Tag Archives: may i be frank?

2012: Year in Review

The 2013 calendar on my wall suggests another year is over. I marked the end of 2010 and 2011 by answering the following set of questions. The questions annoyed me this year. I hope that means the dying embers of my “I have to track everything” fire cannot be stoked back to flame. I’m cultivating a new mellow vibe. Next year I will sum up 2013 by how I feel at the end of the year, not by how many boxes I can tick off a list. I don’t plan on doing this quiz again, so let’s send it out with a bang (or a whimper).

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Enrolled in some adult education, started making ice cream, created an ice cream blog, published a memoir piece, gave up trying to de-link my name and this blog (note to co-workers: while I mutter profanity under my breath at the office, I write it out loud here), “won” a craft contest, and had a tarot card reading.

The tarot reader was kind, but these cards basically said, “get off your ass and make a decision already.”


2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yes and no, and not really. The monster in my head set 30 goals for 2012. You can see them here. I have a different mind-set about goals right now (stay tuned). I have no desire to paste my 2012 goals here and painstakingly document which I met and which I did not. Does it matter that I didn’t run a 5K in under 30 minutes when I trained really hard, completed two races, and ran faster at the end of training than at the beginning? Does it matter that I went to bed an average of 20 minutes earlier in 2012 than 2011 or that I got 33 minutes extra sleep per night on average when I’m still tired a lot? Isn’t it disturbing that I can tell you those figures?

Looking at last year’s goals cracks me up now. How did I get to a point in life where I could suggest “scheduling weekly unstructured time” without irony? How did I type “go cold turkey on perfectionism” as one of 30 goals with a straight face?

One of my goals was to “locate my inner voice.” Wait…shh! What’s that? I think I hear something…


I like my inner voice.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I’ve been meeting quite a few childfree people lately. And I’m getting old. So I’d be really shocked if anyone close to me got pregnant/gave birth.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I spent several horrible days believing one of my in-laws was not going to make it, but thankfully (and possibly miraculously?), he did not die.

5. What countries did you visit?
If the U.S. doesn’t count, then 0.0.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Enough money to retire. Not kidding.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I could talk smack about the ice cream class or some other happy event, but the only day from 2012 that “will remain etched in my memory” (which I interpret to mean “never going to forget the date of the event”) is November 6. That was the day my Mom told me she had cancer.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I guess I’d say making new friends. I had really started to worry I wasn’t capable of doing that.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Negativity? Not being a good-enough listener?? Not getting enough sleep??? Tracking my failures so vigorously???? Fuck this question.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Ice cream machine!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Seriously? Mortgage. It will always be mortgage (or rent), won’t it?

13. What did you get really excited about?
Ice cream!

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?
A whopping 9.5 percent of my music collection came out in the last ten years. Here is the only new music I bought all year even though I’ll almost certainly not associate it with 2012 long-term.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?
Both. The more I know, the harder it is. The closer I get, the farther away it seems. You know?

b) thinner or fatter?

c) richer or poorer?
Richer, bitches (it’s all about retirement, baby).

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
What I wanted to do.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
What I didn’t want to do.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In Erie with my family. Spent the first few days of my vacation frantically trying to finish my first cross stitch ever. I won a Subversive Cross Stitch in the Craft Whores contest and selected the bad boy below for my brother, only to be surprised (and horrified) that it was a kit I had to make myself. This was one of my brother’s favorite phrases in our misguided youth. By the time I got this in the frame, it also turned out to crystallize my thoughts about cross stitching eloquently.

peace on earth

peace on earth

19. What was your favorite TV program?
I’m addicted to watching House Hunters International while saying “fuck you” with jealous venom. You guys need a vacation home in Belize? Of course you do. Fuck you. Accountants can easily find work on Grand Cayman? Fuck you. You’re really going to complain about the lack of double sinks in a vacation home? Fuck you. Special shout out to the guy with a 2 million dollar budget who expressed disappointment that there were no windows in the closet: OMFG, FUCK YOU!

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
If I wanted to read, I’d go to school.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Holy repetitive quiz, Batman. See #14.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Jesus, I don’t get out much, do I? We streamed Moonrise Kingdom for our 2nd annual pajama night and were not amused (we have a 0% success rate for avoiding movies in which a dog bites the big one on our “happy family PJ movie night”).

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I guess I’m too old to remember what I did on my birthday. I know I ate cake, but that’s only because I have a blog. I turned 39, and I don’t plan on aging further.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Errr! How does this question differ from #6? 

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Not naked

26. What kept you sane?
Fear of anti-depressant side effects.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
A lot of the stuff I thought was important (or at least devoted a lot of time to) is really, really not. Like tracking every last detail of my life…ahem…like end of the year surveys such as these.

Man to English Dictionary

I’ve written about my awkward first kiss before. Except for a brief glimpse, I haven’t written about what happened next. Because what happened next is I was a moron.

I told myself a relationship with this guy was risk-free practice since he already had a girlfriend (long-distance, “agreed to see other people,” blah, blah, blah). I was sick of the lateness of my blooming, I needed to get my mind off of an unrequited love interest, and this guy’s attention was intoxicating. These are shitty reasons to date someone. I can admit I was a hypocrite (neither of us were in it “for the right reasons”).

But just because I was a hypocrite doesn’t mean my ex wasn’t a douche.

I was naive. But it didn’t seem possible that he could just want me for sex, especially since he wasn’t getting any. Even looking back on it, I’m still amazed by his patience and persistence. Good for you, buddy. You had a goal, and you went after it with single-minded determination. I over-analyzed everything he said to me, searching for deep meaning that wasn’t there. I didn’t understand the male mind…yet. How could I have known so little rattled around in there?

The good news? You don’t need to date a douche to learn what you need to know about men. Just read my Man-English Dictionary.

I’m not saying men aren’t capable of love and commitment. I’m saying even then they’re still thinking about banging you 97 percent of the time. The other 3 percent of the time they’re thinking about food or banging Kate Winslet (exact percentages and celebrity fantasies may vary).

Here are some phrases in “man-speak” and their English translations. If you have more to add, please share in the comments because I’m finding this very amusing.

“You’re too smart to play games with.” “I wonder how difficult it will be to get you to sleep with me.”
“You’re gorgeous/irresistible/important to me/I’ve been thinking about you a lot.” “I want to have sex with you.”
“I find you intriguing.” “Challenge accepted.”
“I want to get to know you better…see where this leads.” “Vagina or bust.”
“If I wanted to be with her, I would be.” “I’m taking a break from my girlfriend because I want to have sex with other women before settling down.”
“I’m not in this for sex.” “I’m also willing to spend time with you doing things that could reasonably lead to sex, or having an occasional meal if you pay.”
“Don’t be afraid to let your guard down. You don’t have to be so strong all the time.” “Seriously, let your guard down. This will only take a minute.”
“I’ve never had a problem with commitment.” “I’m totally committed to having sex with everyone I’m simultaneously dating.”
“I’ve never had a one night stand.” “I’m interested in having sex with you the entire time I’m apart from my girlfriend.”
“You seem to be holding back emotionally, the last seven or eight girls I’ve dated told me they loved me within a month.” “Does using the word love in any context help? Also, 8 of 9 girlfriends dentists gave it up within a month, what’s with you?”
“I’m not secure in how you feel about me.” “I’m pretending to be emotionally vulnerable to see if you’ll reassure me with sex.”
“You can let go of your morals and no one will know.” “I’ve run out of things to say to convince you to have sex.”
“Whatever is between us will likely be forcibly reduced to a strong friendship next year.” “I’m moving in with my girlfriend next year, but plan to keep pursuing you sexually until then and want to assuage my guilt by pretending to be clear about my intentions.”
“We will always be friends.” “Once having sex with you is no longer a possibility, you will never hear from me again, until the check I wrote to repay the money you lent me bounces.”

The pinnacle of my ex’s douchiness came during his rehearsed “letting me down easy” speech. We took a walk around campus late one evening right before the end of the semester and he offered, “if you want someone to notice you, get him to see you in the moonlight.”

It was the night of a new moon. I shit you not.

What a douche.

For the record, he still owes me $105. And I want it.


For auditory learners, here is what men want:

If I Wanted to Read, I’d Go to School

Yesterday, I was the featured writer on the Studio30 Plus community blog. It’s a great community of writers that used to be for people 30 and older, but now is open to anyone who wants to connect with other writers. As promised, here is my featured post.


Writing advice often includes a recommendation to read more. But these days…

It wasn’t always this way. I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t read. In kindergarten my classmates and I sat in a circle on the floor. We took turns reading aloud from a Dick and Jane book.  When some students struggled to sound out the words, I blinked in confusion. The words somehow made sense to me already.

I read so quickly I had to rifle through my Mom’s bookshelves for reading material. As an innocent 12-year old attending Catholic school, reading The Thorn Birds was an ironic way to learn about sex.

So what happened to my love of reading? I’d like to take a moment to thank my high school. They took my youthful love of reading and stomped it into the ground, set it on fire, pissed on it, then buried it while it still had a slight pulse so it could suffocate and die a more painful death.

Here’s a helpful hint for any educators out there: there is such a thing as too much required reading. Maybe I shouldn’t complain about the volume of reading I had to do in high school. It exposed me to so many classic books I probably would not have chosen to read on my own.

But my teachers were more interested in trying to verify we’d read every word in the books than whether we understood them. That is the only way I can explain the bizarre questions on our tests.

Take this question about The Red Badge of Courage, for example: “How many pairs of socks did Henry have in his bag?”

Dude, seriously? Presumably the teacher asked us this question because we couldn’t answer it having read only the Cliffs Notes. But no one needs to know this detail. I resent the space the answer (eight) takes up in my brain.

In addition to random details, they also liked asking us to reproduce entire quotes. One teacher tested us on the number of lines we could remember from The Merchant of Venice. I still laugh over trying to get her to count “My daughter!” “O my ducats!” as two quotes.

This type of testing required committing as much of the text to memory as possible. In response, I forced my eyes to stop racing ahead, sometimes using a sheet of paper to isolate the lines as I read. If I thought I hadn’t really absorbed something, I’d go back and read it out loud. My speed plummeted, but I aced the tests.

Soon I could read no other way. Whether I read Moby-Dick or an article in Cosmo, I read it laboriously.

If high school killed my love of reading, my job hammers nails into its coffin. I get paid to read and edit a lot of stiff research writing, which doesn’t motivate me to look at more words in my free time. Other people seek me out to read yet still more technical writing because of my attention to detail…ironically, the same attention to detail that made reading so maddening for me in high school.

I’ve tried several things to reignite my love of reading. Years ago, I joined several book clubs. Now I have one rule about book clubs:  I don’t like book clubs. Reading books that other people select (does any book club use a democratic process?) is too much like school, thank you very much.

I’ve tried carrying books with me everywhere I go, including taking seven to the beach last year. During my week-long vacation, I read about seven percent of them. I had trouble absorbing the words. Watching the waves crash onto the shore was much more soothing.

Starting my blog has helped me more than anything else I’ve tried. Through writing, I’ve pinpointed what I’m most interested in reading. I’m giving myself permission to read what I want.

There’s nothing wrong with my preference for non-fiction (take that high school and ex-book clubs!). Not everything I read has to be “literary,” or even a book. I love reading blogs. I’ve found exquisite examples of memoir, poetry, and fiction, as well as writing that makes me laugh out loud. Blogs are worth reading.

So much of what I’ve read during my life has been chosen for me. Now it’s my turn.

By the way, I do still occasionally finish a book. Sometimes I even read fiction…taking it back full circle to my childhood days…

Yes, I read this. Shockingly, it wasn't very good.

How have your reading habits changed throughout your life?

(Crappy) Photo Friday: Sting Back to Bass Concert

Possibly the Longest Intro to a Concert Review Ever

Sting is my Yoko Ono. He broke up my favorite band of all time. Unlike Yoko, Sting was actually in the band he broke up so I liked him as much as I hated him. I followed Sting’s solo career hoping it would sound something like the Police. It didn’t.

But I enjoyed his first three solo albums and was mostly with him through the fourth.

In the 80s, I read a Sting quote basically saying he wanted to stop before getting old; something about prancing around on stage as 50-year old being undignified. I remember being panicked at the thought of no more Sting music. Then Mercury Falling came out and I wish 30-year old Sting had convinced 45-year old Sting to stop before pouring that noise poison into my defenseless ears. I didn’t like a single song on that album.  Verily, verily I cried unto Sting, “What did I do to deserve country music?”

The televised concerts I saw during the Brand New Day era were awful. He rearranged song after song to sound alike–S-L-O-W and stripped of all their energy. Sting is the artist and the music is his canvas and all that shit, so he can rearrange his own songs however he wants. But I am free to hate the crap out of it.

In his early solo phase, I called his penchant for rearranging “jazzification.” The jazzifying strained, but did not break, my patience.  After hearing the “All This Time” re-interpretation of songs, I changed the term to “Stingification.” Because there was no jazziness, no sign of life at all, in these arrangements. Stingification is a term I’m trying to get into more common use. It simply refers to someone pissing all over something you love because they can. This makes me so sad:

Back to Bass Tour – DAR Constitution Hall – November 10, 2011

Last week, I gambled and went to my first solo Sting show since 1991. The tour was meant to celebrate 25 years of Sting, which implied a focus on his best stuff. I purposely didn’t investigate the set list or the new “best of” CD, because I wanted to keep hope alive.

First things first, Sting is an amazing-looking 60-year old. I was a little taken aback when he came out almost as bald as a cue ball, given the contrast from his recent Grizzly Adams phase. Maybe he just seemed small from my vantage point, but something about his head and how wee he looked made him appear almost elfin.

I didn’t really have any complaints about the five-piece band, you know, other than their not being the Police. The song arrangements were pretty tight and not overly slow. Sting also seemed to be singing more normally than he did during the Police reunion, without any of the annoying mumbling and “scat” vocalizing I got chastised by Sting fans for complaining about on the Police fan club forum (one of my fellow complainers totally nailed it with this, “It’s like the words are running down his chin!”).

The show started out very energetic and promising. But even though everyone sounded great, the energy ground to a halt for me pretty quickly because of the set list. Sting and I simply disagree on what his best work is.


The energetic opening of “All This Time, “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” “Seven Days,” and “Demolition Man.” “Seven Days” was probably my favorite performance of the night. It was my favorite song from Ten Summoners’ Tales and it sounded like it should sound, which is so unlike Sting it made me smile.

“Fortress Around Your Heart” This is one of the only solo Sting songs I ever thought sounded Police-like so I’ve always loved it. While they played it, I was transported to Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, OH where I saw Sting for the first time with my big brother when I was in seventh grade.

“Message in a Bottle” Sting came back out alone at the end and did it sort of Secret Policeman’s Other Ball style, which made me all warm and fuzzy inside remembering how much I loved Sting in my youth. Look at how lovable Sting was in 1981:


I couldn’t get over the song selection. If Sting’s written a country song he didn’t play, I’m not aware of it. About half the songs were from Mercury Falling onward. Sting talked more than I’m used to between songs, mostly about song writing and the stories behind his songs. I really enjoyed that, and found it necessary since he played five songs I didn’t even fucking know. Four were from Sacred Love, which I naively never imagined he’d dip into that much because it sucks (and now I’ve just increased my possible human alienation count by as many as a million or so more people, assuming the million or so people who bought this album think it doesn’t suck…sorry, write your own review).

Sting clumped these low energy songs together, sometimes three to five at a time, which didn’t allow the show to build or sustain any momentum. I got bored during those stretches and if it weren’t for the backing vocalist screeching like her pubes were being pulled out on “Hounds of Winter” and the electric violin solos on a couple of songs, I might have fallen asleep.

The backing vocalist was very talented, but her performance on some of the songs got a little too theatrical for my taste. Every line seemed to have deep meaning for her.

As a Police fan, I also have no particular need to hear Sting and his back-up band play a lot of Police songs. He played six and while most sounded OK, I missed Andy on “Driven to Tears.” More importantly, note to Sting: PLEASE. STOP. PLAYING. NEXT TO YOU. LIKE. THAT. Thank you.

Worst of all, Sting didn’t play a single song from my favorite album, Nothing Like the Sun. My two favorite solo songs are “The Lazarus Heart,” and “Be Still My Beating Heart,” and I realize “The Lazarus Heart” wasn’t a single, but “Be Still My Beating Heart” was a rather successful single. Why was it excluded from the show and the “best of” CD? It can’t be as petty as Andy having played on it, right?


If there’s one guy, just one guy
Who I’m not going to see live again, oh my…
It’s hard to say it
I hate to say it
But it’s probably Sting.

Crappy Photo

Because I still regret talking myself out of taking a camera when Dave and I had front row seats to see the Police in 2007, I now take a camera to every show even though concert pictures are always low-quality crap. Here is my obligatory, proving I was there, crappy picture of Sting and people’s heads. Elfin, no?

My Parachute is the Color of Apathy*

What’s My Motivation?

Tomorrow I will celebrate 15 years with my employer.

The good news: this milestone brings increased vacation time.

The bad news: after 15 years I need more vacation time like you wouldn’t believe. My enthusiasm for most of my tasks has waned considerably. And don’t even get me started on my soul-sucking commute.

I’m a good employee (so ixnay on the iringfay), but over time my motivation has come less and less from interest in the substance of the work itself. I’m a perfectionist. It’s simply not my way to do anything but a good job.

So what would I have said I wanted to be when I grew up?

Independently wealthy? Big picture questions have always baffled me. It was easier for me to identify what I didn’t want to be. My Mom was a nurse, and people would always ask me if I wanted to be a nurse too. The more people asked me that, the more annoyed I got. Soon my “I don’t think so” turned into “I would not be a nurse if it were the last profession on Earth.” Dealing with people, sick people at that, and blood. Please, sign me up.

If pressed, I probably would’ve said I wanted to be a singer. I also went through an astronomy phase prior to knowing it required an understanding of physics. Too bad I was never able to find a single celestial object through the telescope I got one Christmas. Dude, it was hard.

My Parents’ Generation Was Not So Concerned with the Color of the Parachute

My parents were born during the tail end of the Great Depression. The message I received from them was informed by their own parents’ quest for financial security, with additional stress on the importance of education from my Mom.

Work hard, do well in school, go to college. All of this was for the purpose of getting a good job, where good job = secure, decent pay, good benefits.

My older brother took an aptitude test in high school. The results pointed to farming, which amused us greatly. He did not become a farmer. Ironically, working in his garden is one of his favorite things to do now.

I received no career guidance. I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do when I chose my major. I still had no dream job in mind when I entered graduate school.

Generation Y Wants to Own the Parachute

I’ve recently come across a number of “lifestyle design” blogs advocating against the traditional 9 to 5, and for taking risks to follow one’s dreams. They take many of the arguments I have used for staying put and rebut them passionately. Most of them I’ve seen are about a decade younger than me. These 20-somethings are the young, the fearless, the entrepreneurial. Their blogs scream: Quit your job and start an online business! Free yourself! Live the life you want! Get paid to do what you love! 

Stuck in the Middle (Stuck Being the Operative Word)

I feel stuck in the middle of these two generations and neither way of thinking resonates with me completely.

When I complain about my job to my Mother on the phone, I can almost hear her eyes rolling. She worked her ass off for over 40 years and earned the retirement she’s enjoying so much right now. She knows how much I make, and really does not feel bad about my lack of “passion.” She thinks I’m ridiculously lucky and should shut it.

I’m not sure she’s wrong. I do earn a good living. My job is in my field. Although I sort of fell into “my field,” it’s a good fit for my personality and I’m really quite good at it. As far as 9 to 5 jobs go, I have a pretty flexible schedule, great benefits, a fair and supportive boss, and great coworkers.

I feel pretty guilty complaining actually. Yet…am I going to be satisfied doing this day-in and day-out for 5, or 10, or 19 (but who’s counting?) more years?

Do I have to answer that? I’m the first to admit my not-really-ironic goal of retirement as a 37-year old is sort of lame. As my father-in-law says, “Don’t look forward to retirement, because that’s looking forward to being old.” Well, I’m hoping to retire early, but still. He has a point.

It Comes Down to This

Some of the lifestyle design bloggers I read are still in the process of breaking free from the 9 to 5. Others have already done so and earn a living at least partially helping others do it too. The bulk of what I’ve read is about encouraging people to take risks and laying out the steps to making the dream a reality. The having a dream part seems to be assumed.

But presumably the first step is identifying your dream, so let’s take a moment for me to get in touch with that, shall we?

Once again, it’s easier for me to identify things that are not my dream. And the entrepreneurial calling eludes me.

Being an entrepreneur sounds horrifying. Assuming I could identify something marketable, which is a big if, I would still have to market it. I am decidedly not a people person, not exactly a good trait for running a business.

Also after 15 years, I’m also wondering if I’m not just getting a little tired of working. Starting my own business sounds like more work. I would love to have more freedom and flexibility to spend my time how I want, and thus I think I’m looking to do less work.

Perhaps most importantly, I’d be the boss from hell. I would be extremely demanding, and as we’ve already seen, I have no vision. What a great combination.

Now What?

As I see it, I have a couple of options worth pursuing in the coming weeks and months. I plan to write about both in more detail in future posts.

1.  Design Something New.

Maybe there’s a dream, besides early retirement, lurking deep inside somewhere waiting to be uncovered with enough thought. I read a suggestion somewhere to think about what you would be willing to do even if you didn’t get paid for it. This made me laugh out loud because none of the first ten things that came to mind seemed to be marketable in the least. I’ll probably share my list of these ideas in the next few days, so you can laugh at me.

2.  Remodel the Old Place.

This runs the gamut from sprucing up my attitude, which is pretty poor at present, to making other changes around the edges of the current job, like exploring more telework.

How are you feeling about your job at the moment? 

*I would say the most accurate description for the color of my parachute at the moment is sepia, which according to Crayola is “not at all frivolous, dependable, and comfortable.” 15 years, people.

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?

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.

You Shall See Hail Fall From A Clear Sky

Watching the epic movie The Ten Commandments is one of my favorite parts of celebrating Easter. And though I have it on DVD, I have to suffer along with the Hebrew slaves by sitting through all 284 minutes of the ABC telecast each year. It’s tradition.

Yes, I know the movie is actually about Passover, but I associate it with Easter. ABC started airing it every year on Easter the year I was born. So I literally grew up with it as an Easter tradition.

Cecil B. DeMille knew how to make a biblical movie entertaining. Well, at least the first part. Before everyone finds out Moses is a Hebrew, it is like a rollicking family sitcom. Let’s play Hounds and Jackals and tease Rameses about who is going to be the next Pharaoh!

And the actors aren’t kidding around either–they are acting. Even the stoicism is over the top. And I love how campy Anne Baxter as Nefretiri is (“oh, Moses, Moses, Moses!”).

This is not a bad representation of how I think of this movie:

The movie’s many great lines became part of my family’s lexicon. When you exasperated someone in my family, they were likely to respond with a tired “Moses, Moses…” a la Yul Brynner’s Rameses at the 25 second mark.

Then there’s the excessive use of the word bondage. One year I counted, and surprisingly only got a total of 18. If you want to get really good and blitzed, you’ll need another drinking game, because bondage isn’t going to get it done alone. May I suggest drinking whenever someone says “Moses?”

As I got older, I started to get more frustrated with the inefficiency of the Moses plan for freeing the Hebrew slaves. Dude, Sethi’s about to name you as his successor and your hot girlfriend killed the only other person who would dare tell that you are a Hebrew. You got this!

But nooooo….

Moses gotta do it the hard way…after what might be film’s most ill-conceived revelation scene. What a waste of a perfectly good cover-up murder. I’m really supposed to believe that Nefretiri would crumble so easily?

Moses says, “Gee, I wonder what happened to old Memnet.”

And Nefretiri is all, “OK, I give up, I killed her!”…“Oh yeah, and you’re a Hebrew.”

My alternative plan? Moses keeps his mouth shut, succeeds Sethi as Pharaoh, gets it on with the throne princess, and frees his people. Or maybe institutes a system of paid employment, because someone needs to build cities in Pharaoh’s honor. The best part of my plan is it would yield a movie whose length won’t make your ass fall asleep.

I also need to make a confession. Each year, I root for Rameses more and more. Look, I get it. Rameses-bad, Moses & I Am That I Am-good.

But Yul Brynner kicks ass! He keeps the movie entertaining after Moses finds God and, let’s face it, becomes a humorless, sanctimonious ass. Even his wife can’t stand him anymore. When Nefretiri comes to save Moses’ first born, she meets his wife Sephora, and is clearly jealous of her. And Sephora basically says, “bitch please, you ain’t missing anything.”

Rameses says cool stuff like “so let it be written, so let it be done.” He has rational explanations for the plagues (at least until the last one anyway). And he amuses me when he finally gives in and frees the Hebrew slaves. He just wants Moses out of his face. And by this point who wouldn’t? Moses never shuts up. So Rameses says, “You’re free, go away.” But Moses proceeds to make the s-l-o-w-e-s-t exit ever, with more of his infernal talking. And Rameses’ look is saying, “Oh My God(s), did I not just tell you to leave?”

It’s also tradition to talk to the TV when the freed slaves throw a kegger for the golden calf. I always warn them–just wait until Moses comes back with God’s law and sees what you’re doing. He’s going to be so pissed! But they never listen.

Oh well, they always reach the promised land in the end. (Spoiler!)

Will you watch The Ten Commandments this year? Do you have a favorite movie that you watch over and over again?

Do You Have A Minute?

I’ve been meaning to link to this for weeks, but I’ve been steady busy, as my Dad would say. Catalogliving.net cracks me up, but this (semi) recent entry really spoke to me given my task-timing experiment.

Is the fact that this entry is funny a sign that it would be rude to use my timer to limit office intrusions??? Because my first reaction to this entry was to laugh, and my second reaction was, what a brilliant idea, Elaine…

When You Care Enough

Could it have been a coincidence that I found this purveyor of fine greeting cards right before my Mom turned 70? Probably, but what luck to find a card that gives voice to EXACTLY what I was thinking about this momentous occasion.

I’m extremely lucky to have a Mom who receives a card like this with good humor (and her sense of humor is probably the main reason she seems younger than she is). I remember quite vividly when she turned 40. I thought that was O-L-D. All her friends did too, so they gave her all kinds of “over the hill” novelty birthday crap. Now that I’m, ahem, a few years away from 40, neither 40 nor 70 seems quite so old.

I would love to use this card for every major birthday, but I don’t have the balls. For example, my father-in-law will not be receiving this card for his 75th birthday next month (at least not from me!). If Dave doesn’t end up reading my blog, I’ll be able to use this card next year when he turns 40. Fuck, he’ll be old.