Why Did I Buy This Big Fat Journal?

A few years ago, I had some money left on a gift card, so I bought a big fat journal. It’s made by Greenroom, whose products I like because they have nice paper and are really pretty.

Once upon a time, I used to get through journals pretty quickly. I’ll admit that most of what I wrote in them consisted of random observations, complaints, and funny stuff that I noticed. Nothing profound or worthy of being published at any point—just a brain dump.

I got sick of writing useless stuff in journals and instead began to use them for lists of important things I would otherwise forget, story ideas, work-related stuff, and so on. As I result, I wrote less often and the big fat journal that I started in May 2018 still is not finished nearly two years later.

In that interval, I have gotten several other journals as gifts, and they are sitting around sadly while my big fat journal gets all the attention (or none of it). So now I’m trying to fill the big fat one up with whatever I feel like writing about again; for example, a random quote from work: “Animals are a whole different breed of people.” (I overheard this across a couple cubes. I have no idea what the context is.)

The moral of this useless, random story is that, for me at least, there is no point in getting a big fat journal. The little tiny ones, or even plain old spiral notebooks, will do just fine.

At Year End

If I had to pretend 2019 was a piece of writing and give it a title, I would call it “The Battle with Selfishness” or “The Struggle to Sacrifice.” The prevailing event that occurred was the birth of my son in early January, so naturally, my life turned upside down.

All the poets and writers and anyone who has ever had a child were not kidding when they said that upon becoming a parent, one’s entire perspective on life changes. For me, the key word was perspective. My actions did not change much, but I got the overwhelming sense that I needed to be changing my actions in accord with this new perspective of parenthood.

So much of what I do on a daily basis is selfish. So much of it is useless and destructive, not in an overt way like alcoholism or drug use, but in a softer way. I was playing on the floor with my son one night, and my phone vibrated from inside my purse where I promptly forgot about it upon walking in the door and seeing my son’s drooly grin.

I ignored the phone, but in the back of my mind was a nagging feeling that I ought to check it, even though it was likely only a text from a family member and not urgent. This nagging feeling occurs all the time when I’m doing something worthwhile or unselfish. The nagging feeling says that I need to surf the Internet on my phone, sit down and read a book, go on the computer and write something, or just be alone and away from people.

Sometimes the nagging feeling becomes a roar, and it is extremely hard to ignore it. I don’t know if that is the sound of my old pre-married life coming back to haunt me because there are certain parts of it I find hard to let go of, like unfettered alone time. When I try to make myself remember that I was not as happy in those days, the roaring quiets and the nagging goes away for a time. But it inevitably returns, mostly when the phone vibrates or when I start to get tired (damn that noonday demon!).

Honestly, I’m happiest when I’m with others, although it does not appear that way. Being around others is hard because I have to control my selfish impulses, but it is infinitely better than doing things alone. It is better to serve others than to serve oneself, as painful as it is to be around others at times.

So my resolutions for 2020 are related to being more “other centered.” I will die one day, and I doubt I will be remembered for how many blog posts, journal entries, and fiction pieces I wrote, how many books I read, or how many government documents I edited. I don’t think God is going to judge me on the basis of those things either. My vocation is to be a mother and a wife. That is the way I am supposed to bring light into the world and lead others to God. Everything else in my life should be in service to that vocation, which was chosen by God to bring glory to him, so my resolutions have also been chosen for my vocation.

All this is to say that I didn’t set a writing goal. I’m going to keep posting THE ARCHIVES until all 365 chapters are up. I’m sure the constant urge to write will spur me to post the occasional blog entry here and there, but it’s not going to be a priority. The world is a strange place and becoming stranger by the day. The best way to prevent it from having too much of a hold on me is to renounce it, little by little, and do what I can for God.

Adventures in Real Estate

One of my goals for this year was to buy a house, but I did not complete that goal. We were under contract in October, but the inspection report was pretty bad. The crawl space needed about $21,000 worth of repairs. So our one-bedroom apartment began to look like a wonderful paradise, and I fully appreciated how easy it was to maintain and how kind the landlord is (and sometimes, they give away free food!). And the brightest side of all? Only 600-something square feet to clean! In the home-buying process, I grew quite cynical upon reading real estate listings and going to what seemed like three million showings. So here is my interpretation of the real estate language:

Location, location, location: There will be 12 offers on this house before you even get to see it.
Priced to sell: Consider running away.
As is: Run away.
Handyman special: Run far, far away.
Lots of potential: Run far, far away screaming.
Won’t last long: Will end up sitting on the market for two weeks.
Adorable: Only 1,000 square feet. You can rent an apartment bigger than this.
Charming: Looks like granny’s house… and smells like it too.
Cozy: Two bedrooms and/or less than 1,000 square feet.
Close proximity to the nearest highway: You will never sleep again. Sirens will become your lullaby.
Country living: You need to drive 30 minutes to reach civilization.
Easy access to downtown: Purchase a home security system now. Just sayin’.
New HVAC, new roof: Congratulations! You just put off fixing “the big stuff” for another few years!
Motivated seller: The next time you blink, this house will be off the market.
Bring your ideas: The house hasn’t been updated since the 1980s.
Only one owner: No maintenance has been done for the past 12 years.
Hard-to-find ranch: What? Practically every house in North Carolina is a ranch.
Hardwood and laminate floors throughout: BUY ME NOW! (Seriously, I hate carpet.)
No HOA: You can paint your house purple and have a pet giraffe!
Low HOA: Nobody is coming to power wash your house for the next 10 years.
Split-bedroom plan: Send the kids to the other end of the house when you’re getting fed up!
Double sinks: Send your spouse to the other end of the counter when you’re getting fed up!
Low-maintenance living: You will be paying through the nose in HOA dues.
Multiple offers; highest and best due tomorrow: Better hope your offer was better than that Chinese investor’s…
This CITY #-story home offers a FEATURE, FEATURE, and FEATURE: The seller is Opendoor. Show up anytime and wave to the cameras!

I still plan to buy a house, probably at the end of 2020. Wish me luck, because this is still largely a seller’s market and will most likely remain so.