Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Creature of Habit


Hello again!  I just can’t seem to stop writing, even though I had no plans to check in with all of you tonight.  But then I felt bad because I never told you that Ammie and I have decided to write our tandem blog posts every other week.  I didn’t want to disappoint you if you stopped by hoping for something new.  Ammie does have a lovely post about her adventures in seasonal eating, and I’m really excited to try the pasta recipe she shares at the end.  If I had an accurate to-do list, one of the items on there would be “eat more asparagus.”  On my wish list, I would write “eat more asparagus with Ammie.”

I am apparently a creature of habit, so here I am again.  Last Saturday, I missed my chance to tell you about some of the things that have caught my attention as of late, so I thought we could get caught up now.  I let out a big sigh of relief yesterday when I dropped my taxes in the mail.  Because I am stubborn and frugal, I do my own taxes every year, and every year, until they are done, I fret and worry about them, convinced I won’t be able to find my forms and that I’ll miss the deadline.  And every year they get done with only a little bit of sweat and blood.  Tonight I’m cheering for another season of tax purgatory completed.  I’m going to make a peanut butter malt to celebrate.

While we’re on the subject of money, I have a little bit of a secret to share with you.  I’m thinking about moving to Bryan, Texas, which is College Station’s next door neighbor.  Matt and I were in Bryan together this month, and I was reminded of how much I miss having a downtown within walking distance.  Now, Bryan’s downtown is not at all comparable to Chicago’s or even Evanston’s, but it’s about as close to a “downtown” as I’m going to get for now.  Bryan is a small town, with a small downtown.  I would love to purchase a condominium or a small house within a few blocks of the downtown area.  Then I could walk to the farmers’ market on Saturdays and enjoy the quirky shops and restaurants during my free time.  Moving to Bryan would require me to drive to work, which would in turn require 1) a driver’s license and 2) a car, but I’m feeling really excited about the idea.  I wouldn’t move until at least the spring of 2011, but I’m preparing myself for the idea of relocation. 

It’s funny how I can imagine purchasing a home next year, but I haven’t managed to purchase any furniture for my current home.  Every time I think about it, I feel my wallet clamp shut and I’m left with a vague sense of frustration, like something is happening here and I don’t understand it.  After some reflection, it occurred to me that my parents never bought new furniture for their house.  Everything we had was second-hand, found in a thrift store or dragged away from somebody’s curbside trash.  I think the one time they bought something new, it was a new bed, which I’m sure they needed desperately because my dad has a bad back.  My life now doesn’t resemble my parents’ life very much, but the extreme reluctance to buy new furniture is one of the few things that ties us together.  But here’s the thing: buying stuff I need makes me happy.  I remember buying my kitchen table and later, four chairs to go with it, and how I spent days admiring the smooth, caramel-colored wood and the inviting presence of a table surrounded by chairs.  I felt so grown-up, like I was really setting up a home, even though I’d been living in that apartment for close to a year.

Lately I’ve been drawn to articles about money and homemaking, perhaps as an attempt to understand my own conflicted feelings about money.  In a recent Self article, the author ponders what would happen if she just splurged on the thing she covets.  Would she be able to pay her bills?  Yes.  Would she still have meals on the table and gas in the car?  Yes.  Would she still have her home and retirement savings?  Yes.  So she’s forced to conclude that the sky would not collapse on her head if she bought a $4000 flat-screen tv, even if it does seem like a ridiculous and unnecessary luxury item.  As for me?  I’d love to feel the freedom to spend, say, a thousand bucks on furniture.  I could buy all sorts of things that I put off buying when I was a frugal graduate student.  A coffee table, lamps, end tables, nightstand, a new rug—nothing particularly extravagant and all things I would use every single day.  If that’s not an investment in happiness, then I don’t know what is.

Another article had me laughing out loud: “Conquer clutter!”  The author writes, “I hate to shop, so I've never bought little storage necessities such as shelving and, um, furniture.”  Hello, me too!  Or at best, I buy them as cheaply as possible so I don’t have to part with my hard-earned cash.  But this article offered a nugget of wisdom about organization, reminding me that order is about function, not fashion.  “’Organization is a feeling,’ Glovinsky says. ‘If you feel organized, you are. It's not about what anyone else thinks. It's all about the level of organization that makes you happy.’"  That made me feel much better.  I’m not disorganized; I’m just wearing my frugality like it’s never going out of style. 

With this business of making a home for myself, I feel like I’ve got my work cut out for me.  For energy, I’d better go drink that peanut butter malt before my blood sugar levels bottom out on me.  Until next time, friends!


a said...

What a cute post! I've been in my apartment for close to two years now, and I only just got to the point where I feel even slightly organized. And all I really changed was to add some extra bookshelves and a shelf for my spices! Amazing.
Also, this is silly, but true. I just bought a laundry basket for the first time in my life (from a thrift store! because I'm cheap!) and seeing it makes me feel oddly grown-up. Like, oh yay, I'm twenty-eight and I finally have someplace to put my dirty clothes :P

Rosiecat said...

a, I was so thrilled for you when you told me about your new shelves! It's those little things that really make an apartment or a house feel like a home. I desperately need a new bookshelf or two. I have piles of books in almost every room of my apartment now!

Ha! A laundry basket! Hilarious! If I'd known that, I would have bought you a laundry basket for your birthday instead of more books :-P

Happy Hump Day, friend!

Rosiecat said...

PS Check out the new link for my recipe index! Cute, huh? Matt bought me that chopping block for my birthday, and I'm starting to fall in love with it.

Laurie said...

Hubby bought me a chopping block for my birthday too. I think. I call it a cutting board, but I assume they're much the same thing - a big, beautiful hunk of wood. Wow, that sounds rude...

Judging from the state of my desk I'm stylishly frugal too. Or maybe "differently organized" would be a better term in my case.

Nicole said...

You should definitely buy some furniture. You've earned it, you deserve it, you need it, and you'll love it... all good reasons!

I LOVE your recipe index! Now I can find something when I think, "Didn't Rose-Anne have a good recipe for that tomato stew once?" Instead of saying "Oh well," I can say, "Yes! And here it is!" Yay! Thanks for sharing.

Rosiecat said...

Ha! Laurie, once again we're synchronized. So, what you're saying is that your hunk bought you a hunk of wood? Ooh, baby! I won't even make any comments about oiling the wood...

Is there a word for someone who tries to be stylishly frugal? A frugalista? Where's AMPD when I need her?

Yes, yes! Nicole, I started looking at furniture on-line this morning with serious intent to purchase. Maybe I should give myself a deadline, like before the end of June I must buy furniture for the living room.

I love the recipe index too! Not only is it functional, but it also reminds me of how much I've enjoyed cooking those dishes and then writing about them. It's organization at its finest.

Shannon said...

ooh, i had such a hard time spending money on creating a 'home'! when i moved to boston, i had to buy many things for the first time... a couch, rugs... such big purchases I was not ready for!

i haven't had much time to comment (in fact, i should be analyzing data right now), but that spinach salad sounds fabulous! MMmm, spinach :) happy thursday!!!

Rosiecat said...

Happy Thursday to you too, Shannon! That spinach dish is so good--I hope you try it. And it's quick as a wink to make, which leaves more time for play...or analyzing data if necessary!

I'm glad to know I'm not alone in the homemaking transition. It's kind of jarring to go from grad student to postdoc, as though certain things that seemed acceptable while I was in grad school don't feel as comfortable. I suppose I have some expectation that the appearance of my standard of living will magically improve without my putting any effort into it. But furniture usually doesn't show up on its own, as though it was delivered by a fairy godmother. (A really strong fairy godmother)