Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shabby Chic

I just wrote a reply to a comment on a previous post, and it reminded me of, well, something I should probably just make into its own post.

Sonny and the kids and I live on a really cute little street in our small New England city, lined with houses that were probably all built around 1900. Houses that have been freshly and colorfully painted by our neighbors. Each house has a sweet little garden in front, with little solar lights that light up the sidewalks at night. It's very sweet. Visitors always remark how nice our little street is (some of the nearby streets are not so cute) ...even our visitors from Pakistan were impressed (and I don't know what their expectation of an American neighborhood would be).

In the middle of all this cuteness, we live in what I like to call the "Shabby Chic" house. We don't own, we rent, and the duplex is certainly in need of a paint job. It's not awful, but it is...shabby chic. Light brown, a little of the steps just fell through on the side porch when Sonny stepped on it. But we do have lovely gardens like our neighbors, thanks to Sonny's green thumb. It's quite lush and pretty, and mulched.

Our lights are a little different from our neighbors. Somehow, all of the neighbors have the same little solar lights that look like they are wearing little flat black helmets. Our are big crackly globe lights. With switches that allow you to make them either white or...gradually changing rainbows of COLOR! WHEEEE! We usually leave them set to white because Sonny thinks they're too Christmassy the other way...but the option is there!'s challenging remembering to get the kids to pick up everything they've left in the yard all the time. We DO try, and we DO think it's a good thing for them to do, but sometimes we just need to keep our collective self rolling forward and the toys are forgotten.

And...Sonny and I both have a lot of activities and projects that involve a lot of gear...and often, that gear/equipment and supplies end up piled up on our front porch. I don't like it...but it's kind of a fact of our lives. Our apartment is small and there's really nowhere else to put it all sometimes and we're truly coming and going so fast that it's just impossible to keep up with. My husband is the kind of person that will get up early on a Saturday to clean the grout in the kitchen tiles with bleach, so we are not total slobs (not that there is ANYTHING WRONG with being a total slob). But...we're two really busy people with three really busy young children, three of us are diagnosed with ADHD and takes us a week to get around to moving one pile of stuff so we can replace it with another. I'm just sayin'.

As such, I'm pretty sure that our neighbor across the street, with the truly gorgeous, impeccably manicured lawn, the really finely ground mulch (we can only afford the chunky stuff) and the absolutely spotless property...hates us. And there is no interaction that should have led to this, in fact we have been there for over a year and haven't really interacted with him at all past the usual "hello".

And the other day when Sonny went over to chat with our next door neighbors, and this other neighbor was there chatting with them...he stopped talking when Sonny stepped into the conversation, and wouldn't join back in. Then left.

Rawr. I can't claim to know what it's about...but I will say that it pushes my buttons because I already feel self-conscious about our clutter level...even though I love my quirky little home and my quirky little family.

Or should I say: my shabby chic little home and my shabby chic little family.

My children run around with Nutella on their faces. So what?! My globe lights aren't little soldier lights. So what?! My third-world slum porch is cluttery. So what?! So we had a funk band playing in our basement. So what?!

So what. Unfortunately, it does bother me. But I guess life is short and ADHD is long. And I can only do what I can do. Someday when I don't have three young children at home and a husband who works by day and plays gigs with like 800 bands by night, and a small business and a full day job...maybe then my yard will be perfect too. And I'll have so much time on my hands that I can finely grind my own mulch BY HAND with like, a microplane...artisan mulch...YEAH... porch will still be cluttery and my neighbor can go fuck himself.


  1. Sounds to me like you've got better things to do than "keeping up appearances".. and your neighbor doesn't.