Old Things

This is not a post about what you'd find in my underwear drawer, despite the baiting title.

Nope. It's about things that we keep around, even though they're old. Things we don't toss out, or donate, because they still work. They do what you need them to do.

Here's a picture of the glamorous array on my nightstand:

Yes, that's the vicodin I've been hoarding since my root canal. And you can see that my nightstand is also where I file receipts for taxes. But that's not what I was focusing on. Feast your eyes on my sweet Sony Dream Machine, circa 1989. I've been using this alarm clock for 24 years. Some of you were still just eggs chillin' in ovaries back in 1989, weren't you?

Please note that aside from one little digital line that has quit working (it was actually 9:10 when I took this picture), this thing works perfectly. Not that I need an alarm clock anymore, since my sleep cycle now resembles an old-timey farm lady's. I wake up before it has a chance to go off, sometimes on my own and more recently, thanks to the mother effing flock of turkeys who roost in the cluster of trees next to my bedroom window and start gobbling before the sun rises. Yes, turkeys. And no, I don't live in the country. We can discuss those later.

Here's one of those loud feathered bastards in my driveway.

I've never been one to hop on the NEW AND IMPROVED bandwagon. Maybe it's something I inherited from my Depression-era grandparents, maybe it's a trait handed down from my uber frugal dad who can pinch a penny until Abe Lincoln screams like a little girl. Maybe it's just me. 

Is it a habit that develops during times of financial leanness? I'm sure that's part of it. After all, when you can't afford to replace things "just because", you take really good care of what you have. My car is a janky piece of aluminum foil with Hot Wheel tires attached to it, but you'd better believe I get the oil changed on the regular and take it in for maintenance when it needs to be done. Because if anything happens to it, I'm screwed. 

But, I have friends who can definitely afford to replace anything, and they are also in the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" camp with me. So I think it might be more of a personality characteristic than anything else.

I have a couple purses that are older than my children (Coach bags used to be made even better than they are now), mixing bowls that have been around since before microwaves were invented and I use computers until they literally die in my arms. Up until this summer, we only had huge, heavy televisions which were the size and weight of portable dishwashers. There is a storage room in my basement that is kind of like the legendary Elephant Graveyards except instead of dead elephants there are corpses of big, unwieldy televisions. 

My kids have grudgingly hopped on board this particular car of the crazy train. Probably because they have no choice. Comforters are used until the morning one of them wakes up looking like they've been tarred and feathered. Hoodies and jeans are worn until people start throwing change at them on the street. And school supplies? Forget about it. My kids are the ones at school with the spiral notebooks that have two subjects crossed out on the covers and a new one written under those (BECAUSE THERE IS STILL A TON OF UNUSED PAPER IN THEM). 

I'd like to think that I have a firm grasp on reality, and we aren't the Minneapolis hillbillies. I don't let things go too far, and yes, when we are able to do so, we will splurge and buy new things. When our last giant t.v. died, I used some of my tax refund to buy one of those new-fangled flat screens. However, I did research and price comparisons and waited until the cheapie off-brand one at Target went down even lower. And then used my Target debit card to get an extra 5% off of that low price. For the record, I cringed when I paid for it. Spending money is never easy once you've been down Poverty Road. I wonder if that ever changes?

There will come a morning when I roll over and my trusty old Dream Machine will be flashing some illegible hieroglyphics, or simply not flashing at all. I imagine there will be a moment of silence. Knowing me, I'll probably try to fix it by unplugging it for a few minutes and then plugging it back in. 

I have already decided that when the time comes, I will donate its lifeless remains to the preschool. One of our teachers loves to let the kids go to town on dead appliances with screwdrivers and tweezers. I used to let my own kids dissect broken electronics, and I think it's a dignified end for such a loyal, trustworthy alarm clock. 

If you know me, you know there's an analogy buried in this post. Yes, if we were smoking wacky tobacky and getting real deep and all philosophical-like, you could say that I AM MY ALARM CLOCK. I'm old, I've seen lots of things, I have some battle scars, but dammit. I still work. Oh sure...the digital display works better on the newer models, and the sound is probably super crisp. When you have visitors in your bedroom they'll notice that you have the latest and greatest alarm clock. But I have a feeling that the new one won't last as long. 

They don't make 'em like they used to, you know. Thus ends the analogy portion of today's post. 

How about you? Do you have old things in your life, too? Or are you always looking for the upgrades? Not that there's anything wrong with that...without your kind our thrift stores would be sad, empty places. I love people who upgrade.

Leave a comment and tell us what you hang onto just because it still works. And please don't say "My spouse!". Although, that's funny. In a non-derogatory way, of course.

Have a super day, friends.


  1. Well, I'm only 32 but pretty much this way with everything. I support myself, so if I don't "need" to replace something, I don't, and instead spend my money on a few quality things that I need (my organic produce, for instance.) I recently bought a new (used) 2013 Equinox because my 10-year-old Blazer was biting the dust. That was HUGE for me, as I usually wait until things are literally dead before I replace them.

    With that said, I don't need new and shiny. I've had some pairs of pants for 10 years, the same phone for at least 5, until earlier this year I had the same laptop for 10 years (had to replace it with a new/used one, as it died,) etc. I also reuse plastic Ziploc bags a few times. Sigh...I am my grandma, minus the big boobs and years of wisdom.

  2. TV set. Samsung. 1992. 19" screen. Big as a house. I watch it every night. When it finally goes, I will GLADLY buy a nice, big flat screen, but until then? Nah.

  3. Until last summer I was still using the combination lock that I got when I got my very first Schwinn ten-speed bike in 1979. It was the first combination I ever memorized, and it was burned into some deep groove in my head. The lock finally fell apart in July--fortunately, not while it was locking up my clothes and purse during a yoga class. Oh, 22-41-8, we had some good years together. I'm sorry I replaced you with some flashy purple model from CVS.

  4. My car, my desktop, shoes, clothes, most furniture and a myriad of other "things". I'm a very savvy shopper, buying items that last or stay in style for a very long time. Built-in obsolescence makes me kind of sick. I used to live in East Brunswick, NJ, until about 6 years ago. New Jersey is a beautiful state, contrary to it's portrayal, and I used to drive by what I told my children was the "garbage mountain", a land-fill so big it permanently changed the horizon line decades earlier. No need to replace until it is used up and worn out. It's the responsible thing to do. :)

  5. Well... I've been married almost eleven years, and we started with (literally) NOTHING. So everything we own is less than eleven years old, and still feels new. We have no intention of replacing anything, though we did just have to upgrade to a larger kitchen table because with my MIL living with us I just couldn't handle having everyone sitting on top of each other at our tiny four-seater and chewing in each other's ears. Hubs makes sounds like a wild boar feasting on a decaying carcass while he eats. I sit way on the other side of the table from him.But I think we get points for buying a used table off of Craigslist, right?

  6. Haha, I was totally going to say "my husband". Thanks for putting restrictions on me Jenny.

    I still have an old alarm clock that doesn't really sound when it's supposed to but I've held on to because it's also an iPod dock. Yeah, it'd be great if I actually used the iPod too, instead it's sitting in my cars glove box with a dead battery haha.

  7. Maybe it's a mom thing, but my mom has had the same alarm clock for the past 25 years. She actually traded it with my older sister, who had gotten the clock but found that the beep wasn't loud enough to wake her up (it has a gradually-gets-louder beep) and she didn't like the beep. It's been throw a remarkably small amount of battery changes over the years, given that it is from the early 80s, and it's survived a whopping 14 moves (including one across country).

    Personally, I have held onto my bulletin board from when I was in elementary school. It's been with me through 11 moves, which really shows that a big part of it is just sentimental, because paying for the boxes (mines been across country TWICE) is more than just getting a new one. I don't know though. It's just the right size, and it was from back when they were wood framed instead of plastic or metal. I just like it, damnit. >:D

  8. I have a hand mixer from my first apartment and I love it. Black and decker basic--no need for the fancy kitchen aid model. I also have the first vacuum cleaner I bought for my first apt. It was my first grown up purchase! I have another one too but I can't give up that vacuum.

  9. I love my hand mixer from 1989. Black and decker. Works like a gem!! Loved this post--you made me laugh out loud... Did you make up the pinch the penny comment? So funny!

  10. You probably did get it from your Dad! My grandma used to carefully fold up her paper napkin after a meal, stick it in her blouse cuff, then get it out for the next, oh, 30 or 40 meals, repeating the folding and stuffing. To this day, I feel guilty for throwing away a slightly used napkin. I resonate to your post. I get a monster charge out of finding a no- or low-cost alternative to buying something new. A real MWAHAHAHAHA!!! feeling. Less crap in landfills, less $$$ going to China probably is what does it.

  11. I have an 18-year old Timex Indiglo battery-powered alarm clock, and I will cry bitter tears when it wakes me for the last time. The futon the kids hang out on in the basement is 17-years old, my living room furniture is 14-years old, I watch tv in the bedroom on a 12-year old set. I still wear t-shirts and sweatshirts and sweaters from high school and college, and my "good" long wool coat is 15-years old. I have an iPhone 3(GASP!).

    My ex always had to have the latest model, the newest toy, the upgrade. I never understood why. Sometimes I wish I had the "newest thing", whatever it is at the moment, but then I'd just have to figure out how to use it. And I'd probably find that my old one worked just as well, if not better. (And THAT is most definitely an analogy for our marriage/his life/his current marriage!) ;-)

  12. I do this too. With just about everything. I keep stuff even after it breaks. My family thought they'd have to put me in treatment when I was little for hoarding. I was obsessed with saving things for later. I used to hide my favorite parts of cereal in my chair so I could eat it later. I had these ladybug shoes I kept stealing out of the trash, even though they didn't come close to fitting.

    I hate throwing stuff away. I've recently moved out of my parents house so a lot of stuff is newish, but I used the same (my first) comforter until I moved out. When I visit, I still use it. I still have stuffed animals I was given at birth. I have two tower computers that don't have a hard drive above 1 GB and my last laptop that I finally stopped using when the motherboard died.

    I also use the same binders, folders, and notebooks I used in high school. Some people may think that's "thrifty" or "cheap," but I can't imagine doing anything else. Why buy something new if the old one works just as well?

  13. I own a Sony Dream machine (but a newer model since my original one broke). It's one of the only alarm clocks with 2 alarms on it because yes, I have kept the husband. He still works after 32 years........

    I wouldn't trade either one of them in but I must say, when the Dream machine dies (or should I say IF the Dream Machine dies), I will replace it with as close to the same thing even though the newer ones don't last as long.

  14. A few months ago, I mourned the loss of my 25+ year old blow dryer. That thing has seen this mane trough pixie cuts, hair down to the middle of my back, chestnut hair, caramel streaks, and finally my silver tresses, au naturel. It died in my hands, diffuser firmly attached.
    The new one doesn't come close to working like my old Clairol.
    I even had to get a new diffuser because the old one wouldn't attach to the new-fangled models.

  15. Jenny, you will respect and appreciate that when my daughter needed a towel for school with her name on it, I found an old one of Sam's, crossed out his monogrammed name and wrote her name with a permanent marker. I have a picture of it. If I can find it, I'll email to you. You'll love it!

  16. I had to throw away my Dream Machine this summer when we figured out it was what was making the circuit breaker trip 3 or 4 times a day. I said a little eulogy as I threw it in the trash, about buying it to go to college in 1995, and how it had been with me through so many grody apartments, roommates, etc.

  17. Hey do you live in NE Mpls? We have turkeys here too! There's even a neighborhood FB page dedicated to them. I get a kick out of seeing them, but thankfully they don't hang right around my house, they are big and kinda scary up close!


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