Saturday, September 19, 2009

Recession Depression

I hate recessions. I miss trips to the mall. I miss going out for dinner whenever the whim strikes. I miss sipping martinis at the local hipster bar. I know it is silly. I walk past my favorite places, jealous of all those happy diners, enjoying the dinner I should be there eating. Instead, I am going home to eat a bland healthy dinner with a delicious glass of water. I know recessions aren't forever, but I cannot take the overwhelming pressure to save money. I feel like I might crack under this weight, speed to the nearest mall, and max out an entire credit card just to feel like a participating member of society. Isn't Democracy based on consumerism? It is Un-American to avoid malls and eating establishments.

Today I wandered through the local Kohl's, trying on outfits, looking at new bedding. I was so close to making a purchase, when that damned voice kicked in, "Mle is this a need or a want? If you spend now, you will regret it later." So I put my purchases back, frustrated by the thought of the lucky customer lurking behind me, waiting to scoop up that great deal the minute I put it back on the shelf. Perhaps I need a counselor, or group therapy. Maybe there is a multi-step program for this. I can fill my shopless evenings eating stale donuts with others, sharing my story. "I'm Mle and I'm a victim of the Recession. It has been 2 weeks since I last ate out." Oh, the horror!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sometimes my life feels like a bunch of missed opportunities. I always want things that I don’t get. Lately I’ve been obsessed with a house just a few blocks from my current one. It is 603 S Michigan Street. People in my neighborhood call it the haunted house because rumor has it that no one has lived in it for over 3 years. I have known this house for awhile. In fact, before I bought my current house, I toured this one with my then husband, Jon. We loved that house. LOVED that house. It had hard wood floors throughout, dark wood accents, large windows, three stories, and tons of charm. It was also stucco, which was really only a bonus to me.

We happened upon it by accident. I had convinced Jon to go for a walk with me, which was no small feat. Typically a walk for Jon meant going about two 3 blocks then asking if we could call a taxi. On this particular day however, Jon allowed me to take him over 6 blocks from our apartment. Newly married, we had been thinking of buying a house. I was set on staying in our current neighborhood. We had decided that day to investigate the local housing market.

And there it was, 603 South Michigan, in all its green/gray stucco glory. As we admired it, a woman emerging from a newly parked car asked, “Are you looking at the house?” Feeling a little strange, we reluctantly admitted we were indeed looking at the house. The next thing we knew, she was ushering us inside to look around. I was in love. Everything about this house was compatible with me. It felt like home. She explained that they were selling it but were also willing to rent to own. The payments were slightly outside what we felt we could afford. For weeks I thought of this house and what it would be like to live there. I thought about how I would decorate the living room, the kitchen, books I would display in the built-in bookcases. We talked and talked about 603 S Michigan. And slowly we began to realize it was out of our reach. Although I was in love, I grudgingly let this house slip from my thoughts.

We eventually found a different house a few blocks north. It wasn’t as nice but there was a yard for a dog and that was enough to sell me on it. It wasn’t until many years later, divorced and still stuck in that house a few blocks north, appropriate for a dog, that I stumbled upon 603 S Michigan again. I was out for a walk one mild winter day and came upon the house I so dearly loved. The memories flooded back. But somehow the house had lost some of its shine. I couldn’t place my finger on it until Sam, my current beau, said, ‘It looks like its being foreclosed on.” As we started to explore the perimeter, we realized it was a pretty likely scenario. I hated to take delight in someone’s misfortune but I practically ran home to begin my research on this house.

I found the current home owners name. I made numerous phones calls to track down any information I could on the house. It was indeed being foreclosed on and the final court date was coming up soon. It felt like fate was pushing me forward. I became obsessed with walking past it any chance I got. I even drove past it on my way home from… everywhere. It wasn’t on my way by any means, but I just wanted to look at it, in the daylight, moonlight, rain, snow, on a cloudy day, a sunny day, at near dusk, etc… I went there with my camera and took pictures from the street. Eventually Sam and I even got so bold as to walk around the yard, up onto the porch, and open storage areas built into the exterior of the house. We peered thru every possible window, assessing the state of the house. Even though there were ceiling tiles broken and disintegrating on the kitchen floor, and the house had clearly not been kept up, I remained in love with it.

It was Sam who seemed less excited. He started making little statements about the condition, the possible problems; issues that would factor into the up keep of such a large house. He would table my obsessive plotting by saying, “You could just take a picture of it and blog about it.” What a ridiculous idea! He asked me questions about how I would feel doing all the work that would need to be done just to move in. The hedge was overgrown and would need to be completely cut down, the water had been disconnected from the house, most likely there was no heat in the building. Bats perhaps had taken up residence in the attic during the 3 years it had stood vacant. Sam asked how I would feel spending all my money fixing up this house. He stressed that I would have to make sacrifices and be realistic about the needs of the house. I just kept thinking of how happy I would be on a Saturday morning, drinking coffee and reading the paper in the open living room with the beautiful built-in book cases. I could picture my dog lying on a rug at my feet, content. Such a peaceful image.

But I knew Sam was right about my tolerance for this project. I hated home ownership. Not in the way people say they hate taking care of things but really they still enjoy them. I hated home ownership, as in I would have been happy if a meteorite fell on my house and destroyed it. I wouldn’t miss replacing broken hot water heaters, dealing with leaking toilets, and fixing foundation cracks. I thought of home ownership as something used to punish na├»ve newly married people. The smallest problem such as a warped door frame and I would spin out in a childish fit as if the whole house would need to be rebuilt to accommodate a new door.

So I was once again forced to put away my obsession with the green/gray 3 story stucco. I was full of envy that someone else would buy this house, and for a fraction of its value. Someone else would be playing in my yard, drinking coffee in my living room, and happily fixing the broken ceiling tiles in my kitchen. And what was I left with? Just this stupid blog post that says, “I wanted to buy 603 S Michigan but all I got was this crappy photograph.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Evil Auntie

Okay confession: I am the evil auntie who feeds my nieces candy when no one is looking, encourages them to yell loudly indoors, and play with their food at the table. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister and her family but I also love to do little things that get on their nerves. My sister is 3 ½ years older than me. Normally I wouldn’t make a distinction like a half a year but when it comes to my older sister, somehow this detail seems very important. I enjoy spending time with her family. My nieces are adorable. They take evil commands like naturals. And my brother-in-law, well, I love him like a brother and by that I mean I take every opportunity to piss him off...err, I mean tease him, you know like a real sibling.

Whenever my sister and her husband have house guests, her husband insists that everyone use paper plates and plastic cups. This totally goes against my green nature. I have been known to stash away olds newspapers from their house just to take home with me on the plane and recycle back in Wisconsin. He claims they don’t want to dirty too many dishes because water costs too much in Las Vegas. He would rather create a mountain of trash than wash a few dishes. This morning he found me rinsing out my plastic cup after I drank my morning cup of milk. I knew this was going to be a problem. And I was secretly happy that he had caught me in mid rinse. “Are you reusing your cup?!? That is gross!” he said with absolute disgust. He proceeded to tell me he was going to throw it out when I wasn’t looking. In return, I said I would start hiding my cup in my room. This argument went on for a few minutes. Now I can admit that it is absolutely ridiculous and we both have our own points. I know I should obey their rules while in their house, but I just can’t. I think next time I will stash my own plastic cups, knives, forks and paper plates in my room to reuse for each meal. Or better yet, maybe I will bring my own dishes from home and some bottled water for washing, just to see his reaction.

Last time I paid them a visit, I bought my 2 year old niece a toy drum with a tambourine and triangle. I did this because I love her and I like to see her happy. But it was an added bonus that it would piss off my brother-in-law when he is tries to sleep. I encouraged her to bang on her drum as loud as she could. Although she didn’t take to it as well as I had hoped, it still served its purpose.

Any time I am out shopping for gifts for my nieces, I think first of what they would like, and then what would make their parents the most uncomfortable. When my second niece was born, I bought her a onesie from Hot Topic. For those unfamiliar with this store, let’s just say I could have also purchased some blue hair dye, some random band patches for her jacket, and a new piercing for her. The onesie was black with an unraveling mummy. It said, “I want my mummy.” I thought it was hilarious. And it totally went against my sister’s theme of pink princesses. I laughed when on the last day of my visit they finally and reluctantly put it on her. On a previous visit, I had abided by the pink preference. This time I purchased my niece a plaid pink skirt and matching pink shirt, with a skull on it. She may have only been allowed to wear that outfit once: the day I put it on her.

Friday is niece number two’s birthday. I decided to visit them for this occasion and to see their latest addition, my third niece, Fiona who was born just 3 months ago. I haven’t yet decided what I am going to get Marissa for her birthday, but after our little clash today over the disposable dishes, I’m starting to wonder, how old does a toddler need to be to be before they can take painting classes?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Time is Money

So I've started donating plasma at the local Biolife Center. I wish I could say I was doing it to save lives or for the medical advances that my donation will assist with, but really, I'm more concerned with getting my money. I want to know what the special incentive is each month to ensure I will make my two donations a week. How much money can I make in one month donating plasma? How fast can I make my donation? Time is money. I'm watching the guy next to me who was already started before I came in. I am pumping plasma far faster than him. I passed him up in the first 10 minutes. Obviously someone forgot to hydrate today. I mean, I know it isn't a competition but I'm pumping like a pro on my 3rd visit. And when I scan my finger on the sensor on my way out, I see a $40 addition to my Biolife Visa.

I find that I am far more concerned with what I eat now that I am donating. And not because I care about the quality of my plasma. Having been a vegetarian for the past 11 years, I have always been deficient in my iron and protein counts. I was never too concerned. but now, now it is worth money to take care of myself. I watch my protein and iron levels, try to stay healthy, avoid drinking before a donation day, because if I don't take care of myself, I won't get paid.

And let's pause a moment to discuss the word donation. All the people in Biolife from the phlebotomists to the medical historians to the other donors, call it a plasma "donation." And yes, I am willingly giving my plasma, but in exchange for money. It is similar to my arrangement with the Cofrin Library. I "donate" my time and skills for 8-10 hours a day and they pay me. But in that situation we don't call it a donation, we call it a job. So while it nice and every one feels good calling it a donation, is it really?

Who cares though, I got my $40. And I'm thinking I'll add this to my resume under volunteer experience.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Needs and wants: a 33 year old's temper tantrum

People must realize that even with all these comforts, all this money and a GNP that increases every year, they are still not happy. They need to understand that the real culprits are our unceasing desires. Our wants have no end.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama, "Imagine All the People"

Well thank you Dalai Lama for depressing me. Yes, I was aware that my wants have no end. And that is just upsetting. I really want to go to Victoria's Secret and use my gift certificate for $15 off the new Angels bra. But then I have to ask myself, is it a want or a need? Damn Fuad for putting that saying in my head. Grrrr... Why can't I just be the 3 year old I want to be and kick and scream until I get to buy that shiny new bra?!? Oh and maybe I want some of that wonderful new lotion that makes me smell like butter cream frosting too.