Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties, Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today, I was a customer business analyst sitting in my cubicle in Folsom, California.  By all accounts, my life at twenty-four was not unlike the main character's in Office Space.  I had TPT reports to create, and plan meetings to plan.  I hated my job, and the first inklings of wanting to quit and go into teaching were just beginning.  But this was no ordinary day.

It was the day I was about to meet the person I was pretty sure I already loved.

Here's how it went down.  Several months before, I had been assigned a new account in the hi-tech world.  Let's call it Bore-tel.  While I was being trained, the girl training me made a list of the salespeople associated with the account.  Next to each name she either drew and X or a smiley face.

'An X means they are stupid and/or mean, and you want to avoid them if you can.  A smiley face means they are nice and they know what they are talking about.'  (She would kill me if she knew I was writing this, by the way.)

When she got to L's name, she drew two smiley faces.  'This guy,' she said.  'L.  He's the smartest person in the field.  He's also the nicest.  And the funniest.  You will loooooove him.'

How right she was.

I still have the first email L and I exchanged, a question I had about ethernet controllers.  I mean seriously, how much more romantic does it get?  But as anyone who knows L can attest to, he is pretty easy to talk to.  Our conversations about sales targets and supply in Malaysia quickly morphed into conversations about our lives, our friends, our family.  I loved that we both could quote Airplane!.  I loved how he talked about his Mom and his sister.  It didn't matter that he was in Boston and I was in California.  In fact, it made it easier to open up to him.  Keep in mind I was a woman in her twenties who, about a year earlier, had had her heart ripped out of her chest by a previous relationship. And besides, we worked together.  It could never possibly work out.


I remember one night getting home from work and answering my cell phone.  I think L and I were on the phone for five straight hours that night.  I remember hanging up and thinking, 'Oh my god.  I totally love this guy.'  Now what?

L was scheduled to be in California for customer meetings on Halloween, ten years ago today.  Knowing that we would finally meet had me on pins and needles for weeks.  I barely knew what to say to him when we finally got a chance to be within breathing distance of each other, but I was pretty sure I was going to pass out.  And that, I've come to realize, is the way you're supposed to feel when you first realize the person standing in front of you is the person you want to be with.  Like, for always.

The last ten years have been perfectly blissful.  No, that's not true.  The last ten years have been nothing but hard, grueling work.  No, that's not true, either.  The last ten years have been full of the ups and downs of any relationship.  We have traveled the world.  We have laughed and cried and laughed again.  We have created a family including the two most wonderful children in existence.

A woman in her thirties is honest.  If I could go back in time to ten years ago today, I would talk to that nervous twenty-four year old sitting in her cubicle. The girl who thought she would never leave California; the girl who thought she would never trust anyone again.  I would tell her that when she turns around and sees the man standing in the hallway, the one she thinks she already loves, that she should count herself lucky.  The adventure was only just beginning.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties is

I have mentioned before that L and I are more on the minimalist side of things.  Don't get me wrong-- we have plenty of stuff.  But we are not stuff collectors.  L simply doesn't buy anything unless he's thoroughly analyzed and researched it, and  I am a big-time purger of unnecessary things.  In this way, we work very well together.  Hoarders would not be interested in documenting our lives.

But sometimes, particularly when I go to other people's houses for play dates, I think that maybe we are too minimal.  I know, I know.  Toys schmoys.  But it has started messing with me a little bit, the fact that our basement has two hand me down swings, a set of Megablocks, flashcards, a broken toy piano, and... well, that's about it.  Is Anna perfectly fine with her Megablocks?

Why yes, she is.  But her birthday is coming up, and that means that Christmas is around the corner, and I just got the Toys R Us Great Big Book of Everything Your Child Could Ever Desire, and it has gotten me thinking about getting her something nice for both occasions.

That's right.  Two 'nice' things.  One for her birthday, one for Christmas.  That's it.  Shouldn't be that hard.  Right?

Apparently it is.  A woman in her thirties should be able to look through a stupid catalogue and pick out a couple of gifts for her children. I was thinking maybe a kitchen play set for her birthday, and a dollhouse for Christmas.  Maybe a couple Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood toys, if they have them, since Anna is obsessed with that show.  I was thinking this would take ten minutes, tops.

Here's where I've run in to trouble:

(Actual screenshot of the Toys R Us website.  Let's all have a moment of silence for the fact that I was able to do that all my myself).

That is the first eight of all NINETY-THREE items that pop up when you search for a kitchen set on the Toys R Us website.  A woman in her thirties knows a little something about herself, and what I know about myself is that I am overwhelmed easily.  My heart started palpitating, so I searched again, this time for a dollhouse:

A wooden dollhouse is different than an actual dollhouse?  The accessories are extra?  Furniture is not an 'accessory'?  Wha?

Thinking I was in the wrong place, I checked out a couple of different websites for kids.  One Step Ahead is a favorite.  But the same thing happened when I searched for toys:  Panic.  Sweat.  The desire to get up and do some dishes or... gulp... dust.  Ugh.

As a full-time educator on hiatus and part-time worry-wart, I know that the decisions I make in the next few years as a Mom will have a major impact on my kids' lives.  I also know that I'm way, way, waaaaay over thinking this.

Suggestions for gifts for a two year old's birthday?  Ideas for places to shop that don't make me dizzy?  Wine, in case I get thirsty?  I'll take a little of each.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties Walks

This post is dedicated to my mother-in-law, Nie Nie, who couldn't possibly understand how much she saved my sanity this week.  Xie Xie times infinity!

The amazing Nie-Nie

L travels a lot for work, as I have complained about mentioned before.  But to be honest, I usually don't mind a couple of business trips a month.  It's not that I don't love my husband, it's that I am a woman in her thirties who cherishes her alone time.  L's business trips mean cereal for dinner, a solid hour on the treadmill watching Mad Men after the kids are in bed, and reading.  Lots of reading.

His current trip has him in Malaysia for ten days.  Ten days is a long time and involves being gone over a weekend, which is never cool.  But we both knew that October was going to be a particularly brutal travel month for him, so I did what any self-respecting woman in her thirties would do:  I planned a bunch of meals that I'd never cook when he was around, set a two-mile-a-day goal for myself on the treadmill, and planned on getting through several books.  If it was alone time I wanted, it was alone time I was going to get.

And then strep happened.  I remember having strep throat in high school.  Strep throat sucks. When Anna was diagnosed with it on Tuesday, the day after L left, I kept her home from her activities and waited patiently for the antibiotics to work.

They didn't.  I will spare the details, but let's just say that this week has involved lots of crying and very little sleep.  Oh, and puke.  TONS AND TONS OF PUKE.

Despite having a mother-in-law who came over daily to help (and seriously, I have no idea how I could have made it through the last few days without her), by yesterday afternoon I started to feel myself come unhinged.  There is only so much a woman in her thirties can take in terms of whining, puking, and lack-of-sleep. At 3:00, when a nap was out of the question and Anna and I had both broken down in sobs, I realized that I had two options:  Get out of the house, or lose it completely.

I chose to get out.

Here's what we wore:
 Those yoga pants used to be black.  Oh, and yes, those Danskos have milk stains on them.

 Pajamas.  Cuz Mom was too tired to dress me today.
Pajamas and no shoes.  Cuz putting on shoes would be exerting just too much energy.
And Dan, of course.  He was just excited to get out of the house.

Honestly, I almost turned around after the first block.  My head was throbbing, and I started to worry I might run into someone I know who might ask why my children didn't have shoes on.  

But then I saw these things:


Saint Francis.




One of 10,000 lakes.

And I started to feel better.  And then I looked at my kids:

Who were starting to feel better, too.  And it occurred to me that at that very moment, no one was crying or coughing.  That L would be home in a few days.  That it was going to be okay.

Last night I was in bed at 7:30.  Don't ask me how many times I got up.  The point is that today we all feel about a million times better, and I attribute it to a long walk, an amazing mother-in-law, and sleep.

Finally, sleep. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties times Four

Dear Mister Buddy,

This week you are four months old.  It is the strangest thing, because that must mean that your sister is almost two. And that just cannot be.

Where to begin.  You're still, as far as this woman in her thirties is concerned, the type of baby that all mothers should pray for.  Other than christening the new Trader Joes with the most epic blow-out of all time (I spent ten minutes wiping poop from the creases in your neck...) and then just this morning christening our favorite Super Target with the second most epic blowout of all time (you walked around with me without a shirt on, that's how epic it was), I think you might be pretty much perfect.

But it's more than that, isn't it?  The thing about number two is that they are so much more than an excel spreadsheet tracking sleeping schedules.  How do I track how patient you have been this week while Anna has had strep throat and has needed her Momma?

(Okay.  Mostly patient.)

How do I document the look you give me, even when I'm sleep deprived and nearing the end of my rope, the one that tells me that I'm pretty much the greatest thing you've ever laid eyes on and you'll always love me forever and ever?

(Yeah, that's the one.)

It's hard to be the second child, but you make it seem like it's okay.  More than that-- you make me feel like I'm doing a great job, even when I know I'm not.  And for that, when I think of the first four months of your life, I'll always be grateful to you.

I know what people say about little boys.  They are crazy, rambunctious, dirty... snips and snails and all that.  But you, Mister Mister, are just about the sweetest thing I've ever been around.  You laugh and smile and humor me with wink-wink-nudge-nudge college wear.

Your little personality is starting to shine through, and we've decided we like it a whole lot.  Stay with us forever, okay?


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties Bucks Up

I've been a little fearful about this week for awhile now.  L has had a trip to Turkey lined up for some time, and while I've only heard wonderful things about Turkey as a country, I am also a woman in her thirties who watches the news a lot.  I could do without having a husband in the Middle East right now.

We all could.

But when this past weekend came around and it seemed like the trip was going to happen, I had to stop with my constant, 'Don't do anything stupid, alright?' remarks.  L was going to go, and he was going to be safe, and that was going to be that.

And then we discovered we have mice.


In the basement.

What's worse than having a mouse in the basement?

Having TWO mice in your basement.


You would think that a woman in her thirties who has given birth twice, lived in China, cleaned up more puke and poop in the last two years than she cares to admit, and is the foremost spider-killer in her home would have a fairly thick skin when it comes to a couple little mice.  After all, they're only making their way inside because this gorgeous Fall weather is over:

At least that's what Larry the Exterminator said yesterday when I stood in the kitchen biting my nails at him and asking repeatedly how I was ever going to walk into the basement again.

'It's probably a Momma and her babies,' he said, smiling.  'You're going to be scared of a Momma trying to protect her babies from the cold?'

'Yes,' I said, getting the feeling that Larry the Exterminator really loved his job.  'And my stupid husband is in stupid Turkey of all places,' I wanted to tell him, but I've watched too much Dateline, so I kept my trap shut (pun intended).

To make a very long and disgusting story short, the mice have been trapped and disposed of. (I bribed a neighbor with cupcakes to come and take care of the traps for me, in case you're wondering.)  We are mice-free at the moment.

So why am I still shaking with fear at the thought of walking into the basement?

Almost everyone I've talked to about this has said the same thing:  it happens.  A couple of mice are not a big deal.  Read:  A woman in her thirties bucks up and deals with it.  Unless I plan on never doing laundry again, I'm going to have to walk downstairs again at some point.

Never doing laundry again.  Now there's an idea...