Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 143 of Double-barrel Unemployment: Sea-Don'ts & The Tough Budget Cuts

Wednesday April 22, 2009

Another two weeks without a job, another generous payment of $720 (after taxes) from my beloved state of Maryland. I have learned over the years to prioritize my spending during layoffs, cutting out all but the barest essentials. Although until now I had never been out of work for more than two months, there's just no way of knowing how long a layoff will last, so you have to be really careful with your cash.

So, given that [Maris] was still bringing home a decent paycheck, but for who knew how much longer, and given that I was by this time almost five months removed from my final payment from the ol' Vortex of Doom, I knew I had to put some planned purchases on the back burner for a while.

The $2,000 tiki bar for our as yet nonexistent patio would obviously have to wait. It's a shame, too. Between the two of us, [Maris] and I have . . . hang on . . . (counting on fingers) . . . FIVE friends - two of whom we've actually seen in-person in the past year. Now, I know what you're thinking and the answer is no - we canNOT entertain without a tiki bar.

[Maris]'s birthday was coming up, but cuts in that budget were needed, too. In 2008, my friend Godfrey Ozzenbarq III (not his real name) and I took a road trip down to Duck, NC to get a special-ordered coconut cake from the awesome little old lady who makes the desserts for the equally awesome Red Sky Café. NOTE: Cool place with fine, inventive food and cocktails. Anyway, my enticement to Godfrey (again, not his real name) to accompany me on an 11-hour round trip for a birthday cake was that I would treat for lunch at Red Sky. Well, in 2009 my tiny emergency cash flow from the state was not going to allow THAT. So, with no offer of a free lunch, Godfrey (still not his real name but it's growing on him) said a pox on me and my stupid cake, and I had to go alone. Saved $20, though!

Also canceled was my planned trip to see Simple Minds at one of the myriad of very cool European summer music festivals. Nuts.

My eBay bid for a long-sought-after SIGNED Yothu Yindi tour poster, circa 1993? Withdrawn. Bidding was heading into the upper hundreds. :(

I would have to put off my hand-held espresso machine purchase, and hope that maybe Santa would consider it, come Christmastime. Guess it'll be another year before I try espresso. I hope it doesn't taste too much like coffee. Can't stand coffee.

No more recreational drugs or top-shelf liquor, for a while. Okay, well, much less, anyway. Okay! A little less. Alright, the same amount. But I watched for sales!

A new laptop, on which I hoped to write my first novel and with which I planned to scan and store thousands of photographs for my photo blog, launch my internet photography business and become gainfully self-employed... Well, that purchase occurred, but the bulk of that expenditure languishes to this day as a balance on my credit card, so it hasn't really had much of an impact on cash flow. Also, a quick note to the people responsible for the creation of (and failure to stop) Microsoft Vista: You are evil morons who should be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Also thrust to the burner in back: My $700 "Grimmace" costume, a $450 pair of Plexiglas platform pimp shoes with goldfish in them, the collected works of Mark Leyner, handwritten in crayon on that wide-ruled kindergarten paper, a jade chalice with the Tasmanian Devil etched into the inside of the bowl, the indoor Slip n' Slide ($55 at Target) and the electric (or maybe it was cobalt) blue leather assless chaps and matching cowboy hat I saw on Andy Bell of Erasure once.

What did I buy with this week's unemployment benefits payment? Well, grocery shopping took a cool hundred off the top, so all I was able to pick up this time around was the desperately-needed laser-guided robotic vacuum - $399.99 at Hammacher Schlemmer. I'm unemployed, but that's no reason to waste 20-plus minutes a week pushing some old-fashioned Hoover around our 900 square foot house. Am I right?

With what was left, I fell prey to H-S's little "customers who bought this product also purchased this" routine, and picked up a Children's Inflatable Sea-Doo for about $200. We have no pool, no pond or lake or river or stream or nearby beach - and no children - but you just never know when you're going to need one of these handy items. Right now, it's out back, full of ice, just waiting to be stocked with beverages. We're calling it our little yellow vinyl tiki bar, for now.

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