Jun 4, 2008
Trying to Find Comfort in the Absence of Retail Therapy
There was definitely a time in my life where a day like today (or series of days that have made this week) would have sent me to Valencia Street in search of a new book, a new bag, cat toys, whatever. Two and a half years ago I would have replaced my frustration with my financial situation with receipts and synthetic fibers. I've never been one to shop into debt. But I'm more aware now that if I shop because I'm pissed about my class status, then I'm basically celebrating that paradigm.
And yeah, it's my class status that's getting me down. A client canceled a really big job today with 4 days notice (no fault of mine). And I got a letter from my graduate school that raised my projected expenses by about 10% (fuck you exchange rate and the rising cost of EVERYTHING). Just when you think you've raised half of your graduate school's outrageous expenses, things get more expensive.
So I called my dad to tell him that we have to reconfigure our trip from San Francisco to Atlanta so I can work a few extra weeks. My dad tried to comfort me by telling me that I'll get more established and have a higher income later in life. He told me that when he married my mom in 1975, that he made $150 per week. My dad's a high school graduate, my mom is not. I'm guessing that their combined income was about $250 per week. I don't understand inflation, but that seems really impossible, especially since they had a kid a year later. How the hell did they do that? Wow.
Climbing the economic ladder is not my goal in life. I'm terribly afraid of heights. But the school debt dilema is back since the numbers have gone up. It's not like I'm lazy. I actually work really hard and enjoy my work (dog walker, house sitter, weeder, public outreach worker are my paid gigs). And I do a lot of work for low cost or free on the outreach stuff. I like working on non-paid stuff like Earth Day, the infoshop, March 19th, radical restoration, etc. (And fyi, the Compact doesn't pay in terms of interviews and blogging, though it definitely pays in money saved.) I'm so afraid I won't be able to organize after grad school because I'll be a slave to my debt.
I guess I'm doubly frustrated because nothing ever seems to be easy. Example: Yesterday I was in tears making the ugliest flier for my Green DogWalks reportback. It's not bad enough that I'm out of pocket on this reportback, but making the thing had to be a nightmare too. Yeah, nothing's easy. Shopping would be so easy! But I don't even want to shop.
Weird but true. I can't think of anything that I really want. I have all the physical things that I really need. Maybe 2.5 years of the Compact has made me too practical. When I think of things that I would shop for, the strangest crap comes to mind. Like ink. Or socks. Who gets inspired enough by ink or socks to ride a bike to go get them?
Would ink or socks give me some weird shoppers euphoria? I doubt it. Christ, I might prefer the illusion that something could take the despondency away. I say "seemed" because the comfort in depressive purchases was fleeting. I don't really show things off or take pleasure in getting fancy so it I can't even drag out the pleasure of retail therapy. I guess the bonus in being immune to retail therapy is that I don't have to fear any shopper's remorse.