Four Weeks Sober

Four weeks ago today I spent $685.00 at the Grand Opening of a new Nordstrom store.  Typically this would have been like any other fun outing with the girls.  Drink some champagne, spend some money. But it was my Last Hurrah before settling in for what I anticipated would be a long and difficult journey. 

So far there have been ups and downs. 

UP- I have a few extra bucks from selling on eBay. 

DOWN- going to the store with friends and family is no longer fun. 

I was afraid this would happen and it would change the dynamics of some of my relationships, afraid that some of them were based largely on "the gal with the most toys wins".  I've come to grips with the label of "shopaholic".  I've been in denial for so many years that it may take a while longer to understand the impact it has had on my life.  I have so many questions that I want answered about the guilt, the grief and the transition– Can I move from shopaholic to normal to simplified?  In doing so will I have to move through the stages of grief? Do I have to move through all of them or can I sign up for the accelerated program? 

Grieving is already happening.  It settled in when I went to Ikea with my friend.  It intensified when I realized the shopping trips to Target with my daughter are in jeopardy.  It hangs over me when I contemplate "Sisters", the vacation every year when my mom, my sisters and I race to see how much money we can spend in a weekend.  Here is a picture of the back of my mom's SUV during last Octobers Sisters weekend.  There is some luggage in the back, but behind the luggage, on top of the luggage and in the back seat are many, many packages that the four of us bought over the course of a day!  There is another picture I can't post to protect the innocent, but it shows my mom and aunt in the back seat holding packages on their laps, clear up to their noses.  We were lucky we didn't get pulled over by the state troopers and ticketed for EXCESS SHOPPING. 

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I'm sitting here writing this with a half gallon of Mint Chip ice cream trading off space with my laptop.  Write, scoop, write, scoop.  Twenty minutes ago I got back from a yoga class.  Frankly, it didn't help.  I'm worked into a frenzy from writing this, not because I'm worried about my selling my STUFF, or not being able to buy more STUFF, but because I'm terribly afraid that my (hold on, I just had to scoop some ice cream into my mouth…) RELATIONSHIPS are going to drastically change. 

And that scares me.

Four weeks. No shopping. Four weeks sober and very proud, but scared to death. 

The Beauty of Simplicity

One of the reasons I am embarking on this experiment is the notion of Simplicity.  Several years ago I took a few days off work and went to Park City by myself to do some thinking.  One of the books I read was The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living.  From what I remember, this is an amazing book that touched a nerve about my consumption fueled life-style.  I don't know how I got so far away from knowing I wanted things to be less cluttered but I'm going to try and find my copy in my vast library and dust it off. 

The definition from Wikipedia: Simplicity is the property, condition, or quality of being simple or un-combined. It often denotes beauty, purity or clarity. Simple things are usually easier to explain and understand than complicated ones. Simplicity can mean freedom from hardship, effort or confusion. It may also refer to a simple living lifestyle.

I especially like the part that says simplicity can mean "freedom from hardship, effort or confusion." Doesn't everyone want that? 

As I've stated before, I won't ever be someone who will want to, or even probably can accomplish what some people do in terms of downsizing.  My goal is to seek a BALANCE.  While searching on Amazon I found this book, The Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough (American Institute Architects), and in keeping with my experiment, placed it on hold at my local library. Looks like a lovely find with lots of pictures, can't wait to get it.

eBay as a Satanic Cult

There are people who sell things on eBay for a living.  There is software that orgnaizes their sales, they hold rallies, attend conferences and training, and probably have developed some demonic cults. 

I've listed 3 things so far and it has been consuming.  How am I going to de-clutter my life on eBay if I can't keep up?  However, the thing that keeps me going is my growing Paypal balance, which now stands at 119 dollars and some change.  Cha ching.   

The Countdown and mall madness

Still no luck on my counting widget.  I spend way too much time at night trying to reorient myself into a technical person.  My daugther's boyfriend had the great idea that the counter should show days, minutes and seconds counted from my last purchases chronicled HERE and also HERE.  That is a good idea, because each seconds seems like an eternity. 

2 It has been over three weeks and I'm not sure it is getting any better.  Yesterday I was at the mall returning what truly was the last purchase, this beautiful watch.  They tried to size it three times.  Because I have somewhat dainty and delicate wrists- (unlike anything else on my body), these cuff watches are tricky to get to fit correctly.  I have another one and there are 13 links on one side and 11 on another.  Crooked wrists?  Who knew. 

COUNTDOWN: 22 days

Ikea or Vegas, which is a worse Hell?

On Saturday afternoon I went to Ikea with my friend, MM.  She is the same one I went to Nordstroms with on the Last Hurrah.  A major shopper.  And now a major pain in my experimental ass.  Normally I'd jump at the chance to spend time together, but she's the kind of gal who can drop $1,000 in about the same number of seconds and right now it's hard not to jump in and join her. 

0087548_PE216906_S3 At Ikea I saw this amazing rug.  It comes in four colors and the yellow green would go beautifully in my sun-room.  The purple one is beautiful too, and both a steal for $249.00.  I'm wondering how much my mom wants to spend on my birthday gift.  There were a ton of other things I would have loved to buy, including this bed that would make my teenage son want to clean his room every day, or not.  36792_PE128048_S3

The realization hit me that the category "Things I Would Have Bought" might be pitifully small.  I'm not shopping because it is tempting— in a "Brad Pitt is drunk on a ski vacation and fighting with Angelina and just asked me back to his hotel room"kind of way.  But if I DON'T shop it will be difficult to write about things I would have bought.  Dilemma. 

Bulk pick-up, and I’m not talking about a big guy in a bar

Do all cities have Bulk Pick-Up?  It is one day, every spring and fall when the city sends around a big scooper thing and a big truck and picks up all the shit from the curbs of suburbia.  Mine is on April 13th and as always, it is a hotly anticipated day in my house.  Part of the strategy is finding things to put out there that will lure in the scavengers.  Yes, there are scavengers and other than all the crap I set out there and get rid of every year, (what else are you supposed to do with a half broken bunk bed from a zillion years ago when your children were small?) the scavengers are my favorite part of the game. 

The city sends out a card announcing your date.  The card has rules such as you are only supposed to put things out three days before the pick-up.  Most of us, the smart ones, stage the operation for up to 6 months in advance.  I'll trip over something at my house for the 100th time and "bulk pick-up" will pop into my head.  I chuck them behind my shed until I can put it on the curb.  Which is where it gets really interesting. 

Let's say I put something out there like a fertilizer bottle sprayer thing that doesn't work anymore.  It looks like it works, but really it doesn't.  What the scavengers do is they wait for the right timing, then they drive up, usually in an old pick-up, sometimes a van, and they pick through your pile of trash.  I get such a kick out of knowing that the sprayer doesn't work, but they don't know that, and take it, furtively looking around in the process.  

The flier from the city specifically prohibits this behavior and states, "Scavenging through piles is not permitted." It is even in italics on the flier. But it doesn't stop them, and I don't think the city is that serious about enforcing it because it makes less for them to pick up.  I'm not sure the scavengers are the same ones every year because wouldn't they catch on that I'm putting stuff out there ON PURPOSE that looks good just to lure them in?  The city can't complain about me having a little fun can they?

"We don't want scavenging."

"Why not? It makes less work for us"

"It isn't dignified"

"Who cares???"

The Countdown

Two weeks ago on Tuesday was the Last Hurrah at Nordstrom.  It was fitting for the final spree because it is a place I worship and adore.  My love affair began many years ago when I was making what I thought was a ton of money at a technology company.  I needed grown-up clothes and it seemed like a great place to start. 

Nordstrom has legendary customer service, which is a total rationalization, because really, how often do you need legendary customer service?  Their selection is nice, especially for petites, but is it really worth the extra money?  Hard to say, but I still love them.

COUNTDOWN: 16 days

SOLD!

I sold my first item for this experiment on eBay.  But somehow it seems different than when I've sold before.  This is the beginning of a purposeful downsizing, or the beginning of a clinical depression, I'm not sure which.

I SOLD the Longaberger basket for $53.66.  I'm sure I paid over $100.00 for it originally and those liners, pieces of plaid gingham, are horrifically expensive as well.  But now I have $53.66 more AND it is ONE less thing in my house and somehow, that feels really good. 

Two more baskets are listed that you can see HERE and HERE.  When I sold several of these a few years ago, it seemed like they got snapped up fast and crazy.  Economy?