Tag Archives: sleep

Feb
22
2012
An Ambush of Alarms

How do you feel about getting up in the morning? Do you need an alarm…or four?

When my alarm goes off on work days, I sometimes ask God to kill me. I don’t mean it, of course, but that gives you a taste for how much I hate waking up.

Thus, I use several alarms. To steal a phrase from Elvis, circa Aloha from Hawaii, I’d like to introduce the members of my alarm clock team to you, before we go any further:

For those of you counting at home, there were three alarm clocks in my reenactment video. Some of you might also remember Tocky, my fourth alarm clock who has been on the injured reserve list for several months.

While I waited to see if the Tocky people would send me a replacement (and they did, yea!), I purchased the light alarm clock in the first video. I thought it would be a more natural, less jarring way to wake up. Less jarring is right…zzzzzzzzzz. Also, the chimes gave me tinnitus. Well, I never stop hearing them anyway.

I had hoped being exposed to that light would make it easier to get out of bed in the morning. But that hasn’t happened. That will require more sleep.

A 14-year veteran of Catholic school, I find Lent to be a tonic for my otherwise weak will. So even though I’m no longer religious, I continue to make use of the Lenten season to work on stuff. I’m pretty sure Jesus won’t mind.

Even though I failed miserably last year, I still need to work on my sleep issues, so this year is Lenten promise: Sleep Edition, Part 2.

Lenten Promise 2012

1. No screens after 11pm.

2. In bed by midnight.

So let it be written…so let it be done.

Speaking of writing…since I do most of my blog-related crap during the late evening/night hours (as you can see by the clocks in the first video!), I expect my post frequency here to suffer. But if I get more rest, maybe I’ll make more sense when I do post. We can all look forward to that.

Do you give up anything/do something special for Lent? 

NOTE: For the title, I wanted to use an animal group name that starts with “A” for alarm or “C” for clock. Did you know a group of tigers is called an “ambush?” Seemed appropriate for my alarms. Also seemed appropriate given the mini stuffed cheetah who stars in the first video. Dave gave him to me after I finished my first half marathon and I mistook it for a tiger because I am a moron.

So I call him “chi-ger” now. By the way, a group of cheetahs is called a “coalition,” which I considered using for the title (“a coalition of clocks”), but that sounded a little too civilized for alarm clocks.

Jan
24
2012
Run to the Hills

The alarm sounded, music uploaded onto the clock interrupting their sleep.

Honest to God, she’s never going to change that music, he thought. At least “Run to the Hills” accurately reflects the annoyance of waking up this way.

I hate when she lets the alarm go on and on, it’s so inconsiderate. Doesn’t she realize how exhausted I am?

He rolled around with his anger for a bit and toyed with the idea of turning off the alarm before she got up, but that would really piss her off. He considered an escape from the room, but he didn’t have the energy to right himself. His movements always felt awkward in the morning.

He tried one last time to roll over, but felt like he waded through thick brush. After about 30 seconds, he gave up and allowed himself to roll over onto his back. Positioned just right, he could muffle the sound of the alarm and rest.

He dreaded the days she slept through the alarm. She would check the time, panic, and start spewing profanities about the alarm’s uselessness, making him wince. Yeah, blame it on the clock. Why can’t you just go to bed earlier, woman?

After about a year of this torture, he couldn’t take it anymore. He cracked. Fuck this noise, he thought.

He made sure the alarm would never sound again. It didn’t help her get out of bed anyway. Silence, blessed silence, and rest awaited. 

 

This post was inspired by the Write on Edge RemembeRED writing prompt on personification: “tell a piece of your story from the point of view of an object who bore witness.”

This post is written in memory of my Tocky, who tried to roll around (as you can see from the video, pretty half-heartedly) and play music (only three songs worth, though it held many more) to wake me up for about a year, and then decided he’d had enough of my nonsense and my thick shag carpet and died an untimely death. After much back and forth with the company, they promised to send me a new one. We’ll see how Tocky2 fares.


Write on Edge: RemembeRED

Jan
3
2012
2012: My Last (According to the Maya) Annual Goals

Probably not the most thrilling content I’ve ever written, but I’m pasting my 2012 goals below:

  • because I said I would,
  • to help with accountability, and
  • to serve as a foundation for what I’ll inevitably write about some of these.

As a reward for sticking with a list post in table format, see the end of the post for an embarrassingly unflattering photo of myself–menacing and holding the umbrella I attacked in a vicious rage.

I welcome feedback on any of what’s below, but particularly seek input in the “go cold turkey on perfectionism” area. Too much of my time gets sucked into the perfection spiral of attempting to make the good enough better. “Perfect is the enemy of the good” is my new adopted mantra, but the perfectionism is so ingrained in me it’s difficult for me to devise ways of knocking it the hell off.

Big-Picture Goal

Specific Activities / Strategies

Increase energy/reduce anxiety
  • Get more sleep!
  • Have nightly relaxation time & schedule weekly unstructured time
Go cold turkey on perfectionism
  • Use timer to snap out of over thinking and hyper-focus
  • Viciously cull to do list (stay tuned, I’ll be failing at this soon!)
Find career fulfillment
  • Locate inner voice / expand knowledge
Increase fitness (run faster, build strength)
Maintain intimate and fulfilling marriage
  • Walk Chuck in the evenings/take over 1 weekend morning walk for Dave
  • Real (not visiting family) vacation (London for Wimbledon?)
  • None of your business
Develop and maintain meaningful relationships
  • Host at least two events
  • Develop annual get together tradition
  • At least monthly social event
  • Reach out more frequently to friends (not just Facebook!)
  • Make amends where needed
Continue to write and build blog community
  • Post 2-3 times/week (develop editorial calendar)
  • Visit and comment on favorite blogs
  • Finish blog redesign
Plan for early “retirement”
  • Save refinance and health care savings
  • Confirm plan with financial planner
Simplify and customize house for oasis-like awesomeness
  • Declutter
  • Reorganize basement, get treadmill

There’s other stuff I’d like to do, like read some damn books this year, but this list is already too long. Hopefully there can be some synergy among my goals. For example, I plan to start a nightly reading before bed ritual to ease into an earlier bedtime and get more sleep. Presumably this will also result in my reading more than one book this year.

So I promised you an embarrassing photo, eh? I’d put the umbrella photo here, but that wouldn’t help me pimp the Logy Express Facebook page.

Go check out the photo, freshly published there. While you’re there, why not click the “Like” button?

———————

Do you set goals or make resolutions? What are your plans for 2012?

Oct
21
2011
Photo/Video Friday: Water

I’m still mourning my beach vacation.

For some reason mini golf seems very decadent to me, maybe because it’s such a useless activity. You know we had excess leisure time available because we played mini golf not once, but twice. The second time was on this cool (although completely mosquito infested) real grass course. I beat Dave both times. I felt proud of this achievement and started to think I should take up golf in my retirement. But when I mentioned my victories in an email to my father-in-law, he didn’t allow me to savor my triumph very long (“anyone can beat Dave at golf!!!”).

I managed to run a couple of times. I ran right on the beach, which I’ve never done before. It felt noticeably more difficult, but the view made up for it. I was very amused by what my Garmin running watch portrayed as my running route when I uploaded my information. Having added running on water to my resume, maybe my dream job can be founder of an independent religious movement.

I got a glorious amount of sleep during the vacation. Sadly, the solid eight or more hours a night didn’t seem to make much of a dent in my sleep deprivation.

Our house was on the ocean side of the Outer Banks, so each night I thought about getting up to take sunrise pictures. Each morning I rolled over to find the sun shining right in my eyes. Oops. So the sunrise photo shoot was the morning we left. The results were just OK. I’d hoped the sunrise would be as pretty as sunsets are. I mean, aren’t they the same thing in reverse?

I wasn’t super impressed. I don’t think the lack of clouds in the sky helped, as it was just a sea of orange with nothing breaking it up. But since I hauled my ass out of bed before the crack of dawn and burned my retinas (and probably my camera lens too) for this, I’m sharing one of the pictures. I like it because it looks kind of creepy.

What I enjoyed most about our week away was walking on the beach together. Chuck had never been to the ocean before, and I don’t know how many more chances we’ll get to take him. It kept reminding me of that Little House on the Prairie episode (“The Odyssey“) where Laura and Albert take off on a cross-country journey to California with some dying kid who you’ve never seen before this episode even though there are only 15 people in Walnut Grove (red shirt!) so he can see the ocean before he dies. Don’t think I didn’t cry when I watched the video of the last scene linked above.

Lastly, Chuck is not a water dog and it is very cute.

Aug
19
2011
Ten Jobs I Would Be Willing To Do Without Pay

Do you know what today is? It’s my anniversary. Today I celebrate 15 years of employed bliss. As I discussed yesterday, one of the reasons I have stayed where I am so long is a lack of a “big dream” to pursue.

I recently saw a suggestion to think about what you would still be willing to do even if you weren’t being paid for it. I guess the theory is it helps you identify your true calling and maybe shake loose a possible idea for turning it into income. I remember laughing heartily at the suggestion, because the only thing that immediately came to mind was sleep. I would definitely be willing to sleep for free. Anyone want to step forward and make my dream of a new career in somnolence come true*?

In honor of my momentous employment milestone, I decided to brainstorm some dream job titles to try to uncover my passion. It must be in there somewhere.

Ten Jobs I Would Be Willing to Do Without Pay (in alphabetical order):

1. Back Rub Critic

2. Dave’s Wife/Stay at Home Dog Mom (additional husbands and windows would require a paycheck). Also, can someone please explain to me why Gwyneth Paltrow kept popping up when I searched for images of “traditional housewives?”

3. Family Photographer. All I mean by this is taking pictures of whatever I feel like. Ironically this photo shows Dave would make a good photographer.

4. Grouch (Oscar’s bound to retire sometime, right?)

5. Ice Cream Taster. This is making me want krunch kote.

6. Lode Runner

 

7. Lounge Singer (thank you!)

8. Neighborhood Watch President. I would write copious amounts of front porch sitting into this job description. EDITOR’S NOTE: This used to be accompanied by a photo of a very disgruntled older lady wearing a clear babushka, but the link is sadly broken now. So I’ll replace this one with Segway Meter Maid (photo of us on Segway tour is a placeholder until I can sneak a picture of the dude I see writing tickets on a Segway several times a week).

9. Orgasm Reviewer

10. Red Panda Caretaker. The July/August 2011 issue of the National Zoo’s Zoogoer magazine has an article about hand-rearing baby animals, including red pandas, at the zoo. Mother of God did I ever go into the wrong profession. The photos of the baby red pandas made my eyes melt out of their sockets. I haven’t seen the new babies yet, but here is a picture of a regular old, ridiculously adorable, red panda I took a few months ago.

IMG_5992

How about you? Are you still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up? What would you be willing to do without being paid?

*I realize somnolence means drowsiness. Why isn’t there a Latin word for the act of sleeping?

Aug
16
2011
Deprived

We sat in silence in the back of the cab. The driver wanted to share one of his poems. Oh God, I didn’t think this ride could get any worse. The driver probably thought we were flying to a funeral. No, we were going on vacation.

Six months earlier I had broached the subject of a “big trip” to celebrate our tenth anniversary. We earn a good living, we don’t have kids tying us down, why don’t we ever go anywhere, do anything exciting? We settled on Belgium. Exotic enough to mark the occasion, but comfortable since I had lived there for a semester in college.

At first, excitement fueled marathon internet research. There was so much to do. After much mental hand-ringing, I booked an apartment and a flight and was too overwhelmed to do more.

A few weeks before our departure, I started to panic. I would never be ready in time. I asked Dave for ideas. I rejected his suggestions as not sufficiently informed by our books or my inflexible idea of what it meant to be ready.

I read the travel guides cover to cover. I spent hours searching the internet, printing custom maps, creating spreadsheets with sight-seeing and restaurant ideas (sorted by location). All while worrying about being ready.

I became fixated on the perfunctory section in the travel guide about security. Somehow “be aware of your surroundings” turned into an internet search that uncovered a murder over a MP3 player on the Brussels metro.

Dave used his iPod all the time. He was trusting and not very observant. I became convinced something bad could happen to him on this trip. Rationally I knew this was extremely unlikely, but my mind kept conjuring up terrifying scenarios, including death, anyway. No trip was worth any of these scenarios. 

I started to dread my looming…vacation.

When we arrived in Brussels, I was horrified to find my French had deteriorated so badly I couldn’t communicate. I hadn’t prepared enough, I wasn’t ready. The first morning, I couldn’t finish my breakfast. Worse, I could feel my body about to reject what I’d already eaten. Even though I was exhausted, my insomnia the first night didn’t surprise me. Rick Steves had warned me about that.

Surely I would sleep the second night. I got comfortable and tried to clear my mind. After hours of lying still without sleep, I tucked deeper into the fetal position and stuck my hands under my chin. My fingers rested lightly on my neck and I felt my heart pound at double my resting heart rate. Images and thoughts raced through my mind, unintelligible but disturbing. I did not sleep for one minute.

The nausea didn’t let up. In a country we had selected in large part for the food, I ate only to avoid passing out. Walking around the city, I felt weighed down by my brand new pants dragging on the ground.

Midway through the week, we sat at the small kitchen table in the dreary apartment. I choked down tiny bites of takeout. I worried about getting sick on our trip to Bruges the next day. I felt guilty Dave wasn’t getting to eat any real food, that I was ruining this trip for him.

I wanted to tell him I’d been counting down the days until it was over and how worried I was that I couldn’t even enjoy a vacation. All I could say was “I just want to go home.” The words caught in my throat and I sobbed.

I made a deal with whoever might be listening. If I got through this vacation, I would figure out why I made everything so difficult and fix it.

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This post is in response to this week’s RemembeRED writing prompt.

“This week we’d like you to write about a moment in your life when you knew something had to change drastically. Really explore the moment.”

I decided the word limit should be 619 words. I managed to hit the mark exactly!

“How was your trip” was never such an unwelcome question. I do have some pleasant memories of the trip, like the way Dave held my hand. He was steady and comforting and wonderful.

Dave told me after the trip that all my rules (no iPod!) freaked him out so much he was afraid of the little old ladies who’d tried to strike up a conversation with us on the train to Bruges. I’m sure they planned to stab him for his iPod, then sell me into slavery.

This was really hard to share. I’m telling myself everyone has things they want (need) to change. And that being open about it can only help.

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
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
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
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.