My Solemn Vow to Save Money All Summer for my August Unemployment

Evaporated on Amazon Prime Day. But for a really good reason:

When I take my 30 day break, it’s a total removal from the company. The monitor they sent so we could work at home? That has to go back, along with the laptop and all peripherals. I’ve come to love this monitor.

I have a very wee MacBook. (The model is now discontinued, but I’ll cross the new computer bridge when I have to.) The screen is very high quality, the resolution is lovely, but it is very wee indeed. Grandma’s eyes just don’t freaking want to deal with that on a daily basis, with photos, etc.

Prime Day came along and this morning, on a whim, I searched for a monitor, and found a very cheap monitor with 40k+ positive reviews. The deal is over now, sadly, but I got that baby for $79. The cheapest monitor I’d put on my shopping list, which is no longer available, was $129. Score! This is the first time I ever bought anything on Prime Day, because this is the first time they ever had something I really wanted/needed.

And hours later, once the barrier was broken, I bought an Echo with a clock. I also didn’t pay the price currently shown when you click through, so I’m glad I did it. I’ve wanted this since the first time I saw it. My nightstand is small and cluttered. I have been thinking about putting my teeny Echo Dot on the desk in my office for over a year, and I don’t have an actual clock on my nightstand. It was half price!

I swear I’m done now.

Disclosure: I’m an Amazon Associate, so if you buy something through my links I get a small commission.

41 Days Until Forced Unemployment*

*See earlier post for explanation.

45 Days until Disney Blockout Ends. I’ve made three park reservations already – you can only make three at a time – I may mess with these between now and then, but right now the lineup is Animal Kingdom the day blockout ends, then Hollywood Studios, then Epcot. Right now I’m planning two days a week in the parks, because that’s probably the realistic number of reservations I’ll be able to score as the dates get closer. I can throw in some park hopping with that, like, start the day in Epcot and hop to Magic Kingdom for fireworks. Park hopping is changing parks on the same day, which Disney makes seem so easy! Disney World is huge, you can’t just pop from park to park, it involves transportation. It takes time, and it’s entirely impractical to “hop” from Animal Kingdom to anywhere, and that’s probably TMI here.

So I have plans for my month off. Cue the tropical storms! That would be my luck, right?

Seriously, I’m getting jazzed about this. I choose to see it as an opportunity to test my planned retirement gig/my tolerance for the worst of the heat and humidity, as well as a test of a funny blog idea I came up with while texting with my daughter. I’ll keep that under wraps for now, though I did splurge a big $16 on a domain name I was shocked was available. I have work to do before this adventure begins.

So here’s a question for the few and the faithful readers of this blog: would you like me to post Disney content here, or put it somewhere else, or cross-post in both? I have no intention of abandoning Bossy Little Dog, it has been my little shack on the interwebs for too many years, starting on Blogger, but I don’t want to drive off my non-DisNerd readers with too much Disney, so I’m toying with a separate Disney focused blog. What do you think?

Sophie Update

It’s not good news. The new, very expensive medication from the compounding pharmacy across town isn’t making any difference so far. We are on day…4? I think. We should have seen some improvement at this point. She’s had massive, watery diarrhea in the night two out of the last four nights, which is a move in the wrong direction. She had been able to somewhat control it and do it outside for the last couple of weeks. Bless her heart, she does try to put it on the giant potty pads covering the floor, but, yeah. Life is just gross now.

She can’t make it up and down the stairs (I live in a 2nd floor condo). She doesn’t enjoy walks. Taking her out is a chore for both of us. I carry her down the stairs and she is utterly disinterested in the outside world. She’s completely blind and I’m not sure how her other senses are faring. She sleeps 23 hours a day. I’m not sure I’m doing her any favors fighting this battle much longer. I’ll give the fancy new antibiotic the full two weeks, but I’m not feeling hopeful.

Nothing Focuses the Mind Like a Deadline.

I’m going to be out of work effective August 1.

Not permanently. Just for 30 days. Let me attempt to explain how this works.

I am a contractor at the place where I work, not an employee. This is a very common situation there, it’s how they run their business, with many, many contract workers alongside employees in the same roles. I’ve been there nearly 6 years. I doubt I’ll ever be offered a permanent position at this point. I’m not really complaining, because after the year we’ve all had, I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to have stayed employed, been able to work from home, and generally was able to continue my semi-normal life without major hardship.

I came very close to major hardship. I transferred positions within the place where I work at the end of 2019. When 2020 hit the fan, my prior contract position was eliminated. So, though I may complain about the gig I have now, I know I dodged the disaster of being over 60 and unemployed during a freaking pandemic. It doesn’t make what I’m doing now any less aggravating, but I’m very grateful for the paycheck, such as it is.

So my supervisor at the place where I work told me my contract was being renewed for another year on Wednesday. On Thursday, he IMed me to tell me that I had to take my 30 day break this summer. Maybe someone who understands the legalities of this can explain the why, but basically, as a contractor, every three years you have to take a month off. I last did this in 2018, so yes, this would be year three.

I was somewhat prepared for this, I keep a month plus of living expenses in a separate account for it, BUT when had I asked the company that pays me when my break would be due, they’d told me 2022. Apparently they had started counting from when I took the new position in my current department, instead of the date of my original contract. Oopsie.

Good thing I didn’t dip into this account for the auto maintenance and home repairs I need, right? I was thinking about doing precisely that, figuring I’d have time to replenish the balance before 2022. Once again, my natural gift for procrastination saved my ass.

So, instead of being able to plan my break for when the weather would be nice, like, April or May, I am now involuntarily taking the month of August off. Although I have money in the bank for the month of unemployment, I don’t have any spare cash to travel, so I’ll be staycationing.

After a few minutes of panic, and a lot of internally screaming “FUCK!!!” I realized that this is actually an opportunity.

You all (my few but loyal followers) know by now that I’m a hardcore Disnerd. Disney World is my happy place, and I hope to work there as my retirement job, because I’ll never be able to completely retire. I have a silver level Florida resident pass to the parks. It’s one of the less expensive options, and because I renew it annually, it costs about $40 a month.

It has what Disney calls “blockout dates”: this year it’s the months of June and July, then a couple of weeks around Christmas and Easter/spring break. The blockout ends on August 5th. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

I’m going to do a Disney immersion experience for the month of August. Heat and rain be damned, I will be at the parks whenever I can get a reservation. I will use myself as a crash test dummy for surviving Disney in the “worst” month. If I really do want to work there in “retirement” (always in quotes for me) I need to see if I have what it takes to keep smiling through August.

Life Is Too Interesting, Yet Also Boring.

Full update tomorrow morning and also on Sunday, I swear.

Topics:

My manager at the place where I work (I’m a contractor) told me my contract has been approved for renewal for another year, so yay!? I’m not crazy about the job, but I very, VERY much appreciate the paycheck. You have no idea how much. Then he dropped another bit of news my employer failed to communicate with me, EVEN WHEN I ASKED. This summer’s plans just got more interesting.

I’ll explain being a contractor in more detail when I’m not exhausted and am fully caffeinated, but it may have shaken me out of my vague “Things I’ll do someday,” procrastination about the future of this (or another) blog.

Sophie’s on her new, uber-expensive antibiotic from the compounding pharmacy, and I can’t really tell if it’s working yet. So far, so not so good. I’ve had to face that we are on the two week countdown on this. If it doesn’t show a real improvement in her condition over the next two weeks, there really isn’t much more we can do with her.

My work week was bonkers again, and thanks to Sophie I have been sleeping like a mom with a newborn, attuned to every “Eh,” noise. I have to get out of this cheap desk chair and move to the couch to watch something mindless and crochet a super easy and cute little backpack. The dancer approves of it, though I’ll wait until she sees the finished product before I spend money on yarn for one in studio colors. This one is a basic navy blue. I could use it for a small backpack for Disney, where I will be spending much more time. Oooh, foreshadowing….

Back in the morning with coffee.

I’ve become a crocheting fool.

I learned to crochet as a small child. A very small child. I joke that my Gram and great aunts put a crochet hook in my baby fingers as soon as my eyes focused, but I do remember sitting on the couch, I think at my Uncle Jim’s, crocheting endless chains with a great aunt. I’m not sure which one, there was a herd of them. Probably the one who lived closest. We moved away when I was 5, so I was 3 or 4. Three, I think, because by the time I was 4 I had graduated to doll blankets with uneven edges. I had a hard time with the chain before turning the row thing. Anyway, I (probably literally) cut my teeth on a crochet hook.

After I discovered knitting a few years later, I more or less abandoned crochet, except for afghans. I remember an angst-y summer in my teens spent absorbed in crocheting a yellow and white afghan of good ol’ Red Heart acrylic. 12 inch solid granny squares in a checkerboard pattern, it was mindless and soothing to make and actually turned out quite pretty. I used that thing for years, and then I think it was handed down as a dog bed for our beloved golden retriever Bailey.

Apparently this is the year I am returning to my crochet roots. I haven’t made a crocheted garment in years, because yeah, it’s heavier and bulkier and eats yarn like no other, but I found two sweater patterns that called to me, and then a tote, and then an adorable small backpack.

The backpack’s recommended yarn is Lion Brand 24/7, and it happens to come in the dance studio’s colors. I’ll show it to the dancer and see if she’d like me to make one for her; I think it would be great for corralling ballet shoes and brushes and hairpins. The new ballet teacher is truly a lovely woman who comes from a serious ballet school, and she has standards: bun and leotard and tights are a must, the students must look like ballet dancers.

Ballet is often between other dance classes on the same afternoon, so that is not as easy as it sounds. She’s not a ballet student; she’s a dance student who may have acrobatic before ballet and hip hop after. Last time I dropped her off for dance, one of her classmates was digging in her own backpack to help Delaney whip her hair into a semi-proper bun. A smaller bag for ballet essentials seems like a good idea, but I’ll get buy-in before investing time and money. I’m starting with the bags, just to get my skills back before I start on a sweater.

Sophie is still with us, but today she slept almost all day, and when she went out to potty, it was that awful incredibly smelly spray again. It doesn’t smell like dog poop. It doesn’t even smell like “typical” diarrhea. It’s almost like a chemical odor, and truly horrible. I ordered the last ditch try Hail Mary Pass antibiotic, it is being delivered because I can’t get across town during the compounding pharmacy’s banker’s hours. I will start her on it immediately of course, and we have two weeks from then to see if it makes a difference. If it doesn’t, we are out of options.

Tomorrow is Monday again. Bleh.

Sophie Update.

Sophie went back to the vet this afternoon. I like this vet child who I’m pretty sure is years younger than my favorite boots. We discussed the future and agreed we are in palliative care now. The vet does want to try capsules of the antibiotic Sophie refused to take as a sprinkle on her food, but just a two week course; it’ll work or it won’t. If she doesn’t respond in two weeks, well, we’ll plan her graceful exit. I’m not going to let her die by inches from dehydration and protein loss.

Of course, after many horrible days in a row, this week she’s visibly better and eating, sleeping, and controlling her poop’s timing. It’s still a horrible, liquid, stinky spray, but she hasn’t had an accident in the house in a week.

I did splurge on a complete blood panel today, because we agreed that it’s needed. Not much point in throwing everything at the diarrhea without knowing whether her kidneys or liver or whatever are also in trouble. This other antibiotic with the steroid are literally the last Hail Mary pass.

Not a cheery update, but this isn’t a happy situation.

After Much Thought about Growing Out My Gray…

I’m going to color my hair again. I’m totally back to my natural color after a year of quarantine and a series of very short haircuts, and…eh. It’s not really that gray except for a few promising streaks and salt and pepper shit, and it’s just dull. It looks faded, neither here nor there, washed out, which is exactly what I DID NOT WANT in this going natural experience.

Seriously, I’m disappointed in my follicles. My roots were so promisingly peeking through with bright silver a year ago, I was thinking I’d be rocking the Jamie Lee Curtis look by now.

But nooo, I have the kind of salt and pepper hot mess I didn’t want. So, yes, I’m going to color my hair again, because I’M NOT AS GRAY AS I THOUGHT I’D BE. Has anyone ever said that before? I was all in on going silver. Not so much on going lightly frosted dead brown lawn look, which is what I have going on now.

I’m keeping the very short hair, and we can try this again next year.

Random Updates

Sophie: Not good. She’s still hanging in, but the latest meds didn’t work their old magic and the watery fire hose is back. Amazingly, she can control it, mostly, until she’s outside. Accidents in the house only happen if I’m busy or miss her signals. Her signal is a peculiar grunt/snort sound, I don’t know if it’s actually pain or just the feeling of urgency.

Her appetite is poor and she’s visibly thinner, but she’ll rally for a treat and she’s drinking a lot of water. I wish she could talk.

We have a vet appointment Wednesday afternoon, and it’s time for that quality of life discussion. I’m not making any irreversible decisions yet, but I’m afraid we have exhausted all the affordable options. I simply cannot afford to take her to UF veterinary school for thousands of dollars of testing. I’ve spent several thousand already over the last couple of years without a clear diagnosis or a treatment plan that works.

Work: I’m expecting the email telling me when I’m supposed to report to the office for the two day a week pilot program testing the new hybrid work at home/in the office plan. This has triggered a new sense of urgency about losing the quarantine pounds I’ve gained. I’m lucky to be able to wear jeans to work, but seriously, I’m down to ONE pair that actually fits comfortably, the rest (the cute ones in colors) are too damn tight. This is an unacceptable situation -I can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe. (See: $$$$ in vet bills).

I’m still using (and liking) the Lifesum app. (I don’t get paid to promote it.) I’d looked at a few of their diet plans, but I mostly ignored the keto diets. I finally looked at the one they call “ketogenic easy” and realized that it’s the basic low carb diet that always worked for me back in the day. How did I forget how successful that was for me? Why do I do this?

Better late than never: I went back to eating low carb on Friday and I’m down 2 lbs. on Sunday, and it’s very easy to follow. In days of yore when I was actually skinny (many, many days of yore ago) I ate this way. Why did I stop? I don’t know.

I have tried and failed at a 100% plant based diet. I make and enjoy a lot of plant based meals and eat a TON of vegetables, but I just can’t do it 100%. I’m fine with staying 50% plant based and 100% low carb. The scale is finally moving, and maybe by week two or three of the return to the office my other clothes will fit again.

We had a happy Back to Normal event this week: the dance studio held the end of the year recital and guests were allowed to attend! It’s held in a local high school auditorium and tickets were limited, so groups were socially distanced. It was nice to sit with vaccinated family and friends and do something normal!

Little by little, we are getting there.