Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cheaters Never Win

It's exactly 6 a.m. and I am typing this in the dark cause Marvin Gardens is still asleep. Winston, our wonderful yet ridiculous cat, is sitting on top of the computer, hanging his head down to watch the cursor. He looks like Snoopy's impression of a vulture.

I thought I had better admit something: we have cheated a few times recently. On Friday, Marvin had a nasty flu, and I went to the store to get him some cough medicine -- medicine is allowed. But I also got him McDonald's, which he asked for. And who am I to turn down someone with a fever? So then of course I had to get McDonald's too.

And you know it wasn't very good? After all that lusting and obsessing. It was like finding out that Jude Law wasn't that charming. The staff was really disorganized, the fries were cold and there was too much secret sauce on my Big Mac. I actually called the 1800 number to complain. I do that a lot. I am the queen of the complain-y email or call. I get it from my grandmother. It's genetic.

Then yesterday Marvin Gardens bought me a gift -- it's a Pimp My Cubicle set, so I can decorate my walls at work with a disco ball, leopard wallpaper, and even a computer key that reads "bling." The higher-ups will sure to be impressed, for shizzle.

Oh, and also, I got home really late Monday, and honest to God forgot to make coffee and lunch for the next day, and then I didn't wake up till 6:24, which gave me a stunning 21 minutes to get ready, so I am afraid I bought my lunch at Tri-not-ta as well.

My officemate and I were joking that he was going to hack into my blog and tell you all the truth, but as you can see, I have beat him to it. You all have been so supportive with your gift certificates and recipes and dicers, there is no way I could leave you out of the ugly side. I am sure we are back on track now. For shizzle.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Celebrity sighting is free

Attached please find a very bad picture of Danny Bonaduce, taken with my cell phone while driving down Melrose yesterday. He is at the front of the pack there, with short sleeves.

Danny Bonaduce was Danny on "The Partridge Family," and he had a reality show recently, showcasing how drunk he likes to get. I like me some Danny Bonaduce, I can't help it. I was at a red light when I saw him walking down Melrose, so I had time to watch him. He is kind of short, but very muscular.

Anyway, the reason I was out was to try YET AGAIN to find an apartment closer to work. We had a place pretty much lined up, but then the stupid taxes thing came up, so we panicked and decided we couldn't possibly afford to move anywhere, since landlords always want first, last, security and your grandmother's left eyeball to move in. But then my smart friend Rosie Papaya pointed out that the taxes we owe aren't due till April, and we have managed to save $5,000 in two months, so we could save all that up again by the time the taxes are actually due. So, technically, we COULD find an apartment and pay a landlord the first/last/eyeball.

So I went to the busy part of town yesterday in the early afternoon, not even THINKING about the fact that I had to drive past the OSCARS once again. What is wrong with me? I drove past the entry to the red carpet Monday through Friday last week on my way to work. I CURSED that red carpet for holding up my commute. Then it's Sunday, Academy Awards day, and I get in my car all, "Oh I'll just jaunt on over to West LA. No problem!"

Fortunately they had divided up the road, and only if you had a pink sticker on your car could you drive down Hollywood Blvd., and somehow that made the traffic tolerable. I drove past many SUVs and limos with pink stickers, and of course I was completely uncool trying to look thru the tinted windows to see who was inside, and of course I saw nothing.

So then the irony is that without even trying I saw a big major star the likes of Danny Bonaduce.

At any rate the apartment was $300 more than we already pay, and in the most crowded area possible. Besides, I keep thinking that moving to a new place is SPENDING, which breaks our rules for the year.


In other news, it'll be time to do my roots with the $9 hair dye again, so prepare for that trauma. My eyebrows have gotten ridiculous; you do not know how I miss Damone, my brow guy. And I know it's only February, but could I be any sicker of my clothes? I look like a ragamuffin. I wish grunge were back, so I could fit in better.

In more uplifting news, next Sunday is my favorite holiday, LA Marathon Day! I will expound upon that soon. It is the best day ever, until they invent Barry Gibb Presents You with Baby Kittens Day.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

And the award for the most self-centered thinking goes to...

I had DRAMA! this week, and -- surprise -- it was mostly going on in my head.

There is a woman in my circle of friends who throws an Academy Awards party every year.

(And by the way, if you're thinking, "What on earth does this have to do with not spending?" I don't blame you, but don't worry, I will get to it. Relax, will you?)

In this town, the Academy Awards are our Super Bowl. They are our big race in Daytona, whatever that thing's called.

In fact, every day last week, my lovely commute was lots longer, because they've shut down Hollywood Blvd. for the awards, which is PRECISELY the road I need to go down to get to work. So Monday through Friday, as I snaked past Hollywood Blvd. at one mile an hour, I saw the big red-carpet entryway they had created that read, "79th Annual Academy Awards!"

Which would've been exciting if it hadn't always SCREWED UP MY COMMUTE.

So, this woman throws an annual Oscars party. It's a fun party -- she decorates in movie themes, and she has gigantic TV screens and fancy sound because it's what she and her husband do for a living, something having to do with putting with giant TV screens and fancy sounds in other people's houses or something.

There is even a quiet room where supposedly, Amy, we are supposed to be quiet and actually watch the show.

Well, this year she didn't invite me. At first I thought maybe she wasn't having the party this year. Then others started talking about what they were going to wear to said party, as there is a costume portion (you can dress like one of the nominated movies. Last year Amy was June Carter Cash, which sounds remarkably similar to June Cutoff Cash. Perhaps I secretly wish I were Amy).

So, LOGICAL me said to myself, "She probably wrote the wrong email address in Evite. Your email address has changed, and sure, she has sent you emails to your new address, but maybe she used her old invite list from last year or something." That's what emotionally healthy, 41-year-old me said to me.

The Jan Brady in me said this: She hates you. She has ALWAYS hated you and has not had the nerve to let you know till this year. She does not think you are cool, and she is only about 29 times prettier than you. Why would she want your loser ass at her party?

Then I went on to blame Marvin Gardens. These people have a lot of electronic things at their house, which is for Marvin like it'd be for me to have a house full of six-week-old kittens. He cannot keep his hands off of them, he cannot forget they are there, and he has to mess mess mess with them constantly. So, I figured it made this couple nervous last year, him touching their expensive wiry electronic stuff. It was Marvin Gardens' fault that we were social outcasts.

Well, finally, the aforementioned Amy looked on her ding-dang Evite and saw my old email address on there. Crisis solved.

Except now it is the day before the party and I have no costume for the contest! If I had time, I could have fashioned a lovely matronly Queen outfit, but now I have one day and the only way to get a costume would be to buy it today, which as we all know I cannot do. Crap. This means I have to go to the party without calling attention to myself, which is worse than not being invited at all. Sort of.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Why did we even bother to save?

I am so mad I could spit. Spit, I tell you.

We owe $4200 in taxes. We have saved precisely $4900 this year, and FORTY-TWO HUNDRED OF IT IS GOING TO TAXES.

Oh, it chaps my hide.

And can I mention, in case I haven't yet, we are not rich people. We do not have a yacht docked in a marina anywhere. We do not vacation in -- well, anywhere, really. All we ever do is go back to Michigan and visit family. We don't even own a HOUSE. Which is of course why we owe so much in taxes. We are kidless and houseless.

I guess the bright side is that we have the money saved, right? We do not have to borrow it from our parents, which is what we had to do a few years back when we owed a charming $6,000 on taxes. (And yes, we claim zero exemptions on our paychecks.)

So, we have the money to spend, we saved $4900 in less than two months, so we'll make it up again soon. So it is not the worst problem in the world. But it still sticks in my craw.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Things that are on my mind

1. I am worried about Britney Spears. I have never even LIKED Britney Spears --actually that's not true. In about the year 2000, she did some dance in a nude sparkly body suit and she had a snake. For just that day, I wished I looked like her. But I felt sorry for the snake. He must have been scared to death.

Anyway, my mother is a therapist, and she says shaving your head, as Britney did this weekend, is often a sign that someone is about to commit suicide. And she looks so PUFFY and PALE. Britney, not my mother. Anyway, I worry.

2. I went to the grocery store yesterday and was tempted by all sorts of against-the-rules items. Hot chocolate-flavored Pop Tarts; the Revlon lipsticks, which I am usually too big of a makeup snob to really consider; Rubbermaid containers. I think it's cause we are doing so well with saving. I had no idea we could save this much. So I kind of have in the back of my mind, "Oh, you're doing fine. You can buy a box of hot chocolate-flavored Pop Tarts." But, I didn't.

3. I feel pressure to put people in my blog. Everything I do now, people say, "Are you gonna blog about this? What should my blog name be?" Then I feel like a selfish jerk if I do not blog about them.

That said, I got taken to a fun lunch today by some lovely coworkers, Mrs. Jack Sprat and her charming sidekick, Summer. They honestly did not pressure me to mention them, I swear. We had barbecue. mmm mmm mmm mmm mmm.

4. A bunch of us walked to Starbucks today, in the rain. Our boss felt sorry for us cause we had to work on Presidents Day, so he bought us all coffee (and I think I am correct that there is no apostrophe in this particular holiday, like Grandparents Day. It pains me to do it wrong, but it is technically right).

Anyway, a woman at Starbucks had this sort of cloth, front-loading baby backpack (frontpack?), but upon first glance she just looked like someone with ENORMOUS breasts. I felt bad when I realized it was a baby and not a freakishly busty woman. Someone from work told me I need to get out more often, as I am clearly hallucinating.

I said one thought I had was to just drive to various neighborhoods and study people, then come home and blog about who I saw. Someone suggested I get on the train to do this, but that costs. She said I could write to the City to see if they would give me a free pass. I will do this and see if it works. What the hay?

5. I had a dinner party on Friday and I realize that (a) I now wear aprons a lot and (b) the hardest part about cooking is the timing. Potatoes boil whenever they FEEL like it, don't they?

6. Marvin Gardens DID have the day off, and he looked at apartments near my job that were the same price as our house and he got depressed, then he looked at a $2100 apartment that is really cute but decided we shouldn't spend that much.

So my commute continues. But it was quick today, cause we were the only company in America that was open on Presidents-no-apostrophe Day.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

After all that complaining about where I live yesterday...

...I went outside this February morning and my irises are blooming in the front yard, the bougainvillea has purple blossoms in the back and there were about 70 million birds chirping. I had on my jean jacket and it felt too warm to have on.

So I sat in the sun on the front porch, with Winston rolling on his back next to me and I thought, "Oh yeah, THIS is why I put up with this city."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

And speaking of not spending money...

As I have complained about before, (okay, who loves knowing how do to links?), I live in a big, stretched-out city. Therefore, my 16-mile trek to and from work takes an hour and 45 minutes round-trip.

I have lived in other cities where you can, say, take the bus or a ferry to get to and fro, and somehow sitting placidly on public transportation is less awful than crawling down a freeway at 11 miles an hour. Okay, I am not literally crawling, altho there are some days where that might take less time. Remember that scene in Office Space where the guy is stuck in traffic and the old man with the walker is getting down the sidewalk faster than the guy is moving in his car?

How funny of a movie was Office Space? And it stars the guy who went on to play Berger in Sex and the City.

Anyway, so for months now Marvin Gardens and I have discussed moving closer to my job. His job has weird hours, including two weekends a month, so commuting is not as much of an issue for him, as traffic isn't awful here at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday. That is just about the ONLY time it isn't awful: I know someone who moved away from here after it took her an hour to move one mile one busy night.

Have I established that traffic is awful? But as I have also mentioned, moving closer to my workplace means more expensive rent. So, the three-bedroom little house we have here would cost twice as much.

So we'd have to trade some of the room we have, and we'd certainly not have a backyard anymore. Is that worth it for the extra hour and 15 minutes a day I'd get at home?

The other good thing about moving closer to work is that living over there is expensive for a reason: you are right by the ocean, trendy stores, excellent yoga, eyelash perming places, all the things I love when I can spend. Here, there isn't much. Let's face it: it's the suburbs. I got Target and the YMCA over here. And driving to all that good stuff on weekends is -- again -- hideous, traffic-wise.

And finally, since we are not spending this year, we technically would not be allowed to spend the $5,987,655 landlords require for a security deposit. So we'd be breaking our rules.

So that's today's dilemma. I have the feeling everyone who DOESN'T live here will say, "Oh, stay put" and those whose souls have been sucked out by their commute will say "By all means, go!"

Thursday, February 15, 2007

V-Day Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

Valentine's Day went much better than I expected. After a harrowing and draining work-related thing in the morning, I got to the office and did a run-through, to see who had received flowers. I am surprised to report that it was probably only about 10% of the women on my floor (they weren't literally on my floor in my office or anything) who got flowers.

Marvin Gardens love love loved the Marvin Gardens card I made for him. (Thank you, dcrmom, for showing me how to do links!) He said to me, "Now, we are not spending, so even though you might think I sent you flowers anyway, I want you to know I didn't send you flowers."

"I know!" I said. I really thought he sent me flowers.

The day dragged on, and at 4:30 I realized he really REALLY didn't send me flowers. Oh, but I was sad.

Then, just as I was getting ready to leave, I got a call. They had used a bunch of flowers for something at work, and I could take some home for free! I gathered up a big bunch of lavender and white flowers!

Then, when I got home, Marvin Gardens had decorated the whole house in Valentine's-y stuff (red candles, red napkins, little Valentines everywhere), and he was pleased to report he used COUPONS for DOUBLE COUPON DAY and made us a nice dinner, including candy apples that he made for dessert.

Again, doing this stuff for really no extra money (he would have bought groceries anyway, and we already had red candles) turned out better than spending.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentine's Day!!

Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday, along with April Fool's Day, as anyone who remotely knows me can unfortunately attest to. I have liked V-Day since I was a kid; I think it is because all the decorations are pink and girly and lacy. My Aunt Mary has always sent me a gift for Valentine's Day for as long as I remember, cause I have always been excited by it.

That said, this will be the first year since 8th grade that I have not received flowers for Valentine's Day. Since we are not spending, it cannot happen.

I know I sound annoying and spoiled, by the way, stating the above. One year, I actually had no boyfriend for Valentine's Day. I would guess it was about 1996. My roommate at the time, Paula, was TICKLED by this prospect. "See, now you'll know what it's like for the rest of us when we have no boyfriend on Valentine's Day." Well, I ended up getting Secret Admirer flowers. How much do you want to hit me right now?

Anyway, I am fine with not getting flowers. I think. We'll see tomorrow at work when 75 women get paged to come to the front desk to receive their flowers and my name is never called.

However, I am VERY proud of what I have done for Marvin Gardens. With the help of an artistic woman at work, we took the Marvin Gardens property piece from an old Monopoly game and scanned it. Then we changed the info on the card to reflect our lives. For example, the rent on the card is now $1600, which is our real rent.

Anyway, my artistic coworker made the cutest card out of said scanned piece. Then I came home tonight and made drop sugar cookies, which Marvin G. loves. So, for free, since I had all the ingredients at home -- and by the way, can you die from using expired baking powder? -- I made a much cooler and more personalized Valentine for my Valentine. Wayyyy better than the year I spent $20 on silk boxers with hearts that he never wore.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

June Cutoff Cash, or June Cleaver?

The rest of our weekend was fun; I spent $2 on eggs. That was it.

As I mentioned in my last blog (I wish I could have a link, so that you could click on "last blog" and actually see my last blog. I have no idea how to do that, though), on Friday we had dinner at the home of a couple we know.

Then on Saturday, we had dinner at the home of yet ANOTHER couple. They have a three-year-old and a dog. The three-year-old leaps merrily over and on top of said dog, and he has no response to this whatsoever. He was asleep in front of the fireplace, and the three-year-old and I did ring-around-the-rosy actually around the dog, FELL on him, and he didn't even open his eyes. My cats would have seven strokes apiece if a child rang around any of their rosies.

Finally today I went for a long walk with a friend from work. We walked over to the stables that are near my house and petted horses, despite the signs everywhere that say not to pet the horses. My nose is still itching, so I am either allergic to breaking rules, horses or some horse accoutrement, such as hay or manure or dutch doors or something.

The eggs I bought were to entertain the friend who came over today. Not that I juggled eggs; I had apple bread mix and decided to bake it for her visit. Just the fact that I would think to bake something for someone's visit is miraculous. In the old days (say, December 2006) I would have spent $20 on hors d'oeuvres from the grocery store or something.

Anyway, the even more miraculous part of this story is that the apple bread had all these complex instructions, so I just FAKED THE RECIPE and it turned out great! I just added whatever I thought would be good, baked it for a really long time, and there you go. You must understand I have NEVER done anything even REMOTELY as domestically risky as this in my entire 41 years. I am quite proud of myself.

I cannot believe I am the same person who used to stay out till 7 a.m., the person who tucked a beer bottle in the front of her wedding dress so she could keep dancing. Now I'm baking APPLE BREAD? My big weekend rebellion is illegally petting horses? Who AM I?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cooked Cheese with Daisy

Tonight Marvin Gardens and I went to dinner at the home of a wonderful couple we know, Wampus and Daisy. Actually, Wampus and Daisy are their dogs' names, but those were the blog names they chose for themselves.

We had raclette, which is pictured above. You have your own individual pan, and in it you put raclette cheese, meat and vegetables. Then you put the pan in that big cooker shown in the photo, and it cooks it all quickly and then you eat it with bread. It even comes with its own tiny scraper, so you can scrape all the melted cheese out of the tiny pan. If it sounds fattening and delicious, you have got the right idea, my friends.

So, THERE'S a fun, free thing we can do on weekends: have dinner with friends at their houses and our house. We are in fact having dinner with yet ANOTHER couple tomorrow. We aren't totally mooching; we brought stuff to contribute to said raclette tonight. Buying food is allowed, after all.

Speaking of buying things, let's talk about my deodorant. When I put it on, it smells exactly like a new doll. Any woman reading this will know that plastic scent I am talking about. The new doll scent lasts ALL DAY. But I am toughing it out because I don't want to throw out a half-used stick of deodorant and buy a new one. By "toughing it out" I mean complaining constantly about it to my officemate. I wonder if others can smell it. When I go to someone's desk at work, do they suddenly start missing their Baby Alive?

Anyway, leaping back to our dinner with Wampus and Daisy, Wampus is in the movie industry and says if I call him he can usually score me free tickets to current movies. I have to say, people are really willing to help us out with this no-spending venture. My friends have sent me recipes, cookbooks, choppers, coupons, you name it.

And I reward them by smelling like a new doll.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Hip-hop haircare

I am fat. Fat fat fat. I am at my high weight. I just assumed that going without my beloved convenience foods would make me thinner. It hasn't.

I own a treadmill, and I go on it, and I like it, but today I got a flyer from Heartbeat House, this dance workout place from my old neighborhood.

I love love love to dance. I cannot dance, as everyone who attended my work holiday party will attest to. But I love love love it.

I took a hip-hop class at Heartbeat House and I really liked it. Let's all pause for a moment and picture my fat, 41-year-old white self doing the hip-hop class. Fortunately I have no inhibitions.

So should I take some classes at Heartbeat House? Cause I guarantee I will burn calories. Can I count it as a medical expense, cause if I stay this fat I will kill myself?

In other news, in my quest to use cheap haircare products this year, I have come across one that is pretty good: Herbal Essences totally twisted (they lowercased that part. Sue me.) Curl Boosting Mousse.

It is supposed to make you have more curls, but in reality it seems to calm my hair down. So if anyone has big hair out there, I recommend it.

Finally, I just put another $620 in savings, which brings us to $2,920 since January 1.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Big Boy Oh Boy Was That Good

Today Marvin Gardens had an interview, and it went very well. They want him to come back on Friday.

Marvin G. hates hates hates his job, and he has been there almost seven years and has never missed a day. Oh, how he hates it.

It's such an UNHAPPY place! I once told Marvin some little story about something funny that happened at work that day, and he said, "I have never once had a fun story about work."

That's true, although he did used to have a funny coworker who I loved, who unintentionally mispronounced words, like he said light blub and flusterated. The time he talked about Bruce Willis' ex-wife, Dinty Moore, was my favorite.

Several years ago Marvin Gardens started working on getting his teaching credential. Toward the end of his schooling, he had to get up in the morning, student teach all day, then go to his regular job and work 4 p.m to 11 p.m. Then on Saturdays, he had to go to his regular job and work 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He did that for 10 weeks.

He was so not pretty during that time.

But after all that, he finally got an interview to be a 4th-grade teacher in a bad neighborhood, making a TON less money, which he is thrilled about. It's what he really wants to do, it's a noble undertaking, and obviously we can live on less than we are currently making.

So when he got home tonight from his interview, I said, "Let's cheat. Let's go to whatever restaurant you want in the whole world." Naturally he chose Bob's Big Boy, which in Michigan is Elias Brother's Big Boy, but who cares. We had us some patty melts and fries and some lemonade. We sat up at the counter, cause it was crowded, and we sat next to the fussiest old couple in the universe. She was obsessed with having just a tiny bit of ice in her Diet Coke, and he was in deep need of VERY VERY well-done fries. We saw them leaving in a Jaguar. Whatever.

Anyway, it is amazing how excited two people can get about a couple of patty melts. We spent $15.57 plus tip, and it was so worth it.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Regarding my handiwork

Someone wrote in wanting to know if I could do any crafts to donate to hospitals, since I have so much nothing-to-do time on weekends.

Last time I blogged (I love that it's become a verb. What does blog mean, anyway?) I mentioned that my friend Rosie Papaya came over, and the reason she came over was to teach me needlepoint.

Rosie Papaya is one of those people who is good with crafts, and I know this not only because I have seen her knitting several times, but also because she has good hair. I think people who can create things with their hands are also good at blowdrying and styling. So, again, we are back to my hair and my lack of styling abilities.

I wrap a terrible present. It looks like a four-year-old did it. Once my friend Renee and I made Christmas cookies, and when it came to decorating them, we ended up in a heap on the kitchen floor, hysterical. Every cookie looked like an internal organ, or the state of Pennsylvania. I just do not have that craft gene.

However, Rosie was a patient teacher and I kind of enjoyed learning the needlepoint. She bought me a small kit and I have been poking at it, literally. There is a space in the middle to write some pithy thing about following your dreams, but I think instead I am going to write, "Screw needlepoint" or something in there.

Follow your dreams. My dreams usually involve being a go-go dancer who is married to Barry Gibb. Am I really gonna follow that dream?

I have been thinking, though, that since I have free time on weekends, that perhaps I will volunteer at the humane society near my house. Marvin Gardens will be very nervous about this, as I will fall deeply in love with some animal every week and beg to keep it. But since he has a heart of stone and only lets us have three cats, he knows I will not actually end up with a menagerie like Ellie May Clampett (what's with my Beverly Hillbillies obsession lately?).

I actually just go to the humane society for kicks, both on weekends and sometimes at lunch. And even when I don't do that, I am forever finding stray dogs to rescue -- so much so that my old boss was going to buy me one of those screens dividing your back seat from the front seat, cause I was always coming to work with a dog in the back. So maybe the humane society is the right idea. Should I be capitalizing Humane Society? It's a proper noun, isn't it?