Thursday, March 12, 2009

Upside of Downsizing

I have confession to make.

I read Women’s Day magazine, but only in the bathroom.

I’m not sure why I read it. I don’t think I have ever read anything there that I couldn’t have written myself or hadn’t thought of last week. It’s probably more mind numbing than People or Cosmo. But maybe I like it because it is refreshingly devoid of “beautiful” people – at least the anorexic, plastic surgery enhanced Hollywood types. But honestly, I think I read it because it arrives in my mailbox and the forgettable articles are the perfect length for poo poo time.

Anyhow, tonight, after a long afternoon of dealing with fussy, fighting kids, I retreated to the bathroom for a long, hot bath. I locked the door and strongly recommended my husband take the bedtime duty. He was on his way out the door for a recording session, but I guess he knows when I am on the verge of crazy because he stayed a little longer and read the bedtime story.

Anyhow ... I filled the tub and read the latest WD cover to cover, even after I dropped it in the bath.

In between the adds for ridiculous knickknacks, most of the issue seemed to be dedicated to tips and ideas for living on a budget. It made me laugh. Good old WD, always two steps ahead the housewife.

It was all so common sensical, and anti consumeristic. I am so glad being a tight wad is finally cool!

It’s been hip to be green for a while now. A few years ago I thought it was funny when environmentally conscious people, soap boxing about saving the planet, started giving advice that my parents had been doing for years. Things like 1)turn down the heater in winter, 2) use reusable water bottles, napkins, etc and 3) try walking every once in a while. It saves money too. And it's healthy . Win. Win. Win.

But if people won't do it for the planet or their bodies, maybe they will for the budget, if it is fashionable enough.

My parents always lived on one income. Until I was twelve, it was almost no income, as my mom was a full-time homemaker and my dad a college student/medical student.

My mom skillfully stretched the budget. I don’t know how she did it. But I know that she and dad were committed to their lifestyle decisions and they never seemed to worry about not having stuff. They invested in people.

We didn't eat at restaurants very often, and when we did it was usually McDonald's with shared orders of fries and tap water only. No Happy Meals with plastic toys. But at home we often had strangers at our dinner table. My parents understood hospitality.

It was a great childhood.

So, with my apologizes to the many, many people who are unemployed and homeless, I want to say that I don’t think this general economic downturn is all bad. It seems to be helping people break the cycle of consumerism and materialism, and look for creative ways to reuse and recycle. When I read crazy advice like -- "consider purchasing large-ticket items like power tools to share with your neighbors," I am amazed that this hasn't been considered before. What? Share? If this recession lasts long enough, it might even resurrect community in this country.

So that is my nightly soap box, after soaking in a soapy tub with a mushy magazine. I feel clean and hopefull.


  1. Yes, I'm amazed at how much I've had to pull teeth to establish much interconnectedness out here. My husband resists it as well. Of course, last time we moved, he cutely said, when all my friends descended on us to help, "Maybe there's an advantage to living how you do versus how I do ..."

  2. You echo so many of my own feelings here, Theresa. I'm kind of half glad not to feel like such a pov doing all the "thrifty" things I've always done, and half annoyed that what I consider just life is now a trend.

    I was ranting the other night (shocking, I know) and D. said something about when people like us, people who "conserve" water --

    I cut him off right there. "We are not 'conserving,'" I said. I'd been ranting about some guy across the street from us who had his gardeners out watering his trees *on a rainy day*, and I pointed in his direction. "We don't 'conserve.' That sounds like we're doing something extra. We're doing what people ought to do. We don't conserve -- he *wastes*."

    I think you're right that what we're going through now as a country can be an opportunity. We can redefine our standards and stop letting people like that neighbor of mine set the standards for ordinary, or our children can live with the consequences.