Thursday, February 24, 2011

Check out my new idea!

It's so new and shiny and pretty and new, you'll be so impressed. Ready? Delayed Gratification. Yessss!

What does this lovely new (did I mention how new this idea is?) idea mean? Ah, sweet readers, it means that one delays the acquisition of some new thing until one has (a) decided it is really necessary/perfect/awesome/the right new thing, (b) determined that she can afford it, and (c) put into a ranked list of other necessary, perfect, awesome, right new things to see which is the one (one! not two!) that should be gotten now--assuming any can be gotten.


It turns out that a good deal of the pleasure of these nparnts (necessary perfect awesome right new things) comes before they have been acquired. In order (I think. Revision is for other people):

1. identification of a need
I need an airtight canister for my coffee beans! and new underwear! and a bright yellow, otherwise plain, giant yellow (must be yellow!) coffee mug

2. plotting the importance of the need
It is more important to have a canister than a mug. I have mugs. I do not have a canister. Both the mug and the canister are more important than underwear. Except for when I'm exercising, at which time, underwear may be the Most Important Thing Ever.

3. determining where to acquire the thing that will meet the need
Brick and mortar store? Amazon? Etsy? eBay? Small online retailer? Thrift store?
What will be the environmental impact of meeting this need? Who will be helped or hurt if/when I meet this need? How can I maximize the benefits of meeting this need and minimize the harms?

4. replot importance of need; add more needs
small insulated reusable handmade lunch sack! hair goo! homemade hair conditioner! shirts for spring! big yellow mug! glasses!

(repeat all steps until purchasing is possible)

I still haven't gotten to the point where I am allowed to purchase any of these things (hello, March!). I don't want to spend in one day (March 1) the equivalent of a whole month's worth of spending: part of the goal of the Month of Xtreme Thr!ft is to reduce my impulse purchases (with a larger goal of reevaluating what I consider necessary) and to trim my overall budget.

I still haven't decided how I will rank all of the things on this month's list of "things I think I need to buy or have." I have decided that in April or May, I'll do a thrift project wherein I don't buy any things. I'll buy food and toothpaste; I'll buy tickets to plays if there are any I really want to see. But no things.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Xtreme Thr!ft

This project is going better than anticipated. I see that I could cut back even further, particularly in my food budget.

I've filled and emptied my Sephora shopping cart three times. I can't wait for March 1.

I've tried on 2 rounds of glasses and will order (for free!) more try-on frames soon.

I'll get an airtight coffee canister and probably some new scanties. Maybe a haircut.

I'll probably let myself go to Metropolis for coffee on the weekends so I can get out of the house while I write. I haven't written anything yet this month.

Cutting back has been easier than I thought. I'll probably keep recording my daily expenditures. Days when I spend no money are rarer than I had thought they would have been, but they make me happier than I could have imagined.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Deadly sins for a reason

I am surprised by my feelings about Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's proposed budget.

I am among the least politically active or politically informed people I know. I find all things political extremely stressful. This is probably because I know I need a lot more information and because I feel very helpless to change anything.

Lately I've been making a bit of an effort to pay attention. (Maybe this is one reason why falling asleep has been so difficult?) I am a bit overwhelmed. On the one hand the popular uprisings in the Middle East offer hope: young people peacefully working together to bring about political change. Wow. Learning about such cooperative, informed, constructive passion is refreshing. Super cool.

While I am dismayed by the terms of Walker's budget proposal, I am even more dismayed by the reactions I've seen by friends and family on facebook.
A thinks that teachers and state employees should just be grateful to have jobs at all.
B thinks that if teachers don't like the new conditions, then they should get out and get new jobs; everyone has the a choice.
C thinks teachers should consider themselves lucky to have any sort of benefits since she doesn't have any.
D thinks that it's about time someone stood up for taxpayers since teachers are getting rich while not teaching anyone.
E thinks that if public workers don't like the cuts, then they should get some education and get a different job.
F thinks that teachers wouldn't last a minute in the "real world" (I have never figured out where this is).


The envy in these posts is what strikes me hardest: I don't have everything I want; you shouldn't have anything I'd like to have. Classic "bootstrap" mentality: I did everything on my own (which is never the case) so you don't deserve anything I couldn't get for myself.

I am Envy, begotten of a chimney sweeper and an oyster-wife. I cannot read, and therefore wish all books were burnt. I am lean with seeing others eat. O that there would come a famine through all the world, that all might die, and I live alone! then thou should’st see how fat I would be. But must thou sit and I stand? Come down with a vengeance!
Doctor Faustus,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dear World,

Some words cannot be used non-literally for trademark kinds of reasons. Champagne, Roquefort, and Gorgonzola come to mind.

Some words cannot be used metaphorically because it is impossible--can you have a metaphoric metaphor? If you use a metaphor metaphorically, it would become, by definition, literal, right?

Some words are used non-literally and metaphorically but should not--ever--be so used. Like rape. No one wants a trademark on rape. But when the word rape is used metaphorically, it literally exacerbates the burden of sexual assault on survivors, previvors, and everyone else.

Unless you mean you that sexual assault was a mysterious correlative consequence of your large electric bill, do not say you were raped by the power company.

Unless you mean that humans sexually assault animals when we treat them inhumanely, do not say that the meat industry rapes animals.

Rape is never cute. Never funny. Never a clever verbal hyperbolic tool. Never. Not ever.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movies I wish I didn't have to return to Neflix

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Doctor Zhivago
Funny Face
Bringing up Baby

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Month of Extreme Thrift

That is the name of this month's main project. Extreme thrift is not nearly as cheap as I thought! Okay, it is more accurate to say that my budget is a leaky sieve and stopping up half the holes makes it easier to see just how much cash I leak all the time.

I've been making my coffee at home and eating oatmeal for breakfast. I've been bringing sandwiches to work for lunch and eating apples and oranges for snacks. I've not bought a single e-book for my kindle, nor even looked at eBay for skirts or shirts for spring.

Still, I've already spent $90 on groceries this month. I paid the cobbler the $35 balance on the boots and shoes I had repaired. I bought (inexpensive) dinner out on the night of the Literacy Center Benefit Gala. I'll buy an Amtrak ticket ($22) for Sunday and a gift ($?) for my mother in honor of her birthday. I'm not sure I'll have time this month, but if I do, I'll go see As You Like It for $20.

Wow! Already I can see that this was a necessary project. I think I'll do a Month of Extreme Thrift every three months in an effort to better control my budget and my spending. Learning to defer gratification will be useful when I go into Exile.