Friday Rant: T-Mobile’s JUMP Program

You may have heard of T-Mobile’s Just Upgrade My Phone program, you know, the one with those commercials of Bill Hader trying to sabotage his phone (or being embarrassed by it). With this program you don’t have to wait a whole 2 years to upgrade your phone, get a new one every 6 months! It’s totally out of control. I have an iPhone 4, as in 4 models ago, released over 3 years ago, and it is still fully functional. Why would I need to upgrade my phone but to have the latest gadget? As if planned obsolescence wasn’t disturbing enough, at least it’s subtle. This is just a consumer industry BLATANTLY telling you to ditch perfectly good phones so you can get a shiny new one. I’m blown away.

Minimalist Monday: Stress Shopping

I’ve had a revelation. I’m a stress shopper. Since I’ve delved deeper into grad school and teaching I’ve been pulling 14 hour days every day. At the same time I’ve been doing my best to prop up my grieving, insomniatic fiance who is dealing with the double loss of his friend and father over summer. I’ve been stressed, to say the least. But I believed I was handling it well. I’ve been keeping on top of my schoolwork (although the apartment has gotten a bit messy and my diet has become more fast food than I care to admit). I’ve kept up my twice a week yoga and twice a week 3 mile run. I was feeling like superwoman.

It turns out I’ve been taking my stress out on Amazon. Archery equipment, accessories for my iThings, boots, sandals, a Bill Nye the Science Guy DVD. I’m out of control. When I realized I had ordered 7 items from Amazon in 3 days it dawned on me that I was having a compulsion. I was stress shopping. All of my minimalist philosophy went out the window because, damn, those boots were cute.

So I may just have to put my credit cards on ice until I get my stress under control. Literally.

Simplicity to be… Prepared???

To the average person, simplifying your possessions seems like it would be counterproductive in being prepared. If you’re getting rid of those items intended for some obscure purpose, how could you possibly be prepared for everything? Well first, I think that minimalists and frugal people can be much more resourceful than most. They are able to find a single item to fulfill multiple uses. Second, they are more prepared to cope when life throws them something unexpected.

Let me explain.

Tristan’s parents live in your stereotypical two story suburban house with a cluttered garage, filled to the brim with stuff. His mother is a firecracker, I love her to death. Although she is approaching retirement age, she has just earned another credential in special education and shows no signs of retiring. Ever. She loves her job, and she loves to take on projects (of late they have revolved around redecorating the house). Recently, she fractured her back in a horseback riding accident. His father is not in great health. He is not able to help around the house much, and his health requires constant care. Around the same time as his mom hurt her back, his dad tripped on a garden hose and broke his rib.

With the double onset of these injuries, the house became less of a sanctuary and more of a source of stress. Neither of them could clean, sort, organize, or take care of the garden. They are embracing the idea of simplifying and decluttering, and all of the benefits of  owning fewer possessions. After witnessing the burden that possessions can place on people, we are now more determined than ever to live simply so that if something unexpected happens, we have less stuff to worry about!

Friday Rant: Wedding Cakes

*This is not a real cake

Okay so I might be biased on this one because I’m not a huge fan of cake/sweets in general, but I just don’t get wedding cakes. It seems like people act like the cake is THE most important thing. The centerpiece of the wedding. Has to match the theme/color scheme and such. Guys, it’s a cake. The idea is you eat it. I promise you that regardless of how beautiful you’re ephemeral little $600 3-tiered cake is, it’s going to look the same as a $50 Costco cake at the end of the day (post-digestion). Not to mention once you call it a “wedding” cake they mark the price up.

And get this, people are getting fake cakes now. Like they have a cake made out of artificial material with a little segment of real cake for the “cake-cutting ceremony” (which I also don’t understand). Do you really care so much about how your cake looks that you’re sacrificing the functionality of a cake (remember, cake is for eating…?) in order to have the perfect beautiful wedding cake. Aaahhhh it’s like Frankenstein’s monster and it’s totally creepy and TOTALLY superficial.

Yeah, for some reason the concept of wedding cakes weirds me out even more than spending $2000 on a dress. I don’t see the reason for the expense, and I think it would be much cooler to make and decorate my own cake. I actually used to be a cake decorator, so I can totally do it! Or since I’m not much of a baker (just a decorator) maybe someone can bake it for me and I’ll make it pretty. Or I’ll make it from a box. Honestly the best cake I’ve ever had is melted ice cream cake with cream cheese frosting.

Not Your Only Shot

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love

This Isn’t Your Last Chance

 

Weddings are the bane of minimalism. They demand so much excess and extraneous STUFF, centerpieces, perfect venue, perfect overpriced cake, expensive food for everyone that doesn’t even taste great. It’s a recipe for a party that costs as much as a car. Actually more than my car. I read this fabulous post over at A Practical Wedding that addressed some of the pressures surrounding weddings. It points out that much of the pressure of having everything perfect comes from this idea that this is your only chance to wear a poofy dress, have cutesy centerpieces, get those lovely artistic photos, and whatever. But in reality it’s only your one chance if you decide never to have fun outside your wedding. It’s like trying to cram a lifetime of experiences into one day, like it’s the last day of your life or something. So let’s cut weddings some slack. The theme is marriage. You can have a cowboy party whenever you want. If we change our mindset in this way, we don’t have to stress over the details, and the wedding becomes fun 🙂

 

Friday Rant: Say No to the Dress

Okay this one has always bugged the shit out of me. Wedding dresses: the single use, completely impractical, totally way too expensive, and for some reason absolutely indispensable part of a wedding. The average cost of a wedding dress is $1,100 dollars.  Let’s break it down logically and see why that doesn’t even make sense:

  1. You will never never ever wear this dress again. Seriously. It’s beautiful no doubt, but when will you ever again be in a situation where you can wear something like this: 
  2. They’re not comfortable. Most of them wear like a corset and how the heck are you supposed to navigate a mile-long train? And seriously, do you know what corsets do to your body?

    This. It does this.

  3. You want to spend $700 preserving the dress for your hypothetical future daughter? One, wedding dresses are HUGE. That is going to be dragged from place to place every time you move, then sit in a closet somewhere collecting dust for like 30 years. On top of that, this is what our mothers wore when they got married:  How do you think your daughter is going to feel about your dress?
  4. It’s one day. I don’t even spend more than $30 on a pair of jeans I wear for years. Why on earth would I spend thousands on a dress I will wear for less than a day?

And about that teary aha moment you have when you find The One. That’s called marketing. The One? Really? Do you really want to lump your wonderful partner-who-you-love-more-than-anything-into-the-world-and-want-to-spend-everyday-of-the-rest-of-your-life with in the same category as a single use inanimate impractical item of clothing? Just sayin’.

As for me, this is my dress:

At least I can wear it to the symphony or something.

Project 333: My Closet

Thanks to Project 333, my closet has undergone a dramatic makeover. Sadly, I did not have the foresight to take before photos, but I have taken the liberty of superimposing Microsoft Paint fueled dramatizations of my original closet for your viewing pleasure (click on images to enlarge).

The left side of the closet.

closet 1 before Closet 2 before

The right side of the closet.

IMG_0478closet 3 before

What I got rid of through Project 333:

Project 333: Day 1

20130401-162254.jpg
So today I am starting Project 333 for the first time. The basis behind Project 333 is to live with only 33 items of clothing for three months (hence the 333). I’m excited for this little adventure.

When I started pruning the excess stuff out of my life, clothes were definitely a big task. For months I’ve slowly been going through all my clothes, getting rid of things here and there but never seeming to make a dent. There were old concert t-shirts I was saving (but never wore). There were super cute dresses I got on clearance at Charlotte Russe for like $8 (but again never wore). Things people had given me as gifts that did not suit me at all, but that I could not get rid of for the guilt. All of that translated into a walk in closet packed with clothes that were hardly worn.

Project 333 has given me something to work toward. By having a specific number of clothes I could keep (33) I had to process why I was keeping things I never wore, then let that go and pare down. A few discoveries:

1. I have a hard time letting go of gifts. Not necessarily because I like said gift, but because I feel guilty about getting rid of something someone spent the time and money to give me. However, no one is inspecting my apartment to see if I’m using/keeping something they got me. Shoot they probably don’t even remember anyways seeing as some of the things I’ve kept are from a decade ago from someone I don’t even keep in touch with. And as I read somewhere (can’t remember where), it’s possible to accept the intention behind a gift without keeping the actual object.

2. I need to stop attaching a story to everything I own. “Oh I couldn’t possibly get rid of that shirt, I wore it on a canoe trip in 2001 and it was 110 degrees. I need the shirt to remember it.” True story. And I clearly don’t need the shirt to remember that trip. The truth is when you attach a story to every object you own then the objects begin to own you. It’s a surefire way to end up with a cluttered life. Consider instead a journal or drawing/photo of and event (not too many!) to trigger a fond memory.

3. I need to stop focusing on Potential Alyssa and focus on Actual Alyssa. I had a TON of adorable trendy shoes and hats and dresses and such. But what do I wear every day? Jeans, t-shirt, and closed-toed shoes (I work in a lab). I always bought those cute dresses and tights and skirts with the intention of one day being a girl that spent hours dressing fashionably and wearing makeup. This was my Potential Alyssa. Actual Alyssa has an assortment of neutral tank-tops to wear over my Old Navy jeans.

So that’s the start of my Project 333 challenge. Tune in the rest of the week for more details on my personal take on Project 333.