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I live in one of the most expensive cities ever on the planet. I am stuck in a job that will pay me enough to live here, more or less, which means that I have to choose between living the life I came here to live and taking care of teh things i need, ie, if I buy nice winter boots at full price I cannot have any fun. After my expenses I have about $16/day, which is a ton of money except that a) I am a terrified cook and grocery stores make me panic so I do not eat cheaply and b) I like to go to the theater and out on the town and also c) if I want to buy things like clothes or shoes new that is also a lot of money because I am fat. That $16 includes all food except the work groceries I try to buy – so dinner 7 nights a week + breakfast and lunch on the weekends — any things I need like toothpaste or lotion or costuming or god forbid a new pair of shoes, and my entertainment budget.
And I will TOTALLY OWN that this means I do not actually have a money problem. I don’t have enough to live the life I would like to live but I have a lot of money left over and I can cover all my bills. If I could get over this food shit I would have a LOT of money left over. As it is, and for the record – I am very self conscious about this – it is not like I am eating out super fancy, and it is not like I go out and blow $50 on alcohol. But I have a drink when I go out (almost half of my daily budget), and sometimes I like a coffee when I am in a restaurant (an eighth to a quarter of my daily budget). Sometimes I like to take Erin out to dinner (two days worth of budget!). Sometimes I like to buy a bottle of bourbon to have around the house (a little over a day of budget.) Or go to a theater (somewhere between a little over half my daily budget and a little over one day’s budget.) Or get insoles for my shoes! (Almost my whole daily budget.)
Which is to say that I am always on the lookout for affordable nice things for myself. And though New York is expensive, it is also very cheap if you know where to look. And there is nowhere I like to look more than the deli or the food cart that has my favorite vice, EGG AND CHEESE ON A ROLL.
Yes, friends, EGG AND CHEESE ON A ROLL. The breakfast of the lazy New Yorker. For a dollar fifty at the deli on the corner I can get an egg and cheese on a toasted roll with salt and pepper. For two twenty five I can get TWO eggs and cheese on a roll at the cart by my work, sometimes on an everything bagel instead.
EGG AND CHEESE ON A ROLL is melty and delicious and kind of gross – it is “cheese” in the loosest sense – but it is soft egg and salty plastic cheese and a crispy roll that is a little like kleenex underneath. Sometimes when you are having a stressful morning, say, and you have to leave your girlfriend’s house because you do not have time for her to finish her morning routines, and you have to go to the hardware store (one quarter of my daily budget) AND go to two banks AND stop by the drugstore (almost half my daily budget) AND get to work early, sometimes, it is just too much to go to the grocery store to get work groceries, which is problematic because then here it is and it’s 9:30am and I’ve already spent just under 3/4 of my daily budget and I still need to eat breakfast and lunch and buy something nice to take to dinner, and I have to get a haircut on my lunch break, and shit there goes the daily budget.
TWO TWENTY FIVE. (an eighth of my daily budget). It is so delicious and if I am lucky it will take me through lunch because I got two eggs instead of one. Sometimes it is the little things that make it better. Thank you, eggs. Thank you, plastic cheese. Thank you, soft white roll.