Broke-Ass of the Week – Travel Writer Mary Polizzotti
Every week we feature a different person from the community shedding a little light on their life of brokeitude. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something about the human spirit — probably not.
Wanna be a Broke-Ass of the Week? Holler at us here and we’ll send you the questionnaire.
Your broke-ass of the week, Mary Polizzotti, had many of those “I want tomake a difference in the world” moments while slinging books at travel publisher LonelyPlanet. A career change was in order, which led to three-month stint working for a non-profit in Uganda, an internship in her 30s, and getting her big editorial break at travel start-up NileGuide.com. Mary is broke primarily due to her travel obsession. With 41 countries under her belt, even losing her Gold status with United couldn’t keep her off a plane (but damn, it would be nice to have that free extra leg room again).
Name: Mary Polizzotti
Occupation: Travel writer and editor at NileGuide
What neighborhood do you live in?: Lower Haight
What are you listening to these days?: rdio.com! You can listen to any album by any artist ever, for a tiny monthly fee. It kicks Pandora’s ass. I’ve been cruising through the artists of the Outside Lands line-up – I’m super excited about Major Lazer, STRFKR, and Collie Buddz. My regular rotation includes Groove Armada, Kaskade, Cut Copy, Broken Bells, Bob Marley, Zero 7, Keane, Kanye, Dr. Dre, and any and all reggae.
Best money saving tip: Don’t let your credit card get above $2K. After that, it’s just unmanageable, a slippery slope. My parents went through bankruptcy when I was a teenager, which was hardcore, so I definitely have an appreciation for the dollar. Take advantage of commuter checks. Oh, and eat pasta. In Italy, they do it every single day, twice a day. In my poorest days, I eat pasta at least four times a week. And it is goddamn delicious.
What do you refuse to spend money on?: Cabs (that’s why they have commuter checks). Going out for lunch. Also, full-priced clothing (unless it’s an amazing piece I’ll regret not buying). San Francisco has incredible vintage and consignment shops here dishing out major labels. You just have to have the patience and mindset to dig.
Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: International airfare. And buying two pairs of Jimmy Choo shoes at the same time.
How’d that feel?: Each flight, no matter how expensive, makes me feel excited, liberated, and invincible. The Jimmy Choo shoes? SO worth it. The story behind that is I had just hung out with my 90-year old grandmother in Boston. I was raiding her closet and pulled out a pair of 3-inch, red heels. As I held them in awe, trying to imagine the last time she actually wore them, she waved her cigarette in the air and muttered “good shoes – they’ll last you a lifetime!” Women have seriously stopped me in the street and asked “Where did you get your shoes?” and I just smile and say “They’re Jimmy Choos.” It’s my Carrie Bradshaw moment. Yes, the shoes are awesome. Every woman should own a pair of ridiculously sexy heels, and it’s worth going into debt to have them.
Favorite cheap eat: Probably a taco at The Little Chihuahua. Under $5, filling, delicious.
Favorite dive bar: Tunnel Top and Bacchus Kirk. Do those count as dives? If not, I’ve had a really awesome time at the Nitecap.
Best deal you’ve ever gotten: The dozens of free concerts I went to in the years I worked for Village Voice Media (i.e. SF Weekly, East Bay Express, Denver Westword). It doesn’t get much better than Radiohead at Red Rocks in Colorado – for FREE. Also, the $97 round trip flight from Boston to L.A. one week after 9/11.
Favorite free thing to do: Lounge in Golden Gate Park, go to the beach, ride my bike (to the beach). I mean, we live in paradise, c’mon.
If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: Breakfast at Canteen to celebrate. Then I’d go buy my home in San Francisco.
Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: Yes, it’s been an interesting ride, that’s for sure.
Do you own my book?: No, but I perused it in Borders in Union Square. Is it available on the Kindle? But I’m sure I’ve used/read one of your Lonely Planet books, we both worked there, yes?
Best hangover cure: Water, eggs, Bloody Mary, sleep. A few tokes from the vaporizer never hurt either.
Are you a hipster?: No. Unless it’s short for hippie gangster. Then, well, that would be more appropriate. The Boston in me definitely comes out amongst these feeling-feeling Californians.