It's getting to be that time of year when the to birthday party or not to birthday party question comes up. I hate to do nothing, but inspiration hasn't exactly struck either. I was only reminded of the upcoming event when this week I got an email from Melting Pot offering a free pot of chocolate fondue and from dELiA*s giving me a cyber $5 off a purchase. Oh, and I was asked cuando es tu cumpleaños (or however it's spelled–I'm definitely not a language genius) at my Spanish lesson last Wed. and it occurred to me that it was in a few weeks.
Yeah, I just started seeing a Spanish tutor an hour a week. It doesn't seem like a crazy difficult language (I was a failure at Mandarin lessons a year and a half ago) so there's no excuse not to attempt it. This was on my unofficial list that I recently came up with of things that I would do if I had more (I know, what's more enough) money. But not doing things that aren't insanely extravagant in the least because you're a cheapskate isn't any way to live. I'm not financially unstable; I just have a lot of debt.
I've never understood services like dermatology, massage, psychotherapy (I realize therapy is a god-given right in NYC, but it's definitely a learned behavior, and one that I've never warmed to. I recall watching TV with my mom when I was younger and there was some cliché, patient on the couch going on about their problems scene and my mom was all "wouldn't that be fun?" with a tone of how luxurious mixed with what a lark. The twisted envy threw me off, it's not like anyone was stopping her from going to therapy. I mean, doesn't insurance cover mental health services to some degree? I don't think you get to lie on a velvet chaise lounge, though. More like sitting in a group and talking about feelings and crap) manicures or fresh flowers (yes, I realize flowers aren't a service). They've always seemed frivolous, or at least not terribly necessary, to me.
So far, I've tackled take Spanish lessons and open a savings account from my mental list. Remaining are weird vain things like getting laser hair removal from my upper lip (I'm not treading in Frida Kahlo territory, but I've been irritated by facial hair since I became conscious of it when I was 11 and started bleaching), and somehow (lasers? dermabrasion?) getting the scar on my nose removed. As a teen I had my nose pierced three different times, the first two left no mark, but the last hole which hasn't seen a nose ring since 1994, closed and left a permanent gray spot, which I forget about until someone's talking to me and starts touching or rubbing the side of their nose in unconscious reaction to mine.
I entertained the notion of a personal trainer, but that's not so much a finance issue as a just not going to happen issue. I can't be around people like Jillian in general, so I couldn't justify paying to spend time in the presence of their ilk.
I also would like to be able to try a new (to me, not necessarily freshly opened) higher caliber restaurant per week (more regular Times review rather than Under $25) but that's still a bit rich for my blood (and kind of counteracts the whole personal trainer concept). Maybe two upper end restaurants a month is more realistic, but that's only 24 a year and there are hundreds in NYC to be tried. This is what makes being up on food so tough. Only fashion might be more un-democratic. Almost anyone can cough up $10.50 for a movie ticket or 99-cents (assuming you actually pay for mp3s) to download a song. Sporting events can be pricey, but they can usually be viewed on tv for considerably less.
I suspect I've said this before, but I've noticed that a lot of food writers and the aspiring are current or former lawyers. I think part of this propensity is due to opinionated, confident personalities, coupled with generous expense accounts (and salaries). You don't see many teachers, administrative assistants, nurses or bus drivers blogging about Per Se in one breath and Food & Wine's Aspen Classic in the other, not to belittle those who can and do (well, maybe a little).
So yeah, Spanish lessons and a savings account are a start.