This summer has been a cooking summer. I don't know why; perhaps it was because I got a bunch of new cookbooks, or because I'm starting to really mistrust any food that was prepared by a corporation, but whatever it is, I've been busy...in the kitchen, of all places. Kevin thinks I'm becoming a foodie. Uh oh. The start of any new interest is a bad thing for an obsessive temperament. As long as he washes the dishes...
These are some of the things I've made recently (all are vegetarian, and the ones marked v are vegan):
This is the dream I awoke from less than an hour ago.
My mother and I were picking my dad up at the airport. I was driving their little blue Hyundai, which is a nice car in most ways but lacks good rear visibility. The airport was a bit strange. We had to go through a Costco, pick up four cans of Pepsi, and then proceed to the indoor pool, where my dad was waiting. At this point, they asked me to open all four cans of Pepsi and go back to get the car. So, I juggled the full cans of sugary, staining stuff, got back to the car, discovered that there were only two drink holders, and drove with two of them precariously balanced in my lap.
While I was driving back to the airport, there were blaring ambulances I had to get over for (which scare me in real life) and an imperious pedestrian who held up his hand and managed to stop traffic dead. I took the long way in, found my parents, and was about to take the long way out again.
My dad stopped me. There was a shorter way with a new high tech bridge that could be specially deployed for each car. Per his directions, I went up a long, narrow, one way strip of cement above a deep body of water. It stopped abruptly; on one side, there was a guard rail, on the other a flight of stairs down. I got out of the car, pushed various things to activate the narrow bridge, and watched the guard rail sink down, the bridge unfold (raised from the sea, I believe, with a giant magnet). The bridge was a little short, though. Between the bridge and the last few feet before dry land were two sheets of plastic tarp, held to the bridge with two small strips of velcro. They billowed in the wind. There was no rail. My dad advised that I drive fast.
I begged for someone else to drive. I begged even to back down the narrow, winding concrete strip I had driven up so I could take the long way out of the airport. My father was adamant.
I got out of the car, sat on the concrete in front of the bridge, and cried.
Two things have happened recently to set me off on this subject. A few weeks ago, I came in close contact with a newborn. It was not a situation that lent itself to slithering: I knew the mother, and the person who tried to get me to hold the baby was my employer. I looked at this small, rather wrinkly creature. It was asleep, sucking on its pacifier in a way that reminded me of sea anemones or sucker fish. I had no idea what to do with it. I couldn't relate to it intellectually, and it wasn't fuzzy enough to be cute. So I congratulated the mother, made a few half-hearted 'aww' noises, and pretended I had to get to work ASAP. I think that settles it. I have zero maternal instincts.
The other thing thing that happened was that Kevin's friend saw my other environmental blog, in which I had commented that I was unlikely to ever have children, and urged him to reconsider because having a baby made a wonderful, fantastic, amazing, fulfilling, enriching, whatever change in her life.
Six Things You Say That Annoy the Hell out of Childfree Women
It’s hard to be a childfree individual in this society. Admittedly, it’s gotten a lot better in the past few decades, but people, especially women, who have opted not to have kids still deal with plenty of crap. First are the suspicions of lesbianism, sexual anomaly, and/or child-hating misanthropy. Next are the stream of impertinent questions – often from people who barely know us – about our reproductive choices. Here’s a list of six things you say that really piss us off. Please. Stop.
1. Kids are great/wonderful/fantastic/fulfilling! You should reconsider.
Imagine that I went up to a pregnant woman and said, “Hey, the childfree life is fantastic! Why don’t you reconsider?” This is what it feels like when you tell me to reconsider my decision to be childfree. I respect your decision to have a child and am willing to accept that you have good, valid reasons for doing so. It’s your turn to return the favor.
2. You’ll really miss out by not having kids.I feel so fulfilled by having produced genetic offspring.
I can see why this would be true from your perspective, but I’m not you, and what I find fulfilling may be very different from what you find fulfilling. In fact, what I find most satisfying – reading, writing, going out for solitary walks, spending time with animals – would be significantly hindered by having a child. Moreover, there are so many different experiences that an individual could find fulfilling that it is entirely possible to lead a highly fulfilling existence without all (or even many) of them. Maybe I’d find skydiving fulfilling and enriching if I just tried it. Thanks, but I’ll pass.
3. Having a child is an essential part of the female experience.
Rubbish. I don’t believe in gendered experiences; I believe in individual experiences. Having kids may well be a part of your individual experience, but that doesn’t make it essential or even rewarding for other people. Not following one particular biological imperative doesn’t make me an inferior, incomplete, or unfulfilled person.
4. But you’d make a great mother, and we need more smart/conscientious/whatever people.
We don’t need more kids in the world; we need to make sure that the kids already here have supportive, affectionate adults around them and access to the resources and education that will make them conscientious and thoughtful adults.
Morever, it’s pretty clear to me and the people who see beneath my mild-mannered facade that I wouldn’t be a good mother. I’m unabashedly self-centered, a few cents short of a dollar in the empathy [for humans] department, and savagely territorial about my independence, time, and space. I have no maternal instincts to speak of. There are plenty of people who should never be parents, and I am one of them. And even for people who would be good parents, they don’t owe it to anyone to make that decision.
5. Don’t you like kids?
Of course I do. I work with them (ages 10 and up), and they are some of the coolest and most interesting people I know — kind of like adults without the smarminess and social posturing. But there is a striking difference between enjoying working and interacting with kids and wanting my own child, for whom I would be responsible 24/7 for years. I would go completely crazy. The only relationships that work for me are with other, mostly autonomous individuals.
6. You’ll change your mind later.
Don’t patronize me — and that refers to doctors, too, who refuse voluntary sterilization to women with no children. Most people who don’t want kids have known forever that they didn’t want them. I figured it out years ago when I joined the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement and have become increasingly certain that I neither want kids nor would be a good parent. I’m willing to bet you anything that I know myself better than you know me.
Without corrective lenses, I am roughly as myopic as a bat but without the cool echolocation abilities. Like other very near-sighted people, I've adapted to my condition and can function (as in walk to the kitchen without tripping over the cat and put water on for tea) in a limited way without my glasses or contacts. I've even blogged before about how I rather enjoy being near-sighted and definitely don't want to know, in perfect 20-20 vision, what I look like first thing in the morning. Laser surgery? No thanks.
I noticed earlier this week that there was something kind of off about the left lens of my glasses (now a few years old, used exclusively for puttering about the house). I polished the lens on my shirt and put the glasses back on. No difference. So I assumed the worst. I mean, however bad my vision is, it can always -- and probably inevitably will, unless I die within the next ten years -- get worse. I mentally reviewed my optometrist's list of warning signs that I needed to get in to see her, stat. (A floater population explosion? No. Sudden chunks of vision missing? No. Abrupt changes in vision? Well, kind of?)
I took off my glasses again and then noticed something odd. I could read the book a few inches in front of me, but only with my left eye. Sure, it was still kind of blurry, but I could definitely see what it said. I closed my left eye. The text became unreadable. I switched. After a few non-lascivious winks at my book, I was obliged to come to the conclusion that if my right eye hadn't changed (the prescription for the right lens was still working), my left eye had somehow improved. Significantly. My prescription is sufficiently high that I doubt I would even notice minor changes. Whoa. Who knew that even happened outside crappy infomercials trying to sell you something?
What can I say? The human body is a peculiar place to inhabit.