Annie

Recessio-lutions

In recession, resolutions on August 20, 2008 at 8:12 pm

A few weeks ago I was discussing the economy with friends. Again. Nothing new or particularly enlightening, just, you know, rising fuel costs [none of us care because none of us drive] and the recession [we’re all broke, either way]. Dianna and I sometimes have fanciful daydreams that involve a return to riding horses. We envision this throwback to the 1800’s where the worst that can happen is a horse-and-bicycle accident. If you think about it hard enough it provides a really delightful vision; she wants a Clydesdale, I think I’d like a Shetland. Clydesdales will be the SUV’s of horses, once again, only I won’t begrudge them so severely as I do those damn vehicles. We were discussing it a few weeks ago on our porch with a couple of brews, and I was embellishing my daydream with stables instead of gas pumps, and 21st Century Organic Victory Gardens! My friend Bill who, along with Dianna, is probably going to be one of my only financially successful friends when we are 40, said he didn’t mind the idea of a recession so much. ‘We all live cheaply anyway,’ he pointed out. This is true: generally my friends and I do the DIY fun thing which tends to consist of drinking cases of PBR on somebody’s porch [usually mine].

I have to say, though, for all my attempts at appearing starry eyed and rosy-cheeked about the new down-to-earth American future that is in store, I can still feel this pinch. Most people my age do, I think. I need not cite the crummy job market that was once plentiful for recent college grads, or rising fuel costs [again, thank the heavens that I walk and bus and bike!], or rising costs of heating [one reason why S.O. and I don’t plan on sticking around the Northeast for too much longer], or etc. etc. etc. I just read two recession-related pieces in Salon that have left me musing over this shitty state all day. One piece is by employed, graduate-schooled Heather Ryan about her forays in a soup kitchen with her three children and hits home especially because of my own self-reassurances of ‘Everything will be fine once I’m in grad school.’ No, everything will not be fine. The same strains and job-related angst that I’m feeling now will be increased tenfold when I have a doctorate and children, and my self-entitlement issues will likely be even worse and I’ll be pissed as shit about being an underpaid adjunct instead of an underpaid office lady. Well, at least Ryan is being honest, and my overarching dismay was improved, if only a little, by Heather Havrilesky’s April piece, because it does speak to this same kind of renewed simplicity that my friends and I speak so optimistically about. Other, little things, like Jezebel’s occasional Recession Possessions feature, and the coinage of new terms such as Recessionista [something that I think I was before hardship hit, I think!] are helping me to, in spite of myself, get suped.

Hence, a series of ‘Recessio-lutions’- resolutions for the recession:

  • Slowing down my baking-and-eating time– I am anticipating the donations of a crock pot as well as a bread maker to my home in a number of weeks, and the fact that I will be buying ingredients and making many a baked good will probably result in me spending less money eating out and more time cozying up in the kitchen, buying [cheap!] dry beans for delicious crock potted stews and eating delicious, fresh bread. I really love the idea of slowing my pace down, too. This happened one time when our shower broke and we could only take baths for a month. It made me so much less stressed out because I didn’t have a choice, I just had to slow things down and take it for granted. I also anticipate being in a better mood because I had fresh bread for breakfast.
  • Curbing clothing spending– this is often cited as an oh-so-green manner of shopping as well, but I guess I haven’t really thought about that since I have been thrifting for centuries, practically, because I was brought up that way, and also I’m a little snooty towards GreenHeads because sometimes I think they’re full of shit. Things like stockings and underwear can be bought new, I guess, but finding a really pretty dress at Goodwill makes it guilt-free, and the effort that you exert in buying will either make you realize that you Just Don’t Need It or make you appreciate your treasure all the more. It’s also been noted that stores like TJ Maxx have seen an increase in profit, so I’ve resolved to shop there if and when I can’t quell my desire for an expensive item [given my tendency towards my mother’s gift of bargain-hunting, I can’t really anticipate this urge all that well].
  • Getting a library card– ding ding ding. I know, right? I haven’t taken advantage of the library since, well, college, but as soon as I have a spare moment I am going to march to my local library branch and have some words and walk out with a stack of books and a library card. One thing is that I read so much and, like my clothing addiction, I buy too many fucking books and I am too emotionally attached to get rid of any of them. Breathe. Relax. Go to the library, check out some books.
  • Quitting Smoking– Massachusetts recently raised their sin tax [again.] so cigarettes are more expensive than ever. The state also has a program through August 31st that will send you two weeks worth of the patch if you call 1-800-Try-to-Stop. I calculated that I could save almost $2,000 a year if I quit smoking, which is kind of an obscene amount of money. Quitting motherfucking sucks but it saves me money and I have more color in my face and I guess they say it’s bad for you. This is also totally meta because I started smoking in part because I’m a complete masochist and now I’m feeding into these tendencies even more by making myself miserable without my beloved nicotine. Sigh.
  • Being grateful for my stupid job– Seriously. Especially after being a fucking temp all summer. These people are the-bomb.com.

I’m still largely mad and cynical about this economic shit because I don’t think I even have the brain power to anticipate a day where I won’t be flat-ass-broke, but possibly having ponies to look forward to really amps me up. With my newly-minted nicotine savings I hope to have more money to get schmancy mag subscriptions and therefore substitute relaxing-with-a-cigarette to relaxing-with-a-magazine. And nothing matters as long as you dress awesome and are smart, and, well, I always dress awesome and mostly I am smart. Now the key is to learn how to enjoy a case of PBR on my porch while not smoking. Ack.

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