Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Life, Full of Stress and Parties and Pain and Love

I'm fairly stressy lately.  Things are changing.  I am fine during the day, but then I wake up in the middle of the night and immediately terror and panic charge towards my poor sleepy brain.  Even if I fight them off and force my head to think of other things (if I were a crew member on Voyager, what would my job be, and would Chakotay and I end up dating?) enough panic gets in through the chinks to keep me awake for hours.  

Jaw pain doesn't help.  I'm going back to the dentist tomorrow to have my nightguard adjusted. My bite is uneven, hitting primarily on the right side, so I get more pressure there, and my teeth and jaws end up aching if I clench my teeth in my sleep, which apparently I do frequently.  I guess it's a sign of being too stressed out that I want to punch everyone who tells me to relax.

Greg and I did have a really nice long Memorial Day weekend, and I relaxed, at least a little.  We have friends who are moving to Georgia, and they had a going-away party on Sunday.  Despite occasional rain showers courtesy of Beryl, it was a fun party, a celebration of our friends.  Kids running around and splashing in the pool, adults making alcholic Butterbeer and grilling chicken wings and bacon-wrapped shrimp, lots of picture-taking and laughter and hugs.  We've known this couple for a long time.  Since before they were even a couple, much less married and with a son.  It was a nice party and a fun day.

Then on Monday, Memorial day, I open up the laptop and pull up Facebook and the first thing I see there on my screen is my father's grave.  My cousin in Virginia visited the family cemetery for Memorial day and she posted a photo for me.  Despite how unexpected and kind of shocking that was (I may have cried a few tears, just for a minute) it was a very sweet thing for her to do.  Mom said she'd like to see it, too, so I'll print it out and mail it to her. 

Yesterday a pretty cool thing happened:  We made the last payment on my car.  What a good feeling!  Plus, next month we will make the last payment on Greg's car.  No more car payments at all!  Boy, that'll make a huge difference in our monthly bills.  It's a relief.

So overall my stress is manageable.  Most of the time I'm fine, I am even hopeful about the future.  I would say 94% of the time I am looking forward to the next phase of my life, and 6% of the time I am terror-stricken and panicky. 

But I'm glad I have nice, thoughtful friends and family.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Besties: Me and My Kindle

I just love my Kindle.  I have a few friends who have (and adore) Kindle Fires, but since I have a laptop and an iPod touch I really thought the Fire was more than I needed; all I want to use it for is reading.  My little, lightweight, basic Kindle is the greatest thing ever.  It feels great in my hand, it's so easy to use, and it's my new best friend.  I've downloaded books from Amazon and books from the library, and it's all so quick and so very easy. 

I can take off my glasses and lie down in bed to read comfortably. To be honest, I've accidentally fallen asleep cuddled up to my Kindle a time or two. Glasses suck for reading in bed if I want to lie down. Being pitifully nearsighted, if I take off my glasses to lay my head on the pillow, I then have to hold the book a couple of inches away from my face.  Which, according to my sweetie, looks really, really sad.

I've been spending more time than usual reading lately.  In the past couple of months I've read:
The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice (library) - I liked it
Abduction by Robin Cook (library) - I got sucked in and couldn't stop reading
Fifty Shades of Grey = fun, couldn't get into the sequels
Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage (Amazon ebook) - entertaining but dated
The Kid by Dan Savage (Amazon ebook) - really interesting
The Writer's Mentor by Cathleen Rountree (library) - great advice
How To Sew A Button & Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew by Erin Bried (library) - cute and informative

Two websites any Kindle owner needs to know about:

Pixel of Ink - a daily listing of a half-dozen or so interesting free ebooks on Amazon (there are actually a lot of free ebooks on Amazon, but the full lists can be hard to find and hard to navigate).

Readability - downloads web text to your Kindle, converted automatically into an easily readable document.  This works with news articles, blogs, fanfiction (woot!).  I downloaded the program, put its icon on my browser toolbar, and any site I'm on I can just click my Readability button and within a couple of minutes a clean, correctly formatted text document is on my Kindle, ready to go. And it's free!  I can't recommend Readability enough.  If I weren't already married, I would propose to it.  It adds a whole different level of awesomeness and fun to my already super awesome Kindle.

I used to be resistant to the idea of ebooks, and to the possiblity of reading a book on a device instead of holding the actual paper book in my hand.  HA.  I still love my books (and I'll never be able to pass by a used bookstore without going in, and I'll never stop enjoying that old-book smell).  Now I know that there is a place for both.  Up with Kindles, down with wallowing in technophobic ruts! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fun With Kittens

Apparently if a kitten has fleas and it ingests those fleas, the kitten will end up with a tapeworm. 

The medicine to get rid of the tapeworm is pretty quick and easy; administered one time by the vet in the office, and once at home the next day by squirting banana-flavored goop into the kitten's mouth.  This will cure the problem in a few days.

By producing terrible diarrhea.

Now, you might think that a tiny kitten who weighs nothing and consists entirely of fluff couldn't really even have very bad diarrhea.  How much  mess could such a little thing even produce?

Well, let me tell you, the cubic area of mess increases greatly if the kitten in question can't make it to the litterbox in time, has an accident on the floor, falls into it, then shakes her leg in an attempt to get it off her.

I have never been so thankful for our ceramic tile floors.

Let me also tell you that the phrase "bad diarrhea" is also defined not only by the cubic area, but the specific location.  If one is standing in the bedroom holding the kitten in question, and at that moment the kitten has another accident, a terrible terrible accident, all over one's favorite relaxing-at-home soft t-shirt, then one is bound to consider that bad diarrhea.

The weirdest thing was how bad the kitten smelled.  We kept picking her up and examining her hind quarters for evidence of another accident, but saw nothing.  But oh, the reek

Then we noticed that the reek wasn't constant but came and went, and we finally figured it out: kitten diarrhea poots.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Childless Heathen

I'm 46 years old and I never had children.

When I was a teenager, I couldn't imagine myself as an adult woman at all, much less married and taking care of children. I wanted to grow up and be a writer or an artist, traveling around on planes and seeing exotic lands and wearing glamorous clothes. Yet at the same time, in the back of my mind I kind of figured I'd probably end up like everyone else and get married and have a baby or two. It seemed like the default position.

Before sending me off to college, my mother gave me one uncharacteristically intense piece of advice: Don't get pregnant. I could see the sense of that. I was careful not to, even though I fell in love for the first time and spent many hours daydreaming about a future that included marriage and a house and babies.

But it didn't work out with him, and the next guy who came along had gone through a divorce and had a baby of his own. We lived together for several years and became engaged, but instead of getting married... we broke up.

So I was in my mid 20's, and kind of liked the idea of getting married and having children. But having gone through two relationships that ended, I was in no hurry. I moved into a little apartment of my own and enjoyed being single.

I always liked having my period, the introspective, hormonal, creative changes that come with it, and the break in my routine that it forced. I loved the idea of being pregnant, and who doesn't love the idea of smelling a baby's head and playing with the tiny toes? But actually raising a child and being a parent seemed overwhelming and exhausting, and really not appealing in any way. Maybe everyone feels that way, I reasoned, and tried to imagine little arms hugging me around my neck. Probably some sort of instinct would kick in when I met the man who would be a good candidate for fertilizing my sad, unused eggs.

Then all of a sudden a decade had passed, and along came Greg. A few months after we started dating, we went to St. Petersburg and stayed at a hotel on the Gulf of Mexico for a little vacation with my mom and dad, my brother and his wife, my niece and her husband and their baby daughter. The first morning we were in my niece's room, and the baby, who was not yet a year old, wobbled over to Greg, who scooped her right up. He held her in his arms and tickled her and talked to her, and I just stood there watching, waiting for an alarm to go off in my uterus. "She's never like this with strangers," her parents gushed. "She sure likes you!" Despite my silent uterus, Greg went up a couple of notches in my already-besotted estimation. He's so good with kids! Babies love him!

At 38 I got married to Greg, glad I waited for the right guy. No baby-wanting instinct kicked in, though. Since my mother had given birth to me when she was 45, I figured I had a few years left to think about it, and discuss it with my new husband.

We had many, many conversations that all went like this:
Me - How many children do you see yourself having?
Greg - None, I don't want any kids.
Me - I don't know what you mean by that. One baby?
Greg - I like our life the way it is, I don't think it could be improved by bringing a baby into it.
Me - But you love babies.
Greg - I love other people's babies.
Me - But you want one baby.
Greg - Do you want to have a baby?
Me - Not really.
Greg - Okay, then! No babies.
Me - But are you SURE?
Greg - YES!

After Greg and I had been married a year or two, I spoke about it to my parents. When they told me that having a baby is certainly not something that I should feel pressured to do, that it was fine with them if I didn't and that they would not be a bit disappointed if I didn't present them with a grandchild, a big chunk of the weight lifted off my shoulders.

Despite the fact that it's a pretty personal decision, a lot of people asked. One friend with a small child told us how we just had to have a baby, it's the greatest thing ever, it completely changed his life for the better. He pushed parenthood with all the fervor of a Christian pushing religion. One person wanted to know who would take care of me when I'm old, if I don't have children. While I can kind of understand the logic of each generation taking care of the previous generation, I don't think that's a good reason to bring a human into this world. A few years ago when I had my episode of existential questioning (we won't call it a crisis, particularly since it led to a novel) I felt real sadness about my family photos, knowing no one would want them after I die. If, right then, I could have been guaranteed to have a baby who would grow up wanting to painstakingly preserve and document family history (particularly about me), I might have been tempted. But no one knows how things will work out, and it's entirely possible the baby would have grown up to have normal interests.

And with each passing year the idea of getting pregnant also got more and more medically questionable. I began to have an irrational fear that, at age 44 or 45, suddently Greg and I would realize that we actually did want to have a baby, very much, and then I'd be unable to get pregnant, and then we'd be sucked into the depressing vortex of attempting painful and expensive medical treatments.

Greg - Aww, look at this picture of the new baby, isn't she cute?
Me - You want a baby.
Greg - Oh my god, there is something wrong with your brain.
Me - Seriously, it's almost too late now, you have to tell me!
Greg - I have told you! No baby!
Me - But are you SURE?
Greg - YES!

During the year that I was 45, I thought a lot about my mother giving birth to me at that age. I began to have a whole new appreciation for how hard it must have been for her. Greg said that he likes our life the way it is, and even if it's kind of selfish, he didn't want to change it by having a baby. But really, is it selfish to decide not to have a baby? Our planet is overpopulated, maybe it's selfish to have a baby. But what if our baby was smart, and we raised our baby to be kind, and forward-thinking, and to, on a large scale or a small scale, make the world a better place? There are certainly a lot of babies born to thoughtless or abusive parents that grow up to make the world a harder place, shouldn't those of us who would focus on nurturing and loving do our part to at least even things out? Of course, the best thing to do would be adopt a baby. Or better yet, a child. But then that would be giving up the one thing that I think I'd actually like, the being pregnant part. But if all I want is to be pregnant and not actually be a parent, should I even be considering it?

And finally, at the age of 46, I am putting all these thoughts behind me. I am not going to have a baby, I am not going to adopt a baby. Greg and I are our little family of two (or four, if you count the furry family members). And, whew! All I feel is relief. No regret, no questioning. It was the right decision.

Now what am I going to do with the part of my brain that has been worried about whether or not to have a baby for the past 25 years? All of a sudden my head feels roomier.