Tag Archives: Mom

Jun
14
2012
Like It’s 1999

You can accumulate a lot of crap when you work at the same job for over 15 years. I’ve brought a lot of personal stuff into the office. I figured if I was going to spend so much time there, I could at least make it more comfortable. But perhaps all the stuff made me become too comfortable, entrenched even. So I had to laugh when I read Margaret’s post about starting her new job.

She is the anti-me regarding personal stuff at work: “I don’t like to bring anything to work that I can’t fit in my handbag and carry out with me on a moment’s notice.” She concluded she’d like to “leave a little more of myself at work.” But I realized I needed to do the opposite…begin to extract myself. This is one of the reasons I cleaned my office recently. I was so ruthless in my commitment to cleaning, I kept waiting for my coworkers to ask me if I was leaving. I even had a snappy comeback ready: “Is it that obvious?”

I may not be leaving imminently, but I’m creating an environment in which leaving would be a hell of a lot easier.

Here is an assortment of the crap I found in one of my desk drawers, some of it lovingly scanned for your amusement (actually I hoped having scans would make me willing to throw this stuff out). While some accumulation of crap is forgivable in my situation, my physical office has changed locations three times. So all this stuff made it through at least one cull. Some of it I bothered to pack and move three times.

This drawer contained:

Menus for closed restaurants, obsolete carbon paper forms, a handwritten list of blogs I read circa 2007, and a Day Runner I haven’t used since 2001. Of the 37 contacts written into the address section, I have spoken to only six in the last year. I have no idea who one of them is, even after Googling.

The drawer also contained miscellaneous decorations, none of which have been displayed since at least 2006. These include:

1.) The dream catcher Dave’s parents brought back for me from Alaska. It’s been in the drawer since my last office move and the disintegrating leather left dust all over the drawer. Yet I still had trouble throwing it out because Dave’s Mom had given it to me and she’s gone now.

2.) At least three dozen postcards from my travels, many from my 1994 study abroad semester. Anytime I saw a painting I’d learned about in Art History, I bought the postcard. Why wouldn’t you want to look at this during your work day?

Or how about a picture of the Danish Queen, circa 1992. I need to hang on to that, right?

Tracy is very jealous of these emeralds.

3.) Precious child artwork. I can’t say exactly when these masterpieces were created, but since my older nephews are now 20 and 17, I’m guessing it was at least five years ago. Ha.

The black hole in the tree symbolizes man’s search for meaning.

I like the bold use of empty space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.) Print out of a 2000 article from the Onion that mentions my favorite element. The yellow highlighting of the relevant line (“Rumors of a longtime feud with molybdenum…”) is now too faded to see…perhaps because this piece of paper is 12 frigging years old.

5.) A yellowed clipping about my favorite tennis player’s 2001 Wimbledon win, which made me cry big fat tears of joy (in 2001, not when I cleaned my office).

6.) Several cards from my Mom, back when she still loved me and sent me cards for no reason (in other words, ten years ago).

Boomerang Bear is sad because Tracy’s Mom doesn’t send random cards anymore.

7.) I have no idea where or when I got this, but I love Paddington Bear and should totally keep this in case my boss gives me a coloring assignment.

8.) Original works of art by yours truly. Meet Knookie the Computer Chip, a comic I made up in 1985. Apparently I got swept away by nostalgia for the 20th anniversary of Knookie’s creation (and/or was really bored on work travel). I have no artistic talent whatsoever…enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.) And finally, the best thing I found while cleaning out my office, this page from the 2001 Onion calendar (Moses, Moses, Moses). I’m probably not going to throw this out.

How much personal crap do you have at work? Are you entrenched or could you make a quick get-away if necessary?

May
4
2012
Piercing

Teenage girls need to make a personal fashion statement, something to set them apart. I was a teenager long before there were sweatpants with writing on the ass. And clearly my trouble attracting guys had to do with the single piercing of my ears. So I decided to get my ears double pierced. But that was not the statement, oh no. The statement was wearing both earrings of a pair in the same ear. You can’t say I didn’t live on the edge.

I convinced my Mom to take me to have it done. She thought I was nuts, but the passion of my argument allowed me to block out how much I hate pain. As soon as we got in the car, the reality of having holes created in my flesh where there weren’t any before started to hit me.

By the time we entered the jewelry store I was somewhere else entirely. This is silly, my hair will cover the second holes anyway. One piercing is plenty.

I could hear my Mom making small talk with the staple gun operator, torturer piercing technician. She had to arrange for my mutilation because I wasn’t saying anything.

I don’t even remember getting into the chair of doom, but once seated there the time allowed for perseverating over another set of piercings was over.

I braced for impact, white-knuckling the arms of the chair. I shot a look of panic at my Mom, who rolled her eyes in response. She probably said something helpful like, “you don’t even know what real pain is,” and also, “this was your idea, remember?”

So I turned to the technician and decided I’d have to use my “be gentle with me, I’m a baby” pain disclaimer. Freely admitting you cannot handle pain to people about to inflict pain rarely backfires (I’ve admittedly never been a hostage or prisoner of war, so I can’t vouch for this in all circumstances). Even if your whining annoys the person, it still disarms them into being nicer, even if they have to fake it.

The technician was a seasoned professional. “Don’t worry, I’ll talk you through it.”

She marked my ears. “OK, now hold your breath and you won’t feel a thing.”

It seemed like a strange request, but I would’ve done anything she asked to avoid feeling pain. I filled my lungs with air and concentrated on holding it in until she gave the all clear. Or until my ear exploded with pain, whichever came first.

I heard a snapping noise and felt a slight pinch, but no pain. I let out all the air I’d sucked in and smiled in relief.

The technician beamed. “See, I told you, no pain.”

I just knew the breath thing had made the difference. I waited for her to tell me when to start holding my breath for the other ear, but she didn’t say anything. She kept fiddling with the gun right by my other ear.

Is she going to tell me when to hold my breath? It’s going to hurt if I don’t hold my breath. I’ll just start holding my breath now. What the hell is taking so long?

Snap!

“All done!” My Mom took a quick look at my ears and then walked over to the counter with the technician to pay.

It hadn’t hurt, but I felt strange. Mom was talking and I could tell she thought I was right behind her. I tried to catch up, but I felt warm, tingly, and dizzy.

My new earrings started to burn in my ears and the backs felt so sharp. I couldn’t help thinking about how those pointed tips had torn new holes in my ear lobes.

Mom is the only one of the two of us who knows what happened next. While paying the technician she heard a commotion across the store. Only then did Mom notice I wasn’t right behind her. I was no longer sitting in the chair either.

I hadn’t made it three steps before passing out.

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This post is in response to the writing prompt at Studio 30 Plus this week:  “She held her breath.”

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done in the name of fashion?

Apr
6
2012
Photo (Good) Friday: Jellybeans, Chicken Hoo-Has, and the Resurrection

Last year, there was some crazy talk about a “War on Easter.”

As an atheist agnostic apathetic agnostic in need of a couple of Easter cards, I can’t say I would have minded a skirmish as I scanned the selection of cards at the grocery store.

I just wanted something cute and upbeat and not too “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” to include with the Easter candy I planned to send to my nephew studying abroad this semester. But the Catholic school girl inside me was actually a little shocked to find this:


Jellybean day? Seriously?

The term “Easter” doesn’t have anything to do with the resurrection, why should I have to give up saying Happy Easter? Christians should have to come up with another name for their celebration of the resurrection. But this card was just childish and ridiculous enough to make the care package cut.

This year I also needed a card for my Mom. I’m bummed she isn’t visiting for Easter this year per our usual tradition. Don’t worry, she mailed my Romolo’s chocolate to me…

“Jellybean Day?” No.  “Romolo’s Day?” Perhaps…

Anyway, since I won’t get to spend the holiday with Mom, I needed to find a card that conveyed just the right sentiment for Easter. Oh yeah, here it is.

As someone who’s had something (two things in fact) come out of her hoo-ha, I thought my Mom would appreciate the reminder on this most holy of occasions. Quite frankly, I just enjoy the hell out of the word “hoo-ha.” I was a fully formed adult before ever hearing this term (ironically, in reference to my Mom’s hoo-ha) and after I fell out of my chair laughing, I tried making up for lost time. I must have said “hoo-ha” 900 times that day. Here are a few more for you: hoo-ha, hoo-ha, hoo-ha.

At least this card says “Easter” and not “Jellybean Day.”

With my card selections complete, I started to wonder if American Greetings actually was engaging in a War on Easter. But fear not, only two slots away from the chicken hoo-ha card was this:

When I showed Dave the inside of this card, he said “and how much happiness is that?” Hmm, good question. Wishing you all the happiness of an unjust death sentence, followed by kinda, sorta, not really coming back to life. 

We’ll try to carry on as best we can without Mom. We’re headed for Willow’s Fish Fry tonight, then we’ll trek out to Wegmans to stock up for our Easter feast (ooh, date night at Wegmans. And I’m not kidding). I also plan on making Peeps ice cream (favorite Peeps Diorama contest entry below!). Is it wrong that I’m looking forward to chopping up Peep bunnies? What are your Easter Jellybean Day Decorated Chicken Hoo-Ha Expulsions Day plans?

Nov
1
2011
Winter Cauliflower

It was a delicacy we had only once, but my family still speaks of it decades later. Mom’s cauliflower goo was before its time. Today she could call it “cauliflower mash,” an ingenious carb substitute!

In my pre-FoodTV youth, overcooked (and/or canned) vegetables were the norm. My family hadn’t even tried Chinese take-out yet. But my Dad, brother, and I knew something was wrong with this cauliflower. While the florets on our plates looked in tact, they dissolved on contact with the butter knife.

“What’s up with this cauliflower,” we asked.

“I don’t know. It must be winter cauliflower,” Mom replied.

She’s still trying to live down that creative excuse.

Over the years, we’ve added other stories to the lore of Mom’s innovative cooking. She hates cooking. Cooking wasn’t going to get much attention.

Salads consisted of lettuce leaves barely cut or ripped, often too large to shove in your mouth. I haven’t eaten a salad made by my mother in almost twenty years, but I still call non-bite size pieces of lettuce “Mumsie lettuce,” an obnoxious yet amusing phrase coined by my Dad. Even my husband says it now, which really fries Mom’s ass. Once again, she was before her time. Today, countless restaurants cut iceberg into huge wedges, throw some blue cheese on top, and call it cuisine. Annoying, because if I wanted to have to cut my salad, I’d eat at Mom’s.

Mom can cook. I still remember her mac and cheese fondly. She makes good stuffing too. I look forward to her (green-frosted) orange cookies every Christmas (probably the only reason I avoided contracting scurvy as a picky child). No matter what the proliferation of cooking shows implies, we can’t all be accomplished chefs. I don’t like to cook either. The kitchen in our temporary rental house during high school probably still smells like the burned Rice-A-Roni I forgot I was making one afternoon. I took the saying about pots literally. Who can be bothered to watch a pot boil anyway?

Photo credit

RECIPE

Winter Cauliflower

Remove outer leaves and core from a head of cauliflower. Cut into florets.

Add 3 quarts of salted water to a saucepan and bring water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets to the boiling water.

Boil florets for 10-20 minutes or until cauliflower no longer has mass.

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This week’s RemembeRED memoir prompt:

“Take me back…whether to a month ago or decades ago.

Share with me a special recipe, but don’t just list out ingredients.

Take me there…in 500 words or less.”

Write on Edge: RemembeRED

Sep
13
2011
If My Mom Ate An Apple In The Forest, I Would Hear It

Mom called me at work on Friday all excited about something she’d seen on Regis and Kelly.

“I know what’s wrong with you,” she said.

You see, I’m extremely sensitive to noises, like those made by people eating (and breathing if we’re being honest here). We’ve spent years thinking I was just an intolerant bitch, but as it turns out, I have a disorder (Misophonia)!

And Kelly Ripa has it too! Maybe we could get together and bond over our common affliction. We could throw a big party, use her fabulous Electrolux kitchen appliances to cook up a feast, then be forced to leave in a huff when the guests insisted on actually eating the food. Damn people and their infernal chewing!

For those of you who don’t suffer from Misophonia, let me describe it for you. I already made reference to it in this post. But I wrote that before my diagnosis.

My Dad was always the worst offender. The sound he made while chewing, which I always referred to snottily as “chomping,” was absolutely unbearable to me. Once I made such a fuss about it at Elby’s Big Boy, he stormed out of the restaurant and walked home. If he thought my Mom and I would stop eating our meal to go after him, he didn’t know us very well. I was a little afraid of what he might do when we got home, but mostly I was relieved to eat in peace.

According to my Mom, Kelly Ripa has to leave the room when her husband eats a peach. Honey, join the club. When my Mom eats apples, I could cheerfully kill her. She likes to cut them in quarters and savor each piece to maximize my torture, because she’s sweet like that. The sound of the crunching and the smacking rattles a nerve inside my brain. If I can’t leave the room, I fixate completely on the noise and pray for it to stop.

Sometimes she calls me while sucking on hard candy. I think she does this just to irritate me. She’ll be talking and all I can focus on is the sound of the sucking. When it’s my turn to speak, instead of responding to what she said, my response is usually, “What the hell are you eating?” And she’ll say, “fuck you.” The love runs deep.

Even my beloved husband is not immune to my Misophonic venom. He is the youngest of five boys and learned early that you eat quickly or you might not get enough food. I cannot reason this imprint out of him. I say, “there are only two of us and you’ve made enough food for six people!” But he is an eating machine. He often puts a new bite in his mouth before finishing his previous one. This creates a sound I can only compare to what I imagine it would sound like to swallow a live rat. Sometimes I have to wait to eat until he’s done so I can enjoy my dinner.

Once I knew I had a disorder, I looked it up on the internet. I knew I’d found my peeps when I read Lucy’s comment “It makes me sooooooo angry like I could shoot people in the face!” and laughed out loud. OMG, like me too! I was glad and somewhat disturbed to find so many others with this affliction. I was also glad Lucy mentioned she’s receiving therapy. Not surprisingly, not everyone found Lucy’s comment amusing. “Rugbyman,” who has a stepson with this affliction, apparently doesn’t think getting shot in the face is funny at all. Oh, dude! Don’t be so prickly, when we say we want to shoot you in the face, we are just kidding…sort of.

Sep
5
2011
Along For The Ride

Do I miss my childhood? I miss four things about being a kid: my Gram, the close relationship I had with my older brother, summers being something special, and the excitement of Christmas. And maybe MTV playing music videos.

I’m not secretive about not being a kid person. Not a very popular opinion, I know, but at least I’m consistent. I didn’t like kids even when I was a kid. I didn’t like being a kid.

Kids have no control over most of what happens to them.

Other people made my choices. My room was painted pink. I hated pink. I wanted my hair long. My Mom insisted on keeping it short. I cried every time she had it cut.

My older brother would babysit me during the summers. Mike wanted to play tennis with his buddy one day. He wouldn’t let babysitting cramp his style. Guess who had to go with them?

I couldn’t think of anything less fun than walking two miles in the blazing sun to watch sub-amateur tennis. Mike suggested I ride my bike. Did I mention the route was uphill? Huffing and puffing within a few blocks, my little legs couldn’t keep the pedals turning. So I had to walk two miles uphill in the blazing sun while pushing my bike.

Once at the courts, guess whose job it was to retrieve every unforced error (and there were many)? We still talk about that little outing.

On the other hand, I couldn’t think of anything more fun than baking (and eating) cookies. I asked to bake all the time and Mom rarely agreed.

“Why not,” I would whine.

“Because I don’t want to make cookies,” she would say.

“But I’ll do it,” I would insist.

“No, you’re too little. I’d have to help you and I don’t feel like making cookies right now.” Mom clearly identified with Hillary Clinton on making cookies.

Even as a preteen, I still wasn’t allowed. Although, I did almost set our house on fire twice during high school, so maybe she was right to keep me away from the oven.

Kids are annoying.

Kids have no self-control. Maybe because they have no say in anything else, they figure they might as well make everyone else miserable too.

I remember refusing to go to bed one night for my Gram. I danced around, sang at the top of my lungs, jumped on the couch, and generally acted like an escaped mental patient. Gram’s look said, “I’m too old for this shit.” Although she probably thought it in Polish.

I felt exhilarated and terrified. You see, I knew I was tired. I could barely stand up. But I had wired crazy kid brain. My misbehavior felt like something I watched happen rather than something I chose to do. I felt sorry for my Gram and I actually annoyed myself. I was powerless.

I can look back on my childhood fondly now. But I don’t really miss it.

This little uplifting piece was inspired by the memoir writing prompt at Write on Edge. The prompt asked us to use the image of the crayon for inspiration and to begin the post with the words… “I miss my childhood…” I feel the need to point out I wouldn’t have colored in pink even if that crayon were the only one left in the box.

Aug
18
2011
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.

Aug
14
2011
Chuck Dog Fluffy Pants

Seven years ago we adopted Chuck, my fluffy muffin. Since we don’t know when he was born, we celebrate his birthday on the anniversary of the day we brought him home.

I have always wanted a dog. But my Mom can’t stand to be around animals, which meant no dog for me. When Dave and I bought a townhouse after we got married, I thought I could finally get a dog. Wrong. Dave was against getting a dog. He worried our new house was too small and yard-less. Also there was that being responsible for another living creature thing.

My longing for a dog got so bad that I would sometimes cry if I saw a cute dog when we went out. I held firm. Dave simply needed to be convinced.

I had been looking at Petfinder for a couple of months already before Dave finally agreed to meet some dogs (“How convenient! I happen to already have a list of possible dogs!”) in 2004. All spring and summer, I searched, filled out applications, got friends to serve as references, and promised a kidney to various rescue groups and shelters. The requirements to adopt a dog here were unbelievably stringent. There were home visits.

I wanted cute and fluffy and for some reason cute and fluffy seemed to correlate with separation anxiety issues. We both work full-time. After months of rescue groups and shelters saying no way to our adopting the cute, the fluffy, the separation anxiety-ridden, and several meetings with dogs who could take or leave us, I finally found Chuck.

The pictures were poor quality, but in them the sun lit him from behind and he looked like a fluffy angel. Key phrases popped out from the description: “…barely tops 30 lbs (including the fluff)…beautiful brindle coat and thick mane…uniquely gorgeous….infectious smile…barely a year old…good humor…foster says “to know him is to love him”…excellent for a first-time dog owner…moderate energy…non-destructive…housebroken…no signs of any separation anxiety.”

I stayed up until 1AM filling out the application. When the woman who had rescued Chuck came over for the home visit, Chuck’s Foster Dad brought Chuck along too.

Chuck was charming. He seemed happy to meet us. He had clearly been learning to give paw, because he continually pawed at us while we pet him. It was super cute. He soaked in our attention like it was his job.

Dave is not a very demonstrative person. He was petting Chuck, but I couldn’t tell what he was thinking. I was relieved when the rescuer suggested we take Chuck on a quick walk to discuss things in private.

When Dave didn’t say anything, I asked, “What do you think?”

Quintessential Dave, he replied, “About what?”

“About Chuck,” I said with exasperation.

“Oh, I love Chuck!”

So it was settled. We were adopting Chuck.

When we first got him, we spent a lot of time staring at him, doting on him, and being blown away by how cute he was. I thought it was the newness of it, that we’d get over it. But we’re both still overwhelmed by how adorable he is at least once a day. When we’re out walking him, people often stop to comment. In fact, Chuck seems surprised when people pass him by without doting on him.

Even my Mom is a closeted Chuck fan. When we visited her last Christmas, I know she thought I couldn’t hear her, but I totally overheard her tell a friend on the phone that Chuck “is a beautiful dog.”

Over the years I have taken a boatload of Chuck pictures. Here are some of the best photos of our first seven years with Chuck. Happy birthday, Chuckle Puppy! We love you!

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.