Monday, June 28, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties is Prepared

When I first moved to Pleasantville, I was perplexed by the large yellow horns that seemed to dot the roads at various locations. I was told those were tornado sirens, and they scream loudly when it's time to get in the basement and bunker down, Wizard of Oz style. I put that in my repertoire of knowledge about the Midwest that I was going to choose to ignore, such as the actual definition of All-Wheel-Drive and why it is important to keep kitty litter in one's car in the winter. Whatever it is they say about ignorance, it's true.

Fast forward to Friday. It rained in the afternoon, and all during my summer school class my classmates were using their laptops to check the weather. 'Tornado threat,' one girl said. And I thought, 'You know what sounds awesome right now? A bean burrito.'

So I went about my business, bought groceries for the week, and came home Friday afternoon insisting on date night with L. 'Are you sure?' he asked. 'It's raining pretty hard.' I said, 'It's just a little rain! Chewy wants pizza!'

At that point, the tornado siren started blaring. (Daniel was not very happy about this, let me tell you.) It hit me that this was the proverbial 'real deal', and I stood at the stairs to our basement like a four-year-old, looking at L for directions about what to do. The rain and hail came down in large chunks, and we watched the wind whip the trees in our yard feeling completely helpless. Here are some pictures that don't do the situation any justice:

And then the power went out.

Boy scouts learn to be prepared at a young age. A look in my purse on any given night in my twenties would have revealed a woman who was prepared for anything. But now, in my thirties, as a homeowner, wife, and almost-mother, I found myself completely without resources. 1 small flashlight (L's), 20% battery life on my cell phone (no land line), two candles for the entire house but not a match between the two of us, and a fridge full of spoiling meat. Not good.

The tornado siren stopped after a few minutes, the rain and wind stopped blowing relentlessly, but the power stayed off. It remained off for almost 24 hours. L and I did our best to make light of the situation, at least at first, but in the back of my mind I knew it wasn't light-- it was stupid.

I reflected on this situation yesterday, as I painstakingly threw away the contents of our fridge. A woman in her thirties is prepared. Not for everything, of course, but for the obvious things. Especially now, with Chewy moving around inside of me. Lesson learned, people. I'm off to buy some batteries.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties is Published-ish!

A few weeks ago, a girl in my writing class directed me toward this website. She'd read my collection of essays about China and thought this would be a place to submit. And a woman in her thirties takes chances, right? A woman in her thirties puts herself out there? A woman in her thirties doesn't get intimid...

A woman in her thirties tells the truth: I was really, really scared. Rejection is... not something I particularly enjoy. It is the yuckiest part about the whole chasing-your-dreams thing.

Here's what happened: I sent one of my essays to Chantal, and not only did she like it, she also turned out to be a super nice, supportive, and a a fellow woman in her thirties. Jackpot!

Here's the link to the post: http://www.writerabroad.com/2010/06/guest-post-living-in-china.html

And if that's not enough, read my Mom's comment in the comments section. Now who's the writer?

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties is Allowed a Breakdown

I have been struggling with how to begin this post. Every time I begin, I hear the voices of women in their thirties (and twenties, and forties) gagging and sighing in disgust. There is nothing more annoying than a woman in her thirties who has never really struggled with weight to complain about putting on a few during pregnancy, right? To you who know me in the physical sense, commence eye-rolling now. I will take it like a woman.

The reality is this: my clothes don't fit. Like at all. My tops, my jeans, my capris. None of them. I have spent the last few weeks shoving myself into my old clothes, convinced my Bella Band would be enough, but the truth is that it's not. I have put on 10 pounds so far, and no, that is not earth-shattering, but 10 pounds on 5'2 is more than 10 pounds on 5'9. Especially when eight of those ten pounds is in one's boobs and the other two is in one's butt.

Last Sunday I decided to do some cleaning. I was going to organize my clothes into three piles:

1. Donate
2. Can't wear now, but will wear after the arrival of Chewy
3. Can still wear.

Sound strategy, right? Except this is what I came up with:
The piles went something like this, respectively:

1. I might still squeeze into these for another month
2. What was I thinking?
3. With the right tailoring...
4. Yeah, I'll never wear these again
5. It depends on how far my hips spread
6. It depends on how desperate I am
7. Do pregnant women wear button downs?
8. I will never need to look this cute again

You see where I'm going with this.

What does a woman in her thirties do when faced with this dilemma? I have no flipping idea. So I did the only thing I could think to do: I cried.

L found me with my head in my hands, bawling like a big fat baby. 'But you're pregnant,' he said, which is true. 'But that's not the point,' I wailed. I had no idea what the point was. All I felt in that moment was that my life as I'd always known it was over, my body was no longer mine, and it would never look the same again. And for a woman in her thirties who has always thought of herself as not caught up in physical appearances, that realization was brutal.

I did two things this week that made me feel better. One-- I went to prenatal yoga. I loved every minute of it, even the endless downward dogs. I will blog about this later ('Send looooove to your baby....'). And two-- I bought five maternity shirts at a second hand store down the road. I have no idea why I waited this long to be comfortable. So--phew-- life is back to good.

I always thought that a woman who laments her pregnancy isn't ready for motherhood. How can you be sad about the loss of your youth (or at least the feeling of your youth) and overjoyed with the miracle of life at the same time? But I know now that this, just like all things, is not quite so simple. A woman in her thirties can break down and be fulfilled, all at the same time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties Gets it Right

On Friday night I did a very woman-in-her-thirties thing: I announced the names of the graduates at our high school graduation ceremony. I wasn't going to do it-- in fact I was avoiding doing it-- but one thing led to another and there I was at rehearsal with a handful of index cards of the full names of about 25 Seniors.

As someone with a "difficult"maiden name, I took this role very seriously. I have so many memories, memories others with unique last names can relate to, of teachers, substitute teachers, bank tellers, telephone solicitors and the like, stumbling over and sputtering out my name as though the act of saying it was the most annoying part of their day. Like I'd chosen my difficult last name, just to irritate them. Like I should apologize for having put them out so. In grade school, watching the look on my teacher's face as she tried to pronounce my name from the roster was enough to make me want to crawl into my Pee-Chee folder and hide for the rest of the day. By high school I could weed out the teachers who actually cared by their ability to say my last name correctly by the end of the school year (many couldn't). And by the time I reached my thirties, I realized that there is something to be said for a "difficult" last name-- at least there's only one of me on Facebook.

I made a big deal about going to each of the students in my section, overly pronouncing each syllable.

'E-liz-a-beth', I said to one girl.
'Lar-sen', I said to another.

They laughed, because playing the fool is my shtick. But there were two that really threw me, both names of Pacific Islander decent, and there was no more joking around.

'Don't worry about it,' one boy said. 'No one says my name right.'

The way he said it broke my heart, because I got it. He'd resigned himself to the fact that his 'moment' would be tarnished by mispronunciation, and that was just going to have to be okay with him and his family. It was not okay with me.

'Please,' I said. 'Say it for me. Let me hear you say it and then you tell me if I'm saying it right.' I was careful to say this without the condescension that I used to hear from most people when they would ask me to do the same thing for my last name. I would rather have someone butcher my name then laugh while trying to pronounce it.

I practiced and practiced, and I read all the names as perfectly as I could. At the end of the ceremony, the boy whose name I struggled with came to find me amidst the sea of people.

'Wow,' he said. 'You did it right. Thank you for that. Thank you.'

I shook his hand and smiled because a woman in her thirties knows when she is shown sincere gratitude. The practice was--simply-- worth it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Woman in her Thirties Can't Dance (Probably)

It is safe to say that I have cut many-a-rug. I have danced the night away in upwards of ten countries. And while alcohol has never been a necessary factor to get me out onto the dance floor, it certainly has never hurt. The truth is, I like to dance. It's fun and stuff.

This weekend I went to S's wedding in California. I am still in the 'you look kinda fat' stage of pregnancy, and that coupled with the inability to have even a glass of wine made me more than a little self conscious. But I figured I'd have a good cry over how beautiful S looked (and boy, did she ever) and be able to dance with my friends and have a good time while toasting with sparkling water. All of those things were happening according to plan, until midway through the first song I came to a startling realization:

I can't dance.

Friends who knew me in my bar-dancing twenties: I am not fishing for a compliment here. I am good at lots of things. Hula-hooping and Skee-ball come to mind. But this weekend I stood in the middle of the dance floor and my feet wouldn't move where I wanted them to, where they moved in my mind. And as much as I would love to blame the Johnny Cash cover band, I know the simple truth is that I don't have any beat. I probably never have. It stung, like so many realizations a woman in her thirties comes to about herself.

The thought crossed my mind to sit down and lament the passing of my dancing years. I certainly could have played the pregnant card and no one would have faulted me. But I couldn't do that-- I didn't want to. I saw friends at S's wedding I hadn't seen in almost ten years, and a woman in her thirties doesn't take those types of things lightly. So I continued to move, cracking jokes at my expense, and making googly eyes at L to pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top come dance with me. And it was in the middle of Lady Gaga that I came to another, even more powerful realization:

No one was looking at me.

In fact, no one was looking at anyone. People were just dancing. None of them had moves that were particularly graceful; none of them looked like they should be the next judge on So You Think You Can Dance. They were just moving and enjoying the moment which, in a nutshell, describes the woman in her twenties I was, and the woman in her thirties I still am. Pregnant, off-beat, and all.

So I stopped thinking and kept dancing. We danced until the DJ took the microphone and said, 'Last song, people. Time to go home.' In true form, all of us moaned and groaned and wished for one more song, because that is how a dance floor full of happy people ends a wonderful night. And it was a wonderful night. I have the aching feet to prove it.