Merry Christmas

Oh, and I have one Marsh family yuletide tale. A couple of Saturdays ago, my family planned on going to see the Mary Poppins dioramas at “Macy’s.” My nephew is a 15 months old now, so it was going to be his first time. We were all going to rendezvous at my apartment in uptown and then drive downtown together. My brother was early, and he came over and we were sitting on the couch smoking and watching a little football while we waited for my parents and my sister to show.

My parents were supposed to be there by eleven, and it was inching closer to noon, when my brother finally spoke up.

“Hey, are we really going to Marry Poppins?” he asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“It’s not going to be an intervention or anything like that is it?”

I started laughing. “Are you that paranoid?”

“I’m serious. Remember when mom and dad told me they were taking me ‘go-karting’? I remember driving by the go karting place in Blaine and saying, ‘We’re not going go karting, I guess.’ I spent that Christmas in treatment.”

“Yeah, I remember. We played dominos during family visitation.”



Just returned from Austin, Texas. Spent most of the weekend in room 147 in the Austin Motel. What an amazing place. Forget the rest of the city. Sure, there are some could-be-nice college bars in these beautiful 19th century brick buildings downtown, but every single one of ’em is ruined by the top 40 music they turn up to 11. “SO WHERE ARE YOU FROM? YEAH?? EXCUSE ME, WHAT??” And those Texas girls are healthy, but they’re the most earnest things you ever a’gonna see.

But the Austin Motel, right across the street from the Continental Club, and down the street from the best margaritas in the world at Guero’s, is absolutely the only place I’d ever want to hang out in Texas. They say Austin is “The Island,” a sandbar of progressives and weirdos right in the middle of the angriest, most fear-fueled, mah-mamma-dint-much-care-’bout-me population on earth. Well, The Austin Motel is an island on the island. It’s got this 1950 southwestern motorlodge vibe and it’s right on South Congress, so your dealer will know where to find you–hell, he can drive right up to your door.

It didn’t hurt that we were driving around in a ’68 Camaro the entire weekend. Or that Emo’s paid Ross and ACW their guarantee for the show (Night of 100 Laughs) even though only 47 people paid to get in. Or that the hipsters atJo’s Coffee next door were throwing their X-mas chilli cook off on Saturday afternoon. Or that we met Bevo, the Texas Longhorn, when we were driving around campus (I’m a Big 10 guy, but Ross and Barb bow to The Corn–they’re Big 12 for life–so Bevo’s kind of a big deal in Lincoln).

And I made myself laugh every time I got to DJ in our motel room. It never took more than a couple minutes for those Texans to figure out that The Clipse ain’t Merle or Willie. I would sneak over to the stereo, slide in “Hell Hath No Fury” and eventually the conversation would slow to a murmur, and then complete silence. Then one of ’em would wonder, “I caint believe that you ainctually lahk thaht.”

Better than a Diary

I hung out with my old high school friend Andrea (pronounced Auhn-DRAY-uh) over the Thanksgiving holiday. She lives in Los Angeles, but she was in town for the week, so on Wednesday night, she picked me up at my apartment and gave me a ride back to The Holy Land. As too many of you know, my apartment is a mess, but I’ve never really been all that embarrassed about it–I was raised poorly, what am I supposed to do? Continue to guilt trip my poor mother on some blog? Not to say that I’m not sensitive when girls point certain things out. It’s usually specifics. Sheets. Shower curtains. But Dre went the more deductive route.

“This place looks like a representation of your psyche.”

We talked about it more at the White Bear Bar, and she offered to help me with my organization problems. She didn’t have a chance to return for more ethnography at the apartment, but she volunteered to take a look at my financial records. I gave her the password to my checking account and this is what she said:

Did your finances; better than a diary.  It's not as good as cleaning 
your apartment, but it'll tide me over.

You spend a lot of small amounts, which is why you're probably 
surprised to find yourself having problems; you don't have a ton of 
huge purchases.    Basic breakdown is below (I based these off your 
November expenditures).

Monthly income (after taxes):

Monthly set expenses:
Rent:          $690
Phone:        $100
Cable:         $100
Electric:      $20
Insurance:   $120
Gas:           $40
Gym:          $130
       TOTAL  $1200

This means you have approximately $1400 a month (or $350/week or 
$50/day) for food, entertainment, travel, etc.  However, last month you 
spent $2653 on those things.  How it broke down:

Food/Bars/Concerts     $1020            (Aim for $800 or $200/week)
Books/Computer/Music   $466             (Aim for $300 or $75/week)
Clothes/Hair           $135             (Aim for $100 or $25/week)
Travel (flight, cabs)  $289             (Aim for $100 or $25/week)
Cash (+ATM fees)       $248             (Aim for $100 or $25/week)
Overdraft fees         $495             (Aim for $0, you jackass)

Obviously, the overdraft fees are just ridiculous... but if you get 
your other spending regimented, you shouldn't encounter those as 
frequently.  This month you had two bigger expenses that totalled 
around $600 (a plane ticket and something from Cingular), but it's not 
those that tipped you over as much as all of the smaller bar/restaurant 

How to fix it?  Figure out how to get yourself to stick to $350 a week 
on expenses, and you'll be fine.  (Or do $300 and you'll have $200 for 
savings/paying off debts each month.)  Write that shit down, you're 
addicted to your checkcard and it's hard to keep track of that.  Geek 
out and keep all your receipts and add them up on Sundays or something, 
it's not like you'll be busy with church.

Let me know if you want me to help you figure out a payment schedule or 
something, or when you're available so I can more appropriately mock you about your $50 hair cut.  What a girl.