Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The One with the glass half empty.

Have I mentioned I'm a pessimist? That may sound like a complaint, but it isn't necessarily. As a pessimist I have a deep well of cynicism at my disposal; I draw out sarcasm and self-deprication by the bucketful. I mean, it's fun to be pessimistic, right? Some of my favorite comedians are pessimists: Woody Allen, Janeane Garofalo, Lewis Black, and the list goes on, so at least I'm in good company. I confess I enjoy looking on the dark side of things sometimes; my rose-colored glasses were sold in a garage sale at some point in my early 20s, and I've never thought to replace them.

My husband has been telling me I'm a pessimist almost since we met, but I didn't take him seriously for a long time. It was only a couple of years ago that I began to realize he was oh-so right. We were our way to visit a friend overnight; my husband was driving, I was in the passenger's seat, and our then one-year-old daughter was sleeping blissfully in her carseat. The drive was only two hours, but from the get-go I began considering the worst. I sat quietly imagining an impending car accident in which my husband and I both perish. I lamented the fact that we hadn't drawn up a will and fretted over what might happen with our daughter in the event of our demise. I went so far as to imagine how long she might have to wait amongst the wreckage until the arrival of the fire department or ambulance, all the while calling, "Mom... Dad..." in the direction of our lifeless bodies.

(I know, right? AWFUL.)

At this point, my husband interrupted my imagined horror to ask if I was okay. I confessed my concern and began spewing all my fears in gruesome detail until my thoughts were spilled out like an upturned bowl of tomato soup.

"Holy shit, Honey," my husband responded (and rightly so). I immediately went on the defensive and spat back, "You're telling me you haven't worried over a single thing about this trip?" He admitted that he had, but when he told me his general concerns were in the realm of, "What if one of us forgets a toothbrush?" I shut my mouth.

Thus began my attempt to drop the pessimism a few notches in favor of something else - if not cautious optimism, at least buoyant apathy. Exactly where this tendency came from, I'm not sure - nature or nurture? I don't know, and really, it doesn't matter how or from where it originated. I'm doing my best to curb it to a manageable level these days.

Though I've made strides, my mind still veers off into the dark forest more than I care to admit. Now, however, after only a couple of minutes of leaving the good behind in favor of harping on the bad and the ugly, something inside me screams, "Stop. Just, stop." And amazingly, I do. Simply recognizing and acknowledging my pessimistic instinct has been surprisingly helpful. I realize I probably won't ever be someone who dots her "i"s with perfect tiny hearts, but I've stopped dotting them with hostile "x"s, so that's a start.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The One with the valentines.

It's Valentine's day. Funny how this holiday seemed so significant when I had no one to be my valentine, but now that I have someone to love today doesn't seem like much at all - just a reason to allow myself to eat candy, really.

I decided not to buy valentines for my daughter in favor of making valentines for her preschool classmates. I dutifully folded and cut up multi-colored construction paper cards and steadily wrote, "Happy Valentine's Day" on all of them. I set them out on our dining table with heart stickers, glue and sequins, puffy paint, and other assorted craft bits for my daughter to use as decoration. I was excited that I'd summoned the creativity to present such an entertaining project to my daughter, and I'll admit I was feeling a bit superior - ready to strike appropriate guilt into the hearts of those preschool parents who'd simply purchased ready-made valentines or worse, no valentines at all.

The first kink in the works was my daughter's refusal to decorate a single valentine. Not one. She decided she would rather adhere stickers to her shirt and to our dog. No matter, I simply put them aside and decided to try again over the weekend. Only I forgot. And I didn't remember that I'd forgotten until Monday morning when we were on our way to preschool. I calmed myself into the realization that since it was a Monday, most of the other parents had probably forgotten, too. The preschool didn't make any mention of it, and I bet almost no one paid attention to it whatsoever.

When we got to her room, however, my daughter's cubby was already filled with four valentines, all attached to some sort of sugary goodness. I gave her a kiss and hug and raced home. I opened a diet coke and flipped off my boots in favor of my oh-so comfy slippers. After all, this was serious business. I dug out the construction paper cards, stickers and markers and forged my daughter's artistry.

Oh yes I did.

I stuck stickers, scrawled shapes and scribbled lines. I made sure each card had just the right ratio of stickers-to-markers adornment before I stacked it neatly and moved on to the next. In the end, though the cards didn't boast some kind of take-home treat, at least they had been lovingly handmade (or so I hoped everyone would believe).

Next thing I knew, it was time to pick up my daughter. I hopped into the car and raced over there. Once I arrived and was on my way through the parking lot towards the building I realized two things:

1. I'd forgotten to bring the valentines, and
2. I was still wearing my slippers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The one with lots of vegetables.

I've been eating lots of vegetables lately. And fruit. And nuts. Prior to this, I'd been shoveling all manner of crap into my face, and my body was done with it. So, I've been eating a partially raw diet for the past eight days in an effort to cleanse myself and jumpstart a healthier lifestyle.

See, that whole motivation thing that kicked in a few weeks ago? That has seeped into the part of my brain that been in charge of procrastination (a frighteningly large portion, truth be told). I've been telling myself for years that I'll get around to achieving a handful of goals someday. Now, it's like I woke up and realized "someday" is today, and one of those long neglected goals is to finally get this body into shape.

I know most people suggest making modest changes when you're planning to ease into a health kick, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, not going back for seconds at dinner, or cutting down on caffeinated beverages, but not me, sister. I'm more of a balls-to-the-walls kinda gal - if I'm going to make a lifestyle change, I need a huge kick in the pants to make it stick; hence, my new (albeit intentionally temporary) diet.

Basically, I'm eating "raw" all day except dinner, which means I can eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Oh, and I don't cook anything. For dinner I eat whatever the rest of my family is eating. We had grilled cheese sandwiches tonight, turkey dogs while watching the Super Bowl, and so on. Amazingly, I haven't been having late night snacks like I used to.

There is a whole movement and lifestyle supporting raw eating - and as you can imagine, there are many health benefits. The serious raw foodists make incredible dishes that simulate other foods we Americans are quite used to - spaghetti with marinara sauce, chips, tacos, and the list goes on.

I am not a serious raw foodist.

Though I applaud their dedication and I sympathize with their movement, I know myself, and I know I wouldn't be up for maintaining a raw diet indefinitely. But for now and the foreseeable future (a month, maybe? or two?) I will continue munching my way through green beans and red peppers, heaping sliced avocado onto multi-colored salads, and snacking through nuts and dried fruit towards a healthier self. Once I'm off the raw food bandwagon I plan to adopt a healthy diet, one that includes lots of fruits and vegetables.

Oh, and also? One of the by-products of ingesting copius amounts of raw foods has been the flushing out of my innards. There is a reason a friend of mine dubbed this the "Shit Yourself Thin" diet.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The one in the wee hours.

It's after 1:00 am and I'm still awake. I've spent the past two weeks working furiously (and excitedly!) on my new pursuit of a writing paycheck, and I feel incredibly happy. Crazy, stupid happy, like I found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow kind of happy.

My husband and I have talked a couple of times about the future, and we seem to be leaning towards not trying to get pregnant again. He is (almost irritatingly) easy-going about it all - he is "happy with whatever decision we make" about trying again or not, which makes me feel the weight of our eventual decision like a barbell across my chest.

And yes, I know we don't have to make a decision right now. I know we can let it ride for quite some time, technically. The thing is, I've spent much of my life hemming and hawing over making decisions, and I don't want to live the next several months (years?) wondering whether we should or shouldn't expand our family, making lists of pros and cons and changing my mind a thousand times in the process.

Truly, I've felt fine over the miscarriage these past two weeks - so much so, in fact, that I've begun to worry there is something wrong with me - maybe I'm just a heartless bitch? I've been embracing my newfound motivation to write, and the idea of doing something to diminish the amount of time I'm able to spend doing that (like, say, having another baby) isn't terribly appealing. Other things that aren't appealing? Sleep deprivation, managing day-to-day activities around the needs of a newborn, dividing my attention and time between two children and dealing with the inevitable push/pull that goes along with that.

Selfish. That's how I feel just typing that; I fear I'm offending throngs of women by admitting that out loud. How dare I suggest that having a beautiful newborn baby would be anything but a glorious miracle? Then there's the other end of the spectrum - the one in which I think back to when I was younger, much younger; when having a family of my own was just a twinkle in my eye. I used to imagine (if you can believe it) that having four children would be the ideal number. One, I used to reason, wasn't right because he or she would need a sibling. Two was fine, but that still made for a small family. Three was definitely not going to work - I grew up in a family of three children, and the odd number of us always made for a two-against-one mix (and I usually ended up being the one), so logically four was the ideal number.

It might take me a bit of time to get used to the idea of having an only child, if that's indeed the decision we make. Let me state right now that any preconceived ideas I might've had about only children being lonely and socially-starved has been thrown out the window long ago. Thinking back to my childhood, I don't recall knowing anyone who was an only child. I could easily be wrong, but even if I am it obviously didn't make much of an impression on me. These days, I know plenty of fantastic, well-adjusted, intelligent people who happen to have grown up as only children, and I realize it can be a really great scenario for the child and the parents, too.

Then there was last night. We went to a small party where there were a few other couples with children. One of the couples has a baby. So far, being around this baby (and any other) hasn't had any effect on me whatsoever - no emotional pangs or welling up of tears. Nothing. But last night, as I was holding this impossibly happy baby on my lap, my daughter came over to asked if the baby could sit on her lap. After okaying it with the baby's mom, we set up my daughter on the couch, and I put the baby across her tiny thighs. An emotional pang came over me seeing her carefully balancing this beautiful baby while I began imagining her as a big sister. As the night progressed so did my emotions. Eventually, I found myself retreating to the restroom to have a good cry. Even as I was crying all I could think was, "where is this coming from?" I've been fine this whole time, and all of a sudden, BAM, with the tears.

After I composed myself and came out of the bathroom, I ran into the party's host - herself a mom of two adorable girls. Suddenly, the tears overcame me again, and I found myself leaning on her shoulder crying into her sweatshirt. She was incredibly compassionate, which made me want to blabber all my conflicting thoughts out loud to her looking for answers or closure or... something.

And so now I sit back at home, half watching House Hunters and half wondering how I'm going to feel in the morning. Even just a few hours later I feel securely back in my original camp where having an only child seems like the thing to do. I can't deny, however, that something inside me (my ovaries, maybe?) seems hellbent on convincing the rest of me to try again.

Despite my desire to make a decision about this in order to gain a sense of finality, I will reluctantly suspend the decision-making process for now. So, deciding not to make a decision is sort of a decision, right?


It's decided, then.

Or something like that.