I read a blog today that made me think about the fact that I always pick “Quantity” over “Quality”. I would rather buy $100 things at that dollar store than one solid, useful thing for $100. I would rather have a bag of bland, tasteless cookies with garbage ingredients than one perfect cookie made with ingredients resembling food (and not chemicals). I do this in all areas of my life. And when you live like that, you end up in a trash heap.
I’ve been getting a little better about it over the past few years, at least I WAS until “Poverty-gate 2010” happened and everything exploded.
You know what else I went through before we left? The problem of “old” vs. “new”. I have always been an “old things” person. I like “used” anything. It appeals to my thrify side AND my nature-loving side. I use my shit until it cannot be used anymore. I hate wasting things. When we moved out of our apartment in NJ, it was like I had spent the two years in that apartment straight BINGING and now we had to PURGE. Bad euphemism aside, it was pretty liberating to say, “No I don’t need that jagged scrap of denim I kept when I made old jeans into a pair of capri pants four years ago.” “No I don’t need that gigantic penis-shaped cakepan that I bought when I was a bridesmaid for a girl I don’t even talk to anymore.” “No I won’t be using that gigantic ugly dresser that I don’t put anything useful in and only have because it was cheap at a yardsale.”
Before we left, we had a crisis where we weren’t sure if we should stay in NJ or move out here. We’d actually decided to stay in NJ and bought all new furniture. I’d done that because I was tired of owning other people’s shit, stained with other people’s pasts. And we’d lived in an apartment where our landlord had committed suicide in the apartment above us. We had to live in that apartment for eleven months AFTER his death to run down the lease we’d signed because his brother (who had inherited his estate) wouldn’t let us out of it because he now had an unexpected mortgage to pay. In that time, I became acutely aware of the sharp, grim feelings that could come with using someone else’s old shit. I mean there are better examples too. For example, when we lived in our next apartment, we bought plates at an estate sale. They are beautiful. They are vintage Mikasa plates with a beautiful mod turquoise and lime green triangular pattern. The estate sale was in the home of a recently passed older woman. Her daughters were running the sale and had put out their mother’s belongings like a flea market throughout the house. They told us to ask them about whatever we wanted and they’d tell us whether or not it was for sale. I pointed at the beautiful plates and asked how much they wanted for them. They started to cry. They hadn’t considered selling those plates, they’d just laid taken them out of the cupboard and put them on the counter. I immediately retracted my question and said, “Oh nevermind, it’s okay.” We actually desperately needed plates but NOT LIKE THAT. They ended up INSISTING that we buy them. They said, “We’ve had a lot of good times with those plates. We’ve used those plates through holidays and hard times. Those plates have held all of our mother’s meals. We just ask that they go to a good home. You girls look like nice people who could use nice plates.” We TREASURE these plates. I think about those ladies all of the time and wonder what they’d think if they knew their mother’s plates travelled cross-country and continue to nourish us every single day.
And THAT is the joy of buying other people’s things. Wondering where the item came from and how they used it. Why did they get rid of it? And as much as I like buying used stuff, I love donating used stuff as well. I like knowing that the stuff I can’t use anymore could serve as someone else’s treasure.
BUT that landlord’s death kind of showed me that there is a potential heaviness that can come with surrounding yourself with other people’s discarded things so I made it my purpose to start buying NEW things. In 2008, I had a good job that paid me well so I could afford new things. It’s weird because THAT life is exactly whats made THIS one so bearable. The couch I am sitting on now is a product of the “new things” period. As I look around, I see some used things too that were given to us by friends (like the laptop I am now writing on, thanks Lou!) or the kitchen table we eat at (thanks Uncle Ken and Aunt Theresa). Our TV and bikes are second hand. We bought them when we got here. But everything else is new, ie. ours and ours alone. For all of my “we’re so poor” whining, if you were to actually come here, you would see an apartment that looks stable and comfortable and not cardboard boxish at all. So I think that that those “new things” decisions have actually given me a little peace of mind to know that there has been a time in my life where I could afford those things and those times will come again soon.
BUT I also want to say something about “hand made”. Last night we slept on the couches in a flight of fance we call “whimsical sleeping”. I know I’ve discussed this before but I will discuss it again. When we feel like we need a moment of “Sure, why not?!”, we “whimsical sleep” ie. sleep on the couch. Haha. We don’t have many moments of “Sure, why not?!” anymore so we have to make our own. The way we make our own is to sleep on the couch, don’t judge. Anyway, last night we both laid down and covered ourselves with blankets I’d MADE. That’s kind of awesome. It made me feel self-reliant. Here we are snuggled against the chilly night wearing blankets I’d made with my own hands in a city that we moved to with our own ingenuity. It felt good.
So anyway, all of this relates back to a point and here it is. I realize that I have chosen quantity over quality for all of my life and it’s never gotten me anything but a mess to clean up later. From right now, at this moment, I am going to start choosing “quality” over “quantity” in all areas of my life…The clothes I wear, the people I am friends with, the food I eat, the things I check off my To Do list, everything. If it can’t pass MY TEST of what is “quality” over “quantity”, it isn’t important.
So that’s that. I need to get my ass in gear because I’ve been “quantity” blogging my “quality” ass off and I gots things to do. So seeya.