As I thought about strolling through some of my favorite blogs--both old and new (to me)--I decided to first highlight Simple Life in France, whose guest post I read yesterday at Early Retirement Extreme. That post is now on her own blog as well. Perhaps because Simple is living in France, with her French husband, I thought of being a stroller in French, a language that exists in some deep part of my memory, courtesy of some outstanding teachers, M. Giordano, M. Moore, and M. Danon, to name only the three best.
The word flaneur came to mind, although its use in cultural studies, owing to the work of Walter Benjamin and others, takes it in other (theoretical) directions from just strolling about. Needless to say, in the age of the internet, I googled flaneur and found a site devoted to the concept. Here is an epigraph from the Arcades Project Project that does seem to apply to my stroll through the blogosphere: "Taking a walk is a haeccity . . . Haecceity, fog, glare. A haecceity has neither beginning nor end, origin nor destination; it is always in the middle. It is not made of points, only of lines. It is a rhizome". (1000 P 263)
Simple in France's post (on both blogs) is about saying NO. She perceptively points out that saying NO to things you don't really want is the easy part; it's dealing with friends and family that is difficult. Of course, one can find new friends (sometimes--true frugal friends are rare); one has to deal with one's family.
In my comment on ERE's blog, I mentioned my recent moment in class. I had gotten there a few minutes early, and everyone was exclaiming over the BIG diamond on someone's engagement ring. I feigned interest, and then a student inquired about the location of my ring. I said I didn't have one. "Why?" I answered that I hadn't wanted one.
This admission led to a long moment of rather uncomfortable silence, followed by one student saying "That's neat." I think she was trying to make me feel better.
Then another student said, "You ARE Emersonian." I was so happy! A real life example.
Emerson says, Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
That, like saying NO, is the easy part. The harder part is dealing with friends and family. Emerson is aware of that: A man must know how to estimate a sour face.
Simple in France recounts some of the sour faces--and comments--she received when she discovered that she actually preferred some aspects of the frugal life. Believe me, my $30 wedding (that was for the license and the German measles test) did not elicit admiration from family members. Neither did my decision NOT to let my kids go on the yearly overpriced Disney tip with their schoolmates.* Some of my NO moments were so shocking to my family that--even in this space of relative anonymity--I will not share them.
What is interesting is that saying NO is understood when followed by "We can't afford it." And I find that in a cowardly way, I sometimes say that for--as Mr. FS says--"protective coloration." But when you say NO for the reason that something is not worth it (in general or to you), you will get those sour faces.
*** I wrote a post long ago about how I did not let my kids go on the Disney trips, but did happily spring for school trips to Japan.