Freedom, stuff, and no stuff

As a home owner, I acquired every skill necessary to fix or improve each facet of my house.  Self reliance meant freedom – freedom from dealing with contractors, freedom to build ANYTHING, regardless of how outlandish or impractical.  But…after 17 years of home ownership, I’m thinking I got it all wrong.  Self reliance did not give me freedom.  Paying someone else to do all that lousy work seems more like freedom – freedom from back pain, freedom from projects dragging on for months (years actually).

I would go as far as to say that a truer domestic freedom would be to rent, not owning a house.  Taken further, my ultimate freedom would be to own NOTHING (especially not a car), renting furnished apartments in urban locales.

So I asked Mrs. Neill if she could one day live possessionless.  She said, “no…I like to have stuff”.  So there’s that.

Treadmill

New house rule: Watch all the TV you want, as long as you’re on the treadmill walking.

treadmill

There’s no party like a tea party.

I work seven days a week.  My primary responsibility is to occupy the time of a 20 month old named Katt.  Our favorite thing to do these days is to play in Asia’s room.  And what a room it is.  It’s got endless nooks and crannies packed with the most random things imaginable – a veritable kids version of Hoarders, but with cool stuff instead of junk.  Here we are taking turns trying on a mardi gras mask and a blonde wig.

You might notice that Katt’s shirt is on backwards.  Well maybe it is.  She didn’t complain.

Another thing we do is play tea party in Katt’s room.  Tea party is a solid game.  First I pull out a stack of old 78 records and spin them on the turntable.  Next we dump out the three baskets of toys we’ve stolen from Asia’s room.  Then we organize the loot into piles.  The most important pile is the miniature tea cup pile.  We choose our cups, clink them, and squeal “cheers”.  Our imaginary elixirs are then drained in a single gulp.  Sated, we bellow “AHHHHHH”.  Then it’s off to the next pile of semi-functional toys and whatever drama we can drum up.  Those 78’s sound absolutely magical when you play tea party.

Brag letter

Every December my sister Patricia sends out a fantastic brag letter.  It’s funny, somewhat self deprecating, and informational.  I’ve often thought of writing one, but I’m not so good with words.  My long suffering wife has spent many years trying to refine the blunt nature of my diction.  I remain a work in progress.

Little of my brag letter would make it past the censor, so what’s the point?  Alas the censor does not read this blog, or any blog for that matter, so here is how my 2013 brag letter might read:

  • In the spring, we spent four weeks in Buenos Aires.  The ice cream was real good and the sidewalks were super jacked up.
  • We bought two new used cars, so we won’t be going back to Buenos Aires or anywhere for that matter for a few years.  Cars are so dumb.
  • The basement project continued to go nowhere.  But at least I got that giant Jacuzzi tub up and running.  Who cares about anything else when you have a giant Jacuzzi tub, right?
  • Asia quit soccer and took up softball.  She’s looks smooth on the infield.  She’s made the traveling basketball team, so now there’s a new set of aches and pains I gotta hear about.  She also joined a Chinese dance troupe.  I’m not sure what it’s all about but I did see her holding a red lantern or something like that.
  • I forgot to sign Zach up for hockey, so he goofed around all fall.  He’s joined a jazz group, playing electric violin.  Over the summer he busked twice with his violin, netting just under $40.  I guess he’ll have options if he’s ever homeless.
  • We threw Katt a big 1st birthday party in June.  My favorite rock star, Josh Verbantes played some tunes, and our favorite taco truck pumped out tacos for all.

taco-truck

  • Zach started Jr. High.  He says it’s “like so awesome, man”.
  • Over the summer Asia spent three weeks away from home at overnight camps.  Zach was away camping for one week.  Aside from that crazy baby trashing the place, Elise and I had one very restful week.
  • I got new glasses.  Since then I’ve been told multiple times I look like a cross between Anthony Bourdain and Ira Glass.  Who knew glasses can make you look 3/4 Jewish?
  • Elise is back in her symphonic band playing oboe and English horn.  She got a gorgeous new do last week.  Aside from her hairstyle, she looks exactly the same as she did when I married her 16 years ago, a true timeless beauty.