In which brain melty need stopping

It has been a hell of a day, not in a bad way but in a there is too much information in my head and I don’t know what to do with any of it sort of way. I was out and about for a couple of hours– actual hours! Not just a quick trip to the Target in my back yard!– this morning, mostly running errands for my father-in-law, and I just had a conversation with my wife that ended with not only deciding to go ahead and move forward with LASIK but I also need to look into either a home equity loan or a mortgage refinance tomorrow, and there was a lot of talk about things like new roofs and bathroom and kitchen renovations and my brain has already spent some time today trying to figure out how to rearrange my office so that the layout makes a little bit more sense and that’s a lot of work and there is some work around the house that I need to do and oh a lot of that stuff needs contractors and do we know any contractors or maybe does your dad know any contractors and I really need to repurpose my entire computer setup to be better for video editing because I’m going to have to do a lot of that this fall one way or another and oh America just had its biggest day so far in terms of new cases of COVID so let’s fall down that depressing-ass rabbit hole too while we’re at it.

I need a nap.


7:46 PM, Wednesday June 24: 2,376,263 confirmed cases and 121,932 Americans dead.

Okay FINE then I WON’T

The picture almost makes customer service seem cool, doesn’t it?

I was recently able to zero out all but one of my credit cards, and Lord willing and the creek don’t rise it shouldn’t be long until I’m able to whack that one as well. I was startled to see a bill show up from one of my cards a few days ago; the card actually got overpaid a bit so the last I’d looked at it they owed me money, which is always a fun thing to have happen with a credit card. Turns out they’d charged me a $59 annual fee. Now, chances are this fee has been around for all if not most of the time I’ve had this card, but during damn near 100% of that time I’ve carried a balance. It pissed me off that I suddenly owed them an annual fee on a card with no balance, so I did a brief check to make sure it wouldn’t affect my credit rating too unduly and then called to cancel the card.

(A five minute period ensues here, as we go from blustery-but-dry outside to torrential rainstorm hello tropical storm Cristobal in about ten seconds and then the power blinks out. By the time I have the computer back online and the Internet back up, the rain has stopped.)

Anyway. That was a long lead-in to a quick resolution, but: it turns out that if you’ve had a credit card for 23 years and you call them and say something along the lines of “Hey, y’all charged me this annual fee. I don’t wanna pay it. Cancel the card!” they will not only remove the fee from your card (and, to be honest, I pretty much expected this result) but they will set things so that you are never charged an annual fee again. Which, paradoxically, is kind of annoying, because I find you must pay this annual fee, unless you don’t want to to be really obnoxious as a policy.

But, hey, I guess I don’t have to cut the card up now? All told, I’d rather have the credit than not, so I went ahead and kept it.

Also, I can see blue sky outside now. Weather is weird.


5:45 PM, Tuesday June 9: 1,973,803 confirmed cases and 111,751 Americans dead.

An addendum to the previous post

One of the following two things is true, and I’m not sure which, despite having read more than your average person about British history and literature:

OPTION ONE: British currency, pre-Euro, is bullshit, and I refuse to believe anyone can keep track of how many guineas are in a shilling or how many Robux are in a whangdoodle or whatever; y’all make fun of us for not having the metric system but this is how you do your money?

OPTION TWO: British currency is not in and of itself bullshit, but the way people write about it is; anyone mentioning British currency in any capacity is consistently doing the equivalent of saying “she spent three dollars, two quarters, two dimes and three pennies” instead of the more sensible “she spent $3.73.”

It’s gotta be one or the other, I just don’t know which.

In which I ask the interwebs for financial advice

… and, okay, ultimately I’m probably gonna listen to my wife on this more than y’all, but it’s not like I’m overflowing with other subjects to discuss today.

So like a lot of you (so many people are checking their bank balances online that the apps are crashing) we got our stimulus money today. Twelve hunnert for me, twelve hunnert for my wife, and another five hunnert for the boy. My wife and I mostly keep our finances separate; we divide up the bills, so, like, I pay the mortgage but she buys the groceries and pays for utilities, and any bills that are ours, like cars or student loans, are our own personal responsibility. The boy’s chunk of the money will probably end up going toward tuition.

We are not among the people who need this money. It’s nice; I’m never going to turn down cash, but we do not need it. We both have jobs that provide us with sufficient funds for our lifestyle and furthermore we are in a position where our jobs are at least less likely to go away because of the pandemic– she works in the health care sector, broadly speaking, and while disaster-related teacher layoffs are always a possibility I have enough seniority at this point that I’m highly unlikely to be affected by them, and they won’t happen until this fall at any rate. I may not like my job once everything shakes out, but there’s not a huge possibility of losing it.

(He said, casually knocking on wood afterward.)

So the question becomes what to do with it, and … well, like I said, I don’t have lots else to talk about at the moment. So:

  • OPTION ONE: SAVE IT. Probably the most obvious choice; the merits of saving money don’t even really need to be explained. Things are okay now; they may not stay that way, even if I think it’s probably likely that they will. Somebody could get sick; something could happen with one of the cars or the house, shit happens. Especially in the last couple of years.
  • OPTION TWO: PAY OFF CREDIT CARD. My overall credit card indebtedness has gone down enormously recently; I only have one card with a balance right now and $1200 would pay off a sizable fraction of it, but not finish it off. Yet. That said, the monthly bill for the card isn’t that high, and I’ve been paying twice that amount every month. It’s gonna go away (again, assuming no financial disasters) soon enough even if I don’t put this big chunk into it.
  • OPTION THREE: SAVE HALF, PAY OFF HALF. Probably the most reasonable option unless I decide to prioritize saving.
  • OPTION FOUR: BUY MORE BOOKS AND DICE. You can never have enough books and dice. This one is probably not the smartest idea, but would be the most fun.
  • OPTION FIVE: DONATE IT TO SOMEONE. The most socially responsible option since, again, I don’t need the money, but I think a certain amount of financial selfishness is warranted right now for the exact same reasons one might give to save the money. We’re not so well off that this money is nothing— it’s still definitely a good chunk of change– it’s just not immediately necessary for anything.

So, whaddya think? How much should I be tilting toward paranoia and safety right now? Or, alternatively, what are you doing with your $1200?


12:56 PM, Wednesday April 15: 610,774 confirmed infections (and over two million worldwide); 26,119 Americans dead.

In which that’s enough of that

So here’s the thing about the con I just did: I like all the people who run it. For the most part, I liked all the other vendors I talked to. I really enjoyed the panels I did; they weren’t heavily attended, but it turns out if you put a bunch of authors in a room and tell them to yap about something we’re perfectly happy just to talk amongst ourselves for a while even if there aren’t a whole lot of people there to listen.

Actually, true story: one of my panels was scheduled against the charity auction, which was heavily attended, and as a result there was literally no one there when our panel was supposed to start. The four of us just got to talking about microfiction anyway. Eventually one person showed up and joined the conversation. We did some readings, just for the hell of it. We had one person attend and it was the best panel I did, and I didn’t record it because I didn’t think it was going to last an hour– and somehow it did.

So, yeah, I’m not going back.

And, like, it’s weird– I like these people, and I had fun, and I’m not even going to use the name of the con in this post specifically because I don’t want anyone connected with the con finding it by accident, because this isn’t their fault. It’s not a poorly run show, but this is a small show, and the majority of my sales over the weekend were to other vendors, which is practically unheard of– and there were long stretches of time, especially today, where I didn’t see anyone in the vendor room who wasn’t a vendor. That’s not sustainable. It’s just not.

And the people who do show up for this con tend to do all of the cons in the Indianapolis area, which means I’ll catch them at some point at some other show. I recognized easily 50% of the folks who walked past my booth on Friday. There was a guy who was a booth barnacle from Hell for both of the people on either side of me who was at ConGlomeration in Louisville, and I’m pretty sure he was at the last one of these cons, and when I’m recognizing even the people I don’t want to see again? Sigh.

It’s just not worth it to me as someone who at least hypothetically wants the chance to make some money at one of these damn shows. And, of course, the flip side of that was the couple of people who did buy something from me at the last show, remembered me, and bought more books– I love that. It’s a wonderful feeling. But I spent $90 on my hotel room last night and sold two books today, for an amount of money that did not cover my breakfast and lunch today.

And … yeah. I’ve still got two or three more shows coming this year– and I had to cancel two because of the family stuff I’ve been going through in the last couple of months– but I have to start being a lot more selective about which shows I go to, and this one just can’t make the cut again. I’m not happy about it, but I don’t think I have a choice.