T-to-the-A

Posts Tagged ‘America’

Ahh, another angle on the “Stuff” dilemma…

In The Daily Drool on October 21, 2009 at 10:35 am

Maybe some of you remember my short rant on the pressure of all the “Stuff” in my life… the feeling that it’s beginning to own me and eliciting a raging need to get rid of it.  To be free.  (followed up by the nagging voice “But, you won’t you just get new stuff once the old is gone?”

Then a friend posted this on Facebook. And it like, really clicked with me.  Because although the bent here is sustainability, it’s sustainability born of the realization that we are RULED by our need to consume STUFF.  Please check it out- even if you don’t really suffer from an overabundance of stuff, the points here are really interesting.  It’s about 20 minutes long, just FYI, but there are illustrations 🙂  http://www.storyofstuff.com/

And after you’ve watched it, ask yourself if maybe this “Economic Crisis” isn’t a good thing in that it’s forcing consumers to slow down a bit… to make better decisions about the things they need vs. those they want and the crap they pick up just to fill in the empty spaces.  I’ve been out of work and on “Rainy Day” budgeting for the past THREE MONTHS.  Although I’ve splurged on he occasional fairly frequent steak here and there, and the occasional visit to the Chiropractor, I haven’t really bought any new things… the treats I’ve been allowing myself have generally been less material in nature.  And I’m actually quite fine with that.  It’s not the “Oh my God, I can’t buy the new gadget!” that’s driving me crazy, but the not being able to pay my bills.  (Although I admit an affinity for new clothes like any other hot blooded female… and anything electronic and techie…  BUT I also know I usually don’t NEED spankin’ new bells and whistles)

Which makes me look back at my “Comfortable” college days (A paycheck and Sallie Mae cocktail of illusion) where I pretty much didn’t go crazy, but wasn’t the most discerning of shoppers either, and shake my head.

Sooooo, all of this to say, maybe it is time we look at our habits and actually change the way we think about life – to change our philosophies from “Living to Buy” to  “Buying to Live.”

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Left, Right… Fight?

In Essays, The Daily Drool on August 18, 2009 at 9:13 am

I don’t like to air my political thoughts very often because I think we get enough of people broadcasting on that channel – every once in a while though I get struck numb with the sheer audacity of something and publicly ponder.   Today I’m not going to do that –  Today I’d like to ask you some questions… because I feel like I don’t have enough reach to grasp the answer.

The divide between Republicans and Democrats – something that has been going and going – feels to me to becoming particularly divisive as of late.  I’m speaking of the past couple years, and especially since the election.  Everyone seems to have a very vocal and vociferous opinion about why their side has it all figured out and the other are a bunch of nuts.  People are angry and looking for an outlet – but what is scary to me is any sense of seeming appreciation that this is the place to have debate… that this, of all nations, is one in which we (while agreeing to disagree) should at least retain reason as we struggle to fight for our beliefs without becoming so fanatically committed to them that we cease to see our opponant as a likewise dedicated human being.

Because I feel like this is getting forgotten.  Because we’re not debating anymore, we’re throwing dirty punches – and while the things we are fighting for are life-changing – it’s scary to see so many people apparently loosing their minds in the ring.

I’m not preaching some sort of “Can’t we all just get along” mentalitiy, because I know we can’t.  We’re all of us coming at issues from our own perspective and that will always result in differences, some of which are too strong to overlook.  But I can’t abide by the ignorance of some of the arguments people are making on either side – and by ignorance I mean those who have begun denigrating everyone who disagrees.  Yes, people are angry, and Yes, someone has to lose – but writing off a whole demographic with expletive ridden insults and disgust, just because they don’t agree with you, turns debate into a playground fight really quickly.  It’s disgusting.

So this is my question:  When is the last time we were so divided politically and do you think we’re going to be able to heal?  Are we as a nation going to be able to move forward from our political positions, win or lose, or is this divide going to turn into one giant crack…

Empty pockets and bad habits

In Essays, The Daily Drool on August 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm

There is a lot of uncertainty in the air these days… perhaps not to be measured against all that came before, but unsettling nonetheless.  So many people are out of work, uninsured, and angry… And yet, as politicians cook up bailout after bailout, I keep coming back (as I engage in some version of mental gymnastics to try and make sense of it all) to the same undeniable point:  We don’t make anything anymore.

Americans have become locusts – buying up anything and everything that might lead to thrills, comfort, or be mildly entertaining.  I mean, who needs an iPhone?  Really?  No-one.  All it’s done  is make things more immediate – which is certainly a convenience, but certainly not anything we can’t live without.  And forget the well-intentioned iPhoners/Blackberriers that thought having an iPhone would be a useful work tool.  All it’s done is made it easier for them to work ALL THE TIME.  On lunch, in the bathroom; they are never disconnected from their employers tete.   Whereas it’s meant as a conveniece to be able to google on the go, it’s become somewhat of a crutch – those insistent voices bellowing at you from every techno-device in your employ “What do you mean you didn’t have your phone ON?”

So now there is no escape.

And we buy up cheap sandals at the Wal-mart -sometimes because our old pair have holes and sometimes because the $5.95 bargain buy  gives us a thrill.  We go to Target to get kleenex and wind up with a cart full of sundries that may very well brighten up the apartment, but were they necessary?

And we go to movies so we have an excuse to disconnect, turn our phones off, and forget about our overextended credit, in the hopes that somebody famous will make us laugh before we have to get back the lives that seem to be running us… or more pointedly, to get back to the stuff that is eating us alive.

Then we sit around arguing about what to do about high interest rates, but really we’re pissed off that we’re not making enough money to pay for the stuff we already have much less get the iPhone upgrade or to take that trip to Hawaii that we keep putting off… And it seems that in all the solutions proposed in the hopes of providing some relief that no one is willing to acknowledge that we are a greedy market – and much like many a robust civilization before us -we are eating ourselves to death.

We don’t make anything anymore.  We have outsourced and big-boxed ourselves into a corner from which the only practical means of recovery seems (to me) to be to release our grip on the material “Gold” we’re so hell bent on obtaining, and focus instead on what we need, what means we can live within, and to get back in the game of building things at home.

Doesn’t that make a lot more sense than continuing to throw money into this bottomless consumer pit?

But it won’t happen because people are stubborn, and we are spoiled.  We like having big cars and 64 inch flat screen T.V.s on the “Cheap”.  Of course we do, they’re cool.  I’ve been eyeing an overpriced set of dishes at Macy’s for months.  But like a teenager who throws a tantrum when he can’t have the $200 pair of Nike’s he saw P.Diddy wearing last week, we might just grow up a little as we learn that “Having” takes work, and work builds character, and character helps us realize that the important thing is the shoe – not who wore them.  Then we calmly take ourselves to Sears for a reliable pair that lives in our price range and we actually have time to play in them, instead of running our asses off trying to pay off something we shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

Maybe instead of government bailouts what we need is a little time out to think about what we’ve done, where we want to go, and how to get there on our own two feet.

King of (soda) Pop?

In Essays, The Daily Drool on July 7, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Of all the things going on in the world right now, it is particularly interesting to me that we are scrambling to suffer the loss of a pop icon.  I understand the man touched and changed lives.  I do.  So I’m not proposing that the adoration isn’t unwarranted.  I’m just a little blown away with the ferocity with which people are abandoning the “real” in their pursuit of grief over a man who lived much of his life immersed in fantasy.

And it’s tricky to explore this notion without it seeming that I’m passing judgment on the man or his fans… it’s really not for me to shout opinions about it one way or the other.  Everyone should be entitled to experience his passing.  I’m merely trying to say that I find the global spectacle of Jackson’s death an interesting phenomenon considering all the other horrific events currently happening.

It’s as though his final gift to us was one of nostalgia; offering us all an opportunity to look back at what he once was and cheer.  To remember the good and toss out the bad.  To, in fact, chastise those who would remind us of the strange or unpleasant and instead remind them of all that he once was.

I can’t help but notice similarities between this and our current battle with ourselves.

Struck by devestating economic stagnancy, much of America is trying to fight its way out of the dredges.  People are homeless, bankrupt, unemployed… We find ourselves drifting further and further away from the “Glory Days” of Hummers and limitless credit, forced to downsize our own wants, needs, and base of operations.  We are topic for much speculation overseas, and our shiny halos are holding up their “Needs Maintenance” signs.

It’s no wonder we want to reach back and resurect some hope… some gold dust… And enjoy the success of a man who represented The American Dream-  because right now dreaming is hard.  We are tired.  We are poor.  We are hungry…. hungry for some relief, for some inspiration, and for some magic.

Perhaps what we are grieving is not really the man, but our own innocence…  If ever there were a Peter Pan, he was it.  What will the world be like without his (at times surreal) reminder that maybe we don’t all have to grow up?

The soberness of our current situation is enough to send anyone running down memory lane in search of happier times.

So perhaps the fans have it right.  Let’s celebrate the man and his music.  Let’s do away with the bad or embarrassing and embrace the beauty and the good… if only to remind ourselves what it felt like as we struggle to find our way back again.