Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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Economic Stimulus

February 17, 2009

I've been trying to do my bit to get the economy going. Honest! Thing is, it's hard when your income (gross and net) is so piddly that the discretionary part of it ain't much. I'm doing my bit for SBS, the local feed store, where I buy most of Allie's and Travvy's feed and supplies; and I just ordered a new pair of muck boots (small "m": Muck Boots is a trade name, and the ones I just ordered are Mudruckers). I pay my rent and my utility bills; I buy my gas at Up-Island Automotive (on cheap Sundays if I gauge it right). My beer purchases aren't a big factor in the profitability, never mind the survival, of my favorite liquor store (that would be Our Market in Oak Bluffs), but I'm sure they help, a little -- and I'm about to toss some dollars in the direction of my dentist (old filling disintegrated on the lower right side) and my mechanic (oil change, plus Travvy chewed most of the way through the shoulder harness on the passenger's side and Uhura Mazda gets inspected in March).

Well, OK, truth time: I'm not eager to get this economy going again unless it's radically overhauled to divert resources away from the parasites with their megamillion benefit packages and their fourth homes on Martha's Vineyard. I'd probably shell out good money to see a representative selection of bankers and stockbrokers tarred and feathered and maybe even hanged. My ideal stimulus package would include a big chunk for anti-brainwashing education: giving all of us ammunition to resist advertising claims that we need this, can't live without that, and will die ugly if we don't buy this, that, and the other thing.

Nevertheless, I just made a Discretionary Purchase. I ordered something I Don't Need and could definitely Live Without.

A digital camera. A Canon Powershot a510.

My 16-year-old Canon Sureshot point-and-shoot is faltering. The time lag involved in finishing a roll of film and taking it to Mosher's for developing is beginning to bug me. Not to mention, Mosher's isn't doing such a great job of developing these days: the techies are on automatic pilot; they don't bother to tweak the machines for better results. And you have to plunk down a $3 deposit on every roll of film you want developed because, they say, so many people don't bother to collect their pictures.

Do I need a digital camera? No way, nowhere close. I wanted one for pretty much the same reason that I got my first scanner several years ago: so I could send dog and horse pictures to my friends before the pictures were three months out of date.

I wanted a digital camera because I wanted a digital camera.

Take that, Protestant ethic. Take that, frugal New England ancestors!

I decided to go for it because I remembered an important lesson I learned from artist Michele Ratté many years ago. At the time she was hand-printing these gorgeous velvet scarves and hats down in the basement of what was then Piatelli Studios. Maybe a person couldn't in her wildest dreams afford a mink coat or a round-the-world cruise or a fancy car, but an opulently beautifully luxurious hat or scarf was within the realm of possibility.

Year after year of frugality begins to wear a girl down. Doing without this, that, and the other thing was making me feel deprived, depressed, and generally hopeless. It was, I realized, time to indulge myself. Time to buy myself something I didn't need but really, really wanted to have.

A digital camera.

I just got the online order confirmation from TigerDirect. It'll arrive by the beginning of next week.

I can't wait.


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