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Friday, June 6, 2003

At times like this, it's probably a good thing I have no one to look after but myself.

It's not that I'm a lavish, big-time spender. It's just that I hate being broke, and I've been cash poor for a few weeks now. That hasn't stopped me from spending money, unfortunately. Credit card companies have been way too generous with me. This month was the first time in many billing cycles that I wasn't able to pay off the statement in full, and I didn't like that feeling.

Nevertheless, heading into the summer I need money in my pocket, and I'll go to any lengths to get it. Ha! That's a big fat lie. I'll eat soda crackers (again) before I'll do anything dishonest or immoral. But I will mortgage my future for the sake of not being squeezed too tightly in the present. So I borrowed some money. Ouch! It hurts just to think of it, but I got a low rate and I hope to pay it off.

The gardener dropped by yesterday, took one look at the yard, and said he'd come by over the weekend. After I agreed and he left, it dawned on me that I always pay him in cash, and I didn't have any cash. Plus, there's an function planned Sunday that isn't free (although it's with people I could probably borrow from, if they're in better shape than I am; I wouldn't want to do that, though).

So I went to the ATM today. I took a chance and withdrew as many twenties as I dared. If the credit card access check I deposited yesterday doesn't clear, not only will my withdrawal overdraw the account, but several checks I've already sent out will bounce. I hate living on the edge like this, but I hate more not paying my bills on time. And I don't much like owing family and friends.

At times like this I scramble and scrimp and hope for the best. Most of the time it works out, just because of sheer dumb luck. Once in a while I get stuck with overdraft fees or late charges or returned check penalties. I do my best to keep those to a minimum.

It's either a good thing or a bad thing that I work at home, in a house partially paid for by the company, and drive a car that's being paid for by the company as well. It sort of locks me into my current salary structure, which doesn't exactly lend itself to the opulent lifestyle. On the other hand, I do save money on house and car payments. (On the other other hand, they get their money's worth out of me.)

Mostly these recessionary periods just creep up on me, and I don't notice until it's too late. I go along for weeks or months making enough to feed my modest spending habits, buying a book or a CD here and there and sometimes splurging on the fancy yogurt instead of the store brand. Every so often I spend big bucks for a trip to San Francisco to see a play, but I stay home a lot in between, so it evens out.

I suppose if I kept buying generic yogurt (or grew my own), I could avoid the lean times altogether.

3 June 03

Dandelions and wisteria (among other things).

The ATM trip was an extra errand run today that I hadn't planned. It's the only reason I bothered to shave this morning, because I knew that I'd be in a public place for ten minutes. I obviously don't consider the post office public enough to require good grooming. Not my post office, anyway. Now I'm stuck with a smooth face and nowhere to go the rest of the day.

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According to their record, the Tigers are the worst team in baseball. They proved it tonight at Pacific Bell Park, stumbling all over themselves and looking generally confused about what the game is all about. Even the worst teams in history have won 40 to 60 games in a season, so nobody can take a win for granted just because they're playing the Tigers. And the Giants' 5-3 win tonight counts just as much as if it had been against a good team.

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One year ago: Number Please
"All they want to know is that I haven't forgotten them. I should get over my need to educate them, but I really want people to understand my position."

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The bankers and the diplomats are going in the army
It seemed a shame to keep them from the wars they love to plan
We're all of us contented that they'll fight a dandy war
They don't need propaganda, they know what they're fighting for