Home improvements, part 1
But it is far, far from enough, I decide as I contemplate my household in the twilight rays of 2004. The year has somehow changed me. I grow curious at the accomplishments of Allison down the road, who, with Alabama stubbornness and a patient mother, willed a new wall into existence. I marvel at the coherent taste of my upstairs neighbor, who combines Virginia stateliness with accents from her trips to Mexico when she was a student in San Diego. And I look I my home and think, I want bamboo shades, or an equally self-expressive equivalent! I want cool new shelves above my kitchen cupboard, seemingly organic but newly placed. I want people to come into my home and think, this man has style, rather than the apologetic feeling that comes over me when I say, "Yeah, but bricks and boards are practical. And I saved so much money on bookshelves!"
This is, of course, a writ-small example of How The Man Keeps us Under His Thumb. The material achievements of others prey on our insecurities, creating desire. How can I be happy, how will I ever be loved, if I do not adhere to a standard of decor that exists only in my mind? Would a desert-tan living room bring me closer to self-actualization, or will eggshell do the trick? Will I know I've met the eluvive, indefinable standard of appropriate good taste when, literally, I've seen it? Or will I buy all-new furniture, only to think and but, and but, and but ... ?
I don't know the answer to that, but I think I know where my Christmas money is going, and if I'm successful I will within a few short months have a new-and-improved home that I will be proud of. One that is current with the times, yet timeless in its expression. One that will speak my character and reflect my standing in the world. One that looks more like ... everyone else's home.
Therein lies the trap. And the secret of the world's greatest economy.