Tuesday, December 20

This "Babies Business"

The hardest thing I've attempted to do in my life is figure out what kind of person I want to be.  I've sorted through being married or single and come up with someone else in my bed.  I've pondered to be a person of faith or not; though not someone who proclaims need of admiration in my faithfulness, God and I are tight.  I decided to be the person who sacrificed fun and frolic for a paycheck and graduating with honors for the many years I spent a student.  I even decided I was going to be the kind of person who colors Disney princess coloring pages into my 20's.  But the hardest thing I have yet to sort through is babies.  And I suppose, eventually, children.  And even more so, how being responsible for a little human fits into everything else.

This whole "babies business" started about four years ago while I was volunteering for a at-risk youth program here in Birmingham.  One day I was talking to the head of the program and she made the comment "If your children aren't your whole life, you shouldn't have kids."  At 21, I hadn't really given much thought to kids or being a mom other than I eventually would, but with that statement, I believe my uterus started the paperwork to be cryogenically frozen.  I was appalled.  It was like someone had passed a death sentence for 18+ years of my life, only to be lifted when my yet-born children left the nest.  I had goals; go to grad school, tour Italy, swim a mile nonstop, buy red high heels, things and tasks that didn't necessarily involve my children.

For the next four years, I pondered these things.  I asked people and got every answer from "Well of course" to "That's just absurd."  The only clear message I received was the joy in the people who were that shampoo commercial mom, like it was a badge of honor to not have slept in five years or to have adult friends with whom you spend time, and the same people who gave that message gave just as much disgust for the other mom.  People I loved and respected gave me different viewpoints and conflicting messages, and my response was sheer panic.  I didn't want higher risk for birth defects and other complications from waiting until my 30's, so I deduced I better figure this shit out, and soon.   The clocks were a'tickin' waiting for me to sort out what kind of mom I wanted to be.  I bounced from the fear of being a selfish mother, wrapped up in her degrees and trips to Europe, and being that mom you see on the shampoo commercial who finally got time to wash and fix her hair.  I didn't want to be either of those, but I wasn't seeing anyone who was.  I wasn't seeing anyone who lived somewhere in the middle between Soccer Mom of the Year and Dr. Ellis Grey from Grey's Anatomy.  I can't blame all the confusion on the women I know.  At least some of all this is the media and modern feminism; homemaker wives, successful career women, women dying with their grandchildren at their bedside, running away to Italy to lead an examined life, mom juggling a grocery bag and a briefcase, "finding yourself" with wine and salsa lessons, all melted together and poured into a mold that serves only to send mixed and overwhelming messages to those of us who want both and all.  And all this fried my oxytocin receptors and produce a visceral reaction to any and all babies, baby clothes, baby aisle at Target, baby talk, baby planning, and baby making.  All babies business was an evil reminder that I didn't know anything except all the things I didn't know.

Sometime along the journey in grad school, that time of my life where my budding maturity as a 22 year old, failed relationships, interactions with intelligent people from different backgrounds, and ever-growing friendships were bathed in counseling theory and skills, I learned that it is okay to not know, to not know how you're going to end up wherever you do.  In the last year and some since meeting the man I want to have babies with, I've morphed into a person that isn't completely appalled at this "babies business".  I still don't want them any time soon.  I can't imagine actually having a child at this very moment; for now, all I want are my ski trips and video game afternoons and high heels.  I'm still afraid of my husband loving our child more than me.  I'm afraid I won't like my kid.  I'm still scared that I'll be disappointed in them if they don't lead the kind of life I value.  I still don't like babies or think baby clothes are cute.  I do, however, think I'll be freaking adorable pregnant.  We have picked out a girl's name, and I do talk about how's she going to be fabulous and brilliant and Bobby talks about how she's going to be in a convent.  I can imagine myself with a 13 year old; I have a hard time thinking of ages birth-13, but I'm so much farther than I was.  I don't precisely know how I got here; chalk it up to wanting to make babies with someone as pretty as Bobby, I don't know.  What I do know is this- I will love my children.  I will raise them to be productive, kind, faithful, loving human beings.  I won't sacrifice all of myself for my children.  I will still go on vacations with just my friends.  I will still fuss over my hair.  I will wear high heels.  I will eat sushi and feta cheese and arugula and weird hamburgers that most kids don't like.  What I don't know is how to get there, but I don't know how I got here anyway.  So maybe this "babies business" for me is just this- Have them.  Love them.  Have yourself.  Love yourself.  Figure it out.  And if it all goes to hell in a handbasket, I know some good counselors and Italy will still be there.

Tuesday, December 6

Journeys Through Netflix

Some would say I have a super awesome job because I get to watch tv and movies at work.  Admittedly, sometimes this is nice, as I never miss an episode of Project Runway, but there's only so much tv and movies you watch before you reach near the bottom of the barrell.  Enter Instant Queue Netflix, a corroboration of Movies You've Never Heard Of, Movies You Wouldn't Even Watch on a Boring Saturday Afternoon, and, very occasionally, Movies You Love But They Haven't Come on TBS in Far Too Long.  These are some of the movies I have watched most recently, and my thoughts on them.

Great movie.  I haven't watched it since it came out 15 years ago, and since I was 10 at the time, it appears a little different now.  Pierce Brosnan wasn't as bad as I remember, but he's no Daniel Craig and no one is Sean Connery.  Side note: introduced my 14-year-old sister to Sean Connery Sunday, since she thought I was talking about Shia "ep-i-tome" LeBouf.

Sean Connery.  Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Anyhow, Minnie Driver singing "Stand By Your Man" in a Russian accent.  Yeah.  Moving on.

The Last Emperor
Story about the last emperor of China, Puyi, set on the throne at age three and four years later made obsolete by the development of the Republic of China.  Peter O'Toole is his tutor, though not nearly in the movie long enough.  Very sad story; I seem to have a hard time finding non-depressing movies on Netflix (yes, I'm talking to you, Mad Men).

Ghosts of Machu Picchu
Documentary on Machu Pichu, the abandoned ancestral home of the Incas.  Kind of interesting, but I had more fun Google Mapping it.

Technology is awesome.

Star Trek
Tyler Perry is the head of the Starfleet Academy?  Eric Bana is the bad guy with funny facial deformities?  Chris Hemsworth is Kirk, Sr.??  And then they're *this*???

Yes, I have seen this movie, but I was too distracted by those two, right there, to notice Troy hero, Thor, and Tyler Perry.  Speaking of-

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?
Okay, I watched the original Why Did I Get Married? several months ago and surprisingly really liked it.  This one didn't start off so badly, but (spoiler alert) ten minutes before the end of the movie, Janet Jackson's husband who she's divorcing and fighting with gets hit by a car.  There's this big scene in the ER where she's all "Love each other, cherish each other" to her friends, everyone hugs and makes up, and then the guy dies.  "One Year Later" and Janet Jackson gets hit on by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.  Also, guy who played Bruce in the tv show "Judging Amy" is a perfect replica of Doc Shizzle.  He a ho. He a ho in the first movie, and his now-ex-wife marries this super nice Sheriff. And then in the second movie, he shows back up being all, "I miss you. Didn't we have such good times together? I have cancer. Take me to my chemo appointments."  I won't be recommending this movie.

So, this week we've gone through "Stand By Your Man", sad Chinese baby, Chris Freaking Pine, and someone who owes my ex rights to make a character based on him.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 19

This "Adult" Thing

As a child, I always thought that becoming an adult would be a specific point and time, or what they refer to in psychology as quantitative change.  One day you're a child, the next day you're an adult.  One day you don't understand velocity, one day you do.  (I had that day.  Sort of.)  As I grow up, however, it's become apparent that this is not the case.  Over the years, I've come up with a list of things that classify one as an Adult:

Buying your own cleaning supplies
Being responsible to someone other than yourself
Taking out your trash
Having a retirement plan
Saving money
Paying taxes
Picking out tennis shoes for fit and not look
Drinking coffee
Working full-time

You know, normal "adult stuff," none of which really looks that appealing.  As I've moved away from home, gotten my own apartment, got into serious relationships, moved farther from home, signed onto a full-time job, and been married, these little adult-life pieces have fallen into place.  It's easy to say a 17-year-old isn't an adult and a 34-year-old is, but what about the 25-year-old?  I think I'm an adult.  I do all those things above, and I'm even married and everything.  There's also good parts to being an adult, or psuedo-adult, or what have you.  I can come home as late as I want, I can eat whatever I want for dinner, I can order a drink at a restaurant, I can pay for that drink at that restaurant, and I could get a puppy.

What didn't occur to me until last weekend were the little, somewhat non-specific parts to being an adult that are great.  There's this show on National Geographic called "Rocket City Rednecks", and I'm pretty sure someone was hanging around my husband and the Best Friend's husband and got an idea for a show.  These men, literally rocket scientists at NASA in Huntsville, go to work during the week, and on the weekend, build stuff.  Like moonshine-powered rockets.  Shopping carts with motors.  A bomb-proof truck.  While watching this I realized that these guys have what is commonly known as a "hobby".  

My hobby?  Or surgery?
I've had hobbies in the past and I have hobbies now- knitting, playing video games, baking- but they've always been things that were a reward for finishing a semester or having spring break.  Ah, that 10 page paper that you spent the last three weeks on is finished?  How about an hour of video games before the next paper, go on, you deserve it.  Completed 750 hours of unpaid labor- I mean, counseling internship at a psych hospital?  How about two straight nights of sleeping for 13 hours and a half gallon of Eddy's Rocky Road?  Until now, there's never been a point when I've had so much free time.  I was in school for six years, spending every free moment cramming information into my brain, and when I wasn't, I was working one/two/three jobs.  Last summer I was job hunting and falling in love.  And last winter, I got engaged and spent the next eight months completely absorbed in wedding planning.  (See previous eight months of blogs.)  But now... what?

There are still "adult" things I have to do when I get home after work, you know, after working full-time and commuting; I go grocery shopping, fix dinner, wash dishes, do laundry.  The thing I'm learning to become accustomed to now is what to do with the other hours in the week.  It's a very odd feeling to come to the end of a day and think "What do I want to do?" and not just "What do I have to do tonight?"  I'm slowing walking through this path, checking things out, figuring out what I *want*.  Spend more time with friends?  Spend time with husband?  Bake poppy seed almond cakes?  Knit Christmas presents?  Work out?  Watch reality television?  It's especially difficult with Bobby away from home more often than not; without him there, I wander around the house like a lost puppy and wonder if it's too early to go to bed.

Is he home yet?  How about now?  Now? ... Now?
It's a good thing to get used to, this free time concept, but it's an adjustment, just like spending money on Windex and laundry detergent instead of shoes.  So tonight, I'm going to Sips-n-Strokes and get my paint on with a swirly tree, a nice Chardonnay, and my two best girls.  And tomorrow night, cooking dinner for the hubby, perhaps a movie or another two hour marathon of DVR'ed Storage Wars.  Might as well give this free time thing a shot, eh?

Monday, September 19

Adventures in Married Life: Part 2

The main reason I want to keep a blog is not really about having other people read it.  For my whole life, I've kept journals and little notebooks with thoughts and lists, and it was always because I felt that I could better clarify the things in my head if I got them out of my head.  My blog is mostly about being an electronic version of those journals in that box upstairs, but it's also nice to be able to look back on and read all that stuff that was in my head those months or years before.

Standing here, thirty-seven days a newlywed, I want to keep up with the things I'm learning as we're making our way through this; it's the counselor part of me that wants to know when and how something changed.  At the end of past relationships, I grew by these evolutionary leaps that catapulted me into a healthier understanding of what it means to be in a relationship.  At the end of my last relationship before the Bobster, I realized that my search should be about both the chemistry and the checklist.  Years ago, I learned not to forsake all the people in my life for a new person, and sometime I realized that maybe there is a thing as a wrong time-right person, but if it's always the wrong time, it's the wrong person.  And somewhere I figured out that just because you care about someone doesn't mean you have to put up with their crap all the time.

These days, I'd like to learn things without such a dramatic prologue, and I'm doing pretty good so far.  As I mentioned before, Bobby and I have different sleep patterns- I consider 8am sleeping late, he prefers 11.  Yesterday morning I woke up, poked Bobby for a while before realizing he wasn't going to get up on my schedule and we were going to miss church.  (To be fair, he is home sick today and wasn't feeling good Saturday night, so he wasn't just being sleepy.)  Hopefully when our situation is different, I'll feel better about the difference in our sleep schedule; for now, though, I only see him a few days out of the week, so I consider all time available as precious time to be spent together.  Including 8am on a Sunday morning.  So at 9am, I'm sitting on the couch alone and whiny because I feel like I'm missing out on time with him.  It then occurred to me that since he wasn't going to get up for at least another two hours, why did I have to endure a self-pitying camp-out on the couch waiting for him to stir.  I call the Bestie, we drank coffee and played at Home Depot until noon.

The lesson to be learned was one that I should have remembered from the countless long-distance relationships I've endured in times past.  Just because we don't see each other as much as we like doesn't mean we have to be THISCLOSETHEWHOLETIME when we can.  Yes, it's nice, and I really wanted Bobby and I to eat breakfast and go to church and eat lunch together on the couch; but if we don't, it's not necessarily the end of the world.  It was better for both of us that I went and did my thing while he was asleep; I was happily attentive for the rest of the day instead of clingy and grumpy (two dwarves that camp out in my closet a lot).  The best part about being married is not having to worry about who's going to be my date to that wedding or hold my hand before a medical procedure or eat that pumpkin cheesecake I'm going to learn how to make.  Bobby's going to be there, even if it doesn't necessarily feel like that right now because when I get home most days, he's not.  But I have the next 60 years to spend with him, so it's not the end of our honeymoon if I miss out on two hours.  A very wise woman who makes the best cornbread and fried green tomatoes you'll ever eat once told me that the key to life is balance, and that means balancing our quality time when we're together, too.  Just not balancing how much cornbread I eat.  Because that stuff is delicious.

Friday, September 2

Adventures in Married Life

Three days until to twenty days in.  So here we are.  We survived wedding-ing, and I am extremely pleased to say that, with the exception of very minor issues, the whole thing went off without a hitch.  By the time we got to the end of the rehearsal dinner, my only hopes were that Bobby and I both arrived and the church didn't burn down; as both wishes were executed, I was a happy bride.

Twenty days in, we are organizing ourselves into married life.  One could even call them adventures.  My favorite adventure thus far has been the things Bobby and I have discovered about each other.  You see, before our honeymoon, the most consecutive days Bobby and I had spent together was six; with the days leading up to the wedding and the honeymoon, Bobby and I have now upped that count to thirteen.  It's (just) one of the terrible things about a long-distance relationship, but I did enjoy our honeymoon all the better for it.

This view helped as well.
Bobby has discovered that I have to be fed and watered every three hours or so; he, on the other hand, can eat three square meals a day and be content.  I discovered that Bobby has an incredibly strange sleeping schedule.  He prefers going to sleep at midnight or later, waking up around 9 or 10, and napping for an hour to two around 2 or 3.  I, on the other hand, go to sleep around 10 and wake up at 7 or 7:30.  I have also learned that Bobby does actually require sunscreen despite his lovely golden skin, lest that lovely golden skin turn bright pink.  We also learned that we have different methods of approaching free time.  I prefer to plan, to list, to schedule, to arrive on time, and to control.  Bobby prefers to do.  We're still learning how to happily balance each other out.

Other small things that have been interesting:

"Husband" and "wife" are still strange terms.  We're practicing, but we seem to perpetually be uncomfortable with our labels.

I have completely and utterly enjoyed my time at home post-wedding.  Because Bobby lives in a Troy, I am alone most or all of the evening.  This week I have gone grocery shopping, learned to broil a steak, found a recipe for my favorite Taziki Friday Pasta, read my book, moved most of my closet downstairs, and taken a bubble bath.

Bobby and I are much less stressed and therefore happier; we now get to enjoy each other's company without discussing one looming topic.

Thank-you notes are a very odd thing.  I can't come up with 75 original sayings for each one, but I'm worried about people feeling unappreciated if their card says the same as someone else's; I do genuinely mean the repeated part though.  I also don't like the "little house wife" feeling I get in describing my plans for these gifts.  For example: "Bobby's favorite food is soup, and I can't wait to serve my favorite Toscana soup in this new bowl."  It's not so bad writing it once, but since most everything I received was kitchen-y, writing cooking and baking excitement 50 times makes me feel so one-dimensional.  Eh.

I love our wedding rings.

That's all the adventures in married life I have for now.  Seeing as how we'll be doing this for 60 years, expect more to come.