Resolution Check-in

My resolution this year was to stop trading my time and space for garbage.

Two parts:

  • Get rid of trash.
  • Stop buying trash.

How am I doing? Well I just got a physical music album when I could’ve just gotten the digital version, so I could be doing better. On the whole, I haven’t purchased too many items and I got rid of three trash bags of clothes and shoes and I’m working on filling more, just not as diligently lately. The worst part of this year has been Amazon’s dang Prime Day. I got hair ties, a vegetable peeler, a Kindle, and these wooden Thai reflexology massage tools, a cotton yoga headband, a couple of essential oils, and seed sprouting lids for Ball jars. Obviously these items were not necessary even though I had a very good reason at the time I ordered them and I do use all of these things.

Other purchases I’ve made this year include a pack of silicone reuseable straws. I also got three pairs of socks and underpants, and two cotton t-shirts.

We’re almost reaching the last quarter of the year. I’m hoping to not have a total meltdown at Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

Anytime I start jonesing to shop, I hop online, fill my cart, and then close the browser. Then I whine and carry on about wanting someone to go thrifting with. Then I forget about it for a few weeks and then do it all over again. So far, it’s working out. Part of my motivation now besides decluttering my life, saving money, reducing my environmental footprint, all that do-good nonsense yada yada, is to not contribute to the C(onsumption) in the GDP. It makes up 70% of the GDP and if not shopping can somehow speed up this impending, unavoidable recession in time to affect election outcomes, that’s just all the more incentive to not shop. One might argue that’s not a very nice thing to try to induce seeing as how people suffer in recessions. But follow my logic here, I’m assuming it’s inevitable. And the alternative is worse. At any rate, saving is good for the economy. We pour countless negative externalities into the market that are involuntarily paid for eventually, by our future generations all for the sake of the comfort of today. It’s a nationwide dopamine addiction. Did I mention the jonesing? So yeah, every hurricane, drought, unstoppable fire and extreme climate change event is us paying for the cheap comforts of the two or three generations before us. This is the real trickle down economics.

And reality check here – I am but a drop in the bucket. I’m no more making an impact to the GDP than I am hurting big agri by not eating animal products.

Also if there is an impending recession, I’ll be happy to have saved a cushion so I can afford whatever extortionist price the Lover concert seats in the nosebleed sections will command. Take my life savings Taylor. I *heart* you in a healthy way.

Lover

I took the day off from work on Friday to spend a very personal day with Taylor. She generously released the album on YouTube for free. And I’ve been listening to this album on repeat all weekend and will probably have it on repeat for a while because I am obsessed. I’ve also been revisiting her older albums to try and figure out my new TS albums rankings. It’s such a futile effort since I change my mind at every listen. I’m fully aware it could be recency bias with this new release, but I think Lover is my favorite of her albums. Lover just highlights exactly where she shines – her lyricism. She has the gift of language to poetically describe relatable universal human emotions. And of course she sets it all to music that I can’t turn off, literally. It’s been going all weekend.

For the moment:

  • The eponymous track Lover, is my favorite song in this album.
  • I have these at the top of my list too in no particular order: Cornelia Street, Daylight, The Man, Afterglow, Paper Rings, Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince, You Need To Calm Down, Cruel Summer, I Think He Knows, London Boy, The Archer
  • Soon You’ll Get Better is why I had to make a Lover playlist rather than just play the whole album. It’s a beautifully heartwrenching song and I cry every dang time it comes on. Every stinkin’ time. Weeping. I just can’t be doing that all day. Thank you, T, for including it though.
  • I don’t have any skip songs in this album (besides the one that makes me cry and it’s not because I don’t like it. I do still play it periodically). I don’t have any skip tracks in the reputation album either.
  • This is the first album where I’m not really trying to decipher which man this song is associated with, because it doesn’t matter. I don’t know if this speaks to growth in myself or her.

Understanding that buying physical albums is not the best option environmentally-speaking, and cd-players are going the way of dinos, I decided to just get version 4 as opposed to all four versions of her deluxe album at Target yesterday. I went with that one because it’s pink. Of course. And it has the All Too Well lyrics. It looks like it was written so quickly, I can only imagine it must’ve been pouring out of her brain so fast her hands could barely keep up. There’s also a poignant entry about her antiquing with her mom. Ugh. Weep more at the Soon You’ll Get Better song.

She was only 19:

7-12-2009 Today was a wonderful day. And not because of some massive career accomplishment or award show. It wasn’t about world domination or another number 1 song. Today was just… wonderful. Today was simple and perfect. Because today was just me and my mom, driving around, looking at antiques in little antique shops, talking about what chandelier should go in the foyer and if this cabinet would look right in the guest room. We stopped for ice cream cones. It started raining hard while we were shopping, so we had to run back to the car, getting soaked and screaming.

We met up with Dad and Austin for dinner at Kabuto. But the best part of the day was just driving around with my mom. Correction: riding around with my mom with a bunch of antiques clanking together in the trunk. I just kept thinking, when I’m 90 years old, re-living the good old days, I doubt if I’ll look back on the number one parties as fondly and as frequently as I’ll look back on today.

Wearing red lipstick for no reason, mom in her black t-shirt and wet hair, driving around talking about which chandelier should go in the foyer.

T. Swizzle

It reads like a song. I swear this woman’s life must filter through her head like a Broadway production. What it must be like.

Clothes Shopping Rundown 2018

It’s still January, so not too late to be looking back at the previous year right?

Here’s a rundown of the clothes I bought for myself last year and how I feel about them now.

  • Activewear:
    • 2 workout Ts – I was on a quest to find long tees to cover my bum in leggings. I ordered these two mid-length ones from Amazon and they work because I’m short. Also, they’re cotton which I prefer.
    • 1 WearPact leggings – I wanted to try cotton leggings for the gym since I prefer cotton tops. They’re much more breathable than plastic. I’m sold. Cotton they shall be!
  • Thrifting: I love visiting thrift stores, especially when I travel. It’s like grocery shopping. I get a taste of local flavor – even though, let’s be honest, the Internet and social media has homogenized us a lot.
    • Sweater vest – My absolute favorite clothing purchase of 2018.
    • workout tee – It has New Orleans printed on it, so this is not only a gym shirt, it’s a souvenir.
    • Work appropriate top – In hindsight, I didn’t need another top for work, but eh, I’ve gotten use out of it.
  • Fast Fashion: This is stuff I’m trying to cut back on, but it’s also the longest list.
    • Skinny jeans – Had I known how many cute pairs of jeans were awaiting me at the thrift store in NOLA, I wouldn’t have ordered these. But I so wanted a pair of comfortable stretchy skinny jeans that I ordered these from Nordstrom Rack at the beginning of the year. Were they worth it? I wear them weekly! They’re like leggings. But because I got these, I skipped out on a really cute pair of Levi’s at No Fleas Thrift store. Yes, I could’ve still gotten the Levi’s but Marie Kondo would not have approved. And I never need another pair of jeans. Despite cleaning out 10 or so pairs last year (they were too small), I still have a drawer of jeans.
    • Yellow turtleneck sweater – Free shipping made me do this. I hate that I do that – buy garbage for free shipping. I end up paying more than I would have for the shipping. Why do I do this? This sweater is plastic and scratchy. I hate it, but I wear it to work because it’s warm and it doesn’t pill and it’s a good color on me. Every time I have it on though I tell myself I’m throwing it in the Goodwill pile.
    • Undershorts and stockings – I got these from YesStyle/YesAsia (along with the plastic yellow sweater) and the quality of the undershorts are decent while the stockings are complete trash. They’re disposable in that they only last one wear and barely at that. I have nothing good to say about YesStyle. The pictures on the site look great, the quality is absolute junko. Save your money! Darn you YouTube influencers and your sponsored videos!
    • Plaid tencel shirt – I’m not sure if this is legitimately an ethical fashion brand, but they’re called Threads for Thought so it sounded good. The shirt is cute (I’m a sucker for plaid), but the quality is only so-so and because of that, I can’t say I like it. I’m trying to go for items that last, rather than disposable garbage clothes. This one leans a bit disposable.

I’m hoping to only take clothes out of the closet this year and not add anything. However, I anticipate failing when I travel and if I thrift.

Lush

Surprise! Malls still exist and thrive in the age of Amazon! I haven’t walked around in a mall for years but I had a dinner date with friends at a restaurant that happened to be at the mall. Since I got there early, I shopped. I should have gone to the shoe store pronto since I wore the wrong pair of shoes to shop (totally out of analog shopping practice) – my toenail is probably going to fall off because I chose the Lush rather than shoe adventure.

My friend had told me about their shampoo bars years ago and I’ve always meant to try them. I wanted one for hair loss and the sales lady told me ‘New’ might encourage baby hairs.

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I also grabbed the ‘Jumping Juniper’ because it has rosemary in it, and I’ve heard that can also encourage hair growth. I’ve used the ‘New’ a few times and so far I’m liking it. I kinda’ wish I didn’t, because I don’t want to develop a Lush habit, because $$$ but after using it, I feel like my dander problems have improved. I’m not sure about hair growth, it might take a while for that, but I like the way my hair looks after and I love the scent. I especially like the smell of the juniper one.

For comparison, other shampoo bars from Chagrin Valley are better than these Lush bars. Some of my favorites include Babassu Marshmallow and Ayurvedic Herb. They are quite effective at treating my dandruff, much more effectively than Lush.

So yes, I just said I like these Lush bars. Which should you get? If you’re not used to bar shampoo, Lush could be good for first timers since they lather easily and don’t dissolve as quickly as the Chagrin Valley. Overall though, Chagrin Valley is a superior product because they don’t use sulfates and they also seem to use up more quickly because they’re more old school soaps (oils and sodium hydroxide).

For me, going forward, I’d stick to Chagrin Valley if I’m ordering online. But if I’m ever in a Lush shop, I’d probably grab a couple more bars of shampoo. They’re hard to resist when I’m in the store smelling them.

Organizing?

This may be a backslide on the decluttering-throwaway resolution front. This mountain of stuff on the coffee table that inadvertently became the storage area for all Costco purchases started getting a bit out of control. I suppose a space as small as this has no business storing Costco-sized anything but on the occasion, I do like to pick up a few cartoonishly large-sized items. Ironically, the stocking up is a result of not enjoying the Costco experience. Buy more, buy less frequently. Y’see the logic?

Coffee Table of Crap

From what I understand of the minimalist thinking, the general idea of organization or storage items is they tend to, in the long run, exacerbate clutter. They’re clutter magnets. It’s better to not have the storage items and to just get rid of the stuff that you would have kept there. I’m not at that level yet. That’s like Michelin 3-star level minimalism. So even knowing that, we got the rack anyway because we figured the coffee table footprint is larger than the rack footprint and the rack optimizes use of vertical space. It’s Hong Kong here in my little place.

Costco Shrine

Maybe I will come to regret this Costco shrine installation. One feature I’m glad it has is the caster wheels. Boy if that isn’t my favorite furniture feature for small spaces. I want walls to come with wheels. And the coffee table goes because it doesn’t have wheels. So I suppose zero sum in terms of stuff. One in-one out.

Supplemental resolution

The other person who inspired me a lot last year (well, maybe for a few years now) was Mr. Money Mustache. So between Marie Kondo with her get-rid-of-your-garbage philosophy, and MMM’s stop-buying-garbage philosophy, I was torn about which I would adopt as my theme for 2019. So I’m taking them both. I’m sure I’ve recycled these two ideas in past resolutions. It’s an uphill battle for me on both fronts and they relate. Stop trading my time and space for garbage.

With MMM in mind, I had originally drafted a post geared towards what I thought was going to be my 2019 project of reducing my annual food cost from 2018. This was in November before the end of the year and my data was incomplete so I waited to finish the post with all the dollars tallied. Lo, the outcome was stupid. Yes, I can lower my food costs. No I’m not as Mustachian as the man himself. But no. See food expenses in 2018 were lower than in 2017. Good enough for me. I apparently made strides without even trying.
My theory is, part way through 2018 I gave up on finding decent plant-based options in the area because they were mostly just mediocre, so we ate out a lot less. I don’t see the dining scene suddenly improving this year. We’ll still try a few places every now and again, but maybe this isn’t the pie slice I need to improve. I will just have to look elsewhere to improve my clutteriffic living situation. Anyway, it’s not like my food takes up that much space. Except maybe the beans and rice – I hoard that as if the next apocalypse were upon us.

Fabric Shaver

And with the colder weather, my winter clothes have come out of summer hibernation. Usually I don’t give this clothing swap much thought. I just grab everything that I have that’s summer stuff and shove it in a giant bag (or two) and then grab all the cold weather stuff crammed in my wardrobe, and put it on my shelves. Done. It takes me all of 15 minutes.

This year, my year of Konmari, I was a bit more judicious in what I decided to save in my summer wardrobe and also what I no longer wanted in the winter shelves. Much of it isn’t donate-able quality but I donated it anyway because I have heard from a couple of sources that they recycle textiles and supposedly it’s best not to throw textiles in the trashcan. Except socks and underwear. I still junk that.

I’m still trying to figure out how to balance decluttering with waste generation. I could keep wearing my old clothes with holes and bad elastics to just keep the stuff out of the waste pile, but on the other hand how many pajamas do I need?? All my house clothes are basically demoted anything, gym wear, work wear, street wear. Eventually it’s just too much.

Here’s an example of something I decided to salvage though – I was going to get rid of this pilly brown sweater because it looked like this:
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But then I thought, maybe I can try and salvage it, so I got this sweater de-piller or fabric shaver.

Here are the results.
Fabric Shaver>

Sorry, the picture is crap, but let me just tell you, it’s far from good as new, or even good enough to wear to work, but it’s a vast improvement from how it looked before.

Leggins!

I hopped aboard the synthetic activewear bandwagon when my last gym pants gave out. Leggins were (and still are) ubiquitous when I needed new workout pants and my old school cotton capris were not so easy to find anymore. At first, I really liked my new leggings. They were so stylish and pretty. I felt like I was channeling Taylor Swift every time I headed to the gym in my trendy new leggings. But eight pairs of leggings and a year later, I have come to the conclusion that even though leggings are nice, I prefer my cotton workout clothes. I prefer exercising in pants that aren’t skintight. And nothing is more breathable than cotton. Yes sweat, but I would change out of my sweaty exercise clothes regardless of fabric type anyway. The only exercise I would prefer synthetics is probably hot yoga, which I don’t like and rarely do anyway, and spin, which I do maybe once a month, if that. I’m still of course going to keep wearing my leggings, but I won’t be adding more to the workout wardrobe. It was fun to go whole hog on leggins but alas, the fire is gone.

Piano!

I always get these wild ideas in my head of dipping my toes in the art world. I bought a guitar over a decade ago. I can play 8 chords? And not even that really, since I have no sense of rhythm and can’t strum. In many ways, the guitar is both a melodic instrument as well as a percussive one. I can’t percuss. So I learned a classical guitar tune (Malaguena) and now the guitar is by the piano, currently out of tune.
I got watercolor books and paint and I do that every so often (a couple times a year?) but really, I haven’t the patience to paint. Every painting I’ve done so far has taken me all of 10 minutes? I remember taking watercolor lessons as a kid and each lesson was an hour long. Imagine it takes me 10, maybe 20 minutes. What am I supposed to do with the rest of the 40 minutes?! I just can’t stare at objects for that long!
Korg C1 Air
So on to the next new toy! It’s a digital piano. It came in a long box with a whole bunch of pieces and it had to be assembled like Ikea furniture. It plays beautifully. The keys feel like a real piano, and the sound is very pleasant. I love it and I play it every day. Haha… no. I don’t. I did for the first few weeks. But I do play it pretty regularly still. I am not a good piano player but I enjoy it and I enjoy the features of a digital and so do our neighbors, I’m sure. I can plug in a headset and only I can hear what I’m doing. It’s great, and I’m very happy I have it.

Washer Dryer

After 20 years, our old stacked washer dryer gave out. The first thing I did when it broke was I called the plumber. My go-to solution. When I shared my plight with my coworkers though, they asked me why I hired a plumber. Shouldn’t you have called an appliance person? So I canceled the plumber (when I called to cancel, he then said he also wondered why we’d called them for a broken washer. Gee, thanks for telling me when I made the appointment. I guess he would’ve been happy to take our consultation money to send out a guy who would just advise us to hire an appliance guy. That’ll be $150, thanks! I think we’re gonna need a new plumbing company. Anyway, I called an appliance repair person to try and fix it but he wasn’t able to get it to work after two visits so we gave up and got a new set. My fear is, these new units aren’t made to last as long as appliances of yore. Only time will tell.
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I do really like the front load washer though. I watched it the first few runs and I feel like the clothes throwing action from raising it and dropping it cleans more effectively than swishing clothes about in a tub. And also they’re more resource efficient. And I feel like they’re gentler on my clothes. There’s less rubbing of fibers against each other. Just the falling and smacking downwards action. Also its spin dry is insane. Makes my clothes drying rack work that much faster. So overall, I highly recommend a front loading washer. This is also a 2018 purchase of the year. I can have two purchases of the year. I can do whatever I want. I’m the boss in this neighborhood. Or blog. Whatever.