My home is still standing.
And we didn’t get the flood waters and rain we were expecting to get this past weekend.
I’m not sure how many people are still keeping up with this blog or following me or even wondered if I was okay or what had happened, but just in case: I’m okay.
I’m shaken… and we’re expecting rain on Saturday (again), but nothing like what we had… Nothing like the dangerous flooding we saw this past weekend.
The Upstate was fortunate. We didn’t get the amount of rain that we were expecting to get, which is good for me and for my family and for many, many of my friends… But the midlands and the coast weren’t so lucky… Not just because they got more rain than anyone really believed would be able to fall…
…Because they did…
But because this state… This beautiful, often backwards, state that I love so much and have called home for so long… is set up like a slide.
The beautiful Appalachian mountains in the upstate, with our hills and valleys and lakes and rivers, melts into the hills of the Midlands, which dip into the coastal plains, where most of the land is below sea level to begin with.
And much of our state’s beautiful lakes and rivers from the upstate, that gathered so much rain this past weekend, flow with gravity and the rolling of the hills downstream, through the midlands and down to the coast before escaping into the Atlantic Ocean.
The waters aren’t expected to stop rising in this state until sometime today. Dams are still failing. People are still fleeing for their lives, leaving absolutely everything but the clothes on their back and what little they can grab to get potentially swept away in the water that is still moving through their area as it rushes the only way it can towards the coast.
I’ve never seen or heard of a catastrophe of this size in this state, and that’s saying something about a state that isn’t a stranger to hurricanes, earthquakes, ice, and tornadoes.
You may not have a lot. You may be unable to give items or money to help the people in need, and I understand that times aren’t exactly the easiest right now… But if there is something you aren’t going to wear ever again or that your kids aren’t going to wear again… or if there are cans in your own pantry that you can spare… please, give them.
And if there’s not even that, then give your thoughts. Give your prayers. Give your positive energy in thought and mind and pray for this state.
This isn’t over yet.
I don’t usually write these kinds of posts. I try to stay politically neutral on my blog and keep it for spiritually uplifting things, but my heart is weighing heavy today, and I feel the need to speak out.
In 1997, a woman by the name of Kelly Gissendaner convinced her boyfriend to murder her husband. He pleaded guilty and took a lesser punishment in exchange for testifying against her in her trial. She refused to plead guilty and ended up on death row.
In her time in prison, she completely changed. She became devoutly religious and helped many other inmates change for the better. She acted as a mentor to those in need.
She was sentenced to death this past February, but the weather made them delay. Then she was rescheduled, and the drugs were “cloudy.” They “executed” her today…
But let’s be real about this: the state had her killed.
They killed her by pumping her full of drugs. Her last words were her singing Amazing Grace. Her children, who pleaded for her sentence to be commuted to life in prison, were crying because now they’ve lost two parents. Her daughter said she feels like she’s being punished for something she didn’t do.
His family says that she took his life so she should die. They believe that it’s all an eye for an eye, except that we don’t kill every convicted murderer in the prison system. We pick and choose based on what? This is the first time that the state of Georgia has executed someone who didn’t actually pull the trigger.
And for what?
This is what I don’t understand about the death penalty… What gives us the right to decide who we should be executed and who shouldn’t? And if we’re going to do it at all, then why aren’t we doing it across the board? Why are we picking and choosing who gets state sanctioned murdered and who doesn’t?
And going beyond that: how can we condemn a person for making a really, really bad decision? Our life is nothing but decisions, and this person and all people who commit murder are labeled as “murderers” even though that is an action they do; not something they are.
She took a life, I get it. She shouldn’t have done that; she gets it too. But if our justice system has seriously reformed a person, why don’t we use her to do good instead of killing someone who could change lives. How awesome would her testimony have been to children walking down the wrong path? Or to adults who have landed themselves behind bars for their choices?
“Look, y’all… I’m in here for life because of a bad decision I made. I’m in here, and I missed my children growing up. I missed them graduating and starting families of their own. I missed so many opportunities to love, but now I have the chance to stop you and warn you from making my mistakes.”
She changed so many lives behind bars… and they spoke out on her behalf.
But you know what Georgia just told all their inmates?
“It doesn’t matter what you do. You can be on your best behavior and help other people and change the lives of those around you, but it won’t make a difference: we’re still going to kill you.”
Oh, excuse me, execute you.
You know what murder is? The premeditated (unlawful) killing of person.
You know what execution is? The premeditated (lawful) killing of a person.
You change two letters and suddenly it’s okay to kill.
When are we going to just admit that killing, lawfully or unlawfully, is not okay? When are we going to get over our anger and our hatred and focus more on forgiving?
When we feel the anger or emotions towards someone and believe that it’s OKAY to execute them for what they did, then we’re feeling what that person felt when they committed the crime.. because that feeling to kill… is all the same no matter who feels it, whether or not they feel justified.
Amy, Erin, and I went to Pagan Pride in Raleigh this past weekend. We had an absolutely amazing time. I taught a class on the 12 powers of man, and we worked through a meditation with them. I had so many people in my class that I ran out of the sheets everyone filled out afterwards for the reviews. Once everyone had left, I snuck a peek at them, and got all positive remarks. It was a really wonderful experience.
Next time, however, I think I will teach a class on something different. The problem with all Pagan Pride events, I’ve noticed, is that many of the classes are information only with little to no application involved. I want my next class to be a working class. Less “here’s some information,” more “let’s do some energy work.”
We all had a really awesome time though. Amy got to experience what Erin and I’s faith was all about. She got to observe a ritual, and talk to vendors. We bought a whole mess of incense and the most adorable little spoons to scoop it with. I am really excited to start using them soon.
It was really busy. Raleigh PPD pulls around 3000 people a year, making it one of the, if not the, largest PPD event in the Southeast. I feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of that experience and teaching. Erin said my class was the best of the day, but she might be biased.
One of the women in the class asked if I would be interested in coming to a weekend event sometime next year in the spring/summer time to facilitate a class with them, and I told her absolutely.
The next day, we had the option of going back to PPD or going to Ikea. We decided on Ikea. None of the classes were really screaming out to us, and I had never been to Ikea before, so we decided to make a day trip there on the way back. We spent soooo much money redoing our bedroom and getting some much desired kitchen supplies. We looked at couches, and when we get the money saved up for a new couch, we’re going to go back and get one.
All three of us are so completely over our couch now. It’s fake leather (pleather?) and it is the absolute hardest thing to keep clean with the animals we have. The cat fur sticks all over it, Bentley is obsessed with licking it, and it absorbs and holds body heat, so after sitting on it for five minutes, you feel like getting naked.
We’re over it. We’re looking into getting it cleaned and selling it and then using the money we make to go towards the debt. It came with a matching chaise…. and I’m debating on whether or not to sell it too so that we can get something that matches the new couch… I love the chaise… but it has the same problems and the damned couch… and the animals use it more than we do… We need something we can vacuum easily…
And not something so completely dark. The couch is the dark brown… and so is the chaise… I’m reading for something lighter… something not so dark… Our new duvet (because we scrapped the comforter in our adulting) is white and blue and gorgeous. We’re making way for more color…
Out with the old and in with the new!
This week is spirit week at school, so work is absolutely crazy. I went to work in my pajamas on Monday, and yesterday, I had on a Hawaiian shirt. Today, I’m a nerd… so I’m basically wearing what I normally wear. I’m not even sure what tomorrow is… But each day degrades a little bit more and more in my classes as Friday gets closer and closer.
I feel bad for the substitute that will be in my room on Friday because I leave for Atlanta on Thursday for the conference in Florida on Friday. My flight leaves Friday morning, the conference is Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and then my flight leaves Saturday evening. It’s going to be an absolutely insanely busy weekend, and I’ll probably be completely exhausted, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s such an awesome opportunity with the church.
I can’t even begin to express how awesome Unity is. They have given us so much emotional and spiritual support when things were so rough between the failed adoption (which happened a little over a year ago) and then the crippling debt we’re working on getting out of…. Now we’re finally leveling off and feeling comfortable again.
Erin’s Tuesdays and Wednesdays are her “late nights” now. She has class until 9-9:30, so she doesn’t end up getting home until nearly 10. Then she has homework and stuff to do to get ready for work the next day. I’ve been going to bed well before her these days, and that didn’t use to happen. I cannot wait for her to get out of graduate school!!!
She’s been doing really freaking well though, and it’s so exciting to watch her confidence grow with her knowledge. She’s finally starting to feel comfortable in the language and her abilities, and she’s soaring. She took a quiz and did above the class average, and she felt really, really proud of herself. I feel really proud of her too.
My graduate classes are going well. I currently have an A in both of them, but it’s an insane amount of work. I’m so glad that I won’t have this much to do next year since I’ll only have one class to take each semester, except for summer semester (where I’ll have to take two.)
I should be able to get my raise at the end of this year, and that will be a nice boost.
Life’s “new normal” is sinking in. We’re getting into the routine of late nights and early mornings, and we’re slowly paying off the debt we owe. One of the best things that happened recently, however, was that my home owner’s insurance was due this month, so I went to Geico to try and get a lower rate…
…And we saved $423…
…On better coverage…
How freaking awesome is that?! And because I am a government employee and Erin and I are legally married, they docked additional money off our auto insurance too. Working for the state as a government employee is amazing. The only “non-benefit” is the low pay, but the rest is fantastic. We get discounts everywhere we go, pretty much.
Ugh! I can’t stop yawning. The fatigue is real, yo.
I am sooooooooo glad that we decided to put off the baby-making until after this whole school thing is done and over with because there is NO WAY we could have done graduate school and have a baby at the same time. It is waaaay too much work. If the adoption had gone through or we’d had a baby when we tried last year, I wouldn’t be able to get my second Masters degree for awhile, so I’m happy I have the opportunity too now so that I don’t have to worry about school later…
Because I’ll tell you what: after I’m done with this degree???
No way in hell am I ever going back!
…Unless it’s to seminary… But that’s a different story for a different day.
The fatigue I feel is unlike anything I think I have ever experienced in my life.
I am so, so, so glad that Erin and I decided to put off our continued baby-making until we’re both out of graduate school. We would not be able to do anything. There’s not enough time.
I’m wondering if this fatigue could be my period about to start. I usually get really low energy and depressed the two days before my cycle starts and my face is slightly breaking out some, so who knows. According to my phone app, though, I’m still two weeks early. PCOS can suck a big fat one because it makes things so hard to track…
However, with the addition of Amy and her two cats to our household, there’s a very good chance that the cats aren’t the only ones reestablishing the hierarchy, and our cycles may be trying to figure out what’s going on.
I would be lost without my planner…. and my Instagram account (kelmh85) has turned into a long stream of “look at all this studying I am doing.”
Between working full time as a teacher and the grading that comes along with that… and working as the youth education coordinator at the church… and being full time in graduate school… and now working on preparing my lessons for Pagan Pride Days this upcoming weekend…
There’s not enough time. There’s just not enough time in the day to get everything I need and want to get done, done. The house is a mess…. The only reason that we’ve gotten the dishes done as much as we have is because Amy has made sure to put them in the dishwasher and start it. Erin and I got so fed up with the house on Saturday that we cleaned for 30 minutes before going by the bank and starting our day.
I woke up and came down stairs and the dogs had killed some stuffed toy all over everything, and I was like, “Fuck this… I need to sweep. The bank can wait.”
Erin and I are looking into cooking more with the crock pot so that I can come home and have dinner just already ready to go instead of having to cook on top of everything else I’m doing.
I feel like I’ve pushed myself to my limits with the amount of stuff I have to do.
But at least I’m not bored… because if I get tired of watching videos for one class, then I can do my homework for my
second class, or work on my notes for my lecture in Raleigh this weekend, or grade papers. There is always something.
We have big plans for this fall, too. Lots of travelling around. Aside from teaching at CNC PPD this weekend, next weekend, I will be going to Florida for a Unity Conference (they are paying for my flight!). Since my two really good friends are getting married on October 11 (which is my birthday) and I’m in the wedding, Erin is planning some birthday surprises for October 3 (the weekend after Florida). The following weekend is sucked up by wedding fun for our friends, the weekend after is our local chapter of Pagan Pride Day (where I’m teaching), and then the 24th is the Hincapie Race that my dad rides in every year, and we’re volunteering for it this year to help out. The next Saturday is Halloween. Then we have two weekend where *nothing* is planned before we’re off to Michigan for a week to spend Thanksgiving with family.
Holy Cow! Things are about to get SERIOUSLY crazy! I don’t think I realized just how much so until I just wrote it all out… It makes me really want to go home and sleep, but I need pH test strips and other supplies for my water lab coming up… I just want to go home… I’m so… so… so… tired.
But in other news: the cats were eating our plants, so we hung them up in our bay window, and Erin and I think it’s super cute!
I feel so neglectful of this blog… I haven’t really written anywhere. I’ve been too busy trying to keep up with my life that I haven’t had the time to do much of anything else, especially blog. The fall is always, always so busy for me and my family.
For the start, we have a new addition to our family. Here name is Amy. She’s almost 35 years old. She moved in with us two weeks ago. She’s closer to work, and her rent money is going directly on our debt number, so it benefits both of us. I’m fairly certain that the only person I’m closer to than Amy is my wife.
Erin’s graduate school has bounced into the next level. She has a class that meets once a week in person as well as her classes that are online as well. Her homework load is going to increase, but she’s looking forward to it. She’ll be taking her certification exam this time next year, which is so crazy to think about.
We had a minor bump in our road towards her education, which was that her job stopped doing the payback program. Up until now, her online classes were being paid by her job and then they would take the money out of her paycheck to pay them back. They stopped doing this suddenly and because the classes are being offered at a discount, they don’t qualify for financial aid (fantastic, right?). And we have to have all the money for the classes upfront. Luckily, my parents agreed to loan us the money without interest, so we just will have to pay them back after she graduates.
My graduate classes are in full swing right now too. We had a bump with mine where they accepted me and required payment too close together, so my FAFSA hadn’t come through. My parents paid for the first semester for me, but they won’t be doing that again, I don’t think, so I have to make sure I get my FAFSA stuff done (which I still need to do).
So on top of us both working full time and being in graduate school…
I helped get the Wednesday night youth program going at school and the middle school class going during the morning service, so now I’m making two lesson plans each week for my Sunday school classes….
As if that weren’t enough, my minister asked for me to review his book… and then he liked the work I was doing so much that he offered to pay me to finish it. He wrote me after my second submission that he’s already made changes to the book based on my suggestions. I still have a bit left to read, so I need get on it… Hopefully, I’ll have time to work on it today.
Other than that? I’m slated to teach at both Upstate SC Pagan Pride Day in October (possibly two classes) and Central North Carolina Pagan Pride Day. I got the confirmation on CNC PPD last night with my date on Saturday and the time slot, and I’m waiting for my time slot on USCPPD.
And if that wasn’t enough? My minister wrote me and he wants to fly me down to Florida on September 25th and 26th for a Youth Education Coordinator Conference. He’s going to possibly play for the flight and the registration and everything…
So needless to say, I haven’t had much time to do anything else other than what’s already on my plate… Busy month, but definitely spiritually fulfilling. I’m very excited.
One of the things that our minister says almost every service is that every choice we make and every emotion we feel is either rooted in fear or love.
Fear is the root of negativity and negative emotions. Love is the root of positivity and positive emotions.
One of the things we saw during and at the end of service every week is “There is only one power and one presence in my life and in the universe, the all loving goodness of God (or Spirit or Gods or whatever you wish to call it).” We will often times start prayer and meditation time with “Dear Mother, Father God” because we understand that if there is only one power out there (and that is all loving), then we recognize that we can call it whatever we like and it won’t matter.
One of the things I’ve been working on with the kids at the church, whether they’re elementary, middle, or high school level is how we can better understand what Spirit is, how we can connect to that divine energy, and how our will and the will of Spirit can work together to create a more positive and abundant life for us and our planet.
The endgame for most (if not all people) is to live a happy and joyful life. The details as to what will make that person happy and joyful will change, but at the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy and filled with joy.
This is the will of Spirit.
Let me say that a different way: Spirit (God/Gods/Divine Energy/etc) wants us to lead a happy, joyous life fill with positivity and abundance. This may look different for each person, but Spirit wants us be prosperous.
Joy and Happiness are like an island in the middle of a vast ocean of Spirit’s Will. We are swimmers in that vast ocean, and the current is always pushing us towards that island. We can either choose to swim with that current or against that current. When we choose to swim against the current, we experience hardship after hardship. Negative emotions and situations flood our surroundings as Spirit tells us over and over again, “No, not this way… Turn around.” When we choose to swim with that current, we aren’t without bumps or “bad days” because the current is always moving and we aren’t the only thing in the ocean, but we experience an easier journey. A journey of less hardship and filled with more happiness and joy that we could ever imagine.
So the question is this: do you act fully out of love or do you have other motives?
If the answer is that you don’t act fully out of love, then here’s a pretty easy response: don’t act.
Acting can mean any number of things: a physical action, something you verbally say, a comment or a post on Facebook or other social media. If it’s not out of love, then don’t do it.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m perfect at this. There are times when I fail at not saying anything or not posting anything on social media that is negative or said out of a less than loving place, but the point is that I am working towards improvement in this area.
I’m also paying less and less attention to the local and national news stations. Most of the time now, someone will say to me, “Hey, did you hear about X, Y, and Z?” And I respond with, “No, I haven’t actually. What’s that about?” Big name news stations (such as CNN, Fox, Huffington Post, Washington Post, etc) aren’t in the business of selling the truth. They’re in the business of selling themselves. The more viewers and more hits they get, the more they can charge for advertising and the more money they will make. The want to sell stories, not the truth.
And fear is easy. Fear is controlling. Fear will suck you in and wrap you up in a shroud of negativity and not let you go. Fear spreads faster than fire in the middle of a drought.
News companies love selling fear. They love telling you about this terrorist attack or this explosion or this death or this threat… And they don’t really care whether or not the people they talk about have been proven guilty or what the families of those affected have to say.
How many times have you seen a story about a traffic wreck where someone died but the names have been released and neither have any of the details? What’s the point of that story? And there’s always comments about “so and so must have been speeding/texting/drunk/doing something they shouldn’t have been doing” when we have no idea about anything having to do with the actual cause of the wreck. Why is this story posted? Fear.
It’s not to inform us about traffic. It’s not so we’ll pray for the affect families (because 9 times out of 10, we never find out who they are). It’s to make us feel afraid of going out on the streets with all these other “maniac” drivers out there.
How many times have you seen a story about so and so being arrested for “suspected child abuse”? Suddenly there’s a blood bath about child abusers need to be “taken out back and shot” or “this is why I would never send my child to X place” or “so and so is a monster!” This person hasn’t been proven guilty. We don’t have any details behind the story. What ends up happening?
We destroy the privacy of others. We create such a bad situation for them that if they end up not being guilty they can’t ever find a job because of the negative press. We start to fear letting our kids go out an play on the playground or taking them to school and leaving them there because someone could kidnap/assault/kill them. Fear. Fear. Fear.
Why do you think we’ve seen a “rise” in mass shootings? Or that it seems like they just keep getting worse and worse? Why is it that we never really heard of ISIS and now it’s like they’re putting poison in our cereal boxes? (Side note: they aren’t, I’m being dramatic.)
Because people are getting crazier? Because we suddenly have things like twitter where we can get news and information as it happens?
No. It’s because mainstream news media will put added focus on it and give people who commit these crimes some X amount of fame.
We’re surrounded and drowning in a world full of fear and confusion. We are constantly being bombarded with negativity in our media, so the time to be aware of this and make a point to change our own thinking and actions has never been greater.
Don’t respond hatefully or negatively to the news, the people around you, your job, your family, your home, etc. Give these stories, these people, these situations love or passive acceptance. Do not feed the flames of negativity and fear. If you don’t feed the fire, it will eventually go out and be replaced with a life full of love and positivity.
Prosperity, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the state of being successful, usually by making a lot of money. The key word here is usually. One of the biggest problems in relationships these days is money. Money causes fights, breaks up would otherwise be loving couples, and causes a lot of stress.
I’ve struggled with money over the last five years. I misplaced a lot of trust in a lot of different people, and it has caused me to lose a lot of time working and reworking my finances to figure out how I can make the debt go away as soon as possible, and then it seems as though I do one thing, and suddenly there is a something that happens that costs a lot of money (like my car breaking down, or our ferret getting cancer, or Erin needing another oral surgery).
We’ve come to realize that this is all just a part of life. There will always be unforeseen expenses that will catch you off guard, and you just do what you can and keep moving forward. When it gets to be around “big pay day,” which is the two pay weeks every month where Erin and I both get pay checks, it use to be that would literally stress myself into a complete and total meltdown. I could cry myself to sleep. I would wonder how I was going to put food on the table (because Erin had her own bills, and while she contributes as much as she can, the majority of the groceries are, right now, my responsibility. This will more than likely change once she’s out of graduate school and making more money than I do.)
Growing up, I never wanted for anything. My parents made/make good money, and they made sure that my first priority was always my education. They took care of everything else so that all I had to do was focus on school. They didn’t want me to have to get a job because they didn’t want anything that might get in the way of my educational success. They paid for car, insurance, cell phone, college and graduate school tuition, rent while in college, and gas money, extra expensives, and gave me an allowance to go out and have fun with on occasion. If I ever needed extra money, they would always help me out (within reason).
When I decided to get off my parents’ cell phone plan and car insurance plan and buy the car from them, my dad asked me multiple times if I was absolutely sure this was what I wanted to do. I said yes. It was time.
And I made a lot of mistakes before then, like I said. I take responsibility for the debt I find myself in. I’m a lot more financially conscious now than I was when I was still on my parents’ payroll.
Now, if you’re reading this… maybe you just find my life interesting or maybe you don’t like me and enjoy reading about my struggle with money or maybe you’re financially struggling two and looking for some sort of hope. I found an article about a man who paid off $20,000+ in student debt in a year, and when I read the article, I realized one really important factor: He made $120,000 a year.
Well, of course he could pay it off in a year… that still leaves him with a lot of money. That’s not at all a shocker to me!
I make $42,000 a year (before taxes), and Erin makes around $30,000 a year before taxes. That gives us around $73,000 a year in combined income before taxes. If we didn’t have the debt that we have, we would be insanely comfortable, but we don’t. Instead, we do a lot of money saving through bulk purchases at a wholesaler and we buy veggies at a vegetable stand by our church. We only shop the outside of the grocery store, so we make a lot of our own things and freeze them.
I’m completely open about my financial situation. Not because I’m trying to garnish some sort of attention for myself, but because I want others who may be in a similar situation or not either get out of it or avoid getting into it all together.
With that said, we spend $1,959.43 every month in debt payments alone. This does NOT include our power bill, water bill, netflix account, car insurance, cell phone, hulu account, internet bill, HOA fee, gym fees, and gas bill. That number does not include putting food on our table or in our animals’ bowls. That doesn’t include gas in our two cars. It doesn’t include any emergency expenses. It doesn’t include the amount we try to put into savings each month. It doesn’t include things I can’t remember right now but know I am forgetting.
I spent a lot of time despairing over money. My parents offered to help me pay the debt off, but this isn’t their problem. I couldn’t ask them to do that after everything else they’ve done (like paying for our wedding and our honeymoon as gifts to us). Now, you may think that I did a really stupid thing by telling them no, but that’s my choice and that’s that.
I will get out of this debt.
And you may be wondering what that debt looks like… It’s $180,765.49. This includes Erin’s braces payment, the best buy credit card, the Kay Jewelers credit card, Erin’s Discover card, my three visa credit cards, Erin’s two school loans, Erin’s car loan, and the mortgage (which is honestly most of the money in that number).
We do not plan on paying off all of the debt before we sell our home and move. We probably won’t pay off the student loans and car before we sell our home and move. So the real question is, what is the “real” debt number (the amount that we are really desperately trying to pay off as quickly as possible)?
The above number is Erin’s braces and our credit cards.
Okay, this is great and all…. but what are you doing to make that number go down?
After our honeymoon, we came back and got settled into the routines of married life. We looked at our bills. We had a couple of unexpected expenses when we got back from our two week long vacation: an increase in one of our credit card bills due to spending during the honeymoon, a $250 house sitter payment, a higher-than-normal power bill, and finally, we have next to no food in the fridge, so our grocery bill was increased.
Needless to say, the rest of July and the first of August were spent playing catch-up.
Rule #1: Protect Your Credit Score
My credit score is 658. It’s considered “fair.” I won’t be able to borrow at a good interest rate, but I will generally not be refused a line of credit. I started using a website called CreditKarma.Com about two days ago. They are a TrustE sight, completely free, and will give you your credit score, for free, without actually affecting your credit score.
The biggest thing affecting my score is the fact that the amount of credit I have is being utilized (meaning that my credit cards have high balances). However, all of them are in good standing.
When you look at the Credit Karma website, which is really fascinating, and I suggest you make an account and check it out if you don’t have one already, it will tell you what is affecting your score. There are three major things that carry a lot of weight: the amount of credit being utilized, payment history and derogatory marks (such as things going to collections and bankruptcies and other things along those lines).
This is the easiest way to protect your credit score: don’t miss any payments on any type of bill. I’ve heard, “Oh, well, medical bills don’t affect your credit score.” They do if they aren’t paid. They can and will be sent to collections, and it will go against your score. Even if you pay them off, they will sit there negatively for seven years. If you don’t pay them off, they will continue to reappear on your credit report every seven years as it gets sent by the medical professionals from one collections company to the next.
So what can you do if you have medical bills like that? Talk to the doctor’s office or hospital and try to work out a payment plan before the bill goes to collections. Most times, they will be willing to work with you (unless you give them a reason not to). If they don’t work with you and it goes to collections, at least you tried. It still doesn’t mean you should not pay the bill. Continue to pay what you can until it is paid off and then contact the collections agency and ask for them to remove the negative mark from your report or mark it as paid in full. It will look better than it not being paid at all.
And something is better than nothing. Even if you’re only paying $5 a month on it… at least that number is going down.
Rule #2: Set Aside and Snowball
Prior to getting married, Erin was paying her bills and I was paying mine. She made money and I made money, and she paid her bills, and I paid my bills, but now we’re married, and it’s not just her and me… it’s us.
When that happened, we decided to work on this together as a team (but if you aren’t able to do that, you can still do the following by yourself). We created a joint checking account. All of our paycheck money is funneled into that account minus the minimum amount required to be directly deposited into our individual accounts. The joint account is used to pay all of the bills in the family, regardless of what that bill is. This includes the money that we use for gas and groceries.
Between Erin and I, we have two savings accounts and three checking accounts. This weekend, we are going to look into transferring her savings into my savings account, adding her as an authorized user on my savings and then linking her individual checking account to my savings for her keep the change and overdraft protections. This would give us a single savings account to focus on so that we can work on building up our savings while paying down our debt.
We’ve decided to set aside $100 a month into the savings account for emergency purposes. Now, maybe you can do more than $100 or maybe you can’t do $100 and need to do less. The idea is that you are taking some amount of money that you can live without, no matter how great or small, and setting it aside into a savings account that you only use in the event of an emergency. If you don’t have a bank account, this can be a jar or a box or something… and it can even just be your lose change. The idea is that you are just doing something greater than nothing.
The next thing that we did was open an Excel spreadsheet and write down every single bill that we had that was considered a debt (things like the power bill, which fluctuate on a month by month basis, don’t count). After that, we ordered all the bills from the smallest bill to the largest bill, wrote down the minimum payment and how much we were paying on it.
Then came the hard part: we decided to focus completely on the smallest bill first, which was Erin’s braces. To do that, we dropped all of our other bills down to their minimum payment and all the extra money we were paying towards other bills (which in our case came out to $120) went towards her braces payment.
I hate paying the minimum balance on a debt payment, so this part has been exceptionally difficult for me, but because of it, we will have Erin’s braces paid off in the next ten days.
Finally, the cool part. Dave Ramsey, who I’m not a huge fan of for his heteronormative beliefs and anti-homosexuality actions, calls it “snowballing.” I call it logical.
The money you are paying towards your debt is money you don’t really miss already because you’re paying it out. So after you get the smallest bill paid off, the money going towards that gets added to the minimum balance on the next bill, accelerating that pay off. Then it all gets added to the next one and then the next one and the next one until all the debt is gone, however long that takes.
For us, this means that after this month, our next debt will be paid off in October (only because Erin’s car taxes are due and some of our extra money in September has to go towards that instead). Unless, of course, we get some divine intervention and end up with an extra chunk of change, which I honestly wouldn’t be surprised about.
Rule #3: Separate Your Needs from Your Wants
Erin and I have three separate checking accounts. We have our join account and our individual or personal accounts. The joint account is the needs account. Out of this account comes all of the money for our bills, our debt, our groceries, our gas, and any other expenses which enable us to live our lives. Our personal accounts are for things that we want. If we want to buy lunch out, we have to have the money in our personal accounts. If we want to go out wherever (movie, Dave and Busters, etc), we have to have the money in our personal accounts. If we want to buy a present or gifts for someone, we have to have the money in our personal accounts.
Where does that money come from, you ask? It is set aside from the joint account in our personal accounts. We transfer the money either in or out so that we have a balance of $100 added to our personal accounts every month. Now, $100 may not seem like a lot for a month, but don’t forget: this is our fun money. This isn’t money for things that we need. It is money for things that we want.
If we decide to spend or not spend that money, we will get another $100 the next month. We can save it up for Christmas (where we’ll probably give ourselves a little bit more of an allowance), or we can spend it or whatever. When my needs are being met, there isn’t much that I want for… I’m fairly content to hang out with my wife at home and watch Netflix or go on a hike somewhere for free. We’re both fairly simple people.
It will also make us conserve more money and hopefully help us get a little bit more into our savings by the end of it. We’re saving up for a down payment on a new home, even though that’s a few years down the road.
Rule #4: Have Faith
Regardless of whether or not you believe in a higher power, you can have faith. Having faith is believing that something will happen, even if you don’t really have any proof that it will. If you believe in a higher power, know this: That higher power is an all-loving and all-knowing entity that flows through all things. That power wants what is good and best for you, and being financially secure is a part of that. If you make choices that will help get you to that goal, then that higher power will see you through to the end of it.
If you don’t believe in a higher power, then know that the choices you are making now will have a wonderful and positive impact on your life in the future. Never forget it!
Erin and I are religious and spiritual people. We believe in a higher power that is all loving and that wants what is best for us in our lives. We believe that the thoughts of our financial security and freedom were divinely inspired and placed in our brains by that higher power, which means they are divinely inspired and must come true. Our motto from day one is “We will get through (insert whatever situation here) together.” We will constantly remind each other that the Gods are on our side and will provide for us as long as we have faith.
And I’m not lying when I tell you this: We get random checks in the mail for small amounts of money. We have gotten a lot of blessings in the form of cash as well. For example: we had a registry through Bed, Bath, & Beyond that we posted online and all over everywhere. Many people bought us gifts off that registry, or gave us gift cards, but an oddly high number of people simply gave us cash for our wedding.
We put every penny of it (minus the small amount that we took with us on the honeymoon) towards the debt.
At one point, I offhandedly opened a letter from Lenscrafters. Usually, I would throw letters like this away, but we opened it for whatever reason, and inside was a check for a refund from an appointment I had two years ago. We put that towards the debt as well.
Erin got a letter in the mail one day that randomly had a dollar bill in it with the promise to send her five more dollars if she filled out a short survey about her television or entertainment habits. She filled it out, not thinking much about it but doing a “what the hell, let’s see what happens” and they sent her back $5. Now, we get surveys in the mail asking us to track our TV habits for a week and they’ll pay us $35. Since we don’t watch much TV because all we have is Netflix and Hulu, then it’s really easy, and we’re making quick and easy cash that we either put towards bills or we save for our “Next Generation Unity” meet up where we get together with all the other people at church our age and go play games at a local bar.
And that’s that. Those are the four rules we’re following to get out of debt as quickly as possible. We are trying exceptionally hard pay the credit cards off in the next two years so that we can hop back on the baby making train (or adoption train, whichever we end up doing). It will all depend on my fertility, which, as always, is a fun game (not).
Whelp, we’ve reached the end of the honeymoon updates. Number four is the final one… Then it’ll be back to your unregularly scheduled updates!
Unfortunately for us, we had to get back on the ship at 2pm in San Juan. We decided to spend the rest of that day ordering room service, reading, drinking, and chilling out. I took a long nap after lunch and woke up in time to get ready and go to a late dinner. Thus began the three day adventure of eat, drink, and be lazy.
We didn’t have an excursion for Grand Turk either. Mainly because they seemed rather boring from what we saw and were extremely expensive at the same time. I’m super glad we didn’t though. Everyone on the ship kept saying how Grand Turk was a beach day. When we were in St. Martin, one of the women who works in the spa told us there was nothing in Grand Turk except a very long stretch of beach and that theme was pretty well played out every day after that.
Since it was a beach day and we had the entire day there, we decided not to really rush to get off the ship, so by the time we got up and out of bed, we’d been docked at port for awhile. When I looked out, I saw a lot of people on a perfect white sand beach in chairs and these little clam shell looking cover tents.
“We should get one of those.” I said.
We got a late breakfast and managed to get off the ship around 10:30. The first thing I noticed when we were off the ship? The water was the clearest and bluest I’d ever seen. You could easily see 20 feet straight down through it. And there were lots of tropical fish swimming around. It was going to be a good day.
We get down to the beach only to find out that they don’t take credit cards at the rental booth and the closest ATM or store that does cash back is well into town. However, the ship had an ATM, so Erin ran back to the ship and I found us a couple of chairs.
When she got back, we rented one of the tent things, which was actually called a clam shell, and set up shop. We pulled what I am now calling the H**** Myrtle Beach Maneuver where I filled a water bottle partially with rum and partially with coke, buried it in my bag and walked out.
We had some really good luck in that our stewardess messed up our cabin with another cabin and delivered two large water bottles to our room. We left them there for a couple of days to see if she’d take them back, but she didn’t… So we drank them and then started using them for alcohol instead. Save money, drink happy.
We then took our goggles out into the water and started “snorkeling” without the snorkel… I really wish I had an underwater camera and could have gotten pictures of what we saw because it was absolutely amazing: schools of fish swimming past you, patches of coral all around you, clear water as far as you can see.
We decided we wanted to explore a little bit more of the beach so we went to the other side of the pier, which was less crowded. One of the guys walking back from that side told us the snorkeling was a lot better on the other side because it was less crowded and the coral was a lot more abundant. We snorkeled around for a long time, seeing all kinds of fish and crabs…
…And that’s when I saw it…
The single biggest conch shell I have EVER SEEN. It was literally THE SIZE OF MY FACE and in PERFECT condition aside from being covered in plants. I dove down and picked it up off the bottom of the ocean floor to better examine it.
“What is that?” Erin asked me as I swam up to the beach with it in tow.
“The single biggest conch shell I’ve ever seen. I thought the ones like this were all fake. I didn’t know they actually got this big.”
Better yet? It wasn’t alive. Something had eaten it and it was just an empty shell. Erin took it back to our tent and stuck it back under our chair. We were going to attempt to smuggle it back onto the boat.
On the way back, Erin found a whole sand dollar. I examined it for a long time to make sure it was dead, and when I finally convinced myself that it was, I stuck it in my bathing suit pocket. We then swam, snorkeled, and walked down the coast line until we got all the way to the end of the island (which isn’t as impressive as it sounds). It was conch city. We found four or five that we really liked and lugged them all back to the tent.
The entire time, we made plans to come back here some day and spend a week… or just move entirely. It was, by far, our favorite place out of the four ports we went to.
We shoved the shells into the bottom of our bag, wrapped towels gently around them, put stuff in my purse, and headed back to the ship. They scanned our bag and sent us on our way. We got quite a few shells off that island and no one said anything to us. Later, we we told my mom about it, she was surprised that they let us do that.
That night, we put all the shells out on our balcony because they stank like crazy. I couldn’t wait to get them home and get them in some bleach!
Something else happened during that day… Erin and I both lost our sea sickness patches.
My dad is a doctor, and he hooked us up with some sea sickness patches that you put behind your ear. I wasn’t really worried about it for myself, but Erin gets motion sickness easily, so we wanted to make sure that she had them for herself. I wore them too because it is better to be safe rather than sorry. I figured we’d be okay since we only had a day left…
…But I was wrong. Erin spent most of the last day on the ship sleeping off the nausea medicine we had in case we ran out of patches, which we did. I did a lot of reading and then wandered about the ship some, checked out a couple of places, got a drink, relaxed and read some more, went back to the room, took a nap.
It was our last night in the dining room, and even though neither one of us were very hungry, we went and had dinner anyway. We wrote our head waitress a thank you note, gave her an extra tip, and got a picture with her. We’d been requesting to sit in her section all week, and by the end of the week, she knew our dining habits pretty well. We always enjoyed going to dinner knowing that we’d have her to entertain us and make the extra long experience that much more enjoyable.
They gave us two options to get off the ship: early or late. If you chose early, you had to take all your stuff with you when you left. If you chose late, you left your bags outside your room the night before and they would come and pick them up. We chose early because even though the cruise was over, we still had three days left of our honeymoon, and the debarkation day was very packed.
We got up early, ate early, finished packing our last bits of stuff and then lugged all of our stuff out of room to the fifth floor to wait for our floor (the tenth floor) to be called.
At breakfast, we saw a water spout… the second one we’d seen in the last 48 hours.
It didn’t take very long, and we were completely off the ship by 10am. I left Erin on the sidewalk with our stuff to go and grab the car. The parking fee for those eight days? $120! It was FIFTEEN DOLLARS A DAY FOR PARKING. We spent almost as much on the parking as we did in spending money for the whole cruise.
We got the car loaded up and started heading towards Melborne, Florida. As everyone is pretty aware at this point, Erin has been doing an online graduate school program through the Florida Institute of Technology. It’s a pretty rigorous program, but she’s enjoying it and learning everything she can about her chosen field.
In planning out our travelling, I noticed that we would be driving through where her school was.
“You should contact the Dean. He always said he enjoyed meeting students that are in the online program since he rarely ever gets to.”
She e-mailed him and he sent her back a confirmation and an address. We got to his house, which is one of the single largest houses that I’ve seen that doesn’t have some sort of tour attached to it. I’m pretty sure that my parents house could have fit inside it twice, and if you know my family, that’s saying something.
He had three garages… Not a three-car garage… three different garages that would each house at least three cars. He was in the process of building on an addition, and his house was on a preserve, so 70% of the land he owned had to be undeveloped… and boy oh boy… if his house was the 30%, this man owned more land than I can imagine.
He showed us around in his addition. We walked into a large room that looked like your average biology lab, but without any of the equipment.
“This must be where he keeps all his research,” I whispered to Erin.
“Is this your lab?” Erin asked him.
“My lab?” He looked out into the room. “It does look like one, doesn’t it? Oh no… This is my music room. Each of these drawers is filled with CDs and over here… in these cabinets… are my vinyls.”
If they could, my eyes would have popped out of my head. I’ve seen music stores with less music. I wanted to take pictures, but I didn’t want to seem nosy or awkward, so I didn’t. His collection, though, is easily worth MILLIONS of dollars. Easy. The music room has closed circuit monitoring and every door is key coded and armed. Attached the the music room is a home theater that when completed, will seat 20. It is completely sound proofed with a 162 inch screen and four speakers that are between 8 and 9 feet tall. The seats are all going to be leather and they’ll all recline.
He took us and his three student assistants who were helping him move out to lunch at a seafood place on the river. The students drove separately, but since we didn’t really know the area very well, he drove us… in his lexus… He paid for everyone’s meals as well.
We chatted and enjoyed our time, thanked him for meeting with us when we got back, and he invited us to come and stay with him if we were ever in the area again. When we got back into the car, I sighed heavily, took one last look at the house and said, jokingly, to Erin,
“You’ve got some catching up to do.”
She laughed, “Right? I mean, if this is ABA, then we need to move to Florida and start hanging out around here more.”
“Or you could just because BFFs and start what he does up in South Carolina or some other state and make a fortune up there…”
We drove the rest of the way to Orlando and listened to Harry Potter on CD. As we got closer, I decided to figure out the plan for the day.
I texted Kelly, our friend with whom we were staying.
“Hey, we have an ETA of 4 or so… When will your flight be in?”
“Shit, my flight has been delayed… I won’t land until 10:30pm. You can stay with me, but it’ll be late and my house is a wreck.”
“We don’t really care about the house, we just want to see you and get mexican food and hang out. We can find something to do until you get in.”
I frowned at my phone before looking at Erin. “She’s delayed.”
“By how much?”
“She won’t land until 10:30. What should we do?”
So we went to Downtown Disney, got ice cream, walked through the lego store, took way too many selfies, ducked out of a storm, got a turkey leg, and made plans to go see a movie while we waited. Then my phone goes off.
“My flight was delayed again.”
“I won’t be landing until 12:30am, and it’s going to take me an hour’s drive to get home from the airport.”
“It’s okay, we’ll find a place to hang out or something.”
“I have a spare key with my girlfriend. I’m going to call her at work and let her know you’re going to come and get it from her. Is that okay?”
“That’s better than okay.”
So we finished our turkey leg, got the key, and went to Kelly’s. We decided to “take a nap” before going out to our late movie… but when it came time to get up to go to our movie, we were so tired that we both just went to bed instead. We had an early morning the next day anyway.
Discovery Cove and our dolphin experience was the next day. We got up early because check in started at 7:15am. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it there at exactly 7:15am and ended up in the back of this really long line. A woman came down and asked how many people were in our party.
Not having children pays off again. We got bumped to the front of the line because our party size was small. We got checked in, got our vests and other equipment, got our locker, and got our breakfast. They served you breakfast and lunch there, and it was soooo yummy. Breakfast sandwiches, fruit, french toast, pancakes, you name it… they had it for breakfast just about. After we ate, we found a spot with an umbrella next to the reef and talked talked about our plans for the day.
Once 8am hit, we were able to get in the water… and holy cow… The water was FREEZING. I had a time trying to get mine to not leak, but once I did, we snorkeled for a long time before heading over to our dolphin experience, which was one of the first ones of the day.
Apparently, at Discovery Cove, if the dolphins don’t want to work that day, they don’t have to, and a whole group decided to take Monday off, so the others were working double time to make up for it. Our group was delayed by an hour, so the manager comped us a DVD of the dolphin experience for free. Definitely worth the extra wait time.
We got a dolphin named Dexter who had just moved up the ranks enough to start breeding, so he was super flirty with the girl dolphins around and kept trying to show off for the girl dolphin next to us. We got to feed him, pet him and then swim with him. The whole experience lasted about 30 minutes, but it felt like it went by so much faster than that.
Afterwards, we went to the lazy river and got out at the aviary to feed the birds. It was a lot larger than I remember it being, but the whole place had been expanded since we first visited, so I wasn’t really surprised. We wanted to go before lunch because we didn’t want the birds to be full by the time we got to them later if we waited. I’m glad we didn’t wait because they were everywhere. At one point, I had one land on my head.
We got lunch, went and saw the otters and monkeys, and then Erin took a nap while I went back to the reef. After about 30 minutes, two of the educators that worked there took a shark out of the small “wading pool” and gathered a bunch of people around for an impromptu lesson about baby sharks. They needed to film them playing with this shark in a small group, so we all got to benefit from it. Erin woke up and walked over just in time for everyone to touch the shark, so that was an awesome experience.
After they put the shark back, they started to feed the rays. I have no idea how they tell them apart.
“This is my dream job.” I said.
“Working here… directly with the animals… in a teaching capacity… Where I could do tours or small groups and then go home a night and be done. And get to spend all my time working with exotics… It’s just amazing. I wonder what it takes to get a job in a place like this.”
“Only one way to find out,” Erin said plainly.
We spent the rest of the day just enjoying the reef, drinking the included alcohol, and sneaking snacks back to our locker for our drive home the next day.
We got dinner (Mexican food) with Kelly and a couple of her friends that night, woke up when we woke up the next morning, and made the trek back home. It was such an amazing experience. We’re already making plans for our next vacation to take place in the Keys in Florida or some other place, but school might be a problem… because…
WE’RE BOTH IN GRADUATE SCHOOL!
I got my acceptance letter while I was in the middle of writing this blog! I start this month! So excited!
Yesterday started The Days Upon the Year, or the Days outside of time. It’s the five days preceding the Kemetic New Year, which Erin and I made a point of really celebrating this year. It’s a time when Osiris, Horus the Elder, Set, Isis, and Nephthys are born. It’s a time where Ra, the Sun God, has no control over the happenings of the planet, so a lot of things can happen.
I’ve been feeling the energy building over the last few weeks, and last night, we set up our shrine to the five and lit the candle before Osiris, said a blessing and a prayer, lit some incense and then spent some time in quiet reflectiveness and colored. We listened to some relaxing music and just enjoyed our time in peace.
Things have been in a constant state of shift here, which I guess is to be expected with the spiritual new year upon us. The only constant in this world is change, right? That’s what my minister always says.
When we got back from our honeymoon (which has one more blog update, and we just got our photos back so I can finish it hopefully this week), we immediately got all of our name change stuff done. We went to the DMV and the SSA office and had zero problems getting everything changed like we needed to. We’ve printed out the forms to update our passports, gotten our work names updated (I have a new e-mail address with school!), and then opened up a joint bank account.
We re-examined our debt. Rather than trying to tackle it separately, we’ve decided to tackle it together. We took every last penny of debt we had (including Erin’s school loans, car payment, and the mortgage) and put them all into a spread sheet before organizing them from smallest to largest. We looked at how much we were paying on each compared to the minimum balance and then reduced all except the smallest to the minimum payment. The extra money is all going towards the smallest bill, which happens to be Erin’s braces.
After that is paid of, which will be the end of August, we will move on to the second largest bill, which is the Best Buy credit card. That should be paid off in September.
At this rate, we’ll have all of the credit card debt paid off by the end of next year, which is a huge deal for us. This means that we’ll be able to start seriously getting into family planning at the end of next year at the latest. I could start resurrecting my fertility blog once that gets closer because I don’t want to really get into all the fertility stuff here.
We have an interesting chain of events occur here, as well. Erin and I have a friend, my best friend actually, who will be moving into our spare room in the next couple of months. It’ll put her closer to her job and give us a little bit of extra income via her rent payment (which is ridiculously low), which we will be putting entirely towards the debt. We don’t need her to move in with us to stay afloat, but she needs a place and we’d like to be out of debt sooner rather than later, so we both get helped out in this case.
At this point, Erin won’t be going to Germany, which I’m both happy and sad about. Happy because I won’t be without her for a month to two months, but sad because she was looking forward to traveling outside of the country. Now, I’m working on plans to go back to Germany (probably not this summer, but maybe next summer or the summer of 2017). We want to go to Europe before we have children. Erin has never been, and I want to take her there. I want to show her the world, literally, and I plan on doing the best I can.
We’ve been looking into our next summer vacation, and we’ve found a couple of places in the Florida Keys that we’re interested in maybe going to for a week and then hitting up Harry Potter World on the way back in Orlando…
The only problem with these plans? Graduate school.
Erin will be right in the thick of her second year classes, and if I get accepted into Clemson, I will be in my third semester of graduate classes as well. It could be that we’re too busy to really go on anything fancy next year, but we’re looking into it just the same.
Speaking of Clemson, I got all my paperwork into the University, so now I’m just waiting to hear back from them. Their summer term ends in August, and the fall one one starts in August, so I expect to hear from them in the next week or two before getting thrown head first back into the educational learning sphere. I’m really excited, honestly. This will provide me with my second masters, the ability to teach at the University level if I ever wanted to, and a really nice bump in pay. By this time next year, I’ll have enough hours to bump into the next pay level, and that will be amazing.
It’s really the only pay grade that worth it in the educational system. The only one above the Masters +30 is the doctorate level pay, and the amount of money you make there isn’t worth the extra effort it takes to get the doctorate. If I ever decided to get a doctorate, I’d leave the classroom and go work in policy or university settings so that I could help the next generation of teachers become better teachers.
As for my teaching job, it’s starting back up week after next, but I’m going to be going to the school the next few days to work on getting my classroom set up. I have a floater coming into my room during one of my planning periods, so I will have to keep myself really organized this year…
… This should be interesting.
Erin’s probably going to start laughing after reading that line. My version of organized is… well… not very organized to the general eye of the beholder… and with someone else coming into my room on a daily basis, I’m going to have to keep it clean.
Stop laughing, Erin. It’s what I have Beta Club students for (to clean my room for volunteer hours).
Aside from that, my last week at my summer job is next week. I will be going back to the first Saturday of the month to keep me on the schedule. I’ll still be able to open up during breaks and such if I want to, but if graduate school gets to be too much, I may have to let the job go next summer, which will be a little sad since I’ve been working there for almost a year now.
We’ve been working on not being lazy at home. We’ve gotten a lot of our wedding photos hung up around the house and we’re working on getting our ancestor shrine up on the walls (we have the frames, now we need to get the pictures printed in black and white). There is just stuff everywhere right now. We’re cleaning out the spare closet, organizing wedding gifts, getting stuff put away (slowly), and just working on getting the house back into order.
Like I was saying earlier, this time of the year is a time for great changes and a time when the Evil One (
Apep), whose name we don’t speak aloud, can try to come out into the world and cause a lot of problems. There’s been a lot of chaos that we’re working on getting back into order with all the stuff we have going on, and today we had an interesting experience…
When we got home from the store, the house was really dark. It wasn’t like a darkness that was normal either. It was a darkness that felt like it was pressing in on us. I didn’t mention anything at first until I started rubbing on my anxiety. When I told Erin about it, she said that she felt the same way.
I said, “What if it’s the evil one? The uncreated one??”
We turned on a lot of the lights to banish him and then it felt a lot better in the house.
Holy Cow, it’s nearly 2AM… I need to go to bed.
On day three, we woke up already docked in the port. Erin and I got up an had a large breakfast, as usual, and then got our stuff from the room before heading downstairs. This was our bus tour and private beach day. When we got off the ship, there was a lot of people around holding signs to tell us where we needed to go. It wasn’t time for our excursion yet, so we decided to wander around the city for a little bit and see what there was to see.
We made it a point NOT to carry cash around with us because we knew people would be trying to get money from us at every turn. The day before, we’d been stopped at every turn by people wanting us to rent chairs or umbrellas or buy jewelry or anything else they were selling. We used the “we don’t have any cash on us” as an excuse to get away quickly from people who were heckling us.
When we walked into the square at St. Kitts, there were groups of people around. One of them approached us and plopped a monkey in Erin’s arms. We told him no, and that we didn’t have any money, but he just told me to take some pictures and then switched the monkey to my arms and told Erin to take some pictures. We told him again that we didn’t have any money. He looked shocked, pointed us at an ATM at the casino, and then told us it was $20 total.
Excuse me? What?
“Unfortunately,” the casino wasn’t open. We went around to a back path, and walked up along side the main area completely avoiding the guy, and then cut back onto the main street again. We went out to the main road where we learned three really interesting things: very little was in English first, all the cars were on the opposite side of the road, and the steering wheels were all on the opposite sides as well. I took as many pictures as I could that I could get to be clear.
We went hat shopping and I bought a bag. I tried on almost every single hat at the store until I found one that fit my head. I have the hardest time finding hats that fit me because my hair is so thick and my family has a “big head” problem, so they almost never fit. BUT I found one and it was super floppy, and those were my two requirements: super floppy and fits.
When our time came to meet for the bus to go on our tour, we cut around to the back again to avoid monkey-man and then made a break for it to the gate.
We’re standing in a line after confirming we were in the right place. Then, this native guy, who is black with these pretty kick ass dreads comes up to us as the group and directs us to his bus, which is actually his van and he’s joking around with the other bus drivers, and there are people all around like, “Hey, welcome onboard the blah blah blah wagon” in their super thick accents.
I lean over to Erin and say, “Do you feel like we’re in the middle of a Sense 8 episode?”
We got a really awesome tour of the surrounding area. They drove us all the way up to the top of a mountain, stopped the bus, let us get out and take pictures, and then we went down the other side to a private beach where we spent the rest of the day snorkling and gathering shells and trying to even out our sunburns.
When it was time to go, we got back on the bus and headed back to the ship. We got something to eat, avoided the entrance again, and then headed back to the ship about an hour or so before it took off.
The next day was Puerto Rico. We didn’t get an excursion because my dad had told us about these forts that were walking distance from the pier. We got up early, had breakfast, and left the ship for San Juan. From the dock, I could see a fort, so we started walking towards it. Everything…. Literally, everything…. was in Spanish. It was amazing.
“It’s funny.” I said.
“What is?” Erin asked.
“That we had to go all the way to Puerto Rico to feel like we’re in a completely different country…”
I laughed, “yes, exactly.”
We went up to the fort and found out that it didn’t open until nine, so we walked across to another fort, and by the time we got there, it was open. We paid and walked around, read a lot about the Spanish-American War, took a lot of pictures. There was a cat that was super friendly that we wanted to take home with us, but didn’t think that we could hide her in the ship… or in my bag… or anywhere, really. She was young.
After the fort, we walked down through a neighborhood onto the main shopping district. We stopped at a church and then I decided that I wanted a Jesus statue. We went through a few stores and I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so we went up to the other fort.
They’re almost identical, and we didn’t have a lot of time, so we didn’t go through every part of it in detail. The worst part of the cruise was that they gave us the least amount of time in the place where we had the most to do. On our way to the gate, we started talking about our plans to come back and explore the area more. We’d love to spend a week or more there and explore San Juan more and then go outside the city some and explore everywhere.
We got back on the ship and decided to get room service as the ship pulled out. We showered, sat around in our bathrobes, ate food, drank, took pictures from our balcony, watched movies, and just spent time together. We got dinner late, went to a movie, got pizza afterwards, and then went to bed.