Tag Archives: meaning

Feeling Lucky in Love

When you grow up with “everything” in terms of material possessions and funded hobbies up to the wazzoo, your mental health issues such as depression are thought to be pure youth melodramatics. But in my ripe old-ish age of 31, I’ve found what I was missing and didn’t know I wanted. I found this thing they call love. And like the many songs that have been written about how people search for love in all the wrong places and shapes and sizes only to find it isn’t what they expected at all, here I am, a girl who thought she could never find true love, knee deep in the definition of it.

Oh, he isn’t perfect, and I never expected perfection out of another human being. But both of us lacking parents with the ability to love in our childhood have found that we can pour out all this love we have to give, our sensitive souls smiling with each instant cuddling on the couch or waking up in each other’s arms. He’s turned me into a total softie. He’s taught me that the hollow space inside my heart doesn’t need to be filled temporarily with material possessions – that I could easily be happy living the rest of my life in a relatively small space with few items, if only I would be guaranteed the opportunity to spend that time with him, being terribly silly, immaturely mischievous, and at the same time spiritually whole in the glow of his calming, zen-like attitude towards the world which combats my east coast leather-like psyche turning it into mushy clay.

But having him in my life also makes me unclear of what I want, because just 10 years ago I could only be striving for some sort of “success,” which merely meant a story my parents could brag about to their friends and our family. I didn’t have anything I really wanted. Fame, sure, but even my lust for fame was fleeting when I realized I didn’t actually like being the center of attention, I just liked not being alone. So as this love of mine developed over the past decade I started to find myself and she wasn’t who I thought she was at all, for good and bad. She was a lot less ambitious. She cared less about being smart or rich or even beautiful. She suddenly wanted a life of stability over a life of restless leaping from story to story until her final breath. After running for so long all she wanted to do was stop and fall into loving arms. And that she did.

I like to work and to be creative and help create projects as part of a team, so I’m not aspiring to leave the workforce anytime soon. I just don’t care as much about wealth as I used to. I’d like financial security, to know I can stop work when I have kids and spend time with them if I want to; to be able to have choices. But I don’t need a giant house (thank goodness because unless I’m ultra rich there is no way to afford one here) and I certainly don’t need new cars or fancy clothes. Even my vacations tend to be more on the budget side, within reason, because I feel uncomfortable in any environment that is slightly luxurious.

All I want right now, and the me of 10 years ago couldn’t believe I’m saying this, but all I want right now is a family of my own. I want to have kids, I’m sure of it, and I want to be a mother who tries her best to be a good mother and friend to her children. I want a house big enough where I can go into another room to have alone time but not so big that it has extra space to fill with crap collected throughout the years. I appreciate interior design and aesthetics but I lean much more to simplicity than I did in the past. I may be splurging on face creams to deal with my starting-to-age skin, but beyond that, I don’t really have anything I spend on. I’m so busy working there isn’t time to shop or take fancy trips anyway, which is fine by me.

So love really changes a person… I know first hand. I see how my parents, never able to love, instead continue to try to find completeness in buying lots of stuff. My father — his collections of often not-so-great art, baseball figurines, books, DVDs, et al, filling up the house; and my mother, clothes and more clothes and then random contraptions QVC convinced her to buy. Stuff. So much stuff.

Relatedly, my dad called me the other day while I was at work – I picked up as my dad NEVER calls me so when he does I figure something bad happened so I should pick up. No, I forgot, the other reason he calls (it has happened once before that I can remember) is when my general region is on the news and he worries about me. Last time, years ago, it was because there was a very low tsunami risk on the California coast. This time it was the rain storm that was causing a little bit of flooding. I told him I was fine and I had to go, but he kept talking, because he doesn’t really care that I was at work or had to go, and he started telling me that he’s going to go ahead with the purchase of a winter home in Florida… which is fine by me, they can do what they want, but again, they just keep buying stuff, I don’t think any of it makes them happy, and it’s sad but they’ll never be happy because they’ll never know love. They can’t. They’re two narcissists who only can love themselves in a twisted sort of way.

But here I am, 31 years old, and I have this guy in my life who loves me for who I am. He’s been there through thick and thin. Literally picking me up from jail (after my first-ever and last-ever DUI.) Holding me through losing my jobs and being there as I moped through periods of unemployment until the next opportunity came around. He’s just this rock, this smiling, beautiful, charming, unlike anyone else in the world rock. It’s not that I can picture spending the rest of my life with him – it’s that I cannot picture “not” spending the rest of my life with him. We’re together now, the way couples are together, but I didn’t think that was something that I could ever be a part of. I thought that was reserved for people who were more mentally balanced, people who deserved such love. Yet I found it. And it’s worth more than anything money could buy. And for that, I’m forever grateful.

 

Etch-a-Sketch: One Life Creative, One Static

The model’s gaze centered across the room, off at a wall, lips pursed to silence the pain throbbing in her left shoe. Indie music rocked the background as men and women of all ages hunched over clipboards and sketchpads capturing the model in quick gestures of line, with some works created in 20-minute spans much more detailed than others.

This was a typical Thursday night at drink & draw at the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan. A college friend, I’ll call her Lisa, invited me to meet up to sketch after too many posts regarding my lacking of creativity in my life.

Seeing Lisa was like seeing the very other version of myself I could have become, you know, the person who is the you that you might have been if you just said “fuck it world I just want to do what I want to do, and I’m going to do it.” Lisa started college with me at the same time (I can’t recall how or when we met), apparently dropped out, went to another school for film, dropped out of that, then finally returned to my alma mater to finish her degree.

Despite being Chicago-bred, she is so New York. She is the New York I’ll never be.
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Buying Happiness in a Consumption Economy

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Capitalism and its relationship to the definition of happiness in modern society. Last night I watched this video…

… which describes why our materials economy is not sustainable and how it is awful for everyone involved (except the big corporations making lots of money.) Nothing really shocking in the video if you know how the consumption economy works, but it’s just sad how capitalism is pretty much based upon making you feel like shit so you have to buy stuff you don’t need and then making the stuff you don’t need seem like shit compared to the latest cool thing so you want to buy that and so on, with all your once cool stuff becoming waste polluting the planet (not to mention the whole awful part about cheap labor and destroying third world countries.) That leads me to wonder, if stuff is ruining the planet, and likely our ability to be happy, then is it possible to be happy with money in our lives?

I jokingly asked my boyfriend today if he thinks I’d be happy if I just gave away all my money. That’s a stupid idea, as I’d eventually starve and wouldn’t have a place to live. I don’t actually give any money to charity yet and I’m not sure at what point I’ll feel comfortable doing so. If I save $20k next year, I should be able to afford to donate some funds to charity. But I just feel like all that money should be put in my grad school account, or in my making babies in vitro account, or in my house down payment fund, or car replacement fund. Having money is a necessity, unless you’re that blogger who lives in canyon and eats out of trash cans and seems to be thrilled with his life, and I’m not sure how to let go of any of it.

Still, I don’t see myself ever being happy in a stuff economy. I don’t always buy the newest and most expensive gadgets and clothes, but I tend to shop for trends when the prices come down a bit, and I’ll snap up the hottest gadget when I feel the cost is what it’s worth (ie, my recent iPhone purchase), but I just don’t know when I’ll feel like I make enough to have enough to feel “good” in this society.

When I went to undergrad, I was so idealistic. I wanted to learn everything. I wasn’t the best at learning because I couldn’t decide what to learn and could never focus on one thing. When I figured out I need to find something to do to make money I became depressed. Now that I’m looking towards grad school, I have to find something that can sustain me for the rest of my life and also take in a decent income. I constantly think about having to support a family one day, knowing I could do it on a small income, but dreaming of a “large” six-figure income to support my mildly frugal stuff-based lifestyle.

The problem is, capitalism is inherently teaching us that our happiness should come from having more than the next person. Whether that’s having a shiny new car, a cool pair of Ugg boots, or even just the ability to go out to dinner once a week when they can’t (even if we’re going into debt because of it) that is how we value ourselves in our society. Yet does it really make us happy? If there were some utopian society where everyone was equal, would we be able to obtain happiness without comparing ourselves to others from a financial standpoint? Or is that impossible… after all, we are genetically designed to compete so our offspring obtain the best life. Is that what our happiness is about?

My boyfriend is a simple guy. He’s be happy living in a small hut with some good books and nothing but forest around him, and a visitor maybe once or twice a month. Me… I’m a different animal. I almost feel like I need stuff. I need the rush of shopping, it makes me feel safe. Without god in my life there’s only shopping to fill that void. I don’t go to temple or church, I go to the mall. I say thanks by purchasing the best fitting outfits I try on. I fill my religious void with lots of stuff. And then I fill my room with it and my clutter makes me miserable. It’s a vicious cycle. And it has to end now.

Still, what replaces my stuff religion when it’s gone? The only replacement are experiences… and those can be free or expensive and worth the same. It is our experiences that we remember, not our material goods. Even then, though, experiences can be pricey (they don’t have to be) and do they even really make us happy? A blog I was reading the other day discussed how travel is a waste of money and that experiences are pretty much just as invaluable as stuff and they come and go. But if nothing has value (other than maybe our love ones, who we have no control over in terms of life or death as accidents happen) it becomes almost necessary for us to have stuff in our lives. Stuff keeps us sane. It puts meaning on something that really isn’t worth anything, even if it cost a lot. Take away stuff and what do our lives mean?

I wish I could spend my life studying how the relationship of a people with material goods and experiences effect the happiness of a society and culture. Is American culture just so awful and warped that it’s hard to see past life’s true value and how to obtain happiness, or is this a worldwide epidemic? A human epidemic?

Plenty more thoughts on this topic to come… feel free to post a comment answering some or all of my questions… I’m curious what you all think…