Jelly

Just lately, I’ve come into a whole lotta luck. My famously frugal husband has opened his wallet and money, for the first time in our married life, spills. “Buy it.” “Get it.” “Take it.” These are words I’ve seldom heard.

I’ve always been jealous (also envious) although I didn’t always KNOW I was. The first time I saw a friends’ new house, a modest ranch, I tried to throw myself out of the moving car after we left. I was quite drunk at the time. And the action was more drama than a serious attempt at self-annihilation. For years I thought of that episode and couldn’t quite make out what had been wrong with me. (Besides the fact that I’d had one too many Cherry Kijafa and Coke.)

As our friends all moved into bigger houses with walk-in closets and jet tubs, we stayed put in our starter home, which I have loved all the more for being a little run-down, a little old-fashioned, and having entirely too many stairs. All my life I have wanted a nice tidy ranch, and what I got was a quad-level (with no window treatments) and a tri-level (tricked out with a splendid addition about ten years ago.)

We re-did the kitchen a year before the granite craze but managed to get in a nice wood floor in our big but cozy dining room. So, I have been content here. I have loved my house despite all it’s drawbacks. And I finally figured out what was going on with me and my friends’ more palatial abodes. I was envious of the friend who ordered new furniture on a yearly basis, jealous of the built-in bookshelves and the working fireplaces. I was jelly, as the California kids say.

This realization happened not over houses, but writers. There came a point in my life, maybe a year or so ago, when I knew I was never going to be Dan Brown. Not even Danielle Steel. I would not make money from my writing, it would not save me from a more conventional career (teaching), and nobody was ever going to say “I’m going to make you  a star!”

The star quote is something a popular writer actually told me her agent and editor, who had picked her out of Harlequin Alley, told her. Never mind star, New York ignored me. Harlequin was kind; I’ve learned a great deal from their various rejections over the years, from “you need to learn your craft” to “this is a bigger book than a romance.”

Full of jelly over a friends’ new book contract? Want the house Nora Roberts built? Wish you lived on the ocean in Kauai with a private plane to whisk you away when weather forecasts a hurricane? Here’s what you do. Make your sandwich. See how the jelly wobbles and squirts out while the peanut butter sticks to the bread? Jelly is sugar. Not good for you. Peanut butter is protein and it will make you stronger.

This is the last post I’ll be writing from my sweet old house. Next week, I’ll be moving into the ranch of my dreams. With a whole bunch of new stuff. And in late August, after finishing my next book, I’ll be back in the classroom.

17 Comments on “Jelly

    • Thanks Pam. It’s amazing that we are doing this. When other friends moved into condos, we were always “why are they doing that?” but then we did it:)

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  1. I love this post, Cindy. Slow and steady wins the race are the words that just came to mind, except you have so much more than that:) The peanut butter metaphor is perfect! Congratulations on sticking with it. Enjoy it all ~

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  2. Thanks ladies! Honestly, I could have gone on about my various jellies: this girlfriend’s gorgeous skin, that one’s toned tummy, the other who has the kind of husband who takes her to Carmel, California for an anniversary…when it comes down to it, I’m okay with who I am. A little chunky, white as a ghost, and probably cooking that anniversary dinner myself:)

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    • My sweet aunt wese, thank you! Your support means so much to me. I still remember when you and Aunt Donna had that book of my poems printed up! My first book:)

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  3. I love this post, too. It’s life, isn’t it? We make some things happen, other things, we just watch from the sidelines. But learning to be okay with it all — and ourselves — is so huge. Whatever the situation. I’m getting there, slowly. Glad you have arrived, Cindy!

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  4. To paraphrase a CEO: “Every morning, I look to see if I’m in Amazon’s top 100 authors. If not, I start writing.”

    Not really, but everyone has their own measure of success. For me, it’s making enough that the spouse lets me write more. 😛

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  5. Cindy — What a perfect essay, magazine-worthy in my view! This is the wisdom of midlife, although I daresay some people never quite get it. It’s hard not to fall into the jelly jar. These days, everyone is presenting larger-than-life “images” on FB, while magazines and TV shows are more over-the-top than ever.

    Most of us have relatively nice, comfortable lives … yet our culture continues to try to turn us into jelly. It takes a very strong woman to see through it all and embrace what she has. And you have a rich, full life, I can tell!

    Three cheers on your new book contract! And hey, I still think you’re a rising star!

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