Tuesday, August 24, 2010

me and my wise ideas

My passport expired in May, and I've been slowly working on the "simplified" application for renewal. I finally had some time to get the photos taken, and for some stupid reason I chose to go to Walmart. They weren't very friendly, but they took the pics and when I asked the price I was told there was a "special": two pics and a passport wallet for $19.99. In disbelief I asked what the regular price was and was told $23.99. I told the lady I was sure I had never spent more than $10 on passport photos and she acted like she didn't believe me. I handed over my card and she handed me a plain black passport wallet that smelled slightly of gasoline.

I then went across the street to Shopper's Drug Mart to mail the small package to the passport office. Next to the postal outlet was a photo area, with a sign that said, "Passport Photos $9.99" which made me feel slightly sick to my stomach.

I hardly ever go to Walmart any more and now I remember why. Hate is such a strong word but ...

ETA: Not only does the passport wallet smell like inedible oil products but I just noticed that it closes with a hidden strip of magnet. Um, hello de-magnetization of all my cards?!

Seriously, Karissa

Friday, August 20, 2010


I just got off the phone with VISA. I have a card with a $30 000 credit limit and a "low-interest" rate of 12%, with an annual fee of $29. I had them switch it to a no-fee, 1% cash-back card with warranty extension and a $5000 credit limit.

I am just not comfortable with so much open credit now that my balance is on its way to $5000, but at the same time I was not yet ready to close out the account entirely, which was my intention. I realize that it's useful to have a VISA card for the locations that do not accept MC - like the eye doctor I visited last summer.

Eventually I will be credit card free, but not yet.

Seriously, Karissa

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another Moment of Joy

A bright, beautiful, windy day. Coffee in hand, I'm heading toward my office. I hear them before I see them: a huge gaggle of noisy Canada geese in circle formation passes by overhead. They are honking like their lives depend on it and the silliness of the sound makes me smile. I notice that, even though it is mid-to-late August and mornings are getting chilly, they are heading north . This makes me feel joyous. Summer is not yet over.

I look out over the river and see the gaggle settling onto the water, still in a circle. I wonder what the noisy urgency was, and why they settle there. From how far did they fly? Maybe just down river. No answers, but it doesn't matter, because their very existence made me happy.

Seriously, Karissa

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What brings me Joy?

This post is part of SOYJOY‘s What brings you joy contest. Learn more here.

Seriously, I'm a person of a pretty morose character. Years of wrong choices, bad luck, untrained coping skills and general pessimism have flavoured me in such a way that contentment has been an elusive second cousin, thrice removed.

About six years ago I found myself alone, lonely, and unhealthy and medicated. I had hit my bottom and luckily for me I was desperate to climb back up. I explored meditation and cognitive therapy. I went to twelve-step meetings and listened to the stories of those who had suffered much more than me, always wondering if I deserved to be so unhappy. I couldn't pinpoint the start of my decline, but I guessed it was sometime during my fourth year of university. I knew, though, that I had lived with unhappiness and depression off and on for years.

So you can imagine my hesitation and skepticism when my dear friend Kate Baggott posted about Joy the other day. I thought about it, Joy, and couldn't wrap my head around it. I had decided long ago that Contentment was my goal, and sometimes even Happiness. Happiness could last a day or even a week, but Joy? Joy is fleeting, a burst of energy that invigorates and then gets replaced by every day life.

I thought about Joy. What, to me, is Joy? I thought of my four-year-old son, who is a Joy, but he is also a lot of work and sometimes a pain in the bum. I thought of coffee, and ice cream, and a good submarine sandwich, all of which have brought me Joy, but on such superficial levels. I thought of the Joy at the click of the Paypal button, and the arrival of packages in the mail, and remembered hauling van-loads of junk from my moldy basement, stuff I bought, some of which were still in the packages. I thought of every $100 I put towards my debt, watching the number decrease steadily, and thought that might be Joy. I thought of the Joy of paying off my student loan (someday) and then acquiring a mortgage. Will that be Joy? But what if the roof falls in?

The day after Kate's post I noticed the word Joy on a couple of status updates in my Facebook. One was describing a man (whom I didn't know) standing in front of his muddy mini-van - off-roading perhaps? The second update was describing tears of Joy at this video and I thought, "that must be it, Joy is the feeling of being really alive." You see I spent so many years feeling dead inside, feeling bogged down by all the negativity in the world, forgetting that people survive. And that is a reason to feel Joy. Gratitude for living is a reason for Joy.

I still think Joy is fleeting but that's ok. In my case it will have to be quantity over quality, because if Joy is not continually sustainable then I will just have to find more of it.

Seriously, Karissa

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

For me, time is money

My time is valuable. Isn't yours?

I switched to a more part-time work position so that I would have time for my son. My job is great, my work hours are somewhat flexible. Not as flexible as work-at-home or freelance, but I don't have the skills for that.

By working part-time I am able to spend more time with Bean in the morning - let's face it, we are dawdlers. Once I drop him off at daycare I meander to my office, unless I have a meeting scheduled which makes our morning hectic, but thankfully that is only once every month during the school year.

Some days I leave work early so that I can go to the grocery store alone, or attend a self-help meeting (my version of "me time").  I know I can't handle the stress of "I want this! I want that!" so I rarely take Bean to the store with me.

A couple of weeks ago though I was feeling rushed. It felt like a thousand degrees outside and I was hurrying through Price Chopper, getting the things we needed to get through the next couple of weeks. I don't overstock because we have a small kitchen, and I haven't yet overhauled our storage closet. I went to grab a loaf of brown bread, of which I always stick half in the freezer. This time I didn't grab my usual brand and took the cheaper loaf instead. I'm sure the sign said $1.57, but when I got to the parking lot and checked the receipt I saw I was charged $1.99.

I hesitated and was going to return inside to check the price and the heat got to me and I said "forget it, it's 42 cents, I'll survive" and I left. I know I could have received the item for free if there indeed was an error thanks to a Scanning Code of Practice but at that time, in that heat, I decided it wasn't worth the two bucks.

Same goes for coupons. I just can't seem to make the time to care about coupons. They usually sit in my wallet well past their expiry date. The things I tend to buy - usually just staples - are cheap at the Chopper and there are rarely coupons for the things I buy.

Nina Yau from Castles in the Air lists some of the reasons why she chooses not to clip coupons:
  • I don’t find it a particularly productive use of my time.
  • I don’t carry coupons with me since I hardly ever use them.
  • I don’t subscribe to the Sunday newspaper coupon section.
  • I find myself spending more because of a coupon (e.g., buy 1 get one 1/2 off “deals”) and prefer to spend less altogether by buying only what I need and not just because it was on sale and I have a coupon for it.
Same goes for rewards cards. I was asked by a gas station cashier if I had one of their points cards. I admitted that I had two, neither of which were with me. I used to collect their points because I could transfer them into CAA dollars, but the last few times I tried to make the transfer online it didn't work, so I quit their program. I just don't have the time to sit and figure out why it didn't work.

Seriously, Karissa