Saturday, August 18, 2007

More with Less

Just a quick note - I think part of the reason I'm feeling much more laid back now, happier in general, is in part because this summer, I was earning half as much money as I'm accustomed to. There was now a logical reason not to buy things. When I did go out and buy something, it was a big treat. Aside from groceries and the occasional Belgian beer bottle, I only bought two books, three articles of clothing, and...no CDs at all.

It forced me to re-examine what was already available to me. Such as the library. At the very beginning of summer, I put in several requests for them to either buy or get things from Interlibrary Loan - Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking, Clotilde Dusoulier's Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook, and three CDs that my favorite artists just put out. I requested the new Smashing Pumpkins, the new Tori Amos, and the new White Stripes. These things did not come in all at once. (I should note that the library already carried Tori, Smashing Pumpkins, and White Stripes CDs, so if the library did buy these things on my account, at least I wouldn't be the only patron checking them out.)

After a few weeks, the Smashing Pumpkins' Zeitgeist arrived. The library actually purchased a copy of it! Well, it's not very good. It doesn't suck...it's not painful to listen to...but it's not really catchy.

A few weeks later, American Doll Posse arrived. It's also not that great. Not bad, just not worth the equivalent of a quarter to a third of my non-profit work day.

I finally heard "Icky Thump" on the radio, and felt I would simply burst if I did not go out and buy the new White Stripes CD RIGHT NOW. But how do I know that the rest of the CD doesn't suck? Thanks to this website a friend at work pointed me to, Pandora, I can listen to music legally and free and the CD-buying frenzy has calmed. (It's not like, any music you want on demand--you put in a song or an artist that you like and it makes a radio station for you, playing music that it thinks you would like based on what you've put in. You rate songs, too, and you can skip a certain amount per hour, so that your station is personalized more and more. A good way to hear music you wouldn't think of checking out, too.)

And just so I'd know that they hadn't forgotten me - they're just sloooooooowly filling my requests, which is fine--the Sparta Public Library <3 just informed me that Super Natural Cooking has arrived and will be held for me until Monday.

So, in a way this DOES relate to materialism, I guess. But it's a different kind, I think. For one thing, I don't get to keep these things. I have to return them. But then I am sharing them with other people. This can relate to the community idea. When I went to pick up the cookbook this morning, the former chef librarian was at the desk, and we discussed books, her new blog, and local farmers markets.

While it's still materialistic and consumptive on some level, it's not the same as getting stuck in the buying-more-wanting-more addictive cycle. This is making happiness with what is available.

On a similar note to the above, while going through my room to try to de-clutter - a constant project of mine that goes nowhere usually - I've been finding all these old CDs. I have been forcing myself, when I get sick of my new stuff, to listen to these old CDs. The other day, I got stuck in horrendous traffic. In Somerset County, no less. (We write about Somerset County at work - that's our big project - so being stuck here was particularly silly. Talk about taking your work home with you.) I pulled a CD at random from a stack in my glove compartment, noted that the date on it was something "/00", thought "oh no...sophomore year of HIGH SCHOOL...this could be trouble..." and stuck it in the machine.

After some cheering, guitar tuning, and a "Thank you for your patience" by a singer who I identified as Thom Yorke? or something? Jeremy Enigk? ???? (being in traffic, I muttered "I'M NOT PATIENT!!!!"), a live version of "Theo B" by Sunny Day Real Estate commenced. What followed was a block of Modest Mouse. Awesome!!!! Not all my musical taste seven years ago was sucky!

This CD, in addition to being good, has also been a source of humor, as what follows the block of Modest Mouse--directly--is a block of Deftones and Tool. Huh? Followed by the Get Up Kids and...one Ani Difranco song. Oh, high school.

Anyway, this is an example of making happiness with what one already has.

When I really think about it, despite bouts of boredom, being annoyed at my job (which has overall been cool in many ways - don't get me wrong), all the changes of plans, getting stuck living at home again, and not making much money, this has been the best summer I've had in a long time. I kept pretty busy, made friends, reconnected with old friends (is this also an example of making happiness with what one already has? ha ha), went to some fun parties, got to go hiking a couple of times, spent a lot of time outdoors, spent minimal time in front of the TV--in general, though I did not do many of the things on my "to do" list - I had a lot of fun and got to try lots of new things. (And this is counting summer as starting on Memorial Day - AFTER the France trip.)

Now, I'm going to go support local agriculture and buy some vegetables.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i do that too, with CDs: listen to two songs then put them down for awhile...then years later discover great things.
e.