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On things I don't really need

The worst thing about moving is the stuff. Stuff generally comes in one of two forms: stuff you have, and stuff you don't. Both are evil, particularly when you happen to be moving. The stuff you have must be collected, organized, transported and reorganized. And all of a sudden there's so much more stuff you don't have, but need use of. Beds, chairs, tables. Toilet paper.

The stuff I don't have is killing me. It entails shopping. I suck at shopping. To be good at shopping, you have to actually want to acquire stuff — and I don't want to acquire stuff. I just want not to need it any more. As a consequence, I am rather good at finding reasons not to buy a thing. "I could get it cheaper at the other place." "I don't want it in that color." "It doesn't even look like a Rolex."

There is, of course, such a thing as good stuff. This also comes in two varieties: quality stuff, and stuff you don't actually own yourself but can get or borrow for free (or almost free). And it is the good that best defines the evil: Most stuff is bad because it is mediocre, and costs more than it's worth.

It is the wish to avoid bad stuff that plagues me so. For instance, I spent an hour in a used furniture store today (looking for a desk and maybe a decent dining-room chair), and walked out empty-handed. Why? Because they wanted actually countable amounts of money for things I somehow feel like I should be able to get (somewhere) for very little.

Why do I feel this way? I don't want to feel this way. I'm not a cheapskate, per se; I have absolutely no problem spending money on things for other people, for instance, or on things for me I know I'll like. I just don't get anything out of acquiring most kinds of stuff, is all. It even makes me feel kind of cheated.

My problem, I think, is that I could happily live off other people's discarded stuff, if only I could get it. I seem to believe that all mediocre stuff should all be almost free. And the accidental happenstance that it isn't doesn't quite seem to have worked its way through to my shopping faculty, alas. It is one of my last bastions of idealism, you could say; having otherwise more or less succumbed to pragmatics, I refuse to accept that, yes, sometimes you just have to pay good money to get crap you happen to need.

Is there really no hope for me? Will the injustice never end?

November 11, 2002 10:12 PM

Comments (and TrackBacks)

Matt, you're not alone. I feel exactly the same way about Stuff, and so does Kitty (not surprisingly). Kitty's apartment building has this great thing called Neighbor Exchange, which is a room where all tenants can leave stuff that they don't want but is still useful, so other tenants can go there and do exactly what you said: get mediocre stuff free, and live on cast-offs. It's brilliant, and I intend to furnish our apartment that way, at least as much as I can. I like things that are a bit beat-up, anyway, so I'm a big fan of 2nd hand furniture.

There is hope! :-)

Posted by Senn on November 14, 2002 7:16 AM

Ah, that sounds so great. Craigslist is also a great way of finding and selling used stuff, and I made good use of it in San Francisco (especially when I left). Hopefully, one day, you'll at least be able to do something like that just about anywhere.

Posted by M on November 14, 2002 5:32 PM


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