Daily Archives: October 23, 2011

No Santa This Year

Day 56 | $31,450 paid | $59,267 till freedom

I got back from Detroit a little while ago where I had an outstanding time at my cousin’s wedding. I was so glad to be a part of it all. The wedding was great and the reception was a blast. I leveraged the open bar (much to my parents’ chagrin), I smoked cigars with my uncle, dad, and cousin (brother of the bride), I danced with the bride, bridesmaids, my sister, and my mom, and I got to see a lot of family members that I hadn’t seen since I was in town last December. It was great to catch up, and I’m glad I bought the plane tickets before I started NMHD.

All in, I spent $90. 

  • $21 — parking
  • $50 — wedding gift (Mom supplied the card–thank you!)
  • $19 — drinks

Total: $90

As far as those drinks go…I did break down and meet up with a girl from my hometown whom I randomly met in Austin a few weekends ago when she was here on vacation. It was bizarre–my  buddy and I were at a bar here in Austin and we walked over to a table of girls just to say hello. They happened to be from the same town where I went to high school and were on vacation visiting a friend from college who had recently moved to Austin. One of the girls and I hit it off, so I looked her up when I went back home. We went to Rochester Mills Brewery and had a great time, but given the distance, I doubt it has legs. That being said, money well spent; you never know…

No More Travel
The trip to Ann Arbor a few weekends ago, this past weekend’s trip, and next weekend’s trip to see my friends get married are all trips that really would not have happened if I had been doing NMHD at the time I purchased the tickets. The fact that I have enjoyed the two trips so immensely makes it that much harder to say this: After next weekend’s trip, I’m on travel lockdown until my student debt is paid off.

And I decided this past weekend that the travel lockdown also applies to holiday travel.

I’ve been checking out flights to Michigan that align with Christmas and my week of vacation, but they’re all pretty high–right around $500–and I’ve been thinking about how practical it would be to use that $500 and probably $30+ in parking to pay off my student loans instead of flying out to see my family during the holidays.

I’m rationalizing this decision by viewing a potential December trip not as a “holiday” trip, but as a chance to see my family. And since I got to see everybody at the wedding–literally everybody–that I would be seeing in two months anyway, it doesn’t make sense to spend the money twice. Obviously, there’s something magical about the holidays and it’s a time meant for families etc. etc., but practically speaking, it doesn’t make sense to spend that money right now given that I just saw everybody. 

I’m not happy about the decision and it’s an uncomfortable one for me to make, especially since I’m not the only one affected. This isn’t a victimless decision like skipping a meal at the airport and flying home hungry. This decision also affects my mom, my dad, and my sister, my aunts and uncles, my grandma, my cousins–all of the people who will miss me during Christmas. I think I feel more bad for them than I do for myself.

This decision just goes to confirm that this time of my life can best be described as “The Period of Sacrifice.” This isn’t a sustainable lifestyle and it’s not meant to be.  While 10 months feels like a marathon right now, in the grand scheme of things, it truly is a sprint in what I hope is a life that lasts 80+ years. So I’ll miss one Christmas–big deal! I can always fly out in July if I get my debt paid off  by then.

Unfortunately, my ten-year high school reunion is on the 23rd of December, so I’ll be missing that, too. No, the irony is not lost on me. Some people might see this as my chance to share the news of Harvard with friends I haven’t see in years. Instead, I’ll be sitting at home while my old friends reminisce and gossip because I’m too poor to pay for the trip!

Speaking of being too poor for trips, I got a save-the-date from my good friends’ wedding in Chicago at the end of April, and the travel lockdown will apply to that, too. I’ve known Luke and Faith for a couple of years now and they’re an awesome couple to hang out with. They’re extremely generous and often host pool parties at their house for our group of friends. Given the generosity they’ve shown me in the past and the fact that we have a large group of mutual friends, this will be a very epic wedding that will be very painful to miss. Unfortunately, my RSVP will have to be of the negative sentiment.

On a related note, I received an invitation to my friend’s “Co-Ed” baby shower in the middle of November. I’ll be skipping this, too, as I don’t want to spring for a gift.

It’s funny. I almost get sick to my stomach realizing that I’ll be missing out on huge, once-in-a-life-time events like the Luke-Faith wedding, but a part of me doesn’t feel as bad for missing Christmas. I think that’s only because I just got back from being at home for the weekend, and the holidays aren’t one-time events. However, I imagine that when Christmas does roll around and I have an entire week of  mandatory vacation and all my friends have left the city to be with their families, I’m going to find myself extremely homesick.

Frankly, this whole “missing stuff” is starting to suck. Everybody was talking about “Moneyball” this and “Drive” that over the weekend. I consider myself a movie buff and always have an opinion on these matters. I couldn’t say anything, though, because I haven’t seen a movie since I visited my sister in Chicago a couple of months ago.

Materialism…or Passion?
This is something that I’ll probably continue to come back to a lot during the next eight months. While I used to be extremely materialistic at one point in my life, a large part of me is sure that I’m over it, but another part of me isn’t quite sure, and yet another part wonders if I just have a passion for quality rather than materialism, and that’s why–besides my Aldo shoes–I tend to pay on the higher side of the scale for things rather than the lower.

What got me thinking about this dynamic is the story of somebody that came up in conversation this past weekend. As I alluded to in the last post, my dad has a Ferrari. He’s a Ferrari freak, and he’s wanted one for…well, his entire life, I think. Anyway, he finally got one not too long ago, and we drove it to a “car guy” event out in Birmingham, MI over the weekend. It was basically a bunch of car fanatics who park their cars–mostly exotics–in a parking lot at and just talk cars all Saturday morning long. My dad attends it regularly since, as he puts it, it gives him “the discipline to drive both the Ferrari and Porsche regularly so that they’re not inactive for longer than they should be.”

To be plucked out of my miserly lifestyle in Austin and plopped down in this environment definitely made my head spin a little.

One guy at the event, I can’t remember his name so I’ll call him Ronald, told my dad and me and some other guys the story of a man in Switzerland who works as a surgeon and also owns several large rental properties. I’ll call this guy Francois. One day, Ronald was admiring Francois’s collection of 40+ exotic cars, and Francois asked him for help starting his Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer, the battery of which had died. That’s right–despite owning millions of dollars’ worth of cars, the dude had no idea where the battery on his Ferrari was located nor how to use jumper cables to start it. Anyway, Ronald made short work of finding the battery and jumper cables and fired the beautiful Boxer up tout de suite.

In appreciation, Francois let him test-drive some of his exotics. After they had taken out a few cars, including a Ferrari F-40 (an incredibly rare car), Ronald spied a car hoisted on a jack high above the other vehicles. He asked if he could take it for a spin, but Francois apparently laughed, denied Ronald’s request for a test-drive, and explained that the car had  seven miles on it. He went on to say that whenever he’s having a rough day at the hospital, he’ll put his easy chair a little ways away from the lift, sink into the chair, light up a Cuban, and just look at the car.

The story was told as a humorous little anecdote and no one really gave it a second thought after Ronald shared it. Everybody, including myself, just kind of chuckled and the conversation moved effortlessly on to the next car story.

But now I can’t stop thinking about that guy and his stress reliever.

Is that a demonstration of materialism? Or is that passion? Or is that possibly an obsession? Is that guy trying to fill a hole in himself that he can’t fill any other way? Is that normal? I don’t know.

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