Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 175

Paring down to just 100 things is almost a spiritual exercise. It's not about deprivation. In fact, the less I own, the better my life has seemed. There is a luxury to having only a few things of high quality.

I started wilting down my personal possessions about two years ago, but it was only this year that I started to give stuff away and buy less in an effort to numerically minimize what I own. I'm not quite down to 100 because I count everything. But I guess the exercise is not so much about how many things you have, but about living on only what you truly need and not more. For some people that's 700 things, for some maybe just 5 things. This is my attempt to get my number.

My last serious shopping trip was in January 2009. Can you believe it? I haven't bought anything major or expensive since. I am now a full fledged caviar-eating hobo / Prada-wearing hippie. (Well, my Prada shirts and shoes are 4 years old, but like I said, I don't buy anything anymore. And they still look great.)

It's time to do a formal count and make sure I live with only 100 things or less, just to be sure. I don't trust my estimations.

In editing my stuff, I have to get rid of redundancies (who needs two combs?) and assess everything according to strict standards like

(a) Good design. Does it do what it's supposed to do efficiently and beautifully?

(b) Increasing value. Will I be able to sell this fast if I needed to? Does it have all the documentation necessary?

(c) Shelf-life. Can use this again and again? Is it classic enough to not look dated?

(d) Happiness factor. Does this make me feel good no matter how useless it is?

(e) Essentiality. There are some things that enable me to enjoy a certain quality of life which to me is luxurious and graceful - being able to brew fresh coffee everyday, sleep in soft sheets, etc.

So I started the count and ended up with 199. This includes each and every spoon and fork.
The rules said I SHOULDN'T count things like utensils and the like, but I did. If I didn't, my number would be down to 175.

(Note: Also, the rules said that if one thing is needed for another to work, those two things are counted as one. So a laptop and its charger is counted as one.)

* * * *

100. Chanel little black dress. This needs to be resized, as I lost weight.

99. Rechargeable fan. I don't even have a regular fan because the whole unit is air conditioned. However, I have an emergency table fan with rechargeable batteries in case of power failure. Pretty neat.

97 - 98. Emergency light (two units, one LED)

96. Vintage typewriter, passed on to me by my grandfather. I actually saw a similar one in Malaysia's national museum.

95. DVD player

94. Extra glasses by my bed, for watching TV

93. Reading lamp

92. Ambient lamp

91. Toothbrush - travel

90. Toothbrush - regular

89. Framed autographed poster of a Manila walking tour

88. Painting - my mom's

87. Painting - bought from a UP Fine Arts event

79 - 86. Running apparel. (Shirts, shorts, high-impact sports bras)

77 - 78. Luxurious, white, high-thread-count sheets. (Two sets)

76. Wallet in deer skin, from Prada. Another gift from MSP.

75. Debit card.

74. Credit card.

73. Medical insurance card.

72. Half a parking slot.

71. Half a condo.

69-70. Extra beds (hotel-grade fold out for sleepovers, 2 pieces, single size)

68. Air conditioner.

67. Wireless modem. There's nothing like fast Wifi in your own condo.

66. External hard drive.

65. Laptop, charger, case.

64. Small safe for documents. Fire proof.

63. Birth certificate.

62. Bank statements and check book (tied to one account and bank)

61. Driver's license.

60. Passport.

59. Raincoat.

58. Camera strap that says "Cannes Film Festival." Picked it up last year in the Palais des Festivals about 30 minutes from our hotel in Nice. That was when I also ran into Pinoy director Brillante Mendoza the day after he won.

57. Fuji Digital Camera (the best point and shoot in the world!)

56. Joby mini tripod (Gorillapod)

Purple prescription eyeglasses; great shape, unusual color. I started needing them this year. I only wear them when in the car, to read street signs and billboards.

54. Mini messenger bag by Prada for carrying passports, money, etc during travel

53. Hermes fourre tout canvas bag for shopping / used to carry post-run clothes

52. Ferragamo clutch in patent black. This is my only night bag.

51. My three-year old bag in turchese, by Prada. Used practically everyday.

Custom jeans I designed myself. Classic fit, ultra soft fabric, some interesting details. It was cheap, and only I have it :)

48 - 49. Classic buttoned short sleeved polo shirts, one black and one white, from Prada.

47. Red coat by Valentino.

Silk-cashmere cardigan. I used to have too many cardigans, but I have pared down to this Miu Miu by Prada piece, which is versatile because it has intelligent fabric. The silk makes it okay to wear alone or over light sleeveless shirts in Asia, and the cashmere makes it warm for layering in spring or fall in Europe.

42 - 45. Headscarves for traveling to hotter climates. (4 pieces, different patterns)

41. My coffee table (Almost forgot! It's for eating, working at home, etc.)

40. Pringle of Scotland classic British scarf for cold weather

39. Blue scarf for cold weather

37. Red turtle neck sweater

36. Cream multi-way cardigan

35. Blue wool sweater

33. Brown wool sweater

31 - 32.
Thermal innerwear - leggings (2 pieces)

Thermal innerwear - longsleeves, black

28 - 29. Thermal innerwear - sleeveless, black (2 pieces)

27. Cheap coat in black by Hollister, for cheap travel.

Well-worn celebration ring gifted to me by MSP. He gave it to me in Paris, in Berne (Opera). I told him I didn't want the usual one-diamond ring because those things get caught in bags, etc. If you're as clumsy as me, this is more practical. No fuss design. It's also more expensive because there are more diamonds. I was issued the certification papers from Tiffany a few months ago.

25. My running shoes (Nike)

24. My beat up travel sneakers (Donna Karan).

23. Balenciaga heels, bought in Madrid.

22. Kate Spade suede flats.

21. Pucci flats, bought in KL.

20. Gucci heels. (NOTE: I posted about the very few pairs of shoes I own back in 2008. I have not bought anything major since.)

19. Prada loafers, now 4 years old. These were my first good shoes. They changed the way I looked at footwear. You do have to pay for quality.

18. Pure cashmere sweater/top. There's nothing like pure, buttery cashmere. Very versatile. I wear it under think coats for colder countries, and as a top for chillier nights here in the tropics. This one is from Ralph Lauren. I could live in them.

17. Spanish book.

16. Provence / Cote d'Azur Travel book

15. Paris travel book.

14. Singapore travel book.

13. Angkor Wat / Siem Reap travel book.

(Shown here are: My chair, my collection of travel books in the lower shelf, the santo and Buddha face passed down to me from my mom)

12. Hanoi / Halong Bay travel book.

11. Madrid travel book.

10. Barcelona travel book.

9. My chair.

8. Sofa. A modern Bauhaus-inspired piece.

7. Induction cooker + nonstick induction pan. I cook all meals with them.

6.Travel bag.
This is proudly Philippine-made leather travel bag, which has survived multiple continents.

5. Microwave.

4. Bar refrigerator. Small enough to run cheaply and big enough to fit a week's worth of meals.

(Shown here is the pad from the sofa. All essentials in plain sight: good bed, kitchenette, TV)

3. French press. Great for morning brew and late-night coffee for friends who come over.

2. Bed and mattress

1. LCD TV + cable box and remote control

* * * *

The rest:

199. Nail cutter.

198. Trail running shoes.

197. Winter gloves.

196. Winter bonnet.

195. Winter jacket.

194. Bookshelf / TV stand.

193. Pen.

192. Moleskine planner 2010 (quickly expiring)

186 - 191. - Assorted kitchen tools, including as set of measuring cups/spoons, knives, strainer, etc.

182 - 186. - Headscarfs. I need them to get my hair away from my face when I travel.

156 - 181. Underwear.

137 - 155. Assorted tops/shirts/blouses. Includes good ones like a Mark Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg, cheap shirts from H&M/zara, and no-label shirts from local malls.

130 - 136. Plates and bowls (6 pieces, different sizes).

129. Rice cooker.

127 - 128. Drinking glasses (2 pieces).

124 - 126. My pristine white mugs (3 pieces).

123. Tea ball/diffuser. It's greener, healthier, and cheaper to get a bag of tea leaves and use a tea ball every time you want a cup instead of buying prepacked teas like Lipton or Twinings.

117 - 122. Spoons and forks (3 sets).

116. Mobile phone + charger.

115. Clock.

114. Room air filter / deodorizer. A must when you cook in a small condo.

113. Heirloom santo given to me from my mom's family. It's made of wood, dating back to the 1800's. It was said to have escaped a fire.

112. Gray leggings with pockets, thick.

111. Black leggings, thick.

108 - 100. Lightweight travel pants (blue, brown, black). They're like pajamas - big and breezy. They are very easy to pack. Perfect for travel to warmer climates.

105 - 107. Denim pants (3 pieces)

104. Short black dress that can be worn as a shirt

103. Blue dress, with buttons.

102. Tunic dress.

101. Another little black dress.

* * * *


Sunday, December 05, 2010

childfree and proud

Lisa Hymas is my new favorite columnist.

Some excerpts:

"Yes, as a childfree person, I'll miss out on a lot."

"But parents miss out on a lot too (as some will be the first to tell you): Time and emotional energy to invest in friendships and a romantic partnership. Space to focus on a career or education or avocation. Uninterrupted "grown-up" conversations. Travel that's truly impulsive or leisurely or adventurous (and never involves zoos). Unpremeditated Saturday nights on the town and Sunday brunches out. Opportunities for political or community engagement. Stretches of quiet for reading or writing or relaxing. A non-child-proofed, non-toy-strewn, non-goldfish-cracker-crumb-riddled home. Eight peaceful, uninterrupted hours of sleep a night. All without any guilt that one should be spending more quality time with the kid."

"A childfree life also means a lot more financial freedom. How expensive are kids? Try $291,570 for a child born in 2008 to parents bringing home between $57,000 and $98,000 a year, according to figures from the USDA. That's for the first 18 years, so it doesn't include college. If you make more, you're likely to spend more. Couples bringing in upwards of $98,000 a year can expect to spend an average of $483,750 on a child's first 18 years."

"Here's a simple truth: For an average person like me
someone who doesn't have the ability of an Al Gore to reach millions, or of a Nancy Pelosi to advance (if not actually enact) landmark environmental legislation, or of a Van Jones to inspire (and piss off) whole new audiencesthe single most meaningful contribution I can make to a cleaner, greener world is to not have children."

"Childfree people tread too gingerly around parents, as though we might wound their feelings if we told the truth about why we've made different decisions than they have. But we insult them by thinking they're so fragile or insecure about their family choicesand we shortchange ourselves and society at large by not speaking openly about the legitimate choice to not have a child."

"What would happen if you answered the kid question honestly? "No, I'm happy with my life as is," or "A child doesn't fit into our life plans," or "Kids aren't really my thing," or "I think there are plenty of people on the planet already."

"If we said what we really think, I suspect we would actually find a lot of kindred or at least sympathetic spirits out there, GINKs and otherwise. We might have some refreshingly frank and gratifying conversations with the parents in our lives. And we could give those who are undecided about parenthood the understanding that the choice to be childfree is completely valid, and not completely lonely."