Category Archives: Me

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I’m making some changes. Good changes. Commitments to things. Goals. Stuff that’s hard but good for me. And guess what? It’s hard. But good.

First I worked on my work. I’ve been trying to work to a set schedule; get my most important/creative work done each day while my energy levels are high and before I get distracted. Surprise, surprise, I’m churning out a lot of stories that way. And I’m excited about them.

(I’m working on an ebook of a series of Christmas stories. Don’t forget you can sign up to find out whenever I release new fiction.

I’m also working with other people, to give and receive feedback on writing projects. It makes me accountable (not just to do my own work, but to take time to read and think about theirs). It takes time management and means I can’t spend 14 hours a day checking social media and pretending it’s work. It’s tiring, but rewarding. I get a lot out of giving critiques as well as receiving them.

And now I’m working on my health. This is one more thing to shoe-horn into my schedule but I’ve finally realised that I’m getting older and things are going to stop working if I don’t do some routine maintenance on them. So I’m seeing a trainer, and following a meal plan and my calendar is full of little red appointments for this and for things I don’t want to forget that are related to other people in my life (including the big behemoth: school).

But we just had a fantastic vacation and all this planning and organizing doesn’t seem as bad as it does when you haven’t had a break for a while. (Note to self.) It was nice to come back to an empty refrigerator and go out and refill it with only healthy foods. Expensive but nice. It was nice to take a day today to go through all the stuff I’ve been ignoring for over a week, and put things on the calendar, delete other things, and view the upcoming months as the start of something, rather than the unending middle of things.

And all these things are hard for me, who resists plans and likes to feel spontaneous. But I have finally realised that making everything up as you go along is so much harder than having some essentials in place. So I’m trying to learn to plan. It’s a big change. One among many changes. And it’s hard. Hard but good.

And now I have to go and let someone torture my muscles.

Happy happy.

Perfect Day

My boys rolled out of bed on the right side this morning, cheerful and compliant and ready to go before it was even close to time to start screaming at them that they were late.

K was cheery and well-rested — shades of the dreaded morning-whistling-K I remember from our early years together (shudder).

I, instead of faffing about, showered and dressed and set out for my writing garret before the clock struck 9.

When I stepped out the front door, the sky was a lovely dull gray, the light not too bright for my weak blue eyes, not so dark as to be ominous. The temperature was hovering somewhere around a cool 52 F and, oh joy of joys, it was spitting. Not a miserable kind of drizzle that soaks you without even trying, but a sort of cheerful plinky rain that a light jacket can ward off and that serves mostly to keep you cool on your walk and to make the fallen oak leaves smell amazing.

My town is dull and cool and full of the smells of autumn. I stomped along the street with a big stupid grin on my face and arrived at my garret pink-of-cheek and crazy-of-fringe.
crazywriter.jpg
I really never should have left Scotland.

Government Shut Down

Got an interesting letter from my Congressman today. (I say ‘my Congressman’. I didn’t vote for him. I enjoy getting his emails though.)

He says isn’t interested in shutting down the government because of budget squabbles and he is fully seized of the fact that shutting down the government does nothing about the Affordable Care Act. So far, so reasonable.

But here’s the interesting part. Last weekend he sent out an email survey, to which I responded. This email contains the results. They speak pretty clearly. And yet, somehow he can’t hear what they’re saying. He says:

The constituents I have heard from don’t want the federal government shut down and they don’t want the glitch-filled, job-crushing health care law known as ObamaCare.

Then he quotes two sets of statistics. The first is from people who contacted his offices. The second from an email survey he sent out last weekend (to which I responded).

Of those who contacted our office:
1,134 — or 85.7 percent — expressed strong opposition to keeping the federal government shut down
188 — or 14.3 percent — expressed support for staying the course and keeping the federal government shut down if it means “defunding ObamaCare”

A measly 14.3% of people want to stay the course and keep federal government shut down ‘if it means defunding Obamacare’, which Gerlach has already stated it will not.

2,584 (52%) — Continue funding government operations, including funding for ObamaCare
1,917 (39%) — Shut down the government if the CR does not defund or delay ObamaCare
398 (8%) — Selected Other

I’m going to make a leap and assume that the 8% are in some kind of opposition to ObamaCare, which would mean that 47% of his constituents might feel strongly anti-Affordable Healthcare. However, that 8% was not willing to go so far as to say government should shut down over this fight. That means something like 60% of Pennsylvanians think Congress is a big tub of squawking crybabies who need a few remedial Kindergarten lessons on getting along together.

I am remarkably heartened by that.

But saddened that Congressman Gerlach still chose to open with

The constituents I have heard from … don’t want the glitch-filled, job-crushing health care law known as ObamaCare.

I’d like to see his statistic on that, since these stats don’t support it and that’s his opening salvo. (He may have those statistics somewhere.)

I’m glad he’s not afraid to criticize his party leaders. I’m not glad he…

…did not vote in favor of the law and have voted more than 40 times to repeal, de-fund, delay and replace it.

or that (buried near the bottom of the letter)

I have joined my colleagues in the House six times during the last two weeks to pass bills that keep the federal government open AND defund or delay ObamaCare.

But that’s just politics. I can cast my vote against him next time. (And I will).

It is interesting, however, to be kept informed and to hear that not everyone out there is a crazy wing nut.

On the other hand: FFS it’s the law of the land, let’s give it a chance and see how it shakes out, eh?

ENTIRE TEXT OF JIM GERLACH’S EMAIL

Capitol Update October 3, 2013
Putting government back to work for you while working to shut down ObamaCare
In the weeks leading up to the Oct. 1 deadline for passing a budget measure that would fund the federal government, I received lots of questions from people in the District about whether I would be willing to shut down the federal government to “de-fund ObamaCare.”

My answer has always been the same. Shutting down the government would not “de-fund ObamaCare.” Mandatory funding for implementing ObamaCare was authorized when the health care law was passed in 2010 by a Congress, which at the time was controlled by Democrats and President Obama. As this Washington Post article notes, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service found that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that Health and Human Services could rely on “sources of funding other than annual discretionary appropriations” to implement ObamaCare. You can read more about the CRS report from July 2013 here.

I did not vote in favor of the law and have voted more than 40 times to repeal, de-fund, delay and replace it. Very simply, I told everyone who asked that I was not in favor of a government shutdown solely for the purpose of grandstanding on ObamaCare.

As you all know, the federal government shut down just after midnight on Tuesday for the first time in 17 years. And ObamaCare is still being implemented in full force by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Meanwhile, taxpayers wondering when they’ll receive overdue tax refunds can’t get answers from the IRS and federal workers are sitting at home instead of answering phones and responding to mail from seniors with questions about Social Security and Medicare.

I think it’s time for government to get back to work for the taxpayers. I have let House leadership know that I am in favor of passing a budget measure that will re-open government and keeps spending flat for the next 6 months. There would be no caving in on spending. The budget I’m calling for builds on the hard-earned success House Republicans have had restoring fiscal discipline and ending out of control spending so we can rejuvenate job growth and prosperity.

The constituents I have heard from don’t want the federal government shut down and they don’t want the glitch-filled, job-crushing health care law known as ObamaCare. But at this moment, middle-class families, employers and communities of all sizes are coping with the devastating effects of both. It is time for Congress to vote on a budget bill that gets the government back to work providing all of the services already paid for by the hard-working taxpayers in my District and across the country.

Reopening the federal government absolutely does not mean shutting down efforts to repeal and replace a health care law that’s driving premiums higher for too many families, cutting hours for too many workers and giving the federal government unprecedented control over medical choices for too many patients.

I have joined my colleagues in the House six times during the last two weeks to pass bills that keep the federal government open AND defund or delay ObamaCare. Each attempt to eliminate funding for the law, repeal the $30 billion medical device tax driving jobs overseas or treat all Americans equally by giving them the same one-year reprieve from the law’s mandates that the President gave big businesses has been rejected by the President and Senate Democrat leaders. A bill to eliminate subsidies to help Members of Congress and their staff pay for health insurance was also sent to the Senate where it died. I supported that bill.

The President and Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid seem perfectly content keeping the “Closed” sign on the Liberty Bell, Valley Forge National Park and Gettysburg National Battlefield. I am not, and I look forward to voting to put government back to work serving the taxpayers very soon.

Offices are open
All of my offices will remain open and staff will be available to help constituents throughout the federal government shutdown.

I take very seriously my responsibility to serve and assist all the people I have the privilege of representing in this District. My constituents will still have questions and concerns, and they deserve to have someone answer their phone calls and correspondence — even when Washington shuts down.

While staff in Washington and District Offices in Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery counties will be available to provide information and initiate inquiries with federal agencies, responses from federal agencies may be delayed and it may take longer for those agencies to process new applications due to anticipated furloughs of non-essential federal employees.

I also have tried to mitigate the effects a government shutdown will have on our nation’s military. I recently helped the House pass H.R. 3210, the Pay Our Military Act, which guarantees that the men and women serving our country in the military will be paid during this shutdown. The U.S. Senate passed the bill and the President has signed the measure into law.

The men and women who sacrifice everything serving our country are the most essential federal employees we have. The paychecks they have earned should not stop just because Congress and the President cannot agree on a budget.

Additional information about how federal agencies will be affected by this shutdown is available at http://www.usa.gov/shutdown.shtml.

Constituents speak out on shutdown
Feedback from constituents is important to helping me understand how issues before Congress affect the families, businesses and communities in this District and help me get your voice heard in Washington.

Since the shut down went into effect early Tuesday, we have received more than 1,300 messages in our offices — and more keep coming in every day.

Of those who contacted our office:
1,134 — or 85.7 percent — expressed strong opposition to keeping the federal government shut down
188 — or 14.3 percent — expressed support for staying the course and keeping the federal government shut down if it means “defunding ObamaCare”
In addition, our office conducted an e-mail survey the weekend prior to the shutdown. Anyone who is a constituent AND has provided an email address to my office receives these surveys. Please make sure to check your email spam filter for a “Message From Congressman Jim Gerlach” to ensure you aren’t missing opportunities to participate in these surveys.

The results from that weekend survey were:
2,584 (52%) — Continue funding government operations, including funding for ObamaCare
1,917 (39%) — Shut down the government if the CR does not defund or delay ObamaCare
398 (8%) — Selected Other
If you are a constituent and did not receive an email survey question and would like to, please contact my Washington, DC office at 202-225-4315 to provide me with your contact information and email address and we’ll make sure you receive the next one. E-mail surveys are just an additional way to interact with the people I represent.

Constituents can always send me their thoughts 24/7 through my website (www.gerlach.house.gov) or via phone/snail mail to any of my offices. I value greatly the opinions of all of my constituents and hope you’ll keep contacting me on these important issues.

Analogue


1
As I posted earlier, I was having a really hard time writing a story I’ve been working on for a week.
Some of it was external (or rather, internal: physical fatigue and mental fog caused by things I can point at), but that doesn’t matter. I still have to work. When my kids were small I didn’t get to not feed them just because I felt crappy. When I had a paying job and I was bored, I couldn’t just sit there and stare into space.
Now I work for myself. So I had to find a way to, um, work.
I had spent far too long looking for distraction in the food cupboards and on news sites and the dreaded Facebook. I was starting to feel sick. So I broke out my e-edition of Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
I got as far as the part where the author talks about stepping away from the computer screen when it hit me: that was exactly what I needed to do today.
I copied out, by hand, in my nice fountain pen, the opening 359 words of the story I was working on. I consulted my handwritten notes. I dragged some loose leaf lined paper on to my desk and wrote like I was sitting in the exam hall during my Higher English exam 2. Before I started to write, I blocked out some things I knew I wanted my heroine to do (and why) and then I began to write. I wrote until I was starting to get stale (around 1000 words later). And then I typed it up.
And tomorrow I know what comes next. I have notes about why she’s doing all this, and a sense of how long I can let her roam the page before I have to bring things to a head.
I think I’ll walk down to my shared office space early tomorrow morning, with my notebooks, my ipad and my new bluetooth headphones, and see how far I can move things on.
I’m fighting back. Because what else am I going to do? Give up? Been there, done that., learned that it doesn’t help.
Seriously, read the book,read the book though. It’s full of good stuff.

  1. Yes, I’m betraying my British origins. Analogue and catalogue will never look right to me without the ‘ue’. Deal.
  2. I don’t remember any teacher ever teaching us about creative writing while at school. We studied Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas and John Steinbeck and bloody bloody Keats — the same one poem two years in a row — but no-one ever talked to us about composition. And yet it was in every exam. Luckily I loved it, but since moving to the States, where they are teaching my kids about story structure in elementary school, I do find it odd that I never heard a thing in school about ‘rising action’ vs. ‘the middle’ or ‘climax’ vs. ‘the end’. Maybe it was a good thing. Maybe the fact that I only ever learned from masters (i.e. those writers I enjoyed reading) has affected my writing more than the pronouncements of a provincial teacher in their 20s every could have. Still odd, though.

Feeling Sorry For Sysiphus

It has been very hard to write, this past week. (I think I managed 10 words yesterday. Seriously. Ten.)

I’ve been out of my Write First routine. It’s hard to Write First when you are tired, or under the weather and have to get kids out to school, and when the only exercise classes your gym offers are an hour after the kids leave for school and, and, and.

But none of that matters. I need to find a way to write, because I am such a better person when I do. I need to find a way because, ten years from now, I could still be sitting on a pile of unfinished stories, or I could be living my dreams.

So I shall revisit the Bradbury Method. I shall revisit my morning pages. I will look at my goals and log my word count and do all the things that, over time, result in my motivation coming back.

…right after I shower and go to this school thing that I said I would attend.

 
InsecureWritersSupportGroup

And I absolutely will not be spending time on the Insecure Writers Support Group list today. (Ahem). But you might want to:


 

Don’t Know Much About History*

Belle Boyd Home I’ve been reading about the American Civil War recently because…well, let’s see. Why AM I reading about it?

Oh, I know. Because it was the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 4th this year and I subscribe to Smithsonian Magazine, and there has been an ongoing series of Civil War articles.

In spite of having lived in Pennsylvania for 17 years (you know, down the road from Gettysburg) I have managed to learn surprisingly little about the Civil War in my time here. So, with all the anniversaries rolling around I decided to read. And of course, when I’m reading about historical events I keep getting caught up in the fascinating characters who get a passing mention in the big texts.

Like, Robert Gould Shaw, who was eventually celebrated in the movie Glory . Turns out that for a long time he was nothing but a footnote in the history books. I have an old, second-hand book that bemoans the fact that no-one knows about Shaw, even though he wrote tons of letters that were preserved and published and promptly forgotten about. 1 The thing that really caught me about Shaw though, was the throwaway line that he spent a couple of days on honeymoon before going off to assume his command of the free African American troops. And that the couple’s families had not approved of the marriage. Wha-huh?

That was pretty much all I could find.

So the cogs started turning. And I wrote this story.

But there is a ton of other stuff to learn, quite apart from names of Generals and dates of campaigns.

For example, did you know there were a whole slew of women spies — for both sides — some of whom went on to become famous and give speaking tours, some of whom died in penury and some — I’m looking at you, Harriet Tubman — were the first women in the nation’s history to lead actual military operations (albeit without a commission. The woman blew stuff up and led raids, and all before she was being pictured in demure dresses and being celebrated as a suffragist). Also: the government finally paid out upwards of $200,000 in back-pension benefits that they had promised her for her war work but never given her, in 2011.

So I’ve spend a happy day or so reading the memoirs of Belle Boyd, La Belle Rebelle, to get the lowdown on how a spirited lady of adventure would tell her own story. It was published in 1865 while she was living in London and trying to get her husband out of jail back in America. She was a piece of work. And I’m currently writing a short story that is going to be a great rollicking ride through Viriginia with a spirited lady spy who may owe a debt or two to Mrs Boyd-Hardinge.

I also pulled up an episode of the Ken Burns documentary on the civil war that I remember coming out when I was still living with my parents or going to university. I remember my older brother being absolutely addicted to it and finding myself drifting into the room and ending up sitting there with him for hours as this strange, bewitching mishmash of still photos and voice-overs unrolled history for us. This week I accidentally landed on the episode that covers the horrors of the Andersonville prison, complete with pictures of starved survivors that should have warned us about the horrors that 20th century warfare would bring — apparently we weren’t listening.

There are stories to be written there too, but I’m probably not the one to write them. I don’t think I could sink myself into that much sadness and still have the willpower to sit down and write every day.

So it’s back to my spunky heroine Rose and her quest to [REDACTED] in order to save her [REDACTED] in the face of [REDACTED]. It’s going to be fun and exciting and, I hope, spur you to find out more about this fascinating period of history.

[*. Actually I do know quite a lot about history. Oodles, in fact. I have a certificate that says so. I just don’t know much about certain areas of it. Like, as it turns out, the history of the Civil War]

  1. Until Matthew Broderick came along, obviously.

Words And Phrases You Will Only Ever Hear Me Put In The Mouths Of Loathsome Characters

ScreamIt has come to my attention that people are attempting to invent the word “conversate” as in: “I was conversating with Bob…”

Wh—ugh.

When I Am Linguistic Queen

I will be a benevolent dictator. Unless you do any of the following things, in which case I  will turn up at your door with a copy of Strunk & White and the collected works of Ernest Hemingway. And I will hover over you, menacingly while you read and absorb each spare sentence of both.

Yes, language evolves. Yes, we need new words. Yes, we are free to invent cute, clarity-enhancing new terms for things.

But let us not simply replace existing, perfectly-good words simply because we are too lazy to find out that they exist.

And before you go correcting my grammar,  I’m perfectly aware that I started these sentences with prepositions and you know what? It’s fine. It’s a conscious stylistic choice. It does not obscure meaning. It reflects modern structures and modes of communications. It does not, to the vast majority of the population make me sound like an unlettered oik. It’s fine. Get over it. (This is my fantasy and I am Linguistic Queen, remember?)

Making up words that obscure meaning is not OK

Language is about communication. Communication requires that we all share a pool of commonly-used words, the meanings of which we all understand. It is also about throwing in the occasional unusual word because it makes things more clear, or illustrates a concept perfect, even if someone has to go to the dictionary to check the meaning. Dictionaries are easy to get nowadays. My Kindle has one built in so I don’t even have to page away from the book I’m reading if I need clarification (not “clearness“).

Words And Phrases You May No Longer Use In My Absolute Kingdom

Conversate

Instead of using conversate why not try converse? Better yet talked to. I’ll even give you speak to as long as you do not use it in the following ways:

1. “Can you speak to the problem of binge drinking?”

No, Mr. Interviewer. I cannot speak to the problem of binge drinking. Binge drinking is a concept. It is a problem. It is not a person. It has no ears. I can, however, speak about it.

2. “The decline in piracy speaks to the rise of  global warming.”

No it doesn’t. Global warming, likewise, has no ears. The decline in piracy may indicate a subsequent rise in global warming (except it doesn’t. That’s a logical fallacy: a subject for a different rant.).

Note: A word that sounds a bit like conversate that you may still use with impunity is conversant. If someone is conversant with a topic, it does not mean they are talking with it or about it, it means they are familiar with the details. Use at will.

Utilize

Seriously. Why? Just say use.

Supposubly

This is not a word. This was a punch-line in Friends.  The word you want is supposedly. My eight year old may stumble over this. If you are older than him, you may not.

Addicting

Drugs are not addicting. Neither is Game of Thrones. They are not going out and hunting you down and addicting you to them. What ever it is you are addicted to, the thing itself is more passive than that. It is addictive. You are addicted. It is addictive. Addicting? Not a word.

There, They’re, Their

I know. They sound the same. You only need to know the difference when you’re writing. But we’re all writing and reading much more than we used to (thank you, Internet). If you want me to know what you mean, and not have to stop and wonder why it looks wrong, thereby losing all sense of what you are trying to communicate to me, use the correct form.

There is related to place. I don’t have a trick to help you remember that. Sorry, but it’s just one word. Commit it to memory. There=place.

They’re is a related to them (they are. It’s right there, in how you spell it. They, them, they’re, they are).

Their is the weird-looking cousin of the there/they’re family. No other word really looks like it. It can only be used when talking about people and the things that belong to them, for example, their weird-looking cousins.

Note: Likewise, if you’re not sure which homophone of a word to use, look it up. It’s easy to make a mistake. I’m not judging you on that. I’m judging you if you don’t care that you’re making the other person work too hard to understand you. Don’t be inconsiderate.

Examples: I don’t want to sore (ouch), I want to soar. I don’t want a peak  (mountain top) at your work. I want a peek.  I don’t want a roll (fall down and writhe) in your movie, I want a role.

You’re welcome.

The Problem Is, Is

The problem is you’re repeating yourself unnecessarily. The problem is. Not the problem is, is.

People say, “The problem is, is I’m going to be out that night.”

You wouldn’t say, “Is I’m going out that night.” so why say, “The problem is, is I’m going out”?

It’s a stylistic tic that I hear all the time and I’m alerting you to it now, so you can cut it out.

The problem is [state the problem]“. Done.

Wa-la

It’s French. It’s literally “see there” (voire: to see,: there). It’s spelled “voilà” and pronounced “Vwah-LA”. It’s a real word used to express satisfaction, approval or sudden appearance. Use it with joy, but use it with a v.

Things I Have No Problem With

It’s not all judgment and dictatorship, as Linguistic Queen. I’m really quiet laid back. There are many non-traditional words, phrases and language evolutions I’m totally cool with. So really, am I asking too much?

Dialect and Accent

If, in your local dialect people reliably say “aks” instead of “ask” or “liberry” instead of “library“, that’s just an accent thing. If everyone around you says it the same way, you might have some trouble spelling it properly, but you’re not obscuring meaning.  Carry on, as you were.

If you come from an area with distinct dialect patterns that don’t follow standard English, feel free to use them. They’re part of your heritage. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong. Even me (OK, maybe me).

However, you will probably also benefit from knowing how to use standard English for those occasions that call for interaction with people from other places, or a more formal setting. (In fact, in my experience, people who have a genuine dialect pattern, tend to be able to drop into standard English with more precision than people who just don’t use Standard English because they just don’t care.)

Noo-cular

Yeah, the word is nuclear (new-clee-ar), but if you say noo-cular, everyone knows what you mean. Don’t sweat it. (But do spell it properly.)

“Guys”

As an informal group-collective that has, arguably,  become non-gender-specific, I call this one of the ways language has evolved. Sure, you could use people or everybody, or all. None of these are particularly grammatically sound and not everyone can get away with shouting “Ladies and Gentlemen” before beginning a sentence. I vote we move over to “guys”. Except this is not a constitutional monarchy. I’m Linguistic Queen and therefore “Guys” is now decreed an acceptable gender-neutral collective noun. Deal with it.

 

And that’s it for today. I’m all out of outrage.

What words get you riled up? Share the horror in the comments section.

 

Wibbly-Wobbly Armey-Warmey

I noticed tonight that my left arm was shaking as it pressed a glass to the ice dispenser.

Naturally my thoughts went immediately to Michael J. Fox’s autobiography “Lucky Man” and how he woke up one morning with a twitch in his pinky and look where that led!

(What? You don’t immediately diagnose yourself with the worst disease you’ve heard of that shares a symptom with your every twinge? Come on, you know you do!)

Then I remembered that I had a particularly tough yoga class yesterday (and there are two words that I never equated before I actually TOOK a yoga class). AND that the teacher had us doing some devilish arm exercises right at the end. (She said she couldn’t do them any earlier or our warrior poses would have surrendered to the Swiss army at the first sign of trouble. Or something like that. I’m a bit hazy on the actual words, due to, you know, the pain).

So I paid a little attention to the rest of my body and noticed that my right arm was feeling distinctly wobbly too. So that’s OK then.

And this homework-induced margarita should definitely help alleviate the symptoms.

20130911-184355.jpg

(Isn’t Wednesday the new Friday?)

Life Skills List

Here are some things I will teach my kids before they leave home (preferably in the pre-teen years). What would you add?

How To:
Sew on a button
Sew a hem
Repair a tear in cloth
Use a sewing machine
Iron a shirt, t-shirt and trousers
Fold their laundry
Sort and wash their laundry
Bake bread
Bake a cake
Make a white sauce
Roast a joint of beef
Make fish & chips
Rehydrate and cook beans
Grow vegetables from seed
Transplant a store-bought plant
Knit
Weave
Three or four different knots
Paint a wall
Sharpen a knife
Basic car maintenance
Budgetting
Write a thank you note
Use a soldering iron

They’ve had a shot at some of this stuff so far, but maybe we need to design an actual course with a checklist on Pinterest and everything :)

What would you add?

The Power of Plastic

I have been living without a credit card for nine days now. And it is killing me1.

That is to say, I have been trying to not use the back up credit card from a company I’d rather not deal with, since our card from the very nice bank we belong to was stolen and someone went on a $15K spending spree in Asia2.   I still had my debit card for groceries and for getting cash out of holes in walls, but day-um! I had no idea how accustomed I had become to impulse purchases: everything from songs on my phone to books on my Kindle, to random household goods and birthday presents from Amazon. Nine days and I was really feeling the pinch.

A few days ago I cracked and entered the back-up card number into our Netflix account (we don’t have cable, so this is pretty much it if we want to watch anything on the big box), and today I cracked even further and entered the forbidden numbers into a couple of other frequently-used online sources. I rationalize it by saying “I neeeeeed to update my apps” and “I neeeeeed to buy this stuff from Amazon cos it’s more efficient than driving around trying to find this one thing in any one of several different shops.”  Recurring monthly purchases are starting to show up now (including a few I didn’t realize I was still making, which is a bonus) and I’m looking at my finances with fresh eyes.

But wow, it felt good to click ‘complete purchase’. I never thought I’d see the day.

It’s interesting. I did not grow up a shopaholic and I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen that “I don’t like to shop” and yet, and yet… Interesting insights for a future fictional character. We are not what we seem: even to ourselves.

  1. not literally
  2. Yes, the credit card company refunded the money, hallelujah!