Tag Archives: adulthood

Clean

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Few things trigger my anxiety more than having a cluttered home.

My mother will laugh as she reads this, because I do not hold the title of “tidiest person in the Rambler household.” In fact, I’m pretty sure I was never even the runner up. My definition of orderly doesn’t always align with most people’s. As a general rule, though, I prefer to see straight lines and empty spaces and recognizable stacks and clean surfaces and no trash littered around. I do like having more things to look at—those sleek, modern spaces with no more decoration than a vase on a table are, in my mind, impersonal and cold—and since I own so many things there tends to be quite a bit to look at and to keep in line.

I can tolerate clutter to a point. I generally know where things are. I may not be able to easily access them at all times, and when I’m in the middle of a project or a semester I prioritize art over tidiness, but I always try to keep things clean.

My orderliness comes in waves. Over time, clutter and dust and grit build up in my space: bits of paper, stacks of books, discarded clothes. I’ll ignore or put off the rearranging of these possessions until I see clutter everywhere and seeing the clutter makes it difficult for me to breathe. Empty spaces are driven to extinction by little piles, little assemblies of things I’m sure I’m not responsible for and weren’t always there yet somehow are now.

I’ve lost control of my space. It will get to a point where I don’t know where things are. Until I can get it under control again, to a state where everything has a place and sits there, ready for use, I cannot enter my home without feeling extreme stress.

So I’ll snap and clean everything.

On my own, when I had a room in my parents’ house instead of a whole apartment, I could keep a state of order and cleanliness for a solid two months, maybe more, before noticing the need for a straightening up.

Add another person—particularly a person whose standard of orderliness is (perhaps, maybe) even less conventional than your own—and that length of time dwindles rapidly to the course of one week, maybe, before everything is in disarray again.

It is one thing entirely to convince oneself that items like pencils (or pens, shoes, clothing, whatever) need to be returned to the same location after use for greater ease of finding that item again when needed in the future. It is another thing entirely to convince the person you live with that the practice of returning things to a designated location is a good idea.

One person trying to keep a good habit is hard. Two trying to do it together is harder.

That aside, even with the best intentions towards tidiness and minimalism can be thwarted by the arrival of new items into a small space. And, over time, once enough items accumulate, even my perpetually somewhat untidy (and hoard-y) self decides it’s time to get rid of some stuff.

All that to say I’ve spend that last two weekends getting rid of stuff.

I got rid of clothes. I got rid of yarn. I got rid of kitchen stuff I haven’t used in a year. I tossed old papers. I cleaned out drawers. I cleaned out the closet. I cleaned off the dresser. I got things out from under the kitchen table. I reorganized the cabinets in the kitchen. I sanitized counters. I scrubbed and shined and vacuumed. I took bags of stuff out the door never to be seen again.

I can see so much more of my floor. The nightstands are free of superfluous nonsense. You can open the closet door all the way inward. My dresser drawers open and close without a fuss. You could perform surgery on my countertops, they’re so sterile.

Most importantly, our shared space is now much more serene, much easier on the eyes, and we know where everything is and can access it easily.

I hope it lasts the week.

Adulthood is Stupid

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I’ve been an adult for a few years now. I’m 24. I’ve lived on my own, paying my own rent and my own bills, for about two years.

Being an adult is stupid. It’s the biggest nope that ever was.

So far I’ve discovered that even though your peers are all adults, the playground bullies haven’t left. They’re just taller, and usually they have more money and influence than you.

Everything you thought would be great about adulthood when you were a kid comes with strings attached. You can eat whatever you want, but you also have to pay for it. You don’t have to go to school anymore, but still have to park in front of a desk for eight hours anyway. You can go wherever you want, but you need to think about how much gas will cost and where you have to be tomorrow and whether or not you’ll be fired if you go away for too long.

Being an adult apparently requires having a lot of Stuff even though Stuff isn’t really necessary for a happy existence. If you don’t want a huge house and want to build a tiny one, there are laws against that. If you don’t want to pay a huge power bill and switch to solar, there are laws against that. If you want to start a small business or be self employed so you can skip the rat race and have a job that allows you to escape the articifical and stressful environment of corperate America, you’ll get taxed out of doing that pretty quickly.

Your whole life you’ve been told to go to college so you can get a job. So you go to college and learn to do something you’re good at. Trouble is, the new expecation for entry-level positions usually requires 1, 2, 3, 4, even 5 years of experience in that particular job field before they’ll even think about hiring you. You need both a college degree and real-world job experience before you can get paid so you can eat and pay rent. While you were busy studying away, making As, and working part time to ease costs a bit, all the jobs you care about have decided your degee isn’t good enough for them anymore. Most of us take the first job we can find, even if it’s a job we hate, and we don’t get the chance to gain experience for the jobs we’d actually enjoy.

You discover pretty quickly that renting a living space eats all the money you could be putting towards a house, especially since rent costs as much as a morgage payment if you want to live close to where you work. So you don’t buy a house and you don’t buy a new car because you don’t want to be in debt. Yet, as a newer adult, you’ll probably get flak for not going into debt for things you can’t afford in an economy you didn’t ruin. You’ll want to skip it all and live in an RV or live out of your car so you can actually go see the big world you live in, but refer to paragraph 4. Also, gas prices.

Even if everything is going well for  you in your corner of the world (relatively small rent, a job you enjoy or at least tolerate, a fairly healthy social life), there’s the rest of the planet. It’s exploding. If there’s not a plague, there’s an earthquake. People are killing other people because they’re different from them. Rapists go free while their victims are punished for being victims. Human beings are still sold as slaves. Children die for the crime of being conceived. Riots. Wars. Rumors of wars. And you can’t do anything about it.

The worst thing about adulthood is that even though everyone who is an adult has experienced adulthood and knows how hard it is, very, very few adults have any compassion for other adults. You can’t talk about the injustices and absurdities of this oversized playground without some snot-nosed kid in the sandbox yelling “Grow up and deal with it!”

Oh, sure, we’re growing up and dealing with it, but that doesn’t fix a single thing.

The only thing about being an adult that’s worth talking about is marriage.

Marriage is the best.

Because at the end of a long day of dealing with all of the above, you can come home, and your Spouse is there. You can make dinner together, talk about little things or big things or medium sized things, laugh together, dream together. You can shut all the nonsense out for a while. You don’t have to be what anyone expects you to be. You can be kids, sort of, for an hour or so before bed.

And somehow, by some sort of deep magic, those few hours are worth all the rest.

Family of Three

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No, we don’t have a kid. Nor will we for the foreseeable future.

I’ve discovered I need to clarify that as often as possible.

But we do have a typewriter.

The typewriter belonged to a faculty member at Undisclosed University who, after a long and successful career as a teacher, had decided to retire. She is a published author, and as far as I know hasn’t given up on writing (she just released a new novel in the past year and has a contract with one of the larger publishing houses). At the end of this semester, she put out a table in the hallway outside of her office and started piling up books that she no longer wanted so passers by could take them away to good homes.

I walked away with an armload every time I walked by. My husband (a graduate assistant at UU) had his office right across from her, and gathered a few books for himself as well. We’re not the kind to pass up on free books.

One afternoon I came home to find my husband parked at the dining room table brooding over a large metal object. He looked up at me, beaming.

“Look what I found!”

I looked. Before him was a large mechanical typewriter. It was in stellar condition. The word “ROYAL” was stamped in large silver letters above the keyboard.

That scene from You’ve Got Mail popped into my head: Meg Ryan coming home to what’s-his-face, the columnist, toying with a new typewriter at the kitchen table, and she points out that it’s only one of several.

“It was Mrs. Page’s,” he told me. “It’s in perfect condition.”

“Mrs. Page’s?” I gasped. She’s a published author. I took her introductory Creative Writing course when I was a sophomore in college. Her novels are excellent; she’s personal hero of mine.

We own her typewriter. The typewriter she used to draw up her first published manuscript. I don’t put much stock in the concept of luck, but I feel that surely now that I have her magical typewriter, anything written in this house is blessed with success by the spirit of the beautiful woman whose novels have touched so many hearts.

The typewriter is our baby. By “our,” I mean my husband’s. He found the user’s manual online in PDF format and studied it on and off for days. He bought a new ribbon for it on eBay. He sent hours figuring out how to set margins and indents–even how to make columns and line spacing. I found index cards with snippets of typed phrases scattered in odd places around our apartment for weeks.

“Look at it,” he said once or twice, “there’s no wires, no circuits, nothing! One hundred percent mechanical!” He’d hammer down a few keys, each keystroke sounding like the rapport of machine gun fire. “I want to use it to type out my papers next year.”

I made a mental note to buy some ear plugs.

So far this summer, it has sat quietly in a wicker chair, waiting the day it will move into my husband’s new office. But for now it waits, it’s mechanical calm encompassing so many of our hopes and dreams. For my husband, it seems to symbolize the possibilities and promise of a new semester at seminary. For me, it represents writing, and the hope that with a little determination and a little effort, I can be finish something, shove it over a transom, and hope for the best.

Write

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I remember where I started. I was a creative wriitng major whose time was consumed with course work which kept me from doing what I went to college to learn how to do well: write.

I started a blog to force myself to write.

And I have. I have written every day for four years.

Is writing easier now? Writing is never easy. Writing is hard work. Writing takes time and dedication and craftsmanship, all things which I’ve not always been able to apply here. Sometimes I wrote posts in the last thirty seconds before midnight. Sometimes I wrote posts days in advance. Sometimes I wrote with passions about something really important to me, and sometimes all I could brain out was a list.

But it is much easier to write what I really think. It is much easier to be honest and objective with myself than it used to be.

This blog has helped me realize I am far better at creative nonfiction than fiction. Far better at poetry than at short stories. Far better and pantoums than song lyrics.

Far better at being me than being anyone else.

I will not post tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure when i’m going to post here again–I haven’t gotten that far. I plan to publish the first post on my new blog on Friday, but the best laid plans of mice and men, so they say, oft go awry. If I start the new blog on Friday, I’ll be sure to put a link here.

I may not post. But I will write. I will always write. Old habits die hard.

I can’t stop now.

Gifts

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We are unusually blessed as a couple. We have families that love us individually and together, distant relatives we gladly call our friends, a perfect wedding, a warm and happy home, employment…the list goes on. God has been good, for sure, because we certainly don’t deserve to have all that we do.

We were even blessed (abundantly) with wedding gifts. People gave us everything we asked for, everything we needed and didn’t know we did, and some extra nice things that we’dnever dream we’d own.

These weeks beging the process of thanking all of these lovely people.

However, some gifts seem to have mysteriously appeared. They had no card or name attached, and one had a card but no name. Process of elimination won’t let me figure out who they are–the list is too long, and there are too many variables.

So will the giver of the bag with the cookie sheets, bundt pan, wooden spoons, cake pans, and the 9×13 insulated baking pan, the bag with the navy blue towels, and the bag with the pizza stone please stand up?

Thank you so much, whoever you are.

Long

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I had forgotten how long the first week after a vacation can be.

I had forgotten how quickly it feels as if last week was a year ago, or a dream.

Yet I was away long enough that my legs and lungs forgot how to run, and retraining myself back to a 5K, though it took less time than I thought it would, seemed very, very long. Retraining myself for yoga after weeks of not doing so much as a downward facing dog, was embarrassingly challenging.

My legs and arms ache a little from the effort.

My head wasn’t used to thinking about my job. I had to reteach myself the jargon and relearn where we keep everything in the file system. And that’s probably why my head hurts as much as it does.

It’s Friday. And that’s a beautiful thing.

But it took its sweet time getting here.

Drowsy

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It’s not that I’m still in vacation mode, because I’m not. Two weeks away was enough relaxation (sort of) and I’m not really all that tired (okay, that was a lie. I’m tired.)

My boss warned me that this would happen. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, he kept telling me how it took him and his wife months to recover from the whole matrimonial experience. They went to bed at eight every night because they couldn’t stay awake any longer. He told me that no matter how long I was away, I would still come back tired.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I slept 8-12 hours every night of our trip. I’m still getting close to seven hours every night, yet I’m ready for a nap by 9:00 AM.

Maybe it’s because I’m at work all day, followed by unpacking and organizing the apartment at night, as well as spending the evenings sorting out banking things and other tedious adult matters. And then I sleep, get up, and do it all over again.

I’m glad to be back, but I still wish there was more sleep involved.

An Announcement

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Hello, friends.

It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down and written a real post. A real, honest-to-goodness, put my fingers to a keyboard and write something post.

I haven’t actually touched a computer in two weeks, except for the purpose of watching a movie. My writing brain has been completely shut off.

Well, not shut off. I’m always observing. Always inventing imaginary scenarios. Always making mental notes and taking mental photographs.

There’s been a lot of pictures taken, recently, with bright colors and vivid resolution.

Everything about my life has changed. Even my name has changed.

This blog is about to change.

Perhaps I should say that this blog has been changing. For some time. It’s evolved with me. This blog has seen me through some of my darkest days, as well as some of my brightest. I have not missed a post for almost four years. That’s the entire length of a college career.

In fifteen days, The Risible Rambler will reach its fourth birthday. This blog has served its purpose. It has kept me (and hopefully, my beloved readers) laughing and thinking for four long and beautiful years.

It is time for The Risible Rambler to retire.

Now, by retire” I do not mean “cease to exist or function.” Not at all. That is not what retirement means. Just ask anyone who’s retired. They still exist, and they still have adventures, and they still do wonderful and influential things. Retirement just means a change in focus.

I will still post to The Risible Rambler. I will probably post about the hilarities of married life or write about changes in life or humorous happenings. This will also remain my default blog for fiction and poetry. But I will no longer post daily. I will post once or twice a week, tops.

I made this decision many months ago. I discovered new passions and new areas of interest that my fingers want to write about and my mind wants to research. I want to write a blog that will turn into a book–hopefully the kind of book that might change some lives, or at least some minds. This new blog will be a blog with purpose. It will take more effort and concentration than I am able to give to this one. It will require a different appearance, stronger internet presence, and more intentional focus.

I wouldn’t force that kind of restriction on The Risible Rambler. Not for the world.

So in fifteen days, I will start a new blog. Please follow me there. I’ll need you all more than ever.

Risabella Rambler will ramble on as she always has. But she has more to say than ever before. And she’ll need a new place to throw her words into the air and hope they’ll catch the wind.

Baking

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There’s nothing better than baking.

Well, there’s nothing better than baking if you’re the sort of person who likes to bake.

I love to bake.

Baking has always been an important part of my life. Mother and I would bake together through the fall and winter, making pies for Thanksgiving and more pies for Christmas, as well as the usual batches of ten cookie varieties.

Most of what I do in life is academic or cerebral. I don’t mean to say that I’m a very cerebral person. I’m no genius by any standard. I can think and I can write, and I have good ideas occasionally. Most of my work has been recording those ideas and submitting them to be graded. Most of my college career and now my actual career is spent in front of a computer screen, processing ideas.

That’s great and all, but every once in a while I’ve got to make something.

It’s not a practical use of time to sit and draw, which is what I used to do in high school if I needed a break. It’s more practical to knit, but I’m so out of practice that it would take a concentrated effort to remember the craft, and I don’t have that kind of time.

Since I have to feed myself, my creative spurts turn into food. I’ve invented chicken dishes and noodle dishes and hundreds of quinoa dishes, but rarely to I have the time to make dessert. I do my best to keep desserts out of my apartment because the spirit is willing, but the flesh is week. Can I get an “amen”?

But every once in a while, I have to bake something. Anything. even if it’s mug cake.

Tonight, it was pound cake. Rich, buttery, sugary pound cake. They say that pound cake got its name from its ingredients–a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, and a pound of butter, plus extras. I say it’s called pound cake because you gain a pound for every slice you eat.

I love the process of putting all the parts together. There’s something about adding the flour mixture to the sugar/butter/egg combo sloshing around in the mixing bowl that gives me the illusion of calm in the universe. As if, with every stir of my mixing spoon, I hear a whispered “be still,” and the seas obey.

But to tell the truth, my favorite part of baking is licking the mixing bowl.

And the spatula.

And the beaters on the mixer.

I told you, they call it pound cake for a reason.

20 Days

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I’m 20 days away from the best day ever.

I am simultaneously ready and not ready.

Emotionally, I’ve been ready for almost a year. Logistically, there’s still a lot to be done.

But are we ever completely ready for anything?

No. No we’re not.

And that’s okay.

If we could be completely ready for everything at all times, then we’d be God. And there’s only one God, and He’s got everything figured out so I can relax into the idea that I don’t have to have everything figured out. There’s something beautiful in that.

I know that for sure.

And I know I love my fiance for sure. And certain. And muchly. And foreverly.

So here we go.

Curiosity

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Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we all stopped worrying about what we look like.

What if there were no mirrors or photographs? What if Photoshop never existed? What if our only chance of seeing our own faces would be when we looked into still water or into someone else’s eyes?

The makeup industry would falter or tank. People might not try as hard to be fit unless we all discovered how good it feels to exercise and eat right for its own sake. We wouldn’t make choices about how others would see us–we’d make clothing choices based on what feels comfortable. And we’d be less likely to compare ourselves to each other’s appearances. We’d probably compare on other levels–intelligence or wealth, maybe–but we would not think of ourselves as superior or inferior to others on the basis of our own appearance.

One woman did a year-long self-experiment where she got rid of all the mirrors in her house. She is a woman of average weight with blonde hair and a bright smile, if I recall from her interview. She did not look at herself for a year, and was surprised at how her priorities changed. Her focus turned outward. She was free of the distractions and inhibitions that come with worrying about how she looked. Of course she stayed clean and healthy and well groomed and well dressed, but she no longer stood in front of a mirror and criticized what she saw.

She became truly comfortable in her non-supermodel skin. The favorite of her features became her soft, squishy middle, which became comfortable instead of repulsive.

I remember hating my body when I was in junior high and early high school. I remember thinking and feeling thinner than I was–and then looking in a mirror or going clothes shopping and seeing the embarrassing truth. I felt fine about me–until I looked in a mirror.

I got healthy, though. I learned to love exercise and good food. But I still hated parts of me.

My skin erupted. I stared into the mirror a lot. And I was miserable.

Then I decided to stop looking in the mirror, to stop washing my face, to stop caring. For months. I ate right, I exercised, I drank water, and barely glanced at the mirror in the mornings. I made myself not care.

Either my skin cleared, or I learned to like my face again. Not sure. But I’m okay with how I look now. I may never look like I did before second puberty slapped some scars on my face, but I look okay. And that’s okay.

Ceasing to care is the first step to being happy in the skin you’ve been given. Like all aspects of stewardship, it’s a matter of taking care of what you’ve been given. Exercise. Eat right. Sleep well. Dress well. Those who love you won’t care if you’re not on top of your game 100% of the time.

And those who don’t love you are too busy staring in their own mirrors to notice, anyway.

Postcard

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I remember being three years old and looking in my mother’s full-length mirror in her bedroom.

There I was. Little Rizzy. Bobbed brown hair, small frowning mouth, and curious dark eyes.

I had already heard grown-ups saying things about how time just flies, how quickly I was growing up. Time didn’t seem to move quickly to me. It crawled. I wondered what on earth they could be talking about.

I supposed that there came a switch once you became old enough when suddenly time would move quicker. Little three-year-old me assumed that God wanted to be nice to His little ones, so He lets us feel like time is crawling while we’re small so we experience the magic of His creation to its fullest before we grow up and become blind.

Already I had heard ominous rumblings of how horrible it is to become an adult. Adults talked about how awful adulthood is all the time. And none of them seemed to remember what it was like to be a child. They had all forgotten. Which struck three-year-old me as being very sad, because how could you forget about how wonderful it is to be small.

So I looked at myself in the mirror and sent future me a message:

“Don’t forget. Whatever you do, don’t forget this moment. Don’t forget about me. Don’t forget about who you really are. No matter how old you get, you’ll always be me, and I’ll always be you.”

I have not forgotten.

I do not intend to.

Mystery

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I really want more sleep.

It’s not that sleep isn’t available to me. I can have just about all the sleep I want. I fall asleep quickly and will only wake up to loud noises or being overheated. So why don’t I go to bed earlier?

I’ve wondered this since high school, when I first started staying up late into the night. I would be in school all day, learning things and interacting with people. Then there were after school activities. Then there was stuff on the weekends. I’m an introvert, so interaction drains me. I love people. I love all the lovely people in my life. But after being with people all day,I need time for quiet reflection, creation, and relaxation. Without interruption.

Because I get up and go places all day (namely, my little office) and then go running (because I’m sitting all day and I need to move), I don’t get home until seven every night. I’ve been out there all day. And I want as much time to myself as possible.

So I stay up.

I stay up late, late into the night, just to recharge.

Sleep would do the same thing.

I confuse me.