Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Giving Up on the American Dream

Source: US Dept. of Housing and Urband Development

Thanks, no.

So, there have been a lot of changes going on here at Casa de Polimicks.  I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about all of them, but, and it feels kind of silly to say this, getting a new job has been life-changing.

I’m not kidding.

I don’t want to say too much about my old work situation, except to say it was bad.  It was not healthy for me, and given a lot of my parental conditioning, my tendency is to blame myself for things far out of proportion.  Which is… well, there’s a whole frigging pathology at work here, and that’s for later.  Suffice it to say, old job situation less than good, new job situation, fucking awesome.

That said, I have noticed, now that I’ve had this job long enough to start feeling more comfortable and secure, that my security and happiness have evinced themselves in unexpected ways.  For example, sitting down and taking a good hard look at our finances and talking seriously to the husband about where are, where we could be, and what we need to do to get things sorted out.

It’s also meant coming to the realization that there’s a lot of the American Dream I’ve already discarded, and even more that I just don’t want.

First, the kids.  Well, I got fixed at 35 and have never looked back.  Seriously, we had one pregnancy scare when I was in my late 20s, and my first and immediate thought was, “Oh dear gods, where do I get the money for an abortion?”  I was a grad student at the time, and change in the couch cushions could (and frequently did) make the difference between eating and not eating for a day or two.  I love kids, I think they’re neat, and I have told my sister that should anything happen to her, I would be more than happy to raise Pavel* in her place.  But as for having my own?  I have all the maternal instinct of a cactus.

But the biggie, as far as my parents’ generation, is the realization that we don’t want to own a house.  Not even a condo.  I like being able to call someone when something major breaks and have them take care of it.  I like not having to worry about foundations or plumbing or roofs, outside of noticing shit ain’t right, and calling the landlord.  I like that.  I like that because up until now, we’ve been really damn broke, and if we owned the places we’ve lived where some fairly catastrophic shit happened, like the guy who owned the place not realizing how often septic tanks need to be emptied, or poor drainage, or just a woodpecker with a roofing tile fetish, we would be utterly boned.

The other facet of this is that I have recently come to the realization that while I like the concept of a yard, I am not, in fact, particularly pleased with the realities of a yard.  Honestly, I’m pretty sure my nature girl tendencies could probably be sated with occasional forays to the park and a balcony with a potted herb garden.

My parents are kind of horrified by this lackadaisical attitude (in their eyes) towards home ownership.  They view it as a goal:  The American Dream, “2.7 children and a palace in the suburbs,” to quote the musical group Uncle Bansai.  That’s how you used to become an adult:  job, marriage, house, kids.

And I lack interest in all of those things.  Well, except the job.  I’m not even kidding when I tell you how much I like my job.  Six months later I’m still deliriously pleased with my decision to take it.

Recently, the husband and I were talking about how our five year plan is a nice apartment (my dream space is a big empty loft we can carve into rooms with bookshelves) somewhere urban and walkable with a shorter commute for me.

We don’t really want a lot of stuff anymore, after clearing out one story of my parents’ house for my sister (oh, is that a long story: short version, my folks are hoarders).  Honestly, there are two things we have trouble getting rid of:  books and CDs, and, well, if we’re using shelves to make rooms… Then, yay tons of books?

We’re just… We’re not interested in a lot of the trappings of success as delineated in American culture.  We don’t want big or expensive cars.  We don’t want a lot of “brand” furnishings or anything else.  We have some of those things, well, because KitchenAid is a damn fine brand and worth it.  But brands for the sake of brands, not so much.  We just want to be comfortable and be able to afford to go to the movies once in awhile, or out to dinner, that’s it.

I’m not going to outline all the financial discussions, and that apartment in a walkable neighborhood is a couple years away at least.  But in the meantime, just knowing that there’s a chance we can achieve what we ultimately want out of life?  That feels pretty damn good.  And I kind of have the new job to thank for it.**


*I may have forgotten to post about this here, but yes, I’m an aunt.  And he’s friggin’ adorable!
**I was talking to a former co-worker who is just leaving Last Job, and it’s just kind of nice to confirm that it wasn’t me, but that the place was bad for everyone.  It feels validating. 

One comment on “Giving Up on the American Dream

  1. Jen
    January 12, 2014

    Hrm, know what you mean. Except I *would* like to have some corner of the universe I could call “ours.” Renting gets old when you know you could be out at the whims of a landlord. (Maybe my ideas would be better, if I had better ones…)

    And I’m tired of renter’s beige.


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This entry was posted on January 10, 2014 by in Class, Featured Articles, It's All About Me.

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