Perspective

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. —Anonymous

I think I’ve thoroughly established around here that Julie the Cruise Director Bill is a doer, a planner, a get-up-off-your-ass-and-move kind of guy. He is always on the go, making plans, going places, meeting friends. He likes the idea of sitting still, of just being, but can’t really wrap his head around actually doing that.

For my part, I’m The Master of Chill. I have no problem lounging around, doing not much of anything except riding the couch, watching the TV and/or reading a book. For me, there’s a lot of pleasure in doing nothing. A perfect day is one that extends infinitely ahead of me without plans or demands. It’s how I get my bearings, find my center.

Most of the time Bill and I balance each other our pretty well. He drags me out (sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes willingly) to do things, and 85% of the time I’m glad he did. Some days I insist that we’re doing nothing and I plant myself somewhere and refuse to budge like a willful child. About 85% of the time Bill will tell me later in the day that he needed to do nothing that day.

Until a few days ago, though, I wasn’t really sure why he was so unrelenting with doing. There’s almost an urgency to it sometimes, as though if he can keep moving…what?

We were having one of those State of Our Marriage talks that happen from time to time. Nothing serious—more like a check-up more than anything. You good? Yup. You? Yup—and the topic of living life came up. Bill was reminding me that it’s not just doing what you have to do, but really living life—actively participating, taking charge, having fun and not letting it pass you by.

I’m all for that, but I’m a proponent of balance, too.

And then he said something that made everything click in place:

“I’m 55 years old. My father died when he was 75. If that’s any indicator, I’ve got 20 years left. I’m not about to spend that time waiting, watching life pass me by.”

That slapped me hard. Suddenly, 20 years doesn’t seem that long.

Granted, it’s a somewhat fatalistic view of life, but I suppose there’s a lot of truth in it. We talk about going here, doing that, writing more, traveling, doing things that make us happy. So what am I doing? What am I waiting for? I want to spend more time with my husband, doing things together, having fun. And not just because he may only have “20 years left” (truth be told, he’ll outlive me!), but because I don’t want life to pass me by. I don’t want to wake up when I’m 80 and wonder what I did all my life. Because as much as I love my Tivo, it’s not what I’m going to remember when I’m sitting in my rocking chair at the old folks’ home.

I’m not going to live my life like a game of Beat the Clock, but I will definitely say “Yes” more. I will try to get out more and burrow in my house less.

What have I got to lose?

Binge and Purge

My husband’s company has been growing so rapidly, that they’re running out of room in the office. Since Bill is rarely ever actually in the office—he’s usually working from his laptop at the various locations he manages—he has to give up his office. He’s still going to need a place to work occasionally, and a place to store files, so we’ve been cleaning out our office at home.

When we were sorting through it this weekend, wading through books and boxes and stacks of crap, I was convinced there were hidden cameras though the house and we were being filmed for the new A&E reality series called Horders. It’s like “Intervention” for pack rats. Instead of drug addictions, we jones for our stuff.

For the most part, our house is pretty clean. The dog is shedding like crazy, leaving puppy-size hairballs everywhere—but our house isn’t what you’d consider dirty.

However, we have so much junk in our house that it gets a little overwhelming. It’s not so out of control that it leaves us with only one path through the house, but we have a lot of knick-knacks, do-dads and whatnot that we just don’t need to display all at once.

When we moved in together, we merged two full apartments worth of furniture, clothes and appliances. It was a lot of stuff to squeeze into an apartment. Before we got married we moved from the apartment to a 2,700 square foot house with a half acre of land behind it. Our stuff fit. In fact, we didn’t seem to have enough stuff to fill the space. But a couple of months after we got married we bought a house that was only about 1,650 square feet. It’s the perfect size for the two of us, but we had a hard time cramming in our crap. Gradually, we figured out what we wanted to keep, what we needed and what fit. Everything else we gave away and donated to Good Will.

Right about that time, Bill’s parents started giving us bags and boxes of things every time we saw them. These were things they thought we’d need—32 containers of dental floss—and things they wanted us to have from their house (full sets of china)—just in case. Bill’s mom was never able to part with a single piece of paper (you never know when you’ll need that phone number), and to some degree Bill has inherited that. He pays most of his bills online, but we still get an obscene amount of mail. I try to stay on top of mine, but there’s stack on the dining room table, so tall it threatens to eat the kitchen. Bill never looks at his. If he does, he opens it, reads it, folds it back up, and places it on top of the envelope it came in. And there it stays. And stays.

We argue about his piles of mail. He’ll put it aside and swear he’s going to shred it soon. And then another pile builds and threatens to take over the dining room. Then he sweeps it all into some place—usually the office at home—where it sits. We have about 10 of these piles stashed everywhere. It’s like contraband.

Add this to my insane collections of stuff. I have collected just about every single Bearista Bear Starbucks has ever produced. I started collecting them in the late 1990s, when they were on Bearista Bear #10 and I will still grab one every time I see them. I have even sent friends in other parts of the country on missions to track down regional bears. I used to display them in my office at my old job, but now they’re all in massive Rubbermaid bins in the attic. All 60 or so of them.

Da Bears

Da Bears

On top of that, neither one of us have ever thrown out a birthday card, anniversary card, letter or postcard. And I have never been able to part with a book.

I still have my Norton Anthology of Shakespeare and Norton’s Chaucer from college. Bill has them too. I also have every book I had to read in college. Some are cherished. Some of there because I never really did read them but I hope to one day. Every trashy novel (not those bodice-ripping Harlequins, although I used to love Kathleen Woodiwiss) by Jackie Collins and Olivia Goldsmith is stored lovingly on my sagging shelves. Every crime thriller (Michael Connelly, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham) is packed so tight I can’t jam another one on the shelf. My beloved chick lit (Jennifer Lancaster, Jane Green, Emily Giffin) is lined up neatly in all their pastel-covered book jacket beauty.

But there’s no more room. The bookcases are on overload, the closets are bursting, and we can no longer cram all that other stuff we have no idea what to do with into the corners.

So yesterday we got brutal. We went through the office ruthlessly tossing old mail, junk, papers, newspaper articles, warranties to appliances we no longer own, and other random crap that has no purpose.

Then I sorted through the bookshelves in the office and the ones off the family room. I pulled out piles of books that I know I will never read, books that I kept because I wanted people to think someone read them (C’mon, like you don’t do that) and novels that I read, hated and will never look at again. We even got rid of one our our Shakespeare anthologies. I stacked them all neatly, lovingly, by size and genre. Then I packed them up to be donated, hoping they find good homes.

And then I cried.

But I have to say, the house looks so much better, more organized. Cleaner.

There’s more to do. I’ve slowly been tackling my dresser and closet. I donated three garbage bags full of clothes, and I’m sure I can purge more. I sorted through one of the closets down the hall and I need to go through the one in the guest bedroom. It’s stuffed with old pillows, blankets, a computer that hasn’t worked in 10 years, old suits that my husband will never wear, picture frames and god only knows what else.

It’s embarrassing for so many reasons.

But we’re thinning things out, paring down and purging.

Because if we don’t? You’ll see us on Hoarders next season, buried under our own junk.

Random Tuesday Thoughts (Facebook Friends, My Hero And, Well, You'll See)

randomtuesday

Most mornings after I’ve settled in at work I’ll log into Facebook and see what’s going on with everyone. Yesterday morning there was a friend request that I was happy to see, and then there was a friend recommendation. I’m not always sure how Facebook makes its recommendations. It’s usually based on something legitimate like the high school you went to, the year you graduated or mutual friends. But every now and then there are some random ones. Like the one recommending my husband’s second ex-wife. Now, after about 14 years of not-always-peaceful co-existence, arguments, and awkward family gatherings, it’s pretty clear that me and this woman are never—not in this life or in any other—going to become friends no matter how much Facebook wills it so. But I’m still curious because she is not friends with any of my friends or my husband. I’m not friends with their son online either—in fact, I don’t even know if he’s on Facebook.

I have to admit though, I’m dying to see what her profile looks like!

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Google Search is endlessly fascinating to me. I get about 15 hits a day based on this post about Bejeweled Blitz. Apparently, I’m not the only one with a wicked addiction to this game. I also seem to get a lot of hits for Bret Michaels, Neil Diamond (mostly inquiring about his marital status), and for Costco. But the last couple of days Google sent a handful of people to me for the search “pants crap.”

Aside from wondering about the person who types these search terms, I couldn’t figure out what hell it had to do with The Daily Snark. I Googled “pants crap” and I never did find a connection to this blog—the closest thing I could find was this post with the word “crap” in the title, but my search opened up a whole new world to me. Apparently, there are anonymous groups dedicated to this. I made the colossal mistake of clicking on a link to see if they were support groups or fetish groups. Guess what? There’s a whole community of people who do this. ON PURPOSE. I don’t mean to shout, but OHMYHOLYHELL.

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My hero...

My hero...

This guy? He’s my hero. He is the defender of all things Mo. I’ve had a rough week or so and he’s been there for me, listening, giving advice (when asked), and stands behind me when things go upside down. In a few weeks, we’re going to be celebrating our 10-anniversary and I can’t help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

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I switched my drink at Starbucks last week. For years, I’ve gotten my venti Skinny Vanilla Latte every morning, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. But a friend of mine recently read my tarot cards and told me that if I wanted to bring change into my life, I needed to change up my routine. Simple changes bring bigger ones. I’m sure it has someting to do with being open to new opportunites. I’m not sure why I decided to enact change with my cofffe, but I’ve started drinking a venti misto, which is half coffee, half steamed milk. And I add a packet of Splenda. I’m kind of digging the change. I’m not sure if it’ll stick, but for now I’m test-driving it. However, it turned the staff at my Starbucks upside down.  I’d walk in, and by the time I got to the register my drink was there. I just had to pay. I didn’t have to say much more than good morning and thank you. So when I told them I was changing my drink, all of the employees went into shock. There was a disturbance in the force. Now they view me suspiciously. I may switch back, but then again, I may try something entirely different. I’m feeling kinda wild.

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For more randomness, don’t forget to check out Keely’s blog at the Un Mom.