Wednesday, March 05, 2008

keeping up with the joneses

My family and I live a life of ease. We have plenty to eat, our needs are met and on most days, I feel like the luckiest girl on the third rock from the sun. I do.

But, my skin has been crawling lately and I am trying, desperately, to be a big person and not come unglued each time I hear the phrase The Neighborhood, the one that is special in ways I guess I will never know.

When I am feeling particularly noble, I see the snobbishness, incessant chatter about moolah and plastic surgery for what it is: Insecurity. Desperation. Need. And I want to be kind.

I want to be kind but I am finding it hard when I'm pretty sure they aren't too eager to be quite as generous to me in my Target t-shirt and drugstore lipstick.

I used to think when Greg and I made more money someday - and ironically, we do these days - I wouldn't be unnerved by desperate housewives. That becoming affluent would erase my insecurities.

But anymore, the divide grows for me: Less about economic class, and more about lifestyle, choices and being a simple girl from the country. I'm pragmatic to the bone.

I'm not cut out to be a Jones, and today, I'm not sure what to make of it in a world gone mad, running, chasing but never satisfied.

Maybe I've had just enough.


Kimberly said...

A very poignant post, Lisa. It echoes my own feelings in some ways. In others, I feel myself get caught up in that yearning for material things and that disturbs me. It's an issue that conflicts me at times.

Jess said...

The Jones' are overrated. It's much more fun living like a country girl. I can understand spending money on a purse... not on fancy lipstick.

Stick with the drugstore kind.

brandy101 said...

Hey you know what:

- our IL house is a whopping 828 sq ft! TOTAL. No "real" garage, gravel driveway...and I LOVE being in the SMALLEST house in "The Neighborhood." (Heck, we have the LOWEST property taxes!)

- After having my skin destroyed/burned/rash-induced from an expensive spa facial, I went back to trusty old sensitive skin/fragrance free drugstore Olay face wash and moisturizer!

- I decided that instead of a tummy tuck, I'd get some padded bras at Marshall's - that way my boobs stick out more, and no one notices my tummy bulge!

These are all my rationalizations (logically planned, of course) to derail any temptations into the world of insecure housewifery and/or snobbery swirling around me in The Neighborhood.

Mrs. G. said...

Being a renter in the affluent suburb of Bellevue, I know all about driving the ten-year-old Subaru in a sea of $50,000 cars. I sometimes feel jealous when I hear about other people's yearly incredible vacations or their mountain homes. Or their couches that cost more than all of my furniture put together. But all I have to do is look around me or watch the news and it jerks me back into shape. I have never known anything close to poverty. Plus we have health insurance.

I think I will always be a thrift store/Target girl. I feel a little naughty when I spring for Pepperidge Farm.

stephanie said...

Well said, friend. You know I know...It was someone from The Neighborhood last night who made the comment about Key Club students vs. pierced/dyed/freaky-haired [kids like mine] students. It can be so depressing.

We will band together in our thrift store thriftiness!

lapoflux said...

Ah - the Joneses.
You're so right on the true reason for their one-up-manship, but that doesn't mean you have to like them :-)
Sounds like you know what is important. Smart girl.

flutter said...

maybe you've had enough....or maybe you have enough.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

All those Jones' and those keeping up with them are the ones that overextended themselves with their McMansions and the cars to go with them. They'll be the first to foreclose and go bankrupt and they will so want to keep up with the smart one...YOU!

K. said...

Oh, and we so like you just as you are, dolled up in your drugstore lipstick. Screw the Joneses. (Says the girl who only recently got around to taking the aluminum foil off of her window and buying new curtains. Hee.)

katydidnot said...

i have a great friend whose last name is jones. she's fabulous and just holds your hand if you can't keep up. if only all the joneses were so generous.

one of the reasons i had to move away from aspen...want my kids to get the world. eventually. and jess has it right, drugstore lipstick is great.

Spagirl said...

I have that in my neighborhood as well and unfortunately have friends similar to the Joneses. I've come to realize something, however. Materialism and spending is frequently a result of lack of self-esteem or some other insecurity. The need to spend, spend, spend is compensating for something else in their lives. Those who are happiest are those who are content with what they already have.

tz said...

I used to live in the 'Neighborhood' and we chose to move to less desirable (please the houses aren't THAT much smaller)...right across the street and everyone asked WHY, but I have never never been happier to be less fancy, be accepted for who I am and not for what I have and have my kids be okay with what they have and not worry about what they don't have...I love my neighborhood even if it's not The Neighborhood.

so loved you post and the comments, it's so good to know there are some other down to earth people out there!

Beck said...

You could move to my town. We are a simple people.

Shai said...

Well Said Lisa!!! I couldn't agree more! What saddens me even more is that 'keeping up' mentality is being instilled into their children as well. I was raised very simply by my mother, and subsequently never wanted for much. I thank her for that gift, and pray I am doing a good job in passing that on to my kids. I teach my kids that I can buy you 1 outfit from the pricey stores...or a few outfits from the Target/Wal-Mart/second hand shop! We know kids...we know what they choose! Mission accomplished.
Hold your ground and enjoy your peace...it's worth more than gold.

This Eclectic Life said...

Excellent observations, my friend. Sounds to me like you are "growing up," but maybe you always were? Go ahead and be kind...that never hurts. But, go on being content with exactly who you are! You are indeed the luckiest girl on the third rock from the sun.

JCK said...

I am SO with you on this. Cut your own path. You shine wherever you are, Lisa. It is very clear. A plastic Barbie doll is not what you want to be. Thank GOD!