Tuesday, July 8, 2008

26 Days

I know, I know. Once again I let another month go by without comment. The thing is though, that really there isn't much to say. I've been a non-consumer for so long now, that it's just ... my life. When I started this blog, I was still figuring all this out, still determining my values system, etc. I ran wild at used bookstores, and snapped stuff up on eBay. Now? Honestly, I don't even buy used that often. I can't quite recall the last durable thing I bought. I bought a few second-hand books with a gift card in May. The egregious cheesecloth, rennet, and citric acid, soon on its way to Dasha, in May. I think I got the battery for my iPod in April? Maybe another used book or two courtesy of a gift card? It's difficult to remember.

So the point is, talking about my non-consumerism feels a little foolish these days. What am I supposed to say? Woke up today, brushed my teeth, went to work, didn't buy anything? It's strange. I expected the July Pseudo Freegan Month to be a bigger deal. I thought it would make me re-evaluate my relationship with money, or that I'd be suffering more angst. And, I'm not. Not really. Yeah there are days when co-workers ask me to lunch, and it gets complicated. Yes, sometimes I miss eating out. But by and large, it's just an extension of what I've already been doing. Maybe as the month goes on, I'll start to feel differently, but right now ... meh.

On the other hand ... a couple weekends ago, Honda, Miss V, Annie and I were having breakfast. And Honda asked when my non-consumerist year ended. "August 3rd," I responded.

"Thank GOD!" exclaimed Honda. "I can't wait."

"I'm really not sure what you think is going to happen in August," I said getting a little uncomfortable.

"Uh, well, we're definitely going to the MALL!" Miss V pronounced.

"Ohhhhhkay," I muttered into my french toast.

The weird thing is, my girlfriends are not even major shoppers or anything. I know this conversation makes it sound as if they routinely spend their weekends at Bloomies, but ... they don't. They hardly ever shop themselves. Honda has a few clothes in her closet from high school for crying out loud!

And yet, they are eager for the year to be over. They are ready to take me clothes shopping, and underwear shopping, and especially shoe shopping. And I get it. Because I think, to a certain extent, what they're tired of, is mostly the strictness of the rules I've imposed for myself. It's not like they expect me to turn into some sort of fashionista who cares about the new style in jeans. I've never been that person. But they love me and they want me to occasionally indulge myself when I see a beautiful dress or a cute tee. They want me to wear shoes that aren't old and falling apart. And even I know I need new underwear.

But ... I'm not sure I'm ready for the mall. I don't know. Does that sound stupid? It's true though. I still love pretty dresses, and I think I would enjoy trying new clothes on and searching for that perfect outfit (after all, it's been a freaking YEAR since I've been inside a fitting room.) But the idea of buying new clothes ... it just feels so weird and foreign. And I keep thinking, my clothes are fine. Why do I need new clothes? And then the clothes I actually do need like underwear and bras just seem so BORING. Who wants to spend money on that stuff? Not me.

So yeah, I dunno. I guess I'm looking forward to August 3rd? Sorta? Maybe? Kinda? Barely?


Michelle MacKenzie said...

I am no where near as strict as you - though the last new item of clothes I bought was my simple shoes. I do shop for new used clothes quite a bit and have found some really cute blouses in the last month.

But I would be so "barely" if I were you. The last place in the world I'd like to go to is a mall. It seems so foreign these days - needless consumption, over-indulgence for no reason. I'm not against buying anything new but a whole place devoted to new clothes? When I can just trot down to the local thrift store and pick up a cute J Crew tee for $1.29 or a designer blouse for $2.79? Where's the interest? The adventure?

Happy almost-year over . . .or not. :)

ruchi said...

Yeah, I feel you. I think I'm going to convince my friends to instead do a grand tour of LA thrift stores with me in August. Because while I'm not entirely sure I do need any clothes, I haven't bought a single article of clothing during my challenge (I did get some clothes as gifts.)It might be nice to buy a couple pieces of new-to-me-clothing. But I'm just not feeling the mall. Plus, LA thrift stores rock.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, New York is awesome because it doesn't really have malls. Whenever I'm in or near a mall all I can think about is the cars, the air conditioning, the smell. Crap as far as the eye can see. But still it can be fun to connect with girlfriends...a lot of us were brought up on that culture and won't get over it anytime soon...


Anonymous said...

PS. Don't tell me you haven't spent a dime since this month began????

Robin said...

The longer you go without visiting a mall, the less you ever want to return. Recently we were stuck in a mall parking lot, hemmed in by a snarl on the interstate, and my husband and I nearly had a panic attack. Because we were stuck. at. the. mall. And not even inside!

ruchi said...

Megan, yeah, LA has mostly moved to outdoor malls which are nicer than the indoor variety, but malls all the same. I still prefer New York where the stores are just ... on the street. I have not spent any money yet, though to be fair, I did hitch a ride home last weekend with my uncle and aunt, and we did go to a museum and to dim sum when I was home, but my mom paid. And then she sent me home with a cooler filled with homemade goodies, so I'm set for food for the next couple of days as well.

ruchi said...

Ugh, Robin, that does sound sucktastic. Yet another reason to avoid the malls!!

EcoBurban said...

The best therapy for never-ever-ever-ever wanting to go to a mall? Four boys and back to school shopping. Tell your friends I would be happy to loan mine to them for an afternoon. They would swear off the mall forever. Seriously.

This year, I plan to try the thrift angle a little more wholeheartedly. Except for underwear and socks. I hold those items sacred and even in a household of 4 boys - each boy gets their own brand or style of sock and underwear. You should never have to wear your brother's underwear - even by mistake!

So, what I guess I am saying in a roundabout way is certain things like socks and underwear are basic needs, which you can fill, and feel comfortable and clean. And, you really don't have to feel any guilt.

Other things? I agree with Green Bean, a JCrew tee for $1.29 makes so much more sense. (Though I reeealy want to know where that girl shops! Her thrift store kinda rocks!) Those type of items I can find for my boys and myself, save a little money and do a little good for the environment. It's just about balance. Oh yeah, and about a little fashion too. You can still look super-cute and super-thrifty at the same time! :o)

Anonymous said...

I guess going to the mall is just sort of a fun thing we used to do. I don't honestly see how it's that different from getting a pedicure, which is something you've always loved. We spend some time together just us girls, and at the end you get to feel pretty. Does it really matter so much that it's because of a durable good and not a service? I mean, a pedicure contributes to the introduction of new nail polish into the economy, doesn't it?

I think, by and large, your friends aren't overly materialistic. And I've definitely admired and been influenced by your restraint. But at the same time, your tolerance for things that are wearing out has expanded greatly over the year, and I think if you're going to be walking a lot in London, you could use some new shoes. Not too many, but something sturdy and comfortable that will last you for another year.

But mostly, I would hate to think that all the good things you've learned from this year has totally wiped out your capacity to enjoy something you used to enjoy. And if it has, well, we'll do other things. But it's like a diet. Just because you don't *need* the ice cream sundae doesn't mean it's not still fun once in a while.


Unknown said...

I hate going to the mall! I haven't been to a mall in over 7 years (mainly because I'm have a phobia of being in crowded places). But even without anxiety, I've never liked to shop.

I haven't bought clothes for myself in over a year. I have perfectly good tee shirts and jeans in the closet. My hubby and daughter shop at the Goodwill for used clothes and they can find some great bargains.

Since I retired from being a RN 3 years ago, I have rarely bought anything for myself. But my hubby still buys things - sometimes unnecessary things. It has been hard for me to curb his spending, but it's been easier with the increase in gas prices.

Arduous - you, Eco 'Burban Mom and Green Bean have been an inspiration to me and I follow your blogs religiously! Thanks for all the tips you've given me.

Chile said...

Hated the malls as a youngster and still do. We were at one this weekend to get some tools and it was just gross. So much crap from sale, so many consumers lapping it up. And keeping the stores chilled to 72 degrees in the desert in summer is an insane waste of energy!

Thrift stores - that's a shopping trip I could get behind.

Burbanmom said...

I found that the month I didn't buy anything new, it got easier as I went along. Like breaking an addiction... the longer you go without it, the less you want to do it.

Still, I can't imagine going a whole year. Kudos, Arduous! You're my non-shopping hero!!

Anonymous said...

I have ALWAYS hated the mall! When I was in highschool my family didn't have any extra money for shopping and I certainly didn't when I was in college. I was surrounded by girls who spent every spare moment shopping! I never understood why they didn't want to be outdoors more or doing something, anything else.

Even though I have the money to shop now, I still don't. I just don't have the interest. I just don't enjoy it!

I am very proud of you Arduous and I am sure that your friends just want to spend time with you doing something they still enjoy. You don't have to actually buy anything if you don't want to (unless of course you really need it).

Your friends just want to be with you and that is wonderful! It sounds like you might be away from them for a while so enjoy them while you can!

Anonymous said...

I can't cope with the mall. I think it's my cable TV problem - if I don't find something I like, I feel like a failure, because there are SO MANY CHOICES so how come none of them are right? Whenever we go to a mall I walk out exhausted and usually disappointed.

Whereas if I walk out of a thrift store with nothing I wanted, that's OK, it's because the store didn't have what I wanted. Thrift stores are like that.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your honesty with your retail struggle! Target is my evil lover, tempting me, calling me, "you need to make the backyard look better". But now, at least, I am aware, and make better choices. Like really only getting the one thing I need, instead of a bunch of plastic junk for my kids. I bought my cousin a bday gift (undies, practical), and brought my own bag to Torrid. I would love to do a year-long "fast", keep up the inspo!

ruchi said...

EBM, hey that's smart that all the boys have their own brand of underwear and socks. I'm sure it makes laundry way less of a headache. I am sure you are right and going to the mall with 4 boys would cure me of any mall desire I may have!!

Honda, you make some good points. You're right. A new dress every once in a while is not a big deal, and a nice indulgence.

Bobbi, happy to inspire!

Chile, I have to admit, I'm kinda aching to go thrifting for clothes now. So much fun!!

Thanks Burbs!!

Bugs and Brooms, thanks for giving me the perspective. You're right. My friends, ultimately, just want to spend time with me.

Rosa, that's funny, but it makes a lot of sense. The choices can be exhausting!

Jennifer, thanks. I think it's important for me to be honest with everyone and not just act like a brochure for non-consumerism. Glad to inspire you a little! :)

Anonymous said...

more change. I think it might just be the fact that it's a change. It's hard to give a routine or habit up whether it's viewed as desirable or not be outsiders.

Donna said...

A while back I took a walk with my dad through a local artsisans' outdoor market and he commented, "They need to figure out how to make something that people actually need."

I used to spend so much time at the mall that people thought I worked there! Now, I go there once in a while and my dad's comment comes back to me, except that now I apply it to the mall!

ruchi said...

SDG, you're right. It is about more change. And once again, I don't wanna!! Gah.

Donna, that's funny. I think the problem is, when it comes down to it, there are not enough THINGS that people need. So for the malls to stay in business, they have to produce stuff we don't actually need.

Robj98168 said...

Good Post!It's hard when you "graduate"- I know myself when I quit drinking and smoking ganja all my friends had a pool going as to when I would start again- haven't yet; and even with Crunchys Don't buy anything I was so afraid I would go crazy the day it ended- I didn't and surprisingly I still ask myself those questions- DO i Really need this, can I get along without it? ANd usually the answer is Yes sometimes is NO and sometimes is you had a hard week now nuy yourself something nice!