Twilley, Nicola. 2014 (July 25). "What do Chinese Dumplings have to do with Global Warming" NY Times magazine online.) The tendency to keep shiny big refrigerators well-stocked often means those same refrigerators serve as nice cold trashcans when the overstock isn't consumed fast enough or gets lost behind other more newly purchased food. Anyone that has been to Costco knows these problems--how to consume the contents of the large boxes of lettuce or giant tubs of sour cream before they spoil or where to find that special condiment behind the big bottles of other ones.
The waste problem applies to other overly-abundant consumer goods too. James Collins writes amusingly about his discovery that the box(es) of replacement staples for his paper stapler and his other office supplies will outlast him: (2014 March "Let Me Count the Days" NY Times Opinionator.) He calculates that he uses about 15 staples a year, which means his box of 5000 staples is really overkill. That box of staples is going to be something his descendants will have to deal with, and I'm afraid I have the same staple supply problem, even after parsing our belongings twice in 4 years to accommodate a move to Europe and back again.
Then there are the extra spaces that some of our homes come with which also create opportunities for waste: the garage, which everyone in the U.S. knows isn't really for our car but for storing all our STUFF, and the attic. In France, we were lucky enough to rent a dedicated garage 'box' as they called it, but it was so small that we could barely get our car to fit into it, let alone any stuff, and it was a block from our home. So not much storage there or opportunities for waste, but we did have ample space in our apt. for bikes that were hardly ridden and toolboxes and countless supplies bought at the hardware store. As for our attic here in the U.S. house, we packed it with all of our belongings that we didn't take with us to France, and....it still contains a large portion of our belongings that we didn't take with us to France. I think we could easily empty the attic and not even realize what we are missing.
Having abundance, of goods and spaces, is a privilege for sure and having access to refrigeration is too. I wish everyone would have such privileges, and I appreciate how these can contribute to lowering some of the costs of living. But, there is something to be said for that mindful shopping, that careful planning, that is required when we are dealing with less space, fewer means, and fewer options.
21 October 2014
09 October 2014
Celebrities know more than most that outward appearances matter, as it is these that we use to present ourselves to others and manage impressions. Some of us are more calculating about our appearances, striving to make a statement, or to express ourselves (this is how I interpreted Merchant's style), but for most of us, (those of us with the means to choose what to wear), we are just trying to not stand out too much. To do this, we first have to know what is normative. In the Pacific NW, for example, dressing for the symphony or dressing for church, well, these are fairly indistinguishable from dressing for the every day, and all involve a fair amount of earth tones, denims and khakis, flat shoes. There are no real uniforms for different events, and comfort is the operative word. The symphony crowd at the Merchant concert was dressed in this typical (in my mind uninspiring and somewhat sloppy) manner. Despite my opinion, this is simply the dressing norm where I now live, the Seattle aesthetic so to speak. In contrast, the French style has been described as real, adult, respectful (see two descriptions: http://www.vogue.com/1648381/lauren-santo-domingo-parisian-style-french-women-make-coffee/ and http://www.parisescapes.com/paris_wear.html ) All this means is that the French have stronger expectations for what is appropriate dress for different settings and they do not consider sweats and running shoes as regular streetwear (see my earlier discussion of this: Les tenues, April 2013). The French are no more real or adult than Americans, but their social conception of how an adult dresses is simply different.
In the U.S. we might call the French style 'dressing up'. I hear that often when I have a skirt on in the driving rain, or have worn something other than sneakers to an athletic event. I don't think of these as dressing up but as normal, or authentic for me. I prefer styles that imply effort, thought, care, creativity, purpose (is this 'conscious dressing'?). I also like the new attention placed on the dressing choices of older adults. Before, it seemed that creative dressing was reserved for the young. But, creativity and effort and style are ageless: here's a street-style blog I recently discovered that explores the style choices of older people: http://advancedstyle.blogspot.com/ (see below). Dressing up? Dressing one's age? How about a style where one dresses authentically for the real, adult person that one is?
Ps. There is no reason that such authenticity must be maintained when it comes to naturally graying hair. That's the adult prerogative!
The Sociological Observer by Anne Katriina Tuominen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.thesociologicalobserver.com.