February 13, 2014
There’s a meeting that I go to once a month with people who work at all different places. There’s one guy at the meetings who looks like he should be in The Octagon rather than a conference table. Very tall, very muscular, shaved head, menacing goatee. Stoic expression all the time.
One day we went around and said our hometowns. He joked, “Earth.” Another member of the meeting said, “I would have guessed the planet Krypton.”
The big guy said, “Actually, it’s more like Vulcan.”
He goes through life looking like an enforcer, when inside he’s really a brainiac.
My husband’s home planet is even harder to identify, because he’s full of complexity. Even when I first met him, I kept encountering more layers in the onion… and he’s gotten more and more interesting in the almost 20 years since. He’s smart and charming and athletic and warm and snarky. So, you’ll never guess the planet right because no one alien race suffices. Anyone first meeting him will get an accurate sense of him, yet they also have no idea how much more there is. Even our own children have no idea about certain facets of his personality. He’s quite chill with them, but every now and then they’ll get a glimpse of the manic whimsy often displays with me and his friends, and they look at him like he actually is an alien.
With me, I think what you see is pretty much what you get. I haven’t read/seen enough sci-fi to have found a planet of beings like me. Let’s call it Planet BabySmiling. For anyone who was familiar with this theoretical planet, they’d be able to peg me as a BabySmilingite instantly. I’m glad there is no such planet though… I don’t think I could handle more than one of me.
Do people get the wrong impression from the image you portray? Or is what you see what you get?
April 25, 2013
Continuing where we left off with the questions I ask Burrito and Tamale to gauge other kids’ personalities…
Another question that’s particularly relevant to 3-year-olds is whether the person is quiet or loud.
Burrito has sensitive hearing, so even though he himself is rather loud, he shies away from loud kids. “Exciting” is appealing to him, but loud is not.
Little kids can be very loud indeed, so my general preference for Burrito and Tamale’s playmates is for kids who are not-too-loud. But, oddly, I have chosen a husband and a best friend who are both tremendously loud. Conspicuously loud. Whole-restaurant-turning-to-stare loud.
Equally oddly, my husband and friend have chosen me. I speak at a normal volume, and I can get a little loud and animated when I’m really engaged in discussion, but my base state is to be extremely quiet. I walk into rooms so softly that I am effectively sneaking in, and I often startle people. It comes in handy when there are sleeping children and I need to pass by their rooms without waking anyone. It comes in less handy when every shopkeeper in the world doesn’t realize that I’ve entered the store, unless there is a little bell on the door. That only happens when I’m alone, though — if I’m with my husband or best friend or kids, you can hear us coming from a mile away.
Do you prefer people who are quiet or loud? Are you quiet or loud?
April 11, 2013
Welcome to the April Intelligentsia.
#42: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#36: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#35: Lost in Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#34: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#24: St. Elsewhere
#22: Lori from Write Mind Open Heart
#17: Sara from Aryanhwy
#16: Mel from Stirrup Queens
#16: Ana from Ana Begins
#6: Mina from Kmina’s Blog
There’s a game that I play with Burrito and Tamale in which I try to find out more about the personalities of their classmates. I go through a series of questions that give me a pretty good sense of each kid. We’ll work through the questions over the next few weeks. First:
Is he energetic or calm?
They actually prefer the word “exciting” (pronounced ex-kiting) to energetic, but they can readily answer the question either way. With preschoolers, it’s very clear who is energetic and calm. Most kids are calm (like my Tamale), except for a few Tasmanian devils (like my Burrito). If I’m thinking of inviting a kid for a playdate, my preference would be for a calm child. This is ironic because I am married to the most energetic person I’ve ever met.
Next week I’ll be seeing an old friend with whom I once had the following conversation:
Me: DH has soooo much energy. I’m really low energy.
Friend: If you’re low energy, that means I’m dead.
We were defining energy differently. I am a very calm person, but I have a lot of energy relative to most people — particularly energy for creating things, which is what my friend was thinking of. What I do not have is energy as I was defining it in that conversation: energy for running wildly around the room the way that a 3-year-old (or my husband) would. I am calibrated to be fast, but this manifests itself not in big motor movements but in talking fast, thinking fast, writing fast. When I was a kid, my piano teacher constantly tried to slow me down. She often told me that just because my brain moved fast didn’t mean that my fingers could, nor that the music warranted it. I was never the type to run around the room, though, even as a little kid. I never cared for the type of person who runs around the room.
Until I married one. And then gave birth to another one.
It makes life very exciting. And ex-kiting.
What is your energy level? What kind of energy level do you prefer in the people around you?
February 14, 2013
How was your Valentine’s Day? Mine was exactly like any other day. Well, that’s not quite true. I attended a preschool Valentine’s party and helped Burrito and Tamale celebrate, but it was like any other day in terms of my interactions with my husband. We don’t really Valentine’s Day. We don’t really observe the official romantic occasions — no New Year’s Eve, usually we barely even acknowledge anniversaries. Definitely none of the overcrowded restaurants nor overpriced flowers nor not-quite-right jewelry nor trans-fatty drugstore chocolate nor disappointments that characterize Valentine’s Day.
Ignoring “romantic” holidays like today is one of the things about which DH and I heartily agree (get it? heartily?). We don’t like setting expectations that invariably fail to get met — that is, no female expectations nor male failure around here. We don’t like the calendar telling us when to express love or buy presents. We don’t like crowds nor paying more for things than they cost on every other day of the year.
How did I become a Valentine’s grinch? When I was in 9th grade, I happened to have an appointment at the beauty salon on Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t getting gussied up for a hot date or anything, just a routine visit. In retrospect I’m not sure why my mother scheduled the appointment on Valentine’s Day and not a normal day. Anyway, I was the last appointment of the day, and my beautician was the last one left in the salon — presumably everyone else had left early to celebrate the holiday. In the middle of working on me, she got a call from her boyfriend. She got more and more heated until she screamed, “Then you can just celebrate Valentine’s Day with some other bitch!” Then she slammed down the phone and burst out sobbing. Then she came back to finish working on me. Despite her emotional state, there were no mishaps with the scissors.
That day, I decided that I was on board with chocolate and wearing red and giving out valentines, but I did not want any of the drama. I never wanted to have a conversation like that.
Oh, and then there are the single people. Valentine’s Day totally rubs it in their faces. I always have plenty of friends who are single on any given Valentine’s Day, and many of them are really annoyed by it all. My husband has a friend whose divorce will be finalized next week; that guy has spent all day sending out angry tweets.
Anyway, the best part of Valentine’s Day happens tomorrow. All of the chocolate will be half price!
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day and other “romantic” occasions?
October 13, 2011
#24: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#21: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#21: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#16: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#8: Tara from Turkey In My Oven
#6: St. Elsewhere
#5: Lori Lavender Luz from Write Mind Open Heart
I’d slept 3 hours. (Working late the night before.)
The nanny was 3 hours late. (She called and had a good excuse, but still.)
I had to make an incredibly important work phone call but I couldn’t do it with toddlers screaming in the background. (Not that they scream nonstop all day long, but they raise objections if I talk on the phone, plus if you leave them unattended for more than 3 minutes, someone will push someone else down or take someone’s toy or try to hug someone too aggressively or something.)
The nanny being late I can handle — it happens almost every day (though almost never that late). Work stress I can handle — plenty of that. But I could not handle them in combination, plus toddlers throwing food on the floor and hurling cups of milk across the room and bashing each other and biting me and kicking me, on 3 hours sleep. Hence, cranky.
I do fine when I’m hungry, and I do fine when I’m sick (except for tummy problems), and I even do fine when I’m sleep deprived for one day, but cumulative sleep deprivation does me in. By the afternoon, my urgent work thing still hadn’t been resolved and my work day had still been hijacked by the nanny’s absence, but I had taken a nap, and all was right with the world.
My husband is crankiest when he he has gone too long without eating, which only happens once a month or so. The problem is that he doesn’t realize that’s why he’s cranky. His stomach doesn’t grumble, he doesn’t notice how long it’s been since the last meal, he doesn’t put two and two together. Every single time, he becomes off-kilter, deeply dissatisfied with life. I ask if he’s hungry. He says he’s not. I ask how long it’s been since he’s eaten. He gets flustered and says he doesn’t know. I tell him to eat. He says no. I tell him to eat. He begrudgingly eats something. Three bites in, all is right with the world.
What physical state makes you the crankiest? Sleepy? Hungry? Sick? Something else?
November 4, 2010
#21: Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?
#14: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#13: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#12: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#8: Rebecca from Northern Grin
#5: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
Remember how I had made up my mind to move to my mother’s city? Apparently, the universe may have other plans. I’d applied for a job before my mom got sick, then put it out of my mind, but I have been shortlisted. During my preliminary interview, I learned that the job is so much better than I imagined. I may or may not be about to receive an offer for my dream job, 2500 miles from my mother’s city. If I don’t get the offer, this is all moot, but if I do get the offer, I have a lot of thinking to do.
Relative benefits of each city:
Quality of life: Mom’s city destroys Dream Job city in terms of quality of life. Weather, crime, amenities, toddler-friendliness, attitude, people, lifestyle.
Family: Mom’s city means that I can take an active role in helping her, medically and personally, and that she’d get to see her grandchildren more than a couple of times a year. Dream Job city means I’m no better off than I am right now, struggling to do things from afar but mostly spinning my wheels and occasionally flying out for emergencies.
Friends: Don’t really have friends in either city. Come to think of it, we barely have friends in the current city. We do have friends elsewhere, promise.
My career: Dream Job city isn’t called Dream Job city for nothing. Mom’s city might be fine, or it might be kind of bad for my career, or most likely it would be fine eventually but not for the first half-year or year.
Finances: Dream Job city has a lower cost of living plus my salary would be substantially higher.
DH: He would much, much rather live in Mom’s city, no question. Even if my mom didn’t live there he’d be thrilled to live there. In terms of his career, Mom’s city could be neutral — the same situation as now — or possibly outstanding for him. Dream Job city would be neutral.
It’s this last point that trips me up the most. DH has been very supportive of my career and incredibly tolerant of having made several major geographic moves on my behalf. Most, but not all, of these moves have been to cities where he’s been happy to live. Though the first move when we got married involved a major drop in prestige and a 50% pay cut, most of our moves have ended up working out very well for him, both career- and life-wise.
If DH were the one to get a dream job offer, we’d likely orchestrate our lives around that. But, although he is wonderfully successful on many counts, no one has yet asked him to move to a specific place for a specific dream job. There have been times that we’ve both been on the market, and if there had been competing offers in competing cities, we would have had to figure something out — but it’s never come to that, at least not yet. It’s been gratifying in a way to be the one whose career has driven our life decisions, and I’m not sure how I’d handle putting my career on the back burner for his. I don’t think that’s what I signed up for. I don’t think that’s what he signed up for either. I started out as The Ambitious One, then The Accomplished One, but meanwhile he turned out to be The Successful One. Somehow, we are both The Supportive One.
As I have pursued my goals through the years, he’s had substantial input into location. He has definitely had geographic veto power, so much so that there are many positions I never pursued in the first place because I knew he didn’t want to move there. This time around, if I do get the dream job offer, it’s in a place that DH totally doesn’t want to live — and, the move might be permanent. We could be in crappy Dream Job city for the rest of our lives. The family issues are tripping me up as well, but the main sticking point is that I don’t know if I can make my husband move somewhere he doesn’t want to live instead of a place he desperately wants to live, even if it’s the best decision for us collectively. Does a +10 for me outweigh a -5 for him? What if his -5 becomes -20 but we’re stuck there? What if my +10 isn’t a +10 after all? Or will his -5 become a +5 like it usually does? Do we scrap all of the career concerns in favor of quality of life? Is Dream Job city really that bad? Can Mom’s city possibly live up to our imaginations of it?
We’ll see. It may very well not be up to me anyway. Either way is good; either I get my dream job, or we live in a city that makes us all terrifically happy and I am able to help my mother. This is the good kind of conundrum. Stay tuned.
In your own life, how do you balance competing careers, different goals, and varied interests?
September 30, 2010
Leaving aside the many difficult questions floating around my head for a little while longer, I’ve also been thinking a lot about how a family can balance the goals of each individual with the goals of the others and the goals of the group, particularly when they are not compatible.
For a decade and a half, DH and I have, as a couple, treated my career as more important than his. Even though he has brought in more income than I have throughout, my career required much more education and more deliberate planning as I progressed through step. When we got married, he moved to a new city to join me, and in switching jobs he cut his salary in half and his prestige ten-fold. He still progressed in his career, and in fact through the years he has become incredibly accomplished, but my career has always dictated our choices and our geography. More recently, I had to quit my main job to accommodate bedrest, childbirth, and newborns, and I now make a fraction of my former salary. Meanwhile, major things continued to happen in his career, and his work became dramatically more time-consuming. Much of the twins’ first year has involved a traditional division of labor, with DH as primary earner and me as primary parent (not that I haven’t been working, but I’ve had to squeeze it in and his work has taken priority over mine).
We recently started to equalize our division of child care (which has been wonderful, for both of us), and we were on the verge of making another major move for the sake of my career. Then some potential opportunities came up for DH. If offers had materialized for both of us, we might have had to decide, quite literally, between his success and mine, with the other one plodding along but not soaring.
This all became moot when we decided instead to move to a totally different city for the sake of my mother’s medical well-being. DH and I, two incredibly independent people, neither of whom has ever made a decision based on proximity to or the wishes of family, may be sacrificing some major professional opportunities. It may end up working out very well for one or both of us professionally, but at worst it will likely be neutral for our careers. A couple of weeks ago when I was composing this Thoughtful Thursday in my head, I thought it would be a question about dual-career couples. Instead, it’s a question of the choices of each individual versus other individuals and the collective.
How do you balance your own goals with those of other loved ones and the larger family? What have you done when the goals have been in conflict?