I Can’t Be Satisfied

I have this terrible habit of calling my friends and asking their opinion about something and then getting pissed when they give it to me.

So, I’m all mad at Mack because I called him up for advice on buying a house and he gave it to me and it involved shit that bothers me and so I’ve been sitting around all night “Well, fuck that; he doesn’t know,” like I’m fourteen.

The thing that irritates me is that I never made any other plans.  I was going to go to college, find a husband, get married, have some kids and spend my days bitching about doing the dishes.  So, just like now, but totally different.

And for the most part, I’m glad things didn’t work out that way, because, frankly, I like difficult men and I, myself, am the kind of person who sits around and gets pissed when people do what I ask them and I don’t guess I believe that I could ever be happily married.  I reckon this, in part, because I’m always delightfully surprised when I find married couples that still like each other–like it’s a hen’s tooth or something.  This isn’t because happy marriages are all that uncommon, I don’t think; it’s just that I never thought one for myself was possible.

So, yeah, that’s fucked up.  But it is what it is.  And, like I said, I’m happy that my life is how it is and I’m very happy that I didn’t just settle for who would have me, with the expectation that I should just be happy someone would put up with me, no matter how shitty the match was.

But what I didn’t do, and what I still don’t do, is make other plans.  Okay, so I’m not getting married to someone I don’t really like and living in a little town where he drinks too much and I sit on the phone complaining to my friends about what an idiot he is.  I’m not devoting my life to my kids, because I don’t even have kids.

So, what, instead?

And, frankly, in general, I don’t know.

I think it’s a theological problem.  Of all the things I can’t let go of, it’s hardest for me to let go of the idea that there’s some plan, that all this stuff happens for a reason, leading to some great purpose, and if only we could get enough perspective, we would see it.

There is no plan.  There’s just me, who needs to suck it up and get on with it.

And it’s also a feminist problem, really.  I cannot quite let go of this idea that my goal in life should be to be someone’s perfect match–to not get too entangled in a happy single life, so that it won’t be too messy for me to give things up to incorporate myself into being a wife.

Though I think those two things go hand in hand; that they reinforce each other.  I feel like I’ve been trained, since I was very, very little, to think of my primary job in life as being a good wife and so everything that I might want to do, no matter how cool, is just a way to burn time while I’m waiting to be chosen, which will then prove my worth as a person.

It’s hard to admit that to myself out loud because I hate it and, if any one of my friends spouted such nonsense, I would spend the next three hours lecturing them about what bullshit it was.

I can recognize it as bullshit.

But, if we think of each woman as a bonzai person, contained and kept as a kind of simulacrum of full people that don’t actually exist, what I’m saying to you is that this is the shape of my roots; barely deep enough to nourish me, but the shape I’ve been given my whole life.

At some level, maybe, feminism is about realizing that–that you are root-bound–and working towards putting seeds and shoots in free soil.

But this is the shape I take.

And what I want to tell you is that I’m afraid of trying a new shape on my own.

Even though I know it’s stupid, it’s so hard for me to do what I want to do just for me.  Sometimes, I can trick myself into doing things by convincing myself that they’re for the Butcher or for my parents.  Sometimes, I can impose on others to do some of the stuff for me.

But this house stuff, I need to do that for me.  And I can’t quite figure out how to go about it.  Not the outward stuff.  But whatever it is in me.

But articulating that makes me feel better.

36 thoughts on “I Can’t Be Satisfied

  1. Two points on this one:

    1: If you need help with some housing questions, due to my failed experiment in real estate, I could probably give you some pointers in house hunting.

    2: My real point, concerning this:

    And it’s also a feminist problem, really. I cannot quite let go of this idea that my goal in life should be to be someone’s perfect match–to not get too entangled in a happy single life, so that it won’t be too messy for me to give things up to incorporate myself into being a wife.

    Some friendly advice, off the fly that you can consider applicable or not, is to not look at your potential happiness with members of the opposite sex as a feminist critique.

    Look, the girlfriend makes me happy. I don’t fret about why she makes me happy (at least not too much) I just know that she does. I don’t consider the ideological or theological or sociological ramifications of my feelings for her. I just know she makes me happy.

    Forget about “being trained to be a good wife” and instead if you meet someone, try to be a good partner, or spouse, or life mate, or whatever terminology you can come up that reject that which you don’t believe, yet are compatable to how you currently feel.

    Note: I’m typing this on a 4-beer buzz right now, so take this with a grain of salt, but I hope I got my point across. Use your (for a good ole-fashioned patriarchal term) female intuition to synthesize your ideological thoughts with your emotional needs as a woman.

    Most of us were born for a yearning for that which the opposite gender fulfills. Embrace that. It is not weakness nor being a bad feminist to do so.

  2. If you are really serious about this house thing, you might consider asking some of our friends who are actual realtors. I’m not sure if this is a good time to even consider it…but if it is…

    …You can do it. You are one of the smartest people I have ever known. I totally believe in you…you’ve gotta believe in yourself, girl!

  3. It’s a buyer’s market. As long as your credit score isn’t completely in the shitter. There are many programs to help first time buyers with down payment assistance. FHA mortgages only require a 3% downpayment for instance.

    Go to your bank (or its website) and see how much you can pre-qualify for. They will be able to give you something that all your blogger pals can’t: Information that is not subject to opinion and anecdote regarding your ability to buy a home.

    I know of a little yellow house in West Nashville that would be perfect for you.

  4. B.,
    This is going to sound weird but I’ve lost my mojo a bit this past week (I know weird but relevant to the big picture.) Part of my mojo loss has to do with my indecision of knowing what to do and what will make me happy. I’m peripherally happy right now but I see dark signs (back to the job thing, my personal albatross.)
    If you want a house, talk to Kathy T. She will not steer you wrong and she will be brutally upfront with you. If you want the house to prove your own worth to yourself, then you might want to rethink it, because you are already worth a hell of a lot. If you want a house because you need a home, a place to lay roots and that would be something that you can commit to, seriously commit to, then talk to her. Find out if you are ready. Take into consideration all the financial variables.
    There is so much to weigh out on so many levels.
    The dreamer in me (the one that’s sort of lost her mojo because I’ve been sick and stressed for two months and I’m really fucking tired of being tired and stressed) is going to be optimistic Weigh the positives and the negatives and if the positives weigh out, then start making realistic lists about how you can meet your goal.
    Put yourself in a position of being the one that makes the decision, the choice if you will, of whether or not you buy a house. If you do, great. If you don’t, then it was your choice.
    That’s kinda how I see myself of being a feminist. The choices are mine, not other peoples. That, my friend, is the good part yet bears such a weight of responsibility.
    Sending you many good thoughts. You know, I love me some Aunt B.
    Take care.

  5. Yes, of course Sarcastro is correct, a qualified Real Estate Professional should be able to help you determine whether or not you can buy a house, and how much house.

    But, sometimes, blogger buddies know all of the other things that a Real Estate person does not, and won’t ask. All the little things about your habits and lifestyle, future plans, etc.

    I’m privileged enough to know a bit about you, and I answered your questions, based on that little bit. You may have been happier with “You go girl!” but, in the end, you wouldn’t have been satisfied with it.

  6. No, I know. That’s why I asked you for your opinion. I keep you (and Sarcastro) around because I trust you not to coddle me, even though I love to be coddled and run around demanding it of people all the time.

    But my point is that what should be a straightforward, even if major, process–I mean, either I can get a loan or I can’t, either I can afford a house or I can’t–ends up being a Thing. And a Thing in a way that bothers me.

    I mean, it’s kind of all y’all to offer reassurances, but that’s not what I want… well, yeah, it is what I want at some shallow level, but what I want, truly, deeply, is to be able to say “This is what I, myself, want and this is the plan for how I’m going to get it.”

    And, with the house thing, I want a house and I have an idea of what it takes to get it and yet, I find myself wishy-washy about it, not because it’s not a good idea, but because of some needless fucked-up shit I’m carrying around.

    And that’s what I’m trying to get at, Lee, and what I feel like you’re so close to getting, too. Yes, exactly, a person should just be able to be with folks at some genuine level and it is fucked up to worry about this other shit and to ascribe value to yourself based on whether or not you fit some mold you hate. I know that. And I’d like to stop doing that. And yet, still, there I go.


    Well, those are the reasons I think I’m the way I am and, since I feel those aren’t valid reasons, I need to get over them.

  7. Seems like real estate always causes me these crisis also. When I first started looking at houses many years ago I beat myself up because I felt like a professional in his late 20s really ought to be able to afford more than I could at the time. And it seemed like such a hill to climb for a single person.

    In the end I decided to wait awhile longer. Probably should have waited longer than I did, because I still didn’t have a good down payment, but for me real estate is like the old cliche about having kids. You’re never really in a good place to do it, you just have to pick a less than terrible time. By all means, consult a realtor. Most of them are free if you’re buying.

    This is probably a bad time to try and sell you my house, but since Sarcastro already did…. It actually crossed my mind a few days ago that it might be just right for you and the Butcher and Mrs. W. Very old neighborhood with lots of history, and not an expensive house. Bums me that we have to leave it, but babies have a lot of shit.

  8. I never thought past graduate school, so I have been pretty aimless since 1998. I have no idea what I want or what I’m supposed to do. It changes daily.

    Yes, it’s a buyer’s market. This is a great time to buy a house if you don’t have to sell one.


    Even the perfect house will need at least a thousand dollars worth of something done to it when you first move in. And then, despite years of renting and never having anything fuck up, everything will fuck up. The day I moved into my first house, the previous owners had burned out the A/C by running it constantly as they were moving. Fuckers. This house came with a handy leak in the roof that wasn’t evident during August when I bought and had the home inspected. Nor did I know that the HVAC would need $400 worth of work every year for something. Oh, and I didn’t know that the front flower beds were full of poison ivy, either.

    I love having a house…around tax time, but it often feels like an albatross around my neck. I’m tethered here. I can’t just get up and go. But at least it’s mine. I guess.

  9. The Patrarchy hath spoken!

    Nice to see that Nashville’s leading feminist blogger can’t buy a car or a house without the approval and assistance of a MAN.

  10. Plenty of men running around that can’t make sound financial decisions, buddy. It sure as hell ain’t gender specific.

    But, yea, I am a card carrying member of the Patriarchy.

  11. I mean, it’s kind of all y’all to offer reassurances, but that’s not what I want… well, yeah, it is what I want at some shallow level,

    Wait a second. I sincerely hope you don’t think I was “coddling” you. I am coming at you from the standpoint of a single woman who is supporting another person. I have insecurities just like anybody, and have had major setbacks, etc.

    I also happen to own a home.

    I know what it’s like to wonder if I have the guts and knowledge to accomplish major things like this without screwing it up along the way…because at the end of the day, I can’t depend upon anybody else but myself.

    There’s nothing shallow about that. I’m not patronizing you, and I’m sorry if that’s how you interpreted it.

  12. I think it’s a theological problem. Of all the things I can’t let go of, it’s hardest for me to let go of the idea that there’s some plan, that all this stuff happens for a reason, leading to some great purpose, and if only we could get enough perspective, we would see it.

    I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to let go of that idea. I think there is a plan, and it’s your plan, even if you’re not aware of how all the pieces fit together (who is?). Don’t let it control you, you made it and you can change it. That’s the nice thing about it, you can’t get it wrong, the most you can do is go a different direction.

  13. That’s the nice thing about it, you can’t get it wrong, the most you can do is go a different direction.


  14. B, I think you’re overanalyzing things and talking yourself out of buying a house, if that’s what you really want to do. Buying a house was sucky and stressful for me, but the end result was worth it. Hook up with Kathy T, she can direct you to some good mortgage lenders. You’ll go in, give them your info, and they will either tell you how much house you can afford, or they’ll tell you that you can’t get a house. That’s the scary part, but once that’s over, it’s over.

    I think you’re talking yourself out of your own happiness here. I know this because I do the same thing to myself. Anyway, I’m rooting for ya.

  15. Yup, thats exactly what I’m saying, because, you know, i can’t resist getting a dig in on my supposed friends…oh, wait.

  16. See? This has all sorts of people coming in to offer their opinions, but not a single one of them knows the extent, or details of the conversation we had. I know this was all about tying it to feminism and such, but you and i both know we didn’t discuss the idea of you buying a house. Right?

  17. Mack, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the conversation you had with B, I’m basing my opinion on what I see here. So there. Nyah.

  18. Mack, do you see how your comments are coming across as “I have more knowledge than anybody else on what B should do because I know her better.” — and how dismissive that is to the rest of us?

    Love you bunches, but it really is the point of the frickin’ blog here is for all sorts of people coming in to offer their opinions.

    er, maybe Mercury is in retrograde again..,

  19. B, I know nothing about your financial situation, but I do know this:

    If you can’t afford a house, in the current economic climate, there’s not a lender in the world that would loan you the money. This is not 2005.

    Just bravely dare, and let the chips fall where they may. If it isn’t meant to be, you won’t get approved for the loan.

    As for the other stuff, it almost sounds like you are afraid that the patriarchy is the natural state of being, and that feminism is the learned behavior.

    If that’s the case, or even if the opposite is true, there’s nothing you can do about it. We are what we are. Your wants and needs are not inherently sinful.

    Or so this patriarch thinks…

  20. It seriously reads to me like B is saying, ‘I want to buy a house or at least look into the possibility, but Mack says no because he knows me so well.’ Which if that isn’t damn near a close relative of Daddy saying, ‘No man will ever love you’, then I don’t know what is.

  21. Ya know, exactly the same thing that struck Dolphin struck me, too. Though I think my response to it is only tangential to his. There is a plan. The plan is that you work on yourself and work on the world. Both can use improvement. It’s not a plan that says, “B is gonna become this or that kind of person” or “when all the plot points are cleared up, the world will look like this or that.” But it says that if you work at knowing yourself/the world and improving the parts that you don’t like so much, you’re doing the right thing.

    Which, I guess, in this specific instance could indeed involve figuring out why you want a house, plus taking a deep breath and having the conversations or whatever that let you know whether you can afford one. Plus smacking Mack around a little, just on general principles, to help him with his plan.

  22. I think, too, the “I can’t be satisfied” (title of this post) can be both a good thing and a detriment at times. That need to keep pushing forward and not settle is what has driven me my whole life. It’s at the core of progress.

    However, it has to be balanced with counting our blessings for what we have this very moment.

  23. Ok, I’m compelled to respond, though I am walking on eggshells here…

    Ginger, Ivy, Sorry to have mislead you. My comments had nothing to do with the types of advice people gave, which, btw, was all very sound indeed. I wasn’t intending a dig toward anyone that chimed in. My comment meant to convey to B my dismay that people had responded to half a subject, the half being about B buying a house. It helps if you know the other half, the half that if you knew, would have you understanding that the conversation B alluded to had very little to do with B buying a house.

    Sarcastro, B doesn’t come to me for permission. She bounces things off of me from time to time, because she knows I’m opinionated.
    To be fair, though, the comment I left about people not making sound financial decisions should have offered a qualifier…that I meant without causing themselves undue stress. I have people I call for financial advice. But, man, my problem with your take on it was that, hell, you know me. You know B. You know that my comment wasn’t intended to imply that B is somehow dependent on me. I’ve seen her credit, I know what she earns. Believe me, she’s been quite adept at managing her finances. But, again, you knew that.
    A stranger would not, so i think I could have understood if someone had pointed to my comment and balked, but from you it seems so….unnecessary.

  24. there’s not a lender in the world that would loan you the money. This is not 2005.

    Actually, Slarti, i wish that were true. There are some major builders sitting on houses they need bought, and bought fast. There is still plenty of crafty finance stuff to get that done. Sometimes thats a good thing to a marginally qualified buyer, but, rarely.

  25. No worries, Mack. I think this is just another one of those pitfalls of the written word sometimes. When you can’t see expressions and hear voice inflections…

    For me personally, it just hurt my feelings that my encouragement seemed to have been taken as a bunch of fluff with no substance, when there was a lot of heart behind my words.

    Again…I think the ‘ol biorhythms are off today…so I should wait a minimum of 1 hour before responding to anything that initially hurts my feelings.

  26. Hello darling. My turn to chime in about house purchases. And I’m probably not going to tell you anything you don’t already know, but here it is anyway. First, this is defnitely a buyer’s market so it gives you the opportunity to negotiate for good price, closing costs paid by seller on behalf of buyer, etc. However, just because it’s a great time to buy it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a great time for YOU to buy.

    I agree that your first step is to talk to a lender … and make it a professional who isn’t there just to blow rays of sunshine up your skirt for the sole purpose of getting a paycheck. There are about seven people licensed in this state who are certified mortgage planners. They are the ones who will sit down with you and look at your whole financial picture before just randomly running your credit score to say, “Hey babe. Have we got a deal for you.”

    I would be very wary of the one-stop shop vendors (get your loan at the same place you get your realtor) because they WILL find a way to get you into a house whether you’re as financially sound as you should be or not.

    After you go through this planning process, you’ll feel more comfortable that you’re doing the right thing (caveat: it’s still okay to be nervous for a first time buyer, but you should go in with your eyes wide open confident that this is your plan). Once you’re loaded for bear, decide you want to buy, and find a house, be aware that it’s going to cost you more than just your mortgage payment. To that end, you want to be sure that you have enough money to spend on home repairs and maintenance costs (e.g., my gutters need to be replaced and there’s no landlord to do it for me). I know you already know that, but it’s always shocking to see how much more the costs can be. Which is why you should always have a home INSPECTED before you close (a contingency in your contract) by someone who isn’t some doofus just out to make a few bucks.

    The benefit of finding a realtor who knows you back is that we CAN be brutally honest with our personal opinions rather than a robo-realtor. I’ll shoot you a private email to explain that statement.

    For your benefit, I just posted a bunch of questions you should ask when interviewing a potential buyers agent at the website when you click my name.

    And I apologize for any typos, run-on words, or other babbling from this comment in advance.

  27. Sweet Jesus, people. Let’s all heed Ginger’s words of wisdom and take a step back.

    For starters, “I Can’t Be Satisfied” or just “Can’t be Satisfied” is a Muddy Waters song I felt was applicable to my mood last night, about a person who wants to move, who wants to shoot someone he cares about for no reason, who can’t see his way, and who has faith that things will turn out okay in the end.

    See here for lyrics.


    I thought it was appropriate and a reference people would pick up on. I was wrong.

    But there it is.

    Second, to make it clear, I didn’t call up Mack and beg him to fix my life or buy me a house or whatever. I didn’t go into what we talked about because the important point was not what Mack did or didn’t say, but that, because my head is so weird about this, no matter what he said, I would have been all “bleh, whatever.” But, in spite of that, I do appreciate having him to bounce ideas off of.

    Still, I do love to watch men squabble over who loves me best and who is oppressing me with their patriarchic might the least, so carry on, gentlemen.

    Third (we’re on third, right?), Ginger (and possibly Coma), I am so sorry. I didn’t mean for you to take that as me being dismissive of your support. I more meant that the weird head-space I’m in makes it so it’s hard for me to feel comforted by others. No knock on you; just trying to clarify why I find the state I was in last night so frustrating.

    Kathy, as always, you rule.

  28. Sending hugs and kisses to you, B.

    Hmmmm…I think the gentlemen would be much more endearing if they bought you a bottle of this to sip on while you sit back in your recliner and watch them squabble.

  29. I pick those guys out specifically because you’re getting older. Just think if I set you against some scrawny guy and he beat you. How would your ego ever recover?

  30. Well damn, the original post helps me understand a few things better that people in my life have been saying. Thanks B.

  31. I suspect this is just repeating things you already do, but…

    In terms of a plan, or just the home piece of a plan, don’t forget to invest time and effort in the brainstorming step.

    For example, in the house part, take plenty of time to list all the things you envision yourself doing in a house. Write down all the things you like about those things. Put in time dreaming up anything at all you would like to do with/in the house, even if they’re beyond all reason or possibility. Write down what you like about even the impossibilities.

    Once you have a lot of that, it’s a lot easier to evaluate what are the things with the biggest pleasure payoff, and to keep your mind open to possibilities to make the less likely things happen.

    It makes a difference. Last time I was looking at buying hardware, I spent time on that impossible things step, and wrote down capabilities that I thought were science fiction, but would save a lot of time. Once I spent some time researching them, I realized that I between some things other people had written and some odd bits of hardware, I could put together something that would make my science fiction desired capabilities happen, and not even spend a whole lot of money to do so.

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