Day: January 20, 2016

This and That

We had an unexpected episode of bed wetting,so we are all up about an hour earlier than usual, everyone has been fed and dressed, and I have a tiny bit of free time! Just enough to jot down a few lines.

I have been working on the book and it’s nearing completion. Well, at least the form I will submit for publication. I have managed to pare it down to about 112k words and still have some relatively serious editing to do.
The experience has been interesting. One insight — trivial when you think of it, but still somewhat unexpected — was that the newer posts were generally better quality than the older ones. Better flow, better editing. I don’t sound quite as constipated as I used to.

This reminds me of an exchange that Zach Weinersmith (“Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal“) had, I think on Reddit. Someone asked Zach something along the lines of “Your newer comics are so great, you hardly have any misses! (As in, unfunny jokes.) The older ones, not so much. Why do you think that is?” To which Zach replied something like, “That’s like asking an NBA player why he spent his toddler years $hitting his pants and not making three-pointers from halfway across the court.” Damn straight.

Of course, you get better with practice, but I guess you don’t realize just how much better, until you really look at the material and compare. It’s humbling, really. There is some good stuff there, but much wasn’t as good as I remember it. Or maybe this whole book business is making me a touch grumpy (shut up, CPP).

But it’s getting there and I want to be proud of it.


In other news, I have been reading some working mom blogs, and the issue of being near family at the price of living in a ridiculously high-cost-of-living area came up. One particular blogger and her husband, both professionals and with the student loans to prove it, work for not-for-profit organizations. Being that they live in an extremely pricey area, in large part to be near parents, they can only live fairly modestly on their income and it bothers the blogger.

I must say I don’t really understand this mindset. I am not judging, but the blogger’s priorities appear to be different enough from mine that it’s not easy for me to appreciate what she considers to be positive trade-offs. I grew up middle class-ish in Europe, according to local standards. My parents worked, yet we all lived with my maternal grandparents. It was cramped, but a very common living arrangement. I was not poor; had I stayed there, I could have had a modest life. I already had a job, but there were no opportunities — not to grow, not to learn, not to change jobs, not to travel, not to ever buy property. I might have ended up living with my or my husband’s parents pretty much till they died. My kids would have grown up to be scrappy and rude little monsters, as is common there. I would have had a lot of help from family, and the proximity of them and my friends would have been nice in some ways. So I feel like I left a situation that would not have been much worse than what the blogger describes, yet it was absolutely suffocating for me. To me, actually not being around family and friends of yore is liberating (there can be a lot of emotional manipulation involved in all that free babysitting).

I grew up in a large city and thought I always absolutely had to live in a place like that. It turns out, I don’t. I currently live in a very nice city that’s about 1/10 the population  of the city I grew up in. It’s still plenty large, and with what DH and I make, we have a very nice standard of living. I am happy that coastal people think we’re in flyover country; all the better, they won’t come here and raise our property prices. Being able to afford things — a house that’s big enough so we can spend 6 months snowed in without going stir-crazy, going on non-extravagant vacations (note the plural) every year, having college savings for the kids, paying for extracurriculars and enrichment — this is all very important to DH and me.

Being away from ancestral home is an added bonus. There’s love, but also so much drama. You don’t want to know what a gloomy piece of crap I would have been 24/7 if I had stayed at home. An example: my mother’s mantra is “If you think your life is great, put a small pebble in your shoe so it bothers you.” That’s how you grow up to be anxious, suspicious of your good fortune and good times, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, accepting crappiness as the normal state of affairs.

I am not judging the blogger, I simply admit that I don’t fully understand why someone has to end up living extremely modestly (the blogger is bothered by it, that’s why it’s a problem) just to live in a certain city and be near parents, when they could live quite comfortably elsewhere and have the money to travel to see said grandparents and other attractions. And they don’t even have to emigrate to do that, as emigration is not for the faint of heart; they remain technically among their own compatriots.  This is such as great big country, people should take advantage of what it has to offer. Again, I am not judging, but it’s just very different from my perspective and what I consider important, so it’s not easy to relate. Then again, I might just be a crappy daughter.

But the US of A is wonderful. One of these days, I will drive coast to coast, and then north to south. Okay, it might take more than one of these days.


A very nice post by Mel of “Stirrup Queens”on how the online life is the real life.