Sunday, June 27, 2010

Possibly the Best Idea Since Kinko's

What is up with the rampant proliferation of self-storage places? Seriously, if the world blew up and aliens came down to discover what this human thing was all about they would think we spent every waking minute accumulating STUFF. In their history museums of the human race they would have stuffed animals, car parts, salt and pepper shakers and Precious Moments figurines.

Public Storage, the company that seems to be the Kinko's of self-storage businesses, have been running ads all about storing your stuff. They show a couple going through all the stages - getting married, moving in together, having a kid, etc. With every stage comes more stuff thus the need for Public Storage. Maybe there is a bigger need lately what with people losing their homes and all but the ads are really focused on storing the stuff that doesn't fit in your house.

I recently heard a story on NPR about these two sisters that stored their parents stuff after they passed away. They were planning on keeping it in storage for a short time until they could get together and go through all of it. This makes sense. What ended up happening is a couple of years went by and they realized they had spent over $5 grand to store a bunch of stuff they ended up donating!

I don't know about you but I've always looked at self-storage places as a sort of emergency-type business. If you're in between homes or getting divorced or want to store a human head - ala Silence of the Lambs. We have a storage unit at work but I'm an event planner and there really isn't a good place in my office cube to store 20 glass candle holders or 30 directional signs from the bike tour. Makes sense for us to have a storage unit. Makes no sense to have one for random crap you can't seem to do without.

On the home front, I ended up buying a new greeting card for a wedding. This is just laziness on my part. I could make a pretty one at home but am too lazy to take the time necessary to make one good enough. I also ended up buying a new front derailleur for my bike after buying a used one that didn't work very well. I look at this purchase mostly as a safety issue. Plus, I bought it from a local bike shop so that helps, right?

We're half-way through the year - so far, so good. I really think I could live like this forever.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

If You Buy Something Alone Did You Actually Buy It?

One of my favorite books, "Into the Wild," by John Krakauer, has got me thinking lately. Specifically Krakauer's assertion that, "Happiness is only real when shared." I really loved this idea when I read the book and then saw the movie a few years later but when I read the quote again in a recent issue of VeloNews in an article about riding your bike alone, it gave me pause. Not to give too much away about myself (and maybe I already have?) but I live alone, just me and my dog, Cadence, I ride my bike alone most of the time, run alone most of the time, watch TV alone, well, you get the picture. I also do most of my purchases alone. I would venture to guess that a lot of us do. Side story: I remember going to the grocery store with a new boyfriend years ago because we couldn't stand to do anything apart at that point and after finding several industrial sized cans of random food items in the cart I decided that maybe grocery shopping was something I could do by myself. I think it was his way of telling me he was bored out of his mind without being rude about it. He was sweet but I digress.

Most of us shop alone for clothes, for food and the random crap we all need to keep going. Big purchases are usually done with someone else, I suppose. When we spend more than $100 there seems the need for consensus thinking. "Is it the right color?" "Am I spending too much?" "How do you think it will look with the current decor." "What credit card should I put this on?" "Does this make my butt look big?" Whatever.

So does all this buying alone make us sad? Are we not happy when we buy a home alone (I did) or a car (did that too) or a vacation (done many times)? I think we are, at least I am. I don't deny that doing things with others brings a different kind of happiness and lots would argue a 'better' kind of happiness. But while I spend a lot of time alone I also spend lots of time with my friends and family and I simply don't 'grade' my happiness in that fashion. I'm either happy or I'm not. Being alone when buying a house or a car or going on vacation alone shouldn't diminish the experience. Is it merely the act of telling someone about it, making it more real, that is really what Krakauer was getting at? It's like that old saying, "If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound." Well, duh. Of course it does. And if the tree could talk it would tell you about it as you walked by.

I've also got public storage units on my mind but will torture you with that at a later date.