Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 150- Frustration

The very organized, very nice blogger over at Less is Enough is following me here (total squee-ing fan girl moment), and had some interesting- and very accurate- points in her recent project update article/ post.

Go ahead over there to read it- I'm afraid that if I sum up I'll get it horribly wrong.

Back? Yay.

So basically, on pretty much everything, she's dead on right. Just about.

In semi random, semi-importance order, least to most-

I'm really bad at keeping records. I know it makes it tough sometimes to figure out where I am money-wise, and if I'm over or under overall. Honestly, I have about 10 or 15 dollars left between now and the halfway point. Realistically, I have about 80 cents I can put toward food right now, so it doesn't matter.

That's actually part of why I started off with a bunch of food. Well, and the cash for the first half of the year, but I ended up re-appropriating it. I knew I had cash at the beginning. I had a pretty good idea what was available within walking distance (though the vitamin store and tiny Mexican grocery were surprises). I also have a (pretty good) idea of what foods end up being cheapest on a vegan or even limited dairy diet- beans, rice, wheat, corn, oats. I wanted to make sure that I had that stuff- the big, easy stuff- before I filled in with wants. May not be exciting, but in the two weeks before I started, there were only 3 types of beans I could find anywhere in Charleston for around a dollar a pound.

And in all honesty, I knew that if I didn't front load with food and make it too expensive to quit, I wouldn't make it through the first week. I'm lazy- if I'd left myself an easy out at the beginning, I'd have taken it.

Which kinda leads into the gigantic topic of frustration. Which is, really, what it's all about at this point.


Say you're driving cross country (for readers in Europe or other less over-sized places, we're talking 4000+km's here) and your car breaks down. If that's all that's wrong, no problem, adventure. You get to see a new place, stay a couple nights at a hotel, meet some new people, see stuff you might have just driven past.

Break down on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere and it gets a little more adventurous and a lot less fun. Toss in being broke and having a dead cell phone...

Any of them alone would be fine. All together and they just add and add, and you (or I) end up angry, and nervous, and scared, and frustrated.

In the car scenario I'm the kid walking up to the creepy farmhouse in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies...

By itself the food wouldn't be so big a deal. Believe it or not, in normal life I don't really obsess over food- I just eat it, whatever's easiest, available, and meets my dietary restrictions.

Toss money, job hunt stress, rat-hole flea pit apartments, bedbugs, gas-leaking cars, and more solitude than even I prefer in there and it gets kinda stressful. I guess that's coming across here, huh?

Moving and this food project are the only two points I really thought out and chose. The rest of it has grown out of them. I never regret moving- it's like affordable long-term travel, slow style.

The food thing, though- it's a really big, really easy target. Partly because I chose it, partly because I could fix it with a couple hours spent at my friendly local DSS office, and partly because it's something I do have control over.

Getting frustrated about the housing thing isn't worth it- it'll be over when it's over. Same with the cold. And I'll find a job (or some other legal way to make money) eventually.

The food thing I have total control over, though. I choose to buy cheap food (and to cheat when funds are available), I chose to try to eat on a super strict budget. I choose not to get foodstamps (which are $170 or 270 a month, don't remember, for an adult with no income in SC), I choose not to spend gas for possible free or reduced cost food.

Not a particularly healthy relationship to have with food, but for now it'll have to do.

Until less is enough pointed it out, though, I didn't realise that's what it was- frustration. I thought it was just anger, or boredom, or a deep need for ice cream.

I have an opportunity that I'm trying to talk myself into (which has nothing to do with what I do here, really), which could take some of the pressure off from those other problems. Well, not the gas leaking car problem, but I can deal with that one- it's kinda my stand in for roller coasters and sky diving. It'll be nice if I do it, but it requires organisation from me, and that's not one of my strengths.

Otherwise, August 14th starts the second half of the year- give or take a day. I'm going to try and scrounge a pile of cash and take a couple days off from the food budget before then- not saying it will happen, just that if I can find the cash, I want a food vacation. I'm not quitting- I've no interest right now in food stamps, and the only way my cash food budget is adjusting is down- I just want a day or two of bacchanalian food orgy. It was that or a week in Ko Samui, and the food was gonna be cheaper.

On the 14th of next month, though, I think I'm gonna try starting out differently. I still have a small stock pile of staples. I'll leave those in play, but I think I'm going to go forward with a weekly shopping/ cooking plan. It'll be easier to keep track of (for as long as my interest sticks with tracking this time), and it'll allow me to just blow a week, if I know I have leftovers to cover other stuff. Because, yeah, I'm pretty much lacking in flexibility at this point. Some of that's mental, but a good chunk grows out of the pantry, too.

Oh, and food? Yesterday I had a loaf of herbed bread (italian seasoning in pizza dough) dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar. And some more coconut rice-stuff. Tasty high carb junk food. Back to soup today, I think. And black bean burgers.

edited to fix ko samui link


  1. Why are you so dead set against food stamps? I was on them for a few months a decade or so ago, and they made all the difference in the world in how I ate. If I didn't have them, I would have been really desperate. Even if you are not desperate, they are not an abomination. They serve a needed purpose, and that is to help one eat decently. It isn't a sin to be on them, or a disgrace. I well know this: I am a health professional, and I "stooped" to getting them. They were well worth it.

  2. Nice. It sounds like a food vacation and a little more flexibility will help w/ the frustration. I feel ya, and my deal isn't nearly as restrictive as yours.

  3. Christine- I don't think they're bad. I think they need to be saved for people who don't have a personal back up system. If I can't feed myself, I know I my father will feed me, or my mom will send me some food, or whatever. There are people who *don't* have that family thing behind them. If I were farther from family, I'd get them. But in SC there are a lot of people who need them more than me. If I can work with what I've got, that's more food for someone else.

    Allie- yeah... I don't know if the food vacation is going to happen, but the flexibility will. soon.

  4. If you get food stamps, it doesn't mean that it is taking away from someone else. That is a fallacy. We all pay into this system that furnishes them. Not getting them for yourself doesn't mean that they are saved for someone else..they are not rationed. Anyone who qualifies can get them, if they apply for them.
    Just sayin' that they might make your life a whole lot easier, and they won't take away from someone else.

  5. J.

    I'm with you on the food stamps issue. It has nothing to do with feeling like you're taking away from others, its about not wanting to take what you feel is unfair advantage of a system. I feel the same way. Currently I am able to live alone, feed myself, maintain my car and rent, etc, but I have parents who would take me in at any time, for any reason, and other family and friends who would do the same. I don't NEED food stamps, and won't ever need them. To take them would, to me, feel like stealing. Just because we all pay taxes doesn't mean we should all just take whatever we want from the government. If you don't need a service, not using it is an issue of personal responsibility.

    Nevermind the fact that doing so would throw off demographics and statistics and give the impression that the service is needed by a person and in a place that it isn't, perhaps resulting in an increase in either taxes, or a diversion of funds away from another worthy service.