Archive | July, 2011

Jul
31
2011
I’m Still Yawning

I’m not in the best frame of mind to write a post, particularly about the sleep experiment. But I’ll start with the positives of week 1:

  • The first two nights, I turned off all screens by 11pm and was in bed before midnight.
  • My average bedtime (12:39am) was about 40 minutes earlier this week than last week.
  • I was generally more aware of the time at night.
  • I got out of bed before 8am (considerably so except for Friday) every day except today.

But:

  • I didn’t really get more sleep this week. I got up earlier for work, to run, etc… than usual. So I averaged 6 hours per night this week, the same as last week.
  • By Friday morning, my body revolted and I got up an hour late for work. So I had to stay late on Friday, which I hate doing.
  • I took a big step back last night. It’s tempting to blame it all on Dave, so I will! He was three hours late in getting home and didn’t call (bad Dave!) and I was worried. And the later it gets/more tired I get, the harder it is to stop picturing him in a ditch somewhere. So I didn’t get to bed until past 3am, after he was safely home (and I’d killed him).
  • I couldn’t drag my ass out of bed until after 10 this morning and I was starving, so Dave and I went out for breakfast, in lieu of my official “Happy Fun Time.” Going out was pleasant, but I hate the (oh so familiar) feeling of having burned so many daylight hours sleeping. And I’m upset with myself for screwing up my frigging Happy Fun Time the very first week (the irony of being so irritated over something I call Happy Fun Time is not lost on me).
  • Worst of all, my eye pressure/cluster headache isn’t gone, and I was more aware of feeling tired this week than I’ve been in a while.

Disturbingly, I also almost passed out at work on Thursday. I was standing for awhile at a retirement party (during which it took all my strength to stop from grabbing my soon to be ex-colleague’s pant leg and begging her to take me with her) and in the middle of a conversation with my boss, I got that tingly, hot (and not in a good way), light-headed feeling I’ve learned from embarrassing past experience means “sit the fuck down right now.” So I had to interrupt my boss to say I didn’t feel well and needed to sit. Smooth. Later when I tried to make light of it by saying “I’m a delicate little flower,” my boss’ response was “you look pretty sturdy.” If she’d said that 15 pounds ago, I probably would have cried.

In summary, I’d rate my sleep performance this first week as in need of improvement. I definitely think I can do better next week. I’d like to average 7 hours of sleep this week. Wish me luck.

Jul
29
2011
Photo Friday: Cupcakes I Didn’t Eat

Dave and I went to a members-only celebration for the Kids’ Farm at the National Zoo last Sunday morning. We like the zoo, but it was supposed to be 8 million degrees that day and Kids’ Farm implied many, many children. But there would also be free Georgetown Cupcakes. We have our priorities.

We stood in a long line, sweating. We got a free peach, a buy one get one free card from Chipotle, a cookie from Firehook, and…Georgetown Cupcake ran out of cupcakes TWO PEOPLE AHEAD OF US. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t watched a grown man take his free cupcake, use the wrapper to scrape off all the frosting, and then eat only the cupcake. Dude, if you don’t want it, give the damn thing to me. Freak.

We went to 2Amy’s for lunch after (finally got to try their donuts, they were just OK, not sweet enough for me). We got there a few minutes before they opened so we stopped by a little cupcake place across the street while we waited. They were kind enough to let me take a picture. Even though the cupcakes looked very good, we managed not to buy any. I thought we’d go back for some after lunch, but we were too full. Maybe next time…here is the only good picture I took all day and the closest I got to a cupcake.

 

Jul
27
2011
Is It Wrong For A Woman To Not Want Children?

Hopefully this post won’t make me sound too defensive, because I’m feeling a little defensive. It’s the Today Show’s fault.

Today @ChildfreeOnline tweeted about a woman’s childfree status starting a Facebook argument. The article was interesting, and I agree with the author, Lilit Marcus, that “it shouldn’t be important whether a woman has children or not.” But what really got me about the piece was the link to a video segment about Lilit’s decision to remain childfree from yesterday’s Today Show. The video was titled: Is it wrong for a woman to not want children?

Unfortunately, the video wouldn’t load for me at work, so I worked myself into a tizzy before I got to see it. I know it’s the Today Show’s job to be provocative (good job, Today! I am provoked!), and admittedly, once I was finally able to watch the video, the actual piece was nicely done and never actually discussed that ridiculous title question. But seriously, why ask that question at all?

Please tell me y’all think that is a ridiculous question with only one correct answer right?

Just think about the following two wording changes for this question.

1.) Is it wrong for a woman to not want wine?

Here I go with the childfree food analogies again. I can’t stand wine. Tastes like poison to me. This might make me a bit unusual, and wine aficionados might want to answer “yes” to this question, but everyone knows the correct answer is “no.” Some people like wine, some people don’t. Some wine drinkers prefer white, others prefer red. None of these preferences signal a human character deficiency.

2.) Is it wrong for a man to not want children?

Doesn’t this question sound ridiculous? This is how ridiculous the original Today Show question sounds to me. I realize that there are many men who want children and who are deeply involved in raising their children. That’s fabulous. But it’s more fabulous that no one makes an issue (outside of their families I suppose) about whether or not men want kids. Men with children who didn’t want them are called deadbeats. Men without children who don’t want them are called men.

Why would we even question women who don’t want children?

As it turned out, The Today Show segment was fair. Sarah Brokaw, therapist and author of Fortytude, profiled Lilit Marcus and her decision not to have kids. After the profile, Ann Curry interviewed Sarah and Laura Scott, author of Two is Enough. And all three women did a nice job.

Sarah did start to lose me with all the talk of a “calling,” and I wish she hadn’t felt the need to end with a statement about how women can relate to children in ways other than motherhood.

It reminded me of the blog post on Sarah’s book website that one of the bloggers I read, Sara at Periwinkle Papillon, was kind enough to Tweet me last week.

It was an interesting post, and I’m curious to read Brokaw’s book now. Reading the post sensitized me to Brokaw’s proclivity for the word “calling,” which I came to find pushes my buttons. The focus of the blog post was on television personality, Rachael Ray, and her “different calling in life.”

Lately, it seems I’ve been hearing the “look at the celebrities who have chosen the childfree lifestyle” argument more and more. I appreciate these attempts to argue for the validity of the choice. I also understand why people point to Oprah or Rachael Ray or other celebrities to make the argument. They are well-known, respected, and admired women.

But they are also extraordinary.

So I’m not sure it sets the right tone. Choosing not to have kids is “OK” because Oprah’s not doing it either? Because Rachael Ray had another “calling?”

But I realized after the Today Show segment that the celebrity angle wasn’t really what was bothering me. It was the notion, even coming from someone who seemed sympathetic to the childfree choice, that the decision would leave a hole that needed to be filled with a calling.

I can’t help feeling a little resentment bubble up with the implication that it might be “OK” to choose a childfree lifestyle only if I’m extraordinarily productive or giving or successful. If I replace the calling of motherhood with a similarly deep and meaningful calling. If I find another way to “relate to children.”

That’s just not the way I look at it. I’m a regular person, who happens not to want children. There are a growing number of us, from me to Lilit Marcus to Oprah. No big whoop. I don’t see this as a calling, but rather as a preference, a choice.

I’m not doing what I do in lieu of being a mother. I’m just living my life and trying to have a reasonably enjoyable one.

I’m trying to be a loving wife to Dave; to be a good daughter to my Mom; to take good care of my dog; to be a productive and competent employee; to be a reasonably informed citizen; to be a better friend, sister, and aunt; to express myself through blog posts that hopefully might entertain a couple of people…all  while simultaneously trying to take decent care of myself, be a nice person, and carve out some time to just sit on my front porch and read a damn book already.

I feel like my hands are pretty full with that, so changing the world hasn’t made it onto my to-do list.

What is so wrong with this? Why would it upset anyone that some women might choose not to have children (or choose not to marry, or choose to marry another woman)? Why would anyone care whether or not I relate to children?

Could I be doing more with my life? Sure I could. We all could.

Could we start by dampening down the judgment a little? The expectations? I could certainly stand to do that too.

Let’s all do it. Let’s all care a wee bit less about how other people live their lives, OK?

What do you think? Am I just being too sensitive?

Jul
26
2011
No One Likes Running, Except Maybe Me

Feeling Andy Roddick’s Pain

No one was more surprised or pleased by Andy Roddick’s run to the 2009 Wimbledon final than me. In the fifth set of the final, Andy had to serve second. With each service game, he had to hold on for dear life. 5-all, 6-all, 7-all, 8-all, 9-all, 10-all, 11-all, 12-all, 13-all, 14-all…ten times Andy held serve to stay in the match.

I played with my hair. I readjusted the pillow under my knees. I squinted at the television and willed Andy to hit another ace. I cared about the outcome too much to enjoy the match.

Finally a couple of errant forehands, Federer’s fifteenth major title, tears.

What if that was it, Andy’s last chance to win Wimbledon?

I glanced down at my elevated knee. I felt bad for Andy Roddick, but I knew my tears weren’t only for him.

Couch to Half Marathon to Couch

Nine months earlier, in October 2008, I started the Couch to 5K program for what seemed like the 800th time. In February 2009, I finally completed it.

In April 2009, I started training for my first half marathon, a goal I had set several years before. On June 14, 2009, I ran 9 miles and finally believed I could run the Presque Isle Half Marathon.

On June 27, 2009, the back of my left knee felt a little sore after my 10 mile training run. Two days before the 2009 Wimbledon final, I went out for my last long training run of 12 miles anyway. It felt fine, great actually…until I stopped running.

Once I slowed to a walk, I had to fling my left leg out straight to the side and around in order to move forward. When I leaned back and reached out my left hand to grab my ankle for a quad stretch, no amount of effort could make my leg bend that much. Once home, climbing each stair brought an audible, mechanical, just wrong click.

What about the race?

Some Stages of Grief

While Roddick kept holding serve, anything was possible. I still had a couple of weeks. Maybe if I kept my knee elevated, iced regularly, and rested it, I’d be OK for the half.

When Roddick lost, I was filled with dread, for him and for me. My doctor confirmed several days later with the words “fluid behind the kneecap…” and “four to six weeks of rest…” and when I still wasn’t hearing it, “I’m not going to forbid you to run, but I think you would be crazy to try it.”

The evening after I saw the doctor, I tried it anyway. I limped one mile on the treadmill at the gym just to be sure. And I was sure. I cried the whole way home. The day I had planned to fly to Erie, I kept checking the status of my flight until my plane landed in Erie without me on it. I checked the weather there on the morning of the race; perfect conditions.

More tears.

I have never shed as many tears as I did during the five months I couldn’t run, particularly during the two months it took to get any real answers about how serious my injury was.

No One Likes Running

I remember reading a blog post at Bodies in Motivation before my injury that really resonated with me. It was a motivational piece arguing that no one likes running so you just have to go out and do it instead of saying you hate it and you can’t.

I’d be lying if I said I hopped out of bed for each long run bright-eyed and bushy-tailed during the nine months I ran before I hurt myself. I’m a champion complainer. I’m sure most of my friends thought I hated running and was only doing it to lose weight given my capacity for bitching and moaning about it.

I’m not sure I would have disagreed with them either. I did start running to lose weight. It was hard. I did not particularly enjoy it at first. When the alarm went off at 6am on a Saturday, when the D.C. heat and humidity wilted me like a delicate flower, when I came across a hill, when I had to go to the bathroom and there wasn’t one, I’d mutter to anyone and no one: “Why do I do this?”

Why I Do This

The five months I couldn’t run answered that question. As happy as I was to be able to start running again after physical therapy, it’s still always hard to get myself out of my comfortable bed to exert myself. I still always take my sweet time “getting ready.” I still always have to force myself out the door. But once I get going something magical happens, and once I’m done I am so pleased with myself. Why do I run?

  • Freedom: Running represents time I give myself, with nowhere else to be, nothing else I have to do;
  • Efficiency: Even the slowest jogging pace keeps my heart rate in a good aerobic zone, while the fastest walking pace I can muster without my feet going numb doesn’t even yield the low-end of my target heart rate;
  • Exploration: Running has allowed me to see much more of the area in which I live and places I have visited;
  • Movement: I’m not particularly graceful or fast, but I love the feeling of being propelled only by my own power;
  • Pride: I love the accomplishment of setting out to do something difficult and then doing it. Every time I tackle a distance I haven’t tried before, I wonder can I do this? Then I’m amazed when I can. I feel so badass with the knowledge that Dave can drop me 10 miles from our house, and I can make it home in a couple of hours;
  • Peace: Running gives my usually frantic mind a much-needed rest, it gives me clarity and focus. It is almost like meditation for me. Running also makes me feel better generally. It’s not hard to tell when I haven’t run in a few days;
  • Results: I’ve been able to go from the couch to running 13.1 miles without stopping. I’ve been able to improve my 5K pace from 13 minute miles to about 10 minute miles. And yes, running has helped me lose weight and keep it off.

Jul
24
2011
Emergency Sleep Experiment

Even though I am a night owl and love the evenings and late nights as they stretch out before me, I need sleep more.

Since I started getting up earlier a few months ago, I’ve lost focus. I’m scatterbrained (more than usual!) and have difficulty making decisions. A couple of weeks ago, I missed my metro stop on the way to work, which I never do. Later that same commute, I walked into traffic turning into me because I thought the green arrow meant I could walk. Oops.

So my brain is mush.

I’m also cranky. If you know me, you know being cranky isn’t all that unusual for me, but I’ve been especially cranky. And also sensitive–quick to turn every interaction into a rejection of me as a person. Basically, a joy to be around (if anyone ever were around which isn’t often since no one likes me–see what I did there with the example sensitiveness?!?)

I’m also just sick and tired of everything. While it’s quite possible that some things in my life need shaking up (I’m looking at you, work), I’d rather think about this with a brain that works instead of one that forgets the meaning of important traffic signals.

Add to all that a week-long bout of left eyelid twitching followed by a most unwelcome four-day (and counting!) cluster headache focused near my left eye, and you’d think my body is trying to tell me something…

I’m still functioning, doing my job, living my life, getting by quite well, considering, but I don’t want to get by. I don’t want to live in crisis mode when there’s no crisis other than I can’t get my ass into bed.

So even though I’ve had no luck dealing with my compulsion to stay up late for over 20 years, this is an emergency. Since I’m a social scientist, I thought I could make this fun by turning it into an experiment.

Introducing the Emergency Sleep Experiment!

What would happen if I could just make myself go to bed earlier for a couple of weeks? Would I feel better? Would I have more energy? Would my focus improve? Would I stop being so cranky and sensitive? Would I stop hating people? Would this fucking cluster headache and eye twitching go away? Would there be world peace and a baby red panda delivered to my door?

I don’t know. Let’s find out, shall we?

The rules of the Emergency Sleep Experiment:

1.) Go upstairs by 11pm.

2.) No screens after 11pm (not even you, O Delectable iPad!).

3.) Lights out by midnight.

4.) Get up by 8am, even on weekends (trying to “catch” up on sleep during weekends backfires on me)

5.) Institute “Happy Fun Time” to delay gratification from weeknights to a weekend morning.

Number 5 is the critical piece. Sheer willpower (it’s 11pm, just go to bed!) isn’t going to work. So the idea behind “Happy Fun Time” is to “bank” time I now spend watching TV, blogging, etc… during the wee hours of my weekday evenings and moving that time to a weekend morning. When I don’t want to go to bed, hopefully it will work to tell myself I’ll be able to spend Saturday or Sunday morning doing whatever I damn well please. Hopefully the promise of the “Happy Fun Time” will get my ass out of bed on weekend mornings.

Starts tonight. So I need to sign off and enjoy my last hour before my new big girl bedtime. Wish me luck. Please feel free to share any suggestions.

Jul
24
2011
Playlist Weeks 27-28: I’m So Glad, I’m So Glad, I’m Glad, I’m Glad, I’m Glad

In January, I challenged myself to get through a whole shuffle of the music on my iPod without skipping any songs. And I did it. On Monday, July 18th I listened to the last song (#2,724) in the iPod shuffle challenge. I originally thought it would take me four to five months to complete. It took just over six months. Six months in which, for the most part, I didn’t hear the same song more than once and I didn’t hear much of anything that wasn’t already on my iPod. So what new music have I missed so far in 2011?

Here is the playlist summary for week 27 and the one day of week 28:

* Songs listened to: 109

* Completed:  100% (!!!)

* Number of double shots:  5 (The Police, Splashdown, Sting, The Beatles, Interpol)

* Number of triple shots:  1 (Genesis)

* The last song:  Genesis “Hearts on Fire” (this is really embarrassing and not a little anticlimactic)

Now for songs worth highlighting:

* I was disappointed when the Beatles’ “The End” came up in the shuffle several weeks ago. There went my brilliant idea for a title for the last week. So the title of the last shuffle challenge post comes from Cream’s “I’m So Glad,” which seems like a pretty strong second-best title. Although I really am glad, whereas Cream doesn’t seem to be.

* Splashdown “Paradox” / “Games You Play” The Splashdown double shot was cool, since it was essentially the same song twice. The older version (“Paradox”) was first, followed by the reworked version (“Games You Play,” for the album Blueshift, which sadly was never released). I prefer “Games You Play,” so that’s the video below. The link to “Paradox” is above if you want to hear the difference. The lyric I like best is:

“So if your past approaches you
Preaching comfort
Don’t be fooled into a war you’ll lose”

Sort of fitting given my memoir-writing proclivities…

* LL Cool J “The Boomin’ System” “C- to the O- to the O- to the L- to the I- to the N- to the F- to the R- to the O- to the N- to the T- to the I- to the N, that means I’m chillin’. This song also is generous with its use of the word “Funky,” which always amuses me since I can’t help but imagine it refers to my favorite stuffed animal. Around the 20 second mark, LL says:

“Funky
For all the cars out there
And all the brothers
That like to front in their rides”

And the way he says it makes it sound like he’s talking to someone named Funky. And I must say that my Funky does enjoy frontin’ in his ride.

* Nicole McKenna “Take Me Over” I can’t really remember where I was introduced to this song, but it’s so lovely. It’s also fun to sing, even though it’s about drug addiction.

“She’s aware in her own little way
Fading in and out of the day
As she sits there in shame, and she wonders
Can you take, can you take, can you take me lower?
Can you take, can you take, can you take me over?”

“Fading in and out of the day” speaks to me. I don’t think you have to be addicted to drugs to have trouble being fully present during the day. I’ll just check Facebook one more time…

* Holy Fuck “Super Inuit” This was one of the songs on Dave’s unmarked 2010 Christmas mix. It came up on the shuffle towards the very end and while I knew I wanted to highlight it, all I knew is that it was “Track 1″ on the mix. Soundhound to the rescue…and now I know the name of the song and the band. The band calls themselves “Holy Fuck,” which I rather like but is certainly not a good idea. Listening to this song makes me frantic. When I looked up the video, I found this live version that really impressed me. They seemed to be doing it all live. Their Wikipedia page says they intended to make electronic music without looping, programming, etc…

* Frazier Chorus “Cloud 8″ Here’s a song Dave introduced me to early on in our relationship. It’s very cute and it’s also got some motivating lyrics even though the singer sounds like he’s trying to make you fall asleep.

“You were saying nothing, didn’t say a word. You said if you shut up for long enough, the more you heard. But you hear nothing, didn’t hear a word, and you soon get bored, because if you shut up for long enough you just get ignored.”

Jul
23
2011
How I Get My Lazy Ass Out Of Bed

I’m So Tired, I Haven’t Slept A Wink…

Staying up too late is the worst thing I do to myself and I apparently have no willpower to stop it, as evidenced by about 20 years of being unable to stop it. Ironically, I love sleep. I just don’t seem to want to do it at 11pm (or midnight, or 1am). 

The Sleep Equation: Bedtime

My Lenten promise of getting into bed earlier and thus getting more sleep was a complete bust. During Lent my plan was to attack the first, and probably most important, part of the sleep equation: my bedtime. The idea was to get into bed by 11pm. That happened exactly zero times. I got into bed before midnight four times. My average bedtime in the time period before Lent was 1:07am. My average bedtime during Lent was 1:17am. Oops.

The Sleep Equation: Wake Time

Not surprisingly, I never want to get out of bed in the morning. My late mornings affect getting to work on time, how much I can accomplish on days off, and what time I’m tired at night (perpetuating the vicious cycle of sleeping in and then staying up late). I’m sick of feeling like a deadbeat, of missing out on weekend mornings with Dave, of running when it’s already sticky hot in the summer, of feeling behind all the time.

I subjected my Twitter followers to a daily update on my Lenten promise failings and on a day when I lamented being late to work, someone suggested moving my alarm clock across the room.

Enter Tocky, The Alarm Clock That Runs Away

Tocky is advertised as an alarm clock that will “jump from your nightstand and roll away to get you out of bed.” Dave actually got it for me for Christmas. I was 95 percent amused and 5 percent offended. OK, I get it, I’m a deadbeat!

I used it a couple of times in January, but was not impressed. I revisited Tocky during Lent and now I find it much more useful.

The first few times I used Tocky, I placed it on my nightstand, as recommended. This is a very dumb idea. No one’s reflexes are too slow to stop Tocky from jumping (falling, if we are being honest here) off their nightstand. Tocky never made the plummet to my shag carpet, so I concluded I was considerably smarter than Tocky and put it away until failing at Lent.

My first Lenten attempt involved putting Tocky on the floor on the side of the bed I use to get up, but far enough away that I wouldn’t be able to grab it. When Tocky went off the next morning, it rolled right to me. Dumb ass.

So then I put Tocky on the other side of the room. Success! Having to get out of bed, walk around the bed, and reach down to turn Tocky off turned out to be sufficient most mornings to stay out of bed.

Tocky Details

Tocky is expensive, he is $69 (yes, Tocky is a “he”). And quite frankly, given the way I use him, his $69 rolling capabilities are completely unnecessary. But the novelty of it adds some fun to the horror of getting out of bed in the morning.

One fun thing is you can upload MP3s to use as your alarm. You can also record a message, or you can just stick with the cute little electronic gurgling noises Tocky makes.

On the annoying side, the button used to set up Tocky is hard to press and it doesn’t always respond the first time. The dial used to change the clock and alarm times is very touchy. It either spins around uncontrollably fast or won’t respond at all.

If you really feel you need the rolling aspect of Tocky, keep in mind he doesn’t roll around very long, only for about 30 seconds. Lazy ass.

Also, the music option is misleading. While you can upload up to two hours worth of MP3s, Tocky shuts off after 10 minutes. So I suggest selecting two to three songs that will make you want to get out of bed.

Here is a video of my Tocky in action. “Run to the Hills” was an inspired choice, it seemed appropriate for a clock that’s supposed to run away from you and it’s pretty jarring first thing in the morning. As you can see, try as Tocky might, he’s no match for my shag carpet. I barely had to move my camera. He can move quite a bit more on a solid surface.

Results?

Tocky has definitely helped me get out of bed earlier. I’m no longer hitting snooze 800 times.

But I’m also getting less sleep now. I had hoped getting up earlier would eventually, naturally, push my bedtime back. That something would have to give if I were more tired. Unfortunately I’m even more stubborn than I thought. My bedtime hasn’t changed. So now instead of averaging about 7 hours of sleep per night (due mostly to hitting snooze on weekends), I’m down to an average of about 6 hours of sleep.

I miss my executive functioning.

Jul
20
2011
Law and Order: Birthday Party Unit

There should be a special place in hell for people who commit the especially heinous offense of ruining your birthday party.

My earliest birthday memory is the party during which my cousin Craig pushed me down our back stairs.

I don’t remember ever speaking to him again. Cousin Craig and his family moved away a few years later, so he crystallized in my memory as the little demon who pushed me down the stairs at my own birthday party. He is nothing more, nothing less.

My Mom sometimes tries to tell me what the adult cousin Craig is doing now, but adult, wife-marrying, kid-fathering cousin Craig is a phantom. Whenever she brings him up, I just say: “you mean, the kid who pushed me down the stairs at my birthday party?”

Then she argues with me about the veracity of my memory.

Mom may have said adult cousin Craig is a lawyer, but I can’t be sure since I don’t give a shit. But it figures he’d be a lawyer.

Because he’s a jerk.

Who pushes little girls down stairs.

At their own birthday parties.

My Mom claims ignorance of this incident. She might have a vague recollection of my falling down the stairs at one of my parties, clumsy me, but doesn’t remember that cousin Craig clearly “helped” me down to the hard concrete.

All I know is this:

One minute I was a step away from grabbing the back door handle to go inside, the next minute cousin Craig was crowding me on the stairs, and I ended up unceremoniously deposited onto the concrete slab three stairs down. Cousin Craig was smiling. Cousin Craig is the epitome of evil.

Open and shut case, he had means, motive and opportunity. He had been standing inches from me, trying to get to the same place I was going and pushing past me to get there first. And he was clearly jealous because it was my party.

But even with my sharp eye-witness testimony, and my brilliant summation of the facts, the perp got off scot-free.

What else happened at this party? Was this the year the “Dream Whip” frosting finally switched from a pink tint to my beloved green? What did I get? Hell if I know. What is burned into my brain is cousin Craig’s feigned innocence, his smug lack of remorse, the very literal pain in my ass, and the angry tears about crashing down the stairs to the pavement.

Just look at him…

Clearly a criminal master mind.

My Mom will likely have a cow when she read this. “What if he finds this?”

I say let him find it. This is my own brand of vigilante justice, just like the resolution of every episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” (elite squad my ass, they’re always letting the victim commit suicide or missing the clear signs that the victim or one of their loved ones is going to shoot the perp, often at the police station) in which they can’t get the bad guy.

Maybe he’ll apologize, the twerp.

——-

I wrote this post in response to this week’s writing prompt from Studio 30 Plus, which was: “Your earliest memory of your own birthday party.”

Jul
18
2011
Melon, Other Fruitlessness (or Why A Childfree Person Thinks About Having Kids)

Coming Out

I haven’t explicitly written about not having kids. I’ve been hesitant for two reasons:

1.) I don’t want to alienate anybody. I think some parents get uncomfortable around me once they know I’m purposely childfree (it’s hard to avoid the conversation now that I’m of an age when “do you have kids?” is the first thing new people ask me) because they think I’m judging their choice. But no. Really. As someone whose preferred number of children is an uncommon zero, I’m very sensitive to reproductive rights. Want 20 kids? Go for it, Duggar, just don’t judge my number.

2.) I get a “she doth protest too much” vibe, even from Dave sometimes, if I bring up this topic. Talking about not wanting children must mean I’m delusional, that I really want kids, but am just afraid to admit it.

Why Analyze Something You’ve Decided Not To Do?

I analyze everything—it’s just my way.

So few people choose this route, I want to reach out for support. While the proportion of women my age who have never had children has increased since 1976 according to the Current Population Survey, it’s still small. About 20 percent of women my age have never had a child (only 13 percent of women my age who have ever been married). It can get pretty lonely up in here.

Perhaps most importantly, I analyze it because I still can. I read somewhere that childfree people think about whether or not to have kids more than parents and it makes sense because we generally have a longer period of time over which to consider it. Parents kind of have to stop considering this question once they have kids. I can still change my mind.

I don’t think I’ll ever change my mind. But the biggest difference between myself as a 25-year-old and now is I’m no longer naïve enough to think it’s impossible. There’s no reason not to touch base on it periodically.

An Analogy

My Mom can’t understand why I don’t like melon. I’ve watched her cut cantaloupe for herself hundreds of times. Every so often she would encourage me to try a bite. “Oh, this is a good one, so sweet. Come on…”

Once I got past the age at which it was my job to stubbornly refuse all her food advances, I would occasionally give it a try. But I hate melon. All kinds. Even watermelon. I realize this is un-American.

1.) The smell: skunky, like it’s already gone bad.

2.) The texture: some might call it juicy, but it’s really just watery. It’s like eating a saturated yet solid sponge.

3.) The taste: it tastes sort of like it smells—off. Dirty dishwatery? Skunky.

But I can understand melon’s appeal. It’s brightly colored and its high water content can be refreshing on a hot summer day. Melon provides an economical fruit salad filler.

So because of Mom’s peer pressure and the ubiquitous overabundance of it in fruit salads, and my own desire not to miss out (if I had never tried new things I’d still be stuck eating a diet of Spaghetti-os, hot dogs, and sweets), I continue to try melon occasionally.

Like yesterday, for example.

 

In short, still no.

And Now I Go There—Comparing Children with Melon

I don’t want kids. None. Ever. I realize this is un-American. I have all kinds of reasons.

1.) The physical pain: I’m certain the pain of childbirth would kill me. When I spoke to the first of my friends to give birth after it was over, she said “there’s no way you could do that.”

2.) The emotional pain: I shudder over the idea of having to watch, helpless, as your children exhibit some of the same characteristics you hate most in yourself.

3.) The loss of freedom: I like my life the way it is and the things I’d most like to change are incompatible with parenting. I want to get more sleep. I’m trying to wrestle more control over how I spend my time.

This might ring hollow to parents, just as parents’ reasons can often sound vague to me. I’ve heard parents say it was just a feeling they always had, they just knew they wanted to have children. It’s the same for me really, just in the reverse. I’ve never had that feeling.

But I can understand the appeal. Creating a new life, having more people with whom you can share love. Giving my Mom more grandchildren, building a relationship with my child like the one I have with my Mom (hopefully). Parenting is an excuse to relive your childhood without seeming childish. And parents have at least one thing in common with most people they meet.

Unlike melon, I can’t simply try it out, decide I still don’t like it, and get left with only a temporary bad taste in my mouth. But like melon, it seems worth investigating, just in case. Even though it’s unlikely I’ll change my mind. So I do what I can do, which is touch base with myself, imagine it, make sure it isn’t just fear making me say no.

I’ve heard the argument that you can’t treat whether to have children as a rational decision because there’s no way to know for sure how you’ll react to it. That even if you don’t like kids, you’ll love your own. While I agree there’s no way to know exactly what it will be like before doing it, the idea this decision shouldn’t be considered rationally is just crazy talk. I have no doubt I’d love my own children. I think I could be a good parent (well, if I managed to survive childbirth that is), I just don’t want to.

Of all the decisions I’ll ever make in my life, this has to be the foremost on my list of things I’d rather regret not doing than doing. Will I ever change my mind? I can’t even imagine it. But occasionally I try. Because I can.

Jul
15
2011
Photo Friday: Dutch Yahtzee

My family played Yahtzee a lot when I was growing up (we managed to play without any violence, seriously that link is so disturbing…couldn’t they just have said no, I don’t want to play Yahtzee? And what kind of person doesn’t enjoy a good game of Yahtzee anyway?).

I spent a summer during high school living with a host family in the Netherlands. I bought Dutch Yahtzee (“Het best verkochte dobbelspel ter wereld”) while I was over there. It’s the same, only in Dutch.

I took the game to college and it was amazing how entertaining Yahtzee terms translated into Dutch could be to drunk people. One of my friends on the hall was originally from the Netherlands and she was able to translate, although it’s really not all that difficult to figure out, for example “three of a kind” is… “three of a kind.” However, “four of a kind” is “Royale with Cheese-like and translates to “Carre” (I think it means “square.”).

My friend John Boy decided “bovenste helft” (which means “top half”) sounded like something to say as a toast. So we instituted a new requirement to drunkenly shout out “Bovenste Helft!” every so often while playing. Soon playing Yahtzee was no longer a prerequisite for sharing a little good will with a boisterous greeting of “Bovenste Helft!” Our Dutch friend thought we were nuts walking around yelling out “top half” for no reason.