Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chocolate and Other Unfulfilled Desires

There is no chocolate in the vicinity of Chez Delaunay. I want chocolate. I really, really do.

But this is the least of my problems. Because I am groggy on my new meds, and the weather is bad, and Benjy is home at eleven in the morning. Today he simply could not lift his head and face the world, so I kept him home from school.

It used to be that people would be surprised when I told them he had a disability, that he was on the autism spectrum. "Really?" they would exclaim. "I would not have guessed it."

Today, anyone would guess it. Not autism, necessarily. We are not even sure that's it anymore. Certainly the Asperger's, if it even matters at this point, is secondary to a complex amalgam of psychiatric disorders.

But all it takes is a glance, a single interaction, and you know that Benjy off-kilter these days. He has declined so steeply in the past months you would not believe it. I sure don't. We hope the medical tests will help explain what the hell is going on. We are trying to be patient while we wait. Our patience is wearing thin.

Anyway, a propos of nothing, or maybe of my boredom, I did something bad today. Not something hurtful to others. Or to animals, or the environment. It wasn't unethical or illegal.

It might have been a little creepy though. And it definitely was not good for me. (On the other hand, maybe it was. Because it showed me what a horrible, horrible person I have the potential to be.)

What I did was, I cyber-stalked a woman I went to school with. I have no idea what made me think of her. I just did. She was such a nice person back then -- kind, unassuming, smart, and highly competent. I did not know her super well, but I liked her. I have not seen her face to face since the 90s, I think.

Well. You know how people who grow up in privileged families often end up making their own privileged families? Yeah. Well, this young woman was the daughter of a successful doctor father and a successful professional mother, and naturally she married a doctor. I found all of this out by Googling her. And even though she went into the same field I did, with its crap job prospects and crappier financial prospects (she DID get a job, btw, and I do know roughly what it pays -- not enough to easily get by in greater Boston) she now lives in a 1.9 MILLION DOLLAR HOUSE in one of the toniest suburbs of Boston.

I know the value of her house because I stalked her some more and found out her address, typed it into, and voila! there it was, in all its outrageous glory. Pictures and all.
I verily believe the  kitchen of that pile is LARGER than the entire first floor of my house.

For about twenty minutes I let her good fortune -- such as it is, and hey, how do I know her husband isn't screwing around with two nurses and a secretary? -- really make me jealous. And mad. And sad. It was mostly that damned kitchen that did it. It made me feel literally squeezed, like I couldn't breathe. I feel that way sometimes when I open a new bill from Children's or MGH and I know that whatever it is, it is  more than we have in our checking account. Or when my van starts clunking and I fear a choice between the shop and a breakdown is imminent.

I also feel that squeeze when Lars and I try to work in our kitchen together, but usually then it's not such a painful sensation. It's kind of a comical pas de deux, really. "Sorry, could I get in there?" "Oh, could you just move a bit? I need a bowl."

Because there is insufficient storage and counter space in our kitchen we've had to place a portable island right smack dab in the middle of it. We love our island but when the dishwasher door is open you can't walk through. So you have to carefully step OVER the open dishwasher door if you want to leave the kitchen and enter the dining room.

What's ironic here is that, in the small town where I grew up, I was thought to be that person from a privileged family who was going to get all the breaks. Who had everything. My father was an orthodontist, and I suppose by those small-town standards we were well-off. But my Dad was more of a dreamer and a scholar than a business man. The choices my parents modeled turned out to have more to do with pursuing emotional and intellectual satisfaction rather than financial or social status. And I think a lot of people would look at all of us now and say, "See? You did it all wrong."

But I think -- I hope -- we would all disagree.

You know, I was talking to my dear and very wise mother the other day about the lessons I've learned over the past years -- let's say over Benjy's lifetime. And the most important of them definitely has been a lesson about what is really important. (I know, I know, so cheesy. But so true.) One thing that Lars and I have made our peace with is that we will probably always live "small." Small house. Modest (or relatively inexpensive) stuff. Few if any vacations. For us, there will be no upsizing, only downsizing, and that as soon as we possibly can. We once thought we would travel. Take our kids to Europe every year. That was our dream. It meant something to us. We loved traveling, we felt there was value in it. Things to learn in seeing the world.

And there are those things! But maybe not for us. I am doing what I can to try to make a little of that happen for Saskia. We're waiting to see if she is accepted into an opera program that will take her to Italy this summer. I did what I could to get her as much financial aid as possible. Now we can only wait and see.

The only other thing I can do for her, and for Benjy, and Lars, and my parents, and the other people I love in  this world, is keep showing them how much I love them. That is the cheesy lesson I've learned. Small house, small kitchen, second-hand clothes? No problem. We've got each others' backs.


  1. We're related, I'm sure of it now. The only difference is that I'm friends with people with "perfect" lives on Facebook and I have to block their posts because I get too bitter.

    I have been really struggling to accept things as they are, vs. how I think they should be/how others' lives are/I want I want I want them to be. I'm reading Self-Compassion ( and it's helping a lot.

    1. Good to know there's a kindred spirit out there, Atty! Thanks for the book reference; it's a snow day today here and I will download it on the Kindle if I can. Have fun with Pea today!

  2. I do the cyber-stalking of old acquaintances too, every once in a while, and it always makes me feel bad. Usually when I ask myself, would I rather be that person? my answer is no...but on occasion it is a wistful yes...and then I know I need to refocus on myself or else I'm in for an unpleasant downward spiral of mood.

    1. Yes, Colleen. It's usually a baaaad idea. Also, cyber-stalking ex-boyfriends is usually a mistake in my experience. ;) I was actually thinking about your recent post as I was writing this. Although I did not comment on it, it really stuck with me for a few days. The way you sort of cast off that spirit-sapping materialism by moving to Sao Paolo -- if I understood that right. In a way, the pain of disability and thwarted ambition has been my Sao Paolo, and usually I really am ok with what we DO have. I think sometimes I fall prey to the fallacy of BIG HOUSE = PERFECT KIDS/PERFECT MARRIGE/PERFECT JOB/PERFECT LIFE. And of course that is utter BS. At least it better be! (Just kidding -- I think!) xo anna

  3. OMG -- I've so done this. Bad idea. I always end up feeling worse about myself -- and I never do this when I feel good about myself. What's that all about?! But, no, you are not a potentially evil person!! You see the good all around you. You'd be in total denial if you didn't also wonder why some terribly sad things happen you and your loved ones. It's all about the balance. And all of us who aren't cut off from our hearts struggle to maintain the balance. However, I am considering getting all my girlfriends together to file a class action law suit against the estate of Walt Disney. The crime: making us think that it's rational to believe in "happily ever after," (and never doing laundry, cooking, needing to pee...) (I am joking, of course!). -- renee