Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Questions from the Class - Material Things

Making a List
Making a List
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Keet asks, “What are the material things you'll miss? I am thinking I would miss holiday decorations... the Christmas tree... the really big TV.”

Hard to say. I think it will be interesting to compare, though, what I think we will miss to what I'm actually Jonesing for in, say... August of next year after we've cruised British Columbia. And probably we can check in again after a year or so in Mexico.

It's easier to start with what I won't miss -- the TV. I won't miss the big TV. Hard to miss something you've never had. We did have an enormous projection system for DVDs at one point. That was lovely. It was like watching a movie screen in your house. We haven't had cable, however, in nearly five years, and I can't say our quality of life is diminished in any respect.

I won't miss the car. My clothes already suck, so squishing them into the a closet the size of a toolbox, washing them in salt water weekly, and bleaching them on a line in the sun isn't going to cause me any great worry. I won't miss furniture, decorative knick knacks, or glassware. My children already destroyed what I valued pre-birth and a parsimonious nature kept me from replacing them. I don't use hair or skin products – no wise acre comments from the peanut gallery – nor do I use makeup, wear jewelry, or indulge in fine shoes.

Basically, I'm a perfect candidate for a penitentiary.

Books, my friends. Books are the material things I am going to miss.

A few years ago I tried to participate in a support group for The Artist's Way. This is basically a self-help program for people who are trying to connect with their inner artist. I was doing well for the first four weeks till we got to the Week Without Reading. The objective of the week was to go on a complete media diet for one week, foregoing reading utterly. No books, magazines, or newspapers. No browsing the web or diddling around with friends on Facebook. Without the cacophonous din created by the clamoring voices of the Information Age, we could free our minds and allow our creative souls to flower.

I made it 46 hours, 12 minutes, and 15 seconds. It was the worst two weeks of my entire life. I gave up when I found myself reading for the third time a theater ticket stub found stuck on the bottom of my shoe.

I will miss my broadband connection to the Internet.

I work, sleep, eat and play on the net. I play role playing games and read the news. I download roughly 20 hours of podcasts a week and pull down free books, magazine articles, and video content. Taking away my broadband connection is like cutting my hands off at the wrist and poking my eyes out with a stick while playing Barry Manilo at 11 in a bus that never gets to my stop. While up here in the States, I've invested in a Pacific Northwest-wide network of wifi hotspots which stretches from Olympia to Juneau. Once we head south, however, I feel as though I will be entering a form of computer geek hell.

Balsamic vinegar and pine nuts may prove another great loss.

I'm not a fantastic chief by any stretch of the imagination. I make up for it by the creative and liberal use of the four staples of mediocre cooking: olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and pine nuts. I can get my family to eat absolutely anything that combines those four ingredients in a long, caramelizing sauté. While olive oil and garlic are most likely readily available in just about any major port of call, pine nuts in affordable quantities are available in only one place: Costco.

Maybe I'm just going to miss Costco. Is that technically a material thing? Or is it all material things rolled into one convenient warehouse. In addition to pine nuts, I'm going to miss cheap panties (the dryer eats mine), cheap athletic socks (my girls steal mine), and Ling Ling Potstickers. Oh... and I'm going to miss the $1.50 Polish sausage and medium drink special at the kiosk in front of every Costco like a shrine to the Goddess of Thrift and Obesity.

Just call me a Material Girl!
Christmas Congers
Christmas Congers
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.

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