One Post, Three Cliche Topics

The hardest part of anything is starting. The hardest part of yoga is making the trip to the studio. The hardest part of sleeping is going to bed. The hardest part of writing is sitting down in front of a computer and confronting the blank page.

It's much easier to fall out of habits than get back into them. Even the habits that are good for us. Maybe especially the habits that are good for us.

In case you don't know, I've been dating somebody since April. I try to not be too gross about it all over the social media but it's pretty serious and I'm pretty in love and I pretty have alllll the brain chemicals going on that make you need to spend every single second with somebody. Writing is solitary. New relationships are not.

My boyfriend has been out-of-town for two weeks now. Lara was here for the first week he was gone but I've had all this week to sit down and write. To write here, to go back to working on the writing I started offline while I was working on my short cookbook, to write to my boyfriend (who has written me every single day he's been gone), to maybe work on something for an essay contest and instead I've pretty much done anything but. I've drunk with coworkers, I've marathoned tv shows, I read a solid 15% of Infinite Jest yesterday which is A LOT of reading and thought about how I should write. Thought about what I should write. Thought about how nobody needs read yet another person writing about writing. Or falling in love. Or being a twenty something struggling to make it in New York. But I'm already writing about writing, so I might as well give you the rest.

***

If you're like me, then by the time you tell somebody you love them, you've probably already said it a hundred times in your head. Changed a hundred sentences to things that sound more reasonable but really mean "I love you so much my heart might burst if I go any longer without saying it but I'm a coward and I'd rather it burst than break".

But eventually "As you wishes'" have to turn into "I love you's" or your heart doesn't so much burst as wither and that place on your chest that feels like it's been rubbed raw with sand paper only chafes in a bad way instead of the way that makes you grin like a mad man. It's a reminder that you are without armor. It's a reminder that you are cracked open and terrified for all the right reasons.

There is nothing new to be said about falling in love under the sun. There is nothing reasonable to be said about love though the smart stupid logical part of me has lots of thoughts about hormones and neurotransmitters and how long things last. Look, these neurotransmitters don't just fire for anyone, baby. Men that won't get references to The Next Generation, Season 7 Episode 19, need not apply.

I wrote this a month ago, which was a month after I started thinking about writing it. I am head over heels in love, and I'm more comfortable telling you, internet, about when things go wrong, then things going right. Maybe I don't want to jinx it, maybe I think nobody wants to hear the disgustingly cute stuff I think all the time right now or maybe I'm still a little more comfortable managing chaos, than managing happiness.

***

I've lived in Bed Stuy for almost a year now. When we moved in here it was because it is a huge amount of space for about $600 less than what we had set as the maximum price we were willing to pay for rent. At the time, I gave pretty minimal thought to living in the hood because it was just an awesome deal. When we moved in here, rent+utilities+student loans+metrocard equaled about 1/3 of my income. Considering most New Yorkers pay over 1/3 of their income just for rent, that felt pretty comfortable. Fast forward one year later and with my reduced income rent+utilities+student loans+metrocard equals just over half my income. Even right now when I'm working a busy schedule and have had at least ten hours of event pay a week. At this point, I basically live in the hood out of necessity, which definitely doesn't feel comfortable. I'd like to say I've stopped going out with my friends as much because I spend a ridiculous amount of time with my boyfriend, but it's mostly that I'm incredibly embarrassed by how little I can afford and anxious all. the. damn. time.

You want to know the worst part of this, though? I make an above average hourly wage for a pastry cook in this city. I found this article hilarious because I just wanted to scream "Maybe if you want more cooks to stay in New York you should pay them a fucking living wage". I make the same amount of money right now I made 5 years ago in Berkeley. Be better, New York City.

I am having some serious thoughts about whether or not it's worth it to be a chef here. About how being a chef here compromises my values on quality of ingredients, where they come from, how they're grown, how it all affects the economic injustices of our food system. About the ways in which it compromises my values on how workers should be treated. Catering, in particular, creates more waste (both plastic and food) than I ever could've imagined and that breaks every piece of my liberal Bay Area heart.

My cooking class will start-up again with the school year, and I am happy for that. I have fantastic coworkers and open and honest communication with my boss and I am happy for that.

I want to teach more and I want to write more. I guess it's time I commit more time to doing that.

America, Fuck Yeah! Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love a Major Party Candidate

Kerry/Bush was the first presidential election during which I was old enough to vote. The California gubernatorial recall had happened a few months before my 18th birthday in late 2007 and not being able to participate in the election that resulted in the governator (no, I would not have voted for him) was a sad moment for me, but knowing that I would turn 18 in a presidential election year made up for it. I registered green and knowing my home state's massive number of electoral votes were all going democrat, and honestly believing the democratic party to be too conservative to reflect my values, I happily (absentee) voted for Ralph Nader. It's a lovely luxury to have only lived in states where I know I can honestly vote for whomever I want instead of having to vote strategically.

I spent my fall semester in India that year. I read the transcript of the first presidential debate in a small internet cafe in McLeod Ganj, home of the Tibetan government in exile. I did the same for the following debates. On election night, my group and I were isolated working improving the Summer home for an orphanage with which we had been volunteering. We had a tiny radio and we tried our damnedest to find a station in English reporting on the election with no luck. Somebody came back from town and told us the next day. I didn't want to believe. I'm not sure I really did until I got back to an internet cafe and could read the news myself.

The idea that had been offered at the Democratic National Convention earlier that year that "There is not a liberal america and a conservative america, there is the United States of America" seemed nice but awfully hard to believe.

And on my 19th birthday, George W. Bush started his second presidential term.

2003 rolled around and boy was it exciting. In the same year, we had both an African American man and a woman in the primary as serious contenders. I had spent years thinking that I was an anachronism, that I was made for when the times they were a changin. That the way my family had raised me to believe in the power of protests, writing your representatives and passionately participating in democracy was pointless because so much of my generation was too cool to care. But then there was this man, this great Progressive hope that other people my age were getting excited about and I felt like maybe things were going to change.

I still wasn't a registered Democrat, I was registered independent. In California, independents can vote in the primary of their choosing. I still believed the democratic party to be overall too conservative for me but I was excited to vote for Barack Obama.

Election night, Lara and I listened to the coverage on NPR. A bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge waiting to be opened to celebrate the election and hopefully the defeat of prop 8. The presidential election was called early in the evening but we waited hours for the news on prop 8, eventually going to bed because it was too close to call that night.

In 24 hours we had elected our first African American president and California had amended its constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Sometimes in the world of you win some, you lose some, you really win and you really really lose.

I wrote my first real personal post on this blog January 19th, 2009, the day before my 23rd birthday and Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. I briefly mentioned the jubilation in Berkeley in a post a few days later.

It's strange to think how much my life has changed in the course of a presidency. Or that I've been writing that long.

At times Obama has gone from being the great Progressive hope to being the great Progressive disappointment. I'm not going to pretend to that my politics have mellowed enough to believe any differently. But I've kept faith that if he had a second term his more liberal ideals would come out. That maybe we could get real single payer health care. That we could legalize gay marriage nationally.

I'm a registered Democrat these days, mostly because when I reregistered I knew nothing about New York's parties or primary laws. I don't know how long it will last. I know that the inclusion of gay marriage in the Democratic platform makes me feel better about it. I also know that I voted for both Obama and Gillibrand as the "Working Families" candidate (see, I'm finally letting go of California's politics and learning about New York).

As much as 2008 felt like things were shifting, its got nothing on 2012. More states chose to legalize gay marriage. More states legalized marijuana (which is honestly something I care very little about but I still think points to a more progressive future). Thank goodness, Ted Kennedy's seat is once again held by a democrat and Massachusetts's first female senator. New Hampshire is ALL ABOUT the ladies. We can now all breath a giant sigh of relief that Akin and his disgusting views on rape were defeated.

I know we have a long way to go towards justice and equality in this country but when I look at the things that have changed in the last four years, when I look at the things that have changed in my lifetime already, that I used to think wouldn't have actually happened by now, I do genuinely feel hope again for the next four.

Don't let me down, Mr. President.

Bits & Pieces (the fourth)

August isn't my favorite time of year. It's well documented. I haven't been writing about it, because there isn't anything to say that I haven't said before.

I had a nasty Summer cold earlier this month, the worst deathaversary sick I've had in a couple of years. I wasn't prepared for it to happen so early. After literally spending 48 hours in bed over the weekend, I was still sick enough on Monday that I would've called in sick if my assistant were actually a baker, not a grad student who knows how to work the ice cream machine. I never call in sick, it's just not done in the kitchen, but I would've called in sick.

I over schedule myself to the point where I even thought I was over scheduled. Over scheduling is my thing. I love it. But this month I looked at the calender and thought "Seriously, Alana Margaret? Are you trying to kill yourself?". Nope, just keeping busy.

Busy busy busy.

My brain is on overdrive. I think I've probably written ten blog posts in my head but never let myself sit down to write them. I got in a rut at work and then suddenly thought of all the new recipes I wanted to make at once. That's how it goes. The recipes leave and come back. It's overwhelming sometimes, I never know how to explain it. Once I'm in that mode, I'll literally stop a conversation to work out a flavor combination out loud. I haven't shut down for a while. Quieting my mind during yoga this week was an extra challenge.

My life, it seems so full of possibility right now. My lease is up at the end of November and I'm constantly thinking about what next. It's crazy that I'll have lived in the same apartment for a year and ten months when I leave, I tend to pack up and move, to run onto the next thing more often than that usually. Do I stay in Astoria? Can I somehow afford Manhattan? Do I give in and move to Brooklyn to be with my hipster people? Do I leave New York? (I'm not leaving New York, I'm too happy with my life right now, but the point is, I could. I'd come back, but I could leave for a while).

I love my job and I really believe in the product, but once again I'm not sure what the next step is careerwise. I think the next step is to do what I've been doing and create a life outside of work while I have a job that allows me to do that. Maybe the next step is just sticking around for a while.

Politics are making me rage-y right now. Just a rage bubbling up inside me that I haven't felt for a while. I told somebody the other day that I had such a hard time taking Mitt Romney seriously as a candidate that I keep forgetting it's an election year. WHEN I WAS IN INDIA I READ ENTIRE DEBATE TRANSCRIPTS ON THE INTERNET and this year I've been like "wait, we still actually need to vote on this bullshit?". At least that's how I was until Republicans started saying really REALLY stupid things about rape and then I mean, RAGE. Just, rage.

I guess I feel like I'm finding myself again with the yoga and the volunteering and the rage. I don't know when I lost myself. Or if that's the right phrase. I feel like I'm turning into the version of myself I want to be. I wasn't lost. I just knew I could do more. There still much more to do, there's always more. But I'm growing again. Growing and stable at the same time.

Happy and sad at the same time.

Lara called to tell me Moxie Crimefighter died today. It finally made me pause long enough to feel the sadness that's been lingering around the edges this month. Sadness for her dad's passing, sadness for my own's and now sadness for the loss of a tiny black cat named after pub trivia had a celebrity baby names round. While Lara's dad was sick, Moxie slept curled next to him every day. You were the best, Moxiecat. The best.

I'm currently simultaneously annoyed with myself for being irresponsible and going out and drinking for EIGHT HOURS last Wednesday and had such a good, crazy time, that I can't be. It was just one of those nights that I think can only happen in New York where one minute it's 5pm happy hour in the UWS and then it's 11 and somehow you've ended up in Brooklyn, developing a small surprise crush on somebody that wasn't even really eligible in your mind before. The crush has stuck with me sober. Have I mentioned how much I hate crushes? It's basically like when somebody tells me they have a surprise for me. Either just surprise me or tell me what it is. I don't do well with anticipation and not knowing. Seriously, I hate this feeling. Will it develope into more of a crush? How does he feel about me? Why am I even thinking about this that much? What's my next move? Do I make a next move? Why did I hide in the kitchen when he came into work the other day? What if he has no interest in moves? WHY CAN'T WE JUST HAVE ARRANGED MARRIAGES STILL?

I'm going to lie in a dark room and just listen to the Good Old Wars and The Avett Brothers endlessly now. Also, the Lumineers, still. And the Milk Carton Kids. I'm back on an alt country kick and a buying all the music kick. I'm still so happy to have gotten back this part of myself. I miss my records, though. I want those when I move.

I think maybe my brain will be quiet for a second now because how can anything be left after that outpouring of gibberish?

It's a treacherous road with a desolated view

 Tumbalalaika is my grandmother singing me to sleep and Where Have all the Flowers Gone is her playing the piano in the sunlit living room of my great grandparents' house in the Berkeley hills.

A musical snowglobe with a basket of roses played the song played at my mother's (unsuccesful) rehab graduation and kept me company in the years she was gone.

"You're going to really like this," my father says as he puts the bright orange CD into the stereo and skips to I'm Just a Girl. Sunny summer Sunday mornings with the top down, driving me home on highway 1.

Mayonaise for the boy I spent three weeks kissing in Ireland when I was 14.

Years of late night singalongs in the Mendocino Woodlands and the smell of campfire lingering in my clothes for days are comprised of Obla Di Obla Da and Down by the Riverside.

Staying up all night next to the fire in the dining hall in the same Woodlands, with friends so close I still think of them as my family, is yelling along to Buddy Holly which is also: my first concert, Paris with Corina (another Weezer concert) endless car singalongs and dinner parties in my Berkeley apartment.

Lara and Corina are I Will Survive and the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack. Stuck in traffic before the Rainbow Tunnel headed towards a Unitarian Universalist youth conference on a rare warm sunny day in San Francisco. Late night cookie bakes. Planning Sunday service.

Golden Age is rain on the roof of Jacob's room junior year of high school. It's panic attacks and aching and loss and grief and comfort and safety all wrapped in one. It's my favorite song and I rarely listen to it because it hurts. It hurts like you couldn't even imagine. Sometimes I don't even know how I got through that first year after my father died.

India when I was eighteen is obviously Redemption Song. The Garden State soundtrack is my return and the next semester in Turkey.

Our tiny, damp and cold (but cheap) apartment in San Francisco was Not a Pretty Girl, while I rocked out to Twin Cinema in the culinary classroom and walked towards the streetcar in the fog humming To Be Young is to Be Sad.

The truth is, I could keep doing this all night, almost every post on this blog for the last three years has been titled with song lyrics, each one awakening a very specific feeling. I'm one of those people. You know the ones, the ones that can't possibly get by on only the 16 gigs their iPhone allows, the ones that listen to albums with the shades drawn and the lights off, whole albums always, songs are meant to be listenened to in album order or on a playlist but never an album on shuffle (shudder), the ones who sometimes replay a song if a conversation interrupted really listening to it, the ones who devour new albums like they've never heard music before... One memory and one song? Impossible. I could more easily give you the soundtrack to my entire life.

But if you really must know, Summertime will always make me cry.

This post was written as part of The Scintilla Project, prompts can be found here.

This one's for my family 'cause I guess I know exactly who I am

Lessons from my family.

Put your money where your mouth is

Donate that money. Do those volunteer hours. Shop local if you can. Support businesses/products you believe in. Sign that petition. Pick up a sign and march your heart out. Vote. If you are unhappy, do something. Change the world in whatever way you can.

From each their ability to each their need

Yes, that's kind of parapharsed and it's Marx. Get over it. I give my spare change to homeless people. I will use my unlimited fare card to swipe other people into the subway if I'm on my way out. I don't make much but I still donate to charitable organizations because there are people that need the money more than me and as my father once said when he was living in an apartment in the tenderloin "there is nothing that can happen to me that is worse then what I see when I walk out that door every day". I truly believe that society is responsible for keeping people from falling through the cracks. I am fond of my tax return but I'd rather the government keep it and give us all healthcare. I think it's stupid to imprison drug addicts instead of providing them with actual help. Actually, I think in general it's stupid that our prison system focuses on punishment instead of rehabilitation, especially the juvenile justice system.

My heart, it just bled all over your computer.

Feminism is not a dirty word

I come from a long line of feminists (one of my grandmothers has a "Votes for Women" pin that's been passed down and the other can be seen yelling about childcare in the movie Berkeley in the Sixties*) and I'm not afraid to use that word to describe myself. As I wrote before: "being a modern liberal woman isn't about fitting into a neat man hating, power bitch box, it's about choices. It's about living your life in the way that you find most empowering. It's about being able to stick to your guns without having to apologize and it's about facepunching double standards".

Never cross a picket line

My daddy was a longshoreman. His daddy was a longshoreman. When I turned 18, I took all the tests to inherit my father's book even though I didn't go that route. My grandfather, his brother and all of his sons are contractors. My grandma is a nurse. We do believe in unions, and we don't cross picket lines.

It's always better to be overdressed than underdressed

I probably mostly choose to believe this piece of wisdom from my grandmother because I like wearing pretty clothes. But also, I would rather present myself to the world as somebody who puts in the extra effort.

Home is where they always have to take you in

This is one of my father's sayings. He valued family immensely, even if he wasn't on the best terms with somebody. I think part of what I learned from him is that your family isn't just your blood relatives. Your family is the people you trust, the people you would give the shirt off your back and who would do the same for you. The people that support you and the people that take you in when you have nowhere else to go. I think I have a lot of homes by this standard. I am blessed.

I am a product of my upbringing and I am 100% happy with it. Thank you, to my entire family for making me the kind of person that cares, I don't want to be any other kind.

*This movie is oddly on Netflix instant watch, I think my great grandfather, great grandmother and at least one of my great uncles also have appearances.

Running from one falling star until another until I drop

What label/story/box/belief clipped your wings this year?
How can you flip the script in 2012? What’s your new story?

High strung/type A/control freak/over achiever

Fact: I am these things. Kind of. But only about very specific things and mostly in reference to myself. And there are plenty of things that it turns out I'm a million less times high strung about then other people. I work myself into a frenzy and get down on myself for trying to do it all, for getting so stressed, for CARING.

Y'know what? I'm tired of apologizing for caring.

I care about my job. I care about how I present myself to the world. I care about how my food choices effect the environment and the economy. I care about politics because the personal is political. I care about plans because if I made plans with you, I care about you and I hope you care about me.

So, no I'm not sorry for so often fitting into that neat little over achiever box because I like to always be working towards the best version of myself and I get depressed when I start to feel stuck in a rut.

Not high strung.

Successful, motivated, organized and caring.

See also: intentional

What made you laugh?

This is such a tricky question. It's easy to remember what made you cry or yell but the specifics of what made me laugh? I'm not so sure.

277689_10100393394585924_3316207_55613057_1324695_o

Laughing with Sarah in Boston at the ridiculous skills she learned in Waldorf school. Like how to sign "butterfly" when she still wasn't allowed to learn how to read.

I remember laughing when I met Erin, Stephanie, Kelly and Jon IRL at my 2nd AMNH tweetup as we were standing and looking at a blown up picture of a bug penis. And I remember laughing for most of that night, primarily at "Obama sleeves" and convincing Jon to drunkenly explain the Matrix to me like I'd never seen it. I think there may've also been something about Stephanie saying that cheese fries were better than cuddling and me telling her that she must be doing cuddling wrong. I don't know. There were a lot of funny things. I think. Also, alcohol.

Then I had to work in a slip the next day because I had to be there at 4am, didn't have time to go home and wasn't going to bake in the white eyelet dress I was wearing. My coworker laughed a lot at me. It was one of those situations that was so ridiculous you just had to.

I laughed a lot when Lara and I went to see "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which was fantastic. I laughed when we spent the evening with our friends Elise and Dick and their friend Tom who conveniently came to New York at the same time as Lara. I think we laughed hardest when we realized the picture they had taken of us on our way to the top of The Empire State Building somehow managed to be taken at just the right moment so that it looked like Tom was grabbing Dick's crotch.

Clearly, I've laughed at some very mature things this year.

I laughed the night before Michelle's wedding when she had us watch "Big Easy Brides" which is easily the most hilarious terrible wedding show I have seen. I laughed as we stayed up trying to come up with a playlist because all the songs people had suggested on their invitations were terrible.

I laughed on Tuesday when Tracy and I went to "The Daily Show," both during the show and while we were waiting in line and the older foursome behind us kept complaining about how terrible SNL is now. Except when that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were on it. They also kept saying things like "It's Tuesday, so of course it's raining". I don't know what that means, but blaming Tuesday for things is my new favorite activity and I think it's hilarious.

Almost as hilarious as Obama sleeves.

I am small but I am strong

Quick practical note: This December I'm participating in #reverb11. Last year I only managed about half the month before the questions all started to seem like they were asking the same things in different ways. This year there are so many lists of prompts that I'm hoping I'll stay inspired through the entire month. I'm doing it because making time to write daily is something I really wished I did on a more regular basis and obviously it's easier when you have a whole internet community supporting you. Basically #reverb11 is like my work out buddy for writing. Also, it's that New Year's-y, birthday coming up soonish time of year so I'm probably going to be spending a lot of time all up in my head over analyzing the last year and making decisions about the new one anyway, and some of that stuff needs to get out of my head so I don't go insane. The posts won't always be eloquent or long, but they will always be true.

So...

Reverb11 Prompt 2: Who are you? Describe yourself.

Alana Margaret. Baker. Pastry Sous Chef in the most competitive food city in the world. But in my head, just a baker, creator, recipe writer.

Quiet, shy, sensitive, bookish but if I have my way you'll never know it. I never outgrew those things, but I got better at pretending, which I guess, is a lot of what growing up is about. A sometimes broken, bitter, midnight crier and sometimes the one who has weathered much and come out more whole than anyone had any right to expect.

I cling to schedules, routines, normalcy the way those of us with hectic childhoods do, trying to keep control, always. Hating when I'm not in control, always. Life has a way of not letting you be in control. It's tricksy like that.

Blunt, harsh and honest. To a fault. But once you're in, once you make it under the layers, there is nothing I wouldn't do for you, nothing I wouldn't give. Happiest as a care taker, food maker, present giver.

Small but curvy. Dark haired and light eyed. Fair Irish skin. Thankful for Eastern European cheek bones adding definition to a round, dimpled face. Rosy cheeked and dark lashed. Arms and hands covered in burn scars and knife nicks.

Not so secret lover of all things living and adorable. Small children (not babies, they still mostly look like aliens), puppies and kittens especially, though if I thought a baby polar bear or tiny penguin wanted to cuddle me and I lived in the right climate, they'd be right up there on that list.

I find equal comfort in the quietness of museums and the way words string together. Sentences over stories. Phrases get stuck in my brain the way songs get stuck in other's. Flavor combinations too. Repeating until I find a space to let them out.

Alana Margaret, almost twenty-six. New York City born. California raised. New York City returned. Baker pretending to be a Pastry Sous Chef. Reader pretending to be a writer. Unabashed liberal. Rule follower and authority hater. Goody two shoes with a foul mouth. A pile of contradictions, just like you, and at the same time, not at all.

Not even a little bit.

I'm moving to any other industrialized nation so that I don't die in the next year or become homeless to cover my health insurance payments

I've never broken a bone. I can count my emergency room visits on one hand. 1 panic attack, 1 asthma attack, 1 migraine that had me curled up, vomitting and crying on the bathroom floor, 1 boxcutter cut across two fingers. I've never had to stay in the hospital and the most major surgery I've had is having my wisdom teeth removed.

My need for health insurance has nothing to do with major catastrophes so the "low monthly payment and we'll basically start paying for shit if you're on your death bed" plans aren't really going to work for me. But neither does "just don't get sick".

For as long as I can remember, I was prone to every cold that came around. When you combine constant colds with asthma there are times (like right now) when I can barely walk a block without an inhaler. In the winter, my Eustachian tubes have an unfortunate habit of malfunctioning causing constant ear pain. Basically the solution is to take endless sudafed and spray gross shit up my nose. When I take sudafed I'm not supposed to drink coffee or use my inhaler because sudafed has a tendency to give me heart palpitations. Usually if I'm taking sudafed, I need my inhaler. Also, not the best stuff for insomnia. All this stupid sinus stuff plus sometimes bronchitis means I am that person that's probably creating super viruses by taking all of the antibiotics. Like, I'm on antibiotics 2 or 3 times a flu season.

Also, I don't know if you've noticed, but I have fucking insane allergic reactions to EVERYTHING. (And in that 2nd link the post mentions having a kidney infection the month before! If I had been born a hundred years ago, I would not have made it to 25)

Luckily, most of the time, I can pretty much manage my migraines through diet and stress reduction, so while I do need the meds about once a month, it's rarely more than that these days.

So, no, I don't have any major health problems (knock on wood) but I tend to be kind of a mess in a dress healthwise so I'm pretty much freaking out about my lack of health insurance come January. Also, I'm pretty sure I have an ear infection right now, but I can't use my current health insurance in New York, so I'm freaking out about that too because I've felt like death off and on for about a month now. The problem is, I need affordable urgent care visits and prescriptions which tends to be what you get if you can afford to pay eleventy billion dollars a month, otherwise it's all high deductible plans that don't cover office visits or prescriptions which seems totally useless to me.

It basically comes down to this:

Can I please just pay some more taxes so that the government takes care of this for me? That is all I want for Christmas/Channukah/Birthday. Socialized medicine. That's it.

Because I am actually near tears, freaking out trying to figure out how I'm going to be able to do this. This might also be related to the whole being sick and exhausted and only having one day off thing. Also the figuring out how little money I'll be making in January when my work is closed for ten days thing.

Why can't you be the FDR I wanted you to be Obama? We had such high progressive hopes for you.

More grown up and a better daughter

Source: None via Alana on Pinterest

 

 

Thing you may or may not know about me: I'm kind of a control freak. Kind of.

It's the downside of being incredibly self reliant. All it really means is I'd rather just do things myself than trust that somebody else will get them done in a timely and correct fashion.

Sometimes this is a really awesome trait because I'm all about getting shit done.

Sometimes (ok, all the time) it means I'm incapable of leaving work at work, it has a lot to do with my constant struggle to learn to say "no" to people and it makes me nearly incapable of asking for help.

I've spent my life being the responsible one, the calm one, the in control one. I'm the friend you call when life gets crazy. I'm the person that calms you down, supports you, sympathizes and figures how to pry you out when you're stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Unless you know me really well (or read this blog), I am a rock.

If you know me really well, and I mean, really well, you know I'm not.

If you know me really well, you know that I take personal responsibility for everything. Everything. And it makes me really really stressed if I fall even slightly behind on any aspect of my life.

Like, I get stressed that I'm not making time to go to yoga. Which basically means I get stressed about not destressing, which kind of makes sense, but also kind of makes me think I'm doing it wrong. NOTHING RELATED TO SOMETHING THAT RELAXES YOU SHOULD EVER BE STRESSFUL.

I'm constantly stressed when we don't get a lot of business at work. I know this has nothing to do with me, but it stresses me the fuck out and not because I'm afraid of losing my job or anything, but because I think somehow, I am personally responsible for our lack of business despite doing my job of making sure there are awesome tasty treats every day.

The lack of volunteer work in my life makes me stressed. I can't even find time to go to yoga, and I'm stressed that I'm not doing volunteer work. How does that even make sense? I feel like there's something vaguely narcissistic in thinking that I matter that much.

I don't read the news every day. That makes me feel irresponsible. Feeling irresponsible makes me feel stressed. This also relates to the volunteer work.

The world is fucked up guys, do you know that? Doesn't it stress you out that you can't fix it all? Yes, that is on the list of things that overwhelm. SO MUCH IS WRONG ALL THE TIME AND I CAN'T FIX IT. I just want to fix it.

Also, totally on a different level, but why dont' I have a boyfriend? Not having a boyfriend makes me stressed. Oh right, because the idea of going on dates stresses me even more.

My controlling nature also makes me hate the world where all plans are left until the last minute. Choose a movie time! Tell me when to come over! Decide when things need to be done and stick with it. I don't keep my life meticulously scheduled but there is nothing I hate more than "I'll text you and we'll figure it out" or "We should do (fill in the blank) sometime". Let's just figure it out. Right now. Ok? Otherwise I am. Or I'm not going to wait around because I don't trust anyone to actually follow through with anything ever.

Yes, I am one of those people whose parental units were never on time/didn't remember I needed to be picked up or at which after school activity I was located. And in this case, I'm talking about my grandparents, THE RESPONSIBLE ONES, not even my parents (aka, the not so responsible ones). Consequently, I am obsessed with concrete plans and timeliness. Sorry. Also I'm obsessed with it because it makes figuring out the rest of my life easier.

And after that list, now you know why I'm never actually joking about the klonopin.

One time just my type boy told me "I think you're one of those people that shouldn't even have a job, you find so much to take on even without one".

I think that was just a nice way of saying "You are really high strung, chill the fuck out for a second".

And part of my being high strung, is making sure you don't know just how close I am to sitting in the walk in and bawling my fucking eyes out some days.

It's all really exhausting. I wasn't joking when I said I push myself to the point of being curled up in a ball in the corner, exhausted. That was me most of this past week.

I gave myself permission to not do anything for the last two days. I told myself it was ok to not go to yoga, to not think about the ten day food festival we have coming up, that I will have time to do laundry after work tomorrow, that I was not less of a human being because I didn't go for a run.

I reminded myself that despite what my somewhat sporadic blogging makes it seem like, mostly, I've been pretty damn satisfied with life lately.

And that when I do feel the overwhelming urge to sob, it's because I'm stressed and frustrated and it's not because I'm depressed. I know that seems terrible also, but I'd rather be sobbing because I worked myself to exhaustion and then did five favors for friends than be sobbing and in the bell jar, barely able, or unable to get myself out of bed.

I just need to chill the fuck out for a while. Because, actually, everything is OK. There's a lot to do this month, but I've got it and if some things slide, I'll pick them back up next month.

The world isn't ending because I haven't gone for a run in a week.

I know, I'm shocked too.

Alana Goes to Boston, Part 2

IMG_1034 So probably one of the reasons Sarah is my soul mate is because she says things like "OH! We have to go to my favorite socialist bar, you'll love it!". Sadly we were too tired to actually go into her favorite socialist bar on Saturday night, but we did walk by and it's definitely on my next time I visit list. Yeah, that's right, two Irish Jew girls are going to go chill out at the socialist bar in their Banana Republic heavy wardrobes. That's just how we roll. Probably because when we were in high school Sarah said something like "all my dad's side of the family went to socialist Jewish Summer camps" and without batting an eye I was like "Yeah, my great grandfather told off McCarthy" and then we were inseparable.

Anyways...

Right. Recapping Boston.

Sunday we had AMAZING brunch with possibly the most pretentious person I have ever met. He spent an inordinately long amount of time talking about grad school and the tax law related research he was doing and then turned to me and said "So what do you do?".

"I'm a baker"

And I wish I had a camera to capture the look on his face. The only response he could come up with was "oh" and it was kind of like he had discovered some brand new species and he wasn't sure how he felt about it. Most of the time telling somebody my profession garners responses more along the lines of "Can you make...", "I have a brother/uncle/sisterwife that's a pastry chef at..." or "That's so awesome". That was the first time anyone had seem dumbfounded that they had met a real life baker. But the guy did have fruit, ricotta and honey for breakfast while Sarah and I were eating pesto, chevre, bacon and egg sandwich goodness, so really, what can you expect?

Plus side: Free meal, because obviously, us ladies couldn't be allowed to pay. Whatevs. I'll take it.

IMG_1036 After breakfast I learned that the Harvard Natural History Museum is crazy. There's just stuffed animals and skeletons everywhere. I'm entirely unclear about the organizational logic. I guess most of the time when Sarah brings people there they get really disturbed because it's so many dead animals in such a small space so she was really excited to be able to explore farther due to my exceptional looking at dead animals stamina. Yeah, It's basically like if all of AMNH was stuffed into three small rooms and some hallways. But with less dinosaur bones and a bigger Lestodon. At least I think it was bigger, I can't actually back that up for sure.

I mean there's just an elephant head stuck on top of a case of unrelated skeletons. What? Who's in charge of curating this craziness?

IMG_1037 Sunday afternoon was dedicated to walking through Boston commons and downtown Boston. Also to choosing things for the other person to try on at H&M. This isn't at all travel related but it did lead to a lot of jumper and skorts outfits. They were pretty terrible. It was fun.

Home for siesta, which is probably another reason I love Sarah- we had afternoon chilling out and reading time each day.

Sunday evening I went to a party where I met a bunch of her friends who all had much more normal reactions to "I'm a baker," though a surprising number of them had never met a baker before. This seems really weird to me, but I do spend almost all my time around other food service people, so that might have something to do with it. Also, I'm pretty sure I consumed an entire bottle of two buck chuck by myself. It's been a while. Does that stuff actually have alcohol in it? I'm not really sure it does, because normally when I consume an entire bottle of wine I am a) fairly drunk and b) hungover the next day and neither of those was true.

And I will save accidentally walking into historical reenactments for Part 3, because I need to go be irresponsible and possibly pull yet another all nighter now.

 

And I stand here with my arms outstretched

One month into 2011, what question(s) are you living? Are there any prompts/questions that arose during #reverb10 that are still resonating in your life? Are you living new questions?

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris

I moved across country, is it any surprise this is the question I would be dealing with?

I went to church my first Sunday in New York. The Unitarian Universalist community was a huge part of my life from about 14-21. From 21-25, I've probably been to church maybe four times. It's not because I became disenchanted, or began questioning my religion or anything like that. Unitarian Universalism is a religion largely about questioning and with very little creed. I did get a little burned out after spending close to six years spending a large amount of my energy on organizing and being a leader in district youth conferences but that also wasn't really it. The truth is, the UU church just doesn't provide a very good container for young adults. There are youth conferences and there is church service which often tends to be more family oriented or geared towards answering different questions than twenty somethings have.

So why did I go to church?

Community. Familiarity. To sit in a room full of people with similar beliefs to mine. To stand and thumb through the hymnal to a familiar song. To repeat the familiar affirmation "Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest for truth its sacrament and service it's prayer". I chickened out and didn't actually go to coffee hour, but I spoke with both the minister and the student minister (who had delivered the sermon that morning) and found out they had a young adult group and though there are many UU churches in New York, that one seemed like a pretty good fit for me.

For me, church has always been about community, not God or prayer* or any of that other stuff I frankly don't really understand because while there are many things I have faith in, a high power is not one of them. I don't think this a particularly uncommon view in a religion where Humanism is often found more acceptable to talk about than JudeoChristian beliefs. In fact, the only part of the bible I've regularly heard quoted from UU ministers is "to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God," and trust me, we don't use the G word a lot, but we do talk about social justice, how to live your values in your every day life and be an active member of your community a lot.

Yes, there are a lot of negative things about organized religion I could throw in here. On the liberal side of the aisle we are really good at equating religion with teaching hatred and ignorance and I'm not denying that it can be (and is) used for that. We get distracted by those who are self righteous about their faith and don't notice those who are quietly helping those in need with humility. Most importantly I think we forget that churches of any faith are places where people come together and share their joys and sorrows, give each other a helping hand and a girl from 2,000 miles away can feel welcome.

* I'm with Susan B. Anthony on this one "I pray every single second of my life; not on my knees but with my work. My prayer is to lift women to equality with man. Work and worship are one with me. I cannot imagine a God of the universe made happy by my getting down on my knees and calling him 'great'."

Wear clean draws

Easter turned out to be a highly quotable day. SO quotable,that in fact, Matt declared something I said as the quote of the day before we even got out of bed. I have no idea what it was, but I’m sure it was both hilarious and memorable.

I think my mother’s favorite quote of the day was when I loudly declared, “there’s no fucking cherries in Hawaiian Punch”. (Which is totally true, but there’s a fucking picture of cherries right on the front of the bottle. Half the things they picture on the bottle are not listed in the ingredients. They should replace them all with corn. Corn shaped like a syrup bottle.) She told me I should tweet that. I told her that she should get her own twitter account and then she could tweet whatever she wanted. Maybe she could rival “shit my dad says” and then she said “That’s enough to almost make me get my own fucking twitter account”. And then she and Matt yelled “Des NUTS” and grabbed their crotches. Ok, that’s not quite what happened. But all those things did happen and it was all during Easter family time.

You know how there’s at least that one David Sedaris story in which his sister says “You’re not going to write about this, are you?” and he replies “Of course not”? I feel like that is the point my life has reached constantly, except at least 50% of the time it’s people telling me I should blog about things. Which is kind of hilarious, because basically they’re telling me I should write a story about them for them to read.  Which means everyone I know is either at least as narcissistic as I am or thinks that somehow their recollection of a situation will become more hilarious through my retelling it to the whole internet OR I’ve somehow managed to surround myself with people that realize life really just is that ridiculous. There’s also option four, which is just that I’m that ridiculous and everyone I know is constantly but slyly acknowledging it, but I’m choosing to ignore that option.

The point being, my boyfriend doesn’t wear underwear because of linen pants and guns.

Backing up…

“Your boyfriend doesn’t sag and have half his ass hanging out”

“Well he’s older”

“Yeah, but I feel like he wouldn’t anyways, he’s just not a sagging kind of guy”

“Also he’s so skinny I’m pretty sure that without a belt his pants would just fall off. Oh, and if he were sagging his ass would literally be hanging out”

“He’s not wearing underwear?”

“No he doesn’t wear underwear”

“TMI!”

My mom says “TMI” a lot but it’s always followed up by questions like “Is it true, what they say about tall skinny guys?” which is obviously a cry for too much information without being blunt about it and since I’m the most wonderful loving daughter, I like to fuck with her and respond with things like “What do they say?” and try to get her to out and out say that she’s asking about the size of my boyfriend’s penis because if she just wanted to know about tall skinny guys I could’ve answered that question years ago. Now she’s totally thinking “TMI” in her head.

I guess it was also possible she was waiting until I had a more reasonable sample size. Good thinking Mother, this question needs to be scientifically answered, I’m pretty sure we still need a larger test group so you’re going to have to set up everyone you know with tall skinny guys ‘cause I’m planning on sticking with this one. (Because this is the only one that will tolerate me writing about speculation on the size of his penis and lack of underwear on the internet.)

“Is it because that would require doing more laundry?”

See? Not actually TMI.

“I don’t know. Probably. It’s not like it’s something we’ve had discussions about. You can ask him and find out”

Except, somehow I ended up asking him many hours later and I have no recollection of why it came up again.

“I just haven’t really worn underwear since I was like sixteen. It’s not that I don’t ever wear underwear, I just generally don’t wear underwear”

“You said you didn’t even know where a pair was”

“Well that was an exaggeration, I know where maybe two pairs are. I mean there are certain situations in which I wear underwear”

“Really? Like what?”

“I don’t know. I don’t like wearing underwear with linen pants… also packing is a bitch with linen pants because it’s not like you can just put a holster on your linen pants, you have to wear a belt and the whole point of linen pants is they’re supposed to be light and breezy”

And at that point I basically go into hysterics, which is totally unreasonable because seriously, I feel like the problem of gun vs. linen pants is probably a really pressing issue.

 If you’re a mobster.

In Miami.

But I feel like there’s not actually a lot of overlap between the militia email and NRA car insurance offers getting community and the linen pants wearing community. Yet somehow I’ve found the person in which they meet. And somehow, this person is somebody that crazy liberal pacifist me is pretty damn into dating and I am now standing in a gourmet grocery store discussing the issues of packing heat while wearing linen pants because I asked my boyfriend why he doesn’t wear underwear.

Of course, through this whole chain of thought and fit of hysterical laughter Matt is just looking at me like I’m crazy because in his mind he just made a totally pragmatic reasonable statement.

And that’s when I said “I should tweet that”.

“You should just blog about it”

Meta.

Find me a find, catch me a catch (My Mom's Friend Matt, Part One)

"So I think you should date my friend Matt"

"Oh?" I respond to my mother in that way Jacob and Lara call the "Grandma Susan Oh". It's coupled with a slight raise of one eyebrow and a tone that basically says "I think you're totally insane/wrong/nonsensical but I'm far too polite to say it". Anyways...

"Yeah, he's hella hot and hella funny and hella tall"

(Yes, this really is how my mother speaks)

"Mom, I'm 5'2", it doesn't really matter if he's hella tall"

"Yeah but nobody wants to date small guys. Whether it's their height or their you-know, they all have fucking complexes"

"Ok, valid point. How old is your friend Matt?"

I assume my mother is not setting me up with somebody her age (I mean, I know my mom is young, but 40ish seems a little out of the acceptable age range for me) but it seems better safe than sorry.

"I don't know, I think he might be like a year older than you. You know, my friend Matt, haven't you met him? My friend Matt who works at the Texaco?"

"Oooh, your friend Matt works at the Texaco. You've totally talked about him, I've never met him... wait, you want to set me up with your friend who works at the gas station?!"

"He just happens to work at the gas station. I met him at meetings and then I realized he worked at the Texaco by my old house. Then when I moved to Rincon Valley he turned out to live right around the corner. Anyway, he's hella hot and hella intelligent and he dates crazy hot girls."

"As in crazy hot like super hot or as in crazy and hot?"

"Yes"

"Umm, I don't think I really embody those things"

"Well I don't think he wants to keep dating crazy girls, which is why you should date him and you're hot"

"You have to say that you're my mother. I'm a cute nerdy girl, not a crazy hot girl"

"I think you're a hot girl AND a nerdy girl"

Is that not like the most mom response ever?

"Hot girls pretty much equal crazy. It's like a personality type as well as a physical description... Aren't you supposed to be setting me up with a rich Jewish doctor or something if you're suddenly going to be the type of mother that finds me a nice boy?"

"What?! Then you'd have to sleep with some hairy, big nosed guy."

I think I just stared at my mother and don't point out the obvious My mother is a shiksa, I am not. You do the math.

"Besides, he's in school to be a paramedic"

"So he's hella funny, hot, tall and intelligent and he's in school to be a paramedic?" with another eyebrow raise.

"Yes"

"So what's wrong with him?"

"Well he's in recovery"

"We already established that"

"And he dates crazy bitches"

"Those are not really problems"

"Does he use correct grammar?"

Yeah, whatever, judge me if you will for asking this question but I had just read SOOOO many OkCupid profiles and I'm fairly certain that would make you ask this also. And thus begins a series of questions where I try to find out what is actually wrong with him and be convinced that I'm willing to let my mother set me up on a date. You know, the important things like "Does he read books?" and "What are his interests?". We establish that she thinks he reads nonfiction books, has only recently acquired a car, he likes guns a lot and he may or may not be a Republican or a Libertarian but might not actually vote. Obviously, the political bit was where the biggest hang up happened and resulted in me ranting about how I just don't understand the logistics of Ron Paul's plan to go back to the gold standard (I mean, obviously there's lots of things about Ron Paul that make me want to stab a bitch [though it's mostly the people who solely voted for him just because he's ok with the legalization of marijuana because seriously, if you're going to be an issue voter, marijuana? really? that's what you think is the pressing issue of our time?], but this part of his platform I just straight up don't think could work in the real world.) and about how much I hate Meg Whitman's radio ads. Yet despite the guns (whatevs, I've gotten used to guns lying everywhere in the last year) and the possibly not voting, somehow my mother convinces me and I find myself saying, "So, what happens next?".

"I don't know, you guys go to dinner and a movie or whatever it is kids do these days"

"No, I mean logistically, how does this whole setting up thing go?"

"Oh, I don't know, I guess I talk to him and give him your number or something?"

"Ok, this is really weird. What if he just thinks it's really weird? I guess it won't matter then"

"Why is this really weird?"

"Because I'm being set up by my mother. It seems a little desperate. And weird. I mean, I didn't think that happened in real life"

"Well maybe he'll think it's really weird and it won't matter, but I think you should date my friend Matt"

"Ok"

Look on Down, revisited

I really do plan on writing a nice long post about how my mother set me up with an awesomely sweet guy who matches the super broad breakdown of what I want in a man pretty damn well, especially considering she was behind in her reading and I don't think had actually read that post yet. However, my internet is not working in my house and I would like to go cozy up in bed soon, so for now you're getting a totally different short check-in in which we review my New Year's resolutions.

1. Fill my life with people who love and support each other and don't go out of their way to create drama

Basically, cutting the douche out of my life made me realize that with him out of the equation, I had already done this. I also seem a lot less prone to create drama without him around. Double win.

2.Work my ass off at school and work. Help build a business that I believe in and gives me huge amounts of room for creativity and make sure that I have options to transfer to any school I want.

Confession: I have been a lazy bum when it comes to school but that's 'cause I was working ridiculously much at the beginning of the semester and changed my entire plan for the semester. I probably should be doing a little more anthropology book reading and actually writing something for creative writing.

I am working my ass off at work and mostly it's serving to frustrate me 'cause the harder I work the more responsibilities and expectations are placed on me and the more it seems like I don't get paid anywhere near enough. 'Cause I don't. It sucks. I'm keeping my eye out for better job options, but Sonoma County is just not the place for awesome pastry jobs right now.

3. Drink less often and less copiously when I do. (This should be pretty easy because of goal #4/not seeing the boy)

Total win. In both the "I'm totally pwning this resolution" and the "This makes me feel much better mentally and physically" ways.

4. Don't date an alcoholic

Well, fuck. I guess I need to rephrase that one. Pretend it says "don't date a guy who drinks every night instead of dealing with his shit" or "don't date a non-recovering alcoholic". I don't know. The point is, I should not spend my time in a relationship with somebody that drinks every night. 'Cause that's not good emotionally for anyone and it's probably especially not great for me. And I'm not. I think this resolution was more about thinking about my own psychological well being in regards to a relationship and not doing something that I obviously new was bad for it and not setting myself up to be an enabler.

5.  Put myself out there to meet new people.

Obviously I totally rocked this at the very beginning of the year by meeting blog friends IRL in New York and having an awesome time. Not really rocking this too much back on my home turf but I'm going to go ahead and say that taking the risk of having coffee with somebody my mom wanted to set me up with counts. I'm also going to count starting to go to the SF Iron Cupcake competition, that's kind of like meeting new people. Hopefully, I'll also get together with some SF bloggers like @nicoleisbetter and @jamievaron soon. (Have I mentioned that I'm one of Nicole's shout outs this month? How awesome is that?) Anyways, so far this resolution has gotten me nothing but awesome.

6. Learn how to get men to buy me drinks at bars (I think I have to not give them death glares when they try to hit on me).

Umm, this one only works if I'm not in a relationship. Let's think of new, equally ridiculous thing to replace it with. (Though I guess Charlie Trouble bought me drinks, so maybe I also mastered this one in the first week of the year) I've never had sex in a car (I know, right?!) so we'll replace 6 with "Have sex in a car" (hope you're ok with that honey).

7. Not hide how important moral/political values are to me.

Pretty sure I'm not smashing people over the head with these things, but I'm also pretty sure I'm not pushing them to the sideline. On track.

8. Have more dance parties.

I haven't really been having dance parties with other people, but I have been having them whenever I'm cleaning at 2 am at work and blasting the 90s station that plays Shaggy followed by Green Day followed by Dr. Dre followed by Fiona Apple. Yeah, it's basically awesome.

9. Take new relationships slowly. (don't just fall into what's easy/ take what I can get).

I'm gonna go ahead and say this resolution is more about the second half and I'm pretty sure I'm not doing that. I'm pretty sure I'm failing epicly at the first half. I'm also pretty sure I'm ok with that 'cause it equals mashed potatoes and watching "Planet Earth".

10. Make my cabin into somewhere I actually think of as home and throw dinner parties

Still working on this, but as established in this post I seem to be progressing. I really need curtains. Curtains would help. And a bigger house for the dinner party part. Still figuring that out.

11. Make healthy decisions.

This is pretty vague and broad but I'd say over all I am making the right decisions to make my life go where I want. W00t.

Let's hope the rest of the year continues in the same vein.

Part 2: The Circle Game

It always amazes me how many of our actions are based on old concepts we or our friends have of ourselves. What courses we choose to take with our lives because of views we once held about who we were supposed to be or the things we were supposed to want and how rarely most people stop to reevaluate and ask if these things are the things that really matter, if we should let ourselves be stuck with the same personality traits, ideals and goals as the person we were ten years ago, or even five years ago. Maybe it's just that I hate anything that feels like stagnation, dislike existing in a way that isn't always moving forward.

I remember as a child wanting everything I tied with normalcy. I wanted to grow up and have the house in the 'burbs with the two car garage, a picket fence, 2.5 kids and a golden lab. My goal wasn't necessarily to be a mom or a housewife, I didn't think of it in terms of relating to wanting children or a specific career, it was just to grow up and have the things I didn't always have. I wanted control and stability. I was always a child who couldn't wait to grow up. As an adult I've never been one to feel nostalgic about childhood. This is fine with me.

Growing older things changed. Life held more options. I realized I could be in control and create a sense of normalcy without having to fit into a neat box. As a teenager, I always figured I'd be the sort of woman who lived their life a la CoCo Chanel- committed relationships, but no marriage, no kids, my own apartment, a successful career. A life where I was not dependent on anyone, where I was totally free to make my own choices, where the only person that could fuck things up would be myself.

But then somehow I became the type of person that reaches their early twenties and is still dating their high school sweetheart. The type of person that got asked the question "So when are you going to get married?" and would sort of chuckle it off while thinking "Are you crazy? I'm twenty (fill in number 0, 1 or 2 here)". Jacob and I were both on the "no children" page, so that hadn't changed but that question always made me start thinking about that person I thought I was going to be and how far it was from the person I had become. I didn't like it, or at least I didn't like that I had just sort of let myself fall into a pattern without feeling like I had been making conscious decision for a while.

When I started dating the douche he would ask me what I wanted from a relationship, tell me he wanted somebody that was in it for the long haul (lies, lies, lies) and wanted children, blah blah blah and I would just tell him I had just come out of a six year relationship and I didn't really know what I wanted. I had no idea. I just knew that I needed something different. I started thinking about what it was I wanted in the long term in regards to family and relationships.

This is the conclusion I've come to:

Children are not a priority for me. They're just not.

This isn't to say I'm on the "absolutely no children ever" team these days but there are a lot of conditions to me intentionally having or adopting a child. I would need to be in an emotionally and financially stable marriage with somebody I think would make a good father and at a place in my career where I'd be willing to risk taking time off to be a stay at home parent until my child/children were school aged. My strong preference would also be to have children in my late twenties to early thirties. That's not hugely far off, and the likelihood that I'll meet all those conditions by then seems fairly slim but also not impossible. But if the right guy turned out not to want children or I was less than certain about what we'd be like as parents together, that wouldn't be a dealbreaker. If my culinary career really took off and it just wasn't possible to take time off, I wouldn't be willing to have children knowing I would be working 40+ hours a week in a high stress environment and probably wouldn't always have the time or energy for them.

I just don't believe the myth that the empowered woman can have it all. I mean, I do; you can have a high powered career and be a loving attentive mother and support your husband and make your child all sorts of adorable crafty things, etc... but I'm pretty sure you can't have it all at once. Commit yourself in too many ways and everything just ends up suffering. Something's always gotta give. Obviously I'm not a parent. I can't state any of these things as absolute fact and I can't even say for sure that as I get older that biological clock won't start ticking. There's this odd dichotomy to me where I often feel I would be equally ok with focusing on having a successful career or being a housewife. I don't halfass things, I'm an all or nothing sort of woman, so I'm pretty sure it'll be one or the other. Having a career only relies on me, not on someone else. So until I'm certain about someone else, my allegiance lies with my career and there's a good chance I won't be having kids.

And just like abortion, I don't think this is a choice I, or any other woman should have to justify or defend.

As a culture we don't question men who make the decision to live a bachelor lifestyle. We don't question married men that show little interest in being fathers to the degree that women are expected to be mothers. Don't question me.

***

When it comes down to it, I guess what I'm trying to say with these posts is that being a modern liberal woman isn't about fitting into a neat man hating, power bitch box, it's about choices. It's about living your life in the way that you find most empowering. It's about being able to stick to your guns without having to apologize and it's about facepunching double standards.

You can be the virgin or the whore, the career woman or the 50s era housewife or everything in between, it's fine with me, if it's really working for you. Just pay attention to what society has made you ingrain, know your decisions are your own.

Hi, my name's Alana, and I am what a feminist looks like. Hopefully, so are you.

Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be

I feel like I need to put a disclaimer before this post because I haven't done a lot of standing on soap boxes on this blog. Mostly because every time I feel the urge to, I tell myself that that's not really what this blog is about but then I realize that there really isn't anything in particular this blog is about. It started as a place for me to write about crafts and my kitten and other cute things that didn't quite fit on my food blog but has obviously morphed into something completely different. A lot of it is about relationships but a lot of it is just about the general insecurities of being in your early twenties. Sometimes it's really intensely personal and sometimes it's more light-hearted and sometimes it's both at the same time but I really haven't written that much about my personal political or spiritual beliefs in any sort of specific way. Tonight that's going to change a little bit.

It's going to change because I've been wanting to write about these things for a while. It's going to change because of conversations I've had and recent blog posts I've read about women still having to justify not wanting children. It's going to change because tonight Ms. Mae told me she and a friend of mine are going to go egg the people who sit outside Planned Parenthood for all of Lent and I just can't see how that's going to help anyone. It's going to change because of my mother mentioning the possibility of not have grandchildren in her post. It's going to change because of a young mother I saw at the pub the other night. And it's also probably changing because I just started a new relationship and because I'm big on the self reflection, a new relationship always means reevaluation of these sorts of things.

The first part of this post is about abortion.

The second part of this post is about how our ideas of ourselves change, having children and feminism.

So now you know what you're getting in to.

And just to be clear 'cause I feel like this could all be taken in the wrong way, I'm not pregnant. I just think about these things a lot.

Part 1 

(note: for the purpose of brevity and because I'm writing about the possibility of pregnancy, anytime I write "sex" I'm referring to heterosexual vaginal penetration)

When I was younger, there always seemed to be a lot of emphasis on the talks you were supposed to have when you decided to become sexually active with that fella you were going to steady with. You know, the contraceptive talk, the "have you been tested" talk and lastly, the what would you do if you got pregnant talk. Obviously this third talk makes at least a couple of assumptions; you're in a committed relationship with someone, not having a one night stand or just fuck buddies; you're at a point in your relationship where you're comfortable having a frank discussion about possibly deeply personal political and moral beliefs before you start having sex and that you're thinking about your relationship in the long term. Realistically, I'm willing to bet that for most people the assumptions that you will reach that point before having sex only happens in the first relationship in which you become sexually active but then of course, I suspect there are many people for whom those assumptions could/can never be made. As you get older the rules change. Game play gets serious faster. Or instantly. Supposedly my generation has done a lot towards the creation of a "hookup culture". I think part of the reason for this is because at some point we all internalized that third talk to be unnecessary. It's generally assumed that woman belonging to a certain age group raised in a certain socioeconomic environment  (that is to say women in their twenties with middle to upper class liberal upbringings, as in this woman right here) have only one belief about what one should do if one has an unplanned pregnancy. Of course, the choice has to be to "take care of it". Which doesn't make it a choice at all.

There a lot of caveats to me having children (which I'll write about in more detail in part two) and most of those requirements would make it seem like me carrying an unintentional pregnancy to term would never ever happen. My personal beliefs in regards to people bringing a child into this world that they are not financially and emotionally prepared for are as strong as my feeling about abortion.

I find them both incredibly morally ambiguous. 

At the brewery Tuesday night, there was a young mother, younger than me, drinking, her mohawked toddler on her lap. They weren't there to eat a meal, it was after nine and she nor any of her friends ordered food. They were there for the cheap pints.

The douche (once known as "the boy"), of course it was the douche, turned to me and said "We've both been through a lot of crazy shit in our lives but at least we can say we weren't raised like that," in the most judgmental, condescending tone ever.

If. Looks. Could. Kill. (I would've killed the douche over and over again by now)

"Oh fuck, I just stuck my foot right in my mouth, didn't I?"

"Oh no, not at all, I mean when I was that kid's age I had a shaved head and bangs, not a mohawk so I'm pretty sure my early childhood was totally different"

"Well it's alright, I mean you turned out ok"

This is something about my life the douche could never fully absorb. When he was working at a halfway house as a supervisor for teens transitioning out of Juvenile Hall, we used to have the following conversation on almost a nightly basis once he was a few beers in.

"You know these kids, they were just fucked from the start. Fucking druggie and dealer parents, people that should've never had kids. Scum of the earth, nobody should've let them have children"

"So, like my parents?" I would say acerbically.

"Oh fuck, no, I mean you turned out ok"

And it's true, all things considered, I turned out pretty damn ok. That's not to say I don't have emotional baggage from early childhood that I carry around with me or that I might possibly be a completely different person if I hadn't had a different start to my life and I could go into all the psychological theories around childhood development about why I did turn out ok, but mostly I probably turned out ok because I was lucky enough to have a family that could take me out of that situation and take care of me. And I'm pretty damn ok with the person I've become partially as a result of those experiences. Yeah, there was part of me that was judging that mother, but I don't know her story. Maybe this is the first and only time she takes her kid to a bar, maybe it's the 100th and she'll do it a hundred times more. Maybe, that kid will also turn out ok. I don't know. I know it's probably a bad idea to bring your child with you drinking. I know it's psychologically better for a child if you, as a parent, go into the whole experience prepared and that part of being prepared is willing to give up some of the freedom us young folks have.

But this is where my judgmental middle class liberal beliefs fall apart, because I just don't know at which point a collection of cells becomes a person. That's right, I said it, I am not a militant atheist, please don't revoke my "crazy leftist" membership. I want to be 100%, perfectly clear here; I am absolutely, completely pro-choice. When I say "pro-choice" I mean exactly that, the right to "take care of it" or "to keep it". The point is having the choice. Having the choice to be certain without ever having had the experience or being able to say you just don't know what you would do.

The early suffragists were anti-abortion because they thought it was just another way men could gain control over their wives. I worry that the assumption that a young woman will "take care of it" puts us back in the same place. I worry about it, because I'm in the "I just don't know" camp. I don't believe in God in a JudeoChristian sense, but that doesn't mean I don't have spiritual beliefs and it doesn't mean that I discount the possibility of there being something outside the physical that makes each of us unique. I know I could never kill someone who was clearly a human being*. I don't know if I could make the decision to bring life into this world that I wasn't able to support emotionally and financially, but I just don't know how I could deal with knowing there was possibly something alive in me and I chose to change that. I hope, more than almost anything, this is a decision I will never have to make. I will strive to be less judgmental of those who make what in my peer group is the less acceptable choice because I can't imagine the emotional turmoil they've gone through.

*I feel like I need to justify this, even though I probably don't. I'm not a crazy sensitive compassionate person because I believe in pacifism, I'm a pacifist because I'm painfully empathetic and genuinely don't understand physical violence. Even in a life or death situation, I'm pretty sure I could not actually cause somebody physical harm.

It is now 2 a.m. so I'm afraid I have to say

to be continued...

Part Two coming soon