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!

Days 10 & 11

Day 10

  • $17.80 – Taxi
  • $17 – Airport Express Shuttle
  • $10 – Transit pass
  • $2.14 – bananas

Day 11

  • $7 – two cups of coffee this morning and an hour of writing in a sunny cafe
  • $21.25 – fries and beer
  • $5.44 – snacks

It is difficult to avoid the election news, which I am trying to do right now. I’m not ready to face it yet, but a woman on the shuttle yesterday was talking about it, and my friend sent me a link, and another friend invited us to a protest. I am not ready to protest. I know that I should be, I know I will be soon, but I’m still in the denial period.

This morning I began thinking of all the causes that would need help, though they needed help before too. Planned Parenthood, obviously, because of Mike Pence. The Brady Campaign, to combat the NRA. I met someone through Hillary’s campaign, so that would be an easy one to get involved in, I thought. Then I remembered the environment, the whole planet, and I started to feel overwhelmed. I think many of us are. I think that’s how we got here in the first place.

After I’d finished my morning pages, we went to the American Museum of Natural History. I sat in their planetarium and listened to Neil DeGrasse Tyson tell me about the universe, its billions of years of history, the stars and galaxies that are exploding and collapsing and stretching across the sky. It was comforting to know that we are just one small planet in the cosmos, like a grain of sand on the beach. What we do here matters very little on the cosmic scale, which gives me peace for a split second. Then of course I remember that I and everyone I love lives on the human scale, and that we must work to make our lives livable while we have them. Just because our lives are brief and astronomically small does not make them unimportant. But still, it is comforting to remember that there are billions and billions of stars, maybe many other forms of life out there even, that have no idea what’s just happened on our planet, and who will never be influenced by it at all.

I find that very comforting indeed. That powerful as one man might be, he’s grip does not stretch beyond this planet. It is just a blink of time.

Day 8

What I spent: nothing.

What I wish I’d spent: everything. I wish I had given all of my money. I wish I had given all of my time. I wish I could say right now that I had done everything I could to change tonight. I will remember every email. I will remember every ask. I will remember every phone bank I skipped, the few I organized.

I don’t have anything else to say tonight. I’m sad and scared and I don’t know what’s next. Gives new meaning to #nononovember.

Day 6: Spending time

I spent nothing today, nothing, except my time that is. My time with girls–ten wonderful young women from around the county, women I would put up against any other delegation of girls (boys don’t stand a chance) in the country. Not that it’s a competition.

In return, I got a lighter heart and a heavier mind. I got a brighter vision for our world, and a heavier responsibility to make the world good for them. I got the challenge of challenging them, broadening their minds, for the low-low payment plan of one afternoon a month. I look forward to it. There is no time better spent than time with these girls.

I got thank yous from parents as they picked up and dropped off, instead of the complaining phone calls that are my usual interactions with girls’ parents (not these girls). I got three trays of salad fixings, which now means instead of being under-prepared for food this week, I have an issue of overabundance. I will be eating very healthily in advance of my New York weekend. That, in and of itself, feels like a blessing from this weekend. These girls feed me (or their mothers do) and not just my soul.

I used to call this blog “misspending my youth.” I started it, oh god, almost four years ago now, back when I still thought of myself as a youth (cue eye roll from my mother and aunts). I worked for a law office, I had student loans. It certainly felt like I was misspending my youth.

These days, I don’t wonder about misspending my youth. These girls are my youth. And there’s no way that time, money and effort spent on them is misspent. The question that comes to mind now is not, “am I misspending my youth?” but “how could I spend my time differently so that I could spend more of it on them?”

They say the best things in life are free. I say, yes, but more specifically, the best things in life are extraordinary young women. I guess I also mean me.