28 December 2010

The Best Albums of 2010

I feel like I've drifted into a lot of non-financial related posts lately, and I think that's what really interested people in this thing to begin with. So, sorry those of you who want more of that, this entry is about music again. I love music more than money. Sorry. But I'll do a 2010 financial recap post at some point soon, and I'll set some goals for 2011 and you all can keep me honest :)

I thought I'd compile a list of my favorite albums of the past year and talk a little about why they're great. In thinking of this list I'm pleased with my own musical variety! Good for me, me!

In no particular order (except the best, which I'll discuss)...

Girl Talk's All Day album is one of those remix albums that plays like one huge song so, at a hoppin' part-ay, one could just hit play and then leave the music alone for an hour. The concept here is that Girl Talk has taken songs you love and mashed them with songs you probably don't (or do, but whatever) over an awesome beat. The result is an album that, when you've finished it, feels like you've only listened to ten minutes of music. I mean that in a good way, I promise.

Recommended tracks:
"Down for the Count"
"Oh No" (which incidentally begins the album)
"Triple Double" (My favorite!)

The album Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons is one I've already mentioned at some point on this blog, but it truly is an excellent album. From top to bottom, Mumford & Sons make emotionally impactful aggressive folk. As a lover of music, I'm most impressed by the instrumentation and harmonies throughout this CD. Hard to only pick a few favorites.

Recommended tracks:
"Little Lion Man"
"The Cave"
"Dust Bowl Dance"
"White Blank Page" (I think this is my favorite, but it's really hard to choose)

Janelle Monae's The Archandroid is easily the most creative album I've heard in years. The musical variety is mind-blowing, and listening to the album top to bottom allows for maximum appreciate of Monae's awesomeness. She's from Kansas City, so that also makes her awesome. It's a concept album dealing with a lot of strange sci-fi themes, so if that bothers you... suck it up.

Recommended tracks:
"Tightrope" (For obvious reasons- one of the best beats I've heard this year. I also demand to be taught the dance they perform about 3 minutes in)
"Cold War" (Probably my favorite)
"Make the Bus" (featuring Of Montreal!)
"Dance or Die" (Maybe the most eclectic song on the album, and that's saying something)
"Say You'll Go"

This will come as no surprise because I sort of don't shut up about it, but the best album I've heard this year is Robyn's Body Talk trilogy. My chronology as a Robyn fan began in the 90s, like everyone's did, because I loved "Show Me Love." This song falls into the category of "so ridiculous it's great," like many songs from the 90s. Then, by happenstance, I came upon her self-titled 2005 album and Robyn turned into a guilty pleasure for me.

Then this summer Erika took me to see Robyn live, and I became a believer. Here is a fantastic review of the show, including a photo of her heinous/awesome outfit.

As for the album itself, it's actually a three part-er and, if I'm being honest, they descend in order of greatness. Body Talk pt. 3 is ultimately only a few new songs and two remixes. Body Talk pt. 1, though, is pop perfection. It'd be silly to link you to my recommended tracks, because they're all awesome (even the song entirely in Swedish I can't understand). My very favorites though are the often-linked-to-on-this-blog "Dancing On My Own" (Fun facts about this song: I played it while my students were writing one day, and they thought she was singing "I'm on the pole now" and "I keep dancing on a pole." Also, Amanda thought she was saying "I'm in the car now." None of these are correct). Something else I really enjoy about this song is the lyrics are exactly able to be related to personally for me, but I appreciate the layered meaning of them. It's sort of the stalkers anthem.

I've also had the fantastic "Fembot" stuck in my head for the past couple of weeks. The most awesomely ridiculous lyrics are "Initiating slut mode" and "I gotta lotta automatic booty applications."

I might have called "Dancehall Queen" my least favorite song on the whole album if I hadn't seen her perform it live. The lyrics don't lie, she gets down low! Get it!

As for Body Talk pt. 2 I feel I may have sold it short after some brief reflection because with the exception of one song these are all fantastic. My favorites on pts. 2 & 3 are:

"In My Eyes"
"Criminal Intent" (If I were out dancing anywhere and this song came on... that'd be cool)
"U Should Know Better" (With Snoop Dogg!)
"Time Machine" (Mad props for referencing a DeLorean)
"Call Your Girlfriend"

This post took forever to make. APPRECIATE IT. :)

I feel like I'm missing a whole bunch of great stuff from this year. Remind me via comment!

21 December 2010

I'm In The Car Now

I have a new dream in life. To someday be featured in New York Magazine's Approval Matrix. I was thinking of saying "to someday be featured in the upper right hand quadrant of New York Magazine's Approval Matrix, but then I realized that, because I'm me, if I ever did anything brilliant enough to be recognized by said Matrix, there is a distinct possibility it would be super, super lowbrow.

Today I spoke with one of my favorite people about this whole PhD business I'm going to do, and he brought up a really interesting conundrum. See, I'm thrilled about the idea of earning a creative writing PhD, teaching college, and living in an apartment with exposed brick. The idea excites and motivates me. I really loved the atmosphere of college, and I really love teaching.

Here's where the hitch in my giddy-up started.

This person suggested to me I get an educational doctorate.

Immediate reaction- noooooo. No. NOOOOO. NO.

See, I have this belief that education classes almost always provide no practical classroom practice. It's theory rather than personality. Certain aspects of teaching theories are good for each teaching style, but at this point, I've been teaching for five years. I've got my style figured out.

Anyway, the suggestion was made. And then I started thinking.

Last school year a local college professor asked me to come talk about teaching to a group of pre-service teachers. I accepted, and the resulting discussion was, dare I say, really fun. I took a "no nonsense" approach to explaining the realities of teaching, and I not only felt like I helped, but I felt like some of them just might turn into better teachers because of it. The thought of influencing an entire generation of teachers to be awesome is a good one. But then... I don't know. I just can't imagine being an education professor.

But couldn't I, in theory, just be one of those educational consultants who travels the country kicking ass and taking names? Kicking stupid curriculum to the curb, helping teachers to realize what is actually important (apparently it's actually teaching these little clay molds to be productive and happy members of society), and getting paid the big bucks... it sounds like quite the life. But I feel like I'd have to go through 20 years of muck before I got there. And, if given the chance to choose, I'd rather go through the Creative Writing muck.

Anyway, Merry Christmas, readers. God bless :)

06 December 2010

You can sell your baseball cards just to pay your rent

My school does a "stop the bop" music torture device during its annual "Cancoming" fundraiser event. The concept being that they play a really annoying song during passing period, before school, and after school and will not stop playing it until a certain amount of money has been raised. I get the point, but I cannot deny how much I want to stuff my ears full of wax when it happens. My solution is to simply play the music on my laptop as loud as possible to drown it out (moderate success rate so far). The first song that came on when I tried this today is the starting point for my writing:

This song, "Capturing Moods" by Rilo Kiley, reminds me of a very specific time and place.

I was 19 years old and a sophomore at Mizzou. It was winter, and I was wearing my favorite winter outfit. Am I the only one that has one of these? It isn't the same now as it was then, but it was much more about the outerwear than my actual outfit. Brown peacoat, plaid brown scarf, brown/white stocking cap, jeans, snow boots. It was really all about that peacoat. It has long since worn itself out, is missing a button, and has a bright orange puff paint stain on it from one of those crafting nights I ended up going to at Brady Commons, but I still love it. I have a new coat I don't love as much (but, to be fair, it's warmer than the peacoat). I like peacoats because they are generous to a fat dude's body. Anyway, so I'm in that outfit. It's nighttime, and I'm walking out of Hudson Hall toward A&S to take a night test for one of my classes. As I'm walking, it starts snowing. It doesn't snow hard enough to make it slick (yet), but it is snowing hard enough to show up briefly as a fluffy reminder on the sleeve of my coat. While I walk, "Capturing Moods" comes on my CD player right as I get to Kuhlmann Court in front of A&S.

It was funny, though, because my mind instantly went there. Without choice. I was standing in my classroom trying to drown out the ravioli song, and in a moment I was a teenager again at Mizzou walking in falling snow. A good memory.

The point here being- what songs instantly take you to a very specific time and place? Describe it. It'll be fun.

02 December 2010

You Wanted A Rant? I'll Show You A Rant: Music

As a lover of music, I'm always curious about the annual Grammy awards for no reason other than it gives a pulse to what is happening in current music. I was talking with a couple of students after school yesterday, and one them proposed the following interesting question: how do you teach someone to love music? I'm paraphrasing, but I was fascinated with the question. Looking at this year's Grammy nominees, perhaps, could be an excellent way to expose someone to music the industry itself is looking to as being excellent.
And then I saw the nominees.

For Album of the Year, generally considered the "biggie" of the night, our nominees are:
The Suburbs from Arcade Fire (obligatory alternative band)
Recovery from Eminem (Joetown's finest. Also, obligatory rap album)
Need You Now from Lady Antebellum (obligatory country album)
The Fame Monster from Lady Gaga (let's be fair- I love this album. The problem, though, is this album has all of eight songs on it)
Teenage Dream by Katy Perry

What? Katy Perry? Like... like really? I understand "California Girls" was catchy, and I'm certainly guilty of singing along to it in my car. But I have heard the rest of the album via youtube, and it's hardly worthy of best pop album, let alone album of the year. The song "Teenage Dream" itself is a ridiculous staccato-fest. I like to scream the chorus as folows:


And so on and so forth. Also, Katy Perry has a theme of having things shoot out of her breasts in her music videos. In "California Girls" (below) she has two whipped cream cannons as breasts.

In her latest video "Firework," she has (you guessed it) fireworks shooting out of her breasts:

Actually, "Firework" is the least offensive of her songs on the Teenage Dream album. I like it. The song "Peacock," however, makes me want to stab my own ears:

That's right, America, we've nominated an album with the above song on it for ALBUM OF THE YEAR.

So, aside from the Katy Perry album, the rest of the nominees aren't terribly offensive I guess. It's just predictable.

So the other big award for the night is Record of the Year, with nominees as follows:

"Nothin' On You" B.O.B. featuring Bruno Mars
"Love the Way You Lie" Eminem featuring Rihanna
"Fuck You" Cee-Lo
"Empire State of Mind" Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
"Need You Now" Lady Antebellum

There's nothing on this list that inherently bothers me, and I'm most certainly pulling for Cee-Lo to win. I'm a little curious about how many of these songs are collaborations not for any negative reasons. Just an observation. I've not heard the entire Lady Antebellum album, but "Need You Now" was alright.

The real story here, though, is Robyn is nominated for Best Dance Song for this epic awesomeness:

I love this song (and album), alright? When I saw Robyn in concert this summer with Erika in New York, I pretty much fell in love with the music and Robyn herself as a performer.

Well, anyway, here are the rest of the nominees. Read 'em and weep. Literally. Because a lot of the best music isn't noticed. It's there, but we have to dig a little. The Grammy's were must-see TV for me when I was younger, but as an adult I apparently no longer like music the music industry likes. I'm being a little dramatic, but whatever. I was happy to see Mumford & Sons got a few nominations.

In less rant-y music related news, it's December. I love Christmas music. Here are my favorite Christmas songs. What are yours?

(he has a recorded version of this I much prefer)

(anything Sufjan Stevens has done for Christmas music makes me happy)

23 November 2010

Help Save the National Writing Project and Prairie Lands Writing Project!

Hello friends,

I'm completely uninterested in a political debate about this. In fact, save yo' political comments for yo' momma(ments). See what I did there? Anyway-

Our government is voting on the Coburn Amendment very soon (Wednesday, perhaps?). This, which will undoubtedly be framed to us as the end of unnecessary earmarks, would completely end any and all earmarks that have ever happened in the history of ever (I'm not sure if this is a hyperbole or not). The bad part is that, technically, the National Writing Project and, therefore, the Prairie Lands Writing Project is an earmark from decades ago. The National Writing Project and its dozens upon dozens of local sites nationwide (including PLWP) provides fantastic and necessary professional development for teachers in the development of a passion for writing and, more importantly for you, the quality teaching of writing and developing that passion in students. NWP and PLWP have impacted, literally, thousands upon thousands of students nationwide. This would negatively impact our nation's students who are already negatively impacted by so so much.

PLWP personally reignited my own writing and has pushed me to be the best teacher and writer I can be. I developed friendships with fellow professionals who have positively impacted me personally and positively impacted my students through our collaboration. Moreover, hundreds of people across the country would lose jobs over this, including my friend Vickey's mother. Please call your senator TODAY and tell them to vote no on the Coburn Amendment.

Call Sen. Bond: (202) 224-5721
Call Sen. McCaskill: (202) 224-6154

Of course if you don't live in Missouri, please google your senator's office number and call them.

I called yesterday and was super surprised to find an actual person on the line. Fully expecting a machine, I stuttered and stumbled through a "ppppppplease vote no on that uhhhhh... Coburn Amendment thing." It probably wasn't that bad, but it wasn't good. I'm calling back today in full hopes of redeeming myself.

I'm going to make the following analogy to my senators today:

The government has decided we have a serious problem with forest fires. To solve this problem, they are deciding to eliminate every tree because then we could start over. It's the same thing here. Earmarks are a problem, so let's get rid of all of them while completely ignoring that some of them are for really excellent programs that help people and give people their livelihood.

Aaaaanyway, like I said, I am in no way interested in being political about this. I'm just looking to save a program that made me a better teacher, writer, and person and has done that same thing for thousands of teachers nationwide.

16 November 2010

This is a cold war

I've been frantically looking at Creative Writing PhD programs.

Last night after coming home from school I called 16 different colleges- some close, some far. I only talked to one person out of the 15, leaving me with the fantastic impression that colleges are completely done by 5pm. Some apparently even done by four... or three. I called at least three schools in California, where it would have been about 2:30 when I called, and none of the English departments were available to talk to me. The only person I actually spoke to yesterday was a woman I appeared to completely confuse at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. I did learn some important facts though. One- a PhD in Creative Writing at UNL does not require taking the GRE. In fact, neither of the masters degrees I've earned required the GRE either. I think it'd be a little funny if I had a PhD and had never taken the GRE. Two- it costs a lot of money, and they don't offer much other than "extremely competitive" fellowships. I got the impression I'd be admitted, offered no money, and drop out immediately. The woman was also sort of uncooperative. If anything, a little part of me would die if I became a husker anyway, so it just felt right to mentally cross UNL off my potential list. I'd contacted them to begin with because my building principal got her PhD online from them, but this lady let me know straight away that wouldn't be happening for me.

During my conference period this morning one of them called back- a very nice woman from the English department at Western Michigan University. She seemed, at first, to indicate WMU did not have a PhD for Creative Writing, but she had misunderstood me, and they totally do. She said the poetry program (the one I would try for if unable to find a school with a creative non-fiction program I could rock) was extremely competitive. I'm competitive about some aspects of life, and I could make myself be competitive for this if need be. Once we started talking, though, she pointed out that WMU has a PhD in English Education. My first thought was "absolutely not." I have absolutely no interest in earning a PhD that would require me to teach education courses. The woman stopped me, though, and said the program is specifically geared toward teaching English at colleges and wasn't affiliated with their College of Education. It intrigued me to the point that I think I'll email some professors in the program to see what it's all about. Also important- nearly every student in their grad program has complete tuition remission. That'd be awesome.

The moral of this story, though, is that I scoured the internet looking for an online Creative Writing PhD. There isn't one. And now that I've decided that I'm definitely going to do this sometime (what I generally call "getting a wild hair" about something), I've essentially decided I'm definitely going to move sometime. Western Michigan is in Kalamazoo, Michigan (which gets cool points for its name, frankly). The closest program I'm still considering is at Mizzou. The furthest is in Los Angeles. This could potentially be a big move at some point. An expensive move. I'm in the process of consolidating my student loans, and I'm worried they won't defer if I'm in grad school once consolidated. Bahhhhh it's a lot to think about. Just let it be known that I'm completing the steps moving ahead.

Step one- I need to learn a foreign language.

14 November 2010


I haven't updated in several weeks. It's been a busy, unexpected, and sometimes sad few weeks. I admit I've been a bit down lately. I've certainly been very low energy. I come home from school most days to just watch TV or read. Incidentally, I've read 1.5 good books in the past two weeks, and as soon as I finish Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman, it will be 2.0. I've added them to my Amazon reccomendations.

I know I've just got to break out of this funk, but don't we all find that's easier to say than to actually do? I tell myself "go for a walk" or "clean up your kitchen so you'll stop going out to dinner every night and spending money you really shouldn't be spending," but then I go to Sonic and play my Xbox 360. And, really, let's not even get started about the Chiefs over the past two weeks. Geez.

I'm really starting to feel the impact of my aforementioned windowless world. I have had three dreams in the past week that involved me moving. I do love my apartment building, though. And although my rent is high, the free stuff I get more than makes up for the cost. I straight up fantasize about getting an apartment with windows, though. This winter might be tough without them. It might help if I made my apartment a little more "home-y" and less "that place where I crash after work-y." I think I'm going to invest in an honest to God Christmas tree this year. In the past when I had my much-missed puppy (another reason I think I've been down recently, but I digress), I didn't put a full size tree up because he'd try to eat it. I don't really have any space for a tree, but it might just go directly in the center of my living room/bedroom/kitchen/my apartment is a sad windowless studio.

I'm off to visit the apartment listings on craigslist to dream. Godspeed, readers.

01 November 2010

It's Been A Long Time- I Shouldn't Have Left You Without A Dope Beat To Step To

Step to. Step to. Step to. Step to. *weird Timbaland noise*

I haven't update this in an embarrassingly long time. Sorry guys. I continue to receive excellent feedback from friends and family who read this, include my Aunt Karen and Grandma Johnson. Hi! I digress, however, because I have much to share:

1) I began No Shave November with blatant cheating. I got home from my parents' last night at about 9:30 and pretty much immediately went to bed. I then shaved... this morning. It's November. DEAR GOD I'M A CHEATER! No, but really, I am planning on skipping the shaving until December. And who knows? Maybe I look awesome with a full-on beard. Here's the Day One (or what I'm subsequently calling "The Day of Much Cheating") progress:

I forgot my ID in my car, I'm wearing a sweater for the first time this fall, and I'm flanked by student artwork. Yay! And the first of my "photo of the day entries.*

2) My family's annual Halloween Costume Contest was held this Saturday, and I'm sad my brilliant Tiger Woods costume didn't win (pictures to be added soon!). My father actually won- he dressed as a sexy Little Red Riding Hood. As I'm sure you can imagine, it was truly frightening. A real testament to the spirit of Halloween. My Uncle Steve was an oompa loompa, and it was awesome! More than anything, though, it was a really fun night. And I got to visit with friends Adam, Allison, and Amanda at the end of the night, where I had a lot of fun trying on the devil horns Amanda had clipped in her hair. 

3) Financial matters continue to be strong. I'm happy and proud of myself when it comes to how I handled my October finances. I know I could still be better, but the changes I've made bring me comfort that if something were to go haywire, I could use some money I have in savings. I think I mentioned it earlier, but it is my goal to not spend any of my paycheck this year on Christmas gifts, but instead using only money I've saved. And, oh by the way, I've saved over $600 in my account! I've ended up with extra money at the end of the past four months, and it continues to confirm for me I made the right decision to file for bankruptcy. I was in a really dark place for a few months both financially and emotionally. Looking back on the whole thing (and looking back at this blog too) were good reminders about how it felt to be financially drowning. I would have never guessed I would have ever been emotionally impacted by money, but lo and behold, there I was, especially in March of this past year, feeling buried and overwhelmed (true story- I spent several minutes after typing this looking on youtube for that clip from 10 Things I Hate About You when Bianca says, "I know you can be overwhelmed, and I know you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?" and her friends says "I think you can in Europe." Couldn't find it). 

4) Big/Awesome news, readers. Two of my wonderful friends/colleagues (frolleagues? criends?) have presented me with yet another opportunity to visit my favorite travel destination, New York City. One has a friend who works for United Airlines and, apparently, can score us some pretty sweet Buddy Passes which will allow for crazy cheap travel. When I went to the City this summer my flight was easily the most expensive part of the trip. I probably spent about the same amount of my flight total on the rest of the trip, and that was with a small shopping spree at Macy's. They've also offered to buy my buddy pass for me if it is too expensive. Aside from being grateful that I have amazing friends, I feel like that's fairly even because, really, I'm the reason they have free lodging ;) Nah, I know they don't have to, but it means that December is going to be my biggest budgeting challenge thus far, as we are looking to going to NYC a few days before New Year's and heading back January 2nd. I can do it, though. I really can. What's interesting about the budgeting fun is that I can plan for trips like this and not have to immediately say no to them. I'm thankful for that. And I'm thankful for Erika who continues on letting me loiter in her apartment and, this time, is even allowing new guests. She's awesome. Truman Middle School's Most Likely To Succeed award winners FOREVER! :)

*From the poll a few entries ago, you all clearly want some rants from me. I'll work on 'em. I've got a sports fandom one bubbling up, and I'm sure I'll think of more :)

24 October 2010

On Loss

Loss comes in different forms, and I, like everyone of course, have had my fair share of loss. There have been great-grandparents, my grandfather, and others whom I've lost to death, and friends whom I've lost to life. When I think of the greatest losses of my life, I have the aforementioned grandfather and, strangely enough, the loss of my mentor teacher from high school. She didn't die, but she lost my respect, and that's just as well. The point here being is this- no one is good at loss, and I think I'm particularly bad at it because I sometimes pretend it isn't there.

Since about five years ago three people (and, sadly, it may be more if I'm not remembering clearly) I went to elementary school with have died. Two of them have been, at one point or another, really close friends. Brian died in Afghanistan. I went to his funeral and the jerkoffs (is there a better name for them?) at Westboro "Baptist" Church (quotes added by me because, frankly, I was raised Baptist and am not cool with their association) protested. One shook a sign at my car that said "FAG ENABLER," which I found ridiculous and, embarrassingly enough, sort of funny. "FAG ENABLER?" It's true, I suppose. I allow homosexuals to be homosexuals. In any case, the funeral was beautiful and I wrote a poem about it that maybe I'll post sometime provided I locate it.

Last year Adam, who I wasn't really friends with, died. He committed suicide. It was a tragedy for sure, and it only highlighted one of the reasons I went into education- so people could feel like, even if no one cares for them at home, their English teacher does at school.

This weekend Austyn, a kid whose home I frequented for several years as a child, died. I am sketchy about the details, namely in that I don't really have any, but it is just one more to the list of people who I was once friends with who have since died. Does this not push us all to action? Does this not force us all to live our greatest possible lives? It is as easy to say as it is difficult to do. I'm not sure what living my greatest life looks like, but I know this provides motivation to figure out what the heck that is. Although Austyn and I hadn't been close in years, I grieve his loss. The visitation is tomorrow, and I will be stop by to pay my respects, but I wish I had more to say/do.

21 October 2010

I whip my hair in at least two different directions...

Ladies and gentleman, I've paid all of my bills for this month and have money left over to buy my Halloween costume supplies. I sort of showed money who was boss this month, and as it turns out it is totally me. A slight surprise, however, was found in that I had TWO payment of $90+ to one student loan company who, adorably, had told me I only had one. Why do I need to make two payments to one company? Why don't they just combine them into one? I asked those questions too, and have yet to receive a sufficient response.

But even with that fun shock, I'm still totally good. What!

I'd also like to take a moment and post a link to my friend Amanda's blog. 

Not only is her blog fun, informative, and insightful, but she's doing a pretty awesome giveaway right now for Noodles & Company... mmmmmmmm.

Also I'd like to remind everyone to vote in my poll on the previous post about things you'd like to see on B&B- right now random rants are clearly a favorite. I'm able to do that. :)

17 October 2010

I'm Burnin' Up!

I mentioned it briefly before, but about once a week I have a huge spike in traffic. I'm grateful for it. I am, however, a bit confused as to why.

It is always on this entry, with each of my others uniformly receiving a few views. The views are also almost exclusively from other countries. Over the past week, here are the numbers of readers I've had from different nations:

United States- 45
Brazil- 17
Japan- 15
Ukraine- 13
Canada- 11
South Korea- 7

And it goes on, but basically I'm a bit confused as to how they're finding my bloggity blog. Oh well, I will not look a gift horse in the mouth.

In terms of blog readership, I know I have a ton of loyal readers. And I love you guys. I am, however, interested in expanding my reader base, so I am taking a page out of the playbook once used by Michael Ian Black on his blog. I will look at google's most popular search items and mention them in this entry.


-Boy was I sure sad when I heard about the death of Minneapolis based singer/rapper Eyedea. I hadn't heard of him until today, but that totally blows anyway.

-I am sure nfl.com fantasy is an excellent place to place fantasy football. On that note of sports, I'm bitter in every way about the Chiefs game today. As much as I know it wasn't just one play, that ref who called pass interference on Brandon Flowers (this one not that one) can eat me.

-As a Mizzou fan, I was happy to see Jeremy Maclin did well today despite the DeSean Jackson injury.

-Eric LeGrand got a neck injury... a lot of these are clearly sports related.

-I keep seeing commercials for the Skyline movie on TV, and I have no interest whatsoever in seeing it. It's as if a movie produced said "let's combine District 9 and Transformers because those movies appeared to be profitable!"

-I am extremely concerned about Indiana unemployment as my friend Rachel lives there, and I want her to be employed.

-Many marathons were ran recently, like in Detroit. And Columbus. YEAH RUNNING.

Okay, that surely went really really well, guys.

Otherwise I was thinking of some ideas that I could do to spice things up around here. Let me know what you think of these ideas...

-Product reviews. See, we all value money, right? So I would review products and determine how valuable they are for the price we pay for them. Like the Magic Eraser (which really is pretty magical, but it doesn't last long enough).
-Vlogs or Podcasts. I'm not sure how to do a podcast, but I could probably figure it out. And I could probably figure out a vlog. Could be fun. And I would make it about money somehow, because this blog should be less about me and more about general topics.
-A completely random rant on occasion. Like an expanded "why the Chiefs got screwed" today moment. Or "why I love sweet tea." Or "why I wish I could directly communicate with the people who drive in front of me on 10th street in Joetown." That last one would be to remind them that the freaking speed limit is 30. Not 15. Not 6. It's 30.
-Photo of the day. I'd have to be super disciplined to remember to do this, but I'd listen to what my awesome readers wanted me to do. I'm pretty sure I'm going to participate in No Shave November, and that would provide ample opportunity for photos of the lower half of my face.
-Your ideas. Tell me. Teach me. GET OUT (your ideas that is. Get your ideas out of your brain)!

03 October 2010


As of this past Friday, I have lived in my apartment for one year.

If you didn't know, I live in what's called an "Interior Studio Apartment" at Mitchell Park Plaza. Most apartments in the world have windows in them- mine included. However, my windows face an interior atrium covered in faux grass, metal grates, and a faux marble fountain that doesn't have water in it (I don't think so at least). I'm on the third floor of a six story building, so the metal grates don't really let much natural light in at all. During the summer, when the sun was at its strongest, I recieved approximately 15 minutes of natural light each afternoon arond 5:15. Now that the sun is starting to weaken, I have no more natural light. This wouldn't be all that bad if I didn't teach in a windowless classroom. My classroom is indeed air conditioned, but during the winter that doesn't matter so much. And most of my school year is winter-tastic.

The bottom line is, after a year, I'm a little tired of living in a world where I can't see what's outside. Now I'm fully aware that I could move. My studio apartment is what most would call expensive (especially for Joetown standards), and I could easily move someplace with more room with cheaper rent. And I have those student loan things I was talking about. But, here's the thing, I love my building. I love supporting the renovation of an old, abandoned building and turning it into something great in a downtrodden part of town. I love that my building has a kickass roof where I can host friends and have the absolute best view available in all of Joetown. I love having a convenience store on the first floor for my before school Pepsi needs. I love having my car parked in a safe, secure underground parking garage. I love, considering my past experiences, that my apartment does not have an outside entrance. I love that the carrot they dangle in front of me for not having "real" windows (there are two panes of glass, true, but, as mentioned, they face the inside) is not paying ANY utilities. None. No electric, no heat, no cable, no internet, no water, no trash. There's just too much positive about it to leave. I'm willing to pay a little more. And, as I mentioned in my last entry, I can afford it right now. It's close, but I can do it.

All of that being said, I positively yearn for being able to open a window on a day like today with highs in the 60s. I yearn to watch thunderstorms roll in. I yearn to watch snowfall from my living room. I am prepared to endure another year of non-windowed pain, but I'm not sure yet if I could do any more.

So, readers, imagine the lust in my eyes when I saw this Craigslist ad. It's in my building, and it is TWO ENTIRE BEDROOMS OF SPACE. There are two bathrooms (completely unnecessary for me). But still. Above all, it has WINDOWS. I could open them. I could do that. But it's a full $200 more than I'm currently paying for rent. But with all that space! Dilemma.

Not really, though. There's no way I can afford it now or in the future. The only thing I could do would be to find a roommate, and, frankly, that's scary. I had roommates in college who, thankfully, I got along with quite well. I haven't had one in my adult life, and I think the client base for roommates in St. Joe is not as rich as was in Columbia. I will have to seriously consider this, though, in the coming year. If I had a roommate in that situation, I'd pay $350 a month plus 1/2 of an electric bill. That would save me something like $100-$150 a month ultimately. And I'd have real windows. However, that deal is ridiculous. Most two bedroom apartments at my place are closer to $1000 a month.

In my dream world, an EXTERIOR studio opens up (they allegedly exist), and I move on in. I pay the same rent plus electric, and I have windows. A small but important sacrifice to see a thunderstorm.

Anyway- just dreaming of the future.

30 September 2010

I Can Freaking Do This

I titled this entry after the comment I just made to myself. Today, loyal readers, is payday. Now, of course, I always enjoy payday, but I am disheartened to admit that the anxiety payday once offered me was substantial. Today, though, I was so responsible I peed a little. In the toilet. When my bladder was full. Okay, I'm just being obnoxious.

But really, though, today I started a new page of responsibility by calling up my student loan debtors, finding out monthly payment info, checking on deferments, and figuring out my monthly budget. First of all, let's admit it's an accomplishment that I have a monthly budget. I made one. I'm gonna use it. I am still putting money in savings with this budget. And I still have $50 of "hey, I don't know what I'm going to spend this on, but I'm sure something will come up" money. It's fun in a weird way.

I added up the horrifying total of my monthly student loan payments, and it's (I wish I were kidding) over $500. College is super expensive. But, thanks to the bankruptcy, I can afford it. I can afford those payments. I'm going to have to really stick to the budget and avoid splurges (and Christmas presents might be an adventure), but I can do it. And, thanks to awesome people like you, I'm getting a small but existent payment from ad revenue from this blog. It's fantastic. It's over $100. It's going directly into savings. Every time you click an ad, friends, you're putting money in the pocket of someone who is not going to waste it. Three cheers for learning financial responsibility through terrible decision making and a bankruptcy! AWW YEAH.

19 September 2010

Just Breathe

I've just started reading Dave Eggers' next masterpiece Zeitoun, and so far it has lived up to the hype set forth by its reviews. As I've established on here, if I could be a fat, midwestern Dave Eggers. Zeitoun tells the story of Abdul Zeitoun and his family during and after Hurricane Katrina. I've always been of the belief that disaster and heartache produce great art, and, so far, this is no exception. It's why I think Vietnam has produced such great art. Anyway, you should buy it. And use this link to do it so I get money when you buy it.

In other completely non-financial related news, last night I was granted the wonderful opportunity (a.k.a. I bought a ticket) to attend the Kansas City Improv Festival. My friend Lu was among the photographers for the event, so that's cool too. The event featured four improv groups, and the final group was Der Monkenpickle which features Overland Park native Jason Sudekis of SNL and 30 Rock fame. His girlfriend, Mad Men actress January Jones, was also there. HERE I AM PHOTOGRAPHED WITH BOTH OF THEM.

Something to noticed in this photo- each of us has, like, an insane eye. I don't know what the crap is wrong with my camera that I've had for all of three months, but we each have one eye that's totally black (much like my soul. HAHAHA!). What the frig is wrong with my camera is the main message here. Here is this picture plus Amanda:

Now both of my eyes are black shark eyes (Yes, 30 Rock reference intended). What on earth? Anyway, it was super cool. We were standing nearby for a few minutes and I was too nervous to approach him because I figured 12 billion people were coming up to him like "OMFG It's Floyd from 30 Rock let's take a freaking hilarious picture together, lolz!" Eventually the crowd died down a bit, and I decided I was gonna do it. I was gonna approach a famous person who is on my favorite television show.

It went fairly well, and we talked for just a minute or two. In that time I managed to talk with him about cursing in front of children, teaching, and how my friends and I confronted our first grade teacher, Mrs. Black, about how we were absolutely convinced she lived in our classroom. He wasn't nearly as amused by it as I assumed he would be in my head. He was absolutely nice and friendly, though, he just didn't instantly recognize my genius. It's okay- at some point someone will, and I will get a book published and pay off my student loans (more on this later).

January Jones was standing nearby, and I said, "Screw it, I'm talking to her too."

I complimented her on the following work- the finest of her career on SNL. 

The group I went with had a long, but fun, night, and I'm really glad I went.

So otherwise, I've made my first student loan payment. It was $50- not too bad. But more of them are coming in. And I have letters from MU and SLFC waiting in my mailbox. I chose not to read them before my trip to KC so as I would not think about it. I got another letter from a student loan place at my parents. I read it today, and there is a magic and beautiful deferment on my account. I am in a grad class this semester, but it's only three hours, and I don't know if that counts as part time. I'm not going to complain. I didn't get a deferment on the MOHELA loan... is it clear yet that I have a bunch of these loans? I'm going to consolidate them in hopes of reducing the amount of money I'll pay each month and just reducing confusion in the number of checks I'd have to write. I'll be sure to give you all more updates on this- it's certainly my next great financial hurdle (controlling my student loan payments that is). Wish me luck. :)

06 September 2010

Book Review- Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I thought it might be nice to not just include the mundane details of my financial explosions and take some time to review a book. I might include this sort of feature often if you guys like it! You'll notice I've added a little Amazon "Hey, I liked this stuff, so you should like it too" box to the right of the blog entries, and you'll notice I've just completed Little Bee. I'll review the book for you now!

I was recommended Chris Cleave's Little Bee by my friend who I stay with in New York, Erika. She and I were collectively voted Most Likely to Succeed of our 8th grade class, and you're damned right I don't forget it. It's one of two times I've ever "won" something (assuming we're counting my Outstanding Senior Band Member award from high school). Erika and I have now been friends for thirteen years, and I've grown to trust her taste in books and music, so when she recommended the book so highly I bought it at LaGuardia to start reading as soon as possible.

The book opens by meeting Little Bee herself who is in a detention center in London. We discover she is a Nigerian refugee and has been in the center for two years. With little hope of escape, she befriends a woman who performs favors for a gentleman at the office to allow them, and two other women, to leave. When she leaves, she calls the only person in England she knows, a man named Andrew. A few days after her phone call, Andrew kills himself. This begins the excitement of the book!

Maybe excitement isn't the right word. The action of the book begins, and, as a person who loves to predict events and endings in books, I had no idea how the book would go forward. You eventually discover how Little Bee knew Andrew (and his wife). A crucial character in the book is actually Andrew's son Charlie, who is very young, and insists on being called Batman. It's hard to characterize this book by any "category" because, to Cleave's credit, there are moments of humor and pain seamlessly integrated.

The book ends in a way that is simultaneously relieving and horrible. You are left to draw a conclusion rather than being told what exactly happens, so if that is an issue with you with book endings, you will likely be dissatisfied by the ending of Little Bee. I'm not one of those people, so I liked the ending. The book, however, is just so sad. It reminded me a bit of What is the What by Dave Eggers in that you keep thinking "what else can happen to this character?!" but, unlike Eggers, the book doesn't quite meet the nexus of the worlds of humor and pain, reality and levity.

I'm giving the book 4/5 stars because I was left with profound sadness when I finished. This is to simultaneously credit Cleave for making me care about his characters and still wish the book was slightly more uplifting. I liked it a lot, obviously though, and I really recommend it to anyone. Click away below to order it on Amazon!

05 September 2010

I'm Backin' Up, Backin' Up, Backin' Up, Backin' Up...

'Cause my daddy taught me good...

So other than that video, things have been cautiously good for me recently. You know how when you feel like things are going fairly well you suddenly your left arm falls off or something? Or at least some metaphorical left arm falls off. I'm always thinking of that. Like last year when my life attempted to explode itself, I had previously had an awesome year. Now I assume life will kick my ass a little every time I'm feeling too good. Thanks a lot for conditioning me so negatively, life!

Yesterday I received a friendly note from Mohela, one of my student loan debtors, reminding me that, now that I've been discharged from the bankruptcy, they're going to start billing me again. I knew it was coming, but... it still sucks to be reminded. It seems like a waste of paper- they could have called me and saved a tree. Whatever. Anyway, I'm continuing to save some money. And the money I make from ad revenue on this blog (which is small but existent!) goes straight into savings which would eventually be used to pay student loans. So remember, every time you click an ad on my blog, you're helping me pay for the insane number of student loans I had to get to become an educator and follow my dreams. So clickety click away, friends! :)

29 August 2010

Supplementary Blog Post

Here are states I've been to:

visited 15 states (30%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

In the aforementioned If I Had A Million Dollars entry I talked about my dream of travel. I'd like each of these to be red. My criteria for having visited a state is having sat down somewhere for a meal- sort of a flemsy premise, I know, but, let's face it, I love food. It makes my trip to the Milwaukee airport count for Wisconsin. Did I not leave the airport? Yeah, but I enjoyed a meal there. I count it. I didn't just drive through. Although, driving through a state is spending a lot of time with a state. Anyway, I have a few ways in the works to help fill in these states:

1) Doing the I-95 Roadtrip. This would knock out those east coast states, and would be an epic/awesome road trip. I really like driving, actually. Highway driving specifically is good for me because I can freely sing along to the radio. I want to do this next summer!

2) Going to Cal-i-forn-i-a (as Tupac would have said). My wonderful friend Laura, who lives in Santa Barbara, just got engaged. I think this means travelling to Cali for her wedding. I've already suggested a road trip as opposed to flying to my friend Kelly. Even if she decides to get married in Missouri, I think a road trip is due. I'm ready to go now.

What are your travel dreams, readers?

Get a quote! Get a quote; get a quote!

I don't have a lot of money news right now other than this having been my best month of financial restraint in a while. This past March I had to save money like mad to afford to file for bankruptcy, and I spent about half of what I normally do to afford it. I essentially did something similar to a smaller scale this month to give me an emergency fund for vacation that I, thankfully, didn't need. Now I can afford to pay my car tax. Yeah!

As a brief aside from money related discussion, I thought I might talk a bit about some of my favorite movies/music/etc. I've come into contact with as of late.

Musically, I have a small obsession with Mumford & Sons right now. I think "Little Lion Man" is my favorite:

I also became fond of Robyn again after seeing her in concert in NYC. The album Body Talk, being released in three parts, is full of fun. Here is a very not safe for work song with Snoop Dogg from the album:

As far as movies go, last night I watched a movie called Bang Bang You're Dead based upon the recommendation of my teacher friend Amanda. It took me a little bit to get into, but once I did I ended up enjoying it a lot. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it so much if I weren't a teacher, but I am... so I did. It spoke very much to the root causes of school violence and the pain caused by bullying. I'm not sure another movie has captured the pain of it so well. Here's a clip from what is arguably the most emotionally impactful moment of the film:

I'm also reading a book right now called Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and I'm enjoying it very much. I want to finish it this week and start the new Dave Eggers book Zeitoun.

And, sometime, someday, I'm going to have a clean apartment again.

25 August 2010

I'll Have the Giant Pile of Meat

This evening I tried the brand new Joetown location of Em Chamas. Verdict: delicious and unique. Not for Amanda because it is, quite literally, rounds and rounds of meat. It was also, by far, the most expensive meal I've ever had in Joetown.

But I've earned it. Do you hear me? I've freaking earned it.

There are several reasons for this.

1) The school year has started, as I mentioned, and I'm already exhausted most days. I was just discussing with a colleague that I was unprepared for how physically exhausting teaching really is. So I deserve a treat sometimes. Right? Right.

2) I received my bankruptcy discharge in the mail today. TODAY. IT IS OFFICIAL. IT IS OVER. I cannot believe this process is over. Here's a photo of me kissing the discharge letter:

It was closed mouthed but still passionate.

The process of filling began in late March, and now late August brings closure to the process. It has taken away my home, taken away my credit, and taken away parts of my life I can never get back, but I've gained so much. I've learned so much, really. I've learned to budget, and for the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE, I am maintaining a savings account and, for the very first time this month, I have EXTRA MONEY at the end of the month. Oh, and by the way, I spent the first week of this month on vacation in New York City. And I still have extra money. So eat me, people who don't like it. And it wouldn't have been possible, and I'd likely be living with my parents right now, sleeping on their couch, if I hadn't done this bankruptcy business. So I feel good about it.

3) Tomorrow is the one year suckiversary of my home being robbed. I went home on the evening of August 26, 2009 to find my back door kicked in, two TVs gone, my laptop gone, and God knows what else. But what I lost the most that day was my sense of security, and I still don't have that all the way back. I do not trust people the way I used to. But, BUT, I've not allowed myself to be defeated by these people. I am still standing, and these degenerate assholes who stole my shit didn't steal my happiness. They have stuff. I have the pride in not being a thief. It's pretty good. I may have more to say about this tomorrow. I'm planning on driving by the house and giving it the finger or something. I know the house didn't do anything, but trying to sell it was impossible. I'm stronger now, much like Britney Spears. In fact, watch that video and pretend the guy Britney Spears says "whatever" to all sassy like at the beginning is actually the few people who stole things from my home. It might have been cooler to make a Kanye West "Stronger" reference in retrospect... oh well. :)

In blog specific items, I'd like to make this place slightly more interactive. So comment on entries! Click links (of course, don't forget the ones under this entry that make me money )! Give me ideas of things you'd like to see here! Yeeeaaaaah!

22 August 2010

If I Had A Millions Dollars...

When I thought of this blog title, it immediately put the following song in my head:

I'm going to bet the $1,000,000 that this video won't work.
Edit: I've posted the video, and it totally works. Making this post a moot point because I've now given up my riches thanks to my failed video prediction.

The point here is what I would do with my life if true financial freedom were achieved to the point that money was no longer an issue- this would probably actually cost more than $1,000,000. But here would be my life plan if that happened:

-I'd, of course, pay off my student loans. That would be the most joyous check I've ever written. There would be tear stains on the check. Happy tear stains.

-I'd buy my parents and my sister's family both houses. And reliable cars. My family has always had this dream of having a family compound on the east side of town, complete with a gated entryway and private tennis court. I'd invite Maria Sharapova over to show me a thing or two. About tennis.

-I'd buy a historic building in downtown Joetown. In said building would be living space for me upstairs along with business space downstairs for the following: my mom's crafting, my dad's drumming (which is already an operating business looking for downtown retail space at a reasonable price- check out Drum Monkey!), my friend Amanda's vegangasm (or whatever we're going to end up calling that place) vegan bakery/restaurant/whatevs, and my independent movie theatre modeled after one of my favorite places- the Ragtag Theatre in Columbia, Missouri, and, my dream, a non-profit tutoring/writing center for kids modeled after what my not-actually-but-would-be-awesome-if-we-were BFF Dave Eggers, 826 Valencia. So I might need more than one building.
Edit: Much of this paragraph is grammatically repugnant.

-I'd make a sizeable donation to the SJSD that would involve nothing more than the English departments at the three high schools having a fund to use for buying things they need that are awesome and amazing for kids. No PD could be purchased with the money. In fact, I'd appoint my friend Vickey as head of deciding what can and cannot be bought with the money, as I trust her BS radar. Anyway- there would be a partnership between the SJSD and my 826 Valencia like place. It'll make sense once I have that awesome mon-ay (pronounced like M.I.A. does in "Paper Planes" of course).

-I'd make a sizeable donation to the University of Missouri because I've always wanted to have a building named after me. I'd donate to the College of Education, of course, and I would establish "The Brandon S. Haskey Center for Teachers Who Care About Kids and Not Test Scores" or something like that. I think that's a fair summary of the mission statement of my place.

-I'd have a summer home in New York City because, as we've established, I love that place.

-I would accomplish the following travel related dreams: seeing a baseball game at every MLB stadium (I've, sadly only been to three at this point: Kauffman Stadium, Citi Field, and Yankees Stadium (the new one). I could've said Busch Stadium, but they tore the old one down, so I haven't made it out to the new one yet), seeing the castles of Scotland (I actually have a ridiculous fantasy about how this would work- I'd travel by car to the countryside outside Edinburgh, sit in a field with too-tall grass on a blanket, and write poetry all day. Specifically, it's a cool day and I need a jacket.), seeing the art of Italy, going to Japan and listening to the entirety of Weezer's Pinkerton album, and several others that I can't think of off the top of my head. It's gonna be pretty sweet. As an aside- rumor has it Weezer is going to tour playing only songs from the blue album and Pinkerton- awesome.

-I'd take epic road trips with my friends. We're already planning a potential road trip for next summer... awww yeah!

-I'd donate to/start an organization about teen suicide prevention. Really just any suicide prevention. Maybe I'd incorporate it into my 826 Valencia location. I just heard about a woman who committed suicide yesterday who several of my family members knew and, in fact, had subsitute taught for me before. It's a tragedy, and it heightens the tragedy when no one talks about it. I want to make people talk about it. I'm 26 years old, and I know six people who have attempted suicide, three of whom were successful. And, to be fair, that six number is conservative because, thinking further, I know of a few others. I just have a passion for suicide prevention that I'd love to explore with these imaginary unlimited financial resources.

And a ton more. Listen, these are just dreams for now, but I'd love to make these things happen some day. What would you do with hypothetical millions of dollars?

15 August 2010

Summer Life End

I've returned from fantastic New York City, and the trip was phenomenal. And on the cheap. Really, looking back, I'm pretty impressed with my (and, really, my wonderful friend Erika's) planning skills. I came back to St. Joe with way more money than I anticipated having. To the point that I was able to "splurge" (I say it in quotes because it's sort of a necessity) on some new clothes for the coming school year.

Things I did in New York that were free/cheap:

-Go to the beach. Aside from the train ticket there, this was completely free. And amazing. I had never really just laid out on the beach before, and it was so relaxing! The temperature on this day was perfect also, making the whole experience just that much better. Erika and I took a nap on the beach, setting our alarm for 30 minutes before the train left to go back to the city. It was approximately a 10 minute walk back to the train station. After the alarm went off, we were so relaxed and lazy (in the best possible way), we missed the train. Oh well, another hour in Long Beach!

-Read in the park. I did this three different times, actually. I also read three books while in New York. They were all young adult books in my efforts to keep up with my students, but it was wonderful nonetheless. There was only one really excessively hot day, and the other days, under a shady tree, there was nothing more relaxing and wonderful I could have done in the big city.

-Free movie in Bryant Park. This was, aside from sitting on unforgiving ground for six/seven
straight hours causing seering back pain, a favorite on the trip. Aside from being completely free, we packed a cheap but classy picnic for dinner, saving on food costs as well. The movie that night was Rosemary's Baby. That movie is MESSED UP. Enjoyable, but screwy!

-Went to the American Museum of Natural History (a.k.a. that one museum from Night at the Museum). This was pretty cool, and seeing the space part was neat. I also really liked the collection of gems and other rocks. This museum had a suggested donation of $12 for students, which I did pay. I could have gone for free, but I definitely wanted to support the museum.

-Went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (a.k.a. The MET). This was amazing- there happened to be a Picasso exhibit while I was there, and it was pretty mind blowing. They had this little video room that showed how several of his paintings were actually painted over other paintings, and how in at least one painting he had repositioned the hand six times. And they could see all this with X-rays. We're living in the future, folks. They also had an amazing collection of sculptures from ancient Greece and Rome! This museum had a suggested donation of $10 for students, which, again, I paid. A small price for such an amazing experience.

-Caught the All Hearts Tour featuring Robyn and Kelis. Thanks to Erika's amazing connections, this show was completely free. And it would have been worth the admission price anyway. The show was sold out, otherwise I was prepared to pay for it! We didn't need tickets, however, because we were ON THE LIST. Okay, Erika was on the list, and I was on the list as "guest," but WHATEVER. The concert was huge fun (and hugely hot- free water bottles on the way out), and it was impossible to not be won over by Robyn's energy on stage. Been playing her new album on repeat in my car!

-Went to a Yankees game where A-Rod didn't hit his 600th homerun because he waited until the next day and then, just to rub salt in my wound, hit three homeruns against my beloved Royals yesterday. The game was fun, it was a beautiful night, and they Yankees lost which is good because I hate them. Also at the game I went to were Paul Simon and former President Bill Clinton. The tickets were $30, which is the most expensive thing I did in the city that wasn't Friday night karaoke (my "splurge" (again with those quotes) on the trip). The $30 cost was actually $10 below face value. Hooray for tickets on Craigslist!

This doesn't even begin to cover how much I did on the trip, and how much money I was able to save when the whole thing was tallied up. I was even able to still make my $100 monthly savings account deposit.

Also recently I had my first run in with a profoundly negative (to be polite) reaction from a person to my bankruptcy and post-bankruptcy behavior. I won't get into details because they're irrelevant, but I remember my pre-bankruptcy filing warned of this exact situation. I handled the situation as well as I could (basically by ignoring it), and I moved on. Really, I feel great. I should be getting my finalized papers from the bankruptcy in the next couple of weeks, and that will cement the end of this long process. But, as discussed with my brother-in-law before lunch today, those who have filed bankruptcy know it is not the end of the world. You don't stop your life because of it- and life certainly doesn't stop for you. I'm really happy about how things have turned out thusfar. I know, however, that my greatest challenges lie ahead in student loan payments. Oh man, that'll be fun.

On another quick note, I'm a teacher, and the first day of school is tomorrow. I'm excited, I'm nervous, and, I think, feeling the same emotions my students are before the first day. This might also mean I will get too busy to post. I'll try my best to avoid that.

OH! ALSO! So I need something like 15 more dollars to get my first ad payment from Google, so do not forget to click a link/ad/whatever when you visit my blog! I'll hug you when I see you if you do! Also, be a friend a "follow" my blog with your Google account or whatever it lets you follow me with. I love you guys :)

07 August 2010

I'm A Somebody!

Ladies and Gentlemen who read my blog,

I've made it. I'm in the big time- it's official.

Aside from spending a week in New York City (official trip review coming), I received a single comment on my last entry.

It was an ad.

It was an ad from someone I don't know about bankruptcy.

That means people I don't know are reading this, clicking my ads, and making me money. I have but one response:


Dear Camilyn (Which is a real name, and exists):

Thank you for reading my blog- I hope you liked it. Tell all your friends about it. Also, I've already filed for bankruptcy and been through the associated court proceedings. But thanks for the random ad anyway. Thanks again for reading- I hope it helped you with your problem associated with finding a bankruptcy lawyer in your neighborhood (IT IS SO HARRRRRD!). Deuces.


04 August 2010

A Letter

Dear American Suzuki Financial Service,

Hi. It's Brandon. Listen, I know I've hurt you a lot in the past eight months or so, but I'd like to think I've been better. I've made my payment on time for the past three months, and, if we're being honest, you should feel pretty happy about even getting ANY payment for the past three months. I know I've done you wrong- those few months I didn't pay you were rough. And I should take the time to thank you for reducing my monthly payment by half. That was boss.

None of this, however, makes the events of this morning feel good to me.

So you didn't send me a bill for my car payment this month. That was odd, so I went to pay it online. It didn't allow me the option. That was odd as well. So I called you.

I then spent the next 30 minutes being transferred from person to person, company to company, and running into the same poor guy THREE times in the process, each time with him transferring me to the same place. I was told that, yes, Suzuki knew they didn't send me a bill and, yes, Suzuki didn't intend on allowing me to pay online. With the bankruptcy pending, you said, they were waiting for it to go through before sending me a bill.

I'd still like to pay you.

I know how this goes- you say "Why didn't you pay me in August?!" and I'm all like "I tried to" and then you take away my car. Let's not do that.

The fifth lady I talked to suggested I pay by phone. When I was transferred to that system, I learned about the $15 surcharge to pay by phone. I was not going to pay that when, really, I just wanted to pay my bill normally. I went on to explain that I felt that was unfair to the next four people I spoke to.

By the, literally, tenth person I had talked to, they finally said, "Well, let me just give you an address to send a check." OH. OKAY THEN. That couldn't have been suggested to me 30 minutes ago? OKAY GREAT.

But I'm in New York, and my checks are in Missouri. So, Suzuki, expect a check from my awesome-for-helping-me dad for the August payment you, for whatever reason, didn't want me to pay.


30 July 2010

From The Bronx!

I leave for New York tomorrow! Here's my worst fear version of the trip:

-I'm too fat for my seat, so they make me buy two, and I'm left with no money for the trip.
-While in New York I'm mugged by this guy.
-My assumptions about being able to confidently navigate the city are dashed when I try to walk to SoHo from the only subway stop I know how to get to and end up swimming into the Atlantic somehow.
-My big toe falls off.
-I see suspicious behavior but fail to report it and am arrested.

Here's my most awesome version of the trip:

-I'm being stupid about the seat thing.
-The time spent outside 30 Rock pays off and I meet Tina Fey who is so taken by me that she invites me over for dinner and fun. And she leaves her husband for me. And pays my student loans.
-At the Kelis & Robyn concert (which I'm actually going to) I'm allowed to perform "Konichiwa Bitches" with Robyn and "Bossy" with Kelis.
-I meet some other random but awesome celebrity.
-I'm invited to Chelsea Clinton's wedding.
-While singing karaoke at Sing Sing, I'm discovered and allowed to release an album solely consisting of cover songs of the 80s and 90s.
-I win the New York lottery and buy a condo and spend my new life volunteering at 826 Valencia in New York.
-My apartment is cleaned while I'm gone.

A few other notes:

Watch this video:


And this one


I'll hopefully update from New York... and post a picture of my new haircut. IT IS SHORT. Well, shorter than I've had it in years. Bye, Joetown!

23 July 2010

Some financial near-misses

Twice in the past week I've had small financial freak outs. A summary-

1) While in Des Moines, we ate at the Court Street Brewery. The restaurant itself was overpriced, but it was still decent. I had two "adult" beverages there- a beer, and a drink called "Georgia Jackass" which was a mix of non-alcoholic ginger beer and peach schnapps or vodka or something. For whatever reason, this drink is served in a copper cup. As seen below:

The approximate cost of this copper mug is seventeen trillion dollars apparently. We learned they were imported from the world's most famous copper producing nation- Turkey. Because of this, the restaurant demanded a credit card to hold in case I decided to steal this beautiful mug. I, of course, no longer have any credit cards because of that whole bankruptcy, so I gave her my debit card. I didn't steal the mug, and I received my debit card back with what I assumed was no problem.

When I got back to St. Joe I checked my bank account online on Wednesday, and what do I see but a $42 charge from the brewery on my account. After thinking I was crazy and subconsciously a thief, I assured myself that I hadn't stolen the mug. I hadn't. So I thought, "Maybe it'll go away because of... Jesus. I'm just gonna let Jesus take the wheeeeeel!"No, seriously though, I was going to just call them the next day.

It totally worked because on Thursday it was gone. Thank you, Carrie Underwood!

2) Then while I was in Des Moines I got a letter from American Family demanding money for the insurance on my house. You know, that house I haven't lived in almost a year? That house I haven't technically even owned since March? So, needless to say, I was super surprised to have received a letter asking me to pay insurance on a house I don't own! The letter also said they sent me a letter in May... also not true. I'm very confused. So I called my insurance agent who, while being a very nice person, often makes these little "whoops I forgot" mistakes. His response was just "Oh, yeah, I just need to call them, don't worry about it." It's not like he didn't know I don't own the house anymore. Whatever, it's taken care of.

This might sound stupid, but my tendency with both of these situations before the bankruptcy would have been to ignore it. Or forget about it. I remember clearly simply forgetting to pay my utility bills (and car payment... eek) when I lived in my house. I know "remember" and "forgetting" sounds funny, but I can remember now. Anywho, I'm happy with being more responsible. YAY!

21 July 2010

Embarassing Things Occupying My Time

I haven't blogged in far too long, and it is for several very important reasons. Or not so important, but several actual reasons.

1) NCAA Football '11 has come out for my beloved Xbox360. I've probably spent at least an hour playing it every day for a week. It's among my vices- I like sports themed video games. I budgeted some money for it this month, so I feel justified in enjoying it. Also, once the school year starts, I will likely never touch it for months at a time. That's what he said? Anyway.

2) A road trip with friends to scenic Iowa! We had, on a whim earlier this summer, decided to road trip to Des Moines where my friend Rachel's parents live. Free lodging! It was only, really, 24 hours in the city/area, but we jam packed them with fun. Here are some great photos to prove it:

Look! Cows! We really are in Iowa!

We also went to the roller derby while in Des Moines. It was a really fun time, and I met the love of my life, Mid-Iowa Roller jammer Lolli Pop Ya. I can't ignore a name like that.

There's a really cool sculpture garden in downtown Des Moines, and this was easily my favorite one.

We also trotted up to Ames, Iowa to see a butterfly house and giant outdoor/hot garden.

Amanda has an excellent recap of it all over at Constant Cravings, her vegan travel/tribute to K.D. Lang blog.

As far as financial news goes, no news is good news. I got a letter in the mail from American Family which, threatening tone noted AmFam, told me they were going to come after me about the insurance payments for the house I haven't owned in four months. It also claimed they had sent me a letter in May about it (really?). I called my agent who said, "Oh yeah, don't worry about that, I'll call them." So I'm assuming that's done.

The only financial issue upcoming is that I still haven't paid my car's property tax. I'll just have to make a sacrifice some upcoming month (and maybe harass my parents for a little help) to pay it. I just completely forgot about it, and I remembered it in the shower yesterday, the place where all good thinking happens for me. I usually just pay it with me tax return, but the return this year was miniscule unfortunately.

Oh, and I leave for New York in ten days :)

12 July 2010

A Rant

When I was young, MTV had this incredible pull on my psyche. I clearly remember staying up late and watching 120 Minutes or Headbangers Ball, and, back in the day, when The Real World was actually real (and compelling television). I have long since mourned the loss of The Real World as legit television. People who go on it are far too aware of the brief fame/notoriety the show will give them, so their behavior cannot be seen as anything but camera whoring. Even in the 90s I tolerated when TRL ruled the airwaves because, sometimes, a band I would like would go on there to promote an album. I always thought Carson Daly sucked a little bit, though.

Then, as MTV evolved into not-so-real reality shows and celebrating being rich and obnoxious (two polite terms for the girls on My Super Sweet Sixteen), I grew much more indifferent than anything. "Really," I said to myself, "it's not like this is the lowest possible denominator. It's bad, true, but it could be worse."

Then MTV released its most horrifying and offensive show to date.

The Hard Times of RJ Berger.

Allow me to summarize the concept: every cliche about high school in the history of ever. Every cliche about fat people, nerdy people, jocky people, everyone really balled up into one show. But this show, you see, has one incredibly hilarious difference that, clearly, makes it worthy of our time.

RJ Berger has a huge penis.

Wow. Groundbreaking television work here. You might say, "Well, you know, it could happen." And you're right. It's entirely possible that a high school student with a huge dong would happen to have his pants pulled down near center court of a basketball game and expose his gigantic manhood to the entire school. Then, all logic and reason fly out the window, and you wonder if it would be likely that every conversation for the rest of this kid's like would center around his penis. Because that is what this show asks us to believe.

RJ had friends before this- two fat (but, God forbid, not too fat) people, a boy and girl, who are awesome stereotypes. The girl is a horny obsessive, and finding out RJ's schlongadilly is big just sends her right over the edge. The boy is, like all teenagers, hilariously obsessed with achieving sexual intercourse. What well developed, interesting, and imaginative characters, MTV. Really, all they need now is some racism and...

Oh, the show mentions that a Japanese woman's mouth isn't big enough for his penis. Oh, okay, they've got it all covered then.

This show is actively bad for people to watch. I am stupider for having endured part of several episodes. It's sort of how I feel about teaching a lot of the time- we get asked to do all kinds of things outside of what we might normally do as teachers. I ask myself each time if what I'm being asked to do is good for kids, and if it isn't, I try my best to make it as such. But when something is bad for kids, I feel powerless to stop it (I see you, No Child Left Behind). I feel powerless to stop stupid bullshit like The Hard Times of RJ Berger, but I sure as hell can complain about it a whole bunch.

09 July 2010

LeBrandon James

Breaking news, loyal readers. LeBron James is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the St. Joseph Mustangs. Maybe during his time in St. Joe he will enjoy the same delicious, ripe ass avocados I have enjoyed from HyVee.

Those avocados are, guaranteed, delicious. And ripe ass. Don't forget how ripe ass those avocados are.

I did, indeed, go to the grocery store this week. On Tuesdays HyVee does a bunch of "Tasty Tuesday" specials. I think I blind myself to think those deals impact me because they don't really. 95% of the specials are for things I don't buy/need. The only deal I took advantage of was three bags of shredded cheese for $5. I needed cheese, but I couldn't over look that ripe ass deal. Sorry, just used to saying that now. No big deal, though, because I came in $50 under budget at the grocery store for the month. I know normal people probably go grocery shopping more than once a month, and for a while I tried that too, but only getting paid once a month and living by myself really lends itself to that kind of shopping. And it's already a third of the way through the month and I still have a bunch of food.

I also made this purchase as an admission of aging.

Actually, let's talk about the LeBron James crap. It has nothing to do with money, but whatever. Listen, I get that he is the best player in the NBA since Jesus, but the rigmarole surrounding his defection from Cleveland is insane. As a Royals fan, I know what Cleveland fans must feel. Several years ago the Royals traded Carlos Beltran, who was awesome, for Mark Teahan and John Buck. Not even. Neither of them even play for the Royals anymore. Sure, John Buck just made the All Star team, but it's a fluke. John Buck is no Carlos Beltran. Anyway, reactions to LeBron vary wildly depending on who you support. As someone who isn't a huge NBA fan (as there is no team near me... is Oklahoma City closer than Chicago or Denver?), I feel like this has disaster (or as Beyonce might say, "disas-tuh") written all over it. Three super star players on one team could have a bunch of personality issues. And they don't have a proven point guard. Not to my liking at least. I sort of hope it implodes. He should have stayed in Cleveland. Because, at the end of the day, at least they're not Detroit! THEY'RE NOT DETROIT! They will, however, have to find something new upon which to base their economy.

I'd also like to take a minute and pimp my friend Amanda's blog Constant Cravings. She's a vegan food blogger, and the blog has a travel focus as well. Aside from all of that, she's my friend, and that requires you to read her blog. The ice cream featured in her most recent post makes me want to leave my apartment and go get some ice cream. What more can you ask for? Click on her ads too. And mine. Don't forget the ad clicking. It's my favorite kind of clicking.