I have three not-so-tawdry secrets:
- I love hip-hop. Good hip hop, bad hip hop, hip hop that used to be called rap, highbrow, lowbrow, gangsta, spoken word, hip hop appropriated by suburban white boys with chips on their shoulders (shout out to Beastie Boys and Eminem, and I swear you haven’t lived until you’ve heard the BareNaked Ladies perform NWA’s Fight the Power), inspirational, political, even the stuff that is hand-wringingly misogynist (hi fiddy) – all of it. Almost. Apparently not everyone knows this. I told my gentleman caller this, recently, and he was surprised. He said “That’s something I didn’t know about you.” Really? The gratuitous Tupac references and dogged defense of Kanye‘s jackassery didn’t give it away? Don’t even get me started on Jay Z or Missy Elliot and the force and methods with which I love them (obscenely, preferably naked). And Common? Mos Def? Desdamona? The Roots? I die. D.I.E.
- I paint. My gentleman caller did not know this, either. Really? My paintings are EVERYWHERE in my house. How could you miss it? He said “I think it was because I was looking at your ass.” That makes sense. All is forgiven.
- I like money. I’m not terribly materialistic, except that I am.
I admit it. I like money. This is a bit of a surprise to me. I like to think that I don’t like money.
For example, I am a bit of a minimalist. I have four dinner plates because if I have any more, they will end up dirty, in the sink, even though I have a dishwasher. It is probably full. Don’t judge.
All I really need is four dinner plates. If more people come over for dinner, they will have to not come over for dinner. This is okay, even optimal, because I don’t do parties.
Yet somehow it has transpired that I am hosting a party in two weeks and someone has been assigned martini-making duties, and this is a problem. I own but two Martini glasses, mostly because that is as many as I can hold in my hands (I have two) at any given time. This means I do not have enough martini glasses for my martini-making, martini-drinking guests, especially if they want to use both hands. I think we will have to take turns drinking martinis. What would Leo Babauta do?
(I’m going to have a bracelet made to reference whenever I have a minimalist dilemma like this: “What would Leo Babauta do?”)
(I just posed the question to him via three-part tweet. If our guru sends word down the mountain/Guam, I will keep you informed.)
Back to my point. I don’t like to have lots of crap in my house. It makes my head explode. Sometimes I even take down all my paintings just to gaze upon uninterrupted swaths of wall. It gives me peace.
This minimalist philosophy coincides nicely with not having a lot of disposable income. I don’t want to buy a lot of stuff, which is great, because I don’t have a lot of money to buy a lot of stuff.
(I like what just happened there – it is all very theoretically and practically cohesive. No cognitive dissonance there, at all. This is rare, for me, so let’s take a moment to observe/celebrate.)
Thank you. Onward.
Yesterday I had an epiphany about money.
Last night, driving home from work, I heard a song by K-Naan, who is a Canadian, sometimes hip-hop but mostly pop artist I really like. I’ve been following him FOREVA and he’s just starting to get some serious commercial traction.
(See what I did there: I just established a lil’ artistic snobbery/authenticity. I don’t like K-Naan just ‘cuz they’re playing him on The Beat. Noooooo, I liked him when he was unknown, unpopular, and starving! I can pick talent even before it is mass-sanctioned! I must know about music! But let’s be honest: I know nothing about music. I am a music mutt. Listen to it all. Like most of it. Indiscriminate. Will hump anyone’s leg. Are we still talking about music?)
The song is called Wavin’ Flag and the chorus landed with me:
When I get older
I will be stronger
They’ll call me Freedom
Just like a wavin’ flag
Those simple lyrics ear-wormed me and made me remember my hypothetical baby.
I once had a boyfriend (I know, you’re SHOCKED). We talked about getting married and having a baby. We would name our imaginary baby Justice.
Justice would probably be a girl, but she could be a boy, if she wants to be because Justice is a profound, beautiful, aspirational and gender-indeterminate name.
And then people started naming their kids Apple and Moses and Blanket and I decided that Arthur and Gertrude were the way to go.
(My children are so lucky they have a father who talked me out of that. Also, note to my father: Arthur is a beautiful, bad-ass name worn by only the chosen.)
And that boyfriend and I broke up, babyless, anyway. He is married now and has a new baby named Prince Magic My Dad is Hot but Not Very Nice To Women Zuma.
Back to my epiphany.
For the last 1-3 years, I have been trying, mightily, to make peace with a dream. I have been trying, more than mightily, to let that dream go. To breathe it into a balloon and release it into the sky. To let that dream fly away.
That dream is a baby.
Recently, a psychic friend (a real, in-person, unpaid psychic friend, not the 1-800 kind) told me that I have two unborn babies waiting for me. One is a dark-skinned, dark eyed, short little boy who is very energetic and mischievious. The other is a light-skinned, tall, skinny, quiet, shy girl.
Tears rushed my eyes and tracked my cheeks.
Here are my deets: I have two actual kids and one is only school age by minutes. If I had a third child, and, after a reasonable amount of maternity/parental leave
[We Interrupt This Sentence for a Digressive, Sarcastic Political Rant]In Canada, maternity/parental leave is paid at 55% of your income for ONE YEAR. I love Canada, but not as much as Sweden, where it is 80% for sixteen months. In the US, I believe, maternity leave is 5 minutes and six seconds at 0% of your income – I could be wrong – and then, after you leap out of the delivery room to rush back to your job, you can get fired for expressing milk in the bathroom on an unauthorized break. But oh, don’t forget, breast is best, you bad working fired mommy you.
[We Now Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Sentence]
returned to work (because I have to AND I choose to), after paying for daycare for three kids (two real and one imaginary) and our house, I would have negative five million dollars left for food and other discretionary expenses like heat and electricity.
So – setting aside all ethical dilemmas about being a single mama, raising a kid without a father, and having kids when you don’t intend to raise them because daycare is the devil but school, which is just institutionalized, government-funded daycare, is just fine – it is just not financially possible for me to have another baby. Dream or no dream.
Heart’s desire and soul’s yearning, please shuttie.
Doesn’t that suck? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all make our dearest, secret dreams come true?
I imagine this is a decision-point faced by many. It is not only me. I imagine lots of women and families confront the finances/dream dilemma.
So I’m trying to let it go. It is pressingly urgent that I let it go, because I’m thirty-sex. I mean thirty-six. If I don’t let it go, then I have to do something about it (like, say, find someone who loves me and wants to be a family with me and lure him into impregnating me, and I think my gentleman caller just un-called) pretty quick. Like in the next five minutes to three years quick.
So I was listening to K-naan and hearing how they call him Freedom, much like my imaginary baby would be called Justice, and thinking, for the millionth time, that it is really important for my sanity and my bank account and my career plans that I let that dream go.
Because it hangs me up.
- It makes me worry about things not in my immediate control.
- It is simply not up to me, only, if I find an appropriate partner and fall in love and get married and landscape imaginary back yards and structure my life to be conducive to pregnancy and babies and so on.
- It forces me to date and be date-able.
- It distracts me from the the things I can actually work at and have a “energy/talent in = success out” formula. Like writing. Like my career. Like vacuuming.
And then I was thinking: I should write about this. I should write my way through this. I should publicly let my third-baby-dream go.
Then I talked about it with my gentleman caller. I was thinking out loud. I was working my way to letting it go. I was claiming to let it go.
And as I was doing that, epiphany!
I am not letting it go.
I am holding on to this dream. The partner and the infrastructure may not be there. The finances certainly aren’t. But it is my dream and my imaginary baby and I am going to cradle it a little longer.
I betcha Madonna didn’t have this issue. She’s got loads of cash so she can just go around adopting un-0rphans willy nilly at any old age.
And as I thought this, epipany #2!
I am a good mama. My kids are happy and well-loved. I want to have another baby and that baby would be lucky to have me, and us. I simply need to have, and make, more money.
So I will.
Which is why I hereby admit I like money and want a whole lot more of it.
Because, let’s be honest, the point of money is ecstatic, meaningful survival and dream-realizing. The point of having lots of money isn’t so you can have loads of dinner plates or martini glasses.
Leo Babauta knows that intimately, personally, deeply, which is why Zen Habits is so popular, and, in a related development, Leo Babauta has SIX MILLION kids. I mean six.
The joy of money is that it allows you to live, happily, sufficiently, and well with the family of your heart and your choosing. That’s the gift of money.
And I’m going to go get some.
Justice, I’m coming.