That which shall not speak its name. Also – experiments in minimalism!

I haven’t posted in awhile. The earthquake happened. I didn’t really know what to say about it. I felt like anything I could say about the quake and its impacts wouldn’t do it justice. To talk about anything else seemed wrong. So I said nothing for a month.

I was also slightly embarrassed by the ominous titles of my previous two posts: Let’s get ready to crumble! and Don’t just ‘keep calm and carry on’. Have a natural disaster on your terms! I’m not a superstitious woman but I couldn’t help feeling a little bit like maybe I was a dangerous soothsaying witch. This added to my reluctance to post.

I stil don’t feel I can do the earthquake and its aftermath justice so I’m not going to even try. You will duly note the innocuous title of this post.

Instead, back to our highly irregular programming and an update on my experiments with minimalism.

In my post Don’t just ‘keep calm and carry on’. Have a natural disaster on your terms! I vaunted the merits of minimalism, i.e. reducing the clutter of our daily lives so that we can focus on what’s important to us.

I set myself some tasks, namely:

  1. I planned to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t need that was weighing me down
  2. I planned to give new meaning to the word, ‘fire sale’
  3. I planned to cut my expenses and indulge in ‘frugal luxury’
  4. I planned to minimise my use of terms like ‘frugal luxury’.

So, how did I do?

Getting rid of stuff

Overall, I give myself a 5/10 here.

I did get rid of quite a lot of stuff. I sold some stuff on Trademe, took some stuff to RealGroovy. I invited friends over to come and help themselves to a large selection of clothes, books, dvds, cds, and other bits and pieces in return for whatever donations they wished to make to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal. I divested myself of a goodly proportion of my possessions.

But… when I was lugging my remaining possessions up the steep goat track to my new abode, I was far from a picture of zen.

I still have a LOT of stuff. I have an entire bookcase filled to brimming. Several suitcases of clothing (and costumes). Boxes of photos. China cups that belonged to my late grandmother and other general stuff that ‘I might need or want someday’. I have a box dedicated to ‘bathroom’ full of medical supplies and soap. Another box dedicated to ‘arts and crafts’. I don’t even do arts and crafts.

It is not without some irony I note that much of what I have brought with me to my new abode has remained packed in boxes in what I like to call the ‘Room of Doom’, partly because there is not enough space for it to go anywhere else.

Perhaps I can look upon this as a step in a longer process. When I return from overseas in a few months time I can do another stocktake, work out if I really missed or needed those things that are in boxes and do another cull. In the meantime, I will aim not to acquire, which shouldn’t be too hard given I have no income…

Which leads me to the other part of my plan.

Cutting my expenses and indulging in frugal luxuries

I’ve done a little better here. I’m going to go right ahead and give myself a big ol’ 7/10. Generous! Since moving to my new abode in beautiful Eastbourne, I have spent a lot less money. No longer near the call of shops all around me, I can sit/recline for hours in what can only be described as my ‘day bed’, a bed set up in a very sunny nook at the front of the house. From this vantage point I have indulged in all manner of frugal luxuries:

  • seen and heard tui, bellbirds and fantails twittering about and getting their feast on
  • watched the ever changing sea replete with a pod of dolphins (!) making their way from Days Bay to the mouth of the harbour. Was one of them wearing a baseball cap? We’ll never know.
  • drunk many cups of Earl Grey tea with rose petals and eaten slightly carbonaceous yet still delicious homemade afghan biscuits
  • started re-reading an awesome and epic fantasy series called ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. Book 1 down, rest of the series to go.

I have also become the proud co-steward of two bantam hens, gifted to us by a friend who worried the little bantams were getting picked on by her big reds. These two bantams – harbingers of doom for all the worms in their 3m x 4m patch of prime real estate – are gradually getting used to me. They have even started to come out to greet me when I come to see them, although I am not deluded enough to think that it is me they love. Rather they’ve got a beak-on for my inevitable treasure trove of pellet-y grains and scrappy goodnesses.

Chooks getting their peck on.

Another activity has involved bonding with Mali, an existing resident of my new abode. Mali is a black labrador, just shy of three years old. I am taking her for walks! The other day some sort of Eastbourne professional dog-walker started conversing with me about the behaviour of black labs ASSUMING THAT I WOULD KNOW BECAUSE MAYBE I WAS A PROFESSIONAL DOG WALKER TOO. I quickly confessed that I was not at all knowledgeable in this canine arena but not before I smiled to myself the content smile of someone who has fooled a dog expert on their own territory.

I’m not doing perfectly. My fuel costs have definitely increased as I regularly make my way back into the city for improv engagements and a higher brunch rate than might be ideal. If I was truly frugally luxurious, I would never leave the house. But then I would be kind of lonely and sad and I wouldn’t get to see my friends, so that’s probably not in my best interests. I’ll take my 7/10 and run thank you very much!

As for the other two planks of my four-plank plan?

Giving new meaning to the term ‘fire sale’

There were no actual arsons caused by me. This is good. I have a tendency to the pyro and my ‘jokes’ in my last blog post were dangerously close to a calling of myself to firey arms. That was close.

Minimising my use of terms like ‘frugal luxury’

I can honestly say that I have not used the phrase ‘frugal luxury’, except in the confines of this blog post. That has to be a win. I don’t want a repeat of 2003/4 when I started using that phrase ironically as part of a persona called ‘Shaz’ that would appear when I got bored. Sometimes she called talkback radio to chat to Kerre Woodham about the challenges for the fuller-busted woman of buying bras these days. The persona and her lexicon started appearing a little too often and fact started blending with reality and I started asking myself who I really was under all these layers of personas WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHO IS THE REAL CHRISTINE??? Identity crisis! So, yeah… That didn’t happen again. Or did it? Or didn’t it?


My conclusion is that the most luxurious thing I have at the moment is time. It is becoming clear to me that this is what I most craved when I stopped working. I just wanted to hang out and enjoy the world for a bit. That is exactly what I’m getting to do right now and I can highly recommend it.

I continue to have moments of frenzied doubt where my inside people start having a stand up argument and yelling out: YOU SHOULD BE DOING SOMETHING YOU LAZY FEMALE DOG. For the most part I ignore them or, rather, I let them have their say and then go about my business. The business of doing nothing that is! Zingos on that inside people! There’ll be time enough for doing things soon enough. Right now I have a book to read, a sunny day bed to lie on and text messages like this one I sent yesterday to send:

‘Chooks fed. It’s raining soft rain. Mali did a poo in the poo zone. All is as it should be’.


About maximumbrooks

Christine is currently based in Wellington, New Zealand. She improvises regularly at venues around town and dabbles in other things that interest her. She likes mango sorbet, monkeys and, apparently, throwing caution to the wind.
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