Wednesday, March 25, 2009

financial reckoning

time for a finance assessment.

when i left denver 7 months ago (wow, it was that long!?), i was debt free except for my student loans which go on forever, and an outrageous hospital bill from when i had the flu and went there for 3 hours to get gatorade and saline in my vein. i even had 4000 dollars to start my tropical adventure with, but by the time i got here, i was already several thousand in the hole. now that my cat is out of jail, and i have several jobs, i am no longer accruing any debt, and it's time to come out of emergency survival mode and face the truth, i'm in debt again. it's not as bad as last time, certainly, but i marvel at the ease with which i let myself slip into buying things i couldn't afford. the momentum of my adventure took precedence over my desire to live a cash based life. had i not charged my plane tickets and dental work and cat quarantine, i would still be in pennsylvania. not the worst thing in the world, but it really didn't seem like an option. it's too easy to just put my exciting plans on the card and hope for money in the future. well, now is the future, and i'm feeling the squeeze.

it's too soon to tell how much money i'll really make at my new job, but it seems like a safe average per shift amount is 75 dollars, that's not counting the hourly wage of 7 dollars. cutting down to two days at abundant life will net me approximately 120 a week from that job. if i get three shifts a week at the grill and two at ab life, thats roughly 345 a week for 30 hours of work. still only a third of what i made on a good week in denver, but more than i was making in 40 hours at ab life alone. my quality of life has gone up with this new job, but the bottom line is still the same--not enough money. i'm so tired of money.

so the new plan is this--find ways to make a little more cash on the side (market, herb and oil business, massage), keep working the two jobs, cut down living expenses, make debt disappear fast. the most obvious place for me to cut expenses is to stop paying rent. i don't know how i'm going to make that happen, and at least for the short run, i'm happy to be living in a house i can call my own, but i miss the freewheelin' vandwellers life. if only i had my van here! i miss my cocoon bed, my 8-tracks, my tiny closet and my freedom to roam. but i love the island life too, the weather, the ocean, the lack of clothing, the fruit! if i could figure out a way to have it all....

i realized yesterday, while gazing out to sea with an attractive tall dark man beside me, that i've let alot of things slip away since i got here and i want them back. i want a solid yoga practice, i want my music and new music too, i want to read books, i want to write poems and draw plant parts and go wildcrafting with friends. getting my most basic needs met has swallowed all my time for many months, but it's time to step it up and get my life in the order i like it to be in. i realized that my new love doesn't even know the 'me' i used to be, only the 'me' i am right now which in my mind is an inferior representation. i'm unbalanced, grasping somewhat desperately at the side of the mountain, unsure of where solid ground can be found. but, he seems to like me nonetheless. what a dear.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

hilo crazy

there's alot of crazy people that live here and shop at abundant life natural foods. i don't mean like people who wear crazy clothes, or act like jesters, though there's plenty of those too, i mean the kind of nuts that i cannot understand. people whos reality is so far removed from mine that i label them crazy. take this guy, greg nottingham, for instance. he lives in a hotel by the bay, comes into the store, runs a business (sort of), and goes about his day accepted as one of the hilo residents who is just 'off'. then there's the woman who's been stalking my boyfriend for 3 years. yep, she goes through his trash, brings him poems and pictures, and visits him almost every time he works and talks to him like they're best friends. he should be scared, but after this long, she's probably not going to do anything violent, so we just laugh about it. there's the jehovah's witness we call 'shorts' because he wears drawstring shorts that are a little too short, athletic shoes from the 80's, and is constantly singing christian children's songs like 'kumbyah' and 'jesus loves the little children' while he's shopping, as if the songs keep bad thoughts out of his mind. creep. and don't forget the lady that thinks hawaii's governer is a sex addict who hosts swinger parties in public halls, and so are my bosses, and the girl who manages the chill/frozen department is a prostitute, and so on. it's pretty hilarious, and i have to wonder, are they everywhere on this island? or is it just the cross section of people that shop at the store?

i put in my request to go to part time there and that feels soooooo good. it looks like the restaurant job is going to be good money, at least 3 shifts a week, so it was time to cut down at abundo. working this much is insane, i feel mentally dull and spiritually depleted. my creative juices have been dormant and fermenting. i need some space to regroup.

Friday, March 13, 2009


one revolution leads to another, and as easy as the mansion came, it went. see, the owner of the place lives in new hampshire and has recently begun to have a nervous breakdown because the house has been on the market for so long and she is ‘out of money’, or as out of money as you can be when you only get 10,000 a month in alimony. she is a compulsive spender, and has finally run herself into so much debt that she is hanging by a thread. this stress has caused her to lash out at the caretakers of her house, blaming them for the house not selling, questioning their integrity, blowing small things out of proportion. then, her teenage daughter showed up unannounced, and all hell broke loose. why was there a cat in the house? why was someone staying in the master bedroom? i, being somewhat of a bystander, and rapidly wearing out my welcome, decided to pull out. it was fun while it lasted, but free mansion living still has it's costs.

as luck would have it, a house of creatively alive folks has opened it's doors to me. yes, i'll have to pay rent, but not alot of rent, and it's closer to town and the ocean. i've spent enough time with these people to know that we will live together just fine, and there's no lease, no commitment, very few formalities. i came across this perfectly timed situation through the new boyfriend, i'll call him simon, who is living here too. the house is a sweet jungle shack surrounded with fruit bearing trees and plants, a trampoline, a gazebo that doubles as a guest room, and a path across a private hidden bridge that leads to the ocean. it's a few minute walk from town, and there are two adorable dogs, rain and muna, who are rapidly worming their way into my heart. the only real downside--there's only one shitter. it's an older house, and that's just the way it goes.

oh yeah, i got that other job. i'm so tired from working so much that it's hard to be excited right now, but i am really hopeful that it's going to be good. i've worked two training shifts so far, and they went great. i think i'll be taking my own tables on my next shift. it's a super easy serving job, and the prices are kinda outrageous, so it should be good tips. plus, in hawaii, they pay you 7 bucks an hour, minimum! that's more than i made in denver as a bartender, wages wise. i think the end of poverty is in sight. what i hope will happen is i make enough money at the new job to cut down to 2-3 days a week at abundant life, or even eliminate it altogether. at the end of the day, i'm only making about 62 dollars for 8 hours there. i'd only have to make 50 bucks a shift at the restaurant to make the same amount in 4 hours. that kind of math is easy. the only problem is i'm not sure how many hours they will give me at the new job. i was hired for part time nights, meaning 3-4 for shifts, 3-5 hours each. i bet i'll be able to work my way in, becoming indispensable and getting whatever i want. that's the plan anyway.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

the strangest fruit

last weekend i ate the most incredible fruit. it smells like a dead animal, or a propane leak from a distance, but up close it smells sweet and kind of herb-y. if it's smell doesn't deter you, it's skin will try to kill you with sharp spikes covering every inch, it's actually hard to even hold. if that doesn't deter you, the price for one might--the little baby one he bought for me was 10 dollars, a regular size one is like 30.

but suppose you get past all that and take one home. better leave it on the porch so the housemates don't get pissed. then try to open it, carefully so you don't get hurt. inside there are pods of goopy, creamy custard like flesh. put it in your mouth. go ahead, it's not really a dead animal. then, the taste, whoa... it's like musky vanilla tinged with fake banana bubblegum then the aftertaste is like garlic. i swear to you. bizarre! so fascinating! it's called a durian, and it's banned on public transportation in the philippines.

the next day, i smelled it everywhere, and i got sick. i don't know if the two are related.

today i spent all day with my friend luis who is visiting from santa fe. he gets props for being the first to follow through on the 'i'll come see you' promises. we went to the black sand beach and took photos of the sea turtles on land, then drove the whole way around the southern tip of the island and up the other side to hapuna beach where we snorkeled around the reef with his camera in it's underwater housing and got some fantastic pictures of a small sea turtle in the water. it was sweet. we're going out tomorrow armed with fins this time faster swimming. having not been to the tropics since his youth (he grew up in venezuela), he's gorging himself on lilikoi, tangerines, and sunshine in this laid back paradise. it's cool to see this island's healing powers at work.

speaking of work...did i mention i make no money at my job and i work really long hours? well, that might all change soon. i have in interview this thursday at a restaurant in town for a serving job. sometimes it pays to answer the phone when an unknown number calls. this could become my ideal situation where i work a few nights (or mornings) a week, and have plenty of time to work on my things to sell at the market and have fun with my new boyfriend. i'm not getting my hopes up, yet.