Category Archives: social custom

My Dad

would be over 100, if he was still alive. His birthday was early this month.

I think, like everyone, when you have an anniversary of this type, you remember the person in question. I have and have been. I wonder what he’d think of who I am now? I’m very different from the daughter he knew. I’m also not “successful” in the same way that he used to deal with his kid crap. Would he think I’m a failure because I’m not all that interested in intellectual pursuits, scholarship, or seeking money/status/power?

I don’t know.

Hopefully it would be enough that I’m happy. Maybe not. There’s one thing I’ve finally accepted about almost everyone who “knew me when.” I approached my early relationships with about 3 premises: I was broken/damned, I was less than they were, or I was there to entertain. NONE of that do I do now.

Many problems I have with my birth family and old friends is just this: I won’t accept any of those as the premises in a relationship anymore. This confuses and upsets people who have known me for a long time.

They think I’m going to provide hours of entertaining stories about being outrageous, emotionally fall apart, or just agree that they’re inherently “better” than I am, and we may or may not “fix” me.

street signs

I don’t and won’t play anymore.

Makes things awkward ‘eh?

The performance art was exhausting. Thinking I was a homicidal maniac and being terrified of myself was exhausting. Feeling like I was damned and deserved whatever derision or nastiness put on me was crushing.

I’m not there. I’m not going back.

I’m boring, don’t entertain, have no need to be told how to live my life, and almost never do anything outrageous anymore.

Dad liked/encouraged my outrageousness. He didn’t understand the emotional over the top behavior. He was proud of my ability to entertain people and be a good hostess.

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My Style

I read decorating blogs and other such a fair amount these days. I’ve never really understood how the very rich can relax in their homes when everything is worth so much. I grew up in a well-to-do neighborhood and saw this type of decorating a good deal. Always made me feel as if I should be wearing a velvet dress, maryjanes, and white fold-over socks. Still does. Classic? Yeah, okay, but it’s almost all the same, it’s display for the sake of showing off the art, rich fabrics, and enormous or richly detailed rooms.

So, my style is a bit different. Shabby because I don’t want to worry about whether or not something gets scuffed. I’m not interested in quantities of roses or other frou-frou, not interested in spending a lot of money for matchy-matchy stuff. I have things I love, yes indeed I do, and some of them  cannot be replaced, they’re artist pieces or have special history for me.

I’m equally not interested in having,the newest “whatever.” I look at websites and think the stuff is nice, but I have no temptation to spend $100 on a lamp in most cases or $200  on something else. If I really like the looks of something, I keep my eye out for an alternative, a cheaper one, another at a future date, or I’ll give it up.

There are things which are just so expensive I wonder who can afford to buy this stuff? Lamps, sheet sets, and rugs are the first things which come to mind, almost all > $100 these days. My reaction to most of this is that I buy used lamps, mostly white sheets (used when I can find them) and make my own rugs. Alternately, I’d buy ONE 100% linen sheet, if I ever found one on sale when I could afford it (hasn’t happened yet!) Linen, when cared for correctly, can last for years. Cotton just dissolves in modern washers.

So I’m a rebel and a luddite. Or maybe I’m just cheap? No. I refuse to spend money to impress others. I like what I like and price is always a consideration. I’m not willing to spend major money on stuff to keep up or participate in a trend, although I might in specific areas, like buying expensive paint from England because it doesn’t make me sick. I suppose this is a direct response to all the years I tried so hard to be in style. It never worked and I’ve long since given up the idea. Now I’m an old lady and I can do as I please — and I am!

My World These Days…

I’ve been wading through the junk. That has resulted in a bunch of books being donated at markets, in the book bins, the dump’s swap shop, or wherever I can find a spot which seems appropriate. I actually sold two books this month! One of them for > $5 and not credit.

Considering that in a bad month in the bookstore I’d sell $300+ worth (about 100 vols.) and a good one $2k, selling 1 book isn’t significant. On the other hand, I’ve sold 3 lots of placemats, 3 metal baskets, and 3 vintage picture frames. Although I expect I will owe the antique store about $30 of my October rent, percentage-wise and otherwise, I’m doing better over all, nearly every month. It seems I’m making my rent + about 1/2 the time, the rest I’m a bit short. It’s getting better. According to every antique dealer I’ve talked to this month has been “dead.” My guess is that this is two things — political/financial uncertainty and changing weather. (Sales always go down a bit when it first gets cold or warm for the year. People go inside and stay there in the fall and go outside in the spring.)

 

financial-chart

Depending on how the overall economy does, stock market and such in the rest of the country, people will be more or less conservative. I hate election years because the financial impact of how people think the election went happens at the beginning of the holiday season.  If you do retail, it can make what looked like it was going to be a healthy year into a really bad one, overnight. There’s no real predicting it, you just have to realize that it’s possible that people will stop buying almost anything, until the new President is inaugurated and the political shift does or doesn’t affect the day-to-day.

People will then settle into a new spending pattern or return to their old one.

As a retailer, especially a retailer selling non-essentials, you see, feel, and then share it if people aren’t feeling “safe,” after the election.

  1. Your sales go down just when you expect them to go up for the holiday season.
  2. You buy, have bought, or committed to buy things you expect sales to help you pay for (sales you didn’t get).
  3. The end result is that now YOU feel insecure financially like your customers did following the election.

So, as a retailer, I hate presidential election years!

Rather than worry about it, as I can’t do anything about it anyway, I’m working on the stored stuff. Better items we aren’t keeping have been put up for sale. I need to purge the books in the booth, again, and move the entire thing around again too.

Rumination on Aunt Sophronia

Who is Aunt Sophronia?

She’s a mythical character, the narrator, of a 19th century housekeeping book, the Complete Home by Mrs. Julia McNair Wright (McCurdy, 1879).

The book is one of the older “housewifery” books I own. In many ways, it’s amusing, but in others, it addresses things which might be so, but its perspective I don’t share. There are various and sundry points which it makes me ponder.

First of all, she is addressing a white, WASP audience, which is talked about as the only right way to live. I guess if you’re a person of color or other belief system, well, you were beyond reproach. In any case, the book was not written for a multicultural, multiethnic audience.

Secondly, this is from the era when they believed that airing was important. It is, but not the way it’s talked about. However, it was the science available to them at the time.

Third, it is also an era where WASP folk of any substance had servants.

With all that in mind, here is a quote:


“Practice economy as a Fine Art: make a duty and pleasure of it: it is the mortar where in you lay up  the walls of home; if it is lacking, or is poor in quality, the home building will crumble. Don’t be ashamed of economy: study it; consult about it; don’t confound it with meanness: economy is the nurse of liberality. Meanness is going into debt for luxury: is keeping behind-hand the wages our work-people have earned: is making a show on the street and withholding charity: is presenting cake & confections to our callers, and stinting the kind or quality of our servants’ food.”(p. 65)


Almost everything we own/do would be considered a luxury by the standard of the late 19th century I think. The statement “meanness is going into debt for luxury” seems appropriate. It’s normal now to live beyond our means, but how could we live differently in this culture? Have we been sold a bill of goods? Is keeping up with the Joneses, imaginary or not, the marketing tool of mass merchandising?

complete-home-cover-and-spine

Have I been a sucker my entire life? Maybe.

Without the ‘net, a car, etc. you’re pretty much going to be in poverty, wouldn’t you? Yes, there are ways around some of this: libraries and public transportation.

Frugality these days means paying off your house early or having no credit card debt. If, as the book suggests elsewhere, our job is to pass a home (without debt) and some money to the next generation, how would we live differently?

I have no children, so my next generation is my husband’s nieces. My brother’s child has two working parents and is an adult, married woman, not needing (or wanting) anything from us. So — what would I change and should I?

I’m not sure, but it is an interesting thought experiment.

 

Falling Through the Cracks

FALLING THRU THE CRACKS

Three’s a lot of data/support out there for abused spouses. I’m not.

There’s a lot of data/support out there for PTSD victims who’re vets. I’m not.

There’s a lot of data/support out there for children being abused. I’m not.

There’s a lot of PTSD studies for people who have PTSD and have never had a TBI (traumatic brain injury). I have.

There’s a lot of data/support for rape victims, but I was raped over 50 years ago.

And it goes on and on. I don’t fit.

I’m not being stalked or abused by my husband. My abuse happened when I was a kid. I’m not a vet and have never been to war. I have PTSD but I grew up with it and so many of the issues related to dealing with it I’ve done, decades ago.

I AM the walking wounded, but I’m functional. I DO hurt from PTSD, but I learned long ago to mostly set it aside. I DO have repercussions from being raped when I was a teenager.

I keep coming back to this. For those of us who’ve learned to cope with (whatever) it is in many ways the worst possible scenario. We cope, mostly. So others don’t understand when or where we can’t. (Their coping mechanisms don’t work all the time, why should mine?) And, there’s next to no support available for those of us who’ve managed to not become so debilitated we’re institutionalized, whether in a hospital or a jail or ?

I didn’t become a homicidal maniac, have multiple marriages, get addicted to something, have fits of rage or pain, or . . . . Somehow the fact that I refuse to apologize, ignore or “forget” the PTSD as a MAJOR part of my life means that I’m less.

I guess it’s that I make others uncomfortable. Long ago I got that I was wounded, and would always be such. People who say things like, “Well, you don’t have to dwell on it.” or “Just give it to God.” or “You can be happy if you try.” or a 1,000 different variations of those are actually reacting out of their own discomfort. They want the world to be a happy place or at least don’t want to deal with the pain I carry.

Somehow I come out of these encounters, whether they are with my oldest friends or someone I just met, feeling like I’ve just admitted that I’m “less” because the wounding still matters and I talk about it. Part of that is social stigma, yes. Part of it is the abuse/brainwashing, “No one of any value will want to have anything to do with you.” my abuser says in my head.

I’ve been battering at that wall my whole life. When I was a kid it was because I was hurting so badly I needed a vent, any vent, or I might just have gone off the deep end. When I became an adult the wounding was/is such a large part of my life that to deny it is to deny a fundamentally HUGE piece of who I am, because it’s wounded. (I don’t remember more than a few days, maybe 3, before I started hurting.)

That’s like asking a paraplegic to not ever talk about how they lost the limb, the pain associated with it, the training they had to do to learn to cope, learning to use the crutch/chair they use or even admitting that they’re in a wheelchair. But maybe that’s an idea?

Maybe I should go find out how folks who lose limbs, etc. deal with the lack of real empathy around them. Still it’s different, but maybe there’s something I can use there.

I don’t know.

Why should it matter if my wheelchair is invisible?

Curiousities and History

I have a lot of old books, no surprise if you know me at all. One of them is Collier Cyclopedia of Social and Commerical Information (c) 1882 which I bought in part for the graphics, wingdings, etc. but also for its history.

The next time someone disparages woman’s lib, I’m going to remind them that the section entitled, “A Digest of the Laws Relating to the Rights of American Women” begins with this gem:

“Marriage may be entered into by any two persons, with the following exceptions: Idiots, lunatics, persons of unsound mind, persons related by blood of affinity, within certain degrees prohibited by law; infants under the age of consent, which in the State of New York, is 14 for males and 12 for females, and all persons already married and not legally divorced.”

On the other hand, I may just use it the next time someone says, “We didn’t used to let same sex couples marry; we had a God-faring land!” Because, please notice there’s nothing there about same sex couples at all.