Thursday, April 29, 2010

indulge me

baby fever.

what's a single, thirty-year-old woman who's watching her whole world couple up to do when that thing hits?

it's building, and building....

i don't have any answers. it feels like a big empty space in an otherwise happy, full life. i don't know why i haven't married yet. i tell myself again and again, like a mantra, that it must be for a reason.

i think i'm fairly pretty. i'm sweet, i'm independent. too independent? i don't think i give off that vibe.

i don't know why it's been this way for me. i do know that it took me a long time to learn things about relationships that i guess for most people come easily.

i haven't been in a serious relationship for just over three years now.

i don't know why i'm sharing this so intimately with blog land. that scares me. but since this is my journal, well ... i'm putting it out there.

seems like every guy i've dated or quasi "seen" since i've been here ... just not right in some glaring way, or totally not right, or totally non-committal, flippant. if they're still in their twenties, they're immature. if they're nearly forty or older, they have baggage. .. divorce, children.

it's a tough age on the dating scene. it's hard not to think something's wrong with you, but then you look at how you live and you look in the mirror and you can't reconcile that, either.

sometimes, it's honestly just painfully lonely. a part of me truly aches, like i can feel the ache, like a toothache that's livable but never truly goes away, it's always in the background.

this doesn't mean i spend every day lamenting my single-hood. it's been the best thing to ever happen to me. just now is a funny life phase of it seeming like 95 percent of friends or people i know are coupled up ... getting engaged ... having children. people younger than me, often.

i know i'm not ready yet financially, and that's part of the reason. i don't know where i might be three years down the road. part of me wants to travel to africa and ireland. all part of it.

it still aches to watch a pregnant friend hold another friend's 9-day-old baby. to watch another friend's fiance hold her in his strong arms, to imagine that that will almost certainly be him in a couple more years.

to watch a guy friend i've always had a secret little love for with his girlfriend.

i'm wondering where this pre-nesting fever will go. how high does it get? when does it come down?

is this time meaningful, does it mean the puzzle pieces will soon fall into place in my own life? is my energy awakening to all of this for a reason?

i often hope so. 'cause lately it's as little as being called "buddy" by someone I liked in an e-mail, or a bunch of people slow-dancing at a show while I sit there feeling like a rejected prom date that sets off my little internal roller coaster going up and down hills.

thank you for giving me this space to reflect upon my turbulent feelings tonight. i'm feeling a wide range of emotions about it, which i can't even put into words.

well, i guess i just did ... not the emotions, but i did outpour the words that the emotions are all active over.

or i could do::sadlonelyhopefulwishingdreamingprayingfearfulanxioustenseworriedwonderingunsurequestioninglikeimtheonlyoneinsixthgradewhohasn'tbeenaskedtodanceandit'smortifyingunrequitedmisunderstoodthecastoffthepracticegirlirritatedfloatingadrift..........................

...well, really now. I'm okay. perhaps this is just a hormonal phase? i've heard of that before. and i don't think it's anywhere near over. so i'm hoping it can spill over into something really, really good before too long.

a few good things are on my side, there. we'll see what time brings, i guess.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I hope you're still reading ...

... because this post is important to me. even without pictures. trust me, "go get camera fixed" is on my list.

i'm having a quiet friday night at home, catching up on blogs, reading (the last chapter of Animal Vegetable Miracle which I highly recommend, about to start Eating Animals for my May book club), and making 2 homemade pizza crusts from Vegan with a Vengeance. Tomorrow night I will make pizza! With broccoli, onions, and peppers and a homemade red sauce. Very easy, and hopefully very yummy too!

my best friend was here for a week, what a delight that was! (and i apologize (heather, Frugal Trenches, Rhonda) if i left some of you comments under the name Sarah K ... didn't realize she was logged in to blogspot under here name!! oops!!!)

I've had a lot of restless spring energy lately, and it's been spurring me on to get back on track with my simple living plans. Why is it so hard to change one's lifestyle, sometimes even the baby steps are hard!!

This post is going to be a reflective one ... so much churning in my head and heart, no idea where even to begin. I've been wanting to do this kind of post for a while now.

I want to live a simple life. I've wanted this since I first happened across Rhonda Jean's "Down to Earth" blog in March of 2008, desperately looking for something beyond the sad, surface-level existence I thought "was all." You know, work every day for the rest of your life, never have enough money for anything. Very bleak. And then, yeah, I found Rhonda. And everything changed in that instant. Everything grew from that one seed. Rhonda, I'm eternally grateful to your blog for opening entire new vistas to me.

You see, probably 99.5 percent of people my age grew up on microwaved, processed food. Our moms worked all day, we went to day care. We went out for McDonald's or pizza on friday nights. We watched TV, we were the first generation of video game players. And then we went to college, graduated, and got "jobs."

I didn't know what I was missing, but I felt empty inside. At the time I was working two jobs and it was very difficult. I still have no idea how to manage money. Home economics MUST make a comeback in public schools! Balancing a checkbook should be on there!

As of March 2008, I was still cooking processed foods, albeit largely organic. I didn't know how to knit. The domestic arts were nowhere on my radar. I still cleaned with commonly sold chemicals. I never thought about gardens or farmer's markets.

Fast-forward two years, and the changes I've made are enormous: transition to cooking everything I make at home from scratch, becoming mostly vegan, learning to knit, using homemade dishcloths and vinegar and essential oils to clean (and non chlorine dishwasher soap), soap nuts for the laundry. I stockpile food basics, spices, etc.

My spending habits are still not as pretty, and I fully believe it's because I haven't been ready for that commitment yet. If I was, I wouldn't keep using my credit card for silly things, or running down my checking account by swiping my debit card with abandon. I've tried, at least, to set aside a good chunk of my monthly paycheck, but lately I've needed to transfer money into my checking to cover a very low account.

I buy silly things, smoothies and goodwill clothing and expensive yarn that sits around, books upon books that i don't get to for several years. My food budget is the most out-of-control. I shop at Whole Foods, two local natural foods stores, the farmer's market. I can't believe how fast I can rack up $170, $140, $90. On seemingly nothing! In-between all these sprees, I get flashes of a homestead with a husband and happy baby. In these daydreams, I am fairly self-sufficent (at least way more than most). I don't NEED all this STUFF.

So you see, I simplifed my WAY of living, but perhaps have not yet simplified the LIVING itself. I have not been ready to take the leap toward financial independence. I very very much want to be a stay-at-home mom/homesteader, working only part-time at the most, if absolutely necessary. I'm contemplating purchasing a home sometime in this decade (I just turned 30).

But I know if I want these things to happen, I need to MAKE them happen by committing, as i did when deciding to commit to living a simpler way. Sure, I stopped buying processed food and shopping at the mall. But I did not stop being a consumer. That's a hard brainwash to part with, let me tell you, especially when as a kid you were so often told "no" when "all the other kids" were told "yes." sigh ... i do believe what we experience in childhood is hard to break, no matter how silly it is.

but i can't focus on the past. lately, i've felt a strong urgency toward moving to the next step of a simple life. As my blog friend Frugal Trenches often says, it will involve sacrifices in the beginning, especially when you're in debt (as i am, both school and credit card). I'm not in bad CC debt, but my student debt is high (thankfully it's looked on favorably for credit ratings) ...

I have three years left in Louisville, mininum (job contract). During those three years, in which I will probably still be unmarried and childless (woe is me, you have no idea how my baby fever builds when i hear, in one week, of THREE friends being pregnant and a fourth just having had her second baby!!), I plan to save like no one's business, pay down my debt considerably, learn more about self-sufficiency, and still live a pretty darned happy existence.

Rhonda's plan is for families; this is my single-girl-takes-on-the-world plan from here on out ....

simpler meals -- not boring, but not necessarily concoctions which need gourmet organic ingredients. I'm buying half a CSA share from my friend's farm for june-november. I believe this will help my grocery bill considerably for those months, and allow me to try new things while remaining "simple."

paying for everything (except for big stuff, obviously, like car repair), like groceries, with CASH. a beer out? CASH. The debit card is too magical, especially when you don't ever balance a thing like i do. I like the idea of having a "cash allowance" in hand ... literally.

learning about growing more edibles - oregano, sage, garlic, onions. I already have swiss chard, romaine, and basil coming up out of containers!!

avoiding restaurant meals. this is a tough one for me. I talked to my best friend about it, realizing i do this several times a week because i live alone and hey ... it's a hard business working full-time, being a grad student, making every meal from scratch (with going in and out of menu planning phases)which takes hours a couple of nights each week, cleaning up everything after every meal, keeping the whole apartment clean (6 rooms!), etc. etc. It also gets lonely, and I think when people live alone (which overall is GREAT), it can cause some anxiety as you tend to live too much in your own head, worrying about all the kinds of things in this world there are to worry about, with no one to level you out, no one to vent to. you know? so yeah ... sometimes it's nice to leave the cooking and cleaning to someone else. but i'm feeling committal these days ... so i might just set a goal of once a week, and try to reduce that further. instead of eating out alone, i want to focus on being around people more frequently, out for a beer or a coffee (much less expensive, and more fun, than dinner alone).

My eating schedule is kind of annoying. I eat breakfast at the same time each day, about 45 minutes after I arrive at school (I do the morning child care). three and a half hours later, i eat lunch. both are homemade. by the time school is over three hours later, i'm already starving. oddly, i almost always have some kind of nuts or fruit on me for a quick pick-me-up while I do errands or hang around before a yoga class (easier than going all the way home, and back), yet instead i go for a $7 sandwich at a health food store, or hit the coffeeshop. WHY do we do this? Because, I truly believe, we are not COMMITTED to change, sure, but also I think it's just very very hard to change years-long habits. However, this too must end.

My goodwill trolling, antiquing and yard-saling, while incredibly fun, also must stop (unless I see classroom stuffs, which is another blog post altogether, oy). Book buying, too. Even though much of what i own is now largely secondhand, I still have ... way. too. much. Why can't Americans be happy living on so much less? There are those in devloping nations who are, and do. I'd love to visit and spend some time among them, learning. I really would.

What I'm getting at with all this blather is that I've identified my major life goals as family, homesteading, homeschooling, knitting and sewing, baking, cooking, gardening. I only get one shot. This is it.

my future goals are, in addition to the ones i've already 99 percent committed to (there is still that part of me that stubbornly hangs on, grr)...

make my own granola, soy yogurt, seitan, pasta, tofu, (cheese?) ... the carbon footprints on vegan foods are terrible, i want to see if a sustainable vegan diet is possible. by the way, i'm still torn on the question of whether or not to include LOCAL, pasture-raised egg and cheese products in my diet on an infrequent basis. not sure i've posted on that, but i'm sure i will at some point.

buy food that's as close to 100 percent local/regional as's going to be so hard to avoid greens from California, and i'm giving up bananas/kiwis here ...

grow more of my own edibles in containers over the next three years. order a few heirloom things from seed catalogs in january.

line dry clothes (i like frugal trenches' idea for doing it in the kitchen in winter, the warmest room in the house!) on my sunporch (probably to the chagrin of my neighbors)

ride the bus, ride my bike, drive less, plan errand trips more efficiently

this summer:: put SOME food by, probably for sundried tomatoes and some blanched/frozen local veg to last me through winter for soups, pizzas, etc. also some local berries/apples for pie fillings and cobblers and smoothies. I will have to learn how to do this, as it's never been taught to me. Also perhaps save a bushel of local potatoes, apples, onions, through winter. We'll see. I wouldn't even mind having to buy a college-sized freezer to host any overflow!! (I can fit a chest freezer into my apartment, but I wonder what the electric bill would be ideas?)

make most of my gifts, i.e. vegan peppermint bark and dishcloths, for birthdays/holidays, or buy practical but pretty items or items from goodwill

Basically these are all ideas I've had for a couple of years now, and I have implemented most of them on some level, but I think my next step (beyond the COMMITTING) is the cash system, and just always asking myself the questions, "How can I simplifying? Am I being simple here? Do I really need such and such? Can i wait one more hour for dinner?"

If you're still with me, thanks for letting me go on and on. I needed this kind of post to help restore my vision for the future. Sometimes, it gets a little murky, bogged down in the mucky waters of daily life.

Yet it persists.

And this, I know, is true.

Any thoughts you have on these thoughts/plans/dreams are encouraged and appreciated.

now if you'll excuse me, I have a clogged bathtub to un-clog!! (ick)



Friday, April 9, 2010

still here, just busy

i'm here. times are busy .... i've been working. i've been ruminating. i've been failing miserably at all things financial. but at all else i've done pretty well so i won't give up the good fight against money's desire to burn a hole in my pocket and scatter in the wind.

i'm watching project runway and having a crush on seth aaron ;-) i love this season!

my best friend will be here all this weekend .. we have lots of good things planned, including a vegan dessert party and yard sale-ing!

this blog has been sparse so there will be a longer, reflective post soon. sometimes i feel this is all i use it for, despite my efforts to be more "snappy" with it. i guess we are who we are, and no mistaking it, even to ourselves.

spring is in full bloom here. i've just had a week off work to enjoy it fully, including long long daily walks.

hope all is well in your corners of the world. i've created some happy spring-like corners here! (just can't see them thanks to mr. camera...sigh)