Tuesday, April 29, 2008

determination may

about every two months i need a new adventure. call it my brand of attention deficit disorder, i just need some sort of stimulation of the unexplored variety or i get antsy. so within my larger goal of being debt-free, i am going to keep myself occupied with the adventure of physical and mental discipline. for the month of may, i am determined to go to yoga three times a week, and run three times a week. when i get depressed, i've learned that the best thing i can do is take away my free time and focus on a nearly impossible goal. you say "but that goal isn't nearly impossible!", and i say you don't know me very well. the reason i know i need exercise is because i avoid it as much as possible. now, i like the benefits of exercise, i love to be able to hike up hills without getting winded, i like to be able to ride my bike for miles without feeling like death is approaching. and most of all, i like the way my body feels and looks when i'm in shape. i feel young and energetic and full of promise and potential. so that's my goal for may. come rain or shine, heat or chill, i will fulfill may's pledge. this means getting out of bed earlier, going to bed earlier, and just generally not accepting my excuses for inaction. one of the servers at my work wants to run with me, so i will most likely go to her house and get her out of bed for a run, then i can shower at her house and be on with my day. having a running buddy is a giant motivation for me as well. i have a much harder time letting someone else down than letting myself down.
seeing the movie "where in the world is osama bin laden?" was a wake up call to my soft american ass. i live in a land of privilege, i've got all the food water and shelter anyone could need and i make more money in a day than many people do in a month or more in other parts of the world. so i can surely get over my funky mood and just get on with life.

Monday, April 28, 2008

internet woes

it's been so frustrating trying to figure out what's wrong with my wireless connection thingy. for some reason, i can't connect anymore at the laundromat or any other open wireless network. i'm at the library now and for some reason, it let me log on, but i had to go through the library page. i don't know what the heck, but j will be here soon (in a few hours, yay!) and he's enough of a geek that he'll surely know what to do. i did finally get the battery for the laptop and it's working great.
today i spent all day in the van at my spot. i cleaned and listened to music and napped and was generally depressed, but not totally unproductive. the high school kids were skipping class in the alley and talking about their swords and ninja skills. seriously. i cooked an egg, made some jade pouchong tea and tried to make my little parking spot look like i care about it. trying to figure out the point of my existence is making me crazy, so i've got to stop. i'll just do what i do every day and one thing will lead to another.
saw a film last night called "where in the world is osama bin laden" at the indie theater and it was worth seeing. what i got from it was that most arab people are just like us, with senses of humor and all, but the hasidic jews and the radical muslims are just like the radical fundamental christians, they don't want to talk to anyone on camera, they are very mistrusting and don't let their kids have minds of their own. affirmed my belief that anyone that's TOO into religion is just a control freak who refuses to accept that there are other ways to live. my way or the highway types. ick. now i'm way off topic, but that's where i am i guess.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ahh. life

time marches on and april is almost gone. it's been a tough month for me emotionally, i've really been missing my family, both blood and chosen. the urge to split has been strong, but i'm sticking to my guns. the coming weeks are full of promise--this weekend i'm flying to oregon to meet a bunch of my girlfriends for sarah's bachelorette party at the hot springs, following that my 'other' boyfriend, J, is coming to see me, then my parents are coming out to see me around my birthday! i'm very excited for them to be here, they need to get away as much as i need them here. they're the most responsible people i know, they take care of their parents, their properties, and their businesses, but they are not known to relax and take care of themselves. they are getting a little better with age, but i still see room for improvement.
the van has been running like a champ, and the reflectix curtains are amazing at keeping it cool inside. i still haven't gotten them all up, but in my cacoon bed up top, they are working like magic. e bought me a bunch of 8-tracks off ebay and it's been a fun restrospective journey into the 70's and 80's. i think my player needs to be adjusted or something though because there's "bleed through" when i'm listening to one song, another is playing like a ghost in the background. anyone know how to fix this?
tonight is prom night and we've got lots of teenagers coming in to spend daddy's money at the restaurant. won't be much in the way of cash, but should be entertaining!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

late nite

i'm posting from the laudromat, and it's closed. so they leave the wifi on which is great, but they turn the lights off (well most of them) and that's a little spooky. the tv's went off too which is fine by me. i don't know if a real person will show up to lock the door or not, but my laundry is still in the washer, so i hope they'll let me finish. i have a massage appointment in the morning and when i went to get my sheets and table from e's house, i realized the sheets needed a wash because they've been locked up in a plastic tub and smell a little like rancid oil ewwww.
i'm reading the book that tara gave me called "bold spirit" about a woman and her daughter who walked across the country in 1896. it's one of those history dense books that would be boring, but the story is so incredible i'm racing through it. compared to that feat done at that time, nothing i do is difficult, and if people think i'm odd in this day and age, what kind of looks must they have gotten? i like that perspective. no coincidence the book came from a very inspiring individual. tara is beautiful, earthy, and says things in the most meaningful way, though i don't think she intends to. i mean, i was actually considering going to wyoming to learn how to strip just to hang out with her some more! well, and to make 10,000 bucks. don't worry mom, i think i'll stay behind the bar for now, and maybe the next time i see her it will be in her native land.

Monday, April 21, 2008

wistful for the future

after recovering from yet another bout of flu-like illness last week, i'm feeling like myself again. yesterday i met up with tara and darcey and had a fantastic time sharing vandwelling tips and stories, checking out tara's van, and tossing a dirty bird for bro while we walked in the foothills and identified plants. it was so good to connect with some kindred spirits, i've felt deprived of that lately. it's lonely for me here and i can't figure out exactly why. i talked to sarah this morning and she alerted me to a job on orcas island that i'd be perfect for. it's a summer position as the head of the riding program at a children's camp. if i was already out of debt, i'd do it, but it doesn't pay enough to make it practical this year. fun jobs so rarely pay well. but this is precisely the type of job i'll be looking for once i'm free! so it's good to get a sense of the possibilities.
today is gloomy and windy, but i intend to make some progress nonetheless--reflectix curtains, hanging my solar shower, and maybe a nice dinner--i have plenty of food money left. and perhaps i'll light the fire in my chimenea tonight and bake some potatoes in the coals while i toast marshmallows. hmm

Thursday, April 17, 2008

food update #5

i have 103.70 left in my food budget. this week i spent 22 dollars on groceries, 7 at the coffee shop, and 8 on a frozen coffee drink and a sandwich when it was 80 degrees. i think i spent a few more bucks somewhere else, but i can't remember. at any rate, it's going well and i'm pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been. the biggest struggle was breaking the habit of just doling out cash anytime i wanted something. proof that my own mind is my biggest obstacle.
cooking in the new van is alot easier and more fun. today i made eggs with shitake mushrooms, green onions and cheese with multi-grain toast and a strong mug of earl grey tea. i put on some country music and sang my heart out while going about my domestic duties. something about lucinda williams makes the day to day more beautiful.
i'm already thinking of what my month of may challenge will be--i'm thinking it will be a physical goal rather than financial. it could have to do with my running shoes, they're a little too clean.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NEW van pics!

yesterday my co-worker had a brilliant idea--we're going to make a video of my van and send it to "pimp my ride", the mtv show where they deck your vehicle out with crazy improvements/modifications. i think i'd be a great candidate, and i don't know if they've ever done a vandweller, so it would be something new for them. worth a try anyway!

first pic is of the loft where my sleeping space is. freyja is right at home of course. i can't really make my bed due to space restrictions, so it's just a pile of down and pillows
here's my basic kitchen set up. i have the propane stove which is sunk into the counter, my electric burner velcroed to the propane stove, and the sink which is broken right now, but i use a basin in it for washing myself and dishes. the window ledge serves as a tea shelf, those little baskets were a perfect fit!
the view from the side door shows my little fridge inside of which i store my cooler. when i'm plugged in, i turn the fridge on and it keeps the ice from melting. the cabinets under the stove store my dishes, pots/pans, and dry goods. you can sort of see my toaster oven to the left, it's velcroed down too. have i told you that velcro is a vandwellers very best friend?

here i am at my parking spot. all the windows except the front and top ones are tinted pretty dark and there's custom made screens for all of them! soooo much more ventilation than my old van.

the passenger seat turns around to form my living room. it's easy to swivel and i can actually see out the passenger mirror when i turn it at the right angle. yep, i have my running shoes out, that's my may goal.
sorry, i don't know how to turn this picture right side up, so tilt your head to the left and you'll see the view looking back from the front seats. the couch i've turned into a storage area since i'm using the cushions as my mattress up top. the closet is in the back on the right. under the the couch is all the van stuff like manuals, tools, bungees, etc.
my kitchen makes me happy. i've been eating alot more often in the van since i got this set up.
and here's my parking spot. i have little wooden shed for storage and plenty of room in front of the van for a picnic table, chimenea, and various junk that i haven't figured out yet. it's really pretty private and traffic in the alley to the left is minimal.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

credit cards suck

i am so freaking angry right now! i got my mail today and in it was a bill from one of my credit cards--the one i'd just very very recently made a balance transfer with, and lo and behold there's a late charge on there ($39) and my interest rate has been bumped from 0% to 9.08% with interest from the last month totaling $16. so that's $55 bucks in "fees" that i owe them even if i pay the balance off today! the thing is, i pay my bills at the post office when they arrive, so there's no chance that i got the bill and just stuffed it away and forgot about it--they either never sent it (a little trick credit card companies are known to pull) or the post office didn't deliver. either way, i know it's still my responsibility to know when my bills are due, but come on! i called to try to get them to reverse the late fee at least, but no dice, they didn't care that i would close the account and transfer the balance (i got another 0%, no transfer fee offer in the mail today too). there was just nothing they could do. i don't blame them, i'm a little time customer who will probably never make them much money, but i thought since i've had an account with citibank for several years, that might make a difference. so, i'll chock it up to my own naive dependence on paper bills and keep a closer eye on the payment due dates from now on.
also, my damn laptop battery hasn't come yet, it's been a month. i called them last week and they quite unapologetically told me they'd send it out "tomorrow". maybe they're a scam too! anyone every ordered a battery from batteryrefill.com?
the good news is, i've run the numbers on my new position at work and i'm pulling in 700 to 800 a week, after taxes. so that's between 2600 and 3000 a month net earnings. i should easily be able to pay 2000 a month towards debt which would have me free and clear by september. of course, there's always the unknown factors, and i am taking a few small trips between now and then that'll set me back a bit, so, let's be real and say by early november, i should be debt free! just in time to find some quiet warm place to nestle in for the winter. ahhhh.

Monday, April 14, 2008

coming out as a vandweller

so, you probably know that my co-workers are aware that i drive a big weird van. they also know that there's a cat in there, thanks to the windows in the new van and the nosiness of my workmates. the logical question out of their mouths is "do you live in there?", though my favorite question so far was "is that your cat or did it come with the van?" i've decided there's no use in trying to be secretive, so i tell them the truth. yes i live in the van. yes there's a cat in there. yes she is my cat. and although i'd rather they didn't know and/or ask me about my life, it's really not so bad. nothing's changed, in fact i think relations have improved since i've abated their curiosity. i had a vague fear about telling people about my living situation, but it's really not an issue now that they know. i would never tell them or anyone else besides a few close friends where i park or the details of my day to day, it's just none of their business and i like to be as anonymous as i can in my neighborhood. i'm finding the balance of reservation and revelation.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

scary dream

i had a weird dream last night about a sinster world where people on foot and on bicycle were being weeded out and killed. the only behavior that was acceptable was to drive a car or big truck. i was part of the resistance and was on my bike and all this bad stuff was happening--a big rig tried to run me over and i confronted the driver and she was like "well, you are on a bike, and that's not allowed", and my mom was part of a runner's group who were running together down the road and we were all scared that the were going to be shot by snipers. there was also some sort of ban on loving animals and my brothers were there and we had some dogs and were holding them in our laps and loving on them, all the while shooting sideways glances to see if we were being watched. it was the worst place ever! i usually don't dream about people i know that often, and this one had tons of friends and family in it, so it was particulary scary.
E is going to help me start getting up earlier in an effort to improve my mental state. this morning he brought me coffee and cooked me breakfast. and this week, he's going to call me and get me out of bed at 7 every day and if i don't get up, he's taking away my inclusion in his entertainment budget. tough love!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


i think something is wrong with me, i'm tired all the time and yesterday i woke up depressed and couldn't shake it. E thinks maybe i'm not eating right, but i don't think that's it. i feel like heavy weights hang from my legs and my eyes just want to close whenever they can. it's hard to get anything done in this state! the only thing i can get the energy up to do is work, and that's because i have to. if i don't HAVE to do something, i'd rather not. i feel lazy and i hate that feeling. it disgusts me. if sarah was here, she'd help me figure it out, put me on some herbs and i'd be good, but i don't have that support now. i'm wallowing in my own stagnation.
maybe it's pms. i hope so.

Friday, April 11, 2008

food update #4

still no word on the new job...i'm sorta letting it go in my mind because i think i would have heard by now.
i'm settling into a food routine thats working for me. i usually sleep until about 10 am and either get up to go to yoga or be lazy and go to the library or just hang out in the van and read or write letters. i need something to eat before work, but not much. some cheese and almonds, or a pbj, or leftovers from the night before seem to fit the bill. then i have a big meal at 4:30 at work and usually some other food shows up before the end of the night (mistakes, chef being generous, etc) and that's a day of eating for me. occasionally, i'll go out after work and have a beer and a bite, like last night when we went out for 1.50 pbr's and 1.00 tacos. i haven't been counting beers in the food budget, as i consider that more "entertainment", but i don't go out often and when i do, i spend less than 10 dollars on drinks. i haven't spend any other money on entertainment this month--E usually takes me to the movies on sunday and other nights, i just read or blog or call someone i love.
i spoke too soon about the leaks in the van. once the snow started melting off the top of it, there were several places that leaked. one really bad spot in the back that leaked directly into freyja's litterbox, and one spot in the passenger's window that's a slow drip. other places where the topper meets the van were damp, but no puddles. hmmm. this is a project for the weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


it's just like april in colorado to dump a snowstorm in the middle of your spring frolicing. i was listening to the radio on my way home from work last night, it's the original radio with a dial, no digital precision here. there's something about the sound of an old radio that's both eerie and nostalgic. the show was about alien abduction, not tongue in cheek, but serious studies and analysis of peoples experiences. i felt like i was on a movie set, poised to drive up on some strange creature in the night that would send me spiraling into some creepy adventure.
i made it to my spot without entering another world, but it was a cold night in the van last night, the winds howling, snow dumping, a harsh whisper from winter reminding me that i have to get out of here before next winter sets in. the new van has windows and i don't have reflectix covers for them, so it's alot draftier than the old windowless cargo van. for every new convenience, there is a price i suppose. luckily, my down blankets kept me from shivering, but i don't like to sleep with my head under the covers, it feels like i can't breathe. last night, i had no choice, i had to burrow in. freyja snuggled up next to me, and i felt like a pioneer on a wagon train hunkered down for a rocky mountain blizzard.
with yesterdays hail, rain and snow, i thought i would find out if the turtle top was leaking, but so far, nothing. so that's good. there is some water damage inside the topper, but i guess it'll take a harder rain to show a leak. some roof patching material would be a smart purchase, i need to ask the vandwellers or search the posts for some clues where to start.
word from my co-workers is this van looks much less threatening. they called my old van "the molester van" because it had no windows and they are jerks. but this one has another name "the chateau faded rainbow", a name i came up with inspired by the old rainbow sticker in the window and the model name of my van. at the end of the day, there's nowhere i'd rather be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

food update #3 and more

i'm pretty much settled in the new van now, and kitty likes it too! last night was the first night i slept in there, and aside from a minor bed situation, it was very comfy. it has a little fridge that works when plugged into shore power, and my cooler fits right inside it, perfect! i will need to get the sink fixed, but that's the only major repair, all other systems are go. it feels so much bigger than my old van, and the headroom is amazing. i could have dealt with living in the old cargo van, but this van makes living a breeze, so i think i'll be inclined to vandwell a little longer than i had originally thought. i've got to get the old van on the market this week, asking price $1900 which is about what i have in it. should be able to get at least what i paid for the new van, so it's an even trade, fun!
ok, so food update--there's 145.87 left in the food budget envelope. I've spent 25 on groceries, a buck on water, and 20 on the breakfast queen and a peanut butter cup from the chocolatier. that's all after the 8.56 i spent at the coffee shop. let's see--22 days left, 146 dollars--i'm right on track with about 6.50 a day to spend! i won't spend any today and probably not for the rest of the week because i have enough breakfast food and i'm working every night. i might be able to go to (gasp) devil's food for breakfast this week! yummmm.
still no word about the other job, and i can't tell if i really want it or if i'd be just as well off to stay in my current situation. at least i won't feel bad leaving my current job when the time comes.

Monday, April 7, 2008

new van!

when it's love, nothing stands in it's way. i'm buying the new van today! right now i'm doing a load of laundry and waiting for E to get off work so we can go out and pick it up. i couldn't stop thinking about the van since i went to see it saturday, and this morning i woke up with an intense urge to call Ed and offer him a little more for the van. he took my new offer of 1400 with no hesitation, so maybe if i'd waited he would have called and taken my 1200, but it's not a big deal. and now i can spend all day getting my new van ready to move into, i'm so excited! my new blue van was born the year before i was, has an awesome turtle top with sliding windows, a real closet with a mirror, bunk beds and a full size bed up top, swivel captains chairs, and a functional 8-track player complete with a box of 8-tracks! so if any of you readers out there have some awesome 8-tracks that aren't being enjoyed, i'd love to give them a new life in my new ride.
i don't know why this van makes me so happy, maybe it's destiny, maybe i'm just out of my mind, but it feels like exactly the right thing to do, so i'm going to follow my gut on this one.
oh, and the job interview went VERY well. i think they really liked me and i have a great shot at the job. i won't know until later in the week, but i was one of only 6 people they were interviewing, so i already made it through the first cut.
yay! it's a beautiful day, even though it's dumping snow and rain and muck, my internal climate is paradise.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

food update #2

just a quick update on the food situation. i'm still at $8.35, i've just eaten some eggs i took from work (as a manager, i'm allowed to have a shift meal which i usually don't have so i took some eggs ok?) with some toast i had in E's freezer. it's been relatively easy so far, because i had some food in the van when i started the month. i might just go to the breakfast queen tomorrow since i've managed so well so far!

cheating on my van

well folks, the day has come, and i knew it would, or i had my suspicions anyway. i'm cheating on my van. don't get me wrong, i love my van and have poured blood sweat and tears into getting it worthy to live in, but now that i've been living in it for a while, the infatuation has worn off and my eyes have been wandering. where you ask? in the direction of a 1977 hi-top ford econoline with an old school camper conversion. it would be soooo great to be able to stand up in my van! and have a closet! and an 8-track! it's really a beauty, and i just couldn't get it out of my mind once i saw it on craigslist, so i went to see it. the old man who's selling it is fabulous, just my kind of guy, reminds me of my dad and my grandpa Eldon, meticulous record keeper, practical, economical and fair. i liked him alot and would be happy to do business with him which counts for a big slice of the decision pie. he's asking 1800 and i can't afford that, but i could afford 1200 which is probably what i would get for my current van if i sold it, so....i made him the offer. he didn't accept yet, but he's gonna talk it over with his son and if he wants to take my offer he'll call me. he hasn't gotten any other offers yet, but if he does, he says he'll call me and see if i can beat it. so i have the right of first refusal, which is cool. i kinda hope no one else is interested and they take my offer because i really can't afford to go much higher, maybe 200 bucks more but that's it. and i just don't know if i should do it! i mean, E and i have put so much work into Bernie (my current van) that to just let all that go is a big deal, but this new van has alot of things going for it.
when i first decided to van dwell, i thought i'd need a stealth van to be able to park anywhere and not be noticed. i've learned a few things since then. i don't need a stealth van for my current situation since i have someplace to park at night. and my van is not as stealthy as i thought, it draws attention wherever i go. perhaps this is because people associate windowless vans with criminal activity. or because there's reflectix covering the windows. or because i have stuff on the dashboard and front seats that makes it look like someone lives in there and that's odd for a cargo van. so if i'm just driving an old hippy van with curtains, maybe people will be less freaked out. it's something they're used to seeing rather than something odd.
i don't know. i'm going to wait and see if the guy calls me back. i feel bad being such a van flirt, but there are some sexy vans out there and i'm just a red-blooded vandweller after all!


reporting in from work after a long night, and boy were people cheap tonight!  i had customers nickel and dimeing me over everything, apparently math is difficult after a few glasses of wine.  ugh.  
the good news is, i got an interview at the new restaurant!  it's on sunday at 11:30.  i guess they weren't scared by my enthusiasm, or maybe my resume made up for it.  i'll let you know how it goes.
this post is random and disjointed, because that's how i'm feeling.  i had a few drinks last night and my brain is foggy as a result, so i'll end this post early tonight and catch up with you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

food update

it's april 3rd and until a few moments ago, i hadn't spent any money on food this month. i had just been eating stuff i already had and at work of course. today i decided to go to the coffee shop and have a breakfast bagel and tea. the tally with tip was $8.35. i think he overcharged me for the tea because the bagel was only 3 bucks, but i didn't say anything. i mean, i just took a bath in their restroom, so whatever. i have faith that i will be able to do this thing. it's not so hard to eat free food when it's available and be frugal the rest of the time. i'm most worried about days that i don't work, then the real temptation rolls in with fine dining options at every turn. but, hey--it's not forever, i won't eat this way for the rest of my life, it's just to help me get out of a little mess i created.
i put in my resume at the new restaurant, after much hassle at kinkos due to my unorthodox word processing program 'abiword' which is incompatible with everything, and now i wait to see if they call. dooddoddooo.... oh, and i kinda made an ass of myself there when i dropped it off. i was so eager and excited that i think i sounded kind of creepy. i told them i had wanted to work there for a long time and that i was so happy when i saw their posting on craigslist. their faces showed reservation, though they were completely polite. i wonder if my resume ended up in the trash. oh well, it's out of my hands now and if it ain't meant to be, then it won't.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

what to do?

so, i was browsing craigslist tonight and clicked on the food/bev/hospitality jobs and lo and behold one of the best restaurants in the city is looking for a full time server. i've often thought about working there and daydreamed about how much better it would be than my current job. but i figured no one ever quit there because it was so awesome. duh, that's not the way restaurants work, but i had idealized it to the point that it was unattainable. so now i'm faced with the opportunity and i don't know what to do. my job is pretty good, i'm the highest paid employee there because i function as an assistant manager and bartender. i am trusted with locking up and being the last one out and i've essentially risen as high as i can go there. my place is pretty assured, though there have been whispers that the owners are trying to sell it in which case i'd probably have to find a new job. i only want to work there until fall when i plan to leave here anyway, so i don't really care that the job won't go on forever, i have just been hoping it lasts until i'm ready to go. also, i don't like my boss, and several employees have left/been fired since he started. am i immune to that treatment? i don't know. i've learned to deal with him, but the future is always uncertain. so, do i apply for this new job, or hang on to what i have? the money's good, but i bet it would be better at the new job. maybe. how do i know? they are full most every night, and it's tough to get a reservation with less than a weeks notice. my current job certainly isn't that popular.
i think i have to try for it and see what happens. if i don't, i'll kick myself.