prelude to A Month of Abject Poverty


Since moving to the AV, Lady Steed and I have become rather more spend-happy. We eat out quite a bit, for instance. It did not used to be this way.

Recognizing our decent into monetary madness, a couple weeks ago we decided to declare March A Month of Abject Poverty, in which we would behave as fiscally responsible persons and not spend money on anything but milk, bread, eggs, and gasoline. That decision seems even more prescient now as we return from our trip to LA.

Calendrical difficulties

We arrived at the hotel and checked in; the district's check was sitting there, awaiting my arrival. The next morning we arose early and drove from Downey to Cerritos the hotel where I would be instructed in teaching young people to be intelligent. Only no one was there. Unless you include several hundred lawyers. Or Estée Lauder executives. Which I don't.

So I ran back out to the parking lot and asked Lady Steed and the Big O to wait a minute while I figured out what was going on. I found the hotel's event manager and discovered myintelligencee-instruction would be taking place not on Wednesday and Thursday, but on Thursday and Friday.


So I called my district's sub-line, said I was going to be sick Friday, and returned to the parking lot, in sudden possession of a day off. First item of business: paying for an extra night at our hotel.

Travel Town

We decided to spend the day in LA's massive Griffith Park--especially in Travel Town, where the Big O could see all sorts of trains. (Including, it ended up, one with wheels taller than his father.)

While in Griffith Park, we spent $10 on minitrain rides.

Fortunately, the gift shop was closed.


We left the park and freeway-meandered our way towards Hollywood, thinking we would magically run into the famous Pink's and get a dog with the Dogg, but instead we found The Hot Dog Show with its hot dog angel logo and ate there instead.

For $20.

Courtesy of the RAMJAC Corporation
I had been reading my first-edition copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Jailbird that I picked up with a coupon at Pioneer Books once and so brought it with me to LA. The first day of the actual conference, I was reading the second-to-last paragraph just as Lady Steed arrived to pick me up. Our meeting place was in front of Borders and I was about 60 seconds away from standing up and walking inside to buy a new book.

Normally, I am not allowed to buy new books, since more than half of the zillion books we own I have not yet read. But since I was about to be alone in the wilds of LA without an unread book, that rule wasobviouslyy to be ignored. I was quite excited at the prospect.

Then that excitement was run over by a Ford Taurus driven by my wife.
You can only see her legs, I suspect, because her bodice has been ripped.
Which was okay. She was reading The Timetraveler'ss Wife--a Valentines gift--and was probably done by now, so I would just read that next.

Except she was not finished, curse her.

We stopped at a Costco near our hotel to get gas, only to discover it was a gasless Costco. But we stopped the car anyway and I went inside to purchase a book.

Not only was this Costco gasfree, but it was also nearly bookfree, the crummiest selection of any Costco I have ever seen. But I was able to find a worthy volume, and I purchased it.
Elementary, my dear WWAG.
I had read Michael Chabon before, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which I had liked okay even though it polluted my mind with an image I fear I will never loose and which image still gives me the heeby-jeebies; and we own Summerland (though I have never read it, lovers aside).

Once again, I liked the book okay. I noticed that the author bio says he lives inBerkeleyy. So if Lady Steed and I end up moving to El Cerrito, I'll have to invite him to join Fob East Bay. (Although...can I start my own Fob? Yes, I'm a cofounder of the original Fob, but can a Fob be begun without a Master Fob? Before I met Master Fob, I had an idea for a writers group remarkably like the current incarnation of Fob called WWAG. Perhaps I'll invite Mike to WWAG East Bay. I'm sure he'll join. After all, having seen his picture, I now know that Michael Chabon is none other than my friend the Flourman. Done.)
Anyway, Lady Steed was late picking me up Friday, so I finished The Final Solution and went inside to buy a book. I had a hard time deciding even what I felt like reading, but I ended up considering H.P. Lovecraft whom I know very poorly. I found him and picking a volume was tough--one had a lengthy introduction by Joyce Carol Oats!--but I settled on the one with this quote on the cover:

"On of the greatest short novels in American literature, and a key text in my own understanding of what that literature can do." --Michael Chabon.

Felt like destiny.
I have never actually read this before....
(Also: we wandered into a Ross Friday and purchased three books for the Big O, including the one pictured. Um, and jeans, sandals, a beading toy....)

Lady Steed and the Big O

While I was learning how to teach (more on that some other time), Lady Steed and the Big O went to the aquarium and the zoo, cheap prospects neither, and various freeway shenanigans. She can tell you about them--I wasn't there. Suffice it to say we lost money.


Eating out.


Buying vast quantities of tasty frozen foods/crummy yogurt cups/ lots of cookies.


Eating out.


Money saved

We left LA so late Friday night, we did not make it to IKEA. Approximate savings: $215.

Not purchasing MirrorMask even though we were so happy to see it for sale. Approximate savings: $20.

Not purchasing train paraphernalia at Travel Town. Approximate savings: $35.

Not purchasing pufferfish tshirt. Approximate savings: $15.


Therefore, we enter March more certain than ever that it must become A Month of Abject Poverty.

Therefore, if you invite us to dinner, you're paying.

We have a Marie Callender pie in the fridge we can share afterwards.

And lots of cookies.


  1. What is WWAG? And how is it similar to the current incarnation of Fob? And why would you doubt your ability to start a new branch of Fob? How will Fob ever become the worldwide organization it is destined to be if I am expected to start each branch on my own? Do you expect me to live in every corner of the globe myself?

  2. I was really excited that I didn't spend a dime while I was in Maryland. Not even a dime! I was so excited, in fact, that as soon as I got to Provo, I bought myself a new outfit and new running shoes. My mother would be disappointed.

  3. I am proud inform you that I have purchased only two clothing items (and socks and underwear don't count) since the school year began. And the Gryffindor shirt was a must-have. It was like deciding whehter to buy oxygen for my child.

    Living two blocks from Barnes & Noble has, however, made the above savings achievements mote.

  4. .

    WWAG is basically Fob with about as many members as Fob now has and with easier admittance. Care to guess what it stands for?

    Before I became involved with Lady Steed, my eating-out-habits in Provo consisted of exactly one visit to Arby's and that was it. I was the world's frugalist eater.

    No more.

  5. WWAG = Writers Who are Girls? Women Writers and Guys?

    Lola and I have a question as to the identity of the illustrator of the Big O's book (pictured). Also, I love Kurt Vonnegut.

  6. Why Would Anyone Go

    We Writers Are Great

    PS: why Th.?

  7. .

    1. I think it's PD Eastman.

    2. Later.

    3. Later.