I’m open, but I’m not THAT open…

Thrice this past week, I’ve been asked how soon I plan to get pregnant after I get married. (Yup, how soon plan. Me. The fiancé gets no say, apparently.)

One, I’ll admit I kinda walked into. Cooing over photos of my cousin’s children and then admitting a craving for tuna (which I haven’t had in forever) does kind of create a natural segue. It really was a “Wow, you really like kids! Are you planning on being a mom soon?” sort of thing. Okay. I can handle that. (My no was followed by the second question of if I already was pregnant. Pro-tip: DON’T FREAKING DO THIS. Not okay.)

The other happened as I was cooing over other photos. I quote, “Oh, I see where this is going: that’s why you’re getting married!”

Look, I get that it’s teasing. I’m not looking to play the victim or cry injustice here. But the implication that kids will take (or worse, already have taken) precedence over other qualities in a spouse really rankles.

Yes, I unapologetically go to mush over babies, and I like working with kids. I’ve always known that I want to be a mom someday. Honestly, I think the fiancé will make a great dad when we’re (yes, “we”! The fiancé gets a say!) good and ready. But I’m not just biding my time by programming–it’s a passion and I want to keep doing it, even after kids, and I don’t love the fiancé just because he could be (as a friend rather aptly put it) a “baby-enabler”. He is so much more than that. He is my partner in crime, my sounding board; he understands and accepts me. He’s a good cook, has an infectious smile and laugh, and plays a mean game of Scrabble. He gives the best hugs and, being far more aesthetically inclined than I, occasionally helps me pick out what to wear. We first bonded over composting and origami, and only later found out that we were compatible in terms of life and family goals, and while kids are a pretty important part of compatibility (you can’t really have half a kid, or only the good parts of a kid), again, I’m marrying him for everything else, too, and quite possibly everything else, first.

Also again, I get that it’s good-natured teasing. I really do. I’m not about to report either coworker for harassment or anything–in this case, it would be counter-productive. However, I have resolved to speak up next time. Not harshly or anything; just “Hey, I don’t appreciate the implication/you asking me about something this personal”. I know they’re good guys and will take it just fine. We all make mistakes. This is just a reminder to me that some have a deeper effect than they seem.

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Who Kills the Spiders?

WARNING: This post contains emotions. Sappy emotions, mostly. I am not ashamed.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not an expert at everyone’s relationship. Sometimes, I’m not even an expert at mine. But we’re getting married, so I’m pretty sure we’re doing at least something right… My point is that if you’re looking for advice on how to make your relationship work, it may be that some or all of the below won’t apply. Also, I’m not sure how you happened upon this if you’re looking for advice.

I’ve given a lot of thought to what it means to be ready to spend the rest of my life with someone else. Which is, y’know, kind of a thing, given that the fiancé and I are going to be married next year. If we didn’t think we were ready, we wouldn’t be planning.

But how did I get here, I sometimes find myself wondering. I can’t pin down an exact day. What I do remember is this: It wasn’t a petulant “I don’t wanna live my life without him” or a desperately dramatic “I simply can’t go on without him”; it was something deeper and much more profound than that. But that was more or less when I really solidly knew. It was when a large chunk of the puzzle of life slid very soundly into place.

I mean, I’d had moments of that before, but nothing so sudden and so deep. I’d been pretty sure, but this was pushing me over into “I know I’m sure” territory.

All I mean to say is that while a lot of it came upon me at once, it has been and still is something of an ongoing realization. It’s not just the big things, as they say.

Quite frankly, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

It’s realizing that I can see myself doing things like voting and taxes and the census and getting a mortgage with him. It’s seeing myself doing even the more mundane things—things we already do, like going grocery shopping together or texting “I need x, y, and z… what else do we need from Safeway?”. It’s deciding what to make for dinner together, and then having a bit of an impromptu dance while waiting for the water to boil or the oven to come to the correct temperature. (We both turn up the music when we cook.) It’s knowing that these things are mundane and still managing to find the occasional way to treasure them.

It’s knowing that we can laugh and learn together. It’s poking gentle fun at each other. (“What do you mean, you’ve never ______? What kind of childhood did you have, anyway?”) It’s knowing when to back down and when to stand ground. It’s making the effort to stay calm even when upset, and knowing when to apologize.

It’s seeing the look in his eyes and not being able to put into words how it makes me feel. It’s cuddling on the sofa or the bed at night, and knowing where to find him when I have nightmares.

It’s having completely separate days sometimes, and still being able to come back at night to just be content with each other.

It’s feeling attractive whether in pajamas with floofy sleep-hair, or all dolled up for work or an outing.

It’s reminding about a shirt tuck-in or a hair combing. It’s asking him which scarf would go better with my top because he’s Mr. Visual Aesthetics and I’m… not.

It’s knowing that neither of us is perfect, and sometimes getting annoyed at the other’s quirks, but maintaining that we’d still have each other no other way.

It’s feeling totally safe and totally at ease and just plain at home. It’s trusting in our love.

It’s giving music I didn’t think I’d like a try, and giving my honest opinion when I don’t. It’s reading too much into media sometimes, and the conversations that come from that.

It’s that silent confirmation that yes, sometimes I do sound exactly like this or that relative.

It’s sometimes stepping back and going “What the hell are we doing?” and very swiftly answering that with “Enjoying life together.”

It’s finding out something new about him and going “How did I not know this before?”

It’s so very simple that it’s in everything. Some time ago, the fiancé’s younger brother said he had a relationship question for us.

“Who kills the spiders in your relationship?”

The answer we gave is that neither of us do (well, unless we were to find a poisonous one or something), but that whoever finds it traps it and sets it free. It’s what works for us. But it might not work for everyone. I certainly wouldn’t force the fiancé to trap and release spiders if he had a crippling fear of them. But, all things being equal on the fear front, whoever finds it deals with it.

And I guess that’s the biggest thing: this is an equal partnership. Maybe not an even one—maybe one of us does more of the cooking or cleaning, and maybe the other shops for groceries more or something. But we complement each other. I’d like to think that we’re each whole on our own, and that together, we’re something more than that.

What I do know is at the end of the day, we are two people making our way through this crazy, unpredictable, funny, scary world together (but not just on our own!), and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

What I’ve Learned In College

You learn a lot of things in college. Some of them will (hopefully) be pertinent to your future career. Some of them will make you a better person. Some will make you feel like you’re the worst person on the planet. Some seem like they’ll never be useful, but really will be.

In honor of my time at university drawing to a close, here are some things I’ve learned over the past four years.

–Food is a valid bargaining chip and can be used in place of money with the average college student. This is also more or less true of alcohol, but food will by and large make you far more friends, at least in my case.

–There are about 12 types of people you will meet in college, but each one of them is an individual.

–How to avoid La Rouchies.

–You’ll meet a lot of people who are just big high schoolers, or even big middle schoolers. At least one of them will be a professor or TA.

–Long weekends spent avoiding studying will allow for a lot of self-introspection. You will not always be happy with what you find, but you may also learn how to make peace with who you are.

–The quickest way from one end of campus to the other, excluding buildings that aren’t on campus proper. Like the ceramics studio. (Never had class there, and I’m thankful.)

–Everything you know is wrong, if only slightly.

–One does not magically become an adult by living on one’s own.

–How to get drunk neighbors to shut up/how to stand up for yourself when your neighbors will not shut up at 2 AM during finals week.

–How to manage with communal showers.

–Relatedly, that there are such things as paper towel dispensers and they produce these magical sheets of recycled wood product that can be placed between your hand and the hair clogging the drain.

–How to have fun on a budget.

–Dorm wifi sucks.

–Off-campus wifi really isn’t any better, and you have to pay more for it.

–How not to set off the dorm fire alarms while cooking.

–How to not be that jackass who sets off fire alarms at 2 AM sending everyone else out into the snow and ice in their goddamn pajamas. (Still haven’t gotten over that.)

–I can’t pull all-nighters.

–I can, however, talk until 3 AM with friends while trying to calm down from a panic attack.

–How to not live in an isolated bubble so that the real world seems like only a dream.

–How to cut coupons like a madwoman.

I would conclude with mushy stuff about how I have awesome friends I never want to lose touch with. This is very true, and while some of us are scattering to the four corners of the earth (or at least the southwest corner of the U.S.), we already know we’ll be staying in touch, so I’m not going to write sappy comments that would make me bawl my eyes out. There will be enough of that after I get my wisdom teeth out.

From 50% Chill to 0% Chill in 1 week

In 5 weeks, I’ll be out the door of college and onto greener pastures, namely being an SDE at a pretty nice company, if I do say so, myself.

And yet, I am terrified.

With 5 weeks to go, and it being necessary that I get a 2.0 or greater in every class this quarter (I’m worried about only one, but I’ve emailed my professor, and I seem to be doing well enough so far), I’m terrified that I’ll slip up and fail, despite working hours upon hours to debug a database management system that I’m building for this class. (The professor wasn’t kidding when she said we’d be writing ~10000 lines of code this quarter…) On top of this, I have 2 other classes.

One is Greek and Latin roots for people who had no idea that Greek and Latin are very much alive and kicking through many languages today. (Well, Greek shouldn’t be so surprising…) Considering that my dad’s been defining Greek and Latin for me since before I can remember (he’s a taxonomist), and I’ve always had a voracious appetite for words and what they mean, this is pretty easy. I haven’t actually missed any points yet, except maybe a few in participation. The other is a Computational Linguistics class that is turning out to be less of a challenge than I’d expected. While I’d hoped things would be a little more meaty, given that I’m spending upwards of 30 hours per week on the databases class, this isn’t entirely unfortunate.

It’s just the databases class that has me terrified. I mean, I’ve already sent out announcements and invitations for graduation-related things, and I can’t help but feel I’m jinxing myself here, a bit. It’s not incredibly likely, but that stupid “what if?” monster has attached itself to my brain and just won’t let go. It’s worse than Shel Silverstein’s Yippiyuk!

And then, on the flip side of things, I feel like I’m not ready to let go of college yet. I’d probably feel better if more of my friends were graduating with me, but I understand why they’re not. Math is hard, people. Not so hard that you can’t do it, but it’s hard–I mean, I asked one of my friends to explain what he was learning to me. All I retained from that conversation was being glad I didn’t major in math. What am I going to do when I can’t hang out with my friends at lunch every day? Sure, I’ll make pals at work, and that’ll be well and good, but I’m really going to miss hanging out with people I really know, and just being in a place so incredibly endowed with knowledge that I could just stay there forever. (Really, if I could make a living as a student, like, getting paid simply to learn anything I desired, I’d take that in a heartbeat. Well, unless it paid really poorly. I gotta pay the bills somehow!)

I’ll be out there in that big, scary world, having to do important adult things like pay taxes and look for a car and actually manage my money (though that hasn’t been too much of an issue in recent years—I don’t enjoy knowing that I’ve borrowed money) and all that other stuff that post-college people do.

So what am I gonna do about it?

Well, a few mornings ago, after very little sleep and an annoyingly persistent cough, I broke down sobbing. I just couldn’t hold it all in. The boyfriend, bless him, held me and reminded me that he’s here and that everything will turn out okay. It did a lot of good; both the crying and the being held. I feel less anxious for now, and more annoyed at my stupid cough than anything.

Moving forward, I’ll just have to make sure that I keep in touch with my friends. Thankfully, most of us will still be in roughly the same area (though there are a few headed far and wide). We’ll visit and chat. Same with my family. I am looking forward to being able to reclaim my weekends to do that, at least. My job does not generally send all that much work home with me, anyway. And I’ll remember that I’m gonna be okay. I worked my arse off to get here; I’m not gonna stop now!

One of those special moments of dawning realization

More and more often, especially as I close in on my last quarter at university (I hope, I hope, I hope…), I find myself just doing something, and then stopping in the middle and going, “Wait a minute–this is an adult thing!”

No, not that kind of adult thing. And even if it was, I wouldn’t write about it. That would just be… ew.

No, I’m talking about the kind of adult things I can talk about to even a five-year-old.

Take today, for instance. I needed to return to my parents’ house to get a few important pieces of mail. Like my new debit card. Because apparently, they expire. (Who knew?) Like I’ve done since high school, I grabbed the bus and walked and let myself in, and looked for a snack.

Somewhere in the middle of that, things went awry.

It came to my attention that there was a batch of clean dishes sitting in the dishwasher, and in the dish rack next to the sink. Being that we have limited counter space at my apartment, my mind was screaming at me that these things need to be put away NOW. (We don’t use our apartment dishwasher because it has a funky brown stain in it, and we don’t really go through that many dishes, anyway, but that’s neither here nor there. My point is that these dishes needed putting away.)

Now, when I was a kid, I would have ignored this and summarily pleaded the fifth when confronted about why I wasn’t responsible, especially when the chore takes only five minutes, tops. In defense of me fifteen or so years ago, five minutes in kid time spent on a chore is like eleven hours. But now, it really is five minutes. And it really does feel good. There’s just something about surveying a less-cluttered counter and an empty sink and thinking (complete with a bit of a twang) “I done good”.

And then, I realized that this was one of those things that mature (or at least responsible) adults do. And I kind of freaked out. Since when am I a mature, responsible adult?! Just because I’ve been able to vote and smoke and drink for a couple years doesn’t mean I’m mature and responsible. Just because I’ve somehow made it through three and two thirds years of college doesn’t make me mature and responsible. What is it, then? Is it just these little, every day things? Is it working a job? Is it budgeting time and money? Is it rolling your eyes at fart jokes? I really don’t know.

What I do know is that somehow, in the midst of everything, I’m becoming an adult. It’s a bittersweet thing, though I know I will always have a part of me that’s a child at heart. But it’s also a proud moment, both for me to realize that maybe I can live in this so-called “real world” and not fall to pieces, but also for me to look at my parents (and hopefully for them to look at themselves) and say, “You/we done good. Chickadoodle will always be that little girl we all loved from the start, but now, she’s more than that; she’s what we hoped for.”

Mom, Dad, when you read this (because I will make you; I swear I will), I really hope that you do look at that little girl and the woman she’s becoming with pride. If you ever wondered whether you got it right, I can tell you that you did, 100%. And I love you both so much.