finances

Thanks for the screamin’ deal, Maserati

The lovely Ferragamo-wearing people at Maserati took a break today from stroking their long-haired cats and yelling at their stockbrokers to make me this positively irresistible offer via email. Knowing that I, too, appreciate fine Italian automotive engineering enough to spend a virtually-unlimited amount displaying my pedigreed vehicular preferences to every common plebe on the sidewalk (which, in my gated neighborhood, is probably limited to my equally-pedigreed neighbors walking their suitably-pedigreed dogs) and in light of the difficult economic times facing us all, they extended in good faith a substantial, personal discount for yours truly on a new Maserati Quattroporte four-door saloon.

What kind of fabulous, exclusive, back-room-of-the-country-club-over-aged-scotch-and-Cuban-cigars deal are we talking about here? Why, a 42-month lease with only $8,524 due at signing! Giving me a monthly payment of a measly $1629! Of course, I called Muffy in from the pool to begin discussing whether she’d prefer sheepskin or lambskin for the interior, and instructed the nanny to ready the children for a drive to my local Maserati dealership post-haste.

maserati_lease

Now, I know there are people in America (and also, Dubai) that have way too much money for their own good and are just gagging for another way to spend it, but let’s put this in perspective. $1629 a month is several hundred dollars more than my mortgage payment. It’s enough to lease 2 new Cadillac Escalades (hardly a vehicle to scoff at) or – because to really roll in style you need to roll with an entourage – 8 new Honda Accords. With that month payment money you could buy 96 new iPhones a year, install 12 giant 54″ Samsung plasma TV’s in your house, or sponsor 36 children in a poverty-stricken African country and still afford a school bus to drive them around in.

I’m just sayin’… I mean, obviously, the clear answer here is to buy a Maserati outright rather than lease – that’s what Warren Buffett would do.

Using my telekenetic powers to overdraft my checking account without lifting a finger.

Don’t really have anything exciting on my mind to share… just felt like i should reach out and touch someone tonite. Not like i’m reaching a lot of people with this thing anyway, but at least i’m reaching out and touching my webserver. It’s one of my more loyal friends anyway, so i suppose i should at least maintain that relationship… a relationship that i’m being billed for quarterly. If only they were all that simple.

I spent most of the weekend in Patrick’s garage working on his car or mine. Actually, i guess i spent a good portion of that waiting around for him, picking him up, driving around town in weekend traffic, or shopping for parts i really can’t afford to be buying. But somewhere in there i tried to fix an exhaust leak, installed battery terminals that hopefully won’t pop off several times a day, and re-re-re-tightened that stubbornly squeaky belt that keeps embarassing me at Starbucks. Still have that annoyingly ominous clicking sound, i’m starting to think it’s actually engine detonation, which seems really possible since the only detonation sensor i have is sitting in the glove box right now. I’ve found several places on the motor where it won’t attach, but not nearly as many where it will, and even less where an appropriate bolt will secure it there satisfactorily. If i had the hands of a circus-calibur contortionist midget and/or telekenetic powers i might be able to install it on the factory mount point, but despite extensive time spent at my desk (mostly during my tenure at allstate; also, throughout CS324) trying to summon telekenetic powers by intently concentrating on relocating various office supplies, i still find myself endowed merely with regular non-mutant-type abilities. This leaves me hunting for extra threaded holes in the engine block that i can actually reach, which are far less common than would be the case had i been involved in Nissan’s engineering process in 1993. If i have time tomorrow i will try to bolt-shop on my lunchbreak. There i go again, shopping with money i don’t have.

Speaking of money i don’t have, the nice people at Citibank were generous enough to increase my overdraft line of credit last week. I’m sure it’s an accounting snafu, as no bank with all it’s marbles in one basket would consciously give me a credit line increase, but i’ll happily accept it regardless, at least until they figure out they’ve mistaken me for a gainfully employed, financially stable customer. Anyway, what this means is that i can now dip $1500 below 0 in my checking account before they’ll start bouncing my checks. If you have to ask why i might need that, you must not a) talk to me very much, b) have ever seen my bank statements, nor c) also have an annual salary that’s less than your student loan balance. That’s a small amount of stress off my shoulders this week (at least my rent check will clear now) that i very much needed. It does not, however, affect my lottery-as-a-primary-investment-strategy philosophy.

As long as we’re on the subject of the lottery, i’d like to remind any decison-makers in the fate and destiny areas that i’d be a very good lottery winner, using my millions to do tons of nice things for people all over the place. I’m already a great philanthropist who’s really only missing one thing (stuff to give away), although sometimes i give stuff away i don’t really have just to stay in practice. For example, the other day i paid some high school kids not to wash my car to help them go to band camp (i mean, i’m generous but i’m not crazy – they’re not touching my car). It was the 20 bucks i intended to eat lunch with for the next week, but hey – as long as i still have my atm card, i still have money, right? So anyway, i think the celestial influences in charge of lottery picking should seriously consider my candidacy this tuesday nite. Tuesday would work really well for me, cause if i had that big novelty check by wednesday afternoon, it would probably show up as deposited by the following thursday, just in time to pay rent – and for once i wouldn’t have to use overdraft protection.

My reality toll has come due

The Maxima is no longer mine. Its new owners gave me earnest money last nite, and i’ll meet with them on tuesday to hand over the keys and process the paperwork. I’ll wash it one last time this weekend and then park it until tuesday. Clint has been nice enough to lend me his honda while i shop for something.

I feel it only fair to warn you that i haven’t slept much lately for so many reasons, and that when sleep deprived i tend to the melodramatic and verbose. So with that in mind…

I’ve sold my baby, my brand new car, my Maxima. I’m torn between rejoicing that i’ll be free of the burden of that debt – from the monthly expenses and the upside-down value and the years of payments remaining – or being overly sentimental about the loss of a dear friend – one that has served me faithfully and tirelessly for the last three years; that has never failed to start or left me stranded; that has carried and protected and spoiled me asking little in return; that has been one of the few bastions of peace, order and stability in my life in the last couple roller-coaster years; that has always been a safe place, a private place and a comfort zone for me, no matter how un-comforting my home, work or personal life has become; that has played such a defining role in my identity and been my connection to a community of people i have come to greatly value; that has been an endless source of hobby, enjoyment and fun; that has provided me with such pride in its newness, niceness, and beauty; that has treated me so well. All the late nights in bad weather that it brought me home safely and without worry. All the cold mornings when it started without hesitation, and all the hot days when it worked so hard to keep me cool. The damage, wear and weather it has suffered because i couldn’t provide a very good home, and the loving detail with which i have endeavored to counteract those forces. I can’t believe i’m losing my brand new car, and not because it ever failed me, or because i have any complaint about it or desire to see it go. Rather, simply because our cruel world that is run by accountants and tax collectors dictates that the magic numbers next to my name don’t have the means to keep something this nice. Because my career is a joke, that expensive degree isn’t paying off at all, and because life is never what we plan or hope or dream – always what happens in the meantime when we’re not paying attention. Somewhere in the last three years i’ve been too busy living a dream to pay attention to reality, and now reality has come to collect its toll, and the price is the only major thing in my life i’ve really been proud of in a long time. That i couldn’t even sell it for enough to pay off the loan is only icing on a cake i would rather never have tasted. Maxima, you have been a true friend and i will miss you a great deal – i wish you many more happy miles in a home with the means to treat you as you deserve.


Good friends don’t mind that you’re broke

Hey all, just another random tuesday on a sunny-yet-cold spring day. Went to puyallup for work, always a little crazy down there, but at least stuff seemed to work ok. Always breaks after we leave, tho, right about when we’re over halfway home. 😉

Have a dentist appt tomorrow, hate those, i always dread hearing how much more it’s going to cost me. I don’t even care about the pain anymore – i really think i’d take a longer, more painful option if it was free. I have like 38 more monthly payments until my fillings from last spring are paid off… last thing i need is more! Wish me luck on that…

Work is getting a little frustrating just cause we have so many things to do and so little organization, and i keep getting roped into projects that i don’t have the authority or control to do right, but people get frustrated with me anyway. So that’s annoying… but whatever, it’s not insurance. 😉

It’s Grama Frances’s birthday today, so i need to remember to call her tonite. This friday is Kim’s birthday, but she’ll be gone skiing with her dad in utah, so her party’s scheduled for next friday, the 14th. Which works great, cause that’s when Danielle and Miguel will be here. Btw, anyone who’s reading this, drop me a line or call if you wanna come, i’d love to see ya. Assuming, that is, that you live in the area – wouldn’t want anyone flying in just for hummus and heinekens. 😀

Steph and Libby and i had tacos and zingers for dinner and discussed our various frustrations and headaches, career-wise and otherwise. We were all just in one of those moods, where you have fun no matter what and everything seems funny. The best kind.

So work’s a little stressful, and money’s a little tight, but at least it’s sunny, and i have some good friends to spend the time with (who don’t mind that i’m broke), so life is good!

Friends around the world

The first sentence is always the hardest. After that, i just dive right in…

Quick note: i’m just gonna have to start using some last initials when i talk about people – it’s getting too confusing! Not so much for me, but for you’all. So i’m gonna, but if anyone wants me to not publish their full name on my highly-trafficked and immensely popular website for my billions and billions of visitors to see, please let me know, and we’ll come up with some fun, anonymous nickname for you, like “doody-head.”

Sent out a much-overdue here’s-my-new-address email this weekend. If you didn’t get one, it’s because i don’t love you. Or because i don’t have your email address or my message bounced. Or i figured you already have it or have access to it. You pick. My efforts paid off, as right away several long-lost friends replied! Always a good thing. It was great to hear from Jen H (i’ll write back to you tonite – promise!) – she’s living it up in the suburbs of Great Falls, MT. I found out Claire K graduated from the University of Wollongong in Australia in december and is still living down under and doing crazy other-hemisphere things. You can check out her photo chronicles right here or on my ‘friends on the web’ link under ‘features.’ There’s some pretty goofy pics in there, i gotta warn ya. Looks like she’s having a good time! Also heard back from Karen C in DC, she’s busy making the world a safer place to sue your neighbor (j/k Karen!). Haley J replied that life is great down in Louisiana, she’s on her way to an SCLA insurance certification and hopefully a business trip to Seattle in october, so i can give her a guided tour! And with the record for quickest reply is Annie D, who shot back a message from her portland digs before i was even done sending the last of the address updates out. She’ll be visiting Seattle hopefully the last part of march, so we’re making plans to hang out and party in the city, especially now that she’s gonna be old enough to get into a club (happy birthday a few weeks early!).

Oh, and you’d think i’d be done… but i’m not! Cathy P replied to my ‘merry christmas’ email to let me know that (1) she’s not Cathy P anymore, she’s Cathy R, (2) the reason she didn’t get back to me is cause she was on maternity leave, and (3) she and Darin have a brand new boy, Ian, who’s doing great (and is super-cute, judging by the pics on his website)! How crazy is that – congrats you two! And how out-of-the-loop am i, that i didn’t even know they got married last year! So, they’re living in MN and sounds like everything’s happy in their world. They might even be moving to Seattle sometime soon, so of course i’m gonna try and convince them to make it even sooner!

Aaaaand, there’s more! Mrs. Benjamin and i are working out my financial future, starting with a big fat consolidation loan to rid me of those credit cards. Very cool, super exciting. I’ve got a bottle of wine that Josh L brought back from france that i’ve been saving for the day i mail the final payment on them. I was beginning to think it was going to be vinegar before i got to it, but now i’ve got a targeted payoff date (and it’s before i retire! ;).

So that’s really cool, especially because it’s going to allow me to visit Christian N (see, with the last name thing?) in Germany in the fall. I talked to him yesterday, we’re thinking september is our best bet. There’s not a rush anymore, cause he got promoted – congratulations man! – to assistant director and is now a full-time employee, so he can stay there as long as he pleases. Super cool. Sounds like he had a pretty good week too, watching the World Cup ski events, meeting the whole US World Cup team, getting into the local paper as part of a cheering crowd of fans, eating free lunch with the athletes all week… yeah, pretty cool, i guess. Oh, and teaching 15 6-year-olds how to ski somewhere in there, too.

What else is going on? Seriously, do you need any more? Well, okay, i’ll indulge you. Home life is good, Josh is finally getting over his strep throat or whatever, so he’s back on the soccer team starting tonite. (Total digression – check out the pic off to the side there, this is one of my favorite of Josh H’s artwork.) Kim’s been going skiing every weekend (augh! jealous!) and dealing gracefully with being the only organized person at her new job. We’re settling into the cold weather (it was 35 yesterday – brrr!) and getting the house in shape for a summer ripe with houseguests and bbq’s. First on my visitor calendar will be Danielle and Miguel spending a week in Seattle for spring break, and then Annie D doing the same, a week or so later. March is gonna rock!

Oh, just one more blurb, and then i really am done! Guess i should have split it up over a couple of days… Steph and i went shopping downtown this weekend, and spent our much-appreciated valentines’ gifts on cool stuff. My personal fav is a shirt that i’m wearing to the next Nissan meet. Which, incidentally, will be the saturday that Danielle and Miguel are in town, so i’m for sure going to drag them along! But isn’t that shirt totally cool? Yeah, i thought so, too.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is it for today. 🙂