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Preparing to fast

Empty orange plateThe Unseen Censer is preparing to not buy any perfume in the month of March. Yes.

I track my purchases for the Now Smell This quarterly “damage” poll, and since I know what I’ve spent in the last two months… well, it’s time to put on the reins. This intrepid reporter became very excited by starting out 2012 entirely debt-free for the first time in her adult life. It feels good to be solvent. However, as has happened before, when I feel flush, I express it by spending a lot of money. It’s as if some deep part of my brain really wants to be in debt.

However, if it does, too damn bad, because I am not going into debt, and I sure as hell am not going into debt by shopping.

So for the month of March your Unseen Censer is preparing to eschew purchasing perfume at all. Yes, what a hardship. It’s not as if my plate is really exactly empty. Just on samples alone, I could easily wear a brand new perfume twice a day for the next month with no duplications. And of course I have no need to wear only samples; I have a large perfume collection (best described as “an assload”) and, you know, I bought them because I liked them. I can wear those too, for crying out loud. “Perfume” as a hobby has become “collecting perfume”, and that’s got to stop.

Now, the hard part won’t actually be not buying perfume. The hard part will be not avoiding buying perfume by buying 1) handbags, 2) jewelry, 3) beauty products, or 4) clothes.

Yes, the Unseen Censer needs a serious break from frivolous spending. It’s become my major hobby. In O Magazine this weekend (source of all wisdom) there was a brief note in an article on uncluttering, that essentially said if you find yourself constantly cruising for new things to acquire, you need to expand your mental horizons a bit. Take a class, do something else with your time.

*hangs head*

Yes, it’s true that I have a fairly stressful life. However, it’s also a good life, and I have a lot of resources at my disposal. I love to read and seldom do it; it takes me time now to work my brain into the place where I can concentrate on text for more than a few minutes at a time. I have been studying Spanish, and photography, in the last few months; I have professional writing to work on; I need to spend some brain time on these things. I love reading romance novels and science fiction; I need to do these things too. (Plus I need to stick to my exercise schedule, which has been rather lackadaisical this last few months, and I need to cook and things.)

I excuse my shopping because I can do it online in the ten minutes a day I have to myself, to just relax. But those ten minutes could be better spent – and much more cheaply!

There are very few opportunities for social activities where I live, and I use perfume as my substitute for that. Following other perfumistas on Twitter and reading their blogs makes me a lot less lonely. However, I need to learn how to do that and not immediately follow it up by buying whatever-it-is I’ve just been reading about.

In preparation for the moratorium I’ve done some things:

I’ve bought things I’d been staring at for a while and just decided, yes, I really want those things, no need to dither about them any more.

I’ve cleaned out my eBay list. This is huge for me. I’m always bumping up against the 200-item limit on my eBay watch list, and it has things I just really, really wish I could own – like a diamond Mughal pendant – mixed in with things I just kind of vaguely want to buy but just haven’t bothered yet, like a bunch of A*men samples. Not any more. There are a few inexpensive items still in my “watch” list; everything else, “I wish” purchases, have been moved to the aptly named Wish list. There’s nothing in the actual watch list that it would break my budget to buy; but I don’t intend to buy any of it – except for one item I’ve already bid on and which would be nice to get at that price but isn’t worth bidding up, so whichever way that auction goes, it’ll be fine.

I’ve gathered up all my samples, as previously reported, and they are at hand. So if I want to shop, I can shop amongst what I’ve already got! This is effective when I do it; I just need to do it more. (This also works with handbags, jewelry, and clothes. And I have more beauty product samples in the house than I know what to do with.)

And I’ve got this website all up to date. Writing about perfume will keep me happy, as it will keep me testing and thinking about it without necessarily having to buy more. It keeps me absorbed in what I have, not what I don’t have.

I feel like it shouldn’t be that hard to go a month without buying more stuff I don’t need. I know, however, that it will be tough for me. It’s certainly a first-world problem and I can imagine that lots of people out there, if they are reading this, are imagining playing me the world’s tiniest violin. Yeah, what a tough problem, lady, you can’t buy yourself more crap! Wahh wahh waaaaah.

This has become a really bad habit for me in the last few years though, and I’d like to break it. It’s really a habit like smoking; it doesn’t make me feel good any more to get new things, it’s just stressful figuring out where to put them, if I even really want them, etc. Also, shopping is not socializing. I do it because I think it will make me feel more connected, more excited about life, but I’m not. If I can connect with more concrete parts of my brain and my life, perhaps I can avoid wasting all this time and money just waiting for the next part of my real life to begin. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, and even if it isn’t what I want (and in some ways it isn’t – I’m a picky bitch), it’s still really damn good and I need to enjoy more and avoid less.

Also, my mom’s birthday is in March. And I like the idea of celebrating it by getting real with myself, with my time and money. She would not have understood my perfume fixation anyway (though she collected silver jewelry rather effectively her own self.)

So! March starts Thursday. I think I can do this. It’s like when I gave up sugar and white flour. It worked pretty well for me to think that someday I might have a bite again, but my planning and work is going to go towards a lifestyle where I don’t do it. Going cold turkey doesn’t have to mean feeling deprived when I have so much. I know I can say to myself, “It’s not that I’ll never do that; but I won’t do it today.” Now it’s time to do it with the buying perfume.


Image is This plate is empty by 00dann, via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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