It started with onions. I put an onion into every batch of soup I cook, cooking it patiently on low heat in olive oil or butter so that the onion slices caramelize and turn sweet, and my kitchen smells like a Mexican restaurant when they bring out the fajitas and everyone turns and looks with order envy.
But this Monday the soup was different because the onion had no scent. “Do you think this is weird?” I asked Doug, “I can’t smell this onion, can you?” Then I tasted it, but the onion had no flavor either, so then I was mad that we bought the cheap onions from the store where I usually hesitate to buy the produce. What kind of freak onion has no scent and no flavor? Then I had to eat the soup anyway because it’s No Spend Month, and I couldn’t afford to throw out four day’s worth of lunches.
I thought No Spend Month was going to be easy this year, with this being our fourth and all. We already know everything to do. Same song, second verse… Stay home, limit driving, scrambled eggs and baked potatoes. Popcorn on the stove and home projects.
It wasn’t going to be as hard because we don’t go out to eat anymore, anyway. Maybe Chipotle sometimes, but any other place is rare. We used to go out to eat a lot when the baby was in a carrier and it was more fun to go out than stay at home. Going out to eat was what we struggled to give up during the first No Spend Month, but that was before the celiac diagnosis that makes me terrified of bread crumbs and the cross contamination that could send my sweet girl to the hospital. It’s too much of a risk to go out to eat as a family, but also I’m more picky, and most meals don’t seem worth the $12. That’s why I can’t order pasta in Italian restaurants. Nine dollars for a bowl of noodles boiled in water? Seriously? I’ll get something I can’t make for myself at home.
I even planned for the phases I always go through during No Spend Month: each week with varying degrees of determination mixed with desperation, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much this month I would feel just plain annoyed. Annoyed at the onions. Annoyed at how I can’t get a haircut, and it’s already been seven months. Annoyed at how I can’t go to Panera and how long it takes to cook food from scratch and why can’t we just get to eat sandwiches like normal people do. My rants of ridiculousness usually end about cheese toast or sandwiches, and that’s when Doug mercifully gets me a baguette and sopressata at Central Market so I can eat it guiltily, but at least I don’t feel hungry anymore. I hate eating food they can’t have too.
There was also the time a couple of nights ago that I couldn’t help myself but to look at an online July sale, so I convinced myself it was to find “Christmas presents” because gifts for others don’t count as personal shopping. I didn’t buy anything though.
Anyway, I’m noticing a lack of margin in my life that is more clear as the fallback cushion gets taken away. It takes planning to eat at home every time. I need margin to feel patient instead of annoyed when I can’t structure and control the day for efficiency. So much this month feels inconvenient. I think it’s supposed to.