A year later, the cans have taken over.

5 Jan

I started this blog a year ago (today? Tomorrow? Near here.) and it was supposed to be about my journey to save money. Hoard it, really. Instead, I’ve become a bit of a can hoarder. “Recycler” is a much better term, but I’m a fan of the truth and facts are facts. My garage looks like this:
I say “looks like” to ease the blow, but that’s my garage. Ten minutes ago.
That happens to be about three months worth of cans and bottles, so don’t go thinking that’s how it is all the time. Sometimes I return them and get money and then it doesn’t look quite that bad for another three months. I take the bottles from work, many rescued from the trash can that sits DIRECTLY next to the recycling bin at work. Many, my friends have “donated” or “enabled.” Whichever. A few, I have plucked right out of the trash in public. I’m finding it to be a slippery slope.

The first time I took a bottle out of the trash, I was at the Arclight Theater in Sherman Oaks. We were with our friends Bobby and Sarah seeing Batman (whatever the last one was) and I was in the bathroom afterward. I washed my hands and as I went to throw the paper towel into the trash, I spotted an Aquafina bottle popping out through the mound of paper towels. I wanted it. So I grabbed another paper towel like I was drying my hands some more and then snatched it up quickasthis and threw it in my purse, all incognito. I felt fleeting guilt and shame at my middle-class white ass grabbing a bottle from the trash but 1) it didn’t have gum on it and 2) IT WAS RIGHT THERE!!!! I didn’t want Sarah to know, so I bolted out of the bathroom before she got out (now you know, Sarah. I’m sick. I can’t help it.). I felt I’d be more embarrassed if my friends saw me, I think, than strangers. But that’s the thing…taking a bottle from the trash incognito begins a slippery slope. It’s the next level of can hoarding. It’s like the gateway drug of recycling. Soon, I started picking cans out of the trash in broad daylight…in front of homeless people. (I’d apologize. It feels like stealing.) In front of friends. “What? Are YOU paying Addie’s college tuition? I didn’t think so.” Whoever. I wouldn’t stoop to digging, though.

Not in front of people.

I was proud of myself a few weeks ago. There’s some guy (you’ll get to know how I know it’s a guy in a second) who leaves a case of empty Coronas in the trash can by the elevator in the parking lot at work. The first time I found it was accidental. I saw a Coke bottle peaking up at me from the trash and reached in to snatch it up. Underneath was a treasure trove of empty bottles in a box! Pre-packaged for me! (Along with some loose tobacco floating around.) I thought it was a fluke, but now I look, quickly, into that trash can every time I pass it. And there it was again!! The Corona box! This time it was in a bag and there was a water bottle with it. I went to pluck out the water bottle (because it’s like food touching on a plate…not good. Glass and plastic needs to be separated.) and as I lifted it out I realized it was full. Is that urine? Yep, sure is! So, and this is the part I’m proud of, I threw it back in the trash. And then baby wiped my hands like I’d touched Anthrax.

I keep a lot of disinfectant around now.

If you’re wondering, because, after all, you may be reading this because you subscribed as an interested party in saving money, I have $425 in Addie’s 529 account. That’s a college fund if you aren’t in the know about these things. $300 of that is from bottle return. Now, it may not look like much to your naked, outside eyes, but keep in mind when reading that number that I had not one penny saved when starting this blog. In fact, I tended to spend money as quickly as I saved it. That probably shouldn’t be in past tense.

The 529 account makes it so I can’t access that money. There’s a fire breathing dragon guarding it and I don’t even know where it is. I’ve discovered I save best without the key to my own safe.

(Photo credit zazzle.com)

On that note, I also have $1,000 in my 401k. Started that in April and the company will match some random percentage of it based on how many people graduate from the massage school I teach at. Guess they feel we have something to do with students graduating or not. Ok then.

And it wasn’t savings per se, but I paid off a butt-ton of debt. And by butt-ton, I mean about $10,000. I guess I’ll be paying less interest, so that’s saving, yeah? Am I reaching?

I feel like a frantic EMT administering CPR to this blog because I’ve been remiss in giving it any attention. It’s been my own guilt (and shame) that has kept me away. I feel like I’ve saved nothing and I have nothing to share. But, looking back, it ain’t so bad!! In the moment, day to day, it seems fruitless and as if the lack of progress is going to eat me alive…but in the big picture, it’s something and something, in this case, is better than nothing!

Got the Starbucks free coffee mug again this year for Christmas (thanks, Sweeney!) so that’s a good start again.

(Photo credit Starbucks.com)

Also hit Universal Studios a few weeks ago on some free passes, so that was cool, too. Though, I never recommend going there with a two year old. They make things like that not fun. Just keepin’ it real over here.
(My view from Universal Hell on a weekend during the Holidays. Addie and Mom to the right!)

So now you know. Now you know all of it. The dirty, disgusting truth to my bottle addiction. My friend Cleo said (as I was stealing empties from her fiance’s birthday party) it’s beneath me, and I get what she means. But somehow, it’s motivating me in it’s own whacked-out-dirty-sticky-gross way. I easily give the excuse that I’m also saving the planet (which I am) but I’ll readily admit here it isn’t my main motivation. There’s this ironic thing in me that likes to count and make piles…ironic because I hate, and am awful at, math. I like to compile and sort and collect. But I hate collections. So this really suits my inner transient. Always new bottles, always moving in and out of the garage. Always money flowing into the 529.

Don’t hate the player.


2 Responses to “A year later, the cans have taken over.”

  1. Agua Verde (@osaverde) January 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    oh god, how I love you Jen! You make me feel better about my hoarding addictions! Although, because Colorado is controlled by Coors (and the Pentavarate of Evil), we get absolutely NOTHING for bottles of glass and plastic, and this pisses me off. Even the aluminum recycling places are getting scarcer and scarcer, and I wonder how the hell homeless, vehicle-less people even get to them to cash in. Obviously, it’s a conspiracy to keep us all poor and wasteful. And have I mentioned, you would have made a GREAT archaeologist? Getting over the “ick” factor is one of the main requirements. People ask me how I can happily clean houses now and I’m all like, oh, girlfriend, I used to be a glorified trash digger. No shame. And really, please be gentle with yourself on how much you’ve “accomplished” this past year. Paying off 10k of debt is HUGE, and may be more important than saving. Pat yourself on the back, and go have a Starbucks. 🙂

  2. allisoncourville January 5, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    If you have debt, paying it off is way better than saving, so bravo to you!! Happy 2013, wishing you health and prosperity!

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