How I hid my financial insecurity in my shopping basket

I like nice things. I like decorating, putting things together that might otherwise have been separate. I like to design. I like to fengshui. I like to style. I LOVE organizing. I still get excited when I see office supplies & back to school displays in Target. I typically have to be led away.

It took $8,000+ in moving costs, having to re-buy, reshape, and redesign my new place for me to realize that I have a problem.

I wouldn’t say I’m a shopaholic. But, I would say I love to online window shop…and sometimes follow through with “checking out.” 5 out of 10 times. Maybe 6. Who’s counting? But the act of checking my favorite websites to see what’s new, what deals are going on, and if it fits our mid-century modern theme? OMG, so therapeutic. Enthralling, even! Okay, maybe I’m a borderline shopaholic.

I gave myself the excuse that we gave so much away in Chicago that I could buy, buy, buy in California. The sales tax is less, kind of, right? I completely ignored that my bank account already taken a significant hit with financing the move and just kept charging. I can always return it. No problem!

With each item added to my online shopping cart, I would further ignore my feelings of being scared, nervous, anxious, and doubt. If I don’t have these items, then I’m not really an adult! I haven’t made it on my own without at least ONE room being complete! I need to make it seem that I’ve got it figured out.

Then, there was a moment. Not a panic, not a scream, just an uneasy calm that settled over me. I needed to stop. I needed to figure this money shit out. I was setting myself up for future fights with Marty by continuing this game. I was setting myself up for future disappointment. I was creating a monster of instant gratification that would never be satisfied.

How can I live a life of true beauty, enjoying the earth around me when I am so enthralled with filling my apartment with things? How can I save up for my retirement, my future family, my future house if I keep getting distracted by deals, deals, deals? How can I reach the financial goals that I have in the most responsible and practical manner?

I have friends who don’t go shopping during Lent. Well, it’s not the Lenten season, but I’m going to make a goal: I will not buy ONE unnecessary item the entire month of August. That means no clothing, no home goods, no treats, NOTHING. If it doesn’t mean life or death, I ain’t buying it. If it doesn’t mean health or sickness, nope. If it doesn’t help me to get my work done, then see ya! Time to buck up! Time to educate myself on creating good money habits! Time to set some goals, save some money up, and think of that big picture!

Disneyland Annual Pass, here I come! 🙂

Just kidding. Kind of. Not really?

To future old person Caitlin: you’ll have money to live on, I promise!

 

Allowing myself to wallow

Each week I experience, at least once, what many call “the blues.”

Yes, I live in the “greatest country on earth.” Yes, I experience white privilege on a daily basis. No, I’m not carrying around tens of thousands of student loan debt. I am healthy. I am loved. I am free.

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sadness. Disappointment. Frustration. There’s always more, isn’t there?

Depression, alcoholism, and bipolar disorder have been diagnosed on both sides of my family tree. Knowing this causes me to be more aware of how I express and deal with my feelings. Some days, the stigma of mental illness creeps in and I worry that “something is wrong with me,” and that I am “feeling too much.” I used to get frustrated with myself for feeling this way, I felt that I was in the wrong. But, that only made me more unstable. I would bottle the disappointments, frustrations and sadness away, until they popped open, usually unexpectedly, and made a mess everywhere.

“Just keep swimming” is motivational for me 85% of the time. It pumps me up! Keep me going! Gives me that drive to take on the day! I could look on the bright side of things. I could keep getting knocked down and get up again, cuz’ you’re never going to keep me down. Most of the time.

It is important to allow that one day to wallow a week. Why? Because it helps me to maintain a healthy, and mostly happy, relationship with myself and with others around me. 

No, I don’t hold in all of my sadness, disappointments, or frustrations until this ONE day. The day of wallow is when those emotions overcome the happy, the joyful, the excitement of the day. I acknowledge them. I acknowledge that I want more out of life. I acknowledge that there is more to life. I throw a last minute pity party for myself. I blame others for my shortcomings. I cry that I don’t have a better “plan.” I question my path, my passions. I wonder if I’ll ever be good enough. Simply said: I feel all the feels.

So, why am I sharing this? Because, I want readers to know that it is okay to wallow. It is okay to be sad, disappointed, frustrated. It is okay to feel. Find a healthy way, that works for you, to express yourself. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to cope with what’s happening inside. You gotta do you.

So, if you need a Wallow Wednesday each week, take it! But then, when it’s over, wake up and make it a Tremendous Thursday!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat

If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Why I succeed at failing

I have been letting myself down a lot this past year. I’ve been making excuses for why I’m treading water. I’ve been blaming the universe for giving me difficult circumstances, that prevent me from moving forward. I then decide that the solution to get away from all this negative juju invading my headspace is to well, move. Queue positive vibes & blissful living!

Nope. Maybe it was blissful living for the first two weeks, but then the frustration with life came roaring back.

You see, ever since I graduated from college almost 4 years ago, I haven’t felt fulfilled. Or, if I did feel fulfilled it was fleeting. My dreams were cut down by reality, so I adapted. But for me, adapting isn’t good enough. I tried the whole full-time job thing. Fine at first, and then life hit me again and again with dilemmas.

Caitlin, your family needs you.

But Caitlin, you have rent to pay.

Caitlin, live each day like it’s yours and their last.

Caitlin, how are you going to excel in your career, adulthood if you keep going off to follow your heart? 

I am a rational person. I would like to think I’m smart, even. Maybe even overly cautious sometimes when it comes to taking a risk. A square.

But when it comes to a career, I fly by the seat of my pants. My heart bleeds down my sleeve as I continue to search for that soulmate,  that fulfillment. I can’t force to do the easy thing and “just find a full time job until you figure it out.” That seems so wrong for me. Soul-sucking. Uninspired.

So, in the eyes of many, I continue to succeed at failing. Failing to conform to what generations before me did because “they had to,” but really did they? Failing to be comfortable with a steady income at a job that is just a job. Failing to do something “useful” and “productive” with my $50K+ college education, therefore disappointing my parents. Failing to be normal.

I always had said growing up that I would HATE working in an office if it wasn’t work I loved doing. “I’ll never take a job just for the money.” Well, I’ve done that in the past…slightly unavoidable Younger and Unknowing Caitlin.

But now, I’ve decided to embrace my failures. Things didn’t work out for a reason, because if they had would I really be my best self? My happiest? My most fulfilled? Maybe my failures are leading me up to a road of successes that just so happen to occur later in life, because I’ll handle it better then and not become a drug addict or fame whore.

I want to keep failing. If I keep failing then I’ll keep growing. If I keep growing then I’ll become a more evolved individual. If I become a more evolved individual then I will be fulfilled.

Simple enough, right?

Good for You, Not for Me

For some reason, we as humans, feel like we need to have an opinion on any topic that we hear.

I’ve realized recently that I really hate getting advice from people.

To the point where I regret telling them anything that’s happening in my life. For some reason, we as humans, feel like we need to have an opinion on any topic that we hear. It’s very rare that I have encountered a person that has asked me “what’s new with you?” and I tell them. And they nod their head, and smile. No two cents. No trying to talk me in or out of anything. They just take in the words.

I don’t mind having debates. I don’t mind having “what if” scenarios thrown at me. But honestly, when I tell you about my choices, don’t try to change them. If I want help, I will ask for it. 

I used to be that person. I used to always tell my friends what I thought they should do, even when they hadn’t asked for it. Why? Because, again, like a majority of people, I thought that because I liked how I was living my life, and my decisions, that I could tell someone else to do the same and they would be happy. But that ISN’T the case. I went 20+ years reacting to peoples’ stories, life updates, gossip that way…until I crossed a boundary with a good friend in college.

“Caitlin, I’m not asking for your opinion, I’m not asking for you to tell me what to do, I’m telling you because I just want you to listen. If I want your help on making a decision, a choice, I’ll ASK.” 

I get it now. I understand her frustration. I no longer try to tell others how to be, well, me. I listen. But damn it, why can’t anyone else!? So, I challenge you reader, to see what kind of person you are with your friends, your co-workers, your family: are you a listener, or are you a pusher?

Ask yourself: is the advice that you’re giving, what would be best for you or, the person asking for it?

The best takeaway I got from Amy Poehler’s autobiography, is now how I deal with super-helpful friends: “good for her, not for me.”

So Long, Midwest…Hello, Sunburn!

Welp, it’s finally done!

After mailing 9 boxes at a 24-hour FedEx in Lakeview, playing the ultimate game of Tetris with my RX 330 + driving across Illinois-Iowa-Nebraska-Wyoming-Utah-Nevada in 3 days, we arrived to Cali-four-nie-yay!

How Solano County compares to Cook County, thus far:

  • There’s unexpected traffic in Solano County, but you’re surrounded by vineyards, mountains + blue skies…sitting in your car ain’t so bad with that.
  • You’re surrounded by some incredible counties: Sonoma for culinary , enthusiasts Napa for wine lovers, Marin for natural beauty, and Alameda for its diversity.
  • People are friendly, incredibly helpful, and love to connect you with friends of their second cousin’s wife’s sister’s husband’s brother if that means it’ll land you a career move, or a new couch.
  • While I will miss my Chicago pizza, dearly, Californians know how to make a MEAN burger…veggie for me, of course. 😉
  • Apparently, there have been so many lawsuits about cancerous chemicals, being, you know, everywhere, that these little beauties are constantly reminding me that I’m probably going to die of cancer. K5802
  • Despite growing up in the Midwest, I never was told to consider how I would react if a cow, sheep, or horse ended up in my path on the highway, but in the happy cow state, you gotta be on top of that shit.
  • Even in a drought, a pool is a must to survive June-September. You just don’t really clean it, or refill it unless it’s down to wadding temperatures.

Sorry, Chicago + Midwest… I’m never coming back, only as a born-again tourist.

 

Why Moving to California Is Everyone’s Business

Why sharing life news is the worst idea you could possibly have, ever.

So, I recently announced via Facebook, of course, that my boyfriend and I will be moving to West to Northern California. As a lot of people know, I was born there. My family relocated to the Chicago area for my dad’s job, but we always made an effort to go back to California at least twice a year. As a lot of my friends know, I’ve always wanted to go back.

And yet, what a “surprise” it was when our announcement was made. Some frequently asked questions have included:

  • What’s wrong with Chicago? You don’t like it here? Is this a rhetorical question or should I pull out my reporter’s notebook full of explanations + stats?
  • Are you moving because you got a new job? No, I’m moving because my CURRENT job allows me to live wherever the fuck I want. So, why wouldn’t I move to the place I’ve wanted to go back to the last 20 years?
  • Isn’t it incredibly expensive to live there? How will you survive just freelancing? First of all, I’ve survived living in Chicago working 75+ hour weeks at TWO jobs paying me minimum wage. Second of all, it’s like every other place in the world: there are some areas that are crazy mucho doll-hairs, while there are more affordable areas. Third of all, read this article and make your own judgments on what freelancing means for the “typical” work industry.
  • Where are you going to get your water? I’m moving to Northern California w/ trees & greenery vs. Southern California w/ desert & hot hot sun. Of course, the North is beating the South in the war of precipitation.
  • They have medical marijuana there…can you get me weed?! No. Clearly, you haven’t visited a dispensary in Colorado or other pot friendly state…or county jail.
  • Are you and your boyfriend going to get married since you’re moving across the country!? No. N-O! What in the hell does moving have to do with marriage? THERE IS NO DIRECT CONNECTION. We’ve already been living together for 2 years, have had a beloved pet die, family member die, & shared ONE BATHROOM IN A STUDIO APARTMENT. Moving across the country will not turn on the marriage lightbulb in our heads. It’s still burnt out.

I may update this list as more ridiculous questions occur. But hopefully this post prevents any further stupidity from happening. Thanks, Friends!

What Does It Take To Be Considered a “Bite Me” Chronicle?

You’ve stumbled upon the “Bite Me” Chronicles, for whatever reason.

Now you’re trying to determine what the hell it means.

Well, its simplest intention is to be a blog. It’s more adventurous intention is to be a blog that recounts the many stupid and rude human beings and their ridiculous actions, in a manner that brings a smile to you, the reader’s, face.

Comprendez? 

Sometimes it’ll work, sometimes not.

Mais, c’est la vie.

You can up your chances of reader satisfaction by having experience in the following:

1.) Working in the service industry

2.) Being a millennial, or wish you were one (come on, you know you wanna be)

3.) Being a female, who has experienced “Aunt Flo” at least once. Bonus points for multiple occasions.

4.) Gotten road rage not only while driving a vehicle, but also walking on a sidewalk. Popularly known as “walker’s wrath.” (Don’t steal that, I just made it up. Gonna ™ that bitch!)

5.) Been a kid, then became an adult and realized it sucks.

But, let’s get real. This is going to be a lot of shit talking about some shitty humans and you’re going to eat it up!

Bon appetit! 

 

The “Bite Me” Chronicles Return

For the past two months I have been helping my mom clear out my grandpa’s house and now our own home, my childhood home, as she readies herself for her new adventures out West.

I’ve found pretty hysterical pieces of artwork, toys from all stages of various obsession, and dozens upon dozens of journals.

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After spending hours reading dozens upon dozens of Jelly-ink filled pages dated as far back as 1996, I realized how far I’ve fallen from my writing roots.

Granted, I’ve learned how to spell better since my last school-assigned journal, but other than that I’ve failed miserably at expressing myself post-elementary school years. Writing became an assignment, a chore. It wasn’t something I did for me, it was something I did because I had to.

“When I grow up, I want to write.”
“I want to go to UNC, and learn how to become an author from Sarah Dessen.”
“When I graduate from college, I want to visit Tokyo and teach English there.”

Nothing is more stunning than realizing you’ve forgotten all of your childhood and teenage dreams – the dreams that made you happiest, and true – and are worse off for it.   

I would like to think that my downfall started with the start of puberty. Once I left elementary school, my priorities shifted. Creativity was put on the back burner for tests, gossip, and make-up. I became resentful of writing for “fun” as I was told what to write about and how to write about it for the next 12 years of academia. So, I stopped.

My artistic expression, my self-improvement goals, my “hitting-it-big-as-a-published-author” sized dreams, stopped.

I stopped. My best “me” stopped.

Six-year-old Caitlin could give a fuck what people thought of her stories, of her horrendous spelling and awkward grammar. She felt all of her feelings, and poured them out onto the page. She documented current events. She described struggles and tragedies. She took the time to re-live her day through her words and pictures, because it was important to her. It made her, be.

Once adulthood hits, we all want to become a kid again. It’s easier, right? More fun, carefree. But, is part of the reason why we want to become a kid again because we realize how brilliant and wise we were? How nonjudgmental we were of ourselves and each other? How we could balance being selfless, yet also be selfish for the sake of what made us the most happy? Being a kid, you do you 24/7.

Screw it. I’m going back to being six.

I can’t please everyone. I can’t be afraid of not getting hired at some job because my blog is too this or that. I gotta do me. I gotta make six-year-old Caitlin proud. I gotta lot to release onto these pages.

So, bite me! I’m going to use my First Amendment rights! If Donald Trump can, well, shit, anyone can!

P.S…

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Interpretation: Haiku

My Debut

Two thousand sixteen

My word, my soul is action

Creativity

My Drink Of Choice

Red is the color

My live forever habit

Favorite lip stain

My Chore

I am a writer

Therefore, I am broke yet rich

My spirit is full

My Forever Love

I think you’re Spanish

Your eyes tell me otherwise

You’ve stolen me still.

Me

It’s all about me

No more apologizing

Don’t stand in my way

Content with No Control

One day, something clicked. I felt a weight leave my shoulders, my soul. And now, I can honestly say that I am fully content with having absolutely no control in this crazy chaos of life.

This year has been a fast one.

I don’t remember what I did in January.

I don’t remember what I did in May.

I don’t remember what I did August 31st.

But, I do remember moments. I remember trying times. I remember wanting to give up. I remember wanting to quit. I remember wanting to walk out. I remember wanting to shut myself away from the world.

It’s the end of September now. There’s less than 100 days until Christmas. And soon, 2016 will be here.

But for me, my “new year” has already begun before the drop of that oversized disco ball in Times Square.

One day, something clicked. I felt a weight leave my shoulders, my soul. And now, I can honestly say that I am fully content with having absolutely no control in this crazy chaos of life.

I realized that I have spent too many days this year trying to control other people, blaming outside forces for my unhappiness, distracted from the reality that I choose my outlook on life, how I’m going to view each day.

Finally realizing that released so much anger, so much frustration that I was letting cloud my true self. I am no longer beating myself up for “not using my college degrees.” I am no longer feeling trapped to provide for 3 other lives in addition to my own. I’m taking control, not giving others the control. I am making the best of how my life has turned out.

I declared September to be a month of gratitude. October will be a month of giving my undivided self to the people and relationships that matter most.

November and December are probably the most hectic times of year for people, even more so if you work in retail (like me), but I am determined to make those months ones filled with positive intent, quiet moments, and full of laughter and smiles.

A quote I have always told myself in stressful times, is to “let go and let God.” And I think I am finally doing just that… it just be a little bit more of “let go and let Grandpa.”

One small positive though in the morning, can change the entire outcome of your day!
One small positive though in the morning, can change the entire outcome of your day!