Sunday, November 04, 2007

How I Spent $500 in a Weekend, and Other Tales of Depravity

When I came down south for my new job, I did so on borrowed dimes and with the expectation that I would not see my first paycheck until mid-November. I hate borrowing money. Hate it. So, I borrowed as little as possible (which was still substantial), loaded up the car with work clothes, an inflatable mattress, my computer and chair, and a few books to tide me over. I also had a loaf of bread, a plastic knife, and jars of peanut butter and jelly. That's pretty much it. Because I hate to borrow money, I had no credit cards with me. (In my early 20s I tried to secure the love of my friends with relatively elaborate wedding gifts. Took me two years to get over that summer of weddings, and I chose never to go back into that debt again.)

Now, I can't say that I handled my penury particularly well. I would burst into tears if I took a wrong turn and wasted gas, or needed to pay for something for work, or had to talk to a family member about making sure mom got her pills on time. Whatever. Twice I tried to get my mother to stop "helping me figure things out" on the phone, and twice she persisted until I was practically transformed into a liquid. (The fear of matricide by failure is a strong fear, and my mother has always been fiscally delusional. Hence part of the pressure on me to provide now.)
I was getting particularly desperate recently, as peanut butter and jelly loses most of its charm by week 3, and my back and legs were beginning to really resent the whole sleeping on a slowly-deflating mattress/the floor. Also, I hadn't any laundry money. And my mother was trying to help me figure things out again, by coming up with a debt-repayment plan for me. While talking about her own need to borrow to get her cardiac meds. Because, although I had asked her repeatedly if she had all her pills, she forgot that she was about to run out of the one that keeps her alive when I left.

It sucked in a very serious way, and I thought I had two more weeks to go.

And my pro-rated rent was due Thursday, and the brake warning light has been on for several days.

Well, surprise! I was handed a paycheck as I left work this Friday. A whole, real paycheck.

And I paid my pro-rated rent (half a rent payment), and I sent Mom money, and I paid back the person to whom I owed the least because she needed the money back the most.

And then I went all crazy!

I got a twin bed ( on sale!), because I didn't want to sleep on the floor anymore. However, I made sure it was cheap because my real bed will be coming down with Mom and the rest of my stuff in February, and this thing will be freecycled. I just need it to get me off the floor. But that was a bunch of money.

Then I went to the dollar store and got cleaning supplies.

And then I went to Home Depot and got a lamp.

Then I went to Target and got a tray table and a vacuum.
And half-priced chocolates. And toiletries.

Then I went to the post office and got stamps.

Then I went to the local grocery and got chicken and veggies (veggies!) and orange juice and bananas and cereal and deli turkey and cheese and mustard and a good, heavy wheat bread. And a single-serving slice of cheesecake.

And then I vowed I was done shopping.

And then I went out to get gas, and the floodgates opened again as I passed a shoe store, then turned around and went back in because they were having a sale! On cute shoes! And then I bought two pair of cheapish shoes and a seriously reduced handbag (and took notes on more expensive shoes and bags for a future date).

And now I have to behave myself because I haven't even had the brakes checked yet. (Though sometimes my brakelight comes on because the tires need air.)

I'll tell ya what, though. A lamp and a piece of furniture do wonders for an apartment. And, as much respect as I have for my vegetarian and vegan friends, I have to say that dairy products and flesh do wonders for me.