Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Last week, when Dan and I were sitting in Pete's Kitchen consuming greasy breakfast foods and processed meats, I mentioned to him how I think I might be a defective female-type person. When he asked me to clarify, I told him about something that's been on my mind for a while - something spurred from the interwebosphere. Here's my dirty confession, internet: I'm just not into stuff. Like, at all. It's as though the part of me that is supposed to want to coo over fashion or squee over cute stuff or swoon over some sort of well-designed dealy bopper just...doesn't exist. Nearly always, when I go into a store or shop a bit online, all I can see is stuff. Stuff that costs money, and sure, it might be cute or fashionable or design-y, but it's still just...stuff.

I see bloggers that I read (and friends) asked to contribute to design blogs or style blogs, and I read them sometimes. I'm especially intrigued by the gift guides on blogs like that. The idea of pouring through websites to find a bunch of items, put them together into some sort of cohesive whole, and make people want to buy them is about as appealing to me as hanging up my laundry. And, as Dan can tell you, that's my least favorite chore. Even more alarming, most of the time I look at those sorts of gift guides and don't see a single thing I might want - or, at least, not a single thing I'd consider buying for myself. The idea of spending money on stuff I don't need, just because it's a thing I like, is something that rarely crosses my mind. I'm even (and I know this is going to be shocking, because how could it not be) not a huge fan of Etsy. I mean, I love that there is a place where people can sell cool stuff they make directly to people who want to buy it. But I've only ever found a few things on there that I might actually want, so I just don't find it especially useful for *me*.

For the last several years, my mom always asks me to put together a list of things I'd like for gift-giving occasions. I have a very, very difficult time with this task, because it's so hard for me to think of things that I want. Sometimes I wonder whether I'm the only girl on the planet who doesn't have a wish list stashed away someplace, itemized and categorized by gift giver, occasion, and how much each item is desired. When it's time for me to come up with ideas for what I want, usually I resort to asking Dan for ideas, because there's just never really anything that I *want* that much. In my day-to-day life, I am so much more likely to enjoy spending money on an experience than on an item, a thing, or a stuff. I save up for trips and would nearly always prefer tickets to an event or a well-planned outing over just about anything.

It's not that I don't like looking at stuff, because sometimes I do, and sometimes I even fantasize about how it might look in my living space or what outfit I might wear it with or how cute it would be on the counter in the kitchen that's already containing about as much stuff as it can while sill remaining functional. Maybe I'll be singing a different tune when, someday, we have our own place that we can transform into anything we like. But maybe I just lack the stuff-wanting thing that seems to be so common to just about every other female person I know. In the last year or so, I've had an urge to purge, to get rid of stuff that I don't use or don't need or don't want or just don't have the space for anymore. While we wait for a job opportunity or the heavens to open up or something in California, I daydream about downsizing the amount of crap we will have to move.

I used to love stuff. But all the moves I did in college (and if you count moving from one room to another in the same building, I moved 9 times before graduation) taught me that it's just not worth it to haul so much STUFF around on the off chance that someday one might be able to use it. Granted, some of the things I've held on to over the years came in handy down the line - the recycled calendar origami crane mobiles I made for our wedding, for example, would not have existed had I not saved so many old calendars. And I can throw together a costume with the snap of my fingers. But so many of the "maybe someday" things take up so much space. As I get older, I find that clutter bothers me more and more, and I find myself wanting to de-clutter my living space which in turn helps me to de-clutter my brain.

Very soon here, I think I'm going to have to put on a different set of glasses in which to view all of my stuff. I'm going to look at everything with a critical eye - will keeping it enhance my life? How much enjoyment do I get out of each thing? Is my sole enjoyment just HAVING it, and if so, is that enough to outweigh NOT having it? Does it have some sort of sentimental value, or have I just been hanging onto it out of habit? I'd like to break out of the bad habit of just acquiring stuff, and figure out how to just keep the things that really enhance my life.

So how broken a girl am I, really? Am I missing out? Should I attempt to style-ify and stuff-ify my life, or am I just better off not caring all that much about what's in Anthropologie or Crate and Barrel or the boutique down the street? WHAT AM I MISSING BY NOT BEING A VERY STYLISH GIRL?


Hillary said...

If you're broken, I'm broken. I am not stylish at all. I try to be, sometimes. Sometimes I just give up. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to make my home stylish when I - so clearly - am not. I have friends who can pull together a room or an outfit and it looks amazing and I am in utter awe. How do they which accessories go with what? Are they born with it or is something that is learned? *Sigh* being stylish seems like a lot of effort.

Yank In Texas said...

Mot defective at all. You just like different stuff. That's all. And liking stuff isn't all it's cracked up to be- means you spend a lot of money on impulse stuff buys that you really don't need but oooh that was cute and well, it adds up.
I'm missing the decoration part- where girls are supposed to be able to put a room together and make it look pretty and all that. Can't do it.
So not defective at all. Just not stereotypical. Which isn't all that bad.

Average Jane said...

You sound just like me. The only stuff I manage to collection these days consists of WAY TOO MANY BOOKS, and I'm trying to make myself go to the library to stop that from happening.

EEK! said...

This is another kind of blog reading malaise I've noticed. I had it when I started looking at too many wedding blogs. All the focus on stuff and details and everything being so tastefully quirky or quirkily tasteful, I don't know, it's freaking exhausting if it's not, like, your hobby. We don't all have to art-direct our lives. You have other hobbies. That's all.

Anonymous said...

You're not missing anything but owning a lot of crap you don't need, and possibly some credit card debt. I think it's a quality you should be very, very happy to have. Over the past year, I've tried to only bring stuff into my life that is versatile and will last - it makes the whole business so much more bearable.

But BOY HOWDY, am I a whore for Anthropologie, although I mostly just like to look at their catalogs. Their ricockulous prices stop me from actually buying anything.

agirlandaboy said...

As someone who contributes to a style site, you might think that makes me a Lover of Stuff, but you'd be wrong. Most of the enjoyment I get there is in online window shopping, and in sharing my "taste" (whatever that is) with people who actually WILL go out and purchase the things I show them. It also gives me a lot of ideas about things to make, which I know is something you're into.

Stuff, in general, makes me nervous (how much will it cost? where will I put it? what else could I be spending that money on?) and I usually tend to look at things in terms of what I NEED not what I WANT. And of course as soon as I do that, I realize that I actually NEED very little. I have a hard time even spending birthday money on "something special," which, sheesh!, is kind of tiresome sometimes.

Cilicious said...

I'll tell you what stuff I like:
The omelets I used to eat at Pete's Kitchen!
As for the other,decorating/keeping-up-with-the-bloggers-and-HGTV-stuff, I like what EEK said.
If you step away from the computer or turn off the TV and go outside, that's when the really good stuff shows itself.