Thursday, August 26, 2010

that's (budget) entertainment

By my next birthday I'd like to have made some headway on paying down my debt and getting together a gameplan for the next stage in my life. This means reeling in my spending by cutting back on some of the things I love to do. Below I'm outlining some of my entertainment addictions and then proposing solutions. If you have any additional suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

Concert Frequenting
Issue: Let's face it...I drop a LOT of my disposable income on concerts. I love going to shows. I'm hooked. And with the magic that is The Pabst Theater Group in town, you could see "the next it band" practically every week. To add to the dilemma, with the passage of the recent smoking ban, The Rave has become tolerable for me again...not to mention the small clubs around town.

  • Allow myself one over $25 concert treat per month
  • Limit self to going to no more than one under $15 show per week
  • Try to see more local bands, especially while the free, outdoor season is ongoing
  • Follow the twitter and facebook feeds of local radio and venues to try and win tickets
Rocking Out at Home
Issue: My music loving extends to private as well as public. I have an eMusic subscription, but once those credits run out each month I'm always tempting by Amazon or iTunes. I try to limit my internet scouring (especially since most of the artists I like need the money), so what is a girl to do?

  • Subscribe to available "Song of the Day" podcasts
  • Request CDs from the Milwaukee Public Library
  • Watch for "sampler" albums promoted on social media
  • Revisit old music / make new playlists
Let's Go to the Movies!
Issue: Luckily this isn't too much of an issue anymore, and the lack of a mainstream theater anywhere near downtown helps. Still, during the summer if I just "feel like going to a movie," I'm inevitably shelling out $15+ for a ticket and snacks. It adds up.

  • Gear up to volunteer for the upcoming Milwaukee Film Festival. Can't wait for the program release on September 4!
  • Frequent the UWM Union Theatre this semester. Just got their program in the mail (website not updated at time of this posting) and I need to make a concerted effort to make it up there more often. This will offset some of the concertgoing too.

Hopefully I'll get another post up soon about other expensive hobbies and my budget solutions! Anything you'd like to see?

Monday, August 23, 2010

i am alive, and accidentally in wisconsin

I owe about 37 posts from my Europe trip. I need to develop an nom de plume so I can write all the tales. Or have my mom sign a waiver that she won't read them.

No, it wasn't all salacious. From visiting family friends in Belgium, to attending one of my best friend's fairytale wedding, to biking through the countryside, to taking two amazing hikes, to tasting all sorts of incredible food and beverages-- I really feel I LIVED for 12 days.

I am jonesing more than ever to ACTUALLY move to Europe. I thought after almost two full weeks of living out of a suitcase I'd be ready to come home, but I've never moreso been tempted to stay. From almost taking two random Brits up on a roadtripping offer to playing "eeny-meeny-miny-mo" with the ticket machine at the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (Paris, Berlin, Airport...), I was ready to just send the "I'm not coming back email." Unfortunately my oldest child responsibility gene kicked in and I relunctantly boarded a plane back.

So now I'm back in Wisconsin having a midlife crisis. But I did make some key resolves while I reflected overseas:
  • Get out of volunteer commitments where my heart isn't in it and my time is overly consumed
  • Train for a half marathon and take advantage of outdoor fitness activities more.
  • Do more things for free and less things for money. While I love going to shows, I can't pour every last dime of my income into concerts. As painful as it is, I need to redirect some of that free time. Luckily today I got the UWM Union Theatre schedule in the mail and that should provide plenty of entertainment this fall!
  • Keep up with the CSA and scale back on eating out.
  • Spend more time with friends.
  • Spend more time with myself.
  • Have a "life changer" game plan in place by my 31st birthday--January 11, 2011.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

globetrotting: jazz im museum

So you've only slept about two hours and need to kill 8 before getting on a bus to Belgium. The idea of spending your day in museums makes you wonder if you'll stay awake, but the alternate of just wandering the streets suggests you may pass out in exhaustion.

You've arrived on Sunday morning so nothing's open yet anyway, especially because the efficient and modern public transportation connected you from the airport to downtown in a matter of minutes. You decide to wander toward the museums and see what may be an option for you.

First you need a cappuchino and a cherry strudel.

Next you talk to a guy from Indonesia at the Tourist Info spot in the train station. Then you have some Belgians take your photo in front of the giant Euro (yes, the money symbol) in a downtown park. Now, off to find a museum. The closest one you come upon is the Jewish museum. It appears to be closed this morning, so you meander on, crossing the Main River. You've seen some stuff about the German Film Museum, totally up your alley, and there it is ahead. Coated in scaffolding. Lots of signs about the German. Can't really tell if it's open at all.

So you wander through some very nice residential areas of Frankfurt, just off the river. Germans are opening their windows and drinking their coffee. Many, many, many locals peddle by you -- bikes are EVERYWHERE. The city is slowly waking up. You're lost in the neighborhoods, and becoming very self-aware of the clop-clop-clop of your roller bag over the cobblestones.

Time to change course. You right yourself back toward the river and peeking out of the rows of townhomes and apartments, you spot an interesting building that could be a church, school or palace. You walk along the wrought iron gate and spot a stage set up in its sculpture garden and people milling about. Finding the main entrance facing the river, you realize there is some sort of event going on and it seems like everyone in Frankfurt is piling in. You walk to the end of the block and see a sandwich board advertising the 'Jazz im Museum--Summer in the City' series. Deciphering it, you realize there is a concert this morning.

'Jazz?' you timidly ask one of the women at the gate. 'English?'

She points you toward a German brochure, but you can see that the band is a nearly 20 piece group called Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra. There's nothing NOT awesome about that. 12 euro, and includes admission to what you figure out to be the sculpture museum. Sold.

I wait on a bench and the garden fills up. This is THE place to be in Frankfurt on Sunday morning.

The band is everything you'd hope they'd be and more. Apparently their frontman (possibly the bassist) is a riot because all the Germans are laughing. The woman next you guffaws and looks to me to laugh also, you fake laugh. Well.

You learn that Germans don't freak out during a 5 minute drum solo. It's everything you have not to yell 'wooohoooo!'

Not speaking German, when the band clears the stage and several audience members clear out, you figure the show is over and go look at the sculpture collection (taking advantage of having checked your bag there). You're looking at Rococo art and hear horns. Shoot! You dash back out and still catch the last half of the second set. You work your way close up after grabbing a pretzel and mineral water. Standing up front, you jam out, knowing you'll never attend 'Jazz im Museum' again and this has been an incredible way to burn time.

The woman curating this series and MCing the event gives you a huge smile for clearly enjoying yourself. It's probably also an acknowledgement that you're not a local.

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