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Today Is Going To Be Visual: The Story Of Mark O. Barton's Surreal Killing Spree
Background, family life, and early troubles
Mark O. Barton Mark Orrin Barton was born on April 2, 1955, in Stockbridge, Georgia. He was later raised in South Carolina and grew up as an only child. Despite an ongoing drug habit that plagued him as a teenager, Barton was able to attend Clemson University, and then the University of South Carolina, where he graduated in 1979 with a degree in chemistry. Barton then moved back to Georgia, residing in Atlanta, and married his longtime sweetheart, Debra Spivey. Their first child, a son named Matthew, was born in 1988. Their daughter, Michelle, came along in 1991. The Bartons were an average suburban family; Debra got along just fine with most people that she met and she adored being a mother, while Mark was on his way to becoming a successful chemist. Eventually, Barton's employer required him and his family to move to Alabama. One of the first issues that came to light regarding Mark Barton was his seemingly out-of-the-blue paranoia. Acquaintances believed that the move to Alabama had riddled him with anxiety; he was in a new place, working around strangers, and had no nearby friends or immediate family to contact. This paranoia led him to distrust Debra. On several occasions, he accused her of cheating and threatened to take the kids away. Debra relented and soon ignored his accusations altogether. She reportedly told her parents that she was looking into divorce lawyers, and one friend recalls that Debra mentioned how Mark was physically abusive. Around this time, Mark Barton had also gotten into trouble with his place of employment. His behavior and poor performance led to him being fired. One night, he broke into the building to sabotage computer data, resulting in him being arrested for burglary. Though he served a short jail sentence, the company declined to pursue further charges as long as Barton stayed away from his boss and limited contact with his former co-workers. This event drove the couple further apart. Bill Spivey, Debra's father, said that, during a phone call, his daughter casually mentioned how "it's a good day" when "Mark doesn't speak to [her]." They eventually refused to sleep in the same bed, with Mark choosing the couch. One evening, Debra turned the tables on her husband, accusing him of being the unfaithful one. Her suspicions turned out to be true since Mark was, in fact, cheating. He had secretly been dating Leigh Ann Vandiver, a 20-year-old secretary. Vandiver was well-aware that Barton was married and had children, but it didn't stop their affair. Apparently a divorce was also on Mark's radar, and Leigh Ann didn't mind waiting. Her sister, Dana Reeves, expressed concern and chastised her. "There were several times when I asked [Leigh Ann], 'How well do you know him?' and she would hesitate. When I found out that he was a married man, I was critical of her judgment." But nothing swayed Leigh Ann's actions. She, too, was caught in a seemingly loveless marriage. She and David Lang had been high school sweethearts. While her family thought it was a match made in Heaven, Leigh Ann had a completely different viewpoint; they had rushed into things and, several months later, she realized that she wanted to be with someone else. Mark continued to give Leigh Ann empty promises, so she stayed by his side.
1993 double homicide
Debra Barton and her mother, Eloise Spivey Debra Barton and her mother, Eloise Spivey, had made plans for Labor Day Weekend. They rented a caravan at the Riverside Campground in Cedar Bluff, Alabama while leaving Mark in Atlanta with the kids. The two were last seen alive on the afternoon of September 4, walking peacefully around Riverside. After failing to hear from his wife and daughter, Bill Spivey contacted a campground employee and asked if they could perform a wellness check. With no response from either Debra or Eloise after knocking on the door of their camper, the authorities were called. Upon making an entrance, two officers discovered the already-decomposing bodies of Debra Barton, aged 36, and Eloise Spivey, aged 59. The day after Debra and Eloise had arrived at the campground, a man who had gone fishing for several hours was returning back to his caravan when he heard "a real loud fight." This was around 9 p.m., he later told police. He mentioned that he heard both a man and a woman yelling. Another witness spotted a tall figure jogging away from a camper that turned out to be rented in Eloise Spivey's name. When asked to describe the figure, the witness recalled that it was a male, taller than 6'0" and weighing somewhere over 200 pounds. Unfortunately, the witness did not see a face because it was dark outside and could recall no other details. Another witness gave a similar account, but, instead of jogging, he referred to the figure as "running like [he'd] done something bad." Though their graves indicate that they were murdered on September 4, a post-mortem investigation reveals that the two women were actually killed on the evening of September 5, which is backed up by the eyewitness accounts of a domestic disturbance coming from Spivey's camper. An investigator stands by Eloise Spivey's rented camper Various news sources cite Spivey and Barton as being stabbed, while others refer to their deaths as bludgeonings. However they died, the camper was a mess. The walls and floor were splattered with blood. It was noted that jewelry and cash had been strewn about, but nothing of value had been taken. In fact, a .32-caliber pistol, registered to Spivey, was found on the small kitchen counter. It was speculated that she'd brought the gun with her as a means of self-defense. Since Cedar Bluff and the surrounding areas weren't known to have a high crime rate, especially with violence, police theorize that Spivey was paranoid that "someone she knew" was following her and her daughter. Eerily enough, this proved to be true; the violence inflicted upon Debra Barton and Eloise Spivey appeared to be personal. Bill Spivey was alerted to the homicides. He then contacted Mark Barton, fearing that he'd have to hear his son-in-law break down and sob over the phone. Oddly enough, Mark was calm and this surprised Bill. The two met up and drove down to Alabama. Bill recalls that Mark "didn't say much" during the car ride. Riverside Campground in Cedar Bluff, Alabama When they arrived at Riverside Campground, Bill heard Mark Barton say: "Huh, I've never been here before." He found that remark to be really suspicious and later told a nearby officer. Police were even more baffled at Barton's demeanor and behavior--he acted like nothing bad had happened. Not once did he ask how the pair had been killed. He didn't even appear to be sad. Thinking that Barton was just in shock, the investigation proceeded with officers asking him where he'd been on the evening of September 5. "I was at my house all day," Barton told them nonchalantly. "I was spending time with my kids." Many had their suspicions about Barton right away. There was a limit as to what Alabama investigators could do, so authorities in Georgia were contacted and informed. Going back and forth, it was confirmed that, yes, Barton did have a criminal record, but nothing violent was found on his record. A neighbor of the Barton family came forward a few days later, telling investigators that on September 5, he noticed that Barton's car had departed the residence "at some point after four-thirty in the afternoon." Then he mentioned that Barton hadn't returned until close to midnight. This contradicted Barton's claim that he'd been at home all day. If Barton had gone to Cedar Bluff then it would've been close to a two-hour drive. If he'd gotten back around midnight then he would've had plenty of time to go to Alabama, commit the murders, compose himself, and drive back. Eventually, Mark Barton admitted that, yes, he'd left the house at one point, leaving the kids with Leigh Ann as a babysitter. But he hadn't gone to Alabama, he told them. First, he said he went shopping and then saw a movie; he couldn't provide receipts or a ticket, though. Mark then changed his story, claiming that he went to look for a new job. "That late in the afternoon?" he was asked. Mark Barton recanted everything and asked for a lawyer. The sheriff went to Debra Barton's funeral to pay his respects. As soon as the service was over, he noticed that Mark was already hurrying outside. Even more shocking, Barton casually waited for a red car to pull up. Behind the wheel was Leigh Ann Vandiver, who had skipped the service altogether. The pair drove off, leaving Matthew and Michelle behind with their widowed grandfather. The sheriff was now definitely convinced that Mark Barton had something to do with the double homicide of his wife and mother-in-law.
Revelations and evidence
Leigh Ann and Mark, pictured in December 1994 Mark Barton and Leigh Ann Vandiver got married in 1995. Bill Spivey was repulsed and reportedly tried to get custody of his grandchildren, fearing that the worst was yet to come. But Mark was granted sole custody because he was their biological father and did all he could to cut Debra's surviving family members out of the picture. Even more so, Mark's own parents were given limited access to Matthew and Michelle. "After the murders, I barely saw those kids," Bill Spivey once recalled. "I was lucky enough to visit them for their birthdays, but it still wasn't much. [Mark] didn't like having me around because he knew I thought he was guilty." As the investigation proceeded, it was revealed that Mark Barton had taken out a $600,000 life insurance policy on Debra just a few weeks before she was killed. Of course, as big as this revelation was, it wouldn't have been enough to charge Barton and go to trial. Mark and Leigh Ann took the kids and moved into an apartment in Stockbridge while investigators did all they could to try and connect Barton to the crime scene. Debra had sustained self-defense wounds, but there was no DNA of the killer underneath her fingernails. The only thing they had that potentially pointed to the killer's identity was vomit that had been discovered in the camper's toilet. This led to numerous theories, one of which being that Barton had thrown up after brutally killing his two family members. "Whoever did this wasn't exactly a professional," said Richard Igou, one of the investigators. "They either lost control, rampaged, and came down from the adrenaline, or they had this planned but still couldn't stomach it." In 1993, DNA testing wasn't as advanced as it is today. Even if it had been, vomit usually contains only shed cells, but it wouldn't have been easy to determine who it belonged to. Interrogating Mark Barton on what he had eaten the day his wife and mother-in-law died probably would've been seen as "silly" or useless. But the vomit proved to be a dead-end; the medical examiner, however, confirmed that it didn't belong to Debra Barton or Eloise Spivey, as the puke didn't match anything from the contents found in their stomachs. The murders soon became a cold case. Anything that pointed to Barton was still on the grounds for speculation. His DNA hadn't been found at the scene, nobody confirmed that it was him who'd been running away from Spivey's camper, and Barton himself was refusing to talk to the authorities as the days went by, so a confession didn't exist or seem evident. After just a few years of marriage, it's speculated that Leigh Ann wanted a divorce but was hesitant to leave because she feared what Mark would do if he was left alone with Matthew and Michelle There was a point in the investigation when, in 1998, Leigh Ann was questioned. While she complied more than Barton ever had, she still didn't say much. She told them that she thought Mark was innocent but did admit that his behavior "bothered" her from time to time. "Leigh Ann," one of the investigators told her, "if you don't feel safe living with him, or if he's threatened you, you need to tell us." Reportedly, Leigh Ann Barton said that she was fine and that her main priority was making sure Matthew and Michelle were okay. After almost four years of marriage with Mark, there was a strong indication that she no longer viewed him as a successful, charming man. The 26-year-old woman left in a hurry and she never spoke with investigators again.
Barton's day-trading "career"
In 1994, Barton earned close to $600,000 from Debra's life insurance policy From what we know, Mark Barton used the money he earned from Debra's life insurance policy to start his career in day-trading. To simply put it, day-trading was a way to check out the stocks and invest in them. It was a quick way to make cash but it was extremely risky. In late-1998, Barton began day-trading at Momentum Securities. It was one of the eleven companies located at the Two Securities Center in Buckhead. Almost every day, Barton would drive from Stockbridge to Atlanta to invest in various stocks. On his best days, when he made tons of money, Barton was nicknamed "Rocket" or dubbed "The Rocket Man" due to his positive attitude and high energy. The first few weeks were promising for the former chemist. However, Barton didn't heed the warnings that he could lose money just as fast as he made it if he wasn't careful. By May of 1999, Barton had gone through most of his money and was in debt of close to $100,000. Momentum Securities closed his account and informed him that he could no longer trade at their company. While Barton took this news extremely hard, he said that he understood their reason and left without incident. Not one to be persuaded from day-trading, though, Mark Barton instead took the opportunity to invest elsewhere. Across the street from Momentum Securities was the Piedmont Center, which housed the offices of the All-Tech Investment Group. No more than a week after he'd been let go from Momentum, Barton was trading over at All-Tech. The stock market was not too kind to Barton Brent Doonan, a 25-year-old business school graduate and the co-founder of All-Tech, took notice of Barton immediately. He seemed to be a cheerful guy and had no problem giving the other traders advice on where to invest. Unbeknownst to Doonan, Mark had lied about his previous day-trading experience. He called himself a rookie and convinced everyone that he was new to the business. As he began to rake up another huge debt, All-Tech was contacted by Momentum Securities. Had Barton disclosed his debt of $100,000 that he owed to Momentum, All-Tech would've denied him an account. Doonan was given the difficult task of informing Barton that they, too, would be closing his account. The pair had grown somewhat close and Doonan cringed at the idea of having to let a "good buddy" like Barton go. But his business partner reminded him that they were a new company and couldn't take a risk with someone like Mark O. Barton. Barton understood All-Tech's position on the matter and promised Doonan that he'd return one day with all of the money that he owed them. He left without incident, just like he'd done at Momentum. But something about Mark's seemingly calm departure bothered Doonan and a few of the other employees. "I guarantee you that's not the last of him that we'll see," a female co-worker told Doonan.
The Atlanta Day Trader Murders: July 29, 1999
A crime scene photo from the aftermath of the All-Tech shooting On July 29, 1999, Brent Doonan was in a conference room when he was informed that Mark Barton was there to see him. "I think he's back with my money," Doonan joked quietly to a secretary. "He can come in! Mark?" Barton popped his head into the room and said: "Hey Brent, you got a minute? Come here, you're gonna love this!" Smiling, Doonan politely excused himself from the meeting and walked to his office with Barton in tow. Upon entering the small room, Barton closed the door and blinds. Confused, Doonan was waiting patiently for Barton to hand over a check or give him an update on the money he owed. Instead, Barton's smile faded. "Today," he said, towering over the five-foot-ten Doonan, "is going to be visual..." In an instant, he pulled out two handguns and fired. Doonan felt "an intense pressure" in his chest, then he fell to the floor. Barton turned his attention to those who were outside of Doonan's office. Calmly walking out, he aimed at the table of day-traders on the main floor. Bang! Bang! Bang! Shots fired were fired at random. One man had no time to react and slumped dead in his seat, killed instantly by a shot to the head. Another person heard Barton taunt: "I hope this doesn't ruin your trading day!" Nell Jones' computer after Barton had attempted to shoot her in the head Taking aim at trader Nell Jones, Barton was caught off-guard by Doonan attempting to tackle him. The bullet missed Jones and wound up shattering her computer screen. Doonan's act of bravery gave numerous people time to flee, but the larger man overpowered him, firing rapidly towards Doonan's body. The 25-year-old was struck an additional three times but he managed to stagger down a hallway as Barton turned to shoot someone else. As Doonan and others ran for their lives, 911 calls came flooding in, but not from All-Tech. Unbeknownst to many, Barton had already opened fire elsewhere. A few minutes before he walked over to the Piedmont Center, Barton had gone to Momentum Securities to look for the office managers. One of them was on vacation but the other manager, Kevin Dial, wasn't so lucky. After attempting to speak with Barton, Dial was killed by numerous shots to the chest at close-range. Before he left Momentum, Barton killed four people and wounded several others. As he headed towards All-Tech, a civilian walked by and noticed the red blood droplets on Barton's legs and shorts. The civilian would later admit that he thought Barton "had just finished painting something." Brent Doonan was a \"prime target\" in Barton's rampage Doonan found his way to a service elevator, rapidly pressing the button as Barton's gunfire grew closer. As the doors opened, Doonan looked back to see Vadewattee Muralidhara running towards him. Barton "appeared out of nowhere" and shot her in the head. Doonan stumbled into the elevator and managed to close the doors as Barton raised his gun to finish him off. Panicking, Doonan went up instead of down. He found himself in another company's office, surrounded by strangers. "I've been shot! He's shooting people!" Doonan told the workers. They hesitated, wondering if it was a prank. Doonan pleaded with them to get him, and themselves, inside of a locked room because Barton was probably coming upstairs to kill everybody. In the confusion and mass hysteria, the workers tended to Doonan's wounds while calling 911. After nearly two hours, the SWAT team reached Doonan and took him to an ambulance. Had they arrived just a few minutes later, Doonan would have bled to death. In less than thirty minutes, Mark Barton had killed nine people in two different locations, wounded numerous bystanders, and evaded police as he drove off in his green minivan.
Barton's suicide and the murders in Stockbridge
Mark Barton's body is removed from his green minivan after he commits suicide A few hours later, police received a lead that Mark O. Barton was in Acworth. After failing to take a teenage girl hostage, Barton veered on to the highway, where a patrolman spotted him driving erratically. Within minutes, his vehicle was cornered at a Shell gas station. Backup arrived and they ordered Barton to surrender. As they approached his minivan, Barton put his Colt .45 against his temple and fired, killing himself instantly. He was 44-years-old. When they could not make contact with his immediate family, the door to Barton's apartment in Stockbridge was kicked in. Leigh Ann Vandiver Barton, aged 27, was found in the hallway closet; Mark had bludgeoned her to death with a hammer, presumably while she slept. Upon further inspection, Matthew, aged 11, and Michelle, aged 8, were found in a back bedroom. They were also killed with the same weapon. Barton had tucked them into their beds and left individual notes on their bodies, explaining why they had to perish. Michelle's baby doll was found cradled in her arm; next to Matthew's body was a toy truck. Left to right, the Bartons: Michelle, Leigh Ann, Mark, and Matthew Another note was found on the coffee table in the living room. Mark Barton explained that he killed Leigh Ann two nights prior, on July 27, because "she was one of the main reasons for his demise." He killed Matthew and Michelle the next night, on July 28, after taking them out to dinner and buying them toys at a nearby Wal-Mart. Barton also explained in his suicide note that he killed the children in order to "spare them from a lifetime of pain." He says that he couldn't imagine them growing up and living in the shadow of "what he had planned to do [in Atlanta]." Barton spoke of his first wife and mother-in-law, but he still denied having anything to do with their murders. He mentioned "waking up at night [...] nobody should feel that level of fear while alive." He acknowledged that something was wrong with his mental health but he couldn't explain it. I don't plan to live very much longer, just long enough to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction, Barton's letter concludes.
Brent Doonan survived Barton's killing spree after being shot five times and nearly bleeding to death After being shot five times, Brent Doonan underwent numerous surgeries, which included having one of his ribs removed, as well as a portion of his diaphragm. In 2006, he helped co-write the book Murder at the Office, which detailed Mark Barton's early life, killing spree, and Doonan's road to recovery. He is now married with a son. Several people who were wounded during Barton's killing spree also faced permanent injuries. One survivor committed suicide a few years later. Bill Spivey criticized the investigators of his daughter and wife's murders, claiming that if they'd done more and arrested Barton years earlier, then "twelve more people wouldn't have died at his hands." Spivey passed away in 2005. On the tenth anniversary of the shootings, a few former investigators who handled the 1993 double homicide agreed in unison that Mark Barton was "absolutely responsible" for the deaths of Debra Barton and her mother, Eloise Spivey. Barton's mother was once quoted as saying that she couldn't comprehend or understand her son's actions, but that she forgives him. The All-Tech Investment Group disbanded a few years after the massacre, despite support from the community. The same thing happened to Momentum Securities, who was unable to recover from the tragedy. The buildings where the massacres took place still stand to this day.
Leigh Ann Vandiver Barton, 27
Matthew Barton, 11
Michelle Barton, 8
Russell J. Brown, 42
Dean Delawalla, 52
Joseph J. Dessert, 60
Kevin Dial, 38
Jamshid Havash, 45
Vadewattee Muralidhara, 44
Allen Charles Tenenbaum, 48
Edward Quinn, 58
Scott A. Webb, 30
Debra Barton, 36\*
Eloise Spivey, 59\*
*While Mark Barton was never officially charged with the murder, I feel it's appropriate to remember them, too. I also believe that he is responsible for their deaths due to strong evidence. Sources:Murder at the Office, AP Archives, Wikipedia, Who The F\*k Did I Hire?*
I was introduced to options in 2005. A co-worker of mine, who happened to be a 9/11 Truther before that was a term, was all hyped up on the upcoming ER for Amgen. He went around the office on a manic high, telling everyone to buy short term OTM call options - or as we refer to them around these parts, FDs. As part of our retirement plans, we each had Fidelity brokerage accounts. To enable options trading, however, you had to call Fidelity and answer questions about your level of financial smarts and how much money you had. The correct answers were, of course "genius level" and "shitloads." I answered truthfully. My other coworkers did not. They got options trading enabled. I did not. Amgen beat and some of these guys landed 8 baggers. My own officemate made $50k and promptly took his family to Disneyland. As you can imagine, I was dismayed that I missed out. For the next few months, chasing the next big trade was all the rage, and our team could hardly get anything done. I got my account upgraded by answering the questions correctly, but every play the group made after Amgen was a loser. Because I never had that thrill of victory, I quickly lost interest, but the temptation to recapture those initial gains captivated some of the other guys. As the losses racked up, the trading group got smaller and smaller, eventually distilling down to the most degenerate off talking in the corner, the crazy Truther mumbling his false prophesies to his last few disciples. I lost about $1000 – which was no small change at that time in my life – but I know that some of the guys lost a lot more chasing that high. That’s still better than the snake oil the retail investment crowd is selling. For any market at any given time, Boggleheads and investing will tell you to just keep putting money in, no matter how badly you are getting fucked. “7% YoY in the market!” “The greatest force in the universe is compound interest!” “If you hold for the long term, you don’t have to worry about volatility!” Here’s the cold truth: the life advice Boomers give out is fucking outdated, designed for an analog world created by a Greatest Generation that coddled them, and that includes their financial advice as well. I am from the “Oregon Trail Generation”, the last slice of GenX that actually grew up with computers. We are the cohort that witnessed the death of the American Middle Class that the Internet Age and Globalization brought on, entering the workforce just as the dot-com bubble finally put it out of its misery. When I was 3, my grandfather retired from Boeing after 35 years. They gave him a platinum plated set of draftsman’s tools, a brass desk clock and a lifelong pension. When I was 19, my girlfriend’s dad was a consultant for Boeing. His job was to dig up dirt on upcoming retirees so they could be fired to deprive them of that pension. I did the thing, that good old American Dream – marriage, house, car, kids. I did what the “experts” tell you to do: save a slice of each paycheck for retirement, invest in a college plan, buy a house as a solid investment. Here I am barely middle-aged, and I have worked through three major financial crises since I entered the workforce. I’ve chased a runaway housing market, lowering my parameters every month because the prices kept rising faster than I could make for a down payment. Twice, I have had my retirement account fleeced, then had to draw down what was left to keep a roof over my head - paying a penalty to do so. I have been so upside down on a mortgage I’ve considered burning the house down. So I am here to tell you firsthand that Save, Buy, Hold and Diversify will not help you when the whole market collapses and you find yourself in need of that money, that a house is just an investment that you can live in while it drops in value, and that Dollar Cost Averaging is another way of saying Getting Cucked. I say, if you are going to make or lose 50% in the next 10 years, you may as well make or lose that 50% in the next 10 hours. In some ways, younger Millennials and Zoomers are better equipped to face these facts than us older folks. If you came of age during the GFC or later, you understand that the game is rigged. All that bailout money is moving around the market while you are struggling to make minimum wage in the Uber Eats gig economy. Unlike those of us who grew up in more stable times, you know in your bones the halcyon days - the ones you've only ever heard about - are never coming back. Not for everybody, at any rate. So enters RobinHood, and it drives the financial pundits absolutely berserk. Who are these fucking kids YOLOing on HTZ? Don’t they know they are supposed to be investing that money into a passive index fund, or even better, one of those retirement-date funds with the massive expense ratios? It’s fucking up the game for the rest of us! I have traded options on and off for years in the hopes of making a little pocket money. Fact is, when commissions were $8-$20 per trade (plus a fee per contract), there was no way a small-time retail investor could participate meaningfully. With free or no commissions, the calculus has changed, lowering the bar of entry for smaller investors who can enter and exit a position at any time with only the bid-ask spread the main concern. Boomers created a monster, and they have only themselves to blame. Like many of you, when March hit, I jumped in to puts and lost a bunch of money. This is because I was using an old way of thinking about options, the only one available to small-time retail traders just a few years ago: “I hope that this security makes a huge break in a particular direction.” After this loss and subsequent reflection, I determined that the money was there to be had, just that I was taking the wrong approach. I developed a new strategy, one that takes advantage of the simple fact that I can enter and exit a position without significant commission costs. I began to diversify my targets, and enter smaller positions on those targets, so that I didn’t have everything riding on one or two plays. I developed exit strategies - and followed them! – so that I could take my wins or cut my losses quickly and move on to the next trade. And most importantly, I made it a point to withdraw my gains, if any, at the end of every week. Since April, I have executed no less than 20 trades per week if you count option expiry. In 15 weeks, I have doubled my account value. Not because of some one-off spectacular play or because I’ve been a bull a bull market. In fact, I’m a bear, but using a pretty neutral strategy. I doubled my money because I adapted to this new trading climate, found what works for me, and simply stuck to it. Do I think that makes me some some sort of fucking genius? Absolutely not. I’ve made some smart, conservative plays that turned really goddamned sour. I’ve made some truly retarded plays that turned out great. I’ve had good weeks, bad weeks, and weeks that amounted to an incredibly stressful waste of time. I still make a bunch of mistakes - weekly, if not daily. I am still prepared – waiting, even – for my whole account to get wiped out due to a cacophony of bad plays. In the end, these are all gut decisions. Do I feel good about this? For each of them, only time reveals if I am right. But if I have taken one thing away from what I have learned so far this year, it is this: anybody can make rent money in the equities market now. You do not have to have a massive account to overcome the burden of commissions, or have a huge investment in dividend stocks to realize a gains-based income. And thank God for that, because the job market is not going to save you. I know the gain porn here is enough to make a man drool, and the loss porn is enough to make his balls retract into his stomach. Just understand those are always one-sided directional plays. It’s all-in on a single ticker, a true YOLO, not unlike putting it on black at the roulette table. It’s easy to get caught up looking at the massive gains and get stars in your eyes. But forget the lambo and the gold-plated yacht for a moment and consider something more immediate, such as: “could I pay this month’s phone bill with my gains?” With the money you can pare off into a brokerage account, is it possible to avoid spending the the money you make doing whatever it is you do for someone else and make your phone service “free”? For example, if you have $1000 and you make a reasonably conservative play with an exit strategy of $100 gain and $100 loss (such as a deep OTM 45DTE bull credit spread on a decent stock that’s been beaten up recently, with a hard exit 21DTE), the likelihood is very high. It is not guaranteed – you may end up down $100 from where you started. But what is guaranteed is that you will have to spend 8 hours flipping burgers or whatever at $12.50 an hour to make that $100 if you don't. (Yes, I know, taxes – the point still stands). When you finally get to take that $100 out and pay the phone bill with it, it becomes very, very real. Imagine getting to a point where your trading gains pay for the things you need, so you can spend the money you earn with your blood sweat and tears on the things you want. This is what it means to have a “S.M.A.R.T.” goal – small, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-sensitive. When you conform your efforts to translate into something small yet meaningful to your life, it changes the perspective. But even if you decide to take your bi-weekly retirement contribution and YOLO it on MU FDs, you’ve got just as much of a chance of coming ahead with that as you do giving it to Mr. Market to hold for the next 20 years. Boomers will tell you “most day traders lose money!” First, “day trader” is a specific term. But that aside, it is also true most businesses fail in the first year. In both cases, people get burned, give up and go back to what they know. They fail to plan, they fail to learn from experience, and they fail to persevere. This is not an appeal to “not be average” nor to keep “chasing bad money with good” - just to keep trying. Set your goals, manage your risk, hone your successes, and learn from your failures. At no other time in history has it been possible for the average Joe to participate in the equities market with so little friction as commission-free mobile trading, and with so much leverage as weekly options. I know, because I’m old enough to remember when stock quotes were in the weekly paper, and they were registered in one-eighths of a dollar. TL,DR; To Hell with the haters like Cramer and his ilk. Keep learning and growing and trying to rake in tendies. The lambo isn’t the goal - financial freedom is. An Ally savings account and a shit job the boss is trying his damnedest to offshore ain’t gonna get you there. We live in a Merchant Republic awash in wealth, and you have the right – the obligation, even - to participate. Go get your fucking slice. I love you retards. EDIT: “You’re telling people to day trade their retirement funds!” First, though I trade daily, I’m not technically a ‘Day Trader’. Second, obviously don’t spend what you can’t afford to lose. But yes, I think saving money in this ever more volatile market is just as much of a risk as day trading. When you see 1/3 of it - all assets, not just stocks - evaporate in the course of 2 weeks, I think you should too. “You just got lucky, you’re not a sage!” As I said, I fully expect it to go tits up. I‘ve pulled my initial investment out now, and once I’ve recovered my April losses, it will be ‘house money’. I don’t claim to have ‘cracked the code’. I just found a way to make it work that fits my personality. “Day trading isn’t the answer.” Maybe not. But wages haven’t gone up for 20 years while the cost of the education to maintain them has skyrocketed. Do you see the job market getting better for the next few years? I don’t. So whatever the answer is, it’s not going to be “steady job for 30 years and collect a pension.” I advise every single working stiff to try to find a way out of working for someone else and saving into a psychopathic market, and that starts by figuring out how to cover today’s expenses. “Options are a zero sum game.” This is true, but that doesn’t mean that the chain of it’s life didn’t generate profit. A covered call that gets assigned is a win for both parties. You will not learn about trading like this in school, and unless you work at a firm, you won’t learn it on the job either. People are making money in the market. Lots of it. So why not you? 4Chan found a Bloomberg terminal, after all.
Alright fuck it I’m saying it, everyone knows the stock market is fake and gay and there's still ZERO reason for Vale to not go to mars. Those of you who have been paying attention to EV battery supply and the direction it needs to go understand this. The same people have also most likely been noticing Vale's stock price get held down since 9/17 for no reason. If we don't see a pre market run up then maybe I can accept the fact that I've officially lost it but the good news is I’m not allowed to touch my contracts till I know if I’m fucked or not so you might as well hear me out. Here’s my positions off rip to validate the logic. https://preview.redd.it/xc2qiwv56uo51.png?width=1080&format=png&auto=webp&s=f74cf6fb5f028afce6f2eb84f9fe59caf599fd34 https://preview.redd.it/phag9ngf6uo51.png?width=1080&format=png&auto=webp&s=64e6590287c8a958ee2ae820c9d2440039b913c9 Notice I own two random shit stocks, well that’s because I got my boss to sign up with my robinhood link so that he could buy $VALE for some of these sweet tendies. Too bad RH wouldn’t let me sell the stocks or else I could have afforded another $0.05 contract. Anyway.. If you haven’t done any of your own research into Vale and its connections to Tesla as well as Elon's specific remarks about them, I’d recommend actually taking the time to read the original DD linked here courtesy of the legend u/ExtraEgg blessed us with. But because I know most of you lazy bears won't read all that I'll just share the most must read article here. Just read the title of the article and scroll down to wear it says, "Vale is in the box seat" for all you need to know I guess. For some reason nobody cared to do any research on this themselves, so let’s continue as to why I think this stock is still going to moon tomorrow. Like I mentioned earlier, if you’ve been paying attention to Vale for just five whole days, you would notice it getting held down further and further. Take a couple seconds to ask why? If you understand how big the demand is going to be for nickel and manganese then why the fuck would the WORLDS BIGGEST PRODUCER OF NICKEL go down in value? Hmm.. weird right? (bear with me here Vale bears cause I know your smooth brains might find this shocking) Guess who has all their fucking money in calls for vale right now? THE FUCKING B/MILLIONAIRES THAT HAVE THE POWER TO HOLD THIS SHIT DOWN. Like hello??? There’s so many reasons for this stock to have AT LEAST had a run up for battery day, yet for some reason it just tanks for days? Not just for days, but still dump after such a highly anticipated event that blatantly showed the importance of producing nickel. So what? I should believe this was a sell the hype sell the news type of stock? Oh and let’s not forget that while this shit is tanking for days, call volume is through the fucking roof for Vale. Not just in the regular markets but also deep pool markets according to a 22 year old kid on adderall in his mother’s basement that’s gone down the same rabbit hole as me. There is just simply way too many reasons to not be long on this stock, if you don’t want to do your own research to understand why then you don’t deserve the tendies. The next part of this post is going to have to cover why I randomly decided to waste my whole tuesday night writing this shit. So the inspiration for this post has to go out to my dad. I had been sharing my enthusiasm about Vale with him all week, so you can imagine the let down. It was a shame we did not get to see Elon Musk awkwardly run onto the stage wearing chains made out of nickel while “Battery” by Metallica bumps in the background. So you can understand his bearish vibes. Yet after I was remaining bullish despite vale’s dump after hours that suspiciously recovered quickly my dad messaged me this link to an article saying. “A lot of things mentioned in this. 🙄” Peep the eye roll emoji, he’s implying that this is bearish for Vale. But why? Well, is it not obvious? At the beginning of the article it clearly states that, “Tesla signed a major deal with Glencore (GLEN) this summer, securing its immediate cobalt needs”. Oh no that’s it boys pack it up Vale is TOAST, Tesla signed a deal with Glencore why invest in another mining company? Well you silly bears, let’s keep in mind that cobalt is known as the blood diamond of EV battery metals. Glencore has its main mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is sketchy as fuck cause they don’t regulate things over there. Remember how the first whole fucking hour of battery day Papa Musk was rambling about how they want to go about production more ethically? Side note, even the bears will point this out without realizing why they're playing themselves. This is where people seem to have the most doubt about Vale, because they think Elon would never invest in a mining company that has had previous accidents or scandals. Exhibit A: https://preview.redd.it/3ydzw6o89uo51.png?width=2048&format=png&auto=webp&s=80cd3bb282e979064d8509990df68260828a9200 Although there is some truth here, it is not nearly that dramatic. Vale's most recent "disaster" was in January of 2019, and is only the second to happen to Vale over four years. Vale has since made significant steps into making sure their mining habits are as safe as possible. The fact is almost every mining company, especially ones that mine cobalt, are going to come with risks of accidents happening. Is Vale perfect? Not at all but it's closer than most if not all of its competitors while also producing the largest amounts of what Elon needs. So, let’s go back to the question of how to make battery production ramp up more ethically. Well, conveniently enough, removing cobalt from EV batteries all together seems like the best solution, which we learned from today's battery day. Therefore we don’t have to risk mining sketchy ass cobalt in the fucking Congo. Elon knows how dangerous it is to mine cobalt and the need to stay away from it, he also knows that moving out of cobalt is going to make the other components that make up EV batteries that much more valuable. What other metals you might ask? Well if you watched battery day you would know that nickel is the most important metal when it comes to scaling the production of EV batteries. Again, the world’s largest producer of nickel is Vale! Where is Vale located? Brazil. Guess who wants to increase trading relations with the United States? President of Brazl Jair Bolsonaro. GUESS WHO MET WITH BOLSONARO IN BRAZIL IN MARCH. Fucking Musk did, am I sounding like a conspiracy theorist yet? Check this link for clarity. It even has great implications for Musk's plans on using solar to help with his goal. Not QAnon level crazy enough to want to buy in? Look at Elon's recent tweets about battery day. He has used the word "unveil" twice. The more recent of the tweets where he stated, "Important note about Tesla Battery Day unveil tomorrow. This affects long-term production, especially Semi, Cybertruck & Roadster, but what we announce will not reach serious high-volume production until 2022." Elon isn't an idiot, he would not have tweeted this knowing it would crash his own stock without giving his investors an out. That out is right there in the tweet, IN VALE. Still not convinced? I found a penny face up right outside the door to my car as I was about to go to the bank to deposit some cash for more Vale calls. Then as I was playing Metallica's Battery at a red stop light I SHIT YOU NOT A TESLA ROLLED UP BEHIND ME. There's no such thing as coincidences since we live in a simulation so this is obviously phenomenal news. But hey I’m just a dude on the internet. If you bears want to keep ignoring the facts surrounding why this company will absolutely sky rocket tomorrow and don’t see that this has clearly been getting held down by the big boys then you don’t deserve the tendies. Wish I had more money in my account to blow up for you guys but I'll be posting the gain or loss porn tomorrow with my thoughts. God speed Vale Gang.
Saw a previous trip report for this route here, and I found it very helpful. Thought I’d return the favor. Hope it's helpful, amusing, or some combination of the two. First trip report / first ever Reddit post….be gentle ;) 3900 words Where: Collegiate Loop - Colorado Trail - San Isabel National Forest - Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Direction: Counter Clockwise When: 2020/08/10 - 2020/08/18 Distance: 161-ish miles // 36k-ish ft elevation gain Start / Finish Location: Cottonwood Pass Trailhead, Buena Vista, Colorado Conditions: Couldn’t ask for better. Clear skies with some afternoon overcast. Never really checked temps...for what it's worth, I found them comfortable :) Pics: Should have taken more. First few are the MYOG pack I carried, the rest are from the trip....generally in order. Did a lot of experimenting with vertically oriented panoramas. https://photos.app.goo.gl/YHmPU4nYCZKqu5x69 Lighterpack: I don’t have the attention span for Lighterpack. Main stuff is accounted for - Pack weighed around 10.5 ehl-beez before consumables. https://www.lighterpack.com/fdnlhp Resupply: 1 - Mt. Princeton Hot Springs ( Mailed a box ) Hike Prep: I’m a CO resident, so it was pretty straight forward putting this trip together...not my first CT rodeo. Being a loop, there was no added headache of drop-off / pick-up logistics. Got an early start this hiking season on local trails, of which there are many, and am a reasonably in-shape dood. I’ve been day hiking 3 or 4 times a week with baseweight + water since the trails dried, #socialdistancing. Confident in a 8-9 day hike timeline, I picked Cottonwood Pass as my entry / exit point because it was 1) less than 2 hours from my house, and 2) it made Mt Princeton Hotsprings the de facto half-way/resupply point and was located literally on the trail. Easy peasy. Also, I hiked Segments 11 and 12 SOBO last summer and thought since I’d be hiking them again, covering those miles in the opposite direction would freshen them up, so I planned for a counter-clockwise heading. 99% of the Loop hikers I met on trail started / stopped at Twin Lakes and headed clockwise. My First MYOG: I’ve carried an MLD Burn (DCF) for the last couple years, and generally like it, but had a queep or two with its dimensions (specifically width) and a lack of bottom pocket. I designed and built a MYOG pack and gave it a thorough test on this trek. Not my first sewing project, but definitely my most ambitious to date. She’s kinda heavy, 17ish oz, but a solid prototype nonetheless. I used materials I had lying around already- all the webbing was harvested from 1” ratchet straps from the bed of my truck, I 3D printed strap buckles and the G-clip, I cut the shoulder strap padding out of Thermarest ZLite Scraps (which worked surprisingly well), and had some X-PAC and pocket mesh from another project on hand. Ripe with potential weight savings in future versions. No one reinvented the wheel here, we’re basically talking about a shittier, heavier, home-brew, pa’lante pack. At the end of the day, it was always more about carrying something I made. Happy to report, zero problems :) Gear that worked: Thought the gear was pretty dialed, the pack being the only wildcard. These two items kinda stood out though. Firstly…. Bro, Peloton 97 Fleece. Can't sing its praises enough. Got it after seeing Jupiter’s review, and it’s been on me since. The fleece and I are one. Second, tried some of those new-fangled, wireless earbuds on this trip and they were a real, albeit not so UL, treat. No tangles, no yanks. I typically hike stoveless, but I carried a stove this trip, I don’t feel bad about it. Gear that didn’t: Sleep system needs some work, or I need to pick better campsites... probably both. I cut my Thermorest Uberlite to torso length before my Superior Hiking Trail section-hike last summer. Slept perfectly well. On this hike however, I was missing those extra ounces. My knees were seemingly always hitting against the ground or hitting against each other. Found it really hard to get comfortable and sleep despite being wiped upon arrival at camp. I think I’ll be going back to a full size or at least knee length pad, though I doubt I'll cough up another small fortune for another Uberlite. Next, I’m over the Litesmith Flex Air pillow. It leaks, crinkles, rolls and slides all over...most nights I just used my puffy. Lastly, I filtered water with the Katadyn BeFree, the bag sprung several pinholes this trip and just wasn't flowing. It was pretty old though. I swapped it out for a new Sawyer Squeeze at Twin Lakes. Gear I’m thinkin’ about: 1) Would have really dug an umbrella on this trip, particularly for the exposed areas in the East Collegiates. 2) Just found out CNOC now makes a VECTO bag with 42mm threads to fit the Katadyn filter- I’m down. 3) I'm starting to get tarp-curious. There was basically no mosquitoes out there, which is the only real reason I carry a fully enclosed shelter. I’ll do some researching and we’ll see what happens. Might be a fun next MYOG project. Gear Sightings: Not a ton of UL kit out there. Saw a few hyperlite packs, 1 Gossamer Gear and 1 other ultralight MYOG pack. Almost everyone was hiking with 60L+ packs by the looks of it. Heard quite a few comments from older hikers about my “daypack” lol. Wildlife Sightings: 1 deer, 1 moose, 2 sneks, Lots of birds, marmots and other small rodents. Navigation / Guides: First and foremost, easy trail to follow. Well worn, marked, and at time of hiking- snow free. I primarily used Guthooks - Colorado Trail Guide, but carried the Colorado Trail Databook (CTDB) also- I’ve done CT trips the last 3 summers and this has always been a trusty companion. The Collegiate Loop is supposed to be part of the CT map package in Guthooks but I was unable to select it (I personally am not super happy with the app’s menu interface on iOS). Biggest gripe here is that I couldn’t see the elevation profile on the West side of the route in Guthooks- it only showed the East. Despite this, it showed all waypoints, water sources, etc. and it generally worked adequately. I just got elevation profiles from the CTDB. Hiked my last 17 miles with a dood that loaded his Continental Divide Guthook map for the West Collegiates and solved the elevation data issue. I fiddle with Gaia GPS a little here and there and loaded the NatGeo 14er maps in case I felt squirrely to bag a 14er or two while I was out there ( I didn’t ). COVID Camping: I’ve always had a Buff buried at the bottom of my pack, but never wore it till this trip. I was personally pretty lax with pulling it up passing by folks on trail, but wore it indoors. This seemed reflected in other Thru and Loop hikers I encountered. Day Hikers were really the only people actively wearing or pulling them up on trail. People just kinda honored the 6ft bubble and that honestly made me feel safe out there. The Monarch Crest store didn’t appear to be ‘enforcing’ masks by the looks of it, but most patrons and employees wore them. I think mostly I kinda just forgot about COVID. Being out there gifted a brief reprieve from the insanity of reality. Day 1 - Collegiate West 03 - Cottonwood Pass >> Tincup Pass Rd (15.9 miles) Arrived at the trailhead (about 30 minutes drive West of Buena Vista) around 0840. I climbed out of the truck, proceeded to lolligag, onceover the gear, and hit trail by 0900 heading SOBO. (Note: Left my truck at the parking lot at top of Cottonwood Pass for the duration of hike with no issues.). This section is above treeline almost in its entirety. Quite a bit of elevation change as you move up and down ridgelines and across scree fields, but overall I thought it was mellower than the Databook presages. Lots of Marmots :). Wasn’t super cold, I was hiking in shorts and wore my Peloton fleece as a sun hoodie comfortably for the entire segment and most of the trek as a whole. Afternoon clouds moved in as I was making it down to Tincup Rd in the late afternoon, but nothing sinister...couple drops of rain while I set up camp (just South of Rd). I slept like crap that night because I chose a poor campsite on a slant and was slipping and sliding all over my tent. I was warm at least. I did “test laydowns” in all my campsites the remainder of the trip. Day 2 - Collegiate West 04 - Tincup Pass Rd >> Hunt Lake (18 miles) Bad sleep led to a later start than desired, 0830 or so. This segment starts with a mellow climb above treeline. Enjoyed my cold soaked mush with a stunning view and made my way down to where the trail rests atop an abandoned railroad. From here, the trail has a few historical placards staggered all the way to Hancock Trailhead. They talk about why trying to maintain a railroad cutting through the mountains of Colorado can be tricky....kinda neat. The sun was high and hot by the time I made it to Hancock, say 1130 or thereabouts, and I was greeted with trail magic put on by a bloke named Caveman- a cooler of frosty, fizzy beverages. Talked long trails and gear for a bit while I had my soda, leaving up a fairly busy, and thereby dusty, jeep road. The midday sun implored me to indulge a dip in an alpine lake along the way. I had planned on camping just before Boss Lake that night (end of Collegiate West 04), but Guthooks comments mentioned Verizon LTE at the dam a mere .6 miles up the trail. Wanting to check in with my family, I pressed on. Come to find out that .6 was sharply uphill...of course it was. Widowmakers around all the campsites kind of scared me off pitching there so I checked in quickly, had a snack, and walked a couple miles more to Hunt Lake to pitch camp. Sites on the South side of the lake weren’t anything spectacular. Still lots of standing-dead. Slept better, but still crappy. Day 3 - Collegiate West 05 / Segment 15 - Hunt Lake >> US Hwy 50 (21.8 miles) Got going by 0715, hiked 2-3 miles while breakfast reconstituted. Found an excellent breakfast view and partook my mush. Wind was there but not super cold. The climbing kept me sufficiently warm…but I debated digging out the puffy for several miles. Terrain is pretty exposed, traversing ridgeline until you reach Monarch Ski Area ( there’s one or two more historical markers along this stretch). I gathered from a previous trip report that there was ice cream and other junk food available at the pass, and definitely had some spring in my step as I trotted up to the Monarch Crest store. After my ice cream bender at the pass 2 scoops of snickers- coned not cupped, only a handful of miles remained before rounding the southern horn of the Collegiate Loop and I was now headed NOBO on Segment 15. There’s a pretty distinct difference between the West and East portions of the route- and it's readily apparent as soon as you descend South Fooses Trail, trading the massive landscapes for the forest. I was planning to make camp at South Fooses Creek that evening (lots of car camping goin on there) but started hiking and chatting with a dood slackpacking the East Collegiates after making it to Durango (Note: I quite liked the idea of “cleaning up the loop” on a CT thru-hike. Seems more pure). He made a compelling pitch for the hostel he’d been staying at the last couple nights, and I figured I could score a ride to town and satiate the deep burning desire for pizza that had been prodding at me after my ice cream high subsided. So I walked with this dood to US-50 and we followed a jeep trail from the Segment 15/14 Trailhead to the Butterfly House Hostel (2.4 mile side quest). No pizza- hostel keeper didn't feel like driving to town and I didnt feel like hitching after my first 20+ mile day of the trip. I personally wouldn't recommend the place, but I got a shower, did laundry, and slept in a bed...crappily. The hostel probably wasn't the greatest idea- I wrongly assumed there would be ‘COVID policies’ like everywhere else, but that wasn't the case. You know what they say about hindsight? Day 4 - Segment 14 - US Hwy 50 >> Browns Creek (13.6 miles) Got a lift in the morning from the hostel keeper to Monarch Spur RV & Campground to investigate their junk food offerings. Basic chips, chocolate, Gatorade etc. This place offers laundry and shower services for hikers, I also read conflicting things regarding tent sites. Would be a good place to send a box however, at only a mile from US-50 trailhead. The walk back to the trailhead is kinda sketchy, not much of a shoulder and the road is fairly busy so I walked through the grass and brush on the westbound side of the highway as much as possible. I thought there might be a jeep road up the hill a little ways, similar to the one I followed to the hostel, but I did not find one nor look particularly hard. Back on trail about 0930. This section doesn’t stand out in my memory very much, but it provides an opportunity for extra credit in the forms of Mt. Shavano (14,229),Tabeguache Peak (14,115) and Mt. Antero (14,269). I also encountered some travellers on horseback. I sang Toby Keith’s “Shoulda Been a Cowboy” for several miles after. It was great fun. Pulled a short day milage-wise and hiked slow as I was worried I may have overdone it the day before pushing extra miles. Camped at Browns Creek and had a decently restful sleep finally. Day 5 - Segment 14 / 13 - Browns Creek >> South Cottonwood Creek (20.6 miles) Resupply Day! Nice mellow hiking through some cattle grazing areas before descending to the Chalk Creek Trailhead and County Rd 162 and beginning a chill and fairly well shaded roadwalk for 3 miles to Mt Princeton Hot Springs where I’d mailed my box. The convenience store here is well stocked, not much of a ‘resupply’ point, typical gas station type offerings, but you could make due. I packed my resupply and had a burger at the Hot Springs Restaurant while the gadgets charged up. Checked in with the family and started the pretty long, exposed, climb/roadwalk to Dry Creek. Its asphalt for the first 1.5 miles and a gravely, dusty 4WD road the next 1.5. Pretty hot at midday. There’s access for a jaunt up to Mt Princeton (14,197), but it would be a lengthy side quest. Dry Creek is thankfully a misnomer as it was flowing strong and a welcome sight to this parched hiker (one of the few times I wish I had carried more than a liter of water). Filled up and chatted about 3D Printing with the only other counter-clockwise looper I met on the trip. Super cool fellow. Knocked out the last 6ish miles for the day and pitched at South Cottonwood Creek. Spotted a moose buck across the creek from my campsite. Day 6 - Segment 13 / 12 - South Cottonwood Creek >> Pine Creek (21.1) Started the day off with some mellow warm up miles over to Avalanche Trailhead. There is a campground located here and it was pretty full of cars and RVs. One of the patrons of said campground had painstakingly raised a Trump 2020 flag directly over the CT/CDT. (Sigh….Like, I would have been equally as annoyed if it was a Baiden flag, but somehow more surprised. Facepalm*). As I started the 2nd most grueling climb of the trip, I was welcomed to seemingly the first of the bigger views since starting the East Collegiates. Eventually I made it to the saddle on the East face of Mt Yale (a nearly 3k climb). I took a break and contemplated the side quest up Yale (14,196), a couple more miles and a couple thousand more feet up …..aaaaaand passed. Only a couple hundred feet on the other side of the saddle, I crossed paths with a mothedaughter duo that I had met the previous Summer. Small world :). At the bottom of the hill I was dumped out onto the Silver Creek Trailhead and the start of Segment 12. Guthooks comments provided a number for a pizza shop in Buena Vista that delivers to that particular trailhead. With a pizza itch yet un-scratched, I kicked off my shoes and made a call. Turns out there’s only one employee there who drives a 4x4 / AWD vehicle and thereby the sole employee able to make the drop, and guess who was answering the phone that day…. I decided once again to trudge on pizzaless. Another exposed and hot climb from the trailhead, but eventually giving way to the shade of the forest. The next 10+ miles were a mellow gain in elevation. I filled up in Morrison Creek and met a CT thru-hiker working on his “Triple-Tiara” (Note: This was the first I’d heard of this: John Muir Trail + Colorado Trail + Long Trail...I was amused). I hiked a few more miles that evening, crossing an avalanche field and some solid views, the wildfire smoke was now becoming apparent. Pitched camp near a beaver pond on Pine Creek. I watched a really lovely, quasi-smokey sunset and got some sleep. Day 7 - Segment 12 / 11 / Collegiate West 01 - Pine Creek >> Twin Lakes (17.1 miles) Was off again before 0700. Day started with a decent, albeit short, climb out of Pine Creek Valley. Then there’s a fairly steep descent to Clear Creek Reservoir and Campground - Segment 11. Trail is very exposed and dry for several miles after crossing county rd 390, and I should have filled up at Clear Creek. There wasn't much scenery until I reached Twin Lakes. Thought about having a dip in the water, it was pretty hot out…..I passed. I was hungry, I knew across those lakes was a paradise of sweet and salty confections galore- Twin Lakes General Store. The CTDB has a spur trail marked that goes off the CT/CDT to Willis Gulch trailhead and would involve a hitch or roadwalk East on Hwy 82 to get to Twin Lakes Village. Far too much fuss for treats. Almost 3 miles into Collegiate West 01, there’s a trail junction sign with a handwritten note indicating a 1 mile shortcut to Twin Lakes Village. Beer, junk food, …..done deal. The note rang true. I followed a jeep trail for about half a mile, crossed a river (only knee-deep and only time I had to get wet on the whole trek), and meandered through an overgrown meadow to reach the Twin Lakes store. The beer, cold. The chips, salty. The ice cream, bliss. I planned on being in and out as it was only about 1400, but you know how it goes….got to talking with my fellow hikers and one beer turned into two, snacks gave way to grilled chicken sandwiches, some hikers left, others arrived, and time escaped. Before long, rapport was built with a couple hikers and we closed down Twin Lakes General Store (17-1800, if memory serves. Note: They still let you hang out there and charge electronics after hours). Our small band of travelers grabbed a to-go beer and a homemade cookie from the inn next door, and we wandered into the meadow across Hwy 82 and all pitched camp. It was the soft, grassy camp bed of my dreams! Great view and pit privy included...at the cost of some road noise, but not bad. Day 8 - Collegiate West 01 / 02 - Twin Lakes >> Lake Ann (15.8 miles) Having had a sound night's sleep, a smooth move at the pit privy, and my piping hot morning coffee….I started the hardest climb of the trip- Hope Pass. Results may vary, but this thing beat me up a little, I took a few breaks. After traversing the pass and a long hike down to Sheep Gulch (saw no sheep), I started my final segment- Collegiate West 02. This section has access to La Plata Peak (14,336), Huron Peak (14,003) and some other day-hiker friendly excursions, and saw lots of them coming up Hope Pass as I descended...some of them cursing….I’m telling you, nasty beast that one. Anywho, I was originally planning to shoot over Lake Ann Pass that day as well, but the Guthook comments were a buzz about Lake Ann- “best campsite on the trail” - yada yada. It was pretty rad... great view, little sunset light show, plus you get the bulk of the pass knocked out...solid enough deal IMO. I finished up camp chores and was kinda just laying around, when one of my compatriots from Twin Lakes sauntered past my tent. Cool. Camp friend. We shot the shit a while, and I went to bed with aspirations of a Lake Ann Pass sunrise. Day 9 - Collegiate West 02 - Lake Ann >> Cottonwood Pass (17 miles) Slept through sunrise. But I was up, packed, and on trail by 0645. Lake Ann Pass felt like a breeze after Hope. As you head down from the pass, you leave the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness and can expect some motorcycle traffic, probably more on weekends. The few riders I encountered were very respectful and practiced good trail etiquette. My homie from camp had a very similar hiking pace as me so we ended up hiking and chit-chatting from Lake Ann Pass to Cottonwood Pass. It was cool to have company. I'm pretty used to hiking alone, going on trips alone, etc. as I don’t have friends/family with as much time or inclination to spend extended periods in the woods like I do….yet. Those of you keeping score at home, may have noticed I have yet to exorcise the pizza-thirsty demon driving my body at this point. Upon reaching Cottonwood Pass, I bid my friend good luck on the remainder of his CT thru-hike, and with great haste, drove to Buena Vista and crushed a Large Pepperoni, Sausage, Mushroom pizza…. finally. Post-Hike Percolations: I like big views. Forest hiking is nice, but feeling like a tiny spec among giants is what draws me outside. This trip scratched that itch, but Cottonwood Pass came far too soon. I wanted more. I should have got my shit together earlier and done a CT thru-hike. This hike identified some areas I need to build my experience, but also gave me a sense of confidence in the skills I've gained so far. I noticed how ‘lost in thought’ I tend to be while walking. Had I intended on writing this trip report prior to the trip, I imagine I would have taken better notes. I wish I’d been more present, more closely aware of the sights and sounds around me, rather than spending hours adrift in my head. Anywho, loved this hike, and I'd recommend it to anyone.
I Read It So You Don't Have To: Growing Up Duggar (by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar)
Hi all -- for the past few weeks, I've been occupying my hours of quarantine boredom by reading several of the literary masterpieces written by Real Housewives cast members and sharing write-ups of my perilous adventures with the BravoRealHousewives subreddit. But -- at my core -- I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment. So when u/acoffeycup suggested that I crack open my copy of Growing Up Duggar and do my best to decipher the wisdom within, I couldn't turn down the challenge. And in this newfound spirit of evangelism, it seems only proper for me to share the fruits of my journey with your pliant and receptive ears. So pull up a chair, scoop yourself a big ol' slice of tater tot casserole, and listen in respectful reverence to my personal testimony of Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar's 2014 book, Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships. ---- On the book's cover, the four eldest Duggar daughters smile placidly at the reader, bedecked in a dignified assortment of denim and denim-adjacent garments. Yet even within these constraints, our feisty fashionistas still find ways to express their own unique aesthetic sensibilities. Jinger, for example, sports an early iteration of her now-iconic blazer, opting to emphasize her youthful spirit through whimsical cap sleeves and a precious baby-doll waistline. Next to her, Jessa stares soullessly into the camera, and -- almost against my will -- I find my eyes drawn to her hypnotic gaze. But thankfully, before I am sucked too deeply into that most barren abyss, I am distracted by the smattering of small pearlescent buttons adorning what might otherwise be mistaken for a extra-small mechanic's shirt, and I seize the chance to move along to the next Duggar offspring at hand. Jill's silhouette is by far the most avant-garde of the foursome, perhaps foreshadowing her oft-hypothesized rebellious inclinations. A tunic-length dress is cinched cheekily above her waist with a thick, woven belt, while a long denim underskirt fully obscures her sheepish shins. In the back right corner, Jana jazzes up a simple tee with a bold statement necklace ostensibly purchased from the clearance section of Earthbound Trading Co., the perfect compliment to an exotically hemmed skirt that I can only assume has been sewn together from the tatters of Duggar rags past. Eager to learn what invaluable wisdom these pages hold, I impatiently open to the book's introduction -- welcomingly titled, "Greetings: From Our Hearts to Yours." As I begin to read, I am heartened to learn that there is hope for each and every one of us, "whoever you are -- whether you're the girl we met who goes to a Christian school and attends church three times a week but is still struggling inside, or the girl with five tattoos and multiple piercings." Yes, whatever sins you may have committed in your ungodly ignorance -- provided, of course, that you have not yet blighted your body with that accursed sixth tattoo -- the Duggar girls hold a special place for you in their hearts:
Even though we have never met most of you reading this book, we want you to know we love you and care about your future. We want to share our stories with you, knowing you have a story, too, and hoping something we say here might empower you to use your story, your life, to help others.
The Introduction continues with a brief summary of the Duggar Family timeline, in which we are informed that "Mom and Dad look at life as a race against time." This seems to me a bit incongruous with the whole 'eternal life' thing, but perhaps Jim Bob and Michelle were affected by the hit 2002 film Clockstoppers just as strongly as I was. I am also excited to learn that I will soon get the chance to hear more about the authors' "passion for being involved in the political realm," as well as their "commitment and desire to reach out to people in faraway countries." With a few concluding remarks emphasizing the importance of relationships, the introduction comes to an end, and we begin the book proper with Chapter One: "Your Relationship with Yourself: Getting to know and love the girl in the mirror." We are informed that "Jana and I (Jill) sleep in double beds with our youngest sisters, Jordyn and Josie, and the other girls sleep in twin- or youth-sized beds," which seems as good a time as any to clarify that our authors ranged in age from twenty to twenty-four years old at the time of this book's publication. But if you find yourself pitying the cramped conditions of the Duggar daughters, think again! Not only is it a delight to spend so much time surrounded by siblings, but the elder girls are often led towards profound truths by the innocent remarks of babes. To illustrate this point, Jill recounts a scene in which a young Johannah asked to wear her sister's retainer. Wise beyond her years, Jill gently denied the request, explaining that the retainer had been made to fit her mouth and couldn't be worn by the small girl (a small blessing, as I can absolutely imagine the Duggar family passing down a single retainer from child to child for a decade or more). But what sagacious insights should we glean from this touching tale?
Thinking about that conversation later reminded me that we can't conform ourselves to other people's molds. But we try sometimes, don't we?
It's so comforting to remind myself that I was molded for Jesus's mouth only -- why would I try to adapt to the crooked canines of this fallen world? We are next provided with a list of "ten aspects of life" that God wants us to accept. These range from the blatantly problematic -- "whether we're a girl or boy" -- to the bafflingly sinister -- "the date we will die." When it comes to the more physical aspects of your aesthetic presentation, however, a lack of effort is unbecoming. Or, as the Duggar Girls reminisce:
We heard a pastor say one time, "Any ol' barn looks better with some paint on it!"
The girls also explain their convictions regarding modest attire -- "we want to be respectful of those around us." Personally, I've always attempted to show respect to others by presuming that they have the emotional and cognitive wherewithal to avoid turning into some kind of raving hormonal beast at a bit of tasteful sideboob. But that's why I'm not the one writing an advice book!! Thankfully, in this day and age, a number of options exist for those who want to be both chic and chaste. For example:
I'm rather partial to inordinatelymodest.com myself, although the sales at bewilderinglymodest.com just can't be beat! But our gracious authors bring us back down to earth, reminding us that there are far more important things in life than the frivolous fads of fashion -- namely (as we begin Chapter 2), "Your Relationship with Your Parents: Love, respect, and communication." In order to facilitate these crucial lines of open and honest communication across such an innumerable brood, we learn that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have made the radical decision to carve out dedicated time for one-on-one conversations with each child -- "usually on one Saturday a month." These precious monthly check-ins with one (or, on a particularly special occasion, both!) parents provide an opportunity for otherwise scant face-to-face contact, and also allow the Duggar parents to exercise some of their more cutting-edge parenting techniques. For example, our authors let us in on one particularly hard-earned pearl of wisdom practiced by their beloved parents -- "often to help get the conversation going, they'll ask us questions." With such a lofty standard being proffered, I understand how intimidating it may be to even attempt to incorporate such advanced strategies into your own parenting repertoire. But rest assured -- in case you have yet to acquire the child-reading confidence necessary to formulate such thoughtful queries on your own, I've taken the liberty of transcribing a few of the book's most incisive inquiries to help you parent like a pro.
How's your thought life going?
What things about your past would you like to change?
What things in our family discourage you?
"Discouraging" is exactly the word I would use to describe Michelle Duggar's bedragged coiffure, although something tells me that's not exactly the kind of confession that line of questioning is designed to draw out. A subsequent passage emphasizes the importance of obedience, which we learn should be "instant," "cheerful," "thorough," and "unconditional." Such instruction is necessary, as the Duggar Girls explain, because "we are all born with a sin nature." Similar to the appendix, the "sin nature" is a vestigial organ that humans retain as a remnant of our distant evolutionary past -- at least, according to the heathens who indulge in that sort of paleobiological storytelling. And if such instructions still seem overly domineering to your unenlightened mind, this adage from George Orwell's1984 the Institute in Basic Life Principles may help reframe your mindset:
Obedience is the freedom to be creative under God-given authority.
We transition from this doubleplusgood quote into the next chapter: "Your Relationship with Your Siblings: Becoming best friends," in which the authors waste no time in assuring us that the Duggar siblings "range from outdoorsy types to computer geeks, animal lovers to bookworms." Plus, I can only assume, a brain, an athlete, a basket-case, a princess, and a criminal. We go on to learn that the clan represents "a diverse assortment of personalities, interests, strengths, and weaknesses." Which sounds suspiciously like the noncommittal vagueness of someone who has never before possessed a character trait more forceful than, perhaps, a vague appreciation for wainscoting. Inevitably, however, these differences in temperament lead to vicious conflict. For example, as Jessa tremulously recounts:
An incident many years ago served as a lesson to us all. A younger sibling asked, "What kind of ice cream are you getting?" and the frustrated older sibling replied, "You don't have to always copy everything I do! Why don't you just pick out your own flavor?" Mom immediately took that older sibling aside and shared how much hurt and devastation a remark like that causes. […] Apologies were made, and the younger sibling readily forgave. The older sibling resolved to never speak demeaning words like that again but rather to embrace and uplift this sibling, and today, these two continue to be the best of friends.
I find it truly inspirational to know that even this -- the most unimaginably devastating of sibling brawls -- could be delivered from the brink of schism and restored to genuine affection. Yet it is not just sibling relationships that must be navigated with this sort of grace and levelheadedness. No, as we learn in the next chapter -- "Your Relationship with Friends: 'Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future'" -- it is important to shrewdly evaluate our friendships to assess their effects in our lives. To illustrate this point, the Duggar Girls encourage us to be mindful of the influence we exert over our loved ones.
Think about your last conversation with your friend. Did it lovingly challenge him or her spiritually?
I think back to a time when a dear friend lovingly challenged me to take edibles and re-watch the first season of Double Divas -- surely this is the kind of spiritual development that a true confidante should inspire! The authors also relay a parable that their parents shared with them as children to demonstrate the importance of standing up for your convictions. In the apocryphal tale, a young girl begs her father to allow her to attend a friend's slumber party. He agrees -- provided she promises to uphold her Christian morals -- and sends her off after a parting moment of prayer. But what began as a carefree romp soon turns sinister, as the chilling saga continues:
The party was lots of fun, and the girl had a great time playing with her friends. And of course, what is a birthday party without a big piece of cake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream? But late that night, before bed, the mom suggested they have a "pretend séance" using a Ouija board. When the girl heard what this involved, she said respectfully and quietly to the group, "I'm not going to be able to do this." When the mom asked why not, the girl replied, "I've given my life to Jesus, and I'm not able to do things like this." The mother was stunned by the little girl's words -- and by her quiet courage in speaking up for her beliefs. She packed up the Ouija board and suggested the girls play something else before bed.
And that mother's name? Albert Einstein. But truly -- I can only hope to one day have even one fraction of the courage shown by this young girl, in this absolutely true story that definitely without-a-doubt one-hundred-percent happened. A more believable anecdote quickly follows, however, this time starring a young Jim Bob Duggar in the role of "huge nerd".
Dad became a Christian when he was only seven, and one day when he and some other little grade school classmates were out on the playground, one of the boys started using God's name as a curse word. Dad quietly told the boy he wished he wouldn't misuse God's name. "After all," Dad told his little friend, "He's the One who made us and loves us."
Following in her father's smarmy footsteps, Jessa encourages the reader to eschew those friends who are only concerned with "watching all the newest movies, listening to the latest pop music, and judging others whom they deemed 'not cool.'" We are also treated to the compelling account of an accident at one of the family's rental properties, in which several cases of energy drinks exploded within a warehouse. By the time this tragic mishap was discovered weeks later, "the energy drinks had actually eroded away a layer of the concrete -- in some places, a half-inch deep!" The moral of this story, as we are solemnly advised, is that "the same thing happens to us when we spend lots of time with 'friends' who may seem sweet and appealing but who are exerting a harmful influence on our hearts." I would have thought a more telling moral would have been "Probably don't drink energy drinks" (or perhaps, "Check on your rental properties more frequently"), but I digress. Our rollicking ride continues with another of Jim Bob's classic legends: "the story of a nice, likeable young man who grew up in a Christian home but eventually became a drug addict." Eyes wide with horror at the very thought, I read on. After making the grave error of surrounding himself with people whose "sole purpose in life was to 'have a good time,'" this unnamed man soon finds himself ensnared in a perilous trap. Then, on one fateful night, he attends a party and is handed a beer by a passing stranger.
At first he just stood there holding the beer in his hand, smiling and contemplating what he would do. He had never had a desire to drink, but he did not want to feel like an outsider, so when no one was looking he poured half the beer into a nearby potted plant. A little later his friend came by and said, "You didn’t drink any, did you?" Then, grabbing the bottle out of his hand, he noticed that it was half empty. "Hey, guys, he's one of us!" the friend announced to everyone. Shorty after that the young man started drinking; later he got introduced to drugs. How sad that one, seemingly small decision started him on a path of self-destruction.
I can only assume the rest of that pivotal party went more or less like this. A bone-chilling illustration of just how slippery a slope can be! We move along to a more cheerful topic in Chapter Five, which switches gears to focus on "Your Relationship with Guys: Saving yourself for the one God has for you." Here, too, we are greeted by the eternal words of our communal patriarch-in-spirit, JBD:
About the time we entered our teenage years, Dad told us a story about a girl he went to school with in elementary and junior high school who was boy-crazy. […] He said he wondered at that early age if eventually this girl would find Mr. Right or if her habit of throwing herself into relationship after relationship would prove to be preparation for a future unstable marriage. Sadly enough, when this girl finally got married, it didn't last long, and that same pattern of discontent, insecurity, and self-centeredness that had affected her dating also affected her marriage.
Prior to today, I would have found it hard to believe that anyone else could be quite as smugly infuriating as Jim Bob Duggar. But -- if even half of the stories I've read in this book so far are to be believed -- he's gotten only more mellow with age. It's a level of condescending smarm I wouldn't tolerate from a distant great-aunt desperate for an heir to her vast fortune, let alone from the insufferable schoolboy herein described. Nevertheless, my thoughts and prayers go out to this pitiable Jane Doe -- our nation's epidemic of Boy-Craziness has wreaked havoc on so many communities, no doubt the devastating consequence of 5G, vaccines, and/or the 19th amendment. In order to avoid such dangerous impulses, a responsible woman should take care to abstain from romance novels -- "they paint a picture of an unrealistic, unobtainable relationship." I'm not exactly sure what part of Her Country Star Billionaire Groomseems so "unrealistic" to these narrow-minded nincompoops, but I'll table that conversation for another time. We have more important things to attend to at the moment. Namely, the continuing explanation that, for women, romance novels do "the same thing pornography does to men." I'm grateful for this analogy -- as the most delicate of damsels, I'm not even really sure what pornography is, let alone what about it those mysterious menfolk could possibly find so stimulating! But I do know that warm tingly feeling I get when I cuddle up late at night with a thick, beefy Harlequin Romance! Alas, it is this very indulgence may prove to be my undoing! As we soon learn:
When a girl reads romance novels, she's doing something very similar [to watching pornography], drawing perfectionistic, romantic pictures into her mind of what she thinks marriage is.
This is a sentiment that, prior to the publication of the book I hold before me, had been most recently proffered by the famed Scottish wordsmith Charlotte Lennox in her 1752 novel, The FemaleQuixote, and I appreciate our authors for bringing light to such an underrecognized talent. The Duggar Girls continue our intellectual escapades with a reminder that "God put that deep need to be loved and accepted in our hearts so that He could be the one to fulfill it." As an astute pupil of the cultural arts, I immediately recognize this approach as step three of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System (Nurture Dependence). For this vast array of reasons -- as eager as we may be to go to pound-town tie the knot -- we are cautioned to remain patient until our fated suitor arrives, engaging ourselves in trivial, non-threatening pursuits like "teaching younger girls" or "seeking out ways to bless others through ministry." We should also make it a priority to hone our skills of resistance when it comes to those worrisome "intrusions of lust" that Satan embeds within even the most innocent of minds.
We like to think of [these thoughts] as a live hand grenade coming our direction, and before it explodes we quickly pick it up and throw it right back at the devil.
I can only assume that this what Bruno Mars was trying to convey with his hit song, "Grenade" -- the intertextuality never ceases to amaze me! The Duggar Girls go on to demonstrate their dexterous command of the metaphor -- "We give God the position as 'boss' and 'ruler' of our lives, and we release the 'steering wheel' to His control." -- before highlighting ways to serve God regardless of your marital status. For example, "visiting places like Honduras and sharing the gospel with villagers is a ministry opportunity our family greatly treasures." And by "places like Honduras," I'm sure they mean, "places with countless centuries of rich cultural heritage ravaged by colonial conquest and its lingering effects," and not "places where brown people live." Pretty sure, at least. But even once you've managed to attract the attentions of your future beloved, you must take care to guard yourself from falling too quickly. To ensure that you don't award your affections to an unworthy suitor (thus irrevocably tainting your eternal purity), the Duggars suggest asking the following questions:
Is his passion in life for earthy money or for eternal riches and rewards?
Does he have a vision for his life of doing great things for God?
Is he a man of character, showing initiative, creativity, diligence, enthusiasm, and wisdom?
I'm 99% sure that "initiative, creativity, diligence, enthusiasm, and wisdom" are the primary attributes from a knockoff version of Dungeons & Dragons -- who knew the Duggar girls were so into RPGs? (I guess they did warn us earlier that some of the family members are "computer geeks"). In the next several passages, the authors explain the "very real and very purposeful differences" between dating (bad!) and courtship (good!). First, they highlight a number of treacherous threats that pervade modern romantic culture.
A danger of modern dating is that it is typically two young people, alone, enjoying an activity. Usually a guy invites a girl out to a nice restaurant or some fun place or event. They enjoy a carefree time without the responsibility of the normal tasks and pressures of life.
I'm almost too overcome with terror at the thought of such a wretched situation! But somehow, (mostly by channeling the immeasurable determination of someone only allowed to show affection through three-second side hugs) I find the strength to read on. But to my despair, even more tragedies await me! As we are instructed to imagine:
What could be worse than having to tell your potential future husband that not only did you not wait but that you also have a severely painful STD that he will likely get if he marries you?
Not a SEVERELY painful STD?! But idk, lots of things could be worse than that, probably? Maybe it's just my overactive imagination, but it seems like you could knock out that whole conversation in one night over a bottle of wine, particularly given ongoing advances in modern medicine. But it seems I still have more to learn -- as I soon read:
Physical intimacy in marriage is pure, wholesome, and beautiful. Outside of marriage, it spreads disease, death, and destruction.
I've never really thought of myself as a "sower of destruction" before, but…I don't hate it. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what kind of casualties ensue the next time I have sex with my live-in boyfriend. As they say, nothing spices up the sex life like ascending to your thrones as eternal agents of pestilence and devastation! Our next tip for identifying an ideal mate encourages "meaningful conversations about history, politics, theology, and such" -- I can only assume that the extensive footage of this intellectual discourse is edited out from the family's show at the demands of tyrannical production companies. But while those easily titillated minds might prefer to focus on worldly concerns, our authors are courteous enough to remind us of what truly matters. While he doesn't have to be "the best-looking hunk of human flesh ever created," it is vital that any potential partner practice "the fine old art of gentlemanly chivalry." As the Duggar Girls explain,
A gentleman's courtesy is not about women being weak or strong: it's about men needing to be men.
Jim Bob, as one would expect, exemplifies these virtues. We are regaled with recollections of his many demonstrations of decorum throughout his storied marriage:
Years ago, he was working on honoring Mom in several specific ways, including remembering to open the car door for her.
As soon as I finish reading this book, I'm going to get right to work on a list of specific ways that my boyfriend can work on honoring me -- I'm sure he'll be very appreciative for the guidance! However, before I can get to that, I must tackle my next lesson: "Understanding What Christian Guys Look For in a Future Wife." Based on an admittedly "small and totally unscientific survey" of their male acquaintances, the Duggar Girls are able to share with us a few explosive secrets. For example, the ideal wife "has a hunger and thirst after righteousness" and promises to "faithfully help [her husband] grow deeper spiritually." What's more, she should also be "involved in some sort of ministry -- preferably music ministry." The chapter concludes with a convenient list of commitments for the reader, including pledges to "choose wholesome activities" and avoid "bad Internet sites." In Chapter Six, the Duggar Girls lead the reader to examine "Your Relationship with Culture: Making choices that will keep you pure." Almost immediately, we are cautioned that
With just a few clicks of a keyboard, the Internet gives us the ability to research any subject. But it also has the potential to destroy the souls of those who get entangled in its dark side.
And lest you think this is hyperbole, our authors reiterate that "it is not a matter of if but when Satan will try to tempt us." As a thought exercise, the reader is encouraged to reflect: "would your Internet choices be the same when you were all alone as they would be when someone were sitting beside you?" In particular, the girls draw attention to the seedy underbelly of harmful gossip sites, breezily brushing off these piteous busybodies with the following bit of clever wordplay:
We've heard that some discussion boards or chat rooms might be better named bitter rooms because those drawn to them often seem rather bitter.
As our quipsters continue, "unfortunately, some people seem to derive much pleasure from nit-picking other people's lives." Thankfully, I derive my pleasure from nitpicking other people's books, so I'm totally in the clear on this one! Our authors encourage us to reform these renegade impulses by explaining that when we stop wasting time on mindless pursuits, we'll find ourselves becoming more productive, enterprising individuals. As a result of this ideology, we learn that "by age ten, John was working on and operating heavy equipment." I'm unimpressed -- call me when you've got a three-year-old on woodchipper duty. Regardless, it is clearly far safer than its petrifying alternative -- exposure to the horrors of television. And what, pray tell, might these horrors be? Magic -- "which often shows up in children's movies" -- is revealed to be "part of a demonic realm that God wants us to stay away from." As the authors solemnly intone, "as harmless as it may seem, it's not a joke in God's eyes." Graciously, the Duggars have deigned to provide several reliably pure entertainment options:
many of the old classics that promote honesty, respect of parents, and reverence for God
educational documentaries that teach about science and history from a biblical perspective
many carefully selected episodes of The Andy Griffith Show as long as they are not centered around a lot of romance or deceptiveness, as some of them are
With regard to making appropriate music choices, "much prayerful consideration" is required, lest we "bring a blot to the name and character of the God we represent." However, in order to guide our future reflections, the Duggar Girls go on to provide a helpful technique for assessing acoustic chastity.
Soon after Mom became a Christian at the age of fifteen, a friend encouraged her to write out the lyrics of questionable songs and then compare them to the truths found in the Bible. For instance, if a song's lyrics are saying, "Follow your heart. Do what feels good," we compare it to the Bible and find that […] we're not supposed to follow our hearts, as that will only get us in trouble.
I suppose that means I'll have to rethink my upcoming single, "Follow Your Heart (Do What Feels Good)," but that will have to wait until I've fully absorbed all the insights this book has to offer. For example, as I read on, I learn that I should be particularly suspicious of "rock 'n' roll and its variations such as hard rock and heavy metal." As the authors expound:
Since its beginnings in the 1950s, this music's main goal and purpose have been to promote every one of the issues we want to avoid. A heavy backbeat and words being sung in a breathy and sensual voice -- and even the style of rock 'n' roll music itself -- give off an attitude of rebellion, resistance toward authority, and a rejection of morality. None of these things come without consequences.
Lest you think that our authors are merely being alarmist, they go on to explain that when they "examined the lives of many of these artists," they were dismayed to conclude that "the life expectancy for rock artists and musicians is around forty; many of them die at a young age for reasons related to AIDS, drug or alcohol abuse, or suicides. It's a tragic reality." Far less perilous to enjoy "classical music and traditional hymns," as they are known to "follow a pattern and maintain a very distinct and definite order." With this final injunction, we move on to the volume's penultimate chapter, "Your Relationship with Your Country: Making a difference in the political arena." My attention is instantly captured by the opening sentence, which informs the reader that "God used a series of supernatural events to clearly lead our family into making a difference in the world of politics." The "supernatural event" in question turns out to be the undeniably divine miracle of Jim Bob Duggar…finding out about a rally against "partial-birth abortion" and then…attending it. I can only imagine how much more wondrous the world must seem if such a banal and explainable episode is sufficient to incite veritable fits of exaltation. But this portent is just the beginning of Papa Duggar's political career, and I read on to learn even more about "the values Dad stood for." Although this lineup presumably does not include any sort of commitment to avoiding sentence-ending prepositions, it does include a promise to vote "the right way on life-and-death issues." Before long, Jim Bob "felt God urging him to run for the US Senate," and although he loses the election, publicity from the campaign eventually brings about the family's first taste of national media attention. After much prayer and "wise, godly counsel," the family agrees to be filmed for a reality show -- "we agreed to do it based upon our hope that it would enable our family to share encouraging Bible principles with many other people." And indeed, the family now receives "hundred of letters and e-mails" per week from viewers who have been "spiritually challenged" by watching the series. But rest assured -- "Dad's loss in that Senate campaign did not end our involvement in politics." If you, too, would like to follow our authors' example and become more civically engaged, you could "find a conservative Christian who is running for office and then call and ask them where he or she stands on the issues." I suppose I should give them a modicum of credit for the inclusive phrasing, "he or she," but the fact that I don't have the slightest doubt as to the intended meaning of "the issues," prevents me from even a half-hearted endorsement of this sentiment. Blessedly, however, we've reached our story's denouement -- a final chapter entitled, "Your Relationship with the World: Developing a servant's heart." Jill tearfully recounts a ministry trip to El Salvador, taking care to highlight the contrast between the "iron-barred windows" of government orphanages and the "love-filled" Christian facility the group goes on to visit. What accounts for this stark discrepancy? "They've fed these children not only with food for their tummies but also food for their spiritual lives." As Jessa quips, "It is so neat to see how God works." Of course, as you might have suspected, the Duggar Girls quickly realized that, "as with every trip, it was clear that we were the ones who'd gotten the biggest blessings." Truly -- the engagement you get from an Instagram post featuring a bona fide orphan is worth more than any financial reward one could ever hope to gain on this mortal plane! We next learn about Jill and Jana's experiences with the local volunteer fire department. Mercifully, this endeavor doesn’t necessitate as many Rugged Man Skills as you might assume, and the two are able to respond to such dainty predicaments as "a little old lady's cat stuck in a tree" and "a kid with his lip stuck in a sippie cup" without jeopardizing their feminine delicacy. Jill next shares more about her journey with midwifery. As she reassures us, it's not just "Christian, homeschooling moms" who opt for home deliveries, but "single moms" as well! Jana, in contrast, tells us that she "[feels] called to focus on childbirth coaching and prenatal preparation instead of 'running the show,' as Jill does so competently when she serves as midwife." And Jinger has been called to minister at "the juvenile detention center in our area," which she fashionably abbreviates as "juvy" to highlight her comfort with urban vernacular. As I read on, I learn more about the Duggar family's love of music, which is far more diverse and expansive than one might initially assume. For example, did you know that the Duggars "enjoy traditional music as well as classical," or that a young Joy-Anna was encouraged to undertake the daring pursuit of "[learning] to play the violin 'fiddle-style'"? As these examples illustrate, God's gifts can take a myriad of forms! For this reason, we go on to learn about the importance of "learning how to give an enthusiastic, friendly greeting to others." This technique is a surefire way to spark a deep and meaningful conversation with anyone you may encounter. And, in the most dire of emergencies, "we know we can shoot up a little flare-prayer and God is always able to give us the words to say." However, one should always take appropriate caution "not to be too overly friendly with people of the opposite gender, as that can send the wrong kind of message!" As luck would have it, we have only to look to the Duggar parents to find examples of more decorous ways to approach intimate dialogues. As we learn:
Many times our parents have guests over and then ask if it would be okay if we watch one of Jim Sammons's Financial Freedom Seminar messages together from embassyinstitute.org and then discuss it afterward. Once they watch one message, most people want to go through the whole series.
With a few final nuggets of wisdom, the volume comes to a close. The authors graciously offer an obligatory apology for daring to burden the reader with their inane female ramblings -- "Thank you for sticking with us through this super-long chapter!" As they continue:
We know we've shared a lot of concepts about relationships, but it is our prayer that God will direct and encourage you as you begin to make them part of your own lives.
As you go off and begin your own personal journey towards relationship rapture, you may find encouragement in the idea that -- despite their celebrated name -- the Duggar Girls are not just some faceless paragons of virtue. As the author biographies on the back inside cover remind us, these are regular people, with their own unique interests and capacities. While Jessa might be found "memorizing scripture" or "discipling friends," Jill would rather spend her time "counseling girls via phone, text, in person, or email." Jana "stays busy managing the family mailroom," and Jinger? She's "always full of energy, that is, when she has a cup of coffee in her hand!" And with that cheeky witticism, I close the book and begin my quest towards docile, denim Duggarhood -- I wish you nothing but blessings as you enter this season of life!
I’m 34 years old and will make $184,000 this year (total HHI approx. $220k), live in Boston, MA and work as a self-employed Informatics Consultant
Section One: Assets and Debt
General household background: My husband (T) and I got married last year and haven’t fully combined our finances. We have a joint savings and a joint credit card for shared expenses. We each have separate personal and business accounts. When we met, I made much less than him and six years later, I make much more but I came to our relationship with a ton of student loan debt and embarrassingly bad credit. He had zero debt and very strong credit. There have been times through the years when we each prop the other up financially. We have also both been with abusive, manipulative people in the past that made very irresponsible financial decisions, so we are probably slower to go fully combined than many other couples. For the purposes of this MD, I am including T in some places because our habits do have an effect on the other, but he is responsible for his own accounts and I won't include his expenditures that affect his personal or business accounts. He maintains his own emergency savings and as of today, I am the only one saving for retirement. We will both contribute once we buy a house. My pre-tax income: Approx. $288,000/year, but since I changed jobs this year and took time off between jobs, my income in 2020 will be more like $184,000 – I’m a fully independent 1099 contractor charging $160/hr for my consulting services and aim for a 12-month invoiced average of $24,000/mo. T’s pre-tax income: Approx $36,000 this year– he works in the restaurant industry and was furloughed in March due to the pandemic. He’s gotten creative this year to keep himself busy and keep some money coming in. SEP IRA: $12,280 - The bulk of this is rolled over from my last employer's 401K account. I have prioritized student loan debt repayment, house down payment and emergency savings for now. These are almost met so I will get aggressive with contributions here soon. Emergency savings balance: $16,106 – contributing to this until I get to $30k; the balance was at $20k and then I depleted this down to $8.5k while I had no income for 3 months earlier this year Joint HYSA: $63,064 – This is the account earmarked for a house down payment. We have contributed $48k to this between the two of us. T's parents gave us a $20k wedding gift and we used $5k to pay off the last of my >7% student loans and the other $15k is in here. Checking account balance: $20,928 – All of my accounts are tied to this one and there’s more “slush money” in here than usual at the time of writing this. I maintain $3,000 in this account as my "spending money". This week I transferred my "income" from my business account, which is why it's so high. My auto-payments, savings, credit card payments, etc. all come out of here. Investment account: $5,222 – Opened a Betterment account with high-risk asset allocation last year mostly as an experiment. I would like to contribute more once the house is purchased. RSAs: I have 5,000 shares from one of the companies I consult with that I started working with when they were still incubating. These will fully vest in January next year. I do not include this in financial planning as it may amount to nothing. Life Insurance: $200,000 - 20-year term policy (not counted in my Net Worth). I got this after college to protect my student loan co-signer. Even though I now owe far less in loans, I keep my mom as my primary beneficiary because she is likely to need financial assistance in retirement, and if I am alive I will help, but if something happens to me, she'll get this. That peace of mind, for me, is everything. Business savings account: $39,900 – I think of this money like it doesn’t exist and don’t factor it into my Net Worth calculation. This is 35% of every invoice that I put aside for all of my estimated income and employment taxes. I’ll feel a lot better next year when I figure out what my tax burden is. If I don’t use all of this, I’ll be pleasantly surprised and I’ll put it directly into savings in some form. Business checking account: $2,000 – This account exists as my central business account, to auto-pay my business credit card in full and to receive payments from customers. Credit card debt: $0 - Paid in full weekly. Student loan debt: $56,966 - Graduated with a life science degree and $130,000 in debt Car: $3,000 approx. - 8 year old car, fully owned and bought with cash. KBB is actually more than this value but I don't plan to replace this car for a while, so I'm estimating what I think it could be worth when I sell it to upgrade. Net worth: $65,634 (including the joint savings account)
Section Two: Income
Main Job Monthly Take Home: $15,600 - Average expected transfer from business account to personal account after I take out taxes
Section Three: Expenses
Rent: $1,100 - $2,200 total, split equally with T. We have a large two-bedroom in the Camberville area. This includes laundry, heat, hot water, and gas. Emergency savings contribution: $2,000 HYSA contribution: $3,000 Student loan payment: $3,000 - Includes overpayment; minimum is $601 SEP IRA contribution: $1,000 Health insurance: $470 Dental insurance: $21 Car insurance: $94 Other car expenses (gas, oil changes): $25 - Average of last 6 mo, WAY down because I left my commuter job and I now work from home most of the time. I expect this to stay low for a while. On-street parking pass: $40 - Annual Rental insurance: $13 Life insurance: $11 Electric: $37 - My half; average of last 12 mo WiFi/Cable + HBO: $60 - My equal half Cell phone: $89 - My half; we combined separate carrier plans to a family plan last year and replaced T's awful phone and upgraded mine using a BOGO deal and that is included - interest free - in the monthly payment Cat: $86 - Average of last 6 mo, doesn't fluctuate much. Annual vet visit is $85. No insurance. T has a dog he brought into the relationship and he covers all expenses for him. Physical therapy: $137.50 - Bought in packages of 8 ($1,100) for a discount off single-visit prices. I have a monthly appointment. Personal care: $152 - Average of last 6 mo Groceries: $70 - Average of last 6 mo. My half. Dining out/delivery: $151 - Average of last 6 mo. My half. Donations and gifts: $200 - I pick different orgs for this. This month will be METAvivor to support breast cancer research. Subscriptions: $199 - Netflix ($13), Hulu ($6), Spotify Premium ($10), iCloud storage ($3), PlayStation Network ($60/yr), Adobe Creative Suite ($11); VSCO ($20/yr); QuickBooks ($12.50), Rent the Runway ($139)
Sunday - $125.63 10:00am - Wake up, peek at my Apple Watch - basically just my alarm and sleep/fitness tracker at this point. Very happy I was able to sleep late. Text with some friends, check in on a cell phone game I play (Covet Fashion - anyone else?), and Reddit. 11:00am - Decide coffee is more important than cuddling with pets and reading at this point. Get up. Feed our cat. Make French press coffee with fresh roasted beans. 12:00pm - I tidy the house a little as a procrastination tactic to avoid working out. T comes in from walking our dog and has mail. In it is a letter from my bank explaining why I was denied a credit line increase. Cue me spiraling about how my old financial issues seem to follow me no matter how good I am today. I frequently feel behind my peers, and that line of thinking is a trap, I know. I’m extra emotional about this because I’ve also just received the news that lenders may not want to give us a mortgage because of self employment. I worry out loud that I'm holding us back. (This is the internal dialog of a probably PMSing person going into an emotional spinout.) T, as usual, shrugs it off and says we’re fine. We’ll figure it out. We always do. Gives me a pep talk that’s more pragmatic than my brain wants to be right now. I mope for a little longer and play Covet. 2:00pm - Decide I need to stop feeling bad for myself and do my PT and a workout. I’m supposed to do a 30-40 min routine a minimum of 5 days a week. I’ve also recently been cleared to get back into some cardio so I decide to add on a mixed cardio workout from YouTube. 3:30pm - Finish workout. Glad I did it because I do feel better. I take a moment to affirm my gratitude for having a pain-free day and easy movement. The money situation will be resolved and is less important than my health. Time for a shower though. Wow, is it hot and humid today! 4:00pm - Give myself an at-home facial. I had awful acne, sometimes cystic, for most of my life and I don’t take a single clear skin day for granted. Before COVID I went to an esthetician every other month for a facial ($120/visit+20% tip). I had actually bought a pack of 6 visits for $600 in February. Due to the pandemic, they closed soon after and I haven't used it. The salon has just recently reopened though so I keep considering going back. But for today, I use a pumpkin enzyme peel, a hydrating masque, and then finish with my normal skincare routine. We’re going out to eat tonight so I put on makeup for the first time in months and I spray my hair with dry shampoo followed by a curling mist and pin it up to help it not look slept on. Then I get dressed. I’m wearing a shirt rented from RTR that has an open back so I go braless, which feels very on-trend for COVID. 5:00pm - Feed our cat first dinner while D walks our dog, then I water and groom my house plants. 5:30pm - Sign into QuickBooks to check whether my last client paid their invoice from last month, and they did on Friday. I update the invoice and send them a receipt. But then I notice an issue with my QB subscription (I recently changed versions) and since it’s the end of the month, I need to clear this up ASAP. I add a reminder to my to do list to call them tomorrow. 6:00pm - Leave the house to drive to Providence for a dinner reservation with friends; T drives us in his car. Realize I forgot Lactaid. I’m running low at home anyway so we stop for gas (T pays with his money) and I run into the grocery store next door. Grab deodorant and my vitamins at the same time because I’m almost out of both of them too. - $31.63 7:00pm - Get to dinner and meet our friends. We drove an hour away for this meal because the restaurant is going out of business due to the pandemic. T knows the owner well and we visit at least a couple times a year. They scaled their menu way back to feed people safely outside and while it’s amazing, I’m reminded of how the restaurant industry is just getting absolutely pummeled. But this meal is an amazing send off. We pay the bill and add a generous tip for a total of $442 for 5 people. T puts it on the joint card, and $94 will be my portion. - $94 9:45pm - We zip across town to try to get in for a nightcap at an old haunt of T’s when he lived here. Order a round of drinks at the window. T’s friend pays for us to thank us for driving down. 10:30pm - We part ways with T’s friends and briefly stop by another of T’s friends’ houses. She just got engaged yesterday so we congratulate her and she gives us our own congratulations cake - we just celebrated our wedding anniversary. This friend is a talented pastry chef and made our wedding cake for us, and this little one she gave us tonight looks just as beautiful as that. 11:50pm - Finally home. Move my car to make room for T’s car (street cleaning tomorrow). Feed our cat second dinner while T walks our dog. Jump into sleep clothes, then do my night routine (floss, brush, mouthwash, makeup remover, face wash, toner, serums, moisturizer, eye cream) and dab on some acne spot treatment. I’ve had about 7 deep pimples show up since yesterday and I mentally calculate that yeah, this probably is PMS related. No wonder I was such an emotional mess this afternoon. 12:30pm - Finally in bed. Set my alarm. Read a little until my eyes are heavy. Put on my eye mask. Do two minutes of deep breathing. Asleep by 1am. Monday - $66.20 7:15am - Alarm goes off and I immediately hit snooze. I slept so poorly. One of those nights where you feel like you’re always just drifting in and out of consciousness and never really sleeping. 7:30am - Alarm goes off again. Still too early but I keep my eyes open. Check my phone to glance at my calendar and the weather. Look at my client emails to see if there are any fires (none, phew). Check Covet to see what scores I got overnight. I leveled up! Fun surprise first thing in the morning. 7:45am - Get up and get my morning routine underway. Brush teeth, shower (not a hair washing day), face routine, put on mascara, get dressed, feed our cat, make coffee. I’m almost out of coffee beans. I have this set for auto re-order but I usually go through a bag every 10-11 days, and they only offer 7 or 14 day intervals. I keep a bag of Dunkin Donuts whole bean coffee on hand just in case. 8:30am - Get on my weekly meeting with my “boss”. Where I’m a consultant, she’s not my boss the same way if I were employed by her, but she runs the group for which I primarily consult. She is a true boss lady and I feel extremely lucky to work with her. We spend the first 15 mins of the meeting talking about mortgages - turns out she actually bought a house her first year being a consultant too. She is going to refer me. Then we talk about work. I’ve been managing a very challenging project in an area I (used to) know nothing about, but then again, no one else on the project did either. I’ve finally assembled a team of experts and we are making real progress. I have nothing but good news this morning, which is a change from the last few months. Nice way to start the work day. 9:30am - Switch gears and get on a weekly status meeting with another client. Everything is going smoothly here. We end early because there wasn’t much to go through. Jump back into work for the first client - project check-ins and deadline reminders, holding a vendor accountable for fixing an issue… the usual. 10:45am - Clock out. Pack up the top I wore last night and a jumpsuit to return to RTR. Say goodbye to T and leave the house to go to my gyno for a follow up appointment to check on my new IUD to make sure it has settled in properly. I find on-street parking and pay for 1 hour ($2.90) and the co-pay for my visit is $30. - $32.90 12:00pm - Still at the doc. IUD is all good but I said yes to getting a free flu shot while I’m here and they’re taking forever to bring it to me. Check my parking and it’s about to run out. Add another 14 mins just as the NP comes to apologize and say she’ll be back in 5 mins. I say it’s okay and she warms my heart when she says, “I appreciate that but it’s not okay, you shouldn’t have needed to wait!” I love my entire doctor’s office. They come in with the shot and send me on my way. I swing by a FedEx to drop off the RTR bag. - $0.50 12:30pm - I get home and as I’m pulling into the (freshly street cleaned) spot I usually park in on the street, I notice there are oil marks on the road. I mention it to T when I get in the apartment. My mechanic retired early in COVID so T agrees to take me to his mechanic to make an introduction after my last meeting this afternoon. I need a state inspection, and I think I need my suspension and brakes replaced. This is going to be expensive, but I’ve been putting off any repairs because I barely drive my car since COVID. T then reminds me we had talked about getting a new router because I drop Zoom meetings all.the.time, and he found one he likes while I was out. It’s $200. I decide I’d rather deal with dropped meetings for now especially in the face of a big mechanic bill. He’s fine with not spending the money too. I make us deli meat sandwiches with a side of potato chips. 1:00pm - Settle back into my home office with my lunch and clock in. A ton of emails from one client came in while I was out. I eat while I catch up on the various situations that popped up. 2:30pm - Take a short (forced) break. While on a call, my cat jumped onto the windowsill and I watched him purposefully knock my baby avocado tree off to make room for himself (he truly enshrines the “cats are jerks” stereotype). I clean up the mess, hope the plant is okay, and then pick up my dishes from my lunch. I start the dishwasher, grab a Polar Seltzer can and go back to my office. Time to work on some slides. I turn on my new Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify for motivation. 3:45pm - After back and forth with a vendor, we still can’t get an issue resolved. I probably need to go to my client’s office because I can’t troubleshoot remotely at this point. I interrupt T’s gaming to ask if I can use his car tomorrow. He has no plans. I add a block to my calendar, fill out a symptom self-assessment form and notify the client office coordinator of when I’ll be onsite. Back to the slide deck, then a strategic planning meeting with the leadership team. 4:45pm - That last meeting ran late. And I’m so tired. I feel like I’m running on empty. Slides still aren’t done either and need to be done. I mentally prioritize car, slides, and then QuickBooks call. I got a voicemail from a mortgage lender but that’ll have to wait. T is still gaming with a friend so I stay clocked in to do a little more slide work. 5:15pm - Go to the shop with two cars to drop mine off. Find out they’re closed (T thought they were open until 6). He goes to the grocery store and I go back home. Park in a different spot and check the road where I had been parked moments ago. Oh yes, that is some nice, fresh, wet oil. I quickly pop the hood to check my oil level. It’ll be fine for now. 6:00pm - T comes home and spent $40.61 total on pork chops, sliced deli meats, yu choy, instant coffee, potato chips, whole grain nut bread, mayo, and pickles. I’ll transfer half of that to him when we reconcile the credit card in October. T asks what I want for dinner and we agree to reconvene for dinner at 8pm. He goes back to gaming and I call QuickBooks while feeding our cat first dinner. - $20.30 7:10pm - The QuickBooks issue was entirely user error. OF COURSE. I log in and snag the promo price for QuickBooks Online. I’ll pay monthly for the first 3 (discounted) months and then upgrade to the annual pricing. Since I have my business bank accounts open, I confirm the deposit amounts for all of my invoice payments for the month. I transfer to the business savings for tax withholding and schedule a transfer to my personal checking account on Oct 1st for the remainder, which will be my after-tax income for October. - $12.50 7:40 - I do PT and no workout. Too tired. And I'm hungry and dinner smells awesome. 8:30 - T made rice with beef, enoki and button mushrooms, green and yellow onions, tofu, egg. I put way too much chili crisp on my bowl and it hurts so good. He has a beer and I have water. He beats me to cleaning up the dishes and suddenly reappears from the kitchen with a vanilla chocolate chip ice cream sandwich. Turns out he got it a month ago from his friend that owns an ice cream shop (he and his industry friends food swap A LOT) and his man forgot to tell me it was in the freezer! I take two Lactaid and eat 3/4 of it. Heaven. We catch up about the day, then try to find something new to watch since finishing Ratched. We settle on season 2 of Marcella but it doesn’t hold our attention. We put on Twitch, I play some Covet and then read the news while he games with friends. 11:15pm - I decide it’s finally time to move the sleeping dog off of me and I can not, in fact, live on the couch with him forever. The second I move, our cat realizes it is time for second dinner. I feed him, do my nighttime routine, and get into bed. Asleep before midnight. Tuesday - $16.00 7:45am - Alarm. I was having a really strange dream and feel like I slept badly too, but my sleep tracker says 6h45m. Not the worst but not the best. Check Covet, LinkedIn, the weather. Notice a ton of work emails - luckily it’s nothing super urgent. 8:15am - Get up and do my morning routine. As predicted, I did not have enough fresh roast coffee so I make a house special blend with the fresh roasted and Dunkin Donuts beans. 9:00am - Clock in and hop on a few client meetings. Nothing particularly exciting. 11:00am - Pack up my laptop to visit my client’s office to troubleshoot an issue. Circle the building to see if I can find on-street parking - nothing. Park in the garage instead. Take a voluntary COVID test upon arrival. 12:10pm - Leave client site. They ordered BBQ lunch while I was there and told me to bring home enough food for both T and me. Pay for garage parking on the biz credit card and this will be fully reimbursed by my client when I submit my invoice for the month. At home, T and I feast on ribs, pulled pork and chicken, potato salad, mac and cheese, biscuits and cole slaw. - $16 1:00pm - Client meeting. Runs a bit over. Clock out when I’m done and go to the shop with T in two cars for attempt #2 at dropping my car off. 2:00pm - Back at home, less one car. Check Covet. My group has been super active today. Spend a few minutes catching up and strategizing with them. And then clock back in because my to-do list just keeps growing. 3:30pm - Mechanic calls and asks if I can come to the shop so he can show me some concerns. This sounds expensive. I have no meetings scheduled tomorrow, so I decide to deal with this car stuff today and get focused work done tomorrow. I put on my shoes and decide to go for a walk. 4:00pm - Mechanic still has my car on the lift and walks me through the problem areas. There’s nothing that’s a surprise to me and I appreciate that he takes the time to do this. He hits me with a $2900 estimate. This is only slightly higher than what I expected so after talking through which parts we can get OEM and which ones can be aftermarket, I agree to the work. I’ve owned this car for 70,000 miles (bought it at 30k miles) and this is the first time I’ve ever had to do major maintenance work outside of my regular oil, fluid, belt, brake and tire changes. On my walk home, I notice I’m not even feeling badly about this and my main emotion is genuine gratitude that I can afford this. It was less than a decade ago that a serious repair on a former car caused me to need to go without some utilities and food. I wish I could tell my younger self that it will get better because I was often in a very dark place because of (lack of) money. 4:30pm - Home. Grab a can of Polar seltzer water. Clock in as I notice my primary client’s email has blown up. I really want to just be done for the day but I decide to get to Inbox 0 so I can start my day tomorrow without small tasks hanging over my head. 5:30pm - Inbox 0 achieved. I could do more but the internet went out again and T is already on the phone with them. That’s the third or fourth time today. They are sending a service person out and I hear him making the appointment for tomorrow. I’m fine with clocking out. Our cat gets his first dinner. 5:45pm - Get an email I want to follow up with right away. Add 15 more minutes of billable time while T walks our dog. Then I read the latest drama watch MD and check on Covet. I’m going to fall behind in that if I don’t submit some looks tonight. 6:45pm - I got sucked into another R29 MD and the comments filled me with anxiety about posting my own. Decide I need to put my phone down. 7:00pm - T intercepts me to proofread his menu and social posts for a takeout pop-up. It sounds amazing and we work through some revisions together. I joke sometimes that working for him is my second job. 7:30pm - Talk to a friend about logistics for a camping/hiking trip this weekend. Then throw on workout clothes and do PT. Feel more sore and tired than usual so I decide not to do a cardio workout afterward, even though that was my intention. 8:30pm - T makes dinner for us: noodles with pork belly and pulled pork, yu choy and button mushrooms. Then T calls a friend to talk about a specialty order he needs to place while I play Covet. We watch an episode of Marcella after that and the Internet goes out again. He works on a prep list and I go back to Covet. 10:45pm - Feed our cat second dinner, do my nighttime routine and get into bed. I’m so tired. Read in bed and lights off by 11:30. Can’t fall asleep though because my back pain is really flaring up for some reason. Get up to take ibuprofen, and then I finally fall asleep at 12:30. Wednesday - $14.75 7:45am - I’ve been awake for I’m not sure how long while attempting to keep sleeping but I’m giving up now. My back is in serious pain. I'm so tired that I indulge in lots of Reddit browsing and Covet playing. 9:30am - Finally get up after making the mistake of reading news coverage of the debates last night. My sleep tracker says I got a little over 4h of real sleep. These days are much rarer than they used to be, but sometimes my back really just acts up and I don’t always know why. Also it is extremely windy this morning and I realize we left the windows open... it must have poured last night because the couch is soaked. This is... not a good morning. Can I have a do-over? 10:45am - My teeth are brushed, cat is fed, couch is disassembled and drying, and I did the dishes from dinner last night, but I am dragging today. There are no work emails and I have cramps on top of the back pain. Maybe that’s why my back hurts more. Ugh, why? I realize that I have to go easy on myself today. I eat some Triscuits because my stomach is going to have to deal with coffee and painkillers this morning. 12:15pm - I feel human again after a shower. It is a hair wash day, which always feels nice, and the Ibuprofen has kicked in. T vacuumed while I was in the shower and tells me there’s a big crack causing an air leak and it’s in bad shape. Everyone tells me they swear by the Dyson Pet so we look it up: $600! I didn’t see that coming. We decide to try to make the vacuum work with duct tape for now until Back Friday sales. Make deli meat sandwiches for us, and eat while playing some Covet. 1:00pm - Time to do work! T also goes out to get some work done. 2:30pm - T is home. I got a letter from my health insurance company that 10% of May’s premium will be refunded to me in the form of a check as part of COVID-19 premium forgiveness. I’ll take it. 3:30pm - Clock out. Today feels like I’ve mostly been herding cats. But I checked off a ton of little things on my to-do list so that’s a win. Log into Trade Coffee and my next coffee is supposed to be roasted this week and shipped next week. I decide to order a bag of coffee beans for immediate shipping. - $14.75 3:45pm - Time to get myself paid (AKA last day of the month). Log into QuickBooks and get my invoices in order and ready to send tomorrow. Put on Spotify for motivation. I’m feeling peckish and grab a few pieces of chocolate butter almond toffee. 4:50pm - Carrier arrives to check our internet. Invoices are almost ready to go but I take a break because the internet will be going in and out. Chat with friends about logistics for this weekend - looks like it’s going to rain so we may scrap the camping plan and make a day trip out of the hike. 5:30pm - Get a call back from a mortgage lender that is willing to have a conversation with us. They are not nearly as concerned about our self employment as other lenders were. We spend an hour on the phone. I feel encouraged and hopeful that maybe this can actually happen. I have a message from another lender asking if we can set up time to talk too. T and I spend a little time looking at houses. I don’t want to get too excited yet, but we’re feeling a bit better. 7:00pm - Catch up on some local news and text a bit with my friend. She just adopted a kitten and is finding super cute stuff for her online. 7:30pm - Do PT. No workout tonight. Then take our dog for a walk. T makes dinner. 9:00pm - Eat dinner: rice stir fry with brisket, yu choy, mushrooms, and corn. Watch an episode of Marcella. It’s getting better but we make fun of the characters a bit. 10:00pm - Do my nighttime routine and feed our cat second dinner. I’m not messing around tonight and take a sleep aid. Get into bed, read a bit, and am asleep by 11. Thursday - $3211.13 7:45am - Alarm, snooze. 8:00am - Alarm again. Keep my eyes open this time. I slept through the whole night, which is an amazing relief. And I have no back pain! Check on Covet and then work email. My COVID test was negative, yay! Text a friend to wish her happy birthday. 8:15am - Out of bed, and do the morning routine. No hair wash day. 9:00am - Client meeting. Nothing noteworthy. 10:15am - Clock out. Tidy the kitchen, then proofread my invoices for services provided in September (totaling $24,594) and hit send. T comes back from his walk with our dog and noticed he’s limping. We shelled out $1200 earlier this year for a limp that ended up going away on its own with no explanation, so we're a bit concerned. We still have some of the anti-inflammatories for him though, so we give him that. I will be getting pet insurance for our next pets. 11:00am - Back to work. Nothing noteworthy. I make deli meat sandwiches for T and me while he is on a Zoom with a property developer that is presenting an opportunity to open a restaurant in 2022. 2:00pm - Take a break from work; T wants to talk about the restaurant opportunity. There’s a lot I can advise him on in business, but the restaurant industry has a lot of specialty knowledge too. Owning his own place is the end goal for T, and we also talk about how this factors in with our other goals too. I am extremely supportive of him making his own decision about whether this is the right opportunity for him. He goes back to the dining table to contact some friends and advisors, and I go back into the office/second bedroom. 3:45pm - Dragging a little. It’s a fairly quiet day for all of my clients, which is great because I can tackle projects that need more free space to think and be creative, but on the other hand, I start to lose focus if it’s too quiet for too long. Get up to stretch my legs and get a Polar seltzer. Turn on Spotify. Open the office windows. And then jump back into work. 4:30pm - Mechanic called and my car is ready. He forgot to add the alignment to the quote, and then with the addition of tax, the total damage is $3105.13 (in short, four new brakes, new struts, new bushings, one new bearing, and a new oil pan because yay salty-rusty-fun winter roads). I immediately apply an overpayment from my savings to my credit card at home. - $3105.13 5:30pm - I have every intention of doing PT but while on the way to change into workout clothes, T stops to ask me a question relating to the restaurant opportunity. We end up talking through investment scenarios, hiring strategies, and more, and suddenly an hour has passed. Oops. 6:30pm - Wash my face and put on some makeup. T and I leave to meet a friend and her SO for her birthday dinner. I expected we’d be outside, but we’re not. I don’t love sitting inside in a restaurant during the pandemic, however, I am very grateful to spend time with friends. We drop a small fortune but the steaks are amazing. We split checks between couples to pay. The bill for T and me is $212, and I will pay half. - $106 11:00pm - Back home finally. I feed the cat and do my nighttime routine while T walks the dog. He is still in pain. I take him to bed with me and try to be his comfort buddy the way he does for me when I feel crappy. I read and am asleep by 12:30. Friday - $3.50 7:45am - Alarm, snooze. 8:00am - Alarm and wake up. Check Covet, news, weather and email. My group chat with some close friends blows up and many memes are exchanged. 8:30am - Get up later than I should have. Do my morning routine at warp speed. Glad it’s not a hair wash day. I can’t be bothered with it, so I put it up in a sock bun. 9:00am - Zoom meeting with a client. One of them is a hiker and has a background photo from a trip he took last weekend in the area I’m going tomorrow. It’s gorgeous. I get really excited, which is the energy I need to make up for what’ll probably be a 4:30am wakeup tomorrow morning. My meeting ends 15 minutes early and I use this time to place an RTR order - I could’ve done this yesterday and received the delivery today but I completely forgot. I order a cute I’m-not-ready-for-summer-to-end cropped floral top and a structured plaid peplum top that’s more professional. 10:00am - Pack my bag and head to my client’s office for an issue that has been confounding me all week. Find on-street parking to save my client some money and put the max time (2h) on the business credit card. Set an alarm so I can move my car into the garage if I need to go over. - $3.50 12:45pm - Leave my client just as I get a notification about my parking expiring. The issue is still not resolved. I’m going to have to come back next week again. Run home for my next round of back-to-back meetings. 1:00pm - Make it to my desk and on the Zoom meeting exactly on time and earlier than the client I’m meeting with. Success! Go straight into two more meetings after that. Between meetings, I am super hungry and can’t resist eating a handful of potato chips and two sugar cookies that came with the take-home BBQ lunch earlier this week. 3:00pm - Come up for air. Make a sandwich so I can eat some real food. Read documentation while I’m eating so I stay clocked in. Around 4pm, I switch to updating my project trackers and send out some week end updates to stakeholders. I have one last task I need to do before Monday but I don’t have any more time so I leave about an hour of work for Sunday. The week was really light anyway due to some of my mental health time, and I’ve only logged 32h of billable work. With the projects that are going to ramp up this month, I will likely work overtime in the coming weeks so I am not worried about this week. 5:15pm - Clock out. Quickly change into exercise clothes and get my PT in. 6:15pm - Feed our cat first dinner and then go to my friend’s for dinner and hiking planning. T stays at home to do some work. My friend is cooking and using vegetables from her garden so I bring a bottle of wine we’ve had at home forever and a quarter of the cake from our other friend and she makes spaghetti squash, turkey tomato sauce, and roasted squash seeds. We eat while making sure we're all set for tomorrow. 9:30pm - Home, feed our cat second dinner. Walk through the plan for tomorrow with T and pack. 10:30pm - Nighttime routine. Take some ibuprofen proactively. Read until my eyes are heavy and I am asleep by 11:30pm. Saturday - $41.03 4:30am - Alarm. Question my sanity. Do my morning routine with no hair wash. Make coffee and sandwiches to go. Do some stretches and get the pets set up to be on their own for a while. 6:00am - Arrive at my friend’s house. Eat some fresh baked bread, peanut butter, and banana with them. Pack up the car and hit the road. 8:00am - Stop at a convenience store to pick up snacks: mixed nuts, bananas, peanut butter crackers and protein bars. We also get two more liters of water. We are already hungry and decide to each get an egg and sausage sandwich too. The total is $20.66 and I’ll pay half of it. - $10.33 8:30am - Arrive at the trailhead and find free parking. Triple-check our equipment and supplies, and then hit the trail. 12:00pm - Reach the summit. We’re mostly fogged in and it’s cold and rainy. Add a few more layers and a rain jacket. Find a rock to post up on and eat our sandwiches, bananas, and mixed nuts. By the time we finish eating, the wind picked up but that caused the fog to clear out a bit. We were rewarded with gorgeous red, orange and yellow views of the valley. It’s getting really cold though, and we decide it’s time to head back by 12:45. 3:30pm - Arrive at the car. Eat a protein bar. On the trek back, we all openly fantasized about having ice cold beers. As soon as we get on the road and have service again, we find a brewery that’s on the way home. 5:00pm - After one brewery is full for outdoor seating, we find another one with a table outside. I have a beer flight and T has a beer, and we split pretzel rolls, a sausage, and a chicken salad. We put my friend and her spouse’s food on the same check; I put the whole thing on the joint card and offer to cover tip so we can compensate them for gas and driving. The total check is $87 and we leave an $18 tip; after my friend Venmo’s us for their half of the bill before tip, $61.40 is the remaining and I will transfer half to D. - $30.70 8:00pm - We safely make it back to our friends’ home and grab my car, and a quick 10 mins later, we arrive home. D walks our dog and I feed our cat. My coffee arrived today (just in time because I finished the DD coffee this morning too) and my RTR bag came, which is unusual - They usually don’t deliver on Saturdays but I’m not complaining! T showers and then I shower. It’s the best shower I’ve ever had. I really want to wash my hair but don’t want to wait for my hair to dry (and don’t want to sleep with it wet either!) so just put it up in a bun to hold it over until tomorrow. 9:00pm - D makes tea for us and I grab Ibuprofen and ice packs. My knee is in some serious pain but luckily I have a video meeting with my physical therapist on Monday. I was a little over-ambitious giving the green light to this trail... We watch an episode of Marcella. 10:00pm - I do my nighttime routine and go to bed. I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Week's expenses: Food + Drink: $235.05 Fun / Entertainment: $41.03 Home + Health: $61.63 Clothes + Beauty: $0 Transport: $3,108.53 Business: $12.50 Reimbursable: $19.50 Reflection: Outside of the car repairs, this week is fairly typical overall. Two expensive dining out meals in one week is rare for us since the pandemic, but we've been doing takeout at least once a week, and going out ended up replacing that. Otherwise, T is really quite good at cooking cheaply at home, and this is an area of significant savings since the pandemic. I also tend to curtail my internet shopping a lot, so the lack of unplanned purchases this week is also not unusual. I often wait a week or two after I've had a thought that I want something to make sure it's a need and not just a want. I probably go a bit overboard with this and sometimes put off needs because any purchase could make me feel anxious about spending money. A goal of mine going into this was to confront my relationship with money, and I feel I've accomplished that this week. It's a work in progress. I admit I sometimes avoid looking at my account out of fear for what I'll find (which again, is really quite nonsensical). I never find bad news, but I think I get somewhat scared I'll let my spending get out of control, or that something terrible will happen and I'll be right back where I started. But reflecting on this... I think I'm doing pretty well with good financial habits and making progress on what has really been a rocky financial past. And that perhaps a lot of my fears are negative self-talk, or potentially even traumas from my past that I should probably discuss with a therapist. This is something I would like to focus on, and if anyone has felt similarly before, I am open to feedback! Thanks for reading!
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