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A Week In Los Angeles On A $53,131 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of New York Puzzle Co.
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Today: A writer’s assistant, pet sitter, and parking attendant who makes $53,131 per year and spends some of her money this week on a holiday puzzle.
Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up diary. Before reading, we recommend you check out the first Money Diary, which was published this past summer.
Warning: The following includes descriptions of eating issues that some readers may find distressing.
Occupation: Writers’ assistant, pet sitter and parking attendant
Industry: Film and TV
Age: 25
Location: Los Angeles
Salary: $53,131.67
Net Worth: -$2,501.44 (checking: $1,541.46; savings account: $500; HYSA: $11,486.85; Roth IRA: $4,643.25; car value: $7,000 — more now that I’ve fixed a dent)
Debt: $27,673 (in federal student loans)
Paycheck Amount (weekly): $1,538.20 ($1,038.20 from my WA job, an average of $500 a week pet sitting, and $18/hour at my parking job, although that ends this week)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,509.44 (This amount is for a rent-controlled studio apartment with street parking that I share with my foster cat.)
Student Loans: $0 (thanks to the SAVE plan)
Utilities: ~$120
Car Insurance: $398.15
Covered California Health Insurance: $153.60
Phone: $35 (My parents generously cover my phone bill, but I recently upgraded from an iPhone XR to an iPhone 13 so I send them money for those payments.)
iCloud: $2.99
Spotify: $10.99
AMC Stubs A-List: $24.95
Cat: $0 (She’s still a foster, so the foster organization covers everything.)

Letterboxd Pro: $19
New York Magazine: $50
Apple TV+: $69.99 (I share this with my family in exchange for the rest of the streaming services.)
Chase Sapphire Preferred: $95
YNAB: $98.99
Renter’s Insurance: $244

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Absolutely. My mom is an elementary school teacher with a master’s degree and helped me look at schools. I attended a private four-year liberal arts college and graduated in 2020. Financial aid covered a significant portion of my schooling, but both my parents and I took out loans to cover the rest. My federal loans currently have a $0 minimum payment thanks to the SAVE plan, and I’m assisting my parents in consolidating their Parent PLUS loans. I’ll help them pay off the loans however I can because they took them out for my benefit.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were open about finances, but I don’t remember them teaching me more than the basics. My mom works two jobs, one at an elementary school and one teaching teachers-to-be. My dad has been a stay-at-home parent my entire life and is on disability, but is an electrician by trade. My parents bought their first house after the housing bubble burst, and we always had food on the table. My brother and I were able to do activities like ballet and sports, but it was clear that those were a stretch.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started babysitting and pet sitting around age 12. When I turned 15, I became a lifeguard and taught swim lessons. I did that every summer for spending money. In college, I worked several on-campus jobs (lifeguard, TA, et cetera) to cover the expenses that my financial aid and loans didn’t. My parents paid for my flights home and sent me $20 every once in a while.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes. I always knew that money was a stressor for my parents, so it was a stressor for me.

Do you worry about money now?
Constantly. My parents have always been supportive of my career goals but have also been clear that they have no ability to help subsidize my life. Working in TV is feast or famine, and right now it’s a feast time because the WGA strike has ended, and my budget has me covered for at least a few months once this current job ends. But money is always a worry.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
My parents helped me financially in some capacity (the Parent PLUS loans and providing me a free place to live) until I moved to LA in 2021. Aside from being on my mom’s health insurance (I double up due to regional issues) and the family phone plan (which, according to my parents, would not be cheaper even if they took me off), I’m on my own financially.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No one in my family has the kind of money that would lead to any kind of inheritance.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm and check my phone. My writers’ room is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. today, but I have an email from my showrunner saying we’re going to start at 11 a.m. instead. My writers’ room quickly reopened once the WGA strike was over, and the writers’ assistant chose not to return, so I was promoted to the role. Today (Monday) marks the beginning of week three in this room, and we’ll run for six weeks total. The studio hasn’t decided if they’re going to actually film this season or not, but bringing us back at all is a great sign. After my last MD, I accepted the parking attendant job at a venue and worked consistently there over the summer. I still have that job, but the season is winding down. In between those two jobs and pet sitting, I’ll be good through the holidays and won’t need to worry about finding a new TV job until January. This is as stable as my line of work gets.
8:45 a.m. — I consider going back to sleep, but my cat is screaming for her breakfast. I drag myself to the bathroom to take my meds in an attempt to teach her patience (a losing battle). Once she’s fed and quiet, I ready my breakfast of champions: leftover chocolate cake from last night and a large glass of water.
9 a.m. — I check my YNAB account as well as my email while I eat my cake. Once that busy work is done, I focus on my puzzle. I’ve been trying to find hobbies that don’t involve staring at a screen and so have gotten deep into puzzles like the homebody that I am. Currently I have three quarters of a 1,000-piece puzzle assembled on my dining table. I turn on Laura (1944) for background noise and get to work.
10:45 a.m. — Since the writers’ room is on Zoom, I don’t need to do much to prep for the day, but it’s time to make myself presentable. I wet my hair to refresh my waves, brush my teeth, do my skincare, and get dressed. The day’s outfit is a green Tradlands button-up ($3.87 cost per wear), secondhand tan Big Bud Press trousers ($0.44 CPW), a brown leather watch ($5.66 CPW), and gold wire-rimmed glasses ($0.62 CPW). As you can see, I’m still religiously tracking my CPW.
10:55 a.m. — I use my last couple of minutes to make myself a cup of Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea. I had a cold last week, and my voice still sounds pretty rough, so I’m hoping the tea will help me out. My Zoom setup consists of my laptop on top of two puzzle boxes on the table next to my puzzle in progress (I may have a puzzle problem), a Bluetooth keyboard, and a pair of Sony noise-canceling headphones. I had been considering buying these headphones for a while and finally pulled the trigger when I found a refurbished pair on eBay. They’re one of my best purchases ever. I don’t even mind that they make me look like a robot Princess Leia.
11 a.m. — I log onto Zoom and ready my Google Doc. My main task as the WA is to take notes on everything the writers discuss, like I’m their personal court reporter. It’s not super exciting, but I enjoy the show and the writers. Today, we’re doing table reads of the two script drafts that will be sent to the studio tonight to see what other edits should be made.
12:50 p.m. — Bathroom break. I grab an applesauce pouch from the kitchen before we start up again.
2:10 p.m. — We’re still going and I’m SO HUNGRY, which is unsurprising given my “breakfast.” Our lunch break is going to be short today, which ruins my plan to get groceries during the break. I don’t have anything I can make fast enough so I DoorDash a maple chicken sandwich. Between the feeling of “wasting” money and my general issues with food, I feel kind of shitty for doing this. But, as my therapist reminds me, fed is best. $27
2:30 p.m. — Time for the aforementioned short lunch break. My food is still on its way, so I eat another applesauce pouch and Ritz crackers. My boyfriend, S., texted me a while ago to see how my day was going, and I finally have the chance to text him back. The day after my last MD was published, my FWB, T., ended things. Breakups of any kind are never fun, but it genuinely was a deeply respectful conversation, and we’re still friends. I ended up matching with S. on Tinder in August, and we put a label on things a little over a week ago. It’s early, but I’m enjoying myself.
2:50 p.m. — The food is finally here, so I scarf down my sandwich during the last couple of minutes of my break.
5:15 p.m. — We log off Zoom, but my day isn’t done. I need to clean up today’s notes, send them out, and help the script coordinator proofread the drafts. While I work, I listen to the Love to See It recap of The Bachelor in Paradise.
6:30 p.m. — Work is done for the day, and I settle in with my puzzle before I need to get ready to go out with S. tonight.
7:10 p.m. — Fuck fuck fuck. He’s almost here, and I’m not ready. I speed-wash my face, put on makeup (I rarely wear makeup; why am I choosing to put it on now when I don’t have time?), and get dressed in a secondhand Lisa Says Gah dress in the tapas print ($24.13 CPW) with the Tradlands shirt thrown on top, and a pair of white sandals from Charles & Keith ($8.35 CPW). I also have my current go-to bag: a secondhand green Medium Nylon Crescent Bag from Baggu ($0.53 CPW). I finish just before S. arrives, and he teases me for rushing when he would have been fine to sit with my cat while I finish up.
7:45 p.m. — I drive us to a bar I go to most weeks, but S. has never been to before. I don’t drink much at all, but this place serves lasagne on Mondays, and it’s delicious. The place is also a good mix of neighborhood staple and trendy cocktail bar, so I like to go every Monday and hang out with whatever friends are free. We order two lasagne Bolognese, a glass of orange wine for S., a frozen Negroni for me (I like it in theory but not in actuality), and almonds and olives to share. We’re able to score one of the curved red booths and dig in. S. pays.
9:30 p.m. — Lasagne eaten and energy wavering, I drive back to S.’ place to watch old episodes of Love Island.
2 a.m. — Bedtime.
Daily Total: $27

Day Two

9 a.m. — My alarm goes off. Neither of us wants to get up, but we both start our remote jobs at 10 a.m., and we want to have breakfast before I go. We walk over to a local bagel place. S. gets an onion bagel with cream cheese and a coffee while I get a chocolate chip bagel with butter and an Arnold Palmer. He pays. We walk back to where my car is parked outside his apartment and say goodbye.
9:45 a.m. — Between the walk and the goodbyes, I’m cutting it close but should be able to make it.
9:55 a.m. — I score a great parking spot, rush upstairs, and hurriedly throw off my dress, put on a black T-shirt ($1.36 CPW, thanks Zoom for getting rid of the need for pants), take my meds, set up my laptop, feed my cat, and get a glass of water. My hair is weird looking, but that’s also the beauty of the headphones. It’s not until I go into my email for today’s Zoom link that I see my boss has decided we don’t need to meet today.
10 a.m. — I’m still on-call for the writers and will proof the other script when it’s sent over later, but it’s basically a free day, so I settle in with my bagel and laptop. I didn’t check my phone all evening and night so I have some stuff to catch up on. I love a little QLT (Quiet Laptop Time), especially after spending the last 15 hours or so in constant company with S.
10:15 a.m. — A pet-sitting client from last week tipped me, and my WA weekly pay has hit my account, but I won’t budget everything until all the income I’m expecting this week is in my account. I pay off my credit card in full every week the day before I budget, but note expenses as they come up.
11 a.m. — There’s a fair amount of stuff I want to get done today, but I’m feeling scatterbrained so instead take a little time to work on my puzzle with mindless TV in the background.
12 p.m. — And the puzzle is done! I love the image, but this company makes the kind of puzzle where the pieces are all random shapes with slopes and straight edges even if the piece goes into the middle. Not my favorite, but it’s very satisfying, even if I have one extra piece that seems to not have anywhere to go. I have another puzzle I can start or a Lego succulent to build (a gift from S.), but I need to be productive at some point. Instead, I force myself to make a to-do list for today.
1 p.m. — All I’ve done is tidy up my apartment, which was already in good shape because I did a deep clean on Sunday, but there was stuff scattered everywhere from my work/date prep yesterday. Now, I need to proof that last script draft. This time, the 2021 edition of ’Til Death Do Us Blart is keeping me company.
3:30 p.m. — The proofing is done, and I need to go grocery shopping before I can have an actual meal so instead I make a snack. I got extra spread to-go from the bagel place yesterday, so I have some on sourdough I toasted in the oven (I don’t have a toaster).
4:30 p.m. — All I have left to do today is grocery shop and check on some cats. I went through my cupboards and I only need a few things so I place a Target order ($26.59). LA traffic will make checking on the cats a big obstacle, so I’ll go once the order is ready for pickup. While I wait, I buy a digital copy of a two-part adaptation of And Then There Were None from 2016 on Amazon ($3.98) and settle in with a fresh puzzle. $30.57
6:30 p.m. — My Target order is ready so it’s time to actually get things done. I change into secondhand black Nettle Studios overalls ($4.98 CPW), a secondhand Farm Rio blouse with printed Macaws ($5.33 CPW), and Huaraches ($0.66 CPW).
7 p.m. — Get to the cats, take care of their food and litter, and give them cuddles. I pick up my Target order on my way home.
7:45 p.m. — I’m home again and am going to take a nice long shower while the puff pastry I got thaws.
8:15 p.m. — Now in a fleece-lined sweat set I bought for a trip S. and I took to Lake Tahoe the other weekend ($3.33 CPW), I make my dinner. Tonight it’s a puff pastry tart with caramelized onions and cranberry goat cheese. I’ve never seen fruit-flavored goat cheese before, but Trader Joe’s is a magical place. Plate in hand, I return to my Agatha Christie.
10:50 p.m. — After I finish And Then There Were None, I try watching Spy Game (2001) but cannot get into it. I might as well go to bed now because I have a semi-early morning.
11:50 p.m. — I lied, I don’t go to bed. Instead, I make a Canva vision board of tattoos I want to get. There are two tattoo artists I’m considering booking with when I go to New York next month, so I submit appointment requests for both and pay a deposit for one of them. With that done, it’s really time for bed. $30
Daily Total: $60.57

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I lay in bed scrolling on my phone. Finally, I pull myself up because I’m running out of time to eat before my Zoom therapy session at 9 a.m. I don’t have time to make myself look competent so I stay in my sweat set and put up my hair. Take my meds, feed the cat, put Eggos in the oven. I’m in front of the computer right on time. Luckily, my therapist doesn’t mind if I need to sneak some bites of Eggos. She’s aware of my food issues and would probably make me spend my whole session eating breakfast instead of skipping it.
10 a.m. — Therapy done! I’ve been working with this therapist for a few months and I really like her. Even better, virtual therapy is completely covered through my insurance.
10:05 a.m. — We’re not on Zoom today, so it’s time to budget. In YNAB, I have $1,437.38 ready to assign. Since my last MD, I’ve switched to only funding the next three months of my rent category and using more of an envelope system for everything else. That way, my main expense is covered, and everything else depends on how much I’m making. I only need $100 to cover my January rent so I split the remaining $1,337.38 between essentials (50%), fun (30%), and savings (20%). My financial situation requires a lot of micromanaging of my budget, but I find it sort of calming. I’m certainly more prepared for drastic changes in income than a lot of people who make much more than me.
10:30 a.m. — With that done, I look through my plan for my New York trip. There’s no reason to book anything else right now, now that my hotel and flights are covered, but I want to see some shows and need to figure out when. I also have some friends to visit and other activities to do, like maybe walking the length of Manhattan (weather permitting).
11 a.m. — I finally head to the bathroom to do my skincare before I leave for a house-sitting gig that starts today. Seeing my shower reminds me that I’m out of my favorite Olaplex shampoo so I order more of that. $39.84
11:15 a.m. — I get dressed in a green-and-white striped dress from Wray ($9.79 CPW), a secondhand white crewneck sweater from Everlane ($3.43 CPW), and secondhand cream lace-up boots from Intentionally Blank ($3.30 CPW). It’s sort of a Scandinavian witch vibe (I hope). I pack up clothes and groceries for the next few days, tidy up my apartment, and say goodbye to my cat.
1 p.m. — I’m settled in at my newest house-sitting gig, and my charge, a dog of an unknown breed but who seemingly has some Beagle in there somewhere, is sleeping on the couch. I set up my laptop on the dining table and lay out my puzzle (I had barely started it so it transported easily). The weather is gloomy, so I’m heating up pizza rolls.
2:30 p.m. — I’ve been working on my puzzle for a while now, so it’s time to be productive. This new WA position has gotten me over the threshold I need to join IATSE. I fill out all the paperwork and collect my pay stubs. The initiation fees are $2,060 but I won’t be charged until my paperwork is processed. I email them all to the contact for new members and now I wait!
4:15 p.m. — I’ve known this whole week that I wouldn’t have a Zoom today and originally had planned to do a double feature of Saw X and The Exorcist: Believer tonight, but now I’m deep into my puzzle and don’t feel like leaving. I have a grilled cheese for dinner at some point.
11:15 p.m. — I’m going to bed. I planned to pay more attention to what I did this evening and to try to go to bed earlier but that just didn’t happen. My Adderall wore off too early for me to keep track of time. The bed at this house-sitting job is much softer than I’d like, but I’m sleepy, and the dog is here to cuddle me.
Daily Total: $39.84

Day Four

7:15 a.m. — I’m still so tired, but it’s time to get up because the dog is staring at me. I take my meds and then take the dog outside to go potty. I’m meeting a friend for breakfast and then have my Zoom so I need to be presentable. I get dressed in the secondhand tan trousers ($0.44 CPW), a black T-shirt ($1.30 CPW), the Everlane crew neck ($3.22 CPW), and the Intentionally Blank boots ($3.14 CPW). And, of course, I’m bringing the Baggu ($0.52 CPW). My hair is a mess, so I pin as much of it back as possible. Once I’m done with work, I need an everything shower STAT.
8:05 a.m. — I meet my friend, A., at a local cafe. I get a breakfast burrito, Arnold Palmer, and a cinnamon roll (a little treat for later: Little treats make the world go round). It’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen A., so we catch up about my trip to Tahoe, her wedding preparations, and our respective pets. She tells me a story about her fiancé running down a neighborhood dog that got loose. It makes me cry laughing (the dog was found and is completely fine). $36.92
9:45 a.m. — Back at my house-sitting gig, I give the dog some pets and set up my laptop for work. We’re doing another table read, this time with the show’s executive producers. I forgot my Bluetooth keyboard so everyone’s getting a less flattering view of my face today. One of the downsides of Zoom is that now I have to stare at my face, which is looking gray and spotty.
11:30 a.m. — While I’m in the Zoom, I get a response from the other New York tattoo artist. I send her a deposit to book an appointment with her right after my other tattoo booking. $50
12 p.m. — I get confirmation from IATSE so I’m officially a member— woo! In the paraphrased words of Martin Scorsese: As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be in a union. I just need to wait to be processed to pay my fees and get my card. During a bathroom break, I sneak some bites of my cinnamon roll.
1 p.m. — We wind down the Zoom for the day, and I get started on editing the notes. I’ll get the script draft sometime later today to proofread.
2:30 p.m. — I’m not feeling hungry yet after the cinnamon roll so it’s time to run some errands. I take the dog out for another potty break and then grab my stuff.
3:15 p.m. — I’m with the cats I’m pet sitting, and everyone is good. I clean their litter boxes, refill their water, and fill up their automatic feeders. While I let one of the cats lay in my lap, I hear back from yet another tattoo artist. She’s based in San Francisco, and I was considering making a detour to get a piece from her when I’m in Northern California later this month. It turns out that she’s going to be in LA, so I book an appointment with her for then. $100
4:30 p.m. — I finally make it back to my apartment, feeling slightly carsick. Waiting for me is my cat, who’s screaming for her wet food (as if she doesn’t have a full bowl of dry food). I feed her, scoop the litter box, and then get clothes for the next day or so. I’m hungry now but realize that if I’m meeting S. tonight around 7 there’s no use for a full meal. Classic food timing mistake. I eat an applesauce pouch and decide to make myself a snack when I get back to the dog.
5:15 p.m. — Back with the dog, I make myself an open-faced grilled cheese with cranberry goat cheese. It’s so good and reminds me that I should eat more because I feel so good afterward. For some reason, I keep having to learn this lesson.
6:15 p.m. — I get distracted by my puzzle and the most recent episode of The Amazing Race but finally take a shower. I feel generally kind of gross and need to wash my hair.
7:15 p.m. — I’ve showered and changed into a secondhand black square-neck Free People bodysuit ($3.06 CPW), the secondhand tan trousers ($0.43 CPW), a secondhand green Tradlands cardigan ($3.33 CPW), and burgundy platform Mary Janes ($4.33 CPW). I’m hoping I don’t look Christmas-y in this outfit. I’m going out with S. again tonight, and I can walk to the restaurant from where I’m staying.
7:30 p.m. — I meet S. for dinner. We share goat cheese croquettes, he gets a burger, and I get short rib nachos. He pays. I fill him in on my New York plans as well as my IATSE news.
9:30 p.m. — We walk back to my house-sitting gig to hang out with the dog and watch Love Island. The owners said I could have people over without me even mentioning it, which is always cool.
11:30 p.m. — We make it through two more episodes and make Pillsbury Christmas cookies before I get super sleepy. S. isn’t staying the night, and we spend a long time talking about how he should get going without him actually getting up. But finally he cleans up the cookie mess as I turn off the lights. We both take the dog out, but then it’s actually time for him to go. His Lyft arrives in a few minutes, and we say goodnight.
12:55 a.m. — S. texts me to say he made it home safe and sends a photo of his roommate’s French bulldog, who was waiting for him at the door. I roll over, beyond ready for sleep.
Daily Total: $186.92

Day Five

9:25 a.m. — Fuuuuuck. I should get up. I wanted to get a bagel nearby from a place S. recommended but now I don’t have enough time. My eyes close again.
9:45 a.m. — Okay, really time to get up. I take my meds, take the dog out, do my skincare, make a smoothie, and get dressed. Today it’s the tan trousers ($0.43 CPW), a black-and-white striped T-shirt ($0.87 CPW), and the burgundy Mary Janes ($4.00 CPW). I sit down for the Zoom with a few minutes to spare but still mourning my bagel.
12 p.m. — We finish the Zoom for today, but I still will need to proofread the script I was supposed to get yesterday (and didn’t) as well as the draft from today’s table read. Plus I need to clean up the notes as usual. But for the moment I have a break. I move from the table to the couch to finish this week’s episode of The Amazing Race and scroll through the New York Puzzle Company site. A Halloween-themed puzzle I want is back in stock, and I’m eyeing Thanksgiving and Christmas puzzles, too. I limit myself to one puzzle per holiday and make a note to myself that I’m not allowed to buy any more puzzles for the rest of the year. $72.78
12:45 p.m. — Notes have been sent out, and I’ve received the first of the two drafts I need to proofread. But first, food! I have the ingredients for a proper meal, but my stomach is growling. One of the things I try to remember is that hunger pangs let you know how soon you need to eat but not necessarily how much (i.e. you don’t need to spend an hour making a big meal when your body needs something now). So I make another open-faced grilled cheese and will make that proper meal once my brain feels less fuzzy.
3 p.m. — Done with the first draft, I need to proof and send everything to the script coordinator. For the record, several drafts being proofed and sent to the studio in a week is super abnormal. After this, we’ll send out a script a week until the room ends. Since I have a little bit of a break, I take the dog out to go potty and then make myself a late lunch of pesto pasta with chicken and green beans.
4:30 p.m. — We receive the next draft.
5:15 p.m. — Proofing for this one takes less time. The script coordinator has to get everything together and distribute the scripts to the studio, but my work here is done. I update the date on my timesheet and send it to the show’s accountant.
5:30 p.m. — I get an email from IATSE saying they’ve processed my payment. $2,060
6:45 p.m. — I take the dog out, gather my things, and then head to everybody’s favorite client: the bakery item. She sniffs me for a while when I arrive and then plops down on her bed. She always plays things so cool. For dinner, I eat the rest of my pasta.
8:30 p.m. — I make plans for Friendsgiving. As the host, I’m in charge of the main course. I’ve decided to lean into the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving thing and serve Costco rotisserie chickens. Some of my friends are still figuring out what they’re bringing, but most of the important things are covered already. I’m hungry, and because I love giving myself a little treat when I’m productive, I order Milk Bar. $25
11 p.m. — The bakery item’s owners arrive home, and I drive a few minutes over to S.’ place. We don’t usually spend so much time together back-to-back, but when I told him that I was going to be busy basically every night this coming week, he suggested we hang out. I’m new to relationships but it’s nice to be dating someone who respects that I’m busy but also takes the initiative to spend time with me. He meets me outside with his roommate’s French bulldog who is the cutest thing in the world (even though I don’t think Frenchies should exist for ethical reasons). We cuddle and watch Love Island until I’m so sleepy that I need to leave before I fall asleep and forget all about the dog I’m watching.
1 a.m. — I drive back to the dog, let her out to go potty, and then crawl into bed. I really need to go to sleep earlier.
Daily Total: $2,157.78

Day Six

8 a.m. — I wake up feeling less dead than I expected. I need to get keys from a pet-sitting client at 8:30 a.m., so there’s no time for extra sleep. I let the dog out, get dressed — Everlane sweater ($3.03 CPW), tan trousers ($0.43 CPW), and Mary Janes ($3.73 CPW), because apparently this is all I wear now — take my meds, and head out.
8:30 a.m. — I have to park in a red zone but turn on my hazards and hope for the best. The owner meets me outside my apartment building and hands over the keys.
8:45 a.m. — I head upstairs to check on my cat and get some clothes. I’m working at my venue job tonight and need my uniform. On my way back to house-sitting, I stop by the bagel shop I didn’t get to go to yesterday. I get myself a peach Snapple and a chocolate chip bagel toasted with butter. $7.09
9:30 a.m. — Back with the dog, I start a load of laundry and then settle in with my bagel and my puzzle. The dog zooms around, legs like a deer, to show her excitement and then lays down on the couch.
11 a.m. — Laundry is in the dryer and I’m more than halfway through the newest season of Our Flag Means Death. I get a Rover request for a house-sitting gig starting next week.
11:45 a.m. — I head out to go see Five Nights at Freddy’s. I pay for parking ($5). Inside, I get popcorn and a soda ($16.83). I get to the theater as the trailers wrap up. $21.83
2 p.m. — The movie is over. It was deeply mediocre and not helped by a couple next to me talking the whole time. I like seeing horror movies with crowds because everyone reacts, but these two would just loudly point out obvious things that were happening.
3:30 p.m. — Time for work at my parking attendant job at the venue. On my way, I realize I left my dinner (a pre-made salad bowl) at my apartment. I won’t have time to go home again so I’m going to have to figure out dinner when I get there.
4 p.m. — I arrive at work, and my friend F. is there, but no one else. Eventually another coworker arrives but no one else (including our supervisor) shows up until after 4:30 p.m.
5 p.m. — Apparently, our scheduling app told us the wrong call time, and we were actually supposed to be here at 5 p.m. Wonderful! I’ve already been considering leaving this job before the season ends, especially because my other shifts this week might conflict with my Zoom schedule, and this might be the cherry on top. The good news is that this job is seasonal so leaving early isn’t a big deal. I text my boss’ boss to get clarification on this week’s call time so I can see the whole picture before I decide.
5:30 p.m. — A regular pet-sitting client asks if I can check on her dog tonight.
8 p.m. — I’m on a paid break now, and F. and I walk together to Wingstop and pop into the convenience store that’s next to it to get more snacks. I get a kiwi-strawberry Snapple, a Cadbury bar, and Sour Patch strawberries ($10.50). At Wingstop, I get an order of fries and ranch dip ($6). We walk back together and then cocoon ourselves in our respective cars. I save the candy for later but eagerly eat the Wingstop while I finish Our Flag Means Death. $16.50
10 p.m. — Back to work.
11:15 p.m. — I’m done for the night and clock out. Traffic is terrible, so I sit in my car with the engine off for a long time. My least favorite traffic officer is working, which makes the whole ordeal that much more fun. The other week, he stopped me as I was walking by and told me I should smile. I deserve a medal for not pushing him into traffic.
11:45 p.m. — I check on the dog. While this dog’s owner can sometimes irk me with last-minute requests, she pays promptly and the dog is so sweet. Every time I come by, she runs to greet me and then runs to get one of her stuffed toys to show me.
12:15 a.m. — I check on the cat whose owner only has one set of keys. I think of him as the soup cat because he’s named after a soup. I’m clever like that.
12:30 a.m. — Finally back with the dog. I let her out and then it’s time for bed.
Daily Total: $45.42

Day Seven

8 a.m. — All I want to do is curl back up and sleep the day away. But, no, I have living creatures depending on me. I let the dog out, take my meds, brush my teeth, and pin back my hair because it’s looking a little gross. I decide to stick with my sweat set for now ($2 CPW), even though it’s covered in dog hair from the dog curling up under the covers with me, plus some Nike sneakers ($1.22 CPW). The dog owner from yesterday asks me to check on her dog again this morning.
8:30 a.m. — The dog has had her breakfast, and I head on my way.
8:45 a.m. — I check on the other dog. Today she shows me a stuffed pig.
9:15 a.m. — I check on the soup cat. He does not improve the animal-hair-on-the-sweats situation.
9:45 a.m. — And now I’m home with my own cat. I feed her wet food and throw chocolate chip Eggos in the oven for myself. Once they’re ready, I put up my feet and listen to Murder on Sex Island while I eat. I’m all caught up on the podcast, but the finale is released tomorrow night so I’m getting pumped.
10:15 a.m. — Time to be productive again. I lint roll my sweats so I can maybe wear them again later. Then I change into black leggings ($0.36 CPW), a white sports bra from Girlfriend Collective ($0.90 CPW), my kickball team shirt ($5.33 CPW), and my Nike sneakers.
10:30 a.m. — Time to go once again. I give my cat some pets and assure her that my house-sitting gig is over tomorrow, but she doesn’t speak English. I grab my last two applesauce pouches and my Snapple (I got the 32-ounce bottle, so it’s the gift that keeps on giving) to bring with me.
12:30 p.m. — I arrive at kickball just in time, which is good because we need eight people to play and without me they only had seven. While I’m at the game, my boss (at the venue job) texts me back, and we agree that it’s easier if tonight’s shift is my last one. I feel bad that my departure is so last minute, but I also know it’s fine. She’s already been scheduling us on a rotation because the staff is too big for the number of people we need.
1:30 p.m. — We lose our game, but we held our own. I’m looking forward to going back to the house-sitting dog, but then the other owner asks me to check on her dog again.
2:15 p.m. — I finally make it to the other owner’s apartment and check on the dog. While I’m there, I realize I don’t have anything I can make for lunch that will be ready in time for me to actually eat it. I order another maple chicken sandwich. $25
2:45 p.m. — I arrive back at my house-sitting gig. My sandwich is waiting on the porch. I take a shower and give everything but my hair a good once over. I can’t handle washing my hair right now. Once I’m done, I get dressed for work and eat my late lunch.
3:30 p.m. — I put on my shoes, gather everything I need for work at the venue, and take the dog out to go potty. Last time I have to do this, wahoo! And for anyone worried about me quitting a job when my writers’ room closes in a few weeks, the three visits I did for the other owner today made me the same amount as tonight’s shift will for a lot less effort.
4 p.m. — I get to work a little late but only half my coworkers are there, and my supervisor doesn’t show up until a few minutes after me. Gotta love it. I once again forgot my salad bowl, so tonight is going to be interesting food-wise.
6 p.m. — I’m still at work but starting to get hungry so I have an applesauce pouch. The other owner asks me if I can do yet another visit. I tell her I’ll go during my break but I’m not available later tonight or in the morning. My sleep schedule has suffered enough.
7 p.m. — I’m on break. My car is stuck in the parking lot, but the other owner’s apartment is walking distance from work (part of why I have been able to help her last minute). On the way, think about getting a Lucky Charms milkshake from a place S. and I love to celebrate my last day. It proves too difficult, but S. promises to make me a homemade one the next time we hang out.
7:30 p.m. — After checking on the other owner’s dog (such a sweet girl), I stop at a 7-Eleven to get a Gatorade and Lucky Charms cereal bar — a little bit of celebration. That, plus the candy I bought last night but didn’t eat, and the remaining applesauce pouch become my dinner. Nothing but great choices going on here. $6.18
8:30 p.m. — I go into the actual venue to catch some of the show since this is my last chance. Naturally, I get there just as intermission starts. I stop at the bathroom. When I come out, I try to direct patrons to a different bathroom entrance with no line. I get several rude replies, which makes knowing I’m done after tonight all the better. Feeling warm enough in my sweatshirt, I drop off my staff windbreaker at the operations office.
9 p.m. — Back at work. And, of course, now I’m a smidge too cold. Plus, I’m working with my least favorite coworker. This job is just begging me to leave.
10 p.m. — All done for tonight. I give my safety vest to my boss and clock out for the last time. Between the cold, my coworker, and the parking mess I’m happy to leave.
10:15 p.m. — I check on the soup cat again.
10:45 p.m. — I get back to my house-sitting gig and let the dog out. Then it’s time for pajamas and bed. This is the earliest I’ve gone to bed all week and I’m so excited. I have to be up early tomorrow for therapy and to check on the soup cat one last time but at least I’ll be a little more rested.
Daily Total: $31.18
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