I Want to Buy Everything, But for Now: A Cone

After work yesteday, I walked a few blocks, thinking about what I wanted to do. Never an easy question for me, but now even harder, because what I want to do is almost always something that I can’t do, because of funds.

What I really wanted to do yesterday was what I’ve done plenty of times: I would have taken myself out to dinner. I would have found a place where I could sit outside and sip on a beer and read my book. I would have ordered a salad with beets and walnuts and goat cheese or pears and parmesan and arugula. Or I’d get the lentil burger, with fries. (One lucky thing about moving to New York right when I also gave up my credit cards is that I haven’t had the chance to fall in love with all the restaurants in my neighborhood. I can imagine what it’d be like to sit in them, but I haven’t sat in them. Most of my restaurant and bar fantasies are across the country.) 

I think these little daydreams are so persvasive because, just months ago, they are exactly what I would have done! I would sip on my beer and read my book, my shoulders relaxing, my phone put away. When the waiter came to ask if I’d like another beer, I’d pause for moment—knowing that the answer should be no, knowing that one was a treat but two was a stretch—but then I’d say, yes. I wanted one and why should I deny myself one, really. Six dollars is nothing. I would think about how nothing really matters, but in the good way. That I can’t really afford this beer doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I can pay for it now, and worry about it later. Would I like the same? I’d like the same.

But that was before, when I had credit cards. That’s where all my money went, really. Getting off of work or out of bed and thinking: What do I want to do? And having the answer be, sit in a pretty place, eat good food, drink good drinks, talk with friends, read a book. Of course these things are all still options for me, and I still do them. But I used to be able to buy atmosphere and experience and food and drink at any moment, and now I can’t.

The replacement I’ve found doesn’t last as long, and still involves using money to buy some moments of happiness, which I suppose is my drug. But I’m okay with that, for now, and I will be until I realize that I’m spending all of my money on ice cream or that none of my clothes fit anymore. Yesterday I didn’t buy dinner and drinks. Instead I left work and walked to the gelato cafe and bought a single scoop of stracciatella ($2.75) to eat on my walk. I made it last all the way home.


21 Comments / Post A Comment

schmuhl (#472)

I don’t know if comments like mine are just completely beating a dead horse but that salad you describe would be incredibly easy and quick to make at home. You could eat it with your book on your fire escape, roof, or front stoop, or in the park. And for the price of one of those beers at a restaurant you’re well on your way to a six pack. I guess my point is I think you can fulfill a lot of your impulses in ways that will still bring you pleasure, but in an affordable way.

cherrispryte (#19)

@schmuhl To quote the President, “Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?” (Is this a real quote? I’m still not sure.) But assuming Logan doesn’t have a super well-stocked fruit and veggie crisper (and why would she, these things go bad incredibly quickly) buying beets and walnuts and goat cheese or pears and parmesan and arugula, not to mention the flavorings and spices needed for salad dressing, isn’t cheap either.
Drinking beer on one’s rooftop, however, is always a good idea.

lalaland (#437)

@schmuhl Yeah, I was thinking – good friends, good food, good drinks – you don’t need to go to a restaurant for that! But you still have to buy all that stuff (except friends, hopefully)…I dunno, money can’t buy happiness but the lack of it can sure cause a lot of unhappiness. That was my deep thought for the day, I’m done now.

cherrispryte (#19)

@lalaland Dude, money can totally buy happiness. Whoever said that was a rich motherfucker.

I think Logan would be the first to tell you that it’s not about the food. It’s about the experience of just going in without thinking about/preparing for any of it. It’s about getting to relax and have someone else do the work while you eat and enjoy your book/the atmosphere.

@Reginal T. Squirge Thank you for reminding me, I have to put a pot of rice on. :(((

Don’t forget about all those dishes that’ll be waiting to be washed when you’re done!

@Reginal T. Squirge, the trick is to learn to enjoy the process of cooking – even the cleaning. There is a luxurious pleasure in being served, and a simple pleasure in serving one’s self.

sockhopbop (#764)

@Splendorofmorgan Seconded on learning to enjoy cooking and cleaning up! For me, chopping, sauteing, and washing dishes at the sink are really relaxing — I put on some music or an old episode of Party Down, get out a knife and a cutting board, and kick back. Maybe the trick is figuring out what needs to happen to make the process more enjoyable? (Not that everyone needs to cook, but for the people who do want to.) It could be finding the right background entertainment, trying out new and exciting recipes, cooking with friends…

selenana (#673)

@sockhopbop I think… everyone needs to cook. It’s one of those things called adult life skills. If we can learn to enjoy it – great!!

sockhopbop (#764)

@selenana It is totally an adult life skill! But I also think if people can afford to get takeout every night, or if they’re happy zapping a frozen Trader Joe’s meal/chowing down on a bowl of cereal/etc, then more power to them. But I agree that cooking is an awesome basic skill to get down with.

schmuhl (#472)

@cherrispryte what you are saying is totally true, I think what I was trying to say, though didn’t do a good job of, is basically what mishaps said below: find experiences that fulfill you without costing $$ and don’t let what you can’t have bring you down. For me it’s easy to recreate the salad and book thing because I have a well stocked fridge and a little back yard to sit in. Not everyone has these things! It’s always been pretty easy for me to enjoy free experiences like hanging out at the park or at home with friends so sometimes I just get frustrated reading these posts because I feel like it should be easy for Logan/anybody too. But it’s not easy! Ultimately I guess I would say that for most people it’s not ever going to be financially sustainable to go out to a restaurant and have dinner and a couple drinks multiple nights of the week and so we all have to find ways to make ourselves happy without that, and maybe a cone is Logan’s best solution for that, and that’s fine!

@schmuhl Yes. Dead horse.

@sockhopbop Yeah, I do this. Put on Buffy on instant Netflix (thanks for validating my potentially dangerous habit of watching tv while chopping vegetables), crack open a beer while the water boils…dinner often takes longer than it needs to because I’m enjoying myself so much.

atruck (#1,312)

I love your posts and website and I love eating out and stracciatella! Hang in there, it will get easier!

Viv (#1,330)

Logan I totally get this. I do know Schmul is just trying to help but if it was me and I decided I was going to be frugal and make things at home I would immediately go about buying beautiful table settings and an elaborate Japanese set of tupperware to bring my picnic to the park.
To go sit in a cafe and have a beautiful dinner and read your book….there is a reason Parisian cafes are so iconic…….

mishaps (#65)

When it comes down to it, you need to find experiences you WANT that don’t cost money. If spending money=happy experiences to you, then you need to find ways to de-emphasize that link.

Go to the park with your book! Go to the Met, give them a dollar as your donation instead of the $20 “suggested,” and sit in the sculpture garden! Walk New York (not today, ugh) and just be amazed by it!

If it’s all about what you CAN’T have, instead of how to have an awesome life that isn’t based on credit and self-deception, it’s not going to work. Because the credit cards will be there again after you’re out of debt.

schmuhl (#472)

@mishaps totally agree, I think this is what I was trying to say at the top, but you said it much better!

and drink a beer in the park with your book! does new york really stringently police drinking in parks? toronto does not. at least not where I live in toronto.

i know my suggestion is always illegal things. SORRY!

It’s the middle of a heat wave. Eating gelato is a way better choice than drinking beer that will only dehydrate you!

Logan! First of all, love the photo with this post. Second of all, great piece! I’m thinking: I wish I could go out and relax like that, have a date with a book and a couple of beers. I haven’t done that in a long time. But the reason I haven’t done it is slightly different from yours: I stopped being able to relax in those situations because a cloud of guilt would come over me and I’d spend most of the time kicking myself for not cooking at home. Of course, cooking at home isn’t relaxing, either. I’ve still got to find an alternative. Like a hobby. Do you have a relaxing hobby that doesn’t remind you at all of money?

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