Thursday, November 01, 2007


Yesterday, I took the day off from work (and blogging) because I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Six straight nights of houseguests will do that to me. While Spesh is an undemanding houseguest, it can be stressful to have him around. I love my father dearly, but he is a very demanding houseguest, seeming to need direction and planning at every turn. And it's not because he's old! He seems to have always expected this when he comes to visit. The times I've done lots of planning, our visits go rather well. This visit did go well because I planned a fair amount. But it left me worn out.

I wonder sometimes if I could handle having a kid and a husband around. One grumpy young man and one grumpy old man in succession (those are unfair characterizations of Spesh and Dad) gave me cause for a sick day. I can only imagine the needs of a partner and kid would much more pressing and constant. (I'm sure I could get used to it, but it would take a while. It's also worth noting that I can only imagine having a partner who would become part of my caretaking burden. I blame Dad.)

Thus, another reason to be grateful for being single. No reason not to take a day off if I need to and no reason to lift a finger on that day off. And I didn't. Well, I did, literally, because I spent the entire day knitting. Only one scarf left in the never ending "scarf for every niece project." (Only one scarf left!) Oh, I also watched dvds and a little tv. Never left the house. Never got out of my pjs. I did unload the dishwasher and clean the counter with all crumbs from bread slicing. But, basically, I sat in one spot on the couch all day, half the time with Tabitha the cat leaning up against me. Maybe she missed our alone time too because it wasn't cold enough to justify such affection.

Today I started thinking about all the things I wish I could change about how I spend my time. This in part spurred by Dad's annoying questions, "Do you think you'll stay at your job indefinitely?" (Answer: sullen teenage style, "I dunno.") "Do you consider yourself to be a person of good fortune?" (Answer: emphatic "yes!")

And the non-question par excellence, "I think it's a lot easier to be a single woman today than it was when I was younger."

My response? "It's easer for both MEN and women, I think." He agreed.

To be fair, he means well and I know where he's coming from. He's trying to find a way to be happy for me and respectful of my choices that have left me single and childless at my advanced age. I mean, he's right. No one (I hope) feels sorry for me or that my life is a ruined wasteland of missed opportunities because I don't have a husband and/or kids. Honestly, if I had kids on my own was happy about it, Dad would be delighted. I don't think he'd care if I ever got married, if he were sure I'd be happy single. (Some of you may remember the time he indirectly suggested that I go to the doctor to get myself knocked up. Gotta love Dad but he is not subtle.)

Anyway, I really appreciate that Dad wants me to be happy and that he won't judge me on any traditionalist grounds. Sure, he believes in marriage (so do I, for that matter) but not as a matter of principle—not in the sense that life isn't complete unless you're married—but in the sense that if you are in a long term relationship, being married means something different than living together indefinitely. I didn't always agree with that, but I do now, and, morally I'd guess Dad and I are on the same page. We're probably more in agreement on the marriage issue than Mom and I, though she would have zero objection to the kid sans daddy.

Enough of the biological clock baloney (though I did have the damndest dream about babies last night. I blame it on my very foolish decision to watch "Private Practice." What a crap-tastic show! The guys are cute enough to almost justify it, though.)

Now I will make some lists about what I want to do in the short term.

[Long tangent: I can't deal with the career goals question or the should I maybe move back to Seattle question. People ask me about my career ambitions and everything gets kind of gray and fuzzy. Look, I kind of hate my work. I only like it when I'm busy and that's only because I like to be busy. I think I'm good at what I do, but good gracious it's dull. And the stuff I love that my contractors get to do? I don't even love it that much.

What have I ever loved in this general arena (of research)? Not the writing, the teaching or the editing. I really enjoyed writing code—statistical code, especially in SAS. That was fun. It was like a puzzle. I'm not great at idea generation and I sure don't enjoy writing up technical results. I'm just better at the writing part than most people. Many, many people are better than me at idea generation.]

Sorry about that. Here are the "what I want to do" and the "what I want to want to do" lists:

What I want to do (short term)
  • Write a novel
  • Write the blog every day
  • Knit without pain
  • Move to Paris (or other idealized location) for a year and/or take a year off of work
  • Take fewer family-centric vacations
  • Have more (any) sex (with my future husband, of course!)
  • Make more friends
  • Row next year
  • Take my pain killers with no adverse consequences
What I want to want to do
  • Go to the gym regularly
  • Walk to work frequently
  • Socialize more with strangers (so I can meet some guys and make some friends, see above)
  • Knit less ('cause I'm hurting myself)
  • PT for my shoulder
  • Yoga
  • More camping
  • More hiking
  • Write an outline for a novel
  • Write a piece about my x-country trip
Problem is, some of those "want to want tos" must be done in order to accomplish the "want tos."

Am I right in thinking everyone has a similar dilemma?

That is, everyone who isn't working her dream job while living in Paris (or other idealized location) with her perfect mate and beautiful, well-behaved children, taking exotic guilt-free, extended-family-free vacations, maintaining healthy, happy relationships with her extended family, and never, ever being nervous about flying.

P.S. All detectable humor in this piece is completely intentional and you are invited to laugh at or with me, whichever you prefer.

Grateful for: my absurdly good fortune.

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