Irony

Four years and three months ago, I was ten weeks into a planned pregnancy. We’d conceived on our first go at it, but the resulting pregnancy was fraught with complications. On a Friday evening in January 2007, Aaron and I found ourselves at The Toledo Hospital, dealing with the results of my miscarriage.

That weekend, we sat down and re-evaluated our life together, and decided to take a temporary fork away from the typical married-with-kids plan. We decided that we really could afford our long-dreamed-of trip to Japan — and that started a trend that we later decided to continue indefinitely.

We opted not to have children after all. I gave away the few parenting books and baby paraphernalia I’d collected for “someday when we have kids” and went on The Pill. We continued planning vacations (Japan, Hawaii, Japan again, Mexico, and Aruba upcoming in 2011), and settled in for a life of being Just The Two Of Us And Our Cat.

February 2011. My second missed period, after having religiously taken The Pill every night around 10pm. Called the OBGYN’s office on Monday; they told me to take a home pregnancy test, just to rule out that outcome. Took the pee test on Monday after work.

Positive.

In a three-day whirlwind of tests — urine, blood, and ultrasound — we went from being Just The Two Of Us And Our Cat to picking up where we’d left off four years before: ten weeks pregnant.

It’s now six weeks later, and this pregnancy has been complication-free thus far. Medically, anyway; Aaron and I are both finding this quite complicated to wrap our brains around. On our good days, though, we’re actually pretty excited about this next chapter in our lives.

Just The Two Of Us And Our Cat will become Just The Three Of Us And Our Cat on (or around) September 26, 2011.

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Whatever Comes To Mind

It’s been a while since I just posted a straight-up stream-of-consciousness blog post. I generally don’t feel comfortable posting what I’m actually thinking or feeling or doing or whatever anymore, what with everyone being all PRIVACY ONLINE OMG. But, tonight, I’m feeling that kind of down-on-myself tension that used to lead up to a long, handwritten journal entry back in the day.

I also don’t always feel comfortable posting about what’s bothering me because whoever’s involved with the situation will invariably come back to me later and comment that they didn’t realize that I was so upset that I had to resort to blogging about it.

That’s just how I roll. Or how I used to roll, anyway.

(more…)

Priorities

I find it oddly hilarious that I had been planning to write a blog entry about setting priorities for myself, but now I find that I’d rather go play a game than write a blog entry. Priorities, indeed.

Very well, then, the short version:

  • I feel happier in a clean house. Therefore, daily cleaning should be a priority for me.
  • I feel healthier and more energetic when I eat well and exercise. Therefore, I should plan my meals carefully and exercise daily.
  • I love my husband and want him to be happy. Therefore, I should be present in every moment I’m with him, and think of things that will make him happy when I can’t be with him.

There are so many other things I want to be sure to prioritize, like keeping in touch with friends and family (outside of Facebook, whenever possible), and improving my photography, and editing together old video memories, and researching my genealogy, and writing, and on and on. It’s far too easy to let the priority list become a to-do list, though, and that’s what I’m trying to get away from.

I think that the closer I can get to a very Zen, minimalist lifestyle (which is not to say dry and boring, but simple and focused), the happier I’ll be in general.

Prioritize Your Life

If I’m planning to blog every weekday, and I want my entries to have any sort of substance, I need to start writing them earlier in the evening. By this time of night, ideally, my computer should be off and I should be relaxing in my yukata with a book and a cup of tea (or a glass of iced tea, being that it’s summer and all). I shouldn’t still be sitting at my computer, listening to a Slowdive remix and trying to string together cohesive sentences.

Anyway.

I’ve taken to reading the Zen Habits blog recently. The author, Leo Babauta, offers some great ideas for simplifying many different aspects of life. One entry that resonated with me recently focused on setting priorities and building your life around those priorities — or, rather, paring down the responsibilities that don’t support those priorities.

This has always been a challenge for me — the paring-down part, I mean. There’s so much that I want to do, and dropping any of it seems like quitting. Granted, once it’s off my plate, I feel liberated, but actually giving up something — like, say, administering a website, or quitting a podcast — is so hard for me.

But at least, with those, there’s a clean break. I have literally dozens of personal projects that are in various states of completion. Video, photography, web design, interior decorating, even just cleaning my disaster of a desk — whether I’ve gotten halfway through and been distracted, or I’ve only just started sketching out ideas, it’s still in the queue, if only mentally. I can’t just let those go.

Back to setting priorities, though. That’s tough. What are the five most important things in my life? By important, do I mean meaningful, or vital to my survival, or some combination of the two? If I’m being pragmatic, I’d put my job at the top of the priority list. I need my income to — well, to keep up my current standard of living. To keep this particular roof over our heads, and to keep our two cars insured and gassed-up (OK, Aaron usually pays for gas, not me), and to buy the food we like to eat, and to enjoy the leisure activities we prefer…

If I were being less pragmatic and more personal, I’d say that my husband and his happiness are a major priority of mine. That said, what am I doing on a daily basis to ensure his mental and physical well-being? If I’m not actively doing things to make him happy, what right do I have to claim that he’s a priority in my life? Or is it that it’s a priority for me to be around him as much as possible, just because he makes ME happy?

That’s when I start to think: what are my priorities REALLY? Am I being hypocritical in my actions versus these so-called priorities? What do I need to do to align my life with my priorities — or, if you prefer a different nomenclature, my “values”?

Who am I, really, and how can my actions and environment reflect that?

Home Sick (and Tired of These Damned Dreams)

Spending the day at home, lethargic and crampy, and now recovering from a fucked-up dream I had after I called in sick and went back to bed.

A few weeks back, I had a dream that Aaron was going to divorce me, and not even a bizarre life-and-death confrontation with something in the back yard — a knife-wielding robber, as I recall — was going to change that. Last night, I dreamt that Aaron had a girlfriend (attractive and athletic) named Noi, and that they had more sex than we did, and that he was trying to quit smoking (when I hadn’t even known he’d started).

Two related dreams makes this into a trend, so I’m starting to wonder what in my subconscious is throwing out these dreams. They keep bringing back that horrible feeling I had during the week in September 1997 when Aaron and I had broken up over something I had done, and I felt like there had to be something, anything I could do to fix things, but all the grains of sand were falling through my fingers the harder I tried. Except that this is worse, because nothing is really wrong when I wake up, but that awful feeling is still there, lingering.

So, how insecure am I, really? And what about? Is it that I feel physically unattractive, or that I’m not intimate with Aaron as often as I once was, or is it that our lives are so intertwined that I’m scared of what would happen if I lost him (in one way or another)?

I just wish I could make my brain chill the fuck out and quit spinning out these stupid fictions.

Running Alongside

I’m feeling like that a lot lately, like I’m just running alongside things, trying to hop back on. There’s so many things that I want to get done, and I need to realize that they’re not all going to get done at once.

I have a bad habit of putting off things I don’t feel like doing. It’s not very mature of me, really, but there you are. Worse, instead of doing something else productive that’s further down on the list, oftentimes I’ll just ignore my next-up list entirely and veg out with a video game or the internet.

There are so many categories of action items and responsibilities that I feel like I need to address RIGHT NOW. Zen podcast. Diet. Cleaning. Blogging. Posting and printing vacation photos. Editing vacation video. Hell, even organizing my GTD system (which isn’t nearly in the clockwork state I’d like it to be in yet). I need to come to terms with the fact that everything isn’t going to get done instantly, even if I’m productive as hell every evening. Which I’m not. And I shouldn’t have to be, not after an eight-hour day at work.

I need to stop pushing myself to do all this crap I can’t reasonably get done, and just relax and enjoy what I have going on. I’ve really got it easy, in the grand scheme of things, and I need to just chill the fuck out.

The Choice Is Clear

The key, for me, is eliminating any possibility of alternatives. That’s how I get things done. It’s not even that I need to choose the best alternative, or the most reasonable, or the most sane; it’s that there cannot be any other choice. Period.

That’s how I succeeded (and later failed) in my first round of dieting: if I had the mindset that there were foods that I just COULD NOT EAT, period, I was fine. There was no other alternative; it was protein and non-starchy veggies when I went out to eat. As soon as someone pointed out that I was choosing to eat that way, and it wasn’t a life-or-death dietary imperative, that’s when the weekend trips to the buffet started, and occasional slices of pizza. They wouldn’t kill me, after all, and it wasn’t like I did it all the time…

It’s not just dieting. In college, I was notorious for skipping class, especially before 10:30am. If there wasn’t an attendance policy (and sometimes even if there was), then class wasn’t mandatory unless there was a quiz or test. I could sleep in and not feel the academic pain, theoretically. That’s one reason why it took me seven years to get my four-year Bachelor’s degree.

Some things just need to be black-and-white for me. You do this. The end. You wash your dishes every night. You go to work on time every morning. You stay within your Weight Watchers Points limit for the day and the week. You brush your teeth every night and every morning.

You’d think these would be second nature. No one else seems to have problems doing these things like a normal adult. Except me.

I’ve mastered a very few of these sorts of things. I make my lunch the night before, because I know I won’t have time to do it in the morning. Therefore, there’s no option: I have to make my lunch before bed. Same with putting out my clothes — I can’t see my closet in the dark of morning, and Aaron will be sleeping, so I can’t turn on the light.

It’s time to apply that same sort of mindset to other responsibilities.

Maybe, after I master physical responsibilities, I can work on maintaining positive self-talk and attitudes this same way. There’s no other way to do it; anything else is toxic to me personally. Sounds kind of hippie-dippy, but it just might work.

Disjointed

Ironically enough, having an online journal has really fragmented my personal journaling in general.

I have diaries and journals dating back to when I was… let’s see… seven years old. For posterity’s sake, my first-ever diary entry went a little something like this:

6|28|’83
Today I had My Blood Test. I was a little Nervice. Tomorrow I Have My Tonsils out. I’m a bit Nervice about It. Bye-Bye!

(Thank goodness my entries got a little more engaging over the years. At least, I hope they did…)

I didn’t really get into regular journaling until middle school, though. From 7th grade through high school and early college, I can string together a set of nine volumes (plus a sheaf of notebook paper and a spiral-bound notebook) that chronicle the happenings of my life, with only a few months-long breaks in the action.

In my later college years, the journaling started to fragment, moving to random notebooks and text files and whatnot. Once I started blogging — officially, late 2002 — most of my thoughts were finally consolidated into one place.

However, everything I need to journal is not safe for public consumption. I suppose I could write unpublished entries in my blog, but that always leaves the possibility of an accidental publishing to the world. I’d rather keep a private text file on my computer for rants about individuals, or weird dreams I’ve had, or talking about life events that the world really doesn’t need to know about. Plus, I’ve been known to write longhand in a journal I keep in my purse. (I haven’t done that for a few years now, but I did that for a good year or two, around 2006.)

So, despite my prolific writings online, my inner musings may be lost to the ages if I don’t end up printing them out and saving them in their own rightful volume, next to the other chronicles of my life.

Granted, these precious chronicles of my life are stowed in a box in the extra bedroom, but still…

Deep Funk

My winter depression is coming early this year, perhaps due to being holed in for some especially frigid days recently. I get easily frustrated with myself, and doubt my self-worth, and find fault. What makes it worse is that I don’t care. I mean, I obviously do care, but I can’t get motivated enough or take enough interest to do anything about any of it. It’s illogical and irrational and kind of stupid, but there it is.

Usually, this doesn’t hit until February, and for the past several years I’ve been able to stave it off with daily half-hour walks and vacation planning and being happily married. This year, though, all the planets are aligning, it seems, to help me be excessively blah. Not feeling particularly useful in my job, despite a positive annual review in November. Not feeling particularly successful in my weight loss, despite now being able to wear a large (as opposed to an extra-large) in some clothing styles. Not feeling properly wifely, as I’m never good at housekeeping and my libido’s shot to hell lately (TMI, sorry).

Can I fake it? Oh, sure, no problem. I’m no drama queen; I’d try to play it off, anyway.

But I don’t like feeling like this, and I’m not sure how to turn it around. Besides just waiting for spring, that is. It’s irrational and illogical and I can’t talk myself into being un-blah. I can’t formulate proper arguments to convince myself not to feel this way.

It’s irritating. Which only makes things worse.

Maybe I just need more sleep. Still.

Argh.

Hallowe’en Devotional

I take pride in the curious and somewhat unique way I observe Hallowe’en. For the past several years, I’ve taken some time on All Hallows’ Eve to remember or acknowledge my relatives and ancestors who are dead. Sometimes I focus on one person, like Granny, but usually I reflect on genealogy and departed family in general.

Tonight, my house is lit by four handmade cranberry soy candles. (And my computer monitor.) Granted, I’ve turned on lights here and there, but I’ve turned them back off when I left the room; usually, I leave the living room light on, even when I’m downstairs at my computer. The candlelight does create kind of a somber and subdued mood for my evening, but it also makes me realize how much we take electricity for granted.

Think about it: the U.S. didn’t have a widespread rural power grid until the 1930s (according to Wikipedia), so most of the farmers in my lineage would probably have been in bed asleep by this time of night. My grandparents and great-grandparents on all sides were fairly poor folk, living in shacks and lean-tos, and they didn’t have the creature comforts that many of their city-dwelling contemporaries did. What we take for granted didn’t become standard until our parents’ era.

Not so long from now, the next generation will be thinking the same thing about the internet. (Actually, they already are — one of Aaron’s co-workers was asked by his son what Google looked like when he was a kid.)

There are so many ways I could go with this line of thought… but I think I’ll leave this unfinished. I have some other tasks I need to work on this Hallowe’en night.

Happy Hallowe’en, all. Be safe. Enjoy yourselves.

P.S. – If ever anyone wanted to invite me to a Hallowe’en party, I wouldn’t be upset to miss my annual Hallowe’en Devotional. I promise.