maura @ 5:12 pm
You know, I try to be a good hippie: hanging our clothes to dry, intermittent composting, buying most clothes secondhand, etc. I’m not the biggest fan of capitalism — the older I get, the more global income inequality bothers me. I’ve sort of flirted with doing The Compact from time to time, and since I don’t enjoy shopping all that much it’s usually not too hard not to buy much anyway.
But consumerism sometimes gets the best of me, and this week has been a particularly stark example. We’ve been planning to redo our bathrooms for a while now, at least one but perhaps both. About 9 yrs ago we got the kitchen redone, and I guess I’d been using that as a guide when I thought about how much a renovation should cost rather than doing any research on actual prices (yes, I am a librarian, why do you ask?). So I had a number in my head before we asked a contractor to come give us an estimate. And it turns out that number was really, really wrong.
At first I was disappointed at the cost, which seems so out of proportion to the size of the room (though of course I realize that plumbing, tiling, etc., is lots of work). But last week was busy so I didn’t have time to give it much more thought. Except that today, I realized that I *had* been thinking about it, just not overtly. Then I was disappointed in myself, both for being so disappointed and for my resulting compensatory behavior.
Let me explain.
I kind of have a thing for sneakers, particularly those of a certain brand. I feel guilty about this for all the usual reasons: consumerism, sweatshops, susceptibility to advertiser manipulation, etc. But I remember the royal blue Samoas with chartreuse stripes that I had in 6th grade: they’re like my Ur sneakers, and I am powerless in nostalgia’s grip. (And lest I paint too bad a picture of myself I should mention that my last 2 pairs [one for summer and one for winter] lasted about 7 yrs, so I do try to get the most out of them that I can).
So every so often I surf on over to the Adidas website and take a look at what they’ve got. Customization is huge right now, if you hadn’t noticed, and they’re no different: you can pick a sneaker type and create your very own, from a limited color palette. The other night I used the sneakermaker to make these:
I didn’t order any of these — they’re $115!!! — but still, it was kind of a time suck to create them and I’m not getting any of that time back, either. And since royal blue + chartreuse aren’t color options I can’t live out my sneaker dreams.
Fast forward to yesterday. Our building’s stoop sale is coming up which means I’m thinking about tables again. Our current table is old. We bought it in 1996 and it’s just a standard pine table so by now it’s full of nicks and scratches, many courtesy of baby Gus’s exuberant silverware drumming days. We’ve been flirting with this one table at Ikea for about 2 yrs now but I keep thinking I don’t like it. It’s heavy, it’s light-colored wood, and what I really want is a mid-century number with leaves that slide out from underneath the table top.
But with a kid + 2 cats now is not the time to invest in expensive furniture, so yesterday I made us go to Ikea to check to see if there were any new tables, just in case we could get one in time to sell the old one at the stoop sale. Well, we ended up getting that table we always look at, and I guess I’ve made my peace with it. We also got 4 black chairs in 4 different styles, a quirky twist that Jonathan talked me into. And some throw pillows and a new duvet and a lampshade to replace one the cats knocked over and a nightlight for Gus and a couple of other small things.
It’s taken me until yesterday evening to realize that I’ve bought (or thought about buying) all this stuff because I’m disappointed about the bathroom, disappointed that I’m not going to get a shiny new pedestal sink and black-and-white tile floor. This realization hasn’t cheered me up at all, I have to say. I guess it’s good to be self-reflective, but the only real takeaway I can come up with is that capitalism makes me feel bad.
(Woah, how did I end up with 2 bummer posts in a row? Next time I promise to write something more uplifting!)