June 8, 2011
I spent my first couple of years out of college living on $6-7 an hour. I had a roommate splitting living expenses with me, and mucked stalls to pay for my horse’s board at the stable where she lived. I didn’t do a lot, or buy a lot. (I wrote a lot, though…) It’s sometimes tough getting out of that mindset, even years later, when I have something resembling a real middle class income. Buying brand names instead of generic still feels kind of naughty. I have to occasionally remind myself that yes, I can buy that CD/T-shirt/whatever, because it isn’t going to keep me from eating next week. At restaurants, I still sometimes catch myself reviewing the menu according to what’s cheapest.
I’ve been feeling this acutely over the last couple of months, because I’ve just moved into a much nicer place than what I moved out of. I was in an apartment. I’m now in a house with a basement, fenced yard, real kitchen (and not a skinny-butt galley kitchen), and so on. Really, my whole life has gotten a huge upgrade. I’m feeling a bit like a hermit crab who waited too long to shed the old shell, and the new one is just a little too big. I’m having to unkink my limbs and convince myself I deserve this. I’ve given myself permission to go crazy with new furniture (thank you, foreign sales of Kitty books!) — I desperately wanted a new desk and a real bed. And boy is that weird.
Just a few upgrade examples:
- I slept on a futon — the same futon — for about 15 years. It was a nice futon with an upgraded foam core, but still. I didn’t mean to keep it so long, it just happened. It never seemed the right time to buy a real bed, at first because I didn’t have money, and then because the living situation didn’t seem to warrant it. I kept saying, “I’ll buy a bed when I move.” Well, I moved, and I have a bed. My first real bed as an adult. How weird is that? My last new bed was when I was three and my baby brother came along and kicked me out of the crib. Every night this past week, I’ve felt like I’m sleeping in a hotel.
- In the old place, my office and craft/sewing space were the same room. And gawd was it a mess. The closet was filled with old manuscripts and bags of fabric. Since I worked at the desk, I kept the sewing machine on a shelf. And sewed standing up, at the shelf. I’d drape fabric pieces over the chair and hope I didn’t spill pins on the carpet. This week, I’m sewing a specialized piece of garb for an event on Saturday. I bought a new desk, and my old desk is the new sewing table. The office is the office, and the craft/sewing space is in the basement. I’m sewing sitting down, which means I can sew more and better. I can spread out instead of holding things in my lap to pin them. Bliss. I see much more sewing in my future.
- Every time a book of mine comes out, I get a box of author copies from the publisher. A lot of them get given away. But I like to keep a few around for whatever. Plus, I get a copy of every anthology I appear in. Plus, I get a lot of books in general. If you’ve been following my career the last couple of years, you know how many books that is. Now, imagine all those boxes of books in my living room, which is where they were in the old apartment. Not good. Cramped hermit crab images again.
So yeah. Big changes in my world over the last couple of months. This was complicated by some good old Murphy’s Law intervention — I tried to time the move for when I didn’t have any deadlines and wasn’t traveling. Well, the move got delayed by a month when the first place I had my eye on fell through. Then I got sick with that hideous ear infection, I started traveling, and I’ve been trying to slip the move in between trips. Add a couple of unexpected story rewrites for anthologies in there… Life hasn’t felt normal in a while. And now the upgrade. I’m kinda freaking out.
I was in that apartment for exactly 7 years. This is the longest stretch of time I have lived in a single place, ever. I am so out of practice moving, it’s appalling. I have so many more books now than I did seven years ago! But it so needed to happen, and it has, and life is good.
Lily is adjusting. The thing she isn’t liking is the constant stream of strangers coming in and out, delivering the new furniture, making repairs, hooking up cable, fixing the lawn, etc. She’d be settling in better if not for that. She’s stopped going voluntarily into her kennel, because that’s where I keep throwing her when strangers come by. But she’ll get there. So will I. I hauled myself back to a regular writing schedule this week, and that’s made a big difference.
As long as I’m writing something, the rest doesn’t seem so chaotic.