Well, this worked before

Maybe it’ll work again. I need a real to do list because I keep forgetting what I’m supposed to be doing. I know that’s stupid, but still.

apply for work (30/50 completed)
one in-person interview!
—one phone interview!
file my taxes and update my FAFSA, if necessary
make list of all the books I have here in NY
bookshelf 1, bedroom
—bookshelf 2, bedroom
—bookshelf 3, living room
—bookshelf 4, living room, part 1
—bookshelf 4, living room, part 2
—floor, bedroom
—input all into Excel
holiday gift thank yous
edit manuscript & send out
update finances
create reading list with due dates

After all this is done, I’m allowing myself to see a movie. Maybe Valkyrie, if it’s still playing. Maybe something else, I don’t know.

Originally posted: 19 January 2009, 3:50 PM ET

On money

LeFou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking…
—A dangerous past-time.
I know.

So… I don’t have a lot of money. That’s not news to most people. In fact, I have so little money, I actually have negative money—I owe people. Student loans and credit cards pretty much kill me. I’m paying off credit cards for things I don’t even remember buying anymore. So, I’ve taken steps to not use my cards, and since I’m still in school, I don’t have to worry about student loans until I leave school. I don’t want to think that far ahead right now.

I have a job and I pay the bills online or by check (usually the latter). I was apartment-hunting up until last week, so I had a big payment due upon moving in and another coming up for the month of October, too. I can cover the expenses, but just barely, and that’s only if I don’t do anything else.

I bring the money thing up after two unrelated things happened with the couple with whom I was staying (while looking for a place to live). First, Daniel saw me inputting some of my expenses into my Quicken register. He scoffed and asked, “You do your own finances?”—as if it was something beneath a normal person to keep up with his/her own bills and whatnot. I nodded, saying, “Yes, of course. What do you do?” He said, “Well, I have an accountant do all that stuff for me. Well, he’s my parents’ accountant and he does my stuff, too. And, if I’m worried about not having enough [money], I just put it on my credit card.” I said, “Yes, I have a credit card, too.” He seemed surprised. I continued, “Actually, I have multiple cards. That’s why I even bother keeping track. If I didn’t, I’d be seriously in trouble.” It was interesting that he was surprised that I keep track of my own finances and do my own taxes and have a credit card (or two… or more). I figured the less I had to keep track of, the less I would need to track it, not the other way around.

Second, I had dinner with Beth in mid-September at Applebee’s. I covered the tab, and it was (including a paltry tip) more than $40… each. (edit: And I just learned that the dinner overdrafted my checking account and dipped into my savings! T_T) We had an appetizer, an entree for each of us, and a dessert for each of us.

When I was growing up, my family would go out sometimes, but we’d never get an appetizer or dessert—it was a main course or nothing. The appetizers were never even considered, and it was once in a Blue Moon when the kids (my brother, sister, and I) were able to convince our parents to get a dessert for all five of us to share… and that’s only if we could decide on one dessert at all.

When I first started living with Beth and Daniel, I was surprised by how often they went out to eat. Daniel always paid, though, so I wasn’t complaining. (I offered to pay a couple of times, but he always turned me down until the last time, right after I’d moved out into my own place.) It seems, though, that they’re used to getting an appetizer and a main dish and dessert… Which is fine; to each his/her own, right? Maybe I wouldn’t be so irritated if they actually ate everything set in front of them. No, actually, that’s not the problem.

They don’t mind asking for their leftovers to be wrapped and bagged to be taken home. I applaud that… seriously, that’s awesome. What annoys me is that they never eat the leftovers. In the month that I stayed with them, they ate their leftovers all of one time (the day before I moved into my new place), but then they went and had a “real” dinner anyway. I, personally, threw out a crapton* of old, moldy Chinese food not to mention other stuff that I couldn’t identify because they’d brought it home and never opened it since.

At first I thought I was being annoying about money because people keep telling me (when they talk to me about money at all) that I’m “too young” to really be in trouble or have to worry about that sort of thing, and I hated when my dad made me learn to use Quicken, but now I’m really grateful. I know people under 30 years who’ve already declared bankruptcy, and it’s not pretty. I can’t have that problem. I don’t want to, in any case. And I’m no where near it, I hope. That is, everything’s okay for now. But I’m flabbergasted by the way some people seem to spend money without thinking about it. I just don’t have that luxury, unfortunately.

It is interesting to observe other people’s habits and (try to) refrain from saying anything. A lot of the time, I’d like to say, “Ur doin’ it wrong!

* “crapton” is not a real word.

How to rob a bank

While it’s fresh in my mind, I’m going to write this out. Just in case, you know, I get called for grand jury testimony or something. >_< Today around 1 PM, I went down to Pier 1 on the Conservancy-owned bicycle to take the “to be deposited” cash sitting in the safe there to the Capital One Bank up on Joralemon St. It had already been counted, so I just filled out a deposit slip, separated the bills by denomination, and headed up Joralemon St. to the bank. On the way, I called my dad to ask how to switch gears (I haven’t ridden a bike in years, and while actually riding the thing is like… well, like riding a bike, I hadn’t quite remembered how to switch gears) and he and my mom let me know what to do. It’s a relief that bicycles are somewhat standardized.

Anyway, I got to the bank, parked the bike outside, went inside, and got in line for the teller. I was behind a couple of people, and while they were being helped, I watched the news on CNN. I remember some commercial for American Morning and a short news piece about the escalator going backwards at the Tokyo Wonder Festival (Wikipedia|Main). Then, there was something about the difference between Senator Obama’s and Senator McCain’s respective presidential health care plans.

I was shaking my head morosely at McCain’s health care ideas and the guy behind me, a 40s-something white guy with blond hair and blue eyes wearing a yellow shirt, said, “Yeah, McCain sucks.” I said, “I don’t know how just giving more tax breaks is really going to help anything in the long run.” He nodded and said, “Yeah, I’m definitely voting for Obama. I just want this election thing to be over with and Bush to finally be out of office.” I was about to say something, but I was called up to the teller, so I smiled and went on my way. I went to the end teller where a nice black lady with pretty nails counted the Conservancy’s deposit multiple times (it was over by $20, apparently—which is better than under by $20, at least, right?). I had to give her my ID because the amount was so high and waited patiently while the counts were (re)counted.

The guy behind me went up to the teller two windows down from mine (there were only two windows open at that time) and I looked over and watched him pass the lady a note. She looked at it, looked back at him, and took all the money out of her register and gave it to him. Her hands were shaking, but he just took the cash and headed out the door as if nothing had happened. I remember thinking, “I don’t really have time for a bank robbery today.” The lady behind the window went into full panic mode and started crying and shaking so bad that my teller stopped what she was doing to call the manager. (No one but the robbed teller and I knew the bank had been robbed by that point since we were the only ones paying attention to anything besides what was right in front of us.) The assistant manager came and the teller gasped out, “We’ve been robbed.” And then the bank went into lock down; no one in or out. Within 10 minutes, police had swarmed the place and there was a uniformed officer taking statements from all the “witnesses” (meaning, everyone in the bank at the time of the robbery). My transaction continued on as normal and I successfully deposited the Pier 1 money and then made change for the little restaurant/bar there. Then, I had to wait.

I called Beth at the office and told her that I had deposited the cash and made change like I was supposed to, but that the bank had been robbed and I would be there for a while. She said, “WHAT?” and then said, “All right, well, just let us know what happens when you get back.” (I learned later that she called Laurence, the guy who runs Pier 1, and let him know as well that I would be late.)

I was called to give a statement. The officer asked for my identification and phone number and cringed when I said “818…” which is an out-of-state area code, but she took it down anyway. She asked for my order in line (I said, “I was standing in front of the guy.”) and if we had spoken at all before I’d gone to the teller. I said that we had talked about McCain’s crappy health care plans, that I had been called to the teller, and that I had watched the guy pass the other teller his note. I said I didn’t know what the note said, I but I could guess. And, as an afterthought, I mentioned that he’d been wearing a yellow shirt. She said that, yes, they knew that already (the bank was equipped with cameras) but that apparently the guy had changed his shirt after leaving (I don’t know how she knew that, but she’s a cop, so whatever). She thanked me for my time and said she’d let me know when I could leave.

So, I sat around for a while with the change for Pier 1 in my bag. When I was finally let go, I had to ask two officers to move so I could move the bike (at least no one would take it with them standing around like that) and I headed back to Pier 1. I thought to myself, “Rob a bank with a note and (I assume) a threat? Who does that anymore? So clich├ęd.” When I got there, I gave Laurence the cash and rode back to the office, where we all had a good laugh and people joked about how maybe I shouldn’t handle money anymore because when I do, places get robbed. Hahahaha. Hohohoho. >_< I got back around 3 PM. You know, for a bank robbery, it was pretty tame. (Yeah, right... because I have so much else besides TV and movies to use for comparison. LOL.) And, yes Mom, I'm fine. Everything is fine.

Operation Subway Tree

I love the NYC subway. People keep telling me that this fascination with and adoration for the subway will eventually wear off, but it hasn’t yet and I’ve been here almost a year. With a name like “Operation Subway Tree” you’d think that I’m doing my part to protect the environment—even underground. Nope. This is much more selfish and (I think) fun. So here’s the deal.

I want to have a MTA-themed Christmas tree this year (or next year or whenever all the right pieces fall into place). Yes, I know I’m the biggest dork there is; you don’t have to tell me. (At least I’m not this guy.) This is what I need: a tree, ornaments, garlands, lights, ornament storage.

1. Tree. Average tree cost is $70. No biggie; I don’t even need to worry about this until I have the rest of the stuff.

2. Ornaments. The most expensive part of the equation, and what has turned out to be the most complicated. There are two types of ornaments I want: Subway Map ($27 each, of which I want 12 for a total cost of $324) and Subway Line ($15 each), the latter of which is the complicated part. As you can see here, there are quite a few lines and many of them share the same color. I would like the tree to be roughly color-balanced while still representing each line,* so here’s what I’ve come up with.

  • One each of B, F, V (orange) and Q, R, W (yellow) lines.
  • Two each of D (orange) and N (yellow) lines. (I use these lines most often.)
  • Two each of 1, 2, 3 (red); 4, 5, 6 (green); A, C, E (blue); J, M, Z (brown) lines.
  • Three each of L (grey) and S (dark grey) lines. (I don’t need too much grey!)
  • Six each of 7 (purple) and G (light green) lines.

That leaves me with 5 orange and 5 yellow ornaments and 6 of each of the other colors for a total of 52 Subway Line ornaments. The price tag is $780. Adding that to the cost of the Subway Map ornaments, it comes to $1104.

* Once the 2nd Ave. line is finished, my whole scheme will be royally effed up, especially if it shares a color with an already existing line. [cries] Also, for the sake of correctness, the S Line isn’t actually a line; it stands for “shuttle” and carries passengers one, two, or three stops between important stops on other lines.

3. Garlands. Gotta love these strands. Each is 4 feet long and costs $64. I’ll go for 3 strands, just to be sure, for a total of $192.

4. Lights. Mini clear or white ones, like these or these; they can be found at any hardware-type store in season. Average cost is $9. I probably need one 50-foot long (or less) strand.

5. Storage. One of these ($20) and one of these ($15). What, you think after spending all that money on ornaments that I’m just going to throw them in with the rest of my crap for the rest of the non-holiday year? I don’t think so. The first box holds up to 48 ornaments; the second up to 32. I don’t think I’ll need that much space for the ornaments themselves, so I can use the rest for the garlands and lights.

TOTAL COST: Roughly $1410.
TIME FRAME: No idea whatsoever.


Booooooooo. Why does everything I want to do require such a heavy monetary commitment?? You suck, oh capitalist world! [shakes fist angrily]


This does not sit well with the idea that kids are supposed to grow up, move out, and move on. Well, at least I know where I’m going to be living when I’m 50. *cries*