Will I Regret Not Doing This?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sometimes, when I am debating whether or not I should do something, I'll stop and ask myself, "Will I regret not doing this?"

For me, this question is more useful than asking if I will regret it, since I am much more likely to not do something out of fear or worry than I am to rush headlong into something without much thought.

During my sophomore year of college I decided I wanted to look into doing editing as a minor. I picked up the paperwork from the office and took it to the library to look everything over. I flipped through the pages and felt a brief excitement about taking on this new step. But then I started worrying-- would this actually help me get a job? What if it slowed down my graduation, or made me take focus away from other classes and brought my GPA down? I kept thinking along these lines and put off making a decision at that point.

In the end, I left the packet in my backpack and toted it around throughout the rest of the semester, throwing it away once classes were over. I had let myself be carried away by my natural inclination against doing things that were hard or unknown, and I never did end up in editing.

I wish now that I used the question "Will I regret not doing this?" to help me make that decision, because yes, I did regret not choosing editing. When my senior year of college came and I realized I was going to have to get a job using my political science degree, I found that I was very interested in editing jobs. And, no surprise, they all required a background in editing. Which I would have had if I had just gone ahead and filled out that paperwork two years before.

Now, I think about that question all the time. Sometimes it's with bigger things, but it serves me well for trivial things as well. When winter hit Chicago I was debating whether or not to buy a bundle bag for our stroller (if you don't know what this is, you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate). I realized I could get away with not having one, but I thought "Will I regret not doing it?" and it was clear to me: just get the bundle bag. It will make your life so much easier.

This question came in handy recently when I was talking with Brock about speaking Portuguese to James. Brock talks to James almost exclusively in Portuguese and has since James was a tiny baby. James now understands a plethora of Portuguese phrases and learned many of them before he learning their English counterparts (he actually still doesn't understand "clap your hands!" or "can I have a hug?" in English but knows them in Portuguese).

But recently Brock said to me, "Should I keep talking to him in Portuguese? Will he ever become fluent? Maybe this isn't worth it." And I replied, "You're never going to regret doing it, but you definitely could regret stopping."

The Most Romantic Thing I've Ever Read

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Here’s something odd I’ve noticed about myself as I get older: I am much less interested in romance (specifically the pursuit aspect of romance) in books and movies.

I have quit books because I get bored with wondering, “Are they going to get together or not?” And TV shows or movies who have characters with drawn-out romances lose my interest after a while. In fact, recently someone was asking about how Brock and I met and was digging about in a way that I could tell they wanted to know our love story. I was a bit vague because I thought, “Oh, I don’t want to go into it. That would be so boring for her!” But then I realized that she was actually interested! Because many people love romance, even if my interest has mostly waned.

All of this is to say that I am not someone is very mushy about romance. But there is a quote I read from a novel that I have never been able to forget because it perfectly captures how I believe early love feels.

The quote comes from a wonderful novel called Up a Road Slowly, by Irene Hunt.

The main character, Julie, had just kissed Danny for the first time. She came back inside to her aunt feeling very much in love, and here is my favorite part:

"I noticed that Aunt Cordelia started toward the kitchen to get the souffle and then stopped in the door to look at me. She sensed something. No wonder; the universe was singing."

The universe singing! Could anything be more perfect? Isn't that the way love feels, that everything is more beautiful and that the whole world is better?

I remember once, a few months after we were married, Brock and I were walking to get lunch. It was the first really warm day after a long, cold winter and I was wearing new coral flats. We didn’t have school or work that day and felt so free and happy. As we walked we held hands and I laughed and felt so in love. The sun was shining on us and I remember feeling that the universe was singing.

Romance as a storyline may not be as interesting to me as it once was, but I love being in love.

Stephen King and 11/22/63

Monday, July 18, 2016

On Saturday I finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It was gripping and thrilling and from the moment I started it I was completely sucked in.

The only other Stephen King book I've read is On Writing. On Writing is partially a memoir and partially tips from King about writing and the creative process it entails. I loved that book so much and thought, "This is why he has a million bestsellers!" It was fascinating to learn how he got ideas for his books and how he has been obsessed with writing since he was really young.

 I wanted to read more of his books but wasn't sure where to start, especially since I know I can't handle anything too horror-filled. 11/22/63 was recommended on a book list by one of my favorite book bloggers so I decided to give it a try.

11/22/63 is the day JFK was assassinated, and that's the event the main character (Jake/George) is trying to prevent. He is goes back in time to stop it from happening and has to live in the past for 5 years while doing so. The book covers his journey from Maine to Dallas and all his hiccups along the way.

It was a great read- I felt that I could visualize the cultural differences that Jake experienced going from 2011 to 1958. Many of the characters were good people that I could relate to. And yet, it's definitely not a book I would recommend to most people.

I'm a pretty sensitive person- I cry easily at things I read about in books or see on TV, and can barely stand to see any violence. This book at times was too much for my sensitive self. It is graphic in many different areas and made me feel a little sick sometimes. The plot was so good that I felt I couldn't put it down, but I know I'll never reread it because I could not stomach another go-around of the violence and F-words.

So while I did finish this huge 800-word novel in about 4 days and could not stop thinking about this book during that time, I know that I am not going to be picking up another Stephen King book anytime soon, possibly ever. I've decided that even his books that aren't technically in the horror genre are still too graphic for me. However, if my description has not turned you away from 11/22/63 and you are intrigued about the historical aspect (which is great) and time travel (which is interesting), you should definitely check it out.

Waiting for Birdy and My Son's Birth Story

Friday, July 15, 2016

I loved Catherine Newman’s memoir Waiting for Birdy, which describes the year she was pregnant with her second child, who they call Birdy, and then her first few months after her daughter is born.

This book made me laugh out loud- which is a rarity for me- and gave me a lot to think about for motherhood and life in general. I absolutely loved it.

There was one passage in particular that really resonated with me because of the way it captured my feelings about James's birth. Here it is:
“She [her doctor] asked about Ben’s birth too, and I told her the shortest verison of it I could muster- twenty-four hours of labor, an abrupted placenta, the loss of the baby’s heartbeat, and an emergency C-section (I skipped the part about how I made this creepy didgeridoo sound for sixteen hours straight, said “Kill me”, and then barfed into a trash can)—and she was watching my face really closely, really paying attention, and when I was done she smiled and said, “How wonderful. How incredibly lucky.” Which is exactly how I feel! I was expecting her to be like, “How awful. How tragic for you.” Which is what everyone else always says, and even though it comes from a kind place—and even though, obviously, Ben’s birth was no exercise in natural grace—it sort of drives me crazy…Every single day since his birth, I look at my beautiful Ben, and I look at my silver crescent moon of a scar, and I think, “How wonderful. How incredibly lucky.”
This passage perfectly explains how I feel about James’s birth. My labor with James lasted 29.5 hours, with hard contractions from when I woke up on Thursday morning at 7:30 until he was born the next day at 12:53. I went 15 hours without an epidural, only to have it wear off in my back about 4 hours before he was born. My water had to be broken by the doctor, I had to go on Pitocin, and it turned out his head was turned and he was unable to fit through the birth canal. I threw up multiple times, once all over Brock's hand. I put so many heating pads on my back that I ended up with a huge blister that has scarred my back to this day, almost a year and a half later. The doctor started planning for a C-section before James finally turned his head and was able to come out on his own.

When I tell those details to people, they grimace and moan on my behalf, and tell me how awful it must have been. They’re right, of course. It was awful, and scary, and so so so so hard. Yet it was also wonderful. I had one of my most poignant spiritual experiences during his birth and have never felt closer to God in my life. I knew, without a doubt, that He knew the pain I was going through, and I believe that I witnessed a miracle with James’s birth. The hour before he was born was such a sacred experience and I treasure every memory of those twenty-nine (and a half) hours.

So like Catherine, every time I think of how James came into this world, I think, “How lucky I am, how blessed to have this beautiful son.” And it’s true- I am luckier than I could ever appreciate.

Thoughts on Aging from a Cubs Game

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Brock and I went to a Cubs game last week with some of our friends. While sitting watching the screen announcing information about the players-- which reminds me, how boring must games pre-big screens have been? -- and I saw a player who was born in 1990. I was born in 1991 and when I saw his birthdate I thought, “Whoa, that guy is so young!” And then I realized that he is not that young. He is 26, which is a perfectly normal age to be in the major leagues. It hit me suddenly: I am not extremely young anymore. I am 25, which is young to be a CEO or professor, and maybe slightly young to be a mother of a one-year-old, but I am getting older. And that felt weird to realize.

The game had a rain delay and started at 8:40 PM instead of 7:05 PM. We stayed until the middle of the sixth inning, then took a bus back to our friends’ house and drove our car back home. We got home a little before midnight and didn’t get to bed until 12:30.

I haven’t been to bed that late in months, and when James woke up the next morning at 5:45 AM (which is practically sleeping in for him), I felt like dying. It was so brutal. I let Brock sleep in until 7, and then I went back to bed until 8:30 while he stayed with James. I had a headache and felt testy all day, and it took me at least two days to feel fully recovered from staying up that late.

How did I get so old? I used to go to bed at midnight every night (although I did sleep in until 8 at least) but I had never noticed the effect of one late night as much as I did then. Obviously, 25 is not old. But it is the oldest I have ever been and I am becoming more aware of the way that getting older is subtly changing who I am. And it’s weird. Not bad, just weird.

How I Start A Blog

Friday, July 1, 2016

How does one actually start a blog? What goes into the first post? Who knows who will even read this post? I just decided to go a slightly narcissistic route and post 5 random facts about me.

Here we go!

1. I cannot dive or turn a cartwheel

2. One of my life goals is to complete the Sunday New York Times crossword. The furthest I have come so far is completing Tuesday crosswords and making it halfway through Wednesday. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

3. Flossing has become a big part of my life. I absolutely can not fall asleep if I haven't flossed.

4. I contracted shingles when I was 19 years old.

5. Even though reading has been favorite activity since I was about 6, I used to be so embarrassed to admit it to people. I would be deliberately vague when someone asked about my hobbies because I had multiple experiences of people thinking it was "so weird" that I liked reading. Looking back, I can see a big turning point in my self esteem when I realized it was not uncool to like reading.