Saturday, November 05, 2011

Conspicuous Consumption

Years ago I was assigned Veblen. It was a difficult read and I really didn't get it. I had to write a position paper, which I think reflected my confusion. I guess I wrote it well enough because the teacher smiled as I was reading  and I got an A+ in the class. I vaguely remember Veblen writing about the leisure class always having a big boned woman around doing all the work. I think I made a joke about being a big boned working type.
It wasn't until I read other people referencing Veblen and a bit of rereading that I began to sort of understand.
There was on thing that stuck with me. He writes about the leisure class  owning pianos that they couldn't play and stacks of sheet music that they couldn't read and shelves of books that they hadn't read. All of which were intended to demonstrate something about who they were. I did get that.
I've always wanted a book and music lined room and I always thought of that room as an expression of my identity. When I was in high school I joined the Book of the Month Club. Somehow I ended up with The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Probably a book I didn't decline in time. It had a black cover with a big red swastika on the spine. I remember Mom commenting on it. She thought it was weird to have such a book. I had pretty great library when I graduated from high school. Full of Kerouac and Beat poets, D. H. Lawrence and Herman Hess, Kahil Gibran and Our Bodies Our Selves. A crazy amount of Rod McKuen. Listen to the Warm. Oh dear.
I stored them and all my albums with a friend when I left home and lost touch with her. I repeated that pattern throughout my life. I'd start to amass books and music decide to move and sell or give them away or store them in a basement. I've lived in my current apartment longer than I've lived anywhere and have finally built a collection that I swear I will always have. When I worry about money I imagine myself as a crazy homeless woman pushing a cart full of books.
I love my books. I love looking at them. And I do get a short of thrill when people visit and spend any time checking them out. I also have a shelf full of CDs. And I look at other peoples book  and music shelves.
I don't have an e-reader.  I think they're useful and I want one someday but I don't need one. I have an MP3 player that we were awarded at EA for doing our job. I rarely use it. I'm confused about how to make the transition to buying one song at a time.
An e-reader might have been good when I was commuting. I was always lugging a book and a few magazines around. But I love seeing what other people are reading on the bus. Can't see that if they're using a reader. I saw so many people with their ears plugged up and eyes focused on a screen. There's lots of writing about how we are a culture of isolation. Maybe. I'm not sure. We kind of have been for awhile. Is our consumption less conspicuous?
I recently started using Spotify. I can't figure out how to make it find new music for me. I've learned about a bunch of new music on Last FM. Pandora played the same stuff too often for me but Last FM scans around. Spotify can be fun when other people are using it on Facebook. I've really enjoyed checking out other people's music.
There are all the web apps like Get Glue and Four Square, which I love. You can be as conspicuous as you wanna be I suppose.

Friday, November 04, 2011

My Back Room

I think I've written about my back room before. Maybe more than once.  It is the site of an eternal and unwinnable war. I try to keep it clean but it resists. So in the pre-Mom cleaning frenzy I've been working on the back room. I thought I had it wrangled and then...
Part of the problem is the boxes. I don't feel like I order that much stuff but I always have boxes. I broke them down the other day and dragged them to the recycling bin. And then...I got more. I order my vitamins from Puritan's Pride. They have a variety of buy this many get this many for free type sales and I shop them. So once a year I have a crazy amount of vitamins. They are also part of the back room problem. I used to fill some cabinet shelves with them but it was never perfect and now I just keep a big box which is either over full or almost empty at any given time. I have a smaller box with one bottle of each vitamin and an even smaller box with seven days of doses. Well my order came yesterday. And today a smaller box of a few that didn't make it into the first one. And a box with something for Mom. (It's a secret.) (Till Christmas.)
There's a second problem included with all that. Shipping peanuts and bubble wrap. I bag all of it and take it down to the Postal Annex. I feel better knowing that it gets used more than once. But I'm a gimp now. I use two walking sticks and can't carry the bags. I wait for someone to visit who has a car. I have two bags full now. I'm so tempted to toss them.
There was a time when there wasn't much in the room. I got two file cabinets and put a board across them and made a desk. There are build in shelves on two walls filled with cook books and cooking stuff and silly toys. I used to do my bills back there and sit and read cook books. But my first computer didn't fit. I ended up with a desk in the living room. Now the desk is covered with cups full of pens and piles of papers. The a fore mentioned vitamin boxes.There are empty plant plots and a bag of small umbrellas and empty tins on the floor. My boom and dust pan and mop. A tool box. It's fairly orderly chaos sometimes but it does get wild. This time of year I stock up on stuff for the big cookie bake. And I always have stuff for soup. It's just crazy.
I'll break down the boxes and carry down some more recycling. But really. There's no hope.  

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Soul Mates

Way back in the summer I thought I'd write about Drop Dead Diva. I liked the show when it first began. I kept waiting for some representation of fat life that would piss me off but generally speaking I liked it. It's always weird when a show begins with a strange conceit and then ignores that conceit. After the first season the idea that the main character died and came back in another body is rarely mentioned. And her guardian angel has a new human life with all the attending issues. It's all just a background and the show is a mash up of romantic and buddy comedy and legal drama. They have explored some interesting themes and I like most of the actors but it's too much of a mish mash. I think this was the third season. At some point in the beginning of the summer I started wondering if it was going to be on again and went looking.
There is a picture of Brooke Elliot on the show site which looks like they've photo shopped it to make her look thinner. It was more obvious in the summer when the site featured a video with the same image but hadn't been altered. It just seemed so stupid. Even more problematic is the silhouette image of a thin woman behind her. It actually took me awhile to figure out who it was supposed to be. And then I remembered who she "really" is.
There really isn't much mention of her weight. It's easy to forget. She doesn't seem to eat any particular amount. She doesn't seem to pay much attention to her weight or be held back by it. There have been a few in the past as she adjusted to her circumstance most of which were dopey. It seems like she was an extremely smart but socially awkward fat girl and her (literally) inner thin girl makes her confident and flirty. She retains the fat girl smarts and is empowered by the thin girl verve. It doesn't reflect well on anyone of any size. But when you're watching you sort of forget about all that and you're just seeing this really fun character who is a bit larger than most main characters.
So I was going to write about it but I kept forgetting to watch. It's not good enough to get excited about and not bad enough to dismiss. I did watch enough to see that she has a new boy friend and seems to have given up on the boy friend she had when she was the thin girl. If you don't watch ( and I don't recommend you do) this is  all probably confusing. I get hooked in by the hope that the old boyfriend will recognize her.
I made a really early decision to not be ashamed of my weight but I held on to an idea that I would lose weight if I found true love. I think I formed that out of some bad psychological theory and a desire to be loved for who I was and not how I looked. Of course how I look is part of who I am. It took me a long time to snap out of all that. But this show has brought back a desire to see the guy recognize his soul mate and embrace ALL of who she now is. I mean I am seriously hooked.
I'm not sure I believe in soul mates. Some couples do seem so perfect. Some seem destined somehow. But I don't know. I'm tired of needing magic to be happy. And yet still I do watch this dopey little show and want to see that moment of recognition.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I spent a lot of the day listening to live coverage of the general strike from KPFA. I would need some kind of scooter to attend. I feel old and tired. Arm chair activist.
It's just the most amazing thing. I particularly like how the movement resists the demands for a statement of intent. What do they want? It seems clear to me.
It will be interesting to see how it evolves. Talk about occupying school that have been closed and houses that have been foreclosed sound good to me.
Funny. I had a post in my head all day, which I will eventually write but right now I'm just caught up in Twitter and FB and Kieth Olbermann and Bernie Sanders and the Port of Oakland is closed.
It's hard to even write about how badly the main stream media is reporting it. The WSJ says the strike fizzled. Pictures of the few acts of destruction are the first posted on SFGate. I'd be mad if I expected anything else.
I don't really know what it can become. I just know it is becoming something.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


It seems like every time I post I begin with some acknowledgement that I haven't been writing. It's silly. When I blog I feel like I'm walking into a room and talking out loud. There may be other people in the room. There may not. When I go to the pool after a time of not going everyone says some version of "long time no see." I always feel like I need to explain myself.
Jenny is blogging in response to NaBloPoMo and starts with her own awareness of not writing. Jenny's blog always makes me happy. Her life seems so full of art and family and community. Following her intention I may try to blog every day this month. Of course it's 6 PM and I put it off all day until now. And Mom will be here in a week so it will get tough. We'll see.
I am amused that the NaBloPoMo prompt asks what is your favorite part about writing. My favorite part is rewriting. I love picking away at a piece. Moving sentences. Finding shinier words. But I don't do much of that when I blog. Blogging always feels very first thought best thought. I like blogs that feel rough and tumble. When I was blogging every day I liked the feeling of being part of a large conversation.
I'm in the pre-Mom clean-up frenzy. I'm not feeling too frenzied this year because the apartment looks pretty good. It needs work but I get a little done every day. Yesterday was breaking down boxes in the back room and getting them ready to recycle. Today was cleaning the toaster oven and the table it sits on. So many small steps. I'll probably get more frenzied the closer I get to her arrival.
OK. First day of the month. Too late for Rabbit Rabbit?