A few months ago I did a staged reading for a theatre company, and in addition to paying us, the director also gave us all Powell’s gift certificates.  I was so touched by this added generosity – little things like unexpected gift certificates, even in small amounts, go a long way towards boosting my morale in this debt reduction process.  And I wouldn’t even call this one a “small amount” – it was $25!  Powell’s has used and new books, so if you go for the used copies, you can actually get a decent amount of reading material for your dollar.

I had been wanting to read Nancy Jo Sales‘s The Bling Ring for a while now – I had followed the case when it was in the news, and was excited to see Sofia Coppola had bought the rights to make it into a film.  I have every intention of seeing the movie, but considering movies are not in my budget right now, and I had a gift certificate to score the book, I went the reading route.

For anyone who is not familiar with what The Bling Ring is:  A group of upper middle class kids in California pulled off several robberies of celebrity homes in the L. A. area, including the homes of Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Paris Hilton, and Audrina Patridge, just to name a few.  They were all obsessed with celebrity culture, and they were not satisfied to just go out and buy a coat they saw a celebrity wearing, or even to attempt to steal a coat like it from a store.  They wanted THE coat or bag or necklace or pair of shoes that belonged to that particular celebrity, so they broke into the celebrity’s home and took it.  At first they took small amounts of things that went unnoticed, like just a dress or a pair of jeans, but as they continued not to get caught, they grew bolder and would even steal expensive luggage from the celebrity, which they would load with his or her possessions and roll it out of the house.

A lot of what Nancy Jo Sales was trying to figure out as she interviewed members of The Bling Ring was why they did it – was it just the rush of stealing, or did they think owning these items would make their lives better somehow?  The answer seemed to lie in the belief that owning these items would make them more like the celebrities they idolized – that it would raise their social status, make them happier, more popular, etc.  A lot of them talked about how the media influenced their infatuation with these stars, and how they all wanted to be famous as well.

It was so interesting to read this during this year of trying to find my lagom – so much of my behavior over the years has been about acquiring as much as possible.  And I’m sure I too have been influenced by the media in this regard.  And yet, owning all that stuff, and going into debt for it, didn’t end up making me happy.  But, like the Bling Ring, I do understand the hopeful feeling that the stuff WOULD make me happy – especially in the rush of acquiring it (although unlike the Bling Ring, I didn’t steal it – I charged it).  The fear of not having enough is deeply instilled in us – I suppose some of that is about survival.  But at what point did we cross over from feeling like “Great, I’ve got what I need, I’m covered” to “I must have more” or “I MUST HAVE IT ALL”?

In any case, it’s a fascinating read.  Check it out!