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.