In 1999 I was living in Portland, Oregon, and JB was living a couple hours south in Corvallis. We were driving up and down I-5 on a regular basis to spend time together; I got my first speeding ticket barreling past Salem in a fever of anticipation.

JB’s workplace had an office in Corvallis and one in Las Vegas (they designed slot machine bonusing systems), and when the company decided to consolidate operations to Vegas they offered JB a job, all relocation expenses paid for the both of us. Graebel Moving came to my little city apartment and packed up all my shit in one dizzying afternoon, and then JB and I drove our cars to Nevada, chatting on walkie-talkies purchased for the trip.

We lived in a rental house in the suburbs, where we planted a lemon tree and installed a kiddie pool to make the 100+ degree afternoons more bearable. Cat prowled the yard and occasionally attacked the big dopey pigeons that perched on the fence. JB got a promotion and I found a marketing job at a crazy, dysfunctional dotcom. We lurked on the Strip on the weekends, hiked in the desert, visited the Grand Canyon, and drank like fish.

About halfway through our stay — we left for Seattle a year after we arrived, after I lost my stupid dotcom job and we realized how much we missed the color green —JB saw an ad for a local LASIK center offering a 50% savings on the procedure. Both of us were spectacularly myopic, we both wore contacts that dried to a husk in the windy, arid Vegas weather. We had a little money to spend at the time. So we booked back-to-back LASIK appointments.

I remember we sat for quite a while in a waiting room that broadcast video of the preceding patients’ surgeries on a TV, which was initially horrifying but after you saw three or four in a row the effect slowly wore off. They gave everyone a Valium, which lent for a slightly boozy atmosphere in the room, we started cheering when someone we’d been sitting with came back from their procedure giving the thumbs up.

The procedure itself doesn’t hurt, although it’s not exactly pleasant. I remember sitting in something like a dentist chair, my eyelids held open with surgical tape. The suction ring on my eyeball, most uncomfortable of all. The clatter of the laser, and the tiny twist of smoke coming up from my cornea and the smell — something like burnt hair.

We took a taxi home and sat around our house wearing big goofy goggles, and I remember the moment when I glanced through blurry halo’d vision to the VCR and realized I could actually read the digital clock display. From a distance where normally without glasses or contacts I’d see nothing but smears of color. Amazing.

I can’t recall how long it took to completely recover, I know we both had troubles with night vision for a while—but not much worse than what I already experienced with contacts. For months I found myself reaching up to push back the glasses that were no longer on my face, a ghost reaction whenever I got out of the shower.

Today I have something like perfect vision, or if not perfect, then close enough. I don’t get dry, itchy eyes from contact lenses, I don’t get headaches and a sweaty nose from wearing heavy-lens’d glasses. I can just see, as though I had good vision all my life.

In terms of sheer everyday use and appreciation, I’m pretty sure LASIK has been the best thing I’ve ever purchased. It is, as my mother (a LASIK fan) once said, damn near the only miracle you can buy.

Tell me your story: what is the best thing you ever bought?

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samantha jo campen
14 years ago

This is tough.

I guess I’d have to say my week in the hospital making sure the baby didn’t come 10 weeks early. That was a huge-ass bill, and insurance should cover most of it.

Quickly followed by the epidural I had when he was born two weeks ago. Hell to the yeah. I think it was, like, $5000 or something but dude, worth every penny.

caleal
caleal
14 years ago

Hmm. I don’t know, exactly, I haven’t made a bunch of big purchases.

I do know that after reading this story, however, I really want laser eye surgery.

I’m nearly blind without my contacts, and the idea of reading a clock from far away is oddly titillating. Am nerd.

Heidi
Heidi
14 years ago

In December of 2005, I also had LASIK. And yes, it was the best thing I had ever done for myself. I went from having 20/400 vision with an astigmatism, to having 20/20 in both eyes. I could never do contacts and was forced to wear glasses.
The doctor and staff were wonderful during the entire process.
Also, this past December, I got tattoo of a seahorse that I just love.

Amanda
14 years ago

Gastric bypass surgery. I paid $10k up front, but got it all back in the end from insurance. In hindsight, it would’ve been worth ten times that. You can’t really put a price on being able to wipe your own ass in a public restroom, which I couldn’t do 125 pounds ago.

H
H
14 years ago

Honestly, the $75 we spent on our first beagle. She was 3 months old so she was less expensive even though she was a purebred. She brought us 13 years of love and joy. Yes, there were times she drove us crazy, but looking back, she gave us a million times those $75 in love and laughter. (After she died, we rescued our second beagle, so he was free or I’d have to count him too.)

That picture you had of the neighbor with all the beagles made me smile but one beagle at a time is plenty.

All Adither
14 years ago

My two nose jobs.

Gwen
14 years ago

When my husband (then boyfriend) and I first moved in together, we each put a dollar a day into a box, saving up to get a dog. We’ve had Paddington for just over three years now, and I couldn’t imagine life without him.

Cetta
14 years ago

My teeth!

Years of medications for Crohn’s, combined with then-undiagnosed Sjogren’s Syndrome, ate away at the enamel on my teeth. My once perfect teeth had literally turned gray and were falling apart. No one could give me a straight answer as to why, but at 36 I was having root canals like some people get Botox. I finally said, “Enough!” I was spending money on these procedures and still my teeth were dying and ugly and I rarely smiled in public anymore. I saved up money (insurance paid 50%, so they wanted the other 50% up front) made an appointment and had them all yanked.

I spent the next year wondering if I did the right thing (it takes a full year for the bone to heal enough to get the dentures re-lined so that they fit perfectly — until then it’s a lot of adhesive and uncomfortable-ness). After the reline – and since – I love them. They’re perfectly straight, white, and never hurt.

And I don’t miss dentists one bit.

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
14 years ago

I had LASIK too in Nov. 2006. I hated wearing glasses (I only wore them to drive I hated them so much) and never wanted to try contacts (I had bad astigmatism).
I have 20/20 vision now, my eyes still get dry here and there and I still have glare at night and during the day. I also now have wonderful floaters in my left eye, which has nothing to do with the LASIK, they’re just annoying.
The coolest thing for me is now being able to see detail in everything, tree branches, leaves, rocks, clouds etc. etc. It still amazes me a year and a half later.

Sunny
Sunny
14 years ago

Totally agree with the LASIK purchase. I had glasses before 4th grade and lived with 20/400 vision until last November. I have 20/15 now and still pinch myself when I can read the alarm clock w/o flopping around blindly for glasses. And yes, it was pretty damn funny to get the valium pre-op and suddenly become BFF with everyone else in the waiting room!

Denise V.
Denise V.
14 years ago

Oh–I have two:
1) The money we spent in 1998 on our Golden Retriever, Casey. Looking back, it seems funny that there was ever enough money in the world to buy this dog–to us, she’s priceless.
2) Money spent in 2003 on an insulin pump–mostly covered by insurance. I’ve been type 1 diabetic since 1986 and now have better blood sugar control and freedom of what I eat and when I eat due to the pump. Plus, no more insulin shots.

warcrygirl
14 years ago

You know, I can’t think of any one thing that I’ve purchased that would qualify as the best thing I’ve ever bought. The best recent purchase I’ve made has to be my Nikon D70. I was inspired by the pictures that you and Dooce take and I wanted a “real” camera. I still can’t take pics as well as you two but I’m having a blast trying. I took some spectacular pics of the Phelps twins (Weasley twins) at last years’ DragonCon; add to that the pics I’ve taken of various soccer games, Scout events and church functions and I’d definitely say it’s been my best recent purchase.

biscuit
biscuit
14 years ago

My husband wants to buy Lasik for me SO bad, he is always up my crack pressuring me to go get it done. If only all wives had husbands as spoiling + bomb as mine. I’m scared to have it done, but feel better about it after reading this. . .

I didn’t pay for it, but braces? What a boring answer.

Did you see that Real Sex with the people who made machines that have sex with you? I wanted to be totally pervey + say one of those, but my mind is farting + I can’t remember what they’re called.

I KNOW you + JB both know what I’m talking about! ;)

biscuit
biscuit
14 years ago

My husband wants to buy Lasik for me SO bad, he is always up my crack pressuring me to go get it done. If only all wives had husbands as spoiling + bomb as mine. I’m scared to have it done, but feel better about it after reading this. . .

I didn’t pay for it, but braces? What a boring answer.

Did you see that Real Sex with the people who made machines that have sex with you? I wanted to be totally pervey + say one of those, but my mind is farting + I can’t remember what they’re called.

I KNOW you + JB both know what I’m talking about! ;)

Oh wait, here it is. . .
http://dnn.thethrillhammer.com/

Felicia
Felicia
14 years ago

I must say with great anticipation that I hope it will be the $4000 we are spending out of pocket for me to have this upcoming baby at the birth center (which the farking insurance does not cover, of course).

I would pay a MILLION times that (if I had the money anyway) to avoid what happened last time… Although it was only a $200 co-pay out of pocket for the hospital HMO birth, I also got a “free” episiotomy (as I was literally saying to the doctor “I DO NOT consent to this” and so was my husband) which brought me almost a year of excruciating pain and tears during sex.

So yeah, I’ve got to go with the birth center birth on that one.

Don’t even get me started on how my HMO won’t cover a birth center birth (which includes all prenatal care and costs $4000) but they will cover a hospital birth (which costs at least $10,000 – not including any drugs or c-sections)…

I think that women should be able to make the choices they want for their own birth (as someone above posted, they loved their epidural – not my choice, but I support her right to make it) but our rights are severely limited by a$$face insurance companies. BOOOO!

Melissa
Melissa
14 years ago

My first would have to be the IUI for the conception of my son (I have PCOS and a “hostile” cervix). Took on the first try. He just turned 9 in January.

My second – in 2000 after being told by my eye doctor that I was going to make myself blind (I was a terrible contact wearer) I decided to have LASIK. Best decision ever! Your moment was the VCR clock – mine was being able to read the numbers/logos on the uniforms of the winter Olympians from across the room on a 27 inch TV.

Naomi
14 years ago

LASIK is so inexpensive as of late it’s very affordable. I’ve thought about it. But I like my hot-nerd glasses. LOL Plus I’m not sure I could sit still for the procedure… so I’m not sure it would really work for me. Anyway I think about it occasionally, might do it at some point.

Interesting story, though, well written. I can’t say yet what’s the best thing I have bought. I probably haven’t purchased it yet.

Operation Pink Herring
14 years ago

Tivo was by far the best material thing I’ve ever bought. Best non-material thing would be therapy that helped me get over anorexia.

My fiance got LASIK this summer and it’s been so great for him.

AndreAnna
14 years ago

My husband is getting LASIK next week actually. We’re both blind as hell without contacts, but since I’m pregnant again, they want you to wait a year after having babies or when you KNWO you won’t be getting pregnant, because apparently the hormones can change your vision and can make the procedure less than perfect. Oh well.

The best thing I bought for myself, as dumb as it sounds, was creating a “window” in the wall between our kitchen and living room. It made such a huge difference in a house that felt so small, that even though it cost 3K because it was a supporting wall and there was heating ducts and electricity in it, has been so worth it.

I also plan to get the extra skin removed from my stomach and thighs from losing 120 lbs three years ago. I’m 22 weeks pregnant with my second baby and wanted to wait until I was done having kids before “fixing” my body. I was 250-300 pounds for many years and that skin will never go back. That us a purchase I also look forward to.

Pam
Pam
14 years ago

Recently, I bought the lap band procedure for weight loss. Absolutely the best fifteen grand I’ve ever spent. Like Amanda, I’d agree to end the embarrassing horrors that come with being obese are worth any price.
And all the infertility drugs in the world it took to make my second son.

Belle
Belle
14 years ago

I’d love to have LASIK but can neither afford it now and also am just a tad of a scaredy cat……but maybe someday!

I’m gonna say my best purchase has been a used piano. Didn’t cost much at all, but it’s the first thing I’ve bought just for myself in a very very long time. It’s a great stress reliever and I can go off and play (or pound, depending!) in my own little world. Love it.

Tessa
Tessa
14 years ago

I would say my Tivo, and in a close second place, my kitchen shears. I use those things for EVERYTHING, from cutting open a bag of lettuce to hacking up chicken breasts to trimming my rosebushes.

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

The best thing that I ever bought was three bus tickets out of San Bernardino, CA. I was married to a man that beat me daily and would not leave alone even to go to the bathroom for about 6 months. The first time he left the house, I picked my kids and went to the Greyhound station. I bought tickets to Eugene, OR because that was as far north as we could go with the money I had. Never, ever regretted my decision in the 30 years since. That was 1980. We did not even speak English well. In 1985 I got my law degree, in 1990 my sons left Eugene to come east–one to Harvard, one to MIT. Happy ending for all!

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

The best thing that I ever bought was three bus tickets out of San Bernardino, CA. I was married to a man that beat me daily and would not leave me alone even to go to the bathroom for about 6 months. The first time he left the house, I picked my kids and went to the Greyhound station. I bought tickets to Eugene, OR because that was as far north as we could go with the money I had. Never, ever regretted my decision in the 30 years since. That was 1980. We did not even speak English well. In 1985 I got my law degree, in 1990 my sons left Eugene to come east–one to Harvard, one to MIT. Happy ending for all!

Gaby
Gaby
14 years ago

If I may offer two…

1) My two bachelor’s degrees and my master’s. I received federal financial aid and academic scholarships, but I had to pay for the rest on my own. I knew from the time that I was 10 that if I ever wanted to go to college (and oh, did I ever want to), I would have to pay for it myself. I am very happy to say that I did it on my own and graduated magna cum laude to boot!

2) My wedding. My husband and I paid for our wedding by ourselves, and it was so nice to not have to deal with the pressure from our parents–sure, it would’ve been nice to not stress how we were going to pay for what was considered a scaled-down wedding, but I discovered, yet again, just how great it is to be able to financially stand on my own two feet and to look around at my wedding and know that we had put it together ourselves.

Danell
Danell
14 years ago

I reeeeally reeeeally want to have the LASIK procedure. Every SINGLE person I know tells a similar story as yours…BUT, for some reason I’m still terrified of it! I am such a jerk. I have had boob implants, liposuction, (yes, I was a tiny bit vain for a while…), had a baby, DONE surgery on eyes (like, I’ve REMOVED EYEBALLS from dogs and cats before)…but no matter how many times I see one of those videos of the procedure, it remains equally horrifying.

I guess the best money I’ve spent so far would be the 85723462534.52 I owe on my student loans.

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

I should have said 30 yrs approximately.

WCD
WCD
14 years ago

I would say the 25k we paid our Reproductive Endocrinologist who helped us have our child:)

Mindi
Mindi
14 years ago

As a small business owner with about a dozen employees, the best money I spend every two weeks is for a payroll service. It takes me 10 minutes to get my numbers together and send it to them. All taxes are paid correctly and on time and the w2s show up like magic in January.

Beth
14 years ago

For a couple hours after I had LASIK I was in so much pain I actually wanted to die. Still the best money I ever spent.

Also, I had the same guy who did Tiger Woods. That makes me cool, right?

Pete
Pete
14 years ago

I had RK done on both eyes in 86 (back when insurance would cover it) and it was one of the best things I have done. I went without glasses until 2002 (old age sucks).

Joanne
Joanne
14 years ago

My Lap Band.

In January06 I weighed 338 lbs. On March 29 2006, when I had surgery, I weighed 312 lbs.

Today I am down to 240 lbs, and still losing!

I used to be busting out of size 4x tops and 28 pants.

Today I wear 16/18 or XL top, and 18/20 pants.

Lara
14 years ago

In the space of a few months I had vision surgery (I did the “no touch” one, not lasik – can’t remember the actual name), and paid my ex to get the hell out of my life.

Both painful, both well worth it.

Any money spent traveling has to be right up there too. And I have to say, traveling without contacts (and without my ex) is a huge improvement.

Sarah in LA
Sarah in LA
14 years ago

LASIK is the bomb. But WTF?? Everyone else I know got PILLS when they got theirs – I didn’t get shit except for numbing drops! But it has to be one of the best things I’ve done. Contacts were driving me insane with the dry eyes and headaches, and glasses were NOT CUTE.

jonniker
14 years ago

LASIK, really, LASIK?! Do you know, like Danell, I’ve been far too scared to do it, despite not being very squeamish at all about most things. But DUDE, it’s my EYES. And I’m scared! So scared! TOO SCARED GAH OMG.

As for the best thing I’ve ever bought ahhhh … I’m going to go with my dog. That sounds creepy, I don’t know why, but yes. The dog. I mean, barring boring things like medical care.

It sure as all shit wasn’t my house in Florida that I’m currently renting for at a loss. Bleach.

Julia
Julia
14 years ago

I can’t get LASIK. Something about my eyes being too different and them just degenerating after the surgery. Sigh.

So, the best thing ever bought was either my Nikon D40 because it is my favorite thing ever, or my college education. But in all fairness, I didn’t buy my college education, my parent’s did. But graduate school? Well, that’s all on me, and hopefully it will be my new favorite purchase!

Kirsten
Kirsten
14 years ago

Our adopted baby — yes, it cost a lot of money to adopt him, but we would adopt again if we could.

janet
14 years ago

I might have to also say LASIK. I don’t often spend that much money but it was 100% worth it.

SaturnCat
14 years ago

Not to be all bitter or obnoxious about it, but… my divorce. I thought he was The One, but he lied to me about who he was, and what he wanted, for 6 years. After all the lawyer bills were paid, I was out a bunch of money… but I had myself back.

mixette
mixette
14 years ago

I very recently told someone that the two things I spent a considerable amount of money on that turned out to be worth every penny were LASIK and the Mirena IUD.

I had the eyes done 8 years ago (and still perfect vision) while I was still covered under a COBRA program that paid half. The other was totally out of pocket but virtually no periods is SO worth it!

Emily
14 years ago

My college education (which, hopefully, will continue to a masters program in a couple years). I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to continue my education. Even if I will be paying it off for years to come…

GB
GB
14 years ago

I very much want to get laser eye suger but it freaks me out everytime I read about it. I’m thinking the “no touch” surgery is the way to go. But first I must pay off my massive student line of credit. Which at this point is the greatest thing I ever paid for (er, borrowed for). Hopefully I’ll start making money soon so it can pay for itself.

Blythe
14 years ago

I really love my KitchenAid mixer. I can’t quite admit that’s the BEST thing, but heavenly things do emanate from it.

Also, all the plane tickets and hotel nights and money spent seeing the world.

just me
just me
14 years ago

gastric bypass surgery (paid by insurance except copay)
scuba lessons
tubal ligation (also insurance)
two divorces (worth twice what I paid)
face lift (out of pocket)
nikon d80

damn I’ve spent alot of money huh?

ShannonJ
ShannonJ
14 years ago

I remember the first big windfall I ever got (my employer pays annual bonuses). It was 1998. I paid off a huge credit card balance and then bought myself a CD recorder so I could make mix CDs instead of mix tapes. Oh the joy. And then, iPods. Ecstasy.

Trips to Europe before we had kids probably rank up there on best money spent too.

Joanne
14 years ago

The best purchases I’ve made all have to do with my son – the swing (the one you hate with the music that goes off so suddenly), the Amazing Miracle Blanket, the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and the Britax Marathon car seat. We bought so much stuff for him when he was tiny, in an effort to shut him the hell up, that whatever worked is still my favorite purchase, lo these three years later.

Dawn
Dawn
14 years ago

I’d be scared to death to have that done!! The best things I’ve ever bought were my IPOD and my TIVO. (not hugely high priced items, but lifesavers, nonetheless!)

Reading your account of how you came to live together, after living several hours away, I must ask– is there a story of how the two of you met in the first place? And if you’ve already addressed this years ago, I apologize–I must’ve forgotten. Just nosily wondering. :-)

Keri
14 years ago

Best thing I ever bought…not really bought but paid for: out-of-pocket midwifery services for the homebirth of my first baby. The experience was so awesome that we are going to do it all over again, even though the midwife’s prices have gone up. =D

the goddess anna
the goddess anna
14 years ago

The best purchase I ever made was for two movie tickets to a showing I never went to. I used the ‘extra ticket’ excuse to call a co-worker, and ended up leaving a voicemail on his cellphone inviting him to the movies with me. He felt bad that he missed my call, he invited me to the same movie a day later. We had dinner, and five months later we were engaged.

Hubby and I have been married for 4 and a half years. That $16 or so was well-spent… although it took a lot of courage too for a hugely pregnant chick to ask someone out (and for an introverted geek to date her).

Each
14 years ago

i want lasik so so bad, im saving now for it, unfortunately the car is likely to die first….

damn, im jealous!

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