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About the Author
Kera Bolonik and Jennifer Griffin are the authors of Frugal Indulgents: How to Cultivate Decadence When Your Age and Salary Are Under 30.
Kera Bolonik and Jennifer Griffin are the authors of Frugal Indulgents: How to Cultivate Decadence When Your Age and Salary Are Under 30.
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A Few Bons Mots
ACTION FIGURE Those who do not travel light. For example, Gordon considers himself a model/actor/carpenter/lawyer. If we were to market a "Gordon" doll, he would come equipped with head shot, portfolio, hammer, and laptop in hand.
A IDIOT Pronounced "uh idiot." The term for this type of person is grammatically incorrect to stress the dumbocity of the subject. On the continuum of stupidity, this person would probably be found a notch above retarded, a notch below a rube.
BOUVIESSENCE In honor of the queen of grace, this word signifies glamour at all times for all occasions. You run out to get the paper, but not before donning a scarf, sunglasses, lipstick, and mules. So what if you haven't showered?
CAUSEMOPOLITAN Of or relating to socialites whose politics are determined by who's throwing the most fabulous benefit, auction, etc. For example: "Causemopolitan Linda was never really interested in ecological issues until she heard about that great Sotheby's cocktail party hosted by Al Gore."
DECADENCIA Decadencia is to decadence what intelligentsia is to intellects. The decadencia are in the know about splurging, frugal-indulgently speaking.
DISS-ARRAY When all the couples in your social circle break up en masse. They've dissed one another, and now there is an array of lovers to choose from.
DUMPSTER The opposite of a hipster. A person who wears ugly clothing without the irony that would elevate them to hip.
DWI Drinking while intoxicated. Beyond blotto.
EXFRIENDABLE An expendable friend. If you find you are doing all the work in a relationship, that your generosity comes without reciprocation, and this friend is of no use to you, he or she is exfriendable.
EXPENSEPLOITATION The act of treating yourself and a friend working in a field marginally related to yours to lunch on the company card.
FAUX REAL So fake they're cool; also, so passé they're retro. "Are those pearls faux real?" FYI Frugalize Your Indulgence. You may indulge, but if you can get it on sale, get it from someone as a gift, or get it for free, please do so.
GLAMBIDEXTROUS The ability to look fabulous with the poise to make it seem easy.
GLAMBIVALENT Do I look good or not? It's so hard to say.
GLAMOUREXIA NERVOSA An anxietal disorder, not unlike agoraphobia, in which one misses social engagements due to one or more of the following problems: a bad hair day, a fashion crisis, a lack of clean laundry, acne and/or blemishes, etc. There is a certain degree of self-importance operating here: The sufferer feels that by going out, s/he can uglify the world by merely making an appearance.
HEINOIS (rhymes with "c'est moi"). Beyond heinous. This superlative is so strong that English cannot convey the sentiment. Besides, it sounds better with a French twist. What doesn't?
INFAUXMATION A means to live in the know without the bother of learning firsthand. Gathering infauxmation is the ultimate act of appropriation, just short of becoming a poseur. You haven't read the book, seen the film, or eaten at the restaurant, but you've read the reviews, synthesized the information, and formulated a definitive opinion on the subject.
LICENSE TO SLACK A euphemism for trust fund.
LIFE-DEFERRAL PLAN (LDP) The act of putting "real" life off for an indefinite period of time: graduate school, going abroad, driving cross-country, etc. College loans are deferred, parents still support you, and credit card dependence is more acceptable than ever.
LOSERATI Remember those kids in high school who made your life a living hell? Well, they still live at Mom and Dad's in the 'burbs with no plans to move, get a real job, or find new friends. They hang out at the local pub every night, oblivious to the city just a few short miles away, and they've gotten flabby and dull. They comprise the loserati.
MAUDE (adj.) Describes how some people look in vintage clothing. Maude is the opposite of mod. That is to say, they look more like Maude's Bea Arthur than The Avengers' Diana Rigg. Not a good thing.
NOUVEAU PAUVRE A class of people who have the tastes and expectations of the bourgeoisie without the financial trappings. Frugal Indulgents are of this class.
P.O.W. Piece of Work. Someone who exceeds the call of idiocy.
QUASIMODE A breath away from fashionable. You're very close, but not quite at the finish line. For example, great suit but bad shoe choice. A quasimode is not as bad as a dumpster.
QUASMOPOLITAN One who plays and/or works in the big city, but lives in its outskirts. In Chicago these would-be urbanites are referred to as "708s," for their area code.
SALVATION ARMANI Maximizing your indulgence, even if it means risking shaking a tin cup in front of Neiman Marcus. "Because Carl had a moment of Salvation Armani when he bought that Paul Smith four-button, single-breasted linen suit against his better budget, he will be spending the summer couch-hopping (but doing so in style)."
SAVV Indulgent cunning. Derived from savvy.
SID VICIOUS CIRCLE A literary salon comprising self-proclaimed cutting-edge sorts masquerading as writers who've yet to cough up their opuses.
SIMULACRA-WEAR Clothing that is a copy for which there is no original. Think Gap pocket T-shirt.
SKRÜ SORBET The post–breakup one-night stand. It acts as a cleansing of the genital palate, whereby the jilted can relish the fact that the last person s/he bedded was not the jilter.
SLUTERRIFIC A really good one-night stand.
SLUTROCITY A really bad one-night stand.
VREELANDISH A daring move that would be outlandish if you weren't pulling it off so well. Recall the boldness of the namesake, grande dame of red walls, pink bulletin boards, and outrageous leopard-print upholstery. "Your mango LaCroix bodysuit is positively Vreelandish, Edina."
Your Fabulous Apartment
Be It Never So Humble
"COME MOVE IN A NEW DIMENSION."
— PATTI SMITH, "AIN'T IT STRANGE"
Depending on where you decide to live, finding an apartment may be more difficult than landing a job in the midst of a recession. Before you venture through the apartment listings in your local newspaper, laundromat, or on-line bulletin board, it is important to know what you're willing to spend, and what you're willing to settle for. For some, housing acceptability hinges on accessibility. For others, it hinges on affordability. In this chapter, as in the following chapter, we will help you decide which you find more important: a fabulous spread with a few good threads, or a full wardrobe with an apartment only you will see (assuming you can't have both). Part of being a Frugal Indulgent entails embracing compromise, which humbles your bourgeois soul.
In this chapter, we will deconstruct the semiotics of housing advertisements; recount amazing tales of rental heroism, good fortune, and disaster; and let you in on the key to finding the apartment of your dreams: Deal with a real estate broker only as a last resort.
In nowhere but the real estate scramble is it more evident that milking every resource available to you is the way to find the best deal. This means broadcasting your plight to everyone you know. Find out who is tired of the city and moving to the 'burbs or backwoods; which couples have decided to move in together, or split apart. Befriend academic types who may have to surrender their places to go to Mongolia on a fellowship or to teach literature in the Southernmost University of Tennessee. You might not get a great deal on the first go-round, so always keep your eyes open for a better offer. Eating takeout in the kitchenette/bathroom of your three-month sublet is just a snack in a waiting room. Look out the window. You may think you're facing a brick wall, but it's really opportunity meeting your gaze. Once you get a sense of the neighborhood and make some contacts, you will soon be moving into the apartment of your choice. Besides, when you start out small, you can only improve, so call the Chinese restaurant across the street for some egg rolls, and keep scanning the ads for places with a fully operating eat-in kitchen.
Once you've found your space, you've got to fill it. A house is not a home without fun furnishings. Whether you decide to buy, borrow, or steal (from your family), there are strategies here for you that will ensure you are surrounded by all the pots, pans, chairs, and other tchotchkes and furniture you can pack into your new nest.
THE APARTMENT QUIZ
1. David's New York City apartment building has just gone co-op and he's been invited to buy the place (a hundred and fifty grand for a three-hundred-square-foot studio) or get out. Obviously, it's time for David to go apartment hunting. Some creative living arrangements present themselves. Which is the one for him?
a. A Gramercy Park (equidistant to both midtown and the East Village) rental in a gigantic loft. He would be one of three full-time illegal subletters. The owner of the co-op apartment, a Jungian analyst, has an office there and sleeps over in the spare bedroom two nights a week. The rent is six hundred dollars for a gigantic room of his own with French doors and a beautifully furnished living room.
b. An apartment on Roosevelt Island, the small Manhattan suburb accessible by subway, tram, and car (the only road goes via distant Queens). David's unit, like all the others in the two apartment complexes on the island, would be new and bright, safe and characterless. The rent is six hundred dollars.
c. A tiny Manhattan studio on the quiet, safe, and deadly dull Upper East Side. There he'd have a kitchenette in his room and a shower stall next to the oven, with a special little toilet closet (the only closet in the entire apartment). But it would be a place all his own, not to mention its proximity to all trains, and the price: six hundred dollars.
d. A three-bedroom, two–full bath in flavorless midtown Manhattan with three other friends. One of the three roommates shares the master bedroom with roommate number two, who is only home in the evenings, as he sleeps at his lover's apartment every night. Pluses: David would have his own room, space to entertain, light, security, utilities split four ways, easy commute to work. Minuses: Noisy as hell, strange neighborhood, reduced privacy, too much junk mail, occasional lost phone messages.
2. Kate and Chloe have been involved for three months. Each of their leases is up in six weeks. It seems a waste of money to have two apartments in the Brookline section of Boston, especially since the women spend so much time together. The honeymoon is far from over, and could probably endure a yearlong lease. Besides, it takes two to find one fabulous apartment. They should throw caution to the wind and get a place together. True or False?
3. Isabel and Ron have been involved on and off for three years. He has impeccable taste — a beautiful ottoman, a complete set of Harlequinware (inherited from Mom) — and meticulous manners. Isabel is a fabulous cook, and has a TV, VCR, and an antique wrought-iron queen-size bed. Ron is a consultant at a major architectural firm. Isabel is an assistant professor of art history at DePaul University in Chicago. The two could have a gorgeous setup if they agreed that their relationship could weather living together. Isabel will move in with Ron with hopes for marriage. Ron is psyched to split the rent and utilities, and thinks living together could be a blast. They should shack up. True or False?
4. Mom and Dad live on Bainbridge Island, just a ferry ride away from downtown Seattle, where Susan has just been hired to work full-time at a bookstore. The rents in Capitol Hill are high, and the 'rents on Bainbridge Island don't seem as irritating as they did in high school. They've offered to house Susan for free and give her the 1985 Volvo she's been coveting since its purchase. (Dad is getting a new car.) Can she survive living with her parents?
5. ESSAY QUESTION: You've just arrived in San Francisco with a job in your pocket and a home on your old college roommate's couch. While you don't want to overstay your welcome, you also don't want to settle into any old apartment. Because Jane is your only friend in the San Francisco area, the dependence factor is high. She tells you of two housing possibilities: The first, a rent-controlled studio on Castro Street with beautiful moldings, hardwood floors, a working fireplace, high ceilings, an eat-in kitchen, and a washer and dryer. The second, a share in a four-bedroom apartment with three preexisting roommates in a co-op style environment, also on Castro. The latter is available in three weeks, and though it is a nice apartment, you aren't sure that you are ready for such a big, new family. The former sounds perfect, and is presently occupied by Jane's colleague Andrea. After eight months of glee, Andrea has decided that she and Greg are ready to live together. She can move out in six weeks at the earliest. You want to get out of Jane's hair, but part of you wants to hold out for the beautiful apartment that can, allegedly, be yours in time. The discrepancy is two hundred dollars in favor of the share. What to do?
1. C or d, depending on whether David is roommate-compatible. Some people's tolerance for roommates expires soon after they move out of that off-campus rattrap they shared with five friends during their senior year of college. These types select c. If David does like roommates, he can enjoy discounted utility bills and more space for entertaining if he selects d. B is his next best bet. There's something to be said for spaciousness, especially in Manhattan. But David is not going to be able to dine out or catch a movie on the spur of the moment from this distant location. And what will he use for bait to lure friends to his parties? A is a bad move. Who wants to spend any extra time with a Jungian, not to mention three extra strangers? He will have no privacy, and he might as well move in with his parents.
2. True. So far, so good. If there are no glaring problems after your ninety-day warranty is up, the chance to play house and save money may make it worth taking the plunge. Can they get a month-to-month lease? They should look into it. Caution: A year in claustrophobic relationship hell lasts a lot longer than say, a year in Provence.
3. False. It's tempting given the complementary talents and possessions, but they're not enough to sustain the wear and tear of an everyday relationship. Never move in with someone who has commitment problems. And Isabel shouldn't kid herself by thinking he'll marry her. His reasons for shacking up are financial and in his favor; hers include a long-term vision to which he is blind.
4. No. Never ever ever. Don't be tempted by the car; it is a false promise of sovereignty. The pluses: full fridge, free rent. Minuses: no privacy, no sex, no drugs, nervous breakdown. Not worth it.
5. Unless you are making absolutely no money, take that gorgeous studio. But how secure is that relationship between Andrea and her boyfriend? Assuming that their love lasts for the duration of the sublet, will you be able to take over the lease? These are concerns you should heed while responding to the question. On the upside, Andrea is a friend of Jane's, and Jane is a friend of yours, so a = c, and Andrea may let you start moving in some of your belongings early. A share is not so bad, especially if you've just graduated from college; your standards are already sub. Besides, the roommates are generous, nice, and cool. There is money to be saved and an instant social life to be gained. You can't go wrong with either of these options, so do take one of them.
METROPOLIS NOW: ON YOUR OWN IN THE BIG CITY
"FIND A CITY, FIND MYSELF A CITY TO LIVE IN."
— THE TALKING HEADS, "CITIES"
You've had it. You've held every job your college and hometowns have had to offer. You've dated everyone you've ever known. Every bridge has been burnt, rebuilt, and burnt again, and all before you've begun your adult life. It is time to being anew, to reconstruct your identity, to brave the new world. You've decided to move to a big city. We applaud you.
Now you are faced with some daunting tasks. You have to hunt and gather an apartment, a job, some friends. People often move to a city in which they have one but not all of these. Never fear. You are a Frugal Indulgent, if not now, then soon. It's time to start stalking your prey, on bulletin boards online and off. As you begin to sort out where you want to live, we suggest the following:
Gather newspapers from the intended city. This enables you to get a sense of the urban culture, as well as gauge rental climates and job prospects.
Hunt down friends who can house your body all night long. It is much easier to move to a city where you know and can tolerate at least one person. It affords you a couch to stay on while looking for your new home. That person becomes an ambassador of sorts, giving you housing leads, introducing you to some of his crowd, and informing you of job openings and contacts. (Your sponsoring friend has as strong an interest in your apartment search as you do: he wants you off of his futon and onto your own.) If you are moving to Dallas from rural Wisconsin, it is time to dust off your old school phone directories and ask if your fellow alumni have older hipster sibs willing to take you under their veteran wings. The squeaky wheel gets the contacts, so get on the horn and honk loudly.
Excerpted from "Frugal Indulgents"
Copyright © 1997 Kera Bolonik and Jennifer Griffin.
Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Frugal Indulgent Manifesto,
I. A Few Bons Mots: Cunning Lingo,
II. Your Fabulous Apartment: Be It Never So Humble,
III. Shopping: Getting And Spending, We Lay Waste Our Power,
IV. Entertainment: Champagne In A Can, Caviar In Your Dreams,
V. Vacation: All I Ever Wanted,
Praise For Frugal Indulgents,
About The Authors,