Friday, March 22, 2013

What Does a Bad Day Look Like?

I've been consciously working for some time on tweaking my perspective. You see, I am a white, middle-class, American woman. This means that the cards I was dealt were pretty good before I traded any in. It's not right, it's not fair, but it's a fact in our society and I think pretending it's not is foolish.

No matter what, I get to snuggle this Bug every day.
That's not to say I don't have problems. Everyone has problems. I have anxiety that, at times, cripples me. That sucks. My kidneys are formed weird (Google "medullary sponge kidney") which makes me prone to kidney stones. I get them every few years and it's unpleasant. Honestly, NOT a huge deal and NOT something that affects my quality of life, or even will down the road, but definitely a problem at times. And like everyone else with children, I'm raising mine in some very unstable, uncertain times, when the economy is fickle and violence seems to permeate even the "best" neighborhoods and college tuitions are going up while paychecks remain flat. Things are tough out there and we all feel it.

So yeah, there are some normal, every day problems. And on occasion there are more acute problems. Sick loved ones. Financial emergencies. Things that keep us in the immediate, in an unrelenting fight-or-flight state of mind. Legitimate problems that we have every right to fret about and lose ourselves in.

Um, Jen? You said something about perspective? All you've done so far is whine about yer trubbles, so...?

I'm getting to that. Stay with me. I'm un-coffeed because we were out of milk this morning. It's a really difficult time in my life.

So perspective. My tendency is to fall into the Bad Day Trap. I totally just made that phrase up. It's not very witty. Again, no coffee. Anyway. Bad Day Trap.

The BDT begins with something small. A broken juice glass, an empty milk carton, a stubbed toe...something that is unpleasant and inconvenient, but generally not life-altering. It happens, and my mind immediately goes, "Well, there goes THIS day!" In my spoiled brain I am immediately having a bad day, and every minute occurrence that I encounter for the remainder of the day will build upon the last until I am so disgruntled and irritated about the obvious conspiracy that's been hatched against me that so much as asking me to pass the salt may result in the loss of one's head.

Does this sound even remotely familiar to anyone? Please say yes so that I can move on without feeling quite so much like a crazy freak.

What I've been trying to do lately (and by "lately," I mean over a period of months) is to get my brain out of that hyperbolic sense of self-pity as quickly as possible and just laugh at this stupid shit. If I can jump on Facebook and make a joke about the adversity I'm facing because of the empty milk carton, then I can move on. I can remind myself that minor, inconsequential inconveniences are not actually the same thing as problems. I can laugh with my children instead of shrinking into my sweatshirt and glowering at the unjust world. I can stop letting bumps in the road become twisting, mountain passes with steep drop-offs.

Because frankly I'm going to need that energy for when something really does go wrong. And something will at some point. But if finding that the dog has chewed one of the kids' toys is going to send me into a death spiral of despair, then how in the hell am I going to muscle through something larger, something that, if given leeway, could really break me?

I have to reserve that energy for the times when I will need it. For the good of my family and of myself, I have to put things in perspective. And I'm not talking about reminding myself that it could be worse or that people in other countries have it so much harder, although those things are true. I'm talking about acknowledging the inconvenience or frustration, giving its due but nothing more, and moving on with my day.

If I can do that, then I will know a bad day when it actually happens. I will be able to look back and see far more good days than bad, because the actual bad days will be so stark against the wall of good.

I'm finished with my thoughts now, but I challenge you to go back through this post and count the random metaphors. There are a lot of un-coffeed metaphors up in here. That's how I am rolling on this most beautiful, chilly, wonderful day.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Time to Fix Crap!

Husband is off this week from both school and work and we're using the time to fix the CRAP out of some crap. Paint, doors, floors, steps, carpet...shit is HAPPENING.

We're going to be extremely busy as we move all our packed stuff into my sister-in-law's basement (thanks, SIL!) and clean and fix and replace and whatnot all the things. I'll take lots of pictures, as I know you are all on pins and needles.


Anyway...we're busy. My nails will not be did, as they will likely be caked in interior paint. My hair will not be did neither either...or it will probably also have lots of paint in it, and also ponytail holders. It will be a fine mess. But we're almost there!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

This Wall

I have to paint over this wall in a few days, and as much as I've emotionally detached myself from this, our first home, I admit I'm gutted about it. It's the most beautiful design choice in our home, and even though I've already transferred the measurements to a sheet of paper that we can take with us and recreate on a new's not this wall. This wall, in this house, which is the only home either of my babies have ever known.

When people start checking out this house, commenting on the cabinets and the counter space and the size of the bedrooms and the lack of granite, walk-in closets, and/or man caves, they will walk right past this wall. It won't register in their minds as being significant in any way. They won't have an image of my four year-old daughter trying to sneak and pop up on her toes to make herself appear taller, giggling at her own cleverness. They won't see me gently holding my one year-old son's heels against the baseboard as I take his very first wall measurement. They won't see me wrapping my arms around Bear and begging her to please, please just stop growing up.

And they shouldn't. Because to them, this is not our home. This is a house that they might want to make into their home. Once we take our things and lock that door for the last time, the life we've built here goes with us. And so do the beautiful children whose sweet, perfect heads pressed against that wall every three months for seven years.

But I'm still going to cry.

Monday, March 4, 2013

One Step Closer to Making it a Reality

Two weeks ago we had a realtor out to the house to help us get the ball rolling. I know that last year our plan was to try to sell by owner, but I'm too intimidated by the legal side of the deal-making and we decided to call the realtor who helped Husband's parents and sister through multiple real estate transactions. She's been in the business for a long time, and as a bonus she happens to live in a neighborhood very close to ours, so she knows the local market very well.

Anyway, we busted out our Honey-Do List From Hell and talked about all the necessary repairs and updates, prioritizing them with her advice.

We also had a trim painting party on 2/23. I offered food and alcohol to anyone who could hold a paintbrush. My uncle and a friend were the only ones who made it out, but they saved me a good four hours of solo work and we managed to get almost all of the trim I had planned to paint that day finished. And a bunch of my other friends have offered to come out and help at other times, so I may hold another painting party in a few weeks. There is still a good amount of trim and almost every wall in the house, so...yeah. Good times.

Before...and after. Say it with me: "Ooooooh...aaaaaaaah!"

Our plan at the moment is to continue knocking out the small projects over the next few weeks, and then Husband is taking a week off work to dedicate to the bigger projects, finishing up the small stuff, and getting the house packed, staged, and ready to put on the market! Our goal is to list the house by May 1st. I'd like to do it by April 1st.

I feel optimistic. I've done ridiculous amounts of research over the past year and I am not a person who often acts impulsively. Understand, I am not saying I am not an impulsive person; on the contrary, my natural inclination is to "act now, think later!" But years of experience with the consequences of such a tendency have led me to slow myself down. With a lot of practice under my belt, I am now pretty good at spotting the train and getting out of the way in time.

I digress, but the point is that I feel prepared. I feel overwhelmed, but I feel ready. I know I've done my diligence, Husband feels good about our plans, and we're ready to get on with our lives and build our dream home. I can almost smell the morning air tickling my nose on our ten acres of solitude. I can just about feel the heat of the bonfires on my cheeks. I can envision it perfectly, Husband and I sitting out on our deck and watching a deer steal a crab apple from one of our trees. Then there's a loud crash from inside and we realize we're the parents of young children and we rush back into our (gorgeous, custom) house to find Bug feeding dirt from a broken planter to Ella.

Our dream house (source)

It's going to be glorious. And we're so, so close. Two years from this moment, I could be preparing to move into our new home. Two years ago I was four months pregnant with Bug and halfway through my last semester of college. That time has flown and I know this time will, too.

It's right in front of me. It's Y, and X is happening all over the place. And I am so, so ready.