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.
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.
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!
*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.
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 🙂
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:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
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.
The right side of the closet.
What I got rid of through Project 333:
- Project 333: Day 1 (myminimalistwedding.wordpress.com)