Monday, October 31, 2011


If you're around and reading this, thank you! May your All Hallow's Eve be filled with merriment and candy!

pst, This is not my pumpkin. I found it in my neighborhood last year. Isn't it awesome?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

the state of my things

Y'all, I am so poor.

Somehow this summer became the most expensive summer other than the wedding.
I had some two cavities filled (I'm on the husband's insurance, which covered more than half),
I bought some much-needed shoes (three pairs, for work and not),
I bought several train tickets and air tickets for work (which is reimbursed but after I pay the credit card bill),
I got new glasses (I hadn't gotten new frames in SEVEN YEARS, and the whole thing was under $150; I also got new contacts which were covered by insurance),
I spent a lot on our vacation (but the husband spent even more),
I bought clothes at the outlet mall (I now have two new pairs of jeans: I've had the same two pairs for 4 and 7 years, so I think some new ones are well-deserved).

I haven't been able to catch up on my credit card bills--I pay a big chunk, and then somehow I end up charging almost the same amount again. This happened when I first moved to NYC (except even more), and it took a year to get clear of that and get my expenses under control. And that was with an actual salary!

A couple weeks ago was my one-year anniversary at my job. Which is great--I love the people that I work with, the work is interesting and varied. However, I do not have a salary--I'm an hourly consultant, which means I have to pay my own taxes. I'm clearing less than $2000 a month (many months far less)--less than what I made per paycheck that first year teaching. If I were living in NYC by myself on this money...well, I couldn't and I would have moved back to Washington.

Happily, the husband makes real money and we split our shared expenses by percentage rather than by dollar amount. Which leaves some money for my own expenses...which keep outpacing the incoming dollars.

The other day I suddenly thought to myself--wait a minute, I'm making less than $30,000 a year, I'll get a huge refund! I can use that to help pay for an incredible trip I found out about! All my problems will be solved! Then I crashed down to earth and remembered that we're married filing jointly, so my paltry pittance is added to the boy's relatively giant pile of cash. So the government doesn't care how poor I am and they'll be keeping all my tax money after all. I started feeling panicky and seriously depressed about my situation. So far I've just been trying not to think too much about it, and maybe I haven't been strict enough in restraining spending.

Sigh. It sucks. Especially because I wanted to finally get some framing done on things that have been waiting for years. Getting things professionally framed is a very expensive, grown-up thing to do. Hence, I've never done it! I have a beautiful print from Prague (FIVE YEARS AGO) that needs framing, an Aboriginal Australian painting (from four years ago), and we got a little painting in Greece earlier this year too. These have been sitting in corners for YEARS and for pete's sake, it's time to get them up on the walls already! And I was ready to suck it up and just get them done! But holy crap, there's just no money for it after all.

One thing that I am proud of is the clutter-busting. A week or two (or more? I've lost track) I got more work done clearing out some piles. That means, of course, those piles have become giveaway piles, so they're sitting somewhere else. But it's on its way out! I promise!

There is still a lot of work to do. At least decluttering is free.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


This past week was busy in the office, then I had a three day business trip, and then more babies today, and I have a very full week ahead. I'm tired. Boo hoo, poor me.

Oh, and the business trip had no time for the beach, AND the hotel hallway would have made for some sweet photos, but there was no time for that either. :/ I did finish up another roll of film though, while at lunch with some colleagues.

I survived my travel nightmare--a flight with neither book nor craft (I forgot them in my checked bag)! Fortunately I had a letter to finish and a laptop with Netflix movies.

On the first flight I started reading The Happiness Project, and I'm really enjoying it. It's inspiring and thought-provoking. (But also kind of depressing in some ways, because I have so much work to do in that area--figuring out good things and working to expand them.)

That is also my 90th book in 2011! I've got a pile of library books plus one for next month's FYA book club. I want to make sure my 100th book is something special, so I might have to plan ahead or plumb my various to-read lists.

Speaking of crafts, I realized that it's mid-October (oh shit, creeping toward end of October already), and last year by this time I'd made a holiday craft-gift list and gotten started. I'm working on a super cozy scarf, but that's not necessarily a gift. So I suppose I need to start thinking about any craft gifts? I have forbidden myself from buying yarn, but the volumes of yarn I do have I don't necessarily love. The challenge then will be to stash-bust intelligently. Hmm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

buzz buzz busy bee

So I meant to write in August why I wouldn't be writing more in August, but things were busy and then it turned into September and more busy and I'm working six days a week and well, I just kept not getting around to the blog.

First, we went to Virginia for what was supposed to be a long weekend.

That was thwarted by the weather, so we came back to NYC for the "hurricane." Since we went by train, we figured it would be better to hunker down back home instead of wait out any track floods/repairs.

That actually ended up being a great weekend. I was at home, all day, for two whole days! Got to hang out with the husband and Ms M, who was staying with us for a bit.

A few days later, I went to Florida for a work trip. First of all, BEACH! But even better, I totally heart everyone I work with. It was a great time--not just the work meetings, but the after-meetings drinks and meals.

Plus, I had a bit of time to walk on the beach!!

Two days after I got back from Florida, we left for a week in Oregon. First, a couple days in Portland:

Then, a couple days in Crater Lake:

The day after we got back, I went back to work. Did I ever mention here the baby photography I started doing in July? I'm working with a company who does newborn photos in hospitals. I worked two days a week in the summer (while working four days at my regular job), but after September started, I do only Sundays (and I'm back to five days at the day job).

So last weekend was extra special--not just the mini trip, but also that I took the weekend off from photos, and then took Columbus Day too. It was wonderful to have time off to relax!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A is for Apple

As part of our mini-Berkshire adventure, we also went apple picking!

It was our first time.

There were so many apples! Lots of the good ones seemed higher up.

We picked varieties we'd never heard of before; I think these are Blushing Golden. They are deliciously crisp, but that could just be the freshness.

We also got some green apples to make a pie-related dessert. We were supposed to make it this weekend, but time got away. So I guess I'll need to do it this week before they go too bad. Eep, pie scares me!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Last weekend we took a mini-road trip up to the Berkshires. We did several fun things, one of which was bowling at this charmingly low-key place near our motel.

We played two games. In the first game, I did really bad--only 49! But I got a strike in there. The second game was much better: 75, with TWO strikes plus a spare!

The husband of course did much better. He got a total of three strikes and like 6 spares.

Bowling is a good time! This place also had a little indoor mini-golf, which we decided not to do this time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

some progress

First, apropos of nothing: here's an adorable kitty we saw today!

We also found a gorgeous, ridiculously cushy sofa...but we're not sure it will fit through the door. With the door on, there's an extra quarter inch of theoretical space. Do you think that will work?

Apropos of the title: a few months ago, I posted about some of my magazines and teacher stuff, how I have too much of it, what to do with it. I did end up posting on freecycle and craigslist. Even though I had a handful of responses, nothing worked out. So the bags continued to sit in the hallway.

A few weeks ago, in a fit of fall-cleaning pique, I re-listed them on craigslist and freecycle. Once again, I got a bunch of responses and then no one actually wrote back after a second email! What is wrong with people? Happily, the last responder, from craigslist, did write back and though it took a few days, they actually picked up the magazines as well as some of the fun stuff (a few workbooks, some BrainQuest, a MadLibs or two, etc).

I was still left with two bags of test prep materials. I kept thinking that someone could use it, and there must be a way to find that someone. Teachers need stuff! Kids need stuff! Etc!

This week, though, I said eff it, it's time for it to go. And off it went to the recycle bin in the sky! (Or technically, the basement.)

Check out how many paperclips were hiding in the piles of all that paper.

This is a big deal, friends. That shit has been hanging around for months! The floors in our hallway and foyer are clear!

Next up is getting a bag of clothes donated and another bag of clothes to the textile donation.

Recently I've realized that it's October (I remember this at least twice a week), and I've been panicking a bit about my year goals. One of them was to do something about my AmeriCorps ed award. This week I've come up with some practical but also potentially AWESOME plans for it. I need to think more and talk to some people, but ooh, exciting! Sometimes I have a really hard time getting out of my head and out of a rut, so forcing myself to do some new things could be an amazing kick in the ass and in life.

Friday, October 07, 2011

blue chip

Don't you think that teachers should get, like, stripes? Epaulet stars? Letter bars? Some kind of mark of their heroism and dedication? Veteran teachers would be just covered in shiny acknowledgements. Greener teachers would be dazzled by their experience.

This is my second year as a not teacher. Lately I've been thinking that those of us out of teaching should get some kind of chip to acknowledge our past work but also the challenge of transitioning to a more civilian life, if you will. The healing process, the trying to escape or ignore the ever-persistent teaching dreams, the relinquishing of office supply stashes.

Happy fall, everyone.