“your available balance is…”

fought over like wolves by fifteen different companies

Pay day. I made it. Very exciting. Now it’s time to give it all back to the various companies that own my checking account much more than I do. I sit back and I look at this stack of bills and I wonder how they pile up. You know that when you decide to live with someone, one of the first justifications that the two of you make to each other is that everything will be cheaper.

This is never the case.

In theory, it should work. You should have extra money, because the two of you are halving all of the bills. But somehow, when there’s two of you, you have twice the bills. And I think through careful analysis, I should be able to see why I owe more than I think that I spend:

1. Phone Bill- local. $56.38. This is due to the fact that we have two phone lines, one for the modem and one for home. Plus we have two phone lines connected to our main line, because Eric does not like talking on the phone. Actually, I think this lets him retain some small semblance of his bachelorhood, and that’s why he keeps that old line of his. You never know what old (girl)friend could try and reach him at any moment. He’s a man of many addresses, phone numbers, and name spellings. He needs to keep his options open. So at the house, if the phone rings with two small bursts, we do that half squat from our sitting position.
“Oh, it’s for you.”
“I’ll get it.”
“I could get it.”
“No, actually, let the machine get it.”
“Are you sure? I’m right here.”
“No, it’s probably the fire department.” (Eric gives money to the fire department seemingly weekly.)
“They hung up.”
“That’s okay. They obviously didn’t need to talk to me.”

We don’t have caller ID because that would be another six dollars a month, and as I tell the phone company every month when they call to offer it, I like surprises. We also pay something like eight dollars a month for something called Inline Plus, and I have no idea what that is, but I hope it’s good, since we pay so much for it.

2. Phone Bill- long distance. AT&T. $40-$73 depending on holiday season. This bill is almost entirely Eric’s each month, since his family and friends all live out of Austin. I have about an hour a month to my family in Houston, but when I call them on the cell phone it’s free (just using minutes), and I often talk to my mother when I’m at work. So most of the calls are to Pittsburgh or Maryland or San Antonio… with the occasional one to some city that neither of us remember calling.

3. Phone Bill- PrimeCo Cell Phone. $49-$55, depending on whether I was paying attention to my minutes. This is my cell phone. It was a gift from Eric last year on my birthday. It is a very important part of the directing process. An actor can reach me at any time to tell me he/she will be late, and vice versa. It was bought for protection, since I have to drive to Houston occasionally, but the irony is, the phone doesn’t work on the stretch of land between here and Houston. The Cell Phone is currently not working, as last night a bottle of water opened in my bag, shorting out the phone, drowning my journal, and ruining five scripts. But, I pay $5/month for insurance on that thing, so when I go in to Primeco I can go get a new one, no charge.

4. Renter’s Insurance. $19.93. A small investment to protect our apartment. We don’t live in the best neighborhood, but I feel having the insurance insures that we will never need to use it (knock on mouse pad).

5. Electricity. $55. This is very cheap, seeing as how in the summertime it will be about twice that per month. During the months that you don’t need either a/c or heat, the bill can get as low as $30. Eric has a nasty habit of leaving the heater fan on “on” instead of “auto” so I blame that for the reason it’s so high. He will tell you it’s that high because I always leave the computer on. I will tell you it’s that high because he’s always got the Playstation running. We will go back and forth on that until we can just blame it on the air conditioning.

6. Best Buy. Whatever I send in, but at least $30. “You mean I have a whole year to pay off this computer before you charge me interest? No problem!” Whatever. Eighteen months later and I’m still paying on that damn thing. Now add some Christmas shopping to the mix and you know why I don’t always make the best buys.

7. Visa. Oh, man. Whatever I send. One bad mistake three years ago still has me working on this bill. I am determined not to let it get the best of me.

8. Student Loan. $70. And they mean business.

9. Student Loan. $75. Not a misprint. I took out two loans in two years. I have to pay them both back at the same time. I didn’t use the money at the same time, so I don’t see why I have to do this. They are from the same bank, even. I took out a very small amount for these loans, but they won’t be paid off until 2008. Something to look forward to.

10. Cable. $58. But I love my premium channels, I really do. One day, when I make all of my money as an actor or writer, cable will be a tax write-off. Until then, I just feel that sometimes you pay for your art. Eric says this is a waste of money. He also says this while flipping alternately between ESPN, ESPN2, CNNSI, A&E, MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central, E!, and HBO.

11. Geocities. $5. My small bill for all of you. No watermarks, no pop-ups. Happy squishy readers.

12. GTE Internet. $15. And it’s not even unlimited hours. I am getting screwed.

13. Insurance. Car. $219 every three months. Remember how I said I’m a very good driver? They don’t care. Again, I think I’m getting screwed.

14. Health Insurance/ Dental Insurance/ Vision Insurance: $45. Deducts automatically from my paycheck. They make it so easy.

15. Rent. $675. And the new shower head they installed feels like you are being peed on. Still, here in Austin, that price is a steal for the size of the place that we have, so I’m not complaining. But we don’t have the amenities that other complexes have, like free cable, or a gym or a hot tub or whatever. But we really like our place, we really do.

16. Crap. $500. Groceries, fast food, cigarettes, cat food, cat litter, gas, bottled water, juice, impulse buys and such. If only I never really needed anything. If only that voice in my head would stop telling me to buy. I mean Breakfast, lunch and dinner? It’s a conspiracy. The government is telling us to eat that much so that we continue to put money into the economy. I mean, really, why are Americans overweight? Because the government tells us to eat three meals a day, and eat when you are hungry, and food is good for you. I mean, look at all the food on that pyramid they have us follow these days! I just don’t have that kind of cash. I cannot live on a Whole Foods budget. I just can’t. And they don’t sell cigarettes there, those hypocrites. They’ll sell you whatever you need for your bong, or any herbal dietary supplements or herbal X and all the microbrewed beer you can puke, but no cigarettes. Bastards.

So here I am excited about pay day, and now that I’ve broken it down and looked at it I realize that I cannot live without any of these things, and they already own my account. I’m not giving up my car, my home, my health, my cable, my cats, or my boyfriend. Oh, why didn’t I get that promotion? I need a raise. I’m gonna go ask for one.

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