Saturday, December 30, 2006

Only one full day of shopping left

Yesterday after work I went to a fancy mall. I went there to see a movie, actually, but then I found myself shopping in kind of a panicked way. I realized it was my last real chance to get anything in 2006.

So, I went to Sephora. For those of you who are not obsessed with grooming, I will explain Sephora. It is heaven. It has every kind of makeup, fragrance, nail care, hair care, skin care and ridiculously needless expensive stuff you can imagine in the world of beauty. Oh, do I love me some Sephora.

I wandered around slowly, taking in everything. I sort of got tense, thinking, "I need new lipstick" (I currently have two lipsticks in my purse, two at work, and about 10 more in drawers and other purses around the house). I thought about buying mascara, even though I have three tubes already. Finally, I spent $100 on a tooth-whitening kit.

I admit it, I was sort of emotional when I left Sephora, knowing I would not be seeing my good friends -- cash and cosmetics -- together anytime soon.

Then, as luck would have it, I noticed a walk-in hair salon a few doors down. I decided to cut a few inches off my hair, since I also won't be getting haircuts in 2007.

The hairdresser who had the dubious task of cutting my Brillo pad grew up in Vietnam as one of 16 kids. His family was literally starving, and all they had to eat was this root that grew under the house. The bad part was that many of his family had a bad reaction to the root, but they had to eat it anyway. My hairdresser had to shave his head as a result of the bad reaction.

He has lived in the U.S. for 20 years now, and he says he feels like he lives in heaven. Which is the same word I used to describe Sephora, for goodness sake.

He regularly sends money to children in poor countries, and he talked about how shocked he was when he went to his first U.S. grocery store, because food was stacked up. In Vietnam, he said food was splayed out on the ground, on blankets.

He continues to be baffled by $500 jackets for dogs.

Well. If this wasn't exactly the person I needed to meet to put things into perspective.

Honestly, I do NOT think money brings happiness. I think all we need is enough to have our basic human needs met: shelter, food, that sort of thing. After that I think happiness is up to us, not based on whether we have a tooth-whitening kit. So then why do I panic and think that I NEED a tooth whitening kit? This is the sort of thing I hope to tackle in 2007.

Happy new year! Will it ever be new!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Silent night, holy crap!

$1,218.10. That's how much I spent on Christmas. At the very least! That figure came from adding up all the purchases I made using my debit card. (I try not to use credit cards.)

Now, this figure includes not just gifts, but clothes I bought to attend Christmas parties, food I bought to entertain people, Xmas stamps and decorations... But still. In my mind, I figured I spent about 300 bucks. Maybe 400. Seriously! That's what I had convinced myself of. Even though I knew perfectly well that one of my gifts for my husband, Marvin Gardens, was over 200 bucks.

Holy bees.

I am going to be startled out of my gourd when I actually start this no spending business in a mere six days.

I got four cookbooks and two dicers (and a sharp knife, which Marvin Gardens may use on me when he reads this blog entry) for Christmas. All of my loved ones know that this no spending is really going to affect the way I eat. And I think they are concerned that I will starve to death.

Now, first of all, I can live off my own body fat for at least four months. Then, after that, I'm sure I can work out a food plan.

Here's how I eat now: in the morning, I either buy something at the restaurant in my building at work (it is called Trimana, but I call it Try-not-ta, as I am constantly trying not to eat there all the time) or I eat oatmeal at my desk. I have a few boxes of that packet oatmeal in my desk. It is pretty much the only remotely healthy eating I do.

At lunch, I ALWAYS go to Try-not-ta. I'd say once a month, on average, I bring a lunch from home. At Try-not-ta, I usually get the day's special, which ALWAYS includes fries. And I get a giant lemonade to drink. The special is $7 every day.

Then, for dinner, I pick something up on the way home. Mexican food, Japanese food, Subway, fast food. Marvin Gardens doesn't get out of work till 8, and I go to bed at 9, so we rarely eat dinner together. In fact, we've recently made it a rule that we DO make it a point to eat together two nights a week. So, TOGETHER we have Subway, pizza, etc.

Technically, I should weigh 789 pounds and I should be wearing a barrel, cause I spend so much on convenience food. So coming home and actually cooking is going to be very weird for me. Even if I cook relatively fat-filled stuff, I'll probably be more healthy than I currently am.

So, that's the news from over here. I am broke and probably have clogged arteries. I was soooo smart to decide to not spend next year.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

After all that fuss about shoes yesterday...

...when I was getting dressed this morning, I thought, "I don't have the right shoes to wear with this ensemble." Whatever with me.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

People's Reactions

I swear I have never gotten this much attention for anything. And let's face it, I pretty much go around 24 hours a day wondering how I can get more attention. Who knew not spending money would be the trick?

On Monday, I went to a party where a lot of friends had read my blog. I was quickly surrounded, like Scarlett O'Hara was at the barbecue at 12 Oaks. As usual, people had a lot of questions (though unlike Scarlett, no one wanted me to save a waltz for them. Bastards). One friend, and she knows who she is, was incredibly worried about my shoes. What will I do if I need shoes next year? Okay, hang on. I am going to go count the number of shoes I already own...

I am glad I just did that. I organized all my shoes, found some that I completely forgot about (like the red velvet Chinese slippers with beads and sequins on them -- too cute!), and discovered one of my tennis shoes is missing. Anyway, I own 6 pairs of flip-flops and 23 pairs of regular shoes. That is not counting my wedding shoes, which I can't seem to part with and will never wear again, and a pair of short ankle boots that make me look like an elf.

I cannot wear flip-flops at work, but I can get away with all the other pairs of shoes, including the tennis shoes, if I could find the mate. Where the HELL is the mate?

So, 23 pairs of shoes. That means I could wear a different pair each workday for a month. I could wear one pair every day for two weeks, then switch. Really, for the friend whose name I won't mention but whose initials are Amy, I think I will be okay on shoes.

I have also been obsessed with what I am going to do with my hair -- grow the roots out, use Feria by L'oreal, or continue to use my hairdresser? I will just have to wait and see how tough I am. Marvin Gardens already looks 17 years younger than me. People will think I'm his grandmother. Will I be able to live with the humiliation?

What is the apostrophe for in L'oreal? What is it short for? Was it originally LordIcan'tbelievemyhairisn'tsoreal? And they shortened it to L'oreal? Are they trying to be French? What does L'oreal mean in French? Does anyone know?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Preparing for a year of not spending

Starting January 1, 2007, my husband and I are not going to spend any extra money for the entire year.

This means no clothes shopping, no movies, no restaurants (including getting stuff to go), no trips and no gifts (this one will kill me).

Six years ago I ran a marathon. I am the least athletic person you have ever met. Trust me. I cannot ride a bike, I cannot go under water without plugging my nose, I do not ski or golf or watch any sporting events whatsoever. The only famous athletes I can think of are Joe Namath and OJ Simpson. So, I decided to run a marathon because it was just about the last thing you'd ever expect me to do. And it was by far the most rewarding activity I have ever done.

That is why I wanted to try going a year without spending. I consider myself a normal spender. I think some of my friends see me as extravagant (I know my mother, who has used the same melted, opaque Tupperware measuring cup since 1966, does). I think others see me as thrifty (we have basic cable and I hardly ever use my cell phone).

Whether I'm a spendy-pants or spartan, I certainly do my share of buying crap I don't need, and so does my husband, so I just wanted to see what it would be like to NOT do that for a year.

When I tell people about this venture, they seem obsessed. First they tell me they could never do it. Then they have a million what-if questions:

What if one of our cats gets sick? Well, of course we would go to the vet.

What if another couple wants to get together for dinner? First of all, this is L.A., we hardly do couple things with friends because everyone lives 45 minutes away from each other (meaning, six miles apart but it takes 45 minutes with traffic to see each other). But, if it did come up, we would have them over to our house and cook for them.

What if you get bored? This one kills me. That is also why I wanted to try doing this for a year. Do you really need to spend money to be happy? To be entertained? To be fulfilled? I say no, but have I ever done it? Not really.

When I met my husband (by the way, he claims we need fake names to do this blog. I have no idea why. So he is going to be Marvin Gardens and I am June Cutoff Cash), I was way poorer than I am now. I was a receptionist living in a studio apartment in Seattle. I made $22,500 a year. However, my studio was really, really cute (built in the 1920s, it had a dining room that I used as a bedroom, crystal doorknobs, hardwood floors and it was in a great neighborhood with lots of places I could walk to, and a spectacular view. I actually really miss that little place.) and I had everything I needed. I had a bus pass, a crappy car if I really needed to get somewhere, and enough money to go out on the weekends.

Now, 10 years later, I live in a three-bedroom house in L.A. (with crystal doorknobs. What's with me and the crystal doorknobs?) and I have a new-ish VW Bug with a satellite radio in it. I have more than enough to go out on weekends, but because my commute is so dreadful during the week (and you can't easily commute by bus in L.A.), I rarely go anywhere on weekend nights.

So, I have more money, but does it make me any happier? I guess I will find out when I am not spending any!

And yes, I have done a little hoarding for the year to come. I went on and bought three of my facial cleanser and four bottles of my conditioner. When those are gone, I will buy the cheapest stuff I can find at the grocery store. I worry that I will look like Wilford Brimley at the end of this year: big gray hair, giant eyebrows, wrinkles. I hope Wilford Brimley doesn't read this.