wherefore art thou… Romeo?

A plan is just a list of things that might happen.

So where does the story go from here?

First off, my manifesto is not preventing me from continuing to date  boys.  While I do sort of feel like Rocky at the top of the stairs,  I’m settling into the actual hard work that it is going to take to make my plan happen.  And although I’m focused on finishing my degree, you can’t work every single day for 12 hours (and remain sane), as much as my advisors wish that were true.

I’m not all that interested in finding the “one” – but company would be nice.  It doesn’t need to be perfect.  I have my plan, am confident that I can execute my plan, and so there is really no pressure to herd cats (ahem… I mean ask men to commit to anything at all).

Alas! The irony! The man that just came into my life cannot have a superhero name.  His real name is Romeo, and I just can’t make up anything better than that.   I’m breaking my rules here, but oh well.   And I met him on OKCupid of all places!  

He is sweet, has a nerdy 8-year-old boy, is himself nerdy, and he likes to be outside.  And he is exactly my age.  I need to repeat that – no Over and Under.  Exactly my age.  He even lives on island.  As my best friend points out, he can even use chopsticks, which is the low bar we set for my dates for a while (unfortunately, some didn’t pass this test  🙂  ).

The complication:  ever since I’ve set my mind to my Manifesto, Mr. Faraway has been less faraway.  He does not know about the Manifesto.  I’m sure he simply senses happiness.  It remains confusing, but my heart is super tired of the emotional beating.  And when I offer him a ticket to visit me in NJ?  Nope.  Even though we communicate every day, blah – long distance is so complicated.

Having made some decisions on how to get the control back in *my* life, these dating games seem less important all of a sudden.

Posted in Dating, Life path, Long distance | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

plan B: a personal manifesto

the conversation with an older male close friend:

Me: “I’m not giving up, I’m just accepting that plan A doesn’t seem to be working for me, for whatever reason.  It’s time for something new.  Here’s the plan B:  I finish my dissertation, make a little money in the real world, move to India for a year, and adopt.   I commit myself to my 3+ nephews in NJ and be a good auntie.  I live the bold and beautiful life I set out to live in my twenties – and try to take my nurturing mothering side to all beings.  I use the clergy as my role models, and find love everywhere.   I devote myself to god.

My plan A was such a little part of me – find a man, have a baby, fill the uterus and satiate the hormonal urges.  But this plan B is big and exciting and scary and will require much more forgiveness of myself and others.”

>>>>>

I’ve been hiding my plan B from this blog for a week and half now.  Ever since I formulated plan B (including pushing up my exam dates for the PhD, and booking a new ticket to see my nephews; seriously engaging in building my business up, etc.), I’ve been nervous to type it out, tell the world, commit to a real alternative to the child-of-my-own existence.   But after a year of blogging, I am finding and planning my plan B.  I am ready to be happy and content no matter what.

>>>>>>>

The Response

Him:  “My college sweetheart wife and I got pregnant at 40 unexpectedly.  There is something special about having your own.”

>>>>>>>

Well, thanks, but no thanks, my friend, for your backhanded support of my new Plan B.  Like I don’t grieve my “own” child?  But why have my own on my own when there is a whole world full of lonely people out there to care for?

I expect his is the response many people will offer – the you-have-time, look-i-did-it, you-are-missing-out-on-life response.  And good luck to them.

For me, it is time to move on, and go down the road less traveled.

alexandergrahambell389638

Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open. -Alexander Graham Bell

Posted in Childless or childfree, Identity, Life path, Philosophy | Tagged | 1 Comment

Scientific dating

Two recent suitors have prompted me to examine some of the complexities of dating within science.

Let me first put out this little fact:  Of all of the female professors I know right now, each one of them has a mate who is also a professor.  They are hired in tandem, usually in different departments, although not always.  There are two who have husbands who are high school science teachers.  My fellow PhD officemate is married to an archeaologist.   The list goes on.  It is one big inbred family.

It would seem that although women have climbed the academic ladder a little bit, they are playing something of a 3-legged race to the top.

So, as a woman dating in her early 30s it would seem that the best path forward is to find a man in academia as well.  I did – Mr. Faraway is an academic, in a very similar discipline.  Kirios is a PhD student in a similar discipline.  And the cute Brazilian who tried to pick me up last week (codename Kalo) on the academic path.

It is obvious why I’m attracted to men in my field.  I have almost always dated guys who do something similar to what I do.  It is sexy to be passionate about the same thing.  Doing a phd requires almost exclusive passion for your topic.

Next: these guys seem to be attracted to me as well.  Many guys in my field get kind of gooey when we are talking science.  It is a turn on for them, too.

In the end, though, Kirious and Mr. Faraway and now Kalo all have the same thing in common – while they like my brains and ideas in the beginning, after a little bit it is really hard to tell whether a guy likes you for your original ideas or for you.  I mean, the me that isn’t modeling some crazy physical process.  Mr. Faraway has gone so far, in his lowest moments, of saying “I just wish you were an English major.”  My smarts are intimidating, but also a turn-on.  So what to do?  If I play stupid, I lose.  If I reveal my intellect, I lose.  It is a catch-22.

I’m sort of flattered that I’m “worthy” of their intellectual curiosity, but it is a cruel trick that my intellect just can’t keep a man, it seems.

Kalo invited me to his birthday party, which was fun and spiritual and lovely.  We *almost* were making out by the end.  But the next day I got a text asking about a reference we had spoken about, and that was that.   Oh, and he wanted to introduce me to his advisor.  What??! Seriously?

There are new ships on the horizon – a new bus seems to arrive every couple days like clockwork –  but how to negotiate the intellect problem?  Where is this nice secure man for me?  Is it just a game of chance or can I have a say in the outcome?

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honorable

These were the initial questions I set out to answer with this blog.  I didn’t expect the answers to pop out like the answers on a Magic 8 ball, but there has been some popping recently.

Q:  Can you live an honorable life without children?

A:  Yes, one can live an honorable life, but a person won’t be happy unless they let go of the notion that they are a failure.  Their project may have failed, but a person is not and cannot be a failure.  People are love.  Unfortunately, separating from that identity is not so easy.

Every time your project fails rejoice, ‘today this project of mine has failed!’ And then surrender it. If you are unable to let go of your failure, then how will you ever let go of success?  When you fail at anything, why do you hold on to it? Let go of it and be free!  Then you can say, ‘I am free!’

If you are successful, then you will get more and more projects one after another to handle. But if you are a failure then you are carefree!  Just make sure your heart doesn’t fail worrying about failure. –Sri Sri

More to come.

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on offering joy while you can

The best thing about life sometimes is simply the possibility that things may change.  Life may not be all that good today, or yesterday, but there is a tomorrow, and it there is a small chance it will be good.  It’s when you no longer feel like there is possibility that you end up in the rabbit’s hole of depression.

—-> An Easter story:  On Easter, I cobbled together my hanai’d family members for a Sunday brunch.  The Beekeeper and my older female friend from ‘Bawston’ were the intended targets of a cranberry apple pie and a kale quiche.  But Ms. Bawston’s mother was dying of cancer, and had moved in with her daughter to spend her last days.  My friend’s house was temporarily filled with oxygen equipment, cottage cheese in the fridge and a round-the-clock care schedule.

I spent my morning mourning my lack of family, but I was determined to enjoy my easter, even if I had to force feed my pie.  Catholic Easter mass made me cry, since it seems only couples with small children honor the mass any more.  The nave of this church was shaped like a ship, and flowing yellow cloth led to the top of the church.  All I wanted was to float up with it into the unknown, and put this, my personal suffering, behind me. I am here. I am present. My sadness has a purpose.

Ms. Bawston’s house is in the back back of the valley, surrounded by lush mountains, with views to the ocean.  It is constantly rainy.    We made our pie, with frequent interruptions.  I used cranberries saved from Thanksgiving, since they aren’t available in the islands year round.  To my surprise, Ms. Bawston brought out her mother’s fine china, and we shared wine and conversation over our simple lunch in the view of the mountains.  Ms. Bawston’s mother (both she and her daughter were single mothers and only-children, but that is another story) was able to come out onto the lanai (porch), too – and although she said she wouldn’t eat, she ate my pie and quiche healthily.

That was the last meal she had.  Two days later she passed away – so very quickly – from her cancer.  I only got to meet her for that one day, that one dinner. <——

My teacher likes to tell us we are “hollow and empty”, made of nothing more than a little water with some salts and lipids.  A little calcium or flouride-based apatite in our bones.  But because of that functioning vessel we call our bodies, there remains possibility to help others, connect with others, and to be a part of the physical world.

At yoga the next day, after my friend’s mother passed, I felt an overwhelming gratitude for my body.  I am not without bitterness  that I might not have a daughter to take care of me in my final days.  But for my friend’s mother, in the end, it was a makeshift family that helped celebrate her last meal.

I’ll leave you with the wise words of Roger Ebert, who also passed this week, and did not have children of his own:

“After a lifetime of writing, teaching, broadcasting and telling too many jokes, I will leave behind more memes than many. They will all also eventually die, but so it goes.

We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”

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The guest house

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.     ~ Rumi ~

Today, I will make space.  I will make room in my heart to allow new things in, and let old things that were not working so well leave.  Today, I will be compassionate for myself; even if I still want to try to reach out to others, I still need to be good to me first.  Today, I am grateful for my friends.  Today, I am angry at my god, but not consumed by all that anger, but angry nonetheless.

Today, I had a vision in my meditation of a possible life forward.  Today, as I continue to let go of this dream of having my own, I am letting a new little dream take hold which isn’t as dependent on the state of my uterus.  Today, I find a new reason to work hard at this degree (which is neverending sometimes), so that I can get back out into the work world, stand on my own two feet, and ground myself.

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Letting it all out

Unrequited grief is as crippling as unrequited love, and it can last a lifetime, because grief is patient.  –“You’re not crazy, you’re grieving”, gateway-women.com

I’ve been thinking a lot on grieving.  It all started with a quote I read on some blog a couple days back that said something like this:  “Your parents are your past.  Your siblings are your present.  Your children are your future.”   Sometimes, especially when the moon is full, little things like this can set me off.  I am somewhat estranged from my parents, and these days really don’t feel like biological children of my own are in the cards.  I crave a way to find peace over my current situation.

In “The Heart of Life is Good”, Vanessa writes beautifully to support the idea that pain, even extreme pain, is what makes life rich.  Pain is useful in that it leads to compassion.  The key is to not try to hold back, to let it wash over you like a wave.

One time, when I first got to the islands, I tried to learn to surf. Surfing has a steep learning curve, and usually you get pretty beat up on the reef when you are just starting.  On my fourth or fifth time out, I was trying to catch waves on a beautiful evening in Waikiki.  Waikiki is overrun by pale-skinned people who don’t know how to surf.  It is a comedy of errors with overturned boards.  After making some good progress, I ended up on a wave, but chickened out towards the end.

Well by chickening out, I ended up disconnected from my board, with a large burly German man with his legs straddling my shoulders, pushing me under the water!  I have no idea how it ended up like that.  He apologized in heavily accented English while he tried to get off me, we laughed a bunch.  I never tried to surf again.  I was too scared of what could happen if you back out at the last second.

“What you resist, persists.” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

I think I have good reason to resist grieving over my “lost” fertility.  The first is that my friends and society like to tell me that I am overreacting – it is no big deal.  ‘Women have babies until they are 42!’, they say.  ‘You have time.’ ‘Children aren’t the only important thing in life’ (said both by parents and the childfree by choicers). ‘There is always the next life.’  ‘The reason you aren’t finding someone is because you are acting desperate.’

How can you not act a little desperate in dating when your doctor has given you a stern talk about how you will start having problems by 35 (and you are currently 33)?

So, folks, positive thinking is helpful sometimes – and being miserable around your friends is a recipe for losing your friends.  But, if you do want a family of your own, then it is a loss to be childless by circumstance, to not have a life partner to come home to.  My situation may change in 5 years time and I might have a miracle baby, but that doesn’t change the fact that right now I feel like I have lost something very important.  Being told over and over that I shouldn’t feel sad, that “good things will come”, just makes me feel worse about being sad.

So, this week I gave myself the green light to grieve my future, even if others don’t understand.  I looked deep into my heart and produced racking sobs that I had only made once before in my memory.  It takes courage to let it hurt so much.  I will do this as long as it takes, and not hold back.  Hot yoga helps a lot to release, and all the sweat from the class hides the tears and my red face.

So what if it seems silly to grieve so soon?  Why wait a decade to grieve, when I feel right now that things are breaking?  I don’t want to hold back from riding the wave on this one.

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Only have one

Is it too much to ask from you to only stop and think? We only have one life -JJ Heller

Music for today.

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On who is cooking dinner

“After Dad died, we worried that Mom would just survive on jello and cottage cheese, since he had done all the cooking.”  -Jane Ginsburg

In the New Yorker article, Ruth Ginsburg, 80, Supreme Court Justice of the US, says, “It bothers me when people say to make it to the top of the tree you have to give up a family.  They say, ‘Look at Kagan and Sotomayor’.”

Yet, she herself married right out of college to her college sweetheart in 1954.  Her husband cooked for them the entire time, and while she took care of the children when they were very young.  He provided for her in that first few years by working at his law practice.  It certainly looks like she “had it all.”

Why do the most successful women today end up not married and without children?  I’d say it’s because they are not getting married in college, when they are less intimidating to prospective suitors and yet can also find an intellectual match.  For an intelligent woman these days in the US, to marry at 21 is considered way too soon.  None of my female friends at Ivy-level school graduated into marriage.  Yet, if you don’t get married at that age, it gets harder and harder as you enter the workforce or build up intimidating postgraduate degrees.

I admire everything Ginsburg has done for women’s equality in the US, but I do think there is a disconnect between her generation and my own about what being a “career woman” looks like.    Or maybe it’s that Ginsburg has never contemplated what it might look like to be a female 30-yr-old lawyer trying to find a match through internet dating.

Posted in Career, Childless or childfree, Feminism | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

what if your life didn’t go according to the “plan”?

The “plan” is that you go to college, find a job, find a boyfriend, get married, and have kids.  That is the plan.  My life is not going according to plan, and I remind myself 20 times a day that it is going to be ok.

On this rainy morning in Hawaii, with my dog and my coffee and jazz and the New Yorker and yoga and meditation and friends and dinner plans, maybe I only need the above  mantra 4 times, not 20.

However, I unfortunately sort of feel like I’m practicing relationships for the first time.  Better sooner rather than never, but maybe 32 is not the right age to be figuring out what I like, how to know if a guy likes me, and what to say to keep a relationship steady.  I have figured out all of these things for friends, but when dating a guy?  A total mystery.

This blog post agrees:

As with coding and management and matters of finance and marketing, relationships have a learning curve. You learn the basics of “relationshiptiva” (note to copyed: yes, I made up that word): How to deal with sexual etiquette, mundane everyday things, scheduling, and appropriate meetings with close friends, and some equitable plan for who’s supposed to pay for dinner or wash the dishes this time. These are basics. And if you’re learning them in your thirties, it’s going to be much harder.

In response, Sasha Cohen and her trusty group of commenters argue that love is something you can find at any age, and that the skills of relationships are not the same skills as those of the workplace.  She tweets: “people continue learning how to love and be with others their whole lives so i don’t like a fear-based attitude of ‘too late.’”

After spending something like a decade in a state of singleness, I am now ready to try out being that girl that always has a boyfriend.  I need practice and affirmation that I can do this.  Even on an anonymous blog like this, I am delicate with how much I reveal about the promiscuity of my 20s.  The thing is, at the time, I really did think that drunken hook-ups were the way to find a boyfriend.  I was always disappointed when it didn’t turn into more.  I am prone to agree with the first blog above – that figuring this stuff out in your 30s is late.  I can recover, just maybe not in time to have kids.

It’s been about two months with Kirios, and things are not going well.  He is obviously the *exact* opposite of Mr. Faraway.  He is safe, and I enjoy spending time with him, but there are underlying moral differences about money and spirituality that don’t work.  For my personality, the people I’ve always been attracted to are very calm and can neutralize my high frequency energy.  He is a lot more anxiety-prone and workaholic-y than me, which I didn’t think possible.

None of the relationship has been (or is) a loss, just a good solid learning lesson.  This is the “plan” for me.

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