Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Long Term Effects

GEY84MF792BM (please ignore)

The question was innocent enough. I mean, I realize that it’s something people want to know. But I’ve actually never been asked this question point blank…. up front…. in my face. And I was completely stymied. And a little bit freaked out.
The question was: “what is your long-term plan?”

The husband of a friend made this query as we were talking on Skype. They are coming to visit France this summer and we were talking rental cars, train schedules, and hotels. She had to leave the computer for a minute and he and I started talking. That’s when he dropped the bomb.

And it felt like a bomb. Really. My girlfriends and family have asked this question before, but in a much more roundabout way. And when such a question is asked that way, it’s easy to contemplate and answer in an equally roundabout fashion. Such is not the case with “what is your long-term plan?”. Geez, leave it to a man!

And he really expected an answer. How do I reply to a question like that?

“No, but eventually I’ll think of something’? Or…..

“Yes, and it involves crossing my fingers and hoping something comes along?” Or….

“I trust in the Universe to take care of me.”

When my answer is staring me in the face like that, I sound like a complete dimwit! And I really have never thought of myself as stupid. At least until yesterday.

I had a long-term plan once. And according to that plan my 2 children would be out of college, debt free and beginning their new lives with decent jobs.  My ex-pectorant and I would be re-discovering each other and watching our big fat retirement account grow so that in about 3 years we could retire and travel…anywhere!  In the meantime, I would be happily working part-time, spending the remainder of my time at the millions of things I love to do, and thoroughly enjoying my comfortable…. mundane existence.

As it turned out… it didn’t turn out. The boys are STILL in school and the college money is used up. Ex-pec is gone (thank God) and it turns out he spent the retirement account and doesn’t even really LIKE to travel. So much for long-term planning!  I’ve become something of a skeptic.

I googled the phrase  “long-term plan” this morning. This is apparently something REALLY IMPORTANT. There were 87 pages of articles related to said subject. Most of these involved money, retirement…. money, retirement…oh yes and a little bit more about money and retirement. Oh shitballs...that tedious subject again?

There is a Chinese proverb that says  “He, who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years”.

On the other hand, Confucius, who was also Chinese, said, “ A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door”.

Hey, Chinese wise men…make up your mind!

Mike Tyson (intelligent and wise man that he is) said, “Everyone has a plan - until they get punched in the face”.

But to quote E.B. White (and I’m running with this one), “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.”

My long-term plan really consists of all the things I’m not going to do. That’s all. I’m not going to leave France and go back to the U.S. until I want to. I’m not going to work at another job that gives me a stomachache and causes me to lose sleep on a nightly basis. I’m not going to marry someone who is comfortable but boring as hell. …in fact, I don’t see a reason to marry at all. And I’m not going to have a retirement fund. These things I know.

So, in answer to your question, my friend, I have a long-term plan but not in the conventional sense. I know it’s unwise and I know I sound like a simpleton. I also know I’m a little afraid of not having a real one. But to quote myself (after all, this is my blog):

They say you only get one shot at life. I'm not sure if that is true but I am sure that I don't want to waste this one. And I am also sure that life never turns out the way we planned and good planning doesn't necessarily make a good life. Sometimes we just have to jump off the edge.


  1. We need to meet! Once upon a time I had a long-term plan, too. It's now living in Thailand with a 30 something Thai babe... no wait, he left her and is now living in Thailand with a 30 something Chinese babe. He's 10 yrs older than me and I'll be 57 this year. My kids (ok, they're his kids too) don't even like to think about it. My daughter has done nothing but runaway since the divorce, first to Africa for over 2 yrs (lived in a hut with no running water and no electricity) and now to LA. My son is still in college to the tune of $30,000 a year and I am praying he graduates this spring but he's thinking more along the lines of this summer.

    My long-term goal? Love myself, value myself, take good care of me, know in my heart God has another plan and hopefully find a man who I love dearly and he feels the same, and have great sex til the cows come home. If the man doesn't show up... I've got Bubba in my top drawer and it vibrates!!

    Yes, it is sad that our lives did not end up the way we expected them to end up. But, aren't we lucky we had great children. And aren't we lucky we are amazing women with much to give. We should travel the world and interview middle-aged women everywhere and ask them what they think of their lives now, as opposed to how they started out. I think we would find even more amazing women who have learned to love themselves when others did not.

    "You may not want me, but I want me!" were my last words to him as I walked out the door. 5 years later it still holds true and that is my long term goal.

  2. I love you blog! It has become one of my Favs as you are doing what i wish I could! i especially loved todays post as it has been in issue in our home as of late, what are we going to do when we give up the jobs? CAN we give up our jobs is more like it! But heck I don't want to be a 75 year old waitress at some horrid Dennys with heavy makeup and orthopedic shoes, Oh how I shudder at the thought! i want to be on a Swiss mt top or the french Cote d' Azure soaking up the sun.....You Dear Lady are living my "Dream"!

  3. Delana, I couldn't agree more. Although this post gives me good food for thought .....

    E.B. White & I are certainly on the same page planning-wise. I've always relied on others for "that stuff". Now that I'm on my own though with only a few short years of alimony left to live off of, even E.B. would have to recognize that I need a plan.

    Surely it's the happy medium that is best? And btw Delana, your "plan" is the happy-medium!

    So thanks for the heads-up. I'm gonna come-up with an answer to that question ...even if it doesn't come from "someone's husband who doesn't have the capacity to understand me and who looks upon me as some sort exotic yet wholly impractical zoo creature and who in complete truth is afraid of me" (did I nail that?) life must be quietly asking me what my long-term plan is or else I wouldn't have called my blog "You Must Take Your Chance", right?

  4. oh it's good to hear from you all...
    MAWB:yes, the ramifications from a situation like ours are like roots..forever reaching out to in an attempt to wrap around everything in their path...and squeeze! And with adult children it almost seems harder. But I am truly of the mindset that in spite of all the that has been left behind, it all happened for a wonderful reason, and I'm happy to know that outside of my "planned" life, I have the capacity to live a much more interesting and fulfilled existence. Maybe not MY plan...but somebody's. And our children will eventually learn from that. And as for Bubba, he's travelled the distance with me! I wish, however, that I held your belief in love (I believe in it...just not for me).
    Ginger: So glad you are here. Bienvenue. The question for me has been how can I live on very little (the answer has been in the garbage cans of Aix en Provence but that's another post) and can I live without all that I am accustomed to without losing my quality of life. The amazing thing is I've discovered a new "quality of life" and je suis vraiement contente! And, in fact, I'm going to spend several weeks on a Swiss mountain top in March.
    And Laurie: E.B. White wrote for a living. We need to figure out a way to make this a part of our plan! I don't know if you nailed my friend's husband. He's a genuinely interested person but I think he's a man... and this is a man question. When I posted this story on my facebook page, I got plenty of responses from women that were very supportive. But my cousin responded "from a man (and a pilot).....the takeoff and the flight are great! its the landing that can get messy!" A man's point of view is, as we all know, so different from our own oftentimes. Therein lie the problems as well as the attraction.
    All in all, I think a group of women, working for the travel channel (or any other), traveling the globe, asking middle aged women in depth questions...and getting paid for it...would solve all these dilemmas. Okay girls...there lies our challenge.

  5. This got me to thinking 'what is my long term plan'. However bearing in mind I am now in my early fifties perhaps 'long' is not the best word to use.

    Plans never work out, things hoped for sometimes turn out to be disappointing, people suddenly arriving in one's life throw the plans out of the window. In short, no plans seem the best sort of plans to have.

    Just wait and see what happens to you. If someone would have once told me that I would leave London and move to the French countryside, well I never would have believed them at all.

    A great blog post incidentally - and I'm with Ginger - your blog has quickly become on of my favourites as well

  6. Couldn't agree more with your last statement! Jump in, hang on, and enjoy the ride!! I seen people who plan their lives away, literally! They're so busy planning that they forgot to actually LIVE and ENJOY it! I'm with you, ride it out, and enjoy the twists and turns!

    Great post! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog! Great to have you!


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