Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My So-Called Life

I have this idea of what adult life is supposed to be like. In the adult world, people have cozy, comfortable homes---whether an apartment or a house---with matching furniture, tasteful decorations, flowers in vases, and candles that are always lit. They keep these homes neat and clean and would never be embarrassed to have an unexpected visitor. In the mornings, they wake up in these nice homes, take out clean, well-pressed, color-coordinated clothes from the closet where they are neatly arranged on hangers, make a cup of coffee, and read the newspaper. At night, they go back to these homes and pour themselves a glass of wine, turn on NPR or some grown-up music like classical or jazz, and light their candles. Then, they make a nice, healthy dinner with a salad, a main course, and a couple of side dishes, which they eat at a table with a plate, matching utensils, and a napkin. They do their dishes, clean the kitchen, and retire to a comfortable, yet dignified chair to watch television---something enlightening or at least sophisticated---read a book, or do the crossword puzzle. They always pay their bills on time, know how much is in their bank account, and have both a savings account and a retirement plan to which they contribute faithfully. They take out their trash. They keep their cars clean and well maintained, and if something does go wrong, they know what to do about it. The same with their home: they change the filters, replace lightbulbs, check the smoke detectors, and keep their appliances in good repair.

This is not what my life is like. Nearly ten years after graduation, my furniture is a mish-mash of junk giveaways, with no one piece matching any other piece. None of it is anything I would have actually paid money for. I’m propping a missing chair leg with a pile of books and using a sleeping bag as my bedspread. Rowen’s crate doubles as an end table. I’d be horrified to have any visitor, expected or not, because they would see the inch layer of dog hair covering the carpet and my own hair balls rolling through like tumbleweeds. And they might smell the trash, which never seems to get taken out in time. My smoke detector battery started dying this morning, so I took the whole thing down; I know I should just replace the battery but I guarantee you that it will still be sitting on the counter when I move out six months from now. I can’t remember the last time I read a newspaper. Getting dressed in the morning usually means choosing the least-wrinkled, least-stained items from one of the piles around the bedroom. I have more clothes on top of the dresser than in it. Color-coordination, if it happens, is mostly accidental. I’m trying on the cooking front, but more often than not, it’s takeout or leftovers eaten straight from the Tupperware container with mismatched utensils and a paper towel as a napkin. And even if I do cook, I still can only manage one item at a time. My biggest success to date was when I put together eggplant parmesan, pasta, and a salad. That was Sunday. As in, this past Sunday. It took me 29 years to do that. I eat my pitiful dinners in front of the “television” (my laptop on a tray) while watching such WB staples as Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the Gilmore Girls. I get my bills paid on time about half the time. I play Russian roulette with my checking account. Savings? Retirement? Ha! I consider it a good month if I don’t have to use my credit card for groceries and gas. My car is a sty---the front dash is coated in dust, the back seat is barely visible under the dog hair. It probably smells, but I’ve become too used to it to tell. I remember to get the oil changed about every six months and I have to call my dad if anything goes wrong. I have more burned out lightbulbs than functioning ones. I keep the blinds open so the streetlight will reflect into the front hall and the only light working in the kitchen is in the fridge. It’s been this way for months.

I’m nearly 30 years old. When do I become an adult?

Update: Liz has an adult home. She even has the glass of wine to prove it.


At 11:35 AM , Blogger Number Twelve said...

"Zits" appears in my word verification... and that first paragraph that you described? Doesn't exist. I divorced a friend because of this very fact.

But you DO have is this unbelievable love of reading and you seem to tear through books. And my dad has surrounded himself with books and has collected a house (literally) filled with his private collection of books.

And when you're ready to have a decent amount of light in your home, you'll change those lightbulbs.

At 11:41 AM , Blogger LostInTX said...

Whoa... what you describe as a normal life is probably on what we see in the movies. I have known people that might fit that description but they work and clean like hell, are always tired, and don't enjoy life. In fact, I wouldn't really call them friends b/c most of the time they are miserable and bring me down.

Yet ANOTHER of the problems in my relationship with W has been over this very same issue. I remove scissors from their "spot" and leave them wherever I was last using them. I tend to have little pile of things all over - mail, clothes, shoes, glasses. I'm not dirty, just a little messy. I maintain that there is a difference! I take my socks off as soon as I get home and leave them either by the door on by the couch. I don't brush the cats as often as I should which leads to cat hair everywhere and I too, shed like a cat. My savings has $50 in it and I also play russian roulette w/my checking. I pay my car payment on time just so that it doesn't get repo'd and it was only that clean b/c W cleaned it a few days before, remember? I own 1 furniture piece that was not used or given to me - my coffee table. So don't feel bad, my friend, I'm in the same boat and I don't even have my degree yet! You've got one on me so far.

At 11:46 AM , Blogger Lisa said...

Number 12---You are a relatively new reader and probably haven't seen my occasional disclaimer. I have LOTS of books. Large, towering piles of them that threaten to topple over, burying Rowen and I alive.

Reading those books is a whole other thing. I am the slowest reader on Earth. Those "On the Pile" posts---purely wishful thinking. Just because a book is listed on a particular week, doesn't mean that it will be read. Nor does its disappearance from the next week's list indicate that it's been finished. It's just been shuffled into the pile again. Yesterday, I returned 8 books to the library after having them out for 6 weeks. Several of them I had checked out previously as well. NONE OF THEM had been read when I returned them.

Just wanted to be clear. No Freying about on my site.

At 12:08 PM , Blogger Number Twelve said...

Thanks for clearing that up... and that re-affirms how much you remind me of my father's obsession/love for books. Except my dad never returns them. He buys them and keeps them... And my parents moved to a second home because of it.

And, that first paragraph sounds pretty but I tried living withe someone who is in LOVE with that idea of being an adult. And all it did was suck the life out our friendship.

So, I've logged 4 miles in two weeks... wanna' do a half mary?

At 12:16 PM , Blogger bdogg_mcgee said...

Life for me has never and will never be like that first paragraph. It is a nice story, though....

I too, understand how you feel. Our house is in constant chaos, there's cat fur everywhere, and I usually end up sticking something in the dryer with a dryer sheet so I can get dressed for work in the morning.

It bugs me, but not enough to do something about it. And, as Lost said, I'd rather enjoy life than spend it being anal about that coffee stain on the counter.

At 12:41 PM , Blogger Liz said...

That seems like an incredibly honest entry. :)

I don't know anyone who has a life like paragraph one, unless they have a lot of outside help and don't have to work all day. It sounds nice, but not very realistic. And you sound a lot more interesting than that person.

Don't be so hard on yourself, Lisa. You seem smart, articulate, and caring and you've done some really interesting things in your life. Those aren't things you can buy at Pottery Barn. :)

At 12:58 PM , Blogger Frema said...

I, too, have visions of buying brand-new furniture and having a nest-egg and magically possessing the ability to cook. And some of those things, like the savings account for example, are actually important. I don't want to have to charge every Life Surprise (surgery, accident deductibles, what have you) on my Visa or freak out at 50 years old because I've been hit with the realization that I can never retire.

However, whether my rear end has been the first to touch my sofa cushions or not, I'm just grateful there's something to sit on. I guess it's all about picking those Adult battles and planning accordingly. Good luck!

Also, LOVE your title. Angela Chase used to be my hero. :)

At 2:14 PM , Blogger Bearette24 said...

Freying about...hehe.

Well, you needn't worry, Lisa, because I tracked down Bradley Cooper and he says he can't stand a house that's too neat. He loves a lived-in, spontaneous look. Just as long as you keep the kitchen counter bare.


At 6:48 PM , Blogger Mike said...

When Zach and I first moved in together, he "surprised" me by covering our unpacked boxes in fabric and calling them endtables and coffee tables.

We're 34.

He wasn't really joking.

At 6:13 AM , Blogger Lisa said...

Mike---When I moved in to my current apartment---when I was 28---I used uncovered packing boxes as my end tables for about six months---until my mother came to visit and was so horrified that she went to Goodwill and got me some furniture. If it wasn't for her, I'd probably still be using the boxes.

At 11:13 PM , Blogger Lora said...

I have this image of my life being like the fantasy one you described. However, the the more it gets to be like that the less I alive I feel.

I have the same issue with library books. I love to read, but it seems that I can never settle down enough to actually finish a book before I have to return it.


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