Thoughtful Thursday

The topic I have been thinking about lately happens to be remarkably similar to the Creating Motherhood summer camp prompt for tomorrow. The first part of Calliope’s question:

If you could live anywhere for one month this summer, where would it be and why?

Because of my sort-of limbo, I’ve been thinking about a lot of different scenarios. A semi-permanent move (with or without selling the house) is one option, for a year or two probably. Or, if the house continues not to sell, we could go somewhere for a month or two. We could go somewhere that we wouldn’t want to live permanently but where one of us could find some intriguing temporary career opportunities. Or, we could go purely as a getaway (that is, rather than working from home, we’d both work from a temporary home in a different city).

In a way, we can almost go anywhere. Some possibilities are more exciting than others. For the option where we go for a couple of months, some really exciting possibilities start coming into play.

Here are some places that have come up in our discussions.

This part of limbo is really fun.

If you could live anywhere for a month or two, where would you go?

Out of Limbo

July 25, 2011

…and back into a different kind of limbo, I suppose.

It’s No on the job.

Being the bridesmaid yet again is demoralizing.

Discussing whether to stay here, keep house on the market and move whenever it sells, or pick a city and move anyway.

Limbo Rock

July 22, 2011

You have got to be kidding me.

After a couple of weeks of expecting my multi-faceted limbo to resolve imminently, earlier this week I was told, “Maybe at the end of this week, but for sure by August.” Aaaaah!

The potential new job needed one more piece of information before making a decision. I gently asked that the process be moved along, for the sake of extricating myself from my work here. I didn’t get into the need to sell a house, get a new place (which someone else may be sniping from under me), move far away, find new child care, etc. The start date is the same regardless of when the answer comes. I also didn’t get into the need to get the hell out of limbo.

Then, yesterday, an email saying they’d call me today, what time am I available.

I said I am available any time.

The phone hasn’t rung yet. It is 9:23 p.m.

Is this a test?


Don’t move that limbo bar
You’ll be a limbo star
How low can you go?

Thoughtful ThursdayStill in limbo. It has gone from being delicious to excruciating to a chance to practice being patient and back again.

One of the things I’ve been doing while in limbo checking out alternate scenarios in case this job doesn’t happen — how would it play out if we stay here, where else might we move, etc. Mostly, though, I’ve been keeping tabs on our potential new city.

Any new housing listings being posted in the desired areas? An exciting new option might come along, or the owners of the house we’ve already settled on may decide that they can’t stand this limbo any longer and need to rent to someone else.

I already know which organic market I’d shop at. Which farmers markets operate on which days.

I’ve drawn up a short list of preschools — not for this year, and probably not for the next year, but the one after that.

I know what route I’d take to get to work every day.

I know which gym my husband should join, and I know where to find yoga classes for myself and for my little budding yoginis.

I have scoped out every playground within walking distance. I know which museums have reciprocity with my existing museum memberships. I know which pumpkin patch we’d visit for Halloween.

The one thing I don’t yet know, the one thing I haven’t allowed myself to search for? Where I’d do pottery.

For each of the other cities we’ve thought we might move to in the past year, I looked up all of the options and settled on a pottery studio. By drawing this boundary, I’ve simultaneously given myself something to look forward to and kept myself from getting too entrenched in one possible future (as if the farmers market and yoga schedules are not entrenched). The line is arbitrary and artificial and silly, but the existence of a line means that I stay (vaguely) grounded in reality instead of only What Ifs.

Sort of like when I was in infertility limbo. In each city where we lived during IF, I had selected an OB, a prenatal massage therapist, a studio for prenatal yoga, a doula… I’d picked out names, and strollers, and car seats… I literally read a dozen books on pregnancy the first year I was TTC… but I didn’t allow myself to buy a single baby item. In that case, it was already too late to keep myself from getting mired in What Ifs. The boundary was more about waiting for reality to catch up with fantasy. It’s a good thing that I established that particular boundary: if I’d actually bought a car seat when I started TTC, long before I ever got pregnant with Burrito and Tamale that car seat would have passed the expiration date.

Do you ever draw lines for yourself? Do the lines represent real, meaningful boundaries, or are they arbitrary?

(Sorry to my RSS subscribers about the truncated feed — battling a fucknut blog scraper.)

Day 20 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood.

Today’s prompt: What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? Did you repay the kindness? Did you blog about it?

Due to a confluence of ongoing limbo, the most hated person in my life pulling her same shit, and having to spend most of my time doing things that are neither enjoyable nor beneficial, I’m in a bad mood today. Then I saw the Summer Camp topic and thought, “Oh good, this will lift my spirits.”

And then I couldn’t think of anything.

I racked my brain and couldn’t think of any big kindness anyone has ever done for me.

Little ones, sure, but nothing extraordinary.

Which is pretty sad considering that I try very hard to be kind to others.

On an earlier day of camp I talked about birthday cakes. I have baked literally dozens — I’m sure well over 100 — birthday cakes for others, and in my whole life no one has ever baked me a birthday cake. Unless you count the ones I’ve baked for myself, which really shouldn’t count. Boo hoo, poor me. There’s no shortage of cake in my life, but still.

I don’t bake cakes so that others will bake them for me. I don’t perform kindnesses so that others will be kind. I do it because I do it. But when all I can recall are mediocre store-bought sheet cakes and some extraordinary unkindnesses, it makes me sad.

Finally I thought of a set of true kindnesses I’ve received: the relatives and friends who came to stay with us when Burrito and Tamale were tiny.

And several people who drove an hour or two to visit when I was in the hospital trying to prevent Burrito and Tamale from being born too early — including my massage therapist, who not only drove far but didn’t even charge me for my hospital bed massage.

Or the neighbor who left me flowers on the day that my mother died, the note unsigned and saying nothing except a little heart. Which normally would be a small kindness, but on that day was huge.

Or today when I glumly asked, “Who wants to give Mommy a hug?” and Burrito ran over as he usually does and threw his arms around my neck. Then immediately after Burrito finished his hug, Tamale, who loves to give kisses and does hug back but never initiates hugs, for the first time ever, came over and hugged me.

I would gladly exchange a lifetime of sheet cake for those hugs.

Thoughtful ThursdayNo, not limbo as in the dance with the stick. I’m talking about the in-between place, between something and something else, or something and nothing.

I am in limbo.

I have been in limbo, on and off, for the better part of a year.

Career limbo. House limbo. Geographic limbo. Previously, between the time my mom got sick and her death, sandwich generation limbo.

Right now, today, is about as limbo-y as it can get. I am waiting to hear back on a job. I thought I might hear yesterday or today, but I haven’t. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week. If I get this job, it will change the trajectory of my career, certainly for several years, likely forever. It would also require moving to a different city. If my house happens to sell before the move, great, but that seems unlikely. I would be out of career and geographic limbo, but I would remain in house limbo. It would either get rented or sit empty, leaking money.

I know limbo well. Isn’t that what infertility is? Maybe you’ll have a kid a year from now, but maybe you won’t, so are you sure you want to plan that trip, that life event, hey maybe you should anyway, oh but if you don’t have a kid by then you don’t want to mess with the timing of an IVF cycle so maybe… I did not care for that kind of limbo. Part of what made it extra awful is that I didn’t know how long that limbo would last.

I’ve also written about pregnancy as limbo: a time of fear but also infinite possibilities. For the most part, except for times like being in an ambulance or getting magnesium pumped into my veins, I liked it. Even during the months of blah, the months of bedrest, and the month of hospitalization, I liked that limbo — partly because it meant that the infertility limbo had (maybe) finally ended.

House limbo is pretty crappy, but there’s not much I can do about it: someone will buy my house, or they won’t. (Hey, wanna buy a house?)

Job limbo is a bit nerve-wracking but actually kind of delicious. Even moreso for geographic limbo. In the past few months, there has been a legitimate chance that we would move to any one of a half dozen cities. Right now, I still get to go through my normal life, but possibility looms. After I hear the job verdict, either I don’t get it and I’m sad and I’m once again stuck in my current job/city/house. Or, I get the job, and I have to spend the next couple of months frantically finishing my old job and packing the house and moving.

Right now, I get to float in a bubble bath of uncertainty. My fingers are about to turn into raisins, and the bubbles are starting to pop and reveal my naughty bits, but the water is still warm and I’m still floating.

How do you feel about limbo? What kind of uncertainty can you tolerate, and what kind can’t you stand?

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the July Intelligentsia, the people who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post in June.

#21: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#20: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#18: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#15: Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose
#13: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#5: Tara from Turkey In My Oven
#3: St. Elsewhere

Thoughtful ThursdayDifferent people approach tasks differently. My friend is hiring a new nanny right now. She interviewed someone, decided that she was fine, and hired her. Done.

My friend and I are very different. I could never hire someone, even if they were absolutely fine, if I thought there was any possibility that the next interview might reveal someone slightly better. My style is to comb the entire list of possibilities, making sure that I have exhaustively evaluated every option. No stone unturned. Until I have been sure that there is nothing better, during my nanny searches I have kept searching for the absolute best person who could possibly exist [within my tiny geographic area and seeking to work as a nanny under my exact parameters].

(Side note to those who remember my nanny woes a few months ago, with the lazy lame duck: I followed commenters’ advice and initiated an annual performance review. She started to go through the process then abruptly quit — poached by a family who paid more. We hired someone so much better. This nanny is so fantastic that she makes me reluctant to move away. The lame duck emailed me a couple of months later to see if I needed child care. Apparently the wealthy family realized their mistake in not calling for a reference before hiring her. I told her I would not need her services.)

I’ve taken the same exhaustive approach to house hunting. When we bought the house we currently own, even though my instinct told me during the internet searches that this was the house for us, we saw a dozen others in a single weekend to make absolutely sure that there wasn’t a better one out there. There wasn’t. This is the best possible house for us [that happened to be in our price range and walking distance from my office].

I’m again searching for a new house, as we may finally be moving. I have done tons of research on every possible neighborhood near my theoretical new workplace, comparing qualities like length of commute, walking distance to cute restaurants, crime rates, and proximity of an organic market. I have appointments to see available houses in several of those neighborhoods when I go to that city for my interview, even though I don’t yet have the job. Even if none of those houses work out, the information will help me narrow my subsequent search. And if I don’t get the job, I will know the perfect neighborhood for that city, just like I do for the last two jobs I didn’t get.

When I’ve bought each of our strollers, car seats, cribs, high chairs, etc., of course I evaluated every possibility on the market. There is no perfect stroller, but I promise you that I selected the best possible stroller currently on the market [that happens to fit in my tiny trunk].

Oh man, you should have seen the spreadsheet I made when I was deciding what college to attend. It involved multiple pieces of graph paper, taped together. I started with every elite college on the east coast and started narrowing, narrowing, narrowing. I researched every relevant criterion then visited the top dozen. In the end, my gut instinct was the same choice that my data had indicated — but no way I could have just gone with my instinct. The 16-year-old version of me was just as exhaustive, just as meticulous, just as nerdy.

What is your approach when you are making a decision? Do you go with the first reasonable choice, exhaust every possibility, or do something in between?

Summer Camp Day 5

July 5, 2011

Day 5 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood!

Today’s prompt: What do you prefer to do on your birthday?

When this gray world crumbles like a cake
I’ll be hanging from the hope
That I’ll never see that recipe again
It’s not my birthday
It’s not today
It’s not my birthday, so why do you lunge out at me?
–It’s Not My Birthday, They Might Be Giants

Birthdays were all about duality when I was a kid. As an only child, I was very much the center of attention any day of the year, but on birthdays it was over the top. At the same time, my mother so often seemed to pick my birthday to be miserable to me. I don’t know what baggage my birthday stirred up in her, but especially as I made my way through the teen years, I could count on my mother supplying an unnerving combination of hundreds of dollars of presents and endless hostile harangue.

My first year at college, there was a startling change. There was no drama from my mother. There was also no fanfare. Actually, there wasn’t really any acknowledgement. My RAs had decided to combine my birthday with two other birthdays in that month, at the time of the other hallmates’ birthdays, 3 weeks after mine. My parents didn’t send me any presents, maybe assuming that we’d go shopping the next time I saw them, or that I’d treat myself on their dime. I received zero presents. There was no drama from my mother, but there was plenty of drama from me. Oh, the fit I threw to them on the phone.

Then there was the year I had to work at the Worst Job Ever on my birthday. Special highlight: I finished my shift covered in bruises.

My snubbing continued further when I got my first job after college. I became the in-house baker, and for everyone’s birthday I baked a fabulous cake, exactly the kind they liked best (angel food cake for the dairy-free girl, Black Forest cake for the German, a rum cake for the boozer, etc.). Each person got their own cake, even when it fell the week after someone else’s. I lugged every one of those cakes on the subway! When my birthday came, just like in college it got combined — with three other birthdays. Three others! Spanning two months! Since I couldn’t bake my own cake, the secretary purchased… a sheet cake from the grocery store… a yellow sheet cake with disgusting white icing and inedible flowers. Not only was it horrible cake, but it wasn’t even a flavor of horrible cake I like! Outrageous! “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”

Since then, my birthdays have thankfully been free of drama and filled with proper cake. There’s a shirt I like to wear on my birthday; nothing special about it, except that I’ve worn it on almost every birthday for almost 20 years. I often seek out marvelous desserts, sometimes beloved favorites and sometimes exotic new treats. I don’t care about presents or balloons or fanfare. Just don’t make me cry or beat me up, and give me some good damn cake.

I don’t know if it’s anyone’s birthday, but I bet the other campers will share some cake with you!

Summer Camp Day 4

July 4, 2011

Day 4 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood!

Today’s prompt: What has most surprised you about being an adult?

When I was a kid, anything seemed possible if you worked hard enough and wanted hard enough.

When I became an adult, I learned that some things are close to impossible no matter how hard you try and how hard you want, like getting pregnant.

I also learned that you can’t count on very many people in this world, even in your own family.

I learned that intelligence, education, and hard work don’t get you nearly as far as connections, charm, and getting intelligent educated others to do the hard work for you.

Bonus: A reprieve of Summer Camp Day 1! Specifically, a photo of my temporary blogging spot, one weekend only. It looks an awful lot like camp, but it was actually a weekend getaway on a lake. Although it wasn’t camp, there were canoes, watermelons, and bug spray.

There are lots of other adults at this camp!

Summer Camp Day 2

July 2, 2011

Day 2 of blog summer camp at Creating Motherhood!

Today’s prompt: What were you like in high school? What extracurricular activities, if any, did you take part in during high school? Did you consider yourself a writer?

I was an artsy brainiac, but it was a prep school so nerdiness was acceptable. I was a very A- student: I preferred to study for 2 hours and get an A- than study for 20 and get an A, particularly since I had so many other things to do.

My college application had 12 blanks for extracurriculars. I had so many that I had to leave some of my activities off of my application.

Among the activities:
yearbook editor-in-chief
newspaper section editor
drama, one or two plays per year
3 choral groups
algebra tutor
president of environmental club
wrote poetry and articles for local ‘zine
dance club participant and teacher
ballet and jazz outside of school
rock climbing (on actual rocks, before the days of artificial climbing walls)
summer job in the administration building
French literature reading group (in French)

This doesn’t count as an activity, but I was also an early adopter of online interaction, using Prodigy extensively as well as individually run online BBS. I wasn’t as nerdy as that makes me sound.

I considered myself writer more then than I would now, since in high school I poured my soul into poetry and kept a journal, but in terms of output I do far more writing now.

Want to meet and join the other campers?