute and I will explain away the crazy, I promise.

I read something recently that that sort of inspired me, and also did a little dot connecting for me in my head. The post was about creating a life that needs no escape, and the part that really resonated with me was this:

I think that for a lot of people, vacations are as much about getting away from normal life as they are about seeing new places. Most people get two or three weeks of vacation time each year. Do you really want to have two or three great weeks per year, during which you try to get away from whatever it is you do with your time the other 49 to 50 weeks? I would rather have 52 great weeks and no desire to escape from my life.

I think what resonated for me was this idea of being intentional with your life. You are in the driver’s seat, so why not be creating a life that you want to live, instead of planning all these things to do when you finally get some time off from life? Even though the above post came from a financial blog, I feel like this idea of creating a life you want to be living encompasses so much more than just saving your money (though that is a big part of it). I think it is about defining what you value – and really, when you get caught up in the hustle bustle of everyday life, sometimes you forget to ask yourself if the tasks on our to do list are really aligning with what it is you truly value? Defining your values, figuring out what excites and inspires you, and determining what success looks like for you in your own life is hard enough. Add on trying to actually achieve these things in the context of the well meaning others around you (with their own opinions) and it becomes almost this radical idea.

For us, the past couple months have been a little bit radical. We have definitely had much less disposable income to kick around, but what we found is that we had an overabundance of time and energy and, as it turns out, that we were ALWAYS craving! Time to get things done, time to plan, time to execute and of course time to breathe – all of these things are such underappreciated luxuries!

But it turns out, we’ve unintentionally created this life where all of that comes standard. And even though we’ve been doing some penny pinching, having a little less money lately has really forced us to think about what we truly value, and many of those things: time with our family, having dinner together, being outside, exercising, reading, working in the yard, tending to our little garden, catching up with friends – don’t really require millions of dollars.

But having the time to spend doing them? Priceless.

Sometimes I do NOT enjoy being a girl….

So yesterday we had another company come out to give us a second opinion on our House A/C Situation.   As I mentioned recently, the last guy from a Very Reputable Company came out and basically said our A/C was dunzo, which on the eve of summer in Sacramento is like being sentenced to the death penalty. 

The incident went down something like this since Garrett was out of town:

Holly:  Our heater wouldn’t turn on all winter and we are now worried our A/C is up to no good as well, although we haven’t tried to turn it on.

Very Reputable A/C Guy:  Well let me do some checking, I’ll be back.

(After about 30 minutes)

H:  So, how did it go?

VRACG:  Here let me draw you a picture and speak to you with lots of big words you will only kind of understand. 

H:  OK

VRACG:  Blah, Blah, Blah, and in the end, I’m not saying you have to get a new A/C System, but you kind of have to get a new A/C System.  Have your boyfriend call me if he wants me to break the situation down for him too.   

*****Cue Panic******

So then yesterday Mr. New Repairman from This Other Company comes out to give a second opinion.  Although he doesn’t know he is our second opinion.  And rather than dealing with me, he deals with Garrett — and when I say “deals with Garrett” I mean spends an hour and a half diagnosing and tinkering and cleaning and servicing and ALLOWING GARRETT TO STAND ON A LADDER WHILE HE DOES THINGS ON OUR ROOF BECAUSE GARRETT IS CURIOUS HOW EVERYTHING WORKS, and then answers ninety billion of Garrett’s very mechanical questions that were relevant to the sitiuation. 

And this guy’s verdict:  There’s nothing wrong.  

Um…wha??????  Nothing?  Like at all?


Two very different answers, and two very different situations.  

One is offering the death penalty, the other is offering an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas.  And I’m feeling sort of vexed by the whole situation.  


*Um, you know which guy we are going to listen to right?
*The second opinion made sense and was very thorough.
*And most importantly, after a quick cleaning, both the A/C and the Heat are now working like a charm.


*According to the First Opinion, yes the A/C is technically working, but we are living on “borrowed time” which of course gives me anxiety, but not enough to run out spend $8K just in case, you know?
*Um, did I just totally get worked by Mr. First Opinion?
*Here let me answer that for you.  Yes, I think I totally just got worked by Mr. First Opinion.

I don’t know if all of you will feel me on this, but sometimes in my experience as a female, if I have to have something serviced or repaired I totally get the run around.  I’m not saying I expect it, because I really give people the benefit of the doubt, but I have seriously had some shady situations go down (especially surrounding car problems) that just NEVER happen when Garrett takes the car in or whatever.  It’s annoying, but I’m not going to lie, it’s also kind of fun to let someone go through the process of trying to give you the run around, just to turn around and let them know that you know what the hell you are talking about.  Take, for example:  Many years ago, in my single days, I had actually just picked my car up from having the break pads replaced and went to get my oil changed (which, was obvs my dream day of errand running I’ll have you know)  and the oil change guy gave me a line about how my transmission was all effed up and my break pads really probably needed some attention, but he could handle that for me at the low price of $149.99 or something ridiculous.  Actually, I’m not sure if it was exactly those things, because now that I think about it why would an oil guy be looking at my break pads, but it was somebody looking at my break pads and telling me they were shot even though I HAD JUST HAD THEM CHANGED SO SHUT IT YOU LYING LIAR FACE, DUDE!  Wanna see my receipt, because here it is on the passenger seat you idiot.  

This happens more often than I would like, I find, but I am really having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that this A/C guy would really take advantage of me!  He was so nice to me!  And my mom, who was also there!  How can you want to take advantage of my mom, too?  Grrrrr. 

Well, come to find out, after a long drawn out discussion about an A/C Unit last night (Hey-O, kind of like this blog post!)  apparently, when Garrett called him (as you will remember the A/C guy TOLD ME TO HAVE GARRETT DO) Mr. A/C was a little put off and defensive and kind of evaded all of Garrett’s questions (which, honestly, Garrett does ask a lot of questions about mechanical things, I know this — but um, that’s why I’m pretty sure HE CAN FIX SHIT, which, indicidentally is not my thing.  But hey I have other things!  I can write diatribes on fixing shit on the internet, so there!)  And this sort of gave Garrett a feeling that we really needed that second opinion, which, in the end I’m super glad we got.  But still, the whole thing is just sort of vexing — I mean yes, it’s good news.  But also, I feel sort annoyed about the whole damn thing. 

I bet you all can’t wait to hear about our dealings with landscapers!

On Adapting

Bright and early this morning while both getting ready to head out the door for work (we still have only one car so I have been on drop off and pick up duty) Garrett looked at me and smiled and said, “We’ve figured this one car thing out pretty quickly, and we’ve figured this new work schedule out pretty quickly too with my new job.  I think we’re gonna be ok.”

You see my huge fear when Garrett quit his job with my company and started working somewhere else was that we were going to lose all of our fun time connecting:  the laughs while we commuted, the chats during our afternoon walks — OMG WE WILL NEVER SEE EACH OTHER ANYMORE!!!  When our second car went into the shop last week after our other car had already been in the shop for a week Garrett had a baby panic attack about how we would keep living with only one car — OMG HOW WILL WE SURVIVE WITHOUT TWO CARS, IT’S NOT POSSIBLE WITH OUR WILDLY MODERN LIFE!!!

So anyway –spoiler alert– we are surviving!  And we are still connected!  And our wildly modern life has adapted with only one car!  In some ways things are actually better because with a little smart scheduling on Garrett’s part I drop him off in the morning and pick  him up around lunch and we get to chit chat and whatnot.  It’s a nice interuption in a long day of work, and we both get where we need to go, and can still hang out and share what’s going on in our days.  And we have not even missed a second car sitting in the garage all day. 

We were so quick to be fearful of what change was going bring, and of course it has brought some challenges.  But it made me realize that we are both so quick to underestimate our ability to adapt.  This doesn’t really have a point, I’m sorry to say, but I guess I just wanted to quickly remind myself that change is only scary if I let it be.  I’ve been so negative around these parts lately I just wanted to put it down on paper (ha! or the internet) that instead of choosing to be stressed or fearful, I want to continue to channel that energy into building my own confidence in myself, my decisions, my reactions,my relationship, and my life.  It seems so much more effective than worrying about what potentially lies ahead, so damnnit I’m going to try!  I may have said I don’t like change, but if you’ve been around here long enough you know I love a good challenge.   

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’ or ‘real’ life.  The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life.” — C.S. Lewis


Monday Musings

*Man is it Monday. I mean, obvs right? This isn’t Tuesday Musings. But let me underscore how much of a Monday it has already been. Since we are still in possession of only one car I had to drop Garrett off at work at 6:30 this morning. That would only be illegal if he didn’t work at Peet’s Coffee & Tea, but since he does and I can get free coffee when I go in there, I’m ok with getting ready for work 3 hours before I actually have to be there. Over the last week of doing this, however, I have developed a nice routine of grabbing my iced coffee and a table inside and then reading and people watching for a good hour before I have to go to work myself. It’s so relaxing in the end, well except for today when, like the klutz I am,  knocked over my entirely full 24 oz Iced Coffee, splattered it everywhere (including on myself and the poor gentleman next to me who was thankfully VERY laid back about it), and then in the midst of trying to clean it up dropped and cracked my cell phone in the puddle of said coffee. (It lived.)  Hello, Monday. It’s nice to see you again.

*So this morning I did a little housecleaning on Twitter. I’ve been avoiding Twitter like the plague recently, even though I love it, but it seemed like every time I would log on there would just be So! Much! Information! And information from people I either didn’t know or didn’t care that much about. Some of these people I’m not even sure how or why I started following them. So I did a little deleting and now I feel so much better — it was like a cyber-deep breath!  Updates from the people I want updates from, no more chatter that is going to stress me out – it was a no brainer really and I should have done this months ago. I mean, sure I’ll miss Snooki and The Situation’s misspelled yet informative updates, but I’m confident that the amount of time I spend reading will be more than enough to keep me up to speed on world happenings.

*I got a taste of summer on Saturday night and I really liked it. It was officially the perfect summer night. Garrett and I went to see our friend Katie’s  show at Harlow’s and it was incredibly beautiful out. Downtown was hot but not too hot (so rare here in Sac), brimming with energy and music since it was Second Saturday, and all of J street smelled like lilacs (or um…what I think lilacs smell like – let’s be real, I’m no horticulturist). It was nice to have a bunch of our favorite people in the same place at the same time, the cocktails were strong (Gin & Tonic, FTW!), Katie’s show was great, the weather was perfect and we ended the evening with some deliciously cheap late night pizza and then home to bed before midnight. I know that makes me sound old, but really, it was perfect! It made me want to think of a list of things I want to do this summer just like I did last year.
 *I don’t know about you but he TV at our house was pretty much on 24-7 this weekend playing one of the following:

  • World Cup
  • 24 Hours of Le Mans
  • Formula 1

Let’s just say I got a lot of reading done. :)

*I know this is old news, but really, could there be a more annoying reality show that Heidi Montag and Jen Bunney? I may have to draw the line there, which is saying a lot really seeing as I excitedly set my DVR yesterday to record the 2nd Season of Kourtney and Khloe take Miami.

Did you have a nice weekend? Do you have anything exciting planned for this week?

Deep Cleansing Breaths

The other day I was sitting on the couch for a minute and I realized I was breathing in a very shallow manner.  I have a habit of doing this unconsciously when I am very stressed, but it is not as dramatically obvious as say biting my nails or something so I don’t often notice it. 

“Self, what are you stressing about?”  I thought in my head.  “You are sitting on the couch.  This is not stressful.” 

(Don’t worry, I imagine talking to myself far more than I actually do.  I’m not about to go all Danielle from RHONJ on you. CRAZYPANTS!)

So I started thinking and I realized, holy smokes, even though it doesn’t feel like it all the time we have A LOT of stressful plates spinning right now:

*The A/C situation in our house (we are in the process of getting estimates)
*Both cars being in the shop over the last two weeks
*Potentially buying a new car
*Relandscaping our front and back yards (OMG this is a blog post in itself, OY!)
*My studies for my work designation
*Garrett is considering the GRE and going back to school
*New jobs, new schedules, and new routines
*I’m thinking about starting a Food Blog  (baby steps at the moment)
*I have sort of injured my foot and am now hobbling around my house in the morning like an old person

Holy Harriet, our life is like MAJORLY in flux! 


(Are you surprised at all that with all this crap going on I told Garrett the other night “We should totally start planning our wedding in August so we can get married next May.  I don’t want to be a sweaty bride.” Because just what we need is another large, life changing project!)

(Someone needs to put me in a mental institution.)

Anyway, this isn’t really news here I guess since I’ve been sort of passively grumbling around on this site for the last couple of weeks, but I guess it just took that little mental list making and shallow breathing episode to make me conscious of what I’ve got to do over the next few weeks. 

Yes, things are changing and projects are afoot.  But NO, I don’t need to let it control me or stress me out to the point where all I post on this site is how awful things are and whine, complain, whine, complain (and then go blaming in on the Manzo’s…ha!)  Life is good (if not complicated) but I think a full life can be a happy life if you let it, so damnit this is my deep cleansing breath right here in writing. 

I’m going to get through all this business, I swear.  Thanks for indulging me, friends! 

Bored at Work? How About Some Links!

Burning Questions/Issues I Have Googled This Week Out of Curiosity

What the hell is an 808 drum?
 *Because that god damn Ke$ha song is always on the radio.
The History of the  Zulu Kingdom and William Wallace
*Tell me your husbands/boyfriends make you watch Deadliest Warrior sometimes too?
What does a blown head gasket mean?
*Oh, because we have one.  Boo. 
How did Nicole Sherzinger get famous? (Well, aside from being hot and a Pussycat Doll)
*We are avid Formula One fans and she is dating Lewis Hamilton which is sort of a curious pairing.  Actually there was kind of a little scandal when they got together, but I tried to link to that article and my work web filter popped up and said the website was blocked because it is  “tasteless.”  Story of my life. Google Vivian Burkhadt and News of the World if you are interested. 
The Lyrics to Usher’s OMG
*Because I couldn’t believe there could really be a lyric involving someone’s “boobies” and the words “Wow oh Wow.”  But alas, there is.
What’s Lil John’s Real Name?
*What?  I just wanted to know. 
Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis
*Because I’ve got it in my left foot.  And it hurts like a bitch.
Why did Cecil Rhodes have his own category on Jeopardy?
*I knew the name, but not really why he was famous. And dude — A Whole Category??
Speaking of Jeopardy, is it “Hold Down the Fort” or “Hold the Fort
*Final Jeopardy screwed me when it asked for a 3 word phrase in is answer the other night.  I was so sure it was Hold DOWN the Fort.  I was so wrong.

Ahhhhhhhhh!  Curiosity quenched!

What random things have you googled lately — I am kind of dying to know.

Car Talk

I drive a car that is 19 years old (Toyota Cressida, FTW!) and Garrett drives a car that is 12 years old (a Subaru Legacy that is immaculate because my boyfriend is nothing if not anal about everything in his life up to and including his vehicles). Because of this we have had some serious flexibility with our budget over the past 3 years. Having no car payment has been PHENOMENAL and I highly recommend it to others! Many of you smarties have probably known that for ages, but what can I say?  I’m slow on the uptake when it comes to smart financial decisions so it took me a few years to figure that out.

Before this I’d had a car payment since I was 17 and never really thought anything of it. It was a car — you have to have one right? Why not finance it! Partly reinforcing this ridiculous assumption was the few years I spent living in Los Angeles, which is otherwise known as the capital of Expensive Cars One Can’t Really Afford. Seriously you meet people down there who are renting dumpy studios and driving $80,000 cars – it is unreal! As such I purchased two cars during that period of time, but who’s judging!  Anyway, all this to say I never really thought too much of it and just kept financing new cars when I got tired of the old ones. The excitement of a new car was addicting – and especially during those LA Years in my 20s, there was just nothing better than cruising down to the beach in my cute little ride, blaring my Blink-182 or whoever, and having no worries!

About 5 years into having my last car (and the towards the end of my 20s, no coincidence I’m sure) I started to think about what life was going to be like when I no longer had the payment. My very reliablie and very cute Honda Civic was still awesome and I started to have visions of C-note covered sugar plums dancing in my head.  A cute car AND an extra $300 every month to spend however I pleased was impending AWESOMENESS. A month into summer, however, I was on my way to pick up Garrett so we could head out of town for a family cabin retreat in the woods and some JERK OFF made a turn in front of me when he did not have the right of way and did this to my cute and reliable Civic that was 3 months from being paid off. (Sigh)


He also made the 3 cases of beer that I had just purchased in preparation for that vacation spew out all over the place — and let me tell you that was a bit awkward when the cops showed up– but whatever, that wasn’t what I was pissed about at the time. The accident hurt my body, but even more painful was that it hurt my financial plans. I was now in a position to have to buy another new car and take on another loan – and it wasn’t even my fault!

Enter Garrett, my knight in shining armor – and of course his grandma who had just given him her old 1991 Toyota Cressida (that only had 50,000 miles on it at the time – are you serious?) He decided to let me use it until we came up with a plan about buying a new car and 3 years later, I’m still driving it.  Mostly because– hello! not paying for a car every month kicks GINORMOUS ASS! It was even better than I had imagined! I have spent the last 3 years paying off debt, throwing money at my student loans hand over fist, traveling and saving more than ever possible with the car payment. Even though the payment was technically only about $300, the bigger payoff came in that fact that it really changed my entire financial mindset about material things. What else was I paying for every month that felt like a “necessity” that I could totally be more responsibly frugal about?

Of course driving an older car isn’t all roses and sunshine — there has definitely been more things to fix here and there. We have put some large sums of money into that car over the last 3 years, but when you do the math it has been NOTHING compared to what 3 years of a car payment would have been. Last week it was in the shop because we are trying to have the A/C fixed in preparation for another sweltering summer in Sacramento (joy!) and because it is so old and takes R12 Freon, we are going to have to spend even more time and money finding someone who can still fix it in the State of California, so that is lame but I still contend it is worth it. However on Friday when Garrett took me to pick up the Cressida at the shop, as we were caravanning home he called to tell me that his car was showing signs of Radiator problems and we needed to turn around to take his car back to the shop.

And really, my only thought in that moment was, YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

So back we went and there was some talk about it probably being a blown head gasket, and everyone had an uncomfortable chuckle about the timing of it all and now today we are waiting to hear the fate of the Subaru. The head gasket issue would be very pricy to fix and who knows if we will.  Even though Garrett’s car is the newer car it has about 70,000 more miles on it than the Cressida so part of me thinks we don’t need Garrett’s car. But I’m not a total loon, and the thought of having a 20 year old car being our “more reliable car” or our only car puts my little brain into a tizzy.

Neither is really feasible.  And so, we wait. Will we buy a new car or won’t we?  Only time will tell!

The funny thing is I am not even a little bit excited at the prospect of buying a car this time around. Especially now that Garrett is not really working full time, I’m not dying to add any new monthly expenses. New car smell, or even a reasonably priced newer used-car just isn’t getting me as twitterpated as it has in the past. I am perfectly content just getting where I need to go in one of our older, paid for cars and I don’t want to be forced to take on a new loan just for a shiny, new hunk of immediately depriciating metal. UGH.  It really bums me out just to type all of that.  Ironically, I  think Blink-182 may have said it best:  I guess this is growing up.

Lather Rinse Repeat

Well every week can’t be Mardi Gras now, can it?  Things are plugging along in our neck of the woods with most days and nights being none too blog-worthy.  Garrett has been working at Peet’s Coffee & Tea (where we met!  awww!) so his schedule has been very part time and very flexible which has been awesome.  I’m still loving having him around the house more and just the general calm we’ve got going on with only one of us running around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to balance everything.  (Um, guilty.)

I’ve been doing a few things I’m proud of, but again, they aren’t really headline making:  I’ve been going to the gym, like um, every night and just pushing myself like crazy.  And I love it.  I love when I am in a routine like this because working out feels so damn good.  I never EVER leave the gym and regret working out, it’s just the getting there that is a real mind game sometimes — prioritizing fitness is hard, yo!  It’s been very easy the past few weeks because we haven’t had a lot of things going on in the evenings so it’s been no thing to pop over the gym and work out.  As I look to next week’s calendar with multiple mid week social events and weekend parties, I feel a little anxious.  I’m just going to keep reminding myself what my priorities are, try and make good decisions, and basically cross my fingers and hope it all works out!  Maybe I’ll even plan some early morning workouts, who knows — let’s get crazy!  :)

Anyway, the other super exciting thing going on (#sarcasm) is that I am studying for a test for an Insurance Designation I am getting for work, and the 300 page book that is all! about! insurance!  is about as interesting and you can imagine.  For a textbook it’s not so bad, but the subject matter is a bit, um…technical?  So it is taking me a while to get through.   Not to mention I procrastinated like an ass, so even I’ve had the book for a month you know I am cramming, college-style, to get all the reading done because the test is TOMORROW.  Nice.  But I’m still proud of myself because it is easy to get into a slump at work and just show up so I am happy that I’m taking my time and investing in my own learning at work.  

So with all the aforementioned excitement, this week pretty much looks like this:

*Wake up at 5
*Read INS book
*Do a few things around the house
*Work/Email/Work/Read the Internet/Work
*Cook Dinner
*Maybe squeeze in some bad reality tv and a conversation with my sweetie

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

And every once in a while there is a thrilling new event like Tuesday when I got to take my car into the shop (Crimony with the A/C problems — the house! the car! — it may just be a sweaty summer, yet).  Or then there was yesterday when the spider guy came to our house and sprayed for bugs — which sidenote, is wonderful but also disgusting.  You see when those bugs die, they do not properly dispose of themselves, they just lay out in your patio/yards/garage DEAD until YOU dispose of them.  Um…ICK!  File that under Things I did not contemplate when planning The Great Bug Extinction of 2010.   But anyway, bugs!  Dead!  I’m happy!  (Well, for now.) 

In the end, life is good even though it is not going to win any awards for Extreme Entertainment!   My life is so boring it is like this season of The Hills, but with a less glamorous wardrobe.  Cross your fingers I pass my test tomorrow so I can do some true celebrating and then maybe at least have a good lamp shade/table dancing story for you!

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