Freezing for FOMO

Something started happening about a year ago, when I was mid-32. I was getting more and more invested in my career, I’d just left a relationship that had included discussions (however fantastical) about marriage, and I was spending a lot of time with women who were slightly older than me, looking to them for mentorship and guidance.

One day, out of nowhere (to me) one of these women casually asked me if I was freezing my eggs.

At first (because I’m a fat kid at heart), I was like, “What are you talking about-you don’t freeze eggs, you’ll ruin them! I guess if you’ve made a quiche, you can freeze them in individual slices?”

She just looked at me.

Ohhhh. My eggs. Like, egg eggs. Like, pre-babies. Proto-human materials (and yes, I’m Pro-Choice, but we’re going to leave that post for another day).

I was flummoxed. It had never, EVER occurred to me that I should do that. That I would need to do that. That I was even a remotely appropriate candidate for that.

But since that moment, the question has been everywhere. Popping up on Facebook ads, coming into my gmail, on the Pandora breaks, and from other women. “Are you going to freeze your eggs? It would give you options.”

I’ve written a lot about how I’m deeply ambivalent about having kids, so it does make sense on some level. It’s hedging my bets, albeit for thousands of dollars. My period has always been wack as fuck, so there’s no guarantee that I’m even remotely fertile, so aging isn’t likely to help. In the back of my mind I’ve always thought that since my grandmother had my mother at 38, I would be fine. But I don’t know, they don’t do any tests on you until you’re actively trying, and I’ve been spending the last 13 or so years of my life trying real hard to NOT get pregnant.

Because I’m getting all these ads, articles, and other things in my inbox daily, I know that a lot of women feel empowered by freezing their eggs. Even on the Mindy Project, women in college are being encouraged to freeze their eggs to give them time to find the right man/woman/family arrangement, career, life in order to have children. My mother always said babies bring their own luck, her subtle way of telling her daughter to stop overthinking the fuck out of everything. Things happen when they happen, you can’t make it perfect. Except science begs to differ, Mom.

But it makes me BEYOND anxious. The entire thought of it ratchets my already high anxiety about dating into the stratosphere. The immediate thought I have is “HOW DID I GET HERE???” How did I get to this place. You meet someone, you get married, you have babies, you live your life. That’s how you do it. That’s the blueprint. I’ve never been big on the blueprint, but being confronted with the actual truth of it, that my choices (and choices of the universe) have put me so far out of alignment with the blueprint that I’m here, considering egg freezing, leaves me shaking my head a bit.

Because when I think about it, this doesn’t feel like options. It feels like I’m admitting, and even embracing, that my life is not where I want it. And maybe that’s where growth starts from, but I’m not there yet. So many people have trouble conceiving children they desperately want, and my heart breaks for them. I’m not anxious to join their ranks, and I guess I hold onto the fairytale that if I do end up wanting and having children that it will all work itself out. Freezing my eggs would be me admitting that I want it all, and I don’t have it. And I may never have it, so I’m contingency planning. But possibly too late already: at 33, do I even want to spend the money to freeze these old-ass eggs? Shouldn’t I have done this at 19?

It might be the most logical thing in the world, but I’ve never been even remotely logical about anything having to do with my personal life- and maybe that’s been the problem. For a rational, responsible, analytical woman, perhaps this is the last bastion of fantasy, and the girl in me is not ready to give it up.

Speed Round

Hello all. Quickly, let’s get through the parts that I missed:

Friday: I wore some stuff. It was pretty cool. I felt good. [editor’s note: I literally cannot remember what I actually wore on Friday, but I do know that my outfits earlier in the week were on point, and I’m planning a discussion of office attire for this Friday, possibly with the first pics EVAH on this blog. Stay tuned].

Saturday: Dates! I had three last week. R and I exchanged lovely emails, and I was looking forward to meeting him, but in person he was oh so quiet. I felt like I was dominating the conversation, waiting for him to answer. I know I’m an extrovert and I think and speak quickly, so I do try to have some patience for introverts who might need more time to decide on a response. But this was excruciating. I wanted to like him, he had a good heart. But I couldn’t wait to leave.

J was a trainwreck, but my sort of trainwreck. I give him points for honesty; he told me that he had some emotional issues that he felt made it unlikely for him to be successful in a committed, long-term relationship. He was looking for companionship, without the commitment; what I like to call “the girl friend experience.” More and more men are looking for that, it seems; or maybe the same amount of men are looking for that, and they’re just being honest about it now. Either way, I had to walk away. He seemed surprised, because we did have good chemistry. I told him honestly that 3 years ago I would have tried to fix him, I would have tried to convince him to be in love with me the way I wanted him to be. I would have torn myself up over it. But I don’t do that anymore.

C and I had great conversational chemistry, and a great date. But he’s leaving for 2 months for a work assignment out of state, and while I shared my contact info with him when I got back home, I’ve yet to hear back (this was last night). I thought we were both feeling it, but there was no goodnight kiss, so maybe we’ll just be friends. Or the timing is weird and shitty. Or I totally misread him. I have no idea.

I can’t decide which is worse, the bad dates, or the mediocre or weird or meh dates. I think the clearly bad dates are better, because at least you 100% know where you stand, and you get a good story out of it. Mediocre dates are just soul-crushing.

Sunday: Spent it in Virginia wine country with several great friends, drinking great wine in the hilly sunshine. If that ain’t good for the soul, I don’t know what is.

Monday: Work flow thoughts- why is it that some day I get all of the things done, and other days I can barely get together the energy to watch kitten videos on buzzfeed? I’m consistent with coffee and sleep…. it’s existential ennui, but why?

Which brings us to today! Phew!

So many people voting today [editor’s note: RIGHT? IF NOT, GO VOTE.]. To be 100% honest with you, I have not been following the Democratic race that closely, because I  don’t get to vote until JUNE in DC, and because I am a Democrat and will vote for the Democrat be it HRC, Bernie, or Admiral Ackbar (which would be a real spoiler). But my Facebook feed tells me that people are feeling things about it deeply, and frankly, I can’t understand why. I can’t really get that excited about either of these characters. I worked on the hill for a while and formed my own opinions about Senator Sanders from personal observation. Again, this is a public blog and I value my job, so you can ask me about those over beers.  And while I get why people think the things they think about HRC, I really identify strongly with her through my Mom. I think they’re very similar, for a variety of reasons including career, family life, life experience, temperament, drive, tenacity. If I could vote for anyone on earth to be president, it would be Mona Furst. So, I’m team Hillary, in the hopes that she turns out to be half the president my Mom would be.

That being said, it’s the Republican primaries that are the terrifying clusterfuck on my daily mind. What scares me is not whether Trump will win the nomination, he won’t; either because of a Cruz-Kasich alliance, the GOP establishment, a brokered Convention, or, I’m praying, an Act of God. It’s the incitement to violence that he keeps threatening if he doesn’t win. He’s whipping his fans into a frenzy, and where are they going to go with all of that anger when he, petulant child that he is, does not get what he wants? He’s brought a lot of hate out of the woodwork and into the light, and for that we might thank him. But now that we know these things about our family and neighbors, where do we go with that information? How do we move towards reconciliation? And, how do we move forward when Cruz is just as bad, if at least more rhetorically sophisticated and appropriate?

I don’t have any answers, I’m trying to work them out. But these are my thoughts on this Tuesday afternoon.

 

 

Dearly Beloved

Jesus Christ, 2016, could you quit killing musical gods?

Bowie just died, entirely too soon, and now Prince. PRINCE. The Artist Formerly Known As. The unabashed tiny purple tornado of pop-funk. The converted Jehovah’s Witness who went door to door in his suburban Minneapolis home, carrying the Watchtower with him in his LIMO. FUCKING PRINCE.

Going to school in Minneapolis, going to shows at 1st Ave, working for the college alternative radio station that sort of turned into a wider movement via the Current, Prince was part of the cultural lexicon. We were really proud that in the middle of hot dish and Fargo jokes (which, look, isn’t even IN Minnesota), we had Prince in our back pocket. Prince gave us street cred. Prince lived in motherfucking Chanhassen, an ex-urban outpost that’s only other claim to fame is a dinner theater and a casino (I think), and bedecked his mansion in purple and paisley (Paisley Park, being the name of said compound). I know, I’ve been there, after Prince INVITED A WHOLE CONCERT TO HIS HOUSE AFTER A SHOW. Because he was fucking Prince, but he was also raised right, dontcha know.

In some ways, Prince is the perfect metaphor for those Cities I grew to love to much. I’d still be there, if it wasn’t so damn cold. We don’t like to tell people about it, because then they’d all move there, but Minneapolis is damn near perfection. There’s a huge arts scene, the cost of living is low, it’s beautiful when it’s not Ice Planet Hoth, and the people are usually friendly (unless they’re being Minnesota Nice/Ice, but I feel like there’s been a hipster thaw of late in the heart of the Twin Cities.). But it’s an area of great beauty, with classical chops, and just enough weird funk to make things interesting. Much like Prince.

I still remember that concert, this tiny man with a huge voice sitting on a stool, playing an acoustic guitar, singing Raspberry Beret. This was after he’d converted, so at the dirty parts, he let the audience sing, with a smirk on his face. He didn’t run away from his past, and he didn’t stop people from having their fun. He just embraced who he was now, and let others do the same. His was a life lived giving absolutely zero fucks what anyone else thought, and it turned out to be one filled with sexy, funky, kind, funny, brilliant light.

“We’re all excited
But we don’t know why
Maybe it’s cuz
We’re all gonna die

And when we do (When we do)
What’s it all for (What’s it all for)
You better live now
Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door.”

Update for my Minneapolitans: all night dance party, at First Ave tonight! 
https://www.facebook.com/firstavenue/posts/10154163236162300:0

She Works Hard for the Money

It’s Women’s Wednesday y’all, and I’ve got some good news: the ladies have hit it big time.

News broke today that Harriet Tubman will be replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. The good news: Old Hickory, he of the Trail of Tears and slave ownership, is being replaced on our money by a woman of color, who was a slave and led an entirely other trail: the Underground Railroad . $20, incidentally (or not?), is also what Tubman was paid by the Union Army as a pension, for her work as a spy. It was $5 less than the men received. $20 was also what she asked the government for to help free her own father from slavery, although she had to stage a sit-in. It seems fitting she now gets ALL the $20 bills.

The bad news: none of these bills will be in circulation until at least 2020. Treasury Secretary Lew had promised to put a woman on the face of the $10 bill, which was up for a revamp first, but you can thank Lin-Manuel Miranda and the popularity of his Hamilton the musical for saving the face of the father of the Treasury. But now, a whole bunch o’ women (a binder-full, one might argue) are going to be gracing the back of Hamilton’s $10 bill (think of them as his back up singers. No, wait. Don’t do that).

I’m having trouble deciding how significant this is. When we continue to have a wage gap between men and women, I feel like I’d rather just be given the same amount of money, regardless of who’s face is on it. Let’s not forget that Equal Pay Day (the day that signifies how far into the next calendar year on average a woman has to work to make what on average a man made in the last calendar year) was literally 5 days ago.  It’s a victory, but a largely symbolic one. But it might be a chicken or the egg thing. Maybe as people are rifling through their pockets for the astronomical fee for the latest Starbucks frappu-monstrosity they might think, “hey, Harriet Tubman was pretty cool. Maybe I should treat other women with respect. Yeah. I’ll just have a triple mocha venti gross-ochino and pay my female employees the same as my male employees.”

Except no one pays cash for anything anymore. Maybe we should put pictures of Marie Curie on debit cards…

 

 

Politics as Usual

I’m in a large 5-star hotel ballroom, surrounded by people. Most are middle-aged White men in suits, though there are a few perfectly coifed younger White women, all with the same blown out honey-colored locks. Occasionally you’ll spot an Asian or African-American man or woman, usually a man. The same stale coffee that’s been sitting in samovars for the last 4 hours wafts over the smell of dried out chicken breasts from lunch. It’s reminiscent of those fancy hotel weddings no one ever enjoys, despite the thousands of dollars spent. Except no open bar.

You would never know by the drab exteriors, but these are some Washington and Silicon Valley’s elite movers and shakers. I won’t name names because this is a public blog and I value my day job, but suffice it to say there are people here that are household names. There are panel sessions and breakout sessions but the majority of the work gets done over burnt chocolate chip cookies and diet cokes in the breaks. Deals made, projects forwarded, procurements put in motion. It’s the Greek agora, the Roman forum, and as we’re in the actual lobby of a hotel, where that term comes from.

I paint this picture to give you a view of the day to day machinations of your government, far from the madding rhetoric in the news. The New York primary is today, and like all the other primaries, it will be contentious. The level of vitriol in this primary race feels different, more intense, and maybe that’s because the stakes are higher. If it ends of being Trump on the Right, the Left MUST pick the “right” person. It’s no longer about the best candidate or the best President, it’s just the person most likely and most well-poised to beat Trump. Which is a position of weakness from which no one wants to pick the leader of the free world.

So I take comfort in these beltway bandits. We get a bad wrap in “This Town” and I’ve written about this at length, that DC is part of the “real America.” But the surest cure for thinking your government is going to destroy you is to work for it for a hot minute. I think every American who posts a conspiracy theory online should be invited to work in a mid-level federal policy office in DC for an afternoon. Their tasks will be to map to a shared drive, find a stapler, and make a copy of a document. I think after that frustrating afternoon, they’ll leave much more secure in the comfort of a bureaucracy that stands in opposition to tyranny. Tyranny is very efficient. We are not.

So at the end of the day, whether it’s Trump or Hill, Bernie or Cruz (and why is it that Reps are called by their last names, and Dems by their first?), the Republic will survive. It will survive through the work of nameless, blue-suited bureaucrats, much like myself, who know that they only have to wait out the next 6 months, 2 years, 4 years, 8 years, before the whole thing changes again. I don’t know that this is a hopeful truth, but when the choices seem so dire, it makes me feel a little safer. Because I know that real change is incremental, and mostly occurs on the shoulders of cubicle jockeys with a passion, and a dedication to mission. Demagoguery is attractive, but it burns out quick. Someone that can bear the years of slow bureaucracy to make a tangible change? Those are the real heroes. Those are the real leaders. It doesn’t feel as good, and it certainly isn’t as fun, but it’s how anything here ever gets done.

Take heart.

Boss Lady

Keeping with my schedule, Mondays we discuss work. Today, I got a new boss. This new supervisor has been in charge of another division within my department, and our interactions have been minimal, but pleasant, even complimentary in some instances. She seems to have the support of leadership, and to actually have some vision and direction, something my division has been lacking since the departure of our last leader. All in all, I’d be excited, if not for the fact that my colleagues all think she’s a ball buster.

Let me amend that: all my male colleagues. Several of them have remarked on her directness, on her cracking of the proverbial whip of her existing staff. I’ve never observed this, although I’ve been sitting right there when they experienced it. Which makes me wonder, am I just not seeing it, or is it not happening? Which is sort of an interesting converse from the gendered gaslighting that usually happens in the workplace. So who’s right, and who’s wrong about her managerial style? Or are we both right?

I admire directness in a boss, as long as they admire it in me as well. I’ve had a lot of supervisors who could dish it out, but were fragile when it came to push back, even the most subtle and well-couched push back imaginable (and you guys know me, you know that subtlety is not my strong suit). Instead of challenging, many of us try to influence, but I’ve found that in the process of making yourself indispensable, women very often make themselves into soft skills secretaries. Not that being a secretary is not admirable-Lord knows the help and support I’ve gotten from incredibly strong administrative professionals. But I mean a secretary in the definition given by Joan Harris nee Holloway in the first season of Mad Men: “…most of the time they’re looking for something between a mother and a waitress and the rest of the time, well…”.   I’ve witnessed-and experienced-what happens when you allow yourself to be come the work wife of a supervisor, the emotional crutch for them and their egos. You’re indispensable all right, but for all the wrong reasons. And your indispensability means they don’t want you to go anywhere, including up.

This is not to say that women are inherently better bosses to other women- it can just as easily be the opposite. I’ve had plenty of professors and supervisors who held the women to tougher standards, because they’d had so much to prove themselves when they were coming up. I’ve had female leaders undermine me in front of outsiders when I couldn’t have possibly posed an actual threat to their positions, just based on the math of it. People are people, male or female, and some of them are terrible managers and some of them are great. It’s always a crapshoot.

So perhaps it is for this reason I’m fine with taking on a direct taskmaster. I always prefer to know where I stand, even if it’s on precarious ground.

 

Getting Started

Oh, gentle readers, what can I tell you? My audacious plan to write every day was thwarted. My aforementioned diabetic kitten was quite sick when I got back from Vegas, and unfortunately did not make it. Writing just didn’t appeal to me. Not much appealed me.

But it’s a new week, and I’m recommitting, if for no other reason than to have a plan. I’ve been drift-less lately, as I think you know. Restless. Shiftless. Less. Sunday I set out to right about spirituality, and today I write in the sense of spirit. And mine is low. It has been low. I’ve been fighting it, but it’s true. There is a song from the 30s, I Just Can’t Get Started, that keeps running through my head:

“I’ve flown around the world in a plane
I’ve settled revolutions in Spain
The North Pole I have charted, but I can’t get
started with you

Around the golf course I’m under par
And all the movies want me to star
I’ve got a house, a show place, but I get no
place with you”

Clearly a love song, but apt for myself, I think. Because the fact remains that on paper, it looks like things are going well, and I’ve got my shit together. My career is growing, last year I got to travel abso-fucking-everywhere, and I have a full dance card (albeit usually in a platonic fashion) most nights of the week. And yet.

Nothing feels quite right. Nothing makes me excited. Nothing makes me want to spring out of bed. I actually love my job, for the first time in years, and yet getting to work every morning is an abject chore. I love to cook, but everything I make tastes like ashes in my mouth. I keep making sweeping pronouncements about All The Things I Will Do and Change Now, and then just: netflix. And not even new things. Like, the same 4 episodes of things.

I like things in their place, and I like to draw tidy little lines. I keep wanting to draw a line between Before and Now. Between Past and Future. Between Not Ok and Ok. But if I’m honest about where to draw that line, I have to place it still solidly in Not Ok. Because I’m not. People keep asking me if I’m ok, and I know what they want to hear. The people that love you really want to hear that you’re ok. They’ll try almost anything to make you say it, and make you feel it. But I don’t, and I’m not going to pretend any more. I keep thinking I’ve shaken off the dragons of the last 18 months, but they keep coming back up, probably because I haven’t actually faced them so much as been like “what? huh? Dragons? No dragons here!” all the while my hair catching fire. Because they’re fucking scary and weird and big and not who I want to be and make me feel like not who I thought I was.

But not facing them means I’m making stupid mistakes and lashing out at the people I love. I’m looking everywhere for comfort and finding none. I keep trying to evict this sad foreigner that’s taken up residence in my heart, but maybe she’s here to stay. Maybe she’s me now, at least a part of me. Maybe there is no before and after, there’s just a continuum and I’ll carry these things with me. So if I’m going to carry them, how do I let them shape me for better, not break me in two? How do I take their momentum and use it to propel me forward, not drag me back?

I’m getting started, regardless, today. I’m starting by saying that I’m not ok, and I’m trying to be more ok. That’s what I’ve got so far.

Fail

Ok, so I failed on day two of my grand plan. Hoisted on my own Thursday culture/travel petard, in fact, as I’m in Las Vegas on work travel. But that means I will have serious cultural commentary when I return. I’m just lazy and don’t want to type all my exasperation one letter at a time on my iPad. It makes me stabby. 

Women’s Wednesday: The Womening

Getting my inaugural Women’s Wednesday in under the wire…And I think I’ll start by problematizing my own categorization of “Women’s Issues.” “Lady Troubles.” “Just Girl Things.”

Blerg. I mean, what I meant was that I wanted to talk specifically about issues that many women face, and to do it separately from a discussion of sex/dating, politics, body image, or work. Except… I can’t. I really can’t. Those are women’s issues. Those are human issues. As I set out to write this piece, I realized it was nonsense.

HuffPo, Slate, and countless other news (or newsish) outlets all have a section for the ladies, mostly because it sells add space for birth control, tampons, and other thing uterus and vagina adjacent. So I guess I thought I should too. But really any problems I have as a woman are largely related to all the other things I’m interested in discussing. Because being a woman is part of who I am, not an accessory to it. So unless I want to just straight up talk about my reproductive organs/processes (I don’t, and you don’t want me to), I’m pretty sure I’ll need to decide on something else.

Watch this space for a new Wednesday topic. I’m taking suggestions in the comments.

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Hello all!

It’s time for  revamp here at Furst World Problems HQ. In an effort to keep up with posts and try to not bore you all to death with my constant moaning about my love life (or lack thereof), I’m putting myself on a schedule. Moving forward, you can expect my Problems to be neatly categorized each day, along the following lines:

Monday- Professional topics (Werk it)

Tuesday- Politics (aka: DAY OF CAPS)

Wednesday- (We wear pink) Women’s Issues (which I sort of resent, but you know what I mean)

Thursday- Culture/Travel/Food/TeeVee/Miscellany/Grab Bag

Friday- Fashion (read: Stella & Dot, but also other stuff)

Saturday- Dating (disasters)

Sunday- Spirituality

Hopefully this will help you to tune in or ignore accordingly!

 

 

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