Sunday, November 29, 2009

Well, If It Had To Go...

Thursday morning I tried to play a DVD in my player, and the motor decided it would no longer work without actual manual help. Granted, this was the first DVD player I had owned, bought at Target about six years ago for $70.00 - the cheapest they had at the time.

Well, this happened to be Thanksgiving morning, and a more fortuitous time could not have been chosen. I looked through the Target Black Friday sales paper online, and found a compact DVD player (for the television) on sale for $19.99 instead of $29.99. I can spare twenty bucks, I figure. I doubt I am going to find anything cheaper that is as good, anyway.

Then I remember I still have a little bit of money left on some gift cards for Target I received last year. I figured I could probably put them together and have about ten or fifteen bucks, so I would really only spend five or ten on the player out of my own cash. Good deal! Out of curiosity, I called the number on the back and checked the balances: one was about $1.75... and the other was $31.00. Excellent! So if the one I wanted was no longer in stock, I could get a higher-priced one and still not worry about it!

As it turned out, the one I wanted was still there. And I resisted purchasing more DVDs, so I still have about $10.00 on the one card. Not too bad, I think.

And as for performance, it seems to be great. It will read DVDs I have burned from my computer, photos, music, MP3s... everything. The remote control can be a little finicky about the angle, but so what? Who am I to complain?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Small Things

There comes a point with being unemployed when you begin to doubt your abilities. You doubt you have the skills you know for certain you once did. You wonder if you will be able to complete tasks set to you if ever you find work again.

Maybe it is easier to stay indoors, stay a hermit inside the darkened walls of the room in which you now live. When it is needed, to go out among the normal people, but for the most part it might be best just to hide.

I have gained a terrible amount of weight over these past months. There have been stretches of time - days - where I have spoken to no one, or said only a polite please-and-thank-you to store clerks. Usually I have no vocal conversations with anyone who doesn't have a cash register at hand. It takes such effort to go outside. I have become terrified I will do something wrong and "get in trouble", like a little kid wanting only to stay in her bedroom and play with her toys or read her storybooks.

Yes, I do look for jobs. I do apply, and send in my resume, and I do follow up and things. But it is more and more a battle against anxiety, paranoia, depression, isolation... not to the crazy-lady point, no. Not to the point that anyone would ever notice unless they already knew me quite well. It is a battle to remain a part of society, even if on the fringe right now, when it would be so much easier to fade away.

(But when I do go out, and I do smile at the world around me, I do feel wonderful.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

About Food

A few days ago, I finally splurged a bit and bought more coffee (which I had done without for a few weeks) and some creamer, and the next morning set about making a nice, fresh pot of coffee. I set the glass carafe on the edge of the sink while I washed out the basket holder --- and the carafe decided after a bit to tip over and crash into pieces of various size in the sink. No coffee, damnit. (But hey... at least theywere mainly large pieces, and all confined to the kitchen sink!)

I haven't gone to get another coffee carafe yet. I am tiptoeing around with finances, so I worry now even about that.

Cindy suggested I dump some coffee grounds in the kettle and boil the water, then pour it into a cup using a strainer. I finally tried it just now, and it's not too bad, really. Granted, I sloshed coffee all into the sink trying to pour it... maybe I should just do one cup at a time in my old sauce pot?

I am looking harder and harder for food now, since I missed the deadline for Angel Food for July, so I have been using up all the other food I have here. Thankfully they do give you a lot for the $30 (that is how much one of the basic packages costs), and since I am one person, it does last. Feeding the cat (see photo), however...

Since I was in my way early 20s, I have had a "thing" about hoarding food, especially canned goods. If you have ever faced a completely empty cupboard, money enough only to get you to work, and a bag of pinto beans you didn't know how to cook, you might understand the food hoarding. Right now, I have enough to last a couple weeks, I believe... I don't have milk, butter, eggs, or bread, but I am thinking of going to one of the San Pedro food pantries later and see what I can pick up.

Sadly, it seems as though a lot of the pantries have closed. You would think it would be the other way around these days, wouldn't you? One I used to stop by every so often told me they had to close their doors because the state began coming in and inspecting everything (paperwork, etc), and was picking and choosing which places to recertify. At times like this? Geez, California, can you spare some gubmint cheese? Oh, wait.. you're broke and trying to pay people with IOUs that banks won't accept.

Well, at least I do have about five or six pounds of pinto beans...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


One of the reasonings I was pummeling myself with all week for NOT going to Nine Inch Nails tonight was this: I need new tires, especially a rear one, badly. Another reason was: I really need to get my brakes checked, because they aren't feeling quite right. Place these two items with driving 60 miles both ways tonight and again tomorrow night, and I was successfully talking myself out of seeing at least tonight's show, and quite possibly tomorrow night's as well, knowing me.

And while I have already seen Lord Trent, I would kick myself in the ass for the rest of my days for not seeing Gogol Bordello.

Anyone who has known me as New Wave Syd knows I will suddenly come up with really goofy solutions. (Okay, pretty well everyone knows this...) But regarding music, I will wind up finding all sorts of ways and means to get where I want to go, usually ending the night dozing off over my fifth cup of Denny's coffee while waiting for the trains or buses to run again. When faced with the prospect of spending New Year's Eve alone years ago, I instead rented a U-Haul truck and drove that monster over to Ernie's show. Way to arrive in style, I say!

So leave it to me to go online and make a U-Haul reservation for tonight and tomorrow night. No money yet, which is good... because then I looked over on Budget and nabbed some teeny tiny Hyundai thing for a total of $80 for both nights. U-Haul, with gas and per-mile charges, would have run me about $170 at least. No way, Jose.

And while I was making the reservation for Budget, I ticked the insurance thing, and then thought wait a minute... I called Geico and asked if *I* am insured, or just the vehicle I own, and learned *I* am what is actually insured, so any rental car I drive carries the same insurance I pay for each month. Yay! She saved me about $40 right there.

A bit over the top in expenses for me? Yes, sort of. But when you look at the $70 ticket for tonight, and the $40 ticket for tomorrow night, plus if something did happen to my car while driving all over the place for these? I would much rather play it safe and rent a car. (Hell, it pays for itself in a strange way just tonight!)

Monday, April 20, 2009


I haven't mentioned it yet, but my last day of work was March 16. I have been looking, though. When people say "there's nothing out there", it's not quite true; there's a lot of work open, but most of it seems to be $12.00 an hour and lower. Can I survive on that? Yes... Unemployment is giving me a whopping $8.82 an hour when you break it down. But this is just surviving.

I have done plenty of surviving in my life. There was not much money while I was growing up. Mom and Dad did the best they could, giving things up to make sure my sister and I got a good education. I appreciate it more now that I can see it from a adult standpoint. I worked my ass off in bars, supporting the boyfriend at the time... and the money really didn't go too far. There was an apartment fire one December, and it wasn't until mid-April I had a place to live again. Working for just enough to pay the rent and juggle between bills for years. Knowing how to use an orange extension cord when the electricity is shut off. Knowing how long it will take to fill the bathtub when the water needs to be heated in the microwave because the gas has been turned off until payment is made. Sleeping in the back booth at Denny's under the 405 Freeway because no buses run that late at night so I can get home, and the money to fix the car just wasn't there. (That lasted over a year.)

I've done my share of surviving, I think. And I really don't want to go back to any of that. I just won't... I can't. Those years of just holding my breath, putting blinders on my eyes like a racehorse, and forcing myself to plow through all the bad stuff, all the garbage and waste and road blocks just to get to a little brighter area, a little higher ground. That type of struggle for such a long time just wears people out.

I found the higher ground, and was happy. I'm really still here, even though instead of being safely inside the house, I am out on the rocks now which shore up the ground to help prevent a landslide. I keep looking up at the sky, biting my lip in consternation, hoping only to see puffy clouds and no rain. There have been a few showers (such as having a job offer rescinded last Friday), but I am still here... as I squat down and make a few raps on the roots of a large tree, knocking on wood.

At least I do know where I've been, if not where I am going.

(Crossposted from my other blog.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Making Due

It's not so bad, really, if you have just yourself and your cat, and you know where to go to get food and things. (Not the parents' house, either... they are a bit far away for me to run and borrow a stick of butter.)

Biryani Curried Rice, with stuff I already have...

Well, so I had to buy some curry... 69 cents at MurderMart in a little bag, which wasn't too bad. This is what I did:

About 2 cups of white rice. Boil until done, but still a little watery.
Dump this in a big mixing bowl.
Add about half a fuji or gala apple, chopped into smaller pieces.
Add about half a lunch-box sized box of raisins.
I have no clue where my measuring spoons went, so I took a smaller table spoon and added two heaping spoonfuls of curry. Everything looks yellow, but you aren't sneezing from the spice. (After beginning to cook and taste it, I added another spoonful and a half - will likely amend this backk to a lower amount after getting curry from Little India.)
Add chopped stalks of green onion/ chives.
I opened up a can of peas and put four spoonfuls into the bowl.
Salt to taste.

Dump it all in a frying pan and stir frequently until as done as you like... usually browning the rice should do, I think.

Now, this is all from me loooking at the ingredients of the biryani curried rice I LOVED from Trader Joe's, but not wanting to move my car on Race Day just to go to TJ's and get another bag. Besides, if I have my own ingredients, why not experiment?

And yes, it is good, at least to me. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Long Weekend

Over this long weekend, I planned on going through my cabinets and taking stock of what all I have on my shelves. Go through all of that and put together meals, and leftovers to take to work (so I will hopefully quit "deciding" I want something other than what I brought, and take a short walk over to the cafeteria for more expensive unhealthy goodness). It's only 4:20 in the afternoon on Sunday, though, and I have tomorrow off as well....

What say I open up all these windows and get some nice fresh air flowing through my apartment? Move the pile of books off the stepstool in the living area and bring it in here, open the cabinet doors, and start rearranging and making a list?

Sounds good to me. And here I was, thinking I would make a nice, sizable entry in this blog. Maybe later.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Starting Now

When I began creating this blog, I had thought to use it to write about trying to live as frugally as possible, with the exception of a couple semi-splurges. (Namely SecondLife and a DVD or two a month.) Whether it continues that way or not, I'll have to see.

The economy is sucking, to put it bluntly. As tired as I am of hearing that, it's the truth. Unfortunately, I don't make all that much to begin with, so when prices rise my buying power falls drastically. A good mate of mine, Ralph, pointed me in the direction of AngelFood a few months ago. (Yes, it is a "ministry", but I have not had one instance of anyone even remotely trying to evangelize.) It's wonderful; for $30 you get over $60 worth of good quality food, including quite a bit of meat. You know, meat? That stuff that when you're poor you don't see much of other than ground beef? And you can purchase "expansion packs" as well, which have more meat, or fruits and vegetables, or full meals for one. This will be the third month I have used this service, and only for the main package so far. In my freezer I have loads of good meats and frozen vegetables, and I have been eating them almost daily, too.

This is not "charity". This is not a "giveaway". This has no income limits or any other restrictions on it at all. I seriously suggest anyone who could stand to save a few dollars on food at least go check out the website.