Being a “Grown Up”

When we were home for the holidays, I had a conversation with my mom about jobs, kids, and home buying – you know, the “adult” stuff you’re supposed to have and do in your 30s. She made a comment that has been nagging at me, especially lately, and I want to try to unpack that while also talking about things we’ve been discussing lately.

Mom and I were talking about our plans for having kids, and I was explaining to her that one of the things I’m constantly turning over in my head is what we’ll give up if we make that decision. Mom said something along the lines of that we’d had time to pursue our interests or our hobbies, but that maybe now it was time to set aside some of the fun things and be grown ups. This wasn’t her exact wording, and it makes her response sound much more judgmental than it was. Regardless, it brings me to what I want to talk about: being grown ups.

We’ve decided to wait another year before buying a house. There are a variety of reasons for this: we’d like to have more money in the bank so that we can put down a substantial down payment and avoid PMI. While I like my new job a lot, we’re still not sold on being in Ann Arbor for the long term, especially not after this interminable winter. Home values aren’t appreciating, which makes buying a house seem like a less than ideal investment. And besides, while we complain about our rental, we’re not on the hook when the water heater breaks or the roof leaks or the driveway needs to be redone.

Similarly, we’re not rushing into having kids. Despite my lifelong ambition to be a mom, the reality is very different than the fantasy. There are certainly many rewards to having children, but right now we’re considering the things we can measure. My career is very important to me, and Shane is really busy with work, mopeds, beer, and whatever hobby will come up next. As a result, our days are very full – and that’s before adding in running, gardening, cooking, travel, or friends – and we appreciate a good night’s sleep. Having a baby would dramatically change all of that. Kids are tremendously expensive in both the short and long term, and that’s if everyone is healthy. Ultimately, the decision to have kids is a huge, lifelong one – there’s no foreclosure proceedings or bankruptcy in this area of your life.

So what’s been bugging me about my mom’s comment is that while I can see that we have selfish reasons for not buying or birthing right now – they are also good reasons. We are making the choice to not have a baby right now – or perhaps ever – because we’ve thought about it and talked about it and come to the conclusion that this is not something we want right now. We aren’t buying a house – even though it’s a buyer’s market – because it is the right decision based on a variety of personal and financial factors. I would argue that making these decisions makes us, in fact, MORE grown up than if we haphazardly embraced her view that these things are what you do when you are married and in your 30s. Which is absolutely not to say that making different decisions than we have is wrong – just that these are our choices based on who and where we are in our lives.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about.

2010 Resolutions and/or Action Items

  1. Focus on my relationships and be a more patient and loving partner and friend.  Also cat parent to Basil, who is adorable but drives me freakin’ nuts.
  2. Get married. This should be action item #1, but item #1 on this list is actually much more important.
  3. Save aggressively for a house and for overall financial stability.
  4. Go camping and generally explore our new state.
  5. Get over my fear of DPNs and knit the kittyville hat.
  6. Write two more issues of my zine.
  7. Run 500 miles. This works out to roughly 9.5 miles per week. Totally doable.
  8. Learn CSS. I mean really learn it. More than just troubleshooting and/or fixing things.
  9. Read 30 books. This works out to 2.5 books per month.
  10. Kitchen Diaries project, which should result in achieving the following sub-goals:
    1. focus on healthy, flavorful meals
    2. try several new recipes each month
    3. learn more about the camera + take better photos
    4. update my/our blogs more regularly

So the big news of the day – or, rather, the big news of five days ago, except I was too busy to find out – is that my house sold. Unfortunately it sold at foreclosure, not through a realtor, but the point is that it is gone. This is such a blessing for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that despite the discrepancy (mostly interest and fees) between the payoff amount and the sale amount, the bank doesn’t intend to pursue this debt. My credit is pretty messed up, but the good news is that it can only get better from this point. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Today was the first day of class for me, and I’m hoping this will be a better semester. I certainly hope so, at least. In my introduction in one of my classes, I laid out pretty much all of my insecurities, explaining that I wasn’t sure that I’m in the right place, but I’m trying to learn what I can to apply back to the work I’m really passionate about. I said that I’ve thought about quitting more times that I’d actually like to admit – and the professor was unfazed. So, I’ve got that going for me.

Between bouts of stressing out, I had a couple of nice conversations with friends, and I spent the evening on the couch with a beer and Julie and Julia, which I enjoyed. SB and I had a quiet weekend, but this week we’re back to opposite schedules, with him working late and then reading later, and me up early for work. I hope we can work out a schedule for the semester that will allow time for work and exercise and homework and meals and that will put us in bed at the same time on occasion. We’ve been living together for the better part of six months, and I’m afraid I’m terribly spoiled.

My house didn’t sell. The local newspaper didn’t run the ad, so the auction was rescheduled for January 3. I suppose the good news is that the sale won’t affect this year’s taxes. The bad news is that once again, my hopes were buoyed by the idea of getting the house sold before auction, which is just clearly not possible. So, I’m no better or worse off than I was a couple of days ago.

On the bright side, I finished NaBloPoMo. So that’s something.

living room
The auction for my house is tomorrow. Please send waves of positive energy and many many prayers that it will sell for a reasonable amount, and that the spectre of debt will be at least somewhat lifted.

Shane and I went by the house this last weekend to clear out the last few things we’d left behind – a dazzling array of cleaning products, a few odd pieces of furniture, and beer and water left in the fridge from summer cleaning. Our work there was interrupted by Richard’s call about Basil, so we dropped everything and left town without finishing.

The circumstances surrounding that house are among my biggest regrets. It was a beautiful house, and it represented our shared hopes for happiness and a future together. I stood on the back porch with Shane this weekend and cried as I thought about what my life might be like now had I stayed – and then how happy I am with my life, despite all the frustrations and challenges. Part of me will always wish I would’ve had the opportunity to be happy and enjoy many years in that house, but that wasn’t meant to be. Now I just hope it sells, because then I can close the door on that chapter of my life for good.

What did I do with my weekend?

Shane and I spent the weekend in Rockford cleaning out/up my house in preparation for listing it with a realtor. We pulled down vines, cleaned out a damp basement full of moldy things, bleached countertops, and made more than one trip to the landfill (very exciting!). My dad gets extra bonus points for dumping out a bucket of what we referred to as toxic waste, but was actually the contents of the fridge left to rot in the sun for untold days/weeks/months. Shane gets extra bonus points for being supremely awesome. The house was in better condition than I expected, though we had to deal with a great deal more stuff than I anticipated. I’m headed back to Rockford next weekend to do more work, then hopefully I’ll be able to turn most of the rest of it over to my realtor. Three cheers for getting things in motion – and for the tireless help of an awesome family and a wonderful boyfriend.

a happy crazy person

Oh man, I wish nothing was happening. The last couple of weeks have been INCREDIBLY busy, so I’ll just give you the highlights:

Work: rolled out Moodle for the LEEP kids on or around 9 June after a long week of really intense work. Two training workshops (led by me), a number of forum discussions, and a couple of live sessions later, things seem to be going smoothly, and we’re “cautiously optimistic” for fall.

Work: turned in my notice at Aroma – my last normally scheduled week will be the week of 31 July. Feels like the end of an era. I said I’m fine with being on-call, but with my fall schedule (whatever it will be – 40/2 or 20/4), I just can’t do it anymore. Oh, and we changed the menu, which has made things needlessly complicated.

House: keys have been delivered, and I’m headed to Rockford this weekend to meet with a realtor, do a ton of yardwork, and generally figure out what needs to be done to the house to get it on the market. The ex has been cooperative, which I really appreciate. This is hard, but it could be a lot harder.

Adventures: spent last weekend in Chicago at Intonation and visiting Amanda. Good times all around, even though the festival was so-so, and it rained part of the weekend. Bloc Party was awesome, so was Jose Gonzalez, and I enjoyed seeing/hearing a bunch of new bands, including a lot of fun hiphop. Shane and I did some shopping downtown and at IKEA, both of which were fun. I got a gorgeous dress for Sarah’s wedding on consignment, and we looked at things for an imaginary shared apartment (code name: Basil Land). Pictures here.

Adventures: spent the weekend before in central Tennessee at Bonnaroo, which is/was an experience that can’t be summarized in a short paragraph. More on this later, but in brief, it was four days of dirt and sun and music and food and friends. I was relaxed and happy and very dirty, and coming back to the “real world” was difficult. I saw Andrew Bird, Radiohead, Beck, Rusted Root, The Magic Numbers, Buddy Guy, Cat Power, Matisyahu, and a bunch of people I’ve already forgotten. Pictures here.

General: things are good – exhausting, but good. I’m running around like a crazy person, but a happy crazy person, and that makes a world of difference.

I don’t feel like talking about the “I’m a real grown up” things that are going on right now, so I’ll just say that we had a lovely weekend in Rockford visiting my family, playing mini golf, going to the zoo with my sister, and generally relaxing. Every time we go somewhere new, I come up with a new fantastic fabulous life plan. The current one is for us to quit library school and move to Madison, where we can rent one of the cute apartments near the zoo. I can work at the little cafe right around the corner, and Shane can feed the tamarins. I don’t know how realistic that is, what with two almost MLSes between us, but it’s nice to think about.


Last night was nice – bummed around here and played online for a while, adjusting the color scheme and what not – took a shower, then went to Shawn’s for 24, where we learned more about the terrorist baby, who just reallllly complicated a relationship. I made French Onion soup all pretentious like, complete with a little crust of bread and melted mozzarella cheese. Tasty. Friends was super great – the one with Joey reading Little Women and when he gets sad (or scared), the book goes in the freezer. A good plan. I hung out there til about 10:30, then headed home.

Today? Work, calling the guy about the editing, emailing the lawyer, cleaning my apartment, hoping for mail, then meat night tonight with the kids. Nicole is coming, as is (maybe) CandyPants, so it should be fun!

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Another night of crazy not-sleep. Went to bed at 12, was awake again by 1:30, took the meds at 2:30, finally slept around 6, up at 8. My body and my psyche must be repairing because I’m not feeling the adverse effects as violently as before. Talked to Sarah for an hour or so this morning – I’m going to miss these convos when I go back to work (yes, Monday’s the day) and she starts teaching. We’ll have to figure something out. I feel closer to her right now than I have in a long time – no, that’s not true. There have been times when our closeness has waned and grown – but I guess I feel a part of her day to day life again, and that’s huge for me. I miss her living next door.

Amanda is finally going to be able to do her student teaching in the fall. This is HUGE! It’s going to mean some big big changes for her – but it will be such a good thing. I know she’s scared – it’s a huge transition from the life she’s been leading – but dude, if you’re reading this, I swear to you that you’ll still have fun, even if it requires me driving to Oak Park to do some performance art.

Am planning on posting a mini tour of the house this afternoon, once I’ve had a chance to play with the photos a bit. I bummed the digital cam off Mom – planning on keeping it through next weekend’s housewarming party – so look for lots of bandwidth-sucking in the next few posts.

Hey, Nostradamus! is fitting in nicely with the rest of my reading – after reading about time and education, now a book about faith. It is exhausting at times – and frustrating – but definitely worth the read and probably an immediate reread. I’m going to miss these mornings of idleness, spent on the couch with a good book.

Talked to Shawn a couple of times yesterday, which was good. I’m really looking forward to seeing him next weekend.

Off to find some lunch and maybe get some work done on the piles. It’s so nice to be able to see some of the floor – I can’t wait til I can see all of it and have a living room with enough empty space for ballroom dancing.