Making Life

Megan and I have been keeping busy here in Sterling. She’s teaching music, heading the drama department, plus teaching a computer class that wasn’t originally in her job description. I’ve got two semesters left at Northeaster Junior College before I try and transfer to UNC (the goal is to get a bachelor’s in English Education. I think I can rock the crazy English teacher gig). I’m also writing. This fall alone I’ve completed my first draft of Valence Drive (Book three of Juniper Crescent) and I’m utilizing NaNoWriMo to write the first draft of Warscribe (someone challenged me to write something better than 300). The coolest part of this is, we are able to enjoy a fairly abundant life on Megan’s teacher salary. We agreed that while she is working, it is my top priority to get good grades and work towards a specific degree with specific goals in mind. I once heard this arrangement called “wife support.”

 

So, with this information in mind, I bring up an encounter that my wife had with a coworker.

Coworker we’ll call bob: So, if you’re teaching, what’s your husband do for work?

Megan: He’s a full-time student, working towards a teaching degree

Bob, after some hesitation: So… he’s not earning any money?

Megan shakes her head.

Bob: How the —- do you two live off your salary alone?”

 

My wife didn’t know how to respond, but assured him that we weren’t starving. Far from it actually. He then explained how his teaching salary wasn’t enough. When she first told me this story, it really got me thinking. What was the difference between the lifestyle of the two of us that her salary was sufficient for our needs and some of our wants, and his, though more than ours, wasn’t enough? After much pondering and talking with my wife, we both decided that the difference was that we made our life, while he tried to purchase his life.

What I mean by this is that Megan and I took time to assess our wants and our resources and discovered a way we could have what we need, and a means to get what we want. That’s a careful thing to do, I’ve discovered. Wants are finicky things. They change and fluctuate so much that it’s hard to nail anything down. And even once you are able to obtain it, more often than not it doesn’t hold the same desire that it did when we didn’t have it.

For example, Megan and I both love the Steampunk aesthetic. I love the Victorian appeal, and Megan the industrial side. You could hand this girl pipes and power tools and she’ll make something awesome. No joke. I, however, want the Victorian feel: the vintage, claw-footed, vest and cuff links with a top hat on top, the filigree and Damask designs of the Steam age. We could find a way to invest hundreds of dollars and purchase these items, but we first off don’t have that kind of cash and we aren’t going to go in debt for it, and there really isn’t a lot of thrill in purchasing. So, we have notebooks full of stuff we can do and want to do, and last month we started on a project that will help us have the house of our dreams.

The blogger of the vastly popular Cake Wrecks website has a personal blog where she puts her life out on the internet for all to see. One of the projects she did with her husband was creating a desk that was covered in pennies. Pennies! It seems so random Megan and I spent half an hour going through her DIY post on this project. We loved the look it produced, and decided that with a few tweaks we could implement that in the house we want to have. So, the next time we went on a serious thrift store shopping spree, we kept our eyes out for coffee tables, end tables, and bar stools that we could “steam.” We lucked out when we saw an end table at Goodwill for 13$ that even had curved legs modeled after Victorian design. Then we found two barstools at an ARC for 7$ apiece. We high-fived each other, bought them, and took them back to our apartment.

Here's one completed Bar Stool/ End Table

 After a few coats of paint it was time for the pennies. If you ever want to get a weird look at the bank, walk in and ask for 9 dollars in pennies. It’s almost as good as asking for 240$ in dimes (I had a roommate I didn’t get along with who felt I couldn’t pay rent directly to the landlord). Then it was time for a few Redbox movies and a lot of super glue while we covered the barstools and end table in pennies.
That was fun, and gave me and Megan time to talk about what’s going on with us. Once we have all three pieces covered, all that’s left is sealing them with bartop epoxy and letting them rest. For about 100 dollars, we’ll have three unique pieces of furniture for our home, and ones that fit our style.
Looking past the furniture, there’s all the food we make, rather than buy. I make bread every other week, we make our own yogurt, and cook more than we go out to eat. There’s a lot of satisfaction in being able to pay cash for what we want. I hear it can also lead to discounts if you talk nice.

Then there’s all our artwork. I’ve gotten several pieces from sci-fi conventions I’ve attended, from H.P. Lovecraft tributes to anime characters, pictures of LDS temples, and Megan found a calender of optical illusions by Robert Gonsalves, which we took apart and put on our walls. Here’s where we had to make some concessions. She got to have her Hello Kitty calender images, and I got to have my Doctor Who poster. Then I’ve also been making perler bead art and we’ve stuck them up on the walls as well.

 I think the biggest thing in all of this is that we’ve been doing, creating, and trying. From an empirical standpoint we are being financially sound by doing this, but we are also doing this for the love of creating. Megan and I have real, genuine memories and cool stuff associated with them. We’re making a unique life together. One that we’re the most comfortable in, and one that is individual to us.

 

PS. After the barstools and table are done, we’ve got ideas for a skeleton key chandelier, shelving for all our crafty crafty stuff, and a hat tree.

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