Thursday, March 31, 2011

Goal-y time at the Orchid House - Round 2 targets (heh. cool. I've got some!)

Good Evening, computer friends! How does our pale greyish brownish tannish spring find you? Or, have you been found by a Different spring than our Twin Cities variety? Anyone out there spotting fresh blades of grass? Pale peridot tree-buds? Crocus?  Hmmm.  Well, worth a try.  Tonight is the night - if something pretty happened outside in your neck of the woods, feel free to comment and brag about it here, because I'd give someone's a gimpy foot to hear about SOMEONE having a pretty season. (Oops - hang on a sec. Last night we had a baby pink/baby blue sunset. That Almost offsets the, erm, rabbit leavings that are dotting the beige grass in the yard!)

Having been thrashed REPEATEDLY by my goals last round of ROW 80, I'm trying to wise up a bit setting goals for round 2.  (For those of you who missed it - A Round of Words in 80 Days is a writing challenge - you set your goals, and blog/post progress 2x weekly to stay accountable.  Others on the challenge cheer you on and you boost them up and it's all pretty damned nifty. Click badge at right to visit the homepage ;-).  So, hmm. what are these goals? Gladja asked.

#1. Don't exclude poetry.  Edit - even partially - one poem/week, or come up with a new one if I'm too sick of editing.  I've written either 12 or 13 poems this year and most of them need the mighty 'de-crapify' button. Sending them off to crit partners only counts if I revise something that same week.

#2. Continue the Work In Progress (hereafter = the WIP, a.k.a. the evil un-named short novella or long story). Now that I understand some writing time is mulling, pacing, grumping, drawing a blank, researching, I get that tracking word count just won't help me. Effort will. I've learned that yes, sometimes, I really do need large blocks of time.  But my head will still be here when I turn off the computer (sometimes it does it's Best work when I'm not using it!) So, my best effort will come if I just pick a time slot and stick to it. 30 minutes.  It won't be the WIP every day.  Some days it might be poetry, some days it may be research, and some days it will be fretting, mulling, and writing complete crap, but, I'll show up and I'll do it. Even editing someone else's work counts here, folks, I'm still beyond thrilled about what I've learned while beta-reading.  That is Totally writing work!

#3. I'm kind of liking the idea of self publishing, so part of the 30 minutes might start turning into educating myself on that aspect, once most of the poetry is solid. However, ROW 80 is a writing challenge, and I may have to turn education into a whole different time slot.  Given that the story has so far to go, I'm thinking this should come into play further down the road. Carts before horses, and all that....

#4. Save one weekend day as a writing-free zone unless it happens in the a.m., before the family wakes. Otherwise, I won't have much fun to feed my week, and it's massively unfair to them to boot.

Besides, eventually, it's going to be gorgeous out there.....someday. I'd hate to miss it.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Day to Learn New Things....

I've been honored, these last few days, by folks who sent me pieces to review - either for feedback, or just to share what is on their mind. This has taught me a few unexpected things about myself, for which I'm nothing but grateful.

A day or two ago, I mentioned having a talented poet read my Winter poem, her name is Sue Crouse.  She's in a Fellowship program at the Loft (a pretty prestigious writing organization and resource in Minneapolis).  Happily, she shared with me two of her recent poems.  Wow and wow.

Typically, I would have shied away from work like hers. I know she is working through a devastating loss in her life, yet as poignant as her work was, the brilliance of her poems, and the silver lining they offered was far more uplifting than I could have guessed.  It is hard to work through grief and honor it gracefully with any art, but in Sue's hands, the grace, beauty, and love that shines through balances the truth and depth of her pain. Despite my long history of being a chicken of anything sad, sentimental, or emotionally moving, I am thrilled to pieces to have read her work. Expect me to trumpet LOUDLY if she is does readings or publishes anywhere at all :-)

I also finished comments for Claudia Lefeve, the Second beta-read I've done.  What I've learned from Claudia (and my UK crit partner Julia, yet Another Very Talented poet)  is that if I get grabbed by a story or poem, I get REALLY caught up in the review process.  Like, I had to re-word a comment (forgot to tell her this one) because I meant to say 'not sure what you should do with this...'  but what I actually Typed was 'not sure what we  should do with this....' a bit self-involved, here? :-)  There are aspects of her story that made writing look so.....easy.  The writing got transparent, and the story spoke for itself. 

And, that's the way it should be, right?

Anyway, as I get back to sorting out a decent writing rhythm, i surely do hope to practice what I'm lucky to learn from fellow writers.

May we all have pleasant revelations this week!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Submissions: Fi-lay Oh Fish-Two, Me- Zip. Me + Muse= Win! (er, I hope!)

Hello again!

I've been battling a few things lately - terrible tummy aches and an escape-artist muse.

Tonight, I've had it with nausea and am swearing off eating fried fast food for the rest of my foreseeable life. If it's fried, it can hurt someone else's tummy.  I'm done with it. I love cooking good food, so why I sabotage two days in a row on something from mcRotten's is beyond me.  Anything that makes me, of all people, not want Good food, coffee, or wine is impinging on my quality of life and it has got to go. Today was a tiring write off and I am not happy.

So, about that muse...

My mom is good friends with a talented writer (and all-around wonderful person) named Sue Crouse.  Sue is married to an all-around wonderful person named Al Crouse.  Al and Sue thoughtfully reviewed one of the poems I did this year - Winter, Act 1.  This was at the request of my mother, who has known them for Quite a long time, and knew they wouldn't mind.  Not only did they review it thoughtfully, they took a solid chunk of time out to do so.  Then, even better, Sue sent a personal note delving into some of her background, and said we could talk poetry any time I wanted :-)

Then, of course, I DROPPED poetry for the short story and the ROW 80 challenge, and delayed...and delayed....and delayed working on her suggested edits.  Until this week.  I printed out Winter yesterday, to re-read it alongside my keyboard.  And felt too uncomfortable to do much about it. However, tonight, with the Dakota County 2011 Poetry Month contest deadline LOOMING, I attacked Winter.  I dug into all of Sue's suggestions (they were Highly reasonable, and completely on-point.)  I then researched a few ideas for other weak areas.  Then I read and re-edited about 5 times.

And, finally, submitted it.

Results will be news sometime in April - of course, I'm going to haunt my in-box to see if a confirmation has been sent.  Next I am going to switch out the laundry (told you today went slow) and, then, I am going to sit down again.

And write a very nice thank-you note to Sue.

(later this week, an update on my second foray into being a Beta Reader, this time for the lovely and talented and exceedingly nice Claudia Lefeve.)


Do yourself a favor and stay the hell away from old scarecrows, shifty cats, and tummy aches.


Vanity,,,,the lunch box.....the brain. An A.M. ramble....

ok, folks, it's an earlier-than-usual post, so I've not had time to think all this out.

I'm probably about as vain as the next girl.....unless she is Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, or any other socialite/law-breaker/female who needs to be in the public eye.  I'm almost old enough to be their mother, which probably helps.  Closer to home, lets see.....nope.  I have one or two, maybe three neighbor ladies around my age, and every danged one of them steps out of the house looking more pulled together than I do.  I'm not calling them vain, by the way - they just happen to have a healthy dose of pride in not stepping out looking like a Hot Mess! Props, says I.

I don't seem to have that awareness.  When I want to look like, well, someone who doesn't look like I Normally do, I can pull it off, but I'm always horrified how much I've forgotten about the do, do-nots, of makeup. I'm not kidding, if there is a local event that I ever have to attend more formal than school conferences or Church, I may hire a makeup artist!  If I feel like the budget needs a break, I do not schedule hair appts - disclosure, at age 41 I'm about 80 FREAKING PERCENT GRAY. And let's not talk about body awareness. Because I've just become aware of something I do not like.

I have about 3 areas of vanity I Am aware of. #3 My mostly wrinkle-free skin.  #2 My creativity.  #1 My gorgeous family. Funny, because I can take credit for none of them. Skin tone and wrinkles are driven by heredity, as is at least half of the way we think.  I chose a pretty handsome husband, but that's all the credit I can take for my kids.  Silly, huh? However.

My daughter, aged 3, took a picture of me in the early morning one day.  My hair was not tidied, I was still puffy around the eyes, and she went in for the close up.  I was leaning my head on my left hand, so I just shut my eyes. The picture was...bad! Really Bad!

My hands and wrists are always thin, but from the angle she took it, the left ones looked skeletal.  Motherhood has sallowed my skin - but I didn't know I had a brownish-yellow patch by my right eye! My skin had no wrinkles, but it looked slack, like the muscles were Gone.  To sum up, I looked malnourished. (Disclosure - I'm about 10 lbs thinner than when I got married almost 8 years ago, and about the same weight as when I got pregnant with my second child. My metabolism is fairly high, so I've never had eating disorders or dieted.  A medium cardigan from H&M is too tight on my arms (which are toned) and a little tight at the hips (which are NOT). My pants are 4's as I'm only 5'2".)

My husband and I have some concern about our diets - and my current inability to comfortably process fast food, so we shopped at Whole Foods on Saturday. We're replacing white-flour foods with whole wheat, and for frozen foods, we are going with organic.  We'll have to get organic produce and meat products locally at Target or Rainbow, or the college funds for the babies will be blown by next Tuesday.  Since seeing the horrible pic, which I now actually wish I hadn't deleted, I'm thinking vitamin supplements are in order - hello fish oil - we meet again! This could improve my  focus, and help me better  plan meals (which I suck at), so we don't rely on Subway or pre-packaged foods as much in a pinch.

WHERE the heck am I going with all this babble??!!!

I'm aware I'm a scatterbrain sometimes.  I'm also aware that I'm criminally averse to exercise, that I love coffee more than I love breakfast, and that honestly, if I don't eat well, my vitamins make me want to throw up. I'm aware that now my life is busier again, I'm falling behind on a lot of my daily routines, so they don't get done until late at night. So, there's choices - always.

Right now, if I can start improving the quality of food allowed in the door of our home, maybe I can fix my stomach up a bit. (yes, I could talk to my dr., but she and I have a few things to discuss first - like my damned yellow complexion!!) The truth is, that picture looked like a woman who ate indifferently, did not exercise, and did not care how she looked.  Not someone to inspire her kids toward a healthy diet. Or towards taking good care of themselves.

Maybe vanity isn't so bad after all....


Thursday, March 24, 2011

This Little Piggy was a Rodeo Clown.....

....and this little piggy was wrought.
This little piggy was subservient and prone,
this little piggy was not.
And this little piggy cried
"Let this cup be passed from me"
all the way home....

(ode to hypermobile tendons and malformed feet)

(shakes head.  Crumples note up, throws toward wastebasket.  Misses completely, shakes head.
Refuses to walk to waste basket due to throbbing in aforementioned feet.  Then realizes that crummy doggerel was only noted on computer.  Briefly wonders what was thrown.  Starts again.)

"There once was a goldfinch named red
(Looks at wineglass. Curses muse.  Toasts Margaret Mitchell for the famous...."Tomorrow Is Another Day")

Spring (disgusting or not!) Fever may! ROW 80 Too!

Wow.  I sure wish I could say I managed to squirrel away to SXSW, or had a quiet artistic retreat, or went on a family get away. 

I REALLY wish I could say I quietly lowered my nose to the grindstone and whipped everything and everyone of my literary concerns into shape, the horrid short, the Winter works, the grim apocalyptic tornado poem.

Since I can't say any of those things, I'll tell you what's REALLY been going on in the Orchid House.

1. Spent an UNGODLY amount of time laughing at this "All Hockey Hair Team, compiled from the MN State H.S. tournaments"...EPIC! ..and G rated, don't worry :-)

2. Explored the Sprawl of America with my 3 yr old.  Even bought clothes there that look like something purchased post-2008

3. I have begun to repeatedly deploy the "...and if you don't want to follow the rules, you are welcome to play in someone else's yard" threat.

4. Home, from scratch, cooking has been happening at Least 5 nights a week. Some baking has made the schedule too!

5. More housework.  Once we get THIS much sunlight, it is AMAZING how much dust you can see.

6. Massive guilt-wallowing for putting the writing on the back-burner.

Here's the deal though.

I have had housework and physical family interaction on the back burner for MONTHS while I recovered from surgery. Just guess Which variety of guilt I feel worse about!!

So, to the below PHENOMENAL fellow ROW-80'ers - thanks for all the encouragement. OF COURSE I'm signing up for Round 2.  Since I jumped into this challenge (late) I'm 2/3rds of the way through my (finally) plotted short horror story.  I wrote about 9 pages, thereby almost doubling it - most certainly doubled it if you count all the stuff I cut with my 'de-crapify' button.  I've been writing poetry for awhile, but this is my first short story, and an opportunity to participate that only came about due to my foot surgery.  I'm excited to discover that when I can shell out the time to write, I'm not a Very awful fiction writer.  Now, in the next round, I look forward to finishing more of the story, heck, maybe the whole thing! Who knows, I could even make it to the 'begin the editing' process.

What I've learned (knowing that I'm going to come in at the beginning) is that my schedule - with two young children - has to be flexible, but more consistent.  And my goals have to be tempered with realism and honesty.  Until I start trying the medication for my hypersomnism, I'm going to have days of struggle. Holidays are coming, activities for the kids are going to fire up, and life will (happily) continue to happen.  Writing will have to be my reward for keeping the rest of my life rolling.

So, hats off to ROW 80, and the below writers, from whom I have learned so much.  Thank you!!

Stop by next week for more updates - life's been getting fun ;-)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring is Sooooo.....Disgusting.

(disclaimer.  Right now the biggest problems facing any place on this planet are Japan, any place Near Japan, and Libya.  This post is frivolous, but there are a happy plethora of sites out there related to ways to raise money and support for disaster relief. And, when you get tired of reading about updates on these situations, come on back to reading about, arguably, the ugliest spring on the planet ;-)

As I child, I got incredibly ticked-off reading the bucolic descriptions of spring, written by Mainly British OR Southern US poets. Clearly these people never ONCE tackled spring on the Iron Range. And, come to that, spring further south in Lakeville is pretty damned ugly too. North Dakota (either pre-or-post flooding) is probably pretty depressing in a similar way right now. Let me describe....

Grass - either dead-trout colored, or, perhaps, dog-sick green?
Trees - which eventually will bud a delightful pale green - but in the meantime, are two shades darker than sick or trout
Sky - hmm.  Had been blue before, but it's cataract grey now.
Flowers -  In 5-6 weeks, we'll have Pasque flowers, Crocus, and stunning wild violets in undisturbed, undergrowth-unimpaired natural areas.  Considering the first day of spring is in 4 days, flowers get a fail too.
Birds - The winter blue jays finally had it - they disappeared almost two months ago.  We might get some pretty goldfinches, if the hawks don't scare them off. We've a shiny red birdhouse, so maybe we'll work at making it more attractive in position for them.  Birdfeeder is full, but all we are getting are....birds the same color as....
the grass
the trees
the mud.

I do love the fresh and no longer bitterly cold breeze - 47 f. is DELIGHTFUL.

And, we can crack the windows open a bit each day and let it in.

Right up until the farmers start fertilizing the fields.

Love spring wherever you are, and if anyone has some (ideally non-cheesy fake flower related) ways to brighten up some Very Drab Days, please leave a comment!  Surely someone out there has WAY more cruddy spring time weather than we do - and I bet you're smarter at dealing with it, too!

Happy to be neither flooded nor freezing (but slightly concerned about the soggy-dog scent in the basement)


Monday, March 14, 2011

Dams bursting, damned muses, damn amusing....and ROW 80

Well, I'm back!

After taking an extended break from blogging, poetry, revisions, short stories, and anything concretely related to writing, I feel like I'm getting back, er, in step again. Should I take a moment to apologize for the (hopefully) last feet-related puns?

Basically, what happened here at the somewhat-less-dusty orchid house is the Dr. declared my foot mostly healed. Except, er, don't do much walking yet...and how he expects a stay-at-home mom of two to Not do much walking is beyond me, but that's a digression. So, my Very Few domestic urges (vacuuming, dusting, cooking) have finally been more satisfied than they have in months. Eating better and banishing impending squalor is...pretty danged cool! I'm still falling asleep at the drop of a hat, so, um, I'm trying to keep every damned hat in this house safely in it's place.

The flip side of blossoming domesticity is the Muse is acting pissed off and ignored. Jon and I stayed up late last night,talking, folding laundry, reconnecting. All good things. He went up to brush teeth while I prepped my morning coffee, and guess who showed up in the kitchen, pouting, and dangling inspiration in front of me...

"Get back to the darkness from whence you came" was what I was thinking. What I said was, "So, How ya been? Find anything good for me lately?" (Yes, I was hoping she'd have the ickiest parts of my short story, in basically finished format, all ready for Monday, Naptime.)

"You never write, you never call..." was her response. Followed up with, "You ever wonder how it would go if a human guy married a really nice troll girl?"

I hadn't, actually, ever considered it before. 8 seconds later, the basics of a new poem are flying through my head, and I had to pause - do I do the work of memorizing it now, or do I just take notes? It's after 1, for cryin' out loud!!

Pondering this as I applied moistureizer - for the first time in weeks - I decided to take the basic notes, and write it out later. So, of course I overslept today, wrote some of the poem after lunch and sent it off to my British poetry partner, and got my daughter down for a very late nap indeed. I then spent 20 minutes on the short story - a minimum of which was spent 'de-crapifiying' dialogue, and filled out some missing ideas.

Now, there is a lot of story left, and more editing than I really want to think of. But the story makes sense again, I actually kind of missed it, and I can probably stay in my groove for a while. The ROW 80 challenge is all about making writing a routine part of your life, while assigning measurable goals. I don't think this story will be done by the end of the month, but it will be farther along than it otherwise would have been. There will be furious slicing and dicing to come, because I think I write a bit of 'filler' while I reach for 'what happens next' but as long as I get to the finish line, it will be all right in the end.

The fellow ROW-80-ers below are doing better than I am - take a peek! Who knows what you'll find!!



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Single parenting and writing Don't Mix (er, at least in the Orchid House!)

Arrggh, says I.

I had sole charge of the kids for three days. Yesterday was a full day of Jon being home, and we celebrated his birthday.

I fell asleep on the couch at 9:30 while the kids had their bedtime snacks. While putting the kids to bed, I fell asleep on their floor at 10:10. Didn't wake until my husband - putting away laundry - came in around 1.

So, today, I should be caught up on sleep. And on schedule.

J.K. Rowling, you probably endured a mother-load of mommy guilt while writing your books. Kudo's all around.

ROW 80, I'll get back to you later tonight :-)

Winter poems, back to you soon - there's a submission for a contest I need to enter by month end!

Share the love with other challengers. I bet THEY got something done this week! :-)


Monday, March 7, 2011

a dry spell, over here....;-)

I'm here, I'm alive. I'm busy, but that's a good problem to have. I just can't....type.

I'm on full time Plus parent duty until tomorrow night (when Jon gets back from a work trip), I have birthday stuff to plot and plan for my husband, and of course, my angelic children have morphed into normal children with normal needs who Miss their daddy so BOY I am tired!

So there. All I've done writing-wise/artwise since Friday is....find a poetry contest. It's not hard, the library is 2 blocks away. I've chosen 2 poems to enter -(whenever i finish editing the blasted things!) the Turkey poem, and Winter, Act 1.
Probably. I just don't think anything else is yet close to being as good, or as polished. So there's that.

Karate tonight, need to clean children, and keep the juggling going in various areas of the homefront.

This is boring reading for you, but it goes a little way into explaining my lack of....well, me!

Carry on, there's links below to the right more interesting than me today. I'll whip up a doozy of a post later this week. Right now though, moment to moment life is the priority. And that's never a bad thing.

Take care out there, stay out of any storms.....;-)


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Check in at Orchid house...slogging, yet again :-)

Oh golly, about 5 inches of snow have melted here in the last week, so it practically feels like spring! Sure, there's still 3 and half feet of snow on my deck....but at least it's not four anymore!

I haven't been thinking of the story much, so just for the purposes of discipline, I made myself put off vacuuming to do some writing over my daughter's nap ;-)   435 words, and my goal for Sunday is 1100.  If I can command two more sessions in the meantime, I will be there. Or, pretty close ;-)

I've been doing more writing than thinking about the plot developments, so I know there's a painful hour of 'how did this get here? When did she go there?  What about ol' so and so?" to go through - just to ensure the plot gets back on track. I've been working hard at getting back into my daily routines, so time escapes me before I even notice.  It's good, and  will help me keep carving out keyboard time, but I concede that today's session was quite a large effort.

Still, I'm grateful to have these problems (isn't there a great saying out there? something like if your whole neighborhood got out, and dropped their problems in a stack for a swap, that once you've seen everyone else's, you'd pay money to get your own problems back?) and after all, the ROW IS a Challenge, for a reason!

That's it, that's all, back to your normally scheduled reading.  Drop a shout out to the talents in the blog hop below - they are working very, very hard :-)


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Each step costs you....something

I began this post earlier, tonight, musing about ideas that have floated around the past week.  Walking is a blessing (no crutches in Weeks now - whee!), save when I do it wrong.  Doing it too much is not the same thing at all as doing it wrong, by the way. 

Anyway, I started the post and then my daughter needed me - heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho, off to the kids I go.

And, now I'm back and I'm not sure the thoughts are where I left them, but I'll do the best I can.

Back in the late 90's, I listened to Belly (A Lot) and I loved the one (title escaping as usual) with the phrase "there's a lady who walks every where/on her hands/she don't trust/where her feet want to take her".

In my mind, that's a lady who knew the cost of a miss-step, one way or another.

If you are young, and basically physically healthy, a step costs you little that you know of. Practically no thought, simply the assumption that a ride would be better or faster, but in the meantime, the big guy gave us feet and off we go.  If you are female, you occasionally wince that you didn't plan for walking far in certain shoes, but that's about it.

I remember the first time I truly worried I'd frozen my feet.

Shortly after my brother passed, in a winter all agree was heiniously, heinously cold, I'd come home from work, on my usual bus, and had had to wait, standing, outside, a lot longer than usual.  I recall I'd to stand on the bus for some time, because another had broken down and we picked up the other riders, standing room only.  My shoes weren't terribly un-sensible, but with feet swollen from the day, not to mention weather well below freezing, they were hurting terribly when I got home. So, down to my room, my shower, I go.  Remembering the water couldn't be too hot, and checking with my fingers, because I could not feel anything from my toes.  I bathed the poor, dark purple bastards in lukewarm water for over an hour before, whimpering, I changed clothes, made some tea, and gave up the night for the next morning.

I'm fairly sure I had Sorrel's on the next day.

Cold toes is one problem.  What I'm thinking of is the step we far.  One more step, and you'd have seen her kiss your boyfriend.  One slower step and you'd see him push her away.  One step on thin ice - the sheet cracks, and you return to shore.  One careless step and a child falls through. One step wrong and the lego piece you step on injures you - you turn the ankle while managing to fall hard, and actually break it.  While the cat jumps free to safety.  One guess who knocked the lego piece there to begin with!

Each step gives you what you do, or do not, know - walking is the slowest time travel ever invented.

If you saw "Beyond Borders" (as I recall, very few did) the movie ends with Jolie's character accidentally triggering a land mine, in the snow.  She was trying to rescue or free her former lover - a doctor, from a snow-filled war zone, and she stepped wrong.  If she stepped off, the blast (presumably) would have injured more - she stayed put and waved them away - made them step back.  She lost, so they would not (assuming they didn't trample over every next landmine on the way out!)

My maternal grandfather, Iggy, was raised by a moonshiner with a horrid temper, no lack of physical strength, and an ego that could not be contested.  As such things go, Iggy's father had a smart wife with a miss-shapen nose, and a son who learned something about watching and waiting  Eventually, Iggy fathered 9 children with my grandma Anne - quite a sharp cookie herself.  When my grandparents had something to say, I always figured they'd been and seen enough, and plenty, so I thought it well to listen to them.  My mom relayed one of Iggy's thoughts on medicine.  He was cautious about surgery - he once told my mother that each time they put you under, you lose something.  Something will not be the same as it was - of course, you are always changed by surgery - that's the point - but something else will be taken away.

In my quest to have my feet 'fixed' (like 6 relatives on my mom's side, including my mother), I've had to be put under twice now.  I agree that something goes missing - my mind simply isn't the same.  If one glass of beer or wine can kill brain cells, I shudder to think what died during the anesthesia, for the total four hours of surgery I went through this year.  Growing up, I had a near-photographic memory.  Now I can barely type the word 'photographic' on the first try!

I did this for my future, so that I can walk farther, with a straight back when I am old.  There are steps I refuse to Not take, with my children, perhaps even their children. I feel it is always better to know, and sometimes knowledge is only gained one, pain-filled, step at a time.

Is it always good to know what you've paid?

Or, does it only matter if you know...exactly what you have left?