Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Journey Towards Being Debt Free: Part Deux

Part Two: Small sacrifices for long-term benefits

Here and there I’ve written about my thoughts on the future and what I’m “supposed” to do next in my life. Back in the post Bills aka Looming Cloud of Annoyance, I wrote about how I feel like my debt is holding me back from pursuing some of the adventure that I feel I’m missing in my life. A conversation (a few actually) with a friend helped me to put things into perspective in terms of small sacrifices for long-term benefits. I have totaled all of my debt, eliminated all superfluous bills, and have allotted my allowance per month to cover everything else. The debt that is going to be addressed is a hospital bill (good ol’ appendicitis), my undergrad and graduate loans, a credit card I had to live on for several months while in school, and a car loan. These are the big ones and they equal $77,345.10 as of 5/30/12. Yes, that is a lot of debt, but it was virtual money well spent. I drive a safe car that hasn’t exploded on the freeway (yes that happened once), I am still alive and my blood is not septic, I was able to eat and pay bills while in school when my lame ex chose not to, and I have a graduate degree in a field I am passionate about.

The monthly bills that I have to keep around for now include car insurance (required at the highest amount until I outright own my car) $80, cell phone bill (I’m grandfathered in for the unlimited data plan and $40 dollars of my bill is reimbursed by my work) $85, and then $300 in cash to be spent on the other items. This will include gas, hygiene products, coffee, dining out, drinks, clothes etc. I’ve allotted $35 for gas just for good measure and to round up my total monthly bills to $500. I am more realistically spending around $75 dollars on gas a month (at $4.15 a gallonL), but I am reimbursed the IRS rate for all of my mileage driven for work so I actually make money (probably around $300-$350 or so a month) on this reimbursement. So I’m going to still pay for gas out of that $300, and that separate reimbursement check is going into my savings account (which is currently at $1,060).

Okay. So I’ve done all of this on a spread sheet as well, but I’m not totally ready for full self-disclosure about my salary. If you wanted to, you could figure it out but probably don’t care enough to get back into algebra.

So take my monthly income after taxes, subtract $500 on monthly bills. The remainder/surplus income will be applied towards paying off my debt at an increased rate every month. Then total debt divided by my surplus income available every month equals how many months it will take me to pay it off.

Oh yeah, that extra $300 reimbursement check I get a month x 36.38 months + current savings of $1.060 = $11,974.17

This is all depending on the stability of my income, my sanity, and of course my desire to be debt free. My brother and his wife really want me to move out to Manhattan and to be honest, I do too. So I’m setting a date to re-evaluate the plan that will coincide with the elimination of my car payment, hospital bill, and credit card. The countdown is on the right of this page.

I’m posting all of this to be accountable to the universe. Feel free to ask me how it’s going, what I’m going without, or what art work is for sale to help speed up the process.

Dreams do come true, if we only wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it. James M. Barrie

A Journey Towards Being Debt Free: Part One

Part One: Cleaning out the clutter and creating a cozy lair

Sometimes the art of creating cozy can be quite a labor intensive process. I have moved back in with my parents this past weekend to start a planned journey towards becoming debt free. (That will be the part-two of this post.)

In order to move back in, there was a lot of work that needed to be done in terms of preparing the house for all of my belongings and well, for me. For the past several weekends, I have been working in the basement of my parent’s house that was built in 1908, uncovering, sorting, organizing, clearing, cleaning, reminiscing, giving away, and recycling 30 years of stuff. By no means are my parents hoarders, at least no more than anyone else who has lived in one place for several decades. It’s just that a house requires upkeep and maintenance, and if you don’t put more effort into maintenance that you do into consuming, the “very important stuff that you need” inevitably wins. And so you continue to store camping gear, sleeping bags with broken zippers, past school work and transcripts, old decorations and frames, furniture that was handed down by the older generation, outdated electronics, and the list goes on and on and onandonandon, for years without really thinking about it.

Then you get this.

And all of a sudden, one realizes that it is impossible to go down the basement stairs without tripping on a bag of sailing gear or some other piece of stuff that lives in the stairwell because, well, it’s simply too traumatic and dangerous to take it down any further.

And so the clearing began. The “camping corning” was the hairiest of all the beasts. Beneath the camping gear, were boxes of baby clothes and school work that also needed to be sorted into “yes this is worth keeping” and “I’m not sure how this made it down here” piles. My mom was a trooper and was there every step of the way, recognizing the therapeutic value that all of the magazines and other miscellaneous items had provided in their time, but also being able to purge and move forward through the cobwebs to eliminate the superfluous stuff that had taken over.

The recycling bin was filled to the brim for several weeks. Piles of things under a sign labeled “Free” suddenly disappeared off the lawn, and soon the stuff was all gone.

Sigh of relief.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I moved. I set up a little cozy living space in the “camping corner” and I’m quite pleased. Who knew there was even a window there! It’s not much, but I don’t need much. I have all of my art supplies out and accessible, and a space to relax after work.

I’m on my way to becoming debt free and this is a small sacrifice to get there!

Lost Cat

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Laughing so hard my side hurts…

Humble Artist Beginnings

We all start somewhere.

Judging by the graphic development, I would say that this was around age 6/7. I’d also like to point out the attention to fashion with the stirrup leggings I’m wearing.

Acrylic painting I made for my dad several years ago.

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.  ~Pablo Picasso

Unearthing Personal Gems

And the sorting continues…

I’m finding some treasures in my parent’s basement. Tucked into a pile of old school work was this awesome piece of flare.

Apparently I’ve been managing myself quite well since a very young age. Too bad they don’t award adults with similar buttons for good behavior.

The other thing I found was even better. A mix tape made about my first love!
I now need to find a tape player and confirm whether or not there is Keith Sweat, Boys II Men, or Tyrese on here.

Love it.

“You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

The Proverbial Life Check List

So back in March–within a post entitled Adventure is in My Blood–I wrote about the direction (or lack there of) that my life story is taking. The mental check list that people use in order to achieve life goals that they have identified as important to them. At the time of that post, I indicated that my check list no longer included the “spouse, pet, nice house, 2.5 children, job that is bearable, etc. = Nice happy love story with a happy ending” goal.

Funny thing happened this weekend. I have been helping my parents clean out the basement of their 104 year old home over the past few weekends. It’s not terribly messy per se, the basement has just housed several decades of school work, camping gear, toys, art, and other miscellaneous memorabilia that was deemed important.

Among the items stashed in the “Kelly’s Art” cupboard was a time capsule that I had created in the fall of my 8th grade year of middle school. In this time capsule, which had already been opened (I’m sure by me not too long after it was created), I found the proverbial life check list I had referred to! And it even had the little sail boat.

First, I think that it’s funny I remembered drawing this little picture of me sailing in a Topper, since it was drawn over 15 years ago. Second, it’s interesting that I made two different life paths that included a) going to USC to become a professional photographer/camera operator, having a “serious relationship,” house, kids, and the rest of that whole life etc. OR b) going to Standford medical school, not dating at all, and then moving to California to get an apartment.

Kinda of makes me feel like a person’s life is one big game of never ending MASH.  You know, MASH (Mansion-Apartment-Shack-House), the amazing game you played at sleepovers to predict what your life would be like when you grow up?

Time for another round!!!

Out With The Old, In With The Nouveau

Today I’m sitting in the sun, drinking my home brewed iced americano, listening to some tunes, and having a yard sale. Yep, I decided to move! I’m selling my stuff. This includes art I’ve created, vintage furniture, clothes, and more art.

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I will say that I find this process to be very therapeutic. As I’m organizing, sorting, and evaluating my possessions, several things go through my mind. I remember how these things came to be mine, the purpose they’ve served, and how they are now superfluous to me. I create art for me. Art for Art’s Sake. I don’t care if other people like it, love it, or hate it. I don’t make art for others, I make it because I need to create.

“Why should you think that beauty, which is the most precious thing in the world, lies like a stone on the beach for the careless passer-by to pick up idly? Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know it. To recognize it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody that he sings to you, and to hear it again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination.” -The Moon and Sixpence by William Somerset Maugham

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Based on the life of artist Paul Gauguin, Maugham writes about an man who escapes his life to live and create art in Tahiti. He abandons all that is familiar to him–wife, home, friends–because his need to create is greater than his known life. An artist must create or his soul will whither. Creation will define itself for the artist. Writing, painting, composing. Any urge to create or construct beauty from chaos. To bring light into the darkness of the soul.

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And so it is time for me to create new beauty in my life. I’m working towards becoming debt free by 31. I may end up living on a boat or moving to New York, but I’ll decide that for sure in a few months. One year ago today, we filed for divorce. As I look back over the year, and then look ahead, I am more and more excited about what the future holds. I never knew broken glass could shine so brightly.

You Were My Spring

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“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
― A.A. Milne

Falling in Love in a New York Minute

There were so many beautiful photos to choose from, so I had to narrow it down to the top 12. More dialogue on my love affair with NYC later…

We started off the first morning with breakfast at Tiffany’s, perused the diamonds, strolled through Central Park, and simply enjoyed the city.

The beautiful architecture and signage found all around the city left me amazed. Welcome to the literary bar of the century.

Just gotta appreciate the NYC Metro. People falling asleep on each other, dudes selling incense and “black soap(?),” and the opportunity to have a conversation with someone that will inevitably include the 30 people standing around and on top of you.

Had to have my fortune read by Zoltar on the Coney Island boardwalk. Love the movie Big with Tom Hanks. AND Splash with Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, & John Candy which ALSO takes place in NYC.

“Lecrecious the Walrus,” painted by Rob Fricke, my outlaw once removed. Referenced from a novel by my brother The Literary Man.

The Cyclone. World famous roller coaster on the board walk. I will say that the construction looks quite shotty, but at least your friends could say that you died on The Cyclone?

The New York Aquarium mural at Coney Island.

I love Ferris Wheels

“If Paris is France, Coney Island, between June and September, is the world.”

Meet me at the Empire State. We sat below on a roof top bar, and the Empire State building disappeared into the night fog. The scene was just perfect for drinking a Manhattan.

“Crab Kalash aka Khlav Kalash” -Part of a photo project my sister in law has been working on for the past several years. That’s an Alabama flag if you were curious. Also, the title is derived from the Simpsons episode “New York City Vs. Homer Simpson.”

Aquarium mural at Coney Island. I plan to paint this in very large scale.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49sj6x2OmC4]

Derby Day

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Mint Juleps: The Official Drink of the Derby
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
32 fluid ounces Kentucky bourbon
8 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish

1. Combine water, sugar and chopped mint leaves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow syrup to cool, approximately 1 hour. Pour syrup through a strainer to remove mint leaves
2. Fill eight cups or frozen goblets with crushed ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup in each. (Proportions can be adjusted depending on each person’s sweet tooth). Top each cup with a mint sprig and a straw. Trim straws to just barely protrude from the top of the cups. Serve juleps on a silver platter.

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Cheers to the Race for the Roses!