broke not broken

with nothing but time on my hands, i give you my thoughts

destashing February 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — starrwitness @ 1:58 am
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I have a storage unit that contains all of my belongings (okay, most – I have my clothing and some yarn/knitting gear where I am temporarily living).  Recently I sold a few pairs of shoes on eBay, to moderate success.  I also sold a shawl and my Nintendo DS.  Let’s break down what I had to spend:

  • $58.34 shipping & supplies at the Post Office
  • $12.37 PayPal fees
  • $5.04 packing tape (this is a story in an of itself)
  • $25.95 eBay fees

$101.70 total!

Yikes, I wish I hadn’t added that all up.  How much money did I bring in from the auctions?


Leaving me with a net of $232.11.  A few things to note: packing supplies are expensive.  I shouldn’t have bought the envelopes at the Post Office.  Also, I think for a few items I undercharged on the shipping, but I’m lazy/not savvy enough to figure out for to fix that.  I had to estimate how much each box would weigh.  Somewhere in my many boxes in storage there is a scale.

Which brings me back to what I wanted to write about.  My storage unit!  I went there today, only for the second time since I moved four months ago.  It’s not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but the area is sort of desolate.  There is an art and a culinary school in the neighborhood, and lots of “design centers.”  And a Jessica McClintock outlet store (if I were 17 again I would have been all over that).  The actual storage units aren’t any better.  If I were a better photographer, I am sure I could take pictures that show just how empty and lonely the place feels.  Long rows of yellow storage containers, some stacked two high.  A couple of cars passed me as I was scrounging through my things, but other than that I was very alone.  It’s quiet.  If I could smuggle in a generator, I could probably live comfortably in my unit.

The unit measures 20’x10′.  It’s not at all packed to the gills.  There is a little path down one side that goes to about the middle of the unit.  I’ve been trying to rearrange things so it’s easier to move around and eventually unload, but I get tired and bored quickly.  I had a mission in mind when I went to the storage unit – pillage!  I have a lot of fabric (mostly of the quilting variety), and there is no way I’m actually going to use it all.  Quilt-making is this precise art that I haven’t yet mastered.  It requires patience and a steady hand.  I am impatient and my hands shake (mostly from too much coffee).  There are so many steps – iron the fabric, measure the fabric, cut the fabric, sew the fabric, press the seams, sew, press, sew, measure, cut, sew, sew, sew, etc.  At least I know where I am coming and going when I knit.  There is point A (cast on) and point B (cast off).  Sure, there can be some seaming involved.  Basting even.  But knitting doesn’t usually requiring having a hot iron at the ready.  I do love to sew.  If I had more room here, perhaps I’d take it up again.

I went through my stash of fabric – two plastic containers and a cardboard box.  I kept less than half of what I had acquired – and it was easy!  After not seeing this stuff for a really long time, I wasn’t emotionally attached to it anymore.  I had bought a lot of the fabric for a particular quilt I had in mind (and has started cutting for), but I am pretty sure it will never happen.  A lot of skull fabric….  I also have a lot of very nice calicos from different modern designers, most of which I kept.  I used to work at a fabric store, and had purchased a ton of batiked fabric in the hopes I’d make a quilt from it, but again, I doubt that will come to fruition.  Basically I decided that all of this will be great eBay fodder.

I also grabbed some yarn and UFOs (unfinished objects).  Some will go on eBay, some is to supplant the yarn I’ve been knitting through.  It’s tough to get rid of yarn because all I see is potential.  Each skein of yarn is like a baby to me – I can nurture it into something beautiful.  There are hundreds of ideas sitting in plastic storage containers and bags and boxes, just waiting for me to cultivate them.  I get so excited to breathe life into a new project.  Of course, being me, it’s just as easy for me to run out of breath and stop mid-project!  One of the things I brought back with me was  a sweater I made for an ex-boyfriend.  There is an old saying – only knit a sweater for your boyfriend if you are prepared to break up with him.  I am living proof of this.  I finished the sweater for his birthday but never washed, blocked, and sewed button onto it.  It languished, the seasons changed to springtime, then summer, then I broke up with him.  He’s asked me about it a few times, as if I’d actually give it to him at this point!  But now I’m stuck with a giant brown sweater.  I have a few ideas for it:

  1. Wash, block, and find buttons for it.  Sell it on eBay with a story similar to the one above.
  2. Wash, block, buttons, and give it to my father, who would probably never wear it.
  3. Wash, felt, cut down the front and make a cardigan for myself.

I am leaning towards option 3 at this point, but I am afraid it still might be too big.  It’s very densely knit, so it’s not going to shrink that much more in the felting process.  I could swatch and see how small the swatch gets, and extrapolate out the measurements to see if this is a viable option.

I have a lot of work cut out for me.  Lots of pictures and measurements to take to get the fabric ready for eBay.  And miles more to knit before I sleep….


sugar sugar January 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — starrwitness @ 11:36 pm
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My face has been breaking out once again.  I go through periods of relative calm followed by spells that fill my face with pimples that deserve their own zip code.  Not just one – they creep up one by one for a week until I’m covered in ugly bumps that resist my usual 10% benzoyl peroxide routine.  The 10% stuff does speed up their disappearance, but dries the hell out of my skin.  I’m left with scaly scabs and white flakes covering my breakout zone (along the jawline and chin).  Good times.  I discovered concealer a couple of weeks ago, which has made it a lot easier to go outside without a hood over my head.  I have tried to combat the dry skin with liberal use of moisturizer, but that just hydrates the flakes of skin all over my face.  After looking in the mirror today, I realized I needed to combat the outer layer of skin itself.  As in, get rid of it.

When I visited my mother in New Jersey, she let me try this facial scrub stuff she had.  I have no idea what the ingredients were, perhaps ground up unicorn horn and lavender.  She effused about how it would leave my skin glowing and soft, two things my skin has never been.  After grinding the scrub into my pores for a few minutes, I didn’t feel like it made much of an impression.  My skin didn’t radiate with a new found light or feel soft as rabbit hide.

Still, I didn’t want to give up on the idea that the detritus could be sloughed off my face in some way.  I Googled “sugar face scrub” and found lots of lame recipes that called for a half cup of almond oil and five drops of orange essence.  What the people who wrote these helpful articles fail to realize is I’d rather spend money buying an expensive ready-made exfoliant than waste money on random ingredients that are going to go bad in my pantry.  No, I wanted simplicity.

I scooped about a tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl and drizzled some olive oil (about a half teaspoon) over it, and stirred the two together with my fingers until the mixture was uniform.  Rubbing the stuff straight on my face didn’t work, so I got my fingertips just a little wet, enough to make it possible to spread the scrub around my cheeks.  I rubbed in a circular motio- shit this hurts!  Sugar is rough.  If you are a delicate flower, or otherwise have nice clear skin, I do not recommend this procedure to you.  I’m used to abusing my skin, so I kept at it until all the sugar was dissolved.  I rinsed off with warm water and took a look in the mirror.  There were still some patches of dryness, so I took a pinch more of the sugar-oil scrub and worked on them.  Rinse, pat dry, sit back, and appreciate.  My face is baby soft!  Right now I’m trying to not touch it with my greasy fingertips.  It’s pretty amazing.  My skin glows – if glowing means radiating angry red.  I applied two rounds of my usual moisturizer, which despite having been polished with olive oil, my skin drank up.  I am not sure if I’d go through this routine every day, but maybe every three days would be appropriate.  Only time will tell if this actually improves my skin for the long term.  After battling bad skin for almost fifteen years, I would love a solution that comes out of the kitchen cabinet.

Clip of one of my favorite Talking Heads songs – \”Sugar on My Tongue\”


still running January 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — starrwitness @ 7:51 pm
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There are lots of reasons to not enjoy running.  First of all, it’s physical activity, which I usually try to avoid.  Secondly, it takes away from my time reading/knitting/reading the same news story over and over.  The third reason, the one that actually makes me want to stop sometimes, is being observed while doing it.  As I mentioned before, people seem to take the fact that I am outside as an excuse to talk to me.  Friday was another beautiful day, so I took advantage of the heat wave.  I encountered a car wash, sponsored by what may have been some sort of half-way house.  The men that weren’t washing cars were lined up outside of the building, and I could feel their stares burrowing deep into my thighs.  I made the judgment call to wear a t-shirt today rather than a tank top so I would draw less attention to myself.  I even swapped a bright yellow t-shirt for a less conspicuous red one.  I wish I could slip on the invisibility cloak.

I ran past some kids drumming on a drum pad on the sidewalk.  I could hear them snickering at me.  I huffed (at a slightly quicker rate) in between a group of guys drinking 40s on their steps.  They were jeering me, and one said “That’s right girl, run that meat off you!”  Well thank you sir, that is exactly what I’m trying to do.  And I don’t need your snide encouragement.

Being fat pretty much means you will be humiliated in some shape or form.  Bumping someone with your hips/ass, not being able to fit into small spaces, ripped or gaping clothing is all familiar territory.  Other people may not notice these small defeats, but nonetheless, they are internalized and cataloged into lists of why you are inferior.  But when people go out of their way to demoralize you, it stings.  Not only do I know I’m fat, everyone else knows it – and then there are the people who tell it to your face.

Right now I am staying with my best friend while I look for a job.  One day we were lamenting on how we were tired of our clothing and we didn’t want to wear anything we had.  She said something along the lines of, “oh but what about the rest of your clothes in storage?”  I had to tell her I didn’t have more clothes in storage.  My wardrobe would easily fit into two carry-on bags.  Now that I’m not wearing my work clothing, I have to do laundry every two weeks, and that’s after wearing everything I have a few times.  (Well, not my underwear.  I have approximately two weeks worth of underwear.)   She was stunned, and complimented me on my restraint.  I had to explain to her that it most certainly was not restraing (just look at my shoe collection), but the fact that I don’t have many options when it comes to clothing.  I am a 27 year old vaguely punky woman.  My clothing options are limited to Lane Bryant (boring and expensive), Macy’s or Lord and Taylor (matronly and expensive), or Torrid (too young and expensive).  Then there is Old Navy, sadly my saving grace.  But who wants to dress exclusively from Old Navy?  When I go clothes shopping, I can easily try on 20 different pieces, and each will be unsuitable for some reason.

I went to Macy’s later this past weekend in seach of jeans.  The store had an impressive “Women’s” section (where “Women” means “fat women”).  There were sale racks filled with clothing that was 60% off, $9.99, etc.  Cheap.  Great, I thought, maybe I’ll find something worthwhile.  I scoured, searched, and shoved.  First, I don’t think there was a single pair of jeans in my size that was on sale.  Instead, I tried on some Levi’s.  I have had a few pairs in the past, and I loved them.  One pair I bought at the Levi’s store in downtown SF.  They were slim fitting and had to be cuffed, but cute.  I could tuck them into boots.  I’ve worn each pair out, and it would be nice to replace them.  I tried on every style available (four), and not one of them made me feel good about myself.  The proportions were all off, some didn’t fit my waist while another were too clingy in the thighs.  Overall, the experience made me disgusted with myself.  The shirts I tried on weren’t much better.  Nothing fit “right.”  Except for a cute Nine West dress that was $15.  So I won’t complain too much.  The only other jeans left to try were a few styles by Calvin Klein which cost $80.  Of course, they were the only decent fitting jeans in the store.  I had my $50 gift card, so I didn’t feel too awful about buying them.

This weekend made me feel awful about myself on a few levels.  I can’t go out and exercise without being mocked, and I can’t accept myself and try to dress my body in a suitable way.  Where does that leave me?


hot mama January 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — starrwitness @ 3:47 am
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I was inspired by this today yesterday to make some soup.  I followed the link for the recipe and saw that I more or less had everything called for….  I threw a couple of chicken breasts in the oven (I could have done with just one though….  But it wasn’t a bad thing to have too much), chopped and sauteed some shallots, heated up some veggie broth with two chipotle bouillon cubes, and then tossed everything in the pot, along with some frozen peppers (a red, green, and yellow medley no less).  Aside from cooking the chicken, which took about 35 minutes, the meal went together in 20.  It was stupid easy, and incredibly delicious!  Probably because it was super salty (I blame the frozen chicken breasts soaked in salt water).  Room for improvement: adding fresh lime juice and cilantro.  Now I know why the recipe calls for tomatoes – you need some sort of acid to balance everything out.  I find that adding canned tomatoes to soups makes them watery, so I tend to eschew them.  I’d rather have fresh tomatoes as a garnish.  I sprinkled some cheddar cheese on top, because everything is better with cheese.  In an ideal world I’d add queso fresco, or some other slighly tangier cheese.

Spicy chicken soup

Spicy chicken soup

That was my major accomplishment of the day, and I’m pretty happy with that.  I also called my insanely cranky grandfather who bitched at me for not being in contact with his side of the family who I have met only once and really don’t care about.  He also tried to allude that if I lived at home, I would somehow be better off, job wise.  I got the impression he’d prefer me to live with my father and mooch off of them rather than be on my own, making a living and being self-sufficient.  Can you see why I really dislike this man and try to have as little contact with him as possible?  Thankfully this exchange lasted less than five minutes.  One minute of it was him trying to figure out how to turn off his answering machine that had picked up.  When I was at home over the holidays, he said some really hurtful, hateful things about my mother, lumping me in with her side of the family (“You people” he called me), saying we were all ungrateful.  He’s mad that my mother sold the house that he renovated for my parents (thirty years ago, as if she hadn’t put in any effort since).  It is understandable that he’s upset that his son is going through a divorce.  It’s unacceptable that he takes that anger out on me.  My parents that are getting the divorce.  I am the ultimate loser here, grandpa.  And it’s not like I can even explain this to either of my parents (my mother would agree with me that he’s a miserable old man, and so would my father, but it’s still his dad and obviously he would want me to have some sort of relationship with him).  I’m at a total impasse.  As much as I would like to write him out of my life, I can’t.  Nothing I have ever done has pleased him, a sentiment I finally expressed to my father a few months ago, in a rare act of confessing that I have feelings.  He agreed, nothing was ever good enough for his father.  Neither of his children have lived up to whatever expectations he had for them, and as the only grandchild, clearly I haven’t either.  He has a disturbingly myopic point of view that has caused me nothing but heartache my entire life.  Apparently, I was supposed to stay within a fifty mile radius of my immediate family forever.  Moving away is my greatest affront to him.  I think I was supposed to be around to take care/entertain him and my parents.  I wonder if he blames my parent’s divorce on me too.  Clearly the point of bearing children is only for them grovel at your feet after you’ve scrimped and sacrificed for them.  I don’t have children, so I don’t know how most parents feel, but guess what – I didn’t ask to be born.  If he wasn’t comfortable with the prospect of his offspring growing up to be thankless unsuccessful ingrates, he shouldn’t have had kids.  If he thinks shaming me into having manners is going to work, he’s quite mistaken.

That’s a little rant that’s been dying to get out for quite some time….  It is impressive that one person can make me feel like the lowest, dirtiest worm in the world.  Maybe one day I will be able to make more sense of him.


running away January 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — starrwitness @ 10:35 pm

Last summer in Boston, I started running.  It’s not a habit I stuck with for a variety of excuses, but I liked doing it.  I felt healthier – finally a way to purge all of the toxins in my body without ceasing to ingest them!  I had a three mile loop in Cambridge that I followed, and I’d like to keep that up SF.  The route I ran was pretty residential but I cruised past a few local businesses, a hospital and a firehouse.  People left me alone.  There were lots of other runners who left me in the dust (not that I cared, I was just happy to be out in the sunshine).

I decided to take up the effort again on Sunday.  I ran up to Alta Plaza Park which offers an amazing view of the city, provided you get to the top.  On my way there, a woman said to me with utter sincerity “You go girl!”  It was a great affirmation, after I stopped laughing.  So after running about a mile and half, I forced myself to jog/walk/crawl up four big sets of stone steps.  I was afraid my legs would give out on me but I made it up and allowed myself to rest and enjoy the view.

Today I thought I would try going somewhere new, so I ran towards the downtown area.  Now, I am fairly used to being catcalled.  I think it has a lot to do with the tattoos rather than my physique (despite assurances to the contrary, I don’t see what people like about my potato sack ass).  I was on my first few blocks, and I ran past some guys sitting on a stoop, who made some overtures towards me then past a guy who asked me where I was going.  I gestured that he should follow me (totally in jest), and he asked what my name was.  I laughed and told him he should keep up if he wanted to find out.  He declined but told me he’d see my on my way back.  Needless to say, I didn’t take that street back home.  The rest of the run was uneventful.  I don’t think I went quite as far as I had the other day because my muscles gave up (okay, I gave up).  But at least I did it.  Perhaps I stopped getting comments because by the end, I looked like this:



This made me think.  I need to find out where nerdy hipsters and wealthy .com boys hang out (there have to be like, five, left in the city, right?).  Not that the group of guys hollering at me were particularly unattractive, but they weren’t necessarily my type.  Then again, it’s doubtful that I would get catcalled by some guy wearing a plaid flannel shirt and black-rimmed glasses.  Better idea – I should go running wearing one of these.  I’m sure I could get one printed on a tank top.  If you don’t want to physically run after me, you can at least follow my internet presence.


gonna be a bestseller

Filed under: Uncategorized — starrwitness @ 7:41 am
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I am often captivated by Bests lists.  Top sellers, highest rated, most read.  I like to see how the people feel about specific things so I know whether to jump on the bandwagon or turn up my nose.  For instance, I just joined Ravelry so I can post pictures of my knitting and keep track of what my friends are working on.  They also rank yarns and patterns so you can see what’s popular within the knitting community.  My mother cashed in her Visa rewards for me as a Christmas present, and I picked out a $100 Amazon gift card and a $50 Macy’s gift card.  Incidentally, I had gotten a $50 Verizon rebate in the mail the day before.  $200 in free cash!  So I surfed over to Amazon, and thought I’d look at groceries, as almost all of my money goes towards food.  “Cereal, I eat cereal,” I thought to myself.  Kellogg’s is a favorite of mine, but looking at the prices, I realized I wouldn’t save much, if any, money, as compared to the grocery store, plus I’d have to buy four boxes at a time.  I guess I could take the Special K challenge, but I think that’s just a ploy to make you buy huge quantities of their product.  I looked at the Bestsellers in Grocery to see what people are buying (it’s updated every hour).

At around 11PM Pacific time, it looks to me like hyper-caffeinated moms who want green baby products, would like their husbands to be cleanshaven, and feel they have weight issues  are doing most of the shopping.  Not that the list surprises me.  I understand why a parent might be interested in eco-friendly diapers and baby wipes and also have a strong need for coffee all the time.  And I shamelessly admit – when I first saw Alli on the list, my first thought was “Awesome, you can buy this shit on the internet?!”  instead of reacting with the preferred feminist outrage that women should be happy with their bodies.  I don’t know how much it costs in the pharmacy or grocery store, but it seems to be heavily discounted here and I don’t have to deal with the shame of asking someone to unlock the case so I can buy it!  Not that I can spend my money on diet pills right now.  But one day, I will, now that I know I can get it anonymously.

I am not sure what I’m going to buy from Amazon.  I might save for when I move, so I can treat myself to something nice, but I haven’t checked out the rest of the Grocery section.  I have two options for the Macy’s card – either go clothes shopping or get stuff for my kitchen.  Yes, yes, and yes.  Once I find a job, I will probably want different clothing (although I haven’t worn my work clothes in so long, they will feel new to me).  I also have a Williams and Sonoma gift card given to me by a dear friend, with which I plan to buy new knives and cutting boards (this is terribly exciting).  The Verizon rebate is going right back to the phone company to pay for my ridiculously high phone bill – last month I went a little overboard text messaging and browsing the web from my phone.

Last month's data usage

Last month's data usage

It’s not as bad as this, but it’s a lot for me right now (twice my normal bill).

I look forward to spending my gift cards, even if I spend them on more practical things.


straight outta jersey January 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — starrwitness @ 9:04 pm

I am in San Francisco. It’s January, but I’m wearing shorts. It feels like a perfect April day in New Jersey. Slightly overcast sky, a breeze but behind the chill is warm air. I am coping. Wavering between finding a new level of happiness and slipping into a familiar melancholy- longing, worrying, aching. Both are scary.

It’s good to be back here, but that sounds so hollow.  It’s more that I have no where else to be.  My parents no longer live in my childhood home, I don’t have an apartment in Boston, I’m not surrounded by my things in this city.  I’m here….  And that pretty much says it all.  I’m here.

I have ideas about how I would like my life to be.  I see a sunny white kitchen with a nook for a couch.  I see myself happily making an omlette, listening to music.  Somewhere cozy, warm, ideal.  I imagine familiarity.  After four months of upheaval, the one thing I would take comfort in is having a space for myself.

Although I am surrounded by friends and friendly people, I am distinctly doing this alone.  Trying to reshape my life, but not sure what form it should take yet.  There are endless possibilities tree-branching in all directions.  This requires making choices, which I’ve never been good at.  I can make a rash decision, but a conscious choice is much more difficult.  It requires weighing options, and being a real adult about the consequences of my actions.  Ah ha, this is what adulthood is.