Notes On Free Stuff and Bad Health

Free Stuff

Janessa and I were driving around, looking for camp chairs at thrift stores. I was telling her about my life philosophy, and why I’m always reluctant to purchase things that I want but don’t desperately need. “I just feel like if I wait long enough, things suddenly appear, for free,” I said.

Two seconds later I yelled, “stop! stop!” Because there was a free chair beside the road.

Unfortunately it ripped that weekend on my camping trip, but I think I can fix it? Anyway.

I just love free stuff. There’s something so thrilling about rescuing a discarded item, and something so fun about figuring out how to make it work for you. When I was a child, I’d take a purple paper bag to garage sales and paw through the free boxes, so if you wonder why I’m like this, blame my mother I guess.

Soon after we moved here I joined a Buy Nothing Blacksburg Facebook page. The first thing I acquired was a pair of lampshades that, unfortunately, didn’t fit the shadeless lamps we had.

I balanced it in place, though, and it’s been sort-of working.

I found Jenny a desk chair out by the dumpster, which was probably the best free find of all.

I was mostly looking for a desk, because we brought our sewing supplies but had nothing to put them on. I wanted something small enough to haul in my car, of course. When someone posted a small-looking desk to the buy nothing group, I commented and asked for it, just sort-of assuming it would either fit in my car or I’d figure something else out.

Well, they messaged me saying it was mine. Realizing I wouldn’t be able to haul it around myself, I convinced Jenny to come get it with me. So we hopped in my car and drove over.

The address led me to a second floor apartment. The man who opened the door was confused. “Oh, I guess my wife must have posted it to the group,” he said. So Jenny and I stood around and smiled at his cute child while waiting for him to clear off the desk and wipe it down.

He offered to help us carry it down the stairs, but Jenny and I insisted that we had it. Personally, I was scared it wouldn’t fit in my car, and I didn’t want to deal with solution-finding while this strange man stood around judging us. And sure enough, when we got it out to the parking lot, it didn’t fit.

“How about this,” I said. “I’ll start wheeling it home, and you drive home and get a screwdriver.”

So that’s what we did. We met up in the CVS parking lot, dismantled the desk, and it fit easily into the car. Always bring a screwdriver with you, folks. Although wheeling a desk around town was kind of fun, I have to admit.

Lately I’ve been looking for a portable cassette tape player with a headphone jack. I figured out that I sleep a lot better if I put my phone and computer somewhere not in my bedroom when bedtime rolls around. Staring at a screen is bad for insomnia, and I’m always tempted to go down midnight Wikipedia rabbit holes.

But sometimes I still want to write as I wind down for the night. I have notebooks and my AlphaSmart, so that part is fine, but I didn’t have a good way to listen to music.

Then in the Buy Nothing group one day I saw a cassette player with a headphone jack. It was bigger than I imagined, and when I finally picked it up it was…well, a rather large boom box. But! It also has a CD player and a radio, so lots of musical options. Also, ever since the CD player in my car randomly quit I’ve had no way to play my CDs. So win win, except I had to buy a large quantity of enormous batteries for it.

Also, it faintly smells like the tiny planes we used to fly around in in Canada. I think that smell must be my earliest smell memory. I used to feel sick whenever I smelled it, or whenever I saw the awful shade of green that the pilot’s headphones used to be. I guess as a three-year-old you don’t understand the difference between smell, color, and air sickness, and they all are the same thing in your brain.


In general my mini book tour was amazing. Thanks to Covid this was the first time I was really able to have good chats with people who enjoy reading my work. But unfortunately I way overdid it and had a health crash.

Some of it was beyond my control and some of it was just poor planning. I had two-and-a-half long intense days, one extremely late night and one extremely early morning, and a very sketchy undercooked burger I was too tired to bother sending back to the kitchen. But I crashed so mightily upon returning to Blacksburg that I had to miss my cousin’s wedding that weekend.

Honestly I was surprised that my health was so great for the first two months in Blacksburg, because moving is kind-of hard on my body. But I guess it all caught up with me, because I’ve struggled through these past two weeks. Just really, really tired all the time. I don’t exactly know what’s up but I hate it.

Other Stuff

Everything in life pauses when I’m struggling with bad health, so I don’t have a lot of other interesting stories to share. I’m slowly feeling more connected in general, although again, I’m not exactly socializing a lot these days, just surviving.

I am making good progress on two more books, a fiction I’m writing just for me (probably) and a nonfiction I plan to publish, maybe in a year?

I have a large fun exciting trip planned for later this fall, and am just praying I have the health for it. I think I just need to make sure I eat enough, sleep enough, and get enough alone time.


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4 responses to “Notes On Free Stuff and Bad Health

  1. Fellow free stuff lover here. 🙋‍♀️ If you want a cord for your boombox, check thrift stores. A lot of them have a box with a tangle of cords in them, for little or no money. 😎


  2. I love free stuff! I love getting unexpected free stuff in the mail like a new hymnal from Sermon on the Mount Publishers. We got some dining room chairs when we moved to Arizona from U-haul where our stuff was stored. There was a space where customers could leave things they didn’t want and we snatched those chairs up.
    Take care of yourself. Its okay to take time for yourself and do some pampering!


  3. Wow! I also like free stuff!


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