STUFF SHOCK | Robin Sparks


Left Coast Writers Meeting. Larkspur, California. Four days after my return to the US. Fellow writer: “Wow Robin, just back from Brazil! How does it feel?”

“I don’t know. I’m still processing it.”

I wasn’t back. Not all of me.

There’s not a lot of sympathy wasted on jet lag. It’s a problem everyone would like to have.

Three weeks later and I’m still wearing the rubber flip flops and cotton blouses I wore in Brazil. I haven’t a clue where my cell phone is. Or my watch. Both were stuffed away four months ago with my the rest of my life in the dark recess of a storage room – and I’m taking my time finding them again.

Harder to adjust to than all the stuff that goes with living in the US, is the disparity between what matters.

I was stunned to see Oprah Winfrey on television doling out thousands of dollars worth of stuff to screaming middle aged, rich-by-world-class-standard women, who each time they scored another hit of something they didn’t need, sobbed and shook like Jehovah’s Witnesseses. And I just heard that last week, she gave away three hundred Pontiacs to the women in her audience!

So what? you ask. What’s wrong with having lots of stuff and wanting more? Having just returned from a country where people would love to work if only they could find paying jobs, where only 15% of the population are middle class and the rest are mostly poor, many desperately so, and where family and friends are what counts…well, yes, to me all this excess just feels wrong.

Stuff is not where my heart is any more.

I’d be out of here in a flash if this was all there was. Truth is, there is more.

In the past three weeks I have been to a fund raiser for Litquake featuring the writing of William Burroughs. I’ve been to the San Francisco Symphony, the Asia Art Museum, a book launch party at the Havana Restaurant, a concert where the performers played a cello, a saw, and a guitar, an erotic anthology book reading at The Canvas. I’ve watched foreign flicks under a full moon in Washington Park. I’ve eaten shwarmas at midnight and fresh fruit atop oat bran pancakes the next morning. I’ve asked the Mexican grocers at the corner market to show me which peaches are sweetest today. I’ve picked through no-name vegetables in Chinatown, I’ve eaten fresh mussels in “French Alley”, and come to think of it, I’ve also had linguini at “The Last Supper Club” in the Mission, Mexican food at ChaChaCha with Haight Ashbury’s Pierced People, and Ceasar Salad and martinis at Absyinthe with the pre-symphony crowd. Next week I will attend a dinner for the homeless, hike Point Reyes Seashore, listen to the Blues on the grassy knolls of Fort Mason, and attend a performance of Tosca at the Opera – and these are only half of the events I’ve either considered attending or been invited to.

I’m not addicted to stuff, I am addicted to choice. Delicious, delectable choice.

Small wonder then that this morning an hour slipped by while I thumbed through the photos in “Tropical Living”.

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