Jan 22, 2012

Boulders Apartment Fire 1/22/12 Edition

A mere 10 months after this fire, there was yet another fire in my apartment complex today. It was on the opposite end of the complex from my apartment, so I didn't notice anything until the fire was already pretty much out.
I don't believe there was any loss of life in this one, thank Heavens, and it looks like only two apartments have been destroyed, but it's still a shame. And a little scary. Aside from the Mar '11 fire, there was a big fire in Jan '09 here...it can't possibly be normal to have so many fires in one complex is it?
I haven't seen anything in the news about this fire yet and the people I talked to outside the building weren't sure of a cause. I'm anxious to find out what the cause would be. I'll keep you posted.
But first, a shower. My hair smells like smoke.

Jan 15, 2012

Welcome, Isabella!

If you were thought we were crazy for having four cats in our house, you can just stop reading immediately. There is now a fifth. There has actually been a fifth since late November, but only since yesterday have I felt okay about permanently calling her our cat.

The only time I feel like we have too many cats is when people ask how many cats we have. It's like growing up in a large family; it never really felt that big because everybody in my family belonged there. These are all our pets. I have the time to give each cat individual attention every day, cat food and litter aren't particularly expensive and they all seem happy to be here. Besides, Khufu is Tylor's cat and will be moving out soon and four cats in a household isn't that much, right?

We found Isabella one night shortly before Thanksgiving meowing and meowing outside our front door. She acted lost and hungry. I brought out a handful of cat food which she was very excited to have. I found out shortly thereafter that Tylor had fed her a little bit earlier that day, as well. I pet her after she ate and she responded very affectionately. She was even happy to let me pick her up. And she just had these sweet pitiful eyes. I had to bring her inside and make her mine. We started calling her Isabella and she fit in immediately. The other cats didn't have nearly as much trouble getting used to her as they did with Khufu (I'm guessing because she's female?), and she hasn't tried to leave our house since.
She's so pretty.
I did feel a little bad about taking her in because you never know if there's some family out there lamenting the loss of their cat. She seemed fairly abandoned, but you never know. I knew that if we did find her original family, it would be the right thing to return her to them (I always assumed she had people before us; she's far too affectionate to be feral).

Yesterday I was out getting the mail and overheard a couple neighbors discussing a cat that looked somewhat similar to Isabella: "Yeah, the whole litter had fluffy tails like that." I inquired, and yes, this was Isabella's sister. One of the women said that she had taken two of the kittens into her house, but "my roommates made me kick out the grey and white one because she had litter box problems." When I told her we've been taking care of her she was like "Yeah, just keep her." So she is ours now, officially. And that lady is a piece of crap for just kicking a kitten out of her house to fend for herself. (As a note, we've never had litter box problems with Isabella, so I don't know what the deal was there.)

Things to love about Isabella: Her fur is bunny-rabbit-soft. She starts purring the second anyone touches her. She loves to play and keeps Khufu busy with endless kitten battles. Her meow sounds like a bird chirping. She has natural eyeliner. She has super long whiskers that tickle your face when she's being cuddly.
Kitten Battle #567
Trevor and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary a few days ago. We have (roughly speaking) added one cat to our family each year of our marriage thus far. It'll be awesome when we've been married 25 years.

If the cats were the Spice Girls:
Baby - Tiberius
Ginger - Julius
Posh - Isabella
Scary - Khufu
Sporty - Fidel

Jan 8, 2012

Top 10 Books of 2011

1. Bossypants by Tina Fey

A highly enjoyable and quick read, this autobiography (kind of) had me laughing from beginning to end. Like every other woman in America, I'm sure I'd be best friends with Tina Fey if just given the chance.

Stylistically, Fey interrupts her overall story frequently: to give a discourse on the rules of impov, to write a love letter to Amy Poehler, to respond to random posts about her on the internet. There are transcripts from bits of SNL and 30 Rock episodes here and there that I felt were a bit space-filling cop-out (You already wrote these! Or: You didn't even write these!), but I suppose they make sense to have for readers who aren't as familiar with Fey's work but are still reading her book for some reason? The jumpy nature of the book felt a little gimmicky at first, but as I got going, I was a fan. The trick is to approach the book not as the autobiography that it's advertised to be, but as a comedy.

Personally, I had a high interest in the subject matter, as a first-hand account of a career path my Trevor hopes to take. In regard to that, I would've appreciated a little more detail on her Chicago improv years (there was some good stuff, but I would've loved more), but I understand why she'd focus more on 30 Rock and Sarah Palin...things that more of her readers would be interested in.

I was bugged, however, by how much she talked about how unattractive she is. I can appreciate self-depreciation now and then (particularly in an autobiographical setting where it's easy to start sounding full of yourself) but come on. You may have once looked like this/this/this, but now you look like this/this/this, so get over it. Most women your age would love to look like you. You can't make some joke about how ugly you are ever other page and look like you do, I'm sorry. If you feel like looks shouldn't matter as much as they do in television/film, why are you dedicating so much page space to them? 

Also, the book cover picture freaks me out a little. I get the message they're going for, but I'm still glad I was reading this on a Nook and didn't have to look at the cover every time I picked it up to read.

All and all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the thing and if/when Tina Fey writes something again, I'm sure I'll be reading it. The comedic value alone makes this book worthwhile, but I also enjoyed learning about a person I admire and a business I have a lot of interest in.

2. Bossypants is the only book that came out in 2011 that I've read.

What? I had TV to watch.
How I spent my 2011.

Jan 4, 2012

2012 Resolutions

Welcome, 2012! The year I will exercise more and be more generous and save more money and keep my house cleaner and be more productive at work and keep in better contact with my family/friends and consume only the most-worth-my-time when it comes to literature/film/television/music and eat a perfectly-balanced diet and I will be healthy and beautiful and intelligent and everyone will love me but I won't be doing it for their love, I'll be doing it because I am Good.

I will write more. For this blog, oh the glorious posts you will ponder and laugh about and cry over this year! For sketch group, I will be an infinite pool of cleverness! For America, I will write a novel so great that Salinger and Fitzgerald and Melville and Twain and Faulkner and Steinbeck will all rise from their graves for the sole purpose of dying again in shame! I'm sure that novel's here somewhere in this folder of rough outlines and four-page introductions that I start when I'm excited about an idea but never actually want to do the grunt work on.

Like many of you, I enjoy the tradition of setting resolutions at the beginning of the year and then promptly forgetting them. It is wonderful to imagine a great new year ahead of you, but when it comes down to living each day individually, it's much simpler to live 2012 in much the same way as 2011. Feeling guilty is such a drag.

2011 Resolutions Status Check

Last year I said something about eating out less. If it came down to a count, it is probable that 2011 had less eating out than 2010, though I certainly didn't stick to the only-twice-a-week rule. I think will scratch the less-eating-out goal for the upcoming year and instead just focus on eating as healthily and cheaply as I realistically can without worrying about if I personally prepared it or not. Spending a lot of time and thought on food is just not something I care about enough to do.

Around February 2011, I also set a goal to save a certain amount of money per month which was soon modified to "just spend less than we make each month." Our employment situation turned out to be much different than originally anticipated as the year went on and we didn't exactly do too hot.
Money Earned - Money Spent by Month
Came out ahead overall but not by nearly as much as I would've liked. Those summer months when I was working very few hours and then unemployed took a nice bite into our savings.

I have no idea what was going on in March. My first thought was tax return, but then I remembered we only got like $40 back last year. We even took a Vegas trip that month that cost us a fair amount of money. No idea. Hopefully more months like that in the future, though.

2012 Resolutions in Order of Seriousness
  1. Save as much money as possible. - Hopefully 2012 will be better than 2011. Particularly with a Spring '13 Move to Chicago in the official non-existent plan book, we need all the money saved up that we can. As long as I can hold down my job, doing some serious money saving should be completely doable this year. Comedy income has been more regular for Trevor these last few months and hopefully sketch group will bring in some money before the year is over. Tylor, who has been living with us since July, should be on his own soon which will lower our food and utility expenses. I've been working my new job for three months now and hopefully hopefully hopefully I'll be working there steadily until the move. It's a much more stable company than my old job, so I don't worry about layoffs, but they're pretty strict about performance numbers and I'm not doing as well as I'd like to be. I think getting out of the holidays and into tax season will make it easier to get payments in the coming months and I'm getting better at being pushy with debtors, so we'll see how things go. The job thing is definitely the biggest cause of stress in my life currently. I'm not used to being bad at my job. Granted, my last job toward the end mostly consisted of messaging Trapper with the occasional drinking of water and going to the bathroom, but I was good at it!
  2. Get involved in community service. - It was easy to do community service on a regular basis when I was in high school and there were service clubs and church groups I was involved in. I've done very little by the way of service since 2004 or so, however, and I think it's time to do a little more on that count. There's a community center less than a block away from my apartment that always has stuff going on, so I really have no excuse. I'm going to have to do some research and figure out a worthwhile way to get more involved. If you're doing better than me on this count and have ideas, let me know. I'm pretty serious about this one.
  3. Do something to build credit. - I've never had a credit card and always paid cash for any cars or college tuition I've had, so I'm pretty sure the only thing I've got on my credit report is a cell phone bill I was past-due on for a couple months in 2007. Which combined with nothing is likely enough to make me fail any application for a loan or whatever people use credit for. I can't imagine why I would actually need a loan for anything in the near future, but it'll matter big when it matters someday, I suppose. It's silly to me that my having superb bill-paying history for the last few years doesn't count for anything and I have to borrow money to build anything. Even with a credit card, it just makes me feel icky. But it needs to be done. Because I really haven't been taking this whole credit thing seriously. It's something for adults to worry about, right? Oh. I guess I'm one of those now. Oh. I guess I should've started thinking about this when I was 18. Oops. If any of you have any advice on getting started on this, I'm all ears. I'm thinking about some sort of secured credit card because then you're only borrowing against yourself and I'd assume they're easier to get. I don't know why I'm so debt-averse; I remember when I was a kid and my mom explained to me what a mortgage was and I was horrified that my parents had done one of those because didn't they know they'd owe money for a long time? I understand now, of course, but there's just something inside of me that really doesn't like that kind of thing.
  4. Eat more healthfully. - No specific rules. Just think about the nutrition of the things I consume more often and give it more weight when making decisions about what to eat. I think I've been better about that the last year or so than in the past and I'll hopefully continue that trend.
  5. Keep better in touch with friends/family. - This will probably end up being reflected in lame things like more blog posts, but that's better than nothing, yes?
  6. Invest more time in making my apartment look nice. - I really like the idea of a clean and well-decorated house. I very rarely experience that, though. I pretty much only bother getting my house into live-able condition for parties, in which case the place is immediately trashed. I'd like to dedicate more time each week to both household chores and doing projects to add more personality to the place.
  7. Exercise more. -  I won't do it, of course. But we'll throw it on here because it would be good for me and I like to imagine a world where I exercise.
  8. Learn how to spell "exercise". - Even after spell-check got me with the first one, I spelled it wrong again a mere two sentences later. Maybe this will be the year I get it down!
  9. Buy more dresses. - I would be willing to wager there are more dresses in my closet than any one of yours, but I need more. Always.