There’s a perhaps mildly racist parable in the How to Get out of Debt… book which recounts the following paraphrased story.
A boy in assumedly South America or Mexico has a bull. This bull is his best friend. His father, however, cannot afford to buy food or shelter for himself and his son for much longer. He tells his son that he needs to sell the boy’s beloved bull in order to buy the things they family needs. The son pleads, saying this is his only friend. His father tells him that with the money from the sale, they could afford things that can’t now – like school and new shoes and supplies. The boy thinks on this, and replies, “Keel the Bool.”
The intention of this story is to illustrate that there may be things that we are holding on to out of pride or vanity or stubbornness. And, that if we are in tried financial straits, it is time to Keel the Bool.
I have brought to the local bookstores my supply of “B” books. Books that I wouldn’t miss if they were gone, and I have sold a handful over the last few months. This morning, I began, in my morning pages, to write a list of all the things that I could sell at a yard sale that I am now planning to have on Saturday. There were things that were obvious that I could part with, things that wouldn’t be missed, or wouldn’t hamper my quality of life. There are those which would be missed, but an acceptable loss. And then there are those that I’m not sure I have the audacity to sell yet.
I made the decision earlier this week to sell the electric guitar and amp that I’ve carried around since my friend gave them to me about 4 or 5 years ago when he was moving. I have liked having them around. Being able to use the electric unplugged when it’s late but I still want to play and not disturb the neighbors. But for all intents and purposes, I have rarely used it, and even more rarely as it’s supposed to be used – as an electric guitar.
So, I have little problem getting rid of it, except that my ego has enjoyed knowing that I have it, and feel “cool” having it.
But this morning, writing all these out, figuring I better just bring this equipment to the music store that buys things, and see if I can sell them there, well, I wrote down if I could sell my acoustic guitar.
I have had this – nice – guitar since I was 17. It was my high school graduation present from my parents. It’s not top of the line, but it wasn’t cheap either. But, like it’s electric cousin, I rarely use it.
I do use it though. I probably pick it up at least once a month, and if I’m on an “I’m really going to learn how to play this damn thing” kick, then more often than that. When I had been taking guitar lessons about 3 years ago, I was playing it almost daily for about 6 weeks. Then my funds ran short, and lessons got cut. I don’t know that I could sell it, though, out of sentimentality rather than future visions of Clapton-like skill.
So, I moved on through my apartment, back to my book shelf. And now, stacked on my desk, ready to be taken to the bookstore today to see what they might take and pay me for in return … are “A” books. Books, surely, that I could get from the library. But there’s something you should know about me – I hardly ever buy books. Ever. Avid reader and writer that I am, I was raised going to the library. There were lots of books coming in and out of my house as I grew up, we were a reading bunch, but there were surely less than 100 books for the entire household, including cookbooks (well, maybe not including cookbooks – my mom had a little bit of an addiction thing).
Point being, any book that I now own is owned because I bought it. Some are ones I bought for undergrad or grad school and decided to keep because of their literary value to me; some, I bought because there was a very rare occasion when I wanted to own that book – knew that I’d wanted to read it repeatedly, which, to me, is the only reason to buy a book.
So, a select stack of these now sit on my desk. Joyce, Dickinson, Winterson, Ensler, Steve Martin, even (Pure Drivel – if you haven’t read it, there is an incredible short story/vignette about a shortage of punctuation marks, and he is therefore allowed to use only ONE period in the entire story. It is beyond brilliant). Faulkner. I’m going to sell back a Faulkner. It’s like slicing off a chunk of skin.
There are a few that I will not sell. But I admit that that choice was made more because of the condition of the book and the unlikelihood that they’ll be bought back. Most of my treasures are on the to-be-sold pile on my desk.
Yes, come tomorrow morning, I will have either accepted the receptionist job I’ve been offered, or I will be finally chosen for the marketing position I want. So, yes, I will have a job, and will know which one it is in approximately 12 hours, following my Google Hangout interview. But, a job doesn’t equal a paycheck until about two weeks into the gig, if not more, as they get you on the payroll.
So, I have money for September rent, and about $30 left over. For food, for transportation to whichever job it is. But, mostly, for food.
I am willing to sell back these treasures, assuming, of course, that the wary and selective eyes of the bookstore even wants them. I am willing to sell them back to feed myself, and my cat.
I am willing to sell a musical instrument I don’t use. I’m not willing to sell the acoustic, because I don’t think, yet, that I’ll have to. But I am also willing to put a lot of junk and not-so-junk on sale at a yard sale on Saturday.
So, if you’re in the Oakland Piedmont Ave neighborhood on Saturday between 10 and 3, please come by the “Help me feed myself and my cat, Stella” sale.
Lastly, I’ll just note, that, yes, all of these things are just things. Not nearly as important as housing and feeding myself. And further, once I do have a job and a paycheck, anything that I sorely regret, I can replace or buy back again.
And “A” books as these may be, I can get them all at the library. Just don’t judge my worldliness by the emptiness of my bookshelf.