Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

All my eggs in one basket

Oh my God, I haven't written a damn thing since Sunday. I had no idea. I do not want to be one of those nonwriting people.

I have nothing fascinating to tell you, so for yucks I will add a photo of me at my friend Lisa's last month. I guess I have failed to mention to you that I am the Burger King. All this time you just thought I was some schlub, didn't you?

It is like Thursday night, I think, (it all runs together when you are basically JOBLESS) and I have just spent an inordinate amount of time lying upside down on the bed, watching a thunderstorm. It was one of the really good ones, where they sky lights all up and the crack of thunder is really loud. Winston sat in the open window and watched it with me. Even though he is an L.A. cat, who has never seen a thunderstorm in all his two years, he is completely unfazed by this dramatic turn of weathery events.

So, I did some proofreading for the statistics textbook company that I used to freelance for all the time, but that is really all the work I have gotten. Someone commented recently here that we are probably saving a lot of money because North Carolina is so much cheaper than Los Angeles.

True, but we also have not brought IN any money since God was a child. Marvin just started his new teaching job last week, and before that he had not worked (other than some substitute teaching) since May 23rd. And my last day of having a real job was July 27.

So basically? August? We made no money. And we moved across the country, which isn't expensive at all, as you can imagine. Even though we used the cheap "you pack half this truck and we will pack the other half with some mysterious freight which will result in you seeing the world's biggest cockroach in your laundry room" moving truck.

So I really have no idea how much money we currently have. I mean, I know we have savings. But I am afraid to really look.

You know when we started this year of not spending? And I said money can't bring happiness? I still think that's really true, but it turns out that feeling insecure about where money is coming from brings me sweatiness. Seriously, I am like Elvis in concert right now. I HATE this.

So that's where yours truly is right now. And I do know that things will look up. I have sent resumes everywhere to be a freelance proofer. And there's always plasma donation. Am I too old to donate my eggs? Do 42-year-old even HAVE eggs? Where?

At any rate, I know for a fact that money things always work themselves out. And we are not destitute. We are not anywhere near the poor I was when I was a receptionist living alone in Seattle, where I could have toilet paper, or coffee filters, or paper towels. But never, ever could I afford all three at once. Did a lot of the wiping with coffee filters, I can tell you.

Won't you come over and have coffee with me soon?

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Things we are doing that are free:

Walking. Back in Burbank, Marvin Gardens and I were the walking fools, once we started not spending. We are the same here: fools. Even though it is always 416 degrees out and my hair puffs sideways after a quarter of a mile, we have walked just everywhere.

If you go to the left out of our house, you end up on a busy highway and you'll be killed instantly, so we never go left. But if you go right, you walk a half mile into the historic uptown part of our little town. This sounds lovely, but I have failed to mention to you that you must first surmount the biggest hill you have ever seen in your life. They have Sherpas at the bottom, to help you up. They are thinking of putting in a ski lift there, seriously. Sometimes when we get to the top, Julie Andrews is up there spinning in her apron.

If we go out our door and go forward, we walk through a cute little neighborhood. There is one house that has a truck in back, and lined neatly along the sides of said truck are 750 ladders. Why? Are they ladder MAKERS? Are they firemen? Do they help people elope? These and other questions burn in my brain.

Driving. We have driven in every direction and we have seen...other small towns exactly like ours. We have also seen many cows, which I am sorry to tell you I always have to wave at and say, "Hi, cows! I love you!" They seem indifferent to my affections, perhaps knowing about my similar feelings of love for McDonald's.

We also drive to the wildlife preserve which is 10 miles away. You can drive through the whole thing, or get out and walk. We have seen many bunnies, a deer, a falcon, a scary snake, and 75,439 bugs.

Let me tell you a little secret. Marvin Gardens? When a giant bug flies by? Not so manly. He is manly in other ways. You need something rewired? Marvin is your man. Need to know anything about cars? Call Marvin Gardens. But a big bug? Marvin pretty much turns into a flappy-handed Richard Simmons.

Television. We do not have cable here. We had cable in Burbank, because it was an expense we already had, so we didn't, like, cancel cable when we started this year. Here we have six channels, and one of them is the all-weather, all-the-time channel. There is another channel that seems to just play "Reba" all the time. So our television viewing is not pretty. But we do it anyway. Last night we watched "Cops," and also "The People's Court." Please, somebody tell us that cable is a viable expense.

Books. Marvin has been busy working at his new job, but as for me, I have already read Beach Music by Pat Conroy and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I recommend both highly. Eat, Pray, Love just totally rocks. I can't say enough about it. Makes me want to go to Bali, and I hate traveling. I am the person who says why travel when you can stay home. Go get that book.

The other thing keeping me amused is that I finally have some work, from the textbook company. And who forgot how hard it is to make yourself work when you are freelancing? There is no boss to walk by and look at you. Do you have any idea how tempting it is to stop proofreading and catch up with that Reba?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Baby Got Fatback

So, last Friday night, after the football game, I was home, eatin' the peanut brittle.

There is a reason it is not called "peanut soft." I chipped my front dang tooth on the stupid stuff.

For those of you who know me, the dentist is right up there for me, along with vomiting, tarantulas and anthrax. I am just inexplicably afraid of the dentist. And for over 10 years, my dentist has been the trustworthy and talented Dr. Bieber, back in California.

So I had to go to someone new. Someone who works in a small town. I will not go into all the snobby feelings I had about seeing a small-town dentist. I really had no idea I was so much like Eva Gabor in Green Acres.

Today was my dentist appointment. The dentist and his assistants were very nice. When he saw my chip, he said, "Most people come in here with a chip after they eat fatback." Like you are probably doing right now, I said, "Whatthehell's fatback?"

The assistant said, "She's not from here, doctor. She's from California."

People are always saying this, in a tone you would reserve for saying something like, "She has 17 fingers." or "She is Eva Gabor."

Fatback is fried fat, with a thick layer of salt at the bottom. The fat comes from that heart-healthy treat, bacon. Apparently, fatback tastes like hard, fried bacon fat.

There is not a person alive in the entire Los Angeles metro area who would eat this. No one there has eaten bread in seven years. Fatback? You've got to be kidding.

I like how the name of this food is also an adjective for you after you've eaten it.

Anyway, in keeping with the theme of this blog, the point is that the chip was small, and the dentist charged me...NOTHING. Nothing.

How does he keep himself in fatback, at these rates?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Anne and the Amazing Beige Robe...coat

Every couple of days or so, Marvin Gardens changes our computer wallpaper image. Usually it reflects something we have recently made fun of. One night, one or the other of us said, "Remember Gaines Burgers?" and we were in hysterics remembering that gross, hamburger-shaped, plastic-y dog food that somehow made you want to eat it. So naturally, the next morning our computer wallpaper was an old Gaines Burgers ad.

Anyway, the image at the top of this page is our current wallpaper. It is an old photo, obviously, of students at the high school in our new town. I don't know how well you can see the photo, but Anne has signed the picture over what I would assume to be her image. She is right at the front, in the plaid skirt.

Can you see her expression? Can you see that Anne is clearly thinking, "Why the hell am I here in this tiny town with my plaid skirt and my pompadour?"

I cannot begin to tell you how much I feel Anne right now. I have stared at Anne now for hours, empathising with her like you don't know what.

I have plummeted. Plum.e.ted. I am so ding-dang depressed.

My old job has not sent me any work, nor has the textbook client I thought I got back. I was called today for an interview for a proofreading job in a large town really, really far away from here, working 2:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. and thank God I just had the sense to call and cancel the interview.

I do not like not knowing where my next check is coming from or how on earth I am going to earn any money. My 7-Eleven fear is coming true.

Okay, so this is the sixth day of freelancing. Maybe I should calm down and put away the Slurpee. But really. This is disturbing. You can't just be a proofreader anywhere. It's up there with pet psychic and eyelash permer, in that you need to live in a big city to be in demand.

Anyway, the good news is I went to my new book club today and met a cool couple! They came here from a big city; they just inherited a farm. As opposed to buying the farm, which would mean they were dead. And then they'd be no fun at all. Anyway, the man looked like our friend Robe of our friends Robe and Beige. I did not tell him that, tho, as he would think it was odd that I was friends with an inanimate object and a color.

So we all exchanged phone numbers and plan to get together. They have cat children, as well, so that'll be good. They won't think we're sadly childless like people do.

I think I will propose that we go on a hike at the wildlife preserve, as that is free and we do not have to assault them with the, "Hi, we don't spend!" thing immediately. Maybe I should just get it all out. "Hi! You remind me of a robe. We love our cats like they are our children. Oh, also, we can't spend any money. Is dinner on you, or...?"

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rain Man

I am pretty excited, because my German man is sticking out of his house.

That sounded vaguely dirty, didn't it?

Because my taste in decorating runs toward 1950s gramma, one of my prized possessions is one of those German weather houses where if it's sunny, the woman comes out, and if it's going to rain, the man comes out.

Having lived in LA all that time, that poor man was practically agoraphobic. The woman is all careworn and faded by the sun, outside constantly like a roofer or a person who sells fruit on the corner, but the man is still fresh and bright. He probably never buys sunscreen.

Anyway, there is a 30% chance of rain here today, and the sky is dark, and my German man is sticking right out! It is all very exciting.

My friend Dottie's cat died yesterday (she said, leaping onto a depressing topic at the speed of sound). Walter was only four, and he was particularly lovely. Dottie is pretty much the Ellie May Clampett of Michigan, she has 47,000 animals, but Walter was dear to her heart and she is just brokenhearted over this.

Now, this would normally be a time I would send flowers. I like to send flowers, and it is a kind gesture. Besides, it's what Dottie would do for me under the same circumstances. As it is, since I cannot spend, I have called her and emailed her and sent her good thoughts. Please do the same. It's not flowers, but it is something.

And speaking of my lack of gifts, this is my expensive time. Between July 25th (Aunt Mary's birthday) and August 25th (Aunt Kathy's birthday), I have 12 birthdays to celebrate. I have one a day between August 10 and 14.

Last year, I spent over $1,000 on these birthdays. I am not making this up. I had no idea I had spent that much until Marvin rather crankily told me at the end of the month.

This year, I have pretty much spent nothing on any of these people. And these are all Leos, folks. They need the ticker tape parade and the brass band each and every year. But everyone has been pretty good about it.

Anyway, I am going to get into the shower now. If the weather holds, and my German said it won't, we are going to the high school football game. Does that cost? I have not been to a high school football game since 1984. Do we get to drink Southern Comfort in the parking lot first? Is Joe Slomkowski having a kegger after?

Anyway, go whatever team! Arthur Hill High School! Class of '83! Whoo! (Sorry. Had a flashback.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Grits and Determination

Okay, everyone. I am about to eat grits. I thought I would record it for posterity, here. The microwave just beeped, so here we go...

Huh. It's kind of like really salty Cream of Wheat. I think I could like that.

We went to the grocery store the other night, to stock up on 'real' food, going back to our no-eating-out policy. I was bemoaning the fact that my flax-seed-and-blueberry oatmeal is not available, when Marvin pointed out that they DID have instant grits, in flavor varieties just like they do with oatmeal. So again, trying to acclimate, here.

Are grits good for you? Maybe not this processed, cheddar cheese flavor kind like I have here. But generally? What are grits made from? The grit flower? The grit plant?

Yeah. I think I like 'em. Whatever they are.

I got to spend money yesterday. Our cats have tags with their old LA phone number, so I had to get them updated digits. There is no pet store here, so I went on and I am afraid I got them bone-shaped, pave diamond tags.

Hey, it's the only excitement I have! I haven't gotten to buy many glamorous things this year. Plus, I enjoy humiliating my cats with diamond bonewear and such.

Currently, Francis' ID tag just has "I am nuts" written on it with his phone number. Trust me, you need to know that way before you need to know his name.

Anyway, I am going to walk down to the library today and return my book that I read this week (Beach Music by Pat Conroy) and get another (my Aunt Kathy recommended Winds of War) (can you tell my freelance work has yet to roll in?). At the library there is a book club, and I am going to find out when it meets and what they're reading. I am going to make a friend in this place if I have to beat up each and every person until they like me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Brilliant, Neat and Rockin'

And by the way, like 72 months ago, Amy from Brilliant and Neat tagged me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger. I was on the road when she did so, countin' Wal-Mart trucks (we saw 23 of them) and was never polite enough to say thank you to her here on my blog.

So, thank you, Miss Brilliant and Neat. You are indeed both.

Amy and I are sort of living parallel lives at the moment. Except that I think she is allowed to spend whatever she wants.

Oh, and in case anyone wondered, I did not see A SINGLE STAR last night. Marvin Gardens saw two.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Shoot for the stars

It is 9:52 p.m., and Marvin Gardens and I are staying up until midnight because there is a meteor shower tonight.

I have a history of poor luck with meteor showers. I am always picking at my cuticle or looking at my moles or pressing on my distended abdomen or something every time a star shoots by. Everyone says, "There was one!" and I swear bitterly and try to look in the sky, until the siren song of my cuticles calls to me again.

So, we are pretty darn unpacked. Thanks to all that is holy and merciful, I had no more bug encounters when I moved the boxes from that back room, so the dishes are put away, the spices are resting comfortably above the stove, the pots and pans are potting and panning and there is really no excuse left to go out to eat, even to Sonic.

As you can see, I ordered the biggest drink possible there, knowing my golden Sonic days are coming to a close. (Who loves herself?)

I think we almost broke even when it came to expenses for this move. It cost $3500 for the moving truck, and our $3200 LA security deposit was returned to us in total. We sold our washer and dryer back in LA, and our new set didn't cost THAT much more than we sold the old ones for.

A couple people gave us gift certificates to various stores, so necessary items like brooms and cleaning supplies didn't cost us anything. I have to still add up how much we have, but I know it is at least $10,000 in savings, still.

As I have said already, it'll be pretty dang easy not to spend in this town. I doubt I'm gonna get all into buying a John Deere...whatever it is John Deere sells. Do they sell deer? Do they sell toilets for the deer? Is John Deere some sort of pimp for deer prostitutes? No, wait. A john is the client.

I know they sell ironic trucker hats. Is that it? Please advise.

By the way, the other day a woman here actually used the phrase "I declare" in a sentence. I thought that was a myth. It's like an agent saying "ciao" or something. Anyway, she was cute as pie and I declare we had a nice talk.

Okay, I am gonna make coffee or something so I do not sleep through the stars and the shooting and such.

Friday, August 10, 2007


There is a GIGANTIC BUG in our laundry room! I just almost STEPPED ON IT because I didn't notice it till it SCURRIED away! Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod. Marvin Gardens is at work and I am here alone with the WORLD'S BIGGEST BUG.

I threw Winston back there and shut the door. He seems to be chasing after it.

Every instinct in my body tells me to run screaming out of the house but I have to unpack all day and OH NO what if there are MORE bugs in the BOXES?!?! Oh, this is dreadful. What IS that horrid bug?

Also my garbage disposal needs freshening and back in LA I could just walk in the back yard and pick a lemon. Here I can't even go in the back yard because to do so I would have to walk through the bug room. I am never doing laundry again.

Ugh. I want to go home.

Also also, not to mention, our other cat Francis has a terrible cold that he caught either at the kennel or on the plane. I know I caught a charming cold when we traveled to Boston recently, so perhaps poor Frannie got the same on-the-plane bug. At any rate, he's wheezing and miserable and I don't know any vets. Plus, besides, I don't have a car to take him to the vet.

Oh, I hate everything. I cannot believe I am in the house with the largest bug ever to grace mankind.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sylvia Plath after electroshock called. She feels better.

I have literally seven minutes here at my new hang, the library, to pop in and thank you all for your kind words. I love my new blogging friends! You all cheer me up tremendously. And is anyone else worried about Miss Doxie, who has not blogged since June?

We are feeling better today. First of all, our cats finally flew in. I never thought I'd ask my cats, "How was your flight?" but there it is. I do not know if they had an in-flight movie or anything. At any rate, they seem terribly glad to see us and are all three obsessed with the attic, which is cute and finished and has knotty pine walls, so I can see the appeal, but hello? It is 7,450 degrees up there. Why do cats like to torment themselves in this way?

Today I called here at the library to see if they had a research librarian on staff, as I do not have a computer, a phone book, or -- really -- anything at home. And we need a plumber. They said they could help me and I said, "Yes, I need a local plumber, could you find one?" The librarian covered the phone with her hand and yelled, "Shelby? Who's a good plumber?"

Now, does the research librarian get more money, or how does that work?

Also, two men came today to deliver our washer and dryer (yes, we had to buy one. Our washer/dryer at home was a gas, although I never thought it was that fun, really, and we needed electric here), and they were back in my laundry room installing and being manly. Do you know I could not understand ONE WORD they were saying? I mean, I just left LA where no one spoke English as a first language, and I understood everyone just fine. These people were speaking English, actual English, and I sat there on the floor in the living room trying to make out one single word!


Anyway, my time is up and I do not want my new people to hate me. Catch ya.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sylvia Plath called. She wants her attitude back.

We're here. I am typing you from the local library, where two other people are using the computers. In L.A., you have to make a seven-weeks-in-advance reservation at the library in Tarzana or something, and then you have to be heavily armed so someone doesn't kill you for your computer spot.

So, we've been here 24 hours and here's what I have to say to you: what in the name of God were we thinking?

It is like 790 degrees out, and can you see my hair? Cause if you are in the 48 contiguous states, you should see it right out your window. What humidity?

I cannot begin to tell you how different this is from L.A. But I imagine you all had considered that when I told you all we were moving. Why didn't I ponder it for more than 10 seconds?

So far in this town I have not seen anyone with pink hair, or any coffee shops, or any celebrities.

At any rate, I am going to abstain from complaining and try to look on the bright side. We got our entire security deposit back from our L.A. landlord, so that was good. Cause it's $3,200 ding-dang dollars. Oh, I slaved to clean that place. I Easy-Off-ed, I Windex-ed, I 409-ed. My fingers are still red and chapped, actually.

And now I get to do it all again here in the new house!

The rest of our road trip was good. Nashville rocks! Who knew it was so cool? And also, surprisingly pretty? Oklahoma and Arkansas. Very green and rolling and such.

Oh! And in Texas I saw an actual person (rather, persons) wearing spurs! And it was not Gay Pride Week or anything. I think they needed them for actual work. They had HUGE cowboy hats on, these men, and yes, they really did jingle jangle jingle when they walked.

Anyway, I can assure you it will be easy not to spend in this town, as there is a gas station, some fast food (why didn't anyone tell us that Sonic is delicious?) and like 10 grocery stores. There is no mani/pedi place. There is no aura cleansing. There is certainly no Fred Segal.

Have I mentioned I have no idea what we were thinking? Oh, dear.

Friday, August 3, 2007

New Mexico tourist pretty kokopellied out (with apologies to the Onion)

Well, we're in Texas. We've spent two days traveling through Arizona and New Mexico. It's pretty easy not to spend when all you see in Native American Art. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing but respect for the Native American peolple, but enough already with the terra cotta, the tourquoise,the zigzags, and the blankets. You got any pink sparkly things up here?

By the way, I am on my cell phone dictating this to my mother in Michigan. Remember the part where I said I'd find an internet cafe? Not so much. I forget that every town in America is not like Los Angeles. We even went to a library in New Mexico, but they didn't have internet access for the public.

We've enjoyed our trip. It's nice to see open land which we never see, but here's something they shouldn't do: They put up these signs that say "elk" for the next 50 miles. You know how a normal person would look at that sign and say, "Oh, I'd better be careful"? Did I obsessively look for elk so I could kiss them on the head? Marvin Gardens was fast asleep in the passanger seat and I was not once looking at the road but rather looking to the sides for elk. Who wished she was a flounder with eyes on both sides of her head?

I think it's safe to say I'm an elkaholic.

I've tourtured my mother long enough, so I'm going to get in the car now. Today is "No air music" day. Marvin is not allowed to play air guitar, air keyboards, air drums, air violin or air harpsachord.

Any spelling errors are my mother's fault. Talk at you soon.