Monday, September 02, 2013

still unpacking {with bonus rant}


and it is driving us a-go-gos crazy. Rather...it is driving the mister crazy but he will say it isn't. I suppose it really isn't but it certainly does cause a lot of strife between us. I'm sure this is not uncommon. See...I am a magpie, he is a raven. I like pretty things, he likes useful things. I have a lot of stuffity-stuff of questionable use. The mister has a lot of useful stuffity-stuff. I like my stuff, he does not and while I'm pretty easy going about other people's stuff, the mister often feels the need to remind me of the uselessness of mine. This may sound harsh and while I agree that much of my stuff is showy and not useful, I cannot help but wallow in irritation until I explode and that is never fun. Makes for two cranky a-go-gos at a cultural crossroad.
Let's see if I can unwrap the thoughts in my head about an individual's culture. I'm not talking about ethnicity or social-economical status. I'm talking about the culture of self, of you. We can compare it to temperament and personality but it is more than that. We are the sum of our parts and many of those parts were picked up along the way from infancy to this morning.
 
I come from a family of collectors and artists. We see things that interest us and we acquire them, display them, collect them, and make them. The mister comes from a family of farmers and engineers. They see problems and fix them. They do not waste minutes and they are most certainly clever, productive, and ridiculously smart. Put us in a room together and it is definitely interesting but put us in a living situation and there is a lot of negotiation that happens.

"You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."

Have you read that before on the blogg-o? This is a phrase that the mister and I use when we are frustrated with one another. We knew what we were getting into and we can't complain. It is a reminder. He knows I have stuff and I know that he simply cannot enjoy a pajama morning.
Back to the culture of self. I grew up with little parental guidance. In many instances I was the caregiver to my mother. In grade school, I got myself up and ready for school and made sure my mother had her tea, a little food and her meds before I headed out the door (we're talking age 7 and up). I lived on the third floor and learned how to tread lightly and move quietly as the downstairs neighbor was prone to complaints and my mother was often too sick to be up an about. What this has resulted in is a preference for quiet and solitude, a light foot, and a bit of mothering on my part. It also means that you let someone finish their nap or their sleep and you do not wake them unless they asked you to (this caused an ENORMOUS fight many many moons ago between myself and a suitor, it was bad and I wish I could forget it, grrr). The mister's family is close and for the most part they all grew up pretty healthy. No one needed naps or mothering and I have yet been unable to hear the mister in the morning. This is not an issue, just an observation. How a tiny bit of your childhood household influences your later preferences.
This goes back to why we do the things we do and why we prefer the things we prefer. I'm a last minuter. I'm pretty sure this is because I was not instilled with a make hay while the sun still shines attitude. I can have all the time in the world to get something done and yet I can't seem to get to it until I have no more time left save for an hour before it is due. The mister, however, hits the task as soon as it is handed out. I get this and I roll with it and I troubleshoot and attempt to "do better" next time and I am grateful the mister works the way he does. What I don't do is attempt to change him or belittle his behaviors. I try to apply this with everyone I know. In my head I think this is how so-and-so works, I need to remember this so that I can meet them in the middle. I may not like the way someone does something but the thing is, it doesn't matter what I like, it is THEIR behavior, THEIR life. Once I figure out how best to harmonize with that person I do. It is not a problem until they or you make it a problem.
Here is what I mean. I used to have a friend that I adored. I still adore them but had to step far far away from them. I figured out how to meet their needs on their terms and did my best to do so. We would get together and I would be the ear they so needed to share with. Did they share loud and often. It became so that I could not get a smidge of a word in and for awhile I realized that this is how it was as I adored this person. But then grandma died and my infertility was diagnosed and I had one enormous paper hanging over my head that needed to be finished before I could get my degree and I needed someone to talk to. To unload with and I knew it would not be them, it could not be them and I figured out I needed to step back and so I did. This isn't about needs being met but about deciphering the other.
I'm rambling but let me try it this way. I am not a phone person. Everyone who knows me should know this by now. I like email. I do not like the phone. I do know that if I want to tell my phone people in my life something important I need to call them. They are phone people. So I call. While I would rather send an email I know that their culture of self uses the phone and since it is I who want to get to THEM, I call. Many of my phone people know that if they need to get in touch with me they should email and they do. It's nice and easy. I know what you want, you know what I want. No big deal. Yet, there are some who absolutely will NOT step out of the culture of themselves to acknowledge the culture of other and work with me. Many many fights have happened over this issue. I am tired of it. I need to contact you and you prefer a phone, I call. You need to contact me and I prefer email you do not call and leave harassing messages. That makes me want to contact you less. Also, get over it, stop complaining and bitching about it. Really. The amount of energy wasted on making sure everyone knows how unhappy you are with me is nothing but a waste of time and an outpouring of negativity. The cortisol you are creating is doing nothing good for your self. Accept it and move on (can you tell this has been going on for awhile?).

Let's see...I'll try to bring this back around...You knew the job was dangerous when you took it...mister knew I was a magpie, he knows this and he needs to let it go when is feeling frustrated. I know he is not a magpie, I need to remove myself from is space when he is frustrated with me. I need to let it go and sing a happy song. I can choose to be in control and I can choose to let it effect me or not.

I could also choose to pretend it doesn't but then go type-ity type all the angst on my blog.

So, do you have a strong culture of self? Does your culture offend others? How do you respond?

14 comments:

  1. Ha ha, how do I respond? By living alone :) Seriously, my "self" is so quirky that I've learned that while it may not drive the other party insane, THEIR self will drive me insane.

    I kind of love "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it" though. It's so true for so many relationships, friendships, and so forth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I don't take the time to think of "the other" then yes, they DO drive me insane. ;) That's probably why I'm such a hermit.

      Delete
  2. I am very liberal, hubby is very conservative. I am random, he is concise.

    My husband says if you are both alike, then one of you isn't necessary. In our case, I am like your husband, and you tend to be more like our daughter. Neither of us are collectors though. We like clean simple lines, the less the better. Also the less to dust. 8-)

    We've made it for 38 years. Lots of fun. Lots of aggravation. But never bored.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's us! I take the loopy route to a solution while mister is linear and gets from one point to the other with no detours. His stuff is all tools and hardware, mine is all old and rusty. ;)

      Delete
  3. Hi - I do admire your honesty. It's not easy to lay your self open and vulnerable, and it's poignant to read. I live on my own, and - though I'm happy to think of Mr Right-ish appearing sometime I can't imagine the sort of man who'd put up with me. Yesterday, for example, I had the urge to make papier mache animals. Which led to thinking about papier mache dolls heads, and sent me to the interwebby to look at pictures of Queen Anne dolls.
    This is despite a shedload of half finished patchwork quilts and needlepoint pieces, and dozens more ideas in my head.
    Your observations about treating others how they'd like to be treated made me think of a tiresome corporate training course I once went on. The only thing I remember from it was the idea of hilltops. I stand on my hilltop, viewing the world. You stand on your hilltop with your view, he stands on his hilltop, she's on hers ... All we have to do every so often is jump off our hilltop and take in the view from someone else's. So the car driver has to think about the cyclist trying to share the same road. The nurse needs to put their self in the patient's shoes. You get the picture. It was such useful advice, and stays with me.
    You sound like a considerate friend, and I'm sure home life will settle down once you're properly moved in. Changing nests is hard for us homebodies. We need to be settled and cosy, with our things around us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Valerie! I love the analogy of hilltops! It is a lot like the music in the head dealio I learned in school. I once thought a long time ago that there was no way I would ever find someone who would put up with me and now I found someone I have to "put up" with. ;) Lucky for me he is the one who decides to make paper mache objects! Cheers to you and thank you! Cheers to coziness!

      Delete
  4. This is a post I could stand to read and re-read a couple of times--it's so hard, isn't it, to keep from imposing our own ways on the ones we live with? I keep looking at my family, relaxing on a Sunday, and thinking--shouting in my head, "Don't you know the garage is a mess?" and "How can you waste a beautiful day by sitting around the house?" I try, and fail, and try again, and I hope they are doing the same for me. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hee-hee! And I sit there and think "It's your day off! Lounge about! Sleep in!" We're all different aren't we? Thank you!

      Delete
  5. Anonymous1:11 PM

    I used to gather and collect until my mama died and I went to her apartment for the first time to find important papers I needed. (she lived in another state and we were a bit estranged) I knew she had many books but I was not prepared for what I saw: rooms filled with books stacked to the ceilings, books stacked in the linen closet (no towels!), and piles of DVDs still shrink-wrapped and unopened. And there were beautiful picture frames sitting about with no photos inside and boxes full of letters and cards from her numerous pen pals she had never thrown away...and a million other things as well.

    I was by myself and suddenly overwhelmed and I called my husband crying. He asked, "What's it like there?"

    "It's like one of those antechambers in King Tut's tomb, filled with all the things he will need in the afterlife...and this is his library."

    The whole process of sorting and sifting through this mess was mine alone for I was Mama's only child. And during this ordeal I promised myself that I would not leave my daughter, my only child, with a similar chore after my death. For the last four years I have struggled to clear out all the amazing, sentimental crap I own that means nothing to her or my husband, things that will only be a burden for them to disperse. I am not completely organized yet, but I feel lighter and strangely content without them, as if I am no longer defined by the things I own. I am simply myself.

    There is a strange sort of bending we do in marriage to accommodate our partners without losing our sense of self. It is painful at times, but occasionally illuminating. Taking responsibility for my stuff has caused my collector husband to view his "treasures" from another perspective as well; seriously, who will want political buttons from the John Edwards campaign? Who cares about this football program from the Fiesta Bowl? What purpose do they serve in our daily lives? We are letting go of things we love, or once loved, for our daughter's sake, so she can savor her good memories of us instead of wallowing in our junk.

    It's not an easy thing to deal with, this need for touchstones and books and physical reminders. Your Mister is a love to build you all those display shelves; remember that when you are upset with him. He is trying to meet you halfway, in his own way, Jek, and now you must figure out how to meet him in that middle place. Walking away from him prevents a fight and hurt feelings but it doesn't reconcile your differences. When you are finished unpacking your things, think about what is most precious to you right now and what you would be willing to give up in order to keep it.

    I hope this helps.

    Kim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Kim! I too had to clean out both my mother's maze of stuff and my grandmother's. It is was drove me to my mini thesis in school which was about voluntary simplicity. There is so much that clutters our hearts and souls and I think that we just need to dance with all of it until we find the perfect pairing. I'm with you on all of your thoughts there...mucho love to you!

      Delete
  6. In some ways you could have been describing me and my husband . . . somehow we have learned to adjust . . . bend . . . adapt . . . or whatever you want to call it after 32 years. Sometimes we still have to remind one another about our individual "culture of self". I think once you can do this . . . not only in a marriage but with everyone in your life - it helps get through the irritating stuff. But you are also right about sometimes just having to take a step back and remove yourself from people. Wonderful post . . . I hope your unpacking is finished soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You knew the job was dangerous...I think what I was trying to get across is that you need to learn what a person needs from you and vice versa. You can give all you've got but after awhile, unless someone gives back, you are left empty.

      Delete
  7. Loving your bits and pieces youve unpacked. On my blog, under "My colourful day", ive put up your pretty garland you sent me. Thankyou so much. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh that Jeff, no wonder he limits our time together! I'm an instigator but we're both artists, you and me, we collect things not because they are useful right this minute but because we see the potential of a simple item, the beauty of mundane details, the multitude of possibilities that a single piece of fabric could hold. With anything, I think there has to a balance, a mutual understanding of how each other internalizes the thought process and maybe Jeffy is still holding onto the hope that you will see things from his perspective. He has his way and you have yours, and if all else fails, just remind him "not my monkey, not my house. " xo ~ talk to you tomorrow, and not by phone ;)

    ReplyDelete