Sunday, December 21, 2008

spoiled girlfriend

Chivalry is dead, but bribery isn't.

My boyfriend MSP knows that, so he occasionally buys my love.
Despite having a gargantuan alpha-female ego, I still let him. Why? Because men NEED to provide. It makes them feel more masculine.

Being a Catholic schoolboy, MSP has been trained by priests to think that part of being a gentleman is allocating a portion of his funds for miscellaneous "investments," such as surprising the woman of his life with little gifts. It's kind of twisted (
shouldn't schools discourage materialism?) BUT because I'm too cheap to get anything for myself this Christmas, I don't overanalyze. I just appreciate.

Found this on my bed:

It's deerskin, cacao, and really lovely. Like everything else from Miuccia Prada's boudoir, it's the kind that lasts a lifetime.

Thank you, recession-proof boyfriend, for this very nice surprise.

* * * *

We humans make sense of our lives with things we can buy from stores. It's a bad habit, especially if you shop in Landmark.

I'm kidding.

(I love dirt-cheap malls, but I hate the crowd. I tend to go very early to avoid other bargain hunters who walk slow and drag their screaming kids along.)


I decided not to buy anything major for myself this Christmas not only because of the recession, but also because the Gucci and Marc Jacobs shop floors were getting boring.

So I worked while the rest of the world went shopping for the holidays. Aside from a few mid-priced trousers (which I badly need), I didn't buy anything expensive for myself at all.

Don't get me wrong; I tried. In fact, I walked around Rustan's Makati's "Gallerie" last week, where I was shown dresses from Vera Wang, Alexander McQueen, Pucci, etc. It was disappointing. The place would have been FANTASTIC to me three years ago, but now that I am more mature,
it just feels contrived.

Still, it was fun watching people BUY stuff for the sake of having things, without regard for quality or uniqueness. Many women there looked
empty, like they needed to spend P100,000 on a dress to feel better. Most of the pieces didn't really flatter their figures. (They would later look at themselves under fluorescent lighting, feel fat, and buy again. Ah, the joy of retail.)

Can you tell? I don't like shopping anymore. There is more to life. But I still like getting gifts. And I still treasure the nice, luxurious things I already have.

If this contradiction persists, I would soon become a materialist-spiritualist hybrid.

A hobo who eats caviar.
A hippie who wears Prada.

Sounds like a good plan.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

quality of life

The business climate is taking a beating and I find myself cutting back on some nonessentials. Trips to anywhere are more carefully planned, our eating-out budget has been downscaled to P10,000 a month, and little electronic thingies in the condo that eat up money have been discontinued. I hate to admit this, but Oprah's episode on Living on Less really struck a chord. The freegans out there make it look like I'm wasting too much.

"Freegans say our culture's emphasis on buying the newest products—and throwing away perfectly fine older things—is a waste of the world's resources. Instead, they focus on buying less and use only what they need."

Three years ago, Madeline was an executive living in New York City earning a six-figure salary. After a six-month period of conversion, she says she became a freegan who gets almost all her food from what other people throw away. "I started thinking about what I was consuming," she says. "I started looking at how much I was consuming and how consumerism is really driven by corporations who make lots and lots of money by getting us to buy things."

Watch a video showing just how much people waste here.

* * * *

Asked by a friend why I still wear expensive shoes despite the economic slump, I just had to answer back:

I don't have cheap shoes.

Unlike women obsessed with heels, I only have 8 pairs (mostly flats), but they're all expensive. Life is too short to wear poor quality shoes that give up after a few months. You're really saving more money with a $700 pair that lasts a lifetime.

Aside from good shoes, there are a few other things I don't think I can give up,
recession or no recession.
  • Good bedsheets. I only sleep 6 hours a day, and I deserve a great bed, don't you agree? Sleep is far too precious. And cheap sheets are just plain tacky.
  • Real coffee. No instant. Period. Barako beans are not that expensive.
  • Trips abroad. I will be taking the business class less often now, but I am determined to still visit many places as I can + come back to places that I really love. My goal is to be truly well-traveled before my joints start to ache.
  • Books and DVDs. Unless there is an ebook / downloadable video, which might be cheaper.
  • Fine food. My soul will wilt without gastronomic delights. The best conversations are always over good food. By the way, I found new haunts in the last two week: Thai at Silk and Terry Selection.

prawns sarong

fried whole fish with lemon grass sauce

pad thai wrapped in egg net

black sausage

spanish omelette with potato and blue cheese inside

* * * *

So, what things can I give up? Things that won't compromise the quality of my life; things that I really should not have in the first place because they end up owning me / being bad for my health.

  • Junk food. I have not eaten in McDonald's for almost two months now. Unless I really have no choice, then it's bye-bye to double cheeseburger meals. That's about P500 of savings monthly, as I usually eat this junk at least once a week.
  • Lame restaurants. These days, MSP and I do not dine out as much anymore. We only go to restaurants that we KNOW will serve excellent food we ourselves cannot cook. We're still willing to pay good money for truffles or excellent sushi, but would rather cook our own creamy mashed potatoes. The savings pile up, and it enables us to go crazy on P8,000 fine-dining meals.
  • Bad movies. Tom Cruise is not worth it.
  • Luxury cars. I know, I know. This doesn't sound like me. However, I really am over the whole luxe automobile phase. The sight of a 1955 SL still takes my breath away, but it doesn't make me want to wipe out my savings account anymore. I am just an admirer. For now. The Japanese car that drives me around the city is fine. For now.
  • Designer bags. Really, I have enough. The value of my closet can finance five years of top-notch-private-school education. I don't mind using my Gucci/Prada/Dior/Hermes over and over. Besides, "it" bags are so parvenu these days, don't you think? If you still don't have a decent handbag by now, you are already TOO LATE. Don't buy that Chanel. It will no longer make you look fashionable; it will just make you seem desperate. If you had to save up for a long time and can only buy the bag now (a year too late), you really can't afford the bag. Keep your money in your ATM account.