Do you know how many packages I am expecting in the mail in the next fortnight? Four.
Two of these will deliver to me books purchased through two different internet websites, all volumes I couldn't find in stores but decided I must possess. Another is bringing me the single most expensive pair of silk stockings I have ever almost-owned. Sure they're awesome seamed-and-heeled vintage-style stockings but how long before I put a ladder in them? I'm thinking a week at the outside. The last, my most recent splash out, is an awesome t-shirt. An awesome black t-shirt. With an amusing picture on it, yes, but nevertheless another black t-shirt to go with my 20 others. I don't know when I became a shopaholic but I'm fairly sure I am on the cusp of having a full blown problem and my internet shopping habits are just the latest symptom of an ongoing problem.
The thing is that I very rarely go on big shopping trips and come home weighed down with bags. I also have relatively cheap taste so it's not like I'm burning up the credit card in the designer strip. But slowly and surely I am spending too much. Certainly not enough to get into debt or completely erode my increasingly-meagre savings but more than I should. My failsafe justification for frittering away money on books, booze and clothes has always been that at least I don't have a crack habit. The argument being, of course, that if I had said habit I would spend far more money feeding it than I do on the relatively harmless pretty things I do buy. Uh huh. The crack habit argument is, I feel, a strong one. And yet after a few years of heavy use it's wearing a smidgen thin.
I think that the concept of shopping as an addiction says something about our society. I don't know what it says exactly but I imagine it uses words and phrases like 'consumerism,' 'spiritually bankrupt' and some other bigger ones I don't understand. It's an easy argument to make that people who shop too much are trying to buy something they don't have - and I'm not talking about a toaster or even a preppy cream twinset - but how does that help me? Sure it would be lovely to believe in God, I suppose, or to be an optimist but I don't see either of those things happening soon. Nor am I trying to buy either of those things, exactly, but what am I doing?
I suppose buy things because I want them and because I believe they will improve the quality of my life. That sounds sad and weird but it's true because buying these things, having these things, makes me happy. I could not buy that book, of course, but why wouldn't I buy that little piece of happiness when it's only $20? I could pass on that cute dress there too but then is $50 that much to spend to make myself feel good? The downside, obviously, is that I feel guilty for spending the money. I'm not exactly rolling in the dosh over here and it's hard to see myself ever able to afford the things that I want long term if I don't stop frittering away what cash I do have.
It's a damned if you do and damned if you don't sort of a deal, I suppose. I feel bad if I don't buy these things but I feel bad if I do. So what's the solution? To enforce a sensible savings plan and treat myself to the occassional splurge, thus making myself feel better in the long run because I will have stacks of cash to spend on sensible things like mortgages and a service for my car? Eh... not so much. Sensible yes but can you say boring? I'm thinking more like spend the money now to ward off therapy later. Sure I might have a hole in my life I'm trying to fill with fetching t-shirts, books I may or may not ever get around to reading and stockings I will inevitably destroy but, hey, it could totally work. And so I might never be able to afford that three bedroom house in Subi with the garage but at least I won't be so bored and depressed that I'll want to gas myself in said garage. Plus, you know, at least I don't have a crack habit. Hey, I'm just saying.