Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why I'm not dressing up for Halloween this year

I used to always dress up for Halloween at work, but things weren't great around the office last fall, and I really hesitated about showing up in costume. In the end I threw caution to the wind and wore my Lt. Uhura outfit (it's pretty awesome and the skirt is scandalously short). A whole bunch of people joked about how the people in the red tunics were always the ones who didn't make it back from missions. 

Less than two weeks later I got laid off. 

The thought of having worn that costume, and the things that people had said still sting. Of course they were all just kidding around, and I'm sure most of them were oblivious to the brewing storm, but the memory of those comments just added to the humiliation of losing my job and left me feeling incredibly exposed. And I will never forget that the VP who canned me won the staff costume contest that day, for an admittedly brilliant pumpkin-head get-up, just confirming what a classless ass he was when he happily accepted the prize instead of declining it in favour of someone from the rank-and-file.

This year I have a new job that I really like. And I'm really happy here. Really, really happy. But I don't want to leave myself vulnerable in that way again, at least not in the workplace. 

So no work costume for me.  However, in the spirit of the season, I will accept any and all candy my coworkers offer, and politely eat it.  All vulnerability aside, it would simply be rude not to.  Noblesse oblige, right?

The old marketing dept. back in the day

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Frugalista's Free-Stuff Frenzy

I spent an inordinate amount of time in a store today; just wandering around fondling and sniffing the merchandise, fraternizing with the clerks, coveting everything in sight.  It's much easier to be a frugalista when you just stay the hell out of stores.  On the plus side, all I needed was a greeting card and I had an ancient gift card in my wallet with a mystery balance (which turned out to be FIVE BUCKS- woot!), so I managed to pay only about three dollars for a seven dollar card (okay seven bucks for a greeting card?  Whaaat?)  So I'm calling the outing a success.

But I've found a new, dangerous outlet for my consumptive urges: free things.  Friends have been moving (another post for another day when I can write about it without dissolving into puddles of self-pitying tears) and they've been giving me things.  Big things and small things.  Like, furniture.  And hair conditioner.  And oatmeal. And olives in a great big jar shaped like a curvaceous woman's torso...

In addition to what I'm estimating at well over a hundred dollars worth of partially-used pantry and household items, over the last month we've acquired a queen-sized bed, a double bed, two corner shelves, two dining chairs, two dressers, a book-case, a tv stand and, if you go back another two months, a couch and chair set....  All free from friends.  It's stuff I like and I am so grateful for it; and it will always remind me of my three awesome girlfriends.  But...well...we didn't really get rid of anything; we just got more possessions.  And our house is pretty small. While there are some vague plans being made to discard a lumpy, stinky old bed or two, we really are just one more friend-move away from ending up on "Hoarders".

Damn!  Gotta find that balance.  The idea of not shopping had as much to do with learning to live with less as it did with not wasting money.  And here I am with no new pants (huzzah!) and ten "new" pieces of furniture I probably could have lived without (oops!).  But did I mention that we have Ovaltine now? And special Italian cheese that comes with its own built-in grater? And volumizing spray? And it was all FREE?

So blessed.  So unclear on the concept.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Frugalista Checks In

So it's been a little over a month since I vowed to forego any clothing purchases for six months.  Of course I was helped a little (okay, a lot) by a broken ankle, and a bulky walking cast that made it hard to get down the hall to the photocopier, never mind cruising the mall.

But the cast's been off for a while now, and I'm quite mobile again.  And I'm pleased to report that I continue to keep my promise to myself.  Yes, I hate all my pants, and no, I don't seem have quite the right top to wear half the time, and my pajamas are literally turning transparent in spots.

But whatever. I'm clean and comfortable (most of the time), and I haven't offended anyone with my wardrobe choices.  There have been times over the last five or so weeks that I've felt less than pulled-together, but I'm learning to live with that.  I always took so much care to not look like I was trying, so it's doubtful anyone's even noticed that I'm not wearing exactly perfect shoes, or that my purse doesn't match anything else I'm wearing... only me.  And I'm learning to live with the imperfection.

But meanwhile....I've had to start fighting (hard!) the urge to buy toiletries and housewares, or stock up on what's on sale at the grocery store.  Because clearly the object of this exercise wasn't to replace one vice with another - and oh how easy THAT is to do (says the woman who "accidentally" bought five tubes of toothpaste two weekends ago...)  So now my new thing is to really and truly use things up before buying more.  And that includes all the tiny hotel bottles and sample packets and 1/4 full jugs of whatever it was I lost interest in last year. And encouraging the menfolk to do the same.

And can we just stop for a moment and discuss shower gel?  From time to time I get a hankering to buy a bottle.  And my mother-in-law (Avon and Yves Rocher addict) always brings a bunch in her suitcase when she visits. (By "a bunch", I mean usually three or more bottles - and, no, the teenage boys aren't interested in lathering up with "Mandarin Mango Medley" or "Pomegranate and Peach Passion."  And then JTM and the lads brought me back the equivalent of a gallon from a recent trip to Portland (I sent a Bath & Bodyworks wish list with them, but forgot to write "or" between the various items - so I scored bottle after bottle of the good stuff...).

Now, I am a large woman, but I'm generally quite clean and I don't like to spend a lot of time hosing off, so I don't use a lot of product when I'm in the shower.  I probably go through one bottle of shower gel for every four that everyone else in the household uses.  I expect I will be completely through menopause before I need to replenish the lady-wash supply.

But, sidebar over. Back to the "not replacing things till you run out" thing. If you are trying this at home, please note that toilet paper should be an exception: it was more than a little awkward explaining to last Friday's ten dinner guests that, if they needed to wipe anything, they should use the "purse pack" of Kleenex on the bathroom window sill....