Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Random thoughts buzzing around in my brain...

I have returned from Stats Camp - a.k.a., camp for nerdy adults. Seriously. Twenty years ago, if you had told me that I would be voluntarily spending a week learning about an analysis approach for something I hadn't even learned about yet, I would have thought you were completely nuts. I can't say that it was my most favorite week of my entire life, but it was certainly enjoyable and challenging. And apparently that is what I like these days.

On a related note, I spent the entire week with a colleague who, by the end, was driving me slowly nuts. Well, on second thought - maybe it didn't happen *that* slowly. I have been trying to pin down what was so frustrating/annoying/aaargh-inducing, and I have a few thoughts:
  • She presents her opinions as facts. Not "I think [blah de blah de blah]...". Nope. She states what she thinks - that is what it is - and disagreeing is frequently pointless, as she will not change her opinion. I got better at this by the end of the week, but man.
  • We have very different personalities. I try very hard to blend into the background and just do my work (Just Do It! as my mother would say). She, however, seems to try to be in the foreground at all times. Regardless of whether being in the foreground is appropriate or even helpful. Example A: She talks. so. loudly. Seriously. I never realized how quiet our home life is, but now that I know? I revel in it. We are quiet. The dog is quiet. Our neighbors are quiet. I like this. A lot. I do NOT like noise. I tried the trick of speaking more and more quietly, in an effort to get her to tone it down. It didn't work. Example B: Drawing attention to herself for the oddest things - such as stiff shoulders from working on a laptop at a conference table all morning. You know what? We're all stiff. You don't need to make noises while you stretch, and grumble about needing a tennis ball for your sore shoulder (at TOP VOLUME), and stretch your arms above your head umpty-million times. Gah.
  • She is s-l-o-w-m-o-v-i-n-g. I walk pretty quickly. Always have. Likely always will, until I can't anymore. But she is significantly overweight, has breathing problems, and is terribly out of shape. Which = slow walking. Which = slowly driving me insane. Again.
  • Did I mention the loud sighs?
  • Oh, and this was the topper. During one presentation, there was a *very helpful*, *very valuable* topic that the presenter was discussing. As in, this could be very useful for my future research. She turned to me - *while he was speaking* - and started talking about how cool this was, and x, and y, and z. I said "Please let me listen to him." No response - kept talking. This time, I put my hand out - like a traffic cop, for Pete's sake! - and said please, let me listen! No response - kept talking! The next time I just said "I need to listen to this - please be quiet." GAH. Talking while the teacher/presenter/lecturer/whomever is talking is one of my least favorite things EVER. And to ignore my request for her to be quiet? Was for me, the height of rudeness.
There, I have that off my chest. My husband will be happy. He was getting tired of me talking and talking and talking (quietly, of course) about my interpersonally frustrating week.
Oh, but there was the awful, awful driving. I think I mentioned that before. Good god. I feel lucky to have gotten home in one piece. Let me just say that *standing* on one's brakes on the highway is probably not a good idea. Just fyi. I'll leave the rest to your imagination. But picture someone with no visual memory, a loud mouth, and a heavy brake foot driving 6+ hours - mostly on highways. Yeah. Where are those Men in Black memory wiper things when you need them?
The basement renovations have started. My husband will be home next week on vacation. And he is resigning from the job that requires him to travel 4 hours away each week and stay there Sunday-->Thursday. I am not at all broken up about this - the owner completely misrepresented not only what my husband would be doing, he also misrepresented the company's finances. So. Moving on. I will be glad to have him home during the week.
On a related topic - I need to learn, when there are guys coming to work on the house, that I need to shower asap, instead of waiting until after I eat breakfast. Because then I run into the issues I'm facing right now: it's almost 9, I am unshowered and rather stinky, and I am fairly sure that the minute I step into the shower, someone will need me for something. Or someone will show up to do something. I suppose I'll just have to bite the bullet and go clean up.
Next weekend is the annual college reunion. With my husband's ridiculously fertile college friends. We are the only couple left without children. And I just know that the topic will come up next week. I am dreading it, with a capital "d". I like these people - more than I thought I might. They are friendly and warm and oh-so-midwestern. But I think I confuse them - and the childless thing isn't helping matters. And my emotions regarding this have been rather close to the surface lately. So no, I'm not looking forward to this.
On a related topic, it is now high summer, and the rain has stopped for now. So we are seeing more of our neighbors. Sitting in the driveways, around fire pits, at the pool. Always - always - with their children nearby, running around catching fireflies. Or playing tag. Or jumping in the pool. Or riding little Fisher Price cars around. And here we are - the childless couple. It's even more obvious when the weather is nice. *sigh*

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Autonomy and Adulthood

I attended 'camp' this past week. Not a *fun* camp, mind you - statistics/methodology camp, for my research. While it wasn't fun in the traditional sense, it was particularly helpful in clarifying what I can and cannot do with my data, certain issues surrounding data collection and analysis, and other bits and pieces that are finally coming together as I learn more formally the methods I was apprenticed to for my dissertation.

And boy, does that sound boring. ;) It really was a fun week, for a nerd like me.

Well, the learning part was fun.

Having to spend 4.5 days in a classroom with 20 other academics? Not as much fun.

Having to spend my time with a colleague who I enjoy in small doses, but apparently not in large, week-long doses? Tiring and periodically dispiriting.

Having to ride with said colleague as she terrorized me on the six hour drive to and from camp? Probably took about 5 years off my life.

Returning to my quiet, peaceful home? Priceless.

I've realized recently the value of adulthood and autonomy. Other than actions required for my job - of which there are many, but few that I don't *want* to do - really, no one can make me do what I want to do anymore. This has become particularly clear as I have realized that I do not *have* to watch friends' children for them, unless I want to. I do not *have* to have a meal or drink with someone I do not want to spend time with. I do not *have* to attend extended family gatherings and be made to feel guilty about our continuing childlessness.

I will grant you that my well-developed sense of guilt frequently compels me to do things that I feel a bit wishy-washy about. But for the most part? The things that I am doing...are things that I want to do.

And sometimes? Sometimes I revel in the fact that our schedules are (mostly) our own. That we do not have to worry about child care, or summer camp, or the elementary school calendar. Sometimes I can enjoy that freedom. Other times, I wish our schedules were more crowded. That we had the joy and difficulty of balancing soccer-gymnastics-scouts-campouts-family vacations-visits to the grandparents like so many of our friends and neighbors do.

But for this weekend - while I recover from the past week - I am going to enjoy our unscheduled, relatively unfettered life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Well, that was freaky. I couldn't remember what email I used to log in to this blog. Whew. I'm glad my brain finally kicked into gear - otherwise, I was afraid I was gone, never to return. Double whew.

It's been busy here - I am preparing for a week away, starting on Sunday, and my lovely husband will not be home until Wednesday. Sulky puppy will have to be boarded starting on Sunday - which is not exactly a hardship. Let's just say it includes being carried around like a baby, and daily peanut butter. Neither of which he gets at home. ;) But I will miss him - particularly the readily available snuggling - which would be quite welcome, as I am going to statistics camp and might not have much brain power left by Friday.


I have been doing a lot of thinking about context recently. After all, that *is* what I study in my real life. And thinking about how our infertility is not *such* a big thing in the context of how we are living our lives. Most people know that I am on a big-time career track - tenure track, to be precise - and I think it doesn't necessarily surprise them that we do not have children. Of course, they do not know that it's not really by *choice*. But that's okay. The story they tell themselves probably makes a bit of sense, given my career inclinations.

I confess - I am glad that I have too many degrees, and that this is where my career has taken me. I am glad that I no longer work with kids on a daily basis (although that might change, as I develop my faculty practice position). I am glad - this is a little weird - that we are not LDS members. I can't even imagine struggling to have children in the context of being a member of a church that places such a heavy emphasis on family and children and LARGE families. Comparatively, I have it easy.

Sometimes I am glad that we don't live near my family. They were the ones who talked about grandchildren, and talked about when we were going to have children, and what we were going to do. Being distant from them - while difficult - means that our day-to-day context does not include those conversations.

I've been having some difficulty, recently. With the idea that we're done. With the fact that we're not going to try anymore. I suppose it is a process - one that I need to work through, and that my husband needs to work through - but knowing that does not make it any easier.

I think part of my difficulty is that I cannot relate to other peoples' experiences. It just so happens that one of my colleagues studies breastfeeding. I don't have firsthand experience of this, obviously...but I am expected to comment and critique her grants. And her breastfeeding experiences are SUCH a big part of her life. So many of my professional discussions recently have focused on this, and I just stay quiet. What do I have to add? But it's hard. I study kids, but that doesn't mean that I *have* kids. I study cancer, but that doesn't mean that I *have* cancer.

Another difficulty...neighbors are relocating back to their old city. They (like many of our neighbors) have 3 kids. The husband posted on facebook earlier this week about the going away party held by the neighbors at the pool. A party that we were not invited to. An invitation that I suspect was not extended because we are the only family in the neighborhood without children. I don't know that, but I do know who was there. And I know who wasn't there. And that is the main difference I see.

I'm going to have to learn to deal with this, obviously. I guess I just didn't think that my childless status would be hitting me in the face so often - at work, particularly. I expected it in my life at home - we live in a neighborhood full of children, so it's kind of hard to avoid it. I need to learn to lose the defensiveness. To remember that we (at least at this point) have made *this* choice, to remain childless. To remember the good in our decision.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I don't really even know what to write right now...I have been busy at work (preparing for a full! time! faculty! position!), busy outside of work, getting ready for summer, preparing for renovations to the house, and on and on and on. I do wonder what on earth life would be like with a child, since I seem to have difficulty finding time to do everything without one.

I've had a hard time, recently, with the whole no-kids thing. It seems to come in waves. There was a wave of people asking about kids when I accepted the position here - as if, now that I will finally have a real! job!, we would move right ahead with having children. It came up during interviews, too, although it's not supposed to. I didn't mind the *topic* so much as my answers to the questions. And while I thought having the IUD would help me overcome my sadness at not having children, it hasn't really worked yet. Part of the problem seems to be that I am still getting my period - it's lasting a whole lot longer - and I'm having horrible cramping (bring-me-to-my-knees cramping, which is unusual for me). Which makes me think of things like endometriosis. My potentially abnormal-although-maybe-not tubes. Ectopic pregnancy. Etc. So while I know that I can't get pregnant, I don't think my subconscious has quite caught up with that knowledge, yet.

I still haven't pitched the ovulation predictor kits. They're expired now.

I don't know. I'm having a hard time - this in-between time - in part because I haven't yet started my real! job! so there is still time to think what if... Also, in part, because we don't yet have the money to travel or do any of the things we said we would do since we're not going to have children. Also, perhaps, in part because the other incoming assistant professors all seem to have families, and the one person who doesn't is... troubled.

I don't know what the point is of this post...other than to try to gather my scattered thoughts from this point in my life before I lose them. I hope that I adjust to the thought - the reality - of a childless life. I hope that, eventually, the questions about when we are going to have kids fade. I hope that one day the onset of cramps before my period doesn't send me into a frenzy of ectopic-vs-endometriosis-vs-who the hell knows what.