Truth, word.




The last four or five months has been kind of nuts. If 2015 is any indication of the rest of my life, I think I'll be needing a permanent Vitamin B pump and a ginseng tube (or speed maybe?) Either way, I've been finding it hard to slow down and almost had a crazy nervous breakdown a few weeks ago from working/un-procrastinating about 100 hours a week.

Long story short, I'm finally there, dear readers. I've reached adulthood singularity and beyond me is this infinite expanse of bills, 9-5 jobs, sensible shoes, mom hair and screaming children. I have my dissertation done, my exams scheduled, my gown reserved and a low-paying research contract lined-up. All these years of moaning, finding excuses to procrastinate and talking endlessly about frivolously trivial things has amounted to... one big giant let down.

Don't get me wrong, I am glad I'm finally out in the real world and away from the life-suck of academia but the new exciting world just seems to be more of the same, except honestly, so much scarier. We've been saving for a bit and trying to buy a house that isn't about to fall apart at the seams and would fit a family of three and a dog comfortably while allowing for days where we want to avoid each other as much as possible. Three you say? Well, yes. My biological clock is ticking and my husband isn't quite as cynical or existential as I am and well, if I want to shart out a wailing piglet, I should best do it now before my creaking knees won't be able to withstand the extra weight.

I find it hard after all these years of blathering about quality vs. quantity etc. to come to terms that when you're an adult with a house and a family to think about, spending $600 on a pair of shoes is hardly justifiable. I was looking at cribs and goddamned strollers the other day and wasted time reading some stupid mommy blog about buying a Bugaboo. For a brief moment, I pictured myself in a pair of cloppity No. 6 clogs, a $500 Laura Manoogian sweater and pushing a $1000 stroller with a baby swaddled from head to toe in Nico Nico. That's me! I'm a cool mom.

And then I came to the realization that: (a) the baby would outgrow that damn stroller in three years (b) no one fucking cares if I wear a Laura Manoogian sweater or a Banana Republic one except that I'll be devastated when I have spittle all over the front of a hand knitted alpaca sweater and I'll feel like a moron and  (c) mortgage, college fund, medical bills, hipster car payments, violin lessons, vaccinated trips to Disneyland etc. etc. would render me destitute and careworn.

Would a Bugaboo work better than a $150 Graco stroller from Target? I'm sure it would. Is it necessary? I'm sure if I'm still at the point where my source of validation is Instagram and this blog, it definitely would be. But my point is that in the grand scheme of things, as long as it works well enough and lasts a long time, it doesn't matter. I feel that I've tricked myself into believing all this while that "quality over quantity" crap is sustainable in any way for a regular human being. I mean, at some point in your life, maybe one starts realizing that having twenty Gap t-shirts that you can afford to have stained with applesauce might be more financially prudent than having one $125 Alexander Wang one.

I'm not sure where to draw the line. I'm not entirely sure if my mind hasn't already been so brainwashed by years and years of incessant marketing and being sucked into an Instagram/blog/La Garconne vortex of beautiful people in beautiful clothing with well-behaved children and supportive husbands who vacuum that has made me so blinded to the realities of life. It's hard to remember sometimes that for the six or seven L.A. bohemian mothers who remain at 90lbs after giving birth and living in million dollar mid-century homes, there are thousands and millions of other women dying in childbirth or struggling to balance finances with kids who have autism or military wives or just women whose lives are so much more than just brunching and talking about MNZ shoes.

I keep getting these comments or reading views about how no one wants to read about crappy things and that blogs are a means of escape - but isn't the whole point of a blog to be an online "diary" of sorts? At some point, blogs stopped becoming an interesting read about real life struggles and degenerated into rehashing the same glossy magazine material. I don't know about you, but for every two posts I read about buying some hipster crap, I want to read about the person behind the blog and why she buys what she does and what it means to her instead of every single post being a click bait or a giant advertisement.

It just seems as if the more I have to do or the more responsibilities I have, the less I find that I need to think about simplifying or buying less or consuming less because I have no time to actually buy anything. Suddenly there are a million of other things that seem so much more important for me to use my money on. I've come to the realization that all these purported things that make your life so much more enjoyable and luxurious like $80 candles (I hope you appreciate my ironically posted picture above) and handmade soaps and $40 tea in a can is an absolute waste of money. I don't know if I get that much more enjoyment out of a Cire Trudon candle than I would a farmer's market one. I don't know if Bellocq is selling me good tea or just the pretty tea canister. I don't know if Saipua soaps are worth the price when there's so many really great Etsy sellers making the exact same soap. My point is (and I realize I do a terrible job at getting to the point in any straightforward manner), I don't know if expensive or luxurious things and that whole buy quality over quantity schtick is valid anymore. I mean sure, I want to buy a bike that won't fall apart like a cartoon when I start pedaling, and I want some decent copper pots and pans, but all the seemingly unnecessary nonsense like cushions and shoes and bags and jewelry... it's all just so... wasteful.

Sometimes I look at houses on Instagram, and I think about how in the blue hell does anyone sit on such white couches with overpriced Kantha throw pillows. A blogger recently gave up her comfy couch for a cot. A COT! A fucking COT! A married woman whose husband is fine with this nonsense! It's like these people (women, always women) have their husbands' balls in a vice and makes them agree to never leave a video game lying around or disavow watching the TV and instead of drinking beer on Sundays, go out and plant hydrangeas while their wives brunch their lives and savings away. And the poor children, whose toys are always wooden and sterile and who are forced to live in this colorless void of black and white Pleasantville bullshit. For a while there, I sort of got sucked into this made-up world, and I think that realizing finally, that the more important thing to me instead of picturesque brass trivets and Japanese-turned bowls and white walls was the ability to not have to worry about money, to allow for some mismatched silverware and beer caps lying around, and to just fucking sink into a ratty old couch with my dog and my bazillion books and DVDs and tangles of wires from the TV and the iPad and the computer because it's goddamned exhausting (and frankly quite boring) trying to live the sterile, made up life.

I think some while ago, Moya left a comment about how after having a kid (beautiful little Severin), she couldn't justify spending hundreds of dollars on a dress. I've come to the realization that the more time I have to think about simplifying my life or whatever, the more I tended to shop to offset the items I have that I felt were mismatched or that didn't belong in my replica of a mental asylum. I think having responsibilities and a life that isn't completely based on false online pretense is probably the best way to avoid that whole consumerism black hole in the first place. Go read a book, go watch some trashy TV and think about your child's college fund. And if you don't ever want to have kids, go plan a holiday or save for retirement at 40. Anything is better than sitting around planning some bullshit capsule or rearranging your socks because at the end of the day, these things don't matter; what matters is not having to worry about anything.

P.S.: I'm not saying anything new here, but I just wanted to share some feelings that have been roiling for the last few months. I'm at my fifth month of not buying too much crap: I bought a Karina Bania art, some Heath Ceramics pieces during a Didriks sale, an Uzbek painting from Project Bly and some Simon Pearce glasses from Dara Artisans. I think I'll also be buying a new pair of shoes in the next few weeks. But yay for no random pick-me-up purchases!

ETA: My husband thinks it's very tiring to read meta blog posts about blogs, blogging and bloggers, so I'll shut up and not take things that bug me too seriously. I think he liked it better when I was raving about shoes... weird, no? Let me assure you that I'm really as insufferably whiny in real life as I am on the blog but there's also someone in making sure my stupidity & inadequacy isn't going to ruin my everyday functionality. Thank goodness for voices of reason.

Please buy one less item today and donate to the Red Cross' Nepalese Earthquake fund. All affiliate links revenue from Assembled Hazardly now till the end of the year will be donated to the Nepalese Earthquake fund. Thanks.

55 comments :

  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought that cot situation was absurd.

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    1. Yeah, that whole blog is absurd. Sorry, but one too many Franzia talking.

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  2. You hit the nail right on the head! I completely agree with you. It's crazy how easy it is to slide into that magical world where everything is perfect and there's endless opportunities to build capsule wardrobes as if that's the most important thing ever. I'm in the middle of wedding planning and when it comes to my closet lately, I've started say to myself..."Ain't nobody got time for that." As much as I try that whole minimalist wardrobe thing, there are better things to do than navel gaze at garment details. Sometimes, a little mess just makes life more realistic.

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    1. Congratulations, Jess! I've followed your blog since the beginning, so I'm convinced you'll have a beautiful wedding.

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  3. you are my favorite

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  4. I'm also not going to say anything new here but surely you can find a balance between the two? Maybe your frustration actually comes not from your choices themselves but from all the online noise that you describe which yes admittedly influences us, but at the same time it doesn't mean that its presence invalidates all our choices. I wonder whether having a blog and thus being a part of this online world, however distanced you are from the cot bloggers etc, intensifies the problem? I see a lot of my choices as similar to yours but I don't have a blog or instagram, and yes sometimes I question my choices too, naturally, but it's always clear to me that I'm not part of this vacant online world. At the end of the day I know that I love clothes and they help me face the world (including at my shitty workplace where I'm sure no one cares), and that's true of my Margaret Howell clothes and of my H&M ones. And from what you're saying this is true for you too? I also know I notice ~details~ because I sew and knit and so I know what seams/linings etc mean first hand and not because I've read about it on some blog that teaches you how to build your wardrobe with flowcharts or whatever. I mean maybe you've thought of all of this and you've come to the conclusion that you want to reject all of it and all your previous choices, fair enough if so, I just want to make the point that there are so many different ways of doing this whole ~thoughtful wardrobe~ thing, and hey sometimes even the people with the two low paid jobs who are saving for a house are doing it.

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    1. I have a tendency to be an extremist and very emotionally swayed so I apologize if my points appear fuzzy - of course I'm not going to reject my previous choices and I do love beautiful aesthetics and beautiful clothes. My point is that I'm happier when I care less because I stress about these things less. I don't have to stress about a $500 sweater I can barely afford getting stains on it, or having expensive plates and kettles being broken by the cleaning lady. I saying that in the grand scheme of things, I'd rather not care as much and not spend as much on things that seem so fleeting because there are so many other things that are way more important in life to me now.

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    2. No need to apologise- I hope my comment didn't come across as judgemental. I agree with you and it sounds like we are on the same page, just find what works for you in your own way. Good luck with all the life changes.

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  5. You sound like either you've been reading Mr. Money Mustache, or that you would appreciate it if you haven't checked it out yet.

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/

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    1. Read him, not entirely sure if I want to retire early (sounds boring) or move to Mexico or live a frugal life but he's an interesting character for sure and definitely has a few sleek tips on saving, which I need to do more of.

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    2. The Frugalwoods blog (despite the terrible name) is also great.

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  6. Congratulations on the upcoming culmination of your academic career, Amanda! I hear your thoughts about the impending real world, and can relate to how eye-opening 2015 has been thus far.

    I can't comment on children or strollers but I will say that I get upset by all the Pinterest-perfect, IG-bait homes that bloggers seem to live in. I simultaneously hate and admire this generation of "curators"; if anyone's figured out how to let go of FOMO please let us know. The best I can do is unfollow and log myself out of social media every once in a while.

    Congratulations again, and as for the rest, I'm interested to hear how your perspective evolves.

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    1. Thanks, Kristina! I try to do the same -- logging out of social media that is.

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  7. Wow- this post was so refreshing! I literally laughed out loud at "goddamned strollers" and "FUCKING COT." Thank you for being so honest!!! And, I love the Nepal fundraising at the end.

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    1. FUCKING COT... Jesus. Seriously.

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  8. Why don't you just stop following these instagrams/blogs? I've been following your blog for a while, and I love the way you write, but I've always found some of your "minimalistic" lifestyle notions/mantras ridiculous. I mean, I've never even heard of the bougie brands that you're name dropping here. Don't you feel like a sucker trying to emulate these perfectly staged interior decor/lifestyle/blahblahblah bloggers. Your life will never measure up, and following their everyday "inspirations" and purchases will only do you harm in the form of feeling inadequate and jealous. Obviously some of these women marry into or are born with the financial means to support these kinds of lifestyles. I glad that you're finally realizing that you don't exactly belong in this group.

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    1. Yes, I definitely feel/felt like a sucker. Not jealous. I don't ever get jealous - I just get strangely competitive which is equally unhealthy I suppose. Thanks for the wake-up head-bonking comment and thanks for reading for so long through all my whinging.

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    2. I will have to say I agree with Ji, but I also want to add that the way you write seems contradictory: on one hand you say you want to avoid all these brand name items and lifestyles, yet you follow them anyways and name drop a lot. For example, you want to show that you're not an avid consumer, but then you just *have to* name drop items you bought so readers can say, "Ah! If only I could get that too!" : "I'm at my fifth month of not buying too much crap: I bought a Karina Bania art, some Heath Ceramics pieces during a Didriks sale, an Uzbek painting from Project Bly and some Simon Pearce glasses from Dara Artisans. I think I'll also be buying a new pair of shoes in the next few weeks. But yay for no random pick-me-up purchases!"

      Congrats on finishing your thesis and also for making the decision to start a family. Again, the way you write about starting a family also seems like you need people's approval. You seem almost sheepish about it: "Three you say? Well, yes. My biological clock is ticking and my husband isn't quite as cynical or existential as I am and well, if I want to shart out a wailing piglet, I should best do it now before my creaking knees won't be able to withstand the extra weight."

      Own your choices and just be up front about who you ultimately are. Otherwise, your posts seem rather disingenuous to me. I do, however, agree with you about not spending a lot on clothing and baby items. Perhaps look at second hand items or clothing? I share the same opinion with you about sweatshop labor and being sustainable. I shop at second hand stores and do my best as well to pare down my wardrobe in the best way that I can. I'd like to be able to read about your "finds" in that respect, rather than a list (and links) of the latest things you acquired.

      Looking forward to reading your accounts of house hunting, if you do choose to write about that! I bought my house about 2 years ago and love the thrill of the hunt. Good luck!

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    3. Ellen, thank you for leaving a comment. I don't know how long you've been reading, but this blog and my Instagram has always talked about my shopping habits - I don't know if it's more disingenuous to suddenly stop talking about brands or places that I shop from - the WHOLE blog is about shopping. I apologize if it comes across as humble bragging/enabling but I've talked about it being a struggle.

      Also, regarding the statement about a kid, if you've been reading for a long time, you will know that I've struggled with decisions about whether I want a kid or not. A few posts back, people were somewhat amused that I finally decided that I want to squirt one out so in my own self-depreciating way, I was addressing that.

      You are right that I seem to want people's approval and I admit that I am severely insecure and I am working on fixing that problem (ish). Like I've said multiple times, my Instagram and my blog are perhaps a projection of my need to be validated. Why else would I want to put my life out there to be criticized/ridiculed or praised?

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  9. Congratulations for wrapping up this thesis, if that's indeed what you've just achieved :) I can understand how the "now what?" question can be dauting at first, after devoting so much energy reaching that goal. I'm sure there is a lot of exciting stuff for you around the corner though.

    On the rest of your article, many topics are definitely worth thinking about. to keep things brief, here is my humble input to the debate:

    - on the "20 GAP tees versus 1 Alexander Wang" one, I definitely agree that you should be able to live in your clothes without feeling fearful about what might happen to them. Maybe that's why I never purchase really luxury items, they would become too important to me (you know, the fear of losing it, staining it or whatever). But as another commenter said above, surely there is a middle ground? I think the real question here is "why" do you want to buy this or that? What is the motivation behing buying an Alexander Wang tee? If it is indeed to fit into some perfect image influenced by marketing and instagram and famous bloggers, maybe it is a questionable reason (for yourself and your values I mean, I'm not judging). It is only a personal case, but in my situation I ask myself what I'm waiting from a tee (and it can be to endure stains), what ethics I want to stick to, and the price point, brand etc. come naturally from this. In any case I believe the criteria should come from yourself and not some external expectations, if that makes any sense.

    - On the "there is no time" and "not being anxious about money" things, I completely agree, and to me the journey to simplicity serves this very purpose - to be able to have an easy and practical set of items that serve their purpose in the background while my time and energy are devoted to what really matters (may it be family, travels, personal projects...), and to save money to have more freedom of choice as to what to do with time and finances. It sounds like simplicity is exactly what you need right now - but not the instagram perfect aesthetics of it - although there is nothing wrong with a little indulgence once in a while in my opinion, as long as it's for the right reasons.

    I hope that helps, not that brief after all. In any case, good luck on your upcoming journey, work and family alike!

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    1. I guess the A.Wang shirt was just an example - I don't know how anyone justifies a $125 polyester paper thin t-shirt but you're right, I need to be a bit more insular about why these things bug me. I think it's more that I'm extremely insecure, anal and competitive and that every little thing makes me feel supremely inadequate. I just can't bloody relax! TMI, but thanks so much for your very insightful comments, Kali. I have some news (later) that may tickle your fancy :-)

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  10. I had typed in a lengthy comment which disappeared as I pressed publish. In summary--congratulations on finishing the dissertation and entering the world of work. I agree with a lot of the above and hope you find yourself with a happy, healthy baby and a smooth pregnancy. Babies are lovely, messy, chaotic beings who turn your life upside down in ways you couldn't imagine. I'm desperate for another one even as I'm still dealing with the effects of long term sleep disruption. As I cuddled S this morning, awake too early yet again, I reflected on how content he makes me and how much the allure of consumer goods has shriveled since his arrival. Shriveled, but not vanished.

    My advice--don't overspend on strollers. We have a bog standard model--he loves it, it's comfy, doesn't weigh much and they get dirty, fade and have sticky fingers and bodily fluids spilled onto them like any other piece of baby equipment. If I need another, I'm going the used route (only things not to get used is a car seat and baby mattress). We have a good cot that was used and saved us over $900. Likewise, our changing table--used and $500 saved. Most baby stuff is used or worn for such little time that it's not worth spending a fortune. Soft cotton jersey is the best for babes and toddlers. Boden has great sales as does frugi and they are as expensive as I'll go.

    Don't be fooled by those baby/mummy bloggers beautiful photos. Babies are messy, toddlers are a tornado (a big, loving, chaotic one). Life with kids is messy--even if you tidy up when they're asleep/in bed, they can make a mess within minutes. There will be long enough when they are a little older to have a pretty life again. The consumerism of childhood and infancy is out of control. I buy S lots of books and some toys (he's already got so many) but a cheap ball and a stone found on the street or a box from amazon can bring him so much joy too. We're not resorting to having him play with the trash, but we don't want to spoil him (books are always exempt from this rule as is anything that develops his mind and creates a healthy body).

    As for mum's clothing, for the first few months breast feeding makes anything glamorous or expensive untenable. Breast milk does not come out of clothes as a general rule, we leak and need quick access to food for baby. Cheap button down cotton outfits work best and everything has to be machine washable. As for maternity bras, I just sized up with items from gap body's sale. Those pictures of bucolic mothers in A Detacher and Rachel Comey carrying a baby in Bonpoint cashmere don't represent the truth of mother and baby life with all its joyous, sleepless mess. By the time they get to 8 months or so, yes, you can start dressing in nicer clothes on a more regular basis but there are still sticky fingers and the need to play with your baby. And in my experience, No. 6 clogs are neither comfortable nor secure enough to work with carrying, playing with or chasing your child.

    PS--sorry if this posts twice. I'm having problems commenting here today.

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  11. PS--thank you for the lovely shout out. I still can't justify hundreds of dollars on a dress--although I'll spend it on shoes if they're comfortable and pretty and will work with my life for years. That's why I am still wearing a five year old pair of Surface to Air flats that have developed a hole in the leather.

    I'm not advocating brutal maternal self-sacrifice and self-abnegation but, yes, I want S to go to college, travel and have a sister or brother. The joy that gives is so much longer lived than dresses that I'll only stain, grow out of, or, more likely, get bored with. But I still want to look nice for him without spending a fortune that I'll later regret.

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  12. YES, YES, YES. Thank you for this. I too am ridiculously tired of the overly stylized lives that lack substance and authenticity. I feel like I can't even have friends over for dinner without agonizing over perfectly placed appetizers served on handmade ceramic dishes. Life is not a pinterest board.

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  13. Hello! Congratulations on finishing your graduate research/writing, and I hope your launch into the next phase of your life is smooth.

    As someone with a) definite declutter/minimalist tendencies and b) a preschooler, I've found it's possible to pick and choose my internal battles about "quantity over quality" and to live a life where everyone's aesthetic preferences co-exist peacefully. To be honest, I love the accident vignette of an Elsa dress and a Happy Meal toy crumpled on a white Tolix chair, or to see my daughter turn her Eames rocker into a pirate ship. Childhood is comparatively fleeting; I am sure in a few years I'll be wishing I found a pink plastic magic wand tucked in my messenger bag because my daughter thought it would help me at work.

    Style is nothing if it is not the organic result of a productive and joyful life well-lived, IMO.

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  14. Ah, unsurprisingly, I agree with basically everything you've said. I had a sudden reaction to style/lifestyle blogs and ~curated~ Instagrams quite a while back and just couldn't stand how contrived they all felt. They used to make me quite angry because it just seemed indulgent and ridiculous that so many people had the luxury of both enough disposable income and enough spare time to dedicate a decent portion of their lives (or so it came across on their blogs) to not only consuming but also *thinking* about consuming. And then, through whatever mechanisms, the people in that portion of the blogosphere seemed to be the ones whose opinions and thoughts were elevated even further, through "collaborations" with brands or bigger websites or whatever. It seemed like such a huge deal was being made over such colossally trivial things.

    After a while though, I realised that what I really needed to do was just become indifferent to it all - just avoid that sort of content where possible, but if it did come across my path, just let it float on by. So I've basically checked out from that sort of content, and I try to be as passive as possible when it happens to find me (like when someone starts following me on Instagram and I check out their account and see it populated almost entirely of perfectly composed shots of fresh flowers, Diptyque candles, Chanel nail polishes and issues of Kinfolk magazine, all in perfectly complementary pastel shades). I could try to figure out how contrived the content is; I could try to imagine how messy the person's actual life is and how much effort they put into hiding the mess; I could ponder how the hell they manage to afford their 4th Céline bag when they have no discernible job; but ultimately the easiest thing for me was to just decide to not give a shit. If I got angry about it, I know I wouldn't channel my anger into anything that would make a difference, so I may as well just try to be non-judgmental about that stuff and to derive fulfillment from other parts of my life where I feel like I do make a positive difference. (That said, I still need a bit of a vent from time to time, if there are just too many Instagram accounts in a row that are perfectly pastel and involve pristine quilted Chanel bags artfully posed next to matcha lattes and yet another fucking box of macarons. ;))

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    1. I wish I could stop venting and have a macaron but I really, really hate macarons. I really need to be less judgmental and snobbish - perhaps a beer and a bag of Cheetos might help.

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  15. Congratulations on finishing academia and hitting real world. I'm sure the next phase will be absolutely fine for you - you have your head screwed on.

    And I really appreciated and identified with this post actually because as you know, I am the mother of two expensive boys. Not that they have expensive tastes - kids just cost. From the moment they pop out! and onwards and onwards. And you're right, you don't need a Bugaboo (I did that debate too) and just had a simple pratical buggy (Quinny) which did the job and saw me through two boys. Believe me once it's been vomited on, you stop getting precious! I also wonder about these perfect homes - believe me, mine is so far from it. I just photograph the odd areas where there's not too much carnage which is why I never show much of my house (and I don't like divulging too much either). Never look too close as you will then see the hand prints and the scratches and the scuffs - kids do that but magic eraser works a treat ;o)

    Interestingly enough, I did a photoaday challenge last month on Instagram and realised by the end of it I didn't want to do it again. It sucks you in and you start comparing yourself against what other people have and how perfect other people's lives are. It's not healthy.

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  16. The blogs and instagram accounts showing kids looking beautiful in beautiful homes with beautiful toys are basically lies. Sure, you may capture a pretty vignette of your life every once in a while but babies and kids are messy. They will absolutely prefer the cheap colorful toy grandma gave them to the expensive neutral toned thing you gave them. Unfollow accounts that make you unhappy. It's really that easy. (Also, you can find well designed things for kids that don't break the bank if you look.)

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  17. Congrats about finishing your dissertation! That's really awesome news! I totally remember feeling letdown after finishing my jd/mup, and encountering the routine nature of the working world. I found the transition tough at times, especially because I moved to the other side of the country (so maybe it will be easier for you, if you're staying put). I'm starting to feel acclimated (two years later), but now that I'm on the other side of the transition pains, I think the grass actually is greener over on this side.

    Regarding the rest of your post, I don't think the problem is the principle of quality over quantity. I think the flaw is in applying the principle indiscriminately to everything, as though it's ALWAYS better to by the highest quality that you can afford to buy. I don't mean this to be harsh (even if the delivery is a bit brusque), but there was never a good reason to buy astronomically expensive luxury candles, soaps or teas. You could have stayed true to your personal consumption priorities (quality, non-toxic ingredients, supporting small and local business with fair labor practices), and still spent only a fraction of what the high luxury versions cost.

    Even where it does make sense to buy more expensive quality items - say for example, shoes - the unexamined application of quality over quantity could still steer you wrong. You can find well made, good quality shoes for far less than $600. I've never seen them in person, so you'll have to confirm or deny, but I'm willing to bet that the jump in quality from a $250 pair of all leather brogues from Dieppa Restrepo to the $600 all leather brogues from Church's probably isn't enough to justify the substantial jump in price. However, if you compare that all leather pair of shoes from Dieppa Restrepo to a $150 paid from Madewell that's made with half man-made materials, half leather, perhaps that jump in quality is worth it because the materials are better. Depending on your income and what you can afford to spend (in cash, not credit) on a pair of shoes, it may make sense to go for the $250, all-leather pair from Dieppa Restrepo instead of the pair from Madewell, because the DR brogues will last longer and can be repaired when necessary. But is jump in quality from the DRs to the Church's worth the $350 price jump? I would guess that it isn't. At least not if your finances are anything like mine. I make enough money and have low enough expenses/responsibilities that I can afford to spend $600 on a pair of shoes without going into debt. But, as you aptly point out, in the grand scheme of things, there are other things I want to do with my money. Quality still matters, but that doesn't mean that I have to buy the most expensive thing that I can afford to buy. (Of course I learned this the hard way, after spending $400 on a pair of Dicker boots. Even on sale, they weren't worth it. I like the boots a lot, but there's nothing special about them, and I could have found a perfectly suitable pair elsewhere for less. Lesson learned.)

    But I also think you should be kinder to your past self for indulging in luxury items. I think in all likelihood, what you think merits spending money on naturally changes over time, and at the time that you made those decisions, it was in line with your priorities (having good functional clothing that allowed you to do fieldwork comfortable, nesting and having a comfortable home). There's no reason to beat yourself up because you prioritized something else before. The money is already gone, so there's no value to being upset over it now. Lesson learned.

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    1. Alyce, thank you for always leaving such candid, thoughtful and honest comments. While delivery is oftentimes brusque, I know you mean well -- I really do need critical comments to keep me in line! *HUG*

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  18. Amen, sister.

    Going to be in Seattle in July. You can meet my messy dudes and I'll talk with you about strollers all day long.

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    1. OMG, has my life come to this - strollers all day long? :-D But yes, meeting the dudes would be great. You know I'm going to steal one of them though.

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    2. Do you want the neat one or the messy one?

      Would love to see you! I'll be sure to wear an ace & jig dress and no. 6 clogs. Will email you once we figure out details. Staying in Ballard, I think.

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  19. Oof. I can relate to a lot of these sentiments: babies/kids are costly (financially, emotionally, and time-wise), and it is so easy to blur the lines between needless consumption and thinking you are providing for your child. That said, I wouldn't wholly dismiss the necessity of treating yourself once in a while. Yes, that alpaca sweater may be subject to spit up, but if it's a judicious purchase that you can budget and it makes you feel nice, there's nothing wrong with it. Just do it for yourself and not to compare with Insta-Moms whose feeds have very little to do with reality.

    Craigslist will be your best friend to find secondhand baby stuff. I scored a Bugaboo for less than 1/2 retail (It was an "extra" one this family had. Who has an extra Bugaboo?!)

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    1. Joyce - totally agree with Craigslist and Seattle will surely be a gold mine. When our used Phil and ted's stroller bit it, I bought a brand new in box uppababy from a family we who received three as shower gifts. Oops. Who get three brand new uppababy strollers? I sold it two years later for $50 more than I paid for it.

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  20. Hi. Congrats on both the academic achievement and the pregnancy (if I didn't misunderstood). I get upset when browsing instagram too. People only post pretty home, clothes, food or feet chilling by the pool side! so I try to be more aware not to do that too often (or better yet, I should stop following those 'rather pretentious/ too pretty' instagram). Like Sue mentioned, it's not healthy. - I Ying

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  21. I'd love to know which blogger replaced her sofa with a cot.

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    1. I'm gonna guess it was this one:
      http://www.readingmytealeaves.com/2015/03/life-in-tiny-apartment-light-fixtures.html

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    2. I redact my former statement. Blogger got an even MORE uncomfortable cot the following month:
      http://www.readingmytealeaves.com/2015/04/life-in-tiny-apartment-army-cot-couch.html

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    3. I missed the cot blog post. Going to go read now!

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  22. Hmm...maybe. Blogs are a "great equalizer"; reading them I quickly realized that there were a lot of opinions out there and that people spend an astounding amount of money on things that may not be important to me. Priorities. Life. The time I spent getting to know my preferences before kids proved invaluable later on. Some of my needs evolved-but knowing what cuts, styles and materials I liked still paid off. I didn't stop wearing heels or buying clothing after I had my little one, and I still needed to look presentable. Trying to figure out what type/cuts/styles of clothing fit well or what shoes didn't cause blisters was good to know. I don't waste time at certain places and I can trust my gut and save time and money by weeding out stuff I know that doesn't work for me.

    The cool thing about experience is that you learn to trust yourself. When I became a mom there were SO MANY opinions out there. Everyone swore I needed this or that thing and the amount of free (unsolicited) advice was astounding. I learned to make decisions based upon my personality, and lifestyle-and used that information to refine my choices. For me, the results were surprising: "No" to the highest rated diaper bag (it slipped from my shoulders and I ended up using one of my old tote bags), "no" to a play pen (my daughter hated it) "yes" to a wipes warmer...(which everyone said was a waste of money)...but then warm wipes kept my daughter asleep during midnight diaper changes. To each their own. My stroller came from a pregnant stranger in the mall who had a single stroller but suddenly needed a double-stroller. My point is that you will form your own opinions, just like you do now. You may always want $80 candles, who knows. The point is that you will make up your own mind based upon priorities and pleasures. I can't relate to the highly-rated blogger who thinks everyone should live in an empty house (minimalist) even after having a kid; I also don't relate to many of my co-workers who buy up half of Toys R us for their kid's birthday. So be it.
    -Missone

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  23. Oh yeah, one more thing: I work in academia (full time), will eventually get a Phd (congrats on yours!), and spend waaay too much time thinking about stuff. Both meaningless stuff and things that are of consequence. I have seasons of wondering "what the hell is the point"? My husband also seems to prefer when I am debating about buying an overly expensive purse than when I get into "one of my funks".
    -Missone

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  24. I'm currently in the process of saving for a wedding, engagement party, and flights to Europe (from Australia) for my further B-i-L's wedding and honestly, the thought of spending a lot of money on clothing at the money seriously kills me inside as I know I just don't have the budget for it.

    The thing that upsets me is that I look at websites like ASOS and I don't know what their approach to fair treatment to garment workers is (the whole thing is so questionable given their prices....) yet I still want to buy things and I feel almost like I can't now - if you know what I mean. Anyway, I see myself being in the same situation as you when it comes to having a kid.

    Have you thought about buying a second hand bugaboo? A friend of mine is having a baby and looking to buy one and I know she was considering it. Costs a LOT less....

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  25. Reading this post was like someone scooped out my brain and dumped it on a webpage - thank you.

    So. A thought. Last weekend at this bluegrass and booze festival there were so many papooses and strollers and baby bjorns and little tikes cars and I nearly lost my shit. I told my partner that if and when we have children they are riding in a little red wagon and if they fall out it's their own fault to which he queried: Do you really even like children?

    And really, I like the idea of them, and I like other peoples' kids. But, kids are like an every minute every hour every day thing. I manage to wash my dogs every week... Or two. I like parties and wine and $80 candles and vacations to wherever... whenever. And having kids right-this-minute means completely changing the 23897923 things I thoroughly enjoy about the life I have built for myself and with my partner.

    My biological clock has a deafening tick-tock-tick-tock, but that's not a good enough reason for me to bring a human into this world right now - especially when there are thousands of adoptable children, should my body not be willing and able when my mind finally is. Anyway, for whatever reason, it took me half of my twenties for this to really click. Kids right-this-minute are 100% optional, and you can become a mother at any age - 20, 30, 65.

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  26. Well, a few things: 1) Congratulations on completing your dissertation! I can assure you that the working world is a thousand percent better than the academic world, even if you're jumping into an academic research job. As someone who procrastinated a lot in her academic life, I'm happy to say that the workforce does not provoke any of my procrastination tendencies, which is one of the reasons why I'm happier out of school;

    2) You don't have to have a child if it terrifies you so much and you truly feel you are not financially ready. Although everyone gets butterflies about children (and the thought of children makes me want to puke, but I still oddly want to have one in some abstract way someday), please feel free to tell your husband that you don't want a child;

    3) If you can afford it, get a regular cleaner. My boyfriend and I both work full time, with me working maybe 8am-7pm and him working maybe 8am-8pm or 9pm, with additional time on the weekends. We both hate chores and we're pretty busy anyway so it's easy to just not do them. We're pretty sure we're going to hire a cleaning lady once we move in together and cut down housing costs a bit. Luckily, I've discovered that maybe 50% of all my classmates from law school had cleaners throughout law school; and, now that I'm getting over the stigma of it, I think it's a pretty good idea. I would definitely get one if I were to have a child. Or hell, even a pet. They are surprisingly (or should I say sadly) not very expensive at all; and

    4) While I love nice things, I've found that I'm only conscious and not-working a small fraction of my life and it's just not worth it to put so much thought and care into my off-duty clothes. In fact, that's kind of the fun of off-duty clothes: you don't have to dry clean them like your work clothes and you can take Saturday naps in them. And I think there's also something quaint about cheap things--like the Casio watch you owned when you were a kid. It's a trinket but it's childish and carefree, so why not take that joy and not be so serious all the time? There's only a few things I insist on: a) my haircut must come from someone I trust (I have short hair and I get it cut every month); b) my work clothes must be high-quality and cleaned & pressed by professionals; and c) my work shoes must be taken care of by a professional every month or so. As you can probably tell, I spend the bulk of my life at work, so I make sure all my work clothes make me feel good. Also, there aren't any guts or babies or whatever at my workplace, so I can really dress up without worrying about damaging my good clothes.

    Maybe, in the future, you'll find that your work is a sanctuary and you can put all your love of frivolous luxury stuff in your work wardrobe and still have the relief of getting out of a tight little sheath dress and into a tatty GAP t-shirt after a long drive home.

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  27. ...about the boogaboo, buy it. I am a mother of three, I never buy expensive brand clothes or shoes, my kids and I get a lot of our stuff from "carrefour" which would be the equivalent of Target in the US, I think I am one of the least frivolous women on earth and I bought the boogaboo and would do it again, If you are going to have 3 children buy it. You will be able to use it with all your three children, maybe with your third child it will not look as pretty, but the structure will still be in a wonderful shape. Not only is it sturdy, it also maneuvers beautifully and as you will be spending many hours pushing that thing, it is something you will appreciate.

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  28. Hi Amanda, first-time reader here. Ironically, I stumbled upon your blog by googling "petit bateau" because it's one of the latest things I've become obsessed with scoring on eBay as I procrastinate away valuable dissertation hours. I love these meta-blog ramblings and your attempt to grapple with the obviously contradictory messages of what we say (live authentically, be true to oneself) and what we do (blindly and willingly spin the wheels of late capitalist, social-media-driven, aestheticized-lifestyle consumption culture). I have fallen in love with other blogs for their considered takes on wardrobe construction, then fallen out of love when they turned into highly "monetized" blogs where everything seems like an advertisement, or just spiraled off into the curated consumption stratosphere with less and less serious critique of what they are buying and why. So thank you for writing this post. I agree with others (maybe on one of your other big introspective posts recently) that a magazine gathering this type of content would be amazing and one I would surely read. But then who knows, maybe something like that would fall prey to the inevitable need to fund itself, start turning content into advertising, and go the way of Kinfolk.

    Huge congratulations for finishing your dissertation and graduating (what field are you in?). I am not there myself yet but I hear what you're saying when it comes to finishing feeling like a let-down. I don't know what your grad school experience was like on the whole (maybe I should read farther back into your blog?) but at every step of the way, for me, there has been a sense of: is this what it's supposed to feel like? I just recently qualified and rather than feeling like I have a clear project with an airtight research plan, I still feel like I'm just flailing my way through. I know it can't actually be all that bad, though, because my committee seems to have faith in me. To tie it all together, my point is that maybe life never really feels as whole and pat as it seems to be on blogs, in the movies, on facebook/instagram/pinterest, or even based on the image that acquaintances/colleagues/fellow students project in order to seem Intelligent and Professional. That goes for dissertating, graduating, birthing babies, cooking, interior decorating, getting dressed, etc etc.

    I have so much more to say but my brain is too excited to think of it all right now. When I found your blog I got so excited that I wanted to read every word super carefully while still whooshing back through time as quickly as possible.

    Final thought: you have a few comments from people on posts like this to the effect of, "why does it bother you that other people present themselves in such-and-such a way?" or "people are just doing their job, don't begrudge them that, it's the way the world works." Please don't let comments like that get you down. I'm guessing you're not a social scientist but you are operating with a very valuable social scientific insight when you write these posts, namely that the world doesn't necessarily have to be the way it is. I'm not saying that the solution is to lapse into nostalgia for the way it used to be, because the olden days were equally messed up, just in a different way. I think posts like these are fascinating because they really get at some of the central questions of our time, like: what does it mean to "want" something? What role do things play in our lives (and in society at large)? How on earth did it become a feasible career option to be a blogger (or a celebrity, for that matter) selling one's image and lifestyle, and what does that mean for dynamics of inequality? What real differences have social media platforms made in the way we relate to one another? I really, really hope you keep this conversation going.

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  29. Sweet jesus, I missed the cot blog post! Got some catching up to do.

    Congrats on the culmination of your academic career - that feels nice, doesn't it? I myself am always happiest in the application part of life, not the theoretical.

    Sounds like big life decisions are in the works, which always makes the mundane stuff seem totally pointless, and helps to put things into perspective. Best of luck and wishes with everything.

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  30. Thanks for the dose of reality. It's refreshing. I'm an avid reader of lifestyle blogs and have been feeling disillusioned and frustrated with all the magazine quality perfect photos and unrealistic high fashion buys all these girls are posting. Thanks for keeping it real. And best of luck in your new phase in life!
    - michelle from dritgirl.com

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  31. This blog post made me remember why I fell in love with reading fashion blogs all of those years ago. When did it become the norm for everything to become so contrived? And sponsored?? I work in PR and see a lot of it from behind-the-scenes, so perhaps I feel especially jaded. Which is then compounded by this pressure to grow up, settle down, buy a house whilst also owning beautiful things and a stylish wardrobe. Anyway I'm one too many malbecs in to write anything eloquent tonight, I just wanted to say thank you for such an honest, refreshing (and relatable!) post. I kind of just want to be your bestie so we can drink wine and whinge about all of the beautiful things we want to buy (but probably shouldn't).

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  32. Obviously I am late to the party - but I did want to say, having wandered over from god knows where, that you are brave and honest and that I, with the benefit of age/wisdom/time would encourage you to embrace the wires and bottle caps and Gap tees.
    My family of five live in 1800 square feet. It's enough. Everything we have is Enough.
    You probably have plenty.

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  33. Brilliant observations, my thoughts exactly :)

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  34. Too late to the party, but I am here because during my random blog browsing, this post hit a spot. I totally agree with blog being diary of a sort, and oh-so-ridiculous-oxymoron of white couches for a Instagram-worthy perfect family. No stains, no diapers, no coffee spills - minimalism equates to white! They look beautiful in the snaps of incredible bloggers in their incredibly pretty pink lace dress, but at no point I can justify buying that canister with the tea inside while I am saving for a down payment, or a future kid, or travel (that by the way, is never involving any Four Seasons).

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