Tuesday, November 4, 2008


There are certain columnists in newspapers and magazines that “click” with me. Seems like everything they write touches a place in me that is either funny or sad or ironic or simply rings a bell. One of those columnists, who probably had the biggest impact on my own writing, was Miv Schaaf, who offered an extension course at UCI back in the late seventies called, “Writing for Yourself.” I had followed her column faithfully in the newspaper; every one spoke to my heart. Oh, if I could only write like that, I thought. So I signed up, listened carefully and tried what she said. Because I did in fact stop trying to write to be published, I was able to please myself for a very long time.

Through the years I have followed other columnists’ work, and at the present time another LA Times writer has caught my fancy. His name is Chris Erskine and his writings – personal essays – never fail to speak to me. A couple of weeks ago he wrote a very funny essay that he called “So little money, so much you can do” and since we are all looking at how to make our remaining money last longer, I’ll share with you some of his suggestions that gave me a good chuckle. How ‘bout these penny-pinching activities:.

aHave a hot flash
aChop some wood
aOrganize the 5,500 digital files on your hard drive
aMake some moonshine
aWrite a letter to the White House
aDesign your retirement house
aDesign your retirement yurt (me: for those of you who don’t know “yurt” it is a circular domed tent of skins or felt stretched over a collapsible lattice framework and used by pastoral peoples of inner Asia.)
aHum a fight song (me: how ‘bout “Cheer, Cheer for Old Poly High, for her we’ll do and for her we’ll die?”)
aShort-sheet the kids’ beds (me: or your husband’s)
aShort sheet a ghost
aTeach your dog (or cat) to yodel
aCounty your lucky stars

And to this list I might add a couple of my own:
aRead Atlas Shrugged
aSit under a tree and time how long it takes before a bird poops on you?
aGo grunion hunting
aBegin collecting Susan B Anthony dollars
aThrow away one piece of paper per day that was generated from your computer.
aGo to a pet store and watch the fish in the tanks
aThrow away all your mismatched socks. You’ll NEVER see their mate again

We all need to find creative things to occupy ourselves when money gets tight. Let me know if you can come up with some additional fun things!

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