“Must be Nice” or … ‘First World Problems’

I went out on a sudden and unexpected date with my husband because we needed to talk. Upon my return, I started thinking of Valentine’s Day, and remembered a post half written. I finished it and dolled it up tonight. It was a promise to a friend.

I have a lot of those I need to come through on in the next couple months.


It’s a common thing you hear from bitter folks who either don’t want to spend money on Feb 13th, overworked waitspersons getting lousy tips because of the high incidence of restaurant drama, or other single people who look at you as if you are the one who instigated their last eight breakups with your fourth finger poison ring.

“Valentines Day is a day made up by a greeting card company to sell schmoopy stuff to the lovelorn” … or whatever. “The Hallmark Greeting Card company made it up …”

Stuff like that.

My husband and I don’t celebrate it. We had one picnic, one time, packed a little hamper and a bottle of Verve Clicquot and cheeses and stuff you’d get when you were in Napa when you go to that little grocer with the Rabbit on the sign before you drive out. We were very Upper Middle Class Countryside. We looked like we were doing a holiday the RIGHT way. I had done the correct prep as a wife; like something out of Real Simple magazine. I ROCKED. I was Beyond Reproach. Be very jealous, the string quartet reminded everyone.

Back in the real world, I had done what is known as “marrying well.” I married for love, but he liked computers (and me). The WHOLE WORLD likes computers though, and people who know stuff about computers get paid. Meanwhile, in Austin, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a songwriter, and even though I have heaps of theoretically marketable skills – I market myself about like this:

“hey, see this booger? it’s gonna play a show tonight. it doesn’t really feel like singing, but you’d be real surprised at the work it’s done lately. plus.. it’s a singing BOOGER. That’s got to count for something, right? I mean.. no one wants to LOOK at a booger… ” {trails off apologetically}

So it’s a good thing that I have a husband (you know, for the Marketable Skills – plus, his accent, although dwindling, amuses me), but other musicians in Austin are not so lucky and must do things like sling coffee, or secretarial skills, or their boobs, or computer skills (sling ’em if you’ve got em!) around.

I used to sling cigars, but that got to be complex for many reasons. Also husband enjoys cigars and having his wife sell them to him in his place of leisure is sorta lame. It rocked though. As much as jobs that aren’t me writing or playing music do and can.

Because the people were interesting, and I have no interest in staying at home, waiting for the next Hallmark Holliday to roll around so I can get my kiss from K.

Anyway, back to hallmark.

My marriage is good, and fun, and has lots of Perks that are not just about being able to not toss and turn wondering where the next two squares of ramen are coming from. But there are things that are not so much fun. We have to deal with:
1. I get sick a lot
2. being very private people and the joys and sometimes scrutinies this brings/has brought to our relationships
3. the inequity of having a marriage where one person feels completely and totally financially superfluous- because it’s true
4. hearing THAT PHRASE

“ooooooo … must be nice…”

The phrase “must be nice” could actually be collectively applied to everyone who lives here – from shore to shore. Actually, I’m not even really sure if that’s true. If you are currently reading this and you have a knife at your throat and are being raped… first of all, what the hell? Why are you reading my blog at a time like this? I never knew I had such a dedicated reader! I REALLY DO need to stop all this bitching! Is there anything I can do to help YOU!?

So it’s all relative, really, to the people in the other countries I forgot to mention because I was distracted by my hypothetical almost-maybe-rape-victim-reader who I don’t know how to help because I am too busy complaining about my problems. (that was horrible. but you get my point here… apologies for my bluntness.
I’m having First World Problems.)

Now. Comparing.

We have a RIGHT to complain about our problems. I’m sorry, but we do. Anytime we feel bad or scared or cold or depressed – I’m sorry folks, but that’s real.

We used to attend a church and we went and did some missonary work. For three months our lives became completely simplified (so we thought, that is another story). We had only what we carried with us in backpacks. We started to leave STUFF behind and give things away. There was very little bathing and eating dwindled down to a thing you did to get energy. Good yummy tastes were really poignant. A blessing.

This was before 9/11, so no one was looking at Americans with open hostility. I felt, loved. Cherished. My sister-in-law and a close guy friend of mine went to Egypt while my husband and another guy went to Jordan and while we were there in a weird part of town .. I felt something. I felt this curiosity. From one person.

I did not discuss this with anyone. There was a language barrier. But I felt as though there was this KNOWING that our lives were very complicated. That we had a bunch of CRAP to sort through. That where life was simpler, life could be lived more simply. And I don’t know much, but I know that things are CERTAINLY not that way in America.

I am not going to go into that thing where I start in on us and get on my soapbox about our pills and our therapists. I think every society should have access to medical care and doctors and professionals.

WARNING: This is rated PG-13 to R for language, but is a FANTASTIC video… and has a GREAT message.

Back to the concept though. Of these “First World Problems”

No. Life is not always nice. My week has not been fine. My LIFE has not been fine. It’s been circumstantially blessed though. And this I know. I have lost quite a bit in the last year or two, and a whole lot in the last four years – but many people go through these hits, it’s part of life. Humans the world over grieve. My cousin works in the medical field and she was talking about some of the devastating things that she sees. Yes. This did inspire me to be better.

But dying women think of chocolate and coffee. And dying men talk about loves lost and found. And all you can do is connect with people and be on the same side.

A good friend of mine that I respect and for all practical purposes, it’s look like I’ve blown him off for other things – wrote a song. He’s written several amazing songs. But this is one of my top two favorites. It’s actually CALLED ‘First World Problems.’

I owe him a Watermelon Video. I haven’t forgotten. That’s not a first world problem, but it’s a first world solution.

That, and some lists, and a better attitude and a good honest assessment of my real human problems – with some time to grieve them as I do my work and shy from wallowing; is a start.

Thanks Travis.

“don’t mean to sound ungrateful
Everyone will need to forgive me
But do we ever stop merely surviving
And actually start living…

Start living.”

-from ‘First World Problems’ Governing Dynamics

(the cartoon is from Gary Larsen’s ‘Far Side’ comic series; and was copied from a blog. It is most likely NOT in the public domain, so I encourage you to go to your bookstore or amazon or someplace like that and buy as many books by this artist as you possibly can because he is a genius.)

“Must be Nice” or … ‘First World Problems’

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