Happy 6th Birthday, Simon!

Simon wearing his rose scarf made for us by our friend Petunia.

Happy 6th Birthday, Simon! Simon is the baby of the family age-wise. He is the “middle child” when it comes to adoption order and length of time with our family.

Simon has the sweetest disposition. He bonded quickly with Jude after adoption. He keeps me entertained with his antics. Simon plays frequently with Jolene. Simon is known as our Chief Cuddler. Everyone loves Simon. He is the glue that holds our family together.

All three cats are very well bonded. However, Jolene and Jude are both extremely bonded with Simon. Jude and Jolene have a bond as well. However, I do not think the bond Jude and Jolene has is as strong as the bond that Jude has with Simon nor as strong as the bond Jolene has with Simon.

Simon is terrified of thunderstorms and vacuum cleaners. He is the only cat I have ever had that is completely scared of thunderstorms. He is a very brave hunter when it comes to bugs in the house. He is gentle, even pointing at and playing with ladybugs as opposed to squishing them.

A phrase frequently heard in our home is “Simon is a good baby.” Even when Simon is being “naughty,” he is adorable. Simon likes to steal marshmallows. He does not eat them. He carries them off and plays with them. Whenever I have marshmallows in the house, I have to be sure to hide them in the microwave so that Simon does not take off with them.

Of the three cats, Simon is the quietest. He does not often meow or make any noises. It is always a surprise when he does make noise. On the few times Simon has vomited (it happened with a change in food in the pandemic), he cries / yowls right before vomiting. Typically, a noise from Simon means something is wrong. Jude and Jolene meow and talk all the time when they want food or want to play. Simon only meows when there is something wrong.

Simon waits patiently for his breakfast and dinner, as opposed to Jude and Jolene who run around prancing and begging. Simon is truly very sweet. He is tolerant about being dressed in bandanas and scarves. 

Simon loves sleeping under the covers with me. I am so blessed that he sleeps with me every night. Simon is also typically the first to wake me up in the morning to feed them all breakfast. 

He enjoys his banana phone toys and the cat tents. Simon is truly an indoor cat. He loves watching outside. However, when offered the opportunity for outside time in the dog cage, he makes it clear he wants nothing to do with being outside. He loves being indoors where he is safe.

Jude, Jolene and I all love Simon and are so glad he is part of our family. He is such a precious soul. Simon was quick to welcome Jolene to the family when we adopted her, and was gentle in his interactions with her after her surgeries. 

As the baby of the family, Simon is rarely in the office as a coworker for the work from home. I’m sure as the youngest, he doesn’t think he needs to “work!” Simon is definitely a loveable homebody who enjoys peace and quiet and time on the human bed.

We are so blessed to have Simon as part of our family. He is definitely the baby, as he is the youngest and these three are the last cats I will have. Happy 6th Birthday, Simon. We love you. 

Running Season 2022

Running season 2022 is officially here! I rarely do spring races, but when I do, it is for charity. Fall races are my preference, as they are easier to train for with the weather conditions. This spring, I am running a half marathon benefitting Ukraine.

Proceeds from my spring half marathon are benefitting UnitedHelpUkraine.org. If you would like to support my efforts, please consider a donation to a reputable charity providing aid to Ukraine.

For the fall, I am very happy to announce that I am officially registered for the Italian Stallion Challenge as part of the Rocky Run 2022! I will be chasing down a hat trick of medals as I go 13.1 miles long.

The Rocky Run has been on my bucket list for quite a few years. This year is going to be really special. Once I complete the Italian Stallion Challenge and earn all three medals, I will have reached my goal of 8 medals from Philadelphia. I currently have 8 stars surrounding my Philly Marathon tattoo on my right arm. My goal has been 8 Philly medals.

This year is also significant for another reason. Once I have completed my Ukraine race and the Rocky Run, that will add four medals to my total this year. By the end of 2022, the goal is a total of 24 medals!

In recent years with my health, disability, and the pandemic, I have been looking at the reality of retirement from the competitive running circuit. My goal is to earn and achieve 26 medals when I enter retirement. 

If I am able to earn and achieve all 4 medals this year, then I only need to earn 2 more medals in 2023 to retire. Retirement does not mean that I will stop running or that I will stop racing. For me, retirement means that I will not need to push myself to compete at the same level I have been competing. To be honest, I’m not sure how many more miles I have left in me. Of course, I am going to keep running until I die or otherwise cannot. 

For me, retirement means that I will not be chasing down medals. I may do more 5k races than marathons. I will do more charity runs. I will not worry about my speed, time, or placement. If I am lucky enough to earn more medals than 26, that is fine. It is my competitive racing days that will be over. Once I’m retired, every mile will be the frosting on a cupcake.

Of course, this is all wishful thinking. I currently have 20 medals. I have to earn 6 more medals to achieve my retirement goal. All of this is dependent upon remaining healthy and COVID-free. 

The big excitement is that my goal is in sight. If I can achieve the 4 medals I have planned for this year, then I only need to earn 2 medals in 2023 to reach my goal.

In addition to my action packing running season this year, I am also working on my memoir, titled: Always Pee Downhill: Tales of Running, Life and Love. I am about halfway through the first draft. My goal is to finish as much of my memoir this year as possible. Each chapter details one of my marathon medals. Not only does it look at my training and race day itself, but also the events in my life that were happening at the time. 

To add a little excitement to this year’s running season announcement, here is a never before published sneak peak of the first few paragraphs of my forthcoming memoir, Always Pee Downhill.

November 18, 2007

Philadelphia Half Marathon

Time: 2:21:29

Age: 28

Medal # 1

At mile 6 of the 2017 Philadelphia Half Marathon, the infamous runner’s grid kicked in. I was at the furthest point from an aide station or a porta potty and I had to pee. On one side of me, cars whizzed by at 70 mph on Interstate-95. On the other side of me there was a sea of runners in the race. Right up ahead, I saw a small grouping of trees. I could squat behind one and hide myself from the other runners. I would still be in full view of I-95, but those cars are going 70 mph. They will go by so fast; they won’t have time to register someone squatting to pee on the side of the highway. 

I ran over to the tree, and squatted to go as quickly as possible. I just needed to get it done and hope I was not arrested. Just as I was almost done, someone ran past me and stopped at the tree next to mine. The back of his shirt said “FBI.” I was pretty sure I was about to be arrested for public urination and indecency. 

The man did a double take look at me, apologized, turned, and whipped his out to pee on the tree in front of me. I was done peeing, so I pulled up my shorts as quickly as possible. I got back into the race. Little did I know at the time, this was common practice for marathon runners to just pee as discretely as possible where and when you needed. Runners in sanctioned races are exempt from public urination laws, yet we are still supposed to use a porta potty as much as possible. Peeing where needed is for emergency use only. 

I ran the next mile like I was being chased by the cops. I was still thinking there might be a slight possibility of getting in trouble for my little pee break. But then I figured Mr. FBI man was doing the same thing. I just kept running. I ran like the cops were chasing me. They weren’t, but I had not seen the guy in the FBI shirt pass by me yet, so you never know.

This has been your exclusive sneak peek at my memoir, Always Pee Downhill! Thank you for reading. It’s time to Cowgirl Up! For running season 2022. 

Journals and Memoir

The bulk of my decluttering is done over the winter months. I put everything into a spare room upstairs. In the spring, I go about donating everything in the spare room. I emptied the spare room early this spring, as I had a week off from work in March. This year I also had that one-time junk truck come to get rid of all the items that had been left in this house when I bought it that were not able to be donated.

Anything that goes into the spare room now will be leaving and donated in the spring of 2023. It is possible that some things may be donated this fall. We will see how life goes. 

I am trying to get as ruthless as possible with my decluttering as my ultimate goal is to leave the country. Of course, when you are planning a major move, you want to travel as lightly as possible. 

The most difficult items to declutter are always sentimental items. I have one box from childhood I am hanging onto. I am going to put a note on it that says it can be donated or junked after my death. I’m trying to make things as easy for whomever has to clean this house out after I die as possible. If I do manage to live long enough to leave the country, then I will personally take the entire box of childhood items to be donated or junked, as appropriate.

I have a small box of all of my running logs spanning well over a decade of my running career. I also have a small box of journals and scrapbooks from well over a decade. I’m quite sure that when I’m dead, no one will care to read either the running logs or the journals. I also know that if I leave the country, running logs and old journals are not going to be going with me. I’m not paying for a box of that dead weight to be shipped overseas.

The running logs have been useful to me in planning my training for races. I will look at training for prior races to see what I did or how I adjusted for certain situations. I am currently in the process of gleaning as much information as I can from these running logs and consolidating everything into one three-ring binder. My goal is to recycle all the running logs next spring. I will have one three-ring binder that contains training plans and tips.

My journals and scrapbooks are a little harder.  I do revisit my journals alongside my running logs to read about certain races. I like to read how I was feeling for the race and what I was thinking. Was I feeling well for that race? What adjustments did I make? Did anything unexpected happen? I also enjoy revisiting some of my camping memories that are in my journals. Now that I have lost so many people to COVID, they are nice to re-read to remember memories with loved ones. Sometimes I worry that I will forget those I love because they have died.

I am currently using both my running logs and my journals to work on my memoir. Once my memoir is complete, my goal is to recycle/shred all of my journals and scrapbooks. My goal is to complete my memoir by the end of this calendar year. I want to be able to shred all of my journals next spring.

I’m not going to lie. Decluttering sentimental items is hard. They should be left to the last thing, once you have had time to flex your decluttering muscles. 

I will say that to this day, I do not have any regrets over anything I have decluttered. I do not miss a single item. I can’t even begin to tell you all of the items I have decluttered over the years. As soon as they are gone, I forget about them. Not once have I thought, “now where is …” and have it become something I miss because I decluttered it. Typically, I can’t find something. It is in the house, not decluttered, and I find it later. All is well.

Sentimental items are hard to declutter and nothing is more personal than your own thoughts and memories. Well, I like to think I will keep the memories. I certainly have photos. Last year, I created my “greatest hits” photo album with my favorite memories and highlights of my life.

While the idea of shredding my journals and scrapbooks is hard, it is a necessary step for 3 reasons.

First, my journals and scrapbooks are reminiscent of my past. I’m not going there. I live in the here and now. I am moving forward. They say that living in the past causes depression, living in the future causes anxiety, and to live in the now, that’s why it is called the present. 

Second, I don’t want people reading my innermost thoughts from my journals after I’m dead. I’m pretty sure no one wants to read them anyways. Who cares what I thought on June 28, 2008? I’m pretty sure if someone were to pick up, say 2011, to read after I’m dead, they would think I was crazy. 

Third, if I leave the country, they are not coming with me. I’m trying to think positive here. When I leave the country, I will have to get rid of a lot of large items like furniture and my house. Why make my life more difficult by trying to clean out an entire house? I can get rid of the journals now. I may as well declutter as much as I can before I move internationally. 

I am currently about halfway through the writing of my memoir. Shredding all of my journals will be contingent upon completing my memoir. Once my memoir is complete, then I will shred my journals. The goal is to complete my memoir this year and shred the journals in spring 2023.

How are you with decluttering sentimental items? Do you keep journals or immediately get rid of them once you have filled the book? 

I am currently putting everything in the spare bedroom upstairs that will be leaving spring 2023. Every year, I declutter just a little bit more. I am hoping to make my international move as easy as possible when the time comes. If I do not make it to an international move, then at least this house will be easy for someone to empty after my death. 

My Quarantine Life: Week 110

It is week 110 and I am still in medical isolation. At this point, I do not think the pandemic will end. We will not achieve herd immunity. It is survival of the fittest. Being a person with a compromised immune system who is at high risk of death if I catch COVID, at this point my only wish is to outlive my cats.

The most difficult challenge in all of this is lack of healthcare. Routine healthcare is not available as the health system is too overwhelmed with COVID. When you do go to a medical office, you are exposed to COVID by COVID-positive staff. It is a game of how much pain can you handle and how long can you go without access to healthcare. Even emergency healthcare has a wait that is weeks long. Last fall, I had to wait 3 weeks for emergency surgery. Of course, once I had the surgery after the 3 week wait, things were more dire than they would have been if I had received same day surgery. They did tell me that if we were not in a pandemic, the surgery would have been same day and it would not have been as big of a deal as it was after the 3 week wait.

This time last year, I lost my job. I am so grateful that I have a job now that is 100% remote. Even though the job I have now is very stressful, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be a completely remote worker. My medical isolation is only broken for medical care for me and for the cats. It is broken when I have work done on the car (twice a year) and when I need to have workers in the house.

Last year shortly after I lost my job, my hot water heater went. I was able to get workers in the house to install a new hot water heater.

About two weeks ago, the new hot water heater broke. I have no idea what is wrong with it. We have no hot water. Plumbers and other service people are only able to respond to emergency calls right now, as everyone is so overwhelmed with COVID. Hot water is not an emergency, so we have no hot water. We are hoping that we will be able to have a worker come this fall to fix the hot water heater before the winter. Hot water is not an emergency, but heating is an emergency. We will have to have the furnace maintained this fall. I am hoping to have someone come to the house who can service the furnace and fix the hot water heater both. For now, we are on a waiting list for plumbing service to fix the hot water heater.

I have been heating water on my stove to use for bathing and washing dishes. Thankfully, I do not need to shower every day. I have been using my shower chair and taking bucket baths. They are very soothing and I have actually been sleeping better at night. I don’t mind, really. Hopefully I am using less water by taking bucket baths instead of taking a shower. I just cannot bring myself to take a shower in cold water. I heat water on the stove, and that is the amount of water I have for bathing.

Thankfully, I am still shaving my head in year 3 of the pandemic. Of course, I don’t have access to anyone to be able to cut it for me. It’s just easier for me to shave it myself. It is easier for me to maintain. A shaved head is also easier for me to maintain personal hygiene. Now being without hot water, a shaved head is easier for bathing.

When I filed my taxes this year, I had to return the $1400 “stimulus” the government gave us last year under Biden. That hurt. No, I did not pay taxes on it. The IRS actually made me return the entire $1400 amount. Apparently, if you make less than $40,000 per year, that “stimulus” was a loan and not a gift. I got a letter from the IRS stating that my refund was reduced by $1400 because I was required to pay back the stimulus to the government. My tax refund this year was $187. That was enough to cover my birthday splurge of purchasing the robot vacuum cleaner.

This week I received a notice that I will be losing my health insurance soon. Biden has decided the pandemic is over, so they are canceling the health insurance for over 15 million Americans who have disabilities and/or are low-income. I am one of them. 

I’m not sure what I am going to do without health insurance. There is a health plan offered through my new job, but it is very expensive and the deductible is equivalent to half my annual income. I cannot afford to pay 75% of my income in healthcare. 

I am good about pinching pennies, but there is no way I can afford to live off of only 25% of my income and have no savings. Our student loans are due to enter repayment as well. I did receive a letter from the government stating that I am one of the people whose student loan forgiveness is messed up. 

I will be entering year 26 of student loan repayment. I am in the low-income repayment plan and also the public service repayment plans. For some reason, I don’t qualify for forgiveness so I am required to continue to pay until I die. It’s indentured servitude. Even a mortgage payment ends after 30 years. Student loan payments have no end. Entering year 26 of student loan payments, I am expecting to continue to pay on these for 40 or even 50 years or more. I will just keep paying until I die because there is no forgiveness.

Many people point fingers and say it is my own fault for taking out the student loans. I took out student loans because I was promised that a good education would enable me to get a good paying job to pay back the student loans. Wages are low in America. I’m not sure how anyone pays back their student loans unless they are living rent-free in their parent’s basement or come from a background of wealth.

I am still alive. I am still surviving. My only objective is to outlive the cats. I am struggling to come up with a plan to care for them in the event that I die first. That is my greatest worry. 

We are all together. We are happy and healthy. That is what is most important in life. We are truly blessed. 

Signature Scent

Some people have a signature scent – that one smell that defines them. Marilyn Monroe was said to have worn Chanel no 5. Chanel no 5 is a signature scent for many. I have never had a signature scent per se. I have scents that remind me of certain life events.

As a child growing up in the 1980s, many of the scents of my childhood come from Avon.  In addition to Avon, I remember scents such as Revlon’s Fire & Ice, Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth, and Exclamation. I specifically remember my grandmother wearing Avon’s Far Away perfume.  I wore it to my grandfather’s funeral.

When I started college in the mid-1990s, I remember receiving a box of promotional toiletry items. They were trying to market directly to college students. In the box was a tiny, tiny bottle of Tommy Girl perfume. The sample size of the perfume was maybe .03 oz. Tommy Girl was my “going out” perfume. I only wore it when we went dancing at the club or out to a party. 

Tommy Girl was a perfume that was way out of my price range, so I cherished that small sample as long as it lasted. Scents that were more in my price range, although still expensive splurges was the Victoria’s Secret line of fragrances. Victoria’s Secret Angel perfume was my race weekend perfume. It reminds me of Philly and of other big cities. I wore it whenever I went out in the cities. After Angel, the scent was Bombshell. Bombshell felt a little more risqué than Angel. Most recently, my scent was Aqua Kiss. Aqua Kiss was the perfume I would wear to church on Sundays. It is a crisp, clean scent that felt perfect for church on a respectable, clean Sunday. 

While all of these scents remind me of certain events, I did not get much use out of them. Many of the places I have worked over the years have scent-free policies due to people’s allergies. As someone with multiple food, medication and vaccine allergies myself, I am more than happy to comply with requirements that reduce people’s exposures to their allergens. With that, perfume is something that has always been worn for a special occasion. Not to mention, perfume is expensive. I simply did not have the funds to wear perfume every day and to buy it continuously.

Flash forward to a global pandemic. I still had all three Victoria’s Secret perfumes – Angel, Bombshell and Aqua Kiss. They were all smelling pretty putrid at this point due to age. Yes, perfumes do expire and get to a point when they no longer smell pleasant. Due to the global pandemic, I no longer travel or go out. What is the point in having a marathon perfume if I cannot travel to a large city to run a marathon?

Many people with COVID experience loss of smell and/or taste. I know someone who has lost their sense of smell due to COVID. This person was lamenting the fact that they can no longer smell their favorite perfume. 

That got me to thinking about signature scents. While I have a rather long list of perfumes that evoke memories of places, people and times, I do not have one signature scent that defines my life. In addition, perfume has always been a luxury item for me. Even with the Victoria’s Secret scents, I have never had the actual perfume. I have always had the spritzers that are a watered down version of the actual perfume that often go on sale such as two for $20 or something like that.

Life is short. Life is even shorter when you are living in a global pandemic. I decided if I did get COVID and survive, I would not want to be like the person lamenting their loss of smell that they could no longer smell their perfume. I want to have a signature scent that defines me. I want to be able to smell that scent now before I either die or lose my sense of smell.

Last fall when I ran my two half marathons, I decided to do something I have never done before. I purchased perfume. I’m talking actual perfume, not a spritzer and not some designer imposters knock off. I researched scents to see which one I thought I wanted to smell like. 

I ordered one. I have never paid so much for perfume in my life. I will admit that the price was completely ridiculous. However, I decided I want the experience of a signature perfume once before I die. Gone are the old Victoria’s Secret spritzers that now smell putrid due to old age. I am not going to have 3 or 4 spritzers lying around.

The signature scent I chose is Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. I bought the smallest size bottle of the actual perfume. I love it. I wear it everyday. I’m still in medical isolation, so no one else smells me. That’s okay. I smell it. I enjoy it. I can now say I have a signature scent. I have one bottle of perfume. That is my scent. 

When I was little, I remember sitting in front of my grandmother’s dresser in her trailer and it was littered with perfume bottles. She often had 3-4 different scents from Avon. Every time a new scent came out from Avon, she had to have it. As she got older, I tend to think of Far Away as her signature scent, as that was the one she used most often. However, I do not want to be like my grandmother and have a dresser littered with perfume bottles that may evoke a memory here and there, but essentially mean nothing. Truly, they were just clutter in pretty bottles. 

I want to have one scent that I remember and that people remember me by. Yes, I paid a fortune for a tiny bottle. When you think about it, buying 3-4 knock off spritzers probably equal the price I paid for one small bottle of genuine perfume. Technically, the perfume I chose is marketed to women much younger than me. I don’t care. I enjoy the scent. So even though I may be too old for Coco Mademoiselle, that is the scent I have chosen to be mine.

Do you have a signature scent? Do you prefer to have an array of scents from which to choose? I chose to have one signature scent from now until when I die. I no longer want to have 3-4 spritzers floating around as clutter that have no meaning. I will use this one perfume until the bottle is empty, and then I will buy another bottle. I am not going to just buy another or a different perfume due to whimsy. I have one perfume I am going to use until it is gone. 

Using a perfume until it is gone is a novel idea as well. I have always had to throw perfume spritzers away because they went putrid from old age. I have never had a perfume where I used the entire thing until it was gone. The only exception is that tiny .03 oz sample of Tommy Girl perfume sample. 

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle is my scent now and I love it. I can now say I have the experience of having a signature scent. I may still be working class, but I smell like something more. It was my one big splurge last fall. 

Tech Minimalism

Simon in his superhero cape

Most of my technology hails from the mid-2000s. My running IPod is from 2007. My laptop is from 2009. I still have the original IPhone only because of the pictures that are on it. In 2018, I purchased a Chromebook for $125 so that I would have something more modern to go on the internet and work on my blog.

None of this antiquated technology was a problem until I lost my job last year in the middle of a global pandemic. If you want to know how essential technology is to day-to-day life and to survival, that was my wakeup call.

When I completed grad school in 2015, I backed away from technology and things online. After 25 years as a professional college student and constantly being online, I needed a break. In 2015, I did not just downsize my digital footprint – I deleted it. 

I deleted my Facebook profile in 2015 and have not looked back. It was the best move for my mental health. I was not sure if the move would be temporary or permanent, but now in year 6, I am happy to announce that it is permanent. You can read a year without Facebook, two years without Facebook, 3 years without Facebook, 4 years without Facebook and 5 years without Facebook to follow that journey. 

Flash forward to 2022. We are living in a global pandemic. I have lost my family and many friends to COVID-19. I can literally count on one hand the people I knew before the pandemic who are still alive today. That is not an exaggeration. I am on year 3 of medical isolation as an immune compromised person who has a high risk of death if I get COVID. I am completely a 100% remote worker for as long as I have my current job, which I am hoping to hold until retirement. I found my dream job (part two).

Now that I am back online in a huge way, it is time to evaluate my digital footprint so that I do not reach the point I was at in 2015 when I had to completely unplug.

First of all – hello, internet. It’s me again.

Social Media

My social media consists of this blog, which I started in 2015 (the same year I deleted my Facebook). I have since added a Twitter account. Twitter is one of the best things I have done in a long time. I have made many new friends all over the world. It’s lonely living in a pandemic when everyone you know and love has died. I have made some amazing friendships on Twitter. I am so grateful for that platform.

Actually, I should clarify. My cats have made a lot of friends on Twitter. They are more popular than I am. Seriously, though, the cats are the highlight of my life and my reason for living, so who wouldn’t love them?

Social media – blog and Twitter. That is all of the social media I can handle. That is okay. I have people I can talk to and reach out to if I need so that I do not feel so alone.

Hardware

Now when it comes to the actual technology of it all – the hardware and software – I struggled last year when I lost my job. The technology I have did not always meet the technology requirements for jobs I was looking at applying. Luckily, I was able to find employment with the technology I have. One of my jobs actually provided me with all of the technology I need to perform that job. 

However, now that we are in a global pandemic and technology is literally a lifeline, I do not want to be in that position again. For example, last spring, I had to fire up the 2009 laptop to update my resume because it was the only thing with word. However, that laptop is way too old and outdated to go on the internet. I had to save my updated resume on a thumb drive, then access that thumb drive from my Chromebook, which was new enough to go on the internet.

Many jobs I was looking at applying specifically stated you could not use a Chromebook to do the work. My Macbook was too old to go on the internet anymore. I did apply for some jobs using just my phone, but that was low paying gig work. 

I did update my cell phone just before the pandemic. I typically change cell phones every 4-5 years. It all depends on when they start to break. In fall 2019, my cell phone was starting to break after 4 years. So, I do have a new cell phone. 

However, the whole decade old Macbook, thumb drives, Chromebook routine got old really quick. I need updated technology. I need to be able to have one cell phone and one laptop that can do it all. I also received a message that my Chromebook is basically going to be a paperweight after June of this year. Chromebooks are only made to last for so many years and apparently this spring is when mine will stop working.

I have been saving money this past year since finding my new job to update my tech equipment. I bought a new laptop.

I am now in the process of migrating everything from my old technology to my new laptop so that I can achieve my one cell phone / one laptop goal. Once I have things migrated, all of my old technology will be wiped and recycled. 

The hardware goal is one cell phone and one laptop. When I put all of my technology in one place this winter, I saw that I had 4 boxes of technology hardware. That’s right. Four boxes. What do I have? I have a broken DVD player, broken CD players, old cell phones, a 13 year-old Macbook, the Chromebook, and a -ahem – potentially 15 year old windows laptop.

When I’m done with all my migrating, wiping and recycling, the goal is one cell phone and one laptop. I do not need four boxes of technology hardware.

I made sure I have word on the new laptop so that I no longer have to rely on the 13 year-old Macbook for that. 

As far as my digital footprint, I have documents and photos. Almost all of my documents and photos are stored in the cloud. However, I like to have things stored in two or more places in case one storage place fails. All of the old technology hardware in my house is the second storage location.

Over the next several weeks, I need to migrate the photos off the 13 year-old Macbook onto my new one. I need to migrate the photos off my original IPhone onto my new Macbook. 

I have two old IPods and a brand new mp3 player that I cannot figure out to save my life. I need to figure out how to have one item to listen to music when I run. Both IPods still work great with the exception of battery life. My running pod (an original IPod shuffle from 2007) seems to have an extremely short battery life now.

Somehow in the past 10 years I ended up with all of this technology clutter. In the future, I will save things in 2 or more places and try to update my technology once it becomes obsolete. I think what happened was that in 2015, I completely dropped out of the digital life. All of this technology stuff just piled up. Then with the pandemic, I was suddenly and unexpectedly thrown back online again.

Conclusions

So, hello internet. It’s me again. I’m back.

The next few weeks and months I will be migrating, wiping and recycling all my old technology to reach my one cell phone and one laptop goal. My new laptop can do everything that I was previously using at least three other tech devices to do. My new laptop is new enough that I could apply for pretty much any remote job I wanted if I needed to now. Hopefully, that won’t be necessary. My goal is to stay at my current job until retirement. 

How much technology hardware is in your house? If you put all of your laptops, cell phones, cords, etc, in a pile, how much would you have? By the way, I found 5 house phones, almost 10 landline phone cords, and multiple internet cords in my search. I am keeping two of each. I am one person with one phone. I do not need 10 telephone cords. I will keep two in case one breaks so that I have a backup.My goal is to get all of this technology migrated and downsized so that I can focus my online activities on what I like to do – working on this blog and interacting with our Twitter friends.

The 3 Deaths

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The theory of the 3 deaths has been attributed to multiple sources. Typically, if an idea can be traced back to three or more sources, it is considered to be common knowledge. The first death occurs when the body stops functioning. The second death occurs when your body enters the grave, by burial or cremation. The third death is the moment when your name is spoken for the last time.

If Kip was still alive, today would be his 23rd birthday. Kip and Kitty are still both alive today because I keep their memories alive. While they have both experienced deaths one and two, they have not yet experienced death three. I have a feeling that when I die is when they will experience the third death. There won’t be anyone left to remember them. There will be no one left who still loves them.

My goal right now is to outlive Jude, Simon and Jolene so that I can keep them together. I worry about what would happen to them if something happens to me. They know their names. They know who they are. I know all their likes, dislikes and quirks. 

In addition to taking care of Jude, Simon and Jolene, I keep the memories of Kip and Kitty alive by still loving them. When I die, they will die with me. My purpose in life is my cats. 

There have been cats and humans throughout time. Many have been lost to history. Millions have experienced all three deaths. Yet in this period of time, I have loved and saved five lives. I am caring for the three I have now. The two I have lost are still loved in memory.

I don’t worry about experiencing the 3 deaths myself. My life has not been memorable for anyone but me. I just worry about what happens to the cats without me. 

Maybe it’s presumptuous to think I am so important in their lives. If I am gone, they will be rehomed and their lives will go on, right? I love them so much I just want the best for them.

Today I am remembering Kip on what would have been his birthday. I am also remembering Kitty, who is in my heart also. They have not yet experienced the third death because my love keeps their memories alive. 

Tales from my Surfboard Part 7: Lake in Winter

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It wasn’t always me going back to Massachusetts. Sometimes Lily came to New York to see me. The biggest difference was that Massachusetts tends to be more accepting than New York. New York is extremely conservative in comparison to Mass. 

Many people may wonder why we didn’t just choose – Massachusetts or New York? Pick a location and move in together. We had that conversation many times over the years. In the end, I think we were both scared. Lily was afraid to give up her life and family in Mass to come to more conservative New York where we would both struggle and everything feels so precarious. I was in New York for a specific purpose – education – and it took me a lot longer to reach my goals than anticipated because life happens. In the end, it came down to fear and economics on my end. I could not afford to live in Mass and I didn’t want to be in a position of living with someone if I was not able to pull my own weight.

Probably our biggest experiment in this dilemma was the year when Lily rented a house on Cayuga Lake here in New York for 5 months of the winter. It was the off-season for Lily at work, so the only thing she was technically leaving behind was her family. She did travel back to see them. 

The house was a fully furnished rental that was someone’s lake house. The rental was reasonable in the off season. It was on a seasonal road that was never plowed and when not blocked by snow, was often blocked by trains passing. It was directly on the lake and had a gorgeous sliding glass door that opened directly onto the dock of the water.

There was a canoe and other boat apparatus at the cottage that we used on the water. Lily made sure to teach me that the water and the lake was beautiful, even in winter. 

Perhaps the water was even more beautiful then. Whenever a storm came up the coast, it produced good wake. We put on wet suits to help protect against the cold and even took our shortboards out on the waves. 

Cayuga Lake is inland, so the wake is not as good as the ocean. Winter waves move slow, small and lazy. We were were able to catch some. We also took the surfboards up to Great Lake Ontario. There the waves were better – more comparable to the ocean on a good day. 

Lily was able to find some temporary odd jobs to do while she was in the cottage in New York. I was working full time and going to school, so of course we could not spend every minute together. The experiment was to see if Lily would be interested in moving to New York to be with me permanently. 

Having Lily in Ithaca for 5 months allowed me to see the city through her eyes. It was like playing tourist in your own city. We went places and did things that I never would have seen or done alone. I remember we got to see Rusted Root in concert at The Haunt. Rusted Root was the band who did my graduation song. When I graduated from high school, we were the last graduating class allowed to have a song. When our song played, we all stood up, hugged each other, and shook hands. When the song ended, we sat back down. The administration said we were “disruptive,” so no graduating class has been able to have a song since unless it is an original song made by a member of the graduating class. 

Lily and I saw Rusted Root in concert. We visited the wineries and attended many plays of live theatre. We spent time together and Lily helped me to fall in love with the beautiful Finger Lakes region all over again. 

Sunday mornings we would wake up lazily. I remember sitting in an overstuffed recliner right by the sliding glass door with a good cup of coffee watching the snow fall gently on the lake. Lily helped to open my eyes to good coffee and taught me that life is too short to drink the cheap stuff. Go for the gourmet coffee, you will be happier for it. It is the small indulgences in life that matter the most.

Saturday evenings I would arrive at the cottage after work. We would walk the dog (Lily had a dog then), and play some flag football in the yard. Well, as much flag football as two people and a dog can play. 

At the end of the 5 month rental, I remember Lily saying that it was a beautiful area and that she loved it. New York was not for her. It is too conservative and stifling here. She went back to Massachusetts. 

Well, we can say we tried. 

On my end, I was even more in love with the natural beauty of the area despite all of the challenges of living here. Lily taught me to love the lake in winter. Sometimes the lake is more beautiful in winter than it is in summer. Winter is not something to be feared, but to be embraced. It has a beauty just as brilliant as the summer, even if in a different way.

Stay tuned for more Tales from my Surfboard … telling stories of lives of loved ones lost to COVID. 

The Great Clean Out

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When I bought this house 3.5 years ago, the gentleman who owned it had passed away after living here for 60 years. His family cleaned out his personal effects, but there was a lot left in this house when I bought it and moved in. 

Over the years, I have been gradually going through what was left in this house in addition to my own minimizing and downsizing. I have recycled and donated as much as I can. Some of the items were quite interesting. For example, I donated a 1940s era fire alarm to the Historic Society. There were a few other historic items donated also.

I finally came down to the point where everything that could be donated, recycled, or reused had been. All that was left was junk. There were old tools that were rusted and that no one would want or use because we now have power tools to replace the old hand tools. There were old tools from the days when Americans would travel by horse and buggy before there were cars. This house was built in 1911. There was just a lot of stuff.

Winter is typically the time I declutter and work on all my indoor house projects. In the spring and summer, I donated everything. I took a week off for my birthday to complete my house projects.

This week I hired someone to come get all the junk. I was looking at renting a dumpster, but did not want all of this stuff to end up in a landfill. Instead, I hired a small family business who came and picked up everything. They will try to recycle things as much as possible in ways I simply could not recycle them. For example, they have a way to recycle all the metal that I simply don’t have access to. I’m not sure exactly what recycling metal is all about, but I know that they are going to try to recycle the items as much as possible to keep them out of the landfill. That makes me feel so much better than if I had simply put everything in a dumpster.

This week, all the junk left as part of the great cleanout. Everything else that is left in this house, I can either donate, recycle, or dispose of one by one if needed. All the junk is currently gone unless something happens to break beyond repair.

I am getting ruthless on cleaning out this house for a few reasons. First, someone is going to have to clean out the house when I die. I don’t wish that chore on anyone. I am trying to make the house as easy to clean out as possible when I die. 

Second, on a more positive note, if I am able to survive the pandemic and outlive the cats, I want to leave the country. It is going to be easier for me to leave the country with less items. I am downsizing with the idea that I am going to leave the country. 

Third, this house is difficult for me to handle. The more stuff I can get rid of, the easier it will be for me to take care of the house. My true goal is to get everything onto the first floor of the house, but with the bathroom and my office on the second floor, I don’t really see that happening. I’m doing what I can to decrease my possessions as much as possible.

All that stuff that we keep “for an emergency?” The emergency is now. We are living it. If a global pandemic and what looks to be World War Three is not an emergency, I don’t know what is. If you haven’t used something over the past 3 years, you aren’t going to need it. We are living the emergency now. Get rid of it. Only keep what you need and what truly makes you happy. 

As spring approaches, I am winding down on my decluttering project for this season. With the exception of some ongoing projects (like my CDs), I tend to take a break of several months once the weather cooperates to be outside. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. I have things to do other than declutter and maintain my home.

I feel so much lighter now that the great clean out has occurred. All of the items in my garage and basement are items I use and need for the house. All of the rusted metal and weird horse and buggy items are gone. I am still on my minimalist journey, but with this clean out have made significant progress. 

Will Run for Peace

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Ukrainian President Zelensky announced that if anyone wanted to go to Ukraine to help them fight, they would give you arms. I would love to go. The only things preventing me from going are my cats and the fear that they would not take me to fight in Ukraine.

Ukraine is worth fighting for. Their freedom is worth fighting for. Would I fight for America? No, I would not. America is not worth fighting for anymore. America put me on their euthanasia list.

Both the President and the CDC say that I am they type of person that should die in the pandemic. They want me to die. As part of the vaccine mandate, there was a euthanasia plan for those medically unable to be vaccinated. My euthanasia appointment was immediately canceled as soon as the Supreme Cout struck down the vaccine mandate. The hospital told me that as medical professionals, their first duty is to “do no harm,” and they did not want to euthanize anyone if they were not mandated by politics.

In America, I am condemned to die. In addition to the euthanasia list, we have not had a single mask mandate or lockdown. America is trying to make our COVID death toll as high as possible. I don’t want to die of COVID. I would rather die fighting for something in which I believe. I would rather die fighting for Ukraine. Those people deserve freedom.

I try not to get political on this blog, but it is hard with the times in which we are living. However, it’s a wonder Putin does not have the chutzpah to invade the USA. If the USA was invaded, I would not fight. A country that has condemned me to death for my medical conditions is not worth fighting for. If we were invaded, I would surrender. The healthcare as a POW would be a significant improvement over American healthcare. It would be free.  

Healthcare in America is not accessible. It is not affordable. Whether you realize it or not, as soon as the USA declares the pandemic over or downgrades it to an endemic, millions of Americans will lose their healthcare coverage. We will all be back to paying for healthcare 100% out of pocket. We will continue to die because we cannot afford basic care we need.

My life goal is to leave the USA once the cats are gone. If I could figure out how to leave sooner and take the cats with me, I would leave in a heartbeat. I am 100% willing to relinquish my American citizenship to leave the country. 

Immigration to other countries is impossible for low-income Americans. The immigration regulations for American citizens moving to other countries is strict because other countries know we are leaving because we don’t have access to healthcare here. We can’t afford healthcare. I would love to be able to access the NHS or any other functioning health system. As I stated earlier, even healthcare as a POW would be better than what we have available in the USA.

I digress.

I want to help Ukraine. They are worth fighting for. Since I can’t take my cats to a war zone, I need to come up with something else. So, I’m going to do the only thing I know how to do.

I will run for peace.

I have registered for a virtual half marathon this spring benefitting UnitedHelpUkraine.org. This non-profit organization helps provide medical supplies to Ukraine. 

I am a fall racer. I don’t typically run spring races, but when I do, it’s a charity race.

Medal # 21 will be arriving this spring as I prepare for another half marathon. Please consider a donation to UnitedHelpUkraine.org to support my efforts and assist the people of Ukraine.

Ukraine is worth fighting for. Their people did not ask for this. If I did not have 3 cats depending on me, I would volunteer to go fight. I doubt they would accept me, since I am on the American euthanasia list. Or maybe they would, since the USA wants me to die anyway. However, my cats are my only family. I can’t abandon them to fight.

So I will run. I will run for peace. Here comes another half marathon training. This one is for Ukraine.