packing it in.

10 02 2012

i packed my first box today.

13 actually. 13 paper boxes full of books, dvds, and things that will probably get broken in transit despite their many layered protective newspaper cocoons. theoretically, this should be good news (especially for my breakables). but really, i’ve got 4 days until my movers show up, and i’ve only packed about 1/8 of everything i own. and that was the easy bit. unfortunately, the rest of my apartment is far less square and regular than my book and dvd collections.

and now, here i am, watching netflix and writing instead of playing through the pain and packing up my kitchen implements before i have time to forget that i’m moving and accidentally get them all dirty again.

thing is, i don’t want to move. Read the rest of this entry »

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self medicating.

6 01 2012

i’m not very good at transitions.

when i was a freshman in high school, i blew out of all my classes and got bumped out of honors english. i spent too much time oogling boys at the skate park and drinking  yukon jack and kool aid from my best friend’s parent’s liquor cabinet. by sophomore year, i was back to my honor roll making, science fair winning, overachieving self.

when i was a freshman in college, my best friend and i used to joke that we should start a band called “champagne headache”. but for serious, i spent the entire year drunk on korbel watching “love boat” on the couch in the common area, and learning how to build the perfect gravity bong.  by graduation, i was back to my dean’s list making, resident assisting, overachieving self.

i’m convinced it was because i started kindergarten just days after i turned 5. always being one of the youngest kids in the class kind of messes you up. but whatever the case, i always get severely beat up when i’m wrestling the kraken that is change. although i do eventually end up victorious. usually.

as much as i overachieved with bong making and box wine swilling in my younger days, i’ve pretty much grown out of my substance abuse phase (save for the occasional too much bourbon day). however, i do have an equally destructive coping mechanism that still remains…

Read the rest of this entry »





brass in pocket.

6 03 2010

it was time. no etsy sales, no takers for my personal organization service, i had to put at least a little something into the pot today. time is running out, and i am doing a piss poor job getting it together. coinstar to the rescue! well, sort of.

after a serious bout of searching in couch cushions and pants pockets, i came up with a fairly sizable sack of pennies, nickels, dimes, and one random half dollar to cash in. you may notice the conspicuous absence of quarters from the list. unfortunately, we are still tethered by the shackles that are pay-laundry. all quarters (without exception), are to be placed in the laundry fund. bummer.

still, i had a pretty good wad going on. to the grocery store!

what’s great about coinstar is that it’s everywhere. pretty much ever major supermarket in town has one of these bitches, and for the very small fee of $.02 per dollar, your 10 lb. sack of pennies gets turned into dollar bills in about 5 minutes.

but is it $.02 too much?  as far as coinstar is considered, they always give you the option of donating the full amount to a non-profit of your choice. or at some machines, you can get the full amount on a gift card for cvs, old navy, itunes… or some other crap i don’t care about.

but if you want all your money in cash, you do still have a couple other options.

anyone up for some good old fashioned change rolling? this doesn’t entirely qualify as free, unless you already have some/can score some coin wrappers for free. otherwise, you’ll have to buy some– and it looks like they can cost over $.04 each. also, i can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to hover over a pile of loose change for hours quietly counting and rolling… but hey, just letting you know what your options are.

but seriously, your best bet for fee-free coin counting is definitely the penny arcade located at TDbanks.  it’s pretty much just like coinstar in function, except that an adorable cartoon girl leads you through the process. AND, you get to play a game where if you guess your total change within $1.99, you get a prize. despite copious googles, i have yet to find out exactly what the “fabulous prizes” actually are (although this story is really tragic). anyone? anyone?

i chose coinstar because the bank  is closed on saturday, and i didn’t feel like waiting anymore (or carrying all my fucking change across town). regardless of the fee, i still and managed to finally put $14.72 toward my $1,000 goal. $985.28 to go. fuck.





add it up.

16 02 2010

i’ve found them in hotel bar couch cushions, underneath potato chip racks, chipped them out of the ice with a ball-point pen, and rescued them from laundromat lint trays.  i’ve scanned sidewalks and check-out lanes from portland to jonesport (and all stops in between- and a few below), and dodged sideways glances from people who either thought i was a complete weirdo, or were jealous they didn’t get to it first.  all in all there were:

885 pennies

56 nickels

177 dimes

51 quarters

8 pieces of paper money (2 twenties, 1 five, & 5 ones)

1 golden dollar

*i also found 9 canadian pennies, 2 chuck e. cheese tokens, 1 boston subway token, and a few other assorted pieces of undefinable foreign currency.

for a grand total of $93.10. that’s roughly $.25 a day. not bad.

which means that cassie– with your guess of $89.50 (the closest without going over), you are the winner! woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot! good times.

p.s. extra props to the boyfriend who counted and cataloged every last penny of it on his day off.





see a penny.

2 02 2010

i just wanted to thank everyone for the phenomenal response i’ve gotten from this month’s giveaway (especially you money saving maine-iac!). anyway, i thought it might be nice to do a follow up post that’s less about my story and more about what i learned during my year of change hunting. like a “how to” for aspiring hoarders.

top 5 places to find dropped cash:

1. parking meters. people in a hurry are always dropping change in the hunt for quarters. portland is especially great for this. plus, pennies blend into the bricks on the sidewalk.

2. in front of cash registers. basically, anywhere that people take money out, they’re likely to drop it.

3. couch cushions. i’ve had the best luck at bars & restaurants that have upholstered furniture and lots of traffic. once i found $3 in quarters in a wingback chair at a hotel bar. score!

4. in & around vending machines. the cardinal thing to remember here is that people are fundamentally lazy, and if it’s less than a quarter and requires bending at the waist to pick up, they’re leaving it behind. it’s your job to capitalize on this.

5. parking lots. when people are digging into their pockets to get their car keys, their loose bills and change are trying to escape. i found $4 in the CVS parking lot, and $1 at the st. john st. strip mall. it can happen to you.

so now you know where to get it, a few small things to keep in mind:

1. get yourself a sweet container that you can enjoy watching fill up. you don’t want your street change to mingle with your common pocket change (scandalous!). plus, it’s the best way to gauge your progress.

2. carry hand sanitizer. the hazard of picking up things off the ground is that they’re generally pretty unsanitary. i’m not particularly squeamish, but there was that time i picked up a handful of change that turned out to be covered in tiny green bugs. plus there’s always the surprise “sticky penny”. proceed with caution.

3. don’t be self conscious! nobody is paying attention. and even if they are, they’re probably just jealous that you saw that nickel first.

4. watch where you’re going! a lot of looking at the ground, means a lot of not looking in front of you. the world is filled with telephone poles and pedestrians. look out!

5. change walking is great exercise. when it’s not -10 wind chill, i spend most of my lunch breaks spiraling around the city streets on the change hunt.  the more time you spend out on the street, the more change you’re likely to pick up. plus, i hear that exercise is good for you or something.





life on the ground.

2 02 2010

as of february 11th, i will have been collecting street change for 1 full year. not pocket change (i have a separate jar for that)- sidewalk change, floor change, gutter change, snowbank change… abandoned money, dropped accidentally or cast aside by people who didn’t think it was worth the effort to bend over and pick it up.

when i first started this little project, i wasn’t really sure how long it would entertain me. and at first i felt extremely awkward about people seeing me picking up dirty pennies on the street (i tried to be so slick about it at first). and then i found $20 in front of the porno store on congress street, and all my awkwardness faded away (now i’m completely shameless about it). what i learned this year is that A) nobody is really paying attention anyway, and B) there is REAL MONEY on the ground. i found not one but TWO twenties this year. 5 ones. and 1 five. and a golden dollar coin wedged in the couch cushions at bubble maineia. that’s $51 before i ever had to pick up my first dirty penny. all left behind by their previous owners and trod on by people in too much of a hurry to look down.

did i tell you about that time i found a check for $57,000 made out to a local microbrewery? sopping on the ground in a rainstorm, i walked it back to their office and was gratefully gifted with a free case of beer (really good beer). so now we’re up to $51 and a free case of assorted microbrews.

seriously yo, change hunting is awesome.

to celebrate my first year of collecting, i am dedicating my february giveaway to the practice. everyone now knows that i have at least $51 dollars in my found money jar (pictured above). leave a comment below guessing the total amount, and win a sweet prize. here are the rules:

1. one comment per person.

2. price is right rules- the winner will be the closest without going over.

3. the game begins right now, and ends on february 15th.  the winner will be notified via email on or around the 16th, and a celebratory post in their honor will let the losers know that they’re the losers (sorry guys!).

oh, and the prize is this totally hilarious bank that looks like a giant save key (below), pre- stuffed with a crispy $20 bill. that’s right, sweet bank & twenty bucks. it could be you!  let the guessing begin!





let it snow.

7 12 2009

so, after an unseasonably warm fall that i hoped would never end, winter has finally barged in- arms flailing, and settled in for a while (about 5 months usually). we got snow! which seemed pretty for a minute until i realized that i still don’t have a door mat, and that snow season is gravel and salt season. and that it’s cold. and slippery. and that i still don’t have appropriate winter boots.

but enough of the bad parts, i also chiseled my first ground penny out of the ice and was reminded that snow season is also prime street change season! before it started, i really thought that the summertime would pave the streets with gold. tourists with bulging fanny packs seeding the streets with their loose change…  but i was totally wrong. this summer was pretty lame for found money. i think maybe it’s the upswing in transient population- plus an increase in low-to-the-ground tourist children who never pass up a free penny. it was seriously slim pickins. slim!

but in winter, though you have to work a bit harder at it (yes, i’ve chipped a dime out of an ice block with a ball-point pen), change seems by far easier to come by.  i think because of the snow. people don’t always hear it hit the ground, or they just don’t want to be bothered to pick it up (picking up pennies with mittens on is a serious challenge!). plus, as soon as there’s a melt, the snow reveals all the change it’s been concealing for weeks! this is prime time to find quarters in front of newspaper boxes, or pools of pennies around meters. good times!

february 11th is my one year change anniversary, so i need to get collecting if i want to make an impressive showing. i stopped counting months and months ago- i wonder how much it will be? prepare yourselves for the grand reveal.

p.s. i found this funny article that calculates the value of ground money. cute, but weirdly accusing about whether or not it’s morally correct to pick up the penny (CRAZY TALK!).