Sunday, July 31, 2011

Budget Babe

Chuck made tea this morning and tossed the Sunday paper down on the bed.  The picture above pretty much sums up my morning.  It has been many years since I have spent the morning in such a decadent fashion. In my previous life, I would be popping up and doing a chore of some sort.  When I shared that with Chuck, he merely raised his eyebrows a little and said something about shifting my frame of reference a bit.

We also had some fun trying out his "new" acquisitions on my behalf:  a dining table (found by the side of the road) and clothes dryer.   

While lounging, I did a fair bit of reading about deficit spending and the debt ceiling; this made me chuckle when I crunched my personal numbers tonight.  Here we are at the end of my first month on a budget. And how did I do?

Drum roll.....

Not that great.

I spent more than I earned by about $400.  However, all is not lost.  Here is the rundown.

1.  Rent is a fixed cost.  No surprises there. ($860)
2.  Child support.  Fixed cost. ($180)
3.  Phone.  Oh, shit!  I ran over by about $28.  This is because I'm getting used to not having a land-line. I knew I was in trouble and have already started working on getting it under control:  paying more attention to my minutes and texts, so I don't go over; letting many calls go to voice mail, so I can call certain people back at night or on the weekends. It should be $57 and I paid $84.  Even $57 sounds like a lot to me...
4. Electricity.  I came in a little under my budget. Now that I have a drier, I have to play it cool. I need a dryng rack, so that during the summer I just use the drier for towels and emergencies.
5.  Gas.  Also a little under budget.
6.  Water.  A little over budget. 
7.  FOOD!!!!!  OK, this was crazy.  I budgeted $400 and spent $606!!!
8.  Gasoline.  I came in slightly under!  I budgeted $350, and was under by about...$25.  Not bad!  I was sure I would overrun.
9.  Kids' clothes.  I had a line item for this, but the kids didn't need clothes this month.  They will next month, though...
10.  Internet, newspaper...  Both were more expensive this month because there were initial start-up costs; or I had to pay for several months in advance.  Those costs will be lower next month.
11.  Car insurance.  This sucked:  about $350.  But I don't have to pay it again for 6 months.
12.  Hair.  It was an expensive month, because I did color.  I won't do color again for a few months, so the next couple times I get mye hair done, it will be cheaper.

And... stuff came up:  I had to pay for the Utah mandatory divorce class.  My laptop croaked and needed to be repaired to the tune of $160.  I had to pay the bill for my dentist and my therapist.  I thought I would never go in for counseling again, because of the cost.  Then I remembered that I have a cafeteria plan and that money to pay for health-related stuff is waiting for me in my benefits account.  Oh, yeah!

Next month's challenge:  Can Kate shave $400 off her expenses? 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Embarrass

There's a town in Wisconsin called "Embarrass".  I think there's one in Oregon as well.  This is an old fashioned way of describing a log-jam.  A blockage.  An obstruction.  An "embarrass".

I have had Internet for a few weeks, now.  And almost the identical moment that I got the CAPABILITY to write, I lost the fucking inspiration!  What's with that, anyhow?

I have A LOT to say!  I'm a single lady living in an apartment slightly larger than a postage stamp.  I'm learning all sorts of new things.  I'm trying to navigate a new relationship for the first time in over 20 years.  There's a lot to SAY, folks.  So why do I only want to say it while I'm driving?  Or in the shower?  Not when I sit down at the computer.  I do not understand myself.

So, we're going to have to get this little problem under control.  I've just finished breaking a bunch of BAD habits - didn't mean to break a good one, for fuck's sake.

SO  we'll start small and simple.  Today will just be a list:  dumb stuff Kate did to amuse herself today

1.  Pens.  Martina got a pen from a student that, it you push the button, glows bright red and plays the entire Les Marseilles.  I was sort of jealous.  But I have a King Tut sarcophagus pen.  Don't see one of those every day!  We also have a daffodil pen, a pen that is actually a spring with a fuzzy head at one end; and a sappy Valentine heart pen.

2.  An improvised lint roller.  You know that horrible scratchy feeling you get after a haircut, when you have little tiny bits of hair all down your cleavage?  And your back and on your neck?  Yeah, well I had that problems and also had a roll of Scotch tape.

3.  Attempted taunting of Chuck with brownies.  There were three left in the pan, and I tried to make him think that I was going to take all three of them with me when I left for work this morning.  I made comments directed at the bedroom door to that effect.  This did not, unfortunately, send him rocketing  out of bed to protect his turf. He must be getting me figured out.  Booger.

4.  Waltzing with Becca. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Yes, I Find My Washer Evocative

My washer sounds the same here, swishing away, as it did at the other place.  I listened to it this afternoon and remembered that, just a short time ago, I had another life.  It was not happier; but it was sure easier.

I contemplated the "happy vs. easy" conundrum while negotiating with Simon on the phone this morning, en route back to Salt Lake from a camping trip.  No, I can't air the camping gear at the old place.  I pointed out that his driveway and garden hose would sure make scrubbing and rinsing the cooler and the dry box easier.  And that he has abundant space to hang the tent, the fly and the sleeping bags to air.


I tried, "We want to take care of the gear, right?"


I tried,  "But we're keeping the gear there anyway..."

Turns out that, as of that moment, it all became MY gear.  So I had better deal with its maintenance, and tough luck about the difficult clean-up.  I should have thought of that when I moved out into a little apartment.  Uh... yeah.  The well-being of the camping gear was paramount for me at all times.

 I guess the bright side it that, as long as it's out airing, I don't have to figure out how to put it all away.
Here's my clothesline, the other class act on my eventful little balcony.  This actually works OK, but the chairs need to be counter weighted by some of the heavier clothes laid across the seats.  Yeah, I know.  I need a drying rack.  But when not in use, where the fuck would I PUT it? 

The sudden outbreak of large camping items caused a moment of weakness.  I admit that I flopped on my belly across the bed and snuffled in my pillow.  The washer's "Foomp, foomp, foomp" reminded me of better days.  Well, not better days.  But an epoch in my life that I might someday look back on and call, "The Days of Storage".

Sunday, July 3, 2011


From "Kiss Me Kate":

I want to fool with my baby tonight/
Break every rule with my baby tonight/
But pillow, you'll be my baby tonight/
'cause it's too darn hot.

One hundred degrees in Salt Lake City today.  My ceiling fan wigs me out a little.  I understand that it is supposed to move slightly as the fan spins, but it reminds me of one of those dashboard hula girls, and I keep glancing at it because usually, when something moves around that much while it's running, BAD THINGS ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN.  The lights that are integral to the fan wiggle along with it, creating a disco effect on the walls.

It's fun to stay at the Y! M! C! A!

I worked on my budget this evening with an orange Popsicle clenched in my teeth like a stogie. This worked really well until the moment when the ice got a little too soft, shattering off the stick and dropping everywhere, getting sticky orange stuff on my hanging file folders.  I lick it off.  I am enamored of my new hanging file folders. They are multi-colored, with matching tabs.  I stick a red tab on a red folder with some satisfaction, then think to myself, "Live a little!" I put a blue tab on the next red folder.  Yeah, I know.  Don't expect too much daring-do from me:  it's too darn hot. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The View from Here

The view from here is spectacular.  I am sitting in a palatial home waaaay up on Aloha Road, which is in the upper Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake.  From here you can see the whole city spread before you.  I'm sitting cross-legged on a sofa that is actually an antique opium bed brought from Singapore.  It juxtaposes nicely with the Little Tykes mega-plastic kitchen set in the corner and the banker's boxes piled willy-nilly around the place. 

We call this the Aloha House or the Bachelor Pad.  Three single dads are living here, sometimes with kids, sometimes without.  Chuck has a room here and I have come up here a couple of times to be with him.  I like it: the clean lines of the house are restful; I like talking with Chuck's friends.  And the view is always waiting for me to admire it.  Especially at night. 

I was looking out the front windows the other night, and thinking about how much in my life is new. I have a budget, and I am learning to manage it pretty well.  My routines are all shifted around. I shop for groceries in a new store (where I can't find a fucking thing!).  I ride my yellow bicycle there after work and put my groceries in the bike basket, which detaches from the bike with a little clip.  I occasionally drink Pabst Blue Ribbon from a can.  (I feel so cheap!) I meet new people all the time.  Pat, Cliff, Kathy, Al... I watch classic comedies that I never had the chance to see before.  Sailing:  never did it before now.  Riding on a motorcycle:  never did it before now.

Luckily, when they passed out resilience, I got an extra helping.  I handle change OK for an old broad.

Thursday was a difficult day at work.  When I was done for the day, Chuck came on his bike and I climbed on back.  We drove up here and I did data entry while he cooked a pot of chili.  We put his laptop between us on the opium bed and watched Blazing Saddles and drank (kind of a lot of) wine.  Afterwards, I was standing here at the windows looking out and Chuck came over to stand by me. "What are you thinking about?"  "Just looking at the view!  The view from up here is amazing!"  I wasn't just talking about the city lights, but the pleasure of a new perspective over all.  Some parts of it better than others, absolutely. (See Pabst Blue Ribblon, above.)   But all of it different, all of it new.  None of seen by my eyes before.

[Still struggling with Internet.  Hope to be back regularly soon.]