Monday, August 23, 2010

Shop Til You Drop

We would all live happier if we would stop craving the things we want, and crave the things we have. 

After spending 22 years living, working, playing  in the Caribbean full time, year round, then coming to America for more than just a few days, what has now been a few months, I find myself feeling like a total alien who might as well have arrived from Mars and set up shop on Venus. 

Before coming to America, financial reasons forced me to give up my Caribbean home. When I go back, I will have to set up from scratch. Nearly everything I owned was sold or gave away.  A few treasured sentimental things were shipped to America. They are in my motorhome with me. I have nothing in storage anywhere. 

Now, everything I own fits inside an old  tiny motorhome.  Surprisingly, I have space to spare.  That's for when a friend travels with me, they have room for their stuff. But I typically caution them, if it can't fit in a carry on bag, then leave it behind. Most carry-on bags are huge. I could live out of one for a year. I know, because I have done so. So perhaps I should caution them to an overnight bag, which typically holds enough for a month of more of living. 

This is probably why I've had so few come visit or travel with me in my motorhome. The thought of packing up a tiny bag and wandering around for a week or so with all our needs met, but without lavish accouterments, just didn't appeal to them. 

I am thrilled that my used motorhome has so many creature comforts. The plumbing, electrics, engine and generator, all work. I feel blessed, and spoiled rotten. Yet mine is mostly super simple stuff. The windows in the cab are hand cranks. The locks are manual. Leveling up when I camp overnight on a less than even surface, means putting boards under one or two tires. The propane stove has to be hand lit each time I cook. 

A major luxury to me is a push button start generator. WOW. In the Caribbean, we had numerous power outages (the current done mash up, is Caribbean lingo for that problem) so I had a pull-start generator. It took a lot of pull to start it too. So I feel blissfully spoiled rotten to be able to push a button and listen to my generator turn over, fire up, purring like a well fed kitten, curled up with mama. 

On a funny side note, when I had to call 911 and the fire department, I realized the sum total of all my possessions might be going up in smoke any second. I immediately rescued three things. My puppy, my passport and a bottle of water. 

So when the fire department arrived, there I was on the side of the road, next to my motorhome, with puppy stuffed in his pet carrier about 100 feet away and me with my passport tucked into my bra, a bottle of water was thrown in the grass, as was my cell phone.  I guess that technically makes five things I rescued.  When I drive, my cell phone is often clipped to my dress. Not because I want to talk to anyone, but for emergencies. Like when I smelled something burning, saw a big puff of dark black smoke, and the ear piercing motorhome alarms went off. I was able to stop the motorhome, hop out and dial 911 without turning the motorhome inside-out, looking for my errant phone, it was already clipped to the collar of my dress. 

I guess the passport rescue is from my offshore sailing days.  If the ship is going down, one would like to at least have a passport on hand if at all possible(and I have been on a sinking boat more than once, at sea). One could be rescued by a freighter en-route to another continent. Authorities frown on travelers who cross or enter borders without a passport. 

Water of course is the liquid of life. I imagined me and puppy having to walk and  hitchhike to our new future.  We would need water to sustain us on our journey. I guess his pet carrier qualifies as  a fifth item. But I grabbed it, since I had it, and it kept him out of harm's way, while I patrolled around my motorhome with a fire extinguisher, eagerly waiting to put out the fire. If you read the blog post from June, when all that happened, with alarms, smoke and the smell of burning, then you know that all but my long suffering wallet was saved. 

The angels spared me. For another day.  Another mile.  Another puppy kiss. 

I was spared. My junk was spared. After emergency repairs to the motorhome, i was able to carry on life. With my stuff. With my consumerism. 

One thing about America, it's seemingly driven on excess consumerism, use more, waste more, throw out more. I've visited folks that have exotic recycle plans, practically a whole garage or room, dedicated to sorting their garbage for recycling. Yet often their home was still crammed with tons of stuff. An excess of paraphernalia for life's living. 

It must be human nature to collect things, amass things and crave even more things. If you watch commercial TV then your brain is constantly assaulted with buy, shop, purchase, crave, finance and so on. 

I don't have a TV, yet I know single folks living alone who own 3-9 TV's.  I think the commercials are brain washing.  I also think the news is designed to keep viewers depressed.  So I try to avoid both. I don't have room for all that junk they advertise and why get depressed over so called news?

AOL is probably mad at me, because as soon as I log in on the AOL program to get my email, a huge screen appears with a flashy slideshow of advertisements and news. I have figured out a way to shrink that screen, so that when AOL starts up, only a teeny block appears, when I log on,  so I can't read what's there, unless I enlarge it. I rarely check it. Very rarely. 

Maybe I am living with my blinders on, but I don't feel it necessary to be systematically  indoctrinated with what's the most popular, what's sensational or juicy tidbits of celebrities I don't know, and  will never meet. Though now and then I admit, I have fun with jokes about the news. Like that golfer, um, Tiger, yeah that's him, Tiger Woods. He crashed into a tree late one night and all his girlfriends fell out.  It was tragically funny. Especially the part about his wife using a golf club to rescue him, that was so beyond credibility. Heck, we all know, she was chasing him with a golf club when he fled. 

But I digress...

No wonder, I am an odd duck, a square peg, who doesn't fit in a round hole. I don't go with the flow, or keep in step, my drum is beating to a different cadence.  

But I will be honest. Being in America, all the shopping opportunities are just mind blowing.  I find myself occasionally in stores, just studying the sheer magnitude of stuff available out there. Most of it junk. Here today, gone tomorrow. 

Sometimes I toss stuff in my shopping cart for consideration. I push it around the store, thinking about it. Most of it goes back on the shelf before I get to the cashier. It's not unusual for me to leave a store empty handed, after studying every aisle, filling up a cart, then deciding I don't want any of that junk after all. 

America sells EVERYTHING it seems. It's everywhere. It's mind boggling. It's fascinating, it's entertaining. Elvis, shaped like a guitar, stuffed with stale popcorn. I studied that for a few minutes, wondering who buys this stuff. 

But I do get excited, when I find something that organizes me better and perhaps adds a bit of flair to my small motorhome while being multi-functional. Sometimes I consider a simple cheap purchase for months, before I actually buy it. 

Such as the wok. For months now, I've contemplated the purchase of a wok. Where would I put it, how often would I use it, what size would I need. Finally I bought one. Last week when I made dinner for my friend, I was rapidly stir-frying in my fry pan, while bits of veggies seemed to fly out all over the stove, floor and wall. Perhaps a wok would save on food and mess. Plus my fry pan barely holds a complete stir-fry meal for two, and sometimes I want to cook for more. 

One of the best ways to get all your vitamins and nutrients naturally, is to eat a huge colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. This is easiest by eating salads with a wide  diversification of ingredients, or slicing, dicing and chopping up veggies for a stir fry dish or casserole. I don't have a casserole pan, I don't have any baking pans, yet I have an oven and love to cook. The baking pans are still under consideration, should I go with silicone, metal or the tin foil ones. 

I think about all the wonderful kitchen equipment I left behind in the Caribbean. A few things were shipped up, but only a teeny tiny bit from the kitchen. 

Well, I say I love to cook. It's a labor of love to cook for friends.  For myself; a necessary chore. 

After eating out in restaurants, I'm just not dazzled with the overwhelming lack of  healthy offerings. They are so hard to find. Might as well stay home, make my own meals, if I want to eat healthy. Besides, it's miles cheaper to eat at home, especially so,  if you desire a healthy diet. 

Some people are super lucky, they can eat junky foods all their lives and still be fit and look gorgeous. This is not the case for me apparently.  I was born with health problems and have battled more than my fair share of ailments.   I strive to eat a very healthy diet, designed to improve my condition and lessen my dependence on harmful dangerous drugs. No, I am not a drug addict. But the doctors have fought me left, right and center, to become  addicted to their dangerous prescriptions. But I am down to two prescriptions, emergency medicines that might prolong my life, in an emergency, life or death decision.

Sure, certain prescriptions can save your life, but many designer drugs on the market today, are fashioned to replace a healthy diet, drain your bank account and keep big health care corporations in business. 

The way I understand it, health insurance is designed to cost the consumer a bundle. Then it's a tricky myriad of secret rules and regulations of if they will pay this but not that. If you want that, you have to pay for it too because they dictate your health care, not you. Some corporate non-doctor, is sitting in an ivory tower somewhere, deciding your health care future. 

On a funny aside, a young friend of mine, has found himself in the position of requiring Viagra for his personal needs. Medical problems and the use of doctor prescribed drugs have brought this most unfortunate malady upon him at a young age.  He works for a huge international corporation with a supposedly good health care insurance plan. At least the human resource department, managers, officers and supervisors have drilled this into the employees' heads; We have GOOD health care insurance. 

When his doctor determined that Viagra could help him with his highly personal problem, his insurance company informed him, in writing,  that they would only pay for 3 pills per month.  A large chunk of change is deducted from his weekly salary for his health care insurance, yet it seemingly only pays a small portion of his total medical bills. 

Anyhow, he showed me the letter one day, and we pondered aloud about the situation. Imagine that some health insurance corporate employee is sitting somewhere in a windowless cubicle, probably making in excess of a hundred thousands dollars a year.  He/she  with absolutely no medical training at all, gets to decide that the insured, is only entitled to use Viagra 3 times a month, at their expense. So that is exactly what the doctor prescribed him. 

Three pills per month. He can fill the prescription of 36 pills for the entire year, all in one purchase. But he can't refill them. Not without another trip to the doctor. Now if he say, uses all his pills up in one month, then goes to the doctor seeking a new prescription, will that doctor visit be covered by his wonderful health insurance, or will he have to pay for that too because his year isn't up?  Will he have to justify his use for more than 3 times a month? 

I can just see it on someone's resume, posted under describe your former job duties;  My job was to limit how many Viagra pills an insured subject of our company could utilize in the span of one month, at our expense. 

We would all live happier if we would stop craving the things we want, and crave the things we have. 
All I crave is love and attention...

Dear Miss Mermaid
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