Seventeen years and almost $200,000 in and God, do I still have a lot to learn. My life thus far has been spent acquiring knowledge, yet the most valuable information I've come across in all this time doesn't cost $50,000 a year. I would say it's free, but there's almost always a suggested donation to the universe, be it frustration, permanent scars from cat claws, or little chunks of dignity I'll never reclaim (cut to me flat on my back on an icy sidewalk, Sport giving me a quizzical look of "what'cha doing down there?", and me looking around to make sure no one saw as I learn the hard way to make note of which neighbors boycott sidewalk salt). A few tidbits I've gleaned from such lessons:
As long as you have a stockpile of dried legumes in the pantry, you can survive on less than $30 of groceries a week.
On a not totally unrelated note, potatoes and Brussels sprouts do, in fact, present fewer culinary options (even with considerable creativity) than the number of nights a $30 food budget necessitates they be consumed.
Having a wallet tighter than a 90s TaeBo instructor's butt helps when you have a heart more open than Kim Kardashian's legs (... have I been drinking without realizing it? The metaphors are dirtier than the bathroom in a girls' dorm tonight). The homeless, neglected senior dog you selflessly welcomed into your life seems to think that vet bills, expensive food, and medications that cost half your weekly salary (and temper tantrums that involve biting passing joggers) demonstrate gratitude and constitute proper repayment for your kindness.
Money is not all it's cracked up to be, especially when it can be traded in for things like a pain-free dog and the rare indulgence of an enormous block of overpriced yet obscenely delicious imported sheep's milk cheese (which, incidentally, crumbled liberally over tonight's potatoes and Brussels sprouts, made them just a little bit more bearable).