The High and the Low

I buy weird stupid “luxury” items I don’t need. I just do. Okay maybe not the wasteful kind of stupid, like an expensive car or hair extensions. But you know what I mean.

I never really did before, but because I live in a cheap city I figure get the things I want now while I’m young and can enjoy them. I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, so I’m gonna get mine while I can. As I’ve discussed before, I have expensive taste and this can be a problem at times since I’m nowhere near loaded. I’m a walking contradiction; I swear like a sailor, but think it rude to not rsvp to a party promptly; I’m very picky about my wine and dinner pairing, but I’ll eat a corn dog from the gas station; I don’t care if you can see my bra strap, but chipped nail polish I’d be so embarrassed by. You know, little things like that.

So with this I started going over in my head how I balance the lowbrow with the highbrow. You know with $4 gas and a recession and all. Those little sacrifices, the choices I make in order to be fabulous, while somewhat embracing the ornery side of life. Here are just some examples:

Coffee: I was going for the fancy stuff for a long time, flavored and all. I’d go to the Westside Market to get my banana nut flavor (Mondays it is $3 off a pound you know) or I’d breakdown and buy the burnt-to-shit Starbucks stuff since there’s one by my place. Guess what baby, I’m all about Eight O’Clock now! Actually I started off with Eight O’Clock but thought I could do better. I’ll be honest, this stuff tastes than the burnt-ass Starbucks shit you get…

Underwear: Yeah I did the Hanes four-packs and the cheapo crap they have a Target (Merona might work for the boys but not for me). Guess what? Even washing by hand they still wear out faster than they should. So my little luxury is buying the stuff that lasts and doesn’t give me itchy-butt syndrome — who else but Calvin?

Household Cleanser: Kaboom is shit. Trader Joe’s all-natural is shit. Soft Scrub is shit. CLR works great on grody fixtures but should be used sparingly. No honey, there’s one cleanser that works better than all of these and you probably have it sitting there doing nothing…

Be sure to get rid of your gross sponges. Dish cloths work fine and you can reuse them after running them through the wash. Gotta clean the glass on your mirrors and windows? Use newspaper, not paper towels, it is actually better.

Alcohol: This is one area you shouldn’t skimp on if you don’t want to be ill. Guinness is my mainstay besides an assortment of micro brews. I always keep champagne on hand too, I prefer it to any white wine really. While Trader Joe’s does have some cheap choices, I prefer this Spanish one…

I know I know, technically it has to be of France in order to be called Champagne, but I find them too bitter. Of course when I’m tight on cash, here in Cleveland, we have an assortment of cheap watering holes. Fridays are $1 drinks for the ladies at 5 O’Clock Lounge and I’m a fan of happy hour $5 martinis at Pier W when you’re not in a slumming mood and want to feel fabulous — but for God’s sake don’t eat there or you’ll feel broke and hungry!

Beauty: Now here I do mix the high and the low. I do get facials, and I do buy fancy shampoo from Aveda, I do get Frederik Fekkai hair cream, I do get fancy perfume (especially after my Victoria Beckham fiasco!) but to off-set this I went back to using a face cream that I don’t know why I stopped in the first place. Maybe again, I thought I could do better. Listen ladies, unless you can afford La Mer — which is amazing from the samples I’ve tried — pretty much everything is the same no matter what anyone tells you. So do yourself a favor and just grab a tub of this baby…

might I also add that this is great for zits and stuff too…

Yeah! All you need now are some old-timey hair rollers and a shower cap and you’re set! Screw Mac, screw Nars, screw Estee Lauder, I can tell you  that Sonia’s line for Target is as good as any. And yes Vaseline is awesome.  Baby oil is awesome.  Witch Hazel is awesome. Castor oil is awesome. Gold Bond is awesome. Learn ’em and use ’em.

Entertainment: I don’t have cable, don’t need it. I get Netflix because at least I can choose the shows I want to watch. I can also get full episodes of shows on the web for free the day after they air. I have a cell phone I pre-pay for because I hate cellphones and only use it when traveling, I don’t pay for voicemail, because I don’t want you to leave me messages on it or call me on it period. Going to the movies sucks these days; after the woman who did the running commentary next to me killed the suspense in No Country For Old Men, I prefer to just got out with friends and drink at cheap watering holes or to people’s houses and movies together. I won’t go to a concert if tickets are more than $22, it’s just my own rule because I know how fast it can escalate when drinks and buying merch are thrown in. Art shows are free, and they have booze and food for free. Dance clubs are stupid, stupid for people like me because I’m too old, married and jaded to go to them. If you have a friend who is a private investigator, cab driver, or a tow truck driver; go on a ride and get some free hilarious entertainment better than any comedy club…

Travel: Traveling to San Francisco last December was an extravagance I normally don’t get to do, so for the remainder of all my “vacations” I like to go on the cheap where no one else goes, or if they do, they’re retired folks in RVs. I consider it getting to know America, and you should try it. You’ve probably seen my little travels where I could afford them. This year we had originally planned a big trip to Kentucky…yes Kentucky because it’s awesome! We also went here and here. I’ll be staying at the most awesome porn set of a Rodeway Inn motel outside Chicago this month since I couldn’t afford to be in city — but I think it looks neat in a creepy way! Since Kentucky is out, this summer we’re going to Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Yes our home state of Michigan. So if you want a cheap vacation without a headache from tropical drinks, go ahead and hit some of the breweries we plan on hitting. Also why not go cheeseball instead of Club Med, who doesn’t want to stay in a themed room hotel in Kentucky? Or a super retro cheap beach town in New Jersey? If you can drive, do it, because flying bites. Also, Travelodge and Quality Inn motels are awesome no matter where you are.

Shoes: I can tell when I got a cheap pair of crap; they fall apart, are uncomfortable or look okay at a distance and then up close you can tell they kinda suck. I have one pair of shoes from Target, I bought them for work because at the time my company had a very un-stylish lot and I figured blend in. But no more! That’s one thing I won’t skimp on are my shoes. Neither will my husband, he has more than me, but his excuse is that as a runner he must swap them out in order not to get injured. Sure I never wear my fancy ones because I’m scared of ruining them, and sure my leopard heels are too high and yank at my foot arch — I don’t care, because everyone points and says “oooh I love your shoes!”. I have an arsenal. I don’t think anyone has ever seen it really. After a dream I had, I’m buying these lovelies today. I think shoes over a certain price is just stupid, it is a matter of pride sometimes dammit. While I’m sort of peeved at Prada for making $400 shoes that crack and don’t hold up well to everyday use (luckily I got them at half-price), I do love Kenneth Cole, Charles David, Stuart Weitzman, Ralph Lauren and even unknowns like Arturo Chang. Husband will be getting the last of these before they get discontinued…

and I got some sparkly expensive sandals. I needed them after all, I have three dresses hanging in my closet and have been waiting years to get the right thing to go with them. Art takes time you know. And to offset these purchases? No going out all week, and when I do go out, it will be for a $1 beer on Friday.

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