Category Archives: What Say You?

“It Was at Times a Long and Difficut Road…”

Farhampton

…Ted Mosby, hero of “How I Met Your Mother”

HIMYM Finale spoilers

I have dreaded the end of my favorite show, “How I Met Your Mother.” For some reason, the end of the show signaled to me the end of an era – the end of a pleasant nostalgia for my own days of freedom and choice when my only worry was determining what time I should meet Darcy and my wonderful friends after work. (We had our own “MacLaren’s” in London.) It’s hard to close the door on those fun times, and I sympathesize with Ted’s tendency to live in his stories. I figured the point of the finale would be that embracing maturity is rewarding, since that was a constant point the show made over the years. But I was wrong.

I have always admired the show, by all accounts a mainstream sitcom on the most banal of networks, because it never trod upon the easy, well-worn paths of normal half hour comedies. It dared to show us the ugly, uncomfortable truths most adults face. Broken romances with no villans, the shifts and alienations in friendships, difficult and bitter choices husbands and wives make for the sake of relationships and children. And of course, it offered one of the most realistic depictions of the heartbreak of infertility. By the way, Robin’s infertility storyline was called “one of the unwelcome times the show got too f****** real” by someone on a forum I read. HIMYM definitely did make forays sometimes into the dark side of life.

Yes, the show was unafraid to take us there: to the dark side. I think the way the creators and writers got away with it with it was because they were, well, f****** funny. And then there was the nine year mystery of the titular Mother. How would Ted Mosby meet his dream woman? That kept viewers (mostly) coming back for more.

I’ll confess I didn’t like the last season much. I was tempted to skip past it and just watch the finale, but in the end Darcy and I crammed much of the entire season into just two nights of viewing so we could watch the finale in real time. We knew the spoilers the next day would be too many to resist.

And so we finally reached the final episode, which unlike the last 23 episodes (all of which tediously focused on 48 hours), fast-forwarded 16 years in one short hour. The twists and turns were punches to the esophogus, and by the time we reached the absolutely gorgeous meeting of Ted and the Mother under that yellow umbrella, I was pretty spent. But of course there was that last final twist, which, well. If you watched the show, you know what I’m talking about. Turns out, the Mother was long dead, and Ted Mosby’s story was all about Robin anyway, not the Mother. Robin, his first love whose own life led down a difficult road filled with infertility, divorce and loneliness. The point was not that Robin was his true love all along. It wasn’t that simple. But she was the point of his story. He would resume his quixotic quest of her, 20 years later.

Here’s where I confess I loved the ending. I know, you probably hated it. Most of Twitter did. (Someone I didn’t know yelled at me on Twitter and implied I sucked for liking the finale.)

So, here’s why I loved the ending. I thought it was true to life. Life has triumphant moments for sure – the meetings under the umbrella, the legendary times you steal a shopping cart from a stuffy British grocery clerk on a dare and wheel your best friend away in sheer exhilaration (allegedly), the rush to the hospital when you’re nine months pregnant, the beautiful wedding ceremony surrounded by friends. The road to those moments CAN be long and difficult, and the road can contain disappointments, defeats, brutal compromises and boredom along the way. And life can, no, WILL be marked by terrible moments too. The devastating diagnosis of infertility, the loss of your loved ones, a broken heart. And we don’t control when the road stops, we just know it will.

The ending acknowledged all of this. And yet, in the end, Ted chooses to fight, to continue to fight to be happy.

In other words, we can’t control fate. Terrible things will happen to us and eventually the curtain will go down on our own story. But we can choose to fight to be happy.

I hope like Ted Mosby, that I always choose to fight.

Thank you, Craig Thomas and Carter Bay. It’s been real, and I thank you for that.

Did you love or hate the finale? And if you were not a viewer, were there other shows you have strongly identified with?

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Filed under Infertility, Parenting After IF, What Say You?

Opportunity Costs

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There is an evergreen concept I return to time and time again, and ironically I lifted it from a college course that was mostly incomprehensible to me. When I took the midterm for Econ, the course in question, I remember actually filling out the scantron in a random pattern of mostly “Cs,” because I had heard from an RA that “C” was right more often than any other answer on multiple choice tests. Amusingly, a guy behind me kept peering over my shoulder, trying to cheat off me. Sorry, dude.

The concept is “opportunity cost” and it’s pretty simple in theory. It means the value of an opportunity you pass by because of circumstance or limited resources. In more poetic terms, it’s the worth of the road not taken.

And I think we can all relate to that.

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I can’t speak about my job, but I can say I love it. Mostly, I love working with people. For years, the only face-to-face interactions I had were with other moms at pick up and drop off, or at a few scattered playdates here and there. As a result, I imparted those brief encounters with tremendous weight. And that had a negative effect on me. I thought of myself as an introvert, but the truth is I have both introverted and extroverted sides to myself.

I could talk all day about how domestic work doesn’t have enough value in today’s society. Obviously there are situational variances in today’s world. The value depends on circumstance – where you live, what your family thinks about SAHMs and how your significant other regards the work that is done in the home. All I know is the work of cleaning, cooking, reading, teaching: it never ends. There was never a goal completed. And that was unnerving to me. My freelance work was of a similar nature. I hungered for a few words about my job performance. But none were forthcoming. It was an endless hamster wheel.

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That being said, because I am human, I worry. Am I a good enough mom? Although my immediate “village” supports my work, and actually elevates me for doing this work (Status! Love! Support! It’s intoxicating!) I know there are others who frown upon it. And like so many who read me, I worked darn freaking hard to have my kids. They are my world. I love them beyond measure and reason. And my work helps pay for a school that values kindness and education above all. This school is like a coccoon for the twins: it loves, shelters, feeds, nurtures them. And there is no question that they are enveloped in a protective silky casing helped them to grow and thrive since starting kindergarten. They are showing signs of being smart, inquisitive, justice-obsessed, empathetic people. I know in my heart that my decision is best for everyone – all of us in this little family. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally pick at that scab of doubt and condemnation that unfortunately seems to live, eternally growing new scar tissue, within each woman’s heart.

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So I think of the opportunity cost – the value of what was not pursued because of limited resources. Unlike a lot of people, I think, I am not haunted by goals I never achieved. I’m not an achievement obsessed individual, at least not on a personal level. I mostly don’t worry about the non-fiction book I never wrote or the novel I halfheartedly started but then walked away from. I don’t stay up nights feeling depressed that I missed the boat on working for some great start-up with an excellent exit. For me life has always been an obstacle course to mostly just be negotiated – a great (mostly) meritocratic race to a finish no one wants to reach. Death. What a bummer.

No. What I think about, my opportunity costs, they are experiences.

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How do you value an opportunity cost? A road not taken? I don’t know.

***

Do you?

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Filed under Parenting After IF, What Say You?

Amazing the Room

My dad always said I keep my thoughts to myself unless I think I can amaze a room.

It’s too true.

I’ve written very little this month, and there are several reasons for this. I am hampered by several factors right now, and I’m starting to envy those who blog anonymously. I always want to write authentically, but right now there are only a few things I can discuss without the cloak of vagueness. So why blog at all? I can hear you asking.

I don’t know. I have missed blogging this month. The less I blog, the more pressure I feel to amaze a room with my next post. That’s probably the worst thing about not blogging for me. I get out of the practice of writing, and begin feeling pressure the more I don’t post to ONLY come back if I have something unique, something thought-provoking to say.

Clearly I don’t have anything like that to say today.

Mostly, I just miss everyone. I know I’ve been a terrible commenter, and for that I am sorry. Blogging was always more about community for me. The sense of going to a virtual coffee shop and discussing issues at a roundtable, with smart, opinionated people.

So, since I don’t have anything earth-shattering to say, I’ll ask you guys, oh wise ones, if you are still here at my virtual coffee table. Do YOU have problems when you stop blogging restarting again? Do you feel your next post has to be so amazing that you just give up and don’t post? Would you rather post anonymously?

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Filed under What Say You?, writing

Revisiting the Good Ole Days

There are two phases in my life I consider to be the “glory days.”

1. College
2. Living in London with Darcy and a group of friends straight out of How I Met Your Mother.

But, I think I have been burnishing those memories too heavily.

I’m watching Undeclared on NetFlix for the first time (it is rad and you should start binge-watching it immediately if you’ve never seen it) and it has reminded me of the bad times as well as the good. There was some stuff that was terrible for me about college. I’ll be using too many bullets, just like I did in my terrible term papers. (Which I used to stay up all night writing the night before they were due. Of course.)

THINGS THAT SUCKED ABOUT COLLEGE

– Lack of Funds. Remember running out of money three weeks before the end of semester and desperately going to the student center for a job, any job? And then taking the only position available: selling roses to people at restaurants like some very tragic character out of Les Mis? “Would you like a rose, miss?” Remember eating a can of beans for dinner? Remember driving all your friends downtown to bars and drinking water so they could pay you gas money and you could eat on weekends? Remember begging people to go to the $1 Happy Hour where you could buy a coke and eat all the free tacos and chips and salsa you could before 4:30 so you didn’t have to be there by yourself?*

I forgot. I don’t miss those times at all.

*ALLEGEDLY.

– How disgusting the dorms were. I remember gearing up to use the community showers. I wore my pretty pink robe my grandmother thoughtfully sent me. I had a pretty pink plastic basket with my shampoo and conditioner from Costco, and my pink razor and soap. I wore pink flip flops. None of these trappings of civilization mattered when I entered the shower area, only to view with horror that someone had puked all over the floor. I hope that whomever the university employed to clean our dorm was very, very well paid indeed. Like, waste management salary. College kids were pigs.

– Roommates, college boyfriends and draaaammmmmaaaaa. One of my roommates was always on the phone with her boyfriend, talking in a baby voice. (Which, no judging, except I was in the room studying and had to listen to her say “But I WUV YOU more!” A lot.) She dumped him (yay!) and immediately found a new boyfriend to use her baby voice with (boo!). Then there was the agonizing time I found out a friend’s boyfriend was cheating on her. Should I not tell her and not ruin her happiness or should I tell her so she didn’t have to live a lie? Oh, the agony of that decision. (I told her. It was awful.) Then the shoe being on the other foot and a friend having to tell ME that she knew my boyfriend had cheated on me. Oh, LORDY. THE DRAMA of college guys. College guys mostly were awful, by the way, at our fine university. Don’t go to the #2 party school in the nation if you are looking for a nice young man. Duh, younger me. DUH.

– Dorm Food. It was nasty. No question. I survived mostly on the bread, which rumor had it was bulked up with extra starch so students wouldn’t eat too much of it and this would keep costs down. This tale, oft told, was probably an urban legend, but the sourdough slices did feel like lead in my stomach.

There was a lot to love, like studying at the beach, my old metabolism, my amazing friends, the beautiful campus, the good times. My old metabolism. But it’s silly for me only to remember that stuff, which is what I tend to do.

Do you tend to romanticize peroids of your life that were great? Did you love college?

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The Courage of Our Convictions?

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We just wrapped up a long family vacation in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is one of those destinations I have been to more years than not: as a child, as a student, as an adult and finally now, as a parent. Each time I visit, I focus upon something different. This year, I noticed all over again the spectacular natural beauty of the place I thought I knew so well, and the surrounding environs. As well as the constant exhortations on every car bumper, street corner and storefront to “Keep Tahoe Blue.”

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Who doesn’t try to be environmentally conscious these days? I do my bit too, by composting, growing my own vegetables, buying organic and local mostly, recycling, and attempting to keep our level of materialism at a minimum. (Hence, my policy of buying quality clothing that will last.) We live in the suburbs, and drive to our twins’ school, but Darcy takes public transport more often than not. We try to teach our children that we need to try to leave as gentle a footprint on the earth as possible.

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But of course, there are issues. I fly once a year to Europe for the family business. I fly across the country to visit my parents in the South once a year. My brother lives in Austin, I often visit him too. We’re all so far flung. It’s difficult. Darcy flies a lot for work.

I was thinking all of this as we drove through the pristine Tahoe National Forest, then I thought: “Blah, blah, blah.” (As Furby, possibly the most annoying stuffed animal EVER would say, complete with his awful vocal fry).

What would Julia Butterfly Hill have to say?

Do you guys remember Julia Butterfly Hill? She was a cultural touchstone in the late 90s. She decided to protest the then-common practice by the logging industry of “clear cutting” (a horribly destructive logging method of basically torching the thousands of years old fragile ecosystems of redwood forests with oil and fire) by sitting in a really old, really tall redwood tree. For TWO years. By herself. During that time, she was harassed by lumber company employees via helicopters, dealt with El Nino gale-force winds, and all sorts of other physical and mental challenges.

You can argue whether her actions made a difference, but she ultimately did save a portion of the forest she was trying to protect when she finally exited her beloved tree, named Luna by Hill.

I remember her adventures pretty well. We were fairly close in age, and I admired her actions and courage and respected what she was doing. But I also wondered how she could give up prime years in her early twenties. I already had my eye on my career (and also meeting the man of my dreams) at age 22. I had a difficult time understanding how Hill could basically devote her young life to a cause so singularly, so fiercely. It was almost like she joined a nunnery.

I decided to Google Hill today to find out what she’s doing now. And to my surprise, I learned she has a blog. In fact, she posted on it today.

Interestingly, Hill admitted in today’s post that she has difficulty dealing with public interest in her. And that she is constantly asked even today what she’s going to do next. Do NEXT?!? The woman sat in a tree for two years and won the battle for her forest. While the eyes of the world watched. You know, no biggie.

To me, the best part of her big action, her grand gesture so to speak, was to plant the seed in many of us to try to do our best, to make the choices that might not be easy, but are right. I think of Hill when I compost, when I bring my recycled bags to the store, when I walk instead of drive, when I plant my vegetables and use organic soil and old-fashioned remedies to keep pests away. When I preserve and can. When I don’t take non-essential plane rides. When I decided not to buy the more convenient minivan or SUV. These are small actions. But it’s what I can bring to the table.

And I think of her too when I make the wrong choices.

Are there any role models that help you make good choices, who have inspired you with the courage of their conviction? If so, who and why?

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Filed under Blogging, Traditions Revisited, What Say You?

The Joy of Reading, Part 2

I finished Little House on the Prairie today, and I had LOTS of questions.

So I went online and fell down several rabbit holes.

Question One:

What the heck happened with the Native Americans vs. the Settlers in the Kansas territory anyway?

Wikipedia directed me to this article. I found Wilder’s perspective pretty open-minded for its time and Pa in particular shows a lot of respect and sympathy for the Native Americans involved in the story. But I did edit my telling of the tale (never reading aloud Ma’s horrid statements) and I pointed out that the Native Americans were there first, and what happened to them was unfair in many ways and a great tragedy.

Question Two:

I wondered if Pa fought in the Civil War, which led me to this beautiful blog dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder. A lot of thoughtful posts and a description of a visit to the New York location where Farmer Boy takes place enriched my understanding of the books, I think.

Question Three:

That “durned” Bird’s Nest Pudding from Farmer Boy: what WAS it?

After my Mom read the post, she sent me the copy of the Little House on the Prairie Cookbook I grew up with and it does have the Bird’s Nest Pudding in it! Then, a reader linked to an article in Saveur about Little House food and I went there. The name of the author who wrote the article sounded familiar: Isabel Gillies. So I googled her and realized she had written a memoir (Happens Every Day) that I had wanted to read when it came out a few years ago. I found an excerpt and decided I wanted to read the whole thing.

Do you fall down rabbit holes on the internet? Do you think it enhances your reading experience or distracts you from it?

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Filed under What Say You?, writing

What On Earth To Say?

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If you read me regularly, you’ll know this blog has been fragmented since this summer. As fragmented as the cheap kaleidoscope lens I bought my son, which was quickly broken, then lost, as most of the twins’ toys are.

The truth is, I have no idea what to write anymore. How to write. Do I craft short, escapist posts of happiness and photos or long heart-wrenching missives pouring my heart out? I’ve had some middling success with this blog in the way I hoped: as an advocacy tool, an educational mechanism. The truth is, in some ways, my wounds of 2006-2010 (two losses and infertility) have healed. The truth is, those wounds will never really fully heal. The bell has been rung, I’m forever changed by the experiences. The truth is: I’ll face worse, because I won’t live forever and this world is destined to delight and depress people and all we can hope is that perhaps we experience more delight, but that’s not a given. The truth is I’d like to write about things other than infertility, too. The truth is, I don’t know that anyone wants to hear about those other things. And, fair enough. I started off writing for myself, but along the way, I began to write for others. Those I knew. Those I didn’t know. Those I wanted to reach. Those who needed to hear stories of others, ordinary but extraordinary tales of loss and love and resilience and brokenness.

I know that some of you have been bewildered by my meanderings (Fashion? REALLY?) and probably hurt by posts about my kids, something I refrained from doing before. I understand: my audience is a mix of different people, some in the trenches, some living childfree not by choice, some parenting, some having nothing to do with infertility.

I don’t know why I feel “better”, but it’s a fragile state I don’t take for granted. In fact, if there’s one phrase that defines 2012 for me, it’s gratitude. I feel lucky. Sometimes grouchy, sometimes angry, but always grateful. Just grateful for my husband and my beautiful twins. That gratitude was always there, under the surface, but it got lost along the way as I grieved for my children who would never be, for the star-crossed road it seems I alone was dealt amongst my charmed friends and acquaintances. But of course I was not alone. Because I had YOU.

And dear, dear readers: this brings me to my question. What would YOU like me to write?

– Would you like me to finish Faces of ALI? (I had at least two more profiles planned.) Do they matter?
– Do you want me to create a separate blog for all things fashion and lifestyle? Because the truth is the other thing that has made me happy in 2012 is rediscovering the superficial side of myself that was submerged for many years. I rediscovered my old love for everything sartorial: mostly this passion was reignited by my daughter, who has taken her interest in clothes to a new level by sewing and crafting.

A friend’s father once told her that she was two sides of the same knife, one that makes shallow cuts and one that delves deep. He’s Romanian and old world and survived the Holocaust as a young child, and I think there is great wisdom in aspiring to this. For me, I think the key for surviving this world (for the time I am given) is to be both: both perfunctory and possibly profound.

I really appreciate and look forward to your comments as always. I know I have not always pleased you, you have not always agreed with me, and I am sure that some of my posts made your eyes roll into the back of your head as you clicked out of my blog 😉 But please know: I have deeply valued your time and your comments over the last two years.

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Filed under Parenting After IF, personal style, What Say You?, writing