Category Archives: The Year Without

2011 – The Year Plus

I was kicking around the idea of altering The Year Without for 2011, partially inspired by both Jane and some of Dave Holmes’ “My Year of Everything” observations, and then Jaime suggested it to me too, so at least 80% credit goes to those three.

In 2011, rather than eliminating something from my life every month, I’m going to add something to it. Jane has been doing this and she’s getting awesome results. Dave Holmes has remarked that people who do something as opposed to avoid something tend to fare better (and it’s more interesting to read about). And as Jaime put it,”that way you’re turning something negative into a positive.”

I’m not going to list every monthly goal up front, but they’re all going to center around my 4 main goals for the year:

1. Lose 30 pounds (yes, the same ones I’ve been trying to kill since I gained them back over the last 2 years, shut up)

2. Write something that makes me proud of myself

3. Eliminate my debt by at least 1/3

4. Become a nicer, better, happier person

Some of the monthly “Plus” goals I want to try are writing fiction daily, using cash/debit only, complimenting someone (sincerely) every day, going out of town every weekend, working out regularly, attending church (the gay-friendly kind) networking professionally, cooking all my lunches and dinners, etc.

I’ve already done several things to put my big goals in motion:

Goal 1: Purchased a BodyBugg and made plans to join the downtown Y (I will probably get rapemugged in an alley on the walk over, but it’s worth a shot)

Goal 2: Reading before bed, bought a computer and a big notebook (writing freehand is much better for your brain)

Goal 3: Switched all paypal/Amazon/monthly fees to debit instead of credit (I have plans to buy pre-paid gas cards, too)

Goal 4: Planning two vacations, biting my tongue more than usual, re-reading The Happiness Workbook

I know that New Years Resolutions are dumb, and that’s why I decided to do monthly resolutions to begin with, but you guys … I’m about to turn 30. This is the decade where shit gets real. I’ve got stuff to pack up before I hop on the wife/mother/homeowner/possible breadwinner train. I’m pretty confident that if all my little goals add up to big ones, I can knock these aspirations out of the park.

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Tide Is High

I haven’t been in much of a sharing mood lately. It’s mostly because I’ve been dealing with a lot of negative people and a lot of situations that shouldn’t be blabbed about online. (Though I love how I’ve managed to milk like 4 entries out of it anyway. This is “undersharing” for me? Pathetic.)

But also? The Internet is grossing me out these days. I can’t articulate why without getting long winded and insulting people (including myself), but basically I’m trying to do more real world stuff instead of Internet stuff. This is why Secretly Stephie is not as fun as a Tumblr.

So far, my month has been all about this:

Halfway in, I’m finally getting it. (Seriously, how eerie was it that I picked the exact Year Without Goal I needed, just before I needed it the most?)

But mainly, I came here today to share that lately I feel like a completely different person.

I’m not sure why. Love? Loss? Moving? Searching? Sleeping? Accepting? Generic birth control vs. brand name? I have no idea. But I almost feel like I’ve been dropped into a new life, and I’m approaching everything cautiously because I’m not sure how to feel about it these days. Work. Friends. Family. Me. Not bad feelings. Just different. I’m seeing everything with new eyes.

There’s been a shift, is all. Something happened. I don’t know what it means yet, and I don’t know if I have the energy to be excited, but I hope it’s interesting, or at least fulfilling.

New me is pretty yappy and boring, huh? Maybe this is just how people blog in their thirties.

(Image via SlightlyPretentious)


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Well, That Was Quick

I love how, the day after I vow to not put myself down, I have one of the most discouraging days and end up crying about it for most of the night. I need to stop vowing things because the opposite usually happens.*

I’m trying to focus on the possible positive outcomes, or remind myself that unhappiness is the best motivator for bringing happy stuff into your life, or just be grateful for everything that I have, that millions of people would kill for.

It’s just hard when people make it clear that they don’t believe in you. Or, when you tell people that their actions are hurting you and they do everything short of saying that they don’t care. Can I still believe in myself when that happens? Can I care about myself?

Do YOU believe in me? I believe in you, invisible Internet readers. I do.

I just feel stuck today. But if I’m really going to do this, the first step is to stop feeling trapped and start finding a way out. Clap if you believe in me; I’m fading fast.

*I vow to always be fat and totally poor and never win the lottery!!


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A Basement Without Abasement

My last Year Without Goal for 2010 will be a December without Abasement.

I’ve been really hard on myself for the last few weeks. Other people have actively (actively!) been on a mission to put me down too, and while some days it’s amusing, other days it pushes me over the edge. Plus, it gets dark at like noon these days and that’s depressing. Holiday traffic makes everyone a dick. I’m photosensitive, so all those rush hour lights give me a headache and make me homicidal.

I would say my two biggest sources of depression are body image and family, and the holidays are the worst time of the year if you’re trying to eat healthy or are missing a recently-deceased parent. Also, this is the last month in the home my parents have owned my entire life. Soon my mom will sell this house and I’ll never see this basement again. It’s heartbreaking. This is not the time to be tough on myself. This is the time when I need to take care of me.

So this month, I’m not going to put myself down. I’m not going to get discouraged.
I’m going to write because I love it, not because I get paid to.
I’m going to work out because I love the strength from lifting and the high from running, not because I hope it’ll make me skinny.
I’m going to look in the mirror and appreciate the good without automatically aiming for the flaws.
I’m going to call people who love me, not worry about people who need to show me that they hate me.
I’m going to smile.
I’m going to sleep.
I’m going to love.
I’m going to work.
I’m going to move.
I’m going to be proud of myself, even (especially!) on the days when no one gives me a reason to be.

But most importantly? I’m going to take what little energy I have left during the holidays to bring people up instead of down. No abasing other people, not even the ones who feel the need (actively!) to do it to me.

Life is hard enough. It’s time to pick myself up, and maybe give you a lift, too. High fives for everyone!

(gifs via starsweptnight)


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Hoosier Withdrawl

Ugh, being back home is lame.

I’ll write more about my trip later, after my memories (and all the food I ate) have time to digest. This was my first trip in 3 years and I met 95% of Justin’s extended family in the span of 40 hours, so I was understandably nervous, but I had an amazing time.

I did so-so with my Year Without Goal … though lately my goal has been to boost my metabolism, and I’m pretty sure it’s working since Justin’s mom fed me nonstop and I only gained 1 pound over the whole weekend. I’ve been keeping up with the food logs and workouts and I’ve mostly stayed off the computer at night.

What should my next goal be?

Tomorrow night is Justin’s birthday party if any of you (non-crazies) are interested in coming. I’ve mentioned this before, but he revamped his Rooftop TV club and now it’s at the Mini-Moolah. This Tuesday, the theme is 30th Birthdays! Come help Justin, Danny Tanner, Matthew from News Radio, the gang from Friends and more celebrate their 30th birthday!

I forgot to tell you guys that I saw Black Swan a few weeks early at SLIFF. It was bananas. I’d recommend it to any Aronofsky fans and also to all my male friends for obvious reasons, but otherwise, it was pretty cray cray. It was nice to see Winona, though. Oh, and in case you were wondering? Harry Potter was

Totally bitch gifs via starsweptnight

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The Year Without – Update #11

CAT Scan was cancer free; yippee!

Since my October Goal was such an epic fail, I’m trying it again in November along with TWO new November goals. I’m still living at home with my moms and not paying rent, so I would be a dick if I didn’t challenge myself somehow.

I’ve already kicked off the November goals to adjust. So here we go, friends:

1. Food Log!

Not a log made out of food (which would surprise no one, sadly) – writing down everything I eat. It’s the holidays and therefore it’s time to shame myself into behaving. I won’t post it here, don’t worry. In addition to food, I’m logging the time, place and reason that I’m eating. This way I can identify and better attack the problematic habits.

2. No Computer After 9:30!

Y’all, I have a problem! Catching up on my Dexters, chillin with the Teen Moms, checking my favorite blogs constantly even though I have a Google Reader … it’s addictive and so, so sad. I love my computer (still thinking of a name) but my sleep schedule and free time are suffering so much. Time for some control.

3. Insanity Month 2! I Will Kill You!

I started it AGAIN this week and can hopefully keep up the momentum. I’ve decided that if I do this until the end of the year (consecutively this time), I get to buy myself a treadmill. The exceptions are my Thanksgiving trip to Indiana (3 days off) and my Christmas trip to Branson (3 days off). Insanity is not something you can do in a shared space.

So those are my goals …think I can do it? Goal #2 will certainly help with Goal #3, so I think it’s possible.

And yeah, due to insane expenses (CAT Scan, mouthguard, room remodeling, car insurance, etc) and the fact that Justin and I are taking our sweet-ass time finishing this bedroom, I will be living at home for at least one more month. My mom is happy about it (the holidays are a terrible time to suddenly live alone) and as I’ve said before, free rent is one hell of a drug.


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An Update with Cheese

I lived through the night! However, I have to wear this nightguard for six months. And I have a CAT Scan this afternoon for unrelated nonsense. So my life remains in peril. Maybe Erin can make me some more Mac ‘n Cheese?

I’ve decided that for our housewarming, Justin and I are going to have a GRILLED CHEESE PARTY. Last night we finished Buffy season 4, and Justin met this dude:

Also, I am totally failing at this month’s Year Without goal. I’m going to keep attempting to do the Insanity Month 2 workouts and if I get a good run going, I’ll continue it til next month. But we’re doing so much loft stuff after work and I’ve been falling asleep later (I blame the computer and this nightguard) so it’s hard to wake up an hour early. And if I have to choose between exercise and sleeping 7-8 hours, these days I choose sleep. Melatonin makes it impossible to sleep any less, and NPR agrees with me that sleep is pretty important.

I’m determined to keep attempting it though (these last two weeks especially), and someday the habit will stick. I didn’t realize what a bad month this was to try. šŸ˜¦

Tonight after my CAT scan, I get to eat beef from Moon Dance Farms! We might paint, depending on how I feel. Tomorrow I get to hang out with one of my oldest friends, Jane. (Her mom was my first grade teacher!) Saturday, we camp at The Spot. The leaves are insanely beautiful right now and hopefully I can take some pictures today – Missouri in the fall is the best. Big fun things are on the way!


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Year Without – Update #10

I lost 8 pounds! Not the 10 I was aiming for, but pretty good considering all the legendary sugar cookies that Kendra fed me yesterday. I’m at a weight I haven’t been in almost a year, so I’m happy.

For October, I’m going to do Month 2 of Insanity. I’ve gotten through Month 1 three times so far, but life (or, you know, death) keeps interfering with Month 2. I’m almost done with the yard – seriously, 1.5 gardens and some “recon” and that’s IT – so I feel like I can get insane without overworking myself now. Month 2 is extremely challenging. Month 1 – the one everyone tries and bitches about – is only there to prepare you for Month 2. Month 1 is nothing. Month 2 is terrifying.

When I move into the loft I’m getting a treadmill. Justin thinks I’m stupid because we live very close to a Y but first of all, the Y is across the street from a hardcore rehab where people OD all the time and a few doors down from the religious public access channel where homeless people hang out and like to holler at me. The Loft District is getting cute, but there are still mad break-ins and muggings every day. I don’t want to walk alone at dusk with an iPod and I refuse to drive 50 ft. to go running.

Besides, he always gets crabby when I ditch him to workout, and this will cut at least 30 minutes out of my daily routine. And I hate monthly bills. The last time I had a treadmill, I used it enough to justify the purchase. Expect runningĀ  to be a Year Without goal at some point.

For the next 4 months (because I plan on keeping up these month-long resolutions next year; life is more fun when you try to surprise yourself) the month-long goals will probably revolve around fitness or weight loss. I’m trying very hard to get to the recommended weight for someone my height and age and since I’m extremely short, I have a long way to go. I’m determined to do this and people like my buddy Jane have inspired me to keep it up. Also, moving in with a boyfriend who likes to cook can be dangerous, you know?

I think it will be pretty amazing to ring in my Thirties at a weight I haven’t been since middle school (or possibly since Europe; I never weighed myself over there). But more importantly, as I grow (*inhale*) older (*exhale*), my relationship with food and alcohol and my body has changed a lot, and so has my metabolism. It’s time to establish some new routines and habits so that I don’t have to think about this stuff anymore. I have to start worrying about old people shit like blood pressure and credit scores, you know?

That being said, I really hope Kendra has some of those sugar cookies left.


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So Far, So Good!

So in order to lose 10 pounds in a month, I have to lose a pound every 3 days. Well, it’s the 3rd and I’ve lost a pound! Hooray!

HOWEVER, I have to go drinking with Justin’s siblings tonight, go to a baseball game with his family tomorrow (Cards vs. Reds … and his brother-in-law is a Reds fan. Awesome.), and go out to lunch with his dad, stepmom, and my mom on Sunday. Plus a Labor Day BBQ on Monday, I’m sure, and then some sort of celebration with my brother before he leaves on Wednesday. SOOO the next two pounds are going to be pretty hard to get to. We’ll see.

I’m still doing the Insanity Workout … 4 days out of 6 this week. Plus, I remembered that I did a full workout on Sunday instead of the Fit Test, so I’m still on track even though I skipped Tuesday’s workout. Yeah buddy!

I’ve also been eating avocado every single day … a half or a whole, depending on my activity and meals on a given day. Avocados are high in calories and fat, but it’s the good fat and the health benefits are insane. They literally help every inch of your body. Plus, they keep you full longer. A big problem I have is eating at night, and I’ve found that by eating an avocado with some diced tomatoes around dinnertime, I’m still full by the time I go to bed. No lie, I get as excited about my post-work avocado as I used to about my post-work cigarette.

I’m sleeping better than I have in years. I’ve been taking melatonin to sleep for the last 3 weeks. This is the longest I have gone without pharmaceutical sleep aids in over 5 years. It feels amazing. The funniest part? I think 5mg (maximum strength) of melatonin is actually too much for me, so I’m going to try 3mg when I’m done with this bottle. And when I move into the loft and can develop an actual stable routine, eventually I’ll try to sleep with nothing at all.

The plan for this weekend is tons of water, plenty of sleep, daily Insanity workouts, and avocado. Then maybe I will make it to one hundred and (redacted)-eight pounds by Tuesday. Cross your fingers!

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September Without: No-Smoke Squish

My September Year Without Goal is more involved than my usual monthly goals. Usually I give up one thing or try to do one thing.

This month, I have to do/give up several things because my goal is to GET RID of something. Ten things, in fact.

This September, I’m going to lose the 10 pounds that I gained when I quit smoking. Dammit. I am!

To do that, I have to combine a lot of my past goals:
– Insanity Workout every day
– No pigging out
– No drinking (Sunday – Friday)

It’s kind of a lame goal, but y’all, I’ve been carrying these 10 pounds around for a year and a half (and they’ve made friends – I gained even more when I met Justin). I am over this shit. Maybe if I focus all my energy into losing just 10 (as opposed to the 35 I probably should get rid of) I can do it.

To demonstrate how significant 10 pounds can be, I wanted to show you that old weight loss commercial starring The Beav, where he likened that extra 10 pounds to carrying around a bowling ball. I always liked that commercial, but surprisingly there are some things you can’t find through Google.

I think Justin and my mom are on this mission to keep me fat and to be honest, it’s seriously starting to piss me off. I literally beg them to stop shoving food in my face, and they instantly appear with a piece of pizza or guilt trip me into going out to dinner or act all hurt and offended when I want to work out. I even skipped my workout yesterday to hang with Justin and he still got annoyed with me. I’m losing weight whether those jerks fucking like it or not.

Current Mood: Angry. And fat.

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The Year Without – Update #9

I know my goal was to not pig out this month, but truthfully… I knew that whenever this happened, whatever goal I had would fly out the window. But while I pigged out during his last painful weeks and pigged out on Erin’s mac and cheese, there were also at least 3 or 4 days where I didn’t eat at all. So maybe it balances out? Today might be one of those days, actually. Out of nowhere, I really, really miss him today. I think I’ve been handling this abnormally well, but today is one of those days where the grief feels normal. And normal grief? Is awful.

Not sure what next month’s goal will be. I’ve been drinking my feelings a little bit (especially since I learned Scandalous Rachel is back at her parents’, too. We’ve literally been partying like it’s 1999). So I might do no booze again. Or working out every day, again. Or maybe no TV. Or maybe nothing, because I’ll also have to deal with his birthday and his funeral and spreading his ashes and a certain family member who likes to yell at my mom, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up any resolution with all that going on. Maybe I should just go the Frank and Erik route and STAY POSITIVE.

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The Year Without – Update #9

I know my goal was to not pig out this month, but truthfully… I knew that whenever this happened, whatever goal I had would fly out the window. But while I pigged out during his last painful weeks and pigged out on Erin’s mac and cheese, there were also at least 3 or 4 days where I didn’t eat at all. So maybe it balances out? Today might be one of those days, actually. Out of nowhere, I really, really miss him today. I think I’ve been handling this abnormally well, but today is one of those days where the grief feels normal. And normal grief? Is awful.

Not sure what next month’s goal will be. I’ve been drinking my feelings a little bit (especially since I learned Scandalous Rachel is back at her parents’, too. We’ve literally been partying like it’s 1999). So I might do no booze again. Or working out every day, again. Or maybe no TV. Or maybe nothing, because I’ll also have to deal with his birthday and his funeral and spreading his ashes and a certain family member who likes to yell at my mom, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up any resolution with all that going on. Maybe I should just go the Frank and Erik route and STAY POSITIVE.

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The Year Without – Update #8

Here’s What I Loved About A Month Without Facebook:

I was productive in a way I didn’t know I could be. I decided to block myself from Facebook at work months ago, so I haven’t had this problem there, but I spend at least 3 hours a week checking Facebook from home (and that’s probably a low estimate), and let’s face it, last month I had shit to do. I would probably still be moving things out of Jason’s house (and then updating my status about it every hour). I stopped wanting to impress people or out-socialize myself or chime in on every little thing that everyone was doing. It was a bit like graduating high school and going to college again. So many things stopped mattering, and so many doors opened up. Like I said before, you would not believe how much you can achieve in an hour. Put down the “Like” button for a day or two, y’all. It feels so damn good.

Here’s What I Missed:

I missed my friends! Perhaps more so because I’m back home and so busy, but I missed knowing what everyone was up to. I’ve always been the friend who updates people on the rest of the circle, and I hated wondering how everyone was (and more importantly, having no idea how to contact some people and find out).

I mean, a friend had her baby 10 weeks early and I had no idea until I saw her email. I almost forgot about few birthdays (and missed a couple that I didn’t even know about). I have no idea if my other pregnant friend has had her baby or not. Breakups happened. People have moved. And I was expected to know most of this stuff, because everyone else on Facebook did.

And here’s the beautiful thing about Facebook: it’s an ongoing conversation with every friend and fun person I’ve met, all in the same virtual room. I mean, I updated my status and heard from my cousin, my old roommate, a high school friend, my first boyfriend, a friend from the comedian crew, my boyfriend, a blog buddy, etc etc. As much as I love actual interaction, I’d never find a potpourri like that in real life. I’m glad to have that back.

I won’t have to worry about too much obsessive checking right now – my parents’ computer makes me homicidal – but once I’m back in Fast Connection Land, I’m going to work very hard to keep it in check. I might take another month off in 2011, or a week off here or there. Trust me, it felt so damn good and healthy to take a break.

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The Year Without – Update #7

I’ll explain what the month of No Facebook was like this weekend. I was going to do it today but I’m already back to obsessively checking it against my will and wasting all my free time. So, so sad.

For my next trick, I’ll be attempting… A July Without Pigging Out. Specifically, not eating after 8 pm.

I’ve been doing at least 2 hours of yardwork or basement moving/cleaning every night, so by the time 9:00 rolls around, I’m famished.

Throw in a sleep disorder, a world of stress (we can’t really handle my dad anymore, but can’t afford or even find a place that will take care of him), and the lifelong habits of my parents’ kitchen (where I subconsciously eat bologna 24/7), and you’ve got yourself a (psychologically) hungry hungry Stephie.

I haven’t gained weight at all, but I haven’t lost any weight either… and with the amount of lifting, pulling and sweating I’m doing, that means something isn’t right.

I don’t eat a whole lot at once (even though I’ve burned enough calories for another meal), but I’m sure the random mindless snacking is adding up. I’m religious about my breakfast and workday eating habits, but once the sun sets on a rough day, everything goes to shit.

I mean, I’m barely even drinking right now (YOU try explaining Wednesday beers to my mother), so maybe I’m compensating for that by inhaling Cheerios? I don’t know.

Either way, aside from attempting to stay sane, my nightly popcorn binges are the biggest problem facing me right now. Maybe if I bump those up to 7:45 or so, I can train myself to stop running to the kitchen and just go to sleep. Or, you know, stare at Facebook til 1 in the morning as usually.

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Home Semi-Sweet Home

So yesterday I moved and then weeded the entire side of the garage in 95Ā° heat; what did you do? It’s the first day of summer and my first full day back home. The Summer of Obligational Love has officially begun.

Saturday night, Justin came over after his Frontyard gig. It was around midnight and I had just finished off a few beers and an entertainment center*. We had both skipped dinner and were exhausted, so we decided to order Elicia’s pizza and eat it outside.

It took a few slices before we realized that this was almost exactly what we were doing when he asked me to be his girlfriend – we had taken a break from painting my room to eat some Elicia’s in the backyard. Also, we realized it was 11 months since we watched The Room and he asked me on a date. So it felt like a very appropriate way to end my South City adventure.


My dad wanted a radio for Father’s Day and I visited four stores trying to find one. Finally, Justin suggested the Radio Shack next to my house, duh. However, even Radio Shack is running out of radios; they only had one model that included speakers, an AC adapter and an earphone jack. AAANNNDDD it cost me $80 (on sale from $99). It’s a super dope Shortwave radio and my dad is worth it, but still. I was expecting them to cost $10 at this point, not be nearly extinct.

I was so taken aback that I went to the store to buy an angry beer and a King of the Hill. As I huffed past the rack full of gift cards, I bumped into it and caused gift cards to sploosh everywhere. This was the same day that my giant umbrella turned inside out and I had to shove the whole thing in my car during a midwest hurricane. Not my finest moment.


Not going to lie, moving back in with my parents is 75% awesome. (The other 25% belongs to my mother, who acts incredulous about absolutely everything I do. Everything.) There’s something so weird about living in the exact room where I spent high school and college, with half of the same furniture. My basement pad is so huge and cool and cozy. If there was a working toilet in the basement, I might consider staying forever.

I picked a great month for No Facebook; my parents’ computer is upstairs and, combined with the fact that I was never on Facebook when I lived at home last time, I’ve reverted back to whatever entertained me back then and I no longer have that constant itch to go online. My entertainment consists of a few books and my DVDs. Currently I’m re-watching Freaks and Geeks, though I’m debating making July TV-Free.

*The entries I linked to will probably be better when blog-city fixes whatever broke my pictures (it took about a week to fix last time around).

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The Year Without – Update #6

Now that June is wrapping up (well, halfway through…. I miss Facebook) I’ve started thinking about next month’s goal. And I realize that I did a dumb thing by choosing all of my goals in January. A year can throw a lot at you. Hell, 6 months can change your life, too. When I decided todo The Year Without, I had no idea that I would be moving back home for four months. I also didn’t anticipate that I’d achieve a lot of the goals before I got to that month. Some are now unnecessary, and some would be less challenging and more torture.

So from now on, The Year Without goals will be announced on the first day of the month. I realize this isn’t as impressive as declaring them in January and doing it all, but I can’t, and here’s why:

Old Goal: July w/o Procrastination

This will be the busiest month of my work, so this shouldn’t be a problem. But I also have a few other projects in the works – screenplays, collabs with NPR pals, etc., that I’ve been putting on hold. July will be the month I finish it all. I’ll probably be inside hiding from heat with air conditioning so it will be easier than I think.

Why It’s Changing:

I’ve been procrastinating from cleaning the basement and clearing out my parents’ yard for over two decades. So technically, even attempting this means my goal is set. But I really meant writing projects, and there’s simply no time for this right now. This month will still happen, it’s just TBA. Yes, I am procrastinating on doing my No Procrastination month.

Old Goal: August w/o Instant Food

Janet has inspired me to start cooking more. This is something I’ve already begun, but this month I’m going to cook every meal, unless there’s a special occasion where I have to go out to eat. Hopefully by then I’ll be an old pro at this.

Why It’s Changing

Because, although my mother is a saint above all saints, we still have a traditional mother-daughter relationship. And if I spend all month in the kitchen with my mother peering over my shoulder, one of us is getting stabbed. Not necessarily her. Eventually Justin and I will need to work on merging our mealtimes and shopping lists, so this could be a cool way to do it. TBA.

Old Goal: September w/o Waste

Actively recycling everything I possibly can, eating all my produce before it goes bad, buying products with more environmentally-conscious packaging in mind (like bars of soap instead of bottles of shower gel). Also no wasting money – coupons, sacrifices, etc. Becoming VERY aware of what I purchase in general – do I really need this? This leads into the next month…

Why It’s Changing:

I may still want to attempt this, but let’s be real – by this time, I will be knee-deep in useless basement garbage and might not have the patience to sort it out and drive to various recycling centers or Leftovers Etc. There is just something satisfying about chucking a broken TV and other crap in the garbage and having a clean table with 10 seconds of work. (There are currently 3 broken TVs in the basement if you want to try it, along with 2 computer monitors.*) I may be an evil planet-killer, but I’m not going to be a liar. So, we’ll see.

Old Goal: October w/o Clutter

I’ll probably be moving at this point, into a situation with a worse (albeit cuter) pack rat than me. There is no better time to weed through your crap than when you’re faced with the thought of carrying it all at once to a new location. All unnecessary stuff goes – preferably on eBay. Also, if my mom hasn’t relocated by then, this will be the moment where I attack her basement – a.k.a. Where Couches Go To Die.

Why It’s Changing:

Because by this point, I’ll have just cleaned out that basement with 35 years of bullcrap and about 600 couches. PLUS I’ll be in the middle of moving for the second time in a year (and the third move in 14 months). You would not believe how much stuff I trashed/donated/recycled/gifted while I was on vacation. I’m still anti-clutter, I just won’t have any left. (Except for Justin’s. And it’s massive. Can I tag him into this game?)

I’ve been kicking around a few ideas, like No Sleeping Pills, No Sodium, No Negativity and No TV. But y’all, I’m about to move in with two senior citizens who still think I’m 16, so I’m pretty sure at least one month’s goal will be Not Killing My Parents.

*I realize that I’m making my mom sound like a hoarder. While I may call her this at times, she’s not. (And if you call her one, I will kick your ass.) She just knows there are better places to put things than a trash can, but doesn’t have the time to find that place and put it there. So, she’s been setting things aside in the basement. For 35 years. For… me.

Related: Does anyone know a nice place to chuck a broken TV? Howsabout a 400 lb. plaid couch?


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The Year Without – Update #5

I’ve been bad about keeping up with this, but then again, I was bad about keeping up with April and May in general. Here’s the thing: if my month-long goal is to quit one thing completely or make sure to do one thing completely, then I have no problem. There is nothing difficult about giving up or doing one single thing a month; it sucks the first 3 days and then you’re fine, no matter what it is (unless it’s like, heroin or The Pill).

But doing things sometimes? Is hard. There was no way I could spend an hour or less online every single day (not entirely true, but the hour will run over once you get sucked into obsessively YouTube-ing your new favorite band or whatever). There was absolutely no way I could go the entire month without saying “Me” or “I”, so I gave myself leeway and eventually stopped trying.*

But no Facebook? I can do. In fact, thank God, because I have been so productive today and I probably would have spent the whole day playing Tetris Friends or some shit. Don’t get me wrong, I miss “catching up” with my friends and I really want to post my Ren Fair pictures on there, but otherwise, I’m grateful that I chose this month for my Facebook ban (and apparently there’s a “Boycott Facebook Day” coming up or something? I want to go back in time to January and high five myself for timeliness).

*Since I’m moving this month (and then again in October) and spending all summer cleaning my parents’ basement and yard, I have the feeling I won’t have anything left to do when my October Without Clutter rolls around. So maybe I’ll just pick one word – I’m thinking “I” for reasons that this sentence should make obvious – and try as hard as humanely possible to avoid saying or writing it (except maybe around Justin because that could make living with me annoying).

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I actually prefer this over a beer now, always:

I suppose that means March did its job. LEMON-LIME ICE WATER Y’ALL

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The Year Without – Update #4

At home, where he writes, he no longer has internet access. A four-month stint with wi-fi proved “deadly” for his productivity and having no access at all ensures that he is not tempted to “look at Kajagoogoo videos and old ads for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum” on YouTube. “Writing is a deep-sea dive. You need hours just to get into it: down, down, down. If you’re called back to the surface every couple of minutes by an email, you can’t ever get back down. I have a great friend who became a Twitterer and he says he hasn’t written anything for a year.”

– Olivia Laing on Dave Eggers, The Observer

I think that I’m going to change my Year Without challenge for April. I originally decided that during April, I would try to not use credit cards. However, I’ve been trying to eliminate my debt this year (so far I’ve paid off my car, a student loan and two credit cards) and as a result, I don’t use my card at all anymore, except for gas. And let’s face it, going inside to pay for gas is pretty miserable and not at all worth the lesson.

My intent with The Year Without is to attack things I truly have a problem with, and I’m proud to say that I’ve learned that knocking out my debt is much more rewarding than making a debt in the first place. So, during April I’m going to focus on my biggest problem as of late: The Internet.

I don’t know if it’s a side-effect of not drinking or what, but lately I have been spending too much time on there. Sometimes habitually. Sometimes subconsciously. Sometimes even when I am trying hard not to. It’s gotten terrible and scary and everything is suffering: my attention span, my creativity, my free time, etc. It’s a problem that everyone seems to be facing these days, but I am choosing to attack it.*

My ultimate goal is to spend less than 30 minutes on here a day (unless I am researching for work or freelance stuff). I refuse to tell you how far away I am from that goal now. I don’t know how many times I will update you on this. (And in case you’re wondering, I’ll be typing things in a word doc before I post them here, so teeeeechnically it is less Internet, and more creative writing. Oh, and I can tweet from my phone. Yay, loopholes!)

I’ll be keeping a log of every single time I am online, and… again, I don’t know if or how I will update you on this one. I’m guessing I will just have actual things to write about, as opposed to “What I Saw Online Today.”

(The irony of everything I’ve written above is that I’ve been saving a portion of my new debt-less income for… a Macbook.)

Also, since I will have so much extra free time, I’ve also decided to work on my posture! I might even walk around with a book on my head!

March Update: At least two friends have offered to get me drunk this weekend – or even Thursday – to celebrate the end of this month. And to be honest, I don’t want to do that. The thought of beer has actually become a little unappetizing. I’m really loving this! So please don’t buy me booze! Thanks!

*I’ve been thinking about this for a couple weeks and of course, on the day I decide to declare it, D. Mike decides to do the healthy noble thing and abandon social networking completely, which I admire. This wasn’t based on his decision, but I will certainly use it as inspiration.

Also, I know a couple of my friends have been working on cutting back as well; I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions in the comment section!


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My Name Is Stephie, And I Am A Sortaholic.

If I’m learning anything from this alcohol-free month, it’s this: I may not be an alcoholic, but drinking can still be a problem. I think that on April 1st, when I am allowed to start drinking again, I will drink much less. Much, much less.

I’ve realized this month that I had to re-learn a lot of things the same way I did when I quit smoking. How to socialize. How to party. How to kick back. How to cope. Even how to handle friendships and my relationship. I didn’t always drink to do these things and they weren’t exactly married to alcohol in my mind, but they were certainly connected. And while I’ve avoided hard alcohol for almost a decade and usually avoid getting drunk, drinking a beer or two on a few days a week has actually impacted my behavior and my body more than I thought it would.

It hasn’t been a challenge, so I assume it isn’t an addiction per se… it’s just been strange. A readjustment. I think that because alcohol is so intertwined with socializing – for most people, especially in a beer-centric city like ours – I’m feeling the same way anyone would feel if they stopped drinking. Even my non-drinking friends have something else to lean on, like cigarettes, pot, extreme religion or AA. I don’t do any of those. I just have lemons in my water.

I’ve talked to a few friends in AA about this and done some research googling, and the consensus is that while alcoholism can be genetic, it can also be a learned behavior. Did you know there are different types of alcoholics, and only one type needs AA? I have no idea if alcoholism runs in my genes. Either way, I don’t think I am one.

I lived at home throughout college, so I never was never a crazy binge-drinking kid . I was always very nervous and afraid when I would visit my friends who lived on a campus; I wouldn’t even attempt to keep up. (The term “pre-game” comes to mind – like, they get drunk before they go to a bar!) But in terms of frequency, it’s definitely a behavior that has been learned.

Three of my longest relationships have been with actual alcoholics who have never sought help. And for the past four years, I have lived with (for lack of a better word) frat boys. So for me, for the last decade, alcohol has been this very normal and almost expected part of life. Going to someone’s house? Take a six pack. Special occasion or romance? Wine. Kicking back? A beer. Rough day? A tall boy, maybe two. A cold or cough? Whiskey. Trouble sleeping? Nightcap. Going out? Even something low key? Bar. Always a bar. Or at the very least, make sure the place has a bar.

Deep down I always knew I didn’t need the stuff, but I was always taught that it was more fun to chose the option of having the stuff. But when you have a dying dad, every day becomes a rough day. When you have a sleep disorder, you’ll have trouble sleeping every night. When you break out of your shell and become an extrovert, you’ll want to socialize every week. These are not temporary things. And what may seem like an innocent beer or two can quickly add up.

While I don’t know much about my genes, I do know that all four of my biological grandparents had or have hypertension. (I don’t trust the “medical history” of my biological parents because at the time, they were teenagers. What history?) And while my dad’s problems have been diabetes related… I’ve seen what circulation problems can do. What happens when your veins and arteries shrink and clog and block. I don’t want that. None of you want that.

For the past 3 and a half weeks, I’ve been taking my blood pressure at the store every day. (I know those machines aren’t 100% correct, but a daily reading can give you a good idea.) When I took my blood pressure on March 1st, I was well into the hypertension range. And for the past few weeks, it has steadily been decreasing. As of yesterday, I’m slightly in the pre-hypertension category. My hope is that by next Thursday, I’ll be back to normal.

Erik and Olivia (and Stanley) told me that red wine is totally awesome for blood pressure problems. That a glass a night can instantly improve your blood flow. Red wine gives me headaches, stains my (real) teeth and makes me barfy. So I could never have more than a couple glasses at a time, anyway.

So ironically (and sadly), red wine seems like the perfect solution to my drinking problem. A small glass every other night would curb those coping/sleeping/kicking back issues that made me want a beer in the first place, as well as keep my blood pressure under control.

I feel like I’ve learned how control the rest. I don’t need beer to go out and have fun. I like that my teeny beer pooch is starting to vanish. I just feel lighter, and cleaner. I will still rock the often-mocked Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus on weekends, but that’s about as far as it will go. Not drinking is actually kind of awesome, and I like the idea of only drinking in a way that’s healthy for me.

Exception: I will still need an occasional Bloody Mary with my boyfriend, and a monthly Drunken Intervention Fan Club with Erin, where I think it’s funny to drink the Teeny Tiny Wine Bottles of Shame:

(The mind-boggling bourbon, grape soda and pineapple soda concoction is not mine, but my roommates’ – further cementing my belief that if anyone has a real problem, it’s not me.)

Edited to add: I love how right after I posted this, Vee tagged a bunch of pictures of me blowing into the Alcohawk on Facebook.


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