Friday, April 30, 2010

It's ON!

So we're less than 90 days away, and this triathlon training has really started! Sort of.

The last few weeks I've been swimming at least once a week and running 2-3 times a week. The running has been front-loaded because my mother-in-law (She is awesome. And today's her birthday!) signed me up for a 5K run this weekend in my husband's hometown. So tomorrow morning I'm getting up considerably earlier than I usually do on Saturday, lacing up my shoes and running my first 5 K since...

Um, since...

Yeesh. I think the last 5K I ran was in 2008.

I ran an 8K in March of 2009 which was very sloppy - it was the Shamrock Shuffle, which has had nasty weather the last couple of years - and that hurt my knees a bit. So I took a "break" from running.

I'm just now realizing that break was basically a year long.

I walked a 5K in July 2009, because I wasn't quite in running shape any more, and then that was about it for any kind of organized anything until now.

This year I'm already planning this weekend's 5K, another 5K run in July (same one as last summer, but with actual running), the sprint triathlon at the end of July, and then probably a 4 mile run on Thanksgiving morning.

Unfortunately I think I'm just a goal-oriented person. I have trouble learning things like musical instruments or skills of any kind if there isn't a regular class with an instructor. And apparently, my running habit can only be maintained by regularly scheduled races. Which annoyingly have registration fees. And I am cheap.

Interestingly, 2 of the 3 races I'll be doing in the next months are races for which other people registered me. Which I think means they know this about me.

My goal is to finish the race. If I run it all, great. If I run it all under 35 minutes, stupendous.

Friday, April 23, 2010


If you're one of the three people who read this blog, you probably already know this, but I thought I should clarify:

I'm a 27-year-old, happily married woman working on the tail end of a master's degree. Friends and relatives my age are all having kids. My husband and I are the kind of people you would probably call to babysit, as we are generally trustworthy and are at least good caretakers of our cat.

Thus, we get asked from time to time about when we're having kids. Or, occasionally, told: "You're not getting any younger". My mom just became a grandmother, so the pressure is off on my side of the family, but my mother-in-law, who I guarantee would be the Awesomest Grandma on the Planet, quietly pines for grandkids. And her youngest son - the one I married - is her only chance for those. (Ah, but a post about my two brothers-in-law is a whole separate topic. One I may never get to. They're nice guys, but they're not settle-down-and-make-babies kind of guys.)

So if there's the occasional post about kids - whether and when to have them, whether they completely destroy your life or only temporarily ruin it - don't be surprised. I am writing through my thoughts about this as they pop up. It's not you, I promise. It's me, and the people and events around me.

This consideration of motherhood is almost purely academic. I mean, it's emotional, too, because of factors like my mother-in-law (no, she really isn't giving me grief... but she adores babies, and kids in general, and the adoration is mutual) but I'm not dying to have a baby like some of my peers are. I find the process of pregnancy fascinating, and - there's no way to say this without sounding terrible - I'd be interested to try it. It just seems like nine to ten months of being geeked out by my body.

But the end of that process is something I'm - we're - not ready for.

I posted that inflammatory dooce post on my facebook page and asked my friends with kids what they thought of it. I was suprised by and grateful for the reaction I got. None of them agreed with her, not even a bit. Even my friend who's a single mom of two, juggling work, kids and school, said she thought the post was crazy. She noted that it gets overwhelming sometimes, but she needs down time with her kids to stay sane.

Certainly the best comment came from my older and wiser cousin who always comes through with great life advice. She wrote: "At 3 PM every day at work I long for my kids so bad it hurts. When I come home and they rush at me, it is so great! I love having time on the weekends to lay around and play with them, do puzzles, etc. I think this is a rant of a parent having a very overwhelmed moment and we all have those as parents, but it is not how you feel all the time."

She also noted, when I mentioned that dooce is on a lot of psychotropic meds, that the severe sleep deprivation that comes with caring for a newborn feels like you're on weird drugs anyway. She noted that when their oldest kid was a newborn, her husband asked her every day for a week if it was Tuesday. And he's usually a pretty with-it guy.

This is the same cousin who told me once, at her daughter's birthday party where her house was swarmed with kids and relatives and neighbors and noise, "Kids are so great... when you're ready for them."

That sounds nice. I'm so totally not ready.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I need to tell you about my weekends.

Perhaps because I've spent more weekends than usual traveling this year, I've come to value even more the stretch between 5:00pm Friday and about 11pm Sunday, when I don't have a strict to-do list, I'm not in my windowless office and the only person I have to consult with about activities is, oh, my favorite person on the planet.

At this time in my life, the absolute best weekends are the ones that have zero outside obligations: no family gatherings, no weddings, nada. All those activities are fun, usually, but the Saturday that begins when the cat is head-butting me awake because she's out of food and I didn't set an alarm because I didn't need to are the best.

When faced with a wide open Saturday, my hubs and I always come up with some kind of plan. Often that plan involves rearranging some part of our one-bedroom apartment so it feels more open or works more efficiently. I usually try to sneak in a little cleaning, maybe do our laundry (which is a project because we either have to haul it to the basement laundry room - our building has 9 washers for 100 people - or we go mooch off a relative. We used to do laundromats, but they're not very fun) . I usually get some bit of housekeeping accomplished on a weekend, but the motivation isn't usually that I love cleaning, it's that starting Monday with a clean space is pleasant.

This past weekend was just one of those perfect weekends: No schedule. We moved furniture, washed windows, did all the laundry and the dishes, fixed our bikes after a winter in storage. This was over a two-day period: nothing was rushed. We spent just as much time lounging around, surfing the internet, drinking coffee, reading. We watched an action movie we've seen ten times, and we ate pizza. We got some gin, mixed a couple of drinks, admired the new furniture setup. Stayed up late and slept in late.

Our weekends manage to be lazy and efficient at the same time, but though I enjoy that, that's not really the point. Even if we do have hard work to do or we're heading to my in-laws or we have to go to a wedding or baptism or something, I look forward to weekends and the down time we have together.

I like weekends because I like the person (and the cat) with whom I live.

This reflection has come up because a post by Heather Armstrong, aka dooce, just bothered me considerably. Before anyone points out, "uh, Schmei, you know dooce is mentally ill and on a lot of medications, right?" Let me make it clear that I understand that. The post itself was just her being her neurotic self, I thought. Kind of entertaining, a little uncomfortable - her usual writing style.

But her commenters scared the bejeesus out of me.

Dooce's post - it's here - is all about how she hates weekends. Hates them. She can't relax because she can't work, and she gets all anxious without a schedule and starts cleaning everything compulsively. When I read the post, I thought, "I guess I could see that. If I worked from home I'd have trouble shutting it off for two days when my office is right there, too. Not everyone is able to do that..."

But there are two wrinkles. One is that she has two young children, and I know babies are terrible creatures to live with sometimes, and her six-year-old daughter certainly does not sound like a picnic either, so I guess I can understand her anxiety but I always thought weekends with kids could be nice. I guess I just assumed they'd be like weekends are for us now, only with an additional small person who can't eat pizza just yet and needs poopy diapers changed, and then later that small person might be doing something like playing outside when the weather's nice, but that would be fun, right? I love to get outside on weekends. I don't even mind soccer games that much.

Here's the other wrinkle - and this is the thing I should never do on anything besides this blog - I started reading the comments. And every. single. person. agreed with her. Weekends with kids? Suck. Across the board. They are a terrible period of constant suffering. There is no sleeping in, no enjoying coffee, no quiet time, NO FUN. Children with no routine flip out and abuse their parents, needling them constantly. They never shut up. They don't take naps. Things don't even start to pretend to improve until they're at least 10 years old, but then they're pre-teens and we know how awful THOSE are...

I am not kidding when I say those comments made me want to never reproduce in any way. Not even adoption, which, whenever I hear a horror story about childbirth, is my fallback position - "We'll just adopt!" - it's like takeout for babies. Who has time to gestate anymore?

Anyway, that post and those comments made me try to remember what weekends were like when I was growing up. Did I torture my parents when I was a kid? Sundays were fairly routine: church in the morning and then usually breakfast all together, the whole family passing around sections of the newspaper. I would always read the lame kid's joke aloud to Mom because I found her groan entertaining. (Sigh. I still love awful puns. They still make my loved ones groan.) Some Sunday afternoons Dad would go for a hike and take one or two of us along. Sunday dinner was usually something made of chicken, because it was a dinner with my family.

Did my parents hate that? I always thought Sundays were kind of nice.

Saturdays are harder to recall specifically because they were more nebulous. I do remember a time when all three of us were playing soccer, on different teams, at different places sometimes. I'm sure that was stressful, but once they got the transportation figured out it all worked out all right. And besides, that wasn't the whole day, just a couple of hours, usually, and then we'd all go home or hang out with teammates for a while or something.

I remember playing outside in sun or leaves or snow, or reading books. Entertaining myself, or playing superheroes with my brother. Or boardgames with my sister.

How bad was that? Was it that bad? It didn't seem bad, but I was a kid. Are kids that bad? Do they really ruin weekends? Can I never rearrange furniture with my husband again if we have a kid?

I suppose this is bothering me in part because, while I know plenty of women my age who have "baby fever," I don't really have it. What I would like is a child. Like, a seven-year-old, who will later be a twelve-year-old, and then a twenty-two-year old who I can take out to buy a suit for her job interview like my mom did for me. I would enjoy having a son or daughter, or one of each, or hell, two of each, and watch them grow up. It would be interesting to see what combination of traits kids would get, between my husband and me. I hope they get his mechanical smarts, even if that means they disassemble the thermostat. And they'll hopefully get his height, which will be nice for them... and for me, really. Once they're grown, I'll have more than one person I can ask to get things off high shelves. However, I kind of hope they get my hair. Because I am a vain person.

But I'm just not that in to babies. And the more I learn about newborns (my three-week-old niece, for instance, is both beautiful and a relentlessly demanding tyrant all at once), the less I want one of those. And the more I read articles like dooce's post, I find myself worried that the newborn stage never really ends. According to posts like that, newborns just morph in to kids who are potty trained, able to speak, and still just as awful to live with. If not worse.

All of those commenters sounded like my greatest fear about parenthood: they sounded regretful. And I hate that when I think about potentially being a parent some day, one of the questions I ask myself is "which would you regret more, NOT having kids, or having them and not liking them?"

That is a gross question.

I am happy with my life now. I've always kind of thought I'd be happy with kids, but posts like this make me worry that kids would ruin everything I love about my life, and then I couldn't take them back, and my husband and I would be stuck resenting each other and the little monsters we created for the rest of our lives together.

But there has to be a way to train kids to move furniture, right? Maybe that's all we'll need to do.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quasi brain dump.

I'd just like to note that I have twelve drafts of blog posts, several of which keep growing. This is a nice mental exercise, but I need to stretch that _posting_ muscle. It's been a month since I've used it.

The lovely and talented Jenna over at That Wife does weekly "brain dump" posts, which I enjoy, so for a change (and for a bit of a shout out to her - she had her baby boy on Monday! Go Jenna!), I shall dump a few things that have been rattling around my brain lately.

First: speaking of recent arrivals, my sister had her baby a bit over two weeks ago, and I was able to fly out at the last minute (thanks to my parents who paid for the ticket) and be there. The actual story is long and it was, to keep it short, not exactly what my sis was hoping for, in terms of a birth experience. However, her baby girl is just beautiful, is very healthy, and loves to eat. If one has to make a choice between a birth that kind of sucks and a baby who's not healthy, well... not much of a choice, right? My niece is strong and beautiful. At the risk of over-the-top schmalz, she resembles her mother.

I first got to see my niece when she was just under 2 hours old, and I got to hold her when she was 23 hours old - the newest baby I've ever held. I expected to be scared, but I don't know if it's pheromones or the fact that she was completely asleep most of the time or what, but I didn't have my usual newborn worry about breaking her at all. She's cool.

Second: another lovely and talented blogger (and one of my only readers!), Erin over at Just One Week, had a giveaway a few weeks ago for those cool LobotoME notepads... and I WON. I've never won a giveaway on a blog before. Thanks, Erin!

If you're reading here and you like blogs that are actually updated regularly, you should check out Erin's. Her project is cool and her writing style is very enjoyable.

Third: my best bud from preschool-through-high school started an online book club, which is a brilliant idea. I'm too cheap to buy a book every month and I think all the copies of the first book had been stolen from the library, so I didn't get to read the first book. But I own the second book, so I have no excuse. I just have to finish the great book I'm reading at the moment, which shouldn't take long.

Fourth: I'm not actually all that behind on my master's thesis. I'm in the final stage of approval before I can go out in the field! I'm looking forward to doing actual work on this thing rather than proposing.

Fifth: Something else that is starting to take up more of my time and energy these days is triathlon training. The last couple of weeks I've been alternating running and swimming each day. My 13-week countdown starts next week, so I suppose this could be called pre-training before I start actually training (which will have to include a day or two on my bike each week).

What's surprised me so far how tired I am these days. I've trained for races before (nothing longer than 8K... I have crappy knees) and I usually had more energy once I got into it, but I think this triathlon training is a different animal: there's not really a lot of space in the schedule for an all-out rest day, and I think I just need more sleep than I did before. I probably need to change what I eat, as well. I do crave sugar less than I use to... and I want protein all the time. Which presumably means I'm developing muscles.

I need to note that this is for a sprint triathlon, (6 laps swimming in a pool, 12 mile bike, 5K run). I cannot imagine what those Ironman people do. Or how much they eat and sleep.

Side note: for pretty funny commentary on Ironman training, go to Fat Cyclist. He's nuts, but he's doing this to impress a chick. Except she's already agreed to marry him, so I'm not sure why he's doing it, really...

Another side note: my husband has been running with me, which is so nice because he's my favorite running partner and we can chat while we jog. Also: my mother-in-law signed me up for a 5K in hubs's home town on May 1, which is good timing for my training. I totally lucked out on in-laws.

OK! Brain dump complete! How's everybody doing out there in internet land?