Wednesday, January 31, 2007

99 Reasons Not to Be an Idiot

When I first got here I was broke. To work out, I did the only thing I could afford: running barefoot on the beach. To feed myself, I shopped at the 99 cent store. I always felt a sense of shame slinking in there with all the other financial losers and nearly homeless. I longed for the days I'd have an income and be able to shop at Trader Joe's or, dare to dream, Wild Oats.

After several excruciating months temping around town, I finally got my big studio job and my income. And never set foot in the 99 cent store again. When someone knocked the store I'd smile and agree but then find myself saying, "yeah, but they get crazy good things like these fancy Danish jams."

My moneyed friends would look at me like I'd just farted, "they're probably expired."

They weren't.

Now, following the Hollywood dream in earnest, my big studio job is a thing of the past and the starving artist life front and center. Finances are back to the category of "Scraping By." I've clung to my Trader Joe's shopping trips as long as I can. Yesterday, tail between my legs, I slunk back to the 99 cent store for my groceries.

Once again I found my favorite Danish jams, those pirouhuette cookies I love and I know don't cost only a dollar at Wild Oats, the same carrots I get at Joe's, and milk with two weeks till expiration. In the cleaning aisle, I found a scrubber I've been searching for, for at least six months, and the green cleaner I love. All for a dollar per item.

People here love to be able to spend money on things. Hence the funky horse print shirts at Kitson for hundreds. To me that doesn't say "Look how rich I am." It says "Look what a sucker I am." I got a funky owl print shirt at a bargain store for $20 and it looks just as cute.

It dawned on me that my drive to be able to shop a "better" store was part of that same impulse I scorned in clothes shopping. So now I fully embrace the wonder that is the 99 cent store. I realize how idiotic and ego-driven was my scorn of it. I'm noticing that a lot lately: when someone offers you an easy, smart solution you should take it. Otherwise it's akin to saying "No no, thanks for your offer of a luggage cart, I prefer to lift my three suitcases myself." Why would you do that?

My name is Heidi and I am proud 99 cent store shopper. I don't aspire to Wild Oats anymore.... But I wouldn't mind a nice Prada wardrobe. Because, you know, people can tell it's Prada.



Blogger Jeremy Jed Hammel said...

So what are you saying? You're too GOOD for the 98 cent store? You're so "LA!"

9:00 PM  

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