So we've got our last big Chapters order for what I suspect will be some months. There really is nothing quite like going to the post office, getting a card in your mail box, going up to the front counter to exchange it and having one of the guys come back with a huge bloody box of books balanced on his shoulder.
I'll even managed to forget the 20 minute wait in line to get the books because that was at least partially due to one woman who needed 15 things done and didn't seem to particularly care about the dozen or so people in line behind here, patiently waiting and slowly plotting her demise. I was personally wondering if I could fit her in an Expresspost envelope, but those things are so flimsy and tear easily these day, so probably not.
I realize part of me should feel bad about this. After all, I am an unemployed bum right now (but I am doing the dishes, dusting, laundry and other household chores to earn my keep), but I think there's also some more as well.
I got a message from a reader named Janet on the weekend. I meant to respond in that post, but I suspect this is going to be a bit longer than I could cram into a response to that post. She was reading my blog a lot in the last week, and was the one I feared was a spambot or someone copying my blog wholesale (not unheard of). Instead, she seems like a perfectly nice woman living in Southern California who is originally from Newfoundland and just happens, for some crazy reason, to like the blog. All of which is quite cool and I apologize for suspecting her of anything inappropriate.
But the thing she mentioned that did strike me was when she commented that we "buy so much stuff, you know. The level of consumerism is incredible."
Again, I'm not point this out to be mad with her or yell at her or invite others to jump her in the comments section. It's just something that struck me...because she's right....but she's not.
Cathy and I grew up in decidedly middle-class homes. We never went hungry and never wanted for anything that was reasonable. And for that both of us are grateful and realize we're luckier than many for that. However, we also went through several years, especially after university, where we struggled financially while trying to find our place in the world. I think I struggled with this longer than Cathy, but that's a moot point. There were months when we were living on Bond Street, trying to keep up with rent, car payments, groceries and whatnot where we cut it close some months. We loved Bond Street, but Cathy still curses how cold that place used to get during the winter months.
And then we moved up to Iqaluit. And I'm not sure how to describe it without sounding crass. It was like we were dipped in money. All our financial worries blew away within in a few months. Suddenly we didn't have to worry about bills so much. Suddenly we could afford dream vacations like California, Italy and Australia. We could put money away for a house and retirement. We could give money to charities and we were still all right.
I'm sure others up north must have a similar experience. It's deeply, deeply weird. And I'm not sure if we've ever completely adjusted to it. I'm not sure we can ever move back down south. We have friends who have moved back after spending years up here and the first year back south is inevitably brutal financially.
Consumerist has such negative sounding connotations. I'm not certain we're negative with how we spend our money. Do we buy things that make us happy? Obviously. Do we go over the top a bit with books and DVDs? Yeah, perhaps. But we're not zen monks and you need something to keep yourself sane during the winter when you don't want to go out in the -50C cold. But I don't think we go over the top. Our truck is 10 years old. Our winter coats are five years old. We're not frivolous with how we spend our money, I don't think.
I don't know. I guess it depends on how you define consumerist. Or how what is a frivolous expenditure. I've been poking at this blog post for several hours and I'm still not happy with it. Anyone else have any thoughts on the matter?
1. Diamonds on the soles of her shoes - Paul Simon*
2. Break away - Kelly Clarkson
3. Reconsider me (live) - Warren Zevon
4. In my arms - Snow Patrol
5. Bluenose (live) - Stan Rogers