Monday, March 2, 2009


This much is true:

  1. My husband left for the Caribbean yesterday, where he will be sailing in the Heineken Cup regatta in St. Maarten for the next ten days.
  2. We are renovating our house: new shingles, new bathrooms, new deck, new paint.
  3. We have three cars now and only a two car garage.
At the same time, this is also true:
  1. My husband is sailing as crew: an all expense paid trip to help someone else win a race.
  2. We borrowed money to renovate our house in the hopes that someone will buy it so we can go back to renting. The house goes on the market April 1.
  3. My mom gave me her 14 year old car so we can sell my new car and get rid of the payments.

I realize now that the sun never truly goes down. It's just an illusion caused by the world ceaselessly spinning.

This time last year: my favorite game. This time last year Bryan was in the Caribbean for the same regatta. I did not go because I could not take the time off from work. While he was gone I blogged about buying a new coffee table. To buy or not to buy: that was the question.

This time next year: a game I dare not play. But I'd be lying if I didn't hope for the strong Caribbean sun to slap me flat across my face.
I never did buy a new coffee table.
It's going to happen quickly now, the process of downsizing. Selling the car, the house, the dream if I am to be dramatic about it, and let's face it: I blog, therefore I am (dramatic). Still, it feels strange, this anti-Jeffersonian unfolding of moving on down. Somehow it seems antithetical to being American, although I don't remember anyone ever promising me anything. (But if Bryan hums the theme song to Sanford and Son one more time, I will scream.)

This time next year: I don't know. We are shrinking from a double-income household with a hefty mortgage and car payments to a single-income household (for now), no mortgage, no car payments, no debt at all. (Of course no new coffee table, either.) I feel both free and restrained, light and beaten down, hopeful and dashed.
The sign of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.~F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I love this quote because I am often plagued by cognitive dissonance. If I have to be dreadfully confused, I might as well feel smart while doing it. (Although I'm not quite sure if the same holds true for a mind stuffed like a pinata with confetti-like bits of thought and cheap candy...)
Of course one question has been answered for me. To buy or not to buy. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune... Not quite what Shakespeare had in mind with that soliloquy, but there it is all the same. I will not be buying much of anything, have not for awhile now, and yet the fortunes I hold are still outrageous. I have and have not, those damn opposing ideas again, Abraxas with his truth and lying, good and evil, light and dark rolled up into one neat little package tied up with tongues. What do I think about all of this? I don't know. Everything, I guess.
Already in this post I have referenced Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Carl Jung, The Jeffersons, Kurt Vonnegut, Bogart and Bacall, Descartes, Sanford and Son, materialism and nothing. And yet I am pretty sure I have not said much at all. (It would be so much easier to post a photo of a vagina and be done with it.) What is there to say when you are losing everything but still have all that you need?
Quite simply, Abraxas was a supreme being, a hallowed and accursed word meaning both life and death. The name contained great mysteries because it contained the seven Greek letters that when computed numerically equaled the number 365, the number of days in a year.
This time last year, next year, same time. This time. This much is true(ish):
  1. The sun does not rise and set.
  2. It is an illusion from where we stand.
  3. A silly perception in thinking that we are still.
  4. That is all.

*click on images for source.


Anonymous said...

Our circle is also growing smaller but it feels stronger and no less complete.

I ♥ You said...

Susannah, you have such enlightenment on your situation. I admire you for it! We too are in the process of learning to live with less - and are actually (oddly) excited about it. Purging all the crap we thought necessary and as it turns out is just stuff to suck away your time and money. I mean, I'm not prepared to go all Walden Pond on the world but it might be nice to give up the pressure (self induced or otherwise) to constantly want more.

ps- working crew or not - a free trip to a beautiful island is a nice gig.

pps- so many cute coffee tables on sale right now. just sayin....

Mrs. Blandings said...

It's all stuff, right? But is stuff we kind of like to have around. I have a friend who is actively downsizing and when I said, "We should do the same, but we probably wouldn't be able to sell our house," she said, "Houses are selling." And I realized I'm just a big fat chicken.

Robin said...

You said a lot, and so well too. I am also learning there is something wonderful about simplicity/downsizing.

Have to throw a little Thoreau out there " is rich in proportion to the amount of things he can afford to let alone."

Anonymous said...

It's so hard and it really sucks, but at least you guys have a plan. Mrs. Blandings is right, it's all just stuff. We like it, but in it's absence we see it wasn't that important to begin with. I guess it's got us appreciating the real things. I know I sound cheesy, but I don't want you to be down. You've got a lot going for you, and no car, home or income will change that.

Sarah Ring said...

I agree with Paige, there is some relief in purgind the excess and living a more simple life. It's good to hear that you are embracing that concept and not fighting it. We too are considering moving into a smaller home but still owning... I don't know what we thought we were going to do with four bedrooms for two people, yet... we have them. Almost ashamed for being wasteful now.

Jenn said...

Either the Flaming Lips bring you englightenment or you are just eerily in tune with them. Either way, your introspection on your situation helps me not to fear it so much should it ever happen to me. Life goes on. The world keeps spinning. Money is an illusion, too, but one we must all imagine we believe.

Anonymous said...

Two months ago, we were forced out of our happy rental home by a landlord who had been fired from one of the big investment banks and needed his house back. Merry Christmas to us all. Our smaller house took a couple of weeks to get used to, but I can honestly say we are totally happy again. We gave away furniture, clothes and "stuff" until it hurt. We gave away wedding presents and cashmere sweaters and things "we might need someday" simply because we had no room in our new little world. A little at a time, then a lot. I don't miss any of it.

Home truly is where the heart is. If you are safe and dry with your loved ones by your side, the stuff, the car, the house won't matter. (Just give it a few weeks for adjustment).

Wishing you luck!

dee said...

This is all too true for me now, too. I look at all the furniture I've been blogging about buying since we bought our house, yet right now I have no idea when my next job will come. I just hope this time next year the country is climbing back up to the-way-we-were...or hopefully something a little more realistic.

Anonymous said...

Great post, great quote.

Courtney said...

I, ironically, posted about my current "Moving on Up" experience (with the music, to boot), but truly it has nothing to do with moving "up" more moving "far away." We are also learning to do with less. Selling every car, renting the only thing we outright own (our house), and seriously uncluttering and minimizing our "stuff." It feels good and I feel like it makes me breath easier knowing I have less in my life and am still doing OK.

I know your situation is not what you envisioned a year ago, but I also think a year from now you'll feel like you can concur the world. You're one hell of a strong girl - with a strong family - and I admire you, Bryan, and the Zoester for that!

krista said...

when finn was a teeny tiny baby, i used to hum the sanford and son soundtrack to her. i have no idea why. but it always made her smile.
i know there is a metaphor there somewhere.

cassandra said...

it's like you're in my head...all i can think about is what i don't have one second and the next am so grateful for what i do have. debt free would be a DREAM right now. such a weight it is these days. this is definitely the downsizing of america, isn't it?

i put a new fortune cookie tidbit up on my bulletin board today just to convince myself that maybe it's true:

"it is not the person who has too little, but the person who always craves more, that is poor".

then again, i don't know that i need more... i think i'd just settle for normal right about now :)

Patois42 said...

You are living my dream. If I could get out from under this house, I would.

Maggie May said...

i reference that quote (holding two ideas) in my novel. i love that quote.
i think 'cognitive dissidence' is the name of my new band

i loved this post, susannah

Suzanne : : S.HOPtalk said...

Loved this.

You're in the cool club now...learning to live with less and loving it {at least that's what I keep telling myself!}

beachbungalow8 said...

I've been rolling around so many thoughts today regarding much of what you wrote. We all must be on the same frequency.

great post

Kwana said...

You've said quite a lot here. So many good things. You're doing what you have to do. What do many of us have to do. That's all. And you're doing it so well. With grace and a little fire.

Red Bella said...

touching blog
did I catch a flaming lips influence?

Petunia Face said...

Ack, I am old! I don't see the Flaming Lips reference! Please point it out for lil' old me.


Good Enough Woman said...

Love this post! I'm imagining you debt-free, writing a great book, with your beautiful family. Nice.

s. said...

I don't find it a bit difficult to live with less but I must admit that the actual letting go can be painful. Selling items on ebay has brought me to tears more than once, but not one of those things has been missed after leaving my home.