Close to the margins

Midway through a week without money, I haven’t spent anything but small change. I wonder how much I’ve saved. Thirty bucks? Forty? And it hasn’t been hellish. It doesn’t feel like I’m missing out on anything urgent or vital.

Without the current crimp in my budget, I would’ve gone to a movie on Saturday, and bought popcorn and a Diet Coke; instead I wrote a letter to my niece.

Probably I’d’ve eaten at a cheap restaurant on Sunday, or more likely Saturday and Sunday, leaving me poorer but my belly no more full than if I'd eaten eleven ham sandwiches here in my room. Which I did.

If I'd had the money, I might’ve purchased some other silly diversion over the weekend, and maybe bought a microwaved breakfast burrito in the company cafeteria this morning.

Maybe I’ve been working too steady for too long. Haven’t had more than a week out of work in years, and I’ve grown accustomed to having money in my wallet. It’s made me a cinch to succumb when something new glitters at me.

I’ve slipped away from my philosophy of poverty: 

① The less you spend, the less you need money. 

② The less you need money, the less you need to work for it. 

③ The less you need to work, the more time’s left for living life.

That’s why I’m in a bum hotel, after all. That’s why I don’t have a car, or a bank account. By choice, I live close to the margins, but lately it’s been a little too close, so I’m going to re-dedicate myself to ①②③. 

Money spent is money wasted, I believe, unless it’s spent on something absolutely wonderful, or something inarguably necessary. When this week without spending is over, I’m going to be a cheapskate again.

There will be nights at the city's movie palaces, because that’s a wonderful experience, worth the price of admission. But there won’t be popcorn and Diet Coke. I’ll sneak in snacks instead.

There will be meals in affordable restaurants like the Sincere Cafe, because I can’t cook, don't even have a kitchen, and a meal out is the only hot, healthy food I ever eat. But restaurant meals two days in a row? No, that's only for swanky people.

Tomorrow I’ll need to break the rules of a week without money, to buy a loaf of bread. I won’t grab a shopping basket when I walk into the store, though. No wandering the aisles, wondering what else I need. I’ll just buy the bread. Easy as ①②③.

From Pathetic Life #4
Monday, September 19, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


Pathetic Life 

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  1. I like your three rules. Topple the economy if enough people did that.

  2. Yeah, "discretionary spending" is what keeps capitalism going.


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