Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Poor Poet's Luxe Lifestyle

Choosing the life of a poet and writer didn't generate tons of money, particularly in my early, studio apartment, years. What I didn't possess in cash resources I tried to make up for with a little creativity and a touch of style. If things were going to be simple, they might as well be simply elegant.

Strictly enforced eating rules: No matter what I drank, be it water, then-affordable cotes du rhone or gatorade, I drank from a wine glass. And no matter what I ate, I used chopsticks, be it healthy Chinese stir-fry, over-salted ramen noodles or a broiled steak. I also cooked with chopsticks since I had no cooking utensils, mixing spoons, serving forks or ladles.

As soon as I arrived home from work every day, I slipped into a Japanese kimono-style robe for the remainder of the evening, if I were staying home. If it were cold, the robe went over my sweater and skirt. I sewed my own "sofa" using a Butterick pattern, heavy canvas and bags of foam rubber purchased from the corner wholesaler.

My cheap little FM clock radio spewed soothing waves of classical music, my shelves were hefty with classics and poetry books from the library, and the walls held either inexpensive posters or original art created by friends willing to give me a sizable discount. I bathed by candlelight.

I needed no car. Work was accessible by elevated train, friends were within walking distance and family was a bus ride away. The beach was two blocks over. I attended and/or performed in poetry readings two or three times a week. I wrote sheaves of poems and consumed underground comic books as trash reading. Another trashy habit was smoking, but which has since been crushed out of my life, for good!

Thus was life in one room plus. Rents were smaller then, and my paycheck was even tinier. But those years were among the richest I can remember. ◦


Beth Quinlan said...

I'm attempting to do the same, but at mid-life one becomes less poetic and more . . . uh, scared. Nonetheless, I've tried to make a poet's apartment out of my cave. My twenty something daughter contributed some deco when she moved in. I get to listen to her acoustic guitar "folk music" when neither of us are at work.

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