Sunday, February 28, 2010
Zero Spending: Why I Can't Do It: Coffee & Books
Zero spending! I love the proposition. I admire radical groups of non-consumers who vow not to spend money for an entire year.
Can I get through a single day without spending? No.
I spent $1.60 today on a cup of coffee and it was entirely worth it. The cinnamony warm atmosphere of the coffeehouse, the kindness of the barista (who made a special blend for me because I was in too great a hurry to wait for a new pot), and the group of long-haired Peggy Fleming figure-skater types and half-shaved barbarian lads who mill around the latte station, laughing. I drank my coffee at leisure outside in the sun. Remember that story in The Martian Chronicles where it rains every day and a bullied boy is locked in a closet in school during the only hour of sunshine in several years? Well, that's how I feel about the sun. I can't miss a minute of it. If only I lived in the South! North Carolina, anywhere. My skin is dry and itching from the eternal winter, fifteen-inch banks of snow intimidatingly line the sidewalks, and a cold miasma rises from the snowbanks. Zero consumerism in coffee is impossible this time of year, because it warms me up.
Books: now there's an area I could save on. Zero spending! But would that be a good thing? Aren't booksellers and publishers THE most important people to support? And don't they need somebody like me to buy books? I own stacks and stacks of books. Do I want to read Plutarch's Lives? Or The Picture of Dorian Grey? Or perhaps Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna? They're all right here, people!
I buy a LOT of books.
I'm not like dovegreyreader or random jottings of an opera--bloggers who announce their packages of free books almost daily and apparently get thousands of readers every day to whom they can SELL the books (though my husband, who is very funny about blogging, suggests the thousands of readers they get are themselves clicking on their blog over and over. He thinks blogs are worthless)!
I can't accept free books: I don't know what to do with them. I have a huge stack of books from a very good publisher who were kind enough to supply me last summer. I didn't expect so many books--and they haunt me. I've reviewed three or four. I stare at them gloomily from time to time, wondering if I'll ever get around to them. And then I realize, scandalized, that I should probably send them back. But they're review copies, and it's too late now. One feels like such a whore when one writes a paragraph or two about the book, not reading it, but just doing a little publicity. I'm writing a book journal, not running a book news bureau. But perhaps I should do some of those paragraphs because I ACCEPTED the books. Or I could write a review of one of them for a small mag I used to write for. They're printing shorter and shorter reviews, so it COULD work out.
I can't even read all the books I've bought, and these are generally the books I really want to read. So zero spending is not the way for me to go in books. I'm committed to the rich selection on my coffee table.
As for zero spending, I've got it down in one area: Isn't it better to spend zero on clothes than zero on books? That's my current practice. A couple of pairs of black jeans and I'm fine.
So let's do zero spending on fashion and call it a day!
Posted by Frisbee at 5:17 PM