Since my last update I have spent more money than I am comfortable with (and yet, I hear, not enough!) on:

1. A laptop stand (bought one, returned it, bought another)
2. An external keyboard (bought one, and after being informed online that my purchase was UNERGONOMIC, returned it, bought another)
3. Wrist and mouse rest (thankfully, I brought a mouse with me from Singapore)

And today: 4. A proper office chair.

This is upsetting indeed. I have tried diligently to avoid purchasing an office chair because A) I like my current chair a lot but it’s too short B) I dont want to spend more money because even breathing air in New York City is bloody expensive, and C) no matter how you spin it, office chairs are damned ugly.

But it has come to this. I spend at least 5-6 hours a day at my desk, typing, or editing. My wrist has protested in the form of carpal tunnel. My back moans at me every day. This is unreasonable for a woman of only twenty seven – one who eats veggies, fruits, and worked out 4-5 times a week before my hand required me to pause all physically strenuous activity! There’s no getting around it: I feel so betrayed by my body. I feel as if I have treated it with respect and all it wants from me is money and more money. Is this what having kids is like? Ugh.

Anyway, in a bid to avoid spending money, I’d traded my beautiful white chair for my housemate’s office chair the last two weeks. There’s no denying that the ability to adjust the height of the chair has improved my life greatly. But my back still creaks and I don’t like how the chair leans back. Plus, being a small Chinese girl, my feet can’t touch the floor in this chair that has too wide a seat. Lastly, and perhaps most pertinently, this is not my chair. It’s my housemate’s, and there is a lease to his generosity. It will have to be returned at some point. It was becoming increasingly clear that I would have to spend some dollahs.

Thus began a couple of weeks of obsessively pouring over Amazon and Wayfair reviews, options, prices. Everything was expensive, and even then, all chairs came with both very good and very bad reviews. Perhaps I am not as much of an optimist as I previously thought: I became fixated on the bad. If I were to spend money to remain in pain perhaps it would be better not to spend the money at all? But at the back of my mind I knew these were just excuses: I needed a chair.

I finally went to a Staples today after church. I was enticed by the big red sign, CHAIR SAVINGS EVENT! It reminded me of the way sales in Korea are referred to as Events. Events, in my head: a thing to be celebrated. Much like the erasure of my lower back pain. A woman in her mid twenties should not be in this much lower back pain. I pushed the doors open and went in.

I spent about half an hour sitting in various chairs, rolling around, leaning back, trying to touch the floor. I sat in mesh chairs, leather chairs, gaming chairs, cushy chairs. I realised that comfortable, soft chairs encouraged in me a mood of laziness. That gaming chairs were too ugly for me to bear. I wish I were an artist so apart from the material world but the truth is, I am not. I enjoy pretty things and will not be shamed for it! I concluded that leather chairs seem made primarily for wide-bottomed men, so much so that if I wanted to sit straight, my back would not touch the chair, in which case, what for? That left mesh, which I did not love, but seemed the most practical for the purposes of cleaning. And besides, they looked the most ventilated, which I thought of in terms of the eventual arrival of summer, a mark of my ability to plan ahead.

There was this one chair I had been avoiding, partially because other people were trying it most of the time, partially because it looked plain and unenticing, mostly because it cost two hundred dollars.

But I had tried everything else in the store and everything felt like a compromise. I walked over, sat down, and fell in love.

It was the correct height, the correct width. My back felt like it was being gently supported by a pair of hands. The seat was not so deep that I would have to fidget to get my back against the chair while remaining upright. The armrests were movable, and removable. In that moment looks no longer mattered to me, it was no longer plain, nor boring, it was the proverbial one. My back was singing. It was two hundred dollars.

A girlfriend called me then, I explained my situation, all the while nestling deeper against the chair. She said: two hundred dollars for a peace of mind? Jemimah, there are some things you save money on, and some you don’t.

I went to the counter and placed my order. As if by divine intervention, the sales assistant looked it over and pronounced that it was on sale and would come up to only $130. Only! I thought about how my initial budget for a new chair was fifty dollars and then quickly brushed that thought away. I hemmed and hawwed for another ten minutes over whether I wanted Chair Insurance which is apparently very much a thing. I got the insurance.

I am now back at home, sitting in my housemate’s chair, writing this. My new chair will arrive on Tuesday, at which point I will have to build it. Till then, my meals will have to consist whatever is already in my fridge, or on sale at the grocery store. My chair has usurped more than two weeks worth of grocery money, which is causing me a different type of acute pain. But I cannot bring myself to be unhappy. I cannot help but think, though unrealistically, that from this moment everything will change. Ah – so this is what it is. One must advance with a heady mix of optimism, naivete, and deliberately placed limitations on her field of vision. Such are the ingredients necessary to proceeding as a functioning member of a world straddled between the practical and absurd.