Monday, October 13, 2008

The Bare Necessities

We went to the Multnomah County Friends of the Library sale Saturday and came home with a big box full of wonderful stuff, though somehow a dud made its way in. It's a smallish paperback titled Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter by Elaine St. James. Okay, so the title really appealed to me, as a common and frequent topic of conversation in our house of late has been the idea of "living simply."

Apparently, Ms. James is writing to those in a higher tax bracket than us because she introduces such revolutionary ideas as getting rid of the housekeeper and cook. Um, housekeeper I can see, but cook? Who employs cooks? I suppose I shouldn't have ignored the endorsement on the back cover by Oprah Winfrey saying, "Elaine, you're our role model."

I was already rolling my eyes through the first half of the book with her suggestions to read a book instead of go shopping and not buy brand-new cars, but I was ready to throw the book across the room when I read in her chapter, "Clean up Your Relationships":

I'm referring to an impossible marriage or a relationship that isn't going anywhere, and that is causing you stress or pain...get out.

My issue is with her use of the word "impossible." What does that even mean when applied to marriage? Who hasn't felt the exasperation of looking at a conflict that seems impossible to solve? And who hasn't felt stressed by your marriage or been hurt by your spouse? Get out? Really?

Don't we have enough people giving up on their marriages?

By far, though, the most helpful advice she gave was chapter 75: "If It's Not Easy, Don't Do It." Who is she writing this load of crap to? She ends the chapter with this nugget of wisdom, "Think how simple your life would be if you eliminated the difficult things--the things that probably weren't meant to be anyway--and concentrated on what was easy."

Alrightee then. I'll remember that the next time Abe is screaming in my ear with a diaper full of last night's black bean soup and a nose full of green snot that really needs to be suctioned out. Ugh, that's just too hard...
damn it, if I hadn't already fired the cook, I could have had her do it for me. I guess I should just take Ms. James' advice and walk way from the relationship with my son since reading Eclipse would be a whole lot easier than wrestling a 16-month-old.

This morning, while this song was playing, I realized I prefer simplicity Baloo style:
Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Next time beware
Don't pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw
But you don't need to use the claw
When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw
Have I given you a clue ?
The bare necessities of life will come to you
They'll come to you!
And don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin' about it
I'll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you

Whatever, no deep thoughts here, just frustration at having paid $1.25 for such a stinking load.

Oh, and what is the deal with folks stealing their neighbor's political signs? Nearly every day, someone on facebook writes that their sign was stolen from their yard during the night (and always an Obama sign). Sigh. Hearing that people are behaving so idiotically truly, honest-to-God upsets me. Can't we be more civilized than that?

23 comments:

coffeemom said...

Great post. The world is a wacky place and lately, it's mind boggling. It's totally upside down in so many ways....Poor Ms. James, she sounds depressed and lonely to me. Simple life maybe, but um, any meaning there, anywhere? Anyone? Real life is a messy messy thing, often seemingly impossible and often not so fun, certainly rarely easy. The best stuff, really, never is.

I'm w/ you, and heck, at this rate, I'd VOTE for Baloo if he'd only get put on a ticket. It's a wacky world anymore.

But you've got your bare necessities right there, in the cute sweater and 'impossible' marriage!

Blog Shmog said...

Wow. Really? Wow.
I live on a completely different planet then that author...

Julie said...

This sounds like a woman I would like to smack in the face. (Did that sound too angry?)

Staci said...

That's hysterical - don't do it if it's not easy. Ha! Last time I checked, a lot of the things worth doing were hard.

I just finished readying your recommendation Lori - She Got Up off the Couch. It was great! What a funny writer:) Thanks for the suggestion!

Meredith said...

I am loving the new top of this blog.

Jocelyn said...

I have to fire my cook??? What if my cook is the microwave:-) That is crazy that someone writes that crap and actually makes money doing it!!

I agree with Meredith...love the top of the blog!

Jana said...

I love the way you wrote about this. Um, gag me. Is that book for real?

The Roberts Family said...

I absolutely cracked up at this post. well, it's incredibly sick and sad really, her advice ..... seriously .... none of us would have made it through the adoption journey if we were looking for the easy road. And marriage .... I am often brought to tears about what I'd have missed out on with my wonderful husband if I'd "given up" during difficult times. I think you should ditch hers and right a REAL book about Living Simply. I'd be one of the first in line to read it, author Lori. :) ~Shelly

jody said...

jeez, i need to fire myself as the housekeeper AND cook-but wait, that would be hard to fire me, so should i NOT do it? I'm so confused!!! what a load......ahhh, freedome of speech, gives us the freedom to see how kooky folks think.....

Christina said...

I propose we flood her Amazon profile with negative reviews. Wait...I think I have better things to do with my time. Thanks for the laugh, though!

Oh, and I do have a cook, but can I fire my husband? Oh, wait, what chapter was that?

Ridiculous.

Farmboy and Buttercup said...

OK, who IS this woman???

-- If It's Not Easy, Don't Do It -- that helpful advice will lead us to the wide, boring road of mediocrity. And God is not about that. Man, there have been times I have REALLY wanted to be on that road, but that is just fear. And this narrow, adventurous road IS the journey.

OK, now since I just preached to the choir, I should probably send a gentle comment to this author instead, that is after I ask my cook to fix me up a little snack....

Rusty Spell said...

You read books? I have people who read them for me and summarize the important parts.

R. M. said...

Maybe the signs are just being stolen by kids acting stupid... there ARE a lot more Obama signs in Portland than McCain signs. Just a thought.

Jennifer said...

i am with you...on all accounts. we have been striving to live simply as well and i am sitting here thinking of all of the things i can cast off in a yard sale (though NOT the cook or the housekeeper, who could live without those? clearly lose the husband and the kid)...green and simple i say!
don't even get me started on the sign stealing, overt and covert racism and ridiculous lies that are being spread re Obama. i am SO SICK OF IT ALL. if i get one more email in my inbox saying he is communist, a muslim terrorist in a sleeper cell or has plans to ruin civilization as we know it, i will poke my eye out.

Sam said...

Umm thats probably why it was in the book sale. but it is pretty funny. really who thinks that way! and I am with you on the sign thing...

The Albertsons said...

So I guess I should just walk away from my entire LIFE, especially ADOPTION, because, you know, it's just too hard some days. Sigh. But, um, then what would I do? Sit here and look at the leaves? Hmmm.
And, our whole street has many sign thieves. Many Obama signs gone, AND many McCain signs gone... it's like a civil war on our street... spooky...

filoli said...

I am laughing and snorting right now...that is too funny and yet I am soooo irritated. The good news is that do to recent changes the people who "need" this book can further simplify their life by now consolidating their FDIC bank accounts from a tiresome 10 accounts to 4 accounts...ah, simplicity...

If you pay someone under the table instead of employing them, that simplifies life too...oh, the wonders never end. But those tax cuts should definitely stay in place...(must stop killing myself now)

I am boiling from "impossible relationships." You wouldn't even have your son if you "walked away from stress or pain." Can you imagine how different scripture would be if you walked away from impossible relationships? Oh no, I am swirling in references right now...in sum, share your frustration - she is wrong.

As for stolen Obama signs, we have lost 5. I keep hoping that it is because someone else wants it in their yard...I know, fooling myself, trying to stay positive...

Stacie said...

You mean if I just fire the cook and the housekeeper, my life will be simple? HAH! Actually, I'm leaning towards the idea that it would be more simple if I HAD a cook and a housekeeper! Sheeyat. I could sit and read and blog without guilt during naptime, rather than sit and read and blog during naptime and feel guilty for not cleaning and making dinner. Ho hum.

You are so hooked - already on Eclipse huh? :)

PVZ said...

Geez if I had only known this I could have avoided the entire last week of my life--does she happen to mention who takes over all the difficult things we decide not to do? Great and funny post Lori.

Blog Shmog said...

You've probably been tagged a million times but I just tagged you. :) I want to know more fun things about Lori.

courtney rose said...

You said "damn."

Amy said...

once again you write such a great post... I can't relate to the crazy author either... Sometimes when I read your posts that actually have a point and a good one at that, I feel like my blog posts are for the birds.

HeidiD in CT said...

Ahhh, where do I start on living simply? Perhaps in another post, but I could never make is as eloquent! Ps - tag, you're it (no obligation of course!)