Friday, January 04, 2008

Take Two

I'm cranky. I've been living out of tightly packed suitcases for a week, my mail started forwarding last Friday so my bills are all over the place, both my netflix got lost, and UPS has been apparently been trying to deliver a signature-required pkg to my house all week (if that's from you, please call me). I have to spend another weekend night trapped inside re-packing all these clothes and kitchen supplies I had the nerve to use all week, and I'm having way too good a hair day to spend it inside. But, I'm finally moving tomorrow. I'm not even nervous anymore. If the toilets don't work, well fuck it, I'll just hold it until Wonderland opens. That reminds me...I'm out of Jack.

Well, anyway. Many, many years ago, when I worked in politics, and before this conversation was in any way relevant, I had a running bet with my friends about who would be come president first: a black man or a woman. I better dig through my boxes for my address book, because it looks like a few of those folks are getting a little closer to paying up soon.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A little uninspiried freeverse on a cold evening not watching the Iowa caucuses because they're really boring

My house is littered in boxes and bags
It took me three days to find my pajama pants
One of the bags
After sitting silently since Sunday
Just fell over by itself
Scared the living daylights out of me

The plumber wants four hundred big ones
To reinstall my toilets
It was my fault in the first place
I downloaded a diagram from the Internets
I should be fine

For the first time ever
I nodded in agreement with a DCist commenter
Right around mid-November
I pray for January
The holidays are finally over
Praise baby jesus

The holiday weight gain is less concerning
Than the fact someone seemed to make a list
Of every sweet I would never, ever crave
Bland sugar cookies
Peppermint flavored whatever
And insisted the world throw two months of parties featuring them all

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Who messed with my Law & Order?

Wtf is this all about? Freaking Billy Chenowith is Detective Green's second now? Earl?? Damn. I mean, I love Jeremy Sisto, but only in that demented, you're-a-super-freak and freakishly hot kinda way. I guess he's more the 2008 reincarnation of Benjamin Bratt and not so much Dennis Farrina. Sigh. I still miss Lennie.

And I've only just started watching the episode, but I'm going to lose my shit if Jack McCoy has been shuffled up to the non-glorious shoes of Fred Thompson while some new guy demands "Were you lying then or are you lying now!!" No, it's not a question. How am I gonna get through an entire episode without yearning to get my broker on the line?

I've watched twenty episodes of reruns in the past week, and this is jolting my whole world around. I need to go sit down.

Update: Oh okay. So I don't even have regular actor retirement to blame for this -- I'd wonder when Jack got elected without ever even seeing it on a commercial once -- but, no, it's fucking Indecision '08. Argg Republicans. To be fair, they finally got the winning formula super hottness and believable brains in Alana de la Garza, and it only took about 17 seasons. Ten times better than Det. Lockley anyway, most well known for horrifically delivered lines and the infamous "Lesbians? Who was talking about lesbians?" episode. Oh, haha. Jack made fun of Linus' "gadget." Stoopid lawyers and their blackberries.

Check out this hot Cassini action:

This is a severely awesome photograph by the spacecraft Cassini as it passed into Saturn's shadow, highlighting the rings like we've never seen. (Click through to see the large version; this is the second photograph down.) To add a little perspective, our tiny pale blue dot can be seen at about ten o'clock. Awesome. (Via Slashdot)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Personal Finance Goals for 2008

Oh yes, the resolution post. You all know I'm becoming very focused on my finances, reading new helpful blogs and watching my pennies. So in thinking about my goals for this year, I realized that all of them, even indirectly, focus on getting a hold of my finances, both in paying off debts and finally starting to save something. I think I've done pretty well with the cold turkey "stop buying so much shit" rule, but it's been tough in the past few months to say I'm going to save some certain amount each week, because my finances have been totally thrown out of whack by the house. I've not only had to charge approximately $13,000 worth of house renovations because I only got half my construction loan up front, but I had to charge a good deal more for things not covered by the loan (insulation in the attic, new backdoor, new window, multiple hundred dollar trips to home depot for supplies, et cetera).

I have three things to look forward to between now and March:
1) The second half of my loan.
2) My annual bonus.
3) My tax refund, including my First-Time Homebuyers credit.

Once I get all three, I should only be left with a fairly managable amount on my credit cards -- a far cry from where I was even a year ago, due to snowballed expenses during law school. So, here are my goals. Yes, I'm going to continue to blog about getting my finances together, because writing it down helps, and because I've found other blogs to be a huge source of motivation for me. If anyone feels like jumping on my bandwagon, please chime in; the more the merrier.

1) Pay off my credit cards by December 31, 2008. I'll be able to quantify this better once those three big checks come in and I know what I'm left with, but I'll probably do this in the Debt Snowball method: Pick the card with the smallest balance and pay as much as I can until it's paid off, paying only the minimums on the others, then move to the next biggest. I have 4 credit cards. When they're all paid off, I'll cut up 2 or 3, keeping my oldest card because it helps my credit score and for house emergencies.

2) Save $1200 ($100 a month) in a high-interest online savings account for an emergency fund.

3) Teach myself how to cook interesting meals. I'd like to save money by not eating out all the time, but not suffer through years of bowls of pasta and grilled cheese sandwiches.

4) In the spring, plant a large garden with lots of yummy vegetables, to save myself some produce money. Remember to plant autumnal veggies -- yams, squash, etc. -- before it gets too late in the summer. Also, great exercise!

5) Learn some basic electrical/plumbing/woodworking skills that will allow me to save money on repairmen and home improvements.

6) Study bookkeeping, a skill I'd like to turn into a business one day (one that will allow me to do freelance writing and photography and still be able to pay my bills). I'd like to learn enough to start taking clients by the end of the year, but I'll have to reassess this practically in six months.

7) Rent out my parking space.

8) Consider taking sublettors occasionally to supplement home improvement fund.

9) Once my finances become settled in a few months I'll implement the Pay Yourself program -- put my entire check into a high-interest savings account, then pay out to bills and other savings funds, then choose a specific amount each pay period to pay into my checking account. That's my play money with which I can do whatever I want.

It's going to be a little tough to focus on these for the next few months, unfortunately, since I'm awaiting those three big checks and still paying off some random contractor invoices (and now I've gotta get that plumber). So until then I just need to keep being frugal, and I've done a few things that should help -- canceled my cable ($53/month...though I'll bump up my netflix from $12 to $17/month) and switched to comcast cable internet ($53 down to $33/month).

It would be great if I could be setting up in my new house right now, getting my act together, but much like in getting your finances together after years of screwing off, one has to expect some set-backs. I should be moving officially next Saturday and can finally get out of this holding pattern in my apartment with all my shit in bags and boxes. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

So. Funny story.

This morning we started bright and early. Earlier this week I was worried I only had one guy coming over to help, which would have just taken forever, so I canvassed the population and ended up with one, then two, then four more guys to come help! Even poor fractured rib Nick, who was going to watch the truck lest the cops hassle me like last week. So I figured hey, at least we'll get it done lightning fast.

Everyone arrives and we get to disassembling a few things and fill up the first load. We piled in the truck, carrying some of my day laborers in the truckbed, and get to the house. I open the door and walk in and think....boy, those white paint sheets I put down to protect my floor sure seem transparent.

Remember when I said, "The water is on!"? Remember when I said, "I bet I haven't even found half of the problems with this house yet"? Remember when I said, "Installing toilets is totally easy, I'm not paying a plumber to do it"?

Oh, like you didn't know this was going to happen.

Right. Due partly to my inexperience and even more so to the idiot former owner's tiling techniques, the toilet had a leak between the tank and the bowl. When I turned on the water Friday it dripped, dripped, dripped down to the bathroom floor, down through the first floor ceiling, ruining the sheetrock, and dripped, dripped, dripped down to my brand new floors, seeping across the room through the paper sheets I put down, and trapping it against my new white oak floors. Sigh.

I have to thank my good friends, who hauled my couch back to the apartment and then went to home depot with me to pick up a shop-vac and tarps, and back to the house to suck up all the water. I salvaged what I could from the stuff I brought over last week that all sat in the water for two days, though luckily I only lost a few non-important books and some office supplies. Thank god I put all my old dusty books in plastic bags.

I called my flooring guys for advice, and they said we were doing the right thing with the shop-vac, and to keep the heat on so it's at least room temperature inside, because the cold will totally ruin the wood. They'll plump up and get ugly for awhile, but then 90% of it will go back to normal in about two months. That's going to be a fun couple of heating bills.

In all, I think I'm handling this pretty well, which I only mention because I think my friends kept waiting for me to totally lose it. Q kept patting me on the shoulder and giving me the "are you sure you're okay" look, like he thought I was going to burst out crying. First of all, I'm not a cryer, and second, I'm so past the point of getting riled up about this stuff. It's just another obstacle, and above all else, I'm actually most annoyed about having to wait another week to move in, and that I dragged all these poor guys here this morning, only to do it all again next week. Plus all my shit is packed up, so I think I was actually even more annoyed about spending 30 minutes finding clothes after my shower and another 30 to re-hook up my archaic tv/vcr/cd/cablebox/rf modulator system so I'd have something to do for the next week.

Man, I hope I didn't really fuck up those floors.

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