Saturday, November 1, 2008

one day at a time

So I saw this NaBloPoMo thing that Robin in Israel and Jen in Denver both posted about to encourage bloggers to post every day for a month. Huh. That sounds way more reasonable than that crazy thing where people commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. Maybe I'll try it. So what the hell, I did. I signed up, felt really smug for a moment, and then realized that I have only five hours left in my first day. Deadlines were but one of the reasons I left journalism. Well shit. Now's a helluva time to remember that little tidbit.

A month seems like a huge thing when I look at it, but really it's not that bad. If I do a blog post today, that's all I can do, really. I'll plan to do one tomorrow, but until it gets here, I really can't be freaking out too much about it. Like much in my life, it is something I can do for one day, and that will be enough. If I succeed in writing at least once a day for a month, then yippee for me. My writing probably will improve with the practice - it very likely will not get worse. We'll see how it goes.

For now, though, I ought to have a topic. In school they always told us to write what we know. Write what we are familiar with. But try not to end sentences with prepositions. Or fragments. Double shit.

I went to an auction today. It was a combination of a few estates and some business stuff. The auctioneer is a great guy, a bigshot in the local Democratic Party and a vocal peace activist. His wife does good charity stuff for people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. Nice people.

So the auction today was held at the moving and storage company over on the other side of the island. Usually the auctions are held at the Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor, a very swanky village on Mount Desert Island. Today we were in Southwest Harbor, a somewhat less swanky locale. More of a nice drinking village with a fishing problem. Much less plastic surgery was evident in today's crowd that usually shows up when the wealthy summer people are in town.

And yet there is always a striation of sorts that happens at auctions. There are the newbies who try to bid out of turn and who get grumpy at the dealers. There are the cheapskates like me who are there to get a bargain on a treasure cleverly disguised as someone's castoff stuff. There are the semi-pros, the innkeepers and the people who work for the large summer estates on the island. They are always looking for antiquey-looking stuff to decorate with. Damned prepositions. Then there are the collectors - and darned if I can figure out what they're doing with all the crap they take home every month. Maybe they're closet dealers.

Next up are the wealthy summer people. These folks have very little idea the value of the stuff they're bidding on - mostly it is one-up-man-ship with each other over a coveted item. When the dealers drop out of the bidding and the guys in the boat shoes with no socks and with sweaters draped over their shoulders step in and up the ante, you can tell that they're too stupid to be allowed to hold on to their money. These are probably the same hedge fund managers who have flushed the economy so recently. Actually, no. These guys own the hedge funds. They're the medium-old money that is still insecure enough to need to show off, but the money is old enough to withstand whatever showing off junior (in his 50s) might need to do at the auction on a Saturday afternoon.

Then there are the antique dealers and the e-Bay entrepreneurs. There are probably a dozen or so that cycle in and out, each with his or her own special area of expertise. One guy buys paper stuff. Books, old posters, maps, boxes of documents, everything. He then sifts through it, looking for treasures that he can sell. There is one lady who likes to buy glass and another who buys old kitchen stuff. We often bid against one another, and she usually wins. I want a nice cast iron pot to cook with, she wants an antique to sell to a tourist. I came looking for a deal, she came looking for profit. Oh well. Then there is one guy who seems to buy the craziest shit ever, and he pays hundreds, even thousands of dollars for stuff I wouldn't give a dollar for at a yard sale. One of the regulars today said he makes scads of money selling that crap on the internet. Whatever. If you can do it, go for it, I guess.

Today there were a lot more first-timers and bargain-hunters than there were wealthy summer people. More Red Sox caps than little whales on belts. Damned fragment. So it was interesting. Some real crap went for more than I expected because the taste of the crowd was very different than usual, and some really nice stuff went for pretty cheap because the wealthy stupid people were not there to bid on it and the dealers stopped short enough to allow a profit margin on the resale.

It was an interesting slice of life. No matter where we go or what we do, there always seems to be a pecking order of some kind to keep us in line. If no one imposes it on us, we do it to ourselves. The poor resent the wealthy for being able to outbid them, and the wealthier ones resent the poor ones for not being professionals.

Oh, and me? I bought a nice fiberglass 8-foot class 1A stepladder for fifty bucks (pre-paint-dripped!) and a dog dish and a wooden mallet in a lot for a dollar. Not bad. Oh, and I had a hot dog and a Diet Coke from kids raising money for a school thing.

See? not bad. Day one is done. Put it to bed and try again tomorrow.


pat said...

Great blog!

Laura D. on MDI said...

Sorry I missed it that sounded like a good one but I was off doing the campaign stuff, oh well!

laughingatchaos said...

Never been to an auction. Maybe someday. And those damned fragments will be the end of me. Same with prepositions.

Robin said...

We don't have those kinds of auctions here (country isn't old enough, I suppose). I did go once in the States and got so swept up in it that I came home with a box of antique (read: old) marbles. Yes, marbles. Apparently I'd lost mine.

Oh, and the fragments? Good stuff. Use 'em all the time.