Category Archives: Dollars

Do not pass Go

Last night, Travis, Haley, and Erin came over for dinner, and what inevitably turned into games. We played Pixar Monopoly because Drew loves Monopoly and no one ever wants to play.

I think Monopoly gets a bad rap – my initial impression of it is that the game goes on forever. (Other first impressions – Risk: people lie and get mad at each other. Clue: it’s way too easy for adults to play. Dominoes: despite playing this game all the time as a kid, I have no idea what the actual rules are.) I’ve played Monopoly with Drew one other time and he’s weirdly good at it.

pixar monopolyI tried to start strong, but I made an entire pass around the board without landing on any property to buy. On subsequent passes, I tried to collect property and save money. I got into a bidding war with Erin on Travis’ property, in the hopes that it might make her run out of money. There was a moment when Erin, Haley, and I formed an alliance to get each of us a monopoly, and I really thought that might be a turning point in the game.

But alas, I was the first one to run out of money and then property, while Drew just built traffic cones (houses) and Al’s Toy Barns (hotels) on everything ever. Erin was out next, then Travis folded, and then there were a couple more turns that were basically Haley handing over everything she owned to Drew. And, for the record, the game didn’t feel that long – when we checked the clock we were all surprised that it had lasted around 2 1/2 hours.

I guess I’m not surprised I was the first one out. I’ve never been that great at Monopoly. I keep thinking I should be better at it. I get the strategy. I just don’t execute it well. Or I don’t have good luck. But as I watched my money go – the 500s, the 100s, the 50s, the 20s – it just stung a little bit, you know? It’s just a game, except that in Real Life I also don’t own any property or have a ton of money. And just in like in the game, it’s difficult to tell where I went wrong.

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Filed under "Other people", Dollars, Drew, Friends, Games, Humor, Memoir, Not awesome

Playing the Game: Survivor

Survivor is practically an American pastime. In its heyday, it was consistently one of the highest-ranked shows on television, and I’m not trying to imply that its heyday is over. It’s the first reality competition. People are obsessed with this show. And yet for some reason, I just watched my first season.

Drew has always loved Survivor, but I hadn’t gotten around to watching it until about a week ago. We sat down to watch Season 25: Philippines (last season) and I was HOOKED. I would have been happy staying up all night watching episode after episode, if not for knowing that that little alarm clock, in the form of our 7-month-old son, would be going off the next morning at 6:45. After getting through Season 25 in about a week, we started watching Season 26, which is currently airing on CBS, and I look forward to watching it along with America every week.

The best thing about Survivor is the strategy. Sometimes you’ll get an episode where everyone can just be blatantly honest with each other about who they’re voting off, and it doesn’t matter because of the numbers. But usually, it’s all trickery and deception and bargaining, and I find that I can never guess who’s going home because it’s just all up in the air until the moment everyone votes. Amazing.

But there are some people who try to play “an honest game.” And I understand that being able to stand up at the end and say, “I didn’t lie to anyone,” is probably a good card to play. But in general, I cheer for the people who lie at every turn and manage to blindside other people – the ones who are really “playing the game,” as they always say.

Which makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with my moral compass. Shouldn’t I be rooting for the person who doesn’t lie, who doesn’t backstab, and who tries to keep up morale? But as you might have noticed, that just doesn’t make for good TV.

But in my Real Life, I think I’m a pretty moral person. My knee jerk reaction when someone gives me too much change is to be honest. One time a bank gave me an extra $5 bill and I gave it back. When I was in high school, and trying out rebellion, I once stole a small Mead notebook from a very well-known chain store. I think I just wanted to know that I could do it. The next day, I snuck it back in to the store, and then purchased it. I mean, I’d already written in it, or else I might have just stuck it back on the shelf.

No matter how much I cheer for the person who straight-faced lies into another person’s face on TV, I don’t want to see that in Real Life. It’s only fun when it’s all a game…with a million dollars on the line. I want to be able to trust the people around me, and I want them to feel like they can trust me back. I want to teach my son that he can trust his parents, and I hope that we’ll be able to trust him. I think the reason I enjoyed my childhood and adolescence so much is that my parents were able to trust me and give me some freedom.

I do, however, understand the need to occasionally push boundaries, perhaps in the form of stealing something small, and then un-stealing it to pay for it. That, I think, is a good balance of rebellious and nerdy.

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Filed under Dollars, Drew, Humor, Self improvement, TV, Writing

Three years of marriage

This week, Drew and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. How did we celebrate?

My parents came down and babysat:

And they sent us out on a date, where we promised each other not to talk about the baby. (We had occasional lapses. But overall we did way better than I’d expected.) I knew the evening was a special one, because I used two different colors of eyeshadow, and put on jewelry.

We went to the Melting Pot, which we have talked about doing for ages but have never quite gotten around to it. Neither of us really knew what we were getting into – for instance, they prepare and melt the fondue on a burner at your table. And you cook your meat in a pot on a burner at your table. And there’s a burner on your table.

We had spinach artichoke cheese fondue…

…Salads; then a variety of meats we attempted to cook; and then a white chocolate/banana/caramel/cinnamon dessert.

It was a fun, out of the ordinary experience that we might not have had if we hadn’t been pushed out the door…so thanks, Mom and Dad!

In a weird way, this year’s anniversary felt somehow more significant than past anniversaries have felt. Maybe because this year we really took the time to plan something, make a reservation, get a babysitter (or two), and go somewhere. It was really good to get out. And I think the timing (baby B is just over 6 weeks old) worked out well also.

Happy three years! It feels like an eyeblink, or maybe a decade. Let’s go on more dates.


Filed under Awesome, Baby, Being a girl, Children, Dollars, Dreams, Drew, Family, Food, Holidays, Love, Memoir, Parents, Sentiment

Tips on tips

The other day Drew and I were at Safeway, and the woman ahead of us was taking a long time to get through the line. She was dressed kind of like I always picture Jen Lancaster – black capris, slides with a heel, some kind of top, and then a lime green scarf thrown over one shoulder. (Just over one shoulder, like a purse strap.) When the cashier asked pseudo-Jen if she would like some help out, she said, “Yes, actually,” and then the bagger finished loading her groceries into her cart and they began to leave the store.

After Drew and I had paid for our 2 or 3 items, we started to leave, except we couldn’t because she was kind of blocking the whole aisle while she clasped some other cashier’s hand and told her how she’d been thinking about her. I’m sure this was a lovely gesture to the clasped woman, but I don’t think the customer waiting enjoyed it as much. Pseudo-Jen then proceeded out of the store, followed by the bagger pushing her shopping cart.

They got to pseudo-Jen’s SUV, and she just stood by while the other girl loaded her 4 or 5 bags of groceries into the back of her car. By this time, we were pretty much back in our car and headed out of the parking lot, but I still tried to watch what was going on. I wanted to see pseudo-Jen give the bagger a tip.

I just thought this was weird. I know you never know people’s stories. But it seems like “help out” should be reserved for people who really NEED help out, not just anyone who doesn’t feel like pushing a shopping cart 250 feet to their car. Also, if the store offers help and you accept it, should you tip the person who helps you? It seems like you should. But then what’s an appropriate tip? A couple dollars? That would make sense if the store employee was spending all day helping people out, and they could then collect, like, $15 over the course of a day. But how often does that happen? If it only happens once, then a couple dollars seems cheap. But $5 seems like too much, and patronizing or weird.

This is why I just carry my own stuff to the car. If I can’t get it to the car, I shouldn’t have purchased it in the first place. Also, I can really use the three bucks.


Filed under "Other people", Being a girl, Dollars, Drew, Nonfiction

Change is inevitable

Among my habits that annoy Drew, “saving” is probably pretty high up there. I “save” all kind of things. I save up recycling rather than throwing it away, even though we don’t have a recycling dumpster at our new place. (C’mon… seriously? This is California!) I often have a box going for stuff (clothes, books, anything really) that I mean to take to Salvation Army or Goodwill…eventually.

And I have this irrational fondness for collecting coins for months in an old Nesquik container. Then one night, I dump them out on the carpet and watch TV and roll them into actual, exchangeable piles of money.

We had some rolled coins still sitting around from a few months ago, and then a bunch of new loose coins. So the other night, I flopped down on the carpet to roll the rest of them, and Drew sat down with me. I don’t know if he enjoys it at all, or if he just recognizes the value in turning this sort-of-forgotten money into bank-account money.

We ended up with $65 altogether – $10 in quarters, $10 in nickels, $10 in pennies (this is weird, right?), and $35 in dimes. That’s right. Those skinny little dimes, that I don’t always bother to pick up when they fall on the ground, added up to $35.

I took this Safeway bag full of money into the bank this morning, where shifty-eyed tellers immediately assessed my intentions and each tried to pass me off to the next person. The first guy said, “Tell you what we’re going to do, my coworker over there is going to help you because I have to…go do something.” (Seriously.) Then the girl he passed me off to said that her drawer wasn’t big enough for all of it, so I’d have to go over there. The third guy had been sneaking a look at a text message and so he didn’t have any excuse ready to go, and he wound up dealing with me.

But here’s what I want to know: is it so weird that I do this? I mean, it’s money. What am I supposed to do, go to a Coinstar and let them take almost 10% of it? That’s $6 saved right there.

And this is a bank. This is a branch of one of the biggest banks in America, and I’ve been a customer there for 10 years. So what if once a year I come in and make someone count rolls of change? It’s just counting. You learn that ish in elementary school.

To add insult to injury, the guy finished up our conversation by telling me how my name should be pronounced, which I’ve decided is one of the most annoying things that people persistently do. I don’t tell you that your name is spelled wrong, Kriss. So how about you give me my receipt for my $65, and let me get out of here.


Filed under "Other people", Being a girl, Dollars, Memoir, My name

Happy December!

So here’s what’s going on lately around here.

The show I’m working on (not backstage, just marketing) is The Secret Garden. It opens tomorrow. This week was the Invited Dress (Tues) and previews (Wed-Fri). Invited Dress is always rough – particularly at this theatre and this time of year, where the lobby is small and it’s freezing outside, things get really crowded since people start lining up ~40 minutes before the house opens. It’s just a little stressful. So after the show started (and it’s been this way on all the Invited Dresses), Jonathan and I needed to sit in the lobby and decompress. Then we needed to go to Target for some retail therapy.

This weekend I’m working on another reading at Marin – it’s called Silent Sky and is slated to be in their 2012/13 season. I’m excited about it – but it got cut down from the original Wed-Mon schedule to just Fri-Mon, and since I already had a conflict this evening, I’ll just be in Sat-Mon. I’m still excited to get back into the rehearsal hall.

On Wednesday, Drew and Erin and I watched Martha Marcy May Marlene. Depressing! Also, I didn’t like the ending.

Tonight – my prior conflict – a bunch of us Davis alum are taking a little field trip to see a fellow alum’s new theatre company’s debut show: The Last 5 Years. It’s in SF somewhere. I’m pretty sure Drew knows how to find it. This started out as a relatively small gathering but has expanded rapidly to involve about 8 people. A diverse group of people – and we don’t all know each other, which is always fun.

Last night, TheatreWorks volunteered at KQED, answering phones for their pledge drive. Someone dropped out of our group at the last minute, so I enlisted Erin to help. It was fun, except that the phones went down at some point so for the last hour (?) we didn’t really have anything to do.

My last phone call before the phones went down was from this woman who started by launching into a story about how she was watching Frank Sinatra (the program was Sinatra Sings) and how she has always loved him. She wanted to know how she could get his music so she could play it in her house. I explained that the lowest pledge level was $75 and the gift at that level was the CD of his music. Then I had to explain what a CD was. She asked if it was like a tape, and apologized for not knowing, but she is “an 89-year-old woman” and just didn’t know what she had in her house.

After trying to explain CDs –  and a brief foray into explaining the DVD, which was available at the $100 pledge level – she said maybe she should ask her children if she had a CD player, and I agreed that maybe that was a good idea. I told her I would hate to send her the CD if she wasn’t able to play it.

She was totally sweet and very kind, and what I’m praying is that she says to her children, “I want this Frank Sinatra CD and I can get it from KQED if I pledge $75,” and I hope that they either help her do that, or just say, “Mom, if you just want to listen to Frank Sinatra, let’s swing by Best Buy and pick you up a brand new CD player and also his complete discography.” Or something. I just hope they’re not mean to her.

I mean, even if they just hooked her up to YouTube and made her a playlist of songs. Even that would be okay.

Anyway, that’s my week in review. I am currently FREEZING. Okay, now you’re completely up to date.

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Filed under Dollars, Friends, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Theatre, Work

A False Victory

photo from

 This morning I paid $4.09 for gas, down from $4.13 the last time, and then $4.19 the time before that. I was kind of happy about it.

Drew says not to be happy about it; it’s a trick. Gas goes up to almost $5, then it comes down to $4.09 and we’re all happy. Then it goes up to $18, then it comes down to $14 and we’re all happy again.

He’s sort of cynical, I guess?

But he’s got a point. And even though I felt a moment of excitement when I saw the gas station by our house was down to $4.04, I also understand that this is pathetic. And I keep reminding myself of the days of under $4, under $3, under $2 even.

I’ve heard that it’s going to come back down for awhile; I’ve also heard it’s going to get near $6/gallon. Either way, I’m glad that my car has been getting good mileage. Having a 30-mile commute (one way) means lots of stops at the gas station and I definitely see it add up…

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