I took my husband’s name

Photo by Cris Valencia

For real though: Whether a woman wants to take her husband’s name upon marriage is none of your business. Asking people about it and getting pushy with your perspective is like telling strangers they should have kids. Not your business.

But, because you (friends, family members, and a former manager) asked, I took my husband’s name because I do not want my father’s name. I want to share my husband’s name and I want to do great things with him in our name.
Furthermore, I cannot for the life of me see why it is better to keep the name you got from your father than to decide to share your husband’s. As in: both options are two different-but-equal manifestations of the patriarchy and you haven’t really revolutionized the way women are positioned and treated by keeping your dad’s name instead of adopting your husband’s. Or as in: I see reasons for keeping your name and reasons for changing it, but it doesn’t make you a revolutionary to keep your old man’s name instead of taking your new man’s name.
If you want to really assert yourself and be your own person, why don’t you change your name entirely, à la Malcom X? (There must be some women who have done this…I don’t know any off the top of my head and I feel like that’s an indication of either complete ignorance on my part or a gap in our national “curriculum”. Does George Eliot count?) Let boys and girls choose their own full names at confirmations, debutante parties, bar mitzvahs or when they get their licenses if you want names to be expressions of identity and not ownership or patriarchal lineage. But don’t insist that keeping your father’s name makes you a better feminist or a more independent woman than someone who was “brainwashed” into taking her husband’s name.
I looked forward to losing my father’s name and taking my husband’s name. It was like joining a new team, getting in on the ground floor of something I could build a legacy upon. I knew that if I found someone that I believed I could spend the rest of my life with, I would change my name. Hyphenating our names to include my maiden name felt burdensome. In contrast, taking my husband’s name felt like starting a new journey together.

Also, in the age of multiple social network handles that allow us each to assume various personas and slip in and out of online conversations (if we choose to do so), is opting to change your name really as traumatic as critics make it seem? It’s only for legal reasons that we’re forced to settle on one, when in fact each of us plays different roles and has different identities in relation to other people. 

And unless we’re on intimate enough terms for me to tell you when I think I need to up my fiber intake, you have no right to lament that I changed my name when I got married. 

Love and other practical considerations

I was talking to a friend the other night about a recent breakup and she admitted that while she genuinely cared about her ex, she felt the breakup was for the best because they differed so much practical issues like managing time and money. I know it can be really hard to take those differences seriously when you are deeply in love with someone, but I also know that I married someone who is on the same page as me in terms of values and life goals and it’s been an easier and happier relationship than any one that came before. Loving someone isn’t the same as being able to live with that person. I wouldn’t tell you that you necessarily have to choose, but if you don’t have both the loving and the grooving, then moving on might be the smartest move.  
Free poster from Anton Darcy

I was a serial monogamist (now I’m just a married monogamist), so I’ve had my share of “close calls” [=almost engagements and an unrequited desire to be married] and difficult breakups. And historically, I’ve been confused about what I wanted in life, though I’ve had a pretty good sense of what I didn’t want. In sum, I’ve loved men who wouldn’t have made me happy in the long run, but through fortune, fate, or sheer force of will those relationships ended before I met my husband. J is smart, handsome, funny, shares my disdain for conventional lifestyles, brings out the best in me, is excessively strong and thus very useful around the house, wants to go to a museum in every city we visit, has a CD binder from the late 90s that contains all my favorite CDs from the late 90s, and says things like “my 401k did really well this  past quarter” and “once we [x,y,z], you should take classes at UVA just for fun”.

My goodness. Just thinking about this makes me want to marry him all over again. But this post is about past mistakes and narrow escapes, so on to the exes:

  • College boyfriend
    • Length of relationship: Five years (off and on)
    • Practical issues: He dropped out of our private college and had himself tens of thousands of dollars in debt, got evicted from his pricey apartment, and got his car repossessed before I even graduated. 
    • Where is he now: Selling real estate in Maryland
    • Where I would be if I were still with him: Working as his receptionist and looking forward to strip mall franchise restaurant dinners and new episodes of House
  • Antepenultimate boyfriend
    • Length of relationship: One year
    • Practical issues: He believed that being in debt was part of being an adult, and that reason he needed to find a good job was to be able to afford nice things (that he could presumably enjoy on the weekends and two weeks a year). At the time, I wanted to join the Peace Corps and do two years of service in sub-Saharan Africa, but I figured I could skip that for him and we could start a family.
    • Where he is now: Globetrotting as a trailing husband
    • Where I would be if I were still with him: Tied up in a cubicle with a corporate teat lodged in my throat, getting milked for mortgage payments on a townhouse in the Northern Virginia suburbs and waiting for my Williams-Sonoma potato-washing gloves to arrive in the mail 
Too much stuff can weigh you down. Picture from Mihnea™
  • Penultimate boyfriend
    • Length of relationship: Four years (off and on) 
    • Practical issues: He dedicated a lot of his expendable income to purchasing video games and computer equipment. He all but stuck his fingers in his ears whenever I brought up savings or retirement and we both lived paycheck to paycheck without saving a dime. I told myself that it didn’t matter if we didn’t have the same goals, priorities, values, or dreams because we were in love. When I realized that being in love was costing me the kind of life I really wanted, I had to make the difficult decision to leave.
    • Where he is now: Last spotted two years ago at a bar in Shanghai. 
    • Where I would be if I were still with him: Teaching English, making dinner, doing the dishes, drinking, and daydreaming about having health insurance

From DACPhoto
One by one, I did care a great deal for each of those men. I told myself that love was obviously more important than money and other practical concerns–“Love is all you need!” But when I look back and I think, “Shit, I might have married this one or that one had circumstances been a little different,” I feel relieved that life got in the way of my plans. Now I realize that loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean you can find happiness with that person. Love is more important than money–you had better be prepared to see your partner through thick and thin and love him whether his 401k is growing or she just lost a job– but being in love with someone who doesn’t share your goals and values can make you miserable. You can’t tell yourself forever that love is more important than happiness: you will wake up one day and you will want to be happy, and if you’re lucky, you’ll know you deserve to be. And then you might have to choose between yourself and your relationship. 

Married, check

(not J and I) Pic by <<1977>>
So…I married J.
I give up: Nothing makes sense to me, despite all my striving and struggling and trying to understand. Not even three years ago as I write this, I was in Shanghai trying to be an editor and wishing the man I had been with for four years would change his Facebook status from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship.” I came back to the States for a shot at a life that looked more like the one in my dreams, and I ended up with what was supposed to be a dream job in this little town in the Shenandoah Valley, and now I’m married…and unemployed. (-ish.)
J and I were on the same page from our first date, even though I hadn’t signed up for the whole soulmate package and I suspected there had to be some kind of mistake. But then, basically, I fell in love with the first guy who took me for pizza. When we talked about wanting to live on the beach and how much we didn’t want to get stuck making money to pay for super-sized houses in the suburbs, I realized I’d met the first man who wouldn’t try to hold me back or convince me that being miserable working 9-5 (and self-medicating with retail therapy) was perfectly acceptable. When he asked me to move in with him after a couple of months, it was only the natural next step.

by Alana Lyn

It wasn’t long before we were saying “I love you” and talking about our future, so I never wondered if we would get married, just when. We waited a year to get engaged out of a sense of propriety, and once we decided we wanted to elope, there wasn’t any reason to put off the wedding. 
Except…my mom about melted down when we said we didn’t want to include the folks, so what could I do? I’m such a big softie. We ended up having a tiny little ceremony with our moms and siblings at a little bed and breakfast and then we went for pizza at the same restaurant where we had our first date. We spent the New Year holiday, our honeymoon, drinking too much good wine and eating ridiculously fancy meals at nice restaurants. It was chill, it was fun, the hangovers were mild and the company was great. All in all, I give J two thumbs up as a life partner and I recommend marriage to anyone who’s looking for a good time. 

Now that it’s been an awkwardly long time…

Photo by MythicSeabass
Excuse me while I self-deprecate for a moment…
So I tried moving this blog over to WordPress, and I liked it, but I couldn’t figure out how to move my e-mail address over there, and then everything was automatically renewed in January, and then I got married, and then I got laid off, and at this point I’ve written like 15 blog posts, and I wasn’t going to post anything until I had written 90 (à la Chris Guillebeau), but that’s taking me a super long time, and my attention is split between looking for work and working on our websites and housework and this half-marathon coming up and everyone I know who isn’t married already is getting married this summer and then ones who were already married are having kids…
And you know that sometimes you procrastinate for like a year about something that wouldn’t be that hard if you would just do it, except maybe you’re clever enough not to do it publicly and start passing your URL all around and basically telling people to come check out this blog that looks totally abandoned…
Anyway, you can cut me a little slack and I will do better with posting and with updating Facebook and Twitter (I pin like a fiend when the mood strikes, if you’re interested). I am reading Likeable Social Media right now (that’s not an affiliate link because I haven’t figured out the logistics of monetizing this blog yet) so hopefully that will help me be my natural charming self online and we can take this relationship (me and you, adoring public) to a whole new level. 
Exciting posts to come:
  1. I got married.
  2. I got laid off.
  3. I realized that had I married any of the men I had dated previously, I would not be very happy right now. And I counted my blessings.
  4. I concluded that pets are unneccessary expenses for the genuinely frugal household, but you can’t get rid of ’em, so I recommend you use coupons to buy their food.
  5. And more! J and I are taking this all in stride and hope to be a lot closer to our ideal lifestyle by the end of this year, and I’m excited about recording that journey here. I hope we -you and me- can talk about our goals and get enthusiastic about the future. I hope that when I look back at this post a year from now, I get all excited about how far I’ve come. 
    1. “The space between imagining and making real is very small.” -Judith F. Baca
    2. “The best way to do it is to do it.” -Amelia Earhart (Hey man, at least she died living.)
I wanted to put myself on a daily schedule, but I don’t think that will work for me (apparently posting once a year is an ideal schedule for me). I think I’ll just end up posting for the sake of posting and I’d rather post when I have something to say, so if we’re gonna be friends, let me be that flaky friend who’s a lot of fun when she shows up, but has a lot of other crazy stuff going on and can’t make it to every party. 
We cool?

Migratory blogger

Hi guys. I know there’s like three of you out there that read my blog (and two of you are at least a tiny bit obligated), but I wanted to give you heads up that I am moving over to WordPress. For now, you can read my new content here.

 I started using Blogger because I was trying to follow the otherwise excellent example of another bloggeress who has done a great job with her site, but when even she told me she wished she could move to WordPress, I decided I had better make the move sooner rather than later.

 I will eventually put myself through enough online html courses, etc. to figure out how to redirect my blog traffic (and a new URL is also in the works), so you don’t actually have to bother with extra links.

See you there!

 Rae

Writers who don’t write

I remember talking to my friend Luke one day while  we were driving around looking for a parking spot. He was venting about a girl who had broken his heart despite everything he had done for her and despite his putting her on a pedestal. He was in a lot of pain, but he was finally admitting that she had flaws. “She’s a writer who doesn’t write!” he shouted into the windshield. 
More than a decade later, I don’t remember anything else about that conversation (except the anecdote about getting his redwings). “A writer who doesn’t write” developed a clear definition in my head. It was the most despicable of creatures, a vile hypocrite who pretends to be a gatekeeper and an artist, but is at best a hedonist and at worst an aimless suburbanite with pretensions to “living, not just surviving”. 
But I managed to still be jealous of this girl who could call herself a writer. I wanted to be a writer and I’d always been encouraged in my writing, but at that time, I could have as easily called myself a Navy SEAL or an Olympic gold medalist. Writers write, and if I wasn’t writing, it was because I wasn’t a writer. I had myself convinced I would have to be a writer to even start writing. It was obviously impossible for me to become a writer. 
I decided that the difference between me and a writer was a confidence or arrogance I only learned to feign a few years ago. It’s the belief that you have something to say that isn’t the regurgitation of facts required by an assignment or the exposition of trendy truisms required by society. I don’t know why some people have that confidence from a young age. Maybe we’re all born with the confidence to express ourselves, but it’s slowly squished out of us as we learn to be ashamed of disapproval from anyone and to crave affirmation from everyone. There’s no room for honesty or dialogue in that kind of environment, but we spend most of our lives maintaining it because that’s where we get our identities. 

The thing is, I love to write. I’ve kept a journal since I could write in sentences. I still remember being about eight years old when my mom got me my first journal. I don’t seem to have it anymore, but I remember it being one of those puffy, girly diary books with a lock on the side. I knew that you were supposed to start your entries with “Dear Diary” and then tell your diary what you did that day. I was happy to report that my mom was cooking steak for dinner, and then dinner was ready and I signed off to go eat it. 
After that, I just kept journalling. It took a couple of years before I was pretty sure that I didn’t need to start with “Dear Diary” or give my notebook a clever name or even feel like I was talking to a friend. I was just writing. Sometimes I wrote about what I did that day, sometimes I wrote about what I learned and what was making me reconsider my worldview. I wrote a lot about the boys and then the men in my life, and mostly I wrote pages and pages trying to figure out what they were thinking. I wrote even more trying to figure out what I was thinking. 
I wrote stories now and then, but not many outside of my English classes. I thought about being a writer because I wrote well enough to get praise from my peers and professors. After a few years of research papers and a couple of articles for the NGO where I was an intern, I though a job where I could write news briefs and articles on political stuff would suit me since that was what other people told me I was good at. I hadn’t really tried anything else. But other considerations took over and I ran off to a foreign country to teach English.
In my free time I started studying Chinese, going to the gym, and spending a lot of time eating dinner and partying with friends. I read when I could, but writing didn’t seriously cross my mind for the first few years after graduation. Eventually, being a listless expat got old so I started getting intentional and reading things like What Color Is Your Parachute? and taking online personality tests to figure out what I was supposed to do. I even got a little bit into astrology trying to find the answer to question “What should I do with my life?” And all the results of all the tests, even my Gemini description, pointed to vocations where I could express myself and communicate, and being an author, content writer, or journalist was always suggested. 
I timidly started writing tiny short stories. Really, they were more like extended metaphors: love as an ocean, life as a train journey. I asked the Internet how to become a writer, and she suggested internships. I got an editorial internship and then a job as an editor for a magazine, and I even wrote some articles. I started working on creative nonfiction stories in my free time. I felt more and more like a writer, though the writing I was paid to do took up more of my time than the writing I was inspired to do on my own. Then I got this job as a content writer. Having “writer” in my job title made me feel even more legit. Most recently, I started writing content for our website, and then I started this blog.
But a couple of months ago, I made a very poor decision. I wanted to be able to devote as much of myself as I had leftover from work and the website to my creative writing and this blog, so I quit cold turkey on the journalling. 
In doing so, I denied myself an outlet that had been important and consistent to me since I was a child. And as work became more of a drain on my mental and emotional resources and the work on the website picked up, I had less of myself and less time to give to creative writing. 
Writing is now a chore, except for the occasional blog post. It’s what I do for money, it’s why I have to sit in a cubicle, it’s a transferable skill and a line item on my resume. 
It took a conversation on Friday with a writer friend to realize that I was one of a few writers she knew who weren’t writing (and I took it as no small compliment that she recognized me as a writer). But in unburdening myself to her I realized that genuine writers who aren’t writing are not pretentious braggarts, but are really unhappy people. There’s no arrogance there when someone who desperately wants to write can’t find or make the time to do it. That’s a sign of a spiritual blockage, of a disconnect with your muse, of a confusion of priorities and of inauthenticity, of bad faith. As time goes by, you can’t even call yourself a writer, even if you have your MFA and even if you’ve had a few things published, because writers write. 
For me, turning my dream and habit of writing into a job whereby I get paid for generating content for other people has resulted in a lot of anxiety and irritability. I starve for extended periods of alone time so I can get the peaceful state of mind that I need to be in to write for myself without constantly checking my cell phone or Facebook, without feeling guilty about the state of the kitchen or feeling ambivalent about cooking a nice meal when I could be writing. I am fighting with the voices that tell me I need to go to the gym at 6 a.m., work through my lunch hour, stay late at the office, and pour myself into a website that will be monetized to be a good person and a worthwhile partner. I am begging the muses to give me a second chance, just as soon as I finish vacuuming the stairs and loading the dishwasher. 
Denying myself that time and space to write feels more and more wearing somebody else’s ill-fitting jeans. None of the other roles I play–friend, sister, daughter, girlfriend, or employee–give me as much pleasure and as much of a sense of self-worth as writing, and not being able to do it because I have to be a friend, sister, daughter, girlfriend, or employee first leaves me with nothing leftover. And to recognize others as lonely and listless as I am makes me sad and worried for us all, though I am a little  comforted to be in such respectable company. 
But I gotta get out of this place. It’s weird and funky to believe that something you aren’t doing is the most important thing in the world to you, because if it really was, you would be doing it. Only no one would berate poor people or prisoners for not reaching their full potential. Even though I can see my way out of my otherwise pleasant office, being trapped in any job that sucks up all your most productive hours and takes a toll on you intellectually and emotionally without making you feel like a freer and better human being is a kind of incarceration and a hurdle to opportunity. I need to write, regularly and often, so I can look myself in the mirror as exactly the person I want to be. 

My Pleasure Island

When I moved to Taiwan in 2004, I thought I would stay there for a year or however long it would take me to find myself and get over a bad college boyfriend. But a year in Taiwan became five, and then I spent another year in Shanghai before “coming home”. Six months later, I landed a corporate job in a city I’d never heard of before I saw the job listing. 
In a lot of ways, the life I was living in Taiwan was a lot closer to my ideal life than the life I have now. I spend a lot of time these days wishing for a better salary, a lower cost of living, less red tape, fewer automated answering services, and a whole lot more freedom, all of which I had in Taiwan.
Thanks atlai

As one of a minority of Westerners in the midst of a city of people who weren’t entirely familiar with Western culture, it often seemed like I could do just about anything I wanted without judgment or consequence. Stoplights were optional! You could smoke in a restaurant if it was mostly empty and you were friendly with the waitstaff! And eating out was really cheap! So was flying to Hong Kong for the weekend! You could stay at the bar until dawn! And then you could watch your friends wrestle in the park, drunk in their Halloween costumes! You could get out of traffic tickets by being not-Chinese! And lots of other stuff I can’t repeat here! 
In hindsight, I could have paid down my debt and saved a lot more money while I was there. I could be free from student loans by now, instead of spending night after night at the bar. But I don’t beat myself up about that too much because I was young and dumb and really clueless about what my perfect life looked like, and why would you buy the ticket if you don’t know where you’re going? 
Now, I’m slogging away for less money while I’m paying my never-ending student loans, the credit card bills I racked up when I was unemployed, a car payment, a pricey smartphone bill, and–adding insult to injury–I pay more than $30 a week to put gas in my car when I could fill up my scooter for $3 a week. I have a dozen discount cards hanging off my keychain and every time I want to buy something I have to proffer a card or pay the full retail price for my purchase. Also I have to remember to tip servers, which isn’t a chore in itself, but it’s easy enough to get used to not tipping so as not to offend anyone. And tipping a waiter a percentage of the price of overpriced, underwhelming franchise restaurant food chafes my ass every single time. 
I thought often about running back to Taiwan when I first took the job I have now. Every time I found out about some fee, credit check, tax, law, or rule that I didn’t know about, I wanted to give up.
But while I had an enviable social life and a bigger salary than I really needed, teaching was still just a job and it never felt like it was my calling or vocation. It was never really freedom. Despite the late nights and the wild friends and the money, I was tied to a job for eight or more hours a day and I was only taking vacations when I had time off. And once you’ve decided that doing anything less than what you love would be committing spiritual suicide, there’s not really a benefits package that will make you want to stay.
I understand why a lot of the expats that where there with me stayed, though. I was only 23 when I went. I graduated college in May 2004 and arrived in Taiwan on August 23 of the same year. But a lot of teachers there–especially those who stayed for a long time–were closer to 30. They had already put in a couple of years climbing soul-sucking corporate ladders or working at shit dead-end jobs with nothing to show for it nearly a decade after they’d graduated college, so a steady paycheck that was usually about twice the per capita GDP, a lax work schedule and low expectations were not just inviting, but  a dream come true.
The thing is, there are plenty of people there who want that expat lifestyle, but don’t want to be teaching, either. For me, that was enough reason to leave, so I could take a stab at this life thing from another angle. And thankfully, the experiences I’ve had since coming back have made me realize that I first need to get clear about my goals and my values before I can proceed. 
Ultimately, I could have created the life I wanted no matter where I was. I see that now that I have been able to spend so much time thinking very intentionally about my goals and next steps. I don’t have any regrets because I’ve learned so much since I’ve been here and enjoyed time with friends new and old, and with my family. Coming back to the US not only gave me some mental and emotional quiet time to figure out my next steps, it also gave me the opportunity to meet lots of people–of whom J is foremost–who have helped me get my head on straight when it comes to managing my time and money and plotting out some life plans. 

Roots or wings

I am ambivalent about our new bedroom decor. It looks innocent enough: some throw pillows and a trendy acrylic headboard decal, but it’s the kind of home improvement that makes me nervous. J and I want to be free to travel, but by my nascent calculations, we are still at least one year away from taking our first giant step.
And you can do a whole lot of living in one year. The good thing is that we are neither of us very big spenders. We liked to go out to eat, we buy a couple bottles of wine a week, we buy books and groceries. We could definitely trim some fat from our budgets, but we aren’t the types to run up big credit card bills or indulge in expensive new toys. But then, it’s pretty easy to nickel-and-dime ourselves right off the road. 
When J and I started dating almost a year ago, I had a few bookshelves and one rosewood chest from Hong Kong. He had enough furniture to fill up his small apartment, but his mattress and boxspring were on the floor. It wasn’t the end of the world, but I vacillated between not caring and craving a nice bedroom set. We finally got a frame for a queen bed for $10 on Craigslist and the $25 (on Ebay) headboard decal I loved on all the decorating blogs. I splurged on the linens and the pillows during a regrettable moment of self-indulgence that I doubt will be repeated in the near future, but all in all, we got a nice setup for not a lot of money.
It looks innocent enough: 
my bed
But of course, as soon as J and his buddy finished carefully putting the decal on the wall and lifting the bed onto the frame, I started looking for matching nightstands on Craigslist. I didn’t want anything too expensive, but isn’t it just more grownup to having matching nightstands?
For once, J called me out. “Do we really need nightstands?” he asked. I know we don’t really “need” nightstands, but we didn’t really “need” bed linens that weren’t six years old and gross, either. Nor does the bed really “need” to be off the floor and iced with a bunch of throw pillows and a big black sticker. And we didn’t “need” the matching area rugs he bought for $75 last week, either. 
This Friday I will receive my first paycheck for which every penny has already been accounted for and the funds merely need to be directed into their appropriate accounts. I am really excited about it. This is the beginning of the money that will be used as a tool and a resource to buy my freedom and security. 
When I think about everything I want for myself and for us in the future, domestic comforts and decorations seem not only unimportant but wasteful. But when I think about the kind of home I want to come home to, I’m glad that our bedroom is a few degrees more clean and welcoming than it was a couple of months ago. I’m glad we’ve hidden the old green rug out of sight and I’m glad our friends like our new rugs. 
A couple of years ago, however, I was living in Taiwan and dealing with the same questions, only I wasn’t very clear about how to proceed. I talked to my best friends about wanting to travel the world and being unchained. And in the next breath, I would gush about my new microwave or how pretty my room looked after a spending spree at IKEA. I didn’t even realize how schizophrenic I sounded until it was pointed out to me, but even then, I thought I could continue partying, traveling, and consuming, but I would someday, somehow have enough money to do what I wanted. 
In a lot of ways, I’m still trying to balance my desire for freedom and security against my desire for the stuff I think I need. But at the same time, instead of blowing a paycheck on an IKEA trip, we’re making small purchases one at a time. And the other expenses that were even more thoughtless–binge drinking a couple of nights a week, expensive vacations, eating out for almost every meal–aren’t really tripping me up anymore. We’re more likely to spend Saturday night working on our website or parked in front of the TV than at the bar, and we’re more into day trips than big holidays. 
I’d like to think that with patience, common sense, and some boundaries, J and I can make our house a home without mortgaging our freedom from conventional jobs. But I’m also afraid of being naive, and that I really need to choose between having any nice things and having the financial freedom we want so bad. For now, I’m going to hold off on drawing any lines in the sand because I know I am making progress toward my goals. I am inching along, but I am inching along in the right direction. I am sure that once I reach a clearer vantage point, I’ll be able to tell if trying to make a cozy home is incompatible with trying to get out of the rat race. At least I already know that hopping from paycheck to paycheck with nothing to show for all my hard work at the end of every year won’t get me anywhere. 
What do you think? I know a lot of people I love on the internets have built their awesome lives around living frugally and simply, but at least some of them still manage to have cute things. Am I doing it wrong? 

Turning off the TV

When I think about how to spend my time and money, I’m thinking about my goals and values more and more. I have been working on my budget with a financial expert at LearnVest and looking really hard at where my money goes and where I should be putting it–as in how I want to use it and not just where it ends up.
Thanks .reid.
I was reluctant to cancel my Hulu subscription because it was only $7.99 a month, but then my unused Skritter subscription was only $9.99 a month and an unused feature of my phone plan was another $9.99, and I realized that was another $28 a month that could be going toward my savings and my goals instead of being spent on idle entertainment. I’d already gotten J to cancel his cable subscription when we moved into the new place, just by pointing out that he was spending nearly $100 a month to watch Big Bang Theory reruns and occasional sports games.
When it came down to it, it was easy to see what was pure fat in my budget. I looked over my expenses and just asked myself what is necessary and what will move me closer to my goals. And if something on the list couldn’t stand up for itself–like my Hulu subscription–then it had to get gone. 
I think the very forthright L. Marie Joseph at First Generation White Collar put it best when she quoted Les Brown, a wise man who apparently said, “You should not watch T.V. until you have 3 months of expenses in the bank.” 
And while I’ve always thought of TV content as being rather stultifying and I’ve believed that sitting in front of the TV not talking to the person next to you as pretty alienating, LearnVest assistant editor Alden Wicker came up with still five more reasons TV sucks
  1. Cable subscriptions are really expensive.
  2. You feel compelled to have the same clothes and gear as the people on TV, which is expensive.
  3. TV ads are designed to get you to want things you didn’t even know existed.
  4. [It makes you dumb, which I already realized.]
  5. [It’s bad for your social life, which I already realized.]
  6. It sucks up your sleep.
  7. Sitting on your ass eating cheesy puffs and watching TV is crazy unhealthy. 
And basically, you don’t hear Chris Guillebeau, Danielle LaPorte, or Sean Ogle asking anyone if they’re caught up on Parks and Recreation. 
With one decision, I’ve saved myself time, money, and calories. I wish it were always this easy! 

Bad love

I’ve spent ten years in relationships with men who were as supportive as cement shoes and eleven years trying to figure out what was wrong with me. 
I don’t have anyone to blame but myself. I was quick to commit, quick to move all my stuff out the way to make room for “his” stuff, quick to spend more time thinking about what would make “him” happy instead of figuring out what made me happy. And then inevitably, unhappily, I’d realize “he” was earth-bound: subject to the laws of physics and expectations of a conservative and myopic society. My subconscious would rise up and I’d start fighting back for every inch of territory I’d so easily relinquished months before. 
Even then, I could be convinced, over and over again, that my dissatisfaction was better sublimated into acceptance of the status quo and that my ambition for freedom was repulsive and incendiary. I was “selfish”, “unrealistic”, and “out of control.” 
I would say, “All progress depends on the unreasonable [wo]man!” and “he” would say, “You’re crazy!” I’d say, “Your life is the fruit of your own doing!” and “he’d” level up in a new video game. I’d suggest getting high off Henry Miller’s lust for life and “he’d” rent White Chicks. 
And then I’d curl up on the couch with “him” instead of writing. I’d spend my weekends at the bar with “him” instead of travelling. I’d make a tiny sacrifice every day because I’d weigh that person against everything I’d ever wanted to do with my life and think, “None of it matters if I’m not with him.” 
Maybe I was crazy.
Yet it’s the same story I hear over and over again from friends and friends with friends going through the same thing. It’s all too easy to get caught up with someone who doesn’t understand why “good” isn’t good enough for you—especially if you’re a woman.
Thanks Tiberiu Ana

Eventually, I learned the long, hard, slow, and painful way that being single would be easier than trying to make my life revolve around someone who didn’t share my values and goals. It started with realizing that whatever else former boyfriends had done wrong, they weren’t bad people just because they didn’t want to give up their jobs to write and travel. And I wasn’t a bad person for wanting that, either.

I can’t make anyone else fit into my dream, even if my dream is the world. But if I missed out on it because I spent more time making sure my ambition didn’t get in the way of “his” need for affirmation (for “his” worldview) and admiration (of “his” middling accomplishments), I had no one to blame but myself.*

How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself? -Anaïs Nin
Even at their least insidious, relationships can make it harder to figure out what’s important to you (your values) and how to create a life based on what’s important to you (your goals). It’s hard to get out of a bed at 5 a.m. when your favorite person in the world is being all warm and gorgeous in it. It’s easy spend the night cuddling on the sofa instead of writing. It’s easy to go for dinner, then drinks, then sleep in, then go to Bed, Bath & Beyond instead of training. And only one of you has to want to take the night off or sleep in for the other one to have trouble making a plan out of his intentions. 
I feel like I beat the system by finding someone who is completely on the same page. We’re committed to creating a future together and we literally work on it every day. I got the teammate I wanted all along just as I was learning that it was a lot easier to take on the world when I didn’t have to fight against my partner, too.
If you find yourself in a bad situation, just leave. You won’t, because love feels a lot like oxygen when you’re in it, but trust me: You’ll be happier if you make the decision to go after what you want instead of letting someone hold you back because they don’t share your vision. 
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great. -Mark Twain

It takes a lot of confidence to say, “I’m better off without you.” And a lot of work to make it so. But you’re worth it. 
*I think all of this totally changes if you have kids. I have nothing else to say about that.