The Toys That Bind

All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.

– CS Lewis

I tweeted last night that I threw down four boxes for us to fill with either give-away items or garage-sale paraphernalia and that things were ‘about to get real.’ The effect of such an action was fairly inconsequential since Jen was humming Amos Lee songs and dusting off cake pans we used at our wedding while absolutely ignoring my every word, but hey I threw down those boxes with some passion!

We aren’t what people would call pack-rats, nobody from TLC is banging down our door to tape an episode of “Hoarders”, and even if we were there’s only so much you can fit into 600 square feet (I feel like us saying “our apt. is 600 sq. ft.” is the Geico caveman commercial of this blog, cute the first time it ran, agonizing every time since…I digress…and I’ll try to stop mentioning how big our apt. is). Also, we committed to not buying any new clothes for a year which I think is an easy enough vow to keep for two people who already have more than enough clothing. And I would say we’ve gotten rid of more than we’ve acquired since knotting the knot in early June.

We still struggle though.

“An iPad would be functional, wouldn’t it?”
“I think I want a new bicycle to ride around Dallas in!”
“There’s this great tennis racket I need to get!”
“We need some fun luggage, don’t we? You know, just in case!”
“I’m buying a $6,000 letter press, I don’t care what you say!”

OK, I made the last one up, but I’m sure we’ve had a conversation about the first four. I know we have.

On our Colorado trip I did some pretty intense reading on minimalism. Minimalism includes topics like “how to only own 100 items” and “how to fit your entire life into one backpack”, crazy stuff like that. Anyway, I’ve fallen for it like my wife fell for nunnery (or is it nun-hood?) and I’ve been trying to give away everything we own since we got back to Dallas. Thankfully Jen is rational (relative to me) and we still have items to sit/sleep on and food to eat, but I’m serious, things are getting REAL around here!

I’ll go more in depth on Thursday (we’re about to start long-post Thursdays…just warning the ADHD of you in advance) but for now the war is being waged. What do we really need? How do we control our stuff instead of the other way around? How do we not let the accumulation of household items get to the point that we need to buy more stuff just to store all the stuff we already own?

How can we not live this American dream we keep hearing about?

Answers coming Thursday. Or just more questions. I’m not sure yet.

P.S. – Note to self: stop quoting self in blog posts…

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A Letter

Dear God,

Yesterday at church I was helping out on the parking team and I watched a girl get out of her Infinity and walk into church wearing her TOMS shoes. The girl is probably a really sweet girl with a much bigger heart than mine but for a moment she was the object of my own self-aggrandizement. I patted myself on the back, not because I don’t have an Infinity (I can’t afford it) or a pair of TOMS (I look like a clown in TOMS), but because I don’t want them.

Then I realized that I don’t want a new house either, my 600 square-foot apartment will be just swell, thank you very much. I realized I don’t want a limitless gift card to the Nike and J. Crew outlets or a lifetime supply of Southern Tide or Vineyard Vines shirts. I realized I don’t need a new iPhone, in fact, God, I don’t even want a new iPhone.

I realized that as much as I would love to watch Oklahoma State go 12-0 in football some year and play for a title, it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things.

God, you made some really intelligent people who created this thing called the iPad. Apparently it makes Bible-reading much easier, but I don’t want one.

I got to thinking about it and I don’t really think sports are all that important either, which implies that fantasy sports are even less important. I realized I love sports, but sports don’t love me, and sports don’t actually matter eternally.

Oh, one more sports note, thank you for making that tract of land us humans named “Augusta” but I guess it’s not really that wonderful, you know, relatively speaking.

I realized that I don’t really want to be wealthy someday, or famous, or even moderately well-known. I don’t really care about those things. They’re vices, mostly. I don’t have much desire for power or what our depraved culture labels “success” for my marriage or family.

I realized that all I have any yearning for is you and my community of family and friends. I patted myself on the back a few more times at church last night for all these realizations. I’m so holy.

After I realized all that, I realized something else:

Every word I speak and action I take…
Every Tweet I proclaim and ‘like’ I click…
Every email I send and website I visit…
Every magazine I read and meal I eat…
Every phone call I make and conversation I have…
Every TV show I watch and thought I think…
Every single day I live, my life…

Says something vastly different from what I wrote above.

We’re worlds apart, you and me. Thank you for relentlessly shattering me with your grace.

Your son,
Kyle

P.S. Thanks for my wife Jen, she’s pretty cool. And she’s always reminding me of how unworthy I am before you. Do you think you could maybe, you know, get her to be a little less sweet about it though, it makes getting mad at her pretty hard. Thanks.

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iMarriage

I was listening to NPR yesterday (I warned you that would become a recurring theme) and they were discussing doctors and how they interact with their patients. My mind wandered from “ I wonder what the status is on medical integration of the iPad?” to “Man, I really want an iPad!” to “Hmm…I need to get my mom a birthday present in the next week or so…” to “Jen’s A/C just went out, I wonder if my mom will sell us one of her cars.” And then I was at work and the segment was over. So you can see what Jen is dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Thankfully, I did catch this (and I paraphrase because clearly I did not hear the actual quote):

“Doctors are being criticized for the amount of time they spend punching formulas and diagnoses into a computer compared to how much time they spend touching their patients.”

That sounded a LOT less creepy in my head.

Now you have no idea where this post is going.

And I might not either.

Here was my thought though: I spend so much time instant messaging Jen, texting Jen, and writing blog posts for Jen to check over that it takes away from my actual, real-people interaction with Jen. It’s a wonder we don’t text each other at the dinner table. Actually, I have a semi-confession…we do text each other from the other room sometimes (yes, our apartment is 600-ish sq. ft.)…I like to think it’s because we don’t want to interrupt each other but at least 35% of the time it’s just because we don’t want to get up and don’t feel like yelling back and forth between rooms.

Seriously though, I spend so much time with digital Jen that when we’re actually together in person my mind seems to say “wait, we already caught up with her, we already know what she did today” and tends to shut down, even if just a little bit. One solution could be fewer texts/emails/instant messages (one I should probably implement) but I think the bigger issue is sitting her down, sitting myself down and just staring at each other and talking.

Ayn Rand once said, “you can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”

I’d like to think the consequences of avoiding the reality of having good, solid conversation with my wife are trivial at best, but I know better. I know that my marriage should not be an iMarriage, lest I forget the deep, purposeful eyes of the woman I wed.

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Saturday Linkage

Today we have friends staying with us. They’re sleeping in our spare bedroom (the living room) on a fancy air-o-dynamic bed (an air mattress). We’re making sour cream pancakes and coffee, and having the kind of conversation that only early mornings can bring. Enjoy the links below and happy weekend.

New music we love: Quelqu’un M’a Dit. The album is in French so we have no idea what she’s saying, but we think it’s better that way.

The pentagon lost track of billions of dollars that were supposed to be used for reconstruction in Iraq. How, you ask? Check it out. We don’t even think they know.

We don’t have an iPad, or TV for that matter but, wow, it seems preposterous that this isn’t fake.

And of course we saved the best for last.

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