Saturday, January 27, 2007

Be it resolved.

It was the historian's birthday a couple of days ago, and I had the pleasure of piling up the presents around him when he first woke up. And cooking him a favorite breakfast. Also sending a couple of birthday-ish e-mails during the day. The real news is, however, that when I was buying the presents, I was buying only presents for him. Rather than the sad but pervasive, 'one present for him, a couple for me' strategy that I happen to know other people besides me practice.

And that's because (throat clearing, drum rolling, a hush falls over the room) I have made a resolution not to buy any more (a) clothes or (b) books until June.

(small print: 1. the book buying retrenchment does not count the redeeming of gift certificates at Sam Weller's. 2. the book buying retrenchment allows for one exception, to wit: attendance at academic conferences where there is a book fair, such as AWP. 3. clothes buying retrenchment includes a moratorium on accessories purchases, to wit: shoes, handbags, jewelry. 4. clothes buying retrenchment allows for purchase of necessary underclothing. 5. clothes buying retrenchment may allow for symbolic clothing purchase in vacation situations, to wit: over President's Day holiday, when historian and megastore are on a little trip to Santa Barbara for anniversary, which may call for shopping of a symbolic nature, really, you know, just to be able to say, "I got that [clothing item of a symbolic nature] in Santa Barbara when the historian and I were celebrating our X anniversary." We'll just have to see.)

In the meantime, I am engaging in furious amounts of replacement behavior, such as organizing, sorting, and discarding all sorts of stuff that has crowded into all sorts of spaces. The sheer amount of floor space in my at-home study is breathtaking, and not just to me. I bring people around to show it to them. Bruiser and Betty can scarcely believe that they are allowed in, because there's room for them, and all the things they might have heretofore chewed up are put away in a tidy fashion.

The historian has hardly indicated any disbelief in my sincerity nor my ability to carry out this resolution. Friends, however, have openly scoffed. My daughter said, "That's a ridiculous resolution," but relented when I explained that if I kept on bring new stuff home, it was harder to see what old stuff I needed to give away.

In the meantime, I have allowed that I may still download (legally!) music and buy an occasional cd. I have been called by the allure of several items of clothing recently, but have talked myself off the ledge, as it were, and gone home with nothing more than toothpaste and magazine-sized file boxes to show for it. We're at about two weeks and counting, and I think it's going to stick.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Excellent resolutions. As you know, I'm all for a minimalist lifestyle. Live simply to simply live and all that. I also know, from experience, that's it's easier said than done. You can count on me not to be an enabler--an enabler of consumption.

    We'll name a new blog template after you: Minimal Lisa B.

  3. I'm impressed. I've been thinking along the same line. Three random thoughts:

    --I heard about a commitment to not buy anything (except food). But it got me thinking. What could I quit buying. Buying becomes a habit. . . . .

    --I just discovered a wonderful site. Freecycle. You can only give things away. I tried it out and it works. I offered a computer desk and a chair--and within 2 hours I had 4 volunteers in my own neighborhood, willing to haul them away.

    --I'm coming up on a wonderful miracle: 3 months of family leave and my daughter comes to live with me. A hidden agenda. Simplify. Get my house under control. Haul things away. Give things away.

    I'm thinking that reading, driving, hanging out with my daughter, will keep me away from the stores.

  4. This sounds like a great reality show. Please keep us posted on your progress...

  5. Your post inspired me to visit the container store. I wish I had a huge closet so I could buy a bunch of organizers to organize my stuff. But instead, I should probaby just give stuff away.
    Good for you HTMS! Middlebrow and I just bought some books. But maybe I'll try it, the no book buying thing (except AWP of course).
    As for clothes, I really need some. (after I give some away)

  6. We also bought movies and outdoor gear Dr. Write. Oh do not forget the outdoor gear. But hush! We're trying to be supportive!

  7. ii was skeptical upon first reading your resolutions. But it seems like you have thought this through and are holding fast to it. Ironically, I was thinking about one of these upcoming weekends trying to plan a lisa/diane/abby gettogether of some kind. Perhaps we can put the clothes shopping back on the rack, as it were. (insert laughing here)

  8. MB inspired me to get rid of books at the end of fall sem. I actually off-loaded about 40 books--a world record for me.

    I like how your goals have several exceptions--I think I will be much more successful if I allow for exceptions. For example, as I just related on Dr. Write's blog, I have a goal to chat more with acquaintances and strangers.

    With my HTM insight I can list several exceptions in an attempt at having a good year. No chatting required if...the person is talking loudly, says positive things about Bush, seems mean/in a bad mood, asked me for a favor and/or talked for 10 minutes straight the last time I talked to them... Well, maybe I better make a goal to only have three exceptions.

  9. Counterintuitive, I'm putting that fact in my portfolio! Can I get a stipend for being the department minimalist lisa b?

  10. Stipend, no. Page in your portfolio: Yes!



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