Slate and NPR have latched onto a “trend” — which means, of course, that it’s totally passe now — called “Hauls.”
Apparenlty, teen girls go shopping and then come home and as they take all of thier stuff out of their bags, they record it and post it on You Tube, with commentary. I heard about this on NPR first and nearly ran off the road because I was staring at the radio, mouth agape, in disbeliefe. At first I thought I’d missed a month and it was April Fool’s Day.
As I’ve been following the financial crisis, one of the things that’s struck me, again and agian, is the fact that the US economy is driven by consumer spending. In fact, it makes up more than 70 percent of our economy. It took me a while and some really long afternoons listening to NPR’s Planet Money Team before I figured out what “consumer spending” means.
I figured it was the stuff we consume: food, fuel, etc.
No, I finaly figured out that it’s what I’ve started to call Peir Barn Crap. You know what I’m talking about — the random and useless and expensive things that they sell at Pottery Barn and Pier One and all those catalogs that we get in the mail. The catalogs that encourage us to “decorate” our homes, and redo them every few years to keep up with the trends. The catalogs that want to sell us oversized things to hang on our walls, like ten foot pencils or paper flower chandeliers for $80.
That crap is the vast bulk of our economy? I was boggled. But then i started looking around.
There are several stores in Davis Sq. that sell… crap. Cute, neat, vintage, unqiue, artsy… crap. Almost everything we get from my mother is crap. The vast majority of stuff at a toy store is crap (what’s more, it’s plastic crap). Hell, even at my beloved Starbucks, the walls are lined with special seasonal stuffed animals and branded doohickeys that are, in the end, irreducably, crap.
And now we have teen girls who are buying crap and then posting about it. And other people are watching it! (I have not watched, I need to admit to that right now. I heard the story and read the article but that’s it.) Our entire culture, especially the so-called girls culture, is directed at the consumption and disposal of crap.
Now, I will be the first to admit that when I flip through Pottery Barn, I say “crap crap crap… .OOOH! I want one!” I don’t object to ALL decorative or useless things. Art is essentially useless, in a purely practical sense, but it’s vital for our soul.
But … it’s meant to be a grace note, a small touch, a sweet treat at the end of a hearty meal. But America’s diet of consuption and our diet of food has switched to mostly sweet crap and not enough real stuff.
This is all pretty obvious, of course, to anyone who spends time thinking about this stuff. But increasingly, as I have less and less control over what The Child encounters in the world, I worry about how to counteract this sickness in our society. I’m explicit about it all the time — “What’s that mommy?” “A catalog of stuff we don’t need.”
But she’s four. And perfectly willng to say, casually, “If we don’t have one, why don’t we just go buy one?”
I’ve talked to her about money and about how it impacts the environement. But it’s hard when you’re surrounded by people for whom chocolate milk is the only milk their children drink, a trio of grandmothers with credit cards and a strong desire to spoil their only granddaughter, and a coffee shop where there is a wall of constantly changing seasonal stuffed toys, right at eye level.
My major concern is that I’m not doing enough. The culture is so awful, the whole society is so saturated in this disgusting brand of consumerism, that it’s hard to escape. As a general rule, I try not to buy things we don’t need. I buy used stuff when I can. I try to limit my art to actual art, made by a person and not mass manufactured. I dont go to malls or big box stores if I can help it. (Books are the exception to all these rules, though.) But I also know that I consume way more stuff than I need, that I can be lured in by something shiny and new and want it and sometimes buy it. How do I keep those walls for her when I can’t hold them for myself?
The solution would be to go somewhere that this culture is seen as awful as it really is. But where is that? Outside of starting our own commune (SO not going to happen), I don’t know where to go.
Okay, so the Child’s last nursing was… sixteen days ago. I have a few thoughts on the process of weaning. Things I would have liked it if someone had mentioned them to me.
Of course, since every woman, body, baby, pregnancy, is different, there’s a better than average chance that these thing just affected me.
- When do I stop lactating? It’s been two-plus weeks. And yet, when I press on my breasts, out comes milk. Not little dainty drops, either. No. Big toddler-sized gulps.
- Hey! That postpartum hair falling out thing is back! My shower drain looks like we’ve shaving Cousin It in there.
- CAFFEINE! I can have CAFFEINE again! I’ve been drinking those ginormous Starbucks cups full of barely sweetened iced black tea. I can go a all the way between breakfast and lunch without eating! I hope this will translate into weight loss at some point. (My friend who weaned at the same time said that ten pounds just disappeared. That shit never happens to me!.)
- DRUGS! I can take DRUGS again! Oh, sweet sweet Sudafed, little red pills of happiness! My head is slowly starting to unclog. I can hear sometimes, even! Okay, I have to have my driver’s lisence scanned to buy the stuff (when did that happen?) but it’s a miracle.
- Weirdly, I’m drinking more water than I was when I was nursing. This is because of the Sudafed, I’m sure. Makes my mouth bone dry all the time.
- Naps are a revelation. I no long have to be the one to put her down. Huzzah!
- Naps are (sometimes) a nightmare as she demands to nurse — much less frequently this week, but if she’s tired she might still melt down.
- Oh my God! My first post-weaning period was like getting hit with a two-by-four in the uterus. And the back. And the legs. And the ass. I was drained, bloated, crampy, cranky, weepy, and bled like a stuck pig. It was among the worst periods of my life, and that includes the one after the miscarriage.
- Hey! My libido is back. Nice to see you, libido. Missed you.
- The Husband is now the Preferred Parent, I suspect because she’s a little pissed at me for taking away the milk bar. She wants him to read her a book, to hold his hand when we walk down the street, she wants him to come to her when she’s upset. This is actually a Pro rather than a Con. I know that my sister-in-law had a broken heart when that happened but frankly, it’s a nice feeling not to be the center of her universe.
- I miss nursing as a comfort or tantrum-stopper for her. She fell and skinned her knee the other day and it was TRAGIC! TRAGIC! And all I wanted to do was hike up my shirt and make her feel better. I didn’t, but it was hard not to have that go-to for comforting her when she was upset.
On the whole, I’m happier to be weaned. But my breasts ache sometimes. And so does my heart.
Still! DRUGS! I LOVE DRUGS!
I’m turning 35 this August. I’ve decided to celebrate by participating in the Great American Bake Sale.
Domino Sugar is launching a campaign to end childhood hunger by raising money through neighborhood bake sales. The slogan is — without any apparent awareness of the historical irony — “Ending childhood hunger can be a piece of cake.”
Regardless of the tone-deaf marketing, I’ve decided to dig in a throw a bake sale to help raise money. I live in a very densely populated area full of parents who are well organized — I figure I can get a handful of women to bake brownies and cookies and help me out manning the table for a few hours. There’s even a local mom’s mailing list so I can reach out really easily.
Of course, I’ve never done anything like this before — ever. I’m usually happy to pitch in and bring stuff, but I’ve never organized anything before. I am just a shade anxious about it. Just a shade. Enough that I want to have a plan on paper before I put out the call for volunteers. I’m thinking maybe I can get my local Starbucks to donate iced coffee or cold milk.
Why am I doing this? Because as summer progresses and gas prices skyrocket — it’s $4/gal around here — there are people making the decision between food and gas. Which sounds easy until you realize that the gas gets the car to the job where you get the money to buy the food and gas…. I really think that education rather than hand outs would help. It’s much easier to eat cheaply than most people thing, it just takes knowledge and forethought. Of course, most people don’t have either of those. But the kids shouldn’t go hungry because their folks skipped home ec.
The idea of a small child going to bed with a growling stomach, going to school feeling cranky from lack of food, of collapsing in front of the TV because she doesn’t have enough energy to do anything else….. Especially in a world where we all have so much….
I read an article the other day about people cashing out life insurance policies, retirement accounts, mortgages, just to get through the month. That scares me, deeply. Talk about lack of foresight. These people are stealing from tomorrow to feed today when all the really have to do is cut back on what they have today. Yes, there are some people economizing, but I’m willing to bet that they folks cashing out their 401k haven’t considered the following options: getting a bike, eating beans instead of meat, cooking from scratch instead of buying pizza, ditching the cell phone, cutting off cable and internet, wearing second-hand clothes, getting movies from the library instead of Blockbuster or NetFlix.
The economy worries me a lot. I feel a little like Marie Antoinette, talking about cake in the face of an epidemic of hunger, but it’s something I can do. I don’t know what to do about the rest of it.
The Husband is home sick today. (More on that in another post.) But because his stomach was iffy, when we went to Bucks this morning, he eschewed the chai for a green tea with ginger and honey. At our ‘Bucks, unlike any other I’ve ever been to, you need to ask for the honey. They keep it behind the counter.
“So,” says I. “Why do you keep the honey behind the counter?”
“Um… how liberal are you feeling today?” asked the barista.
“Well, it’s kinda inappropriate,” she smiled a wicked smile. “There was a customer who used to sit in the cafe and use the honey to make himself happy.”
HA! Made my morning!
(Though the housewife in me keeps thinking, “God that must have been a sticky mess!”)