This post was not scheduled to run on September 11th. I was very surprised to see it up this morning. It must have been some technical glitch; all indicators tell me it is to run 9/12/10 at 1AM. Maybe it was a cosmic thump. Regardless, I do not wish to diminish the profound significance of this date.
So I write this intro in response to the people who lost their lives and their families on this date. I believe that all the victims and their families of the tragedies want us to feel love and compassion on this day. I’m certain that if they could, those who lost their lives would tell us to love, to reconcile differences, seek commonalities and work for peace.
So on this day, please do something kind for a stranger. For in these times many of us need assurance that we are valued and people care. If you wish, please write what you chose to do in the comments. If you continually give to those in need, please share what you do in the comments.
This post is about hard times.
See that house? That’s Dorothy’s blowing into Oz.
Well, the Golighty’s happened to be in Oz that day engaging compassionate listening tactics with Wicked Witch of the East to figure what made her so red-eyed mean. Just when she was about to pounce on her personal, “Aha!” moment, that house, also called The Great Recession, landed on all of us.
Tis a shame. Oz was about to one up their population of good witches. The Witch of the East was going to mend her ways. Then a house landed on her. At least she died a better woman.
Two years later we’re still stuck under the darn thing. No matter which way we dig, we don’t see light. We are lucky we didn’t meet the same fate as Witch of the East.
Now I know for a fact, other houses sailed across the skies of Oz that day and every day since more continue to fall upon unsuspecting families. We are not the only ones stuck under the weight of this economic crisis. There are a couple, oh, million other people with us – all suffering on many levels.
What is carrying us through this crisis? Thrift before this mess and thrift during it.
Hope helps too, but some days that hope hides under the bed and doesn’t want to come out.
I try hard to fight off the encroaching bitterness when Congress hems and haws on critical things like COBRA assistance or unemployment benefit extensions. Send ANY legislator my way that says the paltry unemployment insurance makes people lazy and I’ll serve up a hearty “what for” to that person. What the Feds and the State seem to think a family of four can live on without aid is a joke. Maybe by 1950 standards.
I’d like to see a politician try and live like that. Maybe it could be like that reality show, “Undercover Boss”. I think we’re all laughing at the thought of the “Undercover Senator” waiting six hours for his/her number to be called so he/she can simply SUBMIT the one-inch-thick application for Food Stamp Assistance and go back to waiting the waiting to receive the appointment date to meet with a caseworker which could be two weeks out and will, require another number to be taken to wait to be called. Or how about waiting six months for a doctor’s appointment?
See, a few years back, we thought we were living right and smart.
We paid off our credit card bill each month.
We maxed out our 401(K) contributions.
We forwent cable TV. Not only do we have more active lives but also we are not subjected to the pounding of commercials designed to create Want.
We bought a home within well within our limits. I fired the first realtor. He kept thinking he could bump up the price by showing me a suite with a fiberglass monstrosity with seven jets that shot water into the bath. He even thought I’d drool over a three-car garage. How wrong he was.
We lived as a one-car family for the first seven years of our marriage. Had to buy the commuter car when Mr. Golightly took a job 20 miles north. We’re a mile south of downtown Denver and Mr. Golightly used take the light rail or jump the bus. He arrived at his office in 20 minutes, door to door, with no traffic worries or parking concerns. This was the first time Mr. Golightly used public transportation and he quickly grew to like it, a lot.
Not only is a car a heavy thing to carry around but it’s a heavy expense. Few realize it but a car can be likened to a child; it needs healthcare, life insurance, day care (parking fees), sustenance and some people even put a roof over its roof. That commuter car is being donated in about three weeks for we can no longer afford it’s insurance and it’s become a money pit. I’ll be glad to see it go and keep my sights on possible a job opening downtown so we don’t need another economic addition to our family. Maybe we can go back to the life we loved so many years ago. Maybe. Something’s gotta give.
Most of our vacations were spent resourcefully exploring our beautiful state of Colorado. With the exception of the northwest corner, we’ve been all over on old mining roads and have seen amazing sites with such beauty you gain every bit of confidence in a higher power, no matter what you wish to call it.
We felt we lived a rich life and paid little for it. We don't care what The Jone's are doing. They can have a plasma TV, I don't want it.
I come by the name Golightly honestly. My childhood can be labeled a wandering one. I went to many schools, had many addresses. So, possessions weighed few. This continued into my twenties when I moved every year, mostly to explore new neighborhoods. In Chicago I lived in Hyde Park, several locations in Lakeview and Old Town. In Boston, I lived in Allston and The Fenway. I never had a car and loved public transportation. The company I worked for in Boston subsidized my monthly T-Pass. I paid $11 a month for transportation. When I wanted to get out of town on the weekend, I rented a car for the price of one city parking ticket.
However, we have not always been so wise and things were not always so economically painful.
I confess when we married in 1995; I was a Mighty Consumer, as was Mr. Golightly.
And even worse, I was in Mighty Consumer in Denial. I shopped the sales. Shopping sales is great if you don’t focus on how much money you’re saving, thinking it means you can buy more. We’ve all heard it, it’s a well-marketed mantra for many, “Save more, spend more”. Sale used to be my favorite word. I laugh at it now.
Until I married Mr. Golightly, I’d forever lived in rented apartments and was not aware of a behavior home ownership and staying put can quietly engage. That’d be accruing Stuff because you have a place to chuck it, whether it’s a garage or a basement.
Stack having children on top of home ownership and, wow, do have we a situation for the collection of Stuff. Mounds of it either tossed with out care or neatly organized in plastic bins.
Wait. Let’s toss in one more factor to my collection of Stuff. Thrift shopping. Yup. When you’re a born again thrift shopper or a newbie, it’s easy to fall into a trap. The barrage of fantastic items for such fantastic prices is overwhelming. So happened to me about seven years ago and I remained in that condition for a year or two.
Without the seasoned wisdom of thrift, there is no awareness there will be more cashmere for $4.99 than imaginable flowing through the thrift store. The idea that you can be really picky about purchasing a cashmere sweater or Cole Hann shoes for $4.99 just doesn’t seem natural, so the born again/newbie often buys with a joyful abandon and unknowingly falls into a trap of Stuff.
Take all the new thrift back to the house and if it doesn’t make the closet, chuck it in the basement or garage. It’s worth $100 more than you paid for it, you can’t toss that!
Well, you can.
Fall is coming on and I’m about to swap out the closets and purge the clothes that no longer fit Little Pie and any clothes that just aren’t being worn. My overarching goal is to purge less each season, which would mean that I’m shopping wisely. Last April I posted, "The path to fashion enlightenment" about my spring purge. It felt great! I was basically ready for spring and summer with beautiful clothes I love and had no need for more. My seasonal donations to the thrift store are shrinking. Our clothes closets are efficient, tidy and the clothes are all worn, not left hanging unused for months or in some people’s cases, years. Below is a recent photo of Little Pie and I in Georgetown, CO in fall attire pulled early from the bins under our beds. The total cost of BOTH our ensembles is $30 - not including panties and socks. I've a good feeling my family won't be wanting clothes for fall or winter and this is a very good thing.
Now, I confess there’s been a sleeping demon in my life. It recently awoken and reared its ugly head.
After receiving another bill in the mail that I’m borrowing money to pay, I think I might of hit some sort of rock bottom or maybe I short circuited. We need money. In a state of total frustration and a need to be cleansed, I emptied the kitchen cabinets not of food but of implements.
I confess that there are items in my kitchen that haven’t seen the light of day in over 10 years. How could that be? What else is in my house that has been of no use? Served no purpose?
I feel a fraud. I feel I’ve been dishonest. I feel angry that I’d fallen prey to accruing this Stuff. Or I feel sad that people spent their hard-earned money on gifts they felt obligated to give for a birthday or holiday, and it sat unused. How I wish I had that money that was wasted in my fist right now. But simply put, that ain’t gonna happen.
So I donated more items to the thrift stores. I feel an obligation to donate to maintain the healthy cycle of reuse. You know, the give when you take concept? Hmm. I think many Americans need a lesson in that simple concept. We cannot take and take and take and take and expect there to be something left. Duh! No matter how it’s done, we ALL have something we can give. Problem is we seem to be running short on those people these days. Why is that?
I’d been so focused on the bedrooms; I had forgotten a whole first floor and a whole basement. Yeah, the books are prominent. But, they’re used and every Golightly values them. Oh yeah, there’s a garage in the alley too. Well, the garage isn’t too much of a mess considering it holds our camping gear in bins, ready to roll for an impromptu get-a-way. Mr. Golightly’s workshop is there too. It’s a mess. That’s because we’ve not put the items we’ve been using for projects back in their proper place. We’re using the items in the garage. That makes me feel a little better.
Mr. Golightly and I’ve been talking about this inventory of Stuff and we’re thinking, due to our economic situation, we need to break with Golightly tradition for just one day. We’re still talking. I’ll fill you in with our conclusion.
Oh, it’s also a little known fact The Wicked Witch of the West has a big beef with me. She knew about her sister’s intention to mend her ways. It’s been cropped out of this photo, but there was a PS to this message in the sky reading, “You too Golightly!” In the words of my family’s matriarch, I answer back, “Like Hell I will!” I’m carrying my bucket of water with me wherever I go and I am not afraid to use it.