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What with my daughter’s impending third birthday and accompanying Sad Thoughts About Her Birth (which apparently I will never ever ever get over BAH), and the delightful meal pairing of Sleep Issues, I am feeling rather cranky this morning. Here are the current top aggravators:

— Despite producing many many flowers, my tomato plant has only to this point produced one (1) actual tomato. What is the deal?

 

— Today I have to return to the car dealership for a second-in-three-weeks visit that will cost an amount with t0o many zeroes. At least I am prepared for what this session will cost. The last time I was there – for an OIL CHANGE – I ended up sitting in the waiting room for FIVE HOURS.

 

— Due to SOMEONE’S cruel and thoughtless munching on my plants, I have become all too familiar with the smell of Anti-Deer-&-Rabbit spray. I’m sure (I’m not sure; I didn’t look) that the spray is made of something horrendous like badger urine or whatever, so I’m not SURPRISED that it makes me wish my face were pressed up against a sweaty pubescent skunk. But it’s pretty awful, and there’s no way to spray the stuff without smelling it. I’ve tried various methods, like holding my breath (works for maybe 30 seconds which is a sight shorter than the time it takes to circle my yard; induces lightheadedness) or breathing only through my mouth (but then I can TASTE the horrendous smell, which is either worse or just as bad) but nothing works. It just STINKS.

 

And then the spray nozzle DRIPPED and it did so ON MY HAND.

 

And then it turns out that a CARDINAL, and NOT a deer nor a rabbit is picking at my zucchini, so perhaps I didn’t even need the stupid spray in the first place.

AND THEN I spotted THIS, out in the middle of my yard. Sending the finger right back at you, Mother Deer. Sheesh. We are not running a drop-in daycare service for unguents over here, LADY.

Deer.JPG

That white thing the fawns are cozying up to? It’s the remains of a T-ball, broken by an over-zealous at-bat by me or my husband.

 

— Summer, with all its glory, means two things I HATE: 1. flies, in my house, and 2. near-constant STUFF on my floors: grass and dirt and rocks and other detritus of Having Fun Outdoors.

 

 

— I found not one but TWO chips in my favorite blue serving plate. It’s the exact same blue as the ring in my everyday dishes, and it’s perfect for serving grilled zucchini or a pair of pork tenderloins or many other delicious things, and it stands out so nicely among my other serving dishes, which are mostly plain white. But now: two big chips that show the pottery beneath the blue glaze. And, to make matters worse, now I see that TWO of my everyday dinner plates have chips in them. WHO is being so ROUGH with my dishes?! Me, probably, which just makes me feel crankier.

 

 

— Speaking of serving dishes and being cranky: My husband is not as gifted as I am in the realm of Sizing Things Up. So I got out a serving dish the other night for the grilled mushrooms and onions, and – since he was the one grilling them, and watching them shrink – I asked him whether he thought they would fit in the dish. He looked at me like I was utterly CRAZY; I may as well have asked if an ELEPHANT riding a BLUE WHALE would fit into that dish. So I put it away and got a larger dish. Are you surprised to learn that the mushrooms and onions barely filled the bottom third of the larger dish? I was, even though I should know after nearly 15 years of Tupperware containers half-filled with leftovers not to trust him on this subject.

 

 

— Recently I learned that my husband does something COMPLETELY NONSENSICAL. We were seasoning fish fillets for the grill, and I was doing the seasoning and he was doing the turning-of-the-fish, and I oiled the One Side, and then sprinkled salt on each fillet. And then he had me TURN THE FISH OVER so I could salt the other side, BEFORE PEPPERING the first side. How ridiculous is that? You salt and pepper at the SAME TIME. Is our marriage in PERIL?

 

 

— Any time I try to write outside of normal working hours, hours in which my child is at daycare, my child is suddenly and irresistibly attracted to my lap, and her hands are suddenly and irresistibly attracted to my keyboard. She perhaps is less child than cat. Very very adorable and (in this particular instance) very very annoying.

 

 

— There is little more frustrating than asking someone for advice with a problem, and having them make a suggestion that does not work for you, and telling them it doesn’t work for Reasons, and then having them make that suggestion repeatedly. And yet I am having difficulty NOT asking this person, who is having difficulty NOT giving me the advice I reject, so around and around we go in a resentful circle.

 

What’s driving you around Grump Corner this morning?

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  • I recently had an epiphany: While I really enjoy being active – walking, even on a treadmill – I really dislike exercising. I’m fine if the exercise is inherent in the activity, but I don’t like to purposefully encourage sweating and ragged breathing. Eh. Know thyself, right?
  • Carla is starting to lose the last remaining baby vernacular. She can now say “computer” correctly, rather than calling it a “com-POO-tuh” like a tiny Austrian. I am holding on very tightly to “lellow” instead of “yellow” and “collection” instead of “reflection.”
  • My in-laws donated a Crate and Barrel outdoor loveseat to us. It’s teak and sturdy and fits neatly on our back porch. But there’s no cushion and I cannot for the life of me find a cushion for it. The sizing is weird – leave it to Crate and Barrel to have custom sizes, right? – so none of the standard bench or loveseat cushions at Home Depot or Target or Bed Bath & Beyond will fit. Then I looked at Crate and Barrel for a replacement – they were having a sale – and the appropriate cushion would cost $500. On sale. I know we all have different categories of things we are willing to spend serious money on, and it turns out that an outdoor loveseat cushion is not one of mine.
  • I have made a career change, and I am LOVING it. I feel like I should acknowledge it here, but I don’t want to go into detail right now. So. That’s all.
  • My niece’s first birthday is next month, and I have no idea what to get her. Her parents always get Carla fun educational toys, so I suspect they might enjoy getting one of those… but they also live in a tiny apartment and I don’t want to send them anything that requires too much space. Clothes are out: not only does my niece get ALL of Carla’s hand-me-downs, but she also has the same grandmother that Carla does, which means she gets her own beautiful collection of clothing.
  • I just finished the third (and so far final) Cormoran Strike book by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). I found all of them thoroughly enjoyable, but now I’m looking for the Next Great Mystery Series to start. I like Sue Grafton and Tana French and Kate Atkinson and Sophie Hannah. But I haven’t really found any other series that have the kind of writing and characters and types of crimes that I like.
  • So in the meantime, I have finally begun A Little Life, because I’ve heard it’s a life-changing work of fiction. But I’m very apprehensive about it, because I’ve heard that it’s devastating.
  • We have lived in this house for nearly five years, and we are FINALLY getting to finish the office. We’ve re-organized the furniture and gotten rid of a bunch of junk and now just need to clean out the closet (old computers and cellphones dating back to COLLEGE and assorted other tangentially-office-related detritus) and put up artwork. We’re keeping an eye out for coupons at Michael’s, so we can finally frame my husband’s degrees, and we’ll hang those as well (my mom framed my college degree; I don’t think I ever got a physical diploma from my grad school, seeing as I absconded to Europe instead of attending my graduation ceremony).
  • Speaking of junk: we had inherited three mattresses and two bedframes from my in-laws that we finally got rid of. Alongside a massive, defunct television set, a DVD player, and some other piece of stereo equipment that is no longer compatible with modern TVs. I felt TERRIBLE sending these things off to the junk guy, but our local Goodwill had no interest and I am not holding a garage sale.
  • Carla and I planted a bunch of seeds last week. We used one of those big seed starter kits and I let her pick out a bunch of vegetable seeds. We had fun poking holes in the seed starter stuff and dropping in a seed at a time. (I was stunned when I asked her what she wanted to plant next and she said “cilantro” because I don’t recall teaching her what cilantro is.) Most of the veggies are already sprouting (which seems a little creepy to me – it’s been A WEEK) and Carla is So Excited. The first sprouts that appeared were the green beans we planted, and so she is CONVINCED that we are growing a beanstalk to rival Jack’s. I keep trying to manage her expectations but…
  • This seems worth remarking on: I had been saving, on my DVR, the final episode of House since it aired in 2012. I never watched it, because I don’t like things ending. (We still have the Parks & Rec finale, unwatched, on the DVR as well.) But we were running out of space on the DVR (wonder why?) so I finally deleted it. If I haven’t watched it in four years, it is unlikely I ever will.

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The other day my mind was wandering from topic to topic as minds do, and somehow ended up back in summer of 2000 when I decided I was destined to become a lawyer and my mother (a lawyer) decided that I needed some intervention more data points. So she sent me to California to spend some time with my aunt and uncle (both lawyers) to get a sense of whether or not it was the right field for me.

While I was there – touring their offices and going to court with my aunt’s brother (uncle in-law?) – I stayed at my aunt and uncle’s beautiful house in Beverly Hills. The guest room turned out to serve double duty as a TV-watching room for my three cousins. I have no idea how old they were at the time; whatever ages are known for Peak Rambunctiousness. But I remember very clearly that it caused me a great deal of angst to have them eating snacks and jumping around on my bed.

I am a very private person with a strong sense of personal boundaries, not to mention an introvert who needs – NEEDS – time alone to recover and recharge. And being around virtual strangers all day, learning about The Law in It’s Various Forms (my aunt did some sort of real estate law, my uncle did tax law, my uncle-in-law did litigation – I think; it didn’t really stick; clearly The Law was not my jam), away from home/college/familiar territory and routines meant that I was in severe need of my own space. So trying to grab a few minutes alone in my room, only to be bombarded by three noisy humans clambering all over one another was not especially fun. Not to mention feeling like my sheets would be full of goldfish crumbs or whatever they were snacking on/throwing at each other. Blech.

That experience really defined for me one of my personal Key Principles of Hosting: that your guest should have his/her own space. If I have a guest over, I will not for any reason go into the guest room. This is simple, because our guest room really has no purpose outside of baby clothing repository clean laundry dumping ground Guest Room. On the rare occasions during which we have guests, I want them to feel like they truly have a place to call their own.

(Sidebar: Other people don’t feel this way, I acknowledge. I have been a guest in a home where the guest room has a Working Closet, and the hostess feels comfortable coming in to retrieve clothing from that closet whenever she needs to. Which I get! It is her house! But it still makes me uncomfortable. [However, I also come from a place of not wanting people to be in my bedroom EVER, and this woman is comfortable popping into my bedroom to look in the full-length mirror or to borrow my hairdryer from my personal bathroom without asking.] [There is a hairdryer IN THE GUEST BATHROOM!] [Also, many people BRING THEIR OWN HAIRDRYERS when they travel!!!] [People have different comfort levels and different boundaries and different expectations.] [My blood pressure is rising. Kittens. Birds bathing in puddles. Gentle rain. Babies sleeping with their rears in the air.])

The problem is that we have two bathrooms. I mean, this is great, right? One bathroom for me and my husband, one for our guest. But… the non-master bathroom is Carla’s bathroom.

When we have guests, I have tried to be conscious of the Shared Bathroom issue. Instead of leaving Carla’s foam letters and numbers all over the tub as we do on a normal night, I would put them away in the closet. But our guests were still sharing a bathroom with her.

And maybe that’s… not in line with my Hosting Philosophy? Maybe we should have Carla share OUR bathroom the next time guests stay here (which, at the rate we host people, could be in five years)?

I guess this question just popped out at me when I was thinking back with such displeasure at having to share my bedroom with my cousins. Have I been making guests feel uncomfortable by having them share a bathroom with Carla?

Of course, it probably depends a great deal on the guest. But I think if it were ME, staying at someone else’s house, I would want my own space.

This is why I plan to mainly stay at hotels. But the topic of hotels is a whole different post. (Sometimes it is not practical. At my parents’ house, for instance, where the nearest hotel is many miles away. Or at my in-laws’ house, where they have an entire separate WING for guests and the nearest hotel costs $500 a night.)

I would be very interested in how other people approach hosting and guesting. Where do you stow guests at your house? What’s the bathroom situation like? What kind of expectations do YOU have for your situation when you stay with someone else?

And I have Strong Feelings about other aspects of hosting/guesting, but for now I am trying to stick very closely to Issues of Personal Space.

Sigh. I feel like I should qualify things – like I need to say, “Of course, I know this all sounds spoiled and picky! And if someone is kind enough to open her home to me, I should be gracious and grateful for whatever the accommodations are!” And YES. Of COURSE. My dear friend Ilse has invited me and Carla and my husband to her house this summer, and we are going. But Ilse has no guest room, so we’d end up either displacing one of her daughters or on the floor of the living room, and there’s only one bathroom. That situation would make me so uncomfortable, it wouldn’t be worthwhile. So we already have our hotel BOOKED.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that MY hosting/guesting philosophies are purely a result of MY personality. And I am DEEPLY INTERESTED in how other types of people see and handle the same kinds of situations.

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So this is going to be one of those posts where I tell you about how my husband and I approach a situation differently, and you tell me which of us is right(er). (I would like to note that Temerity Jane writes posts of a similar-but-much-funnier-and-more-enjoyable-to-read nature, and you should read them, but don’t do so whilst eating because you will choke on a grape and be unable to breathe long enough to have visions of your husband arriving home later that night to see his wife dead on the floor wearing grey sweat pants and a faded Pizza My Heart: Capitola t-shirt with a big wine stain on the front of it, not because she was drinking during the day but because she felt the shirt she stained with wine the night before constituted acceptable work wear, and you don’t really want that to be your husband’s last vision of you, right? I mean, wouldn’t you rather be in that dress that hugs all your curves in just the right way and makes your eyes stand out so that he would be immediately struck by your beauty and what a loss the world has just suffered? No? You [and your husband] aren’t that shallow? Okay then. )

Anyway, before I get to The Situation that you need to help me with, I need to back up a little.

Well, a lot. I need to back up to around 1994. Which is when I got my own phone line.

Listen, Internet, there used to be a time, many years ago (um, 1994, in case you weren’t listening before) (and really, I don’t blame you), when I LOVED to talk on the phone. My whole life pretty much revolved around the telephone. I would talk to my girl friends about boys we liked and to my boy friends about girls they liked and even though that’s barely two topics, it was pretty much the center of my universe and it occupied HOURS of my time. I don’t like to think of all the days and possibly MONTHS of my life I used up on rehashing Some Boy’s behavior in Social Studies or What to Wear to the Co-Ed Dance on Friday OMG What If Some Boy Is There?!?!?!

Now, if you are a doctor who is on call a few times a week and your pre-teen daughter is tying up the phone line at all hours of the day and night with super important giggling, you probably find it quite trying to have to deal with nurses and emergency room physicians yelling at you for hiding behind a busy signal when someone is BLEEDING or BURSTING FORTH WITH CHILD and a slightly-hysterical pre-teen daughter who can’t abide spending even an hour engaged in non-phone activity.

(Wow, as we’ve already had about 40 run-on sentences so far in this post, I can’t in good conscience recommend you read any further.)

Anyway, to put a stop to all the doctorly/nursely yelling and pre-teenagery hysteria, my parents got me my very own phone line. And by “very own,” I mean that I shared it with my brother. But he is six years my junior, which meant he was THRILLED about having a “kids’ line” but wasn’t really at an age where he talked on the phone.  Six-year-olds aren’t really known for their deep existential discussions, you know?

(Thinking about this makes me realize that our hypothetical offspring will likely never know the joys of a kids’ line. Or a land line at all, for that matter.)

But this is all to say that there was a time when I was SO PUMPED when the phone rang. I’d hear my phone jingle upstairs in my bedroom and I’d leap out of my dinner chair or off the couch like some sort of Olympic athlete, tossing dinner plates and astonished-and-slightly-irritated cats off my lap to charge up the stairs three at a time and breathlessly hit “talk” before the caller hung up.  (My parents were surprisingly tolerant of this behavior, by the way. Although in hindsight, I suppose this had more to do with me being a loser dork loner quiet child than with them actually understanding my desire to talktalktalktalk on and on until all hours of the night.)

I LOVED talking on the phone. And that love endured for YEARS. Until, I think, I got married. I don’t think being married KILLED my love of phone-talk, mind you. It just sort of happened at the same time. To be sure, there are a few people with whom I still engage in looooong, drawn out conversations. But not many.

You know what? You probably could have skipped all that and still made a reasoned, thoughtful decision about this post. I want to give you all the credit you deserve, Internet. And yet, I typed it, so there it shall stay.

So, as I mentioned, just there, about five sentences ago, I still have a few people in my life who are Long Phone Talkers. Do you have any of these people in your life, Internet? You know, the people who – when you are about to call them – you take a pre-emptive bathroom break, just in case? I can think of four of them. And that’s just in my personal life – my professional life is a whole different ball game. If by “ball game” you understand that I mean “three-hour mandatory and inescapable phone calls wherein I rue the day Diet Coke was invented.”

We are now, finally, about to get to The Situation.

When one of these Long Phone Talkers (henceforth LPTs) calls, my husband and I have wildly different approaches to answering the phone.

You see, sometimes it is just not a convenient time to settle in for a 50-minute discussion. Perhaps you are just making dinner or sitting down to dinner or watching a particularly pounding-heart-inducing episode of Rescue Me. Or perhaps you have spent three hours on the phone already that day and are certain that you have a raging case of ear cancer from enduring such close proximity to your cellphone for so long and just can’t fathom spending another SECOND on the PHONE OMG FTLOG.

So what do you do in that case? Well, one of us deals with this situation in the right way. Or, at least, the rightER way. And the other, if not straight-out WRONG, is at least less right.

One of us feels that it’s important to answer the phone and say, politely, “We are just sitting down to dinner, can I call you back when we’re done?”

The other of us feels that a ringing phone is not a burning house and does not need to be addressed immediately, or at all.

One of us feels that the LPT knows that we’re there, and so it’s a deliberate slap in the face to ignore the call.

The other of us feels that, what the hell do you mean “a slap in the face”? Maybe the phone is in the car or maybe one of us is in the bathroom or SOMETHING. The LPTs are not able to see into our lives, hello, no one is a witch with a third eye or something.

One of us worries, sometimes, that maybe a ringing phone is code for EMERGENCY! SOMEONE IS DYING OR ON FIRE AT THIS VERY INSTANT ANSWER THE PHONE NOW!!!!!!

The other of us sighs, loudly, in a world-weary way, and calmly notes that even if there WERE an emergency, there’s nothing we can do at that moment, considering that none of the LPTs lives in our city or even in our state. And also, if it were a TRUE EMERGENCY, wouldn’t the LPT be better off calling the police or a fireman or an attorney or something?

One of us wonders, loudly and a little bit grouchily, how freaking hard is it really to answer the phone and say a quick, “I’ll call you back”?

The other of us starts listing times when an LPT either didn’t hear or misinterpreted the answer or didn’t care that we were sitting down to dinner at that instant and so one of us was stuck on the phone, trying to get a word in edgewise to end the conversation as the food grew colder and colder or Tommy Gavin’s image grew closer and closer to becoming indelibly burned into our television screen.

Or – even worse – the other continues, one of us didn’t stop at “Oh, we’re just sitting down to dinner,” but instead went on to say something like, “So how was your day?” or “what’s up?” or something indicating that dinner’s imminence is not nearly as important as conversing with the LPT right then and there.

One of us just feels bad, leaving that dearly loved LPT, whose only hope was to hear a friendly voice, to hear nothing but the repetitive ringing of the phone, followed by a tinny “Leave your number and I’ll call you back” voicemail message.

The other of us turns around to disguise a “you are clearly a narcissist” eye roll and points out that the LPT doesn’t always answer HER phone, you know.  And when that happens, YOU don’t collapse on the bed in a forlorn heap of tears.

And back and forth we go, every single time an LPT calls during an inopportune time.

Clearly one of us is righter than the other here, Internet. Yes?

What is proper phone-answering etiquette, when you aren’t able to talk but the phone is ringing anyway, and on the other end is a much-beloved person whose only fault is extending a phone call into a Count-of-Monte-Cristo-length epic conversation?

Please tell me, Internet. In exchange, I promise not to call you at dinner time.

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Aroma Sensitivity

[By the way, I have a guest post up The Medical Student’s Wife. In it, I talk about what it’s like to have a doctor at your disposal. Check it out!]

I mentioned before in my post about Magic Sauce that my husband finds it deeply offensive, smell-wise.

That’s not the only food that is pretty much Banned from our food repertoire because of nostril offense.

My husband has also recently banned hamburgers. Because however we cook them – whether on our griddler or in a pan on the stovetop (our complex doesn’t allow outdoor grills) – they end up covering the entire apartment in a film of Burger Scented Grease.

This is quite honestly fine with me, as I rarely leave the apartment. And my nose gets accustomed to the scent after a while until it seems like nothing. But I’m sure to my husband, who not only has to exit the premises but enter a place of work where his patients expect him to exude confidence and diagnostic excellence rather than Eau de Last Night’s Burger, I am sure it is less than ideal.

Listen. This is understandable. We have a teeny apartment. Our kitchen is open to the entire rest of the living space. So I get it – some scents are just not okay.

But I am afraid that my husband will carry over his Aroma Sensitivity into any space we inhabit. I base this on the fact that his father has banned broccoli from his own home. A home which, I might add, is about 20 times bigger than our apartment.

I don’t remember my mom banning any smells from our home when I was growing up. Sure, when I’ve been home since I moved out post-high school, I have noticed that she prefers not to deep fry anything in the kitchen. (We spent some lovely evenings giggling together as we ran out onto the deck to drop crab wontons into the deep fryer in -20 degree weather and ran back in to blow on our hands for the requisite three minutes, only to find that the crab wontons hadn’t quite cooked in the boiling oil because it was too cold for the boiling oil to cook them.) But deep frying is really kind of a once-every-10-years kind of event anyway, so I’m not too worried about that.

I am, however, worried about never eating a home-cooked burger again. Or making my Magic Sauce. Some things are worth the smell.

Do you have any Aroma Sensitivities? Does your significant other?

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One of the interesting things about spending one with my in-laws and the next week with my parents is that I am acutely aware of how different our families are.

I’m not saying different as in bad. Just… different.

For instance, my husband’s mother is one of those people who can carry on hours – days, even – of endless, effortless chitchat. She can just go on and on, she can talk to anyone about anything, she magically fills the silence with cheerful chatter.

I hope this comes across not as criticism, but as praise. Because I admire this trait, mainly because I do not possess it myself. Chitchat is difficult for me – even painful. (I DREAD going to the hairdresser because it takes so much energy to come up with two hours of small talk. Sometimes I even plan out conversation topics in advance it stresses me so.)

Plus, I love being around people who enjoy, well, entertaining me.  (I don’t think that’s the sole purpose of their chatter, although I do think it is partially a “making others comfortable” type of thing.)

But my family is the opposite. We are pensive, brooding, contemplative types who lapse into long silences. Once again, I mean this as the highest praise. For one thing, I think that our silences are companionable rather than uncomfortable. Plus, I admire people who are comfortable NOT talking just as much as I admire those who are comfortable talkers. There’s something nice about being able to be with someone without feeling the pressure to perform in some way, to be able to simply be without interacting.

See? Different.

Of course, this difference in talking patterns is not the only difference between my parents and my in-laws.

Both couples share the same political affiliation. Both couples had two kids – one boy and one girl. Both couples have been married for about 40 years. Both couples were married a whole decade before they had their first child. All four adults have advanced degrees. All value education. I could go on and on with their similarities, I really could…

But what always strikes me are the differences.

And it’s really shocking when you line them up against one another. How they interact with each other. The family dynamics. The way they handle dining. The foods they like. Their routines. Their preferences. Their so on and so forth.

I mean, it shouldn’t really be THAT surprising, right? That two completely separate families would be so sharply opposite in so many ways? It must be this way for families-related-by-marriage the world over, right?

And yet I marvel at it every time I’m confronted by the differences.

Sometimes it seems a wonder that my husband and I – who were clearly raised on different PLANETS in some respects – can make our own marriage work.

I mean, I was raised in a toaster family. He was raised in a toaster oven family.

My family skis. My in-laws golf.

My in-laws have a cocktail hour. My parents stick (primarily) to wine.

And that is just the beginning.

Are there any glaring differences between your family and your in-laws? Or your parents’ parents? Anything that just makes you go, wow, they couldn’t be more different!

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The biggest thing that happened over my birthday weekend (seriously, will I stop talking about my birthday EVER?) was not the amazing dinner or the cheesecake or the uninterrupted time with my husband or the crappy hotel or the even crappier hotel or the better hotel or the awesome massage or the delicious Thai food or the second volume of the Hunger Games trilogy or the box of chocolates (now gone).

Oh no.

It was the conversation my husband and I had on the way to Interview Location.

[WARNING: if you are a parent or don’t care about babies, then I suggest you look away or your eyes might roll straight out of your head.]

Anyway, as we were driving along, we had this conversation:

Me: “So, do you think it would be better to have a baby the last year of residency or the first year of fellowship?”

Husband: “The last year of residency, no question.”

Me: “… Well. That doesn’t leave us much TIME then. Should we, you know, get started?”

Now to everyone who ever decided to have a baby, this conversation is probably so mundane as to be downright soporific.

But to me… It was utter crazy town.

I mean, I never wanted a baby. Never.

And I always looked at those people who knew they wanted babies… Who went into marriage fully intending to “start a family” right away… Who consider “having a baby” to be an unquestionable part of the Grand Life Plan… as, well, some species of an adorable alien.

Because I do not possess that part of my brain. Like, at all. It is totally and incomprehensibly unfamiliar to me.

And merely saying the words to my husband – the man who knows all my secrets, all my innermost thoughts – felt so foreign and terrifying and strange that I felt both giddy and horrified. (Much like being delightfully drunk on Champagne and then barfing all over the shoes of your boss.) (I WOULD IMAGINE.)

It was the same experience I had when he proposed to me, really – the feeling that I was some actress participating in a play, reading my lines and hearing them bounce off the walls of the theatre and the faces of the audience. Knowing what I was supposed to say, but not quite believing it, somehow.

It was strange and unreal and oddly formal.

Now, before we all get ahead of ourselves here, let me tell you this: We decided – after a couple of mini panic attacks slash hysterical giggling spells from both of us – that the SECOND year of fellowship would really be even better than third year of residency. (Which, if you are not paying attention, is NEXT YEAR.) (Hence me feeling immediately all panicky and thinking, “ACK! If we want to have a baby during third year we are SCREWED.”)

And really, this is not all that different from the Original Vague Plan, which was roughly to have a baby (dear god please don’t make me say “start trying”) the last year of his fellowship. Which, if all goes as planned, would be 2015.

So really, we have moved up the Super Vague Theoretical Timeline of Baby Production by just a single year.

Not such a big deal, snore snore snore.

The thing is, over the past yearish I have gone through a complete 180 when it comes to All Things Baby. From no baby ever to maybe possibly someday to yes, this is something we should do. (A position I do not maintain 100% of the time, of course. Sometimes I think, “Babies? Me? HA!” and I scoff at the idea. Because if we had a baby, when would I sleep? Or work? Or spend time with my husband? Or watch episode upon episode of CSI?)

But I have realized several things recently.

a)      I am not getting any younger. Yes, plenty of people have kids in their mid and late 30s. But there are risks involved.

b)      My parents and my in-laws would make fantastic grandparents. And I want my kid to know his/her grandparents as well as (or hopefully better than) I knew my grandparents.

c)      The more I get to know my husband, the more I realize he would be a wonderful father. How can I – for what I freely admit are selfish reasons – prevent someone from having such an amazing dad?

Everyone tells you that there is no perfect time. I feel like the next couple of years will DEFINITELY not be perfect. I mean, my husband will finish residency and (hopefully) go on to a fellowship program, which may mean moving away… And fellowship is three or possibly four years… And then he will have to find a Real Job at a hospital or medical group somewhere… And by the time he has steady work at an office, we are 35 and everywhere we look are risks! risks! risks! (And yes, I know that doesn’t mean the end of the world blah blah blah not interested. STILL RISKY.)

So it seems like, if I’ve resigned myself to doing this, we might as well get on it rather than delay.

I did ask my husband, “Is it okay to have a kid if you aren’t 100% sure you WANT a kid?”

And he said, “Well, ideally I think they’d happen at the same time.”

But I am just not sure my body can wait for my brain to catch up, you know? There seems to be a strong biological pull in one direction, while my brain full of Logic and Reason and Desire to Veg Out in Front of American Idol Episodes is standing firm in its own corner.

Listen, this is all really embarrassing to be writing about. And I would be avoiding it and directing your attention elsewhere if I could think of ANYTHING ELSE to discuss, which I cannot. (Yes, there are other topics, but this is what comes out when I touch my fingers to the keyboard.) (Seriously – ask my husband. This is ALL I THINK ABOUT lately.) (ARRRRRRRGH!!!)

(And it doesn’t help that half the Internet and approximately 82% of the people I know are pregnant.) (I mean, Congratulations!) (No really, my total confusion and panic has nothing to do with how truly happy I am for you.)

So let’s turn the spotlight on you.

I want to know things about you, Internet.

If you are a parent…

–          How and when did you know that you wanted/needed – or did not want/need – to have kids?

–          Was your spouse (if you have a spouse) on board?

–          Is it true that there’s REALLY “never a perfect time” to have a kid?

–          Does it really live up to the hype? I mean REALLY? Sometimes I worry that it’s all a big conspiracy… And you put so much time and money and energy into a kid that you feel obligated to say it’s so worth it when maybe it really wasn’t. You can tell me the truth. I won’t say a word.

–          Is there anything you think I am in Dire Need of Knowing before we venture down this path?

–          If planning for a child in roughly 2013, bearing in mind that we all know PLANS ARE NOT CERTAINTY, what would you suggest, if anything? Or is this too personal? GAH.

If you are not a parent…

–          How and when did you know that you wanted/needed – or did not want/need – to have kids?

–          Is your spouse (if you have a spouse) on board?

–          If you are planning on kids, when are you planning to do it?

–          Did/do you ever feel like some people just KNOW they want kids… and you are somehow… lacking that part of you?

–          If you are not planning on kids, what clinched that decision for you?

–          Is there anything that you think I am in Dire Need of Knowing before we venture down this path?

Oh really those are mostly the same questions.

Internet, I just really need you to talk to me. Tell me anything, really. PLEASE. Because I feel like I’ve just set foot in the Chinese embassy and I don’t speak a word of the language and I’m about to head up to the stage to give a big speech to the whole assembly.

What would you tell You, if You were in my current state of frenzied bewilderment?

(And why oh why does this seem like the Craziest Thing to Happen Ever when really it happens to millions of women every day without thought, without question, with simple thanks and acceptance and gratitude?)

And this post is disjointed and crazed and idiotic and you deserve better. I deeply apologize.

I will try to get it together by tomorrow, I swear.

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