Thursday, August 8, 2013
Holding him in my arms while making grilled cheeses for lunch:
Me: "Do you know what this is? ... It's called a microwave."
Evan: "My crrr vee?"
Me: "Yes! Good! And this is called an oven."
Evan: (pointing at the oven) "ME!!!"
Me: (hysterical laughter) "No! Not EVAN! ... OVEN!"
Evan: "NO. MEEEEE!"
Posted by novelle360 at 9:03 PM
Sunday, August 4, 2013
I live in a $347,600 four-bedroom house in a perfect neighborhood filled with tree-lined streets, doctors and college professors.
I drive a brand new $38,755 minivan -- complete with a DVD player, of course -- that has top-rated everything and a built-in mini cooler so my bottled water will never go luke warm on even the longest trip.
My king-sized bed has a luxury mattress so amazing that it cost more than my first car. My living room looks like it could be straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalog. And all of my appliances are matching stainless.
But, believe me, I'm not bragging.
Sometimes I get disgusted with it all.
Yes, we work VERY hard. Insanely hard for what we have. And usually we're tremendously grateful, feel overly fortunate and blessed, and appreciate the hell out of all of it. Moving from a century-old house in a rundown town with rusty playgrounds and dilapidated sidewalks, we felt very accomplished to take such a huge step up in a much more well-off community.
And it wasn't easy. We skimped and saved. Penny-pinched and went without. We thought it was everything we ever wanted and always dreamed of. And the timing was important because Allison will now be attending a great school district for kindergarten in the fall -- a fact I'll never overlook.
But are we happier?
Truthfully, I'm not sure.
There's something to be said about the affliction that is Keeping Up with the Joneses. I never really understood it until I suddenly felt inadequate driving a decade-old beat up SUV next to all the sparking Lexuses and BMWs parked in neighboring driveways.
Suddenly things I never cared about before became important. Like what people thought of me when I took Toby out to pee in the morning and I was in the middle of our back yard, morning hair extraordinaire, clad in paint-splattered yoga pants and a threadbare Miami Vice T-shirt Jerry picked up in a thrift store while he was in college. My personal (and officially adopted) favorite.
We don't have jobs with fancy titles. We don't have sparkling graduate degree academic accreditations framed in mahogany and displayed on the wall in our front office. We can't afford to hire a maid and have weekly lawn care service. And that mattress? One of Jerry's best radio station promotion job perks ever. Had we been buying, we would've picked a floor model with one less zero on the price tag.
As for the van, it was a complete freak occurrence after a former high school senior portrait client texted and asked to buy my old CR-V to take to college. I interpreted it as a sign it was time to literally move on. After working out the details for selling, I was convinced we would have to buy used, but low financing and dealer incentives made the payments cheaper to buy new. My first ever brand new vehicle and the excitement quickly turned to guilt. Go figure.
Instead of celebrating all of my newfound niceties in life, the very same things I used to dream of possessing with sentences that frequently included the word "someday," I now wonder if it's changing me. And maybe not for the better.
I'm not sure it's ever enough. I'm constantly evaluating what else we need. We need a new flagstone patio because the concrete is chipping and the little bits that drag in with our shoes are scratching the wood floor. We need better landscaping in the front of the house because the overgrown bushes block the light coming in my office windows. We need to replace the kitchen countertops with granite because it would really complete the space.
Vomit. Vomit. Vomit.
I was fine with our rusty gutters, weeds and peeling paint in our old house. Appearances didn't matter to me. I just wanted linoleum in the kitchen that wasn't straight out of the '70s.
So why is all of it suddenly important now? Why am I so concerned with things other than a very strong desire to keep what we have looking nice and not destroy them?
Some days I remember that I don't want to worry about whether our lawn is as well manicured as the ones that flank ours. I don't want to worry about what people think of the car that I drive. And I certainly don't want to forget what it was like living without.
I don't want to lose touch with the girl who cried because there wasn't money to pay the January heating bill. Who squatted in some friends' apartment for a few months and slept on a couch because having a bedroom would mean paying more rent. Or who worked at a bar and put up with disgusting middle-age drunk men and their occasional wandering hands between the beer taps because the tips would fund an eventual way out.
Maybe I'm just feeling guilty about all that we have. And admitting to myself that living in a nicer place has caused a slippery slope to materialism isn't easy. I also feel more guilt assuming that absolutely zero people will be able to relate to this.
Yes, I still believe that happiness is ultimately a personal decision. There is always a choice to see the good or the bad in any situation. I can sit here and focus on what other people think, whether we fit in, constantly evaluate what we need, or I can concentrate on setting those thoughts aside and do my best to focus on what's actually important in life.
One thing is for sure: Being firmly in my thirties successfully attaining most personal goals and obtaining all of the things I hoped I'd have by now doesn't feel as successful as I thought.
More, newer, faster and pricier isn't always better.
Here's to hoping that looking inward will help combat evaluating and comparing everywhere else. Because it's not -- and never has been -- me.
Posted by novelle360 at 12:20 AM
Friday, August 2, 2013
I won't even tell you what lengths I had to go through to gain access to this page. Lets just say it took me 20 minutes, some serious combing through long discarded email accounts and two password retrieval requests.
But something told me that although I don't have time for this -- that my longtime personal excuse of being a wife, mother of two, dog owner, homeowner and business owner doesn't leave room for personal "wants" like writing when the mood strikes -- I shouldn't ignore my sudden desire to revisit it either.
A decade ago when I started this blog, I did it because I needed an outlet. I needed to work through some dark thoughts of self doubt and confusion over what path to take. And although on the surface I have a picture-perfect life and everything I ever dreamed I wanted all those years ago, if I'm truly honest with myself, I'm not happy.
And the best way I know to solve my troubles is working through these confusing feelings and forcing them into actual words. Making my thoughts tangible.
Already this feels like an incredible emotional release.
For a long time, this was my sanctuary. This little blip on the web. It was a diary, for sure. A daily account of my life. I liked that it was public to keep me accountable, but it also felt anonymous because at its inception no one knew it existed.
Over time I think it took on a life of its own. Its crazy popularity in the peak of my involvement with blogging was insanely fun at times, and frankly surprising. I met so many incredible people online I otherwise would not have gotten to know. But it was also a burden. I didn't owe anyone anything, but a slack in posting drew ire from strangers. It was a little strange feeling that I had to keep up with other people's expectations of me.
After awhile I had so many people in my own life reading -- my parents, siblings, extended family, former mentors, friends, co-workers, my boss -- that it wasn't "me" anymore. I couldn't write freely knowing every word would be judged and could be (and sometimes was) used against me.
It was easy to stop writing after Evan was born because having an infant and a toddler to care for all day every day is more immediate responsibility than I'll ever have for the rest of my life. Yes, I struggled with knowing he might resent me for not documenting his first year as thoroughly as I did his big sister's. But man I love that kid more than anything and it settles me somehow that I'll be able to show him in other ways. I didn't write and chose instead to invest that time enveloping myself in their youth. Snuggling in bed. Having messy hair and laying on the floor together. Sure, I wish I could look back at my own words documenting those days, but I have no regrets having just soaked them in either.
Tangent aside, I guess I'm hoping two-ish years of a writing hiatus actually returned a little of my anonymity. I can't imagine anyone clicks here on a daily basis anymore, and now that I work for myself, I have no one to represent or offend but me.
That said, I'll be very happy to hear from anyone who does stumble upon this and wants to get reacquainted with my world.
I hope I can figure a few things out and get reacquainted with me, too.
Posted by novelle360 at 12:07 PM