Friday, June 09, 2006

Friday Concoction, minus a little coc

Not a barrel of fun concoction today, but things are a little stressful around here. I made fun of Jim last night when he was expressing a certain kind of frustration at me. It was childish and I'm a little sorry, but mostly I'm just distracted. What was I just talking about?

Three incidents of note yesterday:

  • Al-Zarqawi was killed. Is this good? Will acts of terrorism increase as a backlash? I can't believe this happened after an election day.

  • I listened to a report on the US's involvement in Somalia immediately before during and after the Blackhawk Down incident. Apparently we used to feed weapons to the warlords, who then shot down the Blackhawk helicopter during a humanitarian aid period in George senior's lame duck period, and now we're feeding weapons to those battling the warlords as a way to help the government maintain some sort of order. Is there anyone in Washington who knows what the fuck's going on in Africa any more? No. That's why they're in Washington.

  • And, not to be flip, but I'm a little absorbed in preparing our house to be put on the market on Monday, the Yeti family down the street babysat the kids for a couple hours and I was actually able to box up all the books in the upstairs. 15 boxes of books. I felt like I was putting a loved one in a rest home.

I'm feeling a little conflicted about this move; I think it's the packing process that's doing it. Our accumulation of stuff has me questioning our lifestyle. Why is it that I can't spend less than $20 at Target? Why do the kids have so many toys that Jim and I had a serious conversation last night about where it would all go in the big new house. Why did we need such a big house anyway? I look at the picture of the house and get a warm fuzzy and think back at the smaller, cheaper places with disdain. I think maybe I've veered off course somewhere, into a realm of consumerism at which I used to turn my nose up. I'm looking forward to moving into this place, as it will mean a crackdown on unnecessary spending. I want someone to tell me, "Holy shit Mignon! Do you really need 2 snowboarding coats?" Did I really need this pretty, shiny laptop?

I hope when we're done with this whole process I can simplify, but I may have forgotten how. Do you keep it simple? If so, how?

15 Comments:

Blogger Arabella said...

I don't keep it simple, either. Not feeling guilty about it is a constant struggle. I go through periodic cleaning benders and go through my bookshelf and closet and gather up all the stuff I can bear to part with, and then temporarily feel more clear-headed and organized. Then, stuff accumulates again. I guess it's just cyclical.

Mrs. Harridan has reignited my interest in vintage clothing in a big way--I LOVE being able to get a ton of stuff for $10, and I even love sorting through the racks in search of treasures. For me, it's a great way to feed my desire to shop without spending a fortune.

I am impressed that you can get out of Target for $20. I go so infrequently that when I'm there, I round up mass quantities of stuff.

And I have total envy of your laptop. I think a laptop is worth the cost; it's something you use every single day.

6/09/2006 10:35 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

Well, my new method of KISS is moving every two years. So far so good :o) Seriously though I am using this move and the next before we move into our permanent home as an opportunity to get rid of mounds of shit. It feels good and bad at the same time because, like you I keep wondering where it all came from in the first place and feeling a little guilty about it.
And I imagine it gets exponentially harder to simplify your life with children, so for now I say don't sweat it. You have enough to worry about with getting everything boxed up to move. If, while you are unpacking, you decide you don't need it, donate it then. Good luck this weekend, I'll be thinking of you every time I pick up a sharpie or a tape dispenser.

6/09/2006 11:05 AM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

First of all, I tried to comment on your earlier post but Blogger was being a pain in my goddamn ass and I couldn't. So I'm going to comment here first -- CONGRATULATIONS. I love the house. LOVE it. I can see why you went all weak-kneed about it. I would have too. It's fabuloso.

Moving sucks. There's no nice way to put it. Good luck with the packing and the unpacking and everything that comes in between; if I were, oh, in the same country as you, I'd come over with a bottle or four of wine and help you pack up.

As for keeping it simple, my mother was an incredible packrat and kept EVERYTHING, so yeah, I try to keep it simple, just because I grew up amid so much crap. Every once n' a while I go a little batty and throw an enormous amount of crap out. That's how I do it, LOL.

6/09/2006 1:41 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

Like everyone else, I really struggle with this one, and my husband and I just had a huge hammer-and-tongs argument about it (we each think the other has too much shit). So I do a periodic clear out.

Arabella is right, too - buying stuff secondhand is a great way to recycle AND spend less, plus you feel less awful about getting rid of a thing if it's had 2 lives already. I have a real probelm keeping myself from retail therapy, but I've found that the effects are pretty epehemeral, and that hepls me hold myself in check.

May I suggest seeing if there's a Freecycle.org in your 'hood? That way you can pare down and know the stuff is going to a good home instead of a landfill (or there's always the Salvation Army/Goodwill if you'd rather a little tax write-off).

Oh, and one last thing: I've read that if you either imagine where the thing you're about to buy will fit into your house, OR if you make a deal with yourself to get rid of another thing in exchange for the new thing, that will help you separate what you NEED from what you just want. Sometimes that works for me, too.

Sorry to be so long-winded. This is a topic that is close to my heart. I look forward to hearing your own solution that works best for you. Good luck! :)

6/09/2006 1:57 PM  
Blogger Jaye Wells said...

I hate to quibble when you're feeling so stressed. However, the Blackhawk Down incident occured in October 1993, almost one year after Clinton took office.

Now, onto consumerism. I have the same problem at Target. I think it's boredom that makes me buy stuff. I don't think I have a shopping problem, but I know I buy a lot of stuff we don't really need. Look at the move as a good opportunity to clear the decks and start over with a clean slate.

6/09/2006 2:48 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I get tired of all the stuff too. Sometimes I think it runs us. Of course, I am the person moving this fall into the "big" house. But, I have had my misgivings - preferring to travel instead of just move up. But, the husband and the chillen's liked the idea of a bigger house and I got outvoted. Its their fault I couldn't go to Savannah ya know.

6/09/2006 2:51 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Arabella, I like the vintage/garage sale method of furnishing a house. We actually have a lot of antiques, which alleviates some of the angst wrt Target disposable crap. (Which is also to say, I've never left Target after spending less than $40, to be honest.)

Thanks MamaT (Nice going on the new site!) - Jim's a packrat too, but it's mostly relegated to the basement and garage, so not too noticable. Unfortunately I had to pack up another 8 boxes of pack-ratty books this afternoon from a heretofore undiscovered stash under the stairs.

Teebs, the kids' stuff is the hardest. I simply can not get rid of toys. They reproduce faster than gremlins and they're so Shiny! and Noisy! and Distracting!

Mrs. H, no such animal, but we're doing a huge Goodwill run this afternoon. A HUGE load. And I refuse to let them pick and choose this time, that's why the pile is so big to begin with. I'm sure SOMEONE wants several refillable propane lantern mini-tanks.

Jaye, you're right. According to NPR, the humanitarian mission started with George sr. and Clinton let the effort continue with very limited assistance from the US military. We really had no idea what we were doing there.

Debbie, I KNOW. I am trying not to hold a ridiculous irrational grudge against your new house and your damaged vehicles exactly for that reason...

6/09/2006 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Daphne said...

Is there anywhere you can go pick up essentials that's not Target? The place is evil. I'm glad the one near me is really out of the way or I'd get sucked into the vortex.

Moving is a good way to quell spending and sometimes when I'm buying MORE BOOKS I try to remind myself 1) I'm going to have to move again someday and I'll have to move all my shit again; 2) I am striving for a less-cluttered house. Does it work? Maybe. The only thing that really seems to work is to stay out of stores altogether. I get out of the habit of shopping and it helps; Target would pure ruin that. We shop at regular grocery stores only. I can't even go to Fred Meyer -- do you have that in MT? sort of a Target cousin, if not -- and during the growing season it's risky even to go to the Other co-ops for groceries b/c they have plant and flower starts out front.

Anyway: I don't envy you. Last year about this time I was blissfully innocent that our landlords were going to make us move in a month (in the middle of our vacation which started with a 200-mile bike ride, if you please) after we'd just signed a new lease. We were talking about buying this year but prices have gone out of control (even more so!) and the thought of moving is just super uninspiring.

blah blah blah... Good luck! is what I'm trying to say!

6/09/2006 3:34 PM  
Blogger Mitch said...

The only good thing about moving is it's an opportunity to realize how much crap you've accumulated, and thereby get rid of it! I always have the pile of things to pack, the pile of things to pitch, and the enormous pile of things to donate.
Hell if I know why I thought that felt painting was attractive, I don't even remember how I came to own it, but I'm sure it will work its voodoo magic on someone else at the GoodWill and in no time be tacking up some other livingroom....thinking back, I don't recall ever even hanging that picture - I think I was embarassed at even owning a felt painting, although I'm sure I had't paid for it.

Now that I think I'm settled for a while, I try to go through and pick a room each month (don't want to break too abbruptly with my packrat nature) and clean it back up, but everything in drawers instead of across tables, and in the process I sift out the junk.

I know how you feel about the books. I had a major falling out with a friend who was helping me move when I found out he'd put my box of books in the damp, moldy basement when I'd specifically said "clean, dry, storage room!" Speaking of, I've almost filled another shelf with books (these shelves are over 12feet long) and I'm beside myself with both joy and pride. It's like hanging photos in a hallway of vacations you took, I get to look across the spines and remember fun journeys I took.

On the topic of Target, I was always kinda bummed the closest one was a farter drive than WalMart - now that one's coming basically just up the hill, I thought I'd be overjoyed. Listening to all of you talk, I'm instead filled with terror. I may never visit the hilltop again, not even for Cabela's!

6/09/2006 7:27 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I remember the whole packing mentality that had me questioning what we actually needed to survive and what was extra.

Don't worry about it until you get to the new house. You won't know until then and trying to guess beforehand makes no sense.

Miss you.

6/09/2006 9:54 PM  
Anonymous DD said...

Lots of writing on this topic! Seems to have struck a nerve... perhaps because we Americans are the greatest "consumers" of stuff in the history of the world?

When we knew we would move into some 900 sq. foot apartment in Germany it forced quite a stuff reduction on us. (This is actually a really big apartment by German standards.) We did a difficult review and the went the garage sale and then Goodwill route.

We also locked away a 20 foot shipping container of "stuff" in the barn on the property we're renting out while overseas. Sometimes we try to remember what all is in there and can't. I will be interesting to open our "time capsule" some day.

I think shopping and accumulating stuff is highly cultural - and an especially strong trait of American culture. Think of the millions of hours of advertising we see which all gives practically the same message: improve your life, buy this. Then we do, and it doesn't really, and we realize this, and go out to buy the next "improvement".

Having almost all stores closed on Sundays is shock therapy for Americans in Germany. It was only a few years ago that stores here were allowed to stay open after 4 PM on Saturday! Store closures go for holidays too. This is really tough for Americans. Our holidays are almost defined by thick newspapers full of holiday sale announcements, and the drone of "Fourth of July Blowout" announcements on TV and radio.

At first we thought it was unimaginable not to be able to buy stuff on Sundays. Now we've been forced to find so many better things to do than to shop. I think we might actually miss this someday if/when we repatriate.

Maybe we'll just make it a family law that we don't go shopping on Sundays.

6/09/2006 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

Arabella voiced my thoughts up top -- I really try to simplify, but it goes in stages. I'll purge a lot of stuff, and then go back and get new stuff. And I myself just got a gorgeous new laptop which I love, but now we can't bring ourselves to get rid of the old one, even though we'd just downsized the number of computers we have in the house. Sigh.

I am inspired by Mrs. Harridan's description of buying vintage clothing, above -- I bet she looks fabulous too.

I haven't taken a peek at the new house yet, but here I go to look at the next post!

6/11/2006 6:09 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

This will sound ass-backwards but I almost find that I bought more when I was trying the hardest to save money. Here's why 1) because I was constantly shopping to find a better price, and thus being seduced by more stores, and 2) spending less on one thing (getting a bargain) often made me buy more in general because I didn't have a sense of spending too much. That's part of the reason we spend too much at Target and why vintage stores can trap us into loving the price more than we love the clothes.

DD also perfectly described the anti-retail mentality in Europe. I never shop for "recreation" here in Belgium. I find it hard enough to shop for necessities during the limited store hours and to find what we need in the retail landscape.

I have to be careful about online shopping now, something I never did in the U.S.

As for books, I only keep the BEST ones. The rest I read and pass on to someone else or leave at the free book exchange at the library.

Toys--that's tough. Especially when you're saving some to pass on to a younger sibling. However, the thing to remember is at some point, the kids cease to be engaged by toys and you will live in a virtually toy-free zone. Amen!

6/11/2006 11:33 AM  
Anonymous honestyrain said...

alright. i have read this post eight hundred and forty times and have tried to comment thoughtfully and of course brilliantly every time but MY GOODNESS the children are not working with me on that. so this is my comment. it's this: fjrhv tvwiurthwgjgn.

smart huh? i know. i worked at that for positively seconds.

also, nice house. when i come over let's do sit out on that balcony looking area over the garage and enjoy a cocktail. you are going to have me over, right?

6/11/2006 5:36 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

if by simple, you mean "I just dropped two bills at jcrew.com and am feelin' pretty good b/c I used a coupon for twenty bucks off from reesycakes.com (and thanks, Jess from fancypants for *that* sweet tip)" - well, then, yes, I'm real simple.

minded.

6/23/2006 9:42 AM  

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