Saturday, January 15, 2011

Week Two Check-in: What's Better Than Shopping?

My friend Susannah posed this question to me a few weeks ago: Is there something else that could give you the high you get from a new article of clothing? At the time, the best answer I could muster was, hmm... let's see...there must be something... let me get back to you...

Well, my answer is a resounding YES.

For me, writing is the thing that makes me feel like I'm doing what I was put on this earth to do. Especially, when it is actually read by other people and generates a meaningful disussion. This week, Amy Chua's controversial Wall Street Journal essay, "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior" set off a firestorm on of debate about Chinese parenting. Like any good Asian American blogger, I followed the issue closely, even reading the Chua's memoir and writing several pieces about it, one of which was published on Salon. I was too busy to even think about shopping. And you know what? The ensuing dialogue was more satisfying than any new garment could ever be.

However, the writing life is also riddled with pitfalls. For every exhilirating moment, there are also dozens of times when the muse is mum, nobody reads my blog, or I receive a deflating rejection letter from a publication. That is why writing and shopping have become entangled in my life. As opposed to the sometimes soul-questioning, start-and-stop process of writing, refining, editing — shopping provides immediate gratification. I cannot tell you how many mornings I have spent in front of the computer, for seemingly little payoff and my mouse drifts over to some shopping website for immediate, tangible rewards.

They say identifying the problem is the first step toward solving it.

What gives you an endorphin rush? What is most satisfying to you? And what you turn to for an immediate thrill?


  1. Right on, Grace! I know what you mean about writing -- creating something and have others read and respond to that creation is a huge high! But I hear you -- without that feedback that others are reading and responding, then it can feel like you're talking to a void. It's the people, the readers who seem to make it all tangible and real -- unlike a piece of clothing, which is already real and there. I feel that disconnect between writing and art -- if I create an art or craft piece, I can see it, it's there, and I can enjoy it. But if I write something no one reads, it's like that proverbial tree falling in the forest.

    So I guess this is a long way of answering: *creating* (anything meaningful -- writing, art, whatever) is my real high. But yes, speaking of instant gratification, I have to confess my weakness of owning far too many craft store impulse purchases that seemed so right (and felt so good) when I bought them but that tend to languish unused . . . sound familiar?

  2. Yes, you are so right about the "tree falling in the forest" effect. I hope that someday I would be able to feel a sens of satisfaction just in the act of *creating*, and not dependent on response. But then again-- art and literature are things that encourage discourse and connect us with other people, which is also important.

    I hope you use up a lot of art supplies this year!

  3. Thankfully, I get a rush from distance running which not only is good for me physically and mentally, but it takes TIME - time that I might otherwise spend trolling around for bargains on eBay or a trip to the mall.

  4. Was your running the source of your weight loss? I'm a very non-athletic person, but on my bucket list in life is to train to actually be able to run. I've been trying to condition myself over the past year, but I keep falling off my schedule due to work, kids or colds. I can only run about a mile without stopping, but that is one mile more than I used to be able to. I'll think of you next time I'm slogging down the street and feel like giving up!

  5. Only during brief times in my life have I had sufficient income to be much of a shopper. Also, I do not like crowded places like malls. I do acquire craft supplies, however, and get a small thrill from a yard sale bargain. The biggest pitfalls for me are impulse purchases whether expensive or not, so I do not carry plastic unless I am seeking a specific item I really need.

    I'm retired and have down-sized twice into more conveniently sized housing. The temptation to go out and re-purchase all the things I used to have is quite high some days - mostly kitchen/cooking tools and gadgets. But, I don't have room even to add one pot or gadget, so I make do. It is a relief in a way to know that I can blame my lack of space and equipment for my not hosting large dinner parties any more.

    Blogging gives me a thrill - knowing that people see my art while reading the narrative and then make comments. On the days that no one posts a comment, I feel flat - felled like that tree in the forest.

    It has been years since I watched commercial TV, and I seldom read glossy magazines. They contain all the advertising that fuels our desire to shop, so I am well off without them.

    Have you read the funny "Shopaholic' novels by Sophie Kinsella??

  6. art4all: I am very familiar with the limitations of a small space! That is one of the reasons why I embarked on this no-shopping project. With a family of four and tiny house, we are maxed out -- not just on clothes, but toys, books, kitchen equipment... Some of my shopping interest has spilled over sideways into my food blogging, which in turn- makes me want to buy more kitchen ware!I'm still trying to figure it out.

    Yes, I have read the "Shopaholic" books. And the "Bergdorf Blondes", too!

    Thanks for stopping by.


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