Life Lately - Everlane thrifted denim, POVs on Marfa, exotic animals, "stuff that matters" and white magic

My biggest semi-public news this week is that I've had a rash of Moana earwigs. I found the music in Moana really annoying when we watched it a few weeks ago. Then, suddenly, after I'd re-watched it with my niece and nephew last week...Moana songs were popping in my head left and right! The bank ATM screen said, "Thanks for stopping by!" and my brain said, "Oh, YOU'RE WELCOME." Cue "You're welcome" from Moana in my head for the next 48 hours. I refuse to learn all the words so it's really just the one line. Listen at your own peril. (Side note: I find it highly suspect that no one in Moana has armpit hair. Same with Walking Dead.)

Stuff I bought:

You may have already seen this news on IG, but thanks to my regular visits to Goodwill I found Everlane denim in my size and length and with my preferred wash. The bonus is that they were 50% off --- of $14.99! 

I also used my REI discount for these Sanuk slip-ons. I wasn't planning on getting anything but I met my partner there when he was looking for shoes and noticed these black canvas slip-ons. (I live in black canvas slip-ons.) I originally read the tags as a little more promising than they were. I thought they had recycled yoga mat content but as it turns out it just said "yoga mat footbed" so that's on me for misunderstanding. I also often assume that if something is sold at REI it has somewhat decent labor standards but I don't think that's actually true either -- Sanuk's website has the following extensive information about their labor practices in their FAQs: "Our products are manufactured in China" Uhm, thanks. They do label vegan shoes and note that their adhesives don't contain animal stuff so that's a small win. 

Are they better or worse than the black-on-black slip-on Vans I regularly wear? Vans has some sustainability efforts regarding their products and some of their spaces (but it conveniently leaves out the manufacturing facilities). Their product page also gives no indication of manufacturing location. So, who can tell? Both brands give such limited information -- and what they do give is apples to oranges -- that it's impossible for me to tell. 

Other stuff: 

1) I never "got" the interest in Marfa. Like, there are plenty of desolate, folk art places in the world, right? I get that it's picturesque over there in Texas. Anyway, I also had no idea there were so many Border Patrol stations, either. This Selva Beat interview with two artists who went to Marfa to present a different Marfa than "influencers" regularly do is interesting.

2) Since adopting (not buying) hermit crabs and learning more about the industry of "exotics" I've discovered a lot of disheartening information about "exotic" animals. 

this is Harvey (she's a female crab)

Hermit crabs, for instance, don't breed in captivity so all the hermit crabs you see for sale on the boardwalk or in pet stores are wild caught (aka kidnapped). Many of them die on the way to being sold, and many more die in their new homes since stores rarely give the correct care information. Hermit crabs live decades in the wild and many people who care for them properly in captivity have them for over a decade. This Times article explains how other exotics are probably being illegally harvested but it's so hard to prove and enforce. The article really focuses on the impact on the environment -- but obviously the fate of each individual animal is also important. Most of these dudes will go on to be barely cared for or - at best - cared for less well than their natural environment would have provided. Our hermit crabs have a 60 gallon tank, 10" of substrate, a thermostat on their heaters and highly monitored humidity in addition to aerated dechlorinated fresh and marine salt water -- and even so, this is only a fraction of the space they'd have in the wild. There is a rescue community for exotics but I'd like to see the rescue community be larger, and people who buy exotics at reptile shows, pet shops and online be...well, nonexistent. When I read Run Spot Run: the Ethics of Keeping Pets, the author noted that it is challenging to tell when an exotic feels well cared for (unlike dogs and cats) that there's huge opportunity for negligence due to this lack of feedback, even if you think you're doing everything right. And I totally get that. That is why I'm not a fan of captive breeding to begin with. I know some "crabbers" want to captive-breed hermit crabs and I'm like why bother? They will still have all the same physiological needs wild caught crabs have that we will not be able to meet and will still suffer the same. They're just born in a different place, big deal.

3) Lately (and especially after experiencing my youngest uncle's funeral) I've been trying to focus on what "actually matters" in life. This Mr Money Moustache post provides an image to illustrate the stuff that matters. What they call the buttons to press for human happiness. Friendship, Freedom, Health, Meaningful Work, Privacy, Philosophy of Life, Community. 

Given that baseline, the post also discusses that stuff you buy to upgrade your life only provides fleeting happiness and then you're back to your baseline once the thrill wears off. Because it's not impacting the stuff that matters. There are a few recommendations for how to hack our brains on this one. They are all pretty interesting (remove daily barriers to happiness, delay upgrades, make them incremental, press more of the "real stuff" buttons). I could probably stand to do a few of the "real stuff" focused tasks and try to cut back on buying stuff, which is 50% planned and 50% opportunistic buying. My #1 daily barrier to happiness is not having a washer and dryer inside our apartment and that's never going to happen unless we move, which we're not doing. #nycgoldenhandcuffs

4) Back when I was little, my mother used to bring me to these hippie witchcraft-centered stores. They were all so earthy and positive and my absolute favorite was in Montclair, NJ. It had an aquarium with newts in it (I love newts so much) with a sign that read, "All shoplifters will be turned into newts" which I thought was the height of hilarity. There were a few places between NJ and NYC that we'd go. I don't remember getting much -- maybe crystals, teas, white magick books, whatevs. Then they all closed in the '90s. I wandered into Earth Speaks on Atlantic in Brooklyn and it all came back to me. It's the perfect amount of earthy, crunchy and random. I'm happy to have found it and will try to support it. I should invite my mother for a visit to relive some of that Sarah Lyddon Morrison magic! 


  1. Getting the exact jeans you want at that price? Amazing!

    "I thought they had recycled yoga mat content but as it turns out it just said "yoga mat footbed" so that's on me for misunderstanding." I'd have thought the same thing.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your uncle.

    That Mr. Money Mustache article is helpful. Some of those techniques have worked really well for me, such as spreading out indulgences.

    I sometimes fear that I will totally wear out my welcome on your blog by commenting constantly AND burying you in unsolicited advice. NEVERTHELESS, here's another self-helpy tactic that helps me manage impulse-buys: in my planner, I keep a list of "Treats" for the month. If I buy myself something nice, I add it to the list. It's surprisingly satisfying to look back over the lists, and it prevents me from sincerely believing that I haven't done anything nice for myself in a hundred years. (My brain loves to believe that I'm wasting away for lack of nice things.)

    My partner and I also keep a joint budget, and each have a set amount of fun/pocket/spending money every month. I know that if I impulse-buy something, I might not be able to afford the things on my wish list for another month. Sounds like a total drag, but as MMM says, anticipation is fun. I kind of love mulling over my indulgence priorities... should I buy those brown boots this month, or hold off on those and buy the long mirror? Hmmm, better think about it another day or two...

    I'll see myself out.

    1. Rebekah, you know I love all your comments and ideas and you are so often right. Please see yourself IN. xoxoxox

      I like the idea of a treat list to look back on fondly! I think that's a great idea and I'll probably include an ongoing drawing page in my "Lynda Barry diary homework journal"! I am very very bad with delaying gratification. In so many ways -- I am definitely in the "if one is good, more is better!" camp so this is really something that's hard for me and something I need to find ways to work on.

    2. Okay, as long as I'm not being too pushy. I spend so, so much of my time/energy trying to work around myself, any time I find any useful hack whatsoever I want to shout it from the mountaintops.

      Delayed gratification is hard for me too, which is part of why I've struggled so much with exercise ("wait, it'll be MONTHS before I see muscle?") and practicing an instrument. It's also part of why I'm doing so badly with Zero Waste. I want pretty things, damnit!

    3. Seriously. Why do anything I'm not immediately really great at? (I say this joking only a small portion, sadly.)

  2. I think the yoga-mat footbed label is purposely worded in such a way as to imply that they are using pre-existing yoga-mat material, without actually saying so - so that the vast majority of potential buyers will assume that's what it means.

    1. I got that sense too! My ego is angry with myself though because I feel like I should know better. But I didn't! So it is what it is! Tricked!

  3. I'm impressed that you found the EXACT jeans you were looking for at Goodwill. I never have such luck with traditional thrift stores.

    The hermit crab stuff makes me sad. It's already weird enough to me that people keep dogs and cats, much less these other creatures that are even harder to provide for. I have two cats and sometimes think too hard about the fact that we basically have two small wild animals in our house.

    1. I feel like those Everlane jeans will be my luckiest thrifting experience! What has helped is that I have appointments near a Goodwill that gets a lot of donations from wealthier people and some overstock so I stop in 1-2x per week for a quick look. I usually look at housewares against my running list but if I'm feeling inclined, I'll take a look so it ups my exposure to anything decent vs just going once every few months.

      I totally agree re the animal stuff. I work in animal welfare and one thing I help with is fostering and socializing borderline feral-presenting cats in my office. What their behavior is doesn't ultimately matter for them, in a societal vacuum -- but because they have to be placeable in a home (or equipped to live outdoors in their original environment if they are mostly feral-presenting), it means we need to try to mold them towards liking people. And every once in a while I get really philosophically frustrated that we have to do this because they were born into this structure where they have to have a place and it's one or the other. They are a weird hybrid between wild and domestic and have to fit into our weird domestic world. It's such a weird concept! But yeah - learning more about exotics also makes me sad.

  4. The link to the hacking-short-term-happiness post is interesting, thanks for posting. I am an absolute terror for this.... For reasons best discussed between myself and my therapist, I often resort to very childish self-soothing mechanisms, like ruining my dinner with a big bag of sweets, or buying something shiny and wonderful that makes me happy for 3 days at the most. I also think my happiness baseline is pretty bleak too! Blimey. I will bookmark this though and try to see how I can adapt it because I think that long-term happiness is a very worthy goal :)

    1. I totally get this. I have a lot of that going on as well. Also, I am definitely an "extra" kind of person -- if one is good, more is better no matter what it is. (You know, except it isn't but I don't seem to retain that! haha) Moderation is a challenge because I like to keep hitting that dopamine button sometimes! For my path, I'm trying to remember to "invest" in the happiness buttons they mention to cultivate a better baseline. I hear you re having a lower baseline. I think mine is just chemical/ptsd-related and partially needs to be treated with medication but these next steps can only help. Ideally that kind of help lets me build a toolbox in the areas the blog post mentions as well. Let me know if you try any of it. I'm going to try but curious to hear your experiences, of course. xo


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