The Last Days 28-30

Nov. 28 & 29 – zilch
Nov. 30

  • $108.90 – Car insurance
  • $5.70 – Brick literary journal + absurd shipping
  • $3.99 – River Teeth lit journal kindle edition
  • $39.67 – Beers and pizza with a coworker to pump her for work information (no joke) (kind of a joke).

I’m somewhat worried about December. My rent goes up, but that’s not really the reason. It’s not really the holidays either; I’ve bought enough “gifts” for other people to cheer myself up over the last few months that I have a pretty good stockpile.

I suppose it is that reporting my spending “every day” didn’t really seem to do much to reduce my spending in November (okay, it’s down by $363 compared to October). And I suppose it’s that the numbers I really look at–food and drinks out–are basically unchanged. Gifts spending was down significantly in October. Travel spending was up. I am certain that all of these will increase over the holidays (except maybe travel) and that stresses me out because I’ve got an essay that’s ready for submission so I’m spending more on submission fees and also back issues of literary journals to see if it is appropriate. And I’m just sure that all these things will put me into negative territory (which doesn’t mean debt for me, just that my monthly spending outweighs my monthly income). Plus I am due for an oil change soon and the 90,000 mile check up for my car.

So I’m feeling the pressure and I’m looking for ways to decrease my spending an increase my income. My ideas so far:

  • Sell my plasma again. Not ideal. It takes a long time and lowers my iron count over time, which then means I can’t donate until it’s back up to a certain level. Plus it’s a pain to go to. But it can be up to another $200 per month.
  • Eating lots of chili. My groceries normally aren’t very expensive, and now that it’s colder I can basically just eat chili every day all day.
  • Bike to work. It’s not much because work is less than 2 miles away, but it keeps me from going anywhere else during or after work.

I probably won’t sell my plasma. I might think about some other things that I can do to earn a little more, but I also might just try to keep my costs down and see if I can make it work. Because that has gone soo well in the past.



Days 24-27 and Priorities

Day 24 – $4.80: apples and flours or something, last minute T-day stuff
Day 25 & 26: nothing
Day 27-$14.58: lunch at The Meraki Cafe for the SD NOW brainstorming session

The San Diego chapter of NOW brainstorming session was great. The sandwich I ate at the cafe was outstanding. Definitely the best $15 bucks I’ve spent this month on food and drinks out. And that’s interesting to me, because this month I spent $132 on food and drinks out. Now, some of that was being in New York, but is that really an excuse? Were those meals as high quality as this little sandwich and coffee? Would it have been any less satisfying to eat a few of those meals in my man’s studio apartment?

I set out this month with the goal of not. spending. anything. And that… did not work. There are things that I have to spend money on! And there are things that I want to spend money on! Like the many dishes I made for Thanksgiving or today’s brunch.Or a couple of my morning coffee’s in New York.

But… the vending machine at work? Probably not. The three trips to Starbucks? Maybe one of them was worthwhile.

Maybe a better option, for December, would be to prioritize instead of reject all spending entirely. To prioritize things like submissions to literary magazines, or a nice meal with the man while he’s home. Or fully funding my retirement and house savings accounts. And perhaps remembering those priorities would help me to remember what I really want, what really comforts me. Not a Starbucks latte. Not another gift. I know Christmas is coming, but fam-bam I have already bought most of your gifts and I need to remember that!

Hmm. Probably more thoughts than I should have after a healthy glass of wine, but maybe my next post will be about my priorities for December.


Days 22 & 23

Day 22

  • $13.51 – fresh tortillas, chipotle peppers and canola oil (I am trying to emulsify the canola oil even as we speak and trying not to watch it too carefully. It is the actual watched pot that never boiled problem.)
  • $7.62 – chips and snacks
  • $2.95 – hot chocolate and brainstorming

Day 23

  • $2.41 – mailing a present
  • $36 – a project I’m not ready to talk about yet.

I love Thanksgiving. Love Thanksgiving. I love the excuse to try new recipes, even if it means trying to emulsify oil, lemon and garlic by any means necessary and covering my entire previously-clean kitchen in canola oil in the process. I love returning to old recipes, like my dad’s cranberry relish and my man’s garlic and herb bread. I love bringing my old favorites to new friends. I love when my friend’s share their recipes with me, like a killer pecan pie I can’t wait to try (will be attempting it for friendsgiving in the next few weeks). I love doing new things, like going to the mountains, and old favorites, like long bike rides.

I’ll be out of commission for a few days. I don’t expect to spend anything, but will report back on Friday in case I do.


Day 21

$3.73 – chips and chocolate from the vending machine at work. I had a good lunch, but also a stressful day with a number of interruptions, and when I get stressed, I go to sweets and salt.

Days 19 & 20

$109.68: Groceries. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

What this will become: sweet potato and pecan tamales (done and delicious), more tamales (flavor tbd), pumpkin pie, root vegetable salad, banana smoothies, beans for days, and to be honest, that’s about as much as I have planned. I picked up a few things that I was running low on (baking soda, baking powder, corn starch), a few things I’d never used before (tapioca flour…actually I think that’s it).

I’ve been really excited about Thanksgiving all week. Visions of pumpkin pie and stuffing have danced in my head. But that’s not really what I’m thinking about now.

Today after work, a friend brought me coffee. It’s been rainy all day and the treat–the expression of their affection–meant a lot to me. It reminded me that there is sweetness in people, that our humanity and our kindness is not lost. That’s a lot to get from a Starbucks cup.

But I also know that this person’s family struggles financially. And that makes me wonder, is spending the $5 to tell me I matter to them the right call? Their words tell me I matter. Their smiles tell me I am important. Why can’t that be enough?

Of course afterwards, I went to hang out with a friend who is going through a rough time. I brought her a card already purchased) and thought about stopping by the grocery store for some nice, ethically sourced dark chocolate. Something that would comfort her. Something that would show her I care.

These events–the gift I was given and the gift I wanted to give–occurred probably within twenty minutes of each other, and it was enough to remind me that my presence, my kindness is enough. What I carry in my heart is what matters, not what I carry in my hands. So I brought the card and not the chocolate, and we ate leftovers and played games.

And yet there is a part of me, even now, that says “you could have brought the chocolate. You could have done all that–the card, the leftovers, the games–and brought the chocolate too and it would have been better.” And I wonder if that’s true. I wonder if what I did was enough to show my friend I cared.

I have to believe it is, but that doubt, that fear that it is not, makes me wonder. It makes me want to buy the chocolate just to be sure.

How much of what we buy is meant to be an expression of love? Love for others? Love for ourselves?  And this week in particular, of high gratitude and higher spending, I think these are good questions to ask.

Day 17 & 18

Day 18: Gas & electric–$15.45

I am more than halfway through #NoNoNovember, and it’s possible that I’ve somewhat fallen off the wagon. I have spent the same amount of “fun money” this month as last month (thanks, Word Bookstore in Jersey City) and only $50 less than last month on food and drinks, and the month isn’t even over. I’ve spent significantly less on groceries which is… not helping. But, with T-day next week, I will probably spend way over my groceries budget this week. #Allthefood #Bestdayoftheyear

I should be blogging more, like a full post, but I’m sleepy and this is all I’ve got right now.

Day 15

  • $900 – rent
  • $15.49 – groceries (chips, salsa, apples, almond milk, spaghetti squash)
  • $17.43 – groceries (bananas and a big bag of coffee. I let myself go to the expensive stores today)
  • $23.20 – lunch at Plumeria. There was nothing to eat at home and also I looked at the news for the first time in a week. Yikes.

Probably good that I get paid tomorrow.

Day 13: Adventures in New Jersey

Today started with a plan to meet a friend in New Jersey to go hiking, but then the train doors closed on me and I only just barely squeezed inside, leaving my man stranded on the platform behind. That left me with half an hour to kill on a chilly corner in Jersey City.

Fortunately, fortunately, there was a bookstore. I believe you can tell a lot by a city from its bookstores, which says very little for San Diego and a lot for New York, or Jersey City in this case.

This was one of the good ones. I could tell right away because of their outstanding card collection and poetry section. The essays seemed a little small and the kids’ section a little large, so I thought I’d be able to sneak out of there without much trouble, when by the door I spotted Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine.

Well, reader, what could I do? I’m a sucker for essays and I’m a sucker for poetry, and I’m a big sucker for cross-genre poetic essays. And this week, of all weeks, it seems more essential than ever that we support political writers (which is to say all writers) and that we patronize independent bookstores and publishers. card

Reader, I purchased it.

And once I was ready to do that, all hell broke loose in the card section. And then the gift section. I’d say I’m embarrassed, and to be honest, none of it was necessary, but it’s really good stuff. And there are birthdays and Christmases and whatnot coming up. And honestly, in this day and age, the need for good cards seems more important than ever. (Is she justifying? I think she’s justifying? But is she wrong? Hmm.)

What can I say? I can’t resist a good bookstore.

Eventually the man showed up and we met up with our friend and finally went hiking. Apparently most of New Jersey is actually really attractive! Not something I would have predicted! But the leaves had turned and the whole forest was red and yellow. We walked by a river and over several streams, and the day was brisk and cool.

And then I found $10! No joke! Just lying in the middle of the forest!

After hiking, we grabbed cider at a roadside farm, then headed back to the city. We headed to the world trade center, but then skipped the line in favor of going home for a nap and a snack. Later tonight, I’ll check in for my flight, and we’ll get dinner. Indian, I’m hoping.

It was a really good trip, a really good day.

Today’s spending

  • $4 – large coffee on the way to the train
  • $114 – books, buttons, bags, cards (you better hope you get one!)
  • $2 – apple cider
  • +$10 – found money!