hand-me-downs are really junk sometimes

Don’t Wring Your Hand[-me-down]s

At least 40% of the items I own are hand-me-downs, and I love it.

In Boston, there is something called “Allston Christmas.” This refers to a period of days leading up to September 1st, the day on which most Boston leases begin. Items are shuffled out of residences to make way for people moving in and out. The sidewalks are littered with furniture, appliances, clothes, and odds-and-ends. Some items will make it into their intended moving trucks, some will be packed into groaning cars. The end result is seen a treasure trove of items abandoned on the side of the road. Boston becomes a giant, unofficial flea market.

Allston Christmas is a bizarre bazaar, a paradoxical acceptance of re-purposing and hand-me-downs, and the casual discarding of inconvenient items. I once found an awesome steam mop, and a giant bag of pennies. Literal free money.

I have moved 7 times in the last 7 years. Moving everything I own so many times in the last few years is a literal pain in my side. I’ve considered selling everything and moving into a hostel. Ultimately I kept my lot, and shuffled it from one end of Boston to the other. I get it – there’s a host of reasons to get rid of things, especially when you move. I’ve been there.

When I moved out on my own, I learned the hard lesson that my single, poor, self would not have the same standard of living as my established, dual-income parents. I thought once I had my own place, I could go nuts and decorate it just like I wanted, and as re-do it as often as I wanted. That’s what TV and the internet said would happen, and they never lie! Turns out that decorating is expensive, even if you’re a shrewd Marshall’s shopper. I have learned to embrace hand-me-downs, and to enjoy the fact that I don’t have to deal with all the expense and decision-making that comes with re-decorating.

Hand-me-downs seem to be an incredibly divisive topic. One camp embraces the practice, and the other eschews it. For example, there are not many eight-year-olds that want to wear their older sibling’s cast-off jeans. A child turning up his nose at a hand-me-down is understandable. The parent, in that scenario, understands that clothing kids can be an expensive process, and re-using a pair of jeans can be a godsend. Flash forward to adulthood, and some people still hold on to that mentality – they want something new, not something previously used. Another might, with equanimity, embrace a hand-me-down phone.

No one blinks if you mention upgrading an electronic gadget. If a new device has just come out, well then there’s no sense in holding on to the old one, right? When a new sneaker line drops, a queue will wrap around the block for the launch, though those folks likely own several dozen pairs already. If an appliance breaks, no one will judge you for just buying a new one – repairing becomes a distant second thought. There is an element of truth to upgrading; items are not built to last indefinitely. Bust when repair is possible, that’s when it’s a great time to embrace the hand-me-down mentality.

Not only is it economical to have secondhand goods, it’s environmentally sound. Less material is put into landfills, and the earth is stripped of fewer resources. The bed frame that I’ve transported from one apartment to the next has incurred fractional monetary and environmental costs in gas, but has saved the manufacturing and transport costs of new bed frames each time I’ve moved. Passing a smartphone from one person to another means that the rare earth metals and plastic won’t sit in a landfill for the next few thousand years. Going through my friends’ closets to source an outfit is cheaper than buying a new one, and means I’m not buying stuff I just don’t need.

I would like, for a moment, to empathize with those who avoid hand-me-downs. There is something a little magical about getting something new. I love it when I get a new game, or new jewelry. Perhaps not possessing hand-me-downs is a personal triumph – it can mean someone is (perhaps) climbing the socioeconomic ladder. I won’t bash that person for a moment, since the thrill of achievement, and the hard work it took to get there, sometimes is as well-deserved as the new shoes/vacuum cleaner/phone. In that sense, I applaud them.

On the whole, I think it’s time to accept and embrace hand-me-downs. Scale down waste, look out for others, and enjoy what you have. Secondhand stuff is nothing to sneeze at; be glad you have anything at all.

Thanking you in anticipation

how can I make this into $SHOP?! A soapbox thought

Soapboxing is Dumb, Let’s Reconsider

soap·box: ˈsōpˌbäks/ noun a box or crate used as a makeshift stand by a public speaker.

The action of getting up on one’s soapbox (to soapbox [v.]) is someone with a strong idea, needing to share it in the moment, finds something to stand on. Often the impromptu platform for soapboxing was that of its name sake – a crate used for shipping soap. Soapboxes were a key component of street oratory; sidewalk speakers who were holding meetings or making speeches needed to put themselves above the crowd to be seen and heard. This also created controversy: it pitted public order against the freedom of anyone to speak out loud. It also set up “rival” soapboxers – someone who would be there to offer opposing opinions. Skilled speakers had to be quick on their feet, loud, and armed with wit.

Social media affords us the opportunity to hop up on our soapbox without abandon; clamoring and unfiltered. For better or worse, we’ve enabled opinions to be shared with everyone around the globe. World leaders celebrities and Joe-off-the-street can hop online and broadcast their feelings with three taps of a finger and 140 (or 280) characters. It’s simultaneously an wonderful resource, and a horrifying insight into others’ lives. I can know exactly what skincare routine my favorite B-list sci-fi celebrity utilizes, and also know how my coworker feels about their customers.

I think that this could be made so much better. I propose the idea of soapboxing be taken literally. Boxing is just two people, generally wearing protective gloves, throwing punches for a predetermined time in a boxing ring. Soapboxing would be boxing, but involving the usage or application of soap and also public speaking. If someone has an opinion and would like to speak on it, they need to arm themselves with bars of soap, and start throwing punches while talking. Fists clenched tightly around the Irish Spring bar, and shouting their outlook on corn futures in relation to $SHOP shorting. If there is someone with an opposing idea, they also ought to take up soap and begin swinging.

I’m aware this idea needs some polishing, and I’m open to suggestions. Perhaps there’s the caveat that your feet must remain on a literal soapbox while punching? Maybe the actual soap boxes themselves should be used as the weapons. Or even the boxing ring could be soap-coated, and the contest is to stay upright while also communicating your ideas. Though that may be heading towards mud wrestling. We’ll muddle through the fine details on that later.

There is progress to be made in getting up on a soapbox, and we’re the ones who have to figure it out. Social media has been a step up, but we can’t take a soapbox at face value. We need to have soap and faith – cry havoc and let slip the soapbox of war.

With greatest esteem and respect I am, dear sir, your most obedient and most humble servant

someone had some serious focus on this pile of clothes

I Moved a Pile of Laundry From the Chair to the Bed & Back for a Week – You’ll Never Guess What Happens Next!

Right hand to God, I think 60%* of my Facebook feed is terrible clickbait.

I get it, I really do. Somehow you have to break the flow of constant images and information competing for attention and make someone click on your article. A really easy way to do that is to have a cliffhanger-like title. It’s so common that there are literally websitessubredditsFacebook pages, and twitter accounts designed to go through the article so you don’t have to.

My favorite articles are ones that pair the “what happens next!title with an unrelated image.  Though, let’s be honest – it’s rarely an article. It’s usually 26 semi-related slides that all require different pages to be loaded. Gotta maximize that ad revenue, son!

The articles’ contents are really just appealing to the lowest common denominator – unabashed and morbid curiosity. I say this with at least four clickbait-y gadget reviews in my reading list. There is no condemnation from me for clicking on one of these articles. Seriously; cliffhangers have a long and storied (sorry) past of hooking a crowd in to obtain interest and engage them. Clickbait titles are just very tiny cliffhangers. It’s what you lean over your desk to discuss with your coworker instead of dealing with Cheryl from accounting. The end of last night’s popular sitcom; the articles with titles proclaiming “x celebrity did this action and you can too!

I’m not saying anything new, but I would like to propose alternate clickbait. Title your photos with “My baby did this, and I can hardly believe it” and put their (normal) action in the caption. Like, we all know your baby has smiled – it’s gas, by the way, it’s always gas – but spice up the presentation. Maybe your baby’s month-by-month photos with the stickers could be something like “My baby is the size of a vegetable, and I can’t believe it!” It’s a pumpkin.

If our lives are going to be slowly consumed by clickbait, let’s embrace it, and make it our own.

Oh, if you were curious about the laundry situation, I’m still resolving it. The bottom drawer of my bureau has broken (the front panel has come off) and I’m whining and moaning about whether to repair it or purchase a new dresser. While normally I’d have just fixed it by now, the drawer is an amalgam of tiny nails, dovetail joinery, and a little bit of glue – I’m not even sure where to start. The whole bureau is a masterpiece of 80’s construction and style. Purchased for the grand total of “I found it on the side of the road,” it’s been a faithful companion, but I might just have to take it out back and put ‘er down.

Sent From My iPhone

*The other 40% of my Facebook feed consists of about 10% personal posts – life stuff, kids, event photos – and 30% cat and dog photos. I have no regrets.

someone took a close-up of grapes, idk man.

An Argument For Grapes – the Ballistically Smart Fruit

I’d like to pick a fruit fight.

A bowl of grapes sat on my desk at work, and the thought of flicking one across the room to bounce off a forehead was really tempting. My family and friends can attest to the fact that I have hucked a fair amount of fruit at them over the years. In fairness, some of the fruit-throwing was provoked. If someone says “do it, you won’t,” what is there to do?

In case there was concern, I did make it through the work day without any grapes flying through the air.

Reflecting on all the fruit-launching, I’ve come to the conclusion that the grape is the best choice for throwing.

Consider your personal favorite fruit. If you were to try and throw the fruit, what would that look like? Some fruits are just stupid choices, like cantaloupes. They’re weighty and all they do is bulk up fruit salad. A blueberry isn’t a bad idea, but it’s so light that doesn’t fly well, and someone’s gonna be pissed if they have to scrub a purple stain out of clothing. There are others choices probably better suited as biological weapons, like durian. Durian could arguably be an effective ground-based weapon, akin to a caltrop.

Enter the grape.

Grapes fly with a reasonable degree of accuracy, don’t leave marks if you hit your target (though they’re heavy enough to irritate), grapes taste good, they’re light, and easily obtained. As a bonus, if the grape is ripe, there’s no spatter on impact or airborne scatter.

Regardless of what kind of grape it is, I’ll peg it across the room, no questions asked.

If you’re wondering what kind of person thinks about these arguments, I make no apologies. I went to grape lengths to compile this. Don’t be sour.

Eat it, nerd.


The Rules of the English Language:

bal·lis·tic: (bəˈlistik/) adjective – relating to projectiles or their flight.
ad·verb: (ˈadˌvərb/) noun – a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc.