I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Friday, May 26, 2006

My article.

I had posted the below article, because I thought it was an interesting commentary about how at my age, I'm beginning to observe, social dynamics begin to change, as we all take our various career paths (or lack thereof.)

I was going to talk about how I noticed it subtly in going out to meals with people. Suddenly, instead of going through the uncomfortable ritual of divvying up the check, I just say, "I got this one," and pay for it, because I don't want the person on the other side of the table to think I'm cheap because I'm not offering to pay for their meal and drinks.

I'm secretly a very greedy and cheap person. Well, I used to be, in college. Not anymore, so much. In college I was on a really strict budget until I got my fancy job at the...library. I still have odd purchasing behaviors. Like, I'll never buy a pack of gum in line at the Grocery store. Or a soda at the Gas station. I buy a LOT of store brand food. But I think nothing of paying a $20 cover charge for a club, and then 14 bucks plus tip per drink alllllllll night long.

When paying for the check, I guess it comes down to the fact that yes, sometimes, I truly do want to get the check, and it's not problem. But other times, I get it, because I feel like I'll look like a complete asshole if I'm there, plugging numbers into my phone calculator, to see how much I owe - when I'm a lawyer, and another friend of mine isn't, and in my head, I should be able to pay for it, and they think I should pay for it, and I'll just pay for it so I'm not a bad person in their mind, and so I don't have to do hard, hard addition and percentages and decimals.

I suppose if I just did my own version of shoddy math, and bumped everything up five dollars more to cover the inevitable inaccuracies in tax and tip that I owe, I'd come out a damn sight better on the whole... paying an extra five dollars instead of an extra $50 at each meal...

The bottom line is: I'm not rich. I have a little extra play money right now, because I don't have kids or a family. But there are definitely times when I feel like societal norms are on me to pay for things. Like if I'm going out for a meal or a drink with a friend of mine who is unemployed or underemployed, I feel compelled to get the check. (Except in the case of the ex- he can buy me whatever he wants.)

I posted that article, not because I think I'm so amazing because I actually get a paycheck biweekly, or because I want to make subtle digs at anyone who doesn't, or who doesn't have the lack of financial restraint or lack of conception of a dollar, or completely off-the-wall financial priorities that I realize I possess.

I just see, already at this very early stage of my career life, how sometimes we create these rules and social mores in situations in our minds where, perhaps, they don't exist, and those mores become cemented and lead to resentment, and snowball from there.

My epiphany today, however, came as I was getting supplies for "Movie Night!" A friend of mine is coming over and we're going to watch a terrible and obscure, and terrible movie from the late 80s, with Daryl Hannah and Steve Guttenberg and Beverly D'Angelo and Liam Neeson and Peter O'Toole (If you know what movie I'm talking about, I love you.)

Movie night used to mean popcorn and beer. Or like a pizza and beer. Or something and vodka.

I'm getting old, I guess. Old and fucking pretentious. Even I rolled my eyes at myself as I parked my German car, and looped my Italian sunglasses into my English shirt, and bought two bottles of French Wine, some Arugala Pesto and a loaf of French Bread, and some olives. Then, I went to Publix where I got more annoying Yuppie snack food.

I mean, this is what I wanted to be able to do...financial independence was why I became a laywer. Not the love of the law. Not the deep analytical thinking. I didn't want to be living off Kraft Mac n' Cheese in a 7th floor walk-up in the Bronx on my 25K/year salary as a struggling journalist, with roaches using my sleeping stomach as a highway from crumb A to crumb B.

I'm happy, I suppose. I have my job. And I have my hobbies (Yay, Stained Glass!) and I'm on a committee for a Legal Charity. I'm trying to get a little balance in my life and make myself a more-rounded and worthwhile person. But I'm starting to worry I'll never be completely happy with anything. There will always be some void in my life, be it a snugglebuddy or a beach house in the Dominican Republic (my latest obsession.) And some of those voids are more noble than others - the want of love is, in my opinion, an acceptable pining. A condominium on the coast of the D.R. just shows how out-of-touch with reality I might be.

This whole money doesn't buy happiness thing... I guess it's sort of true. I mean, I don't even HAVE money, and on a scale of 1-10 happy, I'd say I'm at a 7. Which, to me, is failure, because it's like a C-. But I still feel like I have more money than I should. And even though I can go to Ross and spend fifty bucks on awkwardly-colored 800 thread-count sheets (see, that weird cheap thing, again) and wrap myself up in my financial success...or go out and see a roomful of people who, at least, feign liking me, and coddle my ego with social success, and on, and on, I really wish I could just sort of Stop.

Stop.

Stop, and take a little stock. And stop missing the Journey for the destination. I mean, when will it be enough? When I'm 40? 47? Dead, and I can float around looking at my estate saying, "Yes. I did well," and scaring the pants off the executor by popping out of closets and screaming "GET OUUUUUT!" My constant ennui and chasing butterflies, though a semitic propensity of mine, is becoming unattractive. I don't know how to look around and count my blessings for the things I've got (LIKE AN EXTENSIVE PRADA SHOE COLLECTION! KIDDING! Sort of...) that I just sort of take for granted and figure I'm entitled to. Like my fantastic family. And my incredible friends. And the fact that I'm, for the most part, healthy.

I don't know. All I knows is, the money I gots, I'm saving towards building a little equity in a house somewhere... but even so, isn't it funny how American society has all these weird unspoken taboos and we create these non-existent scenarios in our heads where we're either keeping up with the Joneses, or resenting the Joneses for not being able to, or maxing out our cards to get the same shoes as Jane Jones...

So there's my rumination and shallow, whiny self-critique on why I'm a bad person for buying a couple olives and some Sancerre. The end.

2 Comments:

Blogger Laura said...

All I can say is, these are not unique feelings. I've had the exact same thought process on numerous occasions. I also pick up the check when I go out with less financially secure friends, mostly so as to avoid the awkwardness of dividing the check (note to all friends: apparently if you want a free meal, just invite Superbee or me out for dinner).

What I've come to realize lately is that we aren't supposed to have this all figured out yet. We're still very, very young. We will have a lot of time to figure this all out and I can only imagine that it has to get easier at some point.

I'm currently trying to create a life for myself outside of work, too. I realized that I've lived here for almost a year and in that time I've made no friends. A few work acquaintances, sure, but no friends. I've joined a book group and try to volunteer every now and again.

There's a reason people talk about a "quarter-life crisis."

7:00 PM

 
Blogger Rootietoot said...

There is nothing wronge with enjoying prosperity. We used to live in a 30 yr old un aircontioned house trailer on the edge of a peanut field in Southe Georgia. Consequently I enjoy the tar out of my 3400 sq foot 2 story house with hardwood floors AND a billiards room AND a brick patio with brick privacy wall AND huge back yard on a golf course AND many bathrooms etc. I don't feel guilty a damn bit for buying kalamata olives and German riesling and whole beef tenderloin.

Having said that, I felt pretty bad about it at first. So I know what you mean, but you have worked very hard to be an attorney and drive a german car and all, there is nothing wrong with enjoying it.

The wrong comes with forgetting where you used to be, and losing your kindness and generosity. Don't ever lose that.

4:38 AM

 

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