I had the good fortune to be the recipient of a random act of generosity from my mom. 

Listen while you read to “Fairy Tale”, a mutant blues piece from the “blue side” of the Panache Orchestra’s double album “10 Strings”.

05 June 2012

I’ve often wistfully mused about suddenly encountering an unexpected financial windfall (not winning millions in the lottery, but just a practical amount of money to help fill the perpetual gap between what I need or want, and what I actually have on hand), but never very seriously given the extreme unlikelihood of it actually happening. Let me clarify: my income structure has historically fluctuated through alternate phases of being largely based on free-lance, short-duration work that is highly unpredictable, so I never had any reliable idea of how much money I would have to work with on any given month, and working a “regular” job where I brought in a predetermined amount of income each month and had to do whatever I could to strike some sort of balance between revenue and expenditures. Needless to say, however much money I bring in each month, it seems that there are inevitably more expenditures. Suffice it to say that financial discipline is not my strong suit.

Anyhoo, on a particularly tight month (entirely my own fault!), I came home to a most wonderful and unexpected surprise: a check from my mother for a not insignificant amount of money with the memo line marked “gift”. Naturally, the first thing I did as soon as I finished changing out of my work clothes and into cat-ready ones was call my mother to thank her and have a brief catch-up chat. I was blown away at being the recipient of such a helpful random act of kindness, and reveled in the sense of empowerment it gave me, and then began to ponder the infinite array of options as to how to deploy the gift. I initially focused on how to use it in a way that my mother would be most happy with, and then I realized that she would be happiest with me using it in whatever way would be the most helpful to me and make me the most happy, so I then had to figure out what would make me the happiest.

I actually didn’t even want to spend the money at all because I was enjoying the sense of empowerment that having a strong positive balance in my bank account was giving me (as opposed to my habitual slightly negative or “close to zero” one). I shifted my focus to what was making me unhappy that I could potentially use the money to fix: my totally out-of-control, heinous-looking hair that I haven’t had the funding (well I have, but instead have chosen to use it for other things) to do anything with about for at least a year and a half; the disorder and ugliness still affecting large areas of our home; the still-backed-up bills from overspending the previous couple months on house projects that were stressing me out; go to my doctor in San Diego and get a check-up for the first time in years (our insurance at work has me in a conveyor-belt assembly-line HMO that doesn’t meet my needs and in fact has dumped me off into a SNAFU of which the explanation is way beyond the scope of this post); and probably a few other things I can’t think of right offhand.

In reviewing those options, I ran up against the dilemma I face every time I have any disposable income available: I can either spend a few hundred $$$ on a visit to my stylist to get my hair looking great again, the effect of which will last for only a couple months before it starts the inevitable degeneration into the condition it’s in now; or I can use those funds to permanently fix a different thing that similarly drives me batshit on a daily basis. Needless to say, for the past year and a half, I have been implementing the permanent solutions rather than the temporary gratifications, and my personal environment has been steadily improving and my state of mind along with it. Apparently I’d rather let my self esteem suffer than my productivity 😉

There are also a couple fairly expensive toys I want: a Vita-Mix blender and an Apogee Duet II midi interface (recording gadget) that I don’t see any possibility of acquiring any time soon unless I significantly realign my priorities, which doesn’t seem to make sense at this juncture. There are garden projects too (well, there are ALWAYS garden projects since things keep breaking down and getting consumed and I keep getting more ideas of how to improve and expand stuff, etc.), but generally the garden is reasonably well in hand and there is nothing particularly urgent at the moment. The next door neighbor just busted the fence I cobbled together in the front garden, but the fence is still extant and more or less upright. It’s just a bit more fucked up than it was originally.

I’m leaning in favor of furthering the process of fixing chronic, constant household irritants since having to deal with an exasperating mess every time I do the things I have to do every single day drives me insane while being unacceptably inefficient and sucking down way too much of my energy having to hassle around with the needless idiocy of it all (i.e., inadequate storage infrastructure for dishes and cooking utensils I use constantly, and a similar problem with my wardrobe in the bedroom and my desk in the office room, etc.)

Well, I think I’ll do a mix of solutions: catch up one backed-up bill, fix one organizational issue, and remodel the bathroom (execute one Household Hideousness Abatement project). No, not from scratch. I already have the paint and the flooring supplies (part of what put me in such disastrous financial shape a month or two previously). The only things I don’t have which I can’t start that project without are a couple quarts of Kilz oil-based primer (about $8 each) and I’m short one quart of paint (another $10 bucks or so). I’d also love to upgrade a few god-awful hardware items to something decent (towel bar, toilet paper holder and shower curtain bar), and that won’t cost too much. Well, the shower curtain rod might run up to around $100 or so for one nice enough to constitute an upgrade, plus more money to get a nice curtain, so I may hold off on that. Putting the existing crappy pressure bar back up will mess up the new paint job, but if the financial situation won’t support it, I can just touch up the paint when I eventually get around to buying and installing the new curtain bar. It will be so nice to FINALLY have that long-running visual affront out of my life!

For the organizational annoyance, I think I’ll get the under-desk-mounted gizmo with the built-in USB port for my Mac Mini hard drive since the very dysfunctional situation with my desk/ main workstation is so acutely frustrating and productivity-impairing. While I’m at it, I’d better also pick up a new display second-hand and choose more carefully this time since I ended up hating the one I installed a while ago.