Monday, November 30

Drying up, drying out

A tune for your reading enjoyment.

I didn't work two paydays ago so I wasn't there when the paycheck fairy made her way around the newsroom. About six days had passed by the time I worked a weekday again, and when I returned, before I could even get to my desk, three people had asked, "Jamie, did you ever get your paycheck?!"

"Yes," I said. "I just picked it up."

The looks on their faces could have melted glass. Why would they care? It's my paycheck. I'm not going to rush out the door and run to the bank like a greedy little piggy the moment the envelope hits my desk, nor am I going to come in on a day off to pick it up unless it's necessary. Don't treat me like I'm unappreciative - believe me, I'm grateful. I need the $650.

Or the $1,300 a month.

You see, it's one thing when you deposit a two-week pay period check the day after you get it, but when circumstances force you, or when you're too lazy to do otherwise, to deposit two at once, things click. You see the $1,300 and BAM - you think about the other things you pay on a monthly basis:
  • Credit card (about $500 - I buy everything using my credit card so this is gas, groceries, anything else my consumer-driven heart desires)
  • Rent ($350)
  • Car payment ($200)
  • Student loans ($100)
  • Electricity bill ($50)
  • Car insurance ($50 -haven't started paying this yet, but I'd like my dad to stop having to)
  • Internet ($40)
You add it all up, you check it again and subtract from the total. Did you do your subtraction, girls and boys? $10. I'm left with $10 a month.

I'd be lying if I said I'm not a little freaked. Sure, it's possible, not desirable, to go without Internet at home. I did it for two years and lived, but that was when I had unlimited access to computers and Internet at school and work ...

I can put more things on power strips and turn the heat even lower (check and check). I can be more diligent on how much I'm spending on groceries by getting up early enough to go to Aldi's before work instead of my 3 a.m. trips to Wal-Mart after. I can make a bigger effort to go to the cheaper laundrymat (not the 24-hour one - notice a theme in my habits?). I'll limit how far I drive to get to the good trails. I just won't buy anything.

I have some savings - though not the three months' pay everyone suggests - and I have a dad who is in a position to help me if I get in a pinch. I'm thankful for both, but this is not the point. The point is that I'm disappointed that this is where I am. I'm poorer than I've ever been. I had hoped I'd get some financial relief after college, but things are even tighter now and I can't sigh. I need that air! I paid for it!

So here's what happened during my silent panic attack. I was at the laundrymat and after I emptied my quarter pouch, I hit my wallet where only pennies, nickels and dimes survive. OK, no biggie, just put a $20 bill in the change machine and you'll get to dry your clothes. Both dollar slots are taped over with duct tape, and underneath it says, "SORRY. OUT OF SERVICE"


I gave it the finger. When my laundry was done, I stuffed all 50 pounds of it back into the bags and took it home, where I did the following.

I hung some shirts in the closet and left the door open. It's near the bedroom heater, they'd dry.

I often hang nearly-dry items in the bathroom so I did it this time too.

The hoodies never dry completely so they go on the doors.

The dog bed is an odd shape and has nowhere else to go but on the vent. (His bed was the only thing dry by bedtime. Dry AND warm, lucky bastard.)

Then the kitchen clothesline - a classic. I've done this before, but never a DOUBLE clothesline. (I'm saving about $5 and the planet, people. It's fucking worth it.)

Then the crazy kicked in. Ah ha! These tubes that used to form plastic shelves, which I need to deconstruct anyway! If I taped them together with the leftover packing tape ...

... they could form a bar! It fell twice. You could tell when it was about to go because the crinkling would increase.

Wings like rags or rags like wings. This one would catch the heat and swivel gently back and forth. Peaceful. Mocking.

After the packing tape/plastic tube fiasco crashed the second time, I remembered I had a Swiffer that might be able to support some weight. It did beautifully. (And dusted that spot.)

I got lazy toward the end. I also ran out of string, clothespins, bars and hangers.

I was stretched above my dresser trying to weigh down the improv pole with reams of computer paper when I looked down and saw a quarter - one of two in my possession.

That quarter could have dried my underwear.

Sunday, November 29

Behind the (dull) scenes

Taking photos of The Shoe.

Scout came to investigate after the first photo was taken. I couldn't even get in two shots, I kid you not.

And he got comfortable.

If you can't beat them, shoot them.

Thursday, November 19


Sorry, lovely readers — I had to delete "a dirty story with a clean moral" because I apparently could have gotten in trouble for it. Please don't hate me!

Monday, November 9

I'll tell you what

I had plans tonight, plans to do "grown-up" homework. My homework included:
  • find a doctor and set up my health insurance online account;
  • enroll in the autopay programs for my student loans and electric bills;
  • change my address with Edward Jones and the credit card people;
  • find a driver's facility nearby so I know where to go after studying for my Indiana driving test; and
  • e-mail friends and family about my work schedule so we can schedule a visit.
Also on my list were some "not-so-grown-up" to-dos. They included:
  • find music (cough) and
  • restart my Netflix delivery.
What did I end up doing? Completely "not-so-grown-up" shit that wasn't even on my pink Post-It. Fuck! That shit included:
  • catching up on my daily Web comics,
  • updating this blog,
  • listening to heads (Talking Heads and Radiohead),
  • washing the dog,
  • ripping my comforter apart so I can requilt it and
  • this:
I keep finding baby socks in my laundry. Tonight I found a man sock AND a baby sock. I put the baby sock with the other two I've found. I gave the man sock to my dog to chew on.


I suck at being mature.


My ID has been pasted to the top of an old ID … that seems to have been pasted on top of another ID. In my picture I look like I have huge shoulders, my white chest preoccupies the eye, and my cheeks are chubby, but look at me! Doesn’t that smile say, “Happy to Have a Fucking Job that Requires an ID”?

The players

Oct. 7, 2009

My handy dry-erase board.

The extensive notes I took on my co-workers after my first day at work. I will call my co-workers Ariel, Lily, Ron, Agatha, Aaron, Carl and John on subsequent references. Add in Martin (the new guy), C.T. (a female peer) and Maria.

Agatha does not love Aaron.

John is not a love interest. (He's married with a baby on the way.)

And yes, there will always be problems with the ad department, Christian.

Another Q&A please

Oct. 6, 2009
This Q&A sheet I read while trying to decide which health plan to choose was completely unhelpful. I think there was a missing Q&A, one that went between knowing nothing to the one I was given. It’s bad when you’re 22 and the term “deductible” is tripping you up. I don’t have my computer yet and I’m not sure a dictionary would have been any help even if I had one here. (I’ve tried to look up shit like this before without luck.)

So I called my dad.

I love my dad, but I don’t want to have to call him about this stuff. I need to learn it for myself. A friend suggested reading "Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties" by Beth Kobliner, and I think I’ll get it … as soon as I get my library card.

Yet another item on The List.


Oct. 5, 2009

Martin* has a girlfriend.

Two paces off the starting block

Oct. 4, 2009

I’m telling myself the following: My current job is fine. It’s an excellent starter job in that there is little pressure, low to no standards, it’s not too far from home, etc. The actual look of the publications themselves is unimportant because right now it’s about getting my foot in that door and gaining experience at working with different styles.

When I go to look for my next job, I will choose newspapers that have designs I love because, as it turns out, that shit is important.

I got the feeling by the end of my first week that this job will give me the experience of how to create a carefully crafted turd. For instance, I finished my pages early one night — well, most every night that first week — so I was told to sit with my co-worker Lily* for a little bit. She printed a page and told me to look it over for errors. I’m still getting used to the design styles so I wasn’t much help there. Instead, I looked at AP style, spelling and grammar errors. I found one.
“Isn’t ‘Street’ supposed to be ‘St.’ because it’s with a specific address?”
"Ha ha! Look, guys! She’s actually copy editing!”
I’m not sure how long I’ll last. I know one year is my personal minimum. (May I mention for the hundredth time that moving is a bitch?) It would be ideal to stretch that to two years so I don’t look like a flighty fuck on my resume but …

The tradeoff for slowly killing pieces of my soul is that I get compliments from my chick supervisor, Agatha*: “You’re kicking ass! Here!! Two more pages!!!”

* * *

I spent my day going through the health insurance plans and 401(k) details. In one of the packets there was a list of all the newspapers this media group owns. I don’t think they meant for it to be a shopping list of potential employers but that’s how I interpreted it. I think I even applied to one of them, the one in Michigan.

I know three things about the boy who starts tomorrow: He graduated from a school in Michigan, his name is Martin* and he’s “nerdy-looking.”

I’ve now put together a fantasy future in which he is my married mate Martin from Michigan.

Martin and I hit it off because we’re new, and we don’t know anyone in this area because we were desperate for jobs. (My co-workers gave me blank WTF faces when I said I have no connections to the area, which means they probably don’t know how narrow the market is and how blood-thirsty college grads are getting.) Martin and I designed better pages for our respective college publications, we’re nerdy and horny (I could be projecting here) so we get closer while talking about these things. Fifty-odd weeks later, I pack up my stuff and the kids (Scurry* and Einstein,* cat and dog, respectively) and move north where he’ll follow when he has finished his 52-week stint. We’ll move into our first home together. It’s tiny but we’re in love. We’re happier now because he’s closer to home (he’s a family man, bless him) and I’ve finally landed back in Michigan, a land with a lake, pebbly shores and virgin forests. We’re transferred to the other company-owned newspaper here and we’re a wonder duo. Unstoppable. And so we remain until I grow sick of him, pack up my stuff and the kids (Scurry* and Einstein*) and head farther north because I’m a glutton for the cold — I’m more comfortable when the outside temperature matches that of my heart.

Now it’ll be even more interesting to meet him tomorrow.

*=Not their real names. I’ll get to that.

Tuesday, November 3

Being "Ms. C"

Would you like to know why you haven’t heard from me in a while? Good, I’d like to tell you.

To pass the time, and make up for my lack of job, I’ve been subbing.

That’s right. Some of you know me pretty well. You might be thinking, “That’s weird, I’m sure I’ve heard Christian declare her disdain for kids and that she will never have them.” Well, you, friends, are not wrong. But, let this be an insight to what a great employee I am and how hard I work regardless of how I feel about a job: Those kids love me. And really, I’ve started to actually like some of them. I’ve stayed in the lower grades (which is fine, because I’m still taller than them). I even pat them to sleep when they’re being whiny and sad. And (this is my favorite part) sometimes we make glitter princess crowns. Then, I call them “Princess insert name here” all day.
HA. See? Take that,
MORE reasons to hire me.
  • I can adapt.
  • You will never know if I don’t actually want to be doing a job.
  • And!!!! I can make princess crowns. : )

all great qualities in a potential employee, I think.

I'd appreciate you not complaining to me about your job until I have a job to complain about