money, reading, shopping

Spending with Calypso

In his latest book Calypso, David Sedaris has a quote that stuck with me.

Disclaimer: David Sedaris is probably my favorite author. Top three if not number one. So much of Calypso made me laugh, and think, and compare to my own life. He is humorous, but he is also very thoughtful and reflective.

The quote that got me isn’t really funny, and it has probably been said by countless other people, but I had never heard it and it struck a chord with me.

“I’m not just a vehicle for my wallet!”

He says this in a short piece about how people, especially retail clerks, airline workers, hotel staff, etc, ask the same generic questions to everyone all day long, and don’t really listen to the answer.

Of course this is necessary – you want to seem friendly to your customers but you do it all day every day and can’t push yourself to get to know someone, nor do you have time to have more than a limited interaction. But Sedaris talks about the random questions he asks to start a conversation, and how they usually fall flat with these people.

He is quite quirky.

This quote made me think about buying things in person. You can still be upsold online, with ads like “Based on your viewing history, you might like:” or “People who bought what you just bought also bought:”. But it’s impersonal online anyway. In a store, especially drugstores, clerks try to sell you whatever little trinket they have next to the cash register, or ask you to donate to the charity of the week. (Not knocking charities, but I like to donate directly to them and don’t like being guilted about being stingy with my dollar at the drugstore.) Bigger stores ask you to sign up for their membership card or buy a warranty. Whether you do or not is your business, but the Sedaris quote made me think of all that differently. Honestly, I’m still thinking about it… I know spending your money is a way to “vote” so to speak, and that idea really tangles with this quote in my mind. I like it.

(All that being said, this was shortly after a piece where Sedaris describes buying countless ill-fitting, ugly, overpriced clothes just because he likes going shopping and buying things, so I guess we can take the quote with a grain of salt! I just like pulling it out to think over on its own.)

donating, home life, reading

Little by Little

I wish I had a before picture to show you, or a factual number, or anything. And I do have before pictures I’ll have to find, hidden on my external hard drive from years ago. Pictures of the backpack I lived out of for six months, pictures of my 450 sq ft apartment, pictures of the vast emptiness of my two bedroom house when I first moved in. Pictures of all the clutter when my husband moved his storage shed from Oklahoma into our back room (even though I would hate to see those – talk about anxiety!). Pictures of moving in another kid and struggling to keep the house clean while hating my day job.

I am working on the house little by little, but I get on these kicks. I can donate half of my wardrobe in twenty minutes on a good day. Doesn’t fit? Gone. Hate that color now? Gone. Doesn’t feel comfy? Gone. Thankfully, my clothes are mostly from thrift stores anyway (don’t buy new!) so it’s never a huge loss, trying to argue that I spent so much on it, I at least have to keep it and try to wear it again.

Truthfully, I can sever ties to my belongings in a snap. I’m honestly not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s there. And when I get in the mood, I want to get rid of everything.

I have been re-reading some of the books on my shelves lately. There are some hardcore favorites I want to keep copies of. But some I remember fondly but hazily, and those are the ones I’m re-reading. Do I really want to keep them? So far, we’re 3 for 3 – donations are winning! They were nice to re-read and I will still remember them fondly, but they don’t pack a punch or blow me away. They’re just… nice, so I don’t feel the need to keep them.

This is a pretty big shift in how I used to think about books. I wanted to own all the books. I would buy dozens at used book sales and keep them, whether I had read them or not! I figured I’d get to them someday. Now I just use my Goodreads “Want To Read” list and keep my shelves a little more sparse.

It helps me to think of that sometimes – how my attitude in owning books has changed. Because I’ve never been stylish or into clothes, so getting rid of those is no problem. But books are special to me, and if I can be strict with what I keep in that aspect, I know the rest of my house and life will come together, too. Little by little.

fun, home life, money, shopping

Tax Refund!

Before we even did our taxes, my husband asked what I wanted to spend our tax refund on. He wanted a new grill, and probably some other things. I, of course, wanted to put it into savings. And probably still will. But it made me daydream about…

An upgraded camera body

A macro lens

A home studio setup

New books to read

A trip to somewhere relax

A camping trip

New tattoos

A fancy, delicious dinner out

A fun evening bowling, snacking, drinking, eating

 

Did you get a tax refund this year?

fun, home life, reading

Reading

Reading is my favorite way to pass the time. I read A LOT. Get a book for free from the library. Borrow a book from a friend. Splurge and buy a book – I promise it’s worth it. It’s pretty easy for me to carve out time for it, either in the morning before anyone else wakes up, or before bed when everyone else is asleep.

Sometimes I read too long on the couch, when I should be doing anything else.

But sometimes you need a break. Let the dishes sit in the sink. Let the dust bunnies live on the floor for one more day. You don’t have to write that blog post, or send that email, or reply to that text.

Read.

Sit back, get comfortable, and read.

Excuse the short post today, but I have something else to do… I’ll get back to you after this chapter.

reading

Goodbye, Things

I read Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Saski in December. I previously wanted to read Marie Kondo’s book, but it was always checked out at the library, and eventually all I heard was hype. Plus, I’m pretty decent at getting rid of things that don’t mean anything to me, and keeping things that make me feel good.

In terms of Goodbye, Things, I liked that Saski had a rational grip on reality – not too extreme in getting rid of things, not too sentimental, but also not judgmental. He used to hoard possessions: books he never read, electronics he never used, and more. After realizing this didn’t make him happy, he started getting rid of things. It was hard and he admits that, so it was easy to relate. It was hard for me to get rid of things in the beginning, but now I almost feel like a machine – not extreme, but I am not overly sentimental and will settle for taking a picture of the item and keeping that. This is something Saski recommends, too. He took pictures of a lot of his possessions before he gave them away, and admitted that he never looked at the pictures again – so how much could he have loved the item?
I have started taking pictures of things before I get rid of them, too. I haven’t taken photos of items yet, because I’m usually ok with getting rid of those. I took some photos of elementary school papers my mom kept, though. I don’t want the physical papers, but I would like to have the option to look back on them in the future. I plan to do that with my old photo albums also – “old” as in middle school and high school, things that probably shouldn’t be seen again anyway!
I think this book probably tells a lot of minimalists what they already know, but sometimes it’s nice to hear your ideas re-iterated and backed up, and that’s why I enjoyed this book and found it encouraging on my journey to minimalism.
home life

Donating

Getting rid of clutter is great – your house looks clean, you realize it’s WAY bigger than it seemed with all that unnecessary junk, and you can appreciate what you have.

When I unpacked my storage shed after six months of traveling, I was astonished at how much stuff I had. I’d previously downsized, had garage sales, and given away stuff, but I still had so much. I was moving into a 2 bedroom duplex, but I still had too much stuff. Moving from that duplex into a studio apartment meant I had even more to give away.

I took so many clothes, trinkets, and household items to Goodwill. I support them because they give jobs to people with disabilities, and I’m passionate about that. There is some discrepancies with their salaries and mark ups, so I’m kind of torn on the whole issue.

I give books, music, and movies to the library. They have a used bookstore, and sometimes donated books even make it into the library’s collections. I don’t really know how much music and movies sell or circulate with everything available online, but I would rather give it to them since it’s something kind of specific. When I donate, I try to think about who needs the stuff and could use it best, and give them first dibs. If the library doesn’t want something, they can donate it elsewhere or recycle it.

I recently started giving pretty much everything to Catholic Charities – they give donations away for FREE to people who need it! That’s what I’m talking about. They prefer clothes and household items, so I donate our clothes, jewelry, bags, and kids’ toys. I recently got a new set of pots and pans so I gave them my old ones and they were thrilled! A family had asked about kitchen stuff the day before – I hope they came back and got it! The last time I donated, a family was there looking through things. They took a few of my son’s old toys and it made us so happy to see the kids smile.

I love taking my son with me when I donate so he sees what’s happening and what it means. He sees me taking bags and boxes to the car and asks “Are we donating?” He loves picking out toys he doesn’t play with anymore to donate. I hope that spirit stays with him as he gets older.