Monday, July 24, 2006

Poverty--The LI Way

As much as I talked shit about my job at the agency, and complained how bored I was there, the fact is I was spoiled. Lunches at least once a week at a place I could never afford on my own (by the way Country is totally over-hyped), getting free spa treatments in the name of building relationships with vendors, and of course we can’t forget summers in the ad world—cocktail parties almost every night of the week, (yes free booze) and invites to the MSN/Yahoo/Google Hamptons summer house. The only people who live as well as media planners are the wives of I-bankers and the mistresses who will actually suck their dick without jewelry acting as an incentive.

When I quit my job to work on this “book treatment”, I knew I was giving up my salary and health insurance. But, living off of ramen and praying that I don’t get sick for a few months is worth it for me to give it a go on my quest for fame and fortune. Those of you that know me, would totally agree that I am too eccentric to live in this world without the behavioral carte blanch that celebrity brings. So, with my stereotypically Jewish overbearing mother acting as my financial guru, we came up with a plan. I would take my exotic vacation money, and spend the summer in the city writing full-time. It would mean a tight budget that I’d have to adhere to, especially since I need to buy a brand new wardrobe for the Ox, but it had to be done. I finally got to the point of growing tired of my bullshit whining, “I work too many hours to write anything!”, “I just want to be famous!!”. Like seriously, if I want this bad enough, I need to take a risk and just fucking do it already.

So, let’s see how great that experiment worked, shall we? In the saga of Shannon last week, where my true abilities were supposed to be showcased as I didn’t have a job that zapped all of my creative energy, we have my Keynesian worthy bitch about the British exchange rate. Followed by a wonderfully poignant post about the pain of my mole removal; the post was so brilliantly succinct that three sentences truly communicated the frustration of limited mobility in this modern rush rush rush world. And let’s not forget the greatest post of all time, where I ramble about how depressed I am and you get a glimpse into the crazy that I keep tucked away.

I’m fucking channeling Hemingway.

Let’s be straight up with each other about what this blog really is. I’m an exhibitionist who gets intellectually off sharing my observations about the absurdities of modern life. You are voyeurs, watching a train wreck of over indulgence that makes you the slightest bit envious of my crazy life when I am doing the cool shit (aka making fun of B list celebs to their faces) but totally relieved that you grew out of this behavior when I chronicle my fuck-ups. It’s a symbiotic relationship of emotional co-dependence—like we both know this isn’t the healthiest but nobody is really getting hurt. Well, maybe just my professional prospects, as half of my old company know about the blog by now.

But take away that excessive living, and what am I left with? If the tax codes were a bit more liberal in this country, I could probably justify the bottles of champagne, the packs of Marlboro lights, and the expensive dinners as business expenses. Because, rereading last week’s posts, I am realizing the role of those experiential distractions that filled my former life.

Without access to those experiences via money and industry perks, what the fuck do I have left to write about? Money provides access and freedom to do, to make, to create, to take time off and try to write something. Genteel poverty is only so humorous until your sister who makes just above that line takes you out for dinner. It’s by throwing back the seventh martini, dancing on the table at a strip club, watching white powder go up someone’s nose that makes me realize just how fucked up life must be if we need something to help us escape both the drudgery of our lives and of ourselves.

But I have no escape hatch in this grand plan. And once again I over estimated the strength of my character. According to the Shannon method of self-induced poverty it’s perfectly acceptable to go without health insurance while taking a twelve dollar round trip train ride to Great Neck because, “the city is stifling me”, proceed cheer myself up with manis and pedis, as my dinner from Wild Ginger digests from the night before. And of course working within three blocks of two great espresso places, I developed a four dollar a day skim latte habit that I have just not been able to shake.

It’s weird to think of myself on this tight budget, even with money in the bank and one week left of my health insurance. But my life is beginning to let me know just how the other half lives:

Medical Care: My dentist went to Harvard. My gyno teaches at NYU medical center. I have comprehensive health insurance that allows me to visit any specialist I think I may need without the referral from a MD. Basically, I’m covered pretty well with access to some pretty good doctors. The kind that would not be found at a free clinic.

I think I have touched upon the mole saga enough and you are all caught up to speed. What I didn’t mention, is how the dermatologist is not charging me for my follow up appointment to cut out the stitches and see how the wound is healing for both removals as my health insurance runs out August first, and the stitches come out on both the third and the thirteenth.

I’ve become a charity case for a dermatologist on Park Avenue.

Food: I was a burgeoning foodie before I got this job. Hanging out with older rich married/unmarried men exposed me to the high end life. Bottles of champagne, excellent restaurants, the beauty of desert wine at the end of a meal. Shit that the average asshole, such as myself, couldn’t afford on her own salary. One week into it being unemployed and living modestly, and I miss great food. I would miss excellent wine too if I didn’t have these fucking anti-biotics that I need to pop to prevent an infection. However, being a creative type with a strong sense of imagination, I found a way for me to deal. Menupages.com A website that lists menus online for most of the restaurants in NYC.

With my dinner of canned soup, I hop onto my bed. Shut off the tv. Pick a cuisine for the evening. Last night, it was Babbo. And I read the menu as I spoon healthy choice chicken noodle soup into my mouth. If you slowly read the menu and imagine every taste that the dish describes, it’s a pretty decent dining experience. Without leaving my bed I’ve “eaten” at Ivo and Lulu’s, Le Bernadin, Café Boulud, and Babbo among many others.

It’s getting to the point, however, where I can tell this isn’t going to cut it. So, my back up plan is to buy a fifteen dollar cubic zirconia ring at Icing or one of those teeny bopper jewelry stores and visit various caterers as I plan my “wedding” *nudge*wink*.

Maintenance: Nothing screams class act than walking into Mani/Pedi places in Great Neck asking them, “How much?” and walking out if they price quoted more than twenty dollars. Price comparing manis and pedis. What’s next, I begin to wax my own pubic hair?

But much like those mastercard commercials, it’s priceless that I can make up my own hours, do something that I truly love, and spend beautiful days outside. So, once I am done with my errands to clear up the Oxford fiasco (for some reason they don’t believe me when I said I had money in the bank), I’m off to Central Park to read, walk around, and let my mind wonder. Packing the apartment is on hold, because when days like today role around, you have to spend it outside.

After being held hostage by grey skies and rain for an entire weekend, ability to spend a beautiful sunny day outside in Central Park—priceless.

6 Comments:

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

not for nothing, but you should really at least buy a cheap high deductible short term health policy from some 1-800 number. Yeah, it probaly won't pay for shit but if something catastrophic ever happened to you you wouldn't lose your life and have to file bankruptcy either. Just food for thought. No one ever thinks it will happen to them. Piece of mind is also hard to put a price on ;)

 
At 4:13 PM, Blogger mahogany_lll said...

u let others wax ur pubic hair? must be a NYC thing. the thought of another waxing my pubic hair scares me just a bit. i rather have my shavefest everyday and be done with it.

 
At 5:04 PM, Blogger Schepper said...

Maybe "B to the..." can help you with the:
"If the tax codes were a bit more liberal in this country, I could probably justify the bottles of champagne, the packs of Marlboro lights, and the expensive dinners as business expenses."

 
At 5:17 PM, Anonymous JD said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I'm originally from northern NJ and I live next door to Wild Ginger in Gramercy. Other than that I totally feel you. Especially on the mani/pedi pick-me-ups. I always write them off as "my feet are gross from walking around in sandals all day"..but still when the credit card bill comes in..I swear I should just buy an effing pumice stone and get over myself ;)

A friend brought me to that Indian Restaurant (or cluster of them) with the insane lights the other night...I read your post on that a while back. It was funny that I ended up there...that place is pure insanity and good cheap food!

Best of luck with your writing and please enjoy the park for me..I'm totally longing to be up there but instead I'm getting blasted by the AC in the office..

xo,
JD

 
At 10:54 AM, Blogger B to the... said...

I will gladly hop on a plane and bring 30 cartons of Marlboro Lights to NY. Actually, isn't that illegal? And I suppose I could supply a couple expensive dinners, but I'm always a quantity over quality kind of guy. One pound of $20 steak or two pounds of $10 steak, gotta go with the two pounder.

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger mahogany_lll said...

omg take it shannon. b never buys anyone dinner and especially not steak!!! he is about as cheap as they come--lol. but he is lovable.

 

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