Wednesday, March 3, 2010

P is for Progress

I spent $175 today. It wasn't on a pricey cell phone bill or some outstanding credit card balance from my short-lived college days. I spent $175 on ME, and this is worth celebrating, in my opinion.

Over the years, in the never-ending quest for "stability" (whatever that actually is), I've grown accustomed to focusing almost exclusively on needs, rather than wants. Rent, gas, food, and phone expenses tend to crowd my mind, leaving little room for leisurely purchases. The occasional thrift store "splurge" hardly counts.

Since pulling my head out of my ass in 2008, and dropping over 40 pounds, one of the few brand new items over $20 I've purchased for myself has been Levi's jeans. Levi's are most flattering. They are stitched with love by precious white Baby Jesus himself, I'm convinced. Few (nonsexual) things top the feeling of crisp, yet-to-be-broken-in jeans. I've allowed myself THAT luxury. But I hadn't purchased new jeans since moving to Los Angeles...in July of last year.


Last month when I filed my taxes, my mother demanded that use part of my return to treat myself to something, not food, that costs more than $20. I happily obliged. Even she has noticed my inability to splurge on ME. I buy books weekly, so that's not really a treat. I gave up hookers for Lent, so that cuts out paying for booty. It only took a look in my closet to realize exactly what I owed myself.

Up until today, I hadn't purchased a pair of shoes (not including work shoes) for myself since this time last year. Yes. I have been making it rain (or not) with the same shoes since early 2009. Even now, it is still not a big deal to me. Overall, between clothes and...let's say...books, BOOKS are clearly the more attractive investment, yes? Exactly. My thinking is that a book will last forever. A shoe? Not so much. I dare you to attempt to convince me that some new sneaker trumps a stack of fresh ass Richard Wright books.

It just won't happen.

Today, I purchased three pairs of shoes, a dozen shirts, and a dope bookbag...in addition to the two jeans copped yesterday. Call me crazy, but I just dig the second-hand concept. Perhaps my initial fascination stemmed from necessity or circumstance. Now, though? You just can't beat the variety of random pieces on one rack. I'm always in awe of the assortment of vintage, throwback, outdated, or generally unappreciated garms available in a quality second-hand store. In the case of the two Buffalo Exchange locations I ran through today and yesterday, items are all like new. No pit stains, janky zippers, wonky crotches, or bodily fluids....like at Goodwill (yuck!). Because all my items are fresh and functional, I have no qualms about not paying full retail price.

My views on "retail" is a DIFFERENT post altogether. In short, I'll say that an article of clothing must be FANTASTICALLY BRILLIANT to make me spend over $20 on a single item, let alone pay RETAIL for anything. *shudders* Aside from Levi's, I always head to the sale rack, hunt out discounts, and usually shop around before purchasing. Clothes just...aren't THAT important to me. *shrug*


Too proud to waltz into the Salvation Army? Get over yourself. You probably don't even have health insurance. How great can you really be?

Am I cheap? Hardly. I was just raised to take care of responsibility first. Now that I am finally in a position that doesn't require me to stress endlessly over next month's rent or food, I am slowly forcing myself to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I suppose you could say I'm used to struggling--or more accurately, just getting by--financially. Surplus is a foreign word to me. The idea of having enough to spread around AND still put something away truly helps me sleep easier. Once here and a handful of times in New York, I've actually had stress-related panic attacks that landed me in the ER. THAT is the kind of drama and trauma I'm used to: sitting in the ER, short of breath and feeling five kinds of crazy, beating myself up for being in the ER. Foolish, I know. As public and filterless as I have become, I tend to internalize and let things build, thus weighing me down emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Hopefully this is a change for the better. My mother's words combined with the rediscovered feeling of wearing something NEW has helped me realize the importance of taking care of needs AND wants. Yes, it's paramount to handle necessities, bills, and all that other adult foolishness. I hardly beleive I'll have an issue on that end now. The challenge will now be to pay MYSELF occasionally, taking the same leisurely attitude that I have with food splurges. Hell, I have NO issues snatching up a bag of chips occasionally. A new, aspirational wardrobe piece monthly doesn't sound like such a wretched idea...

I suppose the moral of this rant is that regimen is respectable, but treats are required. In the pursuit of whatever it is that we are pursuing, it's important to be good to yourself. Hustling is cool, but why work endlessly if you can't enjoy it? I'm all for delayed gratification and temporary sacrifice, but self-deprivation is NOT the ticket...apparently.

Here's to self-love (masturbatory AND materialistic) in 2010. *throws confetti*

~colored boy
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