One Woman's Attempt At A Simpler Life

Category Archives: Actress

My last excuse for such a long blog hiatus?  A show followed by a trip.

My excuse this time?  Another show, followed by another trip.

But in the midst of all that crazy, I actually have done some work on my stuff!  I just haven’t been able to find the time to sit down and write about it.  I’m currently embarking on rehearsals for another show starting next week, but as of now, I won’t be following that show up with a trip, so maybe I won’t completely fall off the blogging map again (probably wishful thinking, but I’m gonna try).  In the meantime, I’ll attempt to bring things up to date.

I mentioned back in January that I had read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  One of the things she talks about very specifically is the process of paring down your book collection – or, perhaps, more accurately, getting rid of all but your most beloved books.  Books are a tough one for me – I love to read, and in addition to devouring new titles, I often reread old favorites and get just as much pleasure from them the second, third, and twentieth time around.  I also am a former English major and live in Portland in close proximity to the reader’s mecca of Powell’s, so it’s probably not surprising that I own a lot of books.  We have four bookcases throughout our house, and also have built in cubbyholes in our bedroom that make perfect little book storage areas as well, and all of them are full.

Only one of our bookcases is actually nice (a lovely hardwood piece from Ethan Allen)- the others, not so much.  Two are cheap particleboard ones from Target (one of which was a hand me down from friends who were moving), and the remaining one I bought very inexpensively at a second hand store.  It’s actually hardwood, but it’s also old and kind of falling apart, and could probably use a new paint job.  It earns its keep, however, by being unusually narrow and able to fit perfectly into a little niche in our hallway.  The Ethan Allen bookcase and one of the particleboard ones lives in our office space in a his and hers sort of arrangement – and the other particleboard bookcase is in the corner of our guest room.

It occurred to me that if I were to whittle down my book collection to what I most loved, I could reduce the number of bookcases I owned as well.  This was a particularly attractive idea for our guest room, because having the bookcase in the corner didn’t leave guests any real room for important stuff like luggage.  And in the office, the space felt overly crammed with furniture as well – literally every wall in that room was lined with either a desk, a bookcase, or credenza, with almost zero whitespace.

Ms. Kondo’s advice for tidying involves gathering all items of a like type from all over your living space and putting them in a pile in one room, so you can clearly see just how much of that one type of item you own.  With books, this can seem a little silly since if your book are on shelves, you can clearly see the titles and sort through them that way.  But she was firm on this point – take them out and put them in pile, because part of her process also includes physically touching each item and intuitively responding to the question “Does this item bring me joy?” and if the answer is not a resounding yes, it has to go.  I decided to commit to Kondo’s method and pulled all my books from the shelves and spread them out on the living room floor.

I’m sorry to say I was so wrapped up in the process of all that gathering and questioning that I forgot to take any before pictures of the bookcases or the massive pile on my living room floor.  But when my sorting process was over, I did have a pretty big stack of books to take to resale – it took me one full rolling suitcase and two large shopping bags to haul it all in.  (Side note:  I made almost no money at resale.  With the internet, books have become much less of a rare commodity.  I ended up donating the majority of them).

But while I had technically disposed of enough books to empty two full bookcases, I had not anticipated that the individual sizes of the books remaining would pose a problem.  In addition to some beloved large format coffee table books, I have a lot of scripts that I keep in three ring binders which were too tall for most of the shelves of the bookcases, with the exception of the cheap particleboard one in the guest room I was hoping to get rid of (sigh).  I could keep all the bookcases I currently had, but it would mean they were all half empty.  Ugh.

So we bought a new bookcase.  It may seem counterproductive, but after multiple attempts of arranging and rearranging our remaining collection into various bookcase combinations, it became clear that we simply needed something that better suited our needs.  So we went on the hunt for one that would be large enough to hold my entire book collection (Ron’s much smaller collection could be easily housed in the nice Ethan Allen bookcase we wanted to keep), and had adjustable shelves to accommodate the scripts and large format books.  We found a lovely, locally made alder wood bookcase at a Portland store called Natural Furniture that fit the bill perfectly, and it was on a great sale as well.

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The new bookcase

 

That allowed us to happily give the two particleboard bookcases to our friend Kelley, who is a teacher and needed them for her classroom.  Creating more free space in our house, and helping a teacher in the process?  Yes please. Total win/win.

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The two we exchanged for one

We’re currently keeping the narrow bookcase in the hallway, though I’m not sure it’s here for the long run.  It holds my stash of empty journals and some of the decorative objects and picture frames that got displaced when we got rid of the other two bookcases, so it looks a bit junky, but I’m not ready to let it go just yet.

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The office still holds two bookcases as before, and admittedly, still feels pretty over full with furniture.   But there is now a lovely empty corner in the guest room where at some point we may put a luggage rack or perhaps just a small set of hooks on the wall, but for now we’re leaving it free.  It looks so much more roomy and welcoming, and is much easier to clean – I love it.

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I guess the lesson I learned in this process is that sometimes it makes sense to upgrade to one new lagom item that fits all your needs, instead of keeping a larger collection of imperfect items that have to all work together to get the same job done.  It may have cost us a little extra to make it happen, but it was worth it.


As of today, May 16th, 2014, Ron and I are officially out of credit card debt.

Let me just say that again….

WE ARE OUT OF CREDIT CARD DEBT!!!!!!!!

(Gee, it feels good to type that sentence!)

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might recall that it was May of 2013 when we took my dad’s advice about a process for paying down our debt and finally got really serious about digging ourselves out of the financial hole.  A year later, we’ve accomplished it.  I know I probably sound all braggy, but trust me, it was a long, crappy, depressing year filled with a lot of work, cost cutting, saying no to things, and very little fun.  So I’m gonna brag a little, because I feel like we’ve earned it.  I couldn’t be prouder of us.

A year ago this time, between my personal credit card, Ron’s credit card, and a joint household credit card, we were $26,000 in debt.  It took me a long time to be able to admit our debt number to people, because I was ashamed of it.  I knew we’d racked up that debt with some legitimate costs, but most of it was the result of a lot of careless spending, on stuff we didn’t need or love.  Whether our number was more or less than anyone else’s is irrelevant – what matters is that we don’t have the income to support carrying that kind of debt, so for us, it was a really bad idea.  Not to mention, the interest those cards were accruing was DISGUSTING.  In order to pay it off in a year, we have been trying to come up with roughly $1,300 just in credit card payments every month, which let me tell you, was no easy feat with my variable actor income, and all our other bills.

But it’s over now – we have paid off every single penny, and it feels amazing.  A week ago, when I asked Ron what he thought it would feel like to finally have it all behind us, he said, “I imagine it being like when the main character in a fairy tale is finally freed from the spell of an evil witch or wizard or something.  That’s what this past year has felt like – like we’ve been under some kind of bad curse that couldn’t be broken.”  That’s actually a pretty accurate description.  Now we just feel…FREE.

I’ll write a post sometime soon with more specifics about our pay down process for anyone who is interested, but today, we are just going to celebrate. Ron took the day off work, and I don’t have a ton I have to do so we can spend some relaxed time together.   We have a fancy bottle of champagne we’ve been saving for a special occasion, and I can’t think of a better time to drink it.  While we still haven’t bolstered our account up enough to go out to dinner to celebrate, we’ll make a nice dinner at home, and the character I play on Grimm is in tonight’s episode (season finale!), so we’ll probably stay home and watch that.  And we won’t have to feel guilty about any of it, because we aren’t charging anything to make it happen, and it’s totally within our means.

Best.  Day.  Ever.

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In the effort to pay down our debt in as short of a time as possible, we have had to make some lifestyle changes to the way we spend our money.  Along with being on a grocery budget and obvious restrictions around things such as shopping, we’ve cut spending on things like going out to dinner, going to the movies, throwing parties at our house (unless it’s a potluck sort of situation where everyone is bringing something), manicure/pedicures, regular hair salon visits, buying fancy/expensive food items, buying takeaway coffee, buying anything decorative for the house, doing any kind of non-urgent repair work on the house or yard, limited spending on gifts for each other, using up everything we currently have before buying more and not taking vacations.  When I reread this list, I have to admit, all the things we cut truly fall under the category of “luxuries.”  Nowhere on our list are things like “heat for the house” or “food.”  So yes, we are blessed.

And for the most part, I’m not feeling a ton of yearning around most of those cuts.  Yes, it’s nice to be able to buy a coffee whenever I feel like it, but it doesn’t ruin my day to not be able to do that.  I was talking to my friend Rose a few weeks ago about our budget restrictions and she wryly commented, “Yeah, you and your first world problems.  It’s not like you couldn’t afford groceries or had to go out and get a new job during any of this – it just means you can’t always do the stuff you WANT to do.”  She’s totally right.  I may not be able to afford luxuries, but I still get to do my erratically-paying dream career and I’m not homeless or food insecure as a result.  It’s good to be reminded of that.

The one area though, where I do feel the sting of our cutbacks is travel.  God, I love to travel.  I didn’t travel much growing up – we drove from Oregon to Washington every summer to visit relatives, but we didn’t take “We’re going to Disneyland!” style vacations – my family couldn’t afford it.  My mom stayed home to raise kids, and we survived financially on my dad’s income.  I know we weren’t rich, but I never felt poor or deprived.  Because we had never taken vacations as a family, I never really had anything to miss.  Summers meant sleeping in, swimming, picnics in the park, popsicles, riding bikes and watching soap operas.  All are very happy memories for me.

But as a young adult, I started to travel, both in the U. S. and overseas, as a touring actor.  On my first overseas trip I was completely terrified, but once I got the hang of it, I got a serious case of wanderlust that has never been cured.  If I had to choose between living in a gorgeous mansion but never being able to leave town, or to live in small apartment and take several trips a year, I would choose the apartment without a blink.  I love exploring new cities and countries and seeing what life is like for the people who live there.  Travel gave me a totally different perspective on the world and myself, and is a huge contributing factor to who I am today.

As I’ve mentioned before, we didn’t take an annual vacation this year, because we couldn’t justify spending the money when we were trying so hard to get out of debt.  The loss of that trip has not gone unnoticed.  Ron and I spend a lot of time talking about where we would go if we could, and where we will go as soon as we are able to afford it.  The top two contenders at this point are Easter Island in South America, or Santorini in Greece.  Easter Island is a bucket list item for both of us – to see those moai in person has to be nothing short of mind blowing.  And Santorini, with it’s gorgeous views, food, weather and charm, looks equally sensational.  We were discussing the pros and cons of each place, dreaming together, as we often do these days, since we can’t take any action for a while, and part of me started to feel a little depressed as we talked.  Even though we’ve made really incredible progress on our debt, we still have a ways to go, and this last dragging part of it feels oddly longer and heavier than when we owed almost eight times as much – probably because after almost a solid year of scrimping and saying no to things, we’re just sick of it. Instead of feeling hopeful, I felt bitter, like the whole thing is a pipe dream because we will NEVER see the end of this debt, so what was the point in even dreaming about going somewhere?  So I irritably shut the whole thought of a vacation out of my mind.

The next day however, I opened the mailbox, and was greeted by the sight of this catalogue:

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Once again, well played, Universe.  Of all the places in the world the catalogue could have been themed around, it was Satnorini?  It seemed oddly coincidental.  I even wondered if it was a sign of some kind – like that’s the place we should indeed go.  Whether it’s a sign or not, I’m choosing to take it as one, to remind me that even when life feels like a grind, it’s important to keep hoping and dreaming.


I have never really felt compelled to come up with a good reason to shop.  In the past, I have shopped because I just like doing it.  Or because I had free time to kill.  Or because I like pretty things.  Or because I was feeling sad and I knew it would cheer me up.   Sometimes I actually did need stuff, but not needing things was never a deterrent either.

If anything, especially over the last year, I have had to remind myself of all the reasons why I should NOT be shopping.  And because those reasons are all boring, depressing, nose-to-the-grindstone types of reasons like debt and not enough space and the admittance that I don’t use some of the stuff I already have, it always feels like a really dreary argument.  And because I’m a shopaholic, my crafty, addicted brain is excellent at coming up with really, really good counter arguments to combat what common sense is telling me.  It becomes all I can do to stay on the No Shopping Wagon.

Recently, I have been performing on a live radio show called Live Wire – if you aren’t familiar with it, you can listen to the podcasts at livewireradio.org.  We record the show in front of a live audience in Portland, and then the show is broadcast in various cities all over the United States.  For the live performances, I usually get dressed up – I don’t need a costume per se, but I usually wear something a little fancy, like a nice dress and high heels and some sparkly jewlery.  With the amount of shows I’ve done at this point, coupled with all the clothes I’ve gotten rid of, I’ve worn all my nice dresses at least 2-3 times each.  So I’ve been feeling some outfit boredom.  Add that to my ongoing shopping hunger, and you have the perfect recipe for a bullshit rationalized shopping binge.

I have found myself “window shopping” for some new evening wear items–both in person and online–a lot lately.  And as the shopping guilt creeps in, I hear a little voice in my head arguing, “But you NEED it for work!”, so I push the guilt aside and follow the enabling little voice and continue to scan the racks for something to buy.  It’s a really scary how easy it is to sway me–because lets’ face it, I DON’T need new clothes for work, I just WANT them.  I could probably rotate through the same 5-6 dresses over and over again and the audience would never care, or maybe even notice.  The people who listen to the show on the radio can’t even see me, so they definitely don’t notice or care.  The truth is I am still not past the point where buying new things makes me feel better, and as I’m continuing to trudge through the debt pay down process, I’m consciously and subconsciously always trying to find ways to make myself feel better.

So though I’ve managed to resist making any actual purchases (I even found myself standing in the queue at H&M at one point, one person away from the cashier, before I finally stepped out of line, hung the dress on the nearest rack and slunk out of the store with a pounding heart), I still have not figured out what to do with the feelings that remain, or the leftover shreds of the argument that feel so credible that I DO need something new.

And then last week  it occurred to me, why didn’t I just ask a friend who wore my size if I could borrow a dress?  It would keep me from buying something that I didn’t really need, spending money I didn’t have, but still provide a solution to my craving.  I know in my heart that even if I did buy a new dress, after I’d worn it a couple times I would just want something new again, and then I’d  end up having to figure out how to store the stupid thing before ultimately selling it.  This pattern is largely how I ended up with so many clothes and so much debt in the first place.

My dear friend Nikki is the same size as me, and we’ve traded clothes before – often when I clean out my closet, I give her first dibs on anything she might like before I resell or donate the rest, and she does the same for me.  Nikki is one of those people that I’m just in awe of – she is so driven and badass yet super zen and calm at the same time.  This is a woman who, while pregnant with her first child,  ran a marathon and was doing yoga handstands well into her last trimester.  She’s a wonderful actress and runs a theatre company with her husband, travels, teaches yoga and runs yoga retreats, and manages to somehow be an attentive friend, mother, wife, and colleague and never look stressed out or yell at people like I know I would if I were trying to do all that.  If you just saw these facts about her written on paper, you might either think she was too good to be true, or be green with envy at all she manages to do and be while making it look so easy.  But then you meet her and can’t help but fall in love with her open heart, genuine friendship, generosity, and honesty.  In fact, the first time I met Nikki we were at an audition where we were up for the same part, and she ended up getting it.  You’d think maybe that would have inspired at least some feelings of professional competition, but I had liked her so much and so immediately, and thought she was so talented, that I found myself unable to feel anything but happy for her.  We ultimately ended up being cast in a  show together and became friends, and I can’t help but feel like I’ve known her for much longer than I have.

When I asked Nikki if I might be able to borrow some dresses, she immediately said yes, and we realized that the timing was actually kind of perfect since she is currently pregnant with her second baby,  so she won’t be wearing most of her dresses right now anyway.  I went over to her house this week and looked through her stash and it was so much fun–I got some pretty things to wear for the show, didn’t spend any money, and managed to sneak in a nice long visit with my friend as well. Win-win-win-win-win.

And though I teetered very close to the edge,  thanks to Nikki’s generosity, I have managed to stay on the No Shopping Wagon for yet another day.

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Ready to wear


Ron and I have had “meet with a financial planner” on our to do list for a while now.

Like 5-6 YEARS.

Perhaps if you have lots and lots of money, the idea of meeting with a financial planner sounds fun – like “Oh, here’s a smart person who’s going to help me figure out how to manage ALL MY GLORIOUS MONEY!  I CAN’T WAIT!”

But for people like us (in debt, variable income due to my job), it definitely lands in the the no-fun zone.  Because I don’t even have to go to the meeting to guess he will say, “You need to pay down your debt.  And save more money,” at which point I will explain that I have been TRYING to do that for years, but it is really hard to save money when every penny of what you have is spoken for via creditors and basic living expenses.  In the past, he would also have needed to tell me to stop continually shopping, but fortunately that’s not part of my story anymore.  But even minus the compulsive shopping, we’re still digging ourselves out of the hole, so we’re not in a place to be making huge contributions to a savings account either.

I also always fear a finance person is going to tell me I need to give up my creative career and do something sensible and reliable if I don’t want to have to work until I’m 90.  It took many years doing jobs I didn’t like/hated and some intense fear-surrendering to pursue a career as an actor, and I’m grateful to be making a living at that, however modest it may be sometimes.  I may never be wealthy as an actor, but I have never been happier, even when things aren’t going my way.  But I’m afraid if I meet with a financial planner, they will advise me to pursue something more lucrative, and my deep-rooted money-fear will kick in and I’ll find myself behind a desk again.

So needless to say, it’s been an easy meeting to put off.

But since we’ve been diligently working on our finances this year, Ron finally asked around and got a recommendation of a finance guy through his work, and took all our paperwork in to him for evaluation.  Keith, our new finance guy, plugged our numbers in tohis various charts and graphs and tables and algorithms and whatever else smart math-type people do with that stuff, and then said we needed to meet with him to go over everything.

Ron set the meeting up for eight-thirty in the morning.  EIGHT-THIRTY.  In the MORNING.  I know, I know, that is not really early in most people’s world.  My best friend has already been at work for an hour and a half at that point in the day – and she’s been awake even longer if you figure in her commute and getting herself and two kids ready for school.  Parents of young children are reading this and thinking, “Try not having more than two continuous hours of sleep for a WEEK, you wimp.” Parents of young children who also work full time are probably thinking, “EFF YOU.”  Or they simply fell asleep, because they are exhausted.

But it is early to ME.  Remember when I said I’ve never been happier in a job than I am now?  Not having to be behind a desk somewhere by 8 or 9 a.m. is a vital part of that happiness.  Getting ready for work while it was still dark out was my life for about fifteen years.  I don’t miss it.  I may not have as much money, but I am very well rested and usually in a decent mood as a result.  So suck on that, haters.

In addition to dreading the early hour, numbers and math have never been my thing either.  Language arts are my thing.  I can write an essay and win a spelling bee in my sleep.  But as soon as people start scribbling formulas and percentages, I glaze over.  Terms like “annuity” and “dividend” and “mutual funds” are all things that have been explained to me, but if pressed, I could not really tell you what they are, outside of the general heading of “financial terms”.  I can memorize pages and pages of lines for a show, but I can never remember the difference between a regular IRA and a Roth IRA, despite having had someone painstakingly explain the difference to me on multiple occasions.  When I did have desk jobs, my most dreaded meetings were finance meetings where we talked about budgets and monthly numbers and year end numbers and I had to sit there and sagely nod and pretend to be following it, when I was secretly thinking about what I should make for dinner that night based on the current contents of my fridge.

So the thought of talking numbers – probably super depressing numbers too – with Mr. Smarty Pants Money Guy Keith at EIGHTY FREAKING THIRTY IN THE MORNING sounded really, really craptastic.

But, with Ron’s prodding, I dragged myself out of bed and we made it to the meeting.  We met very nice Keith The Money Guy in the pretty lobby of a downtown hotel.  He had a kind face and didn’t seem scary or intimidating.  But he was carrying a boring navy blue folder, which I could only guess contained a bunch of glossy handouts with stupid photographs of things like a couple kids running happily across a field or a family walking on a dock together.  I instantly started to go dead inside.  I hate marketing materials like that.  They are such bullshit.  It’s as if the marketing team thinks those photos will elicit some kind of positive response in people, like “Hey!  If I buy into this program, I can walk on a dock with a loving and attractive family TOO!”  Maybe that works for some people, but I always find myself totally distracted by the picture, wondering things like, “Where is that family going?  Or maybe they just got back from somewhere.  Was it fun?  Was it a vacation?  Did it rain the whole time?  Is this their first marriage, or is it a blended family?  Did the wife’s first husband die, leaving her alone with that little boy until she met this attractive blonde guy in his stylishly rumpled plaid shirt?  Did they sleep together on the first date?  Is the baby girl from the husband’s previous marriage, or did they have her once they got together?  Do they secretly favor her as a result?  Oh, that’s right, this is not a real family, it’s just models in a print job.  I wonder if those kids were nice to work with, or if they were assholes.  I once did a print job for an insurance company and had to put a little girl in a car seat over and over again and she kept kicking me in the chest on purpose and her real mother just giggled and thought it was cute.  And I had to be nice about it because if I yelled at her and made her cry we would never get the shot and I’d get blamed.  The craft services on that job was great though.  Speaking of food, I’m kinda hungry. What should I make for lunch?  Hmm…what are the contents of the fridge right now?”

We hadn’t even sat down yet and I was already trying to mentally escape the conversation.  The fact that we were in a hotel lobby made it exponentially worse, as a constant stream of people bustled in and out, giving me plenty of fodder to pull my attention away from the discussion at hand.  I really, really tried to focus as our guy reviewed our materials and made his suggestions for what we do with our money.  But staring at weird little colored pie charts to illustrate my 401(k) (why did he pick that color palette?  It was so…sludgy.  Like faded jewel tones.  Did the company make him use it? The greens were so close together you could barely tell them apart.  Maybe he was color blind, poor guy), confusing graphs (Hey!  The line is going up, that’s good right?  Oh, it isn’t necessarily a good thing?  Now I’m depressed), and imposing tables of numbers (yawn), was proving to be more than I could track with.  Not to mention, it was a dog-friendly hotel, so not only were there people to watch, there were really cute dogs too.  And we were sitting next to the table with the coffee service, which brought every guest and their random conversations within eye and earshot, all of which were more compelling than the meeting I was having.  I even got up at one point and got a second cup of coffee, which totally took me back to my days of working in a corporate office, when I would drink five cups of coffee before noon because I was procrastinating on the boring stuff I was supposed to be doing.  It’s amazing how old habits come back when you’re under duress.

The meeting finally ended when our parking meter was about to run out.  We took our boring blue folder, shook hands with nice Keith, and left.  I honestly can’t tell you much about what we’re supposed to do at this point, because in case it wasn’t obvious from he above paragraphs, I wasn’t paying that close of attention.  Am I proud of that?  No.  I know this stuff is important, and will have a big impact on our future.  I know it’s not fair to put the full burden of understanding and decision making on Ron.  I know “I’m just not interested in this stuff” is a lame and immature excuse.  All I can say is, I’m a work in progress.

But hey, at least we can check “meet with a financial planner” off our list for the first time in half a decade.  I will promptly be replacing it with “try to understand information from financial planner.”

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Hey stupid kid in the hat, did you kick that guy in the chest right before this shot?


One of my favorite indulgences that I’ve had to forgo most of this year has been my manicure/pedicure habit.  I know some people love to get a massage or facial, but for me, there is nothing quite like a mani/pedi to make me feel relaxed and happy, especially if I’m fortunate enough to go with my girlfriends.

Back in my corporate days, I had acrylic nails.  This was partly because a lot of the women I worked with had them so after a while I wanted them too, but it was also because my skin is allergic to nearly every fragrance mix in soaps or detergents that’s out there, and at that point I hadn’t yet figured out exactly what was making me itch.  My real nails are very sharp, and I would scratch myself so intensely in my sleep that if I didn’t wear socks over my hands when I slept, I’d wake up with bloody marks on my skin and the sheets.  Acrylic nails are super thick and dull-edged and can’t really do any damage, so while I was sussing out my allergy triggers (answer: everything), having fake nails did a good job of protecting me from myself.

To maintain them, I’d have to go to the nail salon every two to three weeks to get them “filled” – a time consuming and expensive habit. I used to actually get sick of having to go to the salon so much, even though it had once been one of my favorite treats.  After I finally got rid of my acrylics, I started to enjoy getting my nails done again, and would go once a month when I was working full time and had a nice steady income.

But in this year of cutting back, I’ve been doing my nails at home to save money, and I’ve even gone polish-free most of the year to give my nails a chance to get healthy again.  I think I’ve had maybe two pedicures and one manicure in all of 2013.  I’ve really missed that little luxury, and wished many times that I could afford to go back to the salon.

A couple months ago, I met with my friend Jane, who is an actress I’ve done stage work with.  She is hoping to break into the world of voice over, so I went over to her house to help her figure out the best place to record and give her the 411 on what I know about the business.  Because Jane is awesome and generous, she sent me a gift certificate for a mani/pedi as a thank you for my time.  I was beyond excited, and pinned the certificate reverently to the bulletin board in my office.

Knowing how much I’ve wanted this indulgence, you might think I’d have run out the very next day and used it.  But I didn’t.  I knew it might be months before I would be able to go for another one, so I decided to make this one count.  I carefully planned to use it during a time when I wouldn’t have any auditions that would require me to have bare nails, so I could make the manicure last as long as possible.  I picked a day I wouldn’t be stressed and overbooked and might smudge my fresh polish while rushing to get to my next appointment.  I thought for a ridiculously long time about what color would go with most of my wardrobe so I’d get the most bang for my buck.  I dreamed and planned and pined and thought about it with the same excitement I’ve had when saving up for a big purchase, or planning a really great vacation.

And focusing all that thought, attention, and care on it made something that I had once totally taken for granted feel incredibly special and exciting again.

That has definitely been an unexpected side effect of this lagom project – the benefit of remembering what it’s like to wait for things.  I am an impatient person by nature, so I’m not saying I suddenly love waiting – it still bugs me.  But I have gotten so used to immediate gratification (mostly by spending money I didn’t really have) that it took me doing this exercise to realize that things that were once been a big deal had become mundane to me by their accessibility.

I finally had my appointment yesterday – two days before Christmas, when all logic should tell you that it’s unwise to venture out of your house unless it’s absolutely necessary.  But a variety of factors made it the best time for me to go, so I decided to brave it, and the day did not disappoint.  I found parking across the street from the salon, in one of the busiest neighborhoods in Portland, even during non-holiday times.  My manicurist told me that the previous three days had been chaos, but I had fortuitously arrived in a small pocket of unexpected quiet – I was one of four customers in the whole salon.  Because the staff wasn’t busy, I had one person working on my pedicure and one on my manicure at the same time, and when the lady working on my nails finished before my pedicure was done, she said, “you look like you could use a shoulder massage” and proceeded to massage my neck and shoulders while the other manicurist finished working on my toes.  The gift certificate Jane gave me totally covered the cost of the mani/pedi plus a nice tip (LOVE that), but then they also gave me a $5 gift certificate before I left since it was my first visit to the salon.  It had been raining when I arrived, and I was dreading sloshing back to my car in my flip flops, but when I walked outside the sun had come out for the first time that day.  I made it home without any nicks or smudges in my polish, and I can’t stop admiring how nice my nails look right now.  I may have had to wait, but it was totally worth it.

Thank you, Jane for the lovely gift – you couldn’t have done better.

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Me & Jane in “The Trip To Bountiful”


I haven’t posted in a while – not because I’ve been procrastinating, as I admitted in my last post, but for the exact opposite reason – I have been getting a ton of stuff done!  Writing that last entry put a fire under me, and I managed to complete several things on my list, including the audiobook I was working on.  It is a huge relief to have it done, and a week before the deadline.  It left me with no time to write or clean house, though.  And I still need to order my new head shots.  But I did sneak in a few loads of laundry between chapters, so all in all,  I feel pretty good.

I took Thanksgiving as my one day off, and we went down to my parent’s house and had a lovely time – probably because I didn’t have to do anything.  I’ve never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner – I’ve always gone to someone else’s house for the feast, and I can’t say I feel any regret about it.  I show up with a couple bottles of wine, help with some table setting, enjoy the food and the company, and then do a lot of dishes as my contribution to the event.  Total win.

Thanksgiving night, while  driving back home, we saw throngs of cars and a bunch of police directing traffic near a big outlet mall, hours before the stores were destined to open.  I can’t think of a less pleasant way to spend a holiday night – or anything I would want badly enough to warrant sitting in a cold parking lot for five hours.  I hope those people got what they wanted, but I have to say, I am glad I was not among them.  I’ve never been a big Black Friday shopper – mostly, because I DETEST crowds.  Especially crowds of people behaving in a competitive, greedy, myopic way.

I did consider going shopping this weekend- there are actually things I need at this point, and I would only consider buying them if they were in a really good sale.  And I do have some Christmas shopping to do, though thankfully, not all that much.  But here is the difference between this year and all previous years – for the most part, I actually know EXACTLY what I want this year, whether it’s for myself, or someone else.  This whole lagom thing has made me excruciatingly specific, because it’s not allowing me to entertain things “I kinda sorta like.”  My new rule is I have to LOVE it, because it’s going to be only one of a few things I own.  I have a list of things I plan to buy when I have the finances to do so, and when I think about shopping now, I  look at the items on that list, check online to see if any of those things are on sale, and if they aren’t, I take a pass.  This is very, very different behavior for me.

I actually do want a new pair of shoes from Ron for Christmas, but I’m not 100% sure what I want them to be yet – I’m wavering between a pair of boots or a pair of flats.  I considered going shopping for them, because I thought I might come across a great sale.  But then I started thinking about it, and decided not to go.  Because for me to feel good about the purchase, I would need to do a lot of research, trying on, and comparison shopping to make sure I was getting what I really wanted.  And the busiest shopping weekend of the year didn’t seem like the best time to do that.  I also know I only WANT the shoes, and don’t NEED them – I have plenty of others to wear even if I don’t get a new pair at all.  As a result, I feel like I can take a ton of time to find some that I really love, for a reasonable price.

So I didn’t buy anything on this shop-tastic weekend.   Instead, I stayed home.  I saw my family.  I finished the audiobook.  I had a lovely coffee date with my friend Nikki.  I did a second purge of my closet, where I pulled a bunch of items I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep, and set them aside to be decided on later this week.  I cooked for Ron (who has been sick with a miserable cold all weekend), and I did some laundry.  It was a happy, productive Thanksgiving weekend.  And I don’t have any carrier bags sitting in my house making me feel guilty and uncertain.  For that, I definitely give thanks.

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday

This way to HELL. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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