Thursday, May 28, 2009
JUST SAY NO TO HUGS
Brace yourselves, parents. The new trouble with teenagers today isn't texting or lipstick parties or even MySpace predators.
It’s hugging. According to the New York Times, teenagers don't say hi or nod or high-five anymore. They don't even wave or yell whassup? or wink or smile. They hug. Silently.
What's even more disturbing, though, is the way they talk about it. “We’re not afraid, we just get in and hug,” offers Danny Schneider, a high school junior who the Times reporter does not describe as emotionally unstable or a social outcast. Apparently teenagers today view hugging as an act of real courage. Like middle-aged couples at a yoga retreat or fragile twelve-steppers, teens go around hugging each other – warmly, affectionately, sincerely, like they mean it -- all day long.
What the hell is wrong with them? What ever happened to far more respectable teen past times of rolling houses or sniffing airplane glue? What ever happened to getting drunk on brandy pilfered from your friend's dad's liquor cabinet, then puking all over his brand new couch? Bad enough that texting "ROTFL" has replaced rolling on the floor groping a pubescent boy you've hardly spoken to before. But now hugging has replaced shooting heroin? I'm just not sure I want to live in a world where teenagers are too busy embracing to drive around town beating each other's mailboxes to smithereens with baseball bats.
Do these kids really imagine that hugging is a suitable replacement for sticking their tongues down each other's throats? Don't they realize that an embrace will never lead to premature pregnancy or STDs, which build character in otherwise naïve, overly optimistic young people?
“Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” Noreen Hajinlian, the principal of George G. White School who banned hugging two years ago, told the Times. Hajinlian, like many school administrators, sees these impromptu outbursts of affection as roughly akin to, say, drinking a 40-ouncer of Schlitz Malt Liquor one night and unknowingly diving into an empty rock quarry. It seems that, for today's teachers and school officials, hugging in the hallways is a lot like huffing spray paint, then riding your cousin's Yamaha motorcycle down a gravel road to see if you can make it fishtail.
Personally, I'm not worried about these kids' safety, I'm worried about their self-respect. "We like to get cozy,” Katie Dea, an eighth grader in San Francisco told the Times reporter, who didn't describe her as wildly delusional or a hopeless misfit. Get cozy? Can she be serious?
Wait a minute. Get cozy. We're not afraid. Maybe heroin is making a comeback after all! That would certainly explain a lot of the hugging out there. Yes, that has to be it! There's not a hugging epidemic, really, it's just that teens nationwide are wandering the hallways of their schools in a dope-addled haze!
Ah, now at least I can sleep at night.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
THE MOTHER WHITE MEAT
Happy Mother's Day! A day just for customer satisfaction representatives like me!
I can't tell you how gratifying it is for a customer relations expert like myself to see my rapidly growing client base voice its appreciation for my expanded service capacity initiatives! Naturally, my clients don't recognize all of my external responsibilities -- writing this NPR piece about advancing new models of customer service, this Salon piece about the how, if the world were run by mothers, people would live in peace and harmony and there wouldn't be little socks all over the goddamn floor, and of course, a Salon recap of the Dollhouse finale -- but that's because I'm always implementing more immediate client need-based initiatives, such as manufacturing and distributing nourishment to my smallest customer base, or helping Cinderella use the potty.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
HELP, I'M LAZY!
Ok, I have been reading you for years and never thought I would write to you. We are probably the same age, and both worked in the Internet insanity of the late 90's while enduring the insanity of our mid to late twenties. We both wondered how our lives spent tied to a computer screen could be tarted up to look so glamorous to the casual observer. We both lived through the bust we all knew was going to happen. We both got married, somehow got a piece or two of real furniture. Anyway this is why I am turning to you, a stranger to me, and yet someone I recognise, to ask the most personal and specific question a girl can ask. Should I have a baby? or maybe just asking you how you decided YOU should have a baby.
I know, I should ask my friends, but they fall into three camps. There are ones who have. They are no help, they want me to join their little club, even though all they talk about is how hard it is. And how I can't possibly understand their lives. Then there are the ones that do not want to procreate yet and probably won't ever, they want me to stay free and easy so they have someone to call at a moments notice to help them hang curtain rods or cook a roast or go to a show. Of course the ones trying to make the same decision and we are useless to each other. We are on the same merry go round. Saying: "My life is awesome, why mess it up with a baby and yet I yearn to share this wonderful life with a baby" one second, "omg, i want babies so bad, but it's like jumping off a cliff" the next. Then there is my husband who feels just as ambivalent as I do, I think he secretly wants me to drive this decision. Oh and my parents, they would never tell me what to do. What i know is this, my mother has depression, she tells me how hard having a child was, but that i brought her so much fun and joy. My dad wants a grandchild but tells me, you need to make this decision on your own. They live across the country anyway.
We were all set to start trying. Then I had a meltdown. I hated my job so badly, I felt depressed to be still coding websites for guys who liked to get on their computer and work at ten pm to 2 am, and to keep having to pretend it was all so exciting, keeping up with the latest trends and coding coolness. The thought of being this exhausted and down and then going home to be with a baby made me cry. literally. in public no less. I am a people person, not a coder. I tried different things to try to break out but finally I quit to figure out how to merge my passions with a paycheck, I had a bit of savings, and have contacts for freelance work. I of course had no plan. And in some ways though it doesn't look like it, it has been a productive year. I have figured out how to have a "life" and not just a way to fill the time between work. Since I have been working in the explosive too much or too little way of contract work. I realised it's me and not just the job that made me unhappy. I have learned how to take care of myself, how to keep myself satisfied if not happy, and how to maintain my sanity. I got a bit of myself back. One thing I did not do however was find a new career path, not surprising in a depression with no plan. Now my savings are depleted and short term freelance work is drying up. I am looking for a full time job - or even long term contract- again, just to land somewhere I can rebuilt my coffers for a while, and have a regular schedule for a while. People keep paying me to code and they pay me pretty well, so back to it I go. Plus now that i feel like I have some coping skills, it's not so bad, even fun. Plus as you said in your brilliant article "how I stopped worrying...", suddenly the fact that a job has a paycheck seems satisfying enough for me.
So I will hopefully be sort of stable again soon, and the baby thing is coming up again, i am almost 36 and my husband is even older and the window is shrinking. Also we need to make some housing decisions in the next 6 months, some that maybe semi-permanent like purchasing a home. In case you are wondering there is no way my husband can afford to support me on his salary, in fact the most likely scenario is that he will stay home with the baby for the first year while i work full-time since I pull in a good 30% more cash than he does. I keep agonising over this decision.
More stuff that is germaine: I love kids, I am abnormally close to my god children, who I spend at least every Sunday with, and I have a blast with them. i have not been goign out as much or as actively in the past year and i am happy, I don't feel like I am missing anything. On another note, I love my husband and we have a great marriage with tons of love to go around. And I think my heart wants this, for example. The other day, a very close friend of mine confessed she was pregnant. I was hit with a tremendous sense of magic and joy, and then a fist of jealousy that came form deep within my gut, no not jealousy, maybe more desire. Not the jealousy I usually feel like when someone tells me they love to run and feel like cream is way too rich- that i wish I could be like that feeling- this hit deeper. I guess this is a problem of my head and my heart there is a huge place in my heart and my husbands that wants a baby. Our heads are like, why sign up for all this work and expense when we can spend our time exactly the way we want. Except, what are we doing with our time and money? Nothing really.
But I worry, we are lazy and we can't indulge that if we have kids. I have a hard time deciding what to have for dinner. I am messy and disorganised and can be cranky and what if I am as miserable as my best friend who had postpartum depression.
So maybe the real question is, how did you reach this place where you were like, ok, let's go.
Sorry about the title to this one. My brother convinced me that one of the Thomas the Tank Engine videos his son watches has a train that says -- in a southern accent -- "Help, Help! I'm laaaazy!" But then we watched the video and he doesn't actually say that, sadly. He says "I'm a laaaaazy diesel engine." Which isn't nearly as good.
No matter, because my husband and I have taken to saying, "Help, help, I'm laaaazy!" all the time, particularly since we had a second baby. That and "Sweet Christ." In fact, I find myself saying "Sweet Christ Almighty, my life." over and over and over these days.
But I'm a special case right now, because I have a toddler in the high-maintenance princess phase, a baby in the screaming phase, two big dogs perpetually in the "When are we getting our goddamn daily walk?" phase, a book in the "Get 'er done!" phase, a full-time job in the "Welcome back from maternity leave, do you think you could write even more?" phase, a house in the "I need central air and some serious foundation work." phase, a car in the "If you'd like your driver's side window to open again, please deposit $1,000" phase, and a marriage in the "Who can we pay to do all of this shit for us so we can go get fall-down drunk on margaritas?" phase.
That said, when I was feeling nervous about giving up my incredibly self-centered, carefree, self-indulgent life to wake up early and wipe shit off some small, pesky human's bare ass, I read something somewhere by a therapist who said that he'd had plenty of clients who regretted not having children, but he'd never had a client who regretted having children.
Now, I remember feeling exactly the same way you do about friends who become parents. Parents are tough to understand. "Kids are the best! I'm in fucking hell!" they tell you in the same breath, and they're distracted and fat and far less interesting than they once were. And now I'm one of them.
And I was always suspicious of people who urge - URGE URGE URGE! - you to have kids, because kids are SO GREAT! they say, but this desperate glaze to their eyes says, "Be miserable like us, motherfuckers!"
But look, here are the facts: If you have a good marriage (important) and you don't feel like you need to fly to Morocco at a moment's notice in order to have a good life, and you're sort of drawn to the idea/feeling of caring for someone/some thing else (or say, you dote on your pets like a crazy freak)... then having kids is great.
And fuck it, having kids is just great. Babies are awesome, and even if they're the screaming kind, they're still funny and interesting and they just get more interesting and funny as they get older.
Basically, this kind of talk devolves into cliches no matter what. I'm not going to tell you anything you haven't heard before. All I can say is: It works for me. Even when I'm saying "Sweet Jesus, save me from this fucking insane chaos and drop me into the middle of a sushi restaurant, the kind that serves shots of tequila on ice and plays Dr. Dre and is frequented by hot men with lit joints in their hands," it's still sort of mildly amusing that everything has become so fucking tiring and so completely ill-suited for a self-centered lazy whore like me.
I can't explain it. It's taxing, but I never regret it.
And remember, the only reason I sound at all harried is because I have a 2-month-old who wakes up at night, and a job, and a book to write, and dogs and hairy rugs and shit like that. You're just having one little baby. Babies are easy -- well, easy babies are easy. Lots of babies are easy. And kids, well, they're harder, but they're just really nice, even when they repeat themselves. Like I'm doing right now.
One baby, you can handle one baby. Trust me on that. Stay committed to your career path, make sure your husband still has a career, hire someone to watch the kid at least part-time or send the kid to part-time daycare so no one loses their mind at home alone with the kid, and just, well, go for it.
Having kids is awesome. It just is. Look, instead of laying on the rug saying, "Shit, what should we make for stupid dinner?" like lazy assholes, you'll be running around in circles screaming "Shit, what should we make for stupid dinner?!!"
See? Life won't change that much at all. You'll still be lazy assholes, just like you always were. But you know, the laziest assholes I know are the best parents. I'm not kidding, really. Go fucking figure.