Sunday, April 19, 2009


It's Sunday night, and Karissa's out grocery shopping, Trader Joe's to save a few bucks and get us some easy dinners.  Dinner has been such a nightmare lately, and along with "money problems," I know I sound like I'm living every married with kids cliche in the book all of a sudden. But it's true, dinner is the most daunting meal of the day, even if the kitchen isn't a mess, and there is a clean pot to cook in, which is a rare scene.  

The other day, we were exhausted after putting Julia to bed, and the only thing in the freezer was a package of veggie buffalo wings, and not the good Morning Star ones, either.  We have high standards for our meat-substitutes, being that neither one of us is actually a vegetarian. So it said on the package that microwave cooking was not recommended, but neither one of us had the energy to battle the million-year-old oven lurking in our kitchen (that I've stopped caring is a twin for one Alice Waters owns), so we popped them in. If you've ever breaded a sponge and tried to eat it with barbeque sauce, you can relate to our experience.  So I'm hoping with Karissa's shopping expertise, we have better eating experiences this week, as I'm not planning to have any more energy or be a better housekeeper.

Much of this weekend has been spent out of doors with the amazing babe.  I've been hit time and again with how precious she is, how smart, how wonderful.  It's so bittersweet, especially today, when I know I'm going to have to leave her for the week.  It seems clear to her that we are her family, but I'm constantly awed at how outgoing she is.  At the park yesterday, she kept crawling to other people's blankets,  waving like Miss America to anyone who would look her way.  I was a shy child, (and am still quite shy, though I have learned the skills to seem like an outgoing person), so this behavior stuns me, and also, forces me to strike up conversations with strangers, as I follow her around.  I guess this is just one way child-rearing is a growth opportunity.

Her nap times, in contrast, have been taken up with laundry, kitchen cleaning and bill paying, i.e. lamenting that month two of our spectacular "living within our means" budget has resulted in more debt and no progress. We're not poor by any means, but we spend more than we make, which is an increasing problem when considering the current economy and the future in general. More than a third of our combined income is going towards debt repayment, so we're paying for past sins, but making a dent in this debt amounts to going without things we're not yet prepared to sacrifice, mostly organic/prepared food, and stuff for the baby.  The result, more charging, and we're back to where we started from.  Does it really have to be this hard?  I'm not a math whiz, but I understand basic arithmetic, and I don't have problems creating a budget.  It's following it that gives me trouble.  

The issue is a simple one.  Spending.  Too much.  Still, I'm far from being a "shopaholic."  I haven't had a new pair of shoes in over a year!  Our electronics are five years old!  My computer was free!  I don't feel like we're living a life of excess, far from it, but we live in an expensive city, and with a new baby, there is pressure to get things we and the baby seem to need, but probably don't.  

We're also rent-poor, and so, as soon as our lease comes up, finding a new place is priority number one.  Sigh.  I only wish it all didn't have to be so hard.  It's taking it's toll on both of us emotionally, and interfering with a sense of well-being that I'd like to have given all the other day to day stresses life has to offer.

Once we move, we then have to figure out what happens with the care situation.  Scenario one, we're close enough that our share situation/nanny doesn't have to change.  It may anyway, because the other family may be interested in leaving the share, but we'd be solid.  We'd move the share to our house, find another family if need be, and everything would be fine.  Scenario two, we move out of the neighborhood.  Janet may or may not be able or willing to commute to our place, and we may have to find a completely new situation.  This means I would get to stay home with Julia for the summer, but I'd also have to spend a good deal of time interviewing and investigating, which is scary, stressful and time-consuming.  I hate that this is up in the air, but there it is.  Of course, I could still quit my job, but the real window for doing this has closed, so doing so would damage my credibility, and it would wreak such financial hardship on us that would make the situation we're in now seem like cushy living.  So, as I've said before, that's not really realistic.  Of course, moving itself is an expense, so the pressure's on to make a good choice.

We keep playing with the idea of moving just out of the city, just over the Golden Gate bridge, to some little town, where the rents could be way lower, but it's difficult to imagine how we'd adjust.  As much as SF isn't a city like I imagine New York to be, a concrete jungle, fast-paced, gritty, it's a city.  You can feel lonely, but there are people everywhere, there's bustle, noise, sirens (could do without these), a bit of commotion.  There's an erie quiet to the suburbs I haven't lived with in a long time.  I don't want to feel that sense of remoteness that I'm afraid I might feel after living in a city for almost fifteen years.  

And yet I'm hungry for that American dream-type scenario.  Friends of ours just bought a little house with a big yard and white picket fence.  They're expecting their first child in August, and I'm so happy for their son-to-be, to have such wide open spaces to play in.  It's funny, though, as we were leaving their place last weekend I saw other things, pickup trucks jacked up with huge tires.  And of course, in my queer citified way I jump to conclusions about the politics of the place and if it would be a safe place for my family.

There isn't a one size fits all solution, and for us, the size that fits most may or may not fit us. So many of our friends have given us what they think is a clear-cut, obvious answer, but what's right for their family doesn't feel right for us, either because of our biases or our family structure.  I've grown up feeling all the time at once completely unique and also quite run of the mill.  Fringe-y in some ways, but with a pretty typical upbringing and predictable tastes. Maybe that's true of all gay people or of all artists or wannabe artists, but it's true of Karissa and I and Julia's now a part of that.  She's going to have a pretty typical family and a unique one.  I envision her going to school, playing soccer, taking ballet or piano lessons.  She'll have a dog and a best friend and like swimming and riding her bike.  And she'll have two moms.  I want her to grow up somewhere where that's typical too, even if it's not in the big, wide world.  Every choice we've made and make will steer her life too, and that's why this one seems so, so important.

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