IT’s ma birthday.

As of today, 26 is how many years I have spent on this planet. Today I’m celebrating by not brushing my hair, not showering, definitely not putting on a bra, and laying in bed to drift between sleep and my tumblr dash. I love that it is an overcast chilly day. I am not doing a goddamn thing except celebrating my ability to just be. Last week I worked Monday-Saturday, 6 days and 60 hours of intensity, and I am very, very tired.

BIRTHDAY PRESENT REQUEST: Before I dig into the details of my weekend, I want anyone who reads this to check out a GoFundMe page to buy prescription formula for a baby I know with a milk allergy that has caused her a lot of pain. Click and donate here: http://www.gofundme.com/fquzv8. I’ve never met this baby, but I used to hang out with her mom when I was a kid. I really don’t like some people’s baby photos popping up on Facebook, but I really LOVE seeing this baby girl growing up because she had such a difficult start at life. It’s amazing to see what perseverance and love does to make someone grow and become a healthy, adorable little nugget. Last night I donated $50, the cost of one can of the only formula her tummy can tolerate. If you read this blog, I strongly encourage you to make a random act of kindness, even if you don’t know the recipient, and send some cash her way. Just think about contributing towards putting a smile on this little one’s face and helping her grow big and strong. DO it. Don’t tear up now… just DO IT!

Continue reading IT’s ma birthday.

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Ending the Spending Fast

The one thing this month that has kept me from irrationally and impulsively spending money has been my job. I’m very, very busy. I’m learning a lot about accounting and business management. I’ve only been able to slightly recognize the resentment I’m feeling towards my salary losing its hourly value as I exceed 40 hours every week. I’m so excited for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Xmas New Years beaks so I can spend time with family and friends. I’m still driven to get rid of my credit card debt even if it’s going to take a little longer than I hoped. Continue reading Ending the Spending Fast

Final Stretch: 9 More Days

Last week was another busy one, and to top it off I came down with a bizarre lung-eating virus that gave me a killer cough (and killer abs). The act of breathing was a challenge, so I stayed away from the gym and walked home instead for exercise and to avoid spreading germs on the T. Except for Friday and Saturday night, I ate home-cooked food and leftovers for all three meals.. There are 9 days left to the spending fast, and even though I spent some of my money on “wants” I haven’t gone over my $200 budget for spending on my American Express Serve card.  There’s $8 to spare.

This week:

Workout as much as possible

My cough has subsided and I’m so ready to get back in the swing of exercise.

Eat home-cooked/homemade 3x/day 

Meal planning and building up pantry staples has been the key to success with this. The site budgetbytes.com has been a good resource for inexpensive, filling, and cheap eats. Last week I made the Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta for dinner, the Chopped Kale Salad for lunch(es), and the Spinach Rice Breakfast bowls. This week the Italian Wonderpot is on the menu along with some attempts at Turkish food inspired by watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Red Lentil Soup (Mercimek Corbasi), Fava Bean and Pea Salad (İç Bakla ve Bezelye Salatası), and Sultan’s Delight (Hünkar Beğendi). More on how that goes this week.

Finalize a budget for October

October is the last month before shit gets crazy with the holidays. Aside from basic living expenses, I have to account for budgeting and funding for some other ventures before the end of the year:

  • My 26th birthday is October 13th. I need to decide how much I want to spend on celebrations. Dive bar? Yes – if only Boston had a good one near me.
  • Travel arrangements for my friend’s November wedding in Brooklyn.
  • Travel arrangements for Thanksgiving in NJ/NYC before the ticket prices sky rocket.
  • Travel arrangements to Buffalo and NJ/NYC for Christmas/NYE
  • Christmas presents for nieces and nephews

Halfway Through The Spending Fast – $1,190 Down

Fifteen days down, fifteen to go. Today debits went out for my student loans, savings transfer, cell phone, and three out of five credit card bills. Discover, Amex, and Chase Sapphire received payments of $100 each, and I paid off the entire $890.37 balance on my credit card with the highest interest rate. So far this month, I’ve knocked out $1,190.37 and I still have one more card to pay a minimum of $100 to. My goal was to pay down $1,400, but I’m waiting on seeing how my freelance work goes before I settle for that amount.

Now that I’m down to paying for only 4 cards, next month I’ll be paying $100 each to the cards with the lower balances and lower interest rates: Amex, Chase Sapphire, and Bank of America; and $500 to to the card with the highest interest rate and biggest balance: Discover.

My favorite part about not spending is that I don’t have to worry about checking my balance twice a day (I always check it at least once) and forecasting what my balance will be in time for bills to be deducted. I caught a cold over the weekend and I can’t think straight, so that’s it on thoughts for now.

 

Creativity And My Job: I Want All Or Nothing

First things first, I’m on a spending fast and I gotta be accountable to myself on here. I had an intense week, but I’m really pleased to see that the little line calendar line on Mint is closer to the middle of my budget sections, and the bars in those budgets didn’t budget at all this week.

9.13 budgets

I used my pre-paid Amex on Thursday to get a sandwich because I had no time to pull something together in the morning AND get all my stuff at work done, so now I’m down by $8 from my $200 allowance for food this month. I feel STUPID about it, but at the time, survival was more important than dipping into that money. My husband has been helpful by bringing home food from events and picking up takeout when I was too burned out to throw some beans in a pot. On Thursday night my ghostwriting client took us out for an upscale seafood dinner at Atlantic Fish on Boylston. I haven’t gone out to a nice restaurant since my honeymoon, so I had to work really hard to contain my excitement when I was asked to pick out the bottle of wine for the table. I ordered a 2012 Vermentino and savored every sweet, slightly briny and lightly effervescent sip I took between eating lobster & avocado salad and seared salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus.  It was a really nice reward for working really hard all week.

Speaking of Work…

This week I spent 52 hours sitting on my ass in front of a computer working. When I came home each day, I couldn’t handle looking at a computer again, so I passed up blogging opportunities. I didn’t finish all of my work, so I had to bring home my laptop to finish editing invoices by Monday.

Yesterday, I had my annual review. It was scheduled for 9am, and before I left my apartment, I was psyched up for it, prepared for criticism, and ready to bring up the fact that I would rather focus my work more on accounting instead of marketing. At 8:30am, one of my reviewers asked if we could move it back to 1:30. Half an hour before the review? Ouch! Before I responded “Sure, that’s fine,” I was thinking “Do I have a choice?”. It knocked me down a little bit and immediately made me lose a little of the mental momentum that propelled me to feel prepared to have a smooth, well-said and productive discussion. Losing that momentum and spending the morning anxiously over thinking about what I would say probably explains why I CRIED for godsakes in the middle of the review. All of my ratings fell in the category of meeting or exceeding expectations, but when we arrived at the point where I needed to set goals for the coming year, I broke it to my reviewers that I wasn’t so sure that I could clearly do that because I was more interested in accounting, my responsibilities are split 70-30, heavy on accounting since the controller is out on maternity leave, and that I thought we’d need to reassess my position overall. One of the reviewers was “surprised” because of my “creative background.” That made me want to cry even more, but when I looked around the room for tissues and realized I was in a conference room and not in a therapy session, I cut it out. Afterwards, I told a co-worker about it, and she reassured me that she had cried in all of her reviews. Womanhood sucks.

I’m sick of people thinking that a creative background in writing or the arts means you have the ability to apply it to a corporate environment in a stylish way and thrive. Sure, creative people can be marketed by corporations, they can be members of the board, etc., but for me — an employee that doesn’t actually create — the concept of a corporate environment is antithetical to creativity unless it pertains to being tricky with getting more money out of pockets. Creativity almost feels like manipulation instead of having a genuinely good idea that revolutionizes the business and revamps the playing field — that’s innovation, and an entirely different egg to crack.

The marketing work I’ve been doing has been surrounded by rigid limitations and confines, and it has distanced me from where innovative minds hang out and make decisions. I work with Adobe InDesign, which is an awesome program, and I love writing and editing, but there’s nothing creative about inputting, formatting, and editing a pre-determined formulaic text that appeals to the corporate sensibility of the real estate world. I’ve found that I can only repeat the same ten words about different (but awfully similar) projects or concepts a few times before I stare blankly at the computer screen as I type and feel a total disconnect between the formula I’m punching the words into and the description on the page it will create. I draft, organize, print, collate, bind, and submit proposals for new work, and even though I put the whole thing together and coordinate the whole process, I feel like I have no real ownership of the work that went into making the whole thing happen. I’ve learned that for me, creativity and the corporate setting are contradictory. I want all or nothing. I can’t forgo my own interpretation and expression in favor of a stroking a lump of words that I know add up to “what they want to hear”, “they” being prospective clients. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE clients. I love the money they give my company in exchange for services, but I don’t want to be the funnel through which communications with them passes.

My work in accounting on the other hand gives me much more satisfaction and enables me to have control over a process where there’s always a right answer, always (sometimes not) a great result (money!), and there is no blatant lie about the creativity involved with the job. When I worked at the restaurant, I remember being kind of envious of the girl who worked on the books. When she left and there was a new bookkeeper brought in, we worked together and I really enjoyed crunching numbers and *thinking* about the strategic decisions I would make with the business’s money, but not being able to say anything about it because at the end of the day — wasn’t my problem! Even though I got fucked over by some decisions that I made about money while there. I’m actually a little wrong about there being no creativity in accounting. I’ve been able to use creative and strategic thinking in application to developing approaches and processes for handling the way I get things done while the Controller is out on maternity leave, and there’s a lot of gratifying pay-off in seeing those processes in action actually work.

The rest of the year will probably be a bit of a challenge at work, but I’m ready to work through it and get what I want. As a member of the economically screwed over generation, I’ve heard that I’m very lucky to have a job. It would be a shame to do something stupid to sabotage it, but in the long term it would be even stupider to put up with it and spend the coming years unsatisfied with what I’m doing with my life. Essentially grounding myself from going out and doing things on the weekend that usually desensitize me from over thinking possibilities and outcomes has actually been productive. In more ways than one, I’m making the most out of not spending money, and I’m really thinking about my current situation and the future. Warning: Only do that if you are 100% ready. It’s terrifying.

Smiling Until Happy

For the first 7 days of this month, I’ve only spent $216.07.

 

9.7.14 budgets

I really like seeing the total spent at the top shaded in green. That little figure is going to stay the same until the 15th when I get my paycheck, and then it will change again on the 16th when all of my automatic debits for student loans, phone, savings transfer, and credit cards come out. I realize I’m doing pretty great if I can pay all of my bills and pay a little more than the minimum for most of them.

I’ve been really depressed this weekend, so my goal for this week is to smile until I’m happy. Smiling until happy is practically like waterboarding until drowning, but I mean to say that I’m going to attempt optimism and a sunny disposition rather than hoping for overcast weather so I can take my fucking nap without a pillow over my head. That being said, I realized this morning that I probably have a Vitamin D deficiency from only getting 5-10 minutes of sunlight a day. Also, I feel a lot like Wednesday Addams in Addams Family Values when she gets locked in the Harmony Hut for being so negative. Admitting that I want to be more positive feels exactly like the moment when she emerges and freaks everyone out for wanting to change.

A big cause for feeling depressed is how much I dislike being in Boston and away from my friends. Some transplants might be able to defend this city for having lovable traits, but to me it’s an empty husk that gets filled by 9-5er’s and college students, then abandoned to leave nothing but traces of suburbia and unfortunately high rents in buildings owned by people who probably live 15 miles away. I’ll refrain from going more in depth about what I dislike about this place. There’s a very small sprinkling of people I’ve found here who are actually pretty cool and not total shit heads, and if I didn’t have them, I’d probably be trying to conform entirely to the Boston lifestyle to forget who I used to be. For the most part, I miss Brooklyn. I feel like there’s a correlation between the length of time since I was last there and an increase in depression. I haven’t been there since July, and I am starting to feel totally empty and like I’m missing out on everything.

What I miss about Brooklyn are my friends and the comforting feeling of home I feel when I walk around there. I miss walking down the street and running into friends. I miss the day taking an unexpected turn when I hang out with those friends instead of going home. I miss hanging out at Bodega on a Sunday afternoon with my husband and playing chess until brunch was over and we’d go home to watch a movie. I miss inviting 20+ people over to my apartment for brunch, single-handedly cooking eggs and potatoes for everyone, and having every surface in my kitchen covered by champagne bottles from mimosas and dirty dishes. I miss bbq’s on the roof of the Tea Factory. I miss the $.10 limes from C-Town and the near-steady supply of guacamole I had in my home. I miss riding my bike through Morgantown and then down Bedford to get to McCarren Park to people watch, drink wine, and read on a blanket. I miss the Turkey’s Nest even though it smelled like piss and bleach if you stayed in there for too long after getting your styrofoam cup filled. I miss the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I miss Pies N Thighs, Sweet Chick, and Cafe Colette. I miss splurging for upscale burgers and comfort food at Northeast Kingdom. I miss the art painted on practically every surface in Jefftown. I miss sitting in Maria Hernandez park. I miss overpaying for speciality ingredients at Hana. I’ll stop there.

This week I will be exercising Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday no matter how tired I am. Wednesday I’m going to a UMass Boston information session on the MSA program. Weather permitting, I’ll walk home instead of taking the T (something that always brings me down), and I’ll leave my office to eat lunch in a park. It bothers me how pretty much everyone in my office eats their lunch at their desk rather than taking a walk or getting away to avoid phone calls or interruptions.  Friday, I have my annual review and I want to have a positive attitude going into it.

Vegan Breakfasts & Lunches On The Spending Fast

I’ve made it four days through my spending fast, and I’ve arrived at my first Friday. The only money I’ve spent this month has been on my expected monthly expenses, and a $20 ATM withdrawal to get quarters  for laundry in my building. I’m like, so impressed with myself.

Monday I contemplated going grocery shopping for some cheap staple items, but I decided to clean out the house first to put off dipping into my $200 allowance. When I set out to do this, I didn’t have the intention of making sure the meals were vegan, but it makes sense that the breakfasts and lunches I was able to put together from my pantry foods were free of animal products. That’s an added benefit to this whole thing!

Breakfast

Breakfast

  • 1/2 cup Oatmeal (uncooked)
  • 3 tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries

I dumped the oatmeal and cherries in a quart container and poured the chia seeds into a sealed bag that I tucked inside the container. This yielded 5 pre-made breakfasts with some chia seeds to spare.

Lunch

photo 3

  • 1 package Annie Chun’s Rice Noodles
  • 1/2 package Emerald Cove Wakame Seaweed
  • 1/2 package Frozen Edamame (in shell)
  • 1 cup Frozen corn
  • 1 Fresh Carrot, spiral cut
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Coconut oil
  • Rice Vinegar

I threw all of this stuff together and made a rice noodle salad with a soy sauce dressing. It tastes pretty good, and I yielded 4-5 2-cup servings of it.

Snack

  • Cocoa-dusted Emerald Almonds

I exercised Sunday-Monday, but I worked an average of 12 hours/day from Tuesday-Thursday, so I passed on the physical exertion in favor of lying in bed to turn my brain off before the warm glow of my laptop. I watched Hunt for the Abominable Snowman and the Neil DeGrasse Tyson Cosmos episode, Deeper Deeper Deeper Still on Netflix. I’m a fan of fake science and real science, but mostly just a good story.

Tonight after work I’ll spend some time at the gym, then come home and watch episodes of Game of Thrones while my husband goes out for a birthday party. On Saturday my firm is hosting a “Summer Party” as late as they possibly could on one of Boston’s harbor islands, Thompson Island. In exchange of being trapped on an island with co-workers for 4 hours, I will get a free boat ride and catered food & drinks.