Regrets, simple pleasures & turning points

by Kristin on August 27, 2010

in Culture, ideas & paradigms

My simple-pleasure porch on my turning-point house.

I realize Halfway to Normal hasn’t been the happiest place this week. First I wrote a post on crying (which wasn’t meant to be a sad post at all, but it is about crying), and then I wrote a post about my friend Dan’s death—something I’ve been struggling to write about for nearly a month.

It’s hard to transition from such heavy topics to something ultra light, so I’m going to answer the 10 questions I asked you during my blogging hiatus (it’s only fair). The questions are halfway between light and deep. :)

If you haven’t answered these questions yet, I hope you will! Feel free to share your responses in the comments section of this post, and make sure you check out the responses on the original post. My readers comprise an amazing collection of thoughtful people—getting to know one another enriches the community we’re building.

1. What simple pleasure would you miss most if it was no longer a part of your life?

Sitting on my front porch with a cup of coffee. (You can’t tell in the photo, but there’s a little cafe table and chairs and also two rocking chairs on the porch. And my street is fairly active and entertaining.)

2. What was one of your prized possessions as a child or teenager?

My desk. It was a birthday present and it had a hinged fold-down writing surface and lots of little built-in stationery cubbies. I imagined I was a tiny bit like Jane Austin when I sat there and wrote.

3. Name a book you’ve read (or movie you’ve watched) multiple times.

Pride and Prejudice (I know, a cliche, but I read it multiple times before I knew it was a cliche!).

4. What is your current career/vocation? If you could try another one, what would it be?

I am a writer, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else. If I could try another vocation, for fun, I think I would try some sort of urban planning, from a community-building/sociology perspective.

5. If you could take a six-month sabbatical, where would you go and what would you want to do/learn/study?

I would pick 12 cities to visit, each for two weeks, conducting an in-depth interview with one “regular” person in each place. The general topic would be “How has your life not turned out like you expected/envisioned?” Then I would turn these in-depth interviews into a book.

6. In your opinion, what is the quintessential comfort food?

My mom’s lasagna.

7. What was a formative moment or turning point in your life?

There are many, of course, but a big one was making the decision to buy my house. Not only was it a leap of faith, as a single mom living on a freelancer’s salary, but it represented a decision to stop fighting against my circumstances, and instead see what I could make of them. My house became the first blessing of many to follow, after I turned that corner.

8. Do you have any regrets that are particularly difficult to shake?

I regret lots of little things, like not being confident enough to join the college newspaper staff my freshman year, not *really* learning a foreign language while I was in high school and college, and not applying to MFA creative writing programs when I was in my 20s, but I wouldn’t call them regrets I can’t shake. People might also assume that I have regrets around my first marriage, but I really don’t—I don’t regret marrying him, and I don’t regret our decision to get a divorce. I do wish, though, that we had been kinder to one another along the way.

9. If you could be really talented at a skill of your choice, what would it be?

I would love to be a good guitar player and song writer. I have a guitar and a lot of musical background (viola, voice, piano), but when it comes to lessons, practice, etc., music tends to take a back seat to other loves in my life.

10. If you had to choose one word to describe what you hope your life is like in 10 years, what would it be?


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  • Meredith

    I’m fascinated by your sabbatical book idea. It reminds me both of Story Corps and of a news show segment, maybe from CBS, where a reporter would throw a dart on a map, and then travel to that city or town and interview a random person. It was based on the idea that everyone has a story to tell.

  • Alise

    1. Simple Pleasure: Reading while sipping a glass of wine.
    2. Prized Possession: Tough call! Probably my scrapbook. I loved that thing and it held everything that was important to me.
    3. Repeat book: The three at the top of the list: Charlotte’s Web by EB White, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving & Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. Couldn’t say which has the most reads.
    4. Current Career: Musician, where I play keys in a cover band. Another? Midwife.
    5. Sabbatical: l’d love to seriously study music again. I play fine now, but I would love to devote 6 months to really work on my craft. Was a music major in college and would love some of that time back.
    6.Comfort Food: Pancakes/waffles. Covered in syrup. Nom.
    7. Formative Moment: Seriously cliche, but meeting my husband. I never thought I would marry/have kids, but when I met him, I knew I wanted to marry someone “just like him.” Imagine my surprise and joy when I got to marry the ACTUAL him!
    8. Regrets: I wish I could go back and do some parenting things differently. I was scared about what others thought and I didn’t always follow my instincts and I regret that a lot.
    9. Talented: I wish I could write better. I don’t think I completely suck, but I’m jealous of people who can craft words in a way that are really meaningful/memorable.
    10. One Word: Loving.

  • Sarah@ From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell

    1. My three English Springer Spaniels–Ginger Snap, Cupcake, Ophelia! They provide free entertainment which is essential in a small town. The only fun things in my town is watching the grass grow and paint peel unless you have vinyl siding. They just are natural smiles in my life.
    2. My own room…after years of sharing a room, then moving to the basement couch bed; I finally had in Woolf’s terms a room of my own(not really following Virginia Woolfs’ idea but sounded good).
    3. We agree on the Pride and Prejudice. Of course, my sister and I both loved it and forced my brother to watch it. He can quote the movie better than we can.
    4. I love teaching–always have. More specifically, literature, writing. I suppose if I changed my vocation that I would own a bookstore or coffee shop so that I could listen to people’s stories.
    5. I would spend a great deal of time trancing the steps of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Jane Austen through England.
    6.Mac and cheese…my secret recipe makes me feel better always
    7. In my undergrad, we had the long line for registering for classes. I thought I wanted to major in music, but as I approached the door, I had this epiphany that the next decision would be so grand, altering my course. I chose to major in English, and this choice set in motion my whole life now.
    8. I would say the only regrets I have are not getting my MA in English sooner, but I did finish this year. Taking a teaching position at a Christian school, but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met my husband. So, I have lingering what if’s, but I have hope that overcomes regrets.
    9. I would love to play the violin.
    10. Peaceful

  • Christine

    I’m afraid so many of these will be similar to what has already been written, but like minds do usually find each other!
    1. Reading!
    2. I loved my Barbie Townhouse! I remember the Christmas i received it and loved the elevator. However, after my parents divorce it did turn more into the House of Doom, and instead of using the elevator to move Barbie from floor to floor, i used it to crush her! Hmmm, you think i should tell my therapist???
    3. Pride & Prejudice! Surprise! (really like Persuasion too)
    4. i don’t think i would try another. I love being a pastor, if anything I would love to write as well. But i would add it to current profession and not change it.
    5. Easy – England! I want to see everything i have read about as well as the places my fave authors have lived and written.
    6. My own made up creation… Turkey Stuff. Great name huh? Anyway it’s just ground turkey over rice with onions, garlic, sage , tomatoes and green peppers. My family goes crazy over it. It’s something my roommates and i came up with in college and i have “Gourmet’ed” it over the years.
    7. Hmmm, i think the moment my therapist explained to me that i am not responsible for the feelings and choices others make. Huge Moment!
    8. No, not anymore!
    9. Writing
    10. Inspiring

  • Jen

    Your porch is beautiful. It looks like the perfect place to sip coffee and watch the street’s entertainment. :)

    I love the book idea for #5! How great that would be.

    And #7 is quite inspiring to me. I’ve been thinking a lot about moving lately, but the idea of living alone on a “non-profit radio girl” salary scares me. But how true that is… stop fighting circumstances, turn the corner, and go for it! Thanks for the inadvertent encouragement! :)

  • Kristin T.

    Meredith, yes! Everyone *does* have a story to tell. And when we share them with others, we all feel less alone. We can learn a lot from each other, too.

    Alise, I love A Prayer for Owen Meany, and have often thought that’s a good litmus test for friendship—that I’m sure to like others who love that book. (Time to get it out and read it again.) I love your formative moment story, and I’m glad you shared your regret—it is a great opportunity to encourage new parents to follow their instincts.

    Sarah, dogs are great entertainment—three dogs must be at least three times more fun! And yes to homemade mac and cheese. That was my runner-up comfort food. Your comment about regrets is so interesting and I think almost universally true. There are many things we perhaps should have done differently in the moment, but when we look back on them we wouldn’t change them, because they set into motion so many other things we wouldn’t want to give up. “Hope that overcomes regrets.” Exactly.

    Christine, it’s true—like minds do tend to find each other. :) I love hearing from people who seem content in their vocations. Such a blessing, isn’t it? I know many don’t feel that way, and feel really stuck. And your turning point is HUGE! I’m so glad you were able to embrace that truth and move forward with it (and now share it with others). It was a big moment for me when I was taught that feelings—both mine and others—are neither right or wrong. You can’t tell someone how they should or shouldn’t feel, and they can’t tell you. You can only try to understand *how* someone is feeling and move forward with that understanding.

    Jen, if only my porch was climate controlled! Then it would be perfect. (Yes, we’re back to high heat and humidity around here—last week, when I wrote the post, the weather was gorgeous.) I’m glad my turning point story could encourage you. I’m not going to give you financial advice, but I will say that if you open yourself up to what might happen, you very well could be surprised and blessed.