Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bonus Points

This afternoon I was driving behind a car with a bumper sticker that read "screw it, let's ride." And when I say "driving," I mean "inaudibly cursing and rubbernecking to see if I can somehow pass oh fuck you motherfucker!" the car with the aforementioned bumper sticker that was driving 20 mph on a busy road at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.


Oh, the not-at-all-subtle and not-even-that-humorous irony.


For the duration of the drive and as I'm internally going "aha" over the nice little opening that interaction gifted me -- after a period of blogging-silence and difficulty diving back in, as they say -- I was able to yet again see and simultaneously curse myself for that which I ask for, but get royally pissed off when it's handed to me. Case in point: I've spoken endlessly on my lack of patience and desire to acquire some. Hand me a slow-moving old lady in a car with an appropriately ironic bumper sticker and ENJOY it (that's what whatever spiritual, agnostic or otherwise cracked-out version of God you believe in would be saying to me about being stuck behind Race-y McSlowPants. As in, you asked for the patience, so enjoy the lesson when it slaps you in the face). I was going to my grandmother's. Just because she drives like a Burton on smack doesn't mean she's going to be all that disappointed that I arrived two minutes later than I would to eat Velveeta cheese dip. In fact, I think my GI tract is thankful.


Flash forward a few miles down Randall and one brain wave later to my rumination on another sore subject, and one that's been on my mind without relent in the last few days. I'm talking about my current holiday- and moving-related economic shortcomings and accompanying mood-alterations. Or rather, I'M BROKE and GOD DAMMIT.


The holidays are always a money-suck, but for some reason this year I'm feeling the drain a little bit deeper than most. I know it's because of the move and getting acclimated to being Financially Responsible again, but believe me when I say that never before in my life have I been this cashed out. Very rarely is the occasion that I opt out of a night out with friends for fiscal reasons, or put down just ONE MORE Target sweater because feeding myself is more important. For those that have heard me complain about being lower-middle class whilst typing away on my ipad, with a full fridge and heat streaming in through the WALLS (ask your great-grandparents how amazing that simple feat of engineering is and you'll better understand the capitalization), let me say I had no idea what I was talking about then. Really. I was never in danger of entering $0.15 in my bank account. I always had something stashed away somewhere to carry me through. But you'd better believe that possibility is hovering dangerously in between me and next Tuesday's paycheck.


I was mulling all of this over while simultaneously keeping one eye on the lookout for cops to avoid letting see my busted tail light (I don't think three is a lucky number when it comes to traffic warnings) when I yet again realized that of course, I have been asking for this all along. And today, on this day of new beginnings and weight-loss plans, it's my resolution for the coming year. I'm talking about simplicity.


Sam and I have been discussing this topic a lot since she's been home for the holidays. She and I have a tendency to exacerbate each other's spending habits. As she says, "it's gross." But what we often fail to realize or acknowledge during these trysts of buying is how much we actually have already. I mean, how many other colors are there in the spectrum to own in cardigan form? And what will I really gain out of another meal at Potbelly's -- besides pounds -- when I'm letting the smoked salmon in my fridge rot for another month? In all that there is to do and buy around us, we very often forget what is already right there. Plus I finally have enough hooks to hang my accessories on.


It's not just material. We all know how the ego gets in the way when we have to suck it up and say "no" to another round of Sangrias. Saying no sometimes feels like the biggest failure of all. There must be something wrong with me that I can't say yes to any and everything there is to do and see and be in this world.


But here's the thing about that. It's true that I began this search for simplicity last year when I moved out of my studio. It had become too much both financially and energetically to have my creativity so far removed from my actual life, so when the opportunity presented itself to leave I took it as a chance to condense those features. When I left my old apartment I again simplified my bills by paying off my car. I have inched my way closer and closer to this point of not needing quite so "much." And now that I feel the financial strain so acutely right now, I know the process is not over.


Because you know what happens when I don't have the money to go out on a Friday night? I write. Or when I can't afford to buy everything I could possibly need at the grocery store? I get creative with a few leftovers. And you know how good it feels to take care of myself financially instead of hurting myself just to buy another dress to add to an exploding closet? Pretty awesome. And maybe I'll finally learn how to use that way too nice sewing machine I've had sitting around for years, too.


I'm not exactly excited about being on the south side of broke. But I do know that this is what I've wanted for a long time, which is the opportunity to get acquainted with exactly what is important to me and what I am absolutely fine without. I'm beyond excited to see what this New Year of changes will bring. And if I come knocking on your door begging for food, just go with it. And don't comment on my new shoes.




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