Friday, October 25, 2013

The Women

My great uncle died last night, which isn't really what I want to talk about, but it sparked this whole stream of thoughts for me.  I wasn't terribly close to my uncle, not to say that I didn't like him or anything, just that I never saw much of him so it wasn't like there was a ton to build a relationship off of.  He was always kind and friendly, I liked him as an individual.  The thing is, when I heard he died I started thinking about his wife.  I see her more often.  She's always at bridal showers, weddings, baby showers.  When I think about it, a lot of my extended family life has been about gathering women together, and never seeing a lot of the men.  We join together to celebrate marriages and births, and eventually to help each other when death visits.

I've got a lot of strong women in my family.  My maternal grandmother took care of my grandfather when he had cancer, and when he died, leaving her with two teenagers to care for, she took care of them.  She worked multiple jobs sometimes, and she spent a lot of her life taking care of other people.  She never remarried.  One of my great aunts married my great uncle, who stayed on after his parents died to run the family farm.  She was a farmer's wife in the days when there were no factory farms.  It was all you, and maybe a few tractors, and a lot of hard work.  My paternal grandmother raised just about everyone.  She had five children, and when they had children she half raised those as well.  She was tough as nails, she went through breast cancer and a mastectomy before I was even born, but she never talked about it.

When I think back on it, when things have gotten tough in life, it's always been the women who were there to lend a hand.  When my maternal grandmother passed away, my dad's sisters showed up and took over.  They didn't have to, they weren't related to her, but they were there, in the kitchen helping feed everyone, making sure no one had to worry about who was going to buy paper plates, or if we had enough cups.  They came in, and they managed things where the rest of us could not.  Any time someone has needed a place to stay, the women of my family find a way to provide it.  Even now, when I'm short on volunteers for football games on Saturdays, I put out a notice to our theater kids who should be the ones to step up and help, and it's my aunt who answered, offering her time and support if we should need it.

It makes me wonder why we, as a gender, don't get as much credit as we should.  We have babies, we raise future generations, we reach out in support of those who need it, even if they don't know they need it yet.  We as a gender are strong, most of the time putting up with far more than our share of crap from the universe, and yet we don't get seen as strong.  We are seen as weak and in need of protection, or somehow less worthy than our male counterparts.  That's not who we are.  We are so much more than the sum of our parts, and sometimes I wonder what it will take for the world to see and respect that.  I wonder if people even notice.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oh, So There's the Line

Sometimes I think about people in that general sense of "people are weird" or whatever.  Everyone is different, we all have our quirks and our triggers for things that push us over the line from "Sure, I can deal with that" to "Nope, I'm done now".  I sort of started reflecting a bit on some of my own pet peeves, and on where my lines and boundaries fall and I realized that someone can easily shut down any hope of making progress with me with two simple words.  Turns out hearing "I'm busy" pushes me straight over that line of giving a shit about anything you have to say after that.  I think not only because it's an excuse for why you didn't do something, but beyond that it's a crap excuse.  It pushes the responsibility off of the person and places it firmly on the things that have left them so "busy".

In reality, everyone is busy.  Everyone has things that demand their time and everyone has an order of priorities.  If my life is exploding and I have a million presentations at work, plus a show that I'm working on, those things take priority in my life for a while and maybe replying to an e-mail from a friend, or calling my sister, or organizing a game night just don't make it to the list during the week.  But, I have to recognize that although I have stuff going on, that doesn't make replying to that e-mail, or giving my sister that phone call less important even if I can't get to it immediately.  Moreover, it doesn't mean that what I'm dealing with is more important than my sister needing to hear from me, or my friend really needing some advice in that e-mail.  My time is no more valuable than anyone else's, and I think that's something a lot of people don't recognize when they throw out comments like "I'm busy".  If you took the time out of your day to send me an e-mail, then you gave up your valuable time to connect with me and tossing out a comment like "Oh, I've been busy" then supposes that my time is more valuable than yours.  That I am somehow so important and my attentions are needed so much more elsewhere that I do not owe you the courtesy of giving you my time as you have given yours to me.  It's kind of bullshit.  It places the "busy" person into a place of self importance.  They are so important and what they are doing in their "busy" life is so much more important than everyone and everything else, that one simple word can erase any responsibility they had to those around them.  Now I have to forgive you for neglecting something you should have been doing because're busy.  Obviously.  How selfish of me to want to be fit into that busy schedule.

This isn't to say that I'm not guilty of pushing things off when they're not top of the priority list.  I do it all the time.  The difference is that as soon as I have the opportunity to address the things that I have been putting off until a more convenient moment, I actually DO THAT.  I don't know if everyone does.  I think that a lot of people sit around and say they're busy and accept that it's enough.  I try to never say I'm busy when I talk to people.  If I've neglected getting back to someone, I try to say things like "I know I took forever to get back to this, I apologize.  I got caught up in show stuff, but now that I can take a minute to breathe, I wanted to check in", or "Hey, I know it's been a few days.  Haven't forgotten about calling you, I just haven't had a quiet moment to hop on the phone.  I will call you tomorrow".  I take responsibility for the negligence, and even if I offer up a reason for the gap in response time, I always put the responsibility on my own shoulders.  In the end, I'm the one who said that other people weren't top priority in this situation, so I am the one who has to own up to the failure of addressing things in a timely manner.  It's on me, and I make sure people know that.  And then, in future, I try to do better.  I try to change the pattern and not let people who are important to me fall by the wayside in the wake of other responsibilities.

The word "busy" gives people permission to take others for granted.  It gives them permission to not speak to friends for months at a time, or to not connect with family, or to neglect anyone they feel isn't a top priority.  Everyone will have to understand because, well.....busy.  Busy busy busy.  People begin to believe they're so utterly important in their own life that they can't see beyond that to what other, equally busy people, might need.  Or, what those people might be doing.  Maybe you're so wrapped up in your own self importance that you miss out on some really great things.  You might have a friend who learned piano and is participating in their first concert but you didn't know about it because you didn't answer their call because...busy.  Or you might know someone who is really interested in starting a book club and they want your insights and your participation but you couldn't participate because....busy.  And most of the time, we're not legitimately busy.  We find things to be "busy" with to feel important in our own small world.  If any one of us needed to find the time to do something that was outside of themselves, something that benefited someone else or something that embraced a friendship, they probably could.  Yes, schedules are hectic, and life is messy.  Sometimes you're not going to be able to meet someone for coffee on a whim, sometimes those things have to be scheduled, but I'd imagine that if prompted, everyone could find time to schedule them at some point.

So basically what I'm saying is that I don't buy that you're busy.  You're probably not more busy than me, or anyone else on the planet, and if you are, that still doesn't mean you have zero time to devote to people you care about, if you actually care about them.  The next time you mess up and you leave something lingering out there too long, or you choose not to take a call from a friend, don't tell them you've been busy.  Tell them the truth, own your negligence, and then do better.  You'd probably find you have a lot fewer people in your life who feel like you don't give a shit.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Slippery Slope of Soap

Sometimes I think if people could spend a day inside my head, they would probably go nuts.  It's noisy in there.  I think about a LOT of things, and sometimes it makes me crazy when people assume that I do or say things without thinking first.  Sure, sometimes that's the case, but most of the time it's the exact opposite.  My brain is going about a million miles a second trying to over think every little detail of most things.  It might be why decision making for large topics sort of paralyzes me.  I have to think of all the scenarios, all of the potential issues and outcomes.  I think everything to death, and then after I do something I think it over again to decide whether what I did was the right thing or just the decision I made because I was tired of thinking about it.  This makes my brain a very annoying place to be.

For example, let's take a look at something like dish soap.  I had to buy dish soap yesterday for the kitchen and while standing in the aisle staring staring at the wall of dish soap options, this is basically the stream of consciousness my brain spat out:

I hate when there are too many options.  Dawn is on sale but do I want Dawn or do I want Palmolive?  I like the caps on Dawn soap better than the one on Palmolive but is that enough to make a decision on which is better?  I don't like the scent of the Palmolive soap I have right now, but do I really care too much about soap scent?  It doesn't seem like it should matter.  Speaking of scent, there are about a million scents that you can get.  Does scent matter that much to people?  That one is lavender, I can't use lavender.  Check that off the list.  Should I consider using one of those foam dish soaps?  No, that seems like it wouldn't work well.  Maybe I should start buying eco-friendly dish soap.  But how well does that clean?  Is it ok to not clean as well if it saves the environment?  Probably not, I need clean dishes.  It's mad expensive for a regular size bottle.  I wonder why.  I know it's organic, but still.  And what if I buy it and it doesn't clean well and then I have to waste it?  Is that actually all that eco-friendly in the long run?  Dawn is on sale.  But does Dawn work the best?  They also have this Platinum series of Dawn.  Does it really clean better or is it just a fancier scent in a smaller bottle with a bigger price?  Palmolive has a lotion laced dish soap.  My hands dry out when I do dishes.  Should I look into lotion based?  But what if that doesn't clean as well?  I really only care about how well it cleans.  Both brands have an orange scent.  I'm not sure if I like orange scent either.  Ajax is there on the bottom 10 for $10.  But is that really cheaper?  If you have to use more at a time, then it's not cheaper really, since you just go through it faster.  I wish someone would look into this so I don't have to wonder these questions.  I wonder if Consumers Reports does reporting on Dish Soap.  I should look that up.  You get more from just the plain formulas of soap, without the frills.  Scents are apparently free, which is fine.  Which one has the highest amount of soap for the lowest price?  I should divide it out to make sure I'm getting the most bang for my buck.  And do I want rain mist scent?

And then, after about 10 minutes of staring at the wall of soap, I walked out of the building with this:
One bottle of plain, original scent Dawn soap, which I probably could have just pulled from the shelf about 3 seconds after walking into the aisle, except that I had to deliberate over it for 10 minutes to make a decision to go safe and just buy a bottle of plain regular soap.

And that's what pretty much every minute inside my head looks like.

Friday, October 11, 2013

But, Everyone is Doing It!

So I'm at this point in my life where everyone around me has, or is in the process of having children, and I'm over here dragging my feet, having miniature panic attacks whenever I envision myself being responsible for:

1. Growing a fucking human and
2.  Being responsible for not TOTALLY FUCKING UP THAT HUMAN.

It's not that I dislike kids, or that I don't want kids.  I actually do want kids.  It's just that whole growing them from a tiny bundle of cells to a giant watermelon sized alien that will be squeezed through a hole the size of a lemon that squicks me out a bit.  And by a little, I mean COMPLETELY FUCKING TERRIFIES ME.  How's that for honesty?  But I also feel like it's not just the growing an alien being thing, because as traumatic as that might be, it's one of those things that has to come to an end.  It can't go on for a lifetime, it runs its course and it's done.  Plus, drugs.  Glorious pharmaceutical fog provided to you by the angels at Pfizer.  That's an option.  No, the scariest thing that I struggle with is the fact that I'm supposed to take a lump baby and turn it into a respectable human being who is a productive member of society, doesn't end up in prison, and also doesn't grow up to completely hate me.  How does no one else freak out about this?  I mean, it's not a "I don't know what I'm doing, tee hee, parenting is so confusing" fear.  I get the basics.  I get the general idea.  But it's the part about not making my children loathe me that I'm totally baffled about.  If we're doing a quick barometer check of the world at large here, people who know me and end up hating me > people who know me and don't end up hating me.  It's like a HUGE difference on the spectrum.  I ruin like every relationship I ever have.  Eventually, everyone hates me.  So now I'm supposed to go and shoot out a kid that, while very small, will be all unconditional love and stuff, but once grown will probably be like "Nope, everyone's right, you're a bitch.  Hate you".  Yeah, that's not terrifying or anything.

Beyond that, there's this huge worry that I'm totally going to lose my sense of self.  I won't be an individual anymore, I'll just be lumped into being "so-and-so's mom".  No more identity outside of being someone's mom.  It's not that it's necessarily bad to be someone's mom, but right now people know my actual name, and I am not reduced to a role that I fulfill.  I have an identity and I don't want to just be a role.  Plus, the idea of becoming one of those parents who has nothing to talk about outside of their preshus wittle spawn isn't all that appealing either.  And then I have to sit here and think "Am I the only one thinking things like this?".  Everyone around me seems to be so confident, so into the whole process.  So not afraid of shooting an alien out of their girl bits.  Then there's me over here, choking back the panic and wondering why everyone else is so excited.  The whole thing is terrifying.  You could SERIOUSLY fuck a kid up.  I mean, I know my last blog was all about how not making Mindy's Halloween costumes for her won't turn her into a stripper, but sometimes I have to wonder if being me and then being a parent on top of it would turn her into a stripper.  Like I said, I ruin everything.  So does that mean I won't ever have kids?  Probably not, though I do have to find a way to cope with the utter terror that courses through my body at the idea of embracing the "miracle of childbirth", and all of the unpleasantness that lead up to it like oh...I don't know, riding the vomit train for like 4 months.  I made it through my teen years without any bulimia, I don't really jump at the idea of having it forced upon me.  It just seems like the whole "miracle" of it all is so much scarier for me than it is for everyone else.  I'm a pragmatist.  I don't romanticize things.  I'm not going to be like "I puked non-stop for 4 months, but it's all for a good cause so I don't mind" like some people.  Fuck that.  I'm going to mind.  Like, probably a lot.  Anyone who "doesn't mind" puking all the time is way more full of crap than they're willing to admit.  It's annoying.  It disrupts your life.  You have to figure out how to manage your normal, every day life, while also fitting in a few vomit breaks throughout the day.  Not really my personal dream.

So I guess I'm mostly left wondering if I'm the only one who thinks about things like this, or if other people do and they just won't talk about it.  Like, we're all supposed to be baby making machines, right?  So talking about how maybe the idea of ruining the life of a tiny human being who might have otherwise turned out normal is pretty much the scariest thing ever, and then coupling that with the HORRORS of what I've read happen when you actually shoot a baby out of your vagina, maybe that isn't acceptable?  Maybe we're all supposed to have this instinct that turns off the voice in your head that says "You could really fuck this up", and I just don't have it.  I dunno.  Sometimes I just don't feel like I was made like normal women.  No one else ever seems to think the things I do, or have the same reservations about things as I do.  And maybe that's a part of it as well.  Maybe if I'm not a normal woman, then I'm not cut out for all of this.  Sure, at the end, the payoff is pretty nice and you do get a tiny little spawn of your combined DNA to show for your efforts but, does it come at a price of losing who you are?  Does the whole overwhelming love thing make that loss not matter?  No one ever talks about it, so I don't know.  And dear god, if I turned into one of those mothers constantly fawning over her PRESHUS PERFECT ANGEL who can't see anything else, I'd want someone to kill me.  I'd probably want to kill me.

I'd also really hate to have people think that if I did make the choice to have kids, it'd be due to the whole "everyone else is doing it right now" thing and not a decision I've agonized over for like....8 years now?  No one else shooting out some babies has led me to these internal conflicts.  If anything, it's just brought the conflicts into sharper focus for me, since everyone else seems so....not panicked.  If I have a kid in the next year, it's not because my cousins are doing it, or any friends are doing it.  It's because, hopefully, I'll have wrestled these demons into a quiet place.  Or I'll do what I usually do and just bite the bullet, suck up all of the fear and say "Do what you gotta do, and shut up about it".  That's how I handle most large problems.  But the idea of being seen as a "bandwagon" joiner kind of pisses me off.

Maybe the problem is that I can't control all aspects of the situation, and that's probably what scares me the most.

Is that normal?

I have no idea.  Probably not.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm Lookin' At You, Pinterest

Ok, can we just stop for a second and ponder why everything has to be a fucking THING now?  People can't just do things.  Everything has to be a giant fucking special occasion where everyone is a special and unique snowflake, and I blame Pinterest.  And yes, before you ask, I totally have a Pinterest account.  I got it when they first started out, primarily out of curiosity.  It seemed interesting enough, kind of like a Tumblr for crafters, foodies and home improvement fanatics.  I can get behind that.  I used boards to organize recipes and also to gather inspiration photos for theater productions.  But now it seems like Pinterest is like a giant pool of shit to make you feel like you have to make everything a THING.

I notice this the most with baby related things.  People can't just say that they're pregnant.  They have to announce it in some sort of cutesy way, sometimes with the assistance of a professional photographer.  You can't just say "It's a boy" anymore, you have to do a cutesy fucking photo shoot, or bake stupid color-cream filled cupcakes so that people have to bite into them to find out your kid's gender.  Then there's the maternity photo shoot, where you have to have a million pictures done with you looking all knocked up and fabulous.  All in the name of making it a THING.  Simplicity has taken a back seat to making people feel like a unique and special snowflake who needs a shit ton of attention and has to come up with cutesy ways to get it.

It doesn't just stop with maternity and baby related stuff though.  No.  Since the target demographic is primarily women, let's post a ton of shit that will forever make other women feel like they're just not doing enough.  Ever.  I should take that back.  The target demographic isn't just women.  It's mommies.  And we all know how I feel about mommies.  But basically it's like a giant pool of shit that will inevitably make every mother feel like she's not being super mom if she doesn't do a bunch of meaningless bullshit.  Timmy's life might be less happy if I don't learn how to perfectly pack his lunches into Bento boxes with adorable cutout shapes in the sandwiches and a perfectly balanced meal every single day.  If I don't carefully hand construct every one of her Halloween costumes, Mindy will grow up to resent me forever and will become a stripper.  If the nursery I design isn't completely perfect, my kid will be suicidal before they're 5.  If I don't carefully preserve every crusty umbilical cord fragment, footprint, first curl, or lost tooth, I am a failure as a mother.  If I don't hand make every bit of baby food or decide to use formula instead of breast feeding, I might as well just birth the kid and send it to prison.  I think my personal favorite was when I saw someone post a tutorial on how to cover fabric burp cloths with other fabric so they would be "prettier".  You honestly want women to spend hours sewing and covering something that is, essentially, a vehicle for vomit?

And then this bleeds over into Facebook.  Every day I'm inundated with a ton of "shares" from random Facebook sites that have large graphic art like this:
Like.......really?  Why the fuck do women feel the need to post this?  Don't all moms love their kids?  It's kind of the whole point of being a mom.  Sure, I understand that some moms are shitty and don't actually care about their kids, but I'm willing to go on a limb and say they're in the minority.  So why are we as a gender feeling compelled to post things like this so that we can reaffirm that we DO love our kids, as if anyone was questioning it?

Let's stack on top of that all of the fitness tutorials that are on Pinterest, and all of the many many techniques for getting thinner, getting flatter abs, getting a tighter butt, and then the bullshit self image bashing "inspirational" posters like this one:
What the actual fuck, people?  Let's just sit around and remind ourselves that as a gender we will never be good enough.  We will never be doing enough.  Not as parents.  Not as individuals.  Women, you just suck.  That's what I'm seeing.  And unless you do all of the right things, you will NEVER be the unique and special snowflake that need to be.  You will never be as pretty or as smart or as good as all of those other mystery women on the internet who are doing all of these things SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOU ARE DOING THEM.  Oh wonder women, teach us your secrets.  Our perfection is out there, just out of reach, and if only we could do just one more thing like our fucking pins tell us to, we could achieve it.

Or maybe we're not all unique and special snowflakes.  We're also not all pretty, or skinny, or perfect.  Some of us work two jobs and then come home and look after our kids.  Some of us don't have kids, but work our asses off in our careers and then donate our free time to charitable programs.  Some of us don't have the perfect body.  Some of us fucking LIKE CAKE.  Not everything has to be a fucking THING.  Sometimes, being you is actually just enough.  

And to my mom friends out there.  Do you have a kid?  Did you grow that little alien for 9 goddamn months?  Did you have it forcibly ripped from your body either through your girl bits our out the top of your sliced open abdomen?  Did your kid get fed, loved, cared for today?  Did you keep it alive?  You are fucking super mom.  

Fuck Pinterest.