Someone’s Blog Made Me Come Out of the Closet – For Real

Gentle Readers,

I had the pleasure of meeting Tanja and Mark from www.ournextlife.com this weekend and it was a blast. If you ever get the chance to share space in a bar with them, I would definitely recommend it. Double-points for a bar with good cider options to go along with the dark beer I love.

There were a ton of local PF/FIRE bloggers and folks who enjoy reading said blogs. I confessed repeatedly that my blog is extremely personal. It is the height of navel-gazing. Its sole purpose is to help me navigate out of debt on the way to FIRE. I sometimes write about more broad personal finance topics, or homophobia, but most weeks, I only have the capacity to post my net worth numbers. It is basically a public diary with myself. I love that people read what I write and encourage me, but I honestly do this for myself and am not entirely sure what others get out of this. Even if you did not read this, I would probably keep writing this. It is a space for me to learn and grow.

I was reminded this weekend that blogs have had an immense impact on my life. Even navel-gazing ones that are “too personal.” I came out of the closet very late in life, and I did it because of a blog. There were good reasons for staying in the closet having to do with my own safety. But, eventually, that changed. I did not anticipate it changing. I actively worked against it changing. But change it did.

In my mid-twenties, I was in grad school in a new city for me; this was a miserable and expensive time in my life. Part of the misery was how sexist my particular school was. I sought refuge with other feminists, and found many of them online. I was looking for like-minded folks to reassure me that there was good in the world, and that this situation would pass. That I was not wrong for wanting women to be treated as equals.

I found someone. She lived in my city and went to a nearby school in a similar program. She was older than me and fierce and feminist and very queer. We began communicating through her blog about our hatred of the kyriarchy (it’s like the patriarchy, but includes all the ways that people are marginalized) and our love of full-fat food. We were soon sending each other long, personal emails about everything in our histories and lives. It was intense and beautiful.

At the time, I was a Christian. My response to some very dangerous homophobia I experienced earlier in life was to try to conform to the religion of my parents. For many years, it worked. As a good Christian woman of a particular type, I could not be expected to date wily-nily. I was able to avoid the question of why I did not desire men by being a good religious observer. There could be no sexual intimacy without marriage. I was safe.

Except that the religion I was part of was not good for me as a woman or a lesbian or someone who cared about the world. It hurt my soul. But it provided cover for my closet. I was miserable, but I felt safe-ish.

But this blogger changed that. She wrote about feminism and sexual violence and what music she loved. I fell for her before I even met her. She told me she loved me over email before we had hugged. She loved me as a friend, but my brain ignored that tiny fact.

I knew I was in dangerous territory. I knew that she could see right through me. I knew that she knew how much I wanted the freedom she had. How much I wanted to be with her. I also knew that nothing could make us be together. She had no interest in me and I couldn’t even write the words “I’m a lesbian” without panicking.

Even still. I read her blog. I saw what possibilities life could have through her posts about Mad Men.

And I jumped.

I finally said out loud that I was a lesbian.

I lied and told her that I never knew before and that my particular brand of religion hadn’t impacted my closet.

She knew I lied. I could not hide how much I wanted her life.

We were only friends for that summer. While it did not feel like it at the time, she mercifully stopped being my friend shortly thereafter. I was bereft. I had to look at myself and go for what I wanted. I had to tell people. I had to pursue people who were kinder than she could ever be. I had to figure out what life out of the closet felt like.

I cried a lot that summer. To my brother. To my erstwhile best friend. To tertiary friends from college who helped me plan to come out to our far more conservative Christian friends. To anyone who would listen.

But then, eventually, I stopped crying. I was excited to be living life truly for the first time. My classmates noticed a change in me and were actually much better to me as an out lesbian. I was happier and folks were happy for me. It was beautiful, but I had a lot to learn about HOW to date. My roommates helped me set up dating profiles and even went to crappy lesbian bars with me when I was too afraid to go alone. They listened to me kvetch. They helped me pick out outfits. They were wonderful.

All of this happened because of someone’s niche blog about feminism and music. I fully intended to remain closeted my entire life. But a glimpse into someone’s personal truth changed everything about how I live.

So I’m glad you read this navel-gazing blog about my money situation. I hope that something here is what you need to read. I hope that you can live life on your terms.

Has a blog ever impacted you like this?

 

Net Worth Week 87 – Desiring Work Edition

Gentle Readers,
Another week without work. The second interview went very well. All of the individuals I met with were impressed by me. But the federal government moves slowly. There was a 2 week continuing resolution passed yesterday, which means that the federal government at least won’t shut down in the next two weeks. Hopefully that means I’ll be employed soon.
Thankfully, my office got a lot minute request for a meeting that I could charge for. It was a small amount, but it will help.
I finally got paid through Rover. Rover’s processes are very slow.  I met with the two potential long-sits for later in the month. One hired me and the other decided that they needed a sitter who could also do the afternoon walk.
I signed up for and played in my first soccer game in over 3 years. I haven’t had time since I began my business. There were some SNAFUs, but I got to run around and be a member of a team. It was great.

This week’s net worth numbers

12/1/2017 12/8/2017
 Joy 1111 1111
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Moving 286 286
 EF 57 57
 Business 5 5
Life 2454 1903
IRA 16098  16027
 Brokerage  858  867
 Rewards Card 2 -1966  -2702
 CC (largest  0  0
 CC (longest 0  0
 Rewards Card -5613 (BT)  -5613 (BT)
 SL 1 -106014  -105692
SL 2 -46724 -46577
Earnest -2284 -2289
 Repay brother  -600? -600?
 Net Worth -142291 -143176
 Percentage Change -.31% -.62%

Do you think the federal government will shut down?

Net Worth Week 86 – Biding Time Edition

Gentle Readers,
I’m still in the hurry up and wait phase of estate management and pursuit of a gig. My second-phase interview was rescheduled for Monday instead of yesterday. These interviews in my employment world are largely ceremonial. Once they approve me, they’ll need to formally request me and send me to get an ID. Since this is a government gig through a temp agency and a subcontractor, it takes time to onboard. Last time, it took a month from first contact to working. Thankfully I had a gig during that time to hold me over then. My first contact regarding this gig was November 6th; Monday would be 4 weeks since then.  In the meantime, I am studying like a mad woman to make myself available for other types of gigs.
I’ve also used this time to do some administrative work for my own office and bedroom. Handling tasks that take time but little brainpower. I’ve kept my brainpower for my heart and reading novels. This was a wise choice.
My friends have been really wonderful. Lots of phone calls and time in person. People are wrapping me up in love and it’s great. Even so, it feels like November has been the longest month. So much has changed. So much has happened. Hopefully working again will make time feel a bit more normal soon.
 I have my first Rover gig tonight and I am excited. Especially since I did not originally realize that I get paid per animal. I’m earning double what I thought this weekend. The dogs are high energy, and that is fine with me. I get a chance to stay away from my roommates and play with animals while earning money. Wins all around. Hopefully this client and I get along enough to make this an ongoing gig.

This week’s net worth numbers

11/24/2017 12/1/2017
 Joy 1110 1111
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Moving 286 286
 EF 57 57
 Business 5 5
Life 2471 2454
IRA 15966  16098
 Brokerage  858  858
 Rewards Card 2 -1587  -1966
 CC (largest  0  0
 CC (longest 0  0
 Rewards Card -5613 (BT)  -5613 (BT)
 SL 1 -105899  -106014
SL 2 -46672 -46724
Earnest -2279 -2284
 Repay brother  -600? -600?
 Net Worth -141855 -142291
 Percentage Change -1.16.% -.31%

Have you used Rover before?

DIY Laundry Detergent

Gentle Readers,

Like many before me, I don’t understand the costs associated with keeping my clothing clean. Dry-cleaners believe that women’s shirts are more expensive to clean than men’s shirt. No one has dared tell me that my sweat is tougher than a man’s to treat. And yet, my fancy professional clothes that cannot touch water must receive a costly treatment after so many wears.

A few years ago, I stopped using dryer sheets in favor of wool dryer-balls. You only purchase the product once, which means less packaging in the world. I also like that they have no scent. Many of my friends are highly allergic to any fragrance and I want my clothing to not impact their health. The environment, my budget, and my friendships all win.

I have been itching to make my own laundry detergent for a few years, but I could not justify it until my detergent ran out. I use less than the recommended amount, because my clothes come out clean with far less than the manufcaturer suggests. I finally finished a container of oxyclean and thus had the space I needed to create my first batch.

There are lots of recipes online, and most of them are the same. For my ratios, I looked here.

You don’t need much for DIY Detergent

I purchased 5 bars of soap (you need one bar, but it was cheaper in bulk), 1 box of washing soda, and 1 box of borax.

Per above, I don’t like scents, so I ignored the advice to add essential oils. I did purchase a microplane after checking out my local hardware store for a suitable alternative. I don’t have a dishwasher, and didn’t want to use my small food processor and end up with soapy pesto later.

Steps to making DIY Laundry Detergent

Once I had the materials and the room in an airtight container to store it, I pulled out the microplane and one bar of soap and grated it while watching music videos on YouTube. It took longer than I anticipated, but was not onerous. I think I was done in 15-20 minutes. Per usual, I knicked one knuckle on the microplane twice. So I will refrain from giving myself a manicure for a few days while I heal. Happy to report that no blood ended up in my detergent.

Then I added one cup of washing soda and one cup of borax. I briefly stirred everything together, while being careful to not get things on my skin as two of the ingredients can be drying.

That’s it. I now have very powerful, much cheaper detergent. Most people advise using one to two tablespoons per load.  I immediately did one load of laundry with this detergent; it included a flannel shirt from my dad who was a hardcore smoker living in a moist apartment. It had smelled of mildew and smoke. No longer. The load came out and appeared far cleaner than my expensive store-bought detergent ever achieved.

One final bonus was learning that the friend who hosted me for dinner and games Sunday night is also interested in making her own detergent, but had not been able to procure washing soda. The box is huge and you take so long to go through it one cup/tablespoon at a time. It will be easy for me to put some in a baggie to share with her.

Have any of you ever made your own detergent? Did you like the results?

 

Net Worth Week 85 – Thanksgiving Edition

Gentle Readers,
I have not yet been formally offered a gig. That means I earned no money this week. That’s frustrating, but it acted as a form of bereavement leave.  It also gave me time to be on the phone figuring out estate management. I began much of the estate process. I am still unsure of a few things, but I’ve made big strides. This is mainly because he had little and I had the time beforehand to get an idea of where he had accounts.
Unfortunately, Earnest did not allow a month-long break on paying. Apparently that is only for people who have their student loans through them. The only option for a break is a 3 month break. I hope that won’t be necessary.
I changed some accounts around. The health account was subsumed into the EF. I now have a line-item for the plane tickets I need to repay my brother for. He hasn’t told me the particular amount, but he will eventually. We’ve agreed that I will repay it when it won’t hurt me financially. That is, after I have a gig for a few weeks. Or when the life insurance pays out.
I got to spend Thanksgiving with one of my favorite families. The food and friendship were restorative. I got to hear stories from her children. I got to have a glass of very fancy whisky to celebrate her husband’s promotion.  It was lovely.

This week’s net worth numbers

11/17/2017 11/24/2017
 Joy 1110 1110
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Moving 286 286
 EF 11 57
 Business 5 5
Life 2855 2471
IRA 15827  15966
 Brokerage  851  858
 Rewards Card 2 -891  -1587
 CC (largest  0  0
 CC (longest 0  0
 Rewards Card -5613 (BT)  -5613 (BT)
 SL 1 -105833  -105899
SL 2 -46642 -46672
Earnest -2277 -2279
 Repay brother -600?
 Net Worth -140224 -141855
 Percentage Change .31% -1.16%

How were your Thanksgivings?

 

Net Worth Week 84 – Hard Week Edition

Gentle Readers,
My gig ended last Monday, but I have an interview to do similar temporary work as a supervisor. I hope that this works out. I will likely have at least two weeks without earning money.
My brother’s high-risk pregnancy ended with an apparently healthy child. They live overseas, and their country has some strict rules for fathers in hospitals. He had very little time with his child at first. Gratefully, his wife is being released today. Their child needs a little more monitoring, but things appear okay. That brother’s biopsy results indicate that he does not actually have cancer and he should be able to avoid the cancer that impacted our father by lifestyle changes.
Our father passed away a few hours after his most recent grandchild was born. Most of his children were en route, but did not make it in time for a final goodbye. One of his children had not been able to visit him during this illness at all. Another only saw him in his final hours – after he’d already lost the ability to communicate. I have many thoughts about this, but for now, I need to begin managing his estate and that involves many phone calls and figuring out what all needs to be managed.
I had to cancel my physical because I was near my dad, but I will reschedule. I also need to request a month-long break on Earnest.

This week’s net worth numbers

11/10/2017 11/17/2017
 Joy 1110 1110
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 46 46
 Moving 286 286
 EF 11 11
Business 5 5
Life 2047  2855
 IRA  15798  15827
 Brokerage 863  851
 Rewards Card 2  -612  -891
 CC (largest) 0  0
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -5764(BT)  -5613 (BT)
SL 1 -105668 -105833
SL 2 -46566 -46642
 Earnest -2270 -2277
 Net Worth -140673 -140224
 Percentage Change .__% .31%

Have you ever had to handle an estate? Any tips?

Net Worth Week 83 – Find Support Edition

Gentle Readers,
My heart is still hurting, but  I must just wait for her. I know that it will likely be many months. My twitter shows how swiftly my feelings and hopes and fears can change about this. However, I am following our boundaries as stated. No matter how I feel at a given moment. I’m really proud of myself.
This post is so late because I had a slumber-party with my friend and her family. It was soul-refreshing. The kids were sad I had to leave, but I can’t sleep on their couch forever. We played. We ate delicious food. We talked. She and I made plans to make plans for a trip. It was lovely. Rejuvenated me.
 I attended a conference about my business this week, and had my gig likely canceled. It is only likely until someone with the authority to fire me is actually at work. The two people authorized to make the decision were out on vacation when my supervisor said that the project is likely over. Thankfully, the conference was very informative and introduced me to people of like mind.
I’ve not further looked into Talk Space yet. I’m not sure that I need it, or that I can afford it since I don’t know if I will be employed come Monday.
This next week should see the biopsy results for my brother. Then we’ll know what steps he’ll need to take. His wife’s c-section is also planned.  I’m really hoping that it goes well and that the baby is healthy.
Per my girlfriend’s request, I’ll have my physical this week and see if any tests would be necessary for me.
For the second week, my dad could not begin chemotherapy because he has not been able to consume enough. It has been four weeks since he has been able to receive any treatment. I fear that means he has only weeks to live.

This week’s net worth numbers

11/3/2017 11/10/2017
 Joy 1110 1110
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 46 46
 Moving 286 286
 EF 11 11
Business 5 5
Life 3159  2047
 IRA  15851  15798
 Brokerage 864  863
 Rewards Card 2  -630  -612
 CC (largest) 0  0
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -5979 (BT)  -5764 (BT)
SL 1 -105989 -105668
SL 2 -46713 -46566
 Earnest -2730 -2270
 Net Worth -140668 -140673
 Percentage Change .43% .–%

Do you think I’ll have a job for the next few weeks?

Net Worth Week 82 – Things Get Worse Edition

Gentle Readers,
If you follow me on twitter, you’ll already know that instead of staying with me for a week, the unresolved issues in our relationship jumped out and demanded attention, which included my girlfriend staying with other friends. The short version is that she needs space right now and I am giving it. It is incredibly difficult to wonder if she’ll come back in a few (many) months and want to release the pause button.  But I know that regardless of the outcome, the way she needs love from me right now is from a distance. That means very limited direct communication. She can’t have space to focus on herself if I am filling it up with cute memes or with my woes and joys.
Any time I hurt in major ways, I allow myself to feel the fullness of what I’m feeling, but I also make sure that my friends know what is happening. They can check on me and contribute to my well-being. My friends are doing a great job of loving me.
Even so, I’ll be raw for awhile, but that is just something you experience sometimes. I am using the time to focus on being the best version of myself. I am studying hard. I am loving my friends well. I am doing many more things to develop my business.  I am crying and sleeping and remembering to eat.
I’m already a different person from when she saw me last. Quite literally, as I’m now on a new tray of invisalign. I’m sure that there will be other, less tangible changes as well between now and the next time we see one another. Time does that to people. I know what I hope for and I know that I may never get it. I’ll exist in an interstitial emotional space for a bit.
I’m looking into Talk Space, in part, so that my current string of woes does not overwhelm my friends. The weekly fee for access to the subscription is cheaper than a therapist through my insurance. I don’t think I would do the highest tier, which is the only one that includes one 30-minute Live-Session a month. Can a therapist messaging you once or twice a day make enough of a difference to be worthwhile? I’m not aware of having a mental health issue. I’m just going through a lot and a space for talking is good…
How this impacts me financially. So far, I’ve had to use will-power to prevent myself from buying very expensive beautiful shoes I cannot afford right now. Part of no communication includes me not sending her presents or planning any trips. I’ll be spending thanksgiving at my friends house in DC, which is cheaper than flying to Texas. I’m trying to spend time with friends while spending little money, and that is helped by invisalign. Eating is difficult and most menus have food that is just too tough for me right now. I also think that I’ll be talking more walks along The Mall in the near future. Due to growing my business and having a gig,I spend more time alone than this extrovert likes, and at a time when I am sad and stressed that is definitely not a good thing.
In other tales, more things got worse for my family, too.
My favorite brother who lives overseas and whose wife is in a high-risk pregnancy just told us that he has the precursors of the cancer that is killing dad. Hopefully catching things so early means that appropriate treatment will save his life. That is highly likely. Thankfully, he lives in a country where medical care won’t bankrupt him. He can access it. Being afraid for dad made him go get tested for something that has been bothering him for a year. Our dad’s illness may have saved his life.
This type of cancer mainly impacts men, but just in case environmental factors played a part, my girlfriend asked me to get my physical and update my medical record with the new cancer prevalence in the family. So I’ve made that appointment. She also wants me to do a cancer screening, and I’ll ask my doctor if that is something we should do.  I also checked out the insurance available on the exchange for next year. My premiums are going up by a lot more than any other year since the ACA started, but insurance is important. I clearly need to study to earn more so that I can cover the expensive next few months.
My dad was not actually able to begin chemotherapy because he has not been able to eat or drink enough to have the appropriate ‘levels.’  This sounds ominous to me. I did ask a nurse I know for her thoughts. To her, it sounds normal and not ominous. I’m not convinced.
We are anxiously awaiting the next baby. It’s been a very high risk pregnancy and I have a lot of stress about her safety. Baby should arrive in the very near future.

This week’s net worth numbers

10/27/2017 11/3/2017
 Joy 1109 1110
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 46 46
 Moving 286 286
 EF 11 11
Business 5 5
Life 3424  3159
 IRA  15469  15851
 Brokerage 872  864
 Rewards Card 2  -1115  -630
 CC (largest) 0  0
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -6168 (BT)  -5979 (BT)
SL 1 -105874 -105989
SL 2 -46660 -46713
 Earnest -2725 -2730
 Net Worth -141279 -140668
 Percentage Change -.67% .43%

When many things fall apart at once, what is your self-care? Have you ever used a therapist or Talk Space?

Net Worth Week 81 – My Love is Here Edition

Gentle Readers,
My love is able to work from my home for a few days! Seeing her for more than a 24 hour stint is luxurious. I’m so grateful for her closeness. The badness in the world makes me want to be near her, but it has not been financially, or otherwise, possible.  We weren’t sure this visit would actually happen. So I have some business meetings to attend while she is here, but I am hoping to handle them with a laser-focus efficiency.
MY LOVE IS HERE!
And, back to other bits of my reality.
Still no will yet.  I’ve not yet received my copy of his living will.
Favorite uncle is still in the hospital.
We are done to one pregnant person, because there is a new baby!
I did a ton for my business this week. There is one person in particular I’d love to hire me because I just really clicked well with her.
I’m still studying like a machine! For now, I am ahead in my 3 month plan, but we know that the best laid plans can fail. I’m just going to keep plowing through until there is an obstacle outside of my control.

This week’s net worth numbers

10/20/2017 10/27/2017
 Joy 1109 1109
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 46 46
 Moving 286 286
 EF 11 11
Business 5 5
Life 3001  3424
 IRA  15549  15469
 Brokerage 863  872
 Rewards Card 2  0  -1115
 CC (largest) 0  0
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -6168 (BT)  -6168 (BT)
SL 1 -105759 -105874
SL 2 -46608 -46660
 Earnest -2719 -2725
 Net Worth -140343 -141279
 Percentage Change .25% -.67%

I guess if my father does not draft a will, then the state he lives in will control everything and I do less; anyone gone through this?

Net Worth Week 80 – Do What You Can Edition

Gentle Readers,
We’ve upgraded to a living will, but no will yet. He said he’d mail me a copy since I will be the one to make final decisions on his behalf. I wish he would draft a will. He’s told me generally what he wants, but that conversation has no legal ramifications.
My favorite uncle is on day 5 at the hospital now, as well. The pregnant people remain pregnant thankfully.
I did some good business things this week. I attended a professional luncheon and met others doing similar work. Multiple people also told me that they are sending people to my business soon. I hope at least one pans out. One client at a time is easiest when you have another job. I don’t know what my capacity for clients is during family emergencies, but I know that my business needs money to survive.
My dentist thinks my invisalign is going well. I told her about the travel situation with my dad and got her advice on how to handle timing. The pain is still around, but much better than before. My teeth are still sensitive enough that I can’t eat hard things and that is impacting me a bit, and I think that this restriction will last throughout treatment.
I’ve been very focused on studying when not worrying about my dad and my business. I have a 3 month plan to get myself over this hurdle and able to take on work in the skill.  These extra expenses right now are stressful and I am trying to focus that stress into learning.

This week’s net worth numbers

10/13/2017 10/20/2017
 Joy 1109 1109
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
 Health 46 46
 Moving 286 286
 EF 11 11
Business 5 5
Life 2838  3001
 IRA  15309  15549
 Brokerage 838  863
 Rewards Card 2  0  0
 CC (largest) 0  0
 CC (longest) 0  0
 Rewards Card -6270 (BT)  -6168 (BT)
SL 1 -105643 -105759
SL 2 -46555 -46608
 Earnest -2713 -2719
 Net Worth -140698 -140343
 Percentage Change .48% .25%

Still I wonder how to convince a dying person to write a will. Any tips?