Thursday, March 31, 2005

"This is your life, are you who you want to be..."

It isn’t easy separating who you are from what you do. Or should I say that it isn’t easy separating who I am from what I do. Mimi, you are correct when you suggested – in a very kind way might I add – that my priorities are a little out of whack. I’ve been thinking about that all month. Is what I say that is important – my faith, my family – being usurped by my need to be praised?

So far, I’ve let what I do define who I am. I am a mother and a teacher. I would love to be just a mother. That’s a lie. I would love to be a writer and a mother, but there is a reason why I am not a writer. It has to do with my theory of writing and writers, and I’ll divulge more about that at a later date.

For now, my attentions are divided. I can’t do what I want because I have to work. Rather, to maintain my current lifestyle, I have to work. Most who say that live in bigger houses, have nicer cars, live in more affluent communities, and have more toys. My husband and I do not live extravagantly. It’s a rarity that I buy something that is not on sale. Sure, we could live more frugally, but we both own used cars, we are a family of six and we live in a 1500 square foot home in a “Middle-Class” neighborhood in a average town in an state that has a higher than average unemployment rate. Currently, we pay $2.11 per gallon for unleaded gasoline.

Nevertheless, my family lives nearby, and it is important to my husband and I that our children spend time with their doting grandparents. The rest of my family is a little wacky – no, they really are. And I am no less wacky than they. But weirdly we want our kids to have a connection with my extended family, who also live in the vicinity, because it builds character to know and love strange people.

And my husband has a good job here. He is truly gifted at what he does. Also, his job pays a decent enough wage; his salary is probably better than any other un-famous musician can earn. He could be famous at the expense of being a good father and husband, but he chose, “the road less traveled.” [Thought – why is being a good father and husband not the popular path?] Instead he labors with a passion and excellence that the world may never recognize. Clearly he has made many sacrifices for me, so I work.

Which brings me to my point: because I can do my job and parent my children simultaneously, I choose to do both. But I do neither well. I personally can’t be the best at something unless I can put 100% into it. So in effect, I choose to do nothing well. That’s why I embrace my mediocrity. That is the one thing I can do 100%. Ironically, I am very good at being mediocre. These are my life choices. This is what I have to live with. I’ve accepted that.

Still, it is very difficult to separate who I am from what I do. It’s difficult to accept that about myself and to not feel – well – less of a person. All of those things that I enjoy doing – playing soccer, singing, writing – I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t love the accolades for a job well done in those areas. But you are correct, Mimi. In the scheme of things, those are talents; my talents do not define me. My talents may define my borders, but what is external is only an expression of who I am – a faint expression at best.

So now that I’ve lived at least three-and-a-half decades, it’s finally time to start defining what is important. Life is too short to be worrying about how badly I do everything. These are not the last mistakes I will make, and my children will surely come back to me in 20 years and tell my how I’ve undeniably screwed them up. That’s what children do.

Hopefully, they will also discover that who they are is not what I’ve made them either. Right now I feel a little sad, a little confused, but very hopeful. My birthday present to myself is that this next part of my life I pledge to not make life so complicated, to not worry about the “cannots,” and to embrace the simplicity and contentment I desire.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Mama Mia

I've got a bug making love to my TV. It must be a boy bug.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Neighbor Hater

Around five o'clock that evening (see last post), the same nice red Ford pulled up again, but this time there were two familiar faces inside. I recognized both as mothers of children in my oldest daughter's class at school. KS was so excited that she immediately threw on her flops and headed out to say hi. My seven year old was not far behind.

It seems as though the two - one the wife of the renter/buyer and the other her friend - were checking out the place, possibly taking measurements or something like that. My daughters briefly chatted with the Moms, and then KS and KJ came back inside. I tried to send my daughters back out with a plate of freshly baked cookies for the Moms, but the truck was already gone.

No less than two hours later, Drew called. He sounded strange.

"Hey, uh, did you, uh, see some people looking at the house a few hours ago?"

"Yeah! We know them - well our daughters are in class together. What a coincidence!"

"Yeah, she said that she talked to you and your daughters..."

"No," I interrupted, "I didn't talk to her, but my daughters did. Why? What's up?"

I was starting to get a sick, sinking feeling.

"They backed out of the deal."

"You're kidding!!"

"It's so weird. I just don't know what to think. They were so excited to see the house for sale; they said that they wanted to buy the house three years ago when it originally was up for sale. They said it was a dream come true. They gave me a huge down payment and everything."

"Wow, that is strange."

"Yeah. So I was wondering if you said anything to her or your daughters..."

"Like I said, I didn't talk to her."

"Yeah, well the whole thing is just so strange. I don't know what to think. Maybe she said something to your daughters?"

"Well, what did they tell you? Why did they say they were backing out?"

"Oh, I don't know. Something like she just didn't want to move right now - it was too much of a hassle or something."

"I don't know what my daughters talked about with them, but it sounds as if something else is going on here, Drew. Maybe her husband lost his job or something? That happened to a friend of mine one day before she was supposed to close on a house."

"I don't know. I mean, now I have to go put the signs back up and everything. It's all just such a hassle. Your daughters didn't say anything?"

"Sorry, Drew. I can't help you there. I can't imagine what they would say to make those people back out of the deal. I'm sorry the deal fell through, though."

"Oh, that's okay. Yeah, you're probably right. Sorry to bother you about this. Oh well, I guess I'll be putting the signs up again."

"Okay, Drew. See you later."

Just as weirdly as it began, the conversation was over.

Now I don't know what kind of wacky weed my ex-neighbor is smoking, but could he seriously have thought that either my daughters or I would have purposely gone out there and talked these people out of the deal? Worse yet, did he think that we would have gone out there and berated these people or cursed at them until they were thoroughly offended enough to back out of the deal? Even stranger than that, is it possible that my ex-neighbor crazily thought that we "had it in for him" so we said bad things about him or his family until these people were so thoroughly disgusted that they backed out of the deal? None of these scenarios are pretty. To be silently accused of such mischief is frightening.

Or did the would be new neighbors get a glimpse of who lived next door - namely me and my family - and couldn't stand the thought of spending the next decade next door? Well that is a deal breaker. Better that they found out now before they moved all of their furniture into the house. It's surprisingly difficult to maneuver a mattress up a flight of stairs.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

New Neighbor?

More about my if I don't have anything more interesting to discuss. Okay, so I don't, but that's just the way it is some times.

Anyhow, last week my ex-neighbor, "Drew," posted a "For Rent" sign in front of his house. If I thought that the guy would be diligent enough to check for priors on Meth lab busts, I wouldn't give it a second thought. But Drew just gave his wife full custody of his kids, in his own words, "to call her bluff," since what she really wanted was joint custody.

Oh yeah, that will teach her a lesson.

Needless to say, his logic is a little off here. All I'm saying is that I don't want to pay the price if my ex-neighbor decides to teach a "Green-River-Killer-type" a lesson by renting the house to him.

That's just the beginning of my story. Two days ago, I saw Drew showing the home to some folks. When he took the signs down, I assumed that a buyer or renter took the bait. My suspicions were confirmed when later that day the same nice new red Ford F-10 from that morning showed up, and papers were signed right there in the driveway.

Of course I immediately wondered why a person with that nice of a truck would be buying the "Very Brady" split-level next door. Brand new houses go for the same or less than what my neighbor was asking. Maybe it's the nostalgia factor? Who knows.

So I conveniently dashed outside to check my mail when I spied Drew doing the same before he took off. As we passed each other, casually I probed, "Hey, it looks like you sold your house."

"Yeah, someone is going to rent it for a year and then buy it."

"Cool! Well that's great news! Do they have any kids?"

"As a matter of fact they do. Three little girls."

"What do you know?! My girls will be excited to hear that! But please keep in touch. We will especially miss your kids. Make sure you bring them around next time they are in town."

"Will do."

And then Drew got into his mother's PT Cruiser and drove off into the horizon.