Sunday, July 5, 2009

Luxury in a 12-pack

This is what the high life looks like:

Yep, that's a whole 12 rolls. Of the soft kind. And yep, I bought them all at once.

The toilet paper aisle wasn't the only place I splurged this weekend. I also bought the pictured fingerless gloves (or "arm warmers," as the package dubbed them) from a stand outside the bus terminal, brought home an entire kilo of apples from the street market, and rolled up to the grocery store checkout line with a box of multigrain Cheerios in my shopping cart.

You guessed it: I got paid. For the first time since I quit my previous job in January, I received compensation for a month of full-time employment.

My time between jobs wasn't completely devoid of economic activity. I taught an English class twice a week and did occasional translations. However, the money I pieced together at the end of each month usually didn't even go far enough to cover my (low) rent, which meant I had to start trimming my savings -- or, more realistically, hacking away at them.

As is to be expected, I tried to find ways to cut costs. Why buy Q-tips when I had a stack full of only moderately abrasive kitchen napkins with which to remove my eye makeup? Why buy real fruit juice if I could add water to flavored powder?

I carefully planned my transportation routes so as only to have to pay one fare. I hung onto dairy products longer than advisable. At one point, I dug into my coin jar and spent the next few days carrying a plastic bag full of change around in my purse.

For the record, I'm aware that this was not real poverty. I could have always picked up more English classes or sawed a few branches off my savings if things had gotten serious. But there's no denying that I had very little money to spend on non-essentials. Now that I have a few pesos to my name again, I'm afraid I'll get so giddy over being able to buy useless things like fingerless gloves that I'll get carried away. The truth is that even though I am making money, I'm not making very much of it, which means I'll have to be prudent if I want to be able to 1) save and 2) set aside a slice of my budget pie for books.

Also for the record, I'm aware that the outfit I'm wearing in the above photo is, in the words of Dwight K. Schrute, "a ridiculous choice for this climate." The two sweaters I wore over it all day wouldn't have let my arm warmers show in their full glory.


Annje said...

love the picture--it is kind of reminiscient of flashdance for some reason. Congrats on getting paid. (I don't know if I "introduced myself" in my previous comment. I lived in Chile, married a chilean, now living in the states (temporarily?), found a bunch of gringa-in-chile blogs where I am living vicariously.

congrats on the paycheck... cuando vas a pagar el piso?

Sara said...

I was so impressed by your arm warmers that I didn't even realize you were holding a 12 pack of tp... hehehe. That is splurging! I never buy any more than 4 at a time. Congrats on the gainful employment and all. I currently find myself between jobs (sort of). It's a tad complicated and has to do more with me being a one woman strike (once again sort of). Do you mind if I ask you how you got the job? Maybe now that you have disposable income you'd like to meet up for coffee sometime?

Sara said...

I thought about my comment before and i realized it might look like I didn't like the arm warmers. I'm actually quite jealous of them. Which bus stop was that?

Quinn said...

the gibergashkers say that camille is floppy no i'm not!
woodpecker in space is funny I just watched it
camille and sam

Leigh said...

Nice to -electronically- meet you, Annje. I also lived vicariously through gringa-in-Chile blogs before moving down here and starting my own.

Sara, sounds fun. It seems from your blog that you already found a job, but we could meet up anyway.