I was raised in a small church that has a reputation for being extremely freewheeling, very “believe whatever you want.” And in many ways, that’s accurate. However, in my experience, they actually offer very strong guidance on how to live; if you need advice on consumer behaviors that will fit bourgeois bohemians’ cultural norms, they can definitely give you a fair trade catalog or two. That advice, taken to its logical conclusion, has left my generation low-key terrified about the planet, the economy, etc., and willing to make great sacrifices to try to improve our future.
For example, my friend Will. Will is a Yale-educated descendant of Russian intellectuals, who, when we met, was *really* trying to walk lightly upon the earth. He practiced extreme frugality, which let him retain financial solvency while he worked as a community organizer and built his career in nonprofit. He showed up at church every week in one of the two sweaters he owned, which drove my girlfriend insane. “I want to buy that guy a sweater,” she said. “Does he not know about stores? What is with the two-sweater lifestyle? When does he wash them? You have weird friends.” But to me it made perfect sense that a person with all the privilege in the world would deliberately choose to opt out of capitalism as much as possible; to decline to buy garments made by slaves out of crops raised by slaves in ecologically unsound farms, to save his resources for making a difference.
I talked to Will about his no-shop lifestyle, and he said, “Well, hmm. I guess, if I want to buy something new, something that isn’t food or soap or whatever, first I wait a week and see if I still want it. And then if I do, I wait another week, and if I still want it, then maybe I buy it.”
This sort of attitude is difficult to pull off, especially if you’re just getting started in life; Will lived with his parents, so he didn’t need to buy measuring spoons or towels or a Crock-Pot. But for me now at midlife, with a house full of thrifted clothing and housewares and furniture and art supplies, honestly, there is very little that I need to buy, especially new. So I made myself this printable shopping list, to help me be mindful of Will’s practice. If you need help resizing it for whatever planner you use, here is some advice.
I’m sharing this now because a few of my friends were talking about budgets, and I thought it would be relevant. But I’m also working on a printable of Krista’s Famous Comparison Shopping Method, and also of What Shopping Does For You, so stay tuned if you want to see more printables about ethical consumption and mindful budgeting!
Guest Post: Cha Cha
THIS IS CHA CHA
I AM TOLD MY HOUSEKEEPER IS WRITING ABOUT “EVERYDAY CARRY"
HERE IS THE THING THAT SHE CARRIES FOR ME WHEN WE GO OUT
IT HAS DOGGY BAGS AND TREATS
AND IS A SPARKLY GRAY THAT I ENJOY
ON LONG TRIPS, SHE ALSO CLIPS ON A COLLAPSIBLE WATER DISH
AND A SECOND PURSE FOR SNAX
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION
Happy New Year!
I’ve come down with an awful cold, and as I plow my way through box after box of tissue, too sick to go places, I’ve been Tidying Up around the house. I’ve also been making art, and I’ll have some new projects to share over the next few months (Planner printables! Feminist merch! Habitats and radios! Spoken word!), which I’m really excited about. I’ve been organizing my paper files, shredding old stuff that’s outdated, and catching up on Adulting.
One thing that really sets me up for success is organizing my purse. I thought I was the only one who's obsessed with this, but Hester Browne writes about Purse Prep in her book The Finishing Touches, which has completely validated my belief that I Am The Best at packing purses. There's also a hashtag, #everydaycarry, which I always thought was about handkerchiefs and marbles and string and pocketknives, the stuff kids keep in their pockets, but ah...turns out it is really heavily focused on the weapons. These are my weapons, though, in the endless fight against fascism, racism, and the stultifiying sameness of capitalism. So I'm using it anyway.
Since I’m a ladytype, my clothing generally does not come with pockets, and I always end up carrying a Mary Poppins-style endless handbag. But I like to switch bags pretty frequently, and since my work is distributed, I need to carry most of my “office” with me. I’ll share my notebook system sometime, but for today, here is my everyday carry strategy for self-care, preparedness, and not forgetting my work nametag or keys or lunch.
I get all the bags at thrift stores. I’m not ever paying more than a dollar, and yes, that included the Prada perfume bag. This is end-stage capitalism; manufactured goods have very little cash value. Those Clinique makeup sets are a godsend for fashionable organizing. I’ve been gifted that book cart bag repeatedly, and honestly, can you ever have too much book cart swag?
I’ve been trying to repair this compass keychain for like...six months. Yesterday I found the glue and the pieces at the same time. Honestly making art always reminds me of Lewis Carroll’s advice on letter-writing: you need the paper and the pen and the stamp all together in one place in advance or that thing is never getting mailed. Yes, that red heart is my Aldi/parking meter quarter, and the purple heart tag was an oddball gift from a date, that's turned out to be very very handy over the years. The amethyst came from a former supervisor, who I still miss, and the spork multitool is because I hate hate hate using disposable utensils and also need to not starve just because I can’t find a freaking fork. The USB drive came from my old library job, the robot girls bring me joy, and can I just say, a carabiner never stops being handy???? As for the keys: car, house, work, and Magic Machine. More about the Magic Machine on the bookstore’s website.
My friend the Sandwich Maker was hassling me about how I should make a sash for my book pins, and wear it on days I need that Girl Scout/TGIFriday’s/pageant queen vibe. First off, when do you not need that vibe? Second, good idea, Sandwich Maker; here’s a Skeletor pin, a burning river pin, and a book pin to go with the sun tag reel that was a gift from Library Boss. Yes I need to put the nametag in a plastic sleeve. No I am never there when HR is there and HR has the plastic sleeves. Yes this is on my to-do list and I am excited to share my to-do list printables in a future post.
Two small bags, each with the materials for an ongoing project. I only carry these when I’m going to an office to do work; otherwise I yank them out and leave them at home. I got the zipper pull crystal at Upcycle Parts Shop, my favorite art store.
You know what’s handy? Cigarette holders, for nonsmokers. These have all my Wallet Stuff in them, neatly corralled in the same place as my Oops I Went To the Library reusable shopping tote and the bookstore’s business cards. We put these postcards in each book we ship and we also gave them out at Pride.
I'm notorious for my love of external battery packs. Repairing your car’s cigarette lighter can be very pricey if you drive a historical vehicle and I might as well carry around an actual car battery; my phone GPS uses all the power during long rural book-retrieval trips. Also, never date an electrician; in my experience it is a really great way to lose all your power both literally and metaphorically. I get these cords and battery packs at Five Below, where they’re much cheaper than an electronics store. I very much regret buying the solar charger I bought on Wish, because that thing has literally never charged and I think the “solar cell” is just a fancy sticker. Also pictured: pens, ruler to help with handwriting, Cha Cha’s signature stamp for her correspondence, pencil sharpener.
You know what’s great? Snacks.
Trail mix, reusable straws, bobby pins, chapstick, eyebrow pencil (I could write an essay on the importance of having eyebrows; my deceptively friendly, round and smiley face has no oomph without eyebrows, so if I’m relating to children, dogs, or male professionals, I make sure to draw some on), Rimmel Provocalips.
I get a lot of questions about this lipstick. The color is Playing with Fire and yes, it lasts; in fact it’s a two-day commitment so buy some lipstick remover before putting it on. I like e.l.f.
Sweater chain; since I work in so many different environments, I am a lover of the cardigan; fake engagement ring to ward off sexual harassment in the customer service roles I often take. Funny/not-funny story: at the height of the Kavanaugh trial, as I was recovering from a really awful breakup, I mentioned to my doctor that being sexually harassed by patrons at my old job was stressing me out. “But isn’t that your job?” he said. “Maybe those men are just lonely.” A ) If they were just lonely, they would be talking to each other or to the male security guard as well as to me, or they’d be hanging out at McDonald’s for the morning coffee club. B ) No, it is not your friendly library lady’s job to provide female companionship for lonely men; I provide light reference, computer assistance and the occasional program, but all the nope to that idea. I just wear a fake engagement ring, some days, which cuts down on the aggression. So depressing. At least it’s pretty!
Anyway. This entry is a memorial to the Pixel camera's manual white balance adjustment feature, which I miss desperately; RIP. I could keep messing with the photos but I'm not as good at Photoshop as I am at organization!