September 6, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 13: Hang 'Em High

Today I dried a full load of Charlie's diapers on the clothesline Roy hung in our back "yard" a week or so ago. It was my first time using the clothesline for a sizable amount of clothes.

Our electric bill was a little less than $400 last month. I almost crapped my pants when I saw it. This month, our bill is a little less than $300. It's an improvement, but still way too high. I'm hoping that using the clothesline instead of the dryer whenever possible will help.

Hanging Charlie's diapers was very meditative for me. Before I knew what was happening, I found myself in a reverie of my perfect life, in which I hung our clothes out to dry while standing barefoot in the lush green grass of our huge backyard. The blistering heat snapped me out of it, though.

Then I promptly went inside and said to Roy, "Let's move to Portland."

Roy and I have been discussing possibly buying a house here in Southern California. It's a buyer's market, Roy's entire family is here, and we have a good life here. I've been dragging my feet on researching house buying because I don't want to think about buying a house here. I'm reluctant to enter into that kind of commitment, because let's face it - I want to get the hell out of Dodge.

I want to live somewhere green.
I want to live somewhere where it rains a lot.
I want to live somewhere where there are many different opportunities.
I want to live somewhere diverse.
I want to live somewhere a little calmer.

The area I live in is really lacking when it comes to these things. And I know that no place is perfect, but I have lived here for eight years now and there are some things about this place that I just can't overlook. I hate the smog and the traffic and the general tendency towards entitlement and self-absorption. I really want to settle down in a place that I feel is home.

So Roy and I spent the afternoon making a one-year plan. By June 2010, we'd like to be closer to moving away from here rather than being more settled here. We set a few goals for the year and wrote them on our little whiteboard in our kitchen as a constant reminder of what we want out of life.

My big goals for the year are finishing my thesis (and graduating with my MA) and taking at least one photography class. Roy's goals for the year are taking an exam he needs to move up in his field and taking one Spanish class. Our family goals are to save 10% of our income every month and to use what we already have.

I am the worst offender when it comes to dropping loads of money on things I don't really need. To my credit, I am pretty frugal most of the time, but every once in awhile I get in a space where I just start spending like crazy. I never buy anything full price, and I think that's part of my problem. I think I start to justify buying extra things that are on sale just because they are on sale, not because we really need them. Thus, after a trip to Costco earlier in the summer, I found myself with 20 Chapsticks. (It really did sound like a good idea at the time.)

As a result, we have a lot of surplus things. I can't tell you how many lip glosses, body sprays, body washes, and facial cleansing cloths I have. It's a ridiculous amount. I'm kind of embarrassed at the way I collect things. It's ultimately pretty silly to have so much stuff just for the sake of having options.

I really do want a simpler life. And I know that's what Roy wants, too. So we're going to work on it. We're going to probably do another huge purge of what we already have and focus on keeping what we need. It's all just stuff, anyway. And we don't need to be weighed down here more than we already are.

I am really excited to have a life plan in place, sort of. I know that nothing ever goes the way we'd like it to, but it feels good to have something to work towards. Even though we have a baby and lots of debt, we are still young, and I know we still have some necessary risks we need to take. One of them is moving somewhere we actually want to be.

To think that all of this came from hanging some diapers on a clothesline...


Amy said...

I feel almost exactly the same way about moving. J.R.'s whole family is here too. But neither one of us can see raising our children here for some of the very same reasons. Here's hoping we can both get out of here in good time. :)

tootie said...

What a good idea to make a list of goals together - then you both know where you're going (figuratively and literally in this case!) :)

My husband and I dream about the day when he retires from the military and we can actually choose where we live :)

phairhead said...

and a plan comes to fruition easier when you write it out

Angie Eats Peace said...

Dont move :(
Just kidding. I completely understand and will be happy to visit you wherever you go.
Sounds like a good plan you guys have, and I am exactly the same way when it comes to spending.
I have been amazed how much we have saved since we got serious about getting a house, and to think I could have been doing that for such a longer amoung of time, but buying something from each section at Target was more important.

Anonymous said...

oh if you only saw how many half-used bottles of hair shampoo/conditioner/sprays/gels/mousse/etc i have stashed in my closet right now, it is beyond embarrassing.

but yay for having a plan! here's to hoping your dream life becomes your real life.

mj said...

I love the pictures of Charlie's diapers hanging on the clothesline! I know what you mean about wanting to move away and have seasons again! 6 years here and I'm getting the itch to move more and more but I know it might be some time before we find that opportunity. Oh and I cracked up reading about your 20 chapsticks. I'm the same way with spending...I never buy full price but if I can save $3 on 2 gallons of Tapatio I'm sold! :)

weezermonkey said...

I think I've said this before, but I think Portland would really suit you. It's nice and woodsy while being relatively diverse and totally left-leaning politically.

Mr. Monkey lived there three years and loved it. He's very crunchy.

Crazy Daisy said...

Hey Minneapolis is nice and green... well for a few months and then the snow comes! But cold sloshy is the new green, right? :)

I'm the same way with spending. It is so hard. I see a deal and think we need it, and it is a bargain price, I can't pass it up.

I try to go with a budget (though, we struggle with staying on this at times) and walking away, and if I still "need" it in 3 days, I can actually consider it. So many of my wants, fade away after just a couple days and I completely forget I even wanted it!

Awesome with setting up your year goals! We did this awhile ago and it feels good to go back and look through to see where we are.

Erika said...

I miss clothes hanging in the back yard reminds me of when I was a kid.

I agree.....but I don't wanna move far from my parents. Maegan said...

yes yes yes to the "I want ..." list. I'm not sure we'll ever really be able to leave LA but the beach is a HUGE step. Portland is gorgeous. You should do it ;)

Anamika said...

I know exactly how you feel about wanting to move. I've been here for 8 years too and I am ready to get out of here. Of course, I never really intended to stay here this long anyway.

We did buy a house last year, since it was a great opportunity. I look at our house this way: when we can sale it, it'll help us get up out of here. That is, *if* we can make a profit.

I want the same things in a new home town as you do, but we've been seriously considering Montana. There's a not a lot of diversity there, but I guess that's why we'd travel.

amber said...

Do you read Snikollet's blog, by chance? She just recently moved back to Oregon (Portland, I think, but don't quote me on it) to be closer to her family and just be somewhere that felt like home to her. She said her stress level and her general well-being, as well as that of her kids, is so much better. I think it's great that you and Roy are on the same page and are moving towards being where you want - both physically and emotionally.