Saturday, September 6, 2008

simplicity by necessity

now that i have quit my job working for rod (the most interesting boss, no doubt, i will ever lay claim to), my life is once again a domestic bliss punctuated by social events. and wine. "she does enjoy a sherry if you know what i mean." no, no, i really only use sherry to cook, but i watched "miss pettigrew lives for a day" last night, and incorporating movie quotes into my life was always one of my greatest strengths. does anyone remember this? i think it got so out of hand at one point that 50% of everything i said to anyone was straight movie quotes. i really SO rarely watch movies anymore, reason being: parenthood. but it's more complex than having less time on my hands to entertain myself. i suppose that compared to the intense, gritty joy of parenthood, most movies are basically crap and not worth watching. ESPECIALLY since you are spending two hours and some amount of money. i mean, we used to watch movies every single night in college, and go to the at least once a week! (where i got the money for this sinful extravagance i can't tell you.)

so what are the social events that punctuate my life? baby showers. wedding showers. weddings. house warming parties. birthdays. in little golden's four weeks of life she has been to many such events already, when babies should technically stay at home for six weeks to build up their fragile immune systems. oh well. most of these things could really not be missed. my life sounds so frivolous when described this way, but what's key about social events is relationships. i LOVE my friends. but the older i get, the more i realize what an inconsiderate person i am. and i always come away from said events analyzing conversations i had, usually feeling awkward or remorseful about something that i said or didn't say to someone.

i really, really hate how i tend to especially judge people that have more money than me, that spend money on their hair or their babies or nice things for their lovely, private homes. i always think that these things are so trivial, that there are kids in africa that would kill to even have three meals a day, and here people are, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on one silly oriental rug or a flashy engagement ring or a designer wedding gown or a snazzy stroller when a thrift store stroller would do just as well. but then i inevitably re-realize that the the only reason i am more "humble" than they is that God has forced humility on me by circumstance. not because i choose to spend my extra on starving children in the third world as opposed to curtains for my living room. i know i WOULD spend a ton of money, if i could, on west elm home decor, clothes from, and a dang oriental rug, i suppose. but i can't. i've been wearing the same green gauchos and tank top every day since god was a boy and i suppose i will continue to wear them daily until someone else has pity on me and sends me on a shopping trip.

(this has happened to me at least twice. the most recent one was when rod looked over his occhiali designer glasses at me and scanned my frumpy blue sweater and greasy hair. then he slowly and deliberately got his wallet out of his pocket, got a credit card out of his wallet, and tossed it across the desk. "i want you to go out," he said, "and buy yourself...200 dollars worth of clothes. NOT food, not gas, not baby gear. clothes. you can give me back my credit card on friday." hm. boy did i have fun with that one.)

but anyways, part of me just really wants to chuck it all and move to mexico, ESPECIALLY if we ever end up having more than what we live on now. so that i would be kept in perspective about what it means to truly lack, and hopefully be able to make conservative choices in what i buy for myself, my home, or my kids. i have yet to see in santa barbara someone who lives far below their means so that they can donate the rest to the cause of the afflicted.

(next day)
yes, God has definitely chosen this simplicity for me. i thought of some more stuff i would spend money on if i weren't a financially struggling mother of two: i am probably one of those kinds of people who would have her eyeliner tattooed on! i have a hunch. but we'll never know for sure...unless i end up rich, of course. but by then i hope i'll know better than to be so vain. wait, is it vain or is it practical? my dad always said time is money, too, so adding up all the time i have spent over the years putting on eyeliner (ESPECIALLY attempting to perfect the art of liquid eyeliner!)... it could be a good investment! for the record, i now only wear eyeliner on special occasions. but here's a funny story: when i was in high school and first experimenting with makeup, i heard through the grapevine that my friend's mother had said at one point: "oh, here comes doris with her ten pounds of eyeliner!" hahahaha. not so now.

so it is for me simplicity by necessity. i am many things inside. i am just as much a city lady as i am a country lass. i am a fashion vixen and a fashion shunner. i am a martini girl and a granola girl. part of me wants to acquire, to live in a nice home, to travel around the country and the world, see it all and have it all. and part of me is a minimalist and a homebody, recognizing the ultimate importance of quiet time with family, and the frivolity of thinking anything truly enlightening can be found in the entertainment of globe trotting. "there is nothing new under the sun." nicely spoken by the wisest man that ever lived.

but i am sure, apart from the purely materialistic aspects of it, my other "selves" will get their outlet in heaven: my desire for a home, the draw to experience other cultures, etc. for now, i have one body and one life, and twenty seven years of it have already been spent. the past is a road that is deeply etched, not a fluid river, like the future. there was one way that my childhood happened, and it is past. one college education. done. one marriage. one definitive step into parenthood. it could have been so many different ways. but here i am with my humble life and i really don't think it's been a bad one! no matter what you live, humanity always clings to life. hope springs eternal, even for those that DO have horrible lives and no God. they usually find some hope in the fluidity of the future, to make them want to live on. this is one clear aspect of being made in the image of God. he, too, values life. even when the resemblance is only seen in our love for our own life.

but i am not only someone that has been. the ever passing present is also making me into someone more concrete, perhaps chiseling away at my "other selves" as i get used to what this life has been for me for so long: simple. i find myself making decisions now that i would not have made before. i got a used double stroller for my baby shower, for example. it is functional, but it is worn. i have gotten offers from people to buy me a new stroller or "anything i want" for the baby. but i have made the decision to stick with the old stroller. because i need to know that it is ok to stop competing, that useful things, and things i am immensely thankful for, can be old and sub-prime. IT'S O.K. i do NOT need the new, spiffy stroller. it is good for me, and it is good for my kids, to walk around in santa barbara amongst all the hot rich yoga-pant moms with their nimbus 2000's, so to speak, with our old, functional, loved, humble stuff. and our heads still held high with a smile. goodbye to my martini self, my bigcitynewyorkstilettoheelprofessionalwhitesuitedgroomed self. i can feel you fading more and more.

but will she make a comeback when i am older and my kids have left the nest??--i fear i may still turn into an old, lipsticked cougar!

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