Dense Blog Advisory

Lots of words, people. Lots of words.

The Hunger Games movie, or, how my fast-forward button got a workout September 9, 2012

The short version:

Well, that was a waste of $1.20 and two hours of my life.

The long version:

I’m aware that millions of people watched this movie, and many millions more have probably read the books.  I have not read the books, despite several family members recommending them to me.  I generally trust my family’s opinion on books, but I’m just not a fan of anything set in the future.  Dystopian plots leave me cold.  So do books written in present tense.  Perhaps it’s a personal failing.  If I had planned to read the books before seeing the movie, I definitely will never read them now.

On Friday night, my friendly Redbox kiosk enticed me to pay $1.20 for the privilege of watching this movie.  I have rarely been so bored, and then, so angry.  I ended up fast-forwarding huge chunks of the movie because (a) nothing happened and (b) it looked like shit and (c) nothing happened.

I do not understand why people like this movie.  Here is a short list of reasons why:

1.  This movie has no soul.  

Seriously.  Children killing each other should move me to a reaction.  I’m not made of stone.  Sometimes even commercials for greeting cards can make me cry.  I’m an easy mark.  I felt a twinge when the little black girl died, but other than that, everything was stark and devoid of emotion.  Note to filmmakers:  if you want people to root for a character, you have to give her a soul.  As written in the movie, the character of Katniss had no soul.  She was hard and cold and too cool for school.  This is not the way to help me bond with a character.  Not enough vulnerability.  Also, for some reason, Jennifer Lawrence’s dark hair and stone face reminded me of Katherine Heigl in One for the Money.  This is probably not a good thing.

The problem is that even when addressing super-dark topics, like kids killing kids, you need a pinch of humor.  This movie didn’t have that.  It completely failed to see that a pinch of humor humanizes the situation and makes the characters seem less robotic.  Everything was serious to the nth degree and this failing ended up sinking the movie.

2.  The characters all looked like they were either an extra for Schindler’s List or an extra for a cracked-out episode of the ’60s Batman show.

Seriously.  Explain to me how the main character’s family can live in the same world as the blue-haired announcer guy.  These are two different planets.  Does not compute.

3.  Complete lack of believability or explanation for why anyone seemed to think it was okay that these games are billed as an exercise in patriotism.

Maybe this is explained better in the book.  It was not explained in the movie.  But just a thought….anything called “the hunger games” can in no way be celebrated as a patriotic exercise, not even halfway seriously, with the feeble explanation that it has been done this way for 75 years.  This requires at least half the country to have lost its mind.  Yet some characters who participate willingly (the Woody Harrelson character) seems to have something of a conscience.  I am confused.  I cannot suspend my disbelief.  This is just plain stupid.

4.  If anyone said that “odds in your favor” phrase one more time, I was going to poke holes in my eardrum with a fork.

5.  Clothes made with fire?  Really?  Could these have looked any more fake?  Could this be any stupider or less believable?  People in the capital area can make clothes with fire, but everyone in the districts look like they belong in an Andrew Wyeth painting?

6.  Less than believable love story.  Really, people?  Smart-ass Katniss sets booby traps and avoids being killed for an hour or so in the forest, then falls in love with Peeta (I can’t type that name with a straight face) because the stupid announcement from the game controllers basically tells her to?  Again, complete lack of character development or reasonability.

7.  Those pit bull things at the end.  WTF?  Why not throw Predator in there, too?  That’ll really fuck some shit up.  Again, you want me to believe that this stuff is technologically possible while the rest of the country looks like a backdrop for American Gothic?  A lot more explanation is needed for this to be remotely believable.

8.  The rampant lack of creativity.  Maybe this is a fault of the book, but it’s basically Lord of the Flies meets “The Most Dangerous Game” meets Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”  I have seen every element of this before and didn’t really like them the first time.

9.  One-dimensional characters all around.  Everyone is evil or there to fulfill a super-obvious purpose (younger sister cowering in fear = older sister making heroic sacrifice; zoned-out mother = main character had to be a mother and a sister).  And I won’t even talk about the characters played by Lenny Kravitz (stunt casting, anyone?), Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks.

10.  The theme seems confused about what it wants to tell us.  Are we supposed to believe the government is evil for having these games in the first place?  Are we supposed to believe the advertisers and sponsors are evil because they participate and don’t care who dies?  Why don’t the people revolt?  Can’t they replace the mineral makeup of the city dwellers with good old-fashioned lead makeup or something?  Nothing about the government seems invincible, which makes the oppression of the people seem forced.  Again, maybe the book covers this, but the movie doesn’t do anything to help make this situation seem reasonable.

I could go on.  But I’m tired of typing.  Tired of thinking about that stupid movie.  It doesn’t deserve this much of anyone’s energy.

May the force be with you.


Flame Me If You Must, But I Don’t Get This Whole Harry Potter Thing July 9, 2011

Filed under: Books,Do Re Me,Hot Topics,Life, Whatnot — indiakonstanze @ 3:45 pm

Seriously.  I just don’t get it.  It’s a book.  Several of them, in fact.  But there are lots of great books.  Why are people losing their shit over these in particular?  Or is it the movies that are making people lose their shit?  Either way, I don’t get it.

Full disclosure:  I’ve never read them.  I’ve never seen the movies.  (Okay, I might have dozed through one or two of the movies, courtesy of a roommate’s DVD copy.)  I know 99.9% of the universe will gasp in horror.  Fully 98% of those 99.9% will instantly ask if I live under a rock, hate literature, hate the British, hate fantasy, hate YA, or just hate books in general.  I can assure you that none of those things are true.

I do not live under a rock.  I live in an apartment.  With the internet.  And a library card.  And tons of books.

I do not hate literature.  I love literature.  I’m in grad school studying literature.  By choice.  Incurring up to $30,000 of debt to do so, in an economy in which I am extremely unlikely to find a job.  I read War and Peace and Anna Karenina by choice.  This would seem to illustrate the fact that I do love literature.

I do not hate the British.  I read lots of British authors.  I love things that are British.  I’ve been to England several times.  I stayed up to watch the Royal Wedding.  See, I even capitalized “Royal Wedding.”  Yeah, it’s that big a deal.  I dated a British guy for the simple fact that he was British.  In all other respects, he was an asshole.  But it’s impossible to deny the wit, charm, and cuteness of British men.

I do not hate fantasy.  Neither do I love it, but “hate” is far too strong a word.  If I do read any fantasy, it’s usually the dark fairy tale type.  C.J. Cherryh’s Rusalka series still blows my mind.  And there are wizards in it!  And magic!  I have next to no experience with other fantasy novels, aside from a few Anne McCaffreys I read in middle school.

I do not hate YA.  I don’t really understand why the publishing industry shits itself over YA books that feature “edgy” issues like cutting, molestation, gay sex, and the like, but I’m not against it any more than I am for it.  Consider me bemused.  That being said, I wouldn’t put a book down if I wanted to read it simply because it was written for and marketed mainly towards kids or teens.  Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game is one of my all-time favorite books.  Forever.  Like, put a copy in my coffin favorite.  And I still read Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series every few years.  Holy hell, that’s probably categorized as Young Adult Fantasy, now that I think of it.  See?  I’m participating.

I do not hate books in general.  (See all sentences prior to that one.)

But when it comes to Harry Potter, I just can’t be bothered to care.  I know this will offend fanboys and fangirls everywhere, who find deep satisfaction in the characters, plot, and the fact that they simply grew up with these characters.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  More power to them.  I am all for books changing people’s lives.  If more books changed people’s lives instead of reality TV shows, the world would be a better place.

Still.  I can’t bring myself to read a Harry Potter book.  I look at the book jacket copy.  Nothing there makes me want to pick one up.  A boy wizard?  Nope.  A giant named Hagrid? Nope.  Magic wand?  Nope.  I just can’t care.  Maybe it means I have no heart.  This is entirely possible.  None of the books have a plot point that make me think, hey, that sounds interesting.

Plenty of people have assured me that once I start reading them, I’ll be hooked.  They’re unputdownable, someone said.  Well, that means I would have to pick one up.  That’s where they lose me.  I need a better hook.  Or, in all fairness, a hook more suited to my tastes.  I’m not suited to wizardry, apparently.  Or stories told from the point of view of a young boy.  All the whimsical touches people love about these books (the names, the magical inventions, etc.) feel trite and forced to me.  I don’t think, “Good Grief, I can’t wait to find out what Quidditch is.”  I think, “Hmm.  That is a Scrabble catch-all word if I’ve ever seen one.”

I can’t read something just because other people say it’s amazing.  It has to hook me, my imagination and my spirit and my soul.  Think of the classic parental deterrence phrase:  If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?  No.  A hundred times no.  I will not be bullied into reading something just because, oh, billions of other people enjoy it.  Great for them.  Not my thing.

In the tumblr world, people are freaking out over this last Harry Potter movie.  Crying.  Saying their lives will never be the same now that it’s over.  Posting endless GIFs with snapshots from the movies.  And I suppose there’s nothing too unhealthy about any of it.  I’m still just left bewildered.


Baseball: Let’s Make It Interesting Again February 9, 2010

Filed under: Hot Topics,Life, Whatnot — indiakonstanze @ 7:09 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Douche bags of the world, unite. Here is your leader.

Who still cares about baseball? The game eulogized so well in Field of Dreams barely exists anymore. Believing in the heroes of modern baseball is like believing fat-free cheese tastes the same as real cheese. You’d have to be dumb as a brick to be unaware of the existence of vast, unpronounceable chemical substances that help the fake thing masquerade as the real thing.

So here’s my idea for making it pure again:

Make performance-enhancing drugs illegal. All of them. No hormones, no steroids, no nothing. If poor baby gets a cold and needs to play on Saturday, do what Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron probably did—have a nip of whiskey and just freakin’ do it, or sit your ass on the bench and watch the healthy players duke it out. This is not a complicated concept, and I am not asking anyone to do something that has not already been done. It’s how the game has been played for most of its existence.

Institute random checks for all illegal substances. The check could come at any time or any place. If any of the banned substances are found in a player’s body, he forfeits all salary he has received from the day he signed his first contract. A third-year player who has made 1.5 million dollars? Give back 1.5 million dollars and you’re banned for life from baseball. Don’t have 1.5 million dollars? Well, don’t cheat, or prepare to have your ass sued, assets seized, whatever it takes. The player contract would need to have these provisos written in, of course, before they signed. I refuse to let these fuckers off the hook because they have a good laywer. In fact, make them sign a clause saying they will not contest any fine that ensues from a positive drug test.

Can you imagine what would happen to guys who got caught ten years into their career? What about Barry Bonds?  Dude could single-handedly refurbish the entire Tenderloin with what he’d have to give back.  It’s totally fitting, considering the disrespect it shows fans and the game itself when these guys pump themselves full of shit they can’t pronounce. My dad could hit 50 homers a year if given the right roids. I don’t want to pay to see somebody do something I could do if given the same obliging doctor and pharmacist. I want to pay to see something amazing, something natural, something that’s the product of God-given talent and practice….not a hypodermic needle.

If players blame team coaches or owners for pressuring them, just look for the paper trail of emails, texts, doctor’s charts or signed authorizations. There is always a paper trail.  Find proof of coercion, and then take the coach and/or owner’s salary, too.

All seized funds would be spread among charities in that team’s city. Each team would have to provide a list of acceptable charities, approved before all these rules go into effect, and the charities would have to be investigated to make sure no one affiliated with the team is in charge of handling the money or on the board. The disgraced player, coach or owner may be given the option to name which charity/charities the money would go to. It was their money, after all.

There are still plenty of details to be worked out, of course…I’m just thinking out loud.  But I really like this idea. It means that everything we see is real. Every home run and stolen base is genuine. The assholes who just want to pump themselves full of drugs can go find a bodybuilding contest to enter. The ones who want to play can do just that.


Michael Jackson: What If… June 27, 2009

Filed under: Celebrity Gossip,Hot Topics — indiakonstanze @ 5:59 pm

Shame on me for bringing this up, but I have to do it.

The first Yahoo article I saw on Michael Jackson’s death mentioned how he was in L.A. rehearsing for a huge comeback…a series of 50 shows in London beginning in mid-July. It didn’t hit me until later, but then I realized: would not a fake death and forthcoming resurrection be THE BEST PUBLICITY EVER for a make-or-break comeback?

A man is dead, yet all I can think of is whether it’s at all possible for someone to fake his own death on a scale this large: a 911 call, the family, EMS, the hospital, the cops, the coroner. Is it possible? Or am I just unwilling to accept the fact that people who live larger than life do actually die?

Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I imagine Princess Di lounging on a Riviera beach. Not because I think she is, but because I wish she is. It still surprises me when I realize she’s dead. She is glorious and immortal, too real and unreal at the same time. Michael Jackson has the same quality: too full of life to leave it. How could a brain so insane shut down?

These people who fill our imaginations and serve as a collecting point for our scorn, our love, our worship, or our condemnation—they seem so filled with our outward projections that it’s only natural to believe they can’t be dead unless we are, too. But that’s not the way it is, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who forgets it until a reminder like this.


Florida, I Have a Bone to Pick with You June 16, 2009

Is this really something to brag about?  Really?  Maybe if you're David Caruso, with nowhere else to go.

Is this really something to brag about? Really? Maybe if you're David Caruso, with nowhere else to go.

In fact, I have several.

The first: ENOUGH WITH THE ANTI-ABORTION BILLBOARDS ALREADY. I am on vacation. I do not want to be bombarded with messages about heartbeats and lima-bean shaped fetuses every freaking mile up and down the east coast. If you must advertise your religio-political beliefs via billboard, a small number will suffice. May I suggest one every 30 miles? Every 60 miles? Your advertising blitz is the equivalent of hitting someone in the head with a hammer; if it doesn’t lobotomize her, it will really piss her off.  If I weren’t pro-choice before (I was), I would be now.

The second: I HATE your toll roads. I HATE your stupid turnpike. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to have to cough up $2 and then $1.25 and then another $2 every couple of miles? At one point, we paid something like $8 or $9 at a SINGLE toll booth. This is out of control. It would be cheaper to charter a helicopter to get where I need to be. If you need money so badly, try instituting a luxury car tax. Or a bikini tax. Or just take some of the profits from the bars on South Beach that charge $25 FREAKING DOLLARS for a mojito. There is something really wrong with a system that needs to give you a toll calculator. Hint: if you have to calculate it, you can’t afford it.

The third: The Keys? SO NOT LIKE THE BAHAMAS. They’re small, they don’t have many beaches, and they’re raging tourist rip-off joints. I paid $41 dollars for lunch at a Cuban restaurant in Key West that consisted of banana chips (sold at most grocery stores), saffron rice (ditto), seasoned ground beef (hello Taco Bell), and black beans (again, grocery store). The Cuba Libre was weak, and the piped-in soundtrack was Putumayo’s Latin Groove, which I already own. SO NOT CUBAN.

We found one beach on Key West where I was able to swim in the water a bit, at the price of my newly seared corneas: someone’s grandpa wore a red/yellow/green striped Speedo that left nothing to the imagination, not even the grapefruit-sized hernia sticking out of his stomach. No one needs to see that. No one.

Back to the point about rip-off joints: I do not want to pay $24 for two adults to go into Hemingway’s house. I do not want to pay $25 per plate for two of us to have lunch. I definitely don’t want to pay $15 for a mixed drink. I don’t want to pay $7 for a skinny-ass slice of key lime pie.  I don’t want to pay $200 for the two of us to go out on a boat and fish. I don’t want to pay $150 for the two of us to parasail for ten minutes. There must have been something Hemingway loved about this place, but it’s long gone. Now it’s just Disneyland with more booze and swear words on the cheap tourist t-shirts. Nothing felt more inauthentic our whole trip.

P.S.: Where the freak do you grow the limes? I didn’t see any.

The fourth: you guys have GOT to do something about the insects. Those palmetto bugs are something else. We found one in our shower in Marathon Key, but only because of a strange wardrobe malfunction on my part. My Old Navy flip flops had gotten wet, and unbeknownst to me, were emitting a high-pitched squeak (squeal?) every time I stepped on them. Silly me, I mistook this for an insect mating call and hopped up onto the chair, screaming for P. to find the evildoer and kill it. He graciously moved the bedding, the bed, anything that could be moved in our Spartan room. No bug.  So I got down from the chair, stepped on my shoe, and heard the evil insect’s call once more.

With a shriek and a hop, I remounted the chair and told P. to check the bathroom. That’s when he found it. A palmetto bug the size of a Cuban cigar, waddling around the shower. He smashed it with the bathroom trash can, but it took a few good and heavy swats, and it didn’t completely die until he severed it in two, like that chick who gets run through by the knife-enabled chariot in Gladiator. Unfortunately for me, he left the body parts in the shower for the CSI team (me) to deal with in the morning.

When I kicked off my shoes and we stopped hearing creatures hiss at us, it dawned on him that it was my shoes and not the bugs making that hissing noise. But still…if my shoes hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t have found that bug in the shower until God knows when. Have I mentioned I hate bugs? REALLY REALLY REALLY hate bugs?

The fifth: Can you please find someone who knows how to make a stiff drink? We had a couple of drinks each at the Clevelander in South Beach; no buzz. Another night, in Hollywood, we went to the Hollywood Ale House, which had surprisingly few ale choices, and ended up deciding to get plastered on drink specials. $60 later, neither of us felt tipsy at all. In the Keys, we had Cuba Libres with our Cuban lunch in Key West and it just tasted like Coke. Whoever poured the rum must have forgotten how to count to three. Would it kill someone to give a little value to the tourist these days? What fun is vacation if you’re not drunk half the time?

Work with me, Florida.


The New Frugality, My Ass April 27, 2009

So here we are, 7 months after Lehman Brothers folds and knee-deep in a painful recession.  Yes, it hurts.  We’re all doing what we can to get by, but…in the back of my head, I still really really really want a new dress, a new bag, and a flat-panel TV.  If I had the slightest bit of disposable income, I would buy them all.  But I don’t, so I just bought the dress.

Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

For the past few issues, TIME Magazine has been getting on my nerves–they’re a bit too preachy about this recession and consumer spending habits.  The cover story a few weeks ago, “The End of Excess,” was all about how spending is down, saving is up, and nobody will ever look at the mall the same way again.  Perhaps, but if my own tendencies are any indication, I’m itching for some good news so I can reward myself with a completely frivolous treat.  Yes, I am a shopaholic, but after the easy credit of the past ten years, so are most Americans.  How many of them, like me, are just itching to get back to the days of buy, buy, (best) buy?

This past week’s cover story, “The New Frugality,” looks to be pretty much the same story.  I can’t bring myself to read it because, well, time is valuable and I feel like this cover is a pound-for-pound repeat of “The End of Excess.”  Why reinvent the wheel?  Tell me if you feel the same, but I’m getting the feeling that TIME is trying to make something true by printing it over and over.

I read their quotes from people who are freelancers growing their own vegetables or laid-off auto workers who can’t pay for healthcare.  I feel for them.  It is a terrible situation, and I would never wish it on anyone (except possibly Gwyneth Paltrow…I really do despise her).  And yet…until I am in that horrible position, I am not strong enough to deny myself a dinner out or a new book or a new dress (clearance only, but still). I want it, life is hard, and sometimes just surviving another day means I want to reward myself.

If I feel this way, I’m guessing some of you do, too.  My spending habits have been changed, but not for good.  I’m riding out the storm, waiting for the clouds to clear.  I’m not building a bomb shelter or stocking my nuclear survival kit.  I think TIME is talking about extremes, hoping to cause a peer-pressure sort of situation in which we think everyone is hanging onto every dime, and thus do the same.  It’s like they want us to believe America is full of Puritans again, so they proclaim it loud and proud, and hope the message sticks.  But I’m not buying it.

Do I have any evidence to support this?  If I did, I’d be a journalist, not a blogger.  All I have are my own feelings, my intuition, and some observations.  But here’s what I see:  The girls at work haven’t changed their spending habits.  We all still shop, just like before.  One of them just took a vacation to Paris.  One of them is buying a house.  One of them just bought a new car.  It is still impossible to get into pretty much any chain restaurant in Little Rock between six and eight pm on Friday or Saturday night.  They’re packed.  Lines out the door.  Fat-ass families who get appetizers, meals, drinks and possibly dessert.  That shit’s not cheap.  Every meal out is $50-$90 when you’ve got a family of 4 or more.  And they’re everywhere…Outback, Olive Garden, Friday’s, Applebee’s, Chili’s…you name the bastion of mediocre Americanized fare, it’s packed to the gills on an Arkansas Friday or Saturday night.  These are not people holding back or pinching pennies.

And this is in Arkansas, land of Midwestern values and third-world salaries.  If anyone would be strapped or hurting more than usual, it would be here.  This leads me to believe that Arkansas is either a strange deviation from the TIME Magazine norm, or things aren’t as terrible as fear-mongering TIME would have me believe.  The end of excess?  I’d say more like the pause-button of excess.  It will be back.  It has just been temporarily silenced by forces larger than itself.

After the privation and horror of the Civil War, we had the Gilded Age. Gilded. As in PAINTED WITH GOLD. As in THE ERA WHEN PEOPLE LIKE ROCKEFELLER MADE ALL THEIR MONEY. If Gordon Gecko had a great-grandpa, he would have given these fools a run for their money.  If the gut-wrenching Civil War couldn’t make people embrace each other and good old-fashioned American values, how the fuck is a recession going to do so?

After World War II, when six million Jews were cruelly murdered and 25 million soldiers died fighting to save the world they knew, we had the suburban boom of the 50s and early 60s.  Cars, refrigerators, TVs, houses, pools…everything with a price tag got snapped up.  If the horrors of our most evil and insidious war didn’t make people grateful just to be alive, how the fuck is a recession going to do so?

I think we as Americans are programmed to want more.  It’s called Manifest Destiny, and every single US history textbook talks about it.  It’s in our blood.  We’ve lived it since 1776.  Every horrible thing that happened only tamped it down; it never extinguished it.  I mean no disrespect to people who have been hit with the loss of a job, home, health care, or retirement portfolio. But this recession is not the end of the world. We’ve had worse, and always come out on the side of survival-and excess. I imagine Gordon Gecko, dressed up as the Terminator, aping Arnold’s voice:  I’ll be back…to kick TIME Magazine’s ass.


The American Dream, Version 2.0 April 6, 2009

It’s finally here: the day when the albatross lifts from my shoulders. The sale of our home closes today, and I feel like wearing a party hat and throwing confetti. If I just survive until this evening, I’ll be free.

How I felt as a homeowner. I kid you not.

How I felt as a homeowner. I kid you not.

True, the sale was only accomplished by our willingness to take a big financial hit. True, the process has been more painful than an unanaesthetized root canal. True, I have learned that the two agents involved in this transaction are the moral equivalent of actual plastic douche bags turned inside out and used as pooper scoopers in a dog park where the dogs have all had triple espressos and a platter of mozzarella sticks. Realtors, I am convinced, suck. Still…the end is in sight, and I’m approaching it with a profound sense of relief.

The $10,000 down payment I signed over in December of 2006? Gone, never to be seen again, along with about $24,500 of our cash reserves and available credit. But it’s worth it. It’s like amputating a dying limb, and saving the rest of the patient. True, he might not feel whole until he’s had extensive prosthetics and physical therapy, but he’s alive. He made it. And now he appreciates everything he sees so much more, because he almost lost it.

So why did we do what home-buying gurus claim is the dumbest thing possible? It’s the economy, stupid. #1: I work in retail, which means my days might be numbered. I’ve survived several rounds of layoffs so far, but there’s no such thing as a cocky advertising employee right now. #2: I live in Arkansas, which isn’t exactly the capital of economic development. On any given Sunday, there are more dogs for sale in the paper than there are jobs. It’s not a pleasant environment in which to find a liberal arts job, let alone one that lets you live above the poverty level, with benefits (even crappy ones). Faced with these possibilities, there is only one solution: make every dollar go further by reducing what it costs to live, month in and month out.

By opting out of the house, we’re looking at a significant reduction in monthly expenses. Here’s a brief tally of our projected savings:

–No property tax: + $225/month

–No homeowner’s insurance: + $57/month

–No homeowner’s association dues: + $41 a month

–Savings in monthly rent vs. mortgage: + $400/month

–Switching from Comcast cable/internet to AT&T no-land-line-required DSL: + $20/month

–Switching from TMobile to AT&T, to use my husband’s preferred employer discount: + $30/month (yes, our contract was up; no, I did not pay an early termination fee)

–Projected savings in monthly utilities: + $120/month (electricity, gas, sewer, water, garbage)

Total per month: + $893/month

And guess what: our 2-bedroom luxury apartment only costs $850/month. True, we have taken on a total of $18,000 in debt to get out of this house. But with aggressive savings, we can push hard and repay that amount in about two years. (Less than that if we forward our entire tax refund for those years to Citibank.) This way, if I lose my job, I’m covered. We owe much less on a monthly basis, and I can enroll in my credit card’s protection program that defers payments if I lose my job.

Will we need to keep our heads down and ignore the siren song of eating out multiple times a week, new clothes, and vacations? Yes, but so will many others. It’s a recession, after all. It’s the perfect climate to buckle down and pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  In a sick way, I’m almost looking forward to it.  I have a goal, a purpose, a mission. And when it is all over and we emerge with debt paid and a long hibernation of thriftiness, we’ll be smarter, stronger and wiser. And none of it would have happened if we hadn’t taken the plunge, shaken things up, and gotten the hell out of that house.