Monday, April 25, 2011

I was a teenage packrat.

I was a teenage packrat. And a child packrat. And an adult packrat, through the first half of my 20s.

"This is my teenage queer-feminist bedroom circa 2000 or 2001. I was a packrat among a family of packrats."

On Friday, I submitted these photos to the Teenage Bedroom tumblr site. Forty-seven people liked it or reblogged it! Of course, I feel a little validated, everyone wants their 15 nanoseconds of fame on the web, duuuuuh. And to some degree (I'm just being honest about my feelings), it feels more validating to be validated for a mess I made in high school by people obsessed with teenagers in the 90s (THERE IS A WHOLE WORLD OF THEM OUT THERE! It kinda blows my mind/amazes/fascinates me) than it does to be validated by real adults for my clutter clearing. Or not so much validating as cool. I am situated culturally/subculturally between those two groups. & I really really don't intend this to be an insult to anyone, I'm just really interested in the weird feelings I have about this particular situation!

On being an adult.
It may be cool to make a mess, but I would rather be an adult. I identify as an adult, I'm proud to be an adult and take care of myself and my home in an adult manner. I know a lot of people in my approximate age group do not, whether they are incapable of doing so, or choose not to. Of course, I am sometimes a little envious of that, people who are still out running around and going to late shows on weeknights and stuff like that. But I wouldn't trade it for getting up early and having the feeling that the world is mine. I wouldn't trade eating grease at restaurants for eating fucking amazing home cooked meals, and I wouldn't trade, oh, basically anything for the commitment I've made to DOING THE DISHES AND CLEANING THE KITCHEN every night before bed. Pretty much nothing feels better than waking up to a clean kitchen, and I'm speaking from my heart, man. Seriously.

On being a packrat.
There was no such thing as a clean kitchen when I was a kid. The kitchen sponge always smelled like ass from being left floating in a pot of food overnight, or over more than one night. I despised doing dishes, because it was so disgusting, because the dishes sat for way too long! I remember poking food bits down the drain with a knife because I was too grossed out to pick them out and throw them away.

I grew up in a family of packrats, and as a young person I never learned how to clean and I definitely never learned how to declutter. I remember making Barbie houses and leaving them up for weeks in the livingroom. I remember my mom trying to make me clean my room, when I was in kindergarten, and getting distracted playing with something I found, and her getting soooooooo mad and yelling at me. I remember screaming when I found a spider in a pile of clothes left on the floor. I remember being a little older and going on whirlwind cleaning sprees in the house and getting so mad at everyone in my family for leaving their junk everywhere, and my mom saying that I should just never clean the house if it was going to make me so mean. I remember my mom carting home a large, clear plastic display case from a garbage pile for me to display all my knick-knacks in. I remember my folks bringing musty beanbag chairs back from the dump. I remember my dad constantly yelling at my mom about CLUTTER, especially when they owned a business together, and the front office, which was totally visible from the customer entrance, was a disaster.

I'm more than a little horrified by these photos of my teenage bedroom, even if they have been validated by 47 tumblr users, but they show what a long way I've come! And it's getting better all the time. I don't have any good photos of my current bedroom; I've made a ton of changes towards minimalism since the last time I took photos. Every day I am able to let go a little more. Every day I find myself willing to part with something I always assumed I'd need to keep, for any number of reasons - the same reasons everyone who has packrat tendencies does it: I might need it, it reminds me of something special, I paid good money for it.

On consumerism.
In the summer, I'm going with my mom and my sister to visit my grandparents and my mom's family in Illinois. I wasn't able to go for about 5 years, between the time I was 19 and 24, due to work. The last two times I've been back, I've had incredible guilt, to the point of near hysteria, that we spend SO MUCH TIME SHOPPING, and barely any time with my grandparents, who are in their late 80s and early 90s - which is to say, they may not be around forever.

I was talking to Kaden, again, about how thrilled I was that I had ended my recreational consumerism, and I was going to just spend time with my family on my vacation; even if my mom and my sister spend all their time shopping, I will not. Kaden said he was so proud of me for making such a clean & quick break from blind & blatant consumerism; only a few months ago I'd go browse sale racks at Target just because I had nothing better to do. And I was like, you know why I was able to do that?

On minimalism.
It's because of the word, and the idea, MINIMALISM. Just the word and the idea, seriously, have set me free. I am also doing a ton of decluttering work, and it's not complete, but being able to put that name on what I feel has been, frankly, liberating. For years now, I've felt an underlying ickyness and guilt going to the mall, or "big box stores," or even just wasting my time looking at pretty stuff at locally owned stores. But I couldn't put my finger on why, and our society obviously promotes that behavior, so I would note that I felt icky but it wouldn't stop me from doing it again.

Now that I have minimalism in my life, I can say no to shopping as recreation or entertainment. And I can say no to collecting and displaying as identity. And I'm so fucking happy about it!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Women & Men.

Most of the blogs I read are by women. I am a woman. Throughout my life, I have had mostly female friends. My husband is the only man I have had a relationship with, though I had relationships with girls when I was younger. When I tell my story to myself, I like to say, "The MC5 made me straight," and it's kind of true.

I love minimalist/simple living blogs by women. If you look at my blogroll, they're the majority. Sooooo, what I am getting at is, I just took a peek at two blogs by dudes, and they kinda lit me up, man.

I have a semi-secret semi plan, and I'm going to need this kind of boost if I'm going to make it a reality! Not that the other blogs I read aren't inspiring me to change my life - and not that a woman's blog couldn't do the same thing - but these particular dude blogs are more extreme.

ps. sometimes I really just want to write something brief & journally. Here it is!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I'm thinking of moving this blog to Wordpress, because I feel limited in design by Blogger. Any opinions? Any success stories about moving blogs?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Records & Feelings.

This weekend, we took a load of books to Half Price Books, where they offer you a cash amount for all the books, music, and movies you bring in. One thing I love about them is they take them all off your hands, instead of sending you back with half a box full.

Didn't Buy
I had a Waylon Jennings record in my hand. It was in excellent shape and had a couple of songs I knew on it. It was a good era of Waylon's music. Plus I believe we only have Waylon on CD, and I love his voice. It was only $1.98, and I had cash back from our trade. But I put it back. Because my life is no longer about collecting and consumerism.

Did Buy
I did buy a Betty Davis CD because Kaden and I have intended to get that CD for several years, and it was $5.98; you couldn't even buy the MP3s cheaper than that. It's good, but not quite the "deep funk" we have been interested in recently. I have not completely released my music collecting tendencies, but I thought long and hard and decided it will bring a positive contribution to our quality of life.

I did buy We Owe You Nothing, Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews, because it is great to have short articles to read. That was $2.00. And it also makes a positive contribution to our quality of life. There are interviews from Kathleen Hanna, Jody Bleyle, and Sleater-Kinney. I've only read the Jody Bleyle interview so far; it made me heavily nostalgic for a time I wasn't present during. I went back to the moaning & groaning, whyyyyyyyyy weren't we born 10 or 15 years earlier. That is always a danger, for me, in buying a book about the 90s. But it makes me feel good, that twinge of knowing it happened and it was big and it was powerful, and at least I can know about it even if I wasn't there.

So I don't know, how do you write about that feeling? Anyone with feelings knows about it (I firmly believe that some people don't have/can't idenitfy feelings; that's OK). That feeling is kind of the crux of how I identify myself. Some of the things I love, I was there for, but more of them, I wasn't. And by things, 90% of the time I mean music. I mean music scenes and when my favorite bands were playing live, from 1926 to the present. It's the knowing it existed, and the recording still exists, and I collect the recordings to experience them as closely as I can. It makes my heart feel big. It makes my nerve receptors tingle. Even just thinking about it.

Kaden's dad gave us a magnificent record player, on loan. It's a Kenwood and it sounds so much better than the Marantz we used to have. Dad is fixing the Marantz, but we secretly hope he lets us keep the Kenwood! We listened to most of Have One On Me, and the depth of sound available on the record (vs the digital files) is AMAZING, to say the least. Even J. Newsom's voice has a vastly greater range audible on the vinyl. We decided never to buy another CD; we have plenty of CDs. We are only going to buy records from now on; almost everything you could want is available on 180 gram vinyl nowadays.

When I was a kid, my parents thought it was hilarious that I preferred the sound of records to CDs. They couldn't hear a difference. They were telling this to their friend who was (still is!) a techie, and he launched into a long explanation of why this could be so. I didn't get the details at the time (I was 12 or 13), but since then, I've learned that digital reproductions of recordings reduce the range of sound available to the listener. What a fucking shame!

If you care about music, do yourself a favor and listen to records! Now that we finally have an operational record player (it has been over 6 months), I am soooooooo excited to listen to The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Zelia Barbosa, and this one song from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack!!!!!!

Good Choices!
Back to consumerism and the simple life, we decided not to see Black Angels on the day before my birthday. We are planning a big-for-us vacation next month, for my birthday. We had planned to see Black Angels at the Showbox in Seattle on a Tuesday night, then take the rest of the week off work and go to Canada. Through something I said in anger (I don't even care about seeing Black Angels!), we found out that neither of us really wanted to go! With this change in plans, we'll only take Thursday and Friday off work, and I'll get to go to my favorite yoga class in Bellingham on our way up to Canada! Furthermore, we decided to NEVER go to the Showbox again, because parking and location is soooooooo bad. We're really happy with this decision!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Simple Wedding.

I realized I have never written much about our wedding. My husband, Kaden, and I have lived together for 8 years now, but we just got hitched in September. The only transition, really, was from saying "boyfriend" to saying "husband."

It took us a long time to get around to getting married. Kaden asked me to marry him when we had been in a relationship for only 3 months - but we'd been living together as "roomies" for a few months longer, and known each other through mutual friends for a few years. In fact, we saw each other at a show when we were 17 & I always say it was Love At First Sight right then.

I had said over and over that I was "never" getting married. Furthermore, I had only had relationships with girls (I can't really say women; we were 15-20), before Kaden. When he asked, I took a very brief moment to consider, and instantly realized I could commit to spending my life with him, no problem. We were both 20 years old then, so we didn't really tell anyone because they might think we were silly or rushing into things.

We only decided to go through with it and get married the first week of August, 2010. We wanted to do it on a Saturday, and before summer was over. The 14th, my mom was out of town. The 21st was my weird-number day, and I didn't want it to be our wedding anniversary. The 28th we were going to the ocean with Kaden's family; the 4th of September was Kaden's birthday weekend. September 11th would be we went with the very last Saturday of Summer, September 18th.

We had about 5 weeks to plan. No proooooooblem, man. We wanted simple & low-stress, and that's what we got! Having limited time to plan really helped us with that goal. Plus, we didn't have a "vision", and we were never concerned about perfection; we knew however the day unfolded would be perfect.

Keeping it Small

This photo pictures every single guest at our wedding. There are three other people we would have LOVED to have, but they all were living out of the state. Both of our parents asked us to invite other family members, but we stayed firm in our resolve to maintain a SMALL wedding. We felt like getting married was extremely personal, and we didn't want to share it with people we weren't close to. (example: my uncle who came to my college graduation party, proceeded to re-arrange all my parents' furniture, and said only three things to me: Get Your Uncle a Glass of Wine, Did You Know I am Living with a Hot 22 year old [I was also 22 at the time], When I Retired I Wanted to Become a Gynecologist).

We noted on the invitations that it was a casual event, and that no gifts were requested. Of course we got some stuff, mostly gift cards, but nothing excessive. We opened a joint savings account for any money we received. After the ceremony, we sent out Announcements to all the family and friends who hadn't come to the wedding.

We had tentatively planned, for a long time, to get married at Kaden's folks' house, especially since their next door neighbor is a minister - she just has a certificate to do weddings, non-denominational. We thought it would be much better to be married by "Reverend Aunt Claire" than by a stranger. She just walked right over! We said our vows where the wedding party is standing in the photo above, which was exactly where I envisioned it. Our friend James, who we lived with for 5 years, was our main photographer, though everyone with a digital camera contributed some shots.

We wrote our own vows; they were really short & simple, based on Quaker vows - which we chose for their simplicity! My sister was my attendant. I wanted my parents to give me away. The ceremony was in the back yard. We went out the front door and came around the house, and I started laughing my butt off! I couldn't believe it was finally, actually, my wedding day.

The actual ceremony was extremely brief - we hadn't really rehearsed, and everything we'd planned to say ended up taking very little time. We had made funny things to say when we put the rings on each other - I put his on as a symbol to keep other women from paying him inappropriate attention; he put mine on so I would think of our love when I snag it on something. My mom said that if she had known that our ceremony would be "so funny", she would have videotaped it! A lot of people said it was the most fun wedding they'd ever been to.

Food and Other Stuff
Our folks' paid for everything, split equally between the two families. I don't know how much the grand total was, but I'm absolutely certain it was lower than an "average" American wedding!

The most expensive part of the wedding was the cake! It was even more than the room we stayed in for our (one-night-only) Honeymoon! But our friends own a bakery & we were more than happy to support their business - AND it was like the best cake ever! Almond Poppyseed! Many of our guests said it was the best wedding cake they ever had.

the top layer slid a little during transportation!

My BFF Cree & her wife Kristina (who we were living with at the time) did all the rest of the food. We just wrote up a list of all the things we wanted - cold cuts, cheese, rolls, salad, vegetables, olives & pickles - not a dinner, just easy luncheon type stuff. They did all of the prep and clean up as a gift to us. We served only Miller High Life, Miller Lite, pop and water for beverages!

My dress was only about $80 (my sister works at David's Bridal, and I got it on the discount rack), Kaden's suit is a hand-me-down from my dad, and we both wore Chucks. I found a local jeweler on Etsy, and we worked together outside of Etsy to create very simple silver rings - both for a total of $80. Mine has an aquamarine setting; Kaden's is plain. The lady who did our rings also let us cut a ton of hydrangeas from her yard! She really wanted to get rid of them! We had no cost for flowers, venue rental, minister services, photography, catering, or bar. Or invitations, announcements, and Thank You's - we work at a printing company! I did the design.

Our overnight Honeymoon was about 2.5 hours away, at a funny "resort" at a renovated Masonic Lodge/orphanage/retirement home, McMenamins Grand Lodge, and it was $125 for a King Size bed with a private bathroom.

And we did our "dance" to "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Budget Breakdown.

March 2011

This is the breakdown of my spending for the month of March 2011, the first month in my life that I tracked my spending. Intriguing! I'm pretty thrilled that 38% of my income went to Savings. This may not happen in April, as I have already bought a bike this month, amping up the "Recreation" percentage. I should still be able to get quite a bit into Savings. I'm also pretty thrilled that the categories of "Music" and "Clothes" were empty, and therefore do not appear on the chart.

I need to find ways to reduce my grocery bill. Kaden contributed nearly as much as I did; that puts us around $660 for groceries for one month for two people. That seems quite obscene. We do most of our shopping at our local food co-op because it's just a 5 minute walk from our house. It seems like prices aren't too much higher than at a regular grocery store, but I have not checked item-to-item. I don't think we'd change that anyway; it's worth it for the location, to support the organization which we are members of, and not have to go under the disgusting lighting of the corporate grocery store. I did spend $112 of my grocery money at Costco, purchasing large packages of items that will last several months (canned tomatoes, canned beans, soy milk, etc). I may start volunteering at the co-op to see if that can go against our bill - but it wouldn't be the same as reducing our spending. Maybe we just need to analyze and re-think our spending! I'm kind of at a loss on this one.