Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Opting Out of the American Dream

Growing up, I had the notion, a lie given to me by society, that I would graduate from high school, go to college, and, upon graduation, have a good job, a nice career, and live happily ever after, maybe with a nice house, white picket fence, and 2.5 kids for good measure.  Boy, was I hoodwinked!

I did my part.  I graduated from high school with good grades, went on to the University of Michigan, graduated with nearly 3.0 (2.94, actually, but who's counting), started looking for jobs long before I graduated, but didn't find one.  Graduated, kept looking, still didn't find one.  Finally, to make money doing something, I took a job canvassing for a non-profit.  I enjoyed the work, but during that time, I ended up pregnant by one of my co-workers, not by choice (as in, I had a very strong drink at a bar called Heaven in Cleveland, don't remember most of what happened that night, woke up from being passed out in the hotel room about 5 in the morning with a dick in me, and found out a few weeks later I was pregnant.  Note added 3/5/11:  For anyone that doesn't know, when someone has sex with you without your consent, like in this scenario, THIS IS RAPE.  I'm not giving out more information on a "one night stand" than anyone needs to know, as one reader stated.  THIS IS RAPE.  This was a seriously traumatic experience in my life that shaped much of what came after.  The only reason this guy isn't rotting in jail is that acquaintance rape isn't understood by a lot of people, including those serving on police forces and juries, so I wasn't going to go through the pain that would result from a failed attempt to prosecute on top of everything else I was dealing with!).  After that, it became harder and harder to work there with my son's father and eventually, I quit (even though I would have had a damn good sexual harassment case, I cared too much about the work the non-profit did to sue).  From then, even though I still was looking for that mythical "good job after college", it was crappy near minimum wage job to crappy near minimum wage job.  Eventually, I realized that the "good job" I felt I was promised by my college degree didn't exist and stopped looking.  I ended up falling in love and getting married, we had a few kids, and I decided I didn't care.  And, in December, I took the final step of quitting what hopefully with be my last crappy near minimum wage job ever.  Actually, I hope that it is my last job ever, period!

I realized that I don't fit into society as it is portrayed and I was going to stop trying to fit in a role I never would fit in.  I've never felt like I belonged, so I started to really embrace that.  I am who I am and I have a right to be happy with who that person is.  I'm going to do everything I can to make sure I stay true to who that person is, and I don't think that means working for someone else.  My family is the most important thing to me, so that is where I focus my energies and attentions on, but not just in the "normal" sense.  I'm taking it to a whole new level, as you may see from time to time in this blog.

"What about money?" one might ask.  Well, that's where a lot of this extreme thriftiness comes from.  When you don't have to buy hardly anything, you don't need nearly as much money.  We don't have to buy much in the way of food, clothes, or other things largely because of my resourcefulness, and when we do, at this point, we still have my husband's income.  I say "still" because he is considerably older than me (16 years) and will probably want to or need to retire at some point.  By that time, I hope that the rest of my plan is in place.

Forget the "American dream"; I have my own dream now.  I want to build an Earthship for my family, somewhere in my native Michigan, grow all our own food, have some chickens and goats for eggs and milk, have some acreage for hunting and fishing if we want to.  I want to grow enough food that I can sell some at farmers' markets and spend my winters making crafts to sell at my market booth and maybe at craft shows.  I want to finally write a book or two.  I want to keep blogging as long as you people will support me at that so I can share my adventures and hopefully inspire someone else to live their own dream.  I doubt I'll ever be rich living my dream, but I'll be happy and really, that's the most important dream of all.


  1. I support you, Chris! I love your new dream! You go girl!

  2. You have a growing fan club here in Fl. You are an inspiration to those of us that are feeling the oppression of the "American dream".

  3. Here in Australia, it's pretty much the same as in America.
    I love the sound of your dream, it's pretty close to mine!
    Good luck with working on yours. :) I look forward to hearing about your journey.

  4. Ok,so I'm in Michigan as well,but you can add me to your growing list of followers. :)

    After reading this,I think we follow a similar path.I am who I am,my neighbors might think I'm nuts for planting fruit tress and grapevines,but I don't really care.

    I am an Urban Homesteader! Working toward growing as much of my own food as possible,mostly because I like knowing what went into the foods I choose to eat.

    OOooohh,I'll stop now before I get on a really good ramble. :)

  5. I'm one of those that have always just wanted to be a mom...stay at home mom, for that matter. Right now, I have to work though. It kills me. I hate letting other people raise my kids and when I do get home all I want to do is sleep! When my husband finishes his schooling though (and before this baby comes), we plan on me going back to being a stay at home mom. We're working on building and growing our own garden this summer/spring. I also have been trying to start sewing on the side (just too exhausted much of the time now to do it) to help out a little with bills. Eventually we'll buy our own place, which will also cut down on bills. We do what we can, but sometimes you just do what you can to survive the moment!

  6. Very true about doing what you can to survive, but I think it is important to keep our dreams in mind at the same time and keep working on our dreams, pushing them forward as best as we can, while we do what we have to. Sure sounds like you're doing that!

  7. Thank you for sharing...I too have always felt since growing up in the biggest city of Canada, that i never just was like the next person, or could fit into that "mould" that was expected of me. I knew, and my mother did too, that we were meant for life on the farm, living simple, thrifty, and so on....My motto has been "Less is Best"...and find that to be so true as life goes on. I just have one question for you, how did you make the big voyage to Australia from the States? Thanks for stopping in on my new blog...i'm just new at it all, i've been doing blogging i guess pretty much on facebook, and didn't know it....Good luck with all your goals!

  8. Disregard my question about Australia...i am confusing you with Mamamia from sorry, bare with me....thank you, Rosemary