good luck, bad luck

October 9, 2008

So much news, so little time. The last few weeks feel like they can be gaged in good luck, bad luck terms. First there was the rejection from the Mid-Columbia Symphony I auditioned for. Bad luck. Going to the audition was tough enough. I really tried not to get my hopes up. I felt like “Lucy” from the “I Love Lucy” episode where she tries out for the part of dance girl on Ricky’s show, and all the other girls are younger, thinner, and way better dancers. The girls auditioning before me were younger, talented, and had obviously been practicing with a lot more heart (and time) than I could muster. I really knew I hadn’t spent as much time training as I should, but I wanted to go through with the audition anyway. I hope I didn’t come off like those singing wannabes on American Idol who draw the laughs but are completely ignorant of how much they truly suck.

I know I’m a good flute player, and hearing some recent flute performances have reminded me of how talented I am, but mainly of how talented I was. Or could have been. If I’d kept playing the last few years as much as I did in high school, I might be bad-ass. But I haven’t. Flute has been such an after-thought the last 10 years, that it’s a rarity I play it more than once a month.

Which led me to a big decision. I wanted to sell my flute. I really felt that some young person out there could benefit from having a good flute to kick off their flute-playing ambitions. And I sold it two weeks ago to a college student in Idaho. First year flute student, even tried out the flute in my living room.

It was rough. I got a good chunk of change for it, but now when I get that craving to whip out my flute, there’s nothing there for me to reach for. A coworker recently asked me if I was still selling it (he’d seen an ad I ran in our paper). And I said no. He said his wife has been learning, and is at a point where she could upgrade from her student flute to something more professional. And would you believe I felt jealousy? Like, wait, someone else is learning flute? I’m good at flute! Let me show you!

Anyway, I’ve decided that in a few years, when the boys are well into school, I am going to get a fancy new flute and maybe start teaching lessons. Maybe then I’ll have time to play every day again. Right now, it’s not going to happen.

So I guess the good luck with that is I got a bit of money to buy some nice things for myself and the family. We had a nice streak of good luck with money the last month. Good luck all around. Carlos finally got the money from a retirement account from his old job, and we paid off a ton of debt with it. We got paint so we can make our living room pretty. We got a (used) grill (that needs some parts). And then we both got a little bonus from work for winning journalism awards.

Now the bad luck. I hate UPS right now. A box with some nice clothes I ordered has somehow vanished. I think it got taken to the wrong house. Or it’s likely someone took it off the porch, but really really doubtful. For someone as anal as me, this type of mishap is devastating. I think I lost sleep over it. I”m trying to be humble though. I have so much more than other people. But I really, really wanted those clothes. Oh well.

Last week my grandmother died. Bad luck, although she was close to 100 and not the same abuelita. It was so painful to hear of her passing. It was also painful to see her health go these past few months, so she couldn’t walk or even talk. With her death, I am left without grandparents. But I get to fly down to LA on what would have been her 100th birthday, and see my entire family (all 200 of us) and we get to celebrate her life. That’s the way to go. My grandmother was a beautiful person. I’m glad the boys got to see her before she died. She really enjoyed them and it shows. In the end she even asked me who I was, and when I explained, she said, “oh yes, yes.”

la bisabuela, summer 2008

la bisabuela, summer 2008

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new car?

December 7, 2007

We’re going car window-shopping tomorrow, if all this snow melts and we’re not risking life and limb to make it out of Walla Walla. We’re heading to the “big town,” the Tri-Cities, to check out the Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV. It is a beautiful car and with seats for seven, the ideal family car/grown up upgrade we’re looking for. I think deep down I know we’ll probably end up with a few years old minivan, but I want to love my car. In my mind it also doesn’t hurt to look. Sometimes it just motivates you more to reach for that goal or make it work. Or else you realize what you’re cherishing is not as good a fit for you as you’d thought. Maybe if there’s a good enough offer, we can pull it off. What else are we busting our butts off working full-time for anyway, right?
The teenager has been getting annoyed with us every time we go look at things we know we can’t afford yet. Like Carlos and I really like going to open houses, even thought we have no need to move for probably another two years, when the new baby is old enough to possibly want his own room. But we enjoy seeing what’s out there. Maybe we’ll find an ideal home, at a great price, and it would be silly not to take up the opportunity. Plus I’m just really nosy.

The need for a new car is a lot more imminent than a new house at this point. Our Jetta already feels way too small. Adding an infant car seat beside Diego’s car seat is going to totally consume the back seat and annoy whoever ends up sitting back there (probably me, since the teen has sworn to not sit back there once the new baby comes). Then we’re also left without room for a passenger.

We’ll be doing our Christmas shopping up there as well. We’re being frugal this year, focusing on just the kids and limiting it to three presents for each one (one from each member of the family). On Sunday Carlos is heading to the forest to cut down a Christmas tree with our editor. The permit only cost $5, and we actually got a free one at a raffle at work. Free Christmas tree this year! Just gotta bring your own saw. Let’s hope they each make it home in one piece.

privacy!

June 18, 2007

I’ve been bombarded the last few weeks with privacy notices from my credit people. I wanted to share some of my knowledge as the family’s CFO about these missives. Definitely read through them. Read up to the part where it talks about how the credit people share your private information with other agencies. I am always floored by how much junk mail I get from credit cards that I already have. If I wanted a better interest rate, I’d call and ask for one! If I wanted cash advance checks, I’d request them! It is so important, at least I think, to read through those sections until you get to the part that reads, “if you don’t want us to share your information with affiliated or third-party companies, follow these instructions.” In the case of a few credit cards, I had to fill in a slip at the end of the privacy policy with my account numbers and with the appropriate boxes checked off. I put those in the mail today. The Best Buy Card people sent me my privacy notice electronically. I read through the fine print, and in their case, I need to call a phone number to get them to not share my information. I am guessing I will probably need my account number, so it’s a task that will have to wait until I get home and dig up the card from the hole in the back yard…but seriously, it is stashed somewhere so that I am not tempted to buy video game systems or the Sex and the City boxed set every time I walk in there.

I just wanted to share some of my (almost) junk-free living tactics with others, in case you are in the habit of not opening the privacy statements or not getting to that vital last section where you get to make a decision on how you’re solicited to.

beautiful books

May 29, 2007

I’m such a hypocrite when it comes to spending money. As the family’s “chief financial officer,” I know that we need to be real careful with how we use our money until our next pay check. We just paid the mortgage, and just took a little weekend getaway that ate up a lot of our spare cash.

With that said, I think I am going to splurge today on a beautiful book I haven’t been able to get out of my head since skimming it last week. It’s called “Petropolis,” and is a coming-of-age story about a rebellious girl in Siberia who moves to the U.S.

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I consider this potential purchase a splurge because it is recently released and thus in hardback. I rarely buy hardback because they’re so expensive and a bit clunky to read. But as I’ve grown older I have come to appreciate the beauty of the jackets and binding more than before. I could also either 1) wait for it to come out on paperback, or 2) look for it in the library, but something about it is screaming for me to own it, today if possible.

I love these coming-of-age stories written by bright young women. The last hardback book I bought was “Towelhead” by Alicia Erian. I bought this book while at a journalism conference in Denver and read it that weekend. It’s about a 13-year-old girl who finds herself no better off living with her estranged father in Texas than with her disinterested mother in New York. It was a painful, funny and real story that I’m sure was loosely based on her life.

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Another great book is “Prep” by Curtis Sittenfeld. That’s a girl, not a boy. This one is set during the high school years of an elite prep school in the east coast. It is a very rich and detailed story that reminded me of one of my favorite childhood authors, Judy Blume.

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I’ll have to follow up once I actually get “Petropolis,” and then give my take once I finish it.