i’m bettering myself in INTANGIBLE ways. so i tell myself.

During their tenure as Tacoma math-rock band nob streator (music here), my husband’s good friend and bandmate G. wrote a song called “Sick Desires”. This song concerned the struggle with unhealthy lust and at the time G. was a man engaged and, as far as I know, celibate. I really liked the song for G.’s earnestness but it also made me laugh (nervously) every time I thought of it. I guess I felt like I shouldn’t know so much about a man’s private sexual struggle. It goes without saying he thought it was OK for not only me to know, but any few hundreds of people coming to their shows. He’s a pretty amazing guy.

I too have Sick Desires that I walk around unaware of until they are brought on like a nasty case of psych heartburn. This happened recently while at another Mama’s house. See, every once in a while I get totally heartsick longing for some kind of perfect, tasteful (meaning: full of crap you buy from All The Right Places), well-tended, “keeping up with the Joneses” kind of domicile.

I am ashamed to admit I feel this pull. It isn’t always, it isn’t often; but it is there, lurking, waiting to spring low-grade depression on me at any moment (I think I am also PMSing, so by all means I will keep typing out my pathetic hormonal self). This desire does not work with my core values. My core values to date mostly involve surviving and thriving as a family of four with a minimalist view on consumerism (please leave my addiction to Etsy out of this). If I had to sum up my core values with regards to our lifestyle, it would go thusly:

1. A home with a domestic center.
2. No credit cards or credit card debt.
3. Intentional stewardship and justified accrual of material posessions.
4. Creating, not buying.

These values mean, among other things, that I don’t want to “chase money” – not by accepting Work Widowhood or taking on parttime work for myself just to “survive” (read: buy comforts). I don’t know when I’ll work. It will be a career endeavor that feeds my mind, and when the time is right for my family and me. I also don’t want to be distracted by commerce – by the thinking of and procuring of the gadget, the throw rug, the pair of shoes. Not by Ikea, Costco, or “thrift store scores” – depending on the preference of the shopping addiction. I don’t judge shopping or spending in and of themselves. But if I gave my mental or emotional energy to these enterprises I would be sacrificing the reserves I need merely to feed my family, keep my home, sew, play, write, maintain friendships, and sleep – and remain me – my intelligent, thinking, loving self. It is humbling sometimes to realize that handful of occupations keeps me at a steady jog. But I am proud of my creative efforts, my parenting, and my housekeeping. And, I suppose, at this juncture without the body of work I’ve built I wouldn’t be me.

When I think of the homes I envy (in my worse, Sickest moments) I know I am not willing to make the sacrifices, pony up the cash, or slice up my identitiy to have them. The only homes I’ve seen that have the center and the well-worn loveliness I will work for are those of old birds like my mom (I say like my mom because my parents house is far too large and too cluttered to fit for me) who have spent nearly a lifetime assembling them, alongside the dish-washing and the laundry and the Family Movie Nights.

In the meantime, I try not to feel queasy when I think of just how un-“tasteful” the home is I’ve assembled.

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