Sunday, March 23, 2014


My recent stint of re-selling, trying to find value in old things, getting less than I hoped, and so on, has inspired me to write about the green at the center of it all.
When I look around these days, seeing old toy Barbie cars for toddlers turning pale in a pile of grass in someone’s backyard, or watching collectibles go through their cycles on Antique’s road show…I can’t help but feel burdened by the objects. Ever since finding the beauty in simplicity- making music around a campfire with friends, cooking in a kitchen with family, and perhaps just from growing up, I no longer have a will to own anything besides what I will use. Even after all my trips to goodwill and posts on ebay,  I have far more things than most people in the world*. An old co-worker who hadn’t yet graduated college told me of her pairing down to 100 items. About 20 of them were clothing related—I think “underwear” counted as one, but the rest were things like pen and notebook, and an iPod. I have substantially more than that, and I have noticed that when I have too much to do, I’m likely not to do anything.
Anyway, this was supposed to be about money.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of money lately. We prescribe a value to our currency, but the true value differs from person to person, and even throughout that person’s life. 5 dollars to me as a 10 year old would be likened to $20 now. I was thinking today that spending $60 on a bouquet of flowers for someone isn’t completely out of the price range, but I remember looking through webpages in high school and college and being shocked at how unaffordable a bundle of plants are.
Now, though I have more money now than I ever have, I think I value it less. I see money as the means or the vehicle to help me achieve certain things, like experiences at Cirque de Soleil, or gas to get me across the country. But while flipping channels this morning, I saw a rap singer in a monstrously large white fur coat. To him, money means more than experiences, it is just a show, and that aspect of money is completely unappealing to me.

These last few weeks of living on my own, or as a “real” adult as some of my friends and old co-workers would say, I have felt the annoyance of money more than ever. One day I had to stand in line in two different buildings across town just so to sign my name to a page that says that I will pay tax to the state on the measley money I’m earning. Although it feels good to exchange our currency for things like the Over Easy burger and a drink during happy hour at Blackbird Buvette, or the new bike I’ll be commuting with around town, it can seem like a pain, especially in the “real world.”
In college, I was introduced to the concept of Time Interchange. There’s a new York city chapter, but I haven’t found one yet in NM*. The idea is that all of our time is equally valuable, so I could trade an hour of babysitting for an hour of you fixing my dishwasher. The time you spend on something goes into a “bank” and can be redeemed by anyone within the program.
I have been playing with this idea in the last few weeks- without the online market. I’ve simply been spending some of my free time volunteering, and reeking various benefits from new opportunities. While we were still in Texas I had this realization that a lot of people spend money on things that they don’t have time for- fancy mustards, sour kraut, chocolate- are all things that could be made at home, but if you want all three, it takes some committed time and counter space. But here in our new job… we have that kind of time. As well as a deep curiosity in how many of those things work. And a deep yearning for fresh sour kraut and homemade mustards. So that’s what we’ve been trying to do. Certainly it’s tempting to buy the newest chocolates that the co-op has coupons for, or a bag of tortilla chips on a special, and we have enjoyed some of these products…but it’s also fun to figure out what to do with 20 apples that we dumpstered, or the two dozen eggs that have been given to us from friends with chickens.

I understand that money is just a form of currency that we trade…and with any trade, there are going to be trade-offs. Right now in our lives, I’m appreciating spending more time on things and learning how to live with a little less money- which has taken a little trial and error. :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Move

The most valuable thing that has been reinforced in my two months of living back home is that I am a sponge. It may be apparent to readers from our cross country journey, but it didn’t sink in until the last week or so of living with the folks. I guess another way of saying it is that I am adaptive. Perhaps one of the reasons I get along so well in jobs is because I don’t take on a direct personality of my own, but reinstate the values and beliefs of my superiors and peers. It’s not that I don’t have my own values and beliefs, although admittedly they are still forming, it’s just part of my natural character to slide into the attitudes of the people I’m around. This was evident at home, where I put aside my preferences for peeing outside, reading and writing for entertainment, and vegan eating and instead lay on the couch and watch a long movie, nibbled on cheesy delicacies, and utilized modern luxuries that I have been without in my cross country travels.
The point of this realization is that now that I am finally here in my own space with my fiancĂ©, I get to build a space that completely caters to my values, adding in and keeping out the things I observed from staying with friends across the country. Today is the day that I set routines that will hopefully propel me into life patterns, and I feel a mix between pressure and excitement. It’s like a new year in many ways- not only is the weather warming from a mercurial winter, but a new job is starting and my  26th birthday is around the corner. This is an exciting time for my blog, too, because instead of just plopping right into my sustainably-focused mind, I can chart out each decision on a new slate. In fact, to commemorate this, I am switching blogsites. I’m going to shift to Blogger, eventually backlogging all my old tumblr blogs. I think that blogspot is a little more professional looking, with a lot more options, such as people being able to comment*, and it will allow me several tabs to organize my blogs into personal rants like these, DIY projects, and art that I’ve accomplished.

So now that the world knows what’s up, I guess there’s nothing left to do but put down the computer and begin to build my new world, my way, with some help from my fiancĂ©, of course.
—Flash forward 2 weeks:
Designing a creative, functional space where I can be productive and happy has not been as easy as I imagined. I’m writing this from my favorite corner that this morning I dubbed my “office,” which is nothing but a creaky but comfy  papasaun and the edge of a desk slightly out of arms distance, now stacked with books, notepads, jump drives, and notebooks. Although I am happy sitting in my ‘office’ where I spent most of yesterday knitting, I can’t help but feel a bit boring. I am slowly getting into the routine that will be my life in this space, which is to say that there is no routine at all. It reminds me of college- navigating appointments and gym hours between classes and meetings. I loved that schedule, thrived in it, even…and yet I feel so displaced from it here. I love living in Albuquerque, and I’ve been trying to take advantage of every little opportunity that presents itself to me- like I also did in college. But I don’t feel ‘at home’ yet. The walls are decorated with our favorite designs, the counters are full of our beloved things, and yet, I’m unsure how to interact with the space. Perhaps I’m not sure how to redefine home now that I have the opportunity to make a space away from my parents and the people and spaces I called home for most of my life, even if I have been removed from those spaces for several years. I guess home is where the heart is and although my stuff is here, and I like it here, I’m not in Love yet, and my heart remains in those humid summer nights, the crunch of the oak leaves under the drying crab grass, and the handful of days when the windows can be open and the inside and outside world are in harmony.  Will I ever find a home like that again? Will it take another 18 years of living in one place to have the roots of my heart remain so firmly in one place? I imagine Austin will always be home, even as the city that once revealed such possibility to me, is now foreign and threatening. But can I make this place feel like home in my heart, knowing that I won’t be living here for 18 years, or probably even 1/4th of that.
I guess through the last 6 years of moving around, I have held home my heart, absorbing how others interact with me and the spaces I live in…and now that there are no more attitudes to pick up, no more ideals to imitate…I’m left with my empty artwork, and this big old space wondering where I start making the connections just between me and the land. And how?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Catching Up

Oh, hello, Blog world… Boy do I have some news for you.
Just two weeks ago I moved to my first house (sort of), in a new city, to begin a new job (well, string of jobs). I’ll let that series of events speak for itself as my excuse for my blogging hiatus, but I’m back now with ample material on sustainable decision-making. Before I dive into all that, I believe I have some back-blogging to do. (rather than post part 2 of piles and piles in a separate blog, I’m attaching it to the first one, if anyone is interested in reading about how much money I made selling dolls in the street. )

Growing Up…
Perhaps the hardest thing about getting older is not being “a kid” anymore. I mean, not to my parents. My mom says that I will always be her kiddo, which is true…but having my dad accompany me for our move to Albuquerque was a sort of reality check that I’m not their little girl anymore. At age 26 (almost), I guess it was about time.
I don’t think it was just because I was paying for the gas, and the food along the way— I appreciate being able to demonstrate my financial fortitude. I think it was playing host to my Dad in my new house that sent the shockwave. After two months of living back at home, after 3 years of traveling around the country, and 4 months before that of living back at home…all after announcing to my college counselor that I would do “anything but live with my parents after college,” I am finally in a solid structure to call my own  that allows me to host guests, such as my dad.  

So far this new home-owning, house renting thing has been a completely surreal experience. Last week Amil and I went to a bar downtown for a poetry reading, and it was really strange to realize that we were here, in “our town” without hosts, or a rental car, or a train to take to a house we were staying in for a while… nope, we just walked to our car and drove home (stopping at some dumpsters on the way, no luck though). Of course there are social perks of being a grown-up. We had some people over for a house warming party and stayed up all the way past midnight! We can go grocery shopping whenever we want and get whatever we want to fill our fridge and pantry…and you better believe those things are filled. But this grown-up thing has some hassles, too. Registering as a Sole Proprietor? Blah. Signing up (again) for health insurance, knowing that I have to go through the process again in a few weeks when I get my first proof of income? Paying rent. Some of these annoyances have had me considering if this swift move to “adulthood,” and out of residential jobs was really a good idea. A quick punch of the numbers shows that I’m not making as much money as I would be at my old job. But… I have a 27 acre backyard (I guess I had the whole forest there), and a solid group of friends (that I’m tighter with than the 30 people in my community previously), anddd we can cook and eat whatever we want, and damn, it’s been good.
So this is all still feeling surreal. I imagine that by the time I’ve had enough and dive back into grad school, it will finally start feeling normal, only to be tipped on it’s head again. But heck, I just read about a woman who’s 117 years old…and that’s a long ass time to be a grown-up. I’m gonna take my time settling in to anything for now. And just enjoy the ride. And the black bean cupcakes. And coconut ice cream.