Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Are You Willing to Put Up With?

My life is... well, I guess you'd say it's unconventional. I'm still trying to figure out how to describe my lifestyle. The word "minimalist" is very popular these days. But when I think of a minimalist, I picture someone in a very neat and tidy house, with very little stuff and... well... um... I try... but... er... let's just say that's not really me.

I guess the only aspect of my life that I could accurately call "minimal" would be my need for money. So maybe the word is "frugal." But, the thing is, to me, "frugal living" always seems to conjure up an image of someone who spends a great deal of time actively involved in the process of saving money, stretching dollars, and trying to live a typical American lifestyle with less money.

And, well... the truth is, that I'm just not really interested in living anything remotely resembling the "typical American lifestyle."

So maybe I'm a hippie. But, in reality, I'm about 20 years too young to be a real hippie. Plus... well... I don't know... but to be completely honest, I'm just not up for the idea of living in a bus with a bunch of other people...

I mean truly, I don't have the stomach for more than a handful of social gatherings per year... and when it comes to being part of a political "movement"... oy vay! Don't get me wrong, I totally admire people in the occupy movement, and others with the gumption to stand up for what they believe in... but when it comes right down to it, while I'd really love to see the world organized in a different way, I just don't relish the idea of spending my life bashing my head against that particular brick wall.

I guess on some level, it's all about choices, and what you are or are not willing to put up with.

I mean, when people look at my lifestyle, I generally get one of two reactions. People tend to either be jealous of my no job, get up when I feel like it, no time commitments sort of existence - they look at me and think that I've got it really easy and they sure wish they did too...

Then there are people who see me living without things like smart phones, and fancy clothes, and home decor, and expensive vacations and think that I must be somehow suffering and living a life of hardship and deprivation.

But in reality, it's all pretty simple. I've just made conscious decisions about what is and isn't important to me.

There are a lot of things that I'm willing to live with that other people aren't... but the opposite is also true. There are plenty of things that most people tolerate on a daily basis, and I'm just not willing to go there.

For example...

Cars and Transportation
I am willing to walk to the grocery store about once a week. I actually accomplish most of my day to day errands on foot or bicycle. I consider it all a great excuse to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and go for a walk. But inevitably, some neighbor will see me hauling a few bags of groceries and stop to offer me a ride. It's sometimes difficult to explain, that this is what I want to be doing.

On the other hand, I'm not willing to sit in a car in traffic... I'm just not. I've never been willing to have a job that was more than a few miles from my home. I HATE the highway, and consider it a last resort. I generally won't go shopping if it means driving across town... I just hate it and refuse to do it.

So this all means that I have a 21 year old Honda that has less than 85K miles on it, and I fill up the gas tank about 3-4 times per year. It's a great savings... but it's not like my decisions are based on some higher moral purpose or anything like that... I just don't see the logic in spending a pile of money to participate in an activity (driving) which I totally hate. I just ain't gonna go there!

Vacations and Free Time
I have taken only one real vacation in my adult life... This was when I was with BeerMan and we spent a week on the beach in Mexico. Other than that, CatMan and I have gone camping once or twice, but generally, we just don't vacation.

People are usually incredulous when I tell them this, but it's not something that I view as any sort of hardship or deprivation. The truth is that I traveled extensively when I was younger... went to Hawaii, California and New Zealand as a kid, spent a year living in Norway, traveled all around Europe in college... and I dunno... when it comes right down to it... places are just places. Going somewhere new won't make you into a new person, it just means that you have to get up early, deal with hotels, get car sick, eat crap food at restaurants, spend lots of time getting lost, and... oh I don't know, it's just such a hassle.

Back when I still had a job, many of my co-workers would save all year for their annual vacations. This all really baffled me. I just couldn't imagine working all year just so you could enjoy one week of escape. It just always seemed to me that I'd much rather spend my time, money and energy creating a life that I didn't feel the need to get away from. And the truth is, why bother going somewhere else, when everything I want is right here?

Houses and Stuff
This is one area that's just mind boggling to me. I often read things on line about people who have refinanced their mortgage and are now saving $1500 per month. Holy Moly! My entire mortgage is only $450/month. I can't even imagine how big your payments must be if refinancing could save you $1500.

I often see things on the news these days about struggling American families. And, it's not that I'm unsympathetic, but when I look at the pieces, I see people living in houses that are virtual mansions, full of fancy expensive furniture and decor... I mean no wonder they're broke! I'd be broke if I tried to live like that!

The truth is that I'm happy with my 900 square foot house in one of Denver's poorest neighborhoods. I don't relish the 40 year old avocado green shag, but it doesn't really bother me either. I've only purchased 2 pieces of furniture new in my entire life... an entertainment center and a CD shelf. I gave the shelf away because it was just clutter, and the entertainment center I only bought new because it was easier to haul it home in a box as opposed to trying to figure out how to fit a fully assembled one into my car.

I read things on line about people spending huge amounts of time redecorating, or remodeling, or otherwise making their homes look just so... and I dunno... I mean I suppose part of me can understand the desire to have everything look the way you want it to, but is it really worth the time, money and energy?

Seriously though... I just can't figure out what goes on in people's minds. Is the "pretty picture" really so important to people that they're willing to work their asses off their entire lives in order to pay for it all?

Jobs and Work
You've probably figured this out already, but I hate working... at least I hate working for someone else.

The closest I ever came to a "real job" was running a non profit folk music school, and even that proved to be more than I could stomach. I'm not sure why, but I just really resent the whole idea that some person or entity thinks they have a claim to my time and energy.

It's not that I don't make some money. Technically, I am self-employed... but the truth is that I don't really work very hard. My current money making scheme is that I own a handful of web pages - mostly focused on photography and graphic design. I take pictures, design funny graphics etc, post them on line and make money from the ads.

I don't make a lot of money, but it's enough for me, and hey... if it means I don't have to have a job... I'm IN! I don't really see this as a "career"... the truth is that it's just a model that I stumbled upon that seems to work well for me... but there are thousands of other ways I could make money if this didn't end up working out.

But it's not all lollipops and roses either. Along the way I had to learn how to do my own taxes, how to write software, design databases, design web pages, do server management and a whole host of other things. But I am more than willing to do all of that.

What I'm not willing to do is get up at the crack of dawn every morning, wear pantyhose and uncomfortable shoes, be busy all the time, and have a boss who can tell me what to do.

OK... I think I could probably go on forever in this vein, and this post is already WAY too long. I guess when  you get to the bottom of it, it's really just a matter of priorities.

And in the end, I don't consider my life to be overly easy or overly hard... I just consider it to be thoroughly mine.

So how about you? What are you and aren't you willing to put up with?


  1. Still figuring it all out. I've now officially been putting up with a car-commuting job for two years. I really didn't think I would last this long -- I thought one year MAX -- but nothing else has come along, so here I am.

    The addition of a baby to the picture also complicates things. New expenses and responsibilities, but also an increased desire for a different employment situation to avoid the long drive and long work day with the little one in daycare.

    Definitely wanting some kind of change and looking at options . . . .

  2. Thought-provoking post and a question I put up with daily.

    I can put up with a lot, but only for defined periods of time. I definitely have a sense of when it's time to pull the ripcord and bail.

    Like you, I have no interest in being part of a "movement" either. I've been active in some organizations (as both a volunteer board member) and in political campaigns and party politics. I always leave saying, "Remind me never to do this again." Invariably I find it frustrating,sometimes too extreme for my tastes, and demanding on my time. I enjoy engaging with most of the people as individuals, but put them all in a room to debate a political platform and I'm eyeballing the door.

  3. I'm with you on all of this! Or at least, I'm heading in your direction. Money's been a bit tight recently and I've been wondering whether I ought to try to get some paid work, but the prospect of going back to the 'real world' is very unappealing.

    I think of myself as a hippy, but I guess my definition of the word is rather broader than yours. I never thought it implied being part of a movement.

    Sometimes I feel a bit inadequate about my disinclination to travel, as if it makes me a boring person, but as I get older I get more comfortable with who I am. I was having a conversation with friends a while back that started with me saying we don't go abroad because my husband hates flying. They started suggesting ways to force/trick him into going. I said, "You're talking as if foreign holidays are automatically better than holidays in the UK." They looked at me blankly, "Um, yes." It was one of those moments that brings me up short to realize how far out of the mainstream my thinking has got. Mind you, I've got to know people recently who make me feel very boring and mainstream in comparison!

  4. Melissa - Well, I did the "real job" thing for 16 years... although it could be argued that my job was never that "real" to begin with. But I hate being away from my cats even for a few hours, I can't imagine how it must feel to be away from your baby for such long stretches.

    Janeen - I hear you in terms of the volunteer work etc. I mean, I love the idea, but it always just ends up being a venue for people to argue and get on high horses of various kinds, and really, I just figure that my time is more valuable than that.

    Rachel - I'm wondering if the hippy movement had a slightly different feel "over the pond". So much of the whole hippie identity in this country was wrapped up in protesting the Vietnam war, that I always feel like if I were a "real" hippie I'd be out there living in a tent and organizing on behalf of the occupy movement.

    I can totally relate on the travel front too. I once told someone that I hadn't been on an airplane since 1993 and her assumption was that I must have a pathological fear of flying, because why else would someone possibly avoid it? She then started to try to "problem solve" and help me figure out how I could vacation via train or automobile... She just couldn't grasp the concept that I'd rather be at home.

  5. "It just always seemed to me that I'd much rather spend my time, money and energy creating a life that I didn't feel the need to get away from."
    Well said.
    I gave up pantyhose in 1995 and never looked back. Never.
    As for decorating, I think it can be a creative outlet for some people. I have to stop myself from spinning my wheels on it though because there are things I'd much rather do like write, engage with my kids or declutter.
    Frankly, we couldn't afford to have me work. What with the clothes, gas, parking, daycare, anxiety from being separated from my kids, and meals out, we'd never make it. They recently instituted all day kindergarten in BC in a move to boost the economy (that's right - boost the economy!) by having both parents working and buying more things. Maybe we live in a bubble out here but most of the parents I know have chosen (by living more simply) to have one parent stay at home.
    You're not a hippie Eco Cat Lady - you're a Vancouverite!

  6. Ha! One of my dearest friends from high school became and ex-patriot and now lives in Vancouver (no, not political, she just fell in love and ran off with a Canadian.) Perhaps I should at least go visit her and see what it's like up there. CatMan and I sort of have a festering fantasy of moving to Canada some day... not that they'd let us in.

    I have such mixed feelings about the entire concept of working mothers. My mother worked full time because my parents were divorced and there was really no other choice, but I always sort of felt like I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop on that one. Of course, this was back when most moms stayed home... but I dunno.

    Having decided long ago that I didn't want kids (other than the fur-bearing variety) it's a question I'll never have to face. Perhaps this is anti-feminist of me, but I just can't help but think that there's something crazy about a society that's set up to require women to put their 6 week old babies into full time day care because they think they can't afford to do otherwise. I'm sure that too adds to the economic bottom line, but is it really the way we want to live?

  7. "...I just really resent the whole idea that some person or entity thinks they have a claim to my time and energy." AMEN!

    Currently, I am putting up with far more than I want to. A psycho boss, a ridiculous commute (benefit though--by train, so I can read, which I adore), stressful demands made worse by previously mentioned psycho, all of which have not helped my health issues much. Also, I live in an area I loathe. Well, not entirely true. Love the town I live in, hate the larger city surrounding it. Yeah, I'm in that spot. Fun, eh? It's alarming what we can get used to and/or consider "normal."

    This realization has caused me to rework my long term plans, but I am very frustrated that I wasn't smarter sooner about many things. I've also learned that I feel very insecure without a pretty ridiculous monetary safety net. I could easily earn half of what I do and would be fine. Yet, I can't seem to let go. I think figuring that out might require a shrink.

    I will stop complaining now.

  8. @Demandra
    Given your Midwestern roots and desire to live a different lifestyle, do you ever ponder a move back to the Midwest? (I'm sounding like your Auntie here, handing out all kinds of unsolicited advice.) At any rate, there are places out here that are booming and doing much better than the coasts (low unemployment; housing values stable, etc.). You strike me as a Minneapolis sort of gal!

  9. Demandra - Oh, I can totally relate in terms of the monetary safety net. When I was younger, I really wanted to be a professional musician... but then when I started working with professional musicians and saw how they lived... and well... the reality of what it would mean started to sink it. I think it was after I had to fill out Medicare paperwork for several of the teachers so their kids could go see a doctor that I really started to think that maybe the glamour and romance of it wasn't really all that it was cracked up to be.

    I know there's a whole chicken and egg thing, but for me the key was getting/keeping my expenses low and stuffing away as much money as I could in the bank. At this point I could probably live fairly comfortably for 10-15 years without bringing in another dime if I really had to, and that gives me a HUGE amount of freedom.

  10. Defining what I can put up with, or want to put up with is something I think about a LOT. I think I need to prioritize more....everything can't be so necessary or desired. I think I'm more of a mediumist, I'm not really a minimalist, nor am I the "typical American consumer." I've never been a major shopaholic, or cared much about brands or fashion. I'm fine with a little house, an 11 yr. old car, no smartphone/ipad/etc. But I do like that my house is decorated in a way I enjoy. I like having clothes I like to wear. I like throwing whatever I want into my shopping cart at the store. And I have a deep need to for my monetary safety net.

    I think I'm making steps to a life that suits me better, but I'm frustrated at the slow pace.

  11. Another great post, my friend. There are many things that others would certainly view as necessities that we simply choose to live without. However, the same could be said in reverse, I'm sure. I am very minimalist with decor and knick knacks and such. My kids have almost exactly one week's worth of clothing (if that). I just wash it and keep it clean. They have the bare minimum of toys compared to every other kid their ages that I've met. It works for us though. We feel extremely blessed and as long as there is always enough extra in my home to share with others, it feels like an abundance.

    On the other hand, I am addicted to my kitchenware and my dishes. I've read the story of those who have trimmed their belongings down to a mere 100 items, clothes and all. I burst out laughing at one point, because I easily own over 100 different white dishes. :P When you are photographing all of it, collecting new pieces does become addicting. Lucky for me, no one else is typically in line at goodwill on their half off saturdays to browse the $.49 dishes, ha ha.

    As far as travel goes, we have saved and worked and sacrificed for the past two years, so that we can enjoy a cabin and land a few hours out of the huge city where we live. So, traveling, at least in our same state, is a huge part of our identity. We try to get there at least once a month. It is a constant work in progress, but it is finally livable at last and I am simply giddy about that. However, it is more than a vacation place. We will retire there someday. So, the expense and sacrifice now is all about our future. It is paid for and cozy and 20-30 years from now, it will be our haven

    P.S. Yep, Brussels Sprouts. Crazy, eh? It just plain sounds wrong that way, but it is right. Cantelope, Cantalope, Cantaloupe. It's all the same yumminess when I am eating it! Have a great night.

  12. Candi - A mediumist I LOVE it! I think I'm just a slob, but oh well. :) And it's not that I have anything against people with nicely decorated houses (the photos on your blog make me seethe with envy) it's just that for me, the hassle is so big and the reward so small, that I just can't make myself go there.

    Mary - Wow... one week's worth of clothing, that's impressive minimalism! I'm not a fashion hound by any stretch of the imagination, but I've got tons of clothes, mostly because I don't get around to doing laundry very often. And with my new SUPER capacity washer, it takes nearly a month to dirty enough stuff to fill it! Of course, I wear things until they're really dirty (as it, it has to smell or be visibly dirty before I can get around to washing it.) I can't fathom the 100 items thing either... because, truthfully, I think between socks and underwear alone I'd be over the limit! The cabin sounds WONDERFUL, BTW. Will you bring all of your white dishes when you retire there? :)

  13. Ha ha ha ha ha, please note that I said my CHILDREN have a week's worth of clothing. hee hee. That is not even remotely possible for my husband and me. Although, if I really assessed the items I wear regularly, it's probably less than that in the regular rotation. I don't enjoy shopping all too much and the price for decently quality is WAY out of my league. $20 for a shirt that is guaranteed to fall apart in 5 washings? Makes me CRAZY! $100 for one that might last 3 years? Even worse!

    As a result, I rarely buy new clothes, unless I find an item that I love. If it washes well and is low maintenance, it's quite likely I'll go back and buy one or two more just like it. Fashionista, I am not. I have a few things that do make me very happy. Beyond that, I'm content in jeans or leggings with a sweatshirt or oversize button down. As long as I can wear some of my boots, I'm a very happy girl all winter long!

    I will most definitely take some of my favorite dishes with me to the cabin. It just plain makes me grin to eat off of a lovely plate with an unusual or pretty utensil. (Says the girl that is currently eating a salad off of a paper plate in a bamboo holder. ha ha ha I'm being lazy today, what else can I say?)

  14. When I was a "working girl" I had a love/hate relationship with my job: as a NICU nurse, what I did was important, scarily so at times, but with a stress level you cannot imagine. It's a job that's gotta be done, sadly, and the highs/lows were instantaneous and amazing. I was good at it.
    After several years and a family, I just couldn't do it anymore, though, so first took an office job, then when we could, we "took a vow of poverty" and I quit! Awesome. DH HAS to work, though, at a not-very-interesting-bureaucratic job because we need a steady income and health insurance for our disabled adult "kid" (for many reasons made more sense for me to be the SAHM).
    If we didn't have that responsibility, we'd probably be Gypsies in an old Airstream. No use complaining 'bout our life, though; we love our kids, love having them in our lives, and it's the "price" we pay.

  15. Mary - I have a theory about buying clothes. I pretty much always buy used (well, except for underwear and the like). It's partially because I'm cheap, but I also think that you end up getting better stuff, because anything that's gonna fall apart after a few washes has already done so, and hence never makes it to the thrift store in the first place!

    Jay - Wow... working in a NICU must be intense. CatMan worked in a mental health crisis center for a while, but left for similar reasons. He said you see more horrible stuff in one day than most people experience in a lifetime, and after a while it really takes a toll.

    Personally, I can't imagine working in one of those life and death sort of professions. I mean, I'm really glad that there are people out there who are willing to do it, but I'm just not cut out for it.

    We're having a real cold snap here (below zero) and all I can think about is what I was doing this time last year... crawling under the pine tree where Princess the terrified stray cat was living... trying in vain to coax her out or trap her so I could get her somewhere warm... rigging heating pads and kitty houses and praying that she'd overcome her fears enough to use them instead of freezing to death. Now that she's moved inside she's become the Heat Cat In Charge and I can't believe she was ever afraid of anything!

    Anyhow, my point is that being on kitty rescue duty for 5-6 months nearly pushed me over the edge... I literally spent the entire time in a constant state of worry and distress. I simply can't imagine the emotional fortitude that it must require to work in a job like that. Kudos to you both for doing it, and for recognizing when it was time to quit.

  16. Ummm.... I meant to say HEAD Cat in Charge, not HEAT Cat in Charge... although I suppose she is that too since she still spends most of her time glued to her heated cat bed! :)

  17. I used to wake up in the middle of the day (ha, ha: worked 12 hour nights) with the sound of heart monitors in my head, and timed everything by the second (we did many tasks in 15 second increments); anyhow...

    I've always felt our society (meaning the US) has the oddest priorities: those making the MOST $ are in fields where you deal with a commodity, and artificially created supply and demand scenarios --the goal, making money; hence oil, law, stockbrokers do well at tasks which are really, fundamentally superfluous. Fields that we CANNOT do without -really, truly- most times, where the goal is helping others improve their quality of life, are salaried, controlled by bosses and businesses who, again, only care about the bottom line, not quality of service; think teachers/professors, nurses, even [yes] many physicians, mental health workers, musicians/artists, in fact ANY service field (even your local letter carrier). The rewards are supposed to be "inherent to the job", not monetary.
    In Germany, once upon a time, Professors were held in higher regard than lawyers. What a concept!

    Sorry for the "rant" :-)
    (Don't even GET me started on how the disabled are treated!)

  18. Jay - No need to apologize for your rant, I'm right there with you. My stepmother comes from Germany and is a physician. When she first came to this country she was absolutely appalled st the entire way our medical system is set up. She ended up in private practice and never made more than about $50K annually (a pittance for a specialist, which she is) because she just couldn't hack all of the BS that went on in "the system".

  19. PixieJaneen--I am most definitely thinking of the Midwest. Possibly the South. The husband is not enthused by the idea of crappy weather, but my misery is motivating him to open his mind a bit. :) ha!

    ECL--I am doing the money hoarding aka savings thing. Not as much as I could be, of course. The original goal was to pay off the remainder of my student loan debt and then shove all that money into savings. I'm flipping the script and building the massive savings first. It's not the smartest thing to do financially, but it is for my health and sanity.

    I will stop whining now!

    Also, Mary? Your crockpots alone would blow that 100 thing challenge, not to even mention the dishes. :P

  20. Demandra - Totally hear you on the savings vs. debt thing. I'm in the same boat with my mortgage. I don't owe much on it, so it's impossible to refinance... not that I would do that if I could, although a nice rate on a 15 year mortgage might not be a bad idea. But it's all moot. I suppose I could just pay the damned thing off, and some would say that would be the best course of action, but I dunno... I like the safety of money in the bank. So for the moment, I'm just trying to make extra principal payments each month, and hopefully get it paid off sometime in the next 5-10 years.

  21. Laughing hard at the thought of Mary's expansive supply of crockpots!!! I love my crock pots -- both of them!

    I think it's a good idea, Demandra, to work on your savings/emergency fund while slowly hammering away at your student loan debt. Student loans can be deferred, restructured, and otherwise dealt with in economic emergencies.... it's the other stuff that can't. And then when you move to the upper midwest I'll greet you at the border!

    I've been a personal finance book junkie lately. I like Suze Orman quite a lot. For starters, she gets the whole OWS affair and doesn't call anyone a "Communist." I like her "take no prisoners" attitude about personal finance. All that tough love stuff about "living in your truth" is pretty wise. Third -- and this is superficial -- I like her hair. I want my hair to look like her hair.

    ECL -- the world is so full of under-appreciated jobs. I'm an accountant for a small for-profit. Basically, among other things, I feel it's my job to give our shareholders (local) the straight poop about our financial situation. But, I also spend my days making sure our employees get paid, get their benefits, have the info. they need for retirement decisions. And, that the lights stay on. It's easy to dismiss the "bean counter." I've worked for non-profits too. Although I'm happier in the for-profit world (it's less stressful not worrying if my next paycheck is gonna bounce), it's thankless too. Lots of hypocrisy. I just think it's a sign o' the times. Everything is a commodity... including labor. There's always a subtext that anyone can be replaced... and quickly at that.

    Well on that hippy, dippy, cheery note -- Happy Holidays dammit!

  22. Hey now, who's mocking my crockpot supply?? I'm actually feeling a bit low in numbers right now. My wee one managed to break the teeny tiny one and I took a medium size one to the cabin. Oh well, I suppose I'll just have to STRUGGLE along with my main three until I decide to part with another $9 for a fourth one. ha ha I think I'm good for now.

    ECL - I feel EXACTLY the same way about buying used clothes! I prefer to buy as much as possible from secondhand stores, even tshirts and such, because at least then I know how it will look after a few washings. I can't tell you how many things I've bought new that haven't held up past the first 2 washings. It is maddening! As it is, I don't put my clothes in the dryer, it is all air dried and it still falls apart. Drives me nuts that mens clothing lasts pretty much forever and I'm lucky to get a month out of mine!

  23. Janeen - Oh my... the hippy dippy cheery part made me laugh so hard I nearly spit water all over the monitor. For some reason, I always got along well with the accounting types at work... they generally seemed to be grounded in some sort of reality, as opposed to the "don't bother me with the facts" crowd!

    And BTW - I think your hair looks much nicer than Suze Orman's. Of course, I only have the peace Jesus photo in Italy to compare it to, but her hair has such an unnatural color to it. As for me... I am FAR too lazy to maintain an actual hairstyle. It just does what it wants, and when the split ends get too bad I lop an inch or so off the bottom.

    Mary - Have you considered getting treatment for your crock pot "habit"? Just kidding... I've got a big batch of split pea soup simmering in mine at the moment. :-) And what is it with those evil misogynistic clothing designers anyhow? Personally, I think it's all a plot to keep us heading back to the store for more (and I'm only half way joking here).

  24. I love that -- "The Peace Jesus...."

    I'm not too hung up on my hair... most days it's wash and go... don't bother to blow dry it more than about 5 times a year. Of course, it could look better at times, but I'd hate to look too put together.

    I've bought a few thrift clothes items in the past year that I really love -- a brown fleecy jacket thingy and a cool striped skirt. I think each item set me back $4. So, I wear them and people ask, "Where did you get that cool jacket?" And I sheepishly answer, "Goodwill..."

    I think people are shocked, and I have to admit to feeling a bit self-conscious. But not self-conscious enough to avoid shopping there. And I think attitudes about shopping thrift are much better. I shop consignment too -- especially the charity-sponsored consignment places.

    1. You have no reason to be self conscious at all! I actually LOVE telling people I got my clothes used (or ridiculously cheap), especially my MIL, who spends what I consider to be ungodly sums in "brand" clothes (meaning made in sweatshops and very, very overpriced) and is often amazed at my unique style, her own being very bland (how many "designer" denim shorts and white tank tops a person needs, anyway?). But again, I like to shock and annoy people, you are probably more polite :)

  25. Janeen - Wow. I'm trying to imagine living in a world where someone would be shocked that you shopped at Goodwill. Most everyone I know shops pretty much exclusively second hand. Frankly, it always sort of shocks me that people really spend the outrageous sums of money that they obviously do on new clothing.

    I remember one time when I was still running the music school, one of our teachers was having a really hard time financially. She came into my office nearly in tears and we spent about half an hour brainstorming about new classes we could offer and other ways to get her more students.

    Then, when she was calmed down and we were done chatting "business" I remarked that I liked the outfit that she was wearing. She thanked me and said that the pants cost only about $100 and the top only $75. - My jaw nearly fell on the floor! That's WAY more money than I spend on clothing in an entire year... several years, in fact. It sort of put our previous discussion in perspective for me. I didn't say anything, but I couldn't help but think that if times were really that tough, what on earth was she doing purchasing $175 outfits?

    I guess certain prejudices run fairly deep in this society, but stuff like that sure makes me wonder...

  26. I haven't admitted this online, but I quit my job about 3 months ago now. My goal is to take a break for 1 or so years and see how things go. I am working very part time and am happy, but it is a huge shift for me as I always saw myself as a career person especially considering how hard and long it took for me to get my undergrad degree. But I worked my way through school and didn't really get any breaks since I began working at age 18 and often held multiple jobs, so quitting was hard, but I thought about it for a very long time. I may go back to working 20 hours, but for now I just want a break. And I need to talk to you more, I push against the grain so much, sometimes I wonder if it is just some sort of normal reaction that is being me.

  27. First of all... I like wearing pantyhose. There, it's out.
    Second, I really like your unique lifestyle. Your approach is very rational and straightforward. The "escaping the rat race" series is a true inspiration, and I hope to see more of that in the future.
    That being said, I agree with you in a lot of things, especially driving (I HATE it. Why do people in my country refuse to adopt automatic cars? Stupid stick shifts). Traveling is a sore spot, I feel a bit like Rachel and wanted to like it more. I was planning a trip to Chile, but the expense out me off completely. I wished I was a natural backpacker, able to sleep and eat anywhere, stay long hours awake, not afraid of hitchhiking. Truth is I am lazy, terrified at the idea of sharing a bedroom (or worst, bathroom) with strangers, vegetarian and kinda picky with food. With all those things, I just can't justify the expense. And I hate airports, too.

    1. Isn't it funny how we're all trained to think that there's something wrong with us if we don't enjoy things that we're all told we're "supposed" to enjoy? My personal take is that most people are so invested in painting pretty pictures of their lives, that they never really let themselves slow down enough to figure out what they do and don't enjoy. It's like we're all so busy trying to "measure up" that we don't stop to think whether the life we're all aspiring to is even worth living!

    2. p.s. So YOU'RE the one who likes panty hose! I knew there had to be one out there somewhere! ;-)

  28. I have a long time passion for socks and sock-like things. Also, pantyhose are great to hide the fact that you forgot to shave your legs -- which happened to me just yesterday!
    I think you've hit the spot, sometimes we just try too damn hard to be "interesting" and "meaningful", while hating every moment of it. I used to have such high expectations for my life (typical overachiever kid, you know the story), but as I get older ("older" is relative -- I'm only turning 22 tomorrow!) I realize most, if not all of those plans, would NOT make me happy. After dropping out of the best university in the country a few years ago (I got into a serious depression in college, so I relate with the "human popsicle" and the following epiphany) things just went downhill, in a good way. I am close to getting my degree in system analysis in a non-prestigious (but much less demanding) university, which hopefully will help me supplement my income online -- ECL style ;)

    1. Yup... I think people spend lots of time painting mental pictures of what kind of person they want to be or what kind of life they want to live and then spend the rest of their lives trying to cram themselves into the picture that they painted. Unfortunately it just doesn't work that way.

      Ultimately, I think you've just gotta keep moving toward what fulfills you and makes you happy, and moving away from anything that doesn't.


I welcome your thoughts so please leave me a comment and I promise I will respond.

On older posts I've had to enable comment moderation to prevent spammers, so don't worry if your comment doesn't show up right away - unless you're just commenting for the sake of embedding a link, in which case I really wish you wouldn't waste your time or mine because I'll just delete it.

Thanks, and have a fabulous day!