In Which We Discuss the Consumerist Habit of Moralizing the Amoral Consuming We Partake In.

I remember the first time I ever purchased a fleece <enter well known brand> jacket.

“Oh I love your jacket! But <well known brand> is just so overpriced.”

I wasn’t about to argue–most definitely it was overpriced. Nonetheless, as one person after another effused their admiration for my jacket, yet, in the same breath negated the value of the purchase, I began to grow a tad irritated.

It was almost like in conceding that I had a nice jacket, they also had to claim the moral high ground for not succumbing to that frivolity. And we are indeed living in a heyday of people seeking to socially position themselves as victims, or if victimization is impossible, the attainment of moral superiority.

See, no one likes to be singled out or accused, and if you have a nifty little buffer for any nasty social interactions, you can sail through life with little pain of mind.

Victimization=you are attacking me in a way consistent with the way X-group of people are being attacked, and I identify with them.

Moral Superiority=I may be an annoying twit, but the way that I conduct myself within the bounds of whatever contrived morality I ascribe to, frees me of any responsibility.

There are true victims. There are also wonderfully beautiful, moral people. There are also people who exploit those things in order to possess the social upper hand.

Wow. That was harsh, Me. I know. I digressed hard just now. Yes, yes you did.

Onward.

The irony in all of my fleecy fiasco, was that most of the people carrying the word “overpriced” around like a chihuahua in a purse, ALSO had probably sent a text message, purchased a pair of flip flops, or eaten (my favorite example) a “value” fry.

Let’s talk the numbers on that salty paper bag of goodness, shall we?

Potato

This is a potato. It weighs approx. 7 oz.

You can buy a 5 lb. bag of these (80 oz.) for $2.47.

There was a time in history, not too long ago, when you could purchase a small *value* fry for $1.00. One, measly little dollar for 2.6 ounces of finger-licking bliss.

So basic math (which took me entirely too long) says: 80 oz.=297 cents, 16 oz.=50 cents, and generously, 2.6 oz. rounded up=10 cents.

Throw in oil and you have a raw material’s cost of about 15 cents. Now, granted, <generic fast food brand> is paying somebody $2.00 per 15 minutes to scoop those fries into a paper sleeve for you… and they have to make a profit.

Just like every other business that affords you the luxury of having things with no other inconvenience to you but cold hard cash.

The majority of items on today’s market are rarely of any kind of true value. By the time you factor in materials, labor, marketing, and retail, you wind up with something that is double or triple the base cost. In short, everything is overpriced. It’s the price we pay for convenience.

NOW. I’m not saying this is an inherently bad thing. What I am saying is that our perception of value/expense is a little warped. 

I encounter mass production on a bit of a bipolar basis. On one hand, I love things. I am walking, talking proof that the psychology behind branding/packaging absolutely works. “OOOOHHHHHH. Is that a tiny silicone flower pot??? Of course I need it! It’s so small… and cute! I’ll grow tiny flowers in it, ok!?”

-True story

Yet, sometimes, I aimlessly wander around mass merchandise temples and feel almost sick at the sheer amount of stuff.

So. Much. Stuff.

And we get it and get rid of it. And get it and get rid of it. And get it and get rid of it. And somehow we feel justified because of- value. Especially if it was cheap.

You won’t find us spending money on overpriced elitism! Unless of course, it’s something we really want/need like new cars, frapamochamacchiatotinos, or fruit-branded electronics.

Once again, no judgement. I am guilty of all of the above. It just seems like there are some obvious alternatives to the consuming cycle that aren’t gaining a lot of popularity. I mean, despite the varied and complex nuances of the economy, I don’t think any of us relish the idea of small Asian children sweating over our convenience items. Nonetheless, a common attitude towards the world of artisan/heritage skill/locally made product is:

“But it’s so overpriced.”

It’s true. We do live in an age where every DIY’er or budding Picaso feels that their Etsy shop entitles them to the same compensation as people who dedicate a lifetime to their craft.

Was that harsh again? Darn it… yes, it was.

Though, honestly, I would rather overpay for somebody’s craft room exploits than the maddeningly decreasing quality of <famous brand of sports shoes> 20 dollars worth of material (and craftsmanship) that they want me to dish out $100+ for.

If we managed to cut out even just 30% of our cyclical junk and replaced it with higher quality, “overpriced” hand made or locally made product, we would already be reducing waste.

I think this is why I am intrigued by companies that are moving towards a model that seeks to, instead of mass producing a product, supply precise amounts of merchandise to the demand. It’s true that this can be costly. But does costly mean overpriced?

I’m not so naive as to think that child laborers will be magically liberated and employed gainfully by making a few alternative purchases. In fact, at first the opposite will probably be true. However, embracing less waste in my life, without completely swearing off frivolity (because let’s be honest, I love frivolity), helps me focus on what is important, and maybe eventually will lead to a dialogue that can help precious Asian babies have more to look forward to than making cheap American merchandise.

I guess that’s the deal. Cheap does not equal value or fairly priced, and frivolity does not equal waste.

A new-ish shoe company my brother introduced to me does a good job illustrating this. Aliveshoes offers a platform for independent individuals to design and sell shoes in an exact demand/supply format. The shoes are luxury items and cost $100+… so, in simple terms, they are frivolous. But they are made out of quality materials by real Italian craftsmen–an item you can frivolously wear for a lifetime.

I am a bit of an extreme thinker. I can tend to find myself moseying into thoughts like, “Really, I could easily survive with two outfits, two pairs of shoes, and a tiny hovel for a house. I’ll eat feed corn the tractors missed and bathe in the river.” And if Jesus asked me to to that, I would say yes.

He may be asking YOU to do that. But He would be asking you to do that so you could lend value to another person’s life–and that’s what it’s all about.

Whether you have money or not. Whether you spend it on frivolous things or not. It’s all about where you’re putting your value (which isn’t always tied to money BT-DUBS).

It’s okay to splurge on a sweet pair of kicks. Especially if the value is there. Don’t get caught up in the pseudo morality of over/under priced merch.

I am seriously impressed with the vision my brother has for the shoe he designed. He’s a go-getter and needs to sell seven of them in order for production to start. If you think they are as rad as I do, you should probably nab a pair.

Yeah, wear a pair of sweet Venue sneakers, and then go support a precious cherubic Eastern, largest continent dwelling, small human.

But seriously, buy some shoes.

And help babies.

I’m done guys.

Keep those heads in the clouds.

-H

oh give me to a rambling man… or just let me ramble

Well….

Year two is complete. I’m free from school for the summer–unless I decide to take Summer courses–which I really don’t want to do. I’m tired.

I’m tired of being an adult, really. I wrote that in my journal the other night… mostly because if you say it to other people, they smile knowingly as if to say, “Mmmhhmm, and it doesn’t get any better. Get over it.” I’m in a place where I have decisions to make, and I really don’t feel like making them. I’m being melodramatic though, things are good. I AM sad that I haven’t been able to write much on this blog lately. I plan on MAKING myself write something weekly, just because it’s good to empty my head.

It just seems like there’s so much stuff I want to do doing the summer (play and sing music, write, paint, craft…), but I also just want to veg. Then it’s over.

I’m feeling hopeful though, my attitude is my choice, and as always–I prefer to keep my head in the clouds :).

There will most likely be some extensive world travel in my future, and I’m just excited to get out of my routine and serve. It’s nice to finally have a goal start to become reality.

All in all, I’ve been settling and stirring up all at the same time. I love my family more than ever. Honestly, I would rather be with them than with anyone else. I want to get more of my music and writing out there. It’s the stuff I love to do. I want to simplify. I have people on my heart, and I’m trying really really hard to be faithful in the little things, because I really fail at the little things a lot.

I want to read wholesome things.
I want to make beautiful things.
I want to speak healing things.
I want to love more.

So that’s where I’m at, my little raindrops. Life is an interesting thing, but never let it pull your head from the clouds.

-HH-

Check In

Hello all!

I have three pressing and drafts and a few new posts, but I feel that I need to “check in”.

I have a bit of  a paranoia when it comes to saying too much about myself, (I don’t need any stalkers, thank you.) But I had the urge to write life… especially since I’ve been writing so many short stories.

SO this post is called check in for numerous reasons. 1st, I’m checking in with you all (whomever you may be, I flatter myself.) 2nd, I have recently gotten home from a vacation that required much checking in.

Vacation was lovely. We took it upon ourselves to see more of the US than we have ever… and all in a vehicle. Thank heavens for “Green” by Ted Dekker, and the BBC Pride and Prejudice. Fortunately, I am of the disposition to enjoy road trips, and despite having to sleep in a bucket seat, each state we visited charmed me in its own way.

In Arizona we saw the Grand Canyon. Despite being told numerous times that it was the result of the Colorado River and millions of years, you cannot look at such splendor and mistake the hand of a Creator and enough cosmic power to result in such a chasm.

In California I finally made my way onto a surf board. I tried to convince myself that refusing to surf because I was afraid of sharks was akin to refusing to hike the Grand Canyon because I was afraid of mountain lions. (Don’t think about that too hard). The beaches were really beautiful, though. However, I enjoy seasons. As much as I enjoyed the surf shops and beach bums, I’m not a Cali girl. I’m not skinny enough anyways.

Utah was by far my favorite… though, the fact we were staying at a ski resort could have had something to do with that. Though I didn’t have my skis with me, I was able to revel in the irrational delight of being a “ski person.” We also saw Pirates: On Stranger Tides, and I enjoyed it. Haters gon’ hate.

New Mexico has strange clouds.

Mount Rushmore was inspiring. (Teddy is my favorite face). ((And chipmunk)).

The only place I found difficult to enjoy was Vegas. The roof top pool, pause-able TV, and virgin piña colada I drank were pretty much the only perks.

The thing I particularly like about long vacations, is how your home takes on a familiar newness… or new familiarity. You’ve been gone so long you look at everything with a fresh eye, but it feels so comforting to be back where you belong.

I swept my room today and I feel complete. Summer, bring it on.

P.S. I’m memorizing the book of John.

Keep your head in the clouds, love~

-HH-

 

The Lemony Writer… No, Not Lemony Snicket

I have felt very much like a lemony writer lately, almost a lime-ish writer but not quite. Because you all are probably baffled by now, and thinking I have probably lost my mind (all the cool kids are doing it), I will expound.

My ideal, and the place I am generally at in the absence of school work, is what I like to call the ripe peach writer. All I need is one good bite, and the creative juices come running out. I feel like writing, the writing comes, ahhhhh…. inspiration.

The place I have been stuck for this last semester, is the slightly more tiring lemony writer. I have to squeeze myself to get the words to come out. They’re there, mind you, they haven’t disappeared, but in the ceaseless flow of reflection paper after reflection paper and essay question after essay question, my precious ideas have bottled themselves into little capsules waiting for me to work up the stamina to wring them out. In the past two days I have read two books and written two book reports. Tomorrow the tally will be three. The collected words from the respective authors are taking the precarious seat in the front of my brain: easy to file, easy to fall, easy to never return. I suppose I should be glad that my own thoughts are taking up a more permanent residence in the lemony pockets in my brain, but… ehh, maybe I should invest in a juicer.

Fortunately, the lime-ish writing state seems safely away with the end of the spring semester drawing near. Anyone who has ever juiced a lime can guess at what I mean. I’m sure there are VERY juicy limes out there, but the type I happen to hit generally take some work before they relinquish their nectar. In fact, a firm squeeze rarely does any good. Results are won only by digging the fingertips deep into the lime and violently demanding payment. I’m not sure if my poor little noggin would survive that abuse.

No, I look forward to the day when my genius *giggles* becomes a peach again. Though I have to say that I infinitely prefer lemonade to peach juice. Perhaps the struggle makes it that much sweeter. Either way the words will come, and when they stop, I’ll pray for more.

~Noggins in the clouds people!

-HH-

The Fabric of Family Continued

I have had a very specific reason for putting off this follow-up post for so long. When I wrote the original “Fabric of Family” post, I had just returned home from an engagement party for my cousin and his fiance. This past weekend was their wedding.

I have the wonderful advantage of being close to my cousin and his wife. When two families are beautifully grafted together, I can only smile despite my general inclination to become melancholy at weddings.

Just yesterday I was talking with my new cousin-in-law Ruby, (my cousin’s sister-in-law). While both of us have the discouraging and morbid tendency to look at weddings as an end, as we talked, my mind was convinced of happier things. Yes, it is an end to the way life used to be, but it is also a beginning! A beautiful beginning that can only continue on. Friendships have been forged that won’t be broken. A union was forged through love and commitment. Things have changed, but I find I can embrace the change. Oodles and oodles of new friends and family have been woven into the tapestry of my life.

It reminds me of a quote from Nicholas Nickleby. Nicholas and Smyke had just been “adopted” into a large and colorful family of actors. As they sit watching the joyful chaos below, they make the following remarks.

“We have fallen on wondrous times…”

“But a good wondrous…”

That is how I feel right now. Regardless of any other doldrum-like thought I may be dealing with, I still feel like I have fallen upon good, wondrous times. My family has grown. As I sat, eating my potatoes and mozzarella during the evening reception, I found myself zoning. Ruby insisted to know what I was thinking (being a fellow dreamer), but at the time I really couldn’t put words to it. As I reflect now, it is becoming clearer. I was in a swirl of bliss. A sensory overload of swirling colors and emotions and love.

My life is changing… I’m changing… but with the growing pains comes a newness of life that feeds my very soul.

Keep those heads in the clouds, dear friends~

-HH-

My Life With the Three Year Olds

I teach preschool Sunday school.

That says a lot in and of itself… but I’m often surprised at how much I learn and laugh when I’m around them.

Take last Sunday for example, I had almost lost hope in all mankind, including preschoolers, as I watched the kids play. Three little boys, two whom were friends, one who was playing alone. “Ah, it starts so early,” I thought in a sage-like manner. “The cliques, the outcasts, the world is poop.”

JUST as this thought was making its way through my cerebral cortex, one of the little boys who already had his playmate, walked across the room and asked the lone little boy if we wanted to come play with them. My heart just about melted.

Humans are like hobbits… you can know all there is to know about them (and be able to predict behavior) in a relatively short amount of time, yet, given the right circumstances, they always surprise you.

Speaking of poop, this same kindhearted three-year-old informed me that poop is sometimes green… how nice.

Keep your heads in the clouds~ Go hang out with a three-year-old.

-HH-

The Day Practicality met Passion

E.G. the day Marilla Cuthbert met Anne Shirley.

I will try not to painstakingly pick apart every single chapter of this book (Anne of Green Gables), but this chapter was too good to pass up.

I would like to pause at this time for a disclaimer: If you happen to have a prejudice against simile, metaphors, or parallels, tough luck. It’s what I do.

Onward! The chapter is aptly named “Anne Says Her Prayers”. Marilla has already set her mind to take in this young, vibrant girl, but Anne is unaware of this fact. In true Anne fashion however, Anne is just glibly relieved that she is still at Green Gables for another night. In Marilla’s mind, Anne’s upbringing has now begun.

So begins the journey of two unlikely people learning from EACH-OTHER. Marilla is practicality to her very core, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that her small and large intestines were wound around yarn spools. Anne doesn’t know the meaning of the word apathy. She is passionate in her sadness, she is passionate in her bliss, she is passionate in her disinterestedness!
Automatically when reading this relationship scenario, I thought of the world in general, in two camps: Practicality vs. Passion. I felt however, that enough has been stated on that topic. So secondly my mind narrowed to the Christian church, similarly separated into those camps. Like two sides to a civil war, Practicality launches grenades at Passion and Passion fires missiles back. All the while the lost run around in no man’s land, trying to avoid being hit.

How clever of satan. What better way to tear apart the children of God and render them useless, than to have them squabble with each-other?

Allow me to go back to Anne and Marilla. When you read this chapter, it is easy to see that neither one of them is wholly in the right! Marilla’s faith lacks the passion of Anne’s, rendering her belief dry and hollow. Marilla’s religion is more or less the idea of her religion. Anne’s faith lacks the structure of Marilla’s, making her ineffective as a witness. She seems more enraptured at being enraptured than being captivated by the love of God.

Yes, I realize I am drawing far more spirituality from this book than was ever intended by L.M. Montgomery, but I feel that this is a needed topic! Practicality and Passion need not be enemies! They are not opposites, they are counterparts. Through the entire “Anne” series we see her and Marilla growing and learning from each-other.

Church, we need to stop henpecking within our coop and see that the real point, the only reason we are here on this earth is to spread the joyous news of Jesus, to return His children to His fold.

If we were all “correct” none of us would be.

In conclusion, I will lighten up with our dearest Anne. Humour becomes me. But please, think about this, dear friends. The world depends upon it.

Keep your head in the clouds and your hearts tender~

-HH-

“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I’d look up into the sky — up — up — up– into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there were no end to it’s blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer…”

My dear friend Ruby Hopkins did a set of posts on our beloved Anne, go read ’em! Carpe Diem