January 2010


When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be three things: a rock star, a wife, and a mom.  The amount of time I spent pretending dolls were my babies surely bordered on the unhealthy.  My mother had gotten married at 28; I thought that was sooooo old.  At 16, I decided I’d be married by my early twenties and if I didn’t have kids by 25 – my god – I’d just go get inseminated or something because I’d HAVE to have kids by then.

Luckily, as I grew older, I also grew smarter.  Smarter about what I wanted out of my life and the kind of person I’d want it with.  If I’d married my high school sweetheart, we’d both surely be miserable by now, and he was smart enough to know it though I was heartbroken at the time.  I’ve been in love since then, and dated a lot since then.  My ideas about love and marriage and children changed.  At 26, when my son came to live with me, I knew I had more important things to focus on, and figured I still had all the time in the world to meet someone.

Six years later, here I am, in the dreaded THIRTIES.  I remember going out to bars in my twenties and MAKING FUN of women in their thirties who were there.  They must be desperate, they must be HUSBAND HUNTING.  Because, Austen fans, a woman in her thirties not in possession of a ring must be in want of a husband.

Which leads me to screaming…lots of screaming.  I don’t want anyone to make any assumptions about me like that.  I don’t need to get married.  So why did I dream about my thwarted wedding the other night?  What are these strange machinations of my psyche?  Will I turn, werewolf-like, into one of those women who becomes so obsessed with marriage that she just finds SOMEONE to marry? Will my biological clock tick in my ear like a metronome slowly driving me insane?

Of course not.  But sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t made the choices that I did at 26.  Would I have met someone?  Gotten married?  Had a family?  It doesn’t matter, because the more important question is: what would have happened to my son without me?  If I had stayed in Boston, both our lives would have been different, and lesser.  I could never have married anyone I dated in the past because I’ve grown so much the last six years.  I wouldn’t say I’ve changed fundamentally because I think the fundamental pieces were always there, but I’ve changed in a lot of other ways.  I’m more confident, I’m more flexible, I’m more capable and thoughtful and mature.  I dare say I’m smarter.  And I’m more fun.  It may not look like it on the surface because I’m not out clubbing or drinking like others, but when I have fun it’s better because I have less insecurities.

I like the woman I’ve become.  I like being 32.  I like being a mom.  One of the most important things I’ve learned about life is that it takes you in directions you’d never imagine.  You make choices on things you never thought would be questions.  So maybe I won’t get married.  Maybe I won’t have more kids.  Maybe I don’t even want babies; I don’t know.  I’m going to let life take me where it takes me.  Maybe tonight I’ll dream about riding on the back of a motorcycle or traveling to France.  Or zombies.  As long as they’re not wearing taffeta, I’ll sleep easy.

In the last few months, I’ve been experiencing something disturbing, out of character, and just plain annoying: I’ve been struggling with depression.  Now, I’m a researcher at heart, so I immediately started brainstorming ideas about how this misery could have happened and Googling the shit out of them.  I have probably ten good solid things that any therapist would latch onto and charge me hundreds of dollars to talk about, but in the end, the best one didn’t come from me.  It came from my baby sister.

I call her my baby sister but she’s 26 years old.  She has a bachelor’s degree in biology and teaching, and when it comes to all things science, she trumps me.  I may be able to tell her when she’s spelling something wrong, but she’s always the one to point out when something may just plain be in my DNA.  So when she suggested to me one idea that I hadn’t considered, one idea that was so innate to my being that it wouldn’t have crossed my mind in a million years, I listened.

I am going off the Pill.

Yeah, the Pill, with a capital P.  I’ve been on it for 15 years with no breaks.  I love the Pill.  The Pill is my friend.  I’ve never once had to worry about pregnancy in all of my sexually-active, childbearing years.  I’ve been on it while in relationships, on it while sowing my wild oats, and on it during years’-long periods of abstinence. 

Which is why it’s so hard to admit that it could have turned on me. 

I’m a good Googler, but there’s a lot of contrary information out there.  Some studies say it helps with depression, some say it can throw you into a misery unlike any other.  This was one time when I’d have to rely on my own gut.  I thought about it a lot.   The truth is, I haven’t been on the Pill so I could go out and be slutty.  It was an insurance so that I could live my life the way I wanted to for as long as I wanted to.  Now the insurance will have to be my own behavior.  Which means, yes:

 “Look at meeeee, I’m Sandra Dee…”

Celibacy.  My family is way too fertile to do anything else.  I’ll be honest – fertility scares the shit out of me.  If I were a guy, I wouldn’t have sex with a girl without a notarized letter of intent stating she was on SOMETHING that would keep her from getting pregnant.  I don’t know how they do it.   

I’m also very curious, though.  Going off the Pill feels like a transformation.  I haven’t had an unregulated period since I was 17.  I wonder if I’ll feel different.  Act different.  It’s like there’s a strange, natural self under all these hormones, and she’s about to come out.  And, god help her, she will have to stop for a moment and consider a man who she finds attractive as a potential relationship partner as opposed to just a sex partner.

Either way, if going off of the pill might banish the depressive bouts, it’s worth it.  I’ll figure out another birth control method if it does.  And if it changes nothing, I’ll just go right back on it and put this strange, creepy period (pun intended) behind me.

I have so much to write about, but I’ve been sick with a cold for about two weeks, and the phlegm is just slowing down my brain.  I’ve tried to write three times tonight but to no avail.  I feel so weird not writing here, so I’m just writing to say I haven’t abandoned it.  I’m just full of phlegm.

And yes, I like the word phlegm.  And how it’s spelled.  But not how it tastes. 

Be back soon…

In the fall of 2007, I decided to learn how to cook.  I asked for anything and everything kitchen-related for Christmas.  My son got me a Betty Crocker cookbook, which was the best gift of all since I had no idea where to start.  There were so many elements of cooking that I quickly came to enjoy: buying foods I’d never eaten before,  chopping onions, layering pasta dishes, crushing garlic, the challenging things I came to hate like tempering eggs and making bread – and ultimately the satisfaction of having something completely unexpected and delicious in the end.  But more than anything, the best part of cooking was feeding people.  So I started cooking Sunday dinner for my family.

I had a small condo at the time and the kitchen had very little counter space and (I soon learned) a broken oven, but I loved it.   (A mysterious device called an over thermometer soon fixed my troubles.)  Sunday morning was when I truly started, waking up and grabbing a cup of tea and my cookbook.  I’d put the tv on political programs and half-listen while I pored over the recipes.  Then my son and I would go grocery shopping, which usually involved a frantic phone call or two mid-aisle to my mother to see if she had a distaste for something I’d never seen her eat before. 

I’ve known people who can just walk into a kitchen, grab four things from the refrigerator, and have dinner made in an hour.  I’m not one of those people.  Jane, one of my best friends, is.  We lived together for more than four years, and it was laughable when we’d go grocery shopping: most of my food was canned and boxed; most of hers fresh.  I’d stand there perplexed while she checked out and not have any idea how she was going to turn any of it into – well – food.  Now it was my turn.  The first time I was standing in the checkout line and realized my items looked like hers, I called her all giddy, like the kid sister who finally grew up. 

Unlike my mentor, though, I was a planner, and I always had a mental schedule of when I was starting what.  I’d put on the radio and sing my way through chopping vegetables, picking out herbs, or making dessert.  It was so much fun.  It was “me” time.  It was meditation.  It was like planning a surprise party.  I rarely told anyone what I was making in advance, and I never let myself make the same dish twice.  I wanted them to feel taken care of – a true guest.  Of course, some of the time my family would show up and I’d still be frantically reading directions and trying to finish off dishes without ruining them.  Luckily my little sister would talk me down, or stir something, or – most often – just stay out of the way and let me finish my freak-out.  In the end, it always ended up good no matter what I thought would happen. 

Dinner itself was always too fast.  It wasn’t that we ate quickly, it was just that no matter how much we chatted or joked or told stories, it never seemed long enough. 

Sometimes afterward, we’d sit down and watch a movie while the kids played.  Sometimes we’d play with them.  Sometimes I’d put my head on my mom’s shoulder while we sat on the couch.  Sometimes I’d offer to watch my nephew so my sister could go out; sometimes she’d do the same for me.  Mostly we’d all just talk and just be together. 

I hosted Sunday dinner at my place for most of 2008 and some of 2009.

Tonight, miles away from my family in a different town, I made another Sunday dinner.  It was the first time in a long time.  I’d made dinner on Sundays since we moved, of course, but this was the first time I’d thought about it beforehand, looked at my cookbooks, and cooked some new foods.  It was just me and my son.  It made me miss everyone else. 

My mom’s coming up next weekend to visit.  This is the first time she’s come up just to visit and I want to make it special.  I’m already reading Betty Crocker, and I know exactly what to make her for dessert.  It’s a secret.  I can’t wait to see the look on her face.

I’m becoming concerned that I update my facebook page too often.  There’s a fine line between “I’m very technological and trendy and want to let you know the cool shit I’m up to in a completely nonchalant manner” and “I have no life and my happiness rests upon how many people respond to the inane shit I have to say.” 

The reason I think it’s a problem is that I’m actually starting to think in status updates.  Like little headlines of my life.  By 8:00 a.m. this morning, I kid you not, I must have thought of half a dozen status updates to illuminate my morning events to all of my friends.  (Well, “friends.”)  It was disturbing.  I thought, “OMFG WTF LMFAO :)”.  Actually, I didn’t.  Because that’s even more disturbing.

No, really, my first thought was that I should unplug for a little while.  I know that’s not going to happen, though.  I’m online all day long at work, and my workload is light right now (sshh).  And really, as long as it doesn’t become one’s entire social life, I think it’s a cool part of one’s social life.  So my second thought was that I should just blog about it, since blogging is soooo much more intellectual than facebook. 

But the truth, in truth, is short and sweet, and I can’t make any of these things into a whole post without seriously pandering toward the mundane.

     I ruined my son’s lion in the waching machine because his mane got matted and now he looks different.

     I heard Sigur Ros on the radio this morning and it reminded me of my friend’s wedding.

     I think I sleep better with clean sheets on my bed.

     I believe that “the best laid plans of mice and men” may include $6 worth of ground beef that went bad before I could make it into meatloaf.

     My laundry is very shortly going to eat me.

     I really wish my cube neighbor would stop clearing his sinuses so loudly at his desk.

     And I am so thankful that I am not sick like the rest of the world right now.

No, it doesn’ t make me feel better that you know all that stuff.  But at least I didn’t put it on your status update feed.

So last week I joined eHarmony.  Yes, that’s my pride over there cowering in the corner.  Anyway, the site allows you to reject your potential matches from the getgo, or as you go along.  There’s a list of reasons that you’re allowed to choose from when you say goodbye, ranging from the understandable “I think we live too far apart” to the strange “I’d like to pursue other matches.”  I eliminate a modest number as I review them, but not for the reasons that are given.  I always just choose “other,” although I know this is torture; I wonder if they sit there agonizing what the reason may be.  Of course, the truth may be worse.

What I’d really like to say is…I am closing my match because:

  1. Your picture makes you look like a girl / like you’re 50 / gayer than Perez Hilton / like you haven’t left your bedroom in a few years / really, really ugly
  2. When they ask, “Tell something only your friends know”, you put “You’ll have to ask them! LOL!”
  3. When you respond to what you’re looking for with “Honesty” it means you’ve been burned and you still feel it, and I’m simply not into healing.
  4. Just saying that you’re “fun,” “easygoing,” and “interesting” doesn’t make you any of those things. 
  5. You listed the five things you can’t live without as “air,” “water,” “food,” “shelter” and “family.”   
  6. For the most important quality you’re looking for in a partner, you wrote (this is verbatim): “My ideal companion is a woman that is kind, vivacious, independent, caring, strong, intelligent, appreciative, supportive, constructively critical, wants children, loves to travel, is happy to have a quiet night at home, loves music, loves conversation, appreciates the domestic, needs culture, is compelled to grow emotionally and intellectually, and more.”  Nothing else?  Are you sure?
  7. You didn’t use any punctuation.
  8. You don’t know what anyone notices about you when they first meet you.
  9. But you wish they would notice how fun-loving you are.
  10. You’re looking for someone calm, kind, patient, and understanding – which I am, until I get upset.

I’ll admit, I’m not as honest as I could be.  For example, I’m pretty sure the first thing men notice about me is my rack, but I put my eyes.  But that’s pretty harmless.  At least I make a point of listing some of my interests, like Studio Ghibli, Carole Maso, Mucha, Cowboy Bebop, and Buffalo 66.  Is that too much to ask?  To differentiate if the “music” you “like” is Keith Urban or P. Diddy?

Unfortunately, I realized that I’m going to have to lie (a little) when I fill out those open-ended questions as well.  My three wishes?  Hmmm…world peace, a rewarding career, and winning the lottery!  Where’s my tiara?

The truth is, whateveryournameis, I’d wish that I knew how to not eat emotionally, because that’s putting a crimp in my weight loss plans.  I also wish I were a REAL singer and a writer, because – like sex – what you do when nobody sees you doesn’t count.  I wish I knew how to shut up Sarah Palin, make people listen to Al Gore, keep the neighborhood kids from being jerks to my kid, remember what regular maintenance to do on my car when, manage my finances better, and have local friends to cook for on Sunday afternoons. 

But my son cleaned his room without being asked on Sunday.  I had a nice chat with a woman at work who I thought I didn’t have anything in common with during a lunchtime walk yesterday.  And my brother’s coming up to race our kickass pirate ship Pinewood Derby car on Saturday morning even though it’s a long drive for him.  Those little moments and always feel like wishes come true.  But I’m not telling you about them.  I’ll probably be rejecting you shortly anyway, despite the fact that you are “a very funny person.”

Me, too.