Thursday, November 5, 2015
As previously mentioned, I recently read the Marie Kondo book. I am still formulating my final opinion about the entirety of it, but one of her ideas that I can completely get behind is the idea that coins go “into your wallet.”
She commented that many of her clients’ homes, when she would first visit, would have loose change scattered about: in the bottom of bags, dropped on the tops of dressers and end tables, stored in jars.
(Similarly, in The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin refers to a “scum of clutter” that “filmed the surface” of her family’s home; when she sizes up her bedroom, she notes that “CDs, DVDs, cords, chargers, coins, collar stays, business cards and instruction booklets were scattered like confetti.”)
I myself have noted this phenomenon — people leave change everywhere. Including strewn on the floor.
I can understand why someone would put it in a jar, and I can even see how it could end up on a dresser or tabletop, but having it scattered across the floor baffles me. Why? Why would you ever drop change on the floor and not pick it up??
When I lived in Virginia in the mid-90s, my housemate Ted saved his pennies in a jar and when he moved to Utah he said he was leaving them behind for me and our other housemate, Chip. Chip pooh-poohed the pennies so I took possession of them. There were a lot. My bank was near my office, and I commuted to work by bike, so I had to carry them in to the office in my bag on my back. It was heavy.
The teller at my bank told me the way it worked is that I put a deposit slip with my account number in the bag with the pennies and they would run them through the counting machine then credit my account for the total amount. Easy enough. As soon as I handed the bag over to the bank, I promptly forgot about it.
My next month’s bank statement had a mystery deposit for seventeen dollars and some change on it.
I was like what the heck is this? I finally figured out (possibly by contacting the bank) that it was the pennies. I told Chip about the deposit. He said, “Hey! Half of that is mine!”
No go dude.
When my grandmother died and we cleaned out her apartment, we found so much change that I gave up on counting it all and instead separated it by denomination and weighed each pile and divided them into thirds and gave three approximately equal piles (roughly equal by denomination, which totalled a roughly equal cumulative pile) to my three nieces. I told them they could count it up themselves. My estimate was $83.07, and I feel like I was pretty close to the actual total, but I don’t remember what the final count was.
I’m not sure why my grandmother had so much change. She played penny poker with it, so some of it was for that, but there really was a lot.
When I was growing up, my grandmother would save her quarters and put them in a small blue glass candy dish that she kept in the coat closet near the front door. When she had accumulated ten dollars worth, she’d put the quarters in a roll, and when she had two rolls, she’d give one to me and one to my brother.
This is good thing to do with your change — save it as a special treat for your grandchildren.
Scattering your change across your floor and never bothering to pick it up is a not a good thing to do with it.
Nor is not taking it in the first place.
I was at the Green Market a few weeks ago buying a churro. The woman in front of me ordered $4.25 worth of treats and when the vendor tried to hand over her $0.75 change, she refused it. I can only imagine what my faced looked like. I almost stuck out my hand and said, “I’ll take it.” But I bit my tongue and let the vendor keep it.
TAKE YOUR CHANGE PEOPLE.
So the point of this post is to provide a short public service announcement in case anyone out there is confused about the nature of coins given as change for dollar bills.
Change is in fact actual money that you can spend just like dollar bills. It is legal tender. You do not need to take coins to a machine at the supermarket and pay money to turn them into dollar bills. You can start spending them right now, every time you buy something. Carry a little coin purse with you and see if you can make exact change on every purchase.
If you have really a lot, separate out the quarters and start with those. Eventually you will get through it all.
And then try to remember: Coins go into your wallet.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
A few weeks ago I became mildly obsessed with the Marie Kondo thing. I hadn’t read the book, just heard about it, and I start reading things on the internet and watching YouTube videos to try to learn more.
Everyone just loves loves loves this book. And I have not come to my final opinion on it yet. (I did read the book but at the moment I’m having trouble getting past the part where she tells people to throw out all their papers … that will make tax season fun for everyone…) But while I was reading about it on the internet, I started making notes, because some things were getting under my skin.
One comment I had was about the before and after photos/videos that people were posting. My god people, you have so much stuff! Look at all that crap.
In one video, a woman who was posting about cleaning out her linen closet said that in the past when she ran the washer and forgot about the towels and they mildewed, she would THROW THEM AWAY. Because they smelled. She would just buy new ones.
No wonder no one has any money.
But the thing that really got me rolling was a post (which of course I now cannot find, so you will just have to take my word for it) where a guy talked about cleaning out his books.
He said he went through his books and discovered that 20% of them weren’t even his, and no one had ever asked for them back. He said that just goes to show that people have so much stuff they don’t even notice or care when it’s gone.
And I’m like DUDE!!!!
It’s now up to the person who loaned the book to ask for it BACK?
That’s not how it works!!!!
The person who BORROWED the book gives it back when they’re DONE with it. Or if they realize they’re never going to GET to it. Then they give it back and say thanks man, I appreciate you letting me borrow that.
You just kept people’s books and didn’t even know and now it’s THEIR fault for not asking for them back?!?!
Talk about BLAME THE VICTIM!!!
I once loaned a book to a friend, and later saw it on her bookshelf when I was at her house for dinner. Eventually I asked her if I could get it back and she said, “Oh, I gave that back to you.” And I said I didn’t think she had, but she insisted. And short of going to her house and going through her bookshelf and pulling it out and saying, “No, see, here it is right here,” which seemed like not a very friendly thing to do, I didn’t know what to do. I just let it go.
So that one struck a nerve.
Okay rant over.
But here is a short message for any of my friends who may be reading this…
If in your great KonMari purge of 2015, you find anything of mine that no longer sparks joy in you — books you borrowed, letters I wrote you, mix tapes I made you in the 80s — feel free to send them back to me.
I love that shit.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
I was talking to a friend of a friend today, who is one of those people who is very fearful about the future.
She believes strongly that the world is going to hell in a handbasket — that corporations are out to get us, the water is poisoned, nothing good is ever going to happen again.
(In her defense, she’d just come back from western Pennsylvania, where the water is in fact being poisoned, and even if they wanted to, corporations can’t care about anything other than shareholder value. So it’s hard to say that she’s too far off.)
She is worried about the future. She feels like the end is near.
I was in her shop with my friend Ann. I said, “You know, it’s funny. We were just talking about this at lunch.”
Because we were, we’d been talking about this very thing.
I said, “In all of the post-apocalyptic movies and novels, some terrible thing happens and people turn on each other, everything completely falls apart, it’s dog-eat-dog, every man for himself.”
“But in the real world when crisis hits, people come together, they work together and help each other. World War II, the Great Depression, 9/11. All of those brought Americans together.”
Our friend looked at me skeptically. This was not what she wanted to talk about, people coming together to help each other.
But really, we’ve created this world where everything is so easy, we have so much more leisure time than we used to. But what do we do with it? We consume media — we watch tv and movies and play video games.
No one does anything anymore. They watch other people do things.
People are so addicted to passive entertainment that people actually WATCH OTHER PEOPLE PLAY VIDEO GAMES. (I am not making this up. This is a huge thing on YouTube. Ask your nearest 8-year-old about Minecraft and he’ll be happy to show you.)
This is what we’ve done with our abundant free time.
And people are bored and unhappy and dissatisfied. They feel unfulfilled because contemporary American life is inherently unfulfilling.
Geez louise people, if that’s not a dystopia, I don’t know what is.
I feel like if all of this went away — Instagram and iPhones and movies and television and Minecraft videos on YouTube — it would be really hard. Really really hard.
For like 3 weeks.
And then everyone would be like okay let’s go play frisbee.
(And yes, I know in an actual apocalypse, with dead bodies everywhere and no running water and such, things would be very chaotic. But people lived for many many many many years without electricity, and I have complete faith in man’s ingenuity, that in the event of true catastrophe, people would figure something out.)
So … bottom line. I am not worried about the apocalypse because I think it might well be an improvement over what we’ve got now.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
I don’t think this picture does justice to how amazing those coneflowers look with four inches of snow piled straight up on top them, like little men with stovepipe hats.
Buses not running, classes cancelled, exam postponed.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
Honey badger doesn’t care.
Ann tells a story about her friend Claudia going to see the performance artist Laurie Anderson speak in New York City. Someone in the audience asked her how she handled comments or criticism about her work, about what people thought about her. And her answer was something along the lines of “Oh I don’t worry about that at all. No one else really cares what you’re doing.”
Her point being that people are more or less self-absorbed, they’re too worried about themselves to worry about what anyone else is doing, so it’s really not worth thinking about.
So that’s really been a guiding princple of ours. Just do what you want to do, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks you should be doing. Who cares about them anyway.
I don’t think I realized when I wrote last year about Julia Child and quoted the Laura Shapiro biography with Julia’s quote from a French Chef episode talking about needing to have what the French call “je m’enfoutisme” that that’s basically what that means. (According to Google Translate, the literal translation of “je m’en foutisme” is “I don’t care attitude”.)
So I’ve been talking about that a lot lately.
In an interesting coincidence, I turned on the radio last week for the first time in ages and the People’s Pharmacy was on and the guest was researcher Brené Brown.
Brené Brown had a TED talk go viral a few years ago and is very popular among a certain segment of the internet, especially the personal growth and development folks. A friend and I had a series of conversations a few years ago about her and her research.
So it was kind of funny that I turn on the radio for the first time in who knows when and here is Brené Brown, and she’s talking about the things she usually talks about, connection and vulnerability and shame.
And I don’t remember the exact context, but she’s giving an example that involves a scenario at work where people are asked to take ownership of a project, and someone might speak up and be excited about it, and others will ridicule that person for caring.
She said this idea of not being willing to care about things is a big problem, people who just don’t care.
So that seems funny to me, I’m going around telling everyone they need to channel Julia Child and have je-m’en-foutisme and Brené Brown is talking about how bad it is to not care.
And that reminds me of another story that Brené Brown tells that made me think of a similar story that I liked better.
Brené Brown tells a story about how her daughter was at a sleepover and decided she didn’t want to spend the night, she called home and asked to be picked up. Brené went and picked her up and told her she was very proud of her for being so brave and calling home and admitting she was scared, for realizing she just wasn’t ready to spend the night at someone’s house.
This made me think of a story I read that Duke basketball’s Coach K told. He said that once when his daughter was young, after Duke had lost badly to UNC, she called home crying and asked him to come get her, kids were taunting her and being cruel. She wanted to come home. He told her he wouldn’t come get her, that that’s not how they did things. He said, “I’ll bring you a Duke sweatshirt.”
I love that story. I’ll bring you a Duke sweatshirt.
So I’m not sure what the point of this is, except that maybe I’m old school, taking Coach K and Julia Child over Brené Brown. I dunno.
And I feel like when I came up with the idea for this post I actually did have I had a point, but now I don’t, so I’ll just leave it at that.
I’m done with school on April 29 and I am hopeful that my brain will recover enough to allow me to start writing again. Right now just getting from one day to the next is the best I can do.
Onward and upward, and happy 2015 to everyone.
Friday, November 14, 2014
I’m spending a lot of time on the bus these days. And this has been making me think about some of my favorite bus metaphors.
My favorite of course is the Ken Kesey quote from Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test: You’re either on the bus or off the bus.
My second favorite is the great bus metaphor that the late Kenyan scientist and environmental activist Wangari Maathai outlined in a speech I heard her give in 2009. She talked about how to know when the approach you’re taking isn’t right — what happens when you are not on the right bus.
I think in response to a conversation I had with a friend about that bus metaphor (though I don’t remember the details right now), my friend sent me a link to a piece by photographer Arno Rafael Minkkinen that describes his Helsinki Bus Station Theory.
I re-read the Minkkinen piece the other day and was struck by the phrase, “We find out what we will do by knowing what we will not do.”
Life is a process of elimination.
If you are lucky, you get to something you want to do before having to go through too many things that you will not do.
If you’re not lucky, you get stuck doing something for a very long time that you really don’t want to do at all. And maybe you eventually get to something you do want to do, and maybe you just watch a lot of tv.
We find out what we will do by knowing what we will not do.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Sometimes everything I see or hear or read gives me an idea for a blog post. And sometimes there is nary a blog thought in my head, I forget that I even have a blog at all.
Guess which place I’m in right now.
So while I am here, thought less, I will just give you this.
WordPress spell check is sexist.
Maybe I’ll have more ideas soon, but for now, that’s what I got.
Hope all is well with everyone in blogreaderland.