For most of my adult life, I lived in very expensive cities on about $30k, which means that I lived in small spaces with several other people, and my furniture was generally of the found or scrounged variety. I was always fairly comfortable in my surroundings (if you discounted the auditory and olfactory senses), but I very rarely spoiled myself with a new Nice Thing.
I’d always assumed that if I ever wanted to abandon my more bohemian aspirations and get an actual job (sell out and go straight), I would make more money and be able to afford my own place and new furniture. And I’d be able to occasionally splash out on a Nice Thing. And in fact, that happened! (Well, that, along with moving to a very inexpensive city.)
But here’s the rub: it turns out that even when you have some disposable income, it’s still quite a job to spoil yourself. For one thing, buying a Nice Thing is never the end of the endeavor. Usually, even though you’ve paid a lot of money for something, you still have to figure out how to transport it, assemble it, paint it, set it up, get a bunch of different types of chords and attachments for it, introduce it to your other stuff and mediate disputes, figure out why it’s not working the way the box says it will, knock it onto the ground and break it in a fit of pique, buy another and start over, etc etc etc.
And too, the very second you have the Nice Thing installed, assembled, and working, the forces of time and nature begin to work against you. The Nice Thing must be cleaned, fixed, maintained, charged, rotated, upkept. In many cases, it creates its own new messes and complications that you then have to deal with. It begins to disintegrate the very second you bring it through the door.
And so with each new Nice Thing, you have a more complicated life than you had the day before.
In fact, dealing with your continually slowly deterioriating surroundings is more or less a full-time job. For example, as I sit here typing this, one of the floodlights over my garage has gone out and the other has started shining 24/7 instead of being motion-detected like it is supposed to be. The clicker that is meant to open and close my garage door has ceased to function. Even though I vacuumed three days ago, everything around me is again covered in a blanket of dust. There are untold numbers of huge cardboard crates and packing materials from assorted Regular Things that have come in the mail that need to be broken down, bound into bundles, and put into the recycling. The cover that goes over my box springs is covered in dust, and I can’t lift the mattress by myself to get it off the box springs and wash it. One Nice Thing I recently purchased is a keyboard tray that needs to be assembled and attached to my standing desk and I can’t figure out the instructions, and also I think I need to purchase additional tools. The last time I paid any attention to either the front or back yards was just before Halloween, and even though I spent an entire weekend sweating over them at that time, they already resemble Grey Gardens. There’s an oil spill on the garage floor. One of the fireplace tiles has cracked. I never put a winter cover over the swamp cooler. The sliding glass door is in backwards. Some of the sills at the bottom of the doorframes have come unnailed. The bathroom sink has started backing up. There’s a certain table that I clear off every single day, and every morning there are somehow 4,000+ pieces of crap scattered across it again.
Everyone lives this way, and for each person or animal you add to your life, the problem is doubled.
I think that in general, most people deal with the ongoing sabotage of entropy in one of two ways: (1) they are oblivious to it, and go about making their art or playing with their children or dozing in front of the TV completely numb to the rising tide of grime, clutter, popped lightbulbs, stinky upholstery, and broken appliances surrounding them; or (2) they are a person who just naturally efficiently and quickly deals with any sort of physical issue that arises without sweating much over it, procrastinating about it, or being flummoxed by how to fix it (and I would suggest that perhaps this second type of person does not have a particularly rich inner life).
There are also a very few people who are exceedingly wealthy enough to pay for all of this to be the problem of some other person or persons. And there are a dwindling number of men who have managed to marry an old-fashioned woman willing to make combating entropy on behalf of the family her full-time occupation.
But for most of us, the options are to ignore this shit, or spend all our free time dealing with it.
Anyway, the point of all this is that this winter, I’ve tried to stop rewarding myself with food and alcohol, and instead have actually been on the hunt for a Nice Thing to enrich my life without requiring a substantial outlay of time and energy for me to accommodate it. This was surprisingly challenging! There aren’t many Nice Things that fit this criteria!
I’d been noodling on this for a while now, but then I finally cracked it: I purchased a pillow that cost over $60. And let me tell you — if you have a spare $60 around, go online and buy yourself a $60 pillow immediately.
Me, I’d never given any thought at all to pillows! They’re just there. I bought my pillows probably about five years ago for about $12 at a Walgreens or something, and at this point, they have the consistency of a half-empty bag of oatmeal that was left out in the rain for a month. But they’re just pillows, you just lie on them, it never occurred to me to make them better.
But this pillow! It’s far more comfortable to sleep on, yes, but it’s also SO MUCH BETTER to fold into a bunch and prop myself up against in bed. I don’t slowly slide down while I’m reading, or realize that I have a migraine and a neck ache after sitting against it for an hour.
And it is the perfect Nice Thing because it came to my door, I popped it out of the box, and into a pillowcase, and that was it! Done! The pillow immediately went about its job of making my life better without my having to go to any trouble at all to get it situated and functioning in its new position. And it won’t break or run out of batteries or need to be tuned or charged or have its software upgraded. It will just sit there and be a good pillow until it isn’t a good pillow anymore, and then I will throw it out and buy another one.
That’s how everything should be.