Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Ten-Dollars-a-Day Diet

I'm on a money diet.  Specifically, a spending diet.  Other than already ear-marked purchases, bills, car fuel, etc., I'm not going to spend more than $10 per day.  

When I'm at the supermarket, I'll buy milk if we need milk.  I'll buy the ingredients I need, and only the ingredients that I need, to make what I'm going to make when I get home.  

No longer will I spend $75 - $100 at the supermarket when all I really went there for was a package of ground coffee and an onion.

No longer will I throw money at problems, think creatively about how to spend money, or spend time and money saving money by shopping at thrift stores for stuff I don't need.  

I'm not going to think about spending on home improvements.  

I'm not going to shop on Craigslist.  

I'm not going to shop on the Internet at all. 

Because, let's face it, it's madness! 

I picked up a china cabinet from a woman on Craigslist the other day.  Her new house was full of new stuff, stuff from Pier One and Bombay Company (or similar).  

There seemed something frantic about it.  At the moment, she was anguishing over the placement of a few decorative objects in her finished basement,. (Everything above ground was already just so to the point of shrill.) 
Her basement was more formal than most people's above-ground rooms.  

She was not happy about giving up the china cabinet.  It had been part of her childhood and may have been in her family for generations, (circa 1880).  But, it no longer fit in, so it had to go.  

Everything, everything, everything!, was new and everything, everything, everything! was Bombay Company (or similar), brought to the Midwest on container ships from parts unknown.  And, eclectic as it strained so hard to be, it still insisted on elbowing out the china cabinet, with its sordid untold tales of bearing witness to the human condition and all of its cluttering emotional effluvia.  

Does this go here?, she asked me, referring to two large curio cabinets and the vessel in between with brightly dyed decorative grasses exploding out of it.  

You'll say, I shouldn't have been honest, and I should have said it looked fabulous.  Perhaps, that would have been the kind thing to do.  

But, it wasn't quite right.  She knew it.  I knew it.  And she wasn't going to let it go, not ever.  

So, I said that I thought that if it was all just 25% smaller--if she could possibly run the whole thing through a 3-D photocopier at 75 percent--then, it would be perfect.  

But, I pointed out, because it was true!, and because she clearly needed a reality check!, it really didn't matter.  It was, after all, a basement.  Get a grip, lady!

In one corner, her husband had staked a space for himself.  I could tell immediately that he fished and hunted.  The head and neck of a deer had been mounted to a wall.  It had more gesture than any deer head I had ever seen.  There was arch in its neck and expression in its eyes.  I don't care for mounted heads, but I found this one captivating.  

The wife hated it, of course, the whole man-cave space, an aggressive assault against her aesthetic campaign. 

I imagined, looking at his area, that the husband was more sane than the wife.  And that the wife's house had somehow turned into a prison, and that all of this decorating, which clearly had been going on for months if not years, and which must have cost tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours, were less comforting for her than the accumulated tallies that prisoners etch into the walls of their cells to mark the days.   

And as we hauled the china cabinet up the stairs to the surface, and out the door to my minivan, I thought, okay, she's further along on the spectrum than I am, but I am on the spectrum.   

The whole experience was deeply discomfiting.

So!, I'm on a spending diet.  This is day two. 

Yesterday, I spent nothing.  

I kept remarking to myself, I'm not hungry!  Isn't that odd?  Why would I be hungry?

I'll keep you posted.

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