Thursday, August 26, 2010

When Do I Have to Grow Up By?

Since when was figuring out what you want to do when you grow up so stinkin’ hard?

When we’re young and longing for that first double-digit birthday, most of us have a pretty good idea of what we want to do when we grow up. Boys would have the standard boy answers of fireman or policeman or even astronaut. Girls ordinarily would want to be teachers and nurses or mommies. Clearly, I went to school in the fifties.

I didn’t want any of those normal jobs. I can remember early on choosing my first job being a fashion designer. I can remember saying it and writing it down. The only problem there was I did not sew or draw very well and at the time my standard daily uniform consisted of stretch pants and empire waisted floral tunics, topped off with a stretchy headband. Even then, swing and a miss.

Yes, fashion designer was my first dream job. After that I really didn’t think about it very much, which I believe now was a big mistake on my part. I was just going on about life, minding my own business, not giving any thought whatsoever to what I might do to make a living once I got out of school.

During high school I toyed with the idea of going to college to become a band director, inspired at the time by my own band director whom not everyone liked. Then we got a new band director and he kind of killed it for me. It’s just as well. Did I really want to spend the rest of my days thinking in terms of eight-to-five steps? The fact that my step size was already eight-to-five was not the point.

Even when I graduated it still hadn’t really hit me that I needed to decide what to do with my life. I had done some modeling and dearly loved it, but how far is a 5’4” runway model really going to go? Not even to the end of the runway. Besides I was nowhere near emaciated enough to make a go of it. Acting had also been a possibility, but in this particular area of the country/world there’s just no outlet unless you want to play one of the old bitties from Steel Magnolias in your local community theater. I did not.

So I went off and had my ill-considered adventures after high school, still just floating about. I eventually got a job at a law firm, which made me consider a career as a lawyer. That takes so long, though, and did I really want to do that? As much fun as arguing is to me and as good at it as I am, I knew there would be a lot of requisite grunt positions that I would have to suffer through first. So defending the scum of the earth is just not my cup o’ tea.

My next job has seen me back at the school system that I once attended. As much as I like my job, there are moments that were somewhat embarrassing for me. Teachers in the system come to the central office once a year for new picture ID tags. Several of my old teachers have popped up as they still work for the board of education. Teachers from middle school and even elementary school have greeted me and asked what I’m doing now. Unfortunately, the answer that popped into my head first was “This.” ‘This’ is delivering packages from the warehouse to the departments in the central office. That’s what they see. I also do purchase orders and invoices but they don’t see that. They see a delivery girl. Yes, it’s embarrassing. They ask what I’ve done with my life and all I can say is “Not a thing! A chimp can do my job! Oh, and I have no ambition!” It’s embarrassing because I know for a fact that they all expected big things from me. Even the stupidest cheerleader in my class became a nurse, a fact which scares me out of ever admitting I’m sick.

Only now do I realize I was supposed to do something...something. I envy people who have always known what they want to do, whether it’s logical or not. Sooner or later, if it isn’t terribly feasible, you’ll find a way to make it that way or turn it into something similar that could work out. There are all sorts of things that I would like to do, but for how long would I like them?

My sister and I had a brief stint in baking and cake decorating. I got so excited about it that I planned in my head what my bakery was going to look like and marveled at the prices of commercial mixers. As much fun as it sounded and no matter how much I knew I would like it, it fizzled out, replaced by...some errant thought, no doubt. Then it was just forgotten. On the plus side, all that baking pretty much turned me off of eating cake in general. I’ve gotten my taste back for it a little, but I am much more critical of any cake I taste now, wondering if I can do it better.

Then I thought of being a lawyer again. But after having talking to one and hearing about the detestable cases he was forced to defend I decided that wasn’t my road. Surely you have to pay your dues no matter what field you go into, but I refuse to defend people I would just as soon flip the switch on if I could.

Throughout the years, though, there has always been writing. I have always written. It’s been a constant. I like to think I’m decent at it. If I didn’t, I don’t think I’d be doing it. With my fingers crossed for my first book to be picked up by a literary agency, I wonder if perhaps this is the road I should travel.

Alternately, I recently decided, or thought I had, what it was I wanted to go to school to do. It is not related to writing or to anything else I have ever considered doing. I like the idea of it and I have even researched job opportunities for this particular degree and the classes I would have to take to achieve it. While I am hesitant at some of the classes, y’know like MATH, I know that I could get past them as long as I kept in mind the end point.

So what am I going to do? Should I be a writer or should I pursue mystery job X that deals with math and chemistry?

Wow, that last one kind of sounds like a no-brainer to me now that I’ve brought math and chemistry into the equation. Eeek.

Maybe I should have just stuck with fashion designer.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Buy My Book?

Those of you who are reading this may know that I write on occasion. Though not often
as of late, as the date of the last post will tell you. For a while now I have toyed with the idea of writing a book. Yes, a real one. Not just so I can waltz into my ten year high school reunion and, when asked what I’ve been doing, say “Ohhhhh, not much. I’m working on my second book.”

If you ever looked into getting a book published, then you know there is more to it than sending in a bunch of typed out pages. If you’ve never looked into it, just trust me here. Most publishers won’t even give you the time of day unless there’s a bona fide literary agent talking you up to them. Yeah, you’ve gotta find someone who ‘knows a guy.’ That’s not altogether easy in itself. Different literary agencies have different requirements about how to go about soliciting yourself to them. Some say actual mail only while others rely solely on email queries. And that email can’t just say “Hey, I wrote a book. Will you try and get somebody to make it into a real book?” You have to write a query letter. There is no set form on this kind of thing, so if you’re doing it wrong you have no way of knowing. It’s all kinds of fun.

So a few days ago I sent my jaunty query letter and a self-addressed stamped envelope
(remember those?) to my first choice literary agency which is located on Madison
Avenue in New York. Swanky, I know. I am already prepared to be turned down. It’s
ok. I know it happens.

So I’m sure you are wondering just what precisely my book is about. Well, of all the
strange things that I observe and that happen to me in day to day life the one thing that has been pretty much a constant in the last four years or so has been...pregnancy. Yeah, I know, not everyone wants a book about pregnancy, but pregnant women do. Especially my kind of pregnancy book, if I do say so myself.

I have perused many a pregnancy book in the last few years and I don’t think any of
them have been precisely my style. The closest was The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine. Much closer than What to Expect When You’re Expecting. The gold standard for many a year, What to Expect has recently been revamped. The cover no longer displays a timid, mousy woman in a rocking chair about to have an anxiety attack in a Mom ‘do and outdated housedress. Now it’s a woman in a shoulder-length haircut wearing modern day maternity clothes and actually smiling. And she’s standing. I guess it’s considered ok for pregnant women to stand now.

Usually there are only two categories for pregnancy books and that is one that is purely informational and one that is more of a individual account of pregnancy. Mine is both with my own brand of rapier wit sprinkled liberally throughout. I also have made certain to include a disclaimer saying I am not now, nor have I ever been a doctor so if your pregnancy doesn’t go how I say then you can’t sue me. Ha! I should just go ahead and market it to include a grain of salt.

I know it seems like I would write something more general that everyone can enjoy, but to be honest all this baby stuff has taken over life as I know it. It’s hard to get around it. I am trying, though.

What would a non-pregnancy book from me include, I wonder? Probably a good
bit about food and burgeoning fascination with those who call themselves ‘foodies.’
Perhaps the state of modeling standards, which would be quite slim. Nothing at
all related to politics. I’m fairly non-partisan until somebody says something that
I like. Maybe people I’d like to see on Dancing With the Stars. I don’t know.

I would write fiction, but the truth is just too good.

Take Back Your Birth

Someone’s out there stealing people’s childbirths!!

That’s how I took it. There are people out there burgling women’s childbirths. Who do they think they are, marauding around snatching births? Is there a black market for childbirth? Is that where it’s going? Have any of them ended up on eBay? Has anyone checked? Maybe they weren’t stolen, just misplaced. Now don’t you feel silly? You went around squawking that someone had stolen your birth when you just accidentally left it in the freezer with your keys and cell phone. That’s Mommy brain for you.

Or is it more like it didn’t fit so you had to take it back?

Perhaps you’ve deduced by now that I am deliberately misunderstanding and even making fun of this issue. (I am.)

In case you haven’t heard, and I’m not at all shocked if you haven’t, the notion of ‘taking back your birth’ is the new catchphrase for the holistic natural birth phenomena. Prompting me to wonder just precisely who took it. I won’t go back into that.

From what it sounds like, the holistic women and midwives are suggesting that doctors and modern medicine are the culprits here, pumping unassuming mothers full of drugs and forcing them to give birth under the doctor’s preferred conditions instead of their own. These are the same women who believe that if a baby can’t survive an unassisted birth then it’s totally fine for it to go ahead and die. That those babies were just not strong enough to make it, natural selection you might say. I can’t help but think that those women, aside from being a little off, are in the minority.

Among these ‘holistic’ women pushing for you to take back your birth is once-famous, now not, Mayim Bialik, the spokesperson for Holistic Mom’s Network. Apparently, the only thing qualifying her to spout this propaganda is the fact that she’s had two kids. Wait—I’ve had two kids, and about to have a third...I need to be the spokesperson of something! I have reproduced. Clearly that makes me eligible to endorse stuff. Oh, wait, I can’t. The only other thing that gives Blossom any kind of credentials is that she starred in a series in the 90’s whose only contribution to society was the word “Whoa!” Oh, if only there was footage of me wearing a kicky hat at an awkward age. Actually there is. It was denim.

Never mind the fact that this woman is off her rocker, eschewing any type of life that does not revolve around her kids. What is going to happen when these kids grow up and no longer want their nutty mother trying to wipe schmutz off their faces with her organic saliva? She is going to go ‘round the bend. She will have forgotten how to live an actual life that has something to do with herself and not her offspring.

Let me just say, kids are great, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also live for yourself.

Somehow, to holistic moms, if you give birth in a hospital with any type of aid, you have failed. That’s right, baby. Big effin’ FAIL. It means your body mutinied and you LOST. You LOST your POWER. You should be ashamed. I know I am.

What’s the difference between a woman who delivered at a hospital according to plan and a woman who HAD to deliver at a hospital lest she die from bleeding out in her birthing tub in her rumpus room? Attitude. Mama A is happy to have a healthy child and that everything is cool. Mama B is smiling half-heartedly or even scowling at the fact that she didn’t get her way, never mind the healthy baby, and is maybe wondering if she can return a semi-used birthing tub.

Maybe they’ll take it back, too.

`This is right after I had Sully. I don't feel powerless here; I'm still kinda doped up.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Dip in the Pool

If you have kids you know that, while you may love them, there are also times when you just want to smack them. Case in point, yesterday I got home from work and Connor was enjoying a late afternoon/early evening nap. It seemed a little late in the day, but it happens. Sully was awake, though, and trotting around pulling clothes out of the laundry basket and practicing new words. (More on that later.)

I hadn’t been home twenty minutes when Connor woke up whiny and crying. That’s what a late day nap will do to you. It will make you ornery. There was no placating him. I was sitting on my bed on the phone with my mother and Connor wandered in, sobbing. He happened to notice a lone apricot colored crayon on my dresser and said he wanted ‘crons.’ I gave it to him and off he went to find a way to use it. Seventy-five percent of the time he knows that he is only supposed to color on paper. Sometimes he forgets or just can’t find any and that’s when a door comes in handy.

Naturally, once the door artwork started I had to stop it which didn’t make him any happier. Grasping at straws by now, I asked if he wanted a popsicle. Yes, he said he wanted a ‘popsicle ongen.” That’s how he says orange. We didn’t have any orange so I offered him blue, which he usually loves. At the sight of the wrong color popsicle he fell apart and melted onto the kitchen floor, and I fought the urge to kick him. Finally, he took the popsicle but he just stood and held it while he cried. He put it back in the wrapper and it went back in the freezer.

By now, I’ve got nothing. Sully’s still running around all chipper. I ask Connor what he wants to do and he responded with ‘ride Mommy car.’ He’s a little stir crazy. Sitting at home for days on end without going out can do that. Now as much as I would love to go out we don’t have a.) the gas, b.) the money, or...that’s really about it, but those are very important to travel. I asked him where he wanted to go and he said he just wanted to go for a ride in Mommy car, which to me basically said “Woman, I got to get out of this house.”

Then Dave had the idea that we fill up the kiddie pool in the backyard. It was evening by then but still hot as ever. I asked Connor if he wanted to go swim and he got excited. Finally. We located his tiny blue camo swim trunks and stripped Sully to his shorts and headed to the backyard.

We have your basic kiddie pool, about three and a half feet wide and maybe a foot high. The only flaw in it, though, is that there is a big dent and hole in one side. Dave fixed it the best he could with whatever he could find, which has worked pretty well so far. Dave started filling it up with the hose, occasionally spraying Connor making him squeal. When he tried to spray Sully, as soon as the water hit him he turned around with a look of panic on his face and started to run as fast as his ability would let him, considering the safari-style state of our grass. Then Dave would spray up in the air and it would come down on Connor who would yell ‘it’s raining!’

Connor got in the pool and started splashing around, late nap forgotten. Sully has a hard time getting his little baby bow legs over the side of the pool so he just kind of hikes up a leg and falls in. Whatever works. Dave had the brilliant idea of dragging over the baby jungle gym slide over to the pool and wetting it down so the boys could slide into the pool. That went over very well.

At one point, both boys were sitting in the pool and Connor reached over to give Sully a hug, which was nice. Then evidently he wanted Sully to come with him so the brotherly hug turned into a come-with-me choke hold. Sully was less than thrilled.

They played for about half an hour and had a good time. Then it was time for baths. While I was bathing the boys, Dave bathed the puppy in the pool. We do not waste stuff. So we solved all the whiny crankiness and even tired out the boys for the night.

Sully’s new words are diaper (‘die-puh’), whee!, and moo (‘mmm’). They are very funny.

Unfortunately, Connor’s new phrase is ‘that’s a crap.’ Win some, lose some.