April 26, 2009

I jumped off the wagon this weekend

I say jumped, and not fell or toppled, because I did it on purpose. It was something I planned and carried out. I bought three new books at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books! And I'm so glad I did.

The Festival of Books is one of my favorite L.A. events. Part of it is a chaotic mass of humanity, a big commercial enterprise, and a magnet for crazed fans. But it attracts so many wonderful writers, it's difficult to decide which panels to go to. And it's always inspiring to me to listen to writers talk about books and writing. And to be around a bunch of people who love to read.

So I knew I was going to see one of my favorite writers, who's actually an acquaintance, and I knew I wanted to buy some of his books as gifts for friends. And I did. I want to support the arts in general and the festival in particular, and I wanted to support this writer.

I even consulted the Compact yahoo group to solicit their opinion on the matter. All but one of them were fully in favor of supporting the arts in general and local arts in particular. The one who dissented said that while she respected their opinions, The Compact was about not buying new, and therefore even if it was a good cause, it was still technically a violation. I actually think she's right, in which case I can either make this an exception to my Compact rules, or I can just say I goofed. Either way, I'm comfortable with it.

I'm going to think about this and decide how I feel about supporting the arts/buying local and handmade crafts, etc. It seems even The Compact members are split on the issue. I feel like I could probably last the year abiding by the strict interpretation, but since I've actually started to think I might be able to do this indefinitely, in that case I would definitely want to support local artists and writers.

The last time I wrote about falling off the wagon was when I bought a Congratulations card for a coworker who had just passed his citizenship test. And the first time I fell off the wagon, way back in January, was when I absolutely had to have gloves for the Jane Austen Ball. So almost four months into this experiment, I've only bought something new that wasn't on my exception list 3 times. And each time I would make the same decision if I had the chance to do it over.

I'm really happy that I supported the festival and my friend and also have 3 excellent holiday gifts already taken care of (signed copies with personal notes). But part of me wonders about the value of making a commitment and then rationalizing why I broke it. Is it a little bit like telling my husband I couldn't help myself if I happened to meet Colin Firth and he had his way with me? What do you think? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the Comments section.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know which book caused the wagon jump? And what about this Colin Firth business! We need more details. Ha! Just kidding.

Great post! I too love to buy local and and support the arts.

Angela said...

The book is "The Story of a Marriage" by Andrew Sean Greer. He wrote "The Confessions of Max Tivoli," one of my favorite books.

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.

Kate Sommers said...

I think it's admirable what you're doing with the Compact.You're doing great.When we decided to go all raw the deal I made with myself was that I believed in that way of eating and the lifestyle but I still lived in modern society and chose to enjoy what I wanted when I wanted.So I would eat ice cream or fried foods and yes sometimes even meat,which by most raw vegans standard is the biggest sin of all.I believe this is the only way I stayed with it for so long, because I didn't feel deprived.What I got out of living this way was an incredible life changing experience that I still live by today.Once you wake up and live consciously there's no turning back.If more people would confront what we're doing to the planet and what it's costing us then the Compact's wouldn't have to set an example for us all and then they could "splurge" a little...we all could afford to splurge a little if we all took more responsibility.
Good work Angela,you're setting a good example for all of us.
Now Colin Firth...I don't think I'd tell!

calimama @ compactbydesign said...


Although my husband and I really hate the "free pass" concept that so many couples joke about, I too totally crush on Firth as Darcy.

As for the books, I think your reasoning is valid. It's not justification if you believe you're making the right choice. Plus books (at least good ones), are one of those things I don't think the world can have too many of. It's not like you broke down and bought a new vacuum cleaner because you didn't like the color of your old one.

Not buying new products is a great lesson to learn. If we feel like a failure when not sticking to the strictest definition the lesson will not be as effective long term. You know yourself, and your commitment level.

Ellen said...


According to the rules of the "compact," yes, you violated the agreement. But doing the experiment of the compact is all about making yourself think about the purchases you make and the ways in which your dollars spent support various causes that you may or may not agree with and ultimately affect the environment. As you've obviously done some hard evaluation, I think your compact experiment is still a success.