Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Hires Movers

Moving is like childbirth, or at least what I've heard about childbirth. It's painful, but the memories of it fade away when the thought of another house (or another child) comes to mind. That's why lots of people have more than one kid, and that's why lots of people look at their apartments and say, 'You know what would be a great idea? Moving.' They've forgotten the pain in the ass it actually is.

By the time a woman is in her thirties, she has moved fourteen times on average. Okay, I made that statistic up. But if she's anything like this woman in her thirties, she's given and not gotten back her fair share of security deposits. To be fair, my last move was quite easy, logistically speaking (if you don't count the three months our stuff spent on a boat in the Pacific Ocean). Because the move was paid for by L's company, we were not allowed to pack anything ourselves. Earlier this spring L and I decided to move yet again, this time on our own dime. I knew this move was going to be harder, I just wasn't prepared for how much harder.

Here's what the last week has been like: Packing. Repacking. Stealing boxes from beside dumpsters. Packing again. Wrapping. Running out of bubble wrap. Trying to figure out the tape dispenser. Crying. Cursing. Walking around the block to steal newspapers. Packing again. Arguing with U-Haul's return policy. Repacking. Turns out I'm really, really, really bad at packing.

In my twenties, this was part of the adventure. Who really cared if I broke a couple of Walmart dishes on the way to my new apartment? But a woman in her thirties has stuff that means stuff to her, important stuff. And stuff.

People have asked me if it was hard to leave my apartment yesterday. The answer is NO. It was not. Will I miss the city I lived in? Yes, especially in October. But I think my friend T said it best yesterday when I sent her the following text message:

What sucks worse: Childbirth or moving?

Her answer was: Moving, hand's down.

A woman in her thirties doesn't always need first hand experience to agree.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Has No Time for Modesty

Warning: This entry is not suitable for boys or people who can't say the word 'vagina' with a straight face.

The series of events leading up to the miscarriage last month revealed a friendly fibroid tumor that has been living in my uterus. Apparently he'd been there for awhile thinking he'd found a great place to settle down, and when I got pregnant he was like, 'Oh, what? I thought this place was mine...' So not only am I in the miscarriage club, I'm also in the non-cancerous tumor club. There's a bouncer and everything.

The wonderfully thorough doctors I have suggested I do a procedure called an HSG, which is short for Hysterosalpingogram, and yes, I had to look up how to spell that. An HSG is usually done when women have trouble getting pregnant, to make sure there is no blockage in the fallopian tubes, but in my case it was done to analyze my intruder and make sure he didn't need to be kicked out of my uterus before his lease was up. I was to follow that up with another ultrasound, which would bring me to a total of five in the last four months. If my uterus could talk, it would demand some privacy from what it must see as some annoying paparazzi.

Today was my day for both procedures. The HSG was done in a small room like what you see on 'A Baby Story', and as I lay there three pairs of eyes glared at my nether parts and barked orders.

'Bring your feet closer to your hips. Now let your knees fall outward. And relax!'

How do you not laugh when your MALE doctor says that? If I wasn't in such a compromising position, one that made me appreciate all the yoga I've been doing lately, I might have done just that.

I thought about explaining the procedures in this entry, and then realized that would be incredibly boring. Instead, I would like to make a list of all the foreign objects that have been inserted into my vagina today:

One clamp
One catheder
Lots of purple dye
A small blue balloon
Something that looked like a string
Something that looked like a mini turkey baster
A large white probe
Enough lube to keep a car engine running for weeks

Look, I know this isn't the pretty woman in her thirties picture I thought I'd be painting when I began this blog. I always thought a woman in her thirties should avoid talking about such things. But I'm too busy with the mountain of craziness going on around me to worry about such embarassement. A woman in her thirties figures out that discomfort, like love, is better when shared.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties is her own Generation

There is a long list of things I've never done. Here is a sample:

1. I've never been to Africa
2. I've never been arrested
3. I've never eaten at Olive Garden without puking my guts out

And, up until today:

4. I had never seen, in real life, a baby being born

H called last night as I was putting my earplugs in to go to sleep. 'My water just broke,' she said. I don't know much about these things, but I remember hearing once that water breaking + second child = get to the hospital quick. So off I went. Quick.

In the waiting room, two J's, L, and I spent the majority of the time discussing the varying degrees of hilarity of 'that's what she said'. We made a security badge (simply called 'BADGE') out of a piece of paper in my purse, in an attempt to gain an all-access pass to the hospital. But nothing was happening in the baby delivery department. By the time the morning rolled around we were all delirious with fatigue and anticipation, and out of embarrassing stories.

At about 10:00am, it was time to go. We surrounded the bed like it was a Thanksgiving buffet, all waiting for the moment when H could push and we would have a baby. I say 'we' because that's how you talk when you're in the delivery room, like each and every person in there is in the exact same position and in the exact same amount of discomfort. H, along with every other woman who has ever had a baby, must find this very funny.

'There will be four generations of women in this room in a few minutes,' H's mom said, and it suddenly hit me, the enormity of coming into this world. Four generations. That's an awful lot of incredible stories. 'The miracle of life' takes on a new perspective when surrounded by the women who have come before us, and the women who have yet to arrive.

I held a leg. Can we all stop and think about this for a minute? I held a leg and watched one of my best friends bring a new life into this world. It was nothing like they make it out to be on TV. I can only oversimplify what it was like by saying that it was the closest I've ever come to seeing time stand still and move in fast forward at the same time. The only dry eye was Madeline's, as she looked up at her mother for the first time and thought, 'Oh, so that's what you look like.'

As the cameras clicked around me, I thought about how we are defined by the women before us and after us. A woman in her thirties can't look at a newborn and think, 'I know it all. Do it just like me.' Just like her mother and her grandmother before her couldn't do. We are our own generations and our own stories. All she can do when surrounded by her past, her present, and her future is promise all the love she's been given, and be amazed at the miracle.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Dresses for the Symphony

Last week I went to the SF Symphony to see a night of 'Classic Beethoven'. I took my Mom for her birthday but our girls' night out was a gift to both of us. Going to the symphony is about as high as you can go on the WIHT meter, so I've decided to let this make up for the boxed brownie incident.

I admit I have an affinity for classical music. Growing up, we listened to Brahms much more often than Led Zeppelin (much to L's dismay). My father could play the piano by ear, one of those ridiculously unfair talents that I usually curse people for. Thinking I might have gotten even a smidgen of his gift, I took piano lessons in my twenties. Things did not go well. My brother told me once that I play the most depressing 'Entertainer' he's ever heard. The one thing I did get from piano lessons is that I have the deepest admiration (and jealousy) for anyone who can play a musical instrument.

I am usually one to frown upon dressing up, but symphony night is different. At the symphony, people wear black and gold and shawls and Chanel perfume, sometimes all at once. Glasses are totally acceptable. Men wear suits and women bring clutches, and they talk about the French restaurant they ate at for dinner and the view of City Hall from the lobby . It's oh-so posh and sophisticated.

My night with my Mom started off fulfilling all these exceptions, that is until the group in front of us took their seats. Obviously, not everyone in the family had gotten the memo about proper symphony attire. One of them, and I'm not joking here, was wearing flip-flops.

Gasp! I thought to myself. A woman in her thirties does not-

But the symphony was starting, and they played my absolute favorite Beethoven concerto, and for two hours I was thinking about the piano and all the ways that classical music makes life better. Throughout the performance I was in a space I used to think all women in their thirties were in at all times, a space of complete relaxation and contentment (little did I know). By the end, my arms were sore from clapping.

Then the flip-flop wearing man in front of me stood up to begin a standing ovation. His pants were halfway down his behind, the crack in his rear end large enough to cover my entire view of the strings.

I know now that in situations like these, a woman in her thirties can't lose her cool. Symphonies and other such happy things don't last forever, so we must revel in them as long as possible. I wasn't ready to be smacked back to reality by the ample behind of the man in front of me. I did what any other self-respecting woman in her thirties would do-- I simply stood up taller and did my best to out-clap him.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Misses College (but not really)

I remember hearing on many occasions in high school that those were 'the best years of my life'. That confused me at the time, seeing as how I was busy being a hostess at a local restaurant, staying at school until 11:00pm for play rehearsals, and struggling through Algebra II. I was sure when I graduated that if those were 'the best years of my life', I'd been completely ripped off.

It was the same in college. 'These are the best years of our lives!' we shouted over beer bongs and other questionable activities. While that might have been an acceptable justification for my first two years, by my last two years of college I was both working and going to school full time. Best years of my life? Please.

My rose-colored glasses have adjusted quite nicely to fit my woman-in-her-thirties face. Today, when I had to go to the swanky university down the street to get my fingerprints done for teaching, I looked toward the ivory tower and thought, 'Ah, college. Those were the days.'

Within thirty seconds, however, my mood changed. I had forgotten how maze-like college campuses are. I am convinced that all universities are planned and designed by people who understand just how much macaroni and cheese is consumed on the premises, and feel personally responsible for keeping the students walking as much as possible.

And then there is parking. I've gone to three different universities, and each one required a painful deposit for a parking pass every semester. What they never tell you is that your parking pass grants you access to the parking lot, but not a parking spot. Especially when you need one. Today, pass-less, I was forced to park in front of a meter. So on top of the $55 I just spent to clear my credential, the $85 I just spent to apply to be credentialed in another state, and the $30 I spent to get my fingerprints done, I spent my last two dollars in quarters to park for thirty minutes.

During my long walk to and from my car today, my mind wandered to rollerblading in my dorm parking lot my freshman year. I thought about my crazy writing teacher who actually believed I was good at what I want to do. I wondered if my mean British Lit teacher ever got over her hatred of males. I remembered going grocery shopping with my equally poor roommates and seeing how much money we could save with our Safeway Club Card. College was a lot of up and a lot of down. Like everything in life.

I suppose a woman in her thirties has to take time to reflect realistically on her past. High school was great-- parts of it. College was great too-- at times. My twenties were really fun-- for the most part. You get what I'm saying. The syllabus for Perspective 101 is custom-made, and apparently we are our own teachers. And our own students.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Does Not Take Advice from Homeless People

I currently am in a transitional point in my life, which is basically a nice way of saying things are crazy as a wedge (thanks, JS). You'd think that after thirty-one years of moving, changing, and uncertainty, I'd be used to it by now. I'm not. I do not know how to fly by the seat of my Paige Jeans, and this whole 'trust that there's a plan for you' business only makes me grind my teeth at night harder. Whatever the plan is for me, the only thing I know for sure is that it had better include dental.

Tonight while on a walk (on a busy, crowded street, please don't worry), a man approached me. He had that crazy homeless guy look about him, but I could tell he didn't mean me any harm.

'You should study civil law,' he said, wiped some drool from his chin, and then walked away.

Civil law. I walked in to a frozen yogurt shop and considered it. What exactly is civil law? Civil as in 'civilization'? Civil as in 'be civil to your sister when your Grandmother is around'? And law? Me? I love 'Cold Case Files' as much as the next woman in her thirties, but isn't it a little late in my life to throw myself into a new profession? I actually thought this while dumping chocolate sprinkles into my cup.

You know you're confused about the direction your life is going when a homeless man's ramblings get you thinking about changing careers, even for a moment. I couldn't help but laugh at myself. It's not that there has ever been a time when I might have taken him seriously, but by the time I left the yogurt shop I began to think about a more spontaneous point in my life, a time where I could change professions easily (I did), and move countries (did that, too), on a whim. Not so much anymore.

It made me feel sad, but only for a minute. I realized that even in the most selfish and spontaneous time in my life I felt the same way back then as I do now-- uncertain. And yet now, older and wiser, I could fill a best-selling book with all the stories I never would have believed would be mine (plus or minus a few salacious chapters).

A woman in her thirties gives up on trying to control everything all the time. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that it's not going to do me much good in the transitional time ahead. I have to unclench my teeth, smile, and let life happen. Change is coming, and it's going to keep on coming for a long, long time. We may as well get as many frozen yogurts as possible on the way.