Archive for October, 2015

Life’s not fair, yeah, I know and thanks for the reminder

I just got a phone call from my third aunt – Aunt Lili is in intensive care at the moment and they don’t think she’s going to make it. According to them, she’s barely hanging on with kidney and liver failures in additional to other things that happen when your liver and kidney give up on you and she’s only alive because of extensive tubing and machines.

Everything feels very far away at the moment – I saw her earlier this month and we (and ten other people) went out to a fancy dinner together. She looked beautiful and healthy and vibrant and now, less than a month later, I’m hearing that might have been the last chance I had to talk to her.

Regrets. I know that I’ve said that I try not to do anything to cause regret, whether through action or inaction, but now I’m realizing just what it truly means to always treat every moment as the last you could have with someone and I regret. I don’t so much regret that I didn’t talk to her more, but I am sorry, so sorry that I didn’t tell her when I saw her last how much I appreciated how good she was to me.

Aunt Lili isn’t actually related to me by blood. In fact, her beginnings aren’t the most auspicious if one really gets down to it. She worked for and with my grandfather, but I’m pretty sure their relationship was never purely professional. Both because they shared an apartment at one point and because my grandfather told me to call her “yi-ma”.

To put things into perspective, we call grandmothers “a-ma” and back in the day, you called concubines “xeh-yi”. So that “yi-ma” was some sort of portmanteau of “yi” as in both aunt and inferring concubine status and “ma” to infer that she was equal in status to my grandmother.

But I didn’t know any of that then. All I knew was that my yi-ma was a beautiful, patient, and lovely woman who always had patience to listen to me talk and who seemed to truly love me for who I was. For more perspective, my own mother parked me in front of a tape recorder at least once and told me to talk to it because she needed me out of her hair. I was a very, very talkative little girl. There’s at least four hours of tapes that survived the ten moves between then and eighteen. Implying there probably was a lot more at some point.

I didn’t see her much after that couple of years when I was young. In part because my family was still living predominantly in the US and I’m guessing in part because her position in my grandfather’s life changed. By the time we moved to Taiwan when I was about 8 or 9, she and my grandfather no longer lived in Taiwan and the last time I saw her was some years before that.

I only met her again this summer. She took a string of garnets from her wrist and pressed them on me. It says something of how she treated me as a child that my mother didn’t object when she saw them on me. Usually it’s not done to accept random gifts from people, but my mother only sighed slightly and said, “she was always very fond of you”.

The prognosis isn’t good. My third aunt and my cousin are flying to China tomorrow to see her and my aunt told me that it would probably be the last.

If that’s true, then she’s going to be the third death in my life where I question why someone so wonderful has to be taken away from us when people like my grandfather are still kicking around ruining people’s lives.

The first was my ex’s grandfather. I met him only once, but I fell in love a bit with him when he patted me on the cheek and said in gentle tones of rueful sympathy, “you’re a fragile hothouse flower, aren’t you?”.  I have no recollection of the conversation before and after, but I do remember that moment.

I would have wanted to slap anyone else who said such a thing, but he said it in such an inimitable way that I somehow felt cherished and invited to join in an in-joke rather than derided.

I am a hothouse flower. It’s unfortunate, but true, and he’s perhaps the only person in my life, including myself, who’s ever said that in such a way that I felt that he truly felt sympathetic without judgement.

When he died, I told my ex that I was sorry that mine didn’t die instead of his. For those of you gasping in horror, I refuse to burn in hell for that statement. My grandfather is a miserable old man who delights in delusions that he’s some sort of emperor and like all terrible emperors before him, his hobby is tearing lives and families apart. Especially his own family. As emperors tend to do.

Then there was Akhil. It hurts to think of Akhil; he left this world far sooner than anyone expected, dying of cancer before he even saw thirty.

And now Aunt Lili is lying in an hospital bed somewhere, living off tubes, and part of me is so viciously mad.

She’s near sixty and she’d been working her ass off because my grandfather asked it of her. Getting up at 6am in the morning and falling into bed at 3am and doing it seven days a week. Working herself to the bone while fielding hate from my relatives because they’re afraid that she might be trying to get some of what’s “theirs” and dealing with an irascible old man who is never satisfied, never willing to believe the best out of anyone, and who is about as constant as a roulette wheel.

I ache for her and for what made her feel like this was something she had to do. If I were her age and I were well off, there’s no way I would have stepped into that nest of vipers for anything. There’s a certain extent to which loyalty will carry me, and as far as I’m concerned the old man doesn’t come close to deserving that level of devotion even from a dog, much less a human being.

But my fury will do nothing and if I must send her off, I’d rather it be with beautiful thoughts. Thoughts worthy of this lovely and warm woman.

Aunt Lili:

I love you. Thank you for your presence in my life. Thank you for the love you showed me. Thank you for loving me as I am, for appreciating the girl I was even when I was so outside the box for what a “proper” little Chinese girl should have been. Thank you for all your kind words to me and your faith in me.

I wish you the best. I pray that you will pull through, that we can look at each other some day and smile over this scare. I hope that I will be able to see you again and tell you how very much you brought to my life.

I wish you strength and I wish you peace, Aunt Lili, and I will always hold you in my heart.

 

 

September YNAB analysis

Maybe I should be doing further ado. I could be pointing out that I went to Japan with my parents in August and refrained from buying anything with “new” money. I had some Japanese yen from way back when and spent that, but if I hadn’t had it, I wouldn’t have bought anything.

Motto of the story: don’t carry cash. Ever.

So yeah, maybe I should add in some head patting to the self-flagellation. IDEK.

Sept YNAB

 

So, books are still a problem, as usual. *sigh* Some days I wonder if it’s even worth fighting that one. I’m tempted to just relabel the category as “prozac” and be done with it. Certainly back in the day when I was taking Wellbutrin, it cost well over that amount every month. Win some, lose some, eh?

Good news is entertainment went down to just my Spotify subscription. I’m debating stopping that also, since it’s going to take me what, only about 12 months at $20 for me to crawl back into the black as is already. But I have a thing about paying for the stuff I consume so I’ll probably keep it going rather than shell out the couple hundred dollars to pay for the tracks I listen to. One of these days I’ll do a cost analysis and see, but for the moment I might just let it slide.

Ah, letting it slide, the nemesis of saving money. :D

Aaaaaand, I exploded my toiletries category. My handkerchiefs were getting a bit too holy for my taste, so I got some new ones. Yeah, about $150 worth of new ones.

I did do the math; the handkerchiefs I got back in March of 2011 have lasted me this long and even with the calculation of laundry, I was still ahead. Not ahead if you start counting labor, but eh, what is?

So total for Sept was $366.68 and it’s going to take me about, oh, also about 12 months to recover from the handkerchiefs. Sweet.

If I count the $100 I paid to E to schlepp my boxes from my old place to my parent’s house and I do, that’d be $466.68 and an object lesson in “never trust anyone not to stab you in the back” and “why an emergency fund is a good idea” and most importantly, “why having a fucking income is next to godliness”.

If I get a windfall, it’s an even toss as to whether I should slot it toward my book red or if I should just stick it in an investment vehicle somewhere. Or I might stick it in toiletries because I hate seeing that red. We’ll see.

And yeah, part of the deal for October is I need to write down the title, author, and review of every book I buy.

August YNAB analysis

Without further ado:

August YNAB

 

So. Books. Still a problem. Obviously.

Me, in pained accents: “Katia, what am I going to do with you?”

Entertainment was not too hot either. Kev got me into playing Fallout Shelter and I totally went and got some microtransactions going. *sigh*

Me: “You know, self, there’s only so much you can play the depressed card, right?”

Total outflow was $189.58, so technically still within bounds, but meh.

And now for something different…

It’s interesting, to be without my own income for the first time since I was eighteen.

So it’s been about, what, three months since I came back to Taiwan? Which, since I used “back” again, I probably really should try to unpack that a bit at some point. I keep being surprised by it, but it keeps slipping out anyway, so maybe I really should think harder on it.

So since I don’t really have “income” right now, just a sort of allowance/stipend thing, I figure it’s a good chance to get on that hyper-focus on budgeting thing. Or, you know, it’s another way to procrastinate, I don’t know. Probably the latter, to be honest, but on the other hand, I really do need to be putting all of my expenditures under a magnifying glass at the moment. Or at least, the trend of spending if nothing else.

I do have some money put away, but I really don’t want to drain it unless I really have to.

So, starting from July…

July YNAB

 

To clarify, my parents are still paying me $100/month to deal with their rental property and my mom has very graciously decided to pay my Doctors Without Borders monthly donation. That means I have about $100 of my own money that I’m pulling per month for non-negotiable stuff like clothing, books, and business expenses. Theoretically I’m going to try my best to not touch it, but I figure not budgeting for it is a stupid idea.

So, July is not all that pretty.

I went way overboard on the books. Not surprising considering that I was stressed and I tend to binge read when I’m depressed, but not good either. At least it was low triple digits…

Entertainment isn’t looking too hot either, but the reason for that is because I had to replace my Kindle after it got lifted from my pocket in Sweden. Yeah. “Had to”. I know.

I spent $95 on a five book cover credit, which I think was a steal but that did put me over budget.

In all, not terrible, asides from the book binging. I’m trying to figure out how to cut down on it and I usually have varying stages of luck. Sometimes going completely cold turkey and not looking at anything that isn’t free works, but sometimes it doesn’t on really dark days, especially if KU is being particularly slushy.

I’m wondering if forcing myself to write a book review on everything I pay for would work. On the other hand, I usually start paying for books when I’m too depressed to roust myself out of bed, so I’m not sure how well that would go.

Ugh. Having no willpower sucks. That delayed gratification challenge? I suspect I would have failed at it… On the other hand, part of the problem isn’t so much delayed gratification as I tend to just fwomp when I can’t see that things will get better if I delay my gratification. It’s not like I’m going to get more money if I hold off on buying more books if I technically have the money in the bank.

Well, in terms of interest, maybe, if I saved the money and bought stocks with it. Maybe that’s the ticket – every time I hold off on buying a book, I transfer the money into an account I then funnel into my stocks.