I stumbled across this post today —
[SIDEBAR] Okay, let’s be real: a friend of mine posted it on Facebook, which is just about how all the articles I write about on JALC initially come to my attention. I like to pretend I’ve minimized Mark Zuckerberg’s presence in my life, and I certainly try not to use the platform as a way to “show off” or brag on my life. Clearly, though, I spend rather a lot of time there, if the frequency of my JALC-sourcing articles posted there is any indication. In all honesty, there’s a lot of nights (tonight included), where I pop on over for the precise purpose of finding bloggerly inspiration. [/SIDEBAR]
Anyhow. So, I “stumbled across” this post today by Glennon Doyle Melton writing about her kitchen. Evidently, she’d written about her kitchen recently and then been flooded with all sorts of helpful ads and offers so she could remodel it to make if more acceptable. Melton talks about how that initial flood of pretend-helpful criticism prompted her to feel some insecurity, and even consider starting the wheels on some sort of kitchen remodel.
But as I lay down to sleep, I remembered this passage from Thoreau’s Walden: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” Walden reminds me that when I feel lacking- I don’t need new things, I need new eyes with which to see the things I already have. So when I woke up this morning, I walked into my kitchen wearing fresh perspectacles.
Melton’s descriptions of the everyday miracles that can be seen when looking through “perspectacles”* are brilliantly on the mark. I think my favorite is the coffee maker —
I can’t even talk about this thing. Actually, let’s take a moment of reverent silence because this machine is the reason all my people are still alive. IT TURNS MAGICAL BEANS INTO A LIFE-SAVING NECTAR OF GODS. EVERY MORNING.
— but it’s ALL well worth the reading, and it reminds me of a favorite Louis CK bit:
(I don’t care if I’ve posted this here before. I may post it a million more before I’m done with JALC.)
Melton’s ultimate point is pretty well-summed-up here:
In terms of parenting, marriage, home, clothes – I will not be a slave to the Tyranny of Trend any longer. I am almost 40 years old and no catalog is the Boss of Me anymore. . . . I know how I like my house. I like it cute and cozy and a little funky and I like it to feel lived in and worn and I like the things inside of it to work. That’s all. And for me – it’s fine that my house’s interior suggests that I might not spend every waking moment thinking about how it looks.
Sometimes it seems that our entire economy is based on distracting women from their blessings. Producers of STUFF NEED to find 10,000 ways to make women feel less than about our clothes, kitchens, selves so that we will keep buying more.
This dose of perspective is especially timely since Mr. Mezzo and I are actually preparing for a kitchen remodel. Or planning for one. Or preparing to plan for one — that’s probably the best statement of where we are in the process.
It’s not like Melton’s perspectacles are making me rethink the notion entirely. As far as I can tell, there are a few key distinctions between her situation and ours. To begin with, and most importantly: not all the things inside of it actually work the way they’re supposed to. Everything in our kitchen is original to the house’s late 1980’s construction, and the age has begun to show. The oven’s temperature control is wonky, the dishwasher racks are beginning to rust, and I’m just waiting for the day our microwave gives up the ghost. In addition, there’s a few other features — poorly designed pantry, completely unwanted trash compactor, an island that’s bigger than we want and a wasted wall that could be used for more counters and cabinets if we shrunk said island — I would enjoy changing, which is why then it makes more sense to go for the full redo rather than just replacing one or two appliances.
Also, unlike Melton’s title (“Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt,”) we don’t have to go into debt for this project. Our house prices was “discounted” from what you might expect this house and zip code to have been priced at — in large part because of this old, teetering-on-the-edge-of-functional kitchen. So we’ve been able to save and set aside a small nest egg that is earmarked for the kitchen remodel.
Still, as we prepare to evaluate new designs for the kitchen, choose appliances and cabinets and counters, I know that Melton’s warning about falling victim to the “tyranny of trend” will be good ones to carry with me. ‘Cos, you know what? If it helps our project stay within budget, maybe we don’t need to get the most expensive marble countertops, or whatever the top-trend new shiny kitchen things are. A better designed space where all the things inside it work? So I can once again have the capacity to bake bread and cookies?
It’s a great way to think of the core goal.
* I am SO adding this term to my daily lexicon.