Day Twenty-Six: Inspired by that guy with the giant red paper clip

Dream: to climb Machu Picchu the long, winding, non-touristy way.

Dream: to live for a while (or maybe forever) in Montana or Colorado or Wyoming.

Dream: to build a rock or stone terraced wall-garden-thing along the sidewalk in my front yard, fill it in with dirt and then re-plant the insanity that is my perennial garden back into it.

Dream: to get really good at swing dancing.

These are just a few of my many, many, many dreams. I was thinking about some of them at dawn today, and then that guy with the giant red paper clip popped into my mind.

Remember him? He began with the huge paper clip and bartered his way up the ebay ladder until he owned a house, in Canada as I recall. This was in the news a few years ago, and the whole idea intrigued and delighted me.

Barter: it’s the new money.

I used to do a food exchange with another family. Once a week, sometimes more, we would cook twice the amount of dinner, package it up and then go leave it on the others’ doorstep. This was an idea I dreamed up out of a (probably false) sense of imaginary nostalgia (imaginary because I never experienced it myself) for the way little communities used to work, or the way I imagine they used to work, in which everyone took care of each other and each others’ children.

The other family, as I recall, was initially hesitant, but game to try. The food exchange was a huge success from the very first day. There was no pressure whatsoever – if you were flat out one week, you didn’t have to cook extra. If you were in a cooking mood one week, you could leave food two or three times.

We already knew that we each liked each others’ cooking, so there were no unpleasant surprises. The food exchange brought us closer together as friends, even though most of the time the only interaction was coming home and finding a big shopping bag by your front door.

There was something about the fact that someone else had done the cooking, then carefully wrapped it up and taken it over to the other house. It made the other family (and me, when it was my turn to find food on my doorstep) feel as if someone else was watching over them, taking care of them.

That was a long time ago, and the food exchange has been over for many years. But I was thinking about it, and missing it, as the dog and I made our way around the lake at dawn today. The food exchange was a form of barter, and barter intrigues me.

Therefore, today’s never done before challenge: to offer up something possibly barterable in return for something that I would like to do/go to/experience.

What could I barter, though? The only potentially interesting thing I came up with to offer was naming rights to a character in a future book. But that idea, for many reasons, is a dicey proposition, so I rejected it.

But wait!

It dawned on me that I do have something of actual value that can be bartered, which is a one-week stay, for yourself or your family or your friends, in the charming little hotel apartment partially owned and operated by me and my youthful companions. Right here in the heart of a famously artsy biggish city, no blackout dates other than Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Uptown Art Fair.

Got anything interesting to barter in return? If so, let me know.


  1. Karen · August 6, 2012

    What a cool idea! Is this an act-quickly thing, or something we can tuck away to wait for brilliant ideas or friends-who-should-know-about-this to present themselves?


  2. alison · August 6, 2012

    Karen, since the apartment isn’t going anywhere, I certainly think it could be an ongoing thing. Who knows what great idea will pop up in the future, you know?


  3. Karen · August 6, 2012

    I will tuck it away, then. I am really intrigued by the idea of bartering, even though I’ve never actually tried it.


  4. oreo · August 11, 2012

    That guy with the paperclip has long fascinated me. Please do keep us updated on how this barter quest unfolds.


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