I’m not going to lie to you. Much like Bananarama sang once upon a time, it’s been a cruel summer. I broke my toe. My “computer reading” glasses broke, and can’t be fixed. Our ceiling started leaking — I mean, really leaking. And it took them a week to fix it. My mother’s beloved dog is dying. My mother-in-law has been in the hospital for weeks with severe complications from diabetes and a probable mini stroke. And much like Simply Red sang, money’s too tight to mention.
So if you will forgive me that opening paragraph of doom and gloom, I want it to be known that I’m still here. Every day is a challenge. I feel a little like I’ve been under house arrest this summer. I have given my car to my husband four out of five workdays a week. The rest I am here. I have, with the exception of the two days a week I go out in cute shorts and T-shirts and sandals (three sets), worn the same three ratty ripped T-shirts and shorts (and don’t forget the forgiving yoga pants!) around the apartment all summer.
And though I have less than three weeks — I mean, a LOT less, to get my pattern and sample in the mail to Knitscene, I’m sitting here attempting to be the avatar of penny pinching. Now, THAT’S a laugh! But this is mainly for the one person who reads this. Gina, this one is for you.
I regret all the years I spent money on things I didn’t need, and never used. I am mainly talking books, DVDs, records (or CDs or MP3s, call them what you will) and clothes. It’s sad that it’s taken me being in my mid-late 40s to see the errors of my ways, but better late than never, right?
My number one tip: LIBRARY.
The library has been my one comfort this summer. I joined a reading program that gives me a free umbrella (I don’t have one. Seriously.) and free tickets to one of our minor league baseball games in August. All I have to do? Read five books. DONE.
The first one is a manwha (Korean manga) trilogy, so I did actually make it to five. Now, here’s the thing: If you saw the stack of books I own and have to read, and then add to it the ones I have on my Kindle AND Nook (I know. I know I had a problem.) you would realize I will never finish them all. It’s really bad.
But I’ve learned from my mistakes. Every .99 cent book I purchased just because it was……99 cents. It adds up. BUT. What I do now is go to the library, read what I have, and get free books on Friday for Nook (if they are any good) or with the Kindle First program (one book a month, at the beginning of the month — this month I got a new book by one of my favorite authors, Megan Chance. Woohoo!). I have also discovered Open Library, which once you go down THAT rabbit hole, you will never return. All the 1970s gothic romances I read to distraction? Most of them are there. Yes, they are scanned in or uploaded and translated with tons of mistakes, so it’s kind of like reading Esperanto, but I. Don’t. Care. If you have an e-reader, check it out, as Dr. Steve Brule would say!
Also good at the library? Music and videos. Here is what I picked up two days ago, along with FREE samples from Sephora.
So yeah, I’m kind of bummed that Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer (a.k.a. the only movie I want to see this summer) isn’t playing, but I can watch Mother thanks to the library. Thor the Dark World was decidedly NOT good, but at least it was free? Right? Sorry, not enough Loki or sense. And I really did like the first one. As for Master and Commander….it’s a movie I’ve been wanting to see for ages, and it’s not on any streaming service. It was on BBC America the other day, but I like my movies without commercials every five minutes. I have seen so many bits of this movie, but never the whole thing. I love Peter Weir, I used to adore Paul Bettany before he started making godawful science fiction movies, and I can deal with the killer whale farting in a wind tunnel – which is how I kindly refer to Russell Crowe.
I also got Vampire Weekend’s latest from last year, some Bach and Michael Kiwanuka. You can actually upload these to your iTunes, and if that’s illegal, frankly I don’t care. When I count up all the money I’ve given to recording artists over the years, it adds up. So there. I would also stress if you have an iTunes account, get their “Free Song of the Week.” Are they all winners? NO. But I’ve gotten enough good stuff to make a really fun playlist for work. I mean, for work when I have it. I really want to work again, can you tell? You can also get the free songs (and apps) at Starbucks. And you don’t even have to buy anything!
My point is, if you want to try new music, you’d be amazed at what the library has. So far this summer I’ve checked out St. Vincent’s latest, Tegan and Sara, Lucius, The Head and the Heart, plus lots of classical. It’s a great way to take a chance on something new without forking over the money, esp. if you don’t have something like Spotify. Which I also recommend.
I think I will leave it with my LIBRARY tip today, because I covered a lot of ground. But remember: Knitting books (I never should have bought), magazines (I never should have bought, but I’ve been good with this), audiobooks (if you are so inclined) — they are all there. Never buy these things again. If you want to buy a book, I’m not saying not to. I want The French Cat for my birthday, for goodness sakes!
I just mean, save your shekels to get something you really want.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Time to stop procrastinating and watch Master and Commander while knitting furiously. I’ve given links to all the things I talked about above (just hover over the colored text), so I hope I’ve given you some usable tips from a voracious culture junkie.