Thursday, March 31, 2011


So I was out all day-- got my haircut, bought myself some new clothes and shoes, shopped for a fraction of my necessities, and ended up eating dinner with my brother David. The clothing shopping, while done on a clearance sale day, still set me back a massive amount (two new shirts, two new pants, two ties, a new tie chain, a new pair of shoes, new tee shirts, and a casual shirt), so I decided not to buy half the things on my list. The last thing I need to do is plunge into the red. The other stuff on my list, while important, can wait a pay period.

The French have a cute expression for putting a stop to something that's gathering momentum: mettre le holà, which, if translated literally, means, "putting the whoa [on]," holà being French for the "whoa" used to stop a horse (no relation to the Spanish word for "hello"). Today, j'ai mis le holà to my spending, well before it could get out of hand.

The Korean ladies were delighted to see me at the barbershop. I got the sides and back of my scalp trimmed to more civilized-looking dimensions, but failed to stop the overeager ajumma from slathering gel in my hair. I despise chemicals in the 'do; even shampoo gets rinsed out, after all, and I prefer a pristine scalp. Men and women who pile on the chemicals and end up with helmet head look ridiculous to me, like retarded acolytes of Darth Vader. Normally, when I go to this barbershop, I tell the ladies not to put anything in my hair; today, for whatever reason, I forgot to do so. After gel-flattening my hair, the ajumma laughed when I said I preferred a more forehead-exposing style, with the hair swept back the way a crazy person's might be.

Instead of going straight back home after my haircut and shopping trips, I hung around the Alexandria area and ate dinner with my brother David. He cooked a rather impressive herbed chicken, but there was a moment when I feared that the smoke from his skillet was going to trigger his house's fire alarm. Luckily, that didn't happen. I also watched a few hours of Food Network, which I haven't seen in a long while. I witnessed Bobby Flay lose a lobster mac and cheese throwdown, saw Aarón Sanchez win an intense culinary battle on "Chopped All-Stars," and marveled as Robert Irvine salvaged a dying, mismanaged restaurant on "Restaurant: Impossible."

Why would I be so delighted to watch these shows? Well, you may not know this, because I don't remember whether I blogged about this back when it happened, but about two months ago I took my own lovely TV back to Costco for a full cash refund. Why? As I mentioned before, I wasn't getting much of an income from ETS: from January to March, I worked a total-- a total!-- of ten or fifteen days. How can anyone live on such an income? The only way to make rent, back then, was to get a lot of cash in a hurry, and the TV was my best bet. Because I was still well within the 90-day grace period for full refunds, I very sadly took the TV back to the Costco branch where I'd bought it, and received a wad of cash for my trouble. I made rent-- just barely-- as a result, and the living room has been TV-less since then.

There's a chance I may buy another TV later on, but it's certainly not a high priority. Other financial priorities come first, like staying on top of debt. Since my Fridays are currently free, I may end up doing some tutoring of my own to supplement my income; we'll see. Right now, though, it's good to have a bit of purchasing power; I feel more human again. At the same time, I'm glad I said "Basta!" to over-spending. Things could have gotten ugly.



hahnak said...

does nobody in your family have a spare old tv they could give you? im not one to talk since ive never gotten a tv from my parents, sibling or friends, but i do know that people often have extra sets that they dont use.

we are currently watching from one we bought in 2000. it is huge and heavy but we have no plans to upgrade for now. hopefully we can run it to death. we do not subscribe to cable but we do subscribe to netflix and we do watch a lot of food network stuff that way or via hulu (we hook up our laptop to the tv).

also: craigslist / goodwill / salvation army are also options to reuse.

i know these ideas arent for everyone, but just thought id throw out my 2 cents.

hahnak said...

also, since you are probably going to go back to korea, wouldnt it be best not to buy big ticket items, at least in the states? a used or just plain cheap t.v. here (or view hulu exclusively) and then after the walk, when you move back to korea, then buy a nicer tv.

just another useless thought.

and you should see

Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, precisely because the TV isn't a necessity, it's not high on my list of things to buy. However, if I do get a TV, I can sell it later on and make back a good portion of the original cost, especially if it's an ass-kicking TV like the LG that I had from roughly mid-November to January.

And here's a suggestion for you: how about buying a Roku? That would be nicer than having to attach your laptop to the TV to watch Netflix, etc. Instead of re-subscribing to cable, I'm thinking that I might rather have a Roku myself.

hahnak said...

id never heard of roku. it certainly sounds much more convenient than doing the whole plug the cables in thang!

Charles said...

I'm with you on the gel. Where I get my hair cut, my regular hairdresser knows that I never put stuff in my hair (my reasoning is that I'm just going home again, I'm not going out on a date or to appear on television), so now she asks the question in the negative ("You don't want anything in your hair, right?").

John from Daejeon said...

You might want to get a vulkano. It blows my students away when I access live, or recorded, cable/sat TV from the U.S. and England. All you need is a friend or family member to host it for you with decent broadband capabilities on both ends.

Kevin Kim said...

Vulkano sounds awesome.