We have a saying in my family: “They mean for me to have these!” It originated with my grandmother (you know the one), who liked to fill her purse with Splenda packets, napkins, anything you might find on the table at a Denny’s. I don’t know what she did with them, as she didn’t seem to eat much besides hot dogs and ice cream (which explains a lot about my own nutritional habits, but that is for a different day), but there was no stopping her. If it’s on the table in front of you, they mean for you to have it. My mother and I are the same: we are never short on ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, and anything else they meant for us to have. We are trying a new thing, called “free Christmas,” in which everything we get for our family members must be (duh) free. And we will go to great lengths for a shot at some free junk. I recently put myself in a semi-dangerous position for a bag of free books (worth it); I look forward to checking the mail at work because it’s near the “free table,” which is like a treasure trove of office supplies, weird CDs, old books, and dreamcatchers; and I swaptree like it’s my job. If it’s free, they mean for me to have it.
Of course, I don’t know who “they” are. The universe, my grandmother, whoever. Details. “They” have never let me down, and in this magical time known as omigodweareinarecession, my crazy habits are seeming a little less crazy. Not only do I have a massive stockpile of books (most still with the goodwill sticker in place) to entertain me until I can afford to leave the house again, I consider bargain hunting the ultimate shopping experience. Witness: I bought a pair of pants for $1.97 yesterday. Sure, I almost died on the freeway due to the unfortunate driving-in-a-blizzard situation, but $1.97. Worth it. Also, I had a good reason for going out in the storm, and it all tracks back to the recession: they’ve turned the heat down in the office. Not the same “they” as my Gods Of Free Things; these “they” are evil. I’m tired of wearing my wool coat all day, so I went on a mission to find something less coat-y and more work appropriate and, oh boy, did I find It: a huge, beige sweater-thing that can best be described as a blanket-with-sleeves. It is ridiculous, and I think it will send a clear message to Evil-They (message: turn the heat up a degree or two before I go full-scale hobo lady on you). Also, it was only $7. Couldn’t resist.