January 30, 2009

My New Austere Life

Moving to Albany has been great for many reasons- the history, the people, the nature. Pretty much everything has been positive in one way or another. Except for my credit rating. The move here was much more expensive than anticipated and I was unemployed for two months. Top that with an apartment that was too expensive for my salary and you find yourself with a recipe for a high credit balance. Though my financial situation is better I still belong to the "I want it now" generation. So out would come the credit card. I'm not proud of it. I'm sick of it and it's embarrassing. Yeah, the solution is to just not use it but I simply couldn't get myself to.

One day a few weeks ago I was goofing off on the Internet, as I am wont to do, when I stumbled upon a financial blog. One post was called snowballing debt or something like that. I was intrigued. It sounded dirty but it's not. Snowballing debt basically means you pay off your debts smallest to highest. It goes like this: list your various debts lowest balance to highest balance. You throw as much money as you can to the lowest balance, paying the minimum on the other cards until you pay off the lowest balance. You then move on to the next card and so on and so on. Then, stop using credit cards. Don't carry one, don't use one. The point is once you pay off a card you feel like you've finally accomplished something instead of treading the waters of credit card debt. And you finally start to feel like you're getting back in control.

I only used one of my two cards as it was but the balance was/is incredibly intimidating and very daunting. But in order to get it to shrink instead of grow I must pay off more than I use. And that means not using it at all. I cancelled my automatic payments on it and moved the payments to other cards. Now, neither card is being used and I plan to use my tax refund to pay off the smaller balance card that isn't being used anyway.

As soon as I removed my credit card from my wallet I felt like I was finally free. Like I was finally in charge of my money. Sheesh- I felt like I instantaneously lost five pounds. Mike thinks I need to carry the card for emergencies. I think I'll be okay. I'll carry the card when I'm travelling because that just makes sense. But that doesn't mean I'll be using it. It just means I'll have a safety net. I'll be so used to not using it that I won't reach for it when I don't need to.

I really like being able to see where all my money goes and that I will soon see tangible results to eliminating my debt. It will take years for my debt to finally shrink to something more manageable. But I finally feel like the albatross has been removed from my neck. I'm so excited.

January 27, 2009

Get Bent Tax Man

My taxes were filed just mere moments ago. It would've been done sooner but I was waiting on my W-2 from the theatre. Oh the joy of not owning any property- done in thirty minutes. I love doing my taxes. I do it on the web. Fan-freakin-amazing. I recommend it to anyone, property or no. Ah... No worries now, kids. Well, that's not true. I'll worry until I get my refunds... Then it will be smooth sailing.

January 23, 2009

Really Universe?

A few years ago my passenger side mirror was knocked off. It was hanging by the power mirror wire until someone decided to rip it off and take it. So I replaced it. A few months ago someone broke the same mirror but was nice enough to not steal it. The glass was broken out so I replaced it. Yesterday, Mike told me someone nicked my driver side mirror. The glass is still there and the wires still work. However, there is no side to my side mirror. Looking at it from inside my car, it appears artistic. I couldn't get a good look at it in the dark but something tells me liquid can get in there and fuck things up. So, I think I'll replace it.

I really want to blame college kids for this one like I could blame college kids for the other. Since it was previously my passenger side it meant only one thing- passerby. Drunken, sloppy, douchey, inconsiderate passerby. This time it is very likely that my car was simply clipped by another car. With the snow not being cleared properly in Albany (I mean come on!! It's not like we've never gotten snow before!!) cars have to hang in the street a little more than usual. So I can see how it is a simple and logical possibility. Mike says that kind of stuff happens when you park on the street in a city. But that doesn't mean I can't be raging mad about it.

I can see the end of my car payments. They are in reach. I've been paying off Cagney for five and a half years. She is almost mine. I CAN TASTE IT. But for the past six months I've been walking around with a knot in my stomach. Every time I hear a thud at our intersection I run out to check if my car is involved. I'm just waiting for it. And here I am with ANOTHER BUSTED MIRROR and I'm convinced it will lead to trouble if it goes unchecked and I will lose my car forever and never EVER see the end of car payments. The only reason I could afford my car in the first place is because of a sinfully low interest rate that I will NEVER SEE AGAIN. *insert unintelligible ranting here* Sigh.

Karma, I would prefer a detailed memo of what I'm doing wrong instead of a string of broken side mirrors. Mmmmk? Thanks.

January 21, 2009

The Ratings That Never Were

Dear Channel 8 and Channel 10 News,

Remember me? I'm the young, articulate and quite attractive young woman with the fabulous hair and amazing teeth you interviewed last night while friends of mine and I were celebrating the inauguration at Citizen Action's party at Envy Lounge. I said some pretty insightful things about how the world can start to look towards America to lead competently in the global theatre and how Americans can walk around Europe with their heads at eye level- if I say so myself. You were so impressed that Channel 8, you told me to check me out at 10pm and Channel 10, you told me to check myself out at 11pm.

How excited I was that I could feel like more of Mike's family by appearing on television. You see, Mike's parents, grandparents, some uncles and brother have a knack of being caught on camera while doing things around town. So, I was thrilled to tell my future mother-in-law that I was going to be on the TeeVee. I was going to send the links to my family members- all of whom live out of state. Oh, the joy we would all share.

Well. Imagine my surprise when I turned on Channel 8 and there was no me. That's okay I guess. Channel 8, you didn't even have a microphone. You were open and said that you really just wanted shots of excited people with signs. I thought we were just having a one-on-one chat. You sort of made up for it with the ridiculous lead-in about a robbery at a Party Store in Detroit where "during this robbery no one was having fun." Like a party store that was really not a party store at all but a neighborhood market where I can cash my checks and by a 40 oz in one stop would really be a fun time without the robbery. (Actually, it's more dangerous than fun... It's sort of evil to provide a check service in a convenience store- I'll be so depressed about my puny check that I'll just buy a ton of malt liquor. Take about convenience!) To make me feel even better, you showed footage of a young man without a shirt but with a winter hat lazily whack the place up with a stick when the teller refused to give him money during said robbery.

And as for YOU Channel 10... You had a microphone! You asked me how to spell my name! You asked me way more questions than expected! You gave me broken promises! I stayed up past my bedtime! Who cares if you interviewed a bunch of other people whose interviews you didn't use? Who cares if your segment was only two minutes? And who cares if no one wants to hear about the opinion of a middle-class white girl in the election of our first African-American president? Bollocks to you!

Whatever. I'm awesome. Think of the ratings I could've given you. You will never see numbers that staggering. And who's fault is that?

Katherine "I'm Just Too Awesome for TV" Sassafrass

January 20, 2009

Oh Happy Day

Today's events will undoubtedly give me shivers. I've been looking up the schedule of inauguration events and already my heart can't take it. I'm not being dramatic. This whole election process was very emotional for me and all of that culminates with today. I wanted to be there for Obama's swearing in and to see his parade (I love a good parade) but I'm not. I won't even be able to watch it on television. I can listen while at work but I'll probably miss most of it. Mike and I will be watching tonight with some friends at a party though I wish I'd be able to watch it at home. I don't want to censor myself while listening to Obama speak and I don't want to hold back the joy in my heart. I won't be able to enjoy this to my fullest ability but I will still enjoy this. Who knows, maybe I won't be the only one crying. I just hope no one will be yelling bad things.

Many people who supported Obama are criticizing him for choosing Rick Warren as his invocation dude. I can see where they're coming from however that only shows that they weren't listening. Obama championed change and bipartisanship. Well, simply being bipartisan is a change. Obama is reaching out to Evangelicals- a group usually ostracized by the moderate left. Obama is keeping his promise- he is including all Americans in his beginning and I believe he will continue to do so. Now, he will probably make those same Evangelicals angry in a few weeks by overturning Bush's policy of not providing American money to foreign planned parenting clinics. He will never make everyone happy. But the point is, he's trying to find that middle ground. I just hope that while he's on that ground that the crazy liberals don't go for his jugular. I, myself, will be happy that he is there. And while I may not agree with Warren's beliefs the fact is, he is willing to participate in inaugrating a very left leaning politician. I'm sure he's getting crap for that from his camp. Both men are making a point on both sides- people have to meet in the middle for this country to realize it's fullest potential. And quite frankly, in this crisis, we need all the cooperation we can get.

The change that we all voted for, hope for and need will take time. In this age of now, now, now we need to realize that the change that will last and the real change that we need will take years. It may take more than four years, it may take more than eight years, to see fruits of our labors. We need to band together as Americans and look beyond gender, race or creed. We need to look and move forward to a stronger, greater, and peaceful America. We need to help each other. I believe it is out there. I believe we can find it. I believe we can create it. And I believe Obama can lead us there. God bless America. God bless Barack Obama. Here we go.

January 15, 2009

Save Handmade! Save My Mom!

I have this awesome wooden game that I got when I was eight. It has three posts and a few disks of various sizes. The trick is to move the entire stack of disks to another post without putting a bigger disk on top of a smaller disk. It's awesome and I love it. But there is a new law on the table that would make the person who made my game a criminal. This law would make it illegal to sell handmade goods to children that aren't tested or approved by the government. That would mean people like my mother, who makes beautiful things with her hands and sells them at craft shows like thousands of other well meaning Americans, could be prosecuted for selling goods that are given to children unless she pays a third party thousands of dollars to test her goods and prove that they are free of lead and other harmful things. Not only will this law kill so many people's livelihoods- mostly women who work from home and provide their families with a second income- but think of all those cute skirts and stuffed animals you find on indie craft sites or in indie craft fairs that you will never see again. Those fairs would probably disappear all together if this legislation passes.

Oh yeah, and this law covers children's bikes and children's books as well. So there go independent bike shops and small publishing houses. I mean, this stuff is crazy.

Please go to this website and learn how you can help Save Handmade. It takes no time at all. I signed a petition and sent an email to my congressman all in five minutes. Please! It is so important.

January 14, 2009

The Little Things

On Christmas Eve, while Mike and I were enjoying a wonderful time with friends (and I was enjoying a wonderful time with a bottle of white wine), someone unlawfully entered my car. I can't say my car was broken into because nothing was broken and nothing was done to my car to cause alarm. It was unlocked. Yeah... So we didn't notice until we left at almost 1am and I saw my glove compartment was open and things were strewn about. Someone had taken all of my CDs out of the car (sad face,) popped the trunk, and then took one of Mike's beer buckets to carry all of the CDs. They also took something I use to play my iPod over the radio, all the pennies from my ash tray and my hand lotion and chap stick that I keep in reach of the wheel. They didn't look in the back seat at all which would've gotten them some running shoes and a singing Santa doll. I guess they were kind of stupid- not only did they not get running shoes but they, thankfully, didn't steal an Ez-Pass or any vehicle information.

This was something of a bummer being Christmas Eve and all but Mike and I reasoned that if someone was going through cars to steal crap on Christmas Eve it meant a few things- they had no one else to spend it with, they needed that stuff way more than we did, or they had a terrible drug habit. Maybe all of the above. The fact that they didn't steal anything that required work, like a vehicle registration, leads me to believe drugs and sheer desperation. I'm just grateful nothing was rendered irreparable or nothing terribly valuable was taken (though Mike would disagree about his beer bucket.)

We've since replaced the iPod gadget and a CD that was too new to find cheaply and I am in the process of acquiring the other CDs at little or no cost. I wonder if the thief will enjoy their new Aimee Mann or Film School albums. I doubt their neighborhood will want them for any amount of money. They picked the wrong car to thieve unless their market likes indie and Madonna. What I couldn't understand was the stealing of the chap stick and hand lotion. The pennies too but money is money.

No matter all the headache remembering what CDs were taken. I have the last laugh. Yesterday I was in my car for the first time in a while and when I went to adjust my floor mat what did I find? My chap stick!! Sucka what? That's right! Victory is mine!!

January 9, 2009


When I was a teenager I would dream of making out with Zach Morris. Now that I'm 27, I dream of real estate and gardens.

I wasn't allowed to watch music television when I was twelve. There was a three hour block between me coming home and anyone else. So I watched nothing but music television. Except when I was sneak playing the "family game system" which was stored in my brother's room and had games that were only given to my brother. I meticulously put everything back so he never noticed.

One of my roommates leaves one dollar bills around the apartment and I steal them. (Hint- it's not Fluffy.)

I was convinced I was adopted for years. Evidence: I was the only one with blonde hair at the time, the same midwife delivered all three of us in a military hospital, and my baby brother was a douche.

When I was ten I was peer pressured into flashing a passing car. I was deeply ashamed for years until I realized that when you're driving a motor vehicle at 40 mph, chances are you aren't looking into garages hoping to see a ten year old flash you her "boobies."

This Is What I Get?

Mike and I are having dinner in Bennington with friends tonight and I dropped him off at a carpool location this morning so he and I can drive all the way back home in one car. I do not like driving his car since it's a totally different size than mine and an automatic and it's had more troubles than my car. I just don't want to be driving it when one of those odd things or scary noises happen and I don't know if it's a new problem or something that will turn the car into a ball of flames. That and I prefer manual transmission in the Northeast because I find it much more comforting to drive manual in certain conditions and manual transmission gives me the semblance of more control (lack of control is where all of my stress and worry comes from.) Besides, Cagney is a much, much, cuter vehicle.

Sure, some would think I'd prefer to drive a C-RV in winter weather but I just think lower lying cars are better when the roads are clear AND when they are mired. Whatever, it all comes down to what you know. And I know my car even if I haven't driven her much for the past nine months. We have the previous five and a half years together. That's a history, people!

So here I am this morning all ready to get into Cagney thinking the only thing that would take extra time is the ice on the windshield. Heh. I'm dumb. I haven't moved the car since Tuesday and we've had some awesome winter weather lately. And by awesome I mean shitastic. There's been ice and snow and sleet. Fine, whatever. I walk to work. Except for today- when I want to drive to Vermont of all places- and I can't get my car out because one whole tire is surrounded by a lovely ice cocoon. And it's a front tire, something whose mobility is imperative when you have front wheel drive. Bleh.

I can't even be mad. The ice wrap is just a testament to my committment to driving less. But instead of freezing my jubblies off chipping at ice I would prefer a parade. Universe, get on that. Mmmk?

January 8, 2009

White Wine for the Soul

My friend Karen and I went on a fantastic day trip last Sunday to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. It's not too far from Albany and the scenery and weather was so lovely that I didn't notice the drive much at all. I'd never been to the Clark and I hadn't been to MASSMoCA in a long time but the Clark was free and MASSMoCA was not. I felt a little bad that Karen had already been to the Clark but she reassured me that the collection is amazing and it is comforting that you can return to pieces that you enjoy over and over again. MASS MoCA has much more of a transient art collection.

The Clark is really just a collection of pieces aquired in the first half of the 20th century by the heir to the Singer sewing machine empire, Sterling Clark and his wife Francine. If you know anything about Singers then you know just how much money this guy had to throw around. (Ahem, a crapload.) I was shocked at the pieces in their collection, well more like incredibly pleasantly surprised. He and his wife seemed to love the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists like Degas, Manet, Homer and Renoir. They also collected art from my favorite portrait artist John Singer Sargent. I was most surprised by his presence. I shouldn't have been since the rest of the collection was heading that way, but I was. That's how I live my life, oblivious to patterns until they smack me in the face.

Anyway, I am so glad Karen had the idea to go. I'd be happy to go over and over again. The collection hit the spot. There were artists whose work touches my heart and reaffirms the beauty in nature at the Clark. I want to share with you some of my favorites that I am so blessed to have seen in reality.

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen by Degas. This was cast in bronze in 1919-1921 after his death in 1917.

I commented to Karen that Degas must've been obsessed with dancers and slept with tons of them. This disturbed her greatly since so many of his subjects seem so young. I'm not saying I disagree that it was creepy but not all of his subjects were children. We found some other bronze statues that were obviously women of age (come to think of it, those statues were of curvy women so either dancers weren't so skinny back then or Degas hired prostitutes to stand naked in ballet poses. Of course, I'm speculating since I know NOTHING about Degas the man. He really could've just loved drawing dancers because they were pretty, interesting, and challenging to draw.)

The Fumée d'Ambre Gris (Smoke of Ambergris) by John Singer Sargent. 1880.

Karen told me that the members of the museum voted this their favorite. She didn't tell me which was the favorite until we turned the corner and I saw this. I was so excited! This was the first Sargent we saw. There is something about the way he put the paint on the canvas that makes the portraits so sensual and, for lack of a better word, succulent. They are all like butter. I could look at them all day.

West Point, Prout's Neck by Winslow Homer. 1900.

Mike and I both enjoy Homer. I always liked the idea of retiring on the coast of Maine. The coast of the Northeast is unlike the rest of the Eastern seaboard- the sea seems more alive up there than anywhere else. Homer's work only reaffirms that idea.

The Women of Amphissaby Lawrence Alma-Tadema. 1887.

I'd never seen this piece before. This image doesn't do it justice because the canvas is so large but the composition of the women is so theatrical I was drawn to it.

I don't get to go to many straight-up art museums as much as I would like. Mike and I naturally gravitate to museums of a more historical nature. Not to say we don't both love a good art collection it's just we see art in more of a historical context and not in an artistic context. No matter, I'll take it any way I can get it.

January 6, 2009

I Almost Forgot

My most annoying task at hand for 2009 is finishing this book:

This will be my third year reading it. I'm not doing it justice by reading it so piece-mealed. It's not that I think it's bad. I think it's too long.

Like a Kitty Flu Ward Over Here

This is the best picture I could find in a "sick cat" image search. It's lame but makes me laugh every time I look at it.

Fluffy was hilarious this morning with her ginormous kitty sneezes. Her face would scrunch up and she would spaz her head about until she let them out. Ugh. She either has a cold or got something up her nose in all her investigative sniffing over the past two days. Or Cricket gave her an STD that makes you sneeze. Or she's snorting crack in the den again. I tell her to leave the crack alone or give me money but she never listens. Stupid addicts and their inability to pay up. I tell you- never trust a crackhead.

But I digress. She's been sneezing these huge sneezes for the past day. She's sneezed before but not in this frequency. I'm only a little alarmed because the hilariousness of her little kitty sneezes are distracting me. If the sneezes weren't so funny I would be concerned that something is lodged in her schnoz. That makes the most sense since the fireplace is pretty dusty and old. If she's still sneezy when I get home I'll call the vet. Since she stopped searching around the fireplace yesterday it could be a cold she got from Nature. Nature's a bitch like that. But until then I'm going to laugh at the crackhead's discomfort and demand my money. I'm going to need it since this will probably involve a vet visit.

January 5, 2009

Hungry Like the Wolf

Yesterday the cat started meowing and pawing at the fireplace. Though Mike nor I could hear anything at first, I knew that meant something living had made its way down the chimney and found itself in our sealed section of it. Our fireplace is sealed where the smoke goes so I'm not concerned about whatever it is getting into our home but it still creeps me out that something is in there. Mike heard what he described as flapping later in the afternoon but I still haven't heard anything. *Shudder*

Fluffy has ignored my affections for two days because of whatever is in there. I bet it's eating her up inside that she can't get into the chimney and catch something worth catching. Nah nah. Hunting flies isn't very rewarding for her. Or so I've deduced- it's not like she told me. I tried to put my ear up to the fireplace to listen but all I did was sprain my neck. So who knows what's in there.

I hope that whatever it is gets out because I can't handle it either dying in there and stinking or finding some sort of way out and into our home. I'm sure the cat would love chasing whatever it is but I would crap my pants, change them and then get a rabies shot. I don't care if it's as cute as Jiminy Cricket, I'm positive it has some sort of communicable disease. Besides, I hear Cricket's something of a whore. And all whores have VD.

January 3, 2009


Gosh! I've missed writing! Work has been so crazy the last thing I want to do when I get home is get on a computer, and that's even if I come home! This holiday season was great but I am TIRED! We've been doing nothing but coming and going and I almost feel like a chicken with her head cut off. Besides, I miss my cat. Things are winding down now and it's been strange being able to sit still. I'm sure I'll get used to it. All that holiday chaos hasn't kept me from reflecting on the past year and looking forward to 2009.

I don't believe in resolutions but I do believe in goals. Resolutions didn't seem permanent enough and the fact that I never kept one for a whole year always bummed me out. Last year was the first year I set goals for myself in lieu of a resolution. So let's see how well I did. Shall we?

1. Get a new job.
Technically I did- I got a part time theatre box office job.

2. Take two grad classes.
This I did for sure. You can check my credit card statement.

3. Reduce credit card debt.
Nope. See #2.

4. Be a Weight Watchers Success Stories.
Nope a dope.

So... One and a half goals achieved. I suppose numbers three and four will carry over to this year- albeit a little revised. I wonder how well I'll do on 2009's goals:

1. Get a new full time job.
2. Reach my goal weight.
3. Compete in three triathlons.
4. Do not increase debt.
5. Get a better time for the Crystal Lake Triathlon.

This is going to be an exciting year. I can feel it in my belly.