32B's Blog

…where I write my words

Talking to Me

I’m not even sure I love you.  I tell you I do but I just sat down and wondered if that is how I truly feel or just something I think I should feel – by now.  Before, I would say those words and only meant it once – while married.  Since then, it has been a love for the person but was something I forgot over time.  Time should not diminish it, right?  That’s what I heard, read, see, and know.  Does that mean I still love my ex?  In some ways, I always will.  But you…I am not quite sure.  So, while I sat asking myself if I truly love you like I have told you plenty of times, I asked myself if I am happy.  Not happy at this moment, or was happy yesterday, but happy with you overall.  Am I?  When I was single, I was happy.  I had nothing to think about, deal with, or handle but me, myself, I, and my kids.  You introduced something I thought I was ready for.  Well, maybe I am but you introduced something negative.  With you here, I am irritated more, frustrated, pissed off, and just down right unhappy with you at times.  The only time I felt that way before was with work, my kids, my family, strangers, etc.  All people I am used to and have grown accumstomed to so it never affected me.  You introduce an extra dose of all of the above which I can’t seem to handle at times.  Some times.  Most of the time.  It is funny how I try to even lie to myself.  Right when I was about to start I told me to drop the mask and just admit why you are still here.  You will be the perfect provider.  There, I said it.  Yes, I find you attractive but the world if filled with attractive men.  Yes, I find your character & integrity totally awesome which is where my love sincerely rests – that I cannot lie about.  Yes, I absolutely love spending time with you but it’s usually short lived & scheduled – on your time.  Am I a task?  Something to do Monday – Saturday?  I ask you that often to which you laugh but I never can find the joke.  From my perspective, I would have all my bills split in half with a man with stellar character & integrity & damn good genes.  Why not?  Where am I losing?  How can I possibly lose?  You will pay the mortgage and I’d help out with a portion saving money on my end.  I would save on almost all my bills since my household would now be “our” household.  You were raised to be the Head and provide and have done so quite well so I feel confident I can lay back and let you handle the affairs without worrying.  I am tired of being the Head of the Household, the father & mother to kids I bear, and tired of living life alone sometimes.  You satisfy all of my goals.  You are the best investment I have made in a while – I just need to close the deal.  Close the deal.  That is where things get sticky because you actually say you love me.  You say you want kids.  You say you want to get married first.  You say you see a lot of things with me while I see “savings” over your head.  Is that right?  Good?  Will I even be happy?  You know how some men complain that their wives never want sex?  I can see that being me.  Why?  Because I complain about it now!  You know how I complain that you work too much?

July 11, 2012 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

2012 Soldier Field 10 Mile

This was my first time running this race. I usually try to sign up for different races since the Chicagoland area has plenty to choose from and I think it’s kinda boring to do the same race, same course, same thing every year.  Soldier Field was built to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces so it’s only fitting that their annual run in its 9th year annually takes place during Memorial Day weekend.  It was pretty easy getting to the stadium; I took the Fullerton bus at about 4:32am to the Redline which took me to Roosevelt.  It was about a mile walk to the Stadium….or maybe it just felt like it was a long walk.  But, there were other runners walking with me so I was in good company.

The weather was awesomely cool.  No sun, no heat, no humidity; all pluses for me!  It seemed to take forever to start the race and each corral got its own starting shout-out so instead of my Blue corral starting at 6:40am, my 4th corral of the Blue corral started about 7:15am.  While waiting, we felt drops of rain here and there and wondered if we’d get soaked way before the race even began.  Rain is still better than humidity any day so I didn’t care….just start the race, please!

My mile splits:

Mile 1 – 09:17

Mile 2 – 08:55

Mile 3 – 08:49

Mile 4 – 08:45

Mile 5 – 08:59

Mile 6 – 08:58

Mile 7 – 09:04

Mile 8 – 09:06

Mile 9 – 09:15

Mile 10 – 09:04

As you can see, I started off well for my 1st mile which is very hard to do because the crowd rushes forward and you so wanna go with them, the excitement has built, the adrenaline is flowing, and your legs are fresh!  I talk to myself more times during running than I ever do in regular everyday life.  “Slow down, D”, “Feel your pace”, “Run YOUR race”, “Settle into this speed”, “Let them pass”, “Breathing cool…thighs hurting…time still on pace. Maintain it”, “Don’t look down…look up the incline”, “Ride the downhill”, etc.  The hardest thing to do was find my pace, settle into it, and ignore the people who ran past me because I had to stay in my groove and finish my own race.  I knew I’d “die” if I went out too fast but I also didn’t know at what per mile pace I could sustain for the entire race before my legs felt like giving from under me.  Well, they wouldn’t give completely at first.  They’d slow down slowly but surely ignoring my brain telling them to pick it back up.  Then, my mile splits will increase instead of decreasing or remaining consistent.

Between mile 6 and 7, I sucked down a Gatorade Energy Gel I’d brought with me.  I’d never taken one during a race but my quads were tightening, my splits slowing, and I was nowhere near the 50 yd line of the finish.  I was honestly happy to use the gel because it’s kinda heavy so, hanging from my running belt, it was bouncing with each foot strike I took for the last 6 miles which is really really irritating.  But, I blocked it out of my mind and focused on what was more important…a consistent pace.  I ripped the top off the gel, placed it in my mouth for a small suck, pulled it back out, splashed some on my arm, put it back in my mouth, ignored the need to vomit (not at the taste of the gel), squeezed it all into my mouth mid-run still, and threw the empty pack on the ground.  I don’t think I felt the slightest difference until I officially reached the 7 mile marker which was maybe 800 meters later.  I didn’t stop not once during the race to get a cup of water or Gatorade from the aid stations.  I wanted to see what my body could do esp since this was the first time I’d run a complete 10 mile course without stopping for a traffic light, cars, or pedestrians.

Occasionally, I passed some people and then some people passed me.  The weather remained cool throughout but I was starting to feel the burn literally towards the end.  As you can see from my mile splits, I first mile time became my 9th mile time which means I got faster, peaked, and then slowed back to where I began.  Not sure how good that is but I definitely checked my breathing throughout….it was pretty strong and stable.  That tells me my cardiovascular system can handle a faster pace or push but my legs weren’t feeling it.  My legs, this time around, just weren’t up to par with my breathing.  On the last mile, the spectators and race staff were shouting about how close to the finish we are but I didn’t believe.  I knew we’d finish on the 50 so I wasn’t gonna push it until I was inside the stadium turf.  I got to the last 800 meters and you’d think I’d be overjoyed but my thighs were still burning.  The lady yelled out, “if you have any gas left now is the time to push it in”.  I should have listened to her because right around the next 2 corners was the finish line.  The most beautiful sight ever!  Before I knew it, I was on grass, I saw the “FINISH” banner in front of me, and I saw the huge screen inside the stadium showing us running in.  I even smiled, waved my hands overhead, and forgot all about the pain in the thighs.  Instantly, my body was feeling high….until I stopped running.  I crossed the time-sensor at the finish line, stopped my watch, and was still smiling when I felt my quads tighten and I said “owwww!”

Yayy, I’d finished and I’d finished in 1 hour and 30 minutes (unofficially) which is a PR for me so I had reason to be happy but I also wondered how much faster could I have gone.  I have another 10 mile race I might sign up for in July so we shall see.  This time though, I did a visually and physically painful walk tot he guy handing out water bottles, to the table with bags of after-race snacks, to the gear check to retrieve my running bag I’d brought with me, and to the blanket table to get my Soldier Field blanket which is blue.  Blue?!  Why not green, or, I don’t know…..navy and orange for the team’s colors!?!?!  I took 2 pictures which I’ve posted here and had some comments.  My cousin said, “that’s why you’re still skinny cause you run 10 miles in an hour!”  Was I supposed to be fat by the age of 31?  Thicke?  Curvy?  I feel like I didn’t meet some unspoken accepted standard for myself as I aged.  Others just wanna know how I can run for so long.  I don’t view the time or distance as a “long ass time” but as something I know my body responds well too.  If I am feeling slow, out-of-shape, or like I’m putting on the pounds around my midsection…then I go run.  When I run long I get better results.  I am not one for running fast contrary to most thoughts related to black runners.  I enjoy a slower pace that I can sustain for a longer period of time.  I love the discipline, the strength, and mental battles I face doing something most think is purely physical.  I run alone usually and enjoy it.  There’s camaraderie & encouragement with a running group but imagine the tenacity that is required to be your own coach, cheerleader, critic, etc.  I gain more than a good physical workout

May 27, 2012 Posted by | Life | , , | Leave a comment

Hate

It’s Tuesday evening and I’m sitting in a semi-junky apartment with half of my things in boxes neatly stack high against the far wall and everything else kinda spread around all over the place in a total mess.  I’m making progress…

This post isn’t about packing or the joys of throwing away stuff you’ve had stored in a closet for far too long or wondering why everyone loves Hefty when they make the thinnest crappest garbage bags ever.  This post is about my Facebook status: “…of all my sisters, I swear this one is a spawn of Satan. This chick has 666 written somewhere on her body”.  I typed it in that little box and sat back to look at it wondering if I should submit it or not.  I sat there for about 5 minutes thinking, reading it again, thinking, and reading it again.  Do I really feel that way?  Yes.  Was it a sudden status update not thought out carefully?  No.  I wish I could say I typed it in anger.  Well, I did but I can’t blame it on anger.  I actually feel that way.  I know it’s coming….people saying how wrong it is to put that up.  If I live life completely quiet and never write or say a single word, these fools might actually think my life and everyone in it are fantastic.  My words get attacked first.  I wondered if I’d eat my words later.  That is why I sat there and made sure this is exactly how I feel and I won’t regret it later.  I wish I ever regretted anything ever written about this one.  Maybe one day.

Afterwards, I called another sister to explain who I was referring to because she’s on FB often.  Then I cried.  I actually talked to God and I said, “let me just vent ok….”.  I aired everything.  My frustrations.  My irritation.  Every thing juvenile and emotional and immature I just vented.  Then I cried again because I wasn’t going to ask Him to fix her.  It is me.  It is always you.  Not the person who pissed you off, who hurt you, who betrayed you, who got under your skin, who makes you question not whether you love them but why you hate them so.  Take this hate out of my heart.  Please.  It was never her.  I spent most of my younger adolescent years trying to figure out why I hated her, why I wanted God to snatch her from this earth, and why I made every effort to not include her in any part of my life.  Then the times come when she appears or resurfaces and I realize I want her here, near, and in my life just to later regret it.  You gotta love your parents.  The Bible says so.  Is there a scripture about siblings?  I can’t remember a time I ever loved her.  Liked her?  Maybe.

Toxic people.  Everyone has them and everyone gets rid of them.  Eventually.  I think about other people during this time.  People who are fighting for custody of their kids because they haven’t been bad parents but because it makes it easier for the new husband to play daddy and leave the biological daddy outta the picture.  People without jobs living on craps trying to stay above water knowing they have little time before those little checks become no checks at all.  People who wake up day after day going to jobs they hate, are not respected at, and are often treated like servants than employees but if they don’t go they lose their jobs and that can’t happen to the family’s breadwinner.  People who depend on food pantries to eat and feed their families.  People who didn’t get word that the Great Recession ended because their recession has been ongoing from the time they can remember.  People who find themselves pregnant, without a support system, no job, barely a stable living situation, and everything else highly unstable that they are supposed to depend on.  My situation is not nearly as bad and although I should control my tongue, no one will ever cross paths with me and not know how I truly feel about them or our relationship.  Honesty is never the best policy and people care more about your words than the feelings behind them.  It’s ok to hate someone but don’t say or write that you hate them.  Oh, ok….now I get it!  Thanks 🙂

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Life | , | 1 Comment

Maybe

My last post was January 28th, 2011.  I kinda hoped people would think I had abandoned instead of simply neglected this blog.  There were days I had things to write about, things I wanted to vent about, or even topics I wanted to discuss with myself but I found some of those were better left inside my head and heart.  Recently, some idiot subscribed to my blog.  I got the email, read it twice, and wondered who would do such a thing?!  Did they not notice the date of my last entry?  Foolish.

Since January, some things have changed but most have remained the same.  Current events, politics, religion, relationships, love, parenting, running, writing, career, education, family, finances, etc matter here and there but never enough to justify writing a post about them.  One day I’m up and another day I’m down.  One day I’m ecstatic and the next I wanna run from it all.  I used to want to run from it all often.  Now, I can honestly say I don’t mind sticking around much longer.  Things are not as bad when you purge and secure your environment.  Apologies.  I have none.  Bitch.  That I can be.  Happy.  Surprisingly, yes.

I need therapy.  I need to write.  I need to run.  Mostly, I need therapy.  I wanna lay down on someone’s couch and talk and express and vent and cuss and cry and laugh and yell and just tell all about my life thus far.  My experiences have been fantastically normal.  Sometimes I think I should write a book but my experiences haven’t been any different from anyone else’s.  Sometimes I think I should write a song (but not sing it – torture) but it will be similar to some other song someone else has written.  Which is why I have not written because my experience will match someone else’s and it’s lame.  I don’t like people in my head, knowing my thoughts, my feelings, or what I’m doing.  Usually because it don’t seem to agree with someone else so I don’t like the criticism.  You gotta be thick-skinned to do most things publicly.

It’s Sunday.  Tomorrow is Monday.  After that it’s Tuesday.  I’ll run 3-5 miles.  Work.  Read.  Watch a movie.  Listen to music.  And every now and then update my Facebook or Twitter status.  That is my life.  I miss a lot of things and a lot of people but then I’m reminded that they or it were not what I had originally thought so I go back to being.  But, back to the therapy part, there is one niche market where no therapy exists.  That is the market I belong to.  That is what I find interesting.  Maybe I have a book in me.  If only I can become anonymous that would be great.  I don’t care about comments, readers, followings, or popularity.  If I could pen a book anonymously that would be fantastic and I would tell no one I wrote it because I’m too thin-skinned to handle the criticism, judgements, or even ridicule.  So, why write it?  Because I have something to say.  Cowardly?  Yes.  Still have not been to church in months.  Fear.  God has not given us the spirit of fear.  Skepticism.  Atheist.  My friend laughed when she reminisced on how she thought I had lost my faith.  Defiant.

Personal finances are still….going.  My goal month is September 1st, 2011.  I’ll have $16k in my Shit Happens account.  Then I’ll start on my student loans and my 40 Acres account.  I need to add my And A Mule account onto that but I’m good for now without a car.  My Monopoly account is steady with play money for stuff I want but don’t necessarily need.  It will have taken me 1.5 years to fully fund my Shit Happens account but I still feel like it’s not enough.  Maybe I should double it to be on the safe side.  Reduce my taxable income.  Increase my 401k contribution.  I need to do something.  Taxes are something I do not like paying although I get a refund every single year.  I still live humbly so I can have a safety net.  I enjoy life but I care more about not being at the mercy of my employers, job, or income.  Really need to put a dent into my student loan balance.  It’s ridiculous.  By January 1st, 2013 (if I’m alive by then), I should have $14k in my 40 Acres account.  I’ve never bought a house before but I was told how much I might need so that is how I have structured my budget for the next 2 years out.  Sounds geeky, I know but I like being disciplined and seeing the fruits of my labor.  The amazing thing is how I see “stuff” now.  Nothing is valuable other than the intangibles.  Clothes, shoes, purses, things, furniture, etc all have a price.  Since saving I realize that I was paying a high price to have most of them when they never really satisfied me.  The other good thing: I love when people think I’m struggling.  It’s amazing what you can get for free or cheap when people think you are barely making ends meet.  Idiots.  But, it’s not about the money.  If I die before I anticipate, my kids will be on a great financial path.  You can’t take the money with you, I splurge on things that I feel are important to me, pull back in other areas I couldn’t care less about, and have created a nice balance.  For the first time in my family in generations, I want to be able to leave my kids something other than my outstanding debt and high funeral costs.  I lived my life.  Take this money, invest it, spend a little, and live your life too but don’t forget God cause He will royally throw a wrench in any plans you thought you had.

Maybe I’ll write something else this week.  Maybe I’ll wait until September.  Maybe stupid people will stop subscribing to neglected blogs.  Maybe.

May 1, 2011 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

Taxes & Financial Discipline

This is the season for stupid questions.  My ex-husband pays child support bi-monthly.  Per our legally signed divorce agreement, he shall claim one of our two children when he is current on his child support payments for that tax year.  He has never been current on anything.  Late 2009, he voluntarily quit a job to move elsewhere with hopes that the Great Recession was a myth.  This unemployment flowed into 2010 but he ended up with a job.  I started getting child support payments again which was a definite plus to my bottom line but that job was short-lived.  Weeks turned into month before I received another payment.  It was not until August 2010 that the payments became regular again.  I had to contact my attorney to have the withholding agreement forwarded to the correct HR dept so everything could be set-up….again.  Never once during his unemployment did he send any money my way, try to have the kids when they were out of school so I wouldn’t have a childcare bill, or anything that would have helped.  Did that stop him from asking me to claim one of the kids on his 2010 tax returns?  Of course not.  Audacious?  Absolutely.  Surprising?  Absolutely not.  He didn’t really ask though.  He said, “which kid are you claiming on your taxes this year?”  I immediately thought, “I didn’t know it was Stupid Question Day! Yayy, let’s play.  Both!”  I referenced the divorce papers even offering to call my attorney and ask her to FedEx another copy to him but he said he has read the papers and know what the agreement is but he also know I can go over the agreement if I choose to.  You’re correct.  I can but why would I ever decide to do that??  I love Stupid Question Day 🙂 it’s funny.

So, I filed my own taxes again this year.  I think this is my 3rd year filing on my own and I must say I am starting to know forms by name and understand what they mean/do.  My return this year was accepted and will be about $1k more than it was last year.  I have no plans other than to put 90% of it into my Emergency Fund which will finally bring the balance to $10k by March 2011.  Yayyy!  I am inching closer and closer to my goal which is awesome so I can start pursuing financial goal #2: either saving for a house and/or consistently maxing out my Roth IRA contribution.  No desire for a car (although my kids think we desperately need one), new purse/tote, big stupid TV (although everyone keep begging me to upgrade my ancient big booty one), or to buy stupid stuff.  What I probably will do is grocery shop like I’m at the mall.  I follow a set grocery budget every month and I have tried to plan meals out, go to the store with a list, and find sales but for once I just wanna throw some stuff I want and need in the cart with little regard to price.  For now, that is my idea of a splurge.  Homeowner: years in the future since I have no intentions on leaving Chicago any time soon and I have no intentions on buying a house in Chicago.  I am still working on improving my horrible credit score too so the additional time saving up about 20% for a down payment would be helpful on both fronts.  Retirement: I hope to live long enough to see retirement and I plan to have money to sustain my lifestyle at that time.  I do not have any 529 or other college savings for my kids because, imo, planning my own retirement is more important since there are a wealth of options available to pay for college educations.  Retirement?  Social Security isn’t even a safety net and I don’t want to burden my kids in my old age with financial help so the more I save the less they have to worry about mom.  However, if I never live to see my own retirement, at least they will have thousands of dollars at their disposal to use when they need it.  That reminds me, I need to figure out how to add stipulations to things like this in writing.

The AFP officially granted me permission to sit for the CTP exam!  I knew I had to buy the textbook, study, and take the exam but I totally forgot about certain criteria I had to meet to be admitted to take the exam.  I’m on chapter 2 of 17, using my flashcards, taking 3-4 hours to study kid-free on Thursday evenings, and lugging this heavy textbook with me during the week to read on the train to and from work.  Chapter 2 is about regulations and regulatory agencies.  To say this part is boring is an understatement.  I would much rather the test consisted of computations than concepts and terms but I didn’t write the test.  But, given the Great Recession, this is the important stuff.  How, why, and when all these regulations came about from the beginning of the banking/financial system of this great country.

I’m blessed.  I see other situations people are in, hear their stories, and think of how I used to be there and pray I never find myself there again.  Turning anything into a habit takes great discipline.  If I didn’t have at least a goal or desired to achieve something outside of what I was told I should have, then I wouldn’t be here.  This morning, I texted a friend about how great God has been to me.  “Absolutely phenomenal” was the exact phrase I used.  In a consumer world, few understand the concept of saving, investing, and making smart financial decisions.  It’s not that I expect to live forever to enjoy any of the sacrifices I have made to get where I am.  I saw my parents and their parents struggle.  I see friends struggle.  I see family struggle.  I know what it’s like to want for nothing even when my bank account is overdrawn.  I know how it feels to be poor with thousands of dollars at my disposal.  It’s not about money and never will be.  Freedom is all I desire for myself now and for my kids later.  To never feel pressured or a slave to something or someone just to uphold a ridiculous lifestyle or definition of what “rich” truly is.  I’m babbling but I’m happy.  OAN, did I mention I got tickets to the Janet Jackson concert in March?  Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty!!  Hasta luego 🙂

January 28, 2011 Posted by | Life | , , , | Leave a comment

Life After 4 Miles

Today, I went running outside for the first time in months.  Usually, I’m running to catch the train on my way to work but today I ran for no reason other than to run.  I needed to go to the bank so I ran 2 miles there and then 2 miles back.  It wasn’t as cold as it has been here so the 30 degree weather felt awesome.  My foot slid a little each time I hit some snow or ice but it was no big deal.  I made it to the bank and smiled at the two handsome sexy Boricuas behind the counter.  Eye candy!  One is married.  Not sure about the other.  I just smile and try not to stare too hard.  Then one smiled at me and I think I physically melted.  I know it goes against nature, physics, chemistry, probably even biology but his smile made me melt and I wanted to find his wife and tell her how much I hate her (lol).  Lucky chick!  I made it home with about 15 minutes to spare before it was time to pick up Thing 2 from pre-school so I stretched.  My legs were slightly fatigued since I haven’t used them in this way in quite some time but I felt good overall.  No music.  Just ran. 

When I was getting dressed, I felt excited.  I literally ran through the events of the last day or so and knew I needed to run to clear my mind.  Kind of purge my brain of all useless crap that’s sitting in there.  A massive delete.  Some people apologize for deleting things, folks, actions from their lives.  Either I’m cold-hearted or I truly believe people know they were never supposed to be a permanent part of my existence so why should I apologize?  I laced up my shoes and looked in the mirror at myself.  I had a kid, got married, had another kid, got divorced…..now I’m doing things I want to do.  I smiled, laughed, jumped around, and did a horrible little dance in my bedroom.  This is what I do every now and then.  I get excited about my life as it currently stands and thank God I have time to actually get to the part of doing what I want to do.  Seriously, how horrible would life be if all I ever did was to please others?  I’d be uber depressed constantly.

I don’t talk to lots of my friends I went to college with in Indiana.  The only reason I can give is that life has taken us on our own individual journeys.  They are getting married, having kids, going to pursue advanced degrees, etc.  Apart from the advanced degree (of which I doubt I want to finish but that’s another story), we have nothing in common.  I don’t want to talk about what the kids are doing, what exciting things they said, or even their extracurricular activities.  I don’t wanna talk about entrance exams, salaries, bonuses, and lay-offs.  I don’t wanna talk about spouses, the latest argument, paying the mortgage, and the in-laws.  Remember when we used to talk about things concerning us?  Remember who we were before the kids, marriage, degrees, etc?  Remember when we used to identify with something but, over time, we gained things we had to identify with?  I’m pass the kids, marriage, degrees, even sorority (in some sense) phase or chapters of life.  Now, when one calls and wants to talk about trying to get into law school, the latest sorority event, what the kid did in school, what amazingly cute something was made, and how the spouse is doing that annoying thing he always does…..I zone out temporarily. 

I’d love to live a simple life complete with my kids, running, computing, great food, sunsets, outdoors, and fun however we decide to define that.  What I really want out of life does not involve getting married again because all the dates I’ve been on lately consist of hotmessness (yes, that’s a word in some world).  OAN, I did end up getting the LG Optimus phone which I think falls under the Android smartphone category.  I honestly do not know what I did before it!  My fav apps thus far are Pandora and Bible verses.  I listen to music so often I have to literally carry my charger with me.  I sometimes sit late at night and just browse through Bible verses sometimes reading my favorite ones and I am convinced John 17 is poetic…it makes me cry every time!  And, I can send verses to people via email or text and I can post to FB or Twitter.   I don’t do the latter because it irritates me when other people do that.  I don’t know why but it does.  Weird.

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Life | , | Leave a comment

Study Time

Tuesday evening, I walked out my front door to find a UPS notice taped to the door.  Yayy!  My book was here but then I saw the “2nd attempt” box checked and thought, “bastards!”  I can’t stand UPS!!  What happened to my 1st notice??  Tomorrow is their 3rd and final attempt to deliver so if I was not home (which would be the case) I’d have to go to the warehouse to pick it up or pay to change either the delivery date or mailing address.  It would be $6 to make either change over the phone or I can make the change online for a mere $4.  Wow, I save 2 whole dollars to get something I already paid for along with the shipping.  I’m being penalized for not being home when it used to be free to choose a day in the near future when I would be home so they can save on gas and I can get my package.  Anywho, I signed the back of the UPS slip and prayed my book was sitting on the porch (in the cold and snow) when I returned home from work that day.  It was 🙂

Above is my new Treasury Management textbook.  700+ pages of concepts, theories, equations, and stuff that might put any person to sleep in record time.  I was excited to get the book because I’m excited to start studying since I’m excited to finally tackle this exam after almost 3.5 years on the job.  Well, it’ll be 4 years if I make it til July of this year.  The exam is in July, ironically enough, so I pray a passing score makes my anniversary that much sweeter.  There are 17 chapters of goodness in the book and I have prepared to study a chapter per week starting yesterday.  Last semester, my sitter watched my kids for roughly 5 hours while I went to class.  This semester, although I am not enrolled in any classes, I will resume that schedule so I can devote those roughly 4 hours (no commute time) to studying without distractions.  Extra money out of my pocket but I like to think of it as an investment.  My 17 week study schedule takes me to May 19th (I think) which gives me thorough time to go back over, master, and regurgitate the information as needed.  I know how I learn best….that is through repetition and understanding the big picture.  It’s not enough to know an equation to calculate IRR if you have no idea how to apply it to a real situation.  My memory is still good when I direct it wisely so I should do fine but I won’t know how well I’m doing until months from now.

Registration deadline is March 25th.  The exam expense my company promised to pay.  The association membership (required) and one-time registration fee I pay.  I have flashcards in a range of colors from plain boring ol’ white, to fuchsia, lavender, lime green, and sky blue.  These are the flashcards my supervisor made herself and used to pass this same exam.  My manager also took and passed this exam using similarly colored index/flash cards.  I just started reading chapter 1 on the train this morning which goes over what Treasury is, which functions fall under Treasury, the corporate structure, and then other basic stuff.  8-10 questions out of 170 total on the exam will come from this chapter.  I no longer carry a purse to and from work.  Now, I carry an actual backpack to hold my textbook, flash cards, pens, sharpie, calculator, and exam/chapter breakdown.  Each chapter has a miniature quiz following it so I will take that next week and go back over material based on the results.  I did find one other chick in the Chicago area who is supposed to be taking the same exam in the same testing window as I.  She works for Bank of America as a Treasury something.   She replied to my email about forming a study group and I actually called her earlier today and left a voicemail message.  Who am I kidding?! 

I hate groups when it comes to things like this.  I run alone and do well alone.  I have always preferred to study alone and have done well alone.  I do most things alone because I don’t want to have to depend on anyone else, help up a slack, or hold anyone up if I’m falling behind.  Maybe we can still get together periodically to quiz each other, etc.  We shall see.  I can take the test only once within a testing window and that window is June/July 2011.  I do not plan to tell folks at work when or if I register for the exam just in case I fail and gotta hear those “oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.  You’ll do better next time”….save it!  The main thing I’m worried about is whether I am qualified to take the exam.  The criterion consists of 1-3 years of Treasury work experience and/or Graduate degree in a certain field and/or years of teaching experience.  I should qualify for the work experience one in a Corporate Finance environment but we shall see.  My social life will slowly but surely take a hiatus.  Not sure why I wrote all this because no one cares but me about this exam but if I write it publicly then I have to make the committment – pass or fail.  I have to be accountable so I gotta make sure I take my efforts seriously.  I always gotta approach every thing like there’s a gold Olympic medal at stake.  If not, then what drives me??

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Life | , | 2 Comments

Negative Net Worth

I follow many personal finance blogs and it seems that frugal or simply cheap living has become the new trend mostly due to the recession. I was conscious of my need to get my finances in order but it was kicked into high gear when all around me my friends and their friends were losing their jobs.  I felt fear of the what-if and panic that I had no savings and just several hundred bucks in my retirement account one of which I liquidated to make ends meet so I was definitely in dire straits (imo).  All intentions quickly turned into executed steps toward my goal….financial freedom. Financial freedom is defined (imo) as freedom to live the life you want without kissing the ass of dependence on a job, company, or executive board.  Last year, January 2010, I put more than half my tax refund into my long-open-but-often-empty savings account.  For a single parent of any number of kids, that refund can be a couple thousands of dollars.  Since then, I have contributed monthly towards my goal of having 6 months of living expenses saved.  Currently, I am about $5k short but well on my way since a year ago. 

I started the savings before calculating what my actual monthly living expenses are.   Just two weeks ago, I sat down and created an Excel worksheet.  On the first tab was my 2011 Budget.  After taking a closer look at it I think I should rename it my 2011 Statement of Cash Flows because there is not a nan category budgeted…..just a nice way of tracking a dollar.  I started with my gross salary less estimated percentage of taxes deducted (about 25%) less my pre-tax retirement contribution (6%) which results in my net take-home income.  I think I was more excited creating this spreadsheet than I am writing about it here.  Anywho,  I went line by line deducting every fixed expense I have such as rent, insurance, daycare, and phone bill.  I didn’t add anything trivial like shopping or entertainment so I really wondered if I can call it a “budget” but more like an accurate look at what I should have leftover to “play” with.  If it wasn’t too personal I’d share it here but know it is cute and awesome with tabs!  The next tab covers my per paycheck breakdown so I’ll know which bills need payment asap and which aren’t due til the end of the two week cycle down to the amount deposited into my savings account and 2nd “play money” checking account.  Most of my bills are timed or date-based since most are set for automatic debits.  This is how I schedule payments and keep track of how much this account need to cover my expenses this week and how much it will need next week to cover expenses coming out that week.  As anal and freakish as it may seem, I have each dollar accounted for and stalked.  On the final tab, I have my current net worth.

I should say that my net worth calculation does not include charged-off debts seen on my credit report.  The option is before me to take the ethical road and pay off old debts but since the creditors refuse to remove the debt from my record once paid, imo there is no point paying any of it.  My credit score will continue to suck for another 2-3 years but it’s well worth it esp if I don’t incur any new debt and since I have no incurred any new debt my score has increased about 50 points 2010 alone.  Not sure if that’s good or poor but I’m happy for any gain however small it may be.  Liabilities and assets listed, my current net worth is approx ($30k) with the parentheses representing a negative value.  Should I be ashamed esp since that published article stated that most African-Americans have a net worth of $1?  Of course not.  I’ve read story after personal story of people (ethnicity aside) who are in worst situations than I.  This is not a competition….it’s my own story of how I decided to get serious about my company and be the real CFO instead of throwing the title around because it sounds cute.  Trust me, I see and know people who do that often!  Then they create their own investment business and want to solicit clients from their circle of friends.  Dude, you FB about ridiculously expensive shit you just bought for no other reason than to have it (that was the true-to-life reason stated) so why or how good of a CFO are you for your own personal company?  And, how can I trust you will manage my money properly when you throw your’s away freely? 

Right now, my “company” has 4 current debts in repayment with an expected payoff date of February and April 2011 for two of them.  The only two I will have leftover will take years to payoff; one being student loans.  Also, right now, my income is too dependent on Child Support which is bad.  Child Support is legally court-ordered but I have experienced times when my ex lost his job (one time voluntarily) and I struggled to pay my bills as a result.   I never want someone else’s actions or inactions to dictate what course my life shall take….at least not on a financial scale.  This dependence on someone else providing for me is the opposite of financial freedom so my goal by this fall (kids leave for summer so no child support) is to save those payments or use them for fun extra curriculum activities for the kids.  By the Fall, I will be in repayment for my student loans so, as you can see, I have a schedule of longterm debts too.  At the end of 2011, I should finish the year closer to ($20k) for my net worth, $12k in my savings account, and more money to free up for more important ventures.  Not trying to get rich or play catch-up…just trying to make my own safety net instead of expecting the government to hold me up with public service programs or blame everyone but myself for my own personal financial failure because no one promised me prosperity or wealth just because I’m college educated.  And, if I ever hope to manage any financial function of a major corporation, I better be the best CFO of my own household first. Hell, I might present financial documents to show my positive changes in a future interview 🙂  If I can just figure out what this spreadsheet should really be called.

January 17, 2011 Posted by | Life | , , | Leave a comment

Memories

Memories.  A record of each encounter, moment, and interaction lived for better or for worse often replaying themselves at the most inopportune times holding the poor soul hostage against their will while they relive and remember what they would rather not but it’s uncontrollable and unavoidable so what escape is there other than death or the sweet blessing of Alzheimer’s which is the only match for this impromptu showcase of a life lived, people met, words said, and actions executed but oh what one would give to exercise some control over this database of endless at times joyful while often hurtful pictorials of moments but this is the sentence we currently endure.  If I could I would delete, purge, eliminate, erase, expunge, and any other synonymous action to rid myself of the mental hell the mind subjects persons to long after these moments have physically gone because, as always holds true, the bad shadows the good leaving you regretting having lived life only to be reminded of it for the rest of your life so what good can possibly come when the odds are that life will produce more hurt than harmony and more grief than good so, if ever asked which I pray I am, I’d choose to gamble the good away fearful that the bad might leave me with a bullet through my head from my own hands in a sad and shameful attempt to stop the recapping of times I barely survived in the flesh much less hope to bear in the mind.  Memories. 

**Frustration at its worst by_Yazzmin (photo)

January 15, 2011 Posted by | Life | | Leave a comment

30 going on 17

Happy New Year? Someone asked me about my blog.  Oh, yeah…that thing.  Well, see what had happened was I got busy with life, going out, meeting people organically, studying, working, playing mommy, and just spending time on the internet when absolutely necessary that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to write about, discuss, or vent about.  Scratch that.  I always have things to vent about but I asked myself if writing it here or anywhere would totally dismiss or erase it as if it never happened?  Of course the answer is “no” so I didn’t.  I had nothing to share with whomever decided to stop by and read what I had to say.  I would do a recap of what’s been going on in my life but I don’t feel like it.  For some reason, I am starting to enjoy “privacy”.  Funny that I of all people would say that.  But, it’s still amazing when someone is going through something I did way back when and find my experience refreshing.  It’s like a reset button or a reminder that sometimes being open ain’t all that bad.  Ya know? 

This post is about running.  2011 was supposed to be focused on my half marathon time and placing in my ‘hood 5K race in October.  The trouble is one was more dear to my heart and squeezed more passion than the other so I’ve revamped my running plans.  For 2011 I will attempt to channel the 17 year old me.  At 17, I had just graduated from high school and was running a 7 min mile pace easily.  Sometimes I finished a little slower but I was there.  I want to place in the Lawndale 5K.  I don’t want to win my age group, get a PR, or even just win another medal – I want to place overall!  It’s personal this year.  I have 9 months to get my butt in shape to run (and hold) a sub 7 minute mile pace.  Sub 7 minutes?  Yeah, that is a challenge and a half but if I shoot for 7 mins then the rest comes down to pure hunger.  How bad do I want it?  Drive, determination, and discipline can trump any training program.  Right now, I can run (and hold) approx a 7.30 min pace.  Last year, my time for this 3.1 mile race was officially 23:23 minutes….a minute faster than last year.  This year, I want to run it in as close to 20 minutes as I can which is definitely sub 7 min pace.  More like 6:30/min pace.  The winner last year finished in a little over 20 minutes.  One chick, the same age as I, cut 3 minutes off her time from 2008 to 2009.  B*tch!  lol Basically, I don’t stand a chance unless I join the 20 minute 5K group and obviously age ain’t nothing but a number.

I have no clue how to drop a minute let alone 2+ off my time.  Workouts?  The only ones I can think of are the ones we used to do back in high school during Cross Country season.  I know intervals, repeats, and some distance running along with hills, hills, and more hills.  I think I’d prefer hills and repeats more than anything.  Hills burn muscles like acid but it feels so wonderful when they get stronger and can run longer and faster without an ounce of additional effort.  Since I live in Chicago where winter lasts until June, I am basically chained to a treadmill if the snow/ice/winds are too bad out.  No workouts for now but I did do a mini-interval on the treadmill Tuesday.  It was my first day back running in 2 months so I was kinda excited to dust the rust off.  Today, I didn’t go running cause I have an appointment to get to this afternoon but I did do my 22 minutes of Abs – Windsor Pilates.  Core muscles are important when it comes to running.  Even more so when it comes to speed and shorter races where efficiency is vital.  My plan is to focus on my core muscles for the next 3 months.  Today?  I had to do 2 modified positions towards the end of the DVD.  Seriously, who can hold these positions perfectly straight for that long?  Only the chicks on the DVD!  I was grunting, dang near fell over, and actually couldn’t roll up on one of the ab contraction moves.  I have decent ab muscle strength but nothing like I want or think I need.  I plan to put the Ab, Back, and Burn Pilate DVDs in heavy rotation from now until April 1st then I will see where I am.  Hopefully, I have made some progress. 

In addition to that, I am gathering treadmill workouts so I can make my indoor runs beneficial in addition to getting outside when I can (weather permitting) because long runs on a treadmill are downright torturous.  Trust me, it is.  Until next time.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Life | , , | 1 Comment