Extravagance is Relative

Right now in my life, I consider a lot of things to be extravagant.

Some that immediately come to mind:

- Owning or even driving a car (Who do you think you are, people with cars?! Too good to bike in the rain like everyone else in the world (Denmark)??)

- Having more than one bath towel per person.

- Having more than two fitted sheets per bed.  Or having any regular non-fitted sheets.  Because why?

- Having matching plates for more than six settings.

- High-heeled shoes.  For the past three years these have made absolutely, literally no sense at all.

- Dryer sheets.  But only because I can’t have them and I’m jealous.

- Central heating

- Nail polish

- I could go on.

BUT, I have to say…a really, really good facial is totally a legit expense.  (Once every six years)

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On Working

Usually when I have something I want to say here (in this voidy, relatively audience-less space wherein I occasionally put more moody thoughts), I have spent at least a few days with it in my head, developing some kind of structure or flow.

Not today! Not. Today.

Lucky you.

I just felt a sudden overwhelming need to write something though. Right now, as I sit on the train in the tunnel between Fyn and Sjaelland. Because today is officially my last day of work in Copenhagen and I have a lot of feelings about it.

Like, the kind of feelings where you get in bed the night before and your husband says, “Are you okay?” and then you just start crying. Those kind, you know?

Yeah, so I don’t know how to explain this in a way that will cover everything. There’s a lot of stuff going on here. A lot of years of thinking and feeling things and it all coming together to this one, single day that I’ve now reified as the day that has finally come and I’m not ready and nothing will ever be the same again and I don’t like that idea at all.

And, though it may be easy to assume that these feelings are directly related to something along the lines of being super preganant and nearly unpregnant, or insecurities about impeding parenthood, or whathaveyou…really, all of that is just background noise (shockingly, I know) to the more looming thoughts I have right now about working and suddenly not working and being thrown once again into the possibility (however remote, as kind people try to tell me) that I may never be able to find a “real job” (full time, benefited, could support a family kind of job) again.

Because guess what? It’s actually really hard for me to type this because I’m really afraid of being judged negatively because of this…but…

I really, really, reaaaaaaally love working.

I love working.

I love working!!

(::deep breath::)

There. Now you know.

I love it. I love it so freaking much. Even in non-ideal, non-dream kind of jobs, I still love it. Even with four hour commutes for non-ideal, non-dream kind of jobs (like the one I have now…for one more day…), I still…I still love it.

And I’m terrified. I am literally terrified to go back into the dark world I left from before I got this job. And I know, logically, that things don’t have to be like they were before in that era I refer to as “The Stupid Time.” In fact, they probably won’t be like that at all because now there will be a child around. But, I’m still so, so scared of falling back into that hole of feeling like I’m going nowhere, doing nothing, with no hope of climbing back out because I’m trapped.

I’m scared to death of feeling trapped, optionless – in whatever way that manifests itself.

So.

Today is my last day of work in Copenhagen. And, as soon as I get to the office, everyone will warmly treat my last day with celebration and possibly pastries (as a sane Danish person would, since maternity leave is a time to be joyful and excited, not terrified). And I’m going to do my best to keep it together and smile and be happy too. I just wish that I really was like a normal Danish person today: someone going on leave knowing that there was always their desk and work and community to come back to. But, unfortunately for me, there isn’t something for me to come back to this time…and I can’t help but feel a little bit like today is going to be more about “Goodbye, forever” than “Hurrah! A baby! Hurrah for you, our forever co-worker who we can’t wait to see again!”

And that’s sad. That’s super sad.

But, I have my goodbye cards written and my (really hard to find) cans of root beer goodbye presents in my backpack. And I’ll wait till everyone goes home at 3:45 to pick up their kids. Then I’ll put my gifts on their desks, neatly center my access badge and key in front of my dark screen, take a good look around that big open-plan office, realize that I will very soon be forgotten as just another one-year hire (“What was her name again?”), and head out into the Copenhagen rain to get some comfort Thai for my last ride home through the orange and yellow forests back to my little apartment and my little (admittedly beautiful, but very hard to find employment in) life.

It’ll be okay.

It’s going to be okay.

Right?

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Genetic Win

Apparently, my body is surprisingly awesome at getting and being pregnant.

I find this surprising?  I don’t know why.  Maybe because all I ever seem to hear from others is how horrible, annoying, discouraging, or downright debilitating their pregnancies were.

But here I am at 8 months and everyone always asking, furrowed brow and sympathy faces, “How are you dooooooing?” And I have to say, “Good!*  Then they say, “Really, though?  I mean, really?”  And I say, “Well, yeah!  I feel like I always have felt.  When I pass my reflection I think whoa, belly! But other than that…feeling really normal.  Just, really, really boringly my usual normal self.”

I’m starting to wonder though if now all the pregnant women of present and past will appeal to the pregnancy gods and have some kind of karmic consequence in store for me at some point down the road.  Keep balance in the force or whatever.

If so, I’m in really, really big trouble.

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Drama

I can spend hours – literal hours – staring into space, imagining myself in quite a variety of very dramatic scenes.  

Scenes where I’m usually taking the high ground and where I practically stand on tables giving long and very inspiring speeches. (Yes, they are very inspiring.  Sometimes my imaginary self even makes my real self cry.)

Usually, I do this as part of my related but slightly different problem called the “what if” obsession, where I can easily imagine aaaaaall the possible ways things could turn out and usually most of them are not easy.  But I do the right thing and convince everyone else to do the right thing too and by the end everything is perfect and I’m awesome and nothing bad or sad or disappointing ever happens because I can fix it with my stirring paeans to morality.

I think I just realized that this is how I cope with scary things.

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Saturdays

When I was in fifth grade, I was very good at routines.  I took particular pleasure waking up at 6:30 am on Saturday mornings to clean my room.  Not tidy my room–clean my room.  This involved q-tips in the window tracks, re-organizing my closet so my clothes would be in rainbow order, sorting and doing my laundry (from start to finish), ironing, vacuuming, window washing (inside and out), the works.

Sure, there was probably a bit of the OCD about that.  But, maybe not.  I never felt compelled to do it against my will.  I really wanted to do it, it was fun and I liked being able to see what I’d accomplished and have a clean slate for the upcoming week.

I was a person who did things.

Twenty years later I am absolutely not that person anymore.  And I’m really frustrated and sad about it.  I don’t feel like a person who does things anymore.  I feel more like just…a person…who…just keeps living in life.  Instead of thinking, “What am I going to DO today”? I end up thinking, “What am I going to not do today…again?”

And it’s not because I don’t want to do things, it’s that suddenly I feel so helpless to even try.  Even the smallest things sound impossible or herculean.  Go get groceries?  How?  Get a glass of water?  Howwww?  Just stand up and walk five steps?  Howwwwwwww?

I’m not entirely sure what in the world is going on.  Why is everything so hard?  How is it possible that something can seem impossible to me, but sound so silly and, frankly, lazy/stupid/malingering/whiny when I try to explain myself to others.

“How’s that paper coming?” they can ask and all I can do is look back at them, terrified.  Because what am I supposed to say?  They know that technically I have about 20,000 more hours of “free time” in my day than they do.  And if I told them the truth, how disappointing and how completely unreliable and selfish and mental would I seem?

“How’s that paper coming?”

Truth:  “Well, it’s not.  Because, you see, I can’t even will myself to double click on the file.  It takes me an hour to read one paragraph and the whole time it feels like I’m dragging 200 pounds up Everest.  I scroll through those 30 pages and just keep scrolling up and down and up and down and up and down because I know that if I stop scrolling that means that I have to figure out how to do something with the words.  I add one comma or change one word and then I save it and close my laptop, exhausted.  It’s too much.  I can’t.”

Actual: “It’s alright.  I’ll have it to you soon.”

Atticus is in Australia this week.  He is the only reason I can find to try and punch through this horrible metal box every day.  Sometimes, when I know Atticus will be home in a few hours, I can actually do things like make food or go outside.  Two times I even went jogging.  Sometimes I even get dressed in the morning.

But now that Atticus isn’t here, I find myself hiding away.  Random items of clothing on the floor/couch/table/chairs, eating crackers and soup, optional showers.  And I realize that no one knows I’m here, really.  I lock the door and stay in the quiet, convincing myself I don’t need to answer any of those old e-mails or phone calls because if I don’t, no one will remember I was supposed to in the first place.  Just disappearing. Quietly. Without a fuss.  Don’t want to bother people with this weirdness.  Don’t want to have to answer any questions.

Thinking that maybe if I wait quietly, long enough, then everything I was supposed to do, everything piling up, will just reset one day.  And I’ll giddily wake up one Saturday at 6:30 am and clean the already immaculate window tracks with a q-tip, like nothing ever happened.

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20-pack

Today I bought a 20-pack of ovulation predictor sticks on amazon.com.

Stuff’s gettin’ real up in here.

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Anxiety Dreams

I have two kinds of anxiety dreams.

First, and by far the most common, are dreams where I have to do something slightly complex but not too difficult (bring someone their wedding dress, find a different gate to catch a flight).  However, as I begin to check things off my list, small things begin to go wrong (construction detour, car won’t start, mishearing directions) and then smaller things go wrong on top of the small things (shoelaces untied, credit card won’t work, can’t hold stuff and open car trunk at the same time so I keep dropping things) and they pile and pile up until I feel absolutely helpless and everything is ruined.

or

Second, I start by feeling very happy and deciding for one reason or another to go visit some friends.  But, every single friend is cold and distant or just downright mean – for reasons that I really can’t understand and when I ask they won’t explain,  This happens all the way down a long, long street in every house where I know just the day before my best friends lived.  As I keep walking, the friends get more and more silent-mean till, by the end, I stop even trying to knock on their doors and I’m just walking and walking down the middle of the street, alone and confused, and thinking that I’ll never go find a friend again–not because I’m mad that they were mean, but because I’m afraid that I’m hurting people and don’t even know how I’m doing it.  And I’m stressed out the whole time because I’m terrified someone is going to open the doors to one of the houses I’m walking by and just call me horrible names or blame things on me that I don’t even understand.

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