Sunday, January 5, 2014

Farewell Wicket, May the Force Be With You

Two years, one month, and one day ago, a little ewokian creature wandered into my life.  He had been wandering awhile, out in the world, and finally a kind neighbor, thinking he should wander no more, took him and tried to find him a home. He asked around and around for someone to take the little guy in, and finally I, having been toying with the idea of adopting a dog already, replied that maybe I would take the little dude. He spent that weekend with my boss and her partner, as I was off gallivanting somewhere as usual.  When I walked into the office Monday morning, I met the little guy. Having seen pictures of him already, and knowing immediately who he looked like, I had a name all picked out. I went up to this shaggy little furball, quiet and staring, and asked if he would like to come live with me.  The poor guy had bounced around so much the questions probably had no meaning for him.  I told him if he would, in fact, like to come live with me, I would call him Wicket.  I told him my name was Mac and that I would like to be his friend and that I would take care of him.  In his characteristic Wicket way he appeared completely indifferent to me and my question.  After spending the day together at the office, and making a quick trip to the nearby vet to get the little guy and his papers in order, Kearney—tante Kearney, as he would come to know her—took Wicki (as I would come to refer to him) and I to the pet store for provisions.  Dishes and food, a leash and collar, a dog bed and toy—all the essentials.  Then tante Kearney took us home.  He explored a bit as Kear and I watched, probably wondering what the purpose of this, yet another new place, was.  We set up his dishes and tried to get him to eat, but in his (what we would discover to be) usual stubbornness, he refused.  He just kept walking around smelling things.  Kear cleared out and I was left alone with my little creature.  We looked at each other, each trying to figure the other out.  I put his little dog bed next to mine, and that night, after watching me climb into my bed as I chatted at him, explaining his new life to him, Wicket climbed into his little bed and continued staring at me.  It would be the only night he would spend in his little bed.  The very next night, he jumped onto mine at bedtime, apparently now comfortable enough to exert his will over Whipple House and his person.  He curled up at the foot of the bed and promptly fell asleep. 

The next few days were a blur of adjustment issues as the ewok and I settled into our new life together.  There were many late arrivals to work, as I spent mornings trying to get him comfortable at home; a fair amount (read: a lot) of anxiety (on both our parts) and one set of completely destroyed window blinds—chewed up the middle.  That’s how I learned that one of Wicket’s favorite pastimes was staring out the window—and he wasn’t going to let anything get in his way of that.

I wasn’t sure, at first, in those early few days, that this was going to work.  Maybe I shouldn’t have a dog—I’m gone a lot.  Also, this particular dog eats window treatments. And scratched doorframes trying to burrow out of the apartment to follow me when I leave.  And we don’t connect.  We don’t seem to understand each other.  He is unimpressed with me.  Blah, blah, blah.  These were the concerns I expressed to friends and family in the beginning.  Then one day, as I was expressing this pessimism to a friend, she replied by saying “Yeah, maybe you should get rid of him.” “What? Are you crazy? Get rid of my dog?  How could you even suggest such a thing?” was my internal reply.  And I realized how ridiculous I was. I knew, I understood what was happening.  I went home that evening to an anxious little dude having committed the usual amount of destruction, and I didn’t mind.  I put his leash on him, grabbed a bag, and took him out for his evening walk.  And when he leaped up onto my bed that night, I pulled him up towards me and told him I was glad he was here. That I liked having him with me and that I was happy to be his forever family. He wandered back down to the foot of the bed the moment I released him from the hug I was giving him, but still, he gave me that moment.

From there, it was more walks, more bedtime snuggles, and slightly less destruction.  There were bike rides together—I hadn’t known it was possible to make bike rides more joyful until I started biking with Wicki. There were lazy days spent lounging around at home, which I think were his favorite.  He came with me everywhere I could bring him—work, friends’ houses, family visits, street fairs, even one piano lesson.
Wicki became my best little furball friend.  My favorite little companion, my family.  Over the course of two years and one month I fell hopelessly in love with my little grumblebucket.  I was as excited to come home to him every day (that wasn’t already with me) as he was to see me coming up the stairs, returning to him.  For all my hollow threats of beating him senseless or selling him to the circus (neither of which he ever for a moment believed or heeded, and rightly so) I actually grew more fond of him by the minute.  He made me indescribably happy even when he was driving me nuts.  My first thoughts were always of him—every social engagement, work scheduling puzzle, day of errand-running, was  figured around allowing myself ample time to spend with my dog.  He did so hate being alone, I always wanted to be with him as much as possible.
One of my favorite days ever was a little over a year ago when I came home from work and got my usual ecstatic greeting from the little furball—and then found that he had learned to play.  After jumping up and down around me for a few minutes, he raced (and watching him run and slide through my apartment was endlessly amusing) into the bedroom to his little pile of then, mostly untouched, toys—and grabbed one.  He raced back to me with it, dropped it in front of me, and stared at me, curly little tail wagging.  I tossed it across the kitchen, he ran for it, and it was his first fetch.  He never graduated past three fetches, but he did keep playing.  He had a few favorite toys, which he would bat around and chase after, or lay and munch on; I loved watching him play with them.

He was the best biking companion I’ve ever had.  Clad in his little red racing jacket, wrapped up in blankets, or covered in a makeshift doggie poncho, weather depending, he  almost always sat calmly and well-behaved in his little crate. Other travelers—bikers and drivers alike—loved seeing him looking out from his milk crate, examining the world we were pedaling past, enjoying the ride, wind in his face, ‘mom’ pedaling away, re-tucking his blankets at red lights and patting his head. 

I think though, for him, nothing compared to lazy days at home.  What to me were great annoyances—migraines and tension headaches—were to him, jackpot wins.  They meant Saturdays in bed with movies all day.  They meant mom not going anywhere.  He would spend all day snoozing next to me, getting up only to walk a circle and rearrange himself into a little ball.  His company, too, helped ease the pain in my stupid head; knowing I had my little companion with me was a comfort that far exceeded what one would think possible a little 15 pound meatloaf to be capable of providing.

I like to think that this past week plus, from a few days before Christmas to the day after New Year’s was a good one for him because we got to spend so much time together.  Over a solid week of time together at home and time together out in the world.  I hope I’m right that he had a lot of happy moments in there, and enjoyed spending so much time with me; I know I loved getting so much time with him.

Two days ago—two years and one day short of one month after he wandered into my life, my beloved little Wicki wandered out.  I couldn’t bring him to work with me that day because the weather was so bad.  So I left him at home, sitting in the middle of my bed, light and radio on for him, as always.  I petted him and explained why he couldn’t come with me that day, and said I was sorry I couldn’t bring him with me.  I told him I loved him and that I would be home after work, and I would see him then.  I told him to be good.  I think I called to him again as I was leaving, that I loved him.  I hope I did, I usually did.  It was a normal day at work, I left a little early to grab dinner with friends, and afterwards we decided to continue hanging out at my place, since I had to get home to see to the little dude.  I was so excited to bring more friends home to him, and after so much time together until then I really missed him that day.  I bounded up the stairs and called for him as I walked in the door.  Usually he was at the door already jumping up and down to greet me.  He didn’t come when I called him—sometimes he was so engrossed staring out the window he zoned out and I would have to walk up to him to get his attention.  I walked into my room calling his name.  I saw him from the doorway, lying in his little bed, tucked underneath the desk like a little cave.  I could tell from where I stood.  I walked up to him and knelt down.  I laid my hand on his little leg and nudged him. "Wicki?” 

I shouted for Gene and tried to understand what had happened.  Good luck to me with that.

With Gene and Pete keeping my company, and making sure the whiskey kept pouring, I, as always, called my dad to my rescue.  Periodically, while waiting for him to come and collect us, I walked back into my room to say something to Wicki. “I love you.” “I’m so sorry.” “You are my favorite little guy.”
Yesterday, he was buried in one of his favorite spots, with his racing jacket and few favorite toys.  I am staring at the spot under the desk where his bed is supposed to be.  I am staring at the foot of my bed where he is supposed to be.  I am rapidly depleting the world’s Kleenex supply.  I am fighting the urge to go back and dig him up and hug him and refuse to ever let go, as if that would bring back the Wicki I know and love.  I am wondering why I only got two years and one month with him, while trying to remind myself that those two years and one month were wonderful and happy and I was lucky to have them.  I need to be grateful for them, and I am.  But I’m also heartbroken.  I feel so alone without my little ewok friend.  I feel so sad I wasn’t here with him when he went; I wish so much that I had been.

Wicki, I love you so much.  Everyone keeps telling me that I probably gave you the best two years of your life, I hope so.  I know you gave me two of the best of mine.  I am sorry for every time I yelled at you, even though I know you didn’t take it seriously anyway.  I am sorry for every time I had to leave you alone, I never wanted to.  I hope you know you were always one my mind when I wasn’t with you, and that I was always excited and happy to come back to you.  I hope you know that I meant it every time I said I was glad I found you and that you were my favorite little guy.  I hope wherever you are now, you have good company.  I hope you get to munch on leftover turkey and walk as slowly as you want, stopping to smell every tree and fence you encounter for as long as you want.  I hope the shades are up at the window you stare out from.  I hope you know how much I loved you when you were here, and how much I still love you now.  Thank you for coming to live with me. Thank you for every grumble, every snuggle, every laugh, every moment of comfort you ever gave me. Thank you spending the last two years with me. It wasn’t enough, but no amount of time would have been.  I am grateful for the time we had together.  I will miss you for the rest of my life, I will love you forever.  You are my favorite little guy. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Burning Yearnings

I will start this one with a preface.

I have been increasingly missing Burning Man lately. I can't measure exactly what 'lately' means, and 'missing' doesn't really describe it, because of course a Burner is missing Burning Man. But I have been missing it in the way you miss a deceased relative or friend. My body has ached for it. Been hollow, searching. The slightest provocation sets my mind diving through memories. I find myself closing my eyes with increasing frequency throughout the day, pulling up images, and sounds. Imagining the wind blowing on my face, the dust pummeling me. I miss the dust. Luckily there's still a fair amount of it all over my apartment.

And really, I know what it is. I miss the place where I belong.

Waking up for the first time in a tent in the middle of the desert, I peeked out my little tent window to see the sun rising over the mountains. (I recommend doing this, BTW at some point in your life). "This," I thought, "is how people are supposed to wake up." We busted out the camping stove and made eggs. And cowboy coffee. This is important: we made cowboy coffee. You know those blue speckled metal mugs and tall narrow coffee pots you've seen every cowboy using, sitting around every fire in every western ever? WE MADE COWBOY COFFEE. I'll be honest. It will forever remain one of the fuckin' coolest, proudest moments of my life.

Cowboy coffee is the best.

Anyway, we did that, and various other campsite things, and then we took off for our adventures. I got ice, I saw the sights.  I rode around, exploring interesting campsites, checking out art installations. I made endless Star Wars, Blade Runner, Tron, etc references in my head. I decided that anyone that bitched about the heat was a moron. (It's true what they say. 110 in dry heat is like...mmm...80 in Chicago). I wondered if my mouse friend had found some friendly Burners to camp with for the week; I hoped he had. At some point in the afternoon, when the sun made it hot enough to slow down, I went back to the camp, dove into our igloo, and napped. Lexie and I made campfire spaghetti o's (they taste like regular spaghetti o's, which is totally cool). And then, as the sun set, and playa dwellers howled at it as it floated behind the western mountains, we readied ourselves once again for the evening. Colorful, clashing, goofy clothes. Bike lights. Glow sticks, woven through our hair, wrapped around our wrists, ankles, arms, one as garter around my right thigh. And we rode out into the night.

The deep playa had doubled, at least. In one day, dozens of new art installations had popped up, and art cars had been built and set free for the evening. It was like having been in DeKalb one night and New York City the next. I made sure the Death Star was still patrolling the perimeter (if the Jedi were going to take it out, I wanted to be there). I rode out to explore the new world.

And now, a twist in our heroine's (that is the girl type of hero, and not the drug, right? I always worry) story: at some point during this night, after riding around a bit, I found myself crestfallen. Now, as I had heard and can now attest to, this is not uncommon. Even veteran Burners who love the playa often find themselves, at some point during the burn, falling in a funk. Or having a breakdown. Or a freakout (of the life variety, not the drug variety, though those may occur too). It seems to be a part of the experience. It's a downer in the moment, but with hindsight, as is usual, it's ok. It's different for everyone, of course, and lasts for varying amounts of time. Mine lasted exactly a day and half.

I went back to camp that night forlorn. I curled up in my tent with Winston (my monkey) and fell asleep wondering how I could be ruining such a wonderful place for myself. This feeling lasted into the following afternoon despite the tu-tus (Tu-tu-Tuesday). Until, after an extended afternoon ride, I happened upon an Irish Flag flying high above a campsite at Esplanade and 6:30. I wandered over to find a group of people lounging around, painting each other. One of the painters, working on butterflies or something across a girl's stomach, was kind-looking, soft spoken, with surfer-like long blonde hair, some dreaded some not, wearing an assortment of Indian and Japanese prints and clothes. He introduced himself (Leaf) and explained that it was his shop and I could either wait for him or take up paints myself and have at it. Knowing full-well the limits of my artistic ability, and wanting to try something new, I waited for him.

A wise decision.

As he painted I found out he was there as part of the Irish CORE group, which was only one in a series of adventures. He invited me to a jam session at the group's effigy later that evening, and armed with the invitation, I drifted away into the Jazz tent for some live mid-afternoon jazz. And I felt my spirits lift. My peace return. My belonging-ness be reaffirmed.

In the Jazz tent, aside from being monumentally impressed with the band, I received my first gift on the playa. Striking up a conversation with a beautiful blonde braided girl earned me a hand made painted glass Burning Man necklace, complete with bird charms. It now resides on my bedside lampshade, a pleasant sight and happy reminder to fall asleep and wake up to.

I went back to camp renewed, excited, pleased and peaceful. My slump was merely the fee paid to the universe for this incredible experience, and it was a small one to pay. I didn't mind at all, in the end.

Which, as I think about it now, is perhaps what this time in my life is. The void I've been feeling that was once filled with desert air and dust. Maybe that's my fee for next time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Burning Blog 2

Driving through the back streets of Black Rock City, you'd never know that we were arriving on the early side of the day. Thousands of people were already there, having arrived precisely at midnight and ever since to make sure they got their coveted camping ground.  Lexie had a spot picked out for us somewhere near 4:00 and something. (Streets went by clock placement and alphabetically to L). We got pretty close, setting up camp at approx. 3:20 and I (named Initiation for this year's Burning theme--Rites of Passage), right next to the Godzilla art car, which never ceased to amuse me. We spent the afternoon setting up camp, building our daytime dome, pitching our tents, and unpacking our gear.  Now arrives the first time I struggle to describe my experience. I know how I felt as I built my tent--my home--for the week. I know how I felt swinging the sledgehammer and pounding the rebar hooks into the ground (I mean, aside from out of shape and exhausted). There was something about it that was so satisfying, I was earning my time out there. This was how people were meant to live. They were meant to build, to create, their shelter (really, all their stuff). And do it while getting COVERED in dust. I'm not sure why, but that definitely made it better. Setting up camp made me feel better than I had felt in some time, and being surrounded by other people doing and experiencing the same thing made it all the more profound. There was an immediate, inherent, shared understanding with these people, and before even meeting our neighbors, we were a community in a way I had never before experienced. I mean, we were already anyway because we were Burners. But it was another affirmation that more so than I had been in a long time, I was exactly where I belonged.

After we had finished setting up camp and had a little dinner, we decorated our bikes and ourselves, and headed out to explore the deep playa. The sun was just setting as we readied ourselves, and the city was beginning to light up. Everywhere I looked, where moments ago had been dust covered tents of olive green and navy blue, washed out palettes and random sticks pointing into the air, there were now glowing, twinkling, sparkling lights of every design and color. 14 different songs from 12 different safariing art cars floated on the air and swirled around us as we wove glowsticks through our hair and bike wheels and wrapped them around our arms and ankles.  Godzilla lit up. Twinkle lights exploded into life all around us. Lexie and I oohed and aahed over each others' wardrobe creations. And then, we were ready.

As we rode down the dusty, bumpy 3:15 street, I tried to take in everything I possibly could while trying not to kill myself on unseen dips and bumps, while also trying not to kill anyone else wandering the street. It was a feat, I must say. I examined, with awe and a dopey smile on my face, the camps we passed, the outfits on people walking by, the art cars. (More on art cars later). Being completely dark, all I could really see well was anything lit up, but it was enough. And it was fuckin' cool.

As we continued up 3:15, the light grew. Like the Sun peeking over the horizon, or Vegas, in the middle of the desert.  Out of vast darkness was a glowing orb, out of place but perfectly placed, guiding burners to its center like moths to a flame. We approached Esplanade (the main drag of the playa) and the city opened up. Camps stopped and the unbridled dust floor of the playa began. And. We saw the man. In the center off everything, taller than any other structure, lit up red and blue and yellow, standing tall and proud on his wooden mountain, taking a step into...whatever his Rite of Passage was.

I'm pretty sure I was grinning like a jack-o-lantern.

Lexie and I rode around the playa checking out different effigies and art installations. Some were still being built, and while I was already impressed with what was out there, Lexie confided that it wasn't half of what would be there by the end of the week. There was a wall of TVs--operational--showing different programs (or whatevers) on each one. There was a fire tree. (I don't know if it was a tree. It could have been a cactus. It could have just been a big metal tube with metal tube arms that shot flames every 30 seconds. It doesn't matter, it was there). There were art cars and people in tutus EVERYWHERE. And there was me, still grinning like an idiot.

We went to the Temple. The Temple, I found out later, wasn't as old as the rest of Burning Man (25 years), The Temple was started about 13 years ago, and originally was a tent. It had since evolved. The Temple I saw was a massive, two-story, three-towered structure of intricate design. It was absolutely beautiful. While nearly everything else on the playa was multicolored, the Temple was bathed in white flood and spot lights, and glowed like a happy moon. There were beautiful planks of wood hung as decorations all the around the temple--carved with swirls and celtic knots and geometrical patterns. The closer you stood to the Temple, the calmer, more at peace you felt, instantly. It was, in the truest sense of the word, an awesome sight.

After we rode away from the Temple, we rode up to the Man to say hello. It was crowded with people basking in his light, admiring his structure, and just enjoying being near him. After the man, Lexie headed back to camp and I continued on, visiting the Great Lakes Core effigy--a lighthouse, and a few others. I happened upon my favorite installation that night--a huge, glowing willow tree. It was made out of intertwined metal rod curved into a tree trunk and supporting branches, and the hanging branches were tubes looked to be filled with fiber optic cables, changing colors every few minutes. It was powered by big solar powered orbs that hung strategically throughout the tree.  Please sat perched happily between branches while others climbed, took a look around, and came back down to give someone else a turn. I climbed up and enjoyed looking at the tree branches so much I don't think I remember to look around elsewhere. Oh well.

I rode around a bit more to see the giant pirate ship built from an accordion bus, and on my way back towards 3:15, met a fellow named Wolverine who had been to the Burn many times and was there this year on his own to experience it in a new way, which I found to be very cool. We chatted a bit and then parted ways, and I headed back to camp. By some not-so-small miracle I found my way back quickly and without wrong turns (although, what would I have found if I had veered off course, I wonder?) I climbed into my tent and as I lay there, replaying my day, the music from the arts swirled around me, the memories and images wrapped my up like a burrito, and as I shut my eyes Lexie's words danced around in my head.

"Mac, you were born to be here."

As I drifted happily into sleep, smile plastered on my dusty face, I figured she was right.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Burning Blog 1

This entry has been a long time coming. Long time in the making. Too long for me to keep taking my sweet time writing and re-writing and editing and changing, and really, who cares anyway? So it's going up with all its lacking and imperfection. Much like myself, so I guess it works.  Anyway, here we go:

Oh, also, it's really long, so it's being installed in sections. So if you have any interest in reading, be prepared.

Mad Max was brought up a lot, mostly by my new-found Irish friend. Tron came to mind. Star Wars. Star Wars was used as a descriptor a lot. Particularly anytime the Death Star car was in view. Blade Runner was offered a few times, as was Firefly, in an attempt to find anything that similarly, seamlessly integrated seemingly contradicting cultures. All were accurate analogies for pieces of the Playa. But none came close to describing the whole. Nothing does.

Lexie and I arrived around 2:30 or 3, default desert time, to Black Rock City. We had left Reno sometime around 7 or 8, I think, and had stopped in Gerlach to browse through the store, get acquainted with fellow Burners, check out a gorgeous, if more in spirit than in looks, 65 Mustang convertible, and buy goggles. Then we hoped back in our Big Red Pickup Truck (nicknamed Dusty, by that point) and continued on through Gerlach and onto the entry road. The long, dusty, slow-moving, life-altering entry road.  Vehicles are strictly limited to 5-10 MPH, and even at that pace most of the time we were blinded by dust. At some point, after some time (the only measurements I was capable of by then) we stopped our 10MPH roll and joined the already long queue for the entry gate. It was then that it hit me: I was at Burning Man. I was Han, about to make the jump to hyperspace. (Because, I'm a nerd). I was in and amongst and a part of a very specific group of people. And I was PUMPED.

Once in the queue, you move even slower. So most people start hoping out of their cars, trucks, buses, campers, etc. And hop on their bikes, or their unicycles, or their pogo sticks, or their stilts, or hell, they just hop. And they take off--off of the road, onto the desert floor, to dance, to run, to meditate, to swirl, to watch, to make friends, to be alone. To do whatever. Some people start building their art cars. Putting on their costumes. Giving gifts. Making friends. Extending invitations. Fly kites. In our case, blowing bubbles. I had planned to stay in the truck until we were through the gate. I lasted for about 3 songs on the BRC radio and a whole lot of rambling by the DJ. Then I decided it was time. I hoped out, and headed off the road and onto the sectioned off desert floor. I stared at the BRC mountains. I took pictures of the queue, now extending well past our Dusty truck. I watched the Burners. I watched a hot pink and gold art car being built. I made friends with an Australian fellow named Jason, who wandered out in the roped-off part of desert to investigate the same little scampering critter that I had wandered out to investigate. I hop our little friend, the little lost field mouse, found a home for the week. He was a friendly fellow, and, Jason and I decided, a good omen for the Burn. After our mouse friend continued on his way (presumably to Gerlach, but perhaps he made it into someone's camp), Jason told me about past Burns and asked me about life in Chicago (his favorite movie was Ferris Bueller. A second good omen). It was one of the easiest small talk, get-to-know-someone conversations I have ever participated in. We exchanged desired campground info, and invited each other over to our camps for...whatever. Water? Food? Conversation? Knitting lesson? And then parted ways. I had made a Burner friend before even getting into the city limits. Not too shabby.

After that it seemed to not take very long to get up to the gate. A greeter came up and confirmed that we had water and tickets and told us which lane to pull into for official entrance. My excitement grew. This was it. We were entering the point of no return. Once inside, nothing was ever going to be the same.  Nor would anything ever again be dust-free. Ever, ever, again.  We got to the gate. A beautiful, pigtailed, cowboy hat clad woman greeted us with a genuinely excited, warm "Welcome home!!" and big, big hug. Lexie alerted her to the virgin in the car (me). We were told to pull through the gate, over to the side, park, and run back for my initiation ceremony.  We followed orders, and as I made my way back to the gate I tried to take everything in while trying not to get killed by incoming vehicles, which didn't work very well, so I focused on not getting killed seconds after my arrival. We reached the gate again, and our lovely greeter gave me my instructions: pick up the metal pipe, bang the bell/gong thing as hard as possible, and yell, at the top of my lungs, the initiation statement. I picked up the pipe. I harnessed all the knowledge I could remember from all the baseball documentaries I'd ever watched, and as I took my swing, I screamed, at the top of my lungs: "I'm not a virgin anymore!" And we went to find our camp.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Inception (NOT conception)

My angst-filled ramble re: I can't believe I'm blogging will not be the basis of this, my first article. ...Blog. Whatever. But I do need to get this out of my system: I can't believe I'm blogging. I'm a blogger? What? Ok, done.  And now, an explanation of how this insanity came to be.  Of what drove to put the thoughts running rampant in my brain out there for all the internet world (that gives a damn) to read.

A few days ago, I was at my yearly gyne. exam. (Worry not, there are no gross details forthcoming). I was there, aside from the annual check-up, to get my birth control (BC) prescription refilled. My doctor is nice, I like her well enough. Even now. But....but.

Well, after the usual pleasantries and questions, my doc confirmed my preferred BC method and proceeded to ask: "You want it refilled? No plans for babies soon?"

Not phased by the question, as I have become accustomed, as a 27 year old single woman, to several varying forms of "What the hell is wrong with you?" (read: 'You're not seeing anyone?' 'Oh, you're not married?' 'Well don't you want to get married?" 'What, you don't want to have kids?' What do you mean you don't want to have kids?') I answered in stride.


The exam proceeded, and thankfully was over quickly. And then came round two.

"OK, I'm going to write you your prescription, but you know, you should start thinking about it, start making some plans. You're ovaries are getting older, you know, so...I'm not worried, you're still in your prime time, so I'm not worried, but you know, you should think about. Ok, see you!"

As she closed the door behind her, I let the polite, amused smile fall from my face and rolled my eyes so far I was actually afraid I snapped an eye muscle. Or whatever. I promptly texted my two best friends and decided that a bottle of wine was in order for the evening. Because if my ovaries were getting old, than by god (or whoever) they were gonna fuckin' get drunk too.

Now. I get it. Nice, older, traditional OBGYN/GYNE probably assumes everyone with a uterus plans for and wants kids. I guess. But, my question is, why? In 2011, in Chicago, IL, U.S.A. why is this still the expected norm?

For one thing, I get I was asking for BC, and so she could assume I'm having any, if not regular sex. That I'm not, at the moment, is knowledge she didn't ask for, and so didn't have. So I can see why she may think I am even CAPABLE of thinking about having kids. Just, logistically. But there are 1,000 other things she didn't know. Even if, for example, I did have one steady partner, who is to say that is a person I would want to have a kid with? What if I'm broke because I work mopping floors at McDonalds? (I don't) What if I'm broke because I spend all my money on travel and records? (I do). In that case, do I have ANY business, whatsoever, entertaining the idea of bringing a new, completely dependent person into that knuckleheadedness? This list goes on of things she, and hundreds like her, never bother to  ask.

I wasn't angry about it, but I am bemused by it. And maybe it's partly my fault. Coming into my 20s in a post-Sex and the City world, I guess I mistakenly thought a road had been paved for women that said--"some of us don't want marriage/kids (or at least, it's not our main goal), and we've told everyone else, and the social norm expectations have changed, so now you young'uns don't have to deal with this nonsense." I thought, being 27 in 2011, when I said "I don't want to have kids" I would get an "Oh, OK." as opposed to  "Ohh," with a connotation of "You're one of those" or "Oh. Well you'll change your mind."

Granted, I might. I'm 27, what do I know? But at the moment, I'm not. And I haven't for several years, it's something I've put a lot of thought into. And it is, ultimately, my decision and no one else's. But I'm straying from my real point.

Which is, WTF? (To use that technically lingo? Whatever.) Why is it that, theoretically, I am going to have to spend some portion of my life justifying my life choice? Who am I hurting? (And that is a rhetorical question--we all know by now that NOT polluting the earth with more people is actually HELPFUL to everyone--the planet, the people already on it, and the person you're saving from being on it).  How is it that in 2011, on some level, I'm still met with the same expectations as women in 1951? And 1931? And 1871? If the top hats are gone, why isn't my societal requirement for pregnancy gone?

Maybe, it occurs to me, because I have to help get rid of it.

Next year, I'm telling her that I've thought about it, and all things considered, my aging ovaries are pretty happy as they are.

The only baby I'm interested in. "Little Baby Bear."