How to Live an Amazing, Ordinary Life

I’m starting to feel like we’re in an abusive relationship. I draw you in, then I’m unresponsive and withholding. Finally, I return, begging forgiveness and you take me back (or, I hope you do).  It’s getting icky. So, let’s just stop all the codependent b.s. I’ve been busy, ok? And, no, I haven’t forgotten about you. We’re all adults here, let’s just get on with it.

What have I been so busy with, you ask?  Oh, the usual: kids, house guests, job hunting, Lit Camp, researching flame retardant curtains, getting the Mister drunk and taking him clothes shopping, thinking about the Second Amendment, being really, really tired.  If it makes you feel better, you are not the only one I am neglecting. I haven’t called my mom in more than a week, and my toenails are absurd.

I am also halfway through throwing two slumber parties in a row. I haven’t eaten a grain of any kind (including the sugar kind) for 14 days, and I’ve given myself a pre-ulcer because I am apparently very stressed (although, again, I feel pretty great).

Oh, and The Americans. I’ve discovered the Americans.

But I’m not trying to play the I’m-so-busy game. Because that game is extremely boring and tedious and everybody is busy. Plus, my job is writing about pretty houses and interviewing Trina Turk about where she likes to shop, so, you know, not exactly a Bangladeshi sweat shop.

So what am I trying to do? I am trying to figure out what makes up a life. I am trying to make a little peace with the fact that life is about 90% mundane. The other 10% is the stuff of highlight reels that we post on Facebook and Instagram: our travels and parties and the occasional well-lit shot of us looking stunning.

Good luck with that

When I was young and ambitious and so very, very full of myself I had this picture in my head of what it would look like to have arrived. I was standing against floor-to-ceiling windows high up in a Manhattan apartment wearing a black cocktail dress and holding an elegant drink of some kind while reading from my latest novel. I feel the need to add here that this was way before Sex in the City and this was completely an image of my own imagination, trite as it still may be.

But now I am a grown up and I am sitting in the almost-dark on my cheapish sofa in a fraying dress I bought at Forever 21. No one is else is here. My kids are asleep. The Mister is out with a friend. It is absolutely not glamorous and no one is watching. But it is good*.

We all have triumphs and show-off moments. I have read my work in Manhattan. I have attended literary parties. But 99.9% of the time I am doing laundry, and making grocery lists that will only be forgotten on the kitchen counter later, and ordering clothes from Gap online, and job-hunting, and trying to diet, and cleaning out my kids’ closet, and looking forward to date night so I can eat a crab luis and get a little lit on Savingnon Blanc.

And I know lots of successful, well-published writers who are doing the same exact thing. Maybe they get to go on the Daily Show and maybe their college asks them back to speak and maybe they sell the film rights, but mostly they are just at home, noticing the grubby walls that need painting, or running out for milk, or paying the electricity bill. Their highlight reel might suddenly balloon to 15% of their life, but then it calms down again and they are faced with those  huge piles of mail and dishes.

Mundanity is the great equalizer. Unless you are Beyonce, in which case, none of this applies.  And if you are Beyonce, Hey B, what’s up?

I know I am a little slow on the uptake and that I was supposed to realize that my life was going to be ordinary around the time I turned 30 and was working at a bookstore. What can I say? Either I’m a dreamer or I’m slow. In any case, here I am, learning to be satisfied all these years later with my ordinary, mundane, amazing, thrilling, boring, annoying, glamorous, normal, unremarkable, exciting life.

*I still plan on having a super cool, fancy book party. So if your place in NYC has the aforementioned view, please do let me know.