Thursday, December 07, 2006

Where I'm At

With my infrequent posting this week, you probably think I'm spending all my time basking in the glory of my new home. Well, I did a little of that, but then I had to take off on a business trip! But my consolation is that I'm in a sunny, warm location with a little bit of free time between meetings to take advantage of some nearby sea and sand.
There was recently an article in the NY Times about how female business travelers often enjoy their time on the road, as it provides an escape from the demands of home and family. Well, I have no family to make demands on me, and I don't currently feel any desire to escape from my home, but I do tend to enjoy business travel, and of course some of the reasons I do relate to money!
Firstly, any time I'm away on business means I can expense all my meals, so there's some savings right off the bat.
Secondly, sometimes I go to conferences held in nice locations-- upscale resorts that I would not normally pay to stay at on my own. Sometimes the places aren't all that special, but when you get to escape to a warm beach location in December, it seems heavenly anyway.
And then there are the little perks. At some of the companies I've worked for, some downtime is built into the conference, and various activities are offered. I think I've had 3 massages in my life, and they were all done during conferences.
I love getting a massage. I often have neck and shoulder pain, and a massage is a wonderful way to alleviate it. I go to a gym that offers massages, but though I would love to get one every week or every month (every day might be a bit too hedonistic for me), I have never gotten one. Why? Because it seems like an overindulgent use of money. I just can't quite make myself do it, even though I've spent many dollars on less useful and less therapeutic things.
Today I finally got over this barrier. My company covered a 25-minute massage. This is what I've had in the past, but I always found that it was over far too soon. So this time, I decided to upgrade it to a 50-minute massage and pay the difference myself. I booked it without even asking how much this was going to cost me-- I kind of knew roughly what it would probably be, but I didn't want to hear the number! What did that number turn out to be? $66, after a 10% discount, and including a 20% automatic gratuity.
Was it worth it? The massage did feel great. I left there feeling relaxed and loose. It was kind of like the relaxed, loose feeling I get after taking a yoga class... of course, yoga classes are included in the price of my gym membership, so they are "free." Was I paying $66 to be relaxed and loose while covered in scented oil rather than my own sweat? Well, there is more to it than that.
In any case, it was a lovely indulgence, but one I won't repeat often. At least not until I'm making more money than I do now.
I think the other reason I don't otherwise get massages is that most places that offer them, i.e. "spas," just reek of sycophancy towards rich people. You're greeted and fawned over, and the whole point of the place is to pay lots of money to be pampered and stroked, literally. Sometimes it can just seem too decadent, too escapist, and it can be infuriating to be spoken to in this kittenish, sickly sweet fake voice that spa receptionists seem to favor. I find it really bizarre, and not at all conducive to relaxation, as it's obviously intended to be. Fortunately, in my experience at least, the people doing the actual massaging are usually normal and down to earth types. And I'm sure there are some spas that try to be more "earthy" overall. But then there is also that side to the whole thing, the "Bobos in Paradise" phenomenon wherein massage equals "body work"equals pursuit of self-actualization and somehow saving the environment and working towards peace for all humankind. Well, that is a nice way to sell something, and the people who work in spas need a job like the rest of us, but it doesn't negate the fact that we spend more and more millions of dollars every year on pampering ourselves when that money could serve many other purposes. But that's life, I guess. And as I said before, I certainly did enjoy the massage. And afterwards I went for a swim in the ocean to try to wash myself clean.


Anonymous said...

Madame X-
I love you blog and read it all the time. I used to get massages once a year, but now am in a position to get them about once a month. I also pay for a personal trainer once a week. Granted, if I had to choose these or food or shelter, I would cut them out without thinking twice. However, I feel that this investment in my health and well being is a small price to pay. When I think about what I spend on meals out (and I know you can relate to that!) or at Target, or something like that, it seems that money spent on my body and making it healthier and hopefully alleviating some pain, it seems silly to say that $65.00 a month for a massage is too much. You are worth it! Cut something else out of your budget if you need to!

Anonymous said...

I get my massages at the massage school! Normally $25, but they are always running BOGO free offers. $12.50 for an hour long massage. It's in a very clinical setting and the quality varies. I've never had a hoity-toity massage, but I can't imagine they're worth THAT much more!

mapgirl said...

I have a friend just finished his CMT. I love it when I talk to him. He just turns me around as I'm chatting away and he starts in on my neck & shoulders. Eventually I just shut up and enjoy it. It's one of the best luxuries of our friendship.

I've never paid for a massage, but I did barter one once. It was amazing and I really needed it since I have poor posture at my desk at work. I was also given some exercises/stretches to improve my posture. I see it more as a health consultation, but I also wouldn't do the luxury spa thing. I went to one once when I was having a bad day on a client site. I ran to the hotel spa and asked for a pedicure. That's as far as I'll go. I think I can't get a massage from someone I don't know, so it helps to have friends who are CMT's or studying. But I know I definitely can feel a difference after I've had one.

Single Ma said...

In front of that preposition. LOL

Business travel is the best when you have time for leisure. I've had the most luxurious experiences when I'm away on business - visits to the spa, executive treatment, elaborate restuarants, etc. But I sure do work a lot harder when I'm away from the office too. There is no office to leave and drive home to, no door to close, and no "business" hours.

Then when I return and file my expense report, I always get the bill before I'm reimbursed. This temporarily throws my finances out of wack.

So it's all a wash to me. I like it, but sometimes I don't.

If at all possible, I like to extend my trip and combine it with a short getaway so I can enjoy myself. I read the article you referred to and I can fully relate.

Enjoy your trip!