“Give me the luxuries of life, and I will willingly do without the necessities.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
My dad, my brother, a few of my friends and a teacher or two have attempted, on several occasions, to explain the stock market to me. Investments. Saving for my future. “Nest eggs.” I’ve gotten the basic idea, and I’ve invested a few hundred dollars (don’t laugh). But quite honestly, thinking about this makes me yawn. I’m sorry. I care tremendously about world affairs; I am constantly reading the news; I worship the Gates Foundation; I care about my country’s – and other countries’ – stability; I am trying to understand the worldwide economic crisis and how it is affecting everyone.
But money itself has just never really intrigued me all that much. If given the choice between keeping an eye on the Dow Jones/NASDAQ (what’s the big difference, anyway?) or writing an essay about a really weird obscure topic, like how Shakespeare might theoretically respond to the latest version of the Associated Press Stylebook, I’d choose the latter. I know: My brain is as imbalanced, perhaps, as my checking account.
I’m sure that one day soon (to everyone’s delight), I will Fully Understand The Value of a Dollar. In some cases I do. I’ve been supporting myself since graduation when I landed this job (and I promise I’m not telling you this because I think you should all pat me on the back. I know that I’ve been fortunate). I don’t buy expensive clothing; I go to dive bars, not “cocktail hours”; I think that trendy, expensive furniture is a waste of money; and on many occasions I’d rather cook for my friends than go to Galatoire’s – OK, that might not be entirely true, but what I’m saying is that I don’t consider myself a high-maintenance person. I treat myself, sure, but I’m not terribly extravagant, and I am generous, which I think is more important than these other things I’ve mentioned.
If I were a car, I’d probably be a trusty, kind-of-old-but-still-functional Honda Civic. But my trusty Honda Civic, these days, happens to be driven by a raging lunatic who is spending her evenings practicing a hybrid dance-hula hoop routine for Mardi Gras Day and who recently purchased an absolutely outstanding, handmade, elaborate feather headdress that would make Daisy Buchanan squeal with jealousy.
It wasn’t expensive. It was made locally. I bought it on Etsy and the total came to $40. That’s not much, in the grand scheme of things. But with my salary and my expenses, I know I probably should have spent that money on something sensible, like paying my overdue Sewerage and Water Board bill. Or my overdue Entergy bill. Or my overdue cable bill. Or groceries. Or next month’s rent. Or insurance on my aforementioned chariot of festivity.
I have a savings account (which I have tentatively nicknamed my “I’m Peacing Out To Paris Fund,” though it sometimes is referred to as “Daisy’s Emergency Veterinary Fund” or “OMG! I need to get an oil change right now!”) but right now, it’s my favorite season of all time – Carnival season – and I’ve found that even though I’ve technically been an adult for a while, it’s still very difficult to spend my paychecks on “stocks” or “bills” or “savings.”
On several occasions, my friends and I have discussed the lighthearted difficulties that come with living in this city. It takes a certain kind of balance to hold down a steady job with all the glittering distractions that New Orleans offers. I think most of us are doing a fairly good job, although admittedly I’ve arrived at work, sleep-deprived but still elated from a great concert. (Sorry, Errol.) But sometimes, as in my case last week, you occasionally have to give in to something frivolous. And really, what better time than right now?
Mardi Gras is, to be sure, the Greatest Free Show on Earth (minus the parking tickets I racked up last year), but I’m telling you all that I will deplete my checking account this month, and I will most likely deplete it on the following:
-more feathery things
-…and subsequent cab rides
-Abita Strawberry (the only beer I’ve ever loved)
-tinsel for my bike
I’m promising myself that when Mardi Gras is over, I’ll gain a renewed sense of self-control. I’ll eat healthy. I’ll eat cheap. I’ll drink tea and stay in and read instead of going out. I’ll calm down. I’ll do my freaking taxes, OK? Maybe I’ll even start reading the Wall Street Journal. Except, of course, that as I just typed this, I realized that it will almost be Jazz Fest by then. So maybe I’ll wait until May. Or perhaps June…