Project Spend Less: Day 17

Memorial Day LunchI almost caved two days in a row. Nearly said, “seriously almost caved”, but there’s nothing so awfully serious about Project Spend Less (my self-imposed one-month abstinence from dining out).

Do I need to cultivate more discipline about my finances? Sure. Is it serious? Well, if I find myself camping on the sidewalk outside the absurdly gated triangle of land (West LA’s Look-Don’t-Enter!-See-We-Have-Parks!-Oddity across the street from the Starbucks at Bundy & Santa Monica) living out of a duffel bag full of semi-clean undergarments and a toothbrush (don’t forget the ballpoint pen and journal), the matter will have become serious. It’s safe to say I’ve still got more than a few lines of defense keeping me from that point.

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Incidentally, writers, Desert Island Question for you.

If you could only choose one set of possessions of the two listed:

  1. Unlimited blank paper and pens. (Caveat: once a page is filled it disappears).
  2. All of your existing journals, publications, blog posts, etc. (i.e., your body of work, in general), but no tools with which to do new writing.

Which would it be?

Now that it’s asked, I’ll attempt to answer.

Ugh, miserable question. I don’t want to choose.

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One More Digression.

Not wanting to choose reminds me of something one of my shrinks mentioned a few weeks ago. Under the guise of small talk, he started riffing on the etymology of the word decide. I’m guessing he thought he was being shrewd-keen, but I felt he was being shrewd-annoying.

“Isn’t it interesting that the word ‘decide’ is a -cide? Like ‘homicide’ and ‘suicide’? When we choose one thing over the other, we—”

“I get it–I get it.”

What if I had acted like the snarky patient-clients on In Treatment? What if I had rolled my eyes and said, “Paul,” (they’re so disrespectful), “I know what you’re talking about. Don’t play coy with me. You want me to choose between—–” Not the forum, I know. Moving on.

Progress; a decision (with discretion, no less).

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The near-caving (or, more accurately, the urges behind nearly caving) helped me to see a major pitfall in the set up of Project Spend Less.

It’s Rule Eight: The Exception. I knew there was a problem with it from the beginning, I just couldn’t articulate it at the time.

I wrote, “I will likely dine out with Andy once in a while since he always pays.” I went on to ask if I might be undermining my self-worth, but didn’t take the time to think it through. It may look like an illogical leap of ideas: what does being treated to a meal out have to do with one’s self-worth? Turns out a whole lot.

What I thought was a casual exception was actually the imposition of a form of dependence on Andy. One could argue that it’s inconsequential given that this is an artificial scenario, but it highlights for me the areas where I am dependent upon him (however temporarily). Which prompts me to acknowledge the simple fact: dependence doesn’t feel good.

Some might next explore the virtues of interdependence but not me, not today, maybe never. Instead, I’ll pause the discussion and go for a walk. After that, Andy’s taking me to lunch at one of my favorite haunts where the owner’s iPod shuffle goes perfectly with the Grapefruit Rickies and the cheese plate is irresistible. There must be another way to self-identify than, “Dependent Patron of Cow Torturing”. Of course, there is. To be continued.

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