Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's not an island, you just can't see past the hills...

I had the most fabulous dinner out this weekend. I laughed so often that I swear shrimp almost came out of my nose. We all finished dinner and sat around annoying the waiter for at least another hour. When we departed, the conversation lingered in the parking lot as we were all reluctant to end the night. That's nothing remarkable to blog about - getting together with friends is always fun, and sometimes you find a group that just particularly gels together. I have lots of different circles of friends, and we all have fun in different ways. But this dinner was different, and I couldn't figure out why the night was so fun until one of the attendees pointed out that everyone at the table was over thirty and childless. (Although I'm sure that if someone read a transcript of the conversations that we had, they would put the age of the group at somewhere around 18.)

I was surprised at what a nice change that was. For once, I didn't feel like the 'crazy one who doesn't know what she's missing because she doesn't want kids.' We had dinner on a Saturday night and lingered with no timeframe in mind. We discussed a group skydiving trip and 6 out of the 8 in the group were in. I went back to a friend's house and we stayed out until 2:00am. We talked about group trips and didn't have to plan around school or baby sitting etc. etc. It was different, and that itself was surprising. So many of my friends now have children that making considerations for children when we make plans is just commonplace. (Note: it is not a burden to make considerations for children. Please please please don't take it that way. I am not here to bash my friends who have kids - especially since so many of them are awesome. This is just an observation.)

I've accepted that I'm in the minority since I don't want children. Each time a good friend of mine announces a pregnancy, I greet the news with joy and I attend the baby shower with a gift that I try to put some thought into (but seriously, I don't know the good things to get. I try, though! Specific instructions that don't include the words "breast" or "pump" are always appreciated...) I ask about updates on the pregnancy, I can't wait to know the sex and the name of the new addition... I even follow a blogger who is about to have her second child, and I anticipate each update as much for her writing and observations as for the subject matter and pictures. But I'm always a bit hesitant. Is my latest newly pregnant friend going to turn into "that mom?" You know the one. This is the woman who has a baby, usually quits her job, and is suddenly incapable of speaking about anything other than her child and the day to day "achievements" or "challenges" that she faces, much less hearing about the lives of others who don't involve her child. Dear God, just shoot me now.

Luckily, I've been largely unscathed. I can do a shout out to all my awesome mom friends individually, but that would take much too long. I can point out the people I've known who have become "that mom," which would be a much shorter list, but I'll keep the gloves up and try to be nice. I'll suffice to say that the awesome moms realize that there are different friends for different discussions. They help me out with the updates on their children (they know that I don't know what to ask, but they help me out with the important information anyway.) At the same time, they still keep it on a level that I'll understand. (The real in-depth mommy talk would be over my head anyway.) The awesome moms also still ask about my life and what's going on with me. Our conversation is not simply dominated by baby-talk, even though I'm sure they would like it to be, but it's also not dominated by dogs/school/politics like I would prefer it to be. :-) The effort put forth by both parties ensures that the friendship between "maternal" and "non-maternal" will endure. I might be biased, but I think that you need all sorts of friends in your life with all sorts of viewpoints, no?

I don't begrudge women their decision to have children. I just seriously dread the women who become "that mom." I thought it was mostly because of the loss of my friend when they morph into this completely self absorbed creature, but now I'm realizing the pressure that comes with "those moms" and how much that affects me, even if I don't want it to. My intense reaction to "those moms" is for a variety of reasons, but the most obvious one is that I don't like being called out for discussing topics other than their child (ahem.) You had a child, and they are your whole world. I know. But they're not mine. If you can't understand that I'm not going to want to talk about your child 24/7 or if you are incapable of discussing any other topic, well, it's going to stress me out to spend time with you and I'll probably do my best to avoid it*.

I thought that was it. But after a dinner with other childless friends, I realized that what I feel is implicit in that refusal to discuss anything other than the new child is a judgment on me for not wanting to have children. "Look at me! My entire life has changed in such a profound way! It is so awesome! This is obviously the right decision! Best thing I ever did! Emily, you should so totally be interested in this - what's wrong with you if you aren't? This experience is just so awesome. I mean, I just can't put it into words. It's just so....great. You wouldn't understand." Whether that's actually being put forth by some moms, or if it's in my head, either way it's a subtle pressure that I'm feeling more and more as those around me have children, plan to have children, try to have children, or can't wait to get married and have children.

I get it. I really do. Having children is awesome. It truly changes your life, perspective and everything in between. I just don't think it's a decision for me.

Feeling that pressure is my problem, and I get that. I have to work on that. But the thing is, I don't feel that pressure from the "awesome moms." All I feel from them is joy over their children. That, in turn, makes me enjoy spending time with them and their children whenever it's possible for us to get together. So then, what's the difference between seeing my "awesome mom" friends and going out with a group of childless friends?

Well, I guess that not only was the subtle pressure gone, but I see other people who have made the same decision I've made... and their life looks pretty darn good from where I'm sitting. In the absence of a "What to Expect" book to tell me how to circumnavigate life with no children, it was nice to see that others have gone before me and they're satisfied with their life and how they lived it. The decision not to have children isn't worse than the decision to have children. It's not better than the decision to have children. It's just a different path. I guess I didn't realize how nice it was to have that path reaffirmed every now and then.

*I tried to keep the gloves up. Really I did.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I don't get it*

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year-old rancher whose hand was caught in the gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually, the topic got around to Sarah Palin and her bid.

The old rancher said, "Well, ya know, Palin is a 'post turtle.' "

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was.

The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a 'post turtle.' " The old rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain. "You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, and she doesn't know what to do while she's up there; so you just wonder what kind of dummy put her up there to begin with."

*The blog title is sarcasm. Since no one seems to know when I'm being sarcastic, I'll go ahead and try to head off a bunch of comments where people try to explain the idea behind the joke...

Friday, September 26, 2008

A plea for help

I don't blog about serious stuff here. I try to make people laugh. I am a teller of stories. Hopefully those stories make you smile. Sometimes they should make you glad they didn't happen to you. Sometimes the stories are supposed to make you tell me how cute my dogs are. Sometimes I want to share the random exciting thing that happens in my life. Sometimes I just want to rant. But I try not to post about politics. (Sometimes I fail.)

Basically, I like to tell stories. I try to keep it lighthearted and sometimes sarcastic. (Though apparently I need to make the sarcasm a little bit more apparent. Hmmm.)

But today I need help. Seriously. Help.

I wasn't going to talk about this, but after commiserating with Ann I thought I would use this blog to A) let her know that she's not alone, and B) seriously see if there's something I haven't thought of to help myself out. I mean, you guys were good with suggestions for Tyson, maybe you can help me with this.

I have met my nemesis, and it is Biology. I have taken two tests and taken two ass beatings with the worst one happening yesterday evening when I left five fill-in-the-blank questions blank on a 35 question exam. The test yesterday followed a test a week prior that also did not go as well as hoped.

Total, I would say that I spent 30 hours studying for both tests. Um, that's on top of the 5 hours of class per week and the 40 hours of work per week. I'm not sure much more studying will fit. I know it's not the amount of studying, but the way you're studying, right? So help me.

Here's what I'm facing. I'm intelligent. I'm a problem solver. For all my difficulties with chemistry, I can handle chemistry. There are problems, I learn the concepts associated, I learn to solve the problems, I do well on the tests (providing I put in my study time.) The bonus to this is that I remember the concepts and can apply them to other situations later on. I learn by doing. By applying. I learned to knit from a website with pictures. I imitated the pictures and got the concept pretty quickly. But I have to DO. I have to apply. You can't tell Emily the college student about the great program that is Microsoft Access and show her examples of how it can be used. She won't get it at all. But put her in a work environment where Microsoft Access is USED, and she's all about using it for process improvements and efficiencies. In fact, if you put her in a NEW job where there is no Access, she can immediately see how much Access could help out and implement it successfully. (true story, btw)

Biology is all about the memorization, and people, I am sucking it up at the memorization. Seriously. I read my biology chapter and it all makes perfect sense. I get it. I'm down wit' dat. I understand the concept of evolution, I understand the concept of classifying organisms into classes and phylums and how they're all related. But ask me the phylum of a spider? Um... An example of a porifera? Um...

And, seriously, I read all of that crap. Not only that, but in my study group we discussed at length how all the concepts tie into each other. I can now recite to you exactly how the life cycle of a protozoa goes. I can tell you how the protozoa that causes malaria is both sexual and asexual. I can apply that. But the name of the phylum that contains that protozoa? Um...

And folks, I read the material. I copied my notes into a different format. In desperation, I typed my notes on the computer. We discuss the concepts out loud when we study. But do I remember what the three structures of a sponge are called? Well, right now I do. (asconoid, sychonoid, and leucanoid) In a fill in the blank test? Not so much. Do I know the phylum that contains the earthworm? Yes. But since it's sheer memorization (and I managed to retain that piece of information) if he asks me to apply it, I'm at a loss.

So... memorization techniques? Ways to help me maximize my study time? Help me! Seriously! With a class where there are concepts to learn and problems to solve, I know how to study. In a world where I have to memorize huge amounts of information (when in real life Google is a girl's best friend) I'm failing, I have no idea how to do better. Seriously - as a student who never had to struggle much with school, I'm starting to get a complex...along with this annoying tic in my left eye. :-)

The next lab exam is over the skeletal system (not just the bones, but the different PARTS of the bones for God's sake.) That's complete memorization. It's not like I can figure out a formula to help me determine the name of the bones he chooses to test us on. Seriously. HELP ME! I beg you. Casey and Blue beg you. Help save their mom's sanity....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who knew all that anger would come in handy?

I'm no gamer, but I've been known to play video games on occasion. MarioKart is an all time favorite, and was actually one of my favorite pasttimes when getting over heartbreak. And I've made no secret of my love for all things Frogger and PacMan. (And I may have secret [outdated] mad skillz with Nina in Tekken.) But I was never into the "shoot 'em up" games. I've watched GTA (and heard about the fun storylines,) but never played. The competitor in me sort of yearns to be really good at the video games that zlionsfan, ropes me into to unlock things or reach certain achievements, but I just don't have the time.

Along these lines, when Guitar Hero came out, I didn't understand the excitement from zlionsfan. It was a fun game, and I could see how it would become mildly addictive, but to spend hours upon hours on that game? Then came Rock Band. Okay. It's Guitar Hero with more instruments and singing. I get it. I can play the guitar okay. I can play the bass okay. The drums look like they're way too complicated (and after seeing my cousin play - who was AWESOME - I'm super intimidated.) And singing? You mean, singing in front of people? No thanks. Besides, Rock Band was mostly 70s rock with which I am not well acquainted. (Sorry sorry sorry. In my defense - I know some of the songs!! Just not all of them.) I mean, Rock Band is fun and all, sure. Especially in a group of people. But to spend lots of time on it? Meh.

Enter Rock Band 2. All of a sudden, I know the songs I'm playing. All of a sudden, Rock Band is much more fun. All of a sudden, I'm dropping off a book for zlionsfan and staying until 10:30pm playing "one more song." Damn. But still, given the control freak in me (and with that, the dislike of making a complete fool of myself) I stick to the guitar. No drums, and no singing.

Last night we were playing "one more song" and it happened to be Alanis Morrissette. Specifically 'You Oughta Know.' Emily on guitar and zlionsfan on vocals. We play. We don't do so well. We try again, we don't do so well. In an unprecedented move I say,

"Let me sing."

I know, right? Zlionsfan tried his best to talk me out of it. He expressed doubt in that gentle way he has, and reminded me that it was on expert. I'm sure he was trying to help me avoid an epic fail. I stuck to my guns.

"C'mon. Let me sing."

What he probably didn't realize is that any woman scorned has at one point or another cranked up Alanis and sang along. That song is probably the anthem for a woman scorned. I'm not saying I've ever been a woman scorned before (cough cough) but, you know, I may have sang that tune a time or two (or fifty or sixty.) I know that song. I know the venomous nuances. I wouldn't put myself out there singing (even in front of a close friend) if I didn't think I could do it. So despite his doubt, I took the mic.

Dude, I totally nailed that shit. On expert. Go me. Happy dance for one. First song ever sang in Rock Band - woo hoo! There was no containing my happiness.

It wasn't the first time through that I was awesome. I mean, there was a learning curve of how the game works and what exactly I had to do. I did fail the first time. But in the end, I got through it, and I even got an A. :-) And then we played some other songs, and then I made him let me sing again.

(I would like to note that this does not mean I can sing well. I mean, I could hear myself. It wasn't pretty. In fact, I got an attack of the giggles, that almost made me fail, when I heard how horrible I sounded the second time around. But you don't have to sing well, apparently. You have to be on pitch, and you have to be a good mimic.)

Poor zlionsfan. He probably doesn't even know the monster he created. This might cause me to stop bugging him about MarioKart Wii. Like I need one more thing to take up my time. Man.

But, you know, we need two more people to be a band. I'm sure that if you're nice enough, zlionsfan might let you into 'Seven Years of Bad Luck.' Especially if it helps him unlock something or other. Any takers?*

*What's interesting is that my friends are divided into two camps. Those who will completely understand my excitement, and those (ahem, Kate, ahem) who will mock me endlessly for this. That's fine. I'm ready. Bring it. If I can mimic Alanis's anger, you should be very very afraid.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Daddy's Girl

"So he monopolizes my conversation, asks me what I'm doing this weekend, and then turns red, starts sputtering and runs off. WHAT THE HELL?! SERIOUSLY! I am SO done with younger men. Why do I keep dating them? I mean, how much do I have to teach them? I helped him out! I said that I was free this weekend. Then I asked him what HE was doing this weekend! What more do I have to do?! I am NOT asking him out! That's HIS job!! I've paid my dues. I've taught younger men. This school is closed. Move along Junior."

(helpless laughter.)

"Seriously!! From a male perspective, do you know what zlionsfan said that I should have answered when Junior asked me what I was doing this weekend? 'Nothing. What did you have in mind.' Can you believe that?? How much help do young boys NEED?? That's it. I'm dating only older men from here on out."

"Are you serious? You've never dated an older man in your life."

"Yes, I'm serious. I need someone older. Someone who can handle things. You know? Who will make reservations at a restaurant for date instead of having me take care of every little thing....maybe he would slip the waiter a twenty to get us a good table."

"Oh come on. No one does anymore that unless they're 55."

"Okay, okay. You know what I mean. Someone who just handles things. Who just takes care of stuff. If I have a problem, he just makes it go away."

"Oh my God! You want to date your father!"

"I do NOT want to date my father. Ew!"


"But, you know, if my dad had written a book, I'm not sure I would mind if the guy I'm dating had read it..."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not the Sexy One

So, Halloween is approaching. It's one of my favorite holidays, but I'll be honest and say that I haven't dressed up as anything other than "Emily" or "typical late 20 year old" or "returning student" in years. I've also spent the last 6 apartment dwelling years handing out the "good candy" to trick-or-treaters if only because there are remarkably few trick-or-treaters in apartment complexes, and I get to keep the left overs.

But this year, my little brother and his wife live near Indianapolis, and if I like Halloween, they love Halloween. They're already planning their Halloween party, and it didn't take long for them to hit up me and the boy for a costume idea. What is it, you ask? Well, I'll get to that.

First, a word about my little brother and his wife. (And by "little" I mean "younger." There is nothing "little" about the genetically blessed, 6'0" tall, blue eyed handsome man that I am related to. We also could not be more polar opposite... Luckily I am saved from bitterness about his genetic good luck by having multiple embarrassing photos of the chubby little precursor [with one very unfortunate hair cut] to the handsome adonis who now greets me with "Hey sis." Not that photos of my younger years aren't equally embarrassing, it's just that I don't care, and my brother would rather believe he emerged from the womb the perfect male specimen he is today.) My brother and his wife are the golden couple. They met in high school, dated through college, got married, honeymooned in Hawaii, bought the perfect house and will now set about filling the perfect house with perfect furniture until they decide to procreate and have perfect children. If I didn't love my brother so much, all of that would be intensely irritating. As it is, his wife and I definitely have our differences to work through, but I'm sure we'll make it there someday. (right??)

I'm in a bind here because I don't want to post a picture of my brother and sister-in-law without their permission, but I also don't want to tell them about my blog. So basically, what I'm going to do is post a picture of me and the boy that my brother and sister-in-law happen to be in, and hope they never find out. I'm not using their names, so the chances of someone stumbling upon their picture with a google search is remote, right? (right??) So here we are in all of our familial glory.

Guess who's who.

Now, if you look at that group, what group Halloween costume comes to mind? Anything?? Anything?? I guess you might have to know each person's personalities a bit better to know which direction I'm heading in, so let me help. We've covered the brother and sister-in-law's perfection. How about if I mention that the boy is more comfortable in khakis than in a suit. And if you haven't inferred it, the boy is a laid back. Relaxed. Chill about life. And me? I love to read.

Nothing yet? K. Here's a hint.

The funny thing is that when the idea was brought up, no one had to ask what character they would be playing. There was a bit of awkwardness when my brother and sister-in-law talked about who they were going to be, like they didn't want to assume, but seriously. I mean, my clean-cut brother being Shaggy? Please. Maybe Scooby, but that was never really considered. :-) And me as Daphne? Seriously? I mean, be the sexy one? There's no way I would do it. (Not that I couldn't play that role and wouldn't like to be asked, ahem...) Anyway, aren't Fred and Daphne a couple? And don't Shaggy and Scooby (possibly to be played by Tyson in a mask - can't wait until I get to blog about THAT story) get along best? Of course I was going to be short, not as attractive (and yet always smarter,) Velma (who has about zero sex appeal.) Fabulous. I'm thrilled. Can't wait. Sign me up. (I guess I should have read this article sooner.)

In retrospect, what I should have done was "assumed" that I was going to play Daphne and waited to see how long it would have taken my brother to call me and let me know that actually, I am supposed to be playing the role of Velma. THAT would have been a fun conversation to let him stumble through. Damn.

And then I realize that it is their Halloween party. And they are the ones who really love Halloween. I guess don't mind playing a supporting role in this costume that will make their Halloween so special*. I'll be the "not sexy one" this time. No problem. It just means I get to choose the next group Halloween costume. Any suggestions?

(This would be where I insert that I am obviously not dead and have miraculously lived through the "sinus infection" and only have remnants of a cough left...though I'm still sleeping a ton. Yay for not dying!!!)

*oh, and the Halloween party is taking place at the perfect house where I'll make sure Tyson has the perfect accident on the perfect basement carpet.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Goodbye Cruel World

My reluctance to go to the doctor has been well documented. Nothing against MDs or those of you who believe that "if one works, two will work twice as well." I just don't like the idea of medication. I believe that, in most cases, the body can heal itself. I'm not militant in this stance by any means. I mean, I love me some Nyquil. A girl's gotta sleep sometimes when there is just no more sleep to be had. And I realize that if I were in the hospital, they will need to use some sort of anesthetic before they removed the limb that needs removing (which, of course, is the only reason why I would be in the hospital in the first place...) But for a headache? Close your eyes and relax a bit - if it gets worse, go home...don't work. Sore neck? Just don't turn to the sore side. Duh.

All of that said, and not to get melodramatic on you, I think I'm dying. Seriously. I am sick sick sick, and since I have very little experience being sick, I have no idea how miserable I should feel when it's just a little sick vs. a big sick. That said, judging on how I feel, this is obviously a very serious illness and I am going to die from it. I'm chilling out on death's doorstep just waiting for the angels to come and take me home. (or for someone to help me into my handbasket. Either way.)

It all began at my parent's house over Labor Day weekend. I woke up one morning with no voice. The second morning it was a little bit worse. I just figured it would go away...something about the air down where my parents live has never worked well with me anyway. The raspy throat in the morning persisted and eventually developed into a cough. A rattling cough that sometimes produced grossness from my lungs. I was mildly concerned, but I didn't feel worse for the wear...I just had a cough. I sounded like a smoker, actually. I went ahead and participated in an all day, two-on-two volleyball tournament with this cough.

And then Monday came. And with it came misery.

Monday morning started off okay. My head was a bit stuffy, and I really didn't want to get out of bed, but I made it to work and had an okay day. By Monday night, all I wanted to do was whine about how I didn't feel well. Tuesday morning I knew I wasn't going to work (for long) and after coming home at noon and getting a quality nap in with the dogs, deciding that I couldn't possibly go to class and demanding that the boy come and keep my sick ass company, I called the doctor's office. (After that phone call, I asked the boy, in all seriousness, to cut off my nose with a kitchen knife to stop the DAMNED ITCHING that was making my eyes constantly water.)

I don't have any allergies of which I'm aware.

Which doctor? Good question, as I do not have a general practicioner. (I know, I know. Save your lectures for someone who's not sick at the moment.) I begged a referral from my boss and made a Wednesday morning appointment with his doctor.

The only outstanding memory I have of the doctor's office was a neat discussion about western medicine vs. herbal/organic supplements, and the fact that his scale confirmed my worst fear - that my home scale isn't weighing heavy by 20 lbs. Damn.

Apparently I am not dying. Apparently I have a "sinus infection." I still think that "sinus infection" is code for "dead in a week" but what do I know? I woke up this morning feeling better, but I still have that death rattle in my lungs, and the slightest laugh sends me into a coughing fit that brings tears to my eyes.

Because I've now pulled a muscle in my abdomen from the coughing and sneezing. I'm so old.

Never mind the old. It's a new decade, right? I'm going to learn how to take care of myself. I need rest, right? No volleyball, no stress, just sleep (and prescribed medication.)

So last night I went to volleyball - just to observe, mind you. I'm the captain of one of the teams, and one of the subs didn't know anyone else, blah blah, insert excuse here. I only played one game. One out of six! That's progress, right?

And tonight...well, I'm still going to lab. I have to go to lab. I can't miss lab. We're having a quiz tonight.

And tomorrow... I'm watching a movie with some friends after work. Um, I'll make sure to get home early.

Saturday? Well, I volunteer in the morning, but I should be able to sleep in the afternoon. That's it. I'll schedule in some sleep on Saturday afternoon.

See? I can take care of myself...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Life in the Land of Boring

So I know it's been a while since I've blogged, and I've been racking my brain trying to find something - anything - to blog about. But I've got nothin'. Oh, I've got a lot of little tidbits, like how Blue was a HIT at my parents house over the Labor Day weekend - and how it almost killed me to have to leave Casey at home, or how my father's reirement BBQ (his second retirement party, mind you) was way more fun than it should have been considering I was one of the three youngest people there, or how I got a call from a 25-year-old potential suitor at 10:00pm and he sounded surprised that I was already in bed (old.) But none of them are suitable stories for an entire blog. Meh.

That's not to say there's nothing going on. School has started once again, and I'm basking in the last five-hour semester I can take. From here on out I'm in the nitty gritty and have to take a minimum of ten-hours per semester. Fabulous. I intend to enjoy my "freedom" while I have it this semester (and to get an A in this one measly little class I'm in.) I keep fixing little things in my teeny tiny apartment, but we're all settled in now and have a decent routine going. I started a new (traumatizing) volunteer experience that I might blog about sometime, and that's going smoothly...

Everything's just....going. And for someone who doesn't like change and likes to plan, this is a good thing. But for blogging....well....

I will say that I met a cute boy in my class this semester.

A cute young boy. (but not too young.)

A cute, young, smart boy.

A cute, young, smart, seemingly interested in Emily, boy.

A cute, young, smart, seemingly interested in Emily, has a smiliar background, boy.

A cute, young, smart, seemingly interested in Emily, has a similar background, and rides a motorcycle, boy.

Oh my.

A cute, young, smart, seemingly interested in Emily boy who has a similar background, rides a motorcycle... and is allergic to dogs.