Like my co-blogger, I'm in the process of moving apartments. Technically this means putting stuff into storage, running off to lower-rent lands, and returning come the fall, in the hopes of finding a recession-priced townhouse in the West Village, by which I mean studio apartment within walking distance of NYU. While we have hired (Brooklyn's least expensive!) movers for the furniture, the storage space happens to be on the same bus route as our apartment, and it was cheaper to 'claim' the storage space early, so we figured we might as well start the move ourselves. For whatever reason, the fact that a street fair blocked the entirety of that bus route did not stop us from thinking this course of action made sense. My arms are now in fine shape indeed. Jo suggested I try weight training, but to go to the campus gym in the summer now costs $50, so boxes it is.
Speaking of carrying things, here's another area where frugality adversely impacted my quality of life. After carrying around a backpack with every-expanding holes at the bottom and an ever-thickening layer of filth (as happens to things you put regularly on the floor of the subway) for some time, it occurred to me that perhaps the bag had had it's day. Which it had, so I threw it out. What I didn't do was buy a replacement. Because that would require the exchange of money for stuff, stuff that isn't fun in any way, and I figured that through some combination of tote bags and reused plastic shopping bags, I could get through the great Library Book Shift of 2009. I figured wrong. Thank you, Brooklyn Industries, for having one of your periodic bag sales just in time.
In news of thrift on a larger scale, colleges are now cutting back on 'extras'. Predictably, in that the linked-to story is a lifestyle piece in the New York Times, and one that allows comments, after reading about some rather extreme college perks (how many schools ever had HBO in student rooms?) you get to hear from the ranks of those convinced that bratty Kids These Days demand luxuries beyond what they, when young, would have dared ask for.
But is it really the kids who demand these perks? I agree that there's been a trend in abandoning austerity-for-character-building's-sake, and that we no longer as a society believe one must be in a permanent state of physical discomfort, ala British boarding school of yore, in order to get an education. But I simply don't believe the undergrads care about the landscaping, the 'free' laundry, the fancy gyms, and so forth. These are things colleges do to one-up one another. Sure, there's some sense, if a student looks at nine schools with Perk A, that if the tenth lacks that perk, it's perhaps a worse-funded or less-brand-name institution. But it would have never occurred to individual undergrads to ask for most of what's now offered, to set the spartan-to-lavish scale where it's currently at.